Yarn Story Collection :: Huckleberry Knits

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Huckleberry Knits American Dream in Black Walnut & Early Harvest

Our September Yarn Story Collection colorway comes fromBellingham, WA hand-dyer Huckleberry Knits. For the first time in YSC history, you’re not only getting a stunning skein of yarn, you’re also getting gradient-dyed mini skeins to go with it!

I can hear you asking: what will I do with those mini skeins???  Well, let me show you…

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Scarlet Tang of Huckleberry Knits teamed up with one of favorite designers to create a unique pattern to highlight her yarn.

The Prairie Glass Mitts  :: a pattern designed by Carina Spencer for our September #yarnstorycollection.

American-grown wool and American design icon Frank Lloyd Wright were the inspiration for this striking yarn & mitt design.

The colors of the Early Harvest mini gradient are inspired by fall foliage, contrasted against the smoky brown of the Black Walnut.  These intarsia mitts are evocative of colors that you might see framed in a view through FLW’s stained glass windows.

You can buy the kit in store & online for an introductory price of just $24 today through September 12th.  After that the price returns to $30.

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We love sharing not only the story behind the yarn, but the story of the people behind the yarns you love.  So sit back and enjoy our conversation with Scarlet Tang of Huckleberry Knits

When you were little, what did you want to be? Are there any activities or aspects of this you still enjoy as an adult?

I really wanted to be a writer. I loved–and still love–being immersed in a great story, and I wanted to write books that other people would get lost in.  I still want to write a book someday, but it will probably be nonfiction.

What did you do before starting Huckleberry Knits?

I was a public involvement specialist, working to help citizens and government communicate better. My favorite projects were the ones where I connected people to the public infrastructure that shaped their communities, like Sound Transit rail lines in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Where you locate and how you design a major public facility is going to determine how people interact with it and with one another for decades, so I think it’s critical to include the ideas and wishes of the people who are going to have to live with it.

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Tell us about how Huckleberry Knits began.

I started knitting as a kid, and kept on knitting casually into my early twenties. When I had a baby, I went into a yarn store for the first time in years and was immediately struck by the hand-dyed yarn. Mountain Colors and Manos were so different from the fabric-store acrylic I grew up using!

I was part of an online co-op group, and one of the organizers did a group buy for dyes. So I bought a few, and was hooked. I had a little online shop for hand-knitted baby clothes, so I started selling my extra hand-dyed yarn there. The business grew to the point where I was doing my day job and then coming home and dyeing till 1 or 2 in the morning. After selling at two Oregon shows, Sock Summit and Black Sheep Gathering, I decided to quit my job and dye full-time.

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For people who haven’t played with your yarn before: what makes your yarns so special?

It’s all about color richness and depth for me. Even my semi solids, like Black Walnut, are made up of multiple colors; I don’t just dilute my main color to get different shades. It’s just not different enough from commercially dyed yarn for my taste.

I love what I think of as liminal colors, where one color is transitioning to another and I get combinations that I can’t produce any other way. Whenever I put dye on yarn, I’m looking for places where that particular magic happens. It’s one of the things I love most about hand dyeing.

Why do you play with color and yarn? What does it do for your soul?

When I find exactly the right color combination, one that resonates right in my core like the most satisfying chord progression, it’s like it leaps out at me and says, I’m a little bit of joy in an imperfect world. That’s what I’m chasing every time.

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We’re so excited about your Yarn Story Collection yarn and collaboration with designer Carina Spencer! Can you tell us a little bit about how the design and yarn work together?

When I first talked with Carina about the kit, I sent her samples of all my American-grown wools and said that I’d love to see somethin inspired by an American design icon, like Frank Lloyd Wright. Carina suggested his glass work, so we came up with the idea of colors that you might see framed in a view through his windows. We both love autumn, so the colors of the Early Harvest mini gradient are inspired by fall foliage, contrasted against the smoky brown of the Black Walnut.

And the mini gradient: Carina said, I don’t know how hard it would be, but could you do a really short gradient? Once I had the idea, I really wanted to make it work. The actual dyeing is the easiest and fastest part of the process; prepping for dyeing and then winding them up for final presentation takes an absurd amount of time. I knew that it would be a labor of love, and in the end, they were worth it.

Where do you see your business heading in the next couple of years?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’m currently listening to the audiobook version of The E-Myth, and like some other business books I’ve read, he says that you need to have employees in order to grow. I did try hiring a helper last year, but the quarterly reporting to state agencies and the IRS pretty much cancelled out the time she saved me. Just last week, after multiple requests over several months, I finally managed to get my final state account closed even though I haven’t had an employee for 14 months. And the worker’s compensation rates that I had to pay were pretty high, because I’m classified as a textile mill.

But all the books are right: I’m basically maxed out in terms of what I can produce and earn, working on my own. Do I try hiring again, or do I learn to be content with what I can do? This is what I need to decide before I can set any further long-term goals.

What’s a typical work day look like for you?

Right now, I’m working on a wholesale order and beginning show prep for the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, so my daylight hours are focused on dyeing. At night, when everyone else has gone to bed, I’ll turn on Netflix or a podcast and twist and label skeins, or answer emails.

How do you try to balance work and personal knitting goals?

Ha! There is no balance. I don’t have much knitting time, so I’m always working on a booth sample with a new base yarn or maybe one that I feel needs the extra attention that a sample creates.

What’s the best part about owning your own business?

I like the flexibility of my hours. If my son has a school event in the middle of the day, or if they need volunteers for something, I can go without having to ask anyone.

Of course, the flexibility also cuts the other way: I work more hours, and weirder hours, than I’d ever expect of an employee. As another of my self-employed friends says, “Sure, I get to set my own schedule–I can choose which 60 hours of the week I want to work.”

The most challenging?

I’m the only person. If I take a vacation or sick day, I don’t get paid and the work doesn’t get done.

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Any current favorite colorways?

I became obsessed with the musical Hamilton a few months ago. Really loving the colorways that it’s inspired!

And today when I was walking with my son to school, it was misty and cool, and suddenly I was struck by the urge to dye lots of burnt orange and apple reds.

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate?

Ravelry. I can lose hours to the forums, or looking for just the right sweater pattern.

What are your non­-negotiables?

I don’t like hypocrisy. Be honest with yourself, otherwise you can’t really be honest with other people.

Who do you most trust to tell you the truth?

My husband always tells me what I need to hear. He’s clear-headed and perceptive, and always gives great feedback when I have a business idea that I want to run by him.

Fill in the blank:
When I need inspiration: I read National Geographic. The stories get me out of my head and out of my everyday life, and the incredible photographs refresh my mental color palette.

My guilty pleasure is: People magazine. It is so embarrassing to say this out loud! I feel like life is short and I should be trying to fight world hunger or something, but instead I’m sitting here reading about Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston.

Every knitter needs: Beautiful yarn that inspires her or him to create.

What is the best part of this knitting & yarn community?

I love how our common interest makes us happy! Fiber festivals are so much fun because you walk into the place and you immediately feel that vibe of being surrounded by happy, excited people.

 Any tattoos? If so, what inspired you to get your favorite tattoo?

No tattoos. I think about Johnny Depp and how he had to change his Winona tattoo to Wino after they broke up.

What’s your current mantra?

I got this.

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What is your favorite thing about Autumn?

This is a tough one! So many things to love. I grew up in New England, so the essence of autumn is fall foliage. But I also love wearing sweaters, hearing the geese fly south, and eating fresh Jonagold apples.

Knitters are notorious cat lovers. Why do you think that is?

I think it’s more that cats are curious and end up in photos with knitting more often than other pets do.

What color are your nails today?

There was a hole in my dyeing glove, and I was dyeing chartreuse yarn. So right now I have zombie yellow nails. So attractive!

If all of your weekend plans suddenly got cancelled, how would you spend your days?

First we’d grab breakfast at a favorite cafe, then take a walk around a lake. In the afternoon, I’d curl up with a good book or walk around the little downtown shops. I’d try out a new recipe from the Jerusalem cookbook for dinner, and then board games with family and friends.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks for inviting me to be part of the Yarn Story Collection! You always come up with such fun ideas.

Thank you, Scarlet!

You can hear more from Scarlet in our conversation on the Stash: Creative Conversations podcast, episode 005 here.

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Prairie Glass Mits Knit-Along

We cannot wait to cast on a pair of Prairie Glass mitts in this gorgeous colorway by Huckleberry Knits!

Interested in joining us in our first Yarn Story Collection knit-along?  We’ll be casting on the Prairie Glass mitts by Carina Spencer on September 15th.  We’ll be knitting together at our weekly Stitch Nights, and virtually in our Ravelry group.  I hope you’ll join us in this fun project!

You can buy the kit in store & online for an introductory price of $24 today through September 12th.

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Don’t forget to show us what you bought and what you’re making with our Yarn Story Collection yarns.  Tag us @StashLocal on Instagram or Twitter and use the hashtags #YarnStoryCollection and #StashYarnStory so we can see.

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