Tuesday, February 10, 2015

100% Wild Maine Wool ~ Starcroft

Hi, Knitters,
Before I get into today's topic I want to make sure to let you know that I am coming to Pasadena, California in April, 2015 to teach at Vogue Knitting Live. If you are thinking about coming to this event the registration is already up for classes, lectures and more. If you are able, try to register early because what happens is that pretty early on classes will get cut and I mean a lot of classes get cut. One fell swoop! Then the classes being offered fill up and I often have students tell me they wanted to get into classes but they weren't being offered any longer or they were sold out. So early registration helps everyone involved.

I am teaching and speaking on the following topics (I've linked the project information.):
Friday, April 17th: 
Seamless Knit Doll Workshop: Mary, Millie & Morgan ~ click here! Oh, and look at these fun in class photos and write up of this class from one of my students: ChemKnits!
Sock Yarn Fox in a Vest ~ click here!

Saturday, April 18th:
Little Dragon ~ click here! Or you can make the mini-version, too.
3 Wee Sheep ~ This pattern isn't available yet, workshop only. There is a photo with the class information on the VK Live website.
Lecture (1 hour): Sheep, Moneys, Bunnies ~ Toy Knitting for All

Sunday, April 19th:
Build a Toy Workshop ~ Check out the VK Live website for more info.!
Sock Yarn Bunny ~ click here! Or you can make the mini-version, too.

For all of the toy classes we cover so much technique, tips, demonstrations, guidance, individual and small group attention, and discussion. Each class has a different project focus that has different and unique construction and techniques used. Some projects have seamless construction, some have seaming. I really try to pack in as much fun and useful information into all of the classes as possible.

I hope to see you there! 

Okay, let's chat for a minute about the pop-up shop I visited in NYC a few weeks ago. First, a pop-up shop is just that, a shop that pops up in a space for a short while and then it is gone. I found out about the shop through Gale Zucker, the photographer/knitter. You may know Gale from her blog, books she has photographed, or her teaching. You can find out more about Gale by clicking right here. She was helping to set up a Starcroft pop-up shop in NYC on the weekend of Vogue Knitting Live. Gale was working with Kirsten Kapur, another lovely fiber-designer talent, click here to find out about Kirsten! These two lovely ladies picked me up at the hotel and brought me to the Starcroft shop. What a treat.

Click here for Starcroftfiber.com! It looks like the site is under construction but check back.

There is Gale and Jani Estelle, the owner of Starcroft, through the front window. I have to admit to not knowing much about Starcroft or Jani. However, when I started hearing about Nash Island, off of Maine, the sheep, the journey and efforts Jani makes every year to harvest the wool, then process and dye it, I did remember Gale telling me about being involved in the shearing process along with Mary Jane Mucklestone and Ysolda Teague one year. I believe that Gale has been there three times to help with the shearing now. She loves it and has described the hard work involved. 

photographed and owned by Gale Zucker
This photo is one of the postcards that is available. Information is below.

photo from Gale Zucker

Left to right: Gale, Ellen Mason, Jani Estelle, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Ysolda

photo from Gale Zucker

Here we are back in the NYC pop-up shop. It was incredible, the yarn, the atmosphere, Gale's beautiful photography..... the company!

Kay Gardiner popped in right before I had to leave so I was thrilled to meet her in person. I have long admired her blog and books and knitting. Gale is friends with Kay because she photographed the first Mason-Dixon Knitting book I believe. Gale is one to support and maintain friendships and foster new friendships. I really feel this about her and I love that.

The Starcroft samples were extraordinary. What a perfect yarn for color work. I wish I could have stayed at the shop longer but I had dinner plans with my Artisan Book (my publisher) buddies of the past, my former publicist Jaime and my beloved former editor, Trent. We had so much fun together. The shop and the dinner with old friends made this a night to remember.

Here is what I selected from the shop. Three lovely skeins of Starcroft Nash Island 100% Wild Maine Wool in the Tide weight, which is DK. The colors are from left to right: Barnacle, Clear Skies and Cove.

I believe you can purchase the yarn here if you'd like some for yourself.

I also picked up a dozen GORGEOUS postcards of Nash Island photographed by Gale Zucker. You will want a set of these I promise. Click here to find out more.

I hand-wound the skeins and the yarn seemed prettier than ever. It kind of glows with natural beauty.

I began a hat and after a couple of false starts things moved along quickly.

The yarn softened as I worked. There is such a purity and calmness to the yarn.

Here is my finished hat! Fits like a glove. Feels like a million bucks.

I did a simple single round striping on the top. It is quite beautiful.

After the blocking the yarn fluffed up and softened even further. I have been wearing it non-stop!

I will write up the pattern soon. This is a simple color work pattern that would be a good first Fair Isle project. I really love this hat, there is so much history, hard work and natural beauty in the wool.

Here are the postcards I purchased from Gale at the Starcroft shop in NYC! I love this set of postcards to no end. I've already sent one off but I am telling you they are like a little pack of art. I don't know if I can part with any more of them. I think I will somehow frame them and hang them up in my house.

You can order a set of these postcards from Gale. What a perfect gift for any knitter or sheep lover or nature lover or Maine lover..... etc. I will probably be ordering more soon.

I can't possibly do the Starcroft and Jani Estelle story justice. It is a story of sheep, fiber, dedication, hard work, perseverance, forces of nature, love and more. 

To find out more of the story please watch the video from Fiber Trek (a great fiber podcast you should check out). Click here for the direct link to the Fiber Trek podcast. In Episode 1, Sarah of Fiber Trek takes you directly to Nash Island and interviews Jani of Starcroft and Mary Jane Mucklestone the color work master of our times. You'll learn so much about sheep, fiber, processing, dying, Jani and more from this video podcast.

Anyway, what a fun time I've had learning about Starcroft through my friend Gale and many others. Thanks for coming along today.
xo ~ susan


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the informative blog... I am beginning to wonder if the gorgeous red sock you posted back in July is placed on the back burner...

What about the string along toys? Any possibility we can have the pattern soon, too?


Susan B. Anderson said...

Hey, Sue,
The String a Long toys are going to be published by Quince & Co. in the future, hopefully soon.

The red sock.... I found that sock recently but I haven't knit the second sock yet. I still need to do that. I'm not sure how I plan on publishing this one. In my mind I wanted to have several stitch options for the panel on the sock where the cable is on the first one. So I still have much work to do on this before it is ready to be published. I'm still kind of figuring it out.

Thanks for asking:)

Jani said...

Thank you, Susan! It was so wonderful to meet you in NYC. I love your hat and look forward to knitting one for myself when the pattern is available. I am busily working on the webshop, in between shoveling and bringing in firewood!

bellasocks said...

Fabulous post! Thanks for sharing your experience.

Jacqueline Miller said...

Thanks you for your wonderfully informative posts, Susan, I've enjoyed reading every one. I'm particularly interested reading about Jani and Nash Island. Having lived on Salt Spring Island, BC, I am aware of the effort and love that goes in to every skein of wool produced on these lovely remote Islands, of which we knitters are all the beneficiary. Rest assured I will be checking out all the links you have provided for Nash Island and looking forward to your pattern for your beautiful hat. Thanks again!

bspinner said...

Great posting. I love the colors in your hat. Thanks so much for including Pod Cast. So nice to see the amazing process of washing, carding and spinning wool.

Kathleen Kibblehouse said...

This is so great Susan. I am moving quickly into buying "non factory farmed" yarn and into smaller, more humane sources and this is one I'll be sure to check out.

Mo said...

Great post! I love your hat!

Esther said...

Just signed up for your Three Wee Sheep class in Pasadena!! So excited!!!

Caryn Stremler-Birr said...

Did you make the sweater you were wearing when you photographed the newest hat? If so, care to share the pattern? Thanks.

Susan B. Anderson said...

Caryn. Store bought sweater. It's pretty old too.

Anonymous said...

When can we expect the hat pattern? I'm anxious!

Susan B. Anderson said...

Ahhhh! I have it sitting out. I have another shawl to write up first and then I need to finish editing my manuscript and then I think I will get to this hat! I have it sitting out so I don't forget about it.

Thanks for asking!