Here’s Kaeleigh Schroeder from There and Back Yarn to introduce herself. Welcome to the Manitoba Fibre Festival, Kaeleigh!
My business is There and Back Yarn, and I sell hand-dyed yarn and patterns. I’m working to incorporate wooden accessories and yarn-working items (think shawl pins and nostepinnes) into my repertoire. My patterns are available on Ravelry, and I sell my yarn through Etsy and directly via messaging.
I got started in fibre arts way back in the 90s when my grandma taught me how to crochet. I was pretty bad at it – ridiculously tight tension and couldn’t make a square to save my life – and soon lost interest. While doing my masters degree, I inherited an unfinished afghan from the same grandma after she passed away, and tried picking it up again. Of course my work wasn’t as good as hers, but the spark was lit once more. Not only was I crocheting, but I was knitting, too. I moved to the UK for a few years and the fibre scene there is amazing; there are so many inspiring dyers and designers, and I strove to become a better knitter so I could do justice to the beautiful yarns I was buying from the local Oxford shops. I transitioned into wool (I’d been intimidated by natural fibres and stuck to acrylic before that) and indy designer patterns from my starting points of big yarn companies and their patterns, and then started experimenting with my own ideas for patterns, and my own attempts at dyeing yarn. My business is still pretty new – I’m still using a single stovetop pot in my kitchen and looking longingly at hotel pans and dyeing workshops – and I haven’t settled on my favourite colourways, but I’m hoping to expand into a series of set bases and colours, including my own homegrown fibres.
I’m constantly inspired to create by my surroundings; I see ideas for patterns in the shape of geese flying, or the clean lines of wrought-iron railings, and dye colours in the beautiful prairie sunsets, or the English Lake District rock caves. I also like to draw inspiration from reading or movies – something a character wears or sees can set the wheels turning in my head, and I have to reach for my sketchbook. My first pattern was just inspired by necessity, however: we’d just moved to our place on the edge of the valley, a popular hunting area, and I was short on bright orange gear for myself. I figured a balaclava in some bright orange I’d stashed would be just the thing to keep me visible whilst fetching firewood or chopping the rogue hawthorn in the pasture. I love to work in pretty details or interesting structure to simple patterns, and a lot of my patterns are just that: classic pieces with details that set them apart.
My favourite pattern is probably my Lone Pine cowl: I wear it all the time once the weather turns and I love that it’s short enough not to dip into my sink (we don’t have a dishwasher so I spend a lot of quality time at the sink!) but covers my neck to keep out the cooler drafts, especially at work. I also love the matching mitts, which fit me perfectly. My favourite yarn right now is probably either a 4ply superwash dyed an orange-red to match my lilies – when a colourway comes out exactly the way I envision, I’m always so pleased! I’ve got a couple single-ply fingering weight yarns that have come out well too, though that base seems to take colours with a mind of its own, so I’m often surprised by the ways it takes the same dyes I’ve used on other bases.
Getting into the Manitoba Fibre Festival this year was a huge business goal for me, so I’m very excited to be there; it’ll be an official launch for There and Back Yarn and also my first chance to get back to the festival since its launch in St. Norbert and see how incredibly the community has grown. I’m so honoured to be a part of the fibre community in Manitoba, and I’m also pleased to have a pattern in the Make Along this year, called Snowy Path; I loved the patterns last year and Devil’s Punchbowl is a toque pattern favourite around our place!