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Tributary Yarns

Tributary Yarns

Today I would like to share with you not just a yarn photostory, but more a life story where yarn and knitting play such an important role. I’ve “met” Andrea quite some time ago when I stumbled on her blog This Knitted Life and completely fell in love with her writing. She has such a great sense of humor and it feels like you are chatting with a friend who GETS you. I’ve been following Andrea’s knitting journey since then and could not be happier for her when I saw the IG post about starting her own hand dyed yarn label – Tributary Yarns. What I loved about it is that Andrea took us along on the journey since the very beginning, sharing all ups and downs, successes and disasters along the way, showing that it is not always easy to follow your dream, but perseveranc , faith and love for what you do will help to get through!

I hope you will enjoy our talk about yarn, life and how it is OK not to get it all done.

Tributary Yarns

I always wonder how a dream is born, how out of many paths out there we choose the one that resonates with us. Would you share your experience with it? From your posts, I have a feeling that you have finally found something that makes perfect sense to you, like you were always supposed to be doing this. Was it always your goal to create your own yarn label or this dream has grown along your knitting journey?

If you would have asked me a year ago if I ever planned to dye yarn and launch Tributary Yarns, I would have laughed and said hek no! I loved following indie dyers online and supporting them through my work on This Knitted Life, but I never thought I would become one myself.

At the time, I had casually pursued milling and dying the fleeces from my former neighbor’s small alpaca herd. (I am a passionate believer in locally sourced, sustainable products.) Nothing clicked and the idea fizzled. I remained focused on my knitting design work and writing for This Knitted Life. I love writing about knitting almost as much as I love knitting.

Then I divorced and moved out on my own, sharing my five-year-old son between households with his father. It was a hard transition. Not just emotionally, but economically. I have a good day job, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t thriving. Divorcing was a clear step in the right direction, but I needed more.

Yes, Tributary Yarns was born from my knitting journey and love for the craft. It is also a product of necessity and a raw yearning to simply survive and create a place for myself and my son, on my own terms. Tributary Yarns does make perfect sense to me. I can apply my grit and determination to my craft and promote sustainably-sourced fiber. With a young child, the ability to work from home at odd hours is also vital.

(You can read more about the three-part story behind Tributary Yarns here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

I love when people are sharing their daily rituals and routines, as I believe the simple mundane things we do every day actually shape our life and the bigger picture. Do you mind sharing the typical for you day? How do you balance work, yarn dyeing, knitting, motherhood and life in general?

I really struggle to fit it all in. I have a vision for how everything should be, but then I run out of time 20% into my list. The remaining 80% simply must wait.

I’m typically an early riser. I was up this morning around 6:00 and patrolled the garden while my water boiled for tea. I like to inspect for snails and other pests that might threaten the fruits of my horticultural endeavors. It was foggy this morning (I live near the Pacific), and the power lines were crackling in the coastal mist.

Morning tea is a sacred time for me. I settle into my spot on the sofa, flip through social media, take in a bit of news, and sometimes knit a couple rows if I can. After that, it’s go time, and I don’t sit down again until 8:00 or 9:00 at night. This morning, I took a quick shower before photographing and labeling some new colorways I wound into skeins late last night.

I boxed up the yarn and went to wake Reed up, which was no easy feat. He’s been sleeping a ton lately. I think he’s going through a growth spurt. I had already opened the curtains to no avail. Eventually, I turned to unreasonably loud music and an announcement of breakfast. Still no luck. When I finally threatened breakfast would soon be over and we needed to get in the car, he emerged from under the covers, giant teddy bear in tow, and sat down drowsily to eat some toast and berries before I tossed him in the shower.

We were running late (always!) and scurried out the door around 8:30, pausing on the way to drop off the box of newly labeled yarn on Sunni’s doorstep. Sunni lives nearby and owns the LYS in town (Yarn in Eureka, California). She’s taken on the challenge of hosting my yarn for online sales on her website, bless her heart.

After that, it was a full day of school for Reed and work for me. Reed spends tonight with his father, so I worked an extra long day at my day job to get in some additional hours. I was home around 7:00, did some dishes and laundry, and then tied in some ends for a sample cowl I just finished knitting to promote my Drainage DK. After that, I worked on these questions and tried to make some progress linking the products on my site to the LYS website. I could really do without all the techy aspects of running a website, but I’ve come to accept it’s a necessary evil.

I probably won’t dye more yarn until the weekend. I’ll often do a small batch or two once or twice a week, after Reed’s asleep. Typically I do my big dye sessions every other weekend when Reed’s not home. I take over the kitchen with pans and tubs, subsist off take-out and the mercy of others, and have at it. Dying yarn also helps to keep me busy and get through the days when Reed is not home. A year later, I’m still very much grieving the loss of so much time with my son.

Tributary Yarns

How do you come up with the colors for Tributary? Is it more of a careful planning or more of improvisation?

At first, I had this vision for very natural, gentle colors. There’s a reason my yarn label is called Tributary Yarns. I work professionally as a hydrologist and focus on river and ecosystem restoration. I love water, stone, and waves. Nature. Earth. All of it. I started off dying a lot of muted, blended colors that reminded me of places that I loved. My colorways tend to be named after streams and other places where I live. I also dyed some pinks and bright colors, because I love those shades as well. Honestly, the pinks and vivid colorways tend to be more popular and sell better, as do speckly colorways.

I tend to do bolder, wilder color combinations with my Stream Sock base and stick with my original eco-spectrum on my River Silk and Merino fingering. I just dyed a big batch of my sustainable Watershed Worsted in these very dark, moody blues, purples, and greens. I call them The Tides. I think I was having an emotional day and it came through. I have some colorways that I really like and have been repeating, but at least half of my dying is always a new color combination. I feel like I’m still having fun exploring new approaches to dying and assessing what works. Dying yarn is limitless, so I don’t want to shackle my potential by dying the same shades over and over.

Tributary Yarns

Has anything changed in your approach to knitting after you have started your yarn brand?

Knitting remains core to who I am as a person. Mostly I find I have a little less time to knit because I’m so busy processing yarn. I do feel quite proud of myself when I knit with yarn I dyed myself. It’s satisfying. I have still been designing, but honestly can’t find the time to write up the designs and knit samples. Someday I hope to be successful enough to hire a support team and realize the full potential of my comprehensive vision. In the meantime, I just plug away, one stitch at a time. I have to remind myself that I’m just one woman, not an army.

Tributary Yarns

What would your advice be to those who have a dream, but are afraid to go for it? What is the first step, in your opinion?

I tell Reed to dream big every day. Do what you love. Stay the course. This Knitted Life and Tributary Yarns have not been an overnight success for me. It’s not like I started my endeavors back in 2013 and gained 5,000 followers overnight, all eager to buy my latest pattern. Hek, I still don’t have 5,000 followers and couching my unwavering pursuit of Knitopia as a fiscal success is probably a stretch too. That publishing offer has yet to land in my inbox, nor have I had time to put together an actual book proposal. But I’m a big girl. I know our dreams don’t boil down to followers or money. Or even writing a book about knitting. I do value my time, and I don’t want to waste it pursuing a non-viable dream. I’m trying to earn a living here. So I can take a knitting vacation.

I think there’s a difference between a hobby and a business, and I recognize that line is blurry for a lot of people starting out with fiber-related businesses. You must be passionate about your dream. Being successful takes a lot of grit and hard work. For every success, there are ten failures. At least. If you aren’t passionate, weathering the bad days can become impossible.

Love yourself. Believe in yourself. Surround yourself only with people who believe in you. Work hard. Work harder. Wake up and do it all over again.

Tributary Yarns


River Silk and Merino is a fingering weight yarn that would be perfect for your shawl projects! As for me, a garment knitter, this green beauty inspired me to come back to my knitting machine after more than a year break! I just see it in my head – a loose reverse stockinette stitch drop shoulder pullover with a beautiful drape and silky sheen. I will share my experiment here, of course!

Visit Andrea’s cozy space at This Knitted Life (make sure to make yourself a nice cup of something and get ready for beautiful and fun read!). You can find and shop Tributary Yarns at yarn-fun.com

I wish you a wonderful Sunday!


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By | 2018-06-10T07:12:57+00:00 June 10th, 2018|Knitting, Yarn|0 Comments

Sunday Loves

Happy Sunday! As much as I love sharing with you finished, blocked and all pretty knits, I think there is a certain beauty in a WIP’s mess with its uneven stitches, loose threads and open stitches. It shows behind the scenes progress that I personally cherish as much as the final result. My experiment with mixing Heritage and Wheat has moved to the sleeves stage and this is definitely my favorite part of the pattern. New summer knit in Daisy is waiting to be blocked and threads have to be fixed, this is my plan for today. I am looking forward to see how the yarn will open up after a nice bath – so far the fabric feels so smooth.

Another weekend plan is to continue my current fascinating read – The Diary of Anne Frank. I have no idea why I didn’t read it earlier though always had it on my must-read list. I decided to combine a good read and practicing my Spanish grammar, hence the Spanish translation. From my experience, this is the best way to learn the language, even if you don’t understand everything and it takes more time this way while you are looking for a certain word in the dictionary, with the time the language sort of sinks into you and before you know it, you speak it. I also downloaded Quizlet app – a great tool to learn new words and practice them, highly recommended!!!

I hope you are having a wonderful Sunday!


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By | 2018-05-20T08:47:42+00:00 May 20th, 2018|Knitting|7 Comments

Summer Knitwear

Summer Knitwear. The Gift Of Knitting.

Happy Sunday! As the temperatures are rising in my corner of the world, I decided to share with you three knits that I know I will wear this summer a lot. Hot weather never stopped me either from wearing knitwear or making one. I am actually very grateful for the change of seasons which gives us, knitters, the reason to try new fibers and take a break from wool.

Wool and The Gang got me covered with their fun pima cotton and ribbon yarn. If you remember, I finished Riviera skirt more than three years ago and it is still in perfect state. It was my very first collaboration with yarn company and I will always be thankful to WATG family for believing in me since the very beginning. I am pairing it with a simple t-shirt, a great easy look for a summer day off and farmer’s market grocery shopping.

Stone Washed ribbon yarn was turned into crop top last summer and I’ve been wearing it inside the house almost every day, it is just so easy to throw on. For a more conservative look to wear outside, I am pairing it with loose high waisted cotton/linen pants, super comfortable! You can find a FREE pattern for it here – How to Knit a Crop Top.

Summer Knitwear. The Gift Of Knitting.

Rain has been my most worn sweater lately. Easy to pair with absolutely anything – office pants, jeans and shorts. Pima cotton by We Are Knitters is a pure delight next to the skin, feels so fresh and with a nice drape. I will wear it to death! But so far it is holding up very nicely.

Summer Knitwear. The Gift Of Knitting.

I am finishing one more sweater in Daisy that will hopefully share with you soon and I hope it will also become a great addition to my summer knits!

Summer Knitwear. The Gift Of Knitting.

What are your relationships with summer and knitwear? Do you put your knits away until the weather cools down or take out your cotton and linen yarn out of your stash to play with?

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!


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By | 2018-04-29T07:43:49+00:00 April 29th, 2018|Knitting|5 Comments

Travel Knitting

Knit Picks Yarn. The Gift Of Knitting.

Happy Thursday! I have some exciting news – this weekend I booked my flight to Russia! Can’t believe it’s been two years already since I last visited my family and I cannot wait to see everybody in 3 months! I will also be happy to take you along my favorite places and maybe some yarn shopping.

And of course I immediately started thinking about travel knitting. Though I am flying in summer, you can never trust Russian weather, so knitwear is a must! I am thinking of making a light loose sweater to travel in – I definitely need a touch of coziness for over 30 hours of travel. If you remember I finished a Gallery Sweater a couple of years ago, where I mixed Knit Picks baby alpaca/silk and merino to get enough yardage to make the sweater. I have more of these skeins in different shades and thought why not to repeat the experiment, changing the shaping a little bit. It will also give me excuse to clean the dust off my poor abandoned knitting machine – I wish I had more time to work on it regularly!!

Knit Picks Yarn. The Gift Of Knitting.

Another project I am thinking to take with me is my The Edge sweater, but in classic grey shade! As I told you before, after finishing this design, I knew someday I will cast in on in grey too, I am just so curious to see how it will turn out in this neutral shade! Plus, I am so craving to come back to its squishy 3D cabling!

Knit Picks Yarn. The Gift Of Knitting.

I wish I could take the needles in my carry on, but with all these new flight rules, I wouldn’t risk my favorite ADDI clicks. What about you? Do you associate travelling and knitting in some way?


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By | 2018-04-19T08:33:57+00:00 April 19th, 2018|Knitting, Yarn|16 Comments

Daisy

Knit One Crochet Too Daisy. The Gift Of Knitting.

Some time ago Jesse, the owner of Knit One Crochet Too, contacted me with the offer to try their brand new yarn and create a summer pattern for it. As soon as I read the fiber content, I knew I would love it even before touching it – linen, silk and hemp blend. I have a weak spot for plant fibers, especially when they are mixed in one skein – it makes it even more enticing. I also had a chance to chat with Jesse and talked about the company in general and Daisy. I am happy to share this mini interview with you here.

The company exists since 1996, it is more than 20 years old, how do you think it has changed over the years?

The company has been around for over 20 years and is now on it’s 3rd owner, me! Susan Levin and Gloria Tracy were the first owners, they had started the company in California by developing their own knitting products and patterns. Then in 1999 they brought yarn into the company, they had a very successful run but realized they wanted to stick to developing products instead of yarn. In 2004 Helene Rush purchased the company and moved it to Windham Maine. There she was able to grow the yarn collection  and show off her amazing pattern writing skills.  When Helene was ready to retire ( she was designing about 50-60 designs a year on top of running the company) she reached out to me and I was more than excited to step up and bring it into a new era. I am hoping to inspire knitters with our yarns, designs and passion for the art.

Knit One Crochet Too Daisy. The Gift Of Knitting.

 

You’ve taken up the company from a different owner – was it hard? How did you keep the balance of keeping the essence of the company and still add your own personal touch to it?

Yes, it was no easy task taking over this company. Mostly because I didn’t work for Knit One Crochet Too before, and I wanted the transition to be smooth for shops and slowly change the company into what I want it to be. Honestly,  I was still deciding which way I wanted to take the company when I bought it. But over the first couple months I was able to really dive in and figure out where I wanted to take it.  I feel that I have been doing a pretty good job keeping the identity of the yarns strong and just adding a new look to the designs. Helene Rush ( the previous owner) is such an amazing designer that most of her designs are timeless. This has helped me when I was too over whelmed at times to come up with a new design for a season, I could just rephotograph one of her gorgeous garment and give it new life. This Spring/Summer  it has all come together, The Copenhagen Collection, really shows where we want to take the company. With fresh looking designs in inspiring locations.
Knit One Crochet Too Daisy. The Gift Of Knitting.
 
Would you tell us a little bit about Daisy – your new summer yarn. How did you come up with this blend of fibers?
When I was thinking about what I wanted for my first spring/summer yarn as the new owner I knew I wanted it to be a hemp/linen yarn. I love the feeling of linen knits once they have been washed and blocked and being based in Florida that was a blend we would be able wear all year round. After, talking with our Mill in Italy we were able to create this gorgeous yarn that combines the typical feel of linen/hemp with the soft feel of silk. Daisy is a 3 ply blend yarn (38% Linen, 32% Silk, 30% Hemp) where each ply is one of the fiber contents, when the fiber is dyed each content takes the dye differently. This create a lovely depth to the yarn. Since we were planning on doing our photoshoot in Copenhagen we decided a cute name for the yarn would be Daisy, it is Denmark’s national flower. Also, because  when I met my husband the first present he ever got me was a Georg Jensen Daisy necklace ( it is a cute enameled daisy, that I never take off).

I have been swatching a lot with Daisy these past weeks. It is slowly being turned into a light sweater that I hope I will share with you this spring. The yarn really got the best qualities from all fibers – the thread is strong, durable and creates great stitch definition. The fabric created is lightweight and drapes beautifully with a delicate sheen. Made from plant fibers the sweater won’t pill and will be great to wear next to the skin on a hot day – linen/silk/hem are breathable and have a very good absorbency. And the great thing is when the temperatures cool down, you will still enjoy wearing it – this blend will also help to lock in the warmth of your body! Blocking is essential, hemp just has to be washed to bloom – the fabric will soften with each bath, without any fiber degradation. This is the beauty of the good quality plant fibers!

Knit One Crochet Too Daisy. The Gift Of Knitting.

I hope you enjoyed this little yarn photostory and inspired to pick up your summer WIPs!


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By | 2018-03-28T07:42:54+00:00 March 28th, 2018|Knitting, Yarn|4 Comments

Spring Knitting

Spring Knitting

Happy Sunday! As spring is heading towards us with the speed of light and deadlines are growing and getting closer, I am trying to fit 10 minutes of selfish mindless knitting into my days, just because it feels good. This lush forest green baby alpaca is like the massage for the hands – feels incredible soft and silky. When I saw Wheat sweater in green color on @galt_houseofyarn account, I just wanted to recreate it in this color so badly. If you remember, I gave the original sweater to my friend, so this one is going to hug me 🙂

Spring Knitting

I also thought that it would be great to take some design details from the Heritage sweater and make something slightly different – so the shaping, sleeve cable and the body shaping are from Wheat and the central slip stitch chain and slip stitch raglan lines are from Heritage. So, basically I have two my designs on the needles 🙂 It is perfect for this yarn – lots of stockinette stitch knitting to enjoy these delicious skeins.

Spring Knitting

Apart from this project, I am playing with swatches in hand dyed sunny merino silk and brand new yarn by Knit One Crochet TooDaisy – a very interesting linen, silk and hemp blend, as soon as I get to know it better, I will tell you more about it.

Hope you are having a wonderful Sunday and will have time today to pick up your needles! Thank you for being behind the screen!!

P.S. I am sorry I didn’t have a chance to write the post during the week and announce the winner for Vogue Knitting. The Ultimate Knitting Book. The random number generator picked Gigi! Congratulations, Gigi, you will receive your copy soon – I will contact you shortly for more information!


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By | 2018-03-04T09:10:31+00:00 March 4th, 2018|Knitting, Yarn|5 Comments
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