Saturday, September 17, 2011

Patterns Available!

For any of you waiting for the patterns, thanks for your patience.  I thought I had everything perfectly timed out so that all the patterns would be available on September 10, but I forgot one thing:  that I was working six or seven days a week to keep to my schedule.  When I had to quit doing that for my mental health, I was unable to continue on the pace I needed to hit the finish on time.  There were also things that I hadn't really accounted for--needing to get photo collages made, needing detail photos, needing to send things back to the tech editor, having a life, needing to work a retail show, having other work that needed attention.

Patterns that are completed and ready for download are:  Granite Cowl, Limestone Scarf, Mica Gloves, Shale Beret, Sandstone Throw.  The other two small projects, the Nickel & Gold Device Wallet and Sand Pillow, should be available Monday or Tuesday.  Printing is in process.

Garment patterns will be available in the next week to 10 days.  They are still in process or at the tech editor now.  I'm sure even if you are quite anxious for these you would rather that they be correct when they are released, and that process seems to take longer than I ever expect.

Again, your patience (and even more, your desire for the patterns!) is really appreciated.  I want the patterns to be as fabulous as they should be.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mineral Inspiration

I've always loved the art I find in nature.  Last weekend I was at Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia and the rock there is amazing.  The many streams and rivers have worked the rock smooth and other earth movement has broken pieces off.  Sometimes outcroppings reminded me of structural art creations. 

The colors reminded me of Powder River yarn, which seems to capture all the common mineral colors.  Blush tones.  So beautiful. 

While I would have liked to be wearing the Granite Cowl while on a windy bluff on Monday morning, the nature around me reminded me of the gentle swirl created by this moebius.  There's something so organic about the moebius.  Practical too!  An ideal travel piece as it dresses up a simple outfit and can be worn fashionably and for a little extra warmth.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Granite Cowl Puzzle

As I was mentally cataloging the Powder River Collection and what I'd put up here I realized I'd missed the Granite Cowl. It is such a beautiful piece that I couldn't imagine why I had forgotten it, but when I went to grab a photo to put here there wasn't one! When I finally found one it was misnamed--and there were only two photos. Sometimes the good stuff doesn't get its due.

If you have never done a moebius I really recommend it. First, you should check out Cat Bordhi's video, then enjoy a moebius project or two! All the lovely infinity knitting of a sock or glove, but no shaping. A Moebius is a bit of a brain teaser especially if you want to have pattern in your knitting. The cast on is actually the center of the piece and you work outward in both directions. But I've done all the figuring out for you, so all you have to do it do the cast on and follow the pattern.

Then when you finish and put it on it automatically has a nice twist in it. This cowl comes in two sizes so you can make a snuggly one or this one which has more drape to it.

I actually knit this project. It was totally enjoyable and went much quicker than I would have expected because of that great infinity knitting. The larger the piece gets, it takes a bit of shoving the stitches around the looped needles, but when you get to that point, you'll know you're near the end.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Basques in Buffalo

ONGI ETORRI(ong-ee ett-or-ree) Welcome!

This was the greeting that was heard all over the town of Buffalo the last part of July. Over 5,000 colorful, lively people from all over the United States and Europe gathered to celebrate the culture of the Basque people.

I turn into a bit of a Basque "wanna be" during these festivities, the food is delicious and there are handsome men, beautiful women and lots of dancing, competing, toasting and laughing. The town of Buffalo looked lovely for the weekend and the parade down Main St was one of the highlights. For 100 years, the Basque culture has been perpetuated in Johnson county and every other year NABO (North American Basque Organization) holds a festival in different areas of the country. The Basque Sheepherding families are still a big presence in our area of Wyoming and we work directly with many Basque wool growers so it was fun to be a part of the party.

Mountain Meadow Wool had a nice booth in the park and we were kept busy from dawn til dark talking and showing all the wonderful products we have from the wool grown in the high plains of Wyoming.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Flint Pullover

Who says you can't do it all? In the Flint pullover you can look casual but elegant and multi-task by keeping your smart device close at hand in the left arm pocket!

Whether you wear this when you are out and about or sitting at home relaxing you'll look great and be ready for anything.

Simply wearable.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Silica Bodice

When we were in Buffalo, WY last September we walked by a display of garments in the hallway every day. Mostly from the original owner's wife, their daintiness was a complete contrast to the stories about women living in the West.

This piece seeks to impart the dainty details and simplicity of those cotton lawn bodices. Mostly worn under other pieces, they may have been the piece that reminded her that amid all the dust and animals and hard work she was still a feminine being.

Simplicity is never as easy as it looks, but the results speak for themselves.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sandstone Throw

Here's a perfect way to stay warm and look great. Heidi models our Sandstone Throw in Powder River. The blend of merino and alpaca is just perfect for staying cosy whether you're watching TV, reading, or snuggling in with a smart device. This throw is knit in squares, then joined at the end, which makes it a wonderful project that while large, never gets too big to comfortably work on. The squares are 16" so it folds up into a nice pillow-size square when not being used.

Neutral in color you can see that Powder River looks great with color.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A cardigan and a Beret

The photo shoot occurred on a perfect summer day in San Francisco. If you think California is all sunny skies you will be very cool when you come to visit. August is usually foggy at least part of the time. We can tell tourists because they are always wearing new fleece or sweatshirt pullovers. This is a pretty clear afternoon.

But look how lovely Heidi looks hanging out on my deck! Don't those lovely lace panels just make your fingers itch to get knitting?

One of the big hits on this beautiful cardigan in Minneapolis? Snaps. No. Buttonholes. Big snaps have lots of holes though.

I love the pattern on the Shale Beret designed by Susan Wolcott. See the fog swirling in the trees out on the hill past my house? Lots of swirling going on. If you've never worked a hat from the inside out you will likely find this a real treat. Somehow it is more fun to knit, even though your stitch number is increasing. Nothing but knits and purls in an easy to see pattern so you don't have to be a slave to the pattern (although you know it is always all spelled or charted out for you).

Monday, August 8, 2011

This is a photo (randomly selected from the results of the photo shoot yesterday) of the Mica Gloves designed by Susan Wolcott. She cleverly ran the eyelet pattern up the side of these fingerless gloves to make them a little more special than most. Done in the squishy Powder River merino/alpaca blend, these are perfect for texting, driving, or just looking elegant! The cuff has a nice flare and longer line to enhance the elegance of the natural yarn color.

Susan put lots of work into getting these to look just right. I turned up my nose at the first attempt because they looked "utility" to me. She persevered and this incarnation looks beautiful, is practical, and has exquisite directions for doing the fingers. What more could you ask for?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Clay Tank

This photo is of Dolly at TNNA. Read on to see why. The other is of Clay Tank (full size) pre-fix.

This is the easiest of the PR garments to knit. It has all the eyelet and rib detailing in the Cardigan and Vest, but is worked in the round and has knitted in neckline and armhole trim.

Everything seems to have a story. The instructions didn't make sense to the knitter (who was experiencing a difficult pregnancy) and what I got back was very close but there had clearly been a problem once the neckline shaping commenced. Because we're always on deadlines I had to just use the garment as it was and I am just now fixing it. I think I've created a really nice but very easy piece--and I'm working on clarifying those instructions before the pattern gets published.

Don't be dissuaded by the relative simplicity of the Clay tank as it is a great way to explore Powder River. This piece works up from 3 or 4 skeins of Powder River so it is a very affordable piece as well.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Home Decor!

Everyone seems to have a memory of an afghan knit by a grandma or aunt that was on their bed or on a sofa. These are great projects when you don't want to create a garment, but let's face it--they have a lot of stitches.

I have always liked the concept of doing afghans in pieces so that they stay relatively portable, and you can easily see your progress. This piece is comprised of two patterns: A counterpane pinwheel and a mitered square. Each square is approximately 16" square and can be made entirely independently of the other pieces. Everything is joined with a variation of the 3-ndl bind off either as-you-go or at the end, but you never have to be working anything larger than a 16" piece. The counterpane is worked from the inside out which is oddly addicting, while the mitered square is worked from the outside in! Let's just say that it is pretty easy to see where you're going with each of them.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Powder River at TKGA in Minneapolis

Slight pause in the posts while I went to Minneapolis to be a vendor at the TKGA Knit and Crochet show.

This was the first retail exposure of the design samples of the garments and accessories (I still don’t have the home decor pieces in my possession). Attendance wasn’t huge at this show, but I was really pleased at how positively knitter’s reacted to both the yarn and the projects.

There were almost unanimously positive reactions to the yarn itself. A few people didn’t like the neutral color, but everyone loved the touch of it –squishy and soft! Some were surprised by the actual look of the plied yarn when they saw it up close after seeing it in the fashion shows, but again, this wasn’t a negative –just a surprise.

As is almost always the case the model wore her hair down over my back neckline detail. My back waist detail and the sleeve cap detail got some attention and brought knitters to the booth to see them up close. Lots of positive responses.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Agate Vest

Susan wrote about how great this garment is. This picture captures the back detailing nicely, although it is a little bunchy at the waist which doesn't happen on the body.

I'm not a fan of the vest as a garment, but clearly I am in the minority! So I decided to design a vest that I would wear--and here it is. Something interesting going on on the back which fully compliments what is happening on the front. The back waist detail will enhance your back view and there is elastic hidden in the band which can be pulled up for greater waist definition if desired.

There is a design principle called Unity which just means that all elements go together in a coherent and cohesive way. It is my favorite Principle.

These are obviously before shots. Before snaps (in pocket). Before blocking. And apparently before working in all the ends!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Save the Easiest for Last

You would think that a scarf would be the easiest and quickest piece to design, right? In this case I must have discarded four or five ideas before this one started to grow.

I wanted something that would be easy (ish--you know I've always got to add something in!) but not boring. The thought of doing a plain old scarf just didn't seem right for this yarn. So I started knitting, without really knowing where I was going. I wanted to repeat the horizontal ribs, but that meant I needed to do some short rowing to get the narrower neck I like and the wider end I wanted. Then, I didn't like the flat end, so I had to figure out how to make the ends shaped. So this idea percolated for months and a lot of ripping was involved.

I finally got the scarf designed and knitted and then I had to figure out how to use my small mitered squares. I love things that have movement and I think these look like leaves. Mine are anchored onto the ribs, so they don't flop around.

One skein project. Of course the pattern will have specific directions, but once you get the rhythm of this, you'll find it fairly easy to see what to do. The mitered squares are great portable projects, or when you need a really quick something to knit. Again, instructions given, but once executed, easy to just whip them out.

This was the last piece I designed.
Stay tuned to find out how to get this pattern!

Design Revelations, I

The photo was supposed to be clear. I remain challenged as a photographer!

This is one of our half size dress forms wearing her version of the Silica Bodice at TNNA. She got to sit out in the front in the What's New! section showing off her style and this luscious yarn. Anything this size is cute, but I think this design is really a great one.

It is is based on my mental image of a cotton lawn bodice in the Textile Museum display at the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming. I would wear this with a pair of slacks and a shawl or jacket for a dressy-casual look.

As you follow the revelation of the designs for Powder River, you will note the eyelet lace used in everything. Alpaca is a warm fiber, so it seemed practical to give a little ventilation to everything. I also like the concept of mixing neutrals (the yarn) with a feminine detailing (eyelet lace). It works to give the neutral extra snap, and makes the feminine detail a little less "girly".

Monday, July 25, 2011

Design Finale

I realize that this is just the beginning for everyone else, but for me this is the end game. From here on it is all clean up. I have designed, knitted, written patterns, made changes, sewn on snaps, done drawings, etc. for the past six or seven months.

Powder River will release September 10 with a total of 12 different patterns: 5 garments, 2 home decor, and 5 accessories. Susan did the gloves and Beret and I've done everything else. Trust me, I've only knitted a couple of the one-skein projects! But I've knit a lot. My skeins have been knit multiple times as I worked out details, made gauge swatches, experimented, and finally made samples.

So from all-American fibers to a mill in Buffalo, Wyoming, to sample knitters around the US and in Ecuador, the Powder River Collection is getting ready for its debut. The pictures you see for the next couple of weeks are just snaps I took (hence not very good) because we still have to do a photo shoot. Enjoy. Whet your appetite. Get on track for this special, limited edition yarn.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

sustainability grant posted by Karen

Valerie and I found out several weeks ago that we had been selected as the recipient of a USDA-SBIR award. We worked hard on getting this grant written back in February and March and the news was exciting. This grant begins in September and is for a 24 month period. When the work is completed we will have a model "washing" system that can clean the wool, and most importantly pretreat the waste water. The hardest and dirtiest job we have is getting the wool clean, it uses alot of water and we all know our water is a precious resource. The system will be an environmentally friendly alternative and by-products such as wool grease and sludge will be pulled out and resold. The water will even pass through a water polishing greenhouse at the end. Mountain Meadow Wool is proud to claim environmental sustainability and useing reduce, reuse and recycle as part of our manufacturing process

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What to Knit?

All the Powder River designs are fabulous.  I like to think, which do I most want to knit and wear?  I'm always drawn to quick projects, but I think I'm with popular opinion that the Agate Vest is fantastic.  It seems like it could be worn for casual, office, even dressy with the right accessories.  It's flattering, functional and comfy.  What more can we ask? Oh yeah, a great knitting project!

In all the designs, the detail of the stitch pattern is intriguing, but it's the way Jill placed the patterning in the design that truly makes it wonderful: vertical lines to flatter as well as smaller bits at the lower back, neckline, shoulder.  It draws the eye and engages the brain.   To the knitter, it suggests that careful thought went into this design, that it's more than just the stitch pattern.  It certainly has caught my attention and caused me to think about how stitch patterning can be used in a subtle way.

Hmmm, great metaphor there.  I can always get the obvious, even quicker than most.  I'm much slower (like a slug) on getting the nuance and subtle hints.  Now there's some fodder for thought while knitting!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Post TNNA Update

We've been back over a week, but due to other travel and things to take care of (because nothing gets done when we're getting ready for TNNA), we haven't checked in with each other or gotten a blog post up.  I tried posting at TNNA from my iPad, but wasn't successful. 

Whenever someone touched Powder River they got that look on their face:  ooohh, aaaah. this is nice. The designs were well received as well--everyone agreed they are fabulous and there's something for everyone in the collection.  More on these very soon once Jill is back from vacation.

What everyone really liked was our aprons.  Joel from Lantern Moon wanted one and Jill traded him one for something from his product line.  While they hardly were a fashion statement, they were great to wear as they had pockets in the front - great place to keep a pen, business card, etc.  We just need to design one that is a bit more flattering!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Creative Endeavors

I learn a lot with every new creative endeavor I undertake. The thing that has been brought home to me the most during this process is how interior my design process is.

I would have thought that I would have had a lot to say about designing. I love to design, I love talking about what I do, and people are, seemingly, interested. So why can't I find anything to say?

Since I can't think of anything to say, I've been thinking about that and I've decided that my design process is so interior that it isn't something I talk about while it is actively going on. After it is mostly complete I can think of lots of things to say, but without someone actually drawing answers out of me, a lot of what is going on with the process doesn't feel like it is ready for prime-time yet.

So now we know why I am better at design than at marketing! Off to TNNA tomorrow. After that I should have things to say.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We're cooking up some yarn and patterns

We're cooking up a storm, or at least some yarn and patterns.  To become yarn, fibers are cleaned, carded, dried and spun.  Because this yarn uses more than one fiber, the yarn is plied, then plied again

Then it has to be wound into skeins from the factory-size cones.  Those are tied and twisted - all by hand (unless Gary finished his hank-making machine).   Labels are applied.

Then we have to sell it.  We'll be showing the yarn and taking orders at TNNA (needlearts trade show) in a couple of weeks.  We're going to wear the aprons, because we're still cooking.

Patterns have to be completed after the knitters are all done with their knitting.  Jill and Kristen get them into format, *draft, edit; rep from *,  finalize, then the tech editor, then more editing and formatting.  Charts and schematics have been created.  Pictures need to be taken.  More formatting and editing.  Make PDFs for download.  Print some copies.  And so it goes.  This takes months.

Oh yeah, we have to sell all of this.  Emails, ads, Ravelry, Facebook, Tweets, blog posts, more emails, paper to hand out at TNNA, signs for the booth, aprons, ads, talk it up, dream about it, and so on.    We think you'll like it.  Off to knit.  I still have a pattern to finish and the sample to knit.  Knit like the wind, like a tornado.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Head for the Hills

Here in Western Maryland, we're having hot and humid weather this week, a sudden jump from cooler than normal spring temperatures.  As we struggle to acclimate, I thought about the sheep that just go up into the Big Horn Mountains outside Buffalo, Wyoming when it gets hot.   The air is clear, grass plentiful and temperatures cooler.  Then they grow the wonderful coat that makes the yarn we love. 

I love this picture of the sheep migrating up to the higher elevations.  That's them along the ridge.  This picture may have been taken in the summer as the grass is dry.  Right now I imagine the meadow flowers are getting ready to bloom.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Inspirational Lows--and Highs

I'm kind of at the illustrated point in the whole inspiration cycle right now. I have a million details to attend to and each one takes some thought and consideration. On one hand I know that soon I will have 11 finished pieces--5 garments, 2 home items and 4 accessories and I keep thinking I'll get to one more accessory but that remains to be seen. On the other hand, this has been a huge undertaking that, as always, could have gone just a bit smoother on my end.

Although the general concept and number of pieces hasn't really changed from January, there have been adjustments and modifications along the way. One or two ideas just haven't panned out and others have ended up taking more time than anticipated.

The one thing that has stayed the same throughout this process is how much I love this yarn. I love the color, I love how it looks in pattern, I love that it is pretty durable (I've reknit my yarn many, many times--reblocked it and knit it again!), and I love how it feels knitting it. Most of all I love that I haven't gotten tired of it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hop on this Train

While Jill is busy writing patterns and Karen and Valerie are spinning yarn and yarns, I've been spending lots of time with this picture, which Jill used as the beginning of the storyboard for the designs.  I've been busy working on marketing materials:  yarn label, ad copy, TNNA handouts, etc.  I love the picture: the angles, the color, the promise.

Most of us have some connection to railroad tracks.  I remember walking the tracks as a child.  Now I live near the "hub" city, an old railroad town.  I have a grandson that loves trains, so our outings involve visiting the train museum. 

Pictures of tracks, like in this picture, make a wonderful metaphor for our life stages.  There's the proverbial light at the end, though in this case I think that's a jackalope running down the tracks off into the distance, his future full of surprise. 

Artistically, the horizontal and vertical lines can be interpreted in so many ways.  The weft and warp of life.  A knitting design (bit hint right there).  I love that there's a sense of going somewhere, even though it's not clear.  I feel like that many days!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quality vs. Quantity

This is something I think we all struggle with. How do we justify spending that extra money when we can get [pretty much fill in the blank] so much cheaper? We have somehow traded the concept of "really great pieces" for "lots of pieces".

Knitting takes time. So my rule of thumb has always been to spend as much as you can afford because you won't end up regretting it. Of course, that means you actually have to finish the piece and we know how hard that can be!

I've been in a bit of a panic this week because I am attending a black tie event on Saturday--which I didn't get onto my calendar, so totally forgot about. I got reminded on Sunday and I spent some time avoiding thinking about it. I've taken some action, but the logical one--trying on what I had--seemed to elude me. So Wednesday morning at 7:45 I'm trying on the only long outfit I have. It is about 8 years old, but when I zipped into the skirt it still fit (whew!) and when I slipped on the knitted evening top--it looked great! So I know I'm not the same as I was 8 years ago, but I think I can pull this off. Not sure on shoes, and I need the right bra, but I think the money I spent 8 years ago is going to totally save me on Saturday. Needless to say, Mitch tried on his Armani tuxedo (bought twice as many if not more years ago) and it looked great. Shirt all pressed and ready to go.

Today I'm wearing another piece done several years ago. This got me thinking about how worth it is to buy the good stuff, spend the time knitting it and especially, spend the time finishing it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Frame of Reference

Although I am on the phone with Susan and Karen and Valerie every week, and we always check in on the weather in our various locations, I have to admit that I live in a climate that doesn't require a lot of thought to actually staying warm. San Francisco is mild, and we don't have huge temperature fluctuations for the most part. Once you figure out the quirks of the weather (it is always windy between 4 and 8 p.m. and it is possible to round a corner and be in a different microclimate--literally around a corner) it is pretty easy. I don't have to change what's in my closet much over the year--I do layers and might go from a wool tank to a cotton tank.

Yesterday I came up to Seattle for a couple of days. It was 70 degrees when I left the house in SF and the anticipated high in Seattle was 54 and rain showers. So I was a bit warmly dressed in a wool tank and wool jacket as I headed to BART and the airport. I arrived in Seattle perfectly dressed to catch the light rail from the airport downtown. By the time I got downtown it was raining so I pulled my coat out of my suitcase before I left the station and walked the three blocks to our hotel.

Today I'm wearing a sweater that I rarely wear at home, but it is perfect here. I sat down to work on Powder River patterns and while I thought I had done a good job creating a variety of styles to suit different needs, being out of my usual environment, it feels even more so. I'm also really pleased with how the design details are coming together and starting to feel excited to see how the whole thing looks together.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Design Ideas

Our parents purchased a set of World Books when I was a girl. They lived in my bedroom and I found them wonderful for just looking at pictures and learning facts. Books remain a default resource for me: stitch dictionaries, pattern drafting books, books on designers and art.

Non-designers are always curious about where ideas come from. Does it come from the yarn, from something I see, or where? It is a bit of a chicken and egg thing. A great idea without the right yarn is just an idea, and a great yarn without the right design is just yarn. So it is a convergence of the right idea and the right yarn, combined with stitch pattern and details that make it all work. Like all things creative, it is probably 10% serendipity and 90% hard work.

The first time someone seriously asked me this question was when I realized I was really a knitwear designer. I was capable of pulling all the elements together to create the right design. I didn't start out designing knits, so when I decided that was what I would do it required a fair amount of education to be able to do it. All of the skills I had learned using paper and fabric to create garments still applied, but with knits you create the fabric and the shape and do the construction, so I had to learn how to create the fabric I wanted, and then how to fashion shape into that fabric, and then how to join shapes together to make my ideas come to life. Then I had to learn how to write a pattern so someone who wasn't sitting in my head could create my idea.

Like most hand knit designers, I started out by knitting and trying out different things and learning as I went along. I took classes, read books, and did a lot of experimenting. But I can't produce enough if I do everything as-I-go, so I had to learn a different way. I do a combination of pattern drafting and knitting swatches to create most patterns. I rely on someone else to knit it and give me feedback as they go so we can change things that aren't working. The internet, of course, makes all of this possible!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Absolute Positive NEED for Designers

So we make yarn. Lots of yarn. Beautiful yarn. Yarn with color, with personallity, with spunk! "Lively" as it has been called. So as much as I love to sit and stare at it, and would love to just drape it as is around my neck, it longs to be made into something. But not just anything. SOMETHING.

That is where Jill and Susan of Y2Knit enter the scene. Their background in art and design, and their technical expertise translate items created first in their imaginations onto paper. BRAVO!

So while this blog is called "A Yarn is Born" it would be just as well to call it: "A Yarn is Born and Adorned with Design"!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Pattern Collection?

This photo has nothing to do with pattern collections. I did have a nice memory of the Basque dance performance put on for us at Mountain Meadow Wool though. My favorite memory was of the boys behind the scenes. They didn't know we could all see them, but there was an elbowing thing going on, which of course kept escalating, but when their turn to dance came, out they would come all innocence and concentration.

So what does a pattern collection entail? In the case of the Powder River Collection, it is designed to have something for all kinds of knitters. There are 5 garments, a pillow cover, a throw, a hat, gloves, scarves and cowls, and the previously mentioned ipad/iphone/itouch cover. Most of the accessories are single skein projects and the rest require appropriate quantities. All pieces are tied together by stitch patterns/stitch pattern variations.

Stay tuned for more. We can't reveal details for a while yet. If you are a shop, sign up now so you get early release info. If you are a knitter, same thing, you'll just get it after we release to shops.

Poll Results

Thanks to all who took the poll posted here (and that I accidentally deleted).

We asked what you thought was the inspiration for the new yarn and pattern collection.  

Mountain range:  most of you chose this
River basin:  a few of you were on target here in selecting this one.  Powder River is a river basin in Wyoming and the name of the yarn and pattern collection. 
Local lore around Crazy Woman:  Ok, you were right not to choose this one!
Fiber content:  too easy and common and no one liked this one.  We don't either.

Pictured here:  Crazy Woman Canyon, near Buffalo, Wyoming.  Awesome, eerie and not a good name for a yarn!  Fabulous colors found here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A River Basin

Probably soft, luscious, lanolin-rich, high micron merino isn't what you think of when you think of Wyoming. You might not think of sheep at all. But in a mineral-rich state, hidden in plain sight is another great resource and it is Mountain merino.

If you've never been to Wyoming you cannot believe how visually beautiful it is (at least where I've been). Living in the west you frequently hear people say, "Yeah, Wyoming. I drove through there and it was the most beautiful place I've ever seen, but it was kind of scary." Most of us aren't used to wide open spaces like they still have there.

The Powder River basin is mostly known for coal and minerals. But you can see from the picture above, it is a place of beauty too. I kept seeing signs for Powder River this and that and I just loved the name. Not being into coal and minerals, I thought of Powder--like blush. We wanted a name that was connected to Wyoming and it seemed perfect.

Powder River

I love this name that Jill chose and the image of the train tracks.  As travel lovers, we have fun looking at maps to choose locations or inspiration for names. This one needed to connect to Wyoming, where the yarn is being made (and where we love to visit--we've learned so much there!).

Powder suggests soft and we'll talk more about the other connections we see when we reveal more about the yarn.  Enough for now to have the name.

Sign up at the right to get preview info and a free pattern.  Tell your friends and yarn shop owners that you want Powder River when it releases on September 10!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Is it Real?

As we've been talking and planning this week we all started to feel like this is kind of real. It is odd to be working on something that you can't talk about and that no one else knows what it is. I am so familiar with this yarn because I knit on it all the time. As I work out designs, I've knit some of it so much that I had to block the kinks out of it to knit it again. In doing that, I came up with a cool technique for doing this. It goes very quickly for me because I have a vacuum table on my ironing board and can suck the steam out in seconds meaning I don't have to wait for the yarn to dry.

So this is what I did: Wrap the yarn around the ironing board, and around the wire tray that sits underneath making a hank-size loop. Once all wrapped I left the yarn around the wire tray to keep some tension on it, then *shot tons of steam into the part on top of the ironing board. Then I hit the vacuum pedal and removed the steam. Rep from *.

This yarn is up to being reknit--still looks great, still performs. Lots of reknitting as Ideas are explored.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sexy electronics

If you don't love Steve Jobs you've got to at least take your hat off to him. He has made us want electronics that we don't really need in a way that can only be described as lust. Sexy electronics.

I don't pretend to be as clever as he is. I think he is a genius--he just figures out the market and our desires so well! So I'm just going to piggy back on his genius.

Look for creative covers for your favorite electronics from Y2Knit and Mountain Meadow Wool. The pattern will be available in the future, so stay tuned.

Our new yarn is very gender neutral, so this will be suitable for everyone!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The World Wide Wool Connection

This week has been super busy here at the wool mill, and as always a learning experience! We started out the week with a visit from friends from Kyrgyzstan. Aizada Imports brought a trunk show to our little berg. Gorgeous stuff and our minds were awhirl with the possibilities. I particularly love to see a strong young woman in business. Especially from one of the "Stans" (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan) where women do not traditionally hold positions of power.

So excuse me for a brief side trek into an exotic land. The glue that holds us all together the world over is fiber. Hooray for Wool!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I search the web for photos that won't give anything away. These two fleece balls seemed like a nice representation of the natural colors of some of the sheep contributing wool this (ad)venture. See how similar the colors in this photo are to the new background image?

I've seen some things I'd just as soon not in my search. The lamb being born was a little more than I really needed a visual for. Then I found this one of Peter John, the dog and sheep--on Mountain Meadow Wool's website. Go here for a slideshow.

Then check back here because I think Valerie has a joke to share that will go with that picture.

And go here to see how a cowgirl in Wyoming dresses in winter. As a committed city person I find this all fascinating. I love that these people are as committed to their locale as I am to mine.

A wonderful commitment to doing this in the U.S. gives us access to fibers that support a local industry.

Picking a fiber blend

So, what do you get when you cross a sheep with an alpaca?

A sweater with a long neck!

So there is your hint for the fiber content in our new yarn. Okay, so its not that hard to figure it out, but what is interesting in this yarn are the natural colors and the way that the blending and plying produce an unusual effect of depth, light, and softness. Its just killing me that I can't show you a picture of it......but we must string you along for a bit more. Only a few more months until the reveal!

In the meantime, we can discuss the make-up of the blend. I don't think I'm breaking any rules by saying that it is a 3 ply yarn. Two of the plies are a 50/50 blend of our fabulous gooshy smooshy mountain merino with silky softy alpaca in a natural rose hue. The third ply is natural medium grey merino. When these three are plyed together, the grey appears to bring forth a subtle blue-grey tone. Weirdly stunning!

Monday, March 28, 2011


In this case background has a couple of meanings.

The first is that this is the image that I use as a background for A Yarn is Born design concept stuff. This is all still only internal, so this is just the beginning.

Susan and I have a lot of mental images related to our concept of the Wild West, based almost entirely on Bonanza and similar cowboy stuff from our childhood. I don't recall either of us being interested in cowboys, but it was kind of pervasive stuff. I think mostly of saloon girls, shopkeepers' wives, the schoolmarm, the doctor's wife, the rich girls, the poor girls and of course, the working girls. What little history I can recall for that time period is based on Little House on the Prairie, not Cowboy Literature or History.

The other aspect of background is that we're starting to fill in the background on A Yarn is Born. I think I see it at the end of the tracks--or is that a cowboy?

Friday, March 25, 2011


Even if you are a fiber person (not a livestock person) you may only encounter fiber in a pristine state. Karen and Valerie and the workers at the Mill are familiar with the "sheepier" aspects of fiber. When you knit with yarn from Mountain Meadow wool you might encounter some "plant material." I always just pluck it out, but as one attendee in Buffalo said, it is a piece of Wyoming.

While the handsome gentleman in the post on Rambouillet makes you want to grab that sheep, it is amazing that what he's wearing could ever become the Mountain merino that you can use for baby things. The fleece is dirt color when it is unbaled--and sheepy. Eeeooo
This makes the washing process at the Mill critical. When we visited in September you would not believe how fascinated we all were by the fleece going into the bath and coming out a different color. And no chemicals are used. Hot water and some earth-friendly cleaner and a little soak.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Hi everyone,

Today is a day of technological errors. QuickBooks, the PHONE, grrr. Now is a great day to bury myself in the soft, lovely wool.

Shearing is around the corner. We have some wonderful growers and they grow primarily Rambouillet. This is a breed of sheep that has a funny back story. I am going to paraphrase, but here is the basic tale.

Years ago, we are talking middle ages, France had all of the textile mills and Spain had all of this lovely breed of Merino sheep. So France, in order to have top notch wool fabric they HAD to ask Spain. And Spain, realizing that they had a great thing going made it Illegal to export the Merino breed of sheep. Even punishable by death! Yes!

So the King of France decided on a plan. He was going to start an exotic animal zoo. Off went a letter requesting breeding animals of many of the exotic animals of Spain. And buried in the list was a request for....Merino sheep. Shhh.

So the King of Spain signed off and a whole menagerie of animals arrived in France, including a group of about 40 Merino, which quickly were re-named: Rambouillet after the name of the castle at which the zoo was housed. Today's Rambouillet decended from French royalty and now wander the prairie. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Wooly remittance men. Don't those horns remind you of crowns?