At the TNNA show last spring in Indianapolis, I was taking a break from my booth and cruising the show floor. I didn’t get far before I was literally stopped in my tracks by this stunningly beautiful hand-dyed yarn. I crept closer to it, totally mesmerized. I turned to the woman in the booth and whispered reverently, “Is this your yarn?”
“No,” she said. “Sarah’s taking a break. She should be back any minute, if you want to wait.”
I stroked the yarn and gazed at it some more, but I wanted to see a little more of the show floor before I had to get back to my booth. I took note of the name, though: Fiberstory. As soon as I had another free moment, I shot back to that booth. This time, there was an adorable blonde girl around my age. “Are you Sarah?” I asked. She confirmed that she was, and that she was the dyer of this incredible yarn, and I honestly don’t remember what happened after that (don’t tell me you’ve never gone into an altered mental state around yarn). I think I babbled at her, but she was totally gracious. And as it turned out, we actually have a lot in common—we both know how to weld, of all things!
Have you ever met someone you clicked with really strongly? It happens to me pretty rarely. In general, I’m very particular about the company I keep but when I do click with people, it’s often more than a click, it’s like a gunshot. I don’t really believe that everyone has one soul mate. In my opinion, everyone has a bunch of soul mates, more like the Anne of Green Gables theory of kindred spirits. I’ll tell you though, if I liked girls, I would have asked Sarah to marry me. On the spot.
When it comes to yarn, I’ve been around the block. It takes a lot to impress me. If it’s not hand-dyed, don’t even come near me with it. And even if it is hand-dyed, it has to be really special in order to catch my attention. And I don’t mind telling you, I don’t think I’ve had such a strong reaction to a yarn since I discovered there was even such a thing as hand-dyed yarn. The depth and complexity of the colors Sarah uses make it clear that this woman is an ARTIST. My dad has said that there can be no art without metaphor, and that’s the yardstick I tend to hold all artwork against. Fiberstory yarns pass the metaphor test. They’re so evocative, it’s almost like there’s a narrative in every colorway. “Fiberstory” really is no misnomer. Seriously, I could go on. I love this yarn so much it’s disgusting.
Anyway, Sarah was kind enough to let me pick out a skein to take home and play with, along with one for my mom! (Upon finding this yarn, I immediately texted my mom to tell her to check out the website. She went almost as crazy as I did.) The yarn waited for the perfect design idea to come along, and a couple of months later, it did.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks while I knit. I particularly like mysteries and thrillers, but that’s neither here nor there. Sometime during the summer, I listened to The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. The book was okay—not one of my favorites, but I liked it enough. It took place in 1920′s New York City, and one of the characters, a flapper, was named Odalie, which I liked. The book also had a lot of Gatsby-esque descriptions of fancy parties including, most importantly, What They Wore. (Don’t you just love good descriptions of period costumes?) Shawls were a common element, and I began to wonder what these shawls might look like. As I listened to the book, I drew pictures and ultimately wound up designing the Odalie shawl. I decided this project was special enough to warrant using the Fiberstory yarn I’d been saving.
After it was finished, I decided I should make another version to show what it would look like without beads. (Plus, I didn’t take such good notes while knitting the first one, and I needed to figure out what I had done—the best way to do that is to knit it again, I find.) I decided this should be a job for some Phydeaux yarn that, similarly to the Fiberstory, I had been saving for something particularly special.
Now, let’s rewind one year. At my first TNNA trade show in June of 2013, I met and clicked with Brenda of Phydeaux Designs. Her booth was directly across from mine. Our first interaction went like this:
Toby: Are you Brenda? Of Phydeaux?
Toby: I adore your yarn! It’s so nice to meet you in person!
Brenda: Oh wow, thanks.
Toby: Did you rent a car?
Toby: Amazing!! Could you take me to Michaels? And possibly Target?
Brenda: I—uh, well, sure. I need to pick something up from the print shop on the way.
Note that I had just gotten off the plane and was a bit caffeinated. Also it was my first ever trade show and I was pretty wired even without the caffeine. Brenda, however, was cool, calm and collected. Our friendship was cemented in the way that only a frenzied trip to Michaels, Target, and a print shop can do. Even though we only see each other twice a year at trade shows, we keep in touch and I consider her a good friend.
But also…have you SEEN her YARN?? It’s stunning. Seriously. If you haven’t yet, you are missing out. Brenda is a crusader against color pooling, and if you follow her on Instagram, you see the kind of love and care she puts into every skein. In addition to her wildly variegated colorways (which I love), she puts a huge amount of consideration into her semi-solids, which I think is rare. The color I used for the beadless Odalie is called “Alchemy,” and from far away it looks brown. But when you look at it closely, you can see the colors underneath—it’s iridescent the way some bird wings are. I so appreciate that sort of subtlety.
And that’s the (insanely long) story of Odalie! See it and buy it on Ravelry, here.