The Knitting Industry is a Delicate Ecosystem

From a logical standpoint if there weren’t any yarn, there wouldn’t be any knitting patterns. And if there weren’t any yarns, there wouldn’t be any yarn shops. And without yarn and shops there wouldn’t be any Fickle Knitter Design. In the past I’ve professed my love for small, women-owned businesses that are hard at work right here in the Americas but there’s always time for more appreciation.

All of our knitting related small businesses create a larger ecosystem that exists for knitters. If you imagine a pyramid on the bottom is yarn, then yarn shops, and at the top is Fickle Knitter patterns. So when you buy yarn from dyers and patterns and yarn from shops you’re helping keep me in business and creating a healthy environment for knitters to thrive and grow, and have more yarns and more patterns and more shops which will beget more knitters! With that in mind please visit the following booths at Stitches West, because without these businesses I wouldn’t be here typing at you on the internets today.

To my Dyers, Shop owners, other small businesses, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing me with yarn, a place to sell my patterns, and people to buy my patterns. Having so much yarn in my studio that my Mother In Law exclaims “My God this looks like a yarn shop!” is just an extra bonus.

Book Preview Alpenglow
Leaf Relief Cowl from my Book in Aran Corrie
Alpenglow Yarn Booth #931
Carrie is the engineer turned small business extraordinaire behind Alpenglow yarns. She sources everything she can from the US, dyes using natural dyes and has the softest damn merino fiber I’ve ever felt in my life. Her yarns even have a shear date on them. I never knew you could find a naturally dyed chartreuse yarn until I met Carrie. She even grows some dye material in her back yard.

Knitted Wit Feather weight in Orchid
Ballerina Shawl pattern, debuting at K2tog in Albany, California on Feb 22nd.
Knitted Wit and Sincere Sheep Booths #1041 and #1042
Two small women-owned yarn dyeing businesses with an emphasis on locally sourced fiber and amazing colors respectively, both located in the North West. I like Lorajean and Brooke so much that I’m collaborating with them on their Among Friends club. There’s number of spots available and you can check it out here and here.

Flyleaf Shawl
Flyleaf Shawl in 100% Fingering Weight Tencel
Teresa Ruch Designs Booth #746
Teresa Ruch Designs is a small business focused on lovely hand dyed weaving yarns that knit up beautifully. Teresa is headquartered in Portland, Oregon and inspires me regularly with her phenomenally saturated yarns. A good one to start with is her 100% tencel. She is also a cat whisperer who lives on the edge by cohabitating with cats AND yarn.

Lemon Bag
Lemon Market Bag in Elation
Foxy Knits Booths #418, 420
Merilyn is the brains, brawn and small business owning Koigu Lover behind Foxy Knits, located online (but fortunately for me) in Orange County, California. She regularly stops by my studio to pick up her orders and brings me lovely things like Helen Hamann Yarn, locally grown Kumquats and Meyer Lemons. I send her home with knitting patterns, guavas and my home made jam.

Fluid Velocity Shawl
Fluid Velocity Shawl in Serenity Lace II
Zen Yarn Garden Booths #1235, 1237
Roxanne is another woman small business owner, from Ontario, Canada. She uses extremely high quality fibers and her colors are simply divine and inspired. Bonus points for joining in when I use bad language and being very funny overall. She also likes Girl Scout cookies and will probably give you a Zen Yarn Garden button if you ask nicely and bring cookies. Please ask her if you can pay her in Canadian Tire money and tell her I sent you.

Me and Claudia
Claudia’s wearing my Reindeer Hat Pattern (This hat is a sneak peek as to what’s in Book 2)
Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Booth #714a
Claudia’s small woman-owned business is located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, a mere 30 minutes from where I grew up and spent my formative years. At TNNA when I took her some samples in her yarn for her booth she insisted on wearing them for 3 days straight. Claudia is the best and if you haven’t knit with her fingering weight yarn then I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with you. (Only kidding. Sort of. I mean really now).

Perennial Top Down Silk Beret
Perennial Top Down Silk Beret from Book 1
Blue Moon Fiber Arts Booths #522, 621
I’m pretty sure everyone knows of Tina’s amazing yarns (I want to marry that yarn twist, and I think you know what I mean) and she supports an ecosystem all of her own with her very popular Rockin’ Sock Club. I’m a long tail fan. I’m in my second year as a club member and hoping for a second retreat in Washington state this year. Tina is yet another small business owner, headquartered in Portland, Oregon. She’s also half of Knot Hysteria LLC which produces Sock Summit and knitting retreats in Port Ludlow. If you participate in her retreat she will let you dye yarn while listening to great music and that’s the truth.

Knitifact's Stitch Marker Christmas Tree
Laura’s Sterling Silver WTF Stitch Markers
Knitifacts Booth #310
Laura, the small business owner behind Knitifacts is a very talented stitch marker maker, tequilawine drinker, and fiber aficionado. I’m here to tell you that I wouldn’t be knitting today if it weren’t for her WTF stitch markers. When I’m in a knitting slump I look at my WTF marker and I say “WTF” and get my ass back to knitting. She also makes really lovely bumpers and ringlets, and creates high end markers out of sterling silver and swarkovski crystals and will dye her pony tail green if the mood strikes her.

365_139 Shoes
K2tog in Albany, Ca
K2tog isn’t vending at the show but if you find yourself near Berkeley on the night of February 22nd please stop by. They have hired me to give a talk about being a small business owner and a designer and if you come I promise not ask you what the hell is wrong with you (too much) and I’ll share more stories about my Mother in Law and my yarn (unless you are my mother in law in which case, Love you! Just kidding!). I’ve already purchased two pairs of shoes for my talk and the turnout is larger than they initially expected and has been moved to the venue next door. If that doesn’t stop a knitter in their tracks, I don’t know what will. Two pairs of shoes! No bad words! Talking about knitting design and no costume changes! One night only, folks.

Each shop I’ve listed here is owned by fearless women, who make what they love and it shows in their products. I hope you’ll check them out and let them know I sent you. More Stitches West yarn pron and insider info coming throughout the week, stay tuned!


About Michelle

Knitting Tin Hats since 2004.
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2 Responses to The Knitting Industry is a Delicate Ecosystem

  1. Kimberly says:

    What an awesome post — I wish I could get out to Stitches! I’m a huge fan of Roxanne and Lorajean, but will have to check out some of the other dyers you mentioned.

  2. Kath says:

    Excellent post and equally excellent advice! I miss Stitches and look forward to when I’ll be able to start attending again.

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