Welcome Spincycle Yarns

We are just smitten with our latest new stock, Spincycle Yarn’s Dyed in the Wool.  Last Fall, while at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle, Ann had the pleasure to meet the lovely duo behind this stunning yarn, Rachel and Kate.  She instantly knew she had to get these gems into the shop –  and once it arrived, we all knew it had to be featured for March.  We couldn’t wait to get it onto our needles!  Once we did, we wanted to know all about it. Rachel kindly accepted our invitation and we’re so happy to have her as a guest here.



We are loving Dyed in the Wool!  Can you share a little on how you both began Spincycle?

Thanks! We love Dyed in the Wool, too! It was our first mill spun yarn, so maybe we are biased.

Spincycle started in 2004 as a little side job for Kate, and I joined a year in, when we were working together at our local co-op. At first, it was very part time, and we only sold at the Bellingham Farmers Market. But soon it was obvious that there was a demand for hand-spun yarn that needed our full attention. We made yarn by hand for another eight years before our business had an existential crisis! Business was really hitting its stride, and then we became moms in 2010 and 2011, back to back. We couldn’t do it all by hand anymore. But luck prevailed and we got in on the ground level with a new mill just south of us. We worked with them as their exclusive client for five years, until the owner decided to take a new career path.




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In reading your blog, we found out that you acquired  a mill.  Exciting!  What’s a typical day look like at your mill?

Yep! We bought the mill that was already producing three of our four lines, moved it up to Bellingham, leased a warehouse, and that’s where I am right now, typing away from my office loft!

A typical day for us? We usually arrive with coffees in hand, around 8. Anna, our mill worker, gets to work even earlier, so the spinning frame is already humming. I spend some time at the computer… ok, I spend a LOT of time at the computer now, a still weird departure from the years I spent handspinning and just occasionally doing website things… checking emails, updating the online store, corresponding with yarn shops, pulling wholesale orders, and doing social media things. Kate usually rolls in and gets busy shipping out our retail orders before the mailman comes. Then one of us will get into the dye room. We have to dye nearly every day, to keep things flowing smoothly as the fiber spends time in the drying room and then moves on the the mill room. Bottlenecks in the drying process are a major disruption.

When not dyeing, you’ll find Kate helping Anna in the mill, and you’ll find me photographing new yarns, merch, and patterns for the website or Instagram.

We also have some amazing staff who come in toward the end of the day to tag and twist the yarns, keep things organized, and do a multitude of miscellaneous things.


Your colors are amazing!  Where do you draw inspiration from? (music, art, nature, candy…)

Ha! You’re on to us. All of the above. Really, that about covers it! We’ll see something that appeals, take a photo or a screencap, and try to translate that onto yarn!


We’ve become obsessed with finding patterns to knit with Dyed in the Wool (seriously Salt Point by Dami is such a dream!).  What are some of your favorite patterns?

Currently, we are in love with Ysolda’s Threipmuir sweater! And I am knitting Plum, by Junko Okamoto, in a Dyed in the Wool and a Versus colorway, and I am obsessed. I also recently finished Dog Star, from Tin Can Knits, for my son, and it is perfection. Oh. I just realized that all three of these are yoked sweaters for which we used a DITW for the colorwork and a solid (or marl) for the body. I guess I would say that is our jam right now.


When you’re not dyeing/spinning/knitting/winning at being fiber bosses, what are some of your other hobbies/passions?

Well, honestly, between running the biz and the massive amount of traveling it requires of us (“bestows on us” might be more appropriate; we LOVE the travels) and raising our respective kids, there’s not a ton of time left. We both knit in our downtime, which might seem like just an extension of our jobs, but it’s something we really do love to do. I did recently start my sort-of-daily drawing journal back up, but a lot of time that I’m drawing, I’m thinking, “I could be finishing that sleeve right now.”

Current WIPS, FOs, or future projects?

WIPs…. Well, there’s a super secret test knit Kate is wrapping up right now for an Edinburgh Yarn Fest release with Fig Tree Yarns and Andrea Mowry. And I am knitting five sweaters, including the aforementioned Plum.


What’s in your notion’s bag?

Millions of stitch markers but never the exact ones I need… maybe some loose buttons I’m meaning to sew on and a random DPN I was using for a cable needle… Actually let me tell you what IS NEVER in my notions bag: a tape measure or gauge ruler, a tapestry needle, the right markers, scissors, the t-pin I need for tightening my interchangeables, or anything else useful.

Top five recommendations for books, podcasts, music, who to follow, snacks? (anything fun or unique you’d love to share is great!)

Podcasts we are bingeing on now are Crimetown, Embedded, and 2 Dope Queens. Does that count as 3 or just 1? One. I’m going with 1. Snacks? A chai latte at 3pm cannot be overstated. Music? Kate Tempest is on heavy rotation in my headphones. Books? Just finished the graphic novel series, MIND MGMT, and I’m about to start it all over again. TV? RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 3 is everything right now.


It’s always such fun and so inspiring to follow along with you both on IG + your blog. Where can our readers find you?

Follow @spincycle_yarns on Instagram! That’s the best spot to stay updated on our travel schedule, new yarns, pattern releases and general shenanigans!

Thank you so much, Rachel!  We’re so glad we’ve become to know you and learn more about your gorgeous yarns!  We look forward to sharing more projects using Dyed in the Wool.

Welcome Sandy of Shibui Knits

It’s no secret that we, here at Monarch, have long admired Shibui Knits yarns.  From their minimalist and sophisticated aesthetic, to their mixing of fibers in each base they produce, and to their extensive pattern library, it’s no wonder that we often refer to our famous “wall of Shibui” each time we’re planning projects. We’ve been so honored to collaborate with them on multiple occasions.  Last year, during Stitches West, we had the pleasure to work alongside Sandy Barnes, Shibui’s Sales Manager.  We’re so excited that she will be joining us again this year – we just adore her!  To help celebrate Stitches month, Sandy has graciously offered to be a guest on our blog.  Thank you, dear friend!


What was the path that led you to Shibui Knits and to your position as Sales Manager?

I learned to knit when I was in third grade.  My mom made arrangements for Susan Beattie, a local Boulder knitter, to meet me after school in the elementary school library.  I don’t really remember those early years, but in Junior High I knit a colorwork vest that won a blue ribbon at the 4H County Fair. The following year, I received a reserve champion for an aran sweater I knit.

I’ve knit off and on over the years, but really picked it up again while living in Germany in 2006.  When returning to Portland I took a class at Knit-Purl from Darcy Cameron and casually asked if Knit-Purl was hiring.  I started the following Tuesday and the rest is history.


Over the years I wore multiple hats at Knit-Purl, as everyone does in a small business.  I worked on the sales floor, taught beginning knitting classes, became the Store Manager, and then the buyer. During my tenure at Knit-Purl, I was always involved with the planning and executing of TNNA for Shibui.  So, it was natural in 2012 to move to Shibui and the wholesale side of Cameron Design.  At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would like it, because I felt like I was losing the customer connection that I so enjoyed.  Now I can’t imagine not working for Shibui. I love the shop owners and I love getting to meet knitters at special events.

We’re really big on collaboration at Shibui. In addition to working with our sales reps, and retail shops, I get to be a part of the design and yarn development team.

Our famous Shibui wall.


As evidence by our large Shibui wall, we love knitting with Shibui yarns!  What are some of your favorite bases with which to work?

It’s really hard to choose a favorite yarn, or choose a favorite fabric.  I’d have to say Silk Cloud added to any of our yarns is like “adding cream to your coffee, once you start you don’t stop.”  I read that on the Fringe Blog and it has really resonates.  If there only one yarn on the planet, I would want it to be Pebble as it is great for every season. If I could choose a second, it would be Twig for the warmer months.

Curlew pullover by Amy Herzog, knit in Pebble.

What’s currently on your needles and in your notions bag?

I just finished one of the new Shibui designs for Spring/Summer2018 collection.  While it is still a secret, it’s one of my favorites. I currently have the Churchmouse Twice Reversible Poncho on the needles using Silk Cloud and Maai (so luxurious) and I’m about to “cast on” for a yet to be released design that I’ve sworn not share. I love knitting bags! One can never have too many right? I knit exclusively with Addi Rocket needles and you’d find my knitting bag full of CocoKnits accessories.


Besides all things yarn, what are some of your other passions?

In my spare time I love visiting my daughters, exploring new places and hiking. My girls are the light of my life, nothing has been more rewarding than being a parent.  Sometime this year, I’ll be gaining a son-in-law and a grandpup, I feel truly blessed!  I always tell people I meet that I’m so lucky my job is something I’m passionate about.  I love working in this industry. I meet so many wonderful people and my day isn’t complete unless I knit at least a couple of rows.

Such a wonderful history!  It’s always a joy to get to know such talented friends within our community.  A huge thanks to Sandy for taking the time to be a guest on our blog.  We cannot wait to join her at Stitches!

Welcome Dami of Magpie Fibers


It was during Stitches West of 2016 that we became absolutely smitten with Magpie Fibers.  Dami Hunter, the founder and owner, guided us through a part of her booth as we oohed and ahhed over each richly dyed skein.  Since then, we have had the pleasure to stock some of her luscious bases.  We met again during a visit to Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle last Fall where she graciously offered to feature her gorgeous Swanky DK and Swanky Sock yarns for our Projects of the Month as well as treat our dear followers to a chat on our blog!

How did you get started in dyeing fiber/yarn?

A few years ago I moved to a new town and decided to take a knitting class. The LYS in town had opened the same day I moved in, so it was clearly a sign. I was instantly obsessed, I was in the shop everyday, and did nothing but knit. I have always loved color (I was a decorative painter and color consultant once upon a time) and The Knot House in Frederick, MD has an amazing selection of hand dyed yarn…all those gorgeous skeins on the walls had me aching to try it for myself. With lots of support from the Frederick knitting community I started experimenting with yarn and dyes on my kitchen stove. I had my first trunk show at The Knot House a few months later.

What’s a typical day like at Magpie HQ?

We’ve just moved into a big new space, so we’re still figuring out our new routine. Almost every day includes dyeing, but you might be surprised by all the things that need to happen to the yarn before and after its time in the pot. Most of our time is spend prepping the yarn and finishing the yarn. This is all supported by lots of caffeine and 80’s alternative radio!

Your colors are stunning! What inspires their fun names? Do you have favorites?

My dad is a musician, and my parents home growing up was always full of great music. I knew I wanted fun and unique names for the yarn, so I made up big lists of song titles. Now I get random texts from friends… “I just heard … on the radio, it would be a great color name!” Not all the colors get a song, sometimes its something from pop culture, or just a word I like. We have playlist of all the songs we’ve used for names that we play in the booth at shows. I’ve gotta
say, when Baby Got Back comes on it always puts a smile on my face, especially when people start singing along and dancing!

Right now I’m a little obsessed with the palette of new colors we put out this Fall, especially Velvet Underground.

We love Swanky Sock, which patterns are your favorite or which would you recommend for this gorgeous yarn?

Swanky sock is wonderful for shawls, obviously I think Something Gradient and Embrace the Detours are great, and Casapinka has designed some gorgeous shawls with it, Qunidici and Iasabelita are two of my all time favorites. The What the Fade sample I have is one of my favorite things ever.

Besides all things yarn, what are some of your other passions?

I love to cook and garden and travel is definitely a life long passion. I love all kinds of crafting, and I’m totally obsessed with sour beer!

Knit, crochet, weave or all of the above? What are some of your favorite things to make?

Currently I only know how to knit, but I did purchase a small rigid heddle loom this Fall and can’t wait to learn how to use it. I love to knit hats and sweaters the most. I tend to be a pretty A.D.D. knitter, lots of stockinette has me checking my email every 3 minutes, so I tend toward cables and colors work.

What’s currently on your needles and in your notions bag?

I just finished up a bunch of new hat designs (patterns coming soon) and am about to cast-on a collaboration project with Veronika from YOTH Yarns. My notions bag is really more like 4 or 5 bags. I have a serious weakness for gadgets (don’t look in my kitchen cabinets, the cooking gadget collection is embarrassing) and collect them wherever I go. I’ve ended up with lots of project bags each with a different assortment of stuff in then, its not very organized. The things I make sure I always have with me are the small metal stitch markers you’ll find in the magpie jewelry, the YOTH little black scissors, a couple repair hooks, and bent tip tapestry needles.

It looked like you had quite the busy last year with traveling and participating in various shows. What’s in store for 2018?

2017 was fantastic, it was wonderful to go so many places and see so many people! 2018 will find me doing a lot of travel, but also trying to be home a bit more. We’ve just moved into a new commercial space so we finally have the room we need, its very exciting. I’ll be at Vogue New York in a couple weeks. I will, of course, be at Stitches West, and in my very own booth, but I’ll be right next-door to YOTH so if you’re used to seeing me there you won’t be able to miss us! I’ll be heading back to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival for the release of a collaboration between me, La Bien Aimée and Andrea Mowry, then heading to Paris for a trunk show… WooHoo! Aside from that and Stitches Mid-West, I think I’m mostly on the East Coast for the rest of the year. I’m hoping to have an open house at the new studio the weekend of Maryland Sheep & Wool, so follow the Magpie Instagram feed for info if you’ll be in the area!

Thank you so much, Dami!  Always so fun getting to know the makers within our community.  If you’d like to see and hear more about Magpie Fibers, follow along on Instagram and at magpiefibers.com.