I’ve done some sort of handwork all my life, from sewing clothes in high school to cross stitch. But when a friend learned to knit, and then came over to show me what he’d learned and to teach me the knit stitch, I was done for. I made a simple scarf at first — garter stitch, no increases or decreases or yarn-overs. “Oh, I really like this,” I thought. New challenges included socks and sweaters, and when I first turned the heel on a sock I felt as though I ruled the world. Soon I began studying Estonian lacework, and I saw that all of the mistakes I’d made early on, if organized into a pattern, were lace. I’m a natural-born knitter, and just didn’t know it for a few decades.
My new curiosity led me to the Taos Wool festival. Struck by the colors of Northern New Mexico, and the wonderful fibers I saw at the festival, I knew I was also going to be a dyer and designer.
My business model:
My business Lost City Knits features luxurious, natural fibers. I work with long-respected mills that can provide me with the natural fibers both I and my customers like to work with. Sometimes I’ll buy raw fiber from local ranchers who know their livestock well but who don’t want to invest the time and energy to sell their fiber at festivals. These fibers I’ll have spun to my specifications at a professional mill.
My color inspirations are many — our farm in the foothills of the Ozark mountains in rural Oklahoma, trips we take, books I read…the inspirations are endless. I work in small batches of six skeins at a time when I dye, which is enough for multi-skein projects that require the heavier fingering and DK weights. I’ll often combine colors to good effect, and sometimes not…but even when a combination I don’t think works is put out for sale, someone comes along and snaps it up which makes me appreciate the diversity of preferences and tastes.
I love working with color, but I also design intricate lace patterns inspired from traditional Estonian styles. Non-knitters sometimes consider these patterns mind-boggling, but in the end it’s all math and everything has to add up. I don’t exclusively design lace, as there are hat and mitten patterns, too.
My business is quite small. I produce in a day what I can produce, and no more. Sometimes I get on a roll, and sometimes something on the farm requires attention and no yarn gets dyed at all. My partner in all of this and in life is Chris. He runs the business end of things while I run production and design. It’s quite a partnership, even though his Ravelry name is “chriscantknit.”
I do not have a traditional brick and mortar store, and instead attend Arts and Craft festivals, Fine Art festivals, Wool festivals, and when I can, high-profile fiber arts shows such as STITCHES and Vogue Knitting Live. There is so much inspiration and talent everywhere I go.
By centering my business around dyeing fibers and producing patterns, I hope my creativity helps feed the creativity of my customers, who often combine colors and patterns I wouldn’t have thought to put together, which makes me happy.
Lost City Knits