Vintage Knitting Needles and Antique Bottles

Vintage Knitting Needles and Antique Bottles

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Do you support the "indies"? Highland Handmades

Highland Handmades, Clementine Sugar Maple Sock Yarn
Clara Parkes, of the Knitter's Review,  spoke at the Common Cod Fiber Guild recently and she urged us to ask the question " Where does this yarn came from? Is it from a larger yarn company? Is it from a local farm? Is it from an independent artisan on etsy? Maybe you found it at a fiber event like New Hampshire Sheep and Wool or Rhinebeck, start thinking about where it is from.

Clara asked us to think about the scarcity of wool production in today's industry. There are a growing number of small businesses who provide the services of cleaning fleeces, or preparing the fiber for spinning, or do the spinning and then the dyeing.

Woolen Mills of New England, imported from
http://thedipnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/WoollenMillDam2-lr.jpg
New England has a rich history of this industry but the mills that housed these businesses have become office parks and high end condominiums. The skilled labor that was instrumental in the fiber production of old has been lost. We need to acknowledge the individuals who are forging into small enterprises which provides us access to that long lost trade. We should educate ourselves about yarn production, and seek out the people that have made a small business of fiber processing, spinning and dyeing. We are a powerful bunch of consumers, as knitters, we can create a swell of economic energy when we use our dollars. Listen to the urging of Clara Parkes and consider adding some indie fiber or yarn to your stash.

Highland Handmades Contemplate, merino and silk.
Highland Handmades
As always, I am excited to share some information with you! I keep hearing the hosts of podcasts like Stockinette Zombies, The Fat Squirrel Speaks or Single Handed Knits mention the depth of color and softness of the yarn and fiber from Highland Handmades. They refer to the podcast The Fiberista Files with praise, and some, as in Mel from Single handed Knits, extoll the simple beauty of the hand made spindles.

Top Whorl Spindle in cherry

Heather modelling her Lined Beanie
Heather Kinne is a New England indie dyer of yarn and fiber. The inventory of her shop, Highland Handmades, changes as items are sold; shop updates seem to happen weekly, on Saturdays. She lives in Brownsville, a small inland town in Northern Maine. She speaks of her color inspirations in the podcast, she has shared that often the colors are inspired by movies or programs that she enjoys. Heather has tutorials on her dyeing process and techniques for the best photography results on her Fiberista Files podcast.  Her website is a resource you should know about and use.

Don't Cage Me In
La Vie de Bois
Heather is also a pattern designer. She has five patterns listed on her Ravelry page. I know the hosts of Knitting in Circles have mentioned her sock patterns, Don't Cage Me In  and La Vie de Bois
and that they were fun to knit. Other podcasters share the results of spinning their Highland Handmades fibers, the colors in Heather's batts are so beautiful.

Stargazing Cowl
Heather has recently released a cowl pattern called Stargazing Cowl. The pattern is an interesting combination of stitches that look good on the front or reverse side. In lurking on the Fiberista Files  website, I discovered that she has been podcasting and selling from her shop for about two years. The design endeavors seem to be on the increase, Heather has shared that she wants to release a number of patterns in the upcoming year.

Heather is best friends with Katie, of the podcast Knittin On The Fly, and they often cohost a show on one of their two sites. One of my favorites is from last summer when they recorded outdoors at a campground in Maine.

Katie and Heather are currently knitting pet cozies which will be donated to local animal rescues. They are in competition with each other and urging their listeners to choose sides, and knit or crochet or sew up a storm of pads which will be placed in the small kennel cages that the animals live in.

The details for this KAL can be found at the Yarnivorus Ravelry group. There are specific sizes and fibers that are required, in case you are inclined to join in. Will you join Team Heather or Team Katie???   Please check out a recent episode and consider joining in and making a few squares of extra stash scrap yarn, then choose which podcaster you send it to. I assure you that in watching these women you will find them to be casual, genuine and funny. When I watch, I feel like we are all sitting at the same table, as if at knit night at my LYS.

I know I have been chanting this whole"watch more podcasts" at you all for a while now, but try knitting to a podcast rather than TV, you will be surprised by the patterns and yarns and events you will learn about.

One of the things to know about indie artisans is this, they are  usually working alone, they can only produce so much for their shops, so if you want to buy from them, you'll need to know about "shop updates". Heather has been doing Saturday shop updates since I have been following her.

Here is my first tip toe into the Highland Handmades stash enhancement.
Two weeks ago, at 9 AM on a Saturday, I sat at the ready, fingers poised over the "Add to My Cart" button, awaiting the new yarns she had dyed recently. I bought a skein of White Ash, a worsted weight yarn, in the Pumpkin Spice colorway. It came so quickly, was nicely packaged and Heather included a coupon code for a free download of her latest pattern, Stargazing Cowl.  Along with that she shared her appreciation for my business in a hand written note.

I urge you to consider this experience I have shared when you next think about adding to your stash, support the independent artisans and let them know you appreciate their efforts!

Share any great indie fiber sources that you have discovered in the comments! Thanks!