Knit Stars 4.0 Fiber Artists
Knit Stars’ participants who enroll prior to the Summit have an opportunity to purchase yarns dyed exclusively for Knit Stars. No specific yarns are required in order to derive maximum learning and inspiration from Knit Stars! Regardless of your plans to purchase, we thought you’d love learning a bit more about the special fiber artists of Knit Stars 4.0!
Knit Star Partner: Martha Wissing
Amano's Yarn Story: "For thousands of years, the people of the Andes made offerings to the Inca gods, whom they believed dwelled in the mountains, the earth, the rivers and the sky. We strive to honor this history in the present time. With our hands and creativity we aim to bring you the feel if the natural resources of the Peruvian Andes. We consider our yarns a gift from the Inca gods and a taste of the Andes."
Sustainability: "The alpaca has the widest range of natural colors in the world, including black. Amano aims to support the Andean communities in the breeding of alpacas with pure black ﬁber in an effort to re-establish this population, which has dropped dramatically, to the point that is accounts for only 0.03% of all alpaca ﬁber. Eco Puna Black yarn (included in the Knit Stars 4.0 Chullo Hat Limited Edition Kit) supports the Yanapaco (Black alpaca) program, which seeks to provide incentives for the production of alpacas with pure black fiber, with the purpose of recovering this population."
Inspiration: "We find our inspiration in the natural resources of the Peruvian Andes. The Andes is not only the land of the alpacas, but it is where we create, develop and produce our yarns with decades of experience and great pride. It is also the homeland of an ancient textile culture with colorful patterns and countless stories woven into each thread. We are very proud to be a part of it."
Blue Sky Fiber (@blueskyfibers)
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Yarn Story: "Blue Sky Fibers started as a pet project. Shortly after graduating college, owner/founder Linda Niemeyer's curious preoccupation with Alpacas led to her buying one. Soon Linda found herself with a lot of yarn on hand. She took it to a nearby yarn store, which was willing to buy and sell it. And the rest is history. One can only imagine how things might have turned out differently had Linda been obsessed with giraffes instead."
Sustainability: "All of our fibers are sustainably-sourced, many of which come from Peru. Ever since we started with a small herd of alpacas in our backyard, we’ve been committed to making yarn in the best way possible to show off its natural beauty. It all winds back to the yarn, ensuring that every precious, handmade hank is lovingly filled with endless inspiration."
"We work with alpaca and sheep herders in South America. The animals are raised and cared for as they have been for centuries. At shearing time the alpacas are herded and sheared, and then returned to graze again. The fiber is processed at central mills. There is no factory farming or cruelty involved."
"Our yarn is dyed in large batches using low-impact dyes. These dyes are formulated to have a lower impact on the environment than traditional chemical dyes."
Inspiration: "Our most recent trip took us to Puno, Peru, to meet the source of our Woolstok wool. The craggy textures and colors of Peru's unspoiled terrain have inspired spinners, dyers, weavers and knitters for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Needless to say, they've inspired us too."
Candice English (@thefarmersdaughterfibers)
Knit Star Partner: Caitlin Hunter
Bio: "Farmer's Daughter Fiber started about 3 years ago in the basement of my home."
Yarn Story: "We have grown a lot over the last few years and now we are a family company, with my husband running the dye studio. I still come up with all of the colorways but mostly you can find me answering e-mails, traveling the country with our yarns, and collaborating with fellow Fiber Artists. We are really excited to be apart of Knit Stars with our friend Caitlin Hunter. Caitlin fell in love with our Oh Dang! base (a brushed Suri Alpaca and Silk base) and it was perfect for this round of Knit Stars. She challenged me to create the perfect red for her, bright with a slight orange tone. I have a funny aversion to red so this was a really great challenge for me, and took a few weeks to get the color just right."
Inspiration: "Inspired by our Blackfeet Heritage and Montana roots, our colors very much represent our area of the world."
Diversity: "As a Women and Indian American owned and operated company, culture is the essence of Farmer’s Daughter Fibers. We strive to make diversity and inclusion at the forefront of our company. We take a holistic approach to this by educating people about the culture and diversity FDF has to offer and by standing with, up, and in solidarity of marginalized groups of people. We do this through the spiritual artistry in our yarns, social media platforms, and in our local community where we fight to stop sex trafficking and better the basic needs, education, and artistic expression of American Indian children. We have used our success and platform to start the Sister’s United Initiative, which donates monthly to organizations supporting MMIP and American Indian children. We do not tolerate disrespect or violence against BIPOC, LGBTQ2IAAP+, or other marginalized groups of people, ever. This work is continuing and will shift and grow as we do."
Knit Star Partner: Cecelia Lalanne
Bio: "Manos del Uruguay was born in 1968 out of a simple question: How can we improve the quality of life of Uruguay's rural women? The answer was in handcrafts, using skills inherited from our mothers and grandmothers and the raw material that we had at hand: wool. That's how Manos del Uruguay was founded, to give Uruguay's rural women jobs, that would mean, not just an income, but also an opportunity to personally develop and gain independence, keeping their roots and traditions, close to their community and families."
Yarn Story: "In 1968 five friends shared their concern for the hard life and lack of opportunities of rural women. They planned on selling the simple objects that the women were already making, wool blankets and horse blankets. They sold well and soon they were organizing workshops all around the country."
"With the aid of social workers they committed to give the women the necessary tools to organize the production, administrate the cooperatives, deal with suppliers and customers and also the support in the difficult task of balancing work and family."
"The founders´ vision was always that Manos should not only be a work source, but a means of women’s empowerment and development."
"Forming leaders that would move the organization forward was a main priority. Manos´founders were great women that shared a huge work capacity and the conviction that no dream is too big."
"Nowadays all of the founders have passed away, but their memory and legacy is still with all of us in Manos."
Sustainability: "At MANOS DEL URUGUAY we believe we have a responsibility; that's why we create yarns that are beautiful, ethical and sustainable. Every skein is an opportunity to help a Uruguayan woman support her family."
Diversity: "Manos del Uruguay has a social aim and we are a not for profit organization. We are organized in 12 cooperatives, each one is a workshop located in a small village of Uruguay’s countryside. "
"The artisans are the owners of the company and Manos ´ profits are shared among the cooperatives or re-invested in the organization. The cooperatives have strong bonds with the communities where they are inserted, with a positive impact in society and families."
Jana Dempsey (@fleeceartist_handmaiden Follow)
Knit Star Partner: Lucy Neatby
Location: Halifax NS, Canada
Bio: Jana Dempsey, Managing Director and Head Dyer
Hand Maiden Fine Yarn Inc
Fleece Artist – Since 1978
"I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia as a yarn shop brat, making my very first Fleece Artist Catalogue at the age of 5. Our focus has always been as a supplier to fellow artists, so when Lucy Neatly and her family were relocating from the UK, and her criteria for choosing a place to live included a good local yarn shop, Fleece Artist happily fit the bill. Our mutual partnership has lasted over 25 years and we love working with Lucy on her cheerful colour and technique focused projects."
Yarn Story: "As a breed specific dyer, we love Blue Face Leicester, a long hair British breed known for its lustre and softness. We dye untreated BFL which retains all of its natural characteristics, making it great of outerwear, including hats. Warm, bright and alive on the needles, the yarn suits Lucy to a T. We’ve layered the colours for a more dynamic experience which will highlight each knitter’s craftsmanship. As we say, the 'Artist' in Fleece Artist isn’t really us as dyers but you as the maker."
Sustainability: "When Fleece Artist started in the late 1970’s we lived on a homestead where I thought it was perfectly normal to have a ewe sleeping in the laundry room. That homestead legacy informs all we do. We partner with small, family run mills, ethically sourcing and minimally processing our yarns. We’ve always eschewed plastics in our packaging and are working towards having our line fully biodegradable in the future. We donate yarn ends to be used as stuffing for pillows and recycling everything we can, including the water we collect in our dehumidifiers which waters our garden beds. The act of knitting leads to an appreciation of the materials and labour that goes into clothing and I hope our customers see the care that we take with every hank."
Susan B Anderson (@susanbanderson; @barrettwoolco)
Knit Star Partner: Susan B. Anderson
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Bio: Susan, along with her son, runs their new pattern, kit and custom yarn company called Barrett Wool Co. (barrettwoolco.com). Susan has authored six traditionally published knitting books which focus on toy-knitting, hat knitting, baby knitting, and a learn-to-knit book called Kids' Knitting Workshop. She has published an extensive library of independent and magazine designs and patterns. For the past 13 years, Susan has written and produced her award-winning knitting blog found at susanbanderson.blogspot.com. Susan has a YouTube channel at SusanBAnderson which is all about knitting and over the years has had over 2.3 million views.
Yarn Story: "Our Barrett Wool Co. yarns were three years in the making before we ever opened our online doors. We have now been open for business for almost 3 years. We are a family-run business coming to you from, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. The thoughtful, personal care that has gone into the yarn development and color selection for Barrett Wool Co. has been extensive and we are very proud of the results. Our goal here at Barrett Wool Co. is to provide knitters with our 100% American grown, spun and dyed yarns and fun-to-knit inspiring patterns using our own beautiful yarns. "
"Our upgraded quality wool yarns have all been domestically sourced and custom-spun in local mills. Our 100% wool yarn is custom-dyed in Philadelphia. The focus on American-made wool yarns is important to us on many levels. At Barrett Wool Co. we are all about bringing things closer to home. We are working directly with the people who are at the source of our products and that feels good which in turn makes our yarn feel good. We want knitters and fiber enthusiasts to enjoy and love our yarns as much as we do. And that starts with us at our home base in Madison, Wisconsin."
"We currently have two main yarn lines. Our Home line is a worsted spun yarn that is versatile for so many different projects. Our Wisconsin Woolen Spun line is, of course, woolen spun and is incredibly versatile, as well. This line is completely local to Wisconsin with the wool being gathered from mainly mid-western sheep farmers, and then spun and dyed close to home. It is pretty special to us."
Sustainability: "Sustainability is really important to Barrett Wool Co. We have intentionally tried to keep everything as close to home as possible to lessen our carbon footprint, to work with local and U.S.-based mills, wool producers and farmers, and dye houses. We intend to keep improving and striving to use the best and most sustainable resources available for our company. For example, our mailers are made of 40-90% post-consumer materials and are printed with water-based ink. They are made in Wisconsin and are 100% recyclable and compostable. We were thrilled to support this local paper company. It's small things like this that can make a big difference when they are added up."
Inspiration: Susan’s favorite part of her career, in addition to designing, is traveling far and wide to teach knitting and to have the honor of meeting knitters from all over the world.
Other Notes: "I am excited to get design this special Alpaca for the 'Alpaca my bags' theme this time around. I used our lovely Picket Fence (natural white) color in the soft Home Worsted yarn for the Alpaca, which seems kind of perfect. The three colorful yarns included in the kit for the blanket and poms will be randomly selected. They will be nothing short of gorgeous and perfect for the pop of color to warm your Alpaca's back! "
Photo credit Evan Anderson of Barrett Wool Co.
Ocean Rose (@Ocean_bythesea)
Knit Star Partner: Hannah Thiesen
Location: London, England
Bio: "I have always loved to make and create handmade objects and items, with my heart and hands, for as long as I can remember... It must have started out with friendship bracelets from the colourful glass beads my grandmother would bring, all the way from Nigeria, on her annual visits."
"On my most free days you’ll find me playing with yarn, with Sunny lighting the room with laughter. Always with wildflowers in hand."
Yarn Story: "My grandma taught me how to knit when I was very young, and I remember always wanting to be close to her when she would knit. When she would bring her project bag out, I would marvel at the making of magic and was transfixed on her clicking needles and fast moving rustic wool."
Sustainability: "Hand-dyed wool has become a daily adventure for me, sourcing organic, locally processed fibres. Happy sheep happy maker."
Inspiration: "My dream is to be able to create feeling in my work, from dusk until dawn, and this is helping those dreams alive."
Beata Jezek, owner/creative director of Hedgehog Fibres (@hedgehogfibres)
Location: Cork, Ireland
Bio: "In 2008 Ireland took an economic downturn and I was let go from the company I worked for. I picked up knitting to keep myself occupied, was instantly hooked and knew I wanted to create my own line of yarns."
Yarn Story: "I love creating new colours, changing things up and staying current. I think Hedgehog Fibres really reflects that attitude as an extension of my personal style."
Sustainability: "We use non-toxic acid dyes. Our dye process does not involve pouring any dyes into our drains. In fact virtually zero dye is even wasted, as we ensure it is all fully committed to the yarn/fibre in question before moving to the next step. We use food grade citric acid as setting agent, which is naturally found in food and water and readily biodegrades in the environment, so no significant negative effects are expected from its use."
Other Notes: "We have colour naming parties at work! I like to gather everybody and brainstorm when we have new colours coming out, it's a ton of fun."
"We encourage our dyers to be creative and not just follow recipes. Potluck™ skeins are one of a kind skeins created by our artisan dyers under the watchful eye of Beata, who trains all our dyers and oversees all colourway creations. Potlucks are unique, special and never to be repeated. We create these in small dyelots, usually in lots of 4 to 10, but often just one or two. Once they sell, that's it! They pop up in our store sometimes and our retailers can order them too. Potlucks are fun and spontaneous, always speckled or variegated and (almost) never semi-solid. They are like easter eggs and are the most unique product we have in our range."
Diversity: "HHF has an open door policy and believes in equal opportunities. We employ a diverse team, hailing from all over the world."
Meg Anderson (@nutmegfibers)
Location: East Nashville, Tennessee
Bio: "Nutmeg, the nickname given to me, Meg Anderson, by my grandmother many, many years ago. Founded in 2012, this is a cottage industry, begun out of my house, that grew into a brick and mortar store at the Shoppes at Fatherland in the heart of East Nashville. I spent 2 great years there, growing the business and meeting so many wonderful fiberfolk. In the summer of 2016, I both built my first dedicated dye studio for Nutmeg Fibers and moved 100% online, as our Nutmeg community had grown far beyond East Nashville! Nutmeg Fibers has now been an Independent Yarn Company for 5 years and a small business for 7! I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me next. Entering fall of 2019, I have begun expanding our NF to include Nutmeg Fibers Arst, a business that is more inclusive of all aspects of the fiber arts while still embracing our love of natural dyes, yarn, knitting and sustainable making. Knitting and the fiber arts have become a great source of calm and inspiration to me, and I'm excited to share my fiber arts love with all of you!"
Yarn Story: "Nutmeg Fibers brings quality wool to knitters and crafters of all kinds. Nutmeg Fibers are hand dyed with natural dyes in sweater quantity batches. Nutmeg Fibers are made with wool, alpaca, linen and cotton, with only our linen coming from outside the USA. We use only the best of US Fibers, milled just for us at a state of the art, Leed-Certified mill, as well as working farm, that promotes eco-consciousness within fiber production."
Sustainability: "At Nutmeg Fibers, we believe that whole garments can be made from natural dyes. We believe that wool doesn’t have to be superwash to be useable in everyday life. We love that we can feel the lanolin on the fibers, and that we can smell the fields that the sheep walked in on the undyed yarn when it comes to us from the mill. We love that bits of dyestuff sometimes come off on our hands when we work with fibers dyed with traditional methods. We love the idea that our fiber-loving ancestors years ago may have used the same methods to produce a garment from start to finish as we are using today!"
Inspiration: "In late 2018, Nutmeg Fibers launched our Wooland member-based community: a place for lovers of fiber traditions. It’s a place where knowledge is passed along, so that these traditions can stay alive."
"I view life as one huge learning experience, and through my work with dyes and fibers, I always am hoping to learn new methods and ways of working with natural colors. For example, for the Knit Stars program, I began working with Weld for the first time, a lovely little plant that dyes a vibrant yellow color on wools. Overdyed with deep blue indigo, this lovely sea-green reminded me of the Seaweed that we’d see floating around on our trip to Jeju Island in Korea, that was this same deep green-blue shade. I hope you love it!"
All of the yarns shown above, along with some other surprises, will be available to all Knit Stars 4.0 enrollees for (optional) ordering, starting November 1. Any questions? We're always here to help at [email protected] :)