This week we have Cheryl Potter, owner of Cherry Tree Hill Yarn, in the Limelight. Cherry Tree was one of the first companies I ordered from when I was setting up The Loopy Ewe. My first skein of their sock yarn was in the Green Mountain Madness colorway and I was hooked as soon as I saw it. We started with just a few of their colors (I don’t remember how many) but now of course we have all of them for you. (As well as a lot of exclusive colorways from them in the past year.) Cheryl is a delight to work with and a great business woman. I know you’ll have fun getting to know her a bit today!
Loopy: Hi Cheryl! First of all, how long have you been a knitter, and who taught you?
Cheryl: I began knitting at the age of 8 with some Dazzle yarn my mother bought me at Woolworths. It was sparkle yellow and lime green and I knit myself a t shirt top. Remember this was the 70’s so I was really hip. It was my first FO with my mother’s help of course!
Loopy: Sparkle yellow and lime green? Actually, The Loopy Lady’s first sweater was in a yellow and lime green, back during that time, too. That’s funny! Do you have a favorite thing that you like to knit?
Cheryl: Large multi–directional garments are my favorite. I hate to finish a project so I make sure it’s something big like a rug or an afghan or a large shawl or jacket knit with fingering weight yarn.
Loopy: You hate to finish a project? That’s interesting! What’s the most difficult project you’ve attempted?
Cheryl: I’m knitting a large tapestry shawl out of Supersock right now and I must say it is daunting. It took me 2 weeks just to graph the motifs with Stitch and Motif maker and there are no repeats. But the color combinations are just amazing and you can use so many in a tapestry.
Loopy: You’ll have to put a photo on your blog when it’s done. We’d all like to see that. When do you find time to knit?
Cheryl: I like to knit nights and weekends. On trips to yarn shows I make my husband drive so I can knit in the truck. When the weather is really bad in winter it gives me a great excuse to knit while watching a movie during snowstorms. Of course we have a generator so that I do not have to knit by flashlight when the electricity goes out.
Loopy: What made you take the next step and look into dyeing your own yarn, and how did you learn how to do that?
Cheryl: Back in the dark ages when I was in college, handpainted yarn was in its infancy and Kaffe Fassett was new to the knitting world. I took one look at his book Glorious Knits and knew I did not have the patience for all those bobbins but I did want all those colors. So in true Indie Dyer style, I space dyed my own yarn and called it faux fairisle. I must have knit every garment in that book twice. I did not know then that there even was something called handpainted yarn. In graduate school I took it a step further by visiting the Navajo Indian reservation while pursuing my fine arts degree. At that time Navajos were hand dyeing Brown Sheep yarn for their rugs and wall hangings. I established an account with Brown Sheep and began dyeing and selling my own yarn. It was my very first handpainted effort and with this yarn I was “discovered” by Interweave Knits magazine.
Loopy: No doubt you were one of the first true “indie dyers”. How do you come up with your colorways? And do you have a personal favorite?
Cheryl: We live in the wilderness of Vermont and most of the colorways are inspired by nature. This rural pastoral area is pretty much untouched by technology–no cell towers, for example–and the lush and vivid colors of the Green Mountains are breathtaking. Whenever we visit some exotic place we come up with a color: Misty Moor from visiting Scotland two years ago, Caribou Creek from camping in Alaska last year. My favorite is still Wild Cherry because it was such a joyful discovery. While walking property to buy land up here in the Northeast Kingdom, we came upon a forgotten orchard in a clearing in the woods. The berries and cherries and apples were delicious shades of burgundy and mulberry, russet and scarlet. It was like walking into a fantasy land that time forgot. That clinched it for me–I had to move up here into what the locals call God’s Country and the less reverent just call The Kingdom.
Loopy: I am particularly fond of Wild Cherry, too, as that is what my socks are knit from. (And that’s the colorway that we send out in “Loopy’s Red Sock Kit”. You know we order more bags of that colorway than any of them!) There are a lot of dyers out there these days, how do you stay fresh and unique in what you do?
Cheryl: I like dying custom colors, like the ones I do for you. It takes you away from production work and into a more ethereal place. I started small and sometimes it is just so much fun to dye small non repeatable batches. This is why we do Potlucks and Lottery, just to keep on experimenting and pushing the color envelope.
Loopy: Tell us about the Maple Syrup your family does! We’d also love to hear about your family. (Love the photo of the Sugar Shack!)
Cheryl: My family is totally involved in the business. My husband makes his very cherry Maple Syrup only for yarn stores. It is the fanciest grade available and he does it all with horses and bucket the old fashioned way. His sugar house was built in the 1700’s and some of his maple trees are 150 years old. My older daughter just graduated from college and among other things is an Indie Dyer. She has a blog and a website and loves to talk about dying on Ravelry. I have seen her dye sheets and overdye sweaters she did not like the color of, and recently we did a project together involving a horse blanket. Her big thing now is helping other small dyers find ways to buy small amounts of yarn and dyes inexpensively. I wonder where she found her contacts? My younger daughter is only in 8th grade but she works for CTH all summer. Last year she earned enough yarn money to purchase her own Quarter Horse. He is the horse pictured wearing the handpainted saddle blanket my other daughter designed on our CTH homepage at www.cherryyarn.com
Loopy: How fun that your daughter has turned dyeing into a business, too! You have a new book coming out soon – can you give us a bit of information on that?
Cheryl: It is called Skein for Skein and it is all about substituting one yarn for another and making it work. I’ve teamed up with 3 friends who work for other yarn companies and we’ve all picked 4 designs to show you what works and what doesn’t work. This is the first time I’ve been allowed to publish designs that don’t work. I hope knitters will enjoy our bloopers.
Loopy: We always like to know about bloopers. Anything else you’d like to add?
Cheryl: Thanks Sheri, for being so adventurous with your sock yarn. I think your customers must love it that you are not afraid to get unique colorways from us and they must love the fact that you name them yourself. I enjoy visiting your website because it is so interactive. Some day we should do a dye class together!
Congratulations to Knitting Daughter!
High School graduation is the best! 🙂
Congrats on the high school graduation! I know that you are so happy to have all of your family around you.
Yay!!!! Congratulations Knitting Daughter. Glad Web Guy’s home and MIL is visiting. Have fun!!!!
CTH is one of my faves. My favorite pair of socks is made of CTH Sockittome. I wash them and put them on my drying rack and pat them every day to see if they’re dry. I’ve not knit with sock yarn yet but have some caked and ready to knit.
Congratulations Knitting Daughter!!! 🙂
Love the interview and love CTH.
Have a great time at graduation tonight
I have yet to use the CTH I have in my stash but am looking forward to it 🙂 Welcome Home Web Guy, Congrats Knitting Daughter, and Hi to MIL!
Wow – Sounds like you have a lot going on this week. How exciting to have Web Guy home again and to see KD graduate! Congratulations KD!!! Enjoy your time with them this summer as it’ll be quite again for you in the fall. I’m assuming KD is going away for college? Or is she staying in the area? At any rate – enjoy your time with all your family.
Tell Knitting daughter congrats with graduation from me (I know how it feels, I just graduated from college last weekend)! And welcome home to Web Guy!
Congratulations Knitting Daughter on your high school graduation! May you, your friends and your family have a fantastic time celebrating this special moment in your life! : )
Congrats to KD, enjoy having the family home, and thanks for a great interview with Cheryl. She’s a huge inspiration to us here at KLY! 🙂
I love CTH yarn. It is one of my favorites.
Congrats to knitting duaghter!! And how nice to have Web guy home for the summer. .
Congratulations, Knitting Daughter!!
Have fun celebrating tonight, this week, this month (even all summer…celebrations can never be long enough…I’m a great rationalizer when it comes to my birthday).
Congrats to knitting daughter on her HS graduation – what an accomplishment (for both mom and daughter!). And welcome home, Web Guy!
My only experience with CTH is the red sock kit and the yarn in the first sock club shipment. Love them both! I love rich colors and tightly plied yarn.
Congratulations all around. Sheri, just think of all those folks who would enjoy a nice pickle! VBG!
Congratulations on KD’ s graduation. It was a very nice interview with Cheryl
Potter. I am anxious to see her new book when it comes out. It seems that I
am always looking for a yarn subsitute for something.
Can’t wait for your book.
I always say you learn more from mistakes than from success 🙂
There’s a funny place in Ravelry for sweater goofs. It’s hilarous.
Love the interview and CTH yarn!
Congratulations to Knitting Daughter!
Love the interview and especially CTH-CTH is even used by my in my password for my job! But I won’t tell you what it is.
Congrat. KD on graduation.
I think I’ll go squeeze some of my CTH yarn now.
Congratulations Knitting Daughter on your graduation!!! Enjoy this special time 🙂
Congratulations to KD, I hope you have a wonderful and fun graduation. Mom must be so proud of you. How nice for you Sheri that WG and MIL are there and of course that goes for WH too. Great interview with Cheryl. Have a great night. Hugs
Sorry – hit enter too fast :/ I love the interview with Cheryl. It was really nice. I have about 5 pair of socks made from CTH and love them all..
Congratulations to Knitting Daughter. What an exciting evening and it’s great your family can all be there.
Thanks for the interview with Cheryl. I love my Cherry Tree Hill socks, and it makes them more special to know who’s behind all those intriguing and compelling colours.
Congratulations Knitting Daughter!!!!
Cherry Tree Hill is my all time favorite sock yarn. I have knit Miss M’s first pair of socks from CTH and millions of the Loopy socks, for teacher’s gifts this past winter!! Wild Cherry is my FAVE!!!! color!!
Keep up the good work!
Congrats to KD!!!! So exciting…..graduating from high school, I remember my graduation and how exciting everything seemed at the time:)
Congratulation, Knitting Daughter!
Sheri, now we want to try the very cherry maple syrup. Can you start carrying that, please?
Congratulations KD. What an accomplishment.
Speaking of graduations, my five year old just graduated from preschool this evening. Now I have two in “all day” school.
I really love the idea of a book of knitting bloopers, and not of the fashion faux pas. I think that we can learn a lot by seeing what didn’t work and keeping an open mind. And hopefully this way it will take a lot less time than knitting a dozen ugly sweaters!
Congrats to knitting daughter..that is fabulous!!! Go Girl.
You are amazing. Your daughter is graduating from high school and you still have time to write. Wow. You are a SuperWoman!!!!!
Congrats to Knitting Daughter on her graduation from High School.
Enjoy having your family back together for the summer.
Congratulations to KD!!
Congratulations to Knitting Daughter! There’s nothing quite like high school graduation! I’m so glad for you, Sheri, that you’ve also got College Guy home and MIL visiting—sounds like a real family gathering this week. Thanks as always for another fascinating interview. It’s fun to get the back story on some of those yarns in my stash!
Congrats to Knitting Daughter! CTH yarn is one of my favorites, and the WC colorway is so wonderful…I’ve knit 2 prs of socks with this yarn….Have a great week!
Congratulations to Knitting Daughter, the brilliant graduate! I hope you have time to slow down and enjoy this in-between summer.
And, how much fun is it to read an interview with Cheryl of CTH? I adore the tight twist and brilliant colors of the yarn, and the Loopy-exclusive colorways have been so much fun to see, covet and, when I’m lucky, collect. (I can see a Summer of CTH Socks ahead . . . )
Congratulations to KD on her high school graduation! That is so much fun. I don’t remember if you told us where she plans to go to college, or not.
I’m sure that you are delighted to have Web Guy and KD home for the summer! I hope you have a great time together, and some nice weather to go with it!
Add my congratulations to KD as well. You all have a glorious time together! :>)
Congratulations Knitting Daughter. This is such a bittersweet time, isn’t it? ENJOY your summer!
My oldest son just graduated on Sunday and he’s going to SLU in the fall. Looking forward to making lots of visits to Loopy Central on our visits to see him!
CTH is definitely one of my favorites. Keep up the beautiful work!
Congrats….lovely granddaughter on your high school graduation.
We are so proud of you.
Congratulations KD!! High School is an amazing accomplishment … how exciting to be looking forward to college in the fall 🙂 I hope you have an amazing time at your grad ceremony and all the festivities that go with – memories that you will treasure forever.