Posts Categorized: New Arrivals

Behind the scenes with Jonathan of MJ Yarns (part 2)

So who is the man behind the beautiful skeins of MJ Yarn we have all fallen head over heels for?  We asked Jonathan to share some of his thoughts about his work, his yarn, and his love of knitting.

 

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What were you doing before you started MJ Yarns? ~and~ What was the inspiration for starting MJ Yarns?

My “grown up job” was as an Ops Manager for a major shipping company. While the pay and benefits were unmatched, I was miserable. It was an environment where nothing was good enough. The work we did was important but I had no passion for it. I could find no joy in processing tens of thousands of packages every night.

I’ve learned that, if a situation isn’t working, change it. I had been knitting for years by this time and found every bit of joy in it that I could hope for. I began to wonder how I could turn this passion in to a career. I talked to several people in the industry, most notably Maggie Casey. She was clear: “dye yarn!” Life has also taught me to listen to the people who have experience. I listened, and MJ Yarns was born.

What is your favorite part of your craft?

“For me, this is not a job. MJ Yarns is about creating something beautiful that makes me and others happy. Each morning I walk in to my studio to find the ever changing landscape of my drying racks. I’m always struck by the glory of the field of colors stretched out in front of me.  As I dye my yarns, I can’t help but enjoy the constantly increasing complexity that appears as each color is added.

My life now is surrounded in beauty and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

How do you come up with the names for your yarns?

“Each colorway has a story. Some names came from suggestions from others. Cerulean Twilight got its name from a friend on Facebook. Other colors start with a name before they are ever made. Fire Dragon was made to fit in with its siblings Green and Purple Dragons.

Other colors were named because they brought to mind very specific things: Peasant is one.  When this yarn went on the drying rack for the first time, I couldn’t help but see it on the back of a medieval serf.

Yarns with proper names (like Katelyn or Mazlyn) were named for specific people who either suggested the color or the yarn brought to mind.

Then there are my favorites: the yarns that demand  that they receive a specific name. Mice and Men simply wouldn’t let me call it anything else. From the moment I put the first coat of Grey on this yarn, the name Mice and Men was in my head. I spent the entire day that I created that color trying to come up with another name that seemed more fitting or at least made some sense, and most of the next as well. My mind was blank and Mice and Men was born.

And a question we can resist asking anyone we come in contact with,
What is on your needles?

“I am something of an anomaly in the knitting world. I absolutely refuse to have more that two projects on the needles at any given time. I heard about “startitis” early on in my knitting life and decided that it would never happen to me.

That being said, I finished one project last week and another one today. At the moment, I have nothing on the needles! This is, of course, a crisis and tomorrow’s first priority will be some time on Ravelry searching for a perfect pattern. I know where I’ll get the yarn though.”

Jonathan’s skeins of yarn are featured in the shop right now and we hope that you can visit soon to take a look at his beautiful work.  We know that these skeins are destined for stunning projects and we can’t wait to share photos of those with you as they come of the needles.

 

Behind the scenes with Jonathan of MJ Yarns (part 1)

When we first received our beautiful skeins of MJ Yarns we asked Jonathan a few interview questions so that we might learn a bit more about the man behind the yarn.  Our next couple blog posts will feature his responses.  We thought we’d start our introduction to the man through his thoughts about his beautiful yarn.

His thoughtful reply to our question about how he selected the bases for his yarns is one we knew we needed to share with you.

As a knitter, I’ve learned a lot about the many types of yarns available. Each one really has a very specific use and it was important to me to have a variety of yarns to fill each of those uses.

 

MJ simple sock

Simple Sock(shown above) is a basic workhorse yarn with a surprising drape and hand. The superwash Corriedale (a stronger breed of sheep) means the wool will hold up over time and the nylon adds the strength needed for hard wearing socks or gloves. Despite all that, this yarn is surprisingly soft and lovely to handle.

MJ BFL

Rustic Fingering(shown above) is best for fingering weight lace projects. A two ply yarn will drape better than a three or four ply so 2 ply was chosen. This yarn is also loosely spun, adding to the hand made look that gives gifts (for others and one’s self) something truly special.

The yarn is composed completely of Blue Faced Leicester (BFL), one of my favorite breeds of sheep. BFL has a long fiber making loose spun yarns possible. It’s soft and friendly nature just beg the knitter to dive their fingers in to it. Finally, BFL has a natural luster that makes the yarn look almost like it was blended with silk.

MJ opulent
Opulent Fingering (shown above) exists because we all deserve a little pampering. Merino blended with cashmere make this yarn a pure delight to work with. It has an incredible drape. Projects made from this yarn will wrap themselves around the lucky wearer like heavens arms. To make sure this pampering goes on as long as possible, just a touch of nylon was added for strength.”

We also put Jonathan on the spot and asked him what he thinks makes his yarn unique.

“A while back, I had an experience knitting with a hand dyed yarn that was incredible. Every inch of the yarn was a moment of discovery. The way the colors blended created a rich and inviting yarn. I wanted to recreate that for people.

My yarns are made in a labor and time intensive process that layers between 3 and 7 colors to make each bit of yarn complex and interesting. In addition, the short color runs create an overall color feel that becomes ever more complex as the viewer steps closer to investigate.

In addition to color, my yarns are usable and accessible to all knitters. There’s no need to fight my yarns to force them to work for the final product. They’re designed to be practical and oh so heavenly to touch.”

We couldn’t agree more.

We have more fun details to share with you about Jonathan and his beautiful yarns.  Saturday’s blog post will provide you with some more insights into Jonathan’s creative process.  Julie has fun stories to share from his visits to the shop.  And we are knitting up a collection of samples knit from his skeins that we would love to show you.

Please visit us when you can, and we’ll be sure that you get to see for yourself how special each of these wonderful yarns are.

More new samples in the Shibui trunk Show

A week ago we shared some photos with you in a post that featured the newest samples from Shibui that are here in the shop for a limited time.  There are a couple of sweaters that are part of this collection that you are going to love.

Both are designed by Lori Versaci.  Her designs all seem to feature pristine lines and timeless garments that could remain a wardrobe staple for years.

 

mix 34c

On the left is Mix No. 31.  This sweater is “a casually chic take on a turtleneck, this piece provides comfort without compromising style. Twin Rib details, clean construction and a deep shirt-tail hem combine some favorite weekend elements into a piece that can be worn anywhere. Cozy up to this luxuriously soft sweater, knit using a single strand each of Baby Alpaca and Cima held together throughout.”

We can’t imagine a softer or more comforting yarn combination.  This is a snuggly turtleneck that is likely to become your favorite this winter and the first thing you reach for on a weekend morning.

On the right is Mix No. 35.  “Design details make this piece truly special. A revised Fisherman’s Rib adds texture and depth, kept cozy yet light with Pebble and Cima. Extra-long sleeves highlight the transition from one yarn to the other, and curved ribbing outlines the scallop shaped side panels. A casual crew neckline and over-sized fit guarantee it will be a wardrobe go-to.

Cima and Pebble are held together throughout the body of the sweater, and Cima is held double for the sleeve cuffs and side panel inserts.”

These two sweaters from Lori are beautifully constructed and make the most of the Shibui Mix concept with yarn combinations that are perfectly matched to each design.  We hope that you can visit us before the Shibui trunk show needs to be packed up and sent on its way.

Armchair travel

When you can’t take that holiday that you may be wishing for, sometimes it can be fun to take a virtual trip.  This time of year I often find myself drawn to reading travelogues or knitting while listening to a story about a far off locale.  Today we have some fun samples to share with you that are part of Blue Sky Alpaca’s Destination Collection.

Both of these samples are one skein wonders that knit up as quick as a wink.  You may find that if you do have some traveling ahead of you this month, either of these smaller projects will slip right into your carry-on and help wile away a train, plane or car ride.

 

fractal 1

The first is Kirsten Johnstone’s Fractal Cowl.  Our friend Cathy Cathy did a great job knitting up this stylish accessory with one skein of Blue Sky Extra on a size 8 needles.  “Inspired by the cutting-edge architecture of Australia, this chic scarf alternative is worked in the round (each one unique) to create sharp, geometric patterns and clear linear designs.”

 

tokyo tower

Next is the Tokyo Tower Bandana.  This pattern was designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, and can also be knit up with a single skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Extra on a size 9 needles.  “A journey to Japan inspired the simple sophistication of this sleek little scarf. Borrowing elements from both shawl and cowl, it lends a beautiful bit of polish wherever the day may take you.”

All six patterns from the collection were inspired by different destinations, and it is fun to see how each of the designers captured their memories of a place in the textures of their knitted accessories.  We hope that you can browse the collection and give yourself a mini holiday.

 

extra

A quick visit to the shop may also provide you with a welcome break in your routine.  We’d love to show you our selection of Extra yarn that may inspire you to cast on for a destination project of your own!

Bad news, good news

We at My Sister Knits were very saddened to learn earlier this summer that Sarah of Cephalopod Yarns decided to close up shop.  It was a dark day in the fiber world.  We will all miss her skill and her beautiful sense of color that makes her work so special.

On a brighter side, Julie is one of the very few shops that has received a final order from Sarah, and it just arrived in the shop.  We have for a very limited time, some of the last skeins of Cephalopod yarns to be found.

These are available on a first come first served basis, so call us as soon as you can at 970-407-1461 to ensure that you are able to get exactly what you need.

 

skinny bugga

Above are gorgeous skeins of Skinny Bugga are a fingering weight dream.  Weighing in at 4oz. each, they contain 424 yards of a machine washable merino, cashmere, and nylon blend that is hand painted perfection!  Raverly has hundreds of project ideas that may strike your fancy.  These retail for $30 each.

 

traveller

We also received some wonderful skeins of Traveller. These 4 oz. skeins are 100% merino and contain 280 yards.  It is a super- strong, delicious DK/light worsted yarn that is perfect for next- to-skin wear.  The project ideas on Ravelery are breathtaking!  These retail for $23.

 

kits

And last but not least, are the kits that have arrived in both versions of the yarns.  The Skinny Bugga kits are $120 and the Traveller kits are $92.  Both versions contain 4 skeins of each yarn. They have been designed to make breathtaking ombre effect projects that will be your favorites for years to come.

We hope that you can reach out to us or stop by the shop this weekend as these beautiful skeins are disappearing very quickly.