The Rare Stitch

We all know that knitting can bring together communities and form bonds of friendship with other knitters all over the country, and the world. I think it's one of the reasons we all like to knit! We can feel a closeness with people we otherwise might not have had the opportunity to meet, and our common interest (YARN!) is the common thread (pardon the pun). One of the lovely people we've had the opportunity to get to know, and work with on occasion, is knitter, designer, and fierce mom Margaux Hufnagel. We first met Margaux through Patricia's Yarns, a local yarn store in Hoboken, NJ owned by our friend Patricia Scribner. That was nearly ten years ago! Way back in 2009, Margaux designed the 5th Avenue Cowl using The Fibre Co. Canopy Worsted

Well, years later Margaux is still an active designer, and also one of the toughest moms I know. Her son James was born with a rare disease called AHC, Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood. AHC is a rare neurological disorder which causes repeated and often unexpected attacks of partial paralysis, often affecting one side or part of the body at a time. Margaux has been a champion for her little boy, and the rare disease research community. In fact, James has managed to mobilize his entire family into an AHC fighting machine! Even Margaux's amazing dad is now the Vice President of the CureAHC Foundation

Earlier this month, Margaux emailed me to say:

"February 28th is Rare Disease Day. The day we get to shine a light on so many kids and adults living with a Rare Disease, including my son James. I have been thinking of ways to increase awareness for Rare Disease in the community I love so much and realized that knitting is a perfect metaphor for the odds of rare disease. Thinking about your knitting as a population, how many hundreds of thousands of stitches do you knit? Now imagine if one of those stitches is “off”. A sea of stockinette but one isn’t quite the same... So what am I asking you to do? Something very simple. Grab a knit you’re working on or one you already have and duplicate stitch One Stitch in a contrasting color. One stitch of so many that is different. That stands out from the rest. That can’t be ignored. "

"A disease or disorder is defined as rare when it affects less than 200,000 people in the US. My son James is diagnosed with Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood which has only 380 cases. A one in a million chance diagnosis.

I’d love to start seeing these “rare stitches” pop up around social media! Maybe James is the one you know, maybe you know of another? Tell their story! By the time Rare Disease Day happens on Feb 28th, I can imagine seeing a flood of Rare Stitches all over the world. 

You can use hashtag #therarestitch and tag me at @1010_studio when you post. I’d love to see them and want to create a huge “collage” by the end of the month!  Please encourage or tag others to keep it going. 

A donation to CureAHC.org or the Rare Disease charity of your choice is optional and always welcomed. James (4) is going into Kindergarten next year and this spring will be one of huge transition. He still has episodes of weakness weekly and I do worry what his life will look like when he’s older. However, seeing the village around us supporting him (and me) as we keep making our way through this Rare Disease world is amazing. I know I wouldn’t be as chipper as I am without you all! I cannot thank you all enough for being a part of our journey and helping to shine a light on that One Stitch of many."

Margaux's Penelope Cowl, featured above, is available for sale on Ravely now. We hope you'll join us in creating and posting a rare stitch of your own in honor of James and Rare Disease Day!

Thanks for sharing, Margaux. We love you!

Rhinebeck Round Up!

Like many of you, we spent the last weekend in Rhinebeck, NY to attend the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. 

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It couldn't have been better sweater weather - it even snowed! - and like everyone else, we got the chance to wear the sweaters we were saving for the occasion. As always, the sweater game was strong this year!

I (Courtney, above, right) wore my crocheted Organik sweater, based on Swink! (with many modifications) and my Baa-ble hat knit in Cumbria. I also finally got to snap a pic with Jacqueline from Soak. As the newest TNNA board members, we got to spend some quality time together last month at the board meeting in Dallas, but lamented that we never got around to taking a picture together. Jacqueline's sweater is amazing, I know, but I forgot to ask her about it!

Kate (above, left) rocked her new Lopi sweater and her woven Neige Scarf. She ran into Jess from Ravelry who was wearing a stunning Acadia sweater, the Metal Cardigan by Amy Christoffers. 

We also ran into Liz from Stash in Oregon who was wearing Adelaide, the cover sweater from our book, Vintage Modern Knits, knit in Terra. Stunning!

While at Kristin Vejar's talk for her new book, The Modern Natural Dyer, we sat behind this AMAZING Acadia cardigan. Knitter Susan Gulack was happy to let us take a few pics of her lovely work after the talk. Her color choice was spot on! 

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I also bought a Gotland fleece first thing Saturday morning. I love the fleece sale, and it's my favorite part of the fair. Buying raw fleece is a luxury for me - it is fun to start from scratch with nothing but raw materials and some elbow grease. I never know what the fleece will become until I start spinning it, and that uncertainty is part of the fun!

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At the very end of the last day of the festival, we happened upon Kallie from Sawkill Farm. She makes wonderful soaps which we could not resist, and she also had a small amount of yarn from her flock spun at Green Mountain Spinnery. We were invited to visit her at home the following morning, and were taken on a tour of her stunning farm. What a delightful end to such a magical weekend! 

As always, the highlight of the trip is being able to relax and catch up with old friends. This year we shared a house with five other women who are our friends and colleagues. It's such a treat to get to spend quality time with the people you work with outside of actual work. We knit, cooked, and chatted all weekend long, and I can't wait for another opportunity to do it again.

We can't wait to see all of you - and your sweaters - next year!

Rhinebeck Weekend!

Today at noon, our office is headed up to Rhinebeck, NY for the the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival at the Duchess County fairgrounds. We aren't going as vendors - we'll leave that to the growers, spinners, and craftspersons - but we are going to walk around, eat doughnuts, drink hot apple cider, and dream of having our own sheep one day. We are renting a nearby house with friends to share a relaxing weekend, away from work and family, to knit and regroup. 

As knitters, this is our season. There is no better way to celebrate fall than a weekend full of friends, food, and especially wool. Kate will be headed to find the Loop of the Loom booth right away, I'm sure. She's been talking about their Bengala natural mud dyes since she saw a demo at the festival two years ago. Courtney will surely be headed to the Jacob Sheep Conservancy booth, again, to buy yet another Jacob fleece. Meghan is on the hunt for some undyed, rustic, handspun yarn to make herself an everyday cardigan. We found some wonderful handspun a couple years ago at the Ulster County Handspinners Guild booth. 

If you are not headed to the festival this weekend, be sure to take advantage of this perfect fall weekend to visit your local yarn shop, craft store, guild, or local farm and enjoy the company of fellow knitters. Find a little inspiration on their shelves, or in their fields, and connect with your local knitting community. Many local yarn shops across the country are having Rhinebeck weekend sales, classes and other special events - so be sure to stop in at your favorite knitting spot for a little hot apple cider this weekend! 

Follow us on Instagram to join us this weekend, see our Rhinebeck sweaters, and to see our favorite festival finds!