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  • Tolt Pattern Retrospective - Our First Year

    As our 3rd anniversary approaches we have our mind on the past three years. From the beginning we have loved bringing new patterns to our community. We love to share what inspires us, and find more ways to use the yarns we love. Here is a tour of our first year in patterns.
    Tolt Hat & Mitts was our first pattern, designed by Andrea Rangel to celebrate our opening on November 9, 2013. This pattern was designed to use Imperial Yarn's Columbia 2-ply and Spincycle's Independence, two yarns we love.

     

    From the designer:

    “Crisp fall hikes and cool evenings around the campfire call for a cozy set like this. Tolt is an outdoorsy pair of fingerless mitts and a toasty hat that look great on both men and women, worked in stockinette with ribbed cuffs for a snug fit. It’s a perfect pattern for those new to color work, too. The stranded color work pattern takes inspiration from the wending currents of the Tolt River, which was the site of an important salmon run that helped sustain the native Snoqualmie people.” - Andrea Rangel

    Sweet Magnolia was inspired by the lovely ladies of the Thursday night knitting circle at Tolt Yarn & Wool in Carnation, Washington. A new yarn arrived in the shop; creative juices started flowing; and with a lot of laughter, this design was created to welcome spring. Make it long or short in a variety of yarns for a new look every time.

    Susan Gehringer designed Sweet Magnolia in Twirl Yarn's Twirling Petals.

    Rutherford was designed by Veronika Jobe for our first LYS (Local Yarn Store) Tour. This unisex hat was popular immediately, the twisted rib pattern so crisp and timeless and the yarn so lovely. Veronika designed Rutherford in her own yarn, YOTH Big Sister.

    Our Hearth Slippers were designed by Dianna Walla in sizes for the whole family, knitted in Heirloom Romney. We released this pattern just in time for the 2014 Nordic Knitting Conference.

    “When I first started talking to Anna from Tolt about these slippers, she’d put together a beautiful mood board full of delightfully wintry scenes: snowy woods, old fashioned sleds, cups of hot chocolate and wool blankets. I drew a lot of inspiration from the wintry palette, and fell in love with the crisp combinations of light winter greys and blues with contrasting bright red winter berries and deep, dark tree branches. I designed the slippers with these colors in order to convey a certain mood. There is something about the quiet of a fresh snow that I always come back to, and it’s part of what makes winter my favorite season. That being said, perhaps my favorite thing about these slippers is that they’re good not just for winter, but for the transitional seasons before and after, too, when mornings and evenings are still chilly and a little extra cozy warmth is appreciated. ” – Dianna Walla

    We released the Audrey Collection with our newly created Snoqualmie Valley Yarn for our first anniversary.

    “This lovely collection is based on the Snoqualmie valley. I gathered inspiration from Twin Peaks, the mountains, and the valleys to create a simple knit and purl patterning stitch. I incorporated this pattern into the entire collection of accessories using the beautifully undyed Snoqualmie Valley Wool.” –Jessie Roselyn

     

    Next up on the Blog – Our Second Year

    * * *

    Please join us for our 3rd Anniversary Celebration on November 19th, 2016. We will be releasing our newest collection Snoqualmie, a collaboration with Bristol Ivy.

    There will be gifts for the first 100 through the door, and a gift with purchases over $50 while supplies last. There will also be Door Prizes from Brooklyn Tweed, Woolfolk, Quince, Spincycle, YOTH and Tolt.

  • Woolfolk – Kristin Ford

    I’m sitting here trying to think of things that I’ve done longer in my life than knitting, and coming up with a pretty short list. Teeth brushing (maybe), walking, running, riding a bike (maybe), but it has really been a constant presence since my grandmother taught me at age 5. I was instantly hooked, and very persistent. She took me to my first yarn shop, whispering as we went in, “Don’t worry; they’re rude to everyone; not just children!” and helped me pick out yarn for my first projects. My first sweater was in fourth grade; a sleeveless shell with appliqued daisies from a Family Circle Knitting magazine. I haven’t mentioned yet that my grandmother’s maiden name was Katherine Temple Woolfolk; she had several last names added and removed over the years, but I adored her, and think of her every time I unpack another box of Woolfolk.

     

    After graduating from college with a degree in Architecture (during which my most memorable project was knitting a duplicate Cowichan sweater for one of my classmates to replace a treasured one that was his father’s; I made $25 and a free margarita), I practiced in Seattle for 20+ years, working primarily in commercial and institutional fields on everything from Nordstrom stores to prisons.

     

    I married and reproduced at an “advanced” age; with my husband, bought a farm on Sauvie Island, and was lucky enough to get to stay home and raise my kids, along with 5000 apple trees and a herd of Highland cattle that grew to as many as 60 head. I learned to graft, prune and castrate; and was the labelling machine for our small hard cidery. And, I kept knitting.

    Apples at Ford Farm

    When my kids began to need me less, I went back to work at a local yarn store in Portland, and then was moved to the wholesale division, where I learned what it took to build a yarn business. My husband encouraged me to try it on my own after I met the local partner of Ovis 21, the Argentinian co op that sustainably raises merino sheep, with a goal to improve the grasslands of Patagonia and elevate the living standards of the farmers as well as the herds. You can learn more about them here....http://en.ovis21.com/.

     

    I knew that the fiber was unique enough to stand as the basis for a company the first time I felt it. If you look at it through a microscope, the scale pattern is closer to cashmere than to wool, and the 17.5 mm diameter, long stapled fibers are incredibly soft. We signed an agreement that granted Woolfolk exclusivity to the fiber for handknitting; in exchange, we give back a percentage of the profit to help the farmers. There is a limited amount of fleece that meets the Ultimate Merino specifications, so I have hand selected the retailers which I think will do the best job of representing the brand.

     

    Designwise, my Danish heritage and background in Architecture drove most of the decisions as I built the company. I hired an incredible graphic designer, Vanessa Yap Einbund, who has been able to clearly articulate what I see in my head on to the website. She and Olga Buraya Kefelian have been very key in growing the brand, and I am lucky to have such wonderful creativity and attention to detail to work with. Antonia Shankland, who is my East Coast rep (but so much more), has been a great sounding board for decisions that have been made in choosing and serving my retail partners.

     

    I have a few rules that I think set Woolfolk apart from other companies, and they have come about from my massive respect for the hard work that is done at the LYS level. When I was working at the retail store in Portland, I would watch a customer fondle a skein, help them calculate a sweater’s worth, and then see them walk out the door, presumably to order from a discount website. I will not sell to discounters, and I do not sell to website only shops....and I’ve asked my retail partners not to discount. In exchange, they get exclusivity in their area, and as much support as I can possibly give them.

     

    I also work with a handful of incredibly talented independent designers, who to me, are the unsung heroes of the industry. If the knitting consumers knew how much work went in to creating a pattern, there would be no grousing about paying $8 for a pattern that has required conceptual design, tech editing, layout and printing....oh, and test knitting to top it off. I have chosen to allow the design team to sell the patterns directly via their website or through ravelry; I hope to cover my printing costs, but I also understand that they are the best kind of advertising.

     

    This summer, I hired my first “employee”, and am no longer packing the boxes myself as I did for my first two seasons. Meredith Hobbs is handling shipping and customer service, and I cannot thank her enough for allowing me to be able to develop new yarn lines and colorways and thinking about new ways to help my retail partners sell the yarn.

     

    The Woolfolk World Headquarters is in our former cider room; I walk 300 yards past my goats and cows to go to work every day. I use the term “work”, but this never feels like it to me. I just feel lucky to be part of this industry that has shaped my world view and reconnects me with my roots on a daily basis.

    Kristin out with her herd of cattle

  • Why We Love Woolfolk

    Woolfolk's Tynd, a fingering weight

    We love Woolfolk yarn for the beautiful sophisticated aesthetic that its founder Kristin Ford creates. Woolfolk yarn is exquisitely soft, created with ultra fine merino wool. In our shop we have all weights that Woolfolk creates – Tynd, Sno, Får, Hygge and Tov.

    'Vinkler', by Olga Buraya Kefelian in Får

    Did we mention Woolfolk yarn is soft? Ultimate Merino is incredibly luxurious, inspiring sighs by all who touch it.

    Hygge, a bulky weight created with Ultimate Merino, baby alpaca and mulberry silk

    We love Woolfolk's beautiful palette. The fact that the palette is consistent throughout the bases allows for wonderful opportunity of creating mixes of the yarns for new weights and textures.

    Får, a worsted chainette

    Although the wool for Woolfolk is coming from afar (South America) it is coming from a program that is all about good practices for farmers, whilst preserving and regenerating the health of the Patagonian grasslands. Every bit of this wool is traceable to its farm of origin.

    Sno, a marled version of Tynd

    If you are near to us, come visit to see a trunk show of the gorgeous new Fall 2016 designs.  

    Tov, a bouncy aran weight

    Look for Woolfolk founder Kristin Ford's story in the next week or so.

  • Anna's trip to Cordova, Alaska for the Net Loft's Gansey Project.

    This past Summer I had the pleasure of visiting Cordova, Alaska for the Net Loft's Gansey Project.    Please head over to Fringe Association to learn more about Dotty and the amazing community she has created in Cordova.
    Flying from Anchorage to Cordova.
    View of the Copper River Delta from the plane.
    From Ski Hill looking out into the bay.
    Drifters Fish bring up the catch.
    Nelly of Drifters Fish (and Dotty's daughter) with the catch of the day.
    Nelly and Kathy
    Beautiful Gansey sweaters on display.
    Swatches
    Glaciers!
    On a walk in search of wild dye plants.
    The Delta
    Nate (Dotty's son) on the Orion.
    Fisher Folk
    Mending nets.
    Cece's houseboat.
    Houseboat kitty
    Jacob wearing the sweater he knit.
    George mending nets in his stunning Gansey sweater 
    Mending nets.
    Alaskan wild flowers.
    Kathy Cadigan, photographer, knitter and friend.
    Rain in the harbor
    Cordova Harbor at midnight.
  • Isle Yarns - Sue Hole

    From farm to yarn with authenticity and our own unique story

           

     Summer harvest, Our sheep dog Flake, and Cattle at the top of the farm

    Nestled in the rolling hills of the Isle of Purbeck and on the Jurassic Coast of England is home to our family farm. We have a mixed farm of Sheep, Pigs, Cattle and Arable and there are 7 members of the Hole family currently working on the home farm, covering 2 generations. Our farming lives are busy and varied and we work hard to farm our land well. One of the things that we love about our way of life is that there is no such thing as a typical day in farming, every day is different. Farming is seasonal and heavily dependent on the weather.

         

    Lizzie Hole works on the farm full time, Sue Hole runs Isle Yarns and Sam Hole has his own flock of Dorset sheep

    We run a commercial flock of 1400 Ewes and a small flock of pedigree Poll Dorsets to produce breeding Rams. We have been looking at ways to add value to the wool after shearing and in 2015 we took fleeces from this and our son Sams flock to The Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall to be washed, carded and spun to create a pure woollen spun yarn which we now sell through selected yarn stores and online.

    Poll Dorset Ewes

        

    Shearing time, rolling fleeces to take to the mill

     

     

    The Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall, wool bags ready to go, the wool being processed

     The Poll Dorset sheep have a 'downs' type of wool, known for its density and springiness. It is crisp, full bodied and rustic, making it ideal to be woollen spun which allows the fibre to wrap upon itself while trapping air in the centre. The wool is firm to knit with, finished items show excellent stitch definition and are warm and rustic. The wool takes dye clearly and well and 'blooms' and softens when washed. It is stretchy so blocking will allow for size adjustments. The wool is great for all kinds of projects and so far we’ve seen hats, mitts and jumpers knitted with the wool and we enjoy seeing projects shared on Instagram with the tag #isleyarns

            

    'Henderson' by Joanne, 'Cow Road' by Claire, 'Art Deco' by Melody

    Once we had produced the first batch we started to think about developing a colour range for the wool and collaborating with Indi designers. Their input has been invaluable in testing the wool, selecting the colours and designing patterns with it.

    As farmers we know our strengths and also our limitations. Our skill sets surround rearing well cared for, healthy animals. We are lucky to have found a market for the wool and even luckier to have experts in and around the wool industry who have all played a crucial part in our journey so far. From our first conversation with Lara Pollard Jones at the Natural Fibre Company and her patience in explaining all the options to us, our dear friends Marte Marie Forsberg and Kate O’Sullivan who took such beautiful photos for the website and showed us how to tell our story and the designers Jo, Sarah, Claire, Melody and soon to join us, Dana, who embraced the authenticity of the product and have given it wings to fly through their enthusiasm and vision.

       

    Joanne Spittler, Sarah Hazell, Melody Hoffmann and Claire Ward 

    Our aim is for Isle Yarns to become an established small brand, to extend our colour range, build on the relationships we have with the designers who design beautiful patterns to compliment the wool and to introduce a collection of handmade knits and woven goods to sell alongside the yarn. In our first year we have increased the colour range to 11 colours with 7 more coming very soon. We now have the wool spun in 4 ply as well as double knit, we are introducing worsted spun as well as woollen spun and this winter we will be introducing a special edition of lambs wool/silk yarn which the designers will all have hand dyed in colours of their choice reflecting the colours of the area where we farm.

    Whilst we focus on increasing our brand, we are committed to keeping the authenticity, sustainability and integrity of our ‘farm to yarn’ story and we are so grateful to everyone who takes this journey with us. Farming can be an isolating way of life but by sharing photos of our farm life on Instagram we constantly recieve positive responses from people all over the world, full of encouragement and respect for what we do.

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