Interview with Julie Asselin

She’s propably one of the nicest yarnies I’ve had opportinity to work with. Always smiling, funny and absolutely lovely, yes, that’s right, we will be interviewing Julie Asselin.

I met Julie some time ago on Ravelry and you can imagine how thrilled I was when she invited me to collaborate on a design (that was Mrs. Skyler). Since then I have gathered quite a nice amount of her yarn goodies in my stash and I can’t get enough of it. :-)

But enough with the introduction… here’s Julie!

Julie herself
Julie herself

Hello Julie, nice to talk to you again. What is your favourite base to dye?

Hum…that’s a tough one….I will have to say Leizu DK or Worsted. Great color outcomes but also easy to work with because of the way they absorb the dyes.

Where do you source your yarn? Do you have your own sheep/alpaca’s etc?

We are very careful about all the fiber sources, yarn mills, dyes and process we use, making conscious decision all along the creative line.

We source our fibres from ethical sources most of the time here in North America or in New Zealand. We solely work with mills here in Canada and US, making the process closest to home as possible.

Where can we buy your yarn from?

We have several retailers across Canada, US, Europe and Japan. We make it a point to work with shops offering the best customer service possible, we love our shop owners!

Also we sometimes do Etsy Update for whenever a new pattern comes out and we want to support it.

What is your best color, the one you like most or are proud of? Do you have a color you’d like to forget about?

Our best sellers of all times are ‘Birch’ and ‘Dapple Grey’. I have a soft spot for Blackberry Coulis recently. Our color process and palette have evolve quite a bit since the beginning and it did happen many times that I wanted to do complete do overs so as far as colors I would like to forget I would say it is more of a learning curve/evolution then regrets.

Birch colorway

If you could only knit with one colour, what would it be?

I am really into any kind of blue right now.

Dapple Grey
Dapple Grey colorway

What other yarns do you like to knit with?

As far as colors go I am a big fan of what my friend Tanis at Tanis Fiber Arts is doing; I also love the color story at Sweet Fiber Yarn a fellow Canadian as well. Ce at The Uncommon Thread has some lovely sought after yarns and colors. I also am very keen to anything small farm and single breed, I truly am a fiber lover and there is a world of discovery when it comes to wool and fibers of all kind.

Are there any crafts or hobbies you do (other than knitting of course ;-)?

Cooking and photography are a big part of me too. I am also an outdoorsy person, love walking, hiking and spending time outside in the garden.

Do you have any current or upcoming news you’d like to share with us.

We have a new yarn line out this fall called ‘Nurtured’. We partnered up with our friends at The Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont on this one.

Nurtured teaser
Nurtured teaser

This yarn is dyed in the wool, meaning we dyed the fibers prior to sending them to the mill resulting in a heathered finish. It was very fun to see the colors come together and our goal was to put forward the natural colors of the fleeces as well, so we played on natural occurring tints mixed in with our colors to create a very natural palette I would say.

What would your ideal day consist of?

Ideal days I don’t know but let me tell you about moments I love during my weeks.

I love waking up early and go for a walk with my dog.

Having breakfast with my husband having a good time. Our humor is similar and we are very imaginative so we love to make up stories and we often come up with the same ideas and this can get pretty crazy!

Also I love to have people over to share a meal, community is very important to us.

Julie in her studio

Do you dream about color dyes at night?

Of course! And about new yarn too!

How do you name your colour ways?

It can be all sorts of things really! I am not always the one to name them, Jean-Francois also finds a lot of them. Names finding is fun and I particularly love the ones that are more on the imaginary side. ‘Johnny’, one of blacks is name after the man in black himself Johnny Cash, ‘Blue Steel’ referring to a certain look in a certain movie! ;)

Do you have an anecdote to share? Something funny, nice, interesting?

Something funny, when I first started calling my supplier and asking when I would receive my yarns, I used to say: ” Could you please tell when it will arrive, so I can plan my dyeing days’’. It took me a while to realise what I was saying could sound funny; they never said anything. To this day I don’t know if they think I’m dying. ;)

What inspired the name of your brand? And Rav Id?

Well, this will sound very boring but I didn’t have an idea for a name when I first started this back in 2010 and I didn’t want to choose anything I would regret later, so I simply went with my name. Also because I really believe in what we do and I stand for it.

Julie Asselin lives in Quebec, Canada where she spends her time creating amazing colorways for the most exquisite yarns. Find her on Ravelry  or on her website

I hope you manage to “taste” some of her lovely yarn – it’s really worth it!

See you soon,
Zara & Justyna

Interview with Melanie Berg

During the many years I’ve been knitting, I’ve met a lot of talented and creative people. I bet some of you also know them  and would love to learn a little bit more about their knitting or yarny adventure.

One day my dear friend Zara and I thought it might be fun to host small interviews with people we like and admire a lot. We noted down some questions that we found interesting and invited them to “talk knitty” with us.

Here is the first interview with lovely Melanie Berg. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Melanie modeling her Drachenfels 

Hi Melanie, thank you for talking with us. Can you tell us a little about how you began knitting? Is your educational background connected with knitting?

I first learned to knit when my mother taught it to me – I think I was thirteen years old. I made a terrible, curling stockinette scarf and was so disappointed with it that I didn’t want to knit anymore. I put it down and only picked it up again when my first daughter was born. I wanted to create something for her, something warm, something to protect her, and knitting seemed like the natural thing to do. I’m passionate for it ever since!

I have an IT background – I’ve worked as Unix system administrator for more than ten years. But as our family grew and my designing career, too, I didn’t feel connected to that job anymore. I quit it more than a year ago and now work fulltime as a designer. However, that IT background is helpful in so many ways for me! Being a knitwear designer is not only about knitting, you know. You have to be skilful in many fields – photography, layout, technical writing, basic math, social media, just to name a few, and my technical education definitely comes in handy now.

What inspired the name of your brand? And Rav Id?

Mairlynd is just a word – no special meaning connected to it! I like the way it sounds – it has something mysterious, something very interesting, but is clear and straightforward at the same time.


How do you name your designs?

Oh, naming my designs is one of the hardest things! I can spend the entire time that I need for knitting a pattern thinking about a name for it! I do keep a list, though, and every time I find a nice word, or a phrase that I like, I’ll add it to that list. This is like a small treasure box for me – when I need a name, I can always go there, open the box and search for what’s inside. Sometimes I’ll find the perfect name in there.

What would your ideal day consist of?

Oh, that is easy – I’d spend it knitting, of course! Start with a good coffee in the morning and then have lunch with my husband and my three kids. We just found a great new restaurant here in town, so that would be a good choice. Then later, after some more knitting, we would meet with good friends and drink a bottle of Federweißer together – that’s a local specialty, a very young and only partially fermented, sweet wine. It’s delicious, and it’s only available in early fall.

What is your favourite weight yarn to design for and knit with?

I just love fingering weight yarns! They’re perfect for really all kinds of knits – for shawls, for small accessories like hats and mitts, and of course for garments. Especially for garments. A lot of knitters are scared of knitting up a sweater in a fingering weight, but it’s oh so worth it: Yes, it will take more time, but a thin yarn is usually more flattering on our bodies than a heavier weight, and it will also usually be better for showing small details and such.


Can you describe your own core style and do you design with that style in mind?

It’s hard to put my entire style in only a few words, but “modern” and “wearable” are probably the best ones to describe my way of knitting. I don’t design with these in mind – it just happens automatically!

Why do we knit? It’s because in the end, we want to have a finished object that we love. One that we wear a lot, one that we enjoy. With my designs, I try to offer this. I don’t want my knitters to end up with a piece that’s unhandy in their everyday life – I want them to be able to use it whenever they wish. At work, when chilling on the couch, or even when going out at night.

Do you knit other people’s designs and if so, can you tell us a few of your favourites

I would love to knit more other designers’ work, and this is a New Year’s resolution for me every year! So far, I haven’t been able to fulfill it this year. But there are so many wonderful designers out there who inspire us with their ideas. Justyna obviously is one of them – I love her work! But I’m also a huge fan of Joji, Alicia Plummer and Norah Gaughan, and of many, many others! I wish my day had ten hours more so I could knit more of their beautiful designs.


If you could only knit with one colour, what would it be?

That would be grey, of course. :) Grey is a color that goes together with pretty much anything else. It’s easy to dress it up or down, and it has a certain elegance to it. The larger part of my wardrobe is grey, too, which makes it easy to combine. And you can always add a small color pop to it to make it more interesting!

What do you do while you knit? Read? Listen to podcasts/Audiobooks? Watch TV?

I listen to podcasts and audiobooks! My favorite podcasts are the Woolful podcast and Kristen Finley’s Skein podcast. Both are lovely and interesting, and they sweeten my day when I have a lot of knitting to do.

For audiobooks, I have a pretty wide variety of what I enjoy. When I was younger I used to read a lot, but nowadays I don’t find a lot of time for that anymore. So I’m very happy to have my audiobooks, because that way I still get a lot of reading done, somehow. :)

Are there any crafts or hobbies you do (other than knitting of course ;-)?

Not really. I have three little kids, aged 3, 4 and 6, and they do keep me busy. – there’s simply no time for another activity! But I enjoy just hanging out with them, watching them play. So they are my hobby, I guess I could say.

Do you dream about knitting at night?

That’s a funny question, but thinking back, I guess no. I dream all kinds of crazy things at night, but I don’t recall any knitting dream.

What are the 3 most important knitting items you use?

Obviously my knitting needles come first! Second would be a pair of scissors, and the third is probably a measuring tape and a gauge measuring tool. Sounds pretty boring, no? But they’re really the tools I use most.

Quist Mitts

Melanie Berg is a former IT specialist, mother of three and  (in her own words) a semi-successful housewife.

She lives with her husband and three children in Bonn, Germany, where she spends her time combining colors, shapes and textures into freewheeling designs that are uniquely her own.

Find her on Ravelry or on her website.

Make sure to visit Melanie’s little spots on the internet. I believe she has a lot of seriously gorgeous designs that you’ll love!

See you soon,
Zara & Justyna

Playground Shawl

I’ve been eyeing Catherine’s yarn for a while now and every time she posted pictures of it on her Instagram, I sighed and thought “One day, it will find its way to my stash!” And it finally did.

Catherine specializes in self-striping yarns and she dyes them in two versions: classic striping, which is perfect for socks, and shawl striping, which is good for… well, shawls :-) The latter patterning was something I eagerly wanted to try. I saw many versions of simple triangular shawls made with her yarns, but honestly, what I have dreamed of doing is to see how the yarn would work up in a slightly different shape, namely, a biased shawl.

One day I cast on for the shawl shortly after breakfast to be ready to knit it during the many hours I find myself with kids at the playground. It was meant to be simple and fun, with a maximum of two sections that could be easily memorized – a perfect playground shawl.

I used a smaller skein of Caterpillargreen Yarns MCN in colorway Concrete and Tulips, but it should work out fine in any shawl-striped yarn in Cat’s store. Since the section sizes may vary among knitters and skeins (!), I have not included any stitch counts (just how many sts are added in some rows). Thus, you are the one who will decide which chart to use and when to switch to a new section. Do not fear! Once you get friendly with the yarn, it will easily guide you through the shawl. So let’s go!

Playground Shawl

Pattern Information
adjustable; sample size: approx. 145cm/58” wide along top edge and 55cm/22” high.
1 skein of Caterpillargreen Yarns MCN Fingering – Shawl (70% merino, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon; 370m/405y per 115g). Sample show in colorway: Concrete and Tulips.
Needles: 4.5mm/US #7 circular needle (60cm/24″ long).
Other: tapestry needle for weaving, blocking pins.
Gauge: 16 sts and 38 rows = 10cm/4″ in Garter st worked flat.
The gauge isn’t crucial on this project, but differences will affect the finished size as well as the required yardage.
Abbreviations: BO – bind off; CO – cast on; k – knit; kfb – knit one stitch through the front and back loop to make two stitches; rep – repeat; ssk – slip 2 stitches individually as if to knit, then knit them together through the back loops; st, sts – stitch, stitches; WS – wrong side;  yo – yarn over; ** – repeat as noted between asterisks.

Instructions: The shawl consists of two sections: gray Garter stripes and colorful Lace stripes. Each section may have a different length depending on the color changes, thus there are no stitch counts. When working gray sections all RS rows will begin with an increase, and all WS rows will begin with a decrease and finish with an increase. Lace sections will have 1 increase every row: at beginning of RS rows and end of WS rows.  The combination of these two sections worked alternately will create a long, skewed triangle.

Playground Shawl

With needle, 4.5mm/US#7, CO 4 sts.
Row 1 (RS): k2, kfb, k1. 5 sts
Row 2 (WS): ssk, kfb, k2.

Row 1 (RS):
k2, kfb, k to end. (+1 st)
Row 2 (WS): ssk, k to last 3 sts, kfb, k2.
Rep the last 2 rows until you run out of gray color, ending with a WS row.
If you see that a new color will be introduced in the middle of a Row 2, work the final row as follows: (WS): ssk, p to last 3 sts, kfb, k2. (See notes below.)

Playground Shawl

Odd-Numbered Section (odd # of sts on needle before working 1st RS row)
Row 1 (RS): k2, kfb, *yo, ssk*, rep to end. (+ 1 st)
Row 2 (WS): k1, *yo, ssk*, rep to last 3 sts, kfb, k2. (+1 st)

Even-Numbered Section (even # of sts before working 1st RS row)
Row 1 (RS): k2, kfb, k1, *yo, ssk*, rep to end. (+1 st)
Row 2 (WS): k1, *yo, ssk*, rep to last 4 sts, k1, kfb, k2. (+1 st)

Rep these 2 rows until you run out of the contrasting color, ending with a WS row.Lace sections

To work the shawl, simply alternate gray Garter stripes and contrasting Lace stripes until you run out of yarn. When you reach the last color, which is gray, work the final Garter stripe then BO all sts in pattern fairly loosely (or with a bigger sized needle).

Finishing: Weave in ends and block the shawl giving it a triangular shape. Enjoy!

When working in Caterpillargreen Yarns you will notice that sometimes the color changes occur in the middle of a row. There are two options for dealing with this situation:

  1. Ignore. Yes, just ignore! However, this may result in two-color Garter ridges or gray lace. All depends on you! If it doesn’t bother you, just embrace the beauty of the yarn and leave it as is.
  2. Switch the stitch patterns. This is what I tried to do. When you work in Garter st and you see a new color approaching too soon to make it to the end of the final row, just purl the last WS row in that section (making sure to keep all increases and decreases as per pattern!). If the gray sneaks up faster than expected in the last WS row of a lace section, just work the color lace as per pattern and immediately when the yarn turns to gray, start purling.Sometimes the color change may take place near the beginning of a RS row. In such a case, if the change is from gray to contrasting color, just begin Lace section using gray. However, if the change is from contrasting color to gray, it’s okay to change pattern stitch mid-row – work the color sts in lace and knit all the gray sts. Count this as Row 1 of the next Garter stripe. All these tricks result in really awesome and clean patterning.

Playground Shawl

Finally, I’ve been asked by many people if this shawl can only be knit in Cat’s yarn. Although I strongly recommend enjoying “the Caterpillargreen experience”, of course not! You can grab any yarn you wish – any color, any weight – and just play with the instructions to create your own beautiful Playground Shawl. Your imagination is the only limit here!

Playground Shawl

Happy knitting!

You can dowload PDF version of the pattern here.

Copyright 2015 (c) Lete’s Knits.
Pattern is for personal use only. Please respect designer’s copyright.