Like most enthusiastic hobbyists knitters have certain things they gravitate toward and fall in love with, be it designers, objects or yarn. For example, there are knitters that will only every knit mittens and only in a specific yarn. There are those of us that have many skeins of sock yarn but have never once attempted a sock and others that boggle at this. But since our hobby involves pointy sticks, I do not recommend mocking any of us for this unless you are part of the club. I have only been knitting for 2.5 years, but I seem to have found my calling for indie dyers. I have fallen in love with two in particular, but I am going to tell you about the first one I fell in love with here.
In January 2011, a mere 2 months after I learned to knit, I was in the Bay Area for a long weekend to visit friends and to learn to make marmalade. Before my class, a non-knitting friend said to me “You have to go to this store that opened recently, I am told it is terrific.” And he promptly dragged me, not unwillingly of course, to A Verb For Keeping Warm. Bear in mind, I had only been knitting for 2 months so this experience was mostly lost on me at the time. I was overwhelmed and over my head, not entirely sure what I was looking at. I also knew enough not to leave empty handed so I picked out some yarn used to knit a sample I liked (I was new to knitting, but not without taste!) and took my purchase to the register.
I think I ended up with even more of a deer in the headlights look when someone started to wind my skein for me… it kept getting tangled so was taking a really long time and I was going to be late for my class. A really sweet woman with a nice smile came up and once advised of the situation offered to mail my yarn to me at no additional charge. I later realized it was the owner, Kristine. Of course, I received my yarn promptly as promised later that week.
The Ishbel in AVFKW yarn was the first complex knitting project I had tried and I am actually wearing it as I type this, over 2 years after I finished it. Originally I had planned to gift it but I just could not part with it once I was done. It was the first yarn I had used where I had met an actual person that had put themselves into it. If you just look around the web site, you will see that Kristine puts herself into everything there.
Not long after finishing, I discovered a shawlette based yarn club and it happened that the second yarn I received in my first club was from AVFKW. The color was amazing… a silvery, lilac color. After that I was hooked and have now been in AVFKW’s Pro-Verbial club for the past two years. I cannot knit as fast as the yarn comes out, but I am OK with that. Since I have not been back to Oakland, I like just having random yarn sent to me from AVFKW. I have always found the textures of the various yarn weights to be completely satisfying. I have been working with one recently at my Saturday knitting group and both the color (Old Growth) and texture have been well liked by other people too. I do not even know what to say about the colors. They are made with natural dyes and I find them very soothing to look at.
I do wish I could be in Oakland today. Kristine has taken her passion for yarn and local textiles to the next level. She has created a yarn with locally raised sheep. It is called Pioneer and it is debuting today! There are natural sheep colors and naturally dyed colors. It is just amazing to think about. I am so excited to see, touch, and knit the results! It is also really interesting to read about. You can read about the project on the AVFKW blog here: The California Wool Project: Pioneer. You can also read more about what goes into creating Pioneer and what it is like to knit with in these posts: Pioneer. And if you are not sure what you would do with it, keep your eye out for the kit that will be available later today!