Tuesday, November 20

Introducing...

Valkill

252yds/230m 4oz/113g
5-5.5sts/in on US #5-6/3.75-4mm
100% NYS Cheviot Wool
 
One of my two newest yarns made from locally sourced wool, spun for me in New England.  Valkill is a hard wearing yarn made from Cheviot. Derek, the fine example above is one of the many sheep who shared his fleece for this yarn.

Valkill is spun in a way reminiscent of Icelandic style yarns, a hearty single ply appearance made with Cheviot fiber. I find this Cheviot to be soft enough to wear against the skin but it is definitely a toothier feel than the more fine-fleeced Rambouillet, or Merino.  The first run of Valkill has been dyed in bright shades of semisolid colors.  I'm picturing this yarn worked in bold colorwork patterns, modern takes on Lopepesaya or Cowichan sweaters and scaled up granny sqaures.







What can you envision Valkill growing up to be? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Tuesday, October 16

Rhinebeck viewed from across the river

I'm getting ready for Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago 10/26/8 but first I have a weekend of fun planned at NYS Sheep & Wool right across the river in Rhinebeck. I don't have a booth thus year so I get to have all the fun and none of the stress!




I love Sheep & Wool, it is, in part, why I chose to move to the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn. I know  knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, felters and fiber lovers of every kind are heading to Rhinebeck this weekend and I thought I'd share some tips from a local this week so you don't miss any of the awesome stuff my *neighborhood has to offer.

Local Yarnie events
Thursday & Friday 5-9pm
Hudson Valley Sheep & Wool is having evening open houses both nights to welcome fiber lovers from near & far into the shop to hang out, work on a project, eat and enjoy the company of others in town for the fest as well as the local crowd. HV S&W carries lots of yarn & undyed roving, including handspun art yarns and yarns made on the premises from their own flock of Icelandics. Added bonus: there is one of the sweetest Pyrenees you will ever meet "guarding" the door and you will be forced to give pets before entering.

Friday 4pm-6pm
The Perfect Blend Saugerties NY
The gals from Kelbourne Woolens are signing their new book November Knits.  I just met them at Interweave Knitting Lab and they are lovely, as is the book! The Perfect Blend carries a great selection of yarn (including mine) and teas. The shop is staying open late all weekend if you need to pick up last minute notions or just want to cozy up & knit or crochet after a day wandering the fair grounds.

A Fall 2012 Clotheshorse design using Splendor Sock

Saturday 7pm
White Barn Farm New Paltz NY
Local pal Heather Dixon of Army of Knitters & Clotheshorse is hosting a trunk show at White Barn Farm. You can try on some of the garments & enjoy an evening hang with refreshments at a shop devoted to showcasing the work of many local artists.  White Barn Farm has lots of locally dyed yarn & roving, some from their own flock of Cormos (lots of my yarn is here too!), hand spun yarn and even finished garments. If you haven't been, it so worth the drive. Oh, and if you go to New Paltz DO NOT MISS Lagusta's Luscious seriously, the best and most interesting chocolate you have ever tasted lives here. Just make sure to save some of these for me.

Saturday 7pm
Wing & Clover Rhinebeck NY
Shannon & Co are throwing a little post S&W shindig at Wing & Clover, a great local workshop space where you can find classes with me, Cal Patch or Jenny Lee Fowler often in the roster. The party is pay what you want and every dollar gets you a chance at what I'm sure is some awesome swag.

And a couple other "things" that I think you shouldn't skip if you're visiting:
Tuthilltown a local distillery that makes small batch spirits that are perfect for warming up on cool nights. You can find their products at many local liquor stores and their own shop in New Paltz. A great souvenir for the non fiber lover you go home to.
Keegan Ales a local micro brewery that recently opened a craft beer supply shop across the parking lot from the pub. So you can stop in for a pint or bring the supplies to make your own home with you!
Diesings Bakery The Front Street one is the only one to go to in my opinion. It is a weirdly old fashioned diner with walls covered in cuckoo clocks and a strange bar seating area that I love. Homemade doughnuts and pastries are amazing, not fancy or artisanal but super sweet and comforting.

I hope you love visiting the Hudson Valley as much as I love living here! I'd love to hear what local gems you come across when you're in town.





*Please note: outside of cities neighborhoods extend to a much wider range of around 20 miles

Wednesday, October 10

Contests

 




Hi friends!

It is the busy season over here at Camp JDMS. 
Yarn is in just about every stage of the process here, raw wool waiting to go to the mill, yarn soaking, yarn in dyepots, yarn drying, yarn waiting for labels and labeled yarn waiting for a new home (yours maybe?)



Thanks to everyone who entered the contest to win a 3 month subscription to Creative Bug! There are so many things you all want to make! The winner (chosen at random, thank you random number generator!) is Kelli who has been contacted and will be getting a hank of Catskill to make her practice swatch and a hank of Splendor to knit a Little Something.




Creative Bug (like most of us) is obsessed with Pinterest & is running a Pinterest contest with a serious grand prize and some pretty awesome "runner up" prizes too.  All the details are on their blog so if you didn't win this contest you have another chance and EVEN if you don't win the new contest I think a subscription is a great deal, you can take as many classes as you want for one price! And the roster of teachers is a pretty impressive group that I'm humbled to be counted among. If you aren't on Pinterest yet send me an email jill@jilldraper.com and I'll send you an invite. It's pretty fun and a great way to collect all those bookmarked projects into one place.

Back to the dyepots for me! Hope you're having as lovely rainy Wednesday as I am!

Tuesday, October 2

Overwhelmed, awed, amazed

Friends, I can't begin to thank you enough for all your votes & shares during the craziness of the voting for the American Made Award!

First, to even be selected as a finalist among thousands of businesses making things here in the US was such an honor. Then, to see the quality of things being made, I felt even prouder. Finally, to have all of you; customers, colleagues, old friends, the best family in the world and even my personal favorite record label getting in on it and trying to help me win what could be one of the most amazing prizes awarded to a small business has been utterly and completely heartwarming.

I spend most days alone, head-down, working away to bring you the yarns I've always wanted to knit with. High quality, ethically sourced and hand painted or kettle dyed with love and attention to detail. 

Sometimes working alone like this it's hard to remember why I'm doing this. It's all of you that remind me, every one of you who *squee-s* in my booth at a fiber fest or sends me an email with your finished project, comments on yarn pics on facebook or joined my Ravelry group!

The good news is it's not over yet!! The winner won't be announced until 10/8 (I know! I'm dy(e)ing too!) and apparently it isn't all about votes! Your part is over and for all your active participation I can't begin to thank you enough.  It was truly humbling, awe inspiring & heartwarming to see this little (one woman!) company stay among the top vote-getters day after day. 

Everyone keep your fingers & toes, knitting needles & crochet hooks crossed for me. Without you Jill Draper Makes Stuff wouldn't exist and my life would definitely be much less awesome than it is.

From the very bottom of my yarnie heart...

THANK YOU!!

Tuesday, September 18

New classes sprouting




You may have heard – since I’ve practically been shouting it from the rooftops – that I’m teaching classes online for the fab crew at Creative Bug.  I feel so honored to have a place among teachers & makers I really respect like Cal Patch, Rebecca Ringquist, Diana Fayt ... I could go on forever!
Here's a sweet video they made to introduce yours truly to the world.  It feels extra special because the music for it it is done by Richard Buckner (how lucky am I?!)



It has been super fun working with Creative Bug and I’m excited for even more classes to launch.  As of now, you can Learn to Knit  – English & Continental style, or for those who have the basics down; take an Intro to Lace class with me and learn to make a Little Something...



Today a new class launches and it‘s one of my favorite techniques to both knit and teach, double knitting.


Double Knit Sprout Cowl with Jill Draper on Creativebug from Creativebug on Vimeo.

Double knitting is way to make a reversible fabric with stockinette on both sides and because of the way it’s made, colorwork is a breeze with no ends to weave in and no floats on the “wrong side”.  I’ve been teaching this class in person and LOVE seeing the finished cowls, I can’t wait to see what color combinations my online students pick! You can check out some lovely finished cowls on Ravelry.

To celebrate the newest class launch, Creative Bug has agreed to generously give away a 3 month subscription and I'm sweetening the pot a little by including some Jill Draper Makes Stuff yarn for whichever class of mine you decide to take first!





Just leave a comment below with which class you would love to take and why and then go here and enter your email address. Easy, right?!

Monday, September 10

Awesome Abounds

I am surrounded by the most amazing people in the world.








That is just a fact. I've known this for a long time but it has been proven in a huge way over the past couple days.  On Friday, I was shocked and thrilled to tears to find out Jill Draper Makes Stuff has made the finals for the Martha Stewart American Made Audience Choice Award.

You can vote every day until 9/24 and the winner is decided by simple numbers, whoever gets the most votes wins $10,000 and a feature in Martha Stewart Living. This is a huge honor and winning it could really help me take the company to the next level.

I've had so many friends, colleagues, customers and shop owners share the voting link (it's right here by the way) that I am simply overwhelmed by kindness.  The yarn community is truly one of the most supportive groups anyone could hope to be a part of!! Where else would other companies that in traditional "business" would be your "competitors" be rooting for you?! Nowhere. We yarnies are in it together.

I started dyeing yarn as a way to combine my love of color & painting with my new obsession (at the time) of hand knitting.  The serendipity of the middle mixtures between colors and the resulting unexpectedness in the hand knitted garment only made me fall more head over heels for hand dyeing.  It has changed from a pastime into my full time job and I couldn't be more happy.  In case you didn't know, I dye all my yarns from 5 primary colors (cool red, warm red, yellow, cool blue and warm blue) mixing each to get the exact color I want.

Running my own small business has meant lots of sacrifices.  It has meant missed BBQs and dinners out with friends.  It means skipping lots of little luxuries to invest more in growing my business. It means working the equivalent of a couple full time jobs without paid holidays, weekends off or "benefits". 
I love every day though. 
I am so proud of where JDMS has come from and what lies ahead.  I work tirelessly to source new wool and find mills to work with in the US.  This takes a lot of time and a pretty large investment that takes months before I'm able to recoup any of. There have been high points and super lows over the past 5 years.

All of this is WORTH IT though. 

Every time I get an email from a knitter or crocheter with a picture of their newly finished garment or someone asks if they can hug me at a fiber fest (you can, but at your own risk, I might be sweaty by the end of the day or weekend ;) I know I've picked the right path.

Thank you so much for walking this path with me.  I appreciate your support more than you could ever know.  Winning this award could make even more of my dreams come true.  It could mean being able to hire some help and set up a studio outside my house so I have even more room to work and won't have to share a wet studio with my laundry. 

Even if I don't win, knowing I have all of you standing beside me is kind of like winning anyway.



Friday, September 7

What I did on my Summer Vacation

So, yeah, my last blog post was in late May.  I wish I could say I was touring the world and living a life of leisure. Not quite the case.

I did have a lovely Summer, but a working Summer.  I thought I'd give you the quick sum up:

I went to Squam Art Workshops

Which as always was a lovely week of teaching & learning, connecting with far flung friends and meeting new ones. Recharging my batteries this time in a cabin filled with other people who make their living the same way I do, little by little, carving out their space in the world. It was utterly inspiring and just what I needed.

I had a visit from my mini BFF

Yes, this is me "tattooing" her with markers. They are washable and it's Summer. Don't judge me.

I've been dyeing up a storm for a hand dyed collection for Tahki Stacy Charles you can find Cora this Fall at your LYS (if you're lucky, it's a limited run!)


I went to San Francisco and filmed a bunch of new classes for the fantastic crew at Creative Bug
What will you make today?

Currently you can learn to knit (Continental or English!) or get an introduction to knitted lace with me.  Look for more classes coming this Fall.  Not to mention all the other amazing instructors you can take classes with, like pals Rebecca Ringquist, Cal Patch, Courtney Cerruti and oh, so many more! It's such a joy to work with Creative Bug and I'm so proud to be among such a talented group of instructors!

I collected and dropped off at mills more wool than any one human should every have in their possession at once.

By the time you see this again it will be spun into yarn and dyed in a rainbow of shades by your truly.

I had a dye party with Cal & Alisa.  There was lots of laughing, some dyeing, a teensy bit of gossip and a truly lovely day. 

My 'Pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance' is the brick red in the middle.  I tied about 9,000*  split peas and pinto beans into some linen I picked up last time I was teaching at Purl.  Now I just need to figure out what this yardage wants to become...* this may be a slight exaggeration

Well... that brings us to September.  I'm here, as always, in galoshes & army shorts dyeing like crazy to get ready for the first of Fall fiber fests,  Finger Lakes Fiber Fest in Hemlock NY 9/15 & 16. 

I hope your Summer was as productive as mine and that you too are ready for cooler temps and lots & lots of knitting!






Monday, May 21

 I realize if this is your first or second time reading the blog I might seem a bit footwear obsessed. But I'm not, really!

I am however, comfort obsessed...maybe because I spend pretty much all day everyday on my feet so good shoes & slippers play major parts in my life.

I'm getting ready to head to Squam Art Workshops in just a few short weeks and I can't wait!  There is a thread on Ravelry which always inspires & panics me in equal measure.  It's titled "Things to make & wear to Squam".  Knowing I'll be surrounded by makers I want to be able to show off a bit. There is probably no where else in the world that your handmade wardrobe will be so appreciated (okay, maybe Rhinebeck) so it's the perfect time to pull out all the handmade stops.


I know Melynda Bernardi will be there teaching her lovely French Press Slippers, something I've had on my 'knit list' probably since they were released, and I figured NOW was the time to finally make them.


They knit up unbelievably fast, mostly in one evening with the seaming the next evening.  
I have to admit here, until this I haven't fulled/felted much of my knitting.  For most of my knitting life I lived in NYC with a laundromat as "my" only washing machine and they kind of frown on messing with the cycles...
So I was a little nervous pre-felting. They were comically huge as you can see in the pic below with my actual feet next to the slippers.

I bravely followed Melynda's written felting directions, well, almost.  I don't have tennis balls laying around (do most people?!) but I did have some plastic measuring cups I figured would serve the same purpose so I threw those in the washer with the slippers.  I checked every 5 minutes as directed and good thing because the change from not at all felted to totally felted happened in one of those 5 minute spaces!

I used my own hand dyed Catskill (2 skeins, with 77g remaining so 3 skeins would make 2 pair) a 4ply Merino and these fab, snap-on vintage buttons.
I am so thrilled with the way they came out!
I can't wait to wear these by the fireplace at Squam!  Although I'm enjoying them quite a lot in my studio on a rainy Monday too...

This project totally made me remember the joys of just knitting from another designer's pattern, not calculating or thinking ahead, just blindly following well written instructions.  I am going to try to knit from a pattern at least once a month from now on to remind me how much I love knitting.

What's next on your "must knit" list?

Tuesday, May 15

Change is afoot





This little blog has been infrequently updated but that's going to change! 

In fact there are lots of new projects in my head and at the very tips of my fingers. I think Spring with its new growth, bird songs and traditional cleanings seems to call for changes all around.  Small and slightly larger things are in the works, the corners are being dusted out and 2012 is looking to be a very full year!  If you want to keep track of everything, you can sign up for my email list (don't worry the only emails you'll ever get are just from me!) 

Here's a little taste of some of the things happening here at camp JDMS:

Lots of yarns in Springy colors are being added to the shop...


I'm getting lots of samples ready for my classes at Squam Art Workshops, I can't believe I'll be at the lovely lake in just a few short weeks!!


Stay tuned for more updates in the next few weeks...


Does Spring inspire you to make changes? What do you look forward to with the metamorphosis from barren to verdant?

Tuesday, January 10

Welcome 2012!

2012 is looking like it will be the year of dozens. 
I've decided to take on these challenges myself.  MY goal is to both knit 12 garments AND release at least 12 new patterns in 2012.
It's insane ambitious and maybe not possible but this gal is going to try her honest best to get it done!
January's sweater is already to the armholes and a sweater I started this Fall is finally shot  (see above) and a bunch of new patterns will be available for the first time this weekend at Vogue Knitting Live in my booth #2304 and there will be a new sweater kit available at Knitting Central's booth #2201.

Here's a little taste:
 
What are your ambitious undertakings for 2012?
Let's try to cheer each other on and make 2012 the year of doing!