Introducing “Manitoba Sheep Thrill” – 2018 Custom Colourway Yarn

Tammy Ivanco, of Manjusha Fibre Arts, shares her process of designing and dyeing this limited edition yarn. Each year a local dyer creates a colourway for us based on our wonderful ram’s head logo drawn by artist and shepherd Gerry Oliver.

The yarn will be available at our merchandise table at the Festival September 14 & 15.

Tammy has named this colourway “MB Sheep Thrill”. Here’s her story:

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“MB Sheep Thrill – 2018 Custom Colourway Yarn”

“It was very exciting to create the Manitoba Fibre Festival 2018 Custom Colour.  This yearly event is something that I am very happy about – it started small and grew in ways that were hard to imagine even just a few years back.  The crew running the event have done a great job keeping it going and expanding it.  With this in mind, I was also very nervous!  The general direction for the Custom Colour was the Manitoba Fibre Festival Logo.  I had a high resolution copy on my Ipad and I could zoom in and out to think about the selections I would make. 11898634_624971950977739_3527468810237243922_n

The sheep head is rather unique with a lot of colours, so had so many places for inspiration.  I thought I had my general plan very quickly, but in the end, the process was a bit all over the place because of the techniques I had been using, and then the modifications that came when the yarn decided it needed to be something else.   In the beginning the sheep head reminded me of my sheep and the colours I saw were harder, darker, and really based in the grey and black tones.  I did some test skeins on a heavy sock yarn and really liked them, but then when I held and started working with the yarn I was going to use for the Custom Colour, I revised my colour schemes.  The light and beautiful organic merino/nylon fingering weight yarn really called for the softer colours in the logo, with the expression of the darker ones less pronounced.  I have called this yarn base GAIA, which in Greek mythology is the personification of the Earth. Gaia, the goddess, is the mother of all life and was also the giver or gifts. I selected this base for the custom colour to the idea of making clothing from sustainable sources, but also to generally sing the praises of the Earth and the benefits we get.IMG_2327

The colours I selected were from the creamy golden yellows on the sheep horns and face, the rose grey on the face that shifted from pinks to greys, the black and teal curls of the sheep fleece, and finally the teal and orange of the eye.  I also wanted more white to capture some of the light curls of the fleece, and this made so much sense to me as a dyer because white fleece is so prominent and necessary in a dyer’s toolkit.


The technique I have been rather hooked on lately is based in knots, and maybe a little like the tie dyeing that some people have done.  This technique was used for the “Prairie Storm” yarn that became Heather Bailey’s inspiration for her “Prairie Wheat Shawl” in the Maker’s Challenge, as well as my “Polar Bear” and “At the Leg.” from the MBFF 2018 Mood Boards.  I really like how this technique creates a unique variegated yarn, with less obvious pooling, but that works for a range of patterns.  For the MBFF 2018 Custom Colour, I used a single knot that was in the same location on each skein, with the orientation the same in each dye pan used.  This allowed me to layer a blush pink and grey to give the mottled look of the logo sheep face, and have a bit of transitioning cream gold found in the head.  The fun part was that I could use the knot to have teal blue and black spattered in the white areas remaining with the base yarn colour around them, like the fleece curls.  A small bit of speckling with teals and orange captured some of the subtle teals throughout and the sheep eye. 


All in all, there were 10 different dye colours used to capture the logo colours I selected.  The yarn will work for shawls and socks, and a range of other items calling for a fingering weight.  It has a mix of colours that allow it to be part of a fade pattern, or just set against a solid from the selection.  I called the MBFF 2018 Custom Colour “MB Sheep Thrill”, and I have been knitting with some of it and I love it.  I hope others find it as fun and great to work with as I have.”

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There and Back Yarn – new vendor profile

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.20180226_151947
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. IMG_20180111_130854
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. fullsizeoutput_bca
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!

In Memoriam: Wayne Capar

Thank you to Shelley Kent for preparing this piece in honour of Wayne Capar of Natural Knot Wood Designs. Wayne has been a vendor at the Manitoba Fibre Festival and other local fibre events for several years.  His passing is mourned by many in our community.

Sometimes in life you get really lucky and one-of-a-kind people cross your path and become a friend. Sometimes you are even luckier because they happen to be a talented craftsman and they sell their wares for us to buy. This was the case with Wayne Capar of Natural Knot Wood Design. Wayne passed away just recently and I was shocked and deeply saddened.

I met Wayne one summer day out at Pineridge Hollow at, of course, a Farmer’s Market  – because that is what Wayne did. He made beautiful wood gifts. I know the wood creations caught my eye first, but who could miss that mustache of his, really, and that smile.  Of course, that was followed with his attitude. You couldn’t talk to Wayne without coming away feeling a little happier with life. If Wayne and Kelly were at a craft sale, I always looked for them because, as I said, you felt better after spending a few (and sometimes quite a few) minutes chatting and shopping with Wayne.

His talent at wood working was amazing. He supplied us fibre people with some of the most beautiful one-of-a-kind tools to play with. I bought a Turkish drop spindle from Wayne and I knew when I bought it that it was more because it was made by Wayne and it was beautiful.  The chance of me becoming a spinner was remote, but I loved the wood and the talent it took to make it. There are many of us that have Wayne’s works of art and we need to hold these close in our hearts and our hands. Every time I use my nostepinne I think of the hassle, a good one, that Wayne gave me every time we met. Ever wonder why you create? Well leaving something behind that can be held and, even better, be used is a wonderful gift.  Now I have a bit of Wayne in my house: a nostepinne, a Turkish drop spindle, knitting needles, and my sheep ornament that hangs year round in my dining room.

Thank you my friend Wayne; you made my life better with what you made and who you are.


Mammoth Yarn Studio – new vendor profile

Welcome Deana from Winkler, Manitoba —

My name is Deana Wilson, and my business is Mammoth Yarn Studio. I am an indie Dyer and my mom Judy sews project bags!

I had been playing around with dyeing a bit of yarn for fun!  I am also a hair stylist, so color isn’t anything new to me…yarn is just a different version of hair!  My husband and two sons had been encouraging me to sell my yarn. Without them I certainly would not have taken the leap to open an Etsy shop.
So, one afternoon I was running some errands with my boys, and we were talking about my potential yarn shop. I asked them what I should call it. My youngest son, who was about 10 at the time, thought wooly madness would be a good name. With a mammoth as a mascot!  He also had this idea for the slogan “we dye like a beast!”  He said “cause you’re dyeing yarn, and mammoths are dead!”  I loved that!!  So I just tweeked the name a little and still keeping the general gist of his idea, Mammoth Yarn Studio was formed!  I launched my Etsy shop in November of 2017!
All of my colorways are named after people who have played a role in my life, or places and experiences I’ve had. I like to include a little story about the colorway as a way for my customers to get to know me a little better!  I love to put colors together in a pot and see how they melt together and create a beautiful piece of art. And I feel so honored when I get to see the beautiful pieces of knitwear that my colorways become!
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One of my favorite colorways is probably the yarn I dyed for the Comfort Fade Cardigan by Andrea Mowery. It was challenging to create the fade, but also a super fun thing to knit!  It’s also a piece that I wear a lot!  Considering I dye yarn in many colors, my wardrobe is fairly bland!  I wear a lot of black and grey. I guess that’s the hairdresser in me!!  So this cardigan is a black speckle fade, and I absolutely love it!

“Sew Into Knitting”

Welcome Mary Ann as a first time Festival vendor  — 
My name is Mary Ann Groening from Sew Into Knitting.  My husband and I live in Morden, Manitoba and we have two girls and two grandchildren.    I have been sewing and knitting since I was a little girl and honestly it’s not something most people knew about me until social media.  Four years ago my business partner and I sold our Flowershop/Yarn Shop and since then I have been knitting and quilting for fun or for family.  I have just recently started into dyeing yarn and love it.  Discovering colour combinations and being surprised with the outcome has been great. I’m always interested in trying new crafts especially fibre related.
I opened an Etsy shop this year to start selling bags and yarn that I have created. Being a vendor at the  Manitoba Fibre Festival is a good chance to get local exposure and meet some of the local fibre lovers and creators.  
This is something I love to do and when others like the things I’ve made it encourages me to keep making more. My inspiration comes from my knitting and sewing friends.  Their energy and their passions for the craft keep me inspired.  It’s exciting to see each week the progress they have made on their projects.

The Frugal Designer – Karen Luchak

It’s time to start introducing our new vendors for 2018, starting with Karen Luchak. You will find her at the Festival as The Frugal Designer.


Karen has been passionate about fabric and sewing since her youth. Her love for fibre arts eventually led her to a teaching career in Fashion Technology (Murdoch MacKay high school vocational program). The program included: illustration; pattern design; construction; and theory. After retiring from 36 years as a public-school educator, she sought out ways to express her creativity. As a result, she now undertakes theatrical costume making, staging homes and is continually pondering new projects.


Her current focus is on sustainability and reusing fabric remnants, old jewellery pieces, beads and buttons to build whimsical one of a kind fashion accessories. Karen is inspired by current artistic trends, interesting colours, pinterest, nature and by the work of her colleagues and peers. Current necklaces include pieces of driftwood gathered from exotic Lester Beach.


Karen is also sharing her talents with us by organizing a fashion show to be presented at the Festival. Stay tuned for more details about that!

Spinning Ahead

Spring has sprung. Yarns will be spun.

When do you find time to spin?  What is your current project(s)? What are you planning to spin? What has been catching your eye in your fibre stash (however big or small)? Or have the local fibre folk been tempting you with their wares?

Most importantly what are you going to submit to the 2018 Handspun Skeins competition?

We encourage you to challenge yourself to submit at least one skein. Submit more if you can.  Need to know how to enter? Start here for the basics.  It’s pretty simple: spin at least 2 oz of yarn, tie it up (and wash it), label it, and submit.

We hope to see more submissions by more individuals. Folks love to walk by and see your work. You don’t need to be a master spinner to inspire others to take up (or return to) spinning.






Challenge Roll Call


Wow folks, you’ve taken this challenge and run with it in delightful directions!  Early on there was a rich array of yarns and fibres being dyed and spun.  As spring buds emerge, so too are the finished designs. Some are in the testing and editing period while others have already been added to Ravelry.  We’ll be gathering all the listings together as a Ravelry collection as May wraps up.

I currently count nine designs in the collection, which includes a gorgeous collection of hat, mitten, cowl, sock, and shawl designs paired with fantastic yarns and fibres.  You folks are incredibly creative!

If you’ve been making something (anything: design, yarn, dyeing, spinning, felting, crochet, etc.) inspired by the 2018 Challenge, don’t forget to tag it and share it with the hashtag #mbff2018challenge.  If you think we’ve missed you (apologies in advance), do drop us an email or leave a note in the Ravelry group. I maintain a master list at the Ravelry link.


Challenge and Challenges

Important Update to Challenge Dates Enclosed (an extension). 

The 2018 Manitoba Fibre Festival challenge has reached that exciting stage where folks are sharing sneak peeks into new designs they have been working on in collaboration with local fibre/yarn providers.  Check out the hashtag #mbff2018challenge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Many of the images are on Instagram. You don’t need to be a member to see the shared images; in fact, here’s a direct link to the hash-tagged images.  Not all participants are using Instagram and you’ll find some more fantastic images on Facebook here with the hashtag.  Additionally, I am maintaining a list of participants on Ravelry in our Festival group; let me know if I’ve missed someone please.

For the designers, I imagine this means they have passed (or almost passed) the hurdles of translating an inspired vision into a fibre creation.  This can be a challenge indeed; there may have been frogging involved.  I speak from experience.

Before sharing their designs with other makers, designers will make sure that the pattern they have written up is 1) correct in its details and 2) makes sense to other makers.

The most important next step is to have a professional tech editor assess the design write up.  On the simplest level, editors serve as a second set of critical eyes to catch the simple errors that can easily slip through when you’ve read over a document a dozen times and you know what it’s supposed to say.  Tech editors also check the numbers, the math, the charts, the repeats, the nitty-gritty bits such as if you correctly listed the US and metric needle sizes, the abbreviations, the functionality of the layout, etc.  Tech editors are also experienced makers themselves and can provide feedback concerning the clarity of how the designer writes up the instructions.  Tech editing helps to ensure that a designer puts their best work forward to the public and that makers are less likely to find mistakes or need to ask questions.

An optional step before publishing a design is to ask other knitters (or crocheters as applicable) to make a test sample and provide detailed feedback.  Test knitters can provide helpful feedback as makers, especially if some instructions need clarification.  It is important that testers use a similar yarn and achieve the same gauge (after washing and blocking) as specified in the pattern so that a designer can compare the amount of yarn required and the finished sizes with fewer variables.  An additional bonus is that testers are typically asked/required to share a project page on Ravelry with good quality photos. When the design is released to the public, there will already be some project examples that other Makers can look to.  As a Maker, I always look at other examples to see how a design looks in other colours, what other yarns folks have used, variations in yardage (assuming they haven’t made modifications), and so forth.  Although some designers hire sample knitters, it is common practice for test knitters to work for free from their own stash.  In exchange the test knitters receive a free copy of the design and early access.  The knit sample is their own to enjoy also.

Both of these steps take time. The editing review process can require some back-and-forth exchanges if extensive edits are required.  The test knitting period can require several weeks depending on the size of the item.

In light of this, inquiries we have received, and developments we have observed as folks share their progress, we are pushing the pattern release date back to June 1, 2018. (It was May 15; I will update all previous website posts).  This will allow two more weeks for finishing the write-up, sending it to an editor, and test knitting (if designers choose so).  It means that the patterns will be ready before the next Manitoba-local festival – the Blue Hills Fibre Festival in Carberry, MB on June 9, 2018.  It is held at the Carberry Community Memorial Hall from 10am – 4pm.  Many of our local yarn/fibre providers will be there with Challenge yarns (and fibre) available for purchase if you are desiring some of these beauties for the summer make-a-long.  If you’ve been eyeing these online, you may also want to inquire with the yarn/fibre folk about online purchases.

Designers and fibre folk, if you have questions and/or if you are intending to share in this release date please contact Mandy Furney directly or through




Building community through creative collaboration

Today I spied on Instagram a Challenge collaboration in progress! How exciting!

Earlier this season, Daria of Cloud 9 Fiberworks shared some of her dyeing ideas inspired by the Mood Board; Sarah of Imagined Landscapes designs had ‘ideas’. Communication occurred and a collaboration was born. I am eager to see what new creation is birthed this spring.

I am curious, what other collaborations are brewing? Have folks been reaching out?

FYI, your fellow fibre artists may have pointy needles (and hooks and spindles), but we generally do not bite.  (Sometimes me may chew yarn ends to splice them together and we’ve probably stabbed ourselves a few times, but we generally have warm fuzzies for our fellow fibre artists.)

What do you do once you have made a connection?  There are many possibilities. In my last post I discussed the range of yarn/fibre-support possibilities and the importance of clearly communicating your expectations and intentions (in writing).

Much of the first stage of collaboration will be focused on the design process and outcome, but what of the process of sharing that design and those yarns with other makers?

At the simplest level, designers release their design on Ravelry and yarn-folk direct sell their yarn/fibre with mutual acknowledgement of the other and how to get the other half of the collaboration.

Designers and yarn-folk might also choose to release a limited run of kits.  Kits may or may not involve a discount. That is, both the designer and the yarn-provider may discount their product when the design and yarn/fibre are purchased together.  Or they may choose to not offer an additional discount and makers will be satisfied that they can easily purchase the yarn/fibre and design together.  Typically it is the yarn-folk who sell the kits and will need to make arrangements for how the designer is compensated for their part.  Yarn-folk may choose to outright purchase a number of copies (potentially at a lower price; particularly if they will be responsible for printing costs) or else they may arrange to pay the designer after sales.  Designs can be provided in printed form and/or with a Ravelry download code.  Either the designer or the yarn-provider may choose to prepare printed copies.  Designers will need to consider printing costs when preparing their pattern file if they will be selling hard copies in addition to digital files.

As you can see, there are a number of decisions to be made in such a collaboration.  They are not particularly difficult decisions, but they do need to be clearly communicated and chosen if you want to offer kits or more simply to have copies of the pattern available alongside a yarn-provider’s selection of yarns.

Warm Gatherings

The winter weather here in the prairies is a great reason to gather with others, share a cuppa, and keep warm.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the hashtag #MBFF2018Challenge on our social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter).  From our own cozy spots we’ve been sharing in your creations.

Mandyz has been living vicariously through your creations as she finds herself struggling creatively; so if you’ve not realized your creation yet, that’s okay. We can continue to ruminate, be inspired, and wait for our own spark of creativity together.

For those of you who have already found, or are finding, your creative inspiration, have you started making any crafty plans?

Designers – now is the time to reach out to our local dyers and producers if you need yarn or fibre for a project that is brewing.

Dyers and Producers – have you considered reaching out to a local designer, whose work you like, to feature your creation?

Don’t be shy folks; don’t be afraid to make more direct connections within our vibrant, fibre-ific community, or to invite some new folks in if necessary.

Are you new to designer-yarnie business relationships?  Contrary to what you might think from some posts, it’s not just about “free yarn” (or fibre) for designers.  While it’s relatively easy for a large commercial business to write off providing well known designers with free yarn for new designs, it’s not so simple for small businesses and new designers.  This does not mean that you can’t participate in a mutually beneficial relationship between our wonderful local fibre providers and indie designers.

Yarn-folk, you could consider offering a discount for a designer featuring your yarn or you may be comfortable offering it for free.  I imagine it depends on the cost, your budget, and what return you can expect to gain for your business. It’s okay to think of your business needs. It is also fair to require that the finished design actively advertises your product and that it be ready to share with the 2018 Challenge design collection.  I’m personally a fan of clear, written expectations for positive outcomes.

Designers, have you seen a yarn (or fibre) from a local vendor that has inspired design ideas for you in this Challenge? Or do you have a special request you could make of a local yarn dyer/producer?  It helps the provider if you are clear about your request and expectations in advance. Are you willing to pay for a custom order? Are you hoping for a discount in exchange for featuring their product? Do you have a clear outline of your creation that you can share with the them?

Established designers may already have some experience with this, but for our budding designers,  new indie dyers, and producers entering the wonderful world of fibre-sales, here are some useful discussions from folks with experience:

Ruth of Rock and Purl writes, in Supported, Supporting, Supportive, of yarn support that ranges from purchased, to discounted, to free.  Jen reminds us that designers buy their yarns too.

In a related post, Becky shares some tips on approaching yarn providers for support when designing.

Finally, Kristen reminds folks of the importance of clear communication and knowing exactly what kind of contract (explicit or implicit) that you are entering in to. As a designer, you really need to know your yarn/fibre needs and have some experience with the product you are inquiring about – or else be ready to potentially reinvent your project idea to accommodate the yarn. As a maker, I imagine you know that when a conflict arises between what you want to make and what the yarn/fibre wants to do, the yarn wins every time.

Still have questions, drop us an email.


Makers Challenge 2018

Makers gonna make (make, make, make, make).

If you are on Instagram and you are a maker, you’ve surely encountered (and possibly participated in) the many monthly challenges that bring makers together – sharing images, experiences, inspirations, and ideas.

In January the Manitoba Fibre Festival released a preview of the Mood Board that is at the heart of our own challenge for 2018. Our challenge runs through the summer, providing plenty of time to participate.  If you’re ready to learn more, we’ve prepared a thorough description now available on the website at Makers Challenge 2018.

Here’s the quick summary: we want our amazing community of makers to join in and play in whatever way suits you best. Our community is rich with folks who knit, crochet, weave, and felt; folks who dye and produce the yarns and fibres we love; and folks who design for their fellow knitters (and crochet peers).

We’re inviting all of your to accept our challenge of creating things inspired by a shared mood board.  (If this challenge is successful, we’ll provide a new mood board next year.)  At the simplest level, we hope you will share your inspired projects with us and inspire others – so we can “build community through creative collaboration”.  We’ll be watching and sharing on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and our Ravelry group.

We’re also inviting (challenging) our dyers, producers, and designers to share their creations so that others can make use of them.  We’ll be hosting a make-a-long this summer that features local designers as well as local yarns and fibres that have been inspired by our Challenge.  We’re excited to see what folks create together.

Share directly in the Ravelry group and/or social media.  The hashtags to use (on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook) so that we can easily find your creations are: