I met Pam and Mark this summer while vending at the Michigan Fiber Festival in Alleghan, MI. Their booth was set up across from mine and I couldn't help but be drawn to their beautiful display, friendly demeanor and absolutely GORGEOUS handmade wooden knitting needles! Upon closer examination I realized these are no ordinary knitting needles, they are not the traditional round shape but hexagonal.
I bought a pair and started knitting right away. I have always personally preferred wooden or bamboo needles over metal. And I can say these are wonderful to use, made in Michigan and beautiful. I am saving up for an interchangeable set myself!
Read on to hear more about Pam and Mark's story!
Tell us a little about yourselves
Here are a few “fun facts” about me, and Mark, and Indian Lake Artisans.
First and foremost we are a fun and happy couple and enjoy life and appreciate its’ simple pleasures. We live in an old log cabin, on our own island, on Indian Lake. We live approximately 30 miles north of Detroit, MI. The logo for Indian Lake Artisans is a photographic painting I created from a photo of our dock.
I was a competitive figure skating growing up and have been a lifetime enthusiast of the needle arts including; sewing, tailoring, quilting, needlepoint, embroidery, weaving and knitting. I have had my own decorative painting business and have a photo technology degree. Mark is a professional portrait photographer of 28 years and has owned his portrait studio business for 18 years. Mark has also been home brewing wonderful beer for 14 years.
How did you have the idea for hexagonal needles?
My idea for the hexagonal knitting needles was spawned on December 23rd, 2006 when shopping at my local yarn shop for a Christmas gift for my daughter. The knitting expert was showing me some alternative shaped needles (square) and telling me how much easier they were to knit with as she fumbled horribly and could not knit with said knitting needles. Needless to say I did not buy those needles and bought a traditional set instead, but when I got in my car I could not stop thinking about the knitting needles and what shape might be better. I began thinking about different shapes, form and function, and on the dashboard of my Jeep was a Dixon Ticonderoga pencil and the light bulb went off. Pencils were six sided, still basically round in shape with the benefit of flat sides for easy handling. Hmm – when I got home I grabbed some pencils and yarn and began knitting. It felt great.
I was awarded my first of 3 patents (so far) in June 2009. What an exciting day it was when the first patent was awarded! Then we had to figure out how to make the needles, and it has been quite the adventure ever since. We launched Indian Lake Artisans in May 2010 with 3 sizes and 9 standard products. Today that number is over 350 variations on the theme.
What is special about the hexagonal shape?
The benefits of the hexagonal shape are many
- The hexagonal shape provides multiple resting points for your fingers
- No need to grip the needle tightly to have control of the needles
- Yarn rests on the outer points of the hex shape, this keeps your stitch gauge true to size
- Flat side of the hexagonal shape is just underneath the yarn giving you a little extra room to easily slide your needle under the yarn to pick up your stitch
- Knitting multiple stitches together or knitting into the front and back of a stitch has never been easier
- You receive a very even tension and a crisply defined stitch
- Circulars have a very smooth join that swivels
- Made from North American hardwoods from sustainable forests in the Great Lakes region, walnut, cherry and maple.
- The warmth of the wood is wonderful for your hands
- 100% natural beeswax finish, containing no petroleum products
Where and how are your needles made?
Our knitting needles are made entirely in the state of Michigan from all local sources. Mark and I handcraft every product and we are the company of two. We use all North American hardwoods for the needles, walnut, cherry and maple, all from sustainable forests in the Great Lakes region. The woods we use have varying characteristics which affect their needle performance. The grain is the densest in the maple wood which makes it the smoothest, slipperiest and strongest of the three woods. It is also the lightest in color. The cherry has the medium slickness and a honey color and the walnut has the most open grain which makes for the grabbiest finish. The walnut is a dark chocolate color. We condition the wood with a 100% natural beeswax from northern Michigan as we hand sand the needles.
Our decorative single point tops are made from an ABS recyclable plastic that we copper plate, allowing for a very lightweight needle with an excellent balance. All of the tops are my original designs and each size has its’ own unique top to their particular size. We have US sizes 6 – 15 in single points; feather, owl, fish, rowboat, arrowhead, lantern, acorn, turtle and cabin.
We make double points in sizes 2 – 15. They come in a set of 5 needles and we make them in 6” or 8” standard lengths. Custom lengths are also available.
We added circulars to our needle line in 2012 and currently make sizes 2 – 15 in a variety of lengths. Our join is one of the best, if not the best. It is very smooth and it swivels. The connector is stainless steel, nickel free, and Michigan made.
We introduced our interchangeables this spring at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and they have been very, very popular. We have the same swivel on the cord as on our fixed circulars, and this prevents the needle connection from unscrewing itself as you knit, a particular problem with some interchangeable needles. Our connection is extremely smooth with no rough areas to snag your fiber. The interchangeable components are sold separately or in a set, completed with a handmade custom needle case. Sets have 9 or 12 sizes ranging from US size 3 – 15. Sets include three lengths of cords to create a 24”, 32”, and 40” circular needle, and two connectors. Interchangeable sets provide the ability to make 27 – 36 different size combinations of circular knitting needles, depending on the number of sizes included in the set.
We customize needles for our customers all the time at no additional charge. You have the ability to customize the needles to fit your project and knitting style.
We round out our product line with cable needles, shawl sticks, buttons and Mark’s beautifully designed hexagonal wooden yarn bowl. It’s gorgeous!
I hope this helps you get to know us and our company a little bit better!
You can find Indian Lake Artisans online at http://indianlakeartisans.com
and on Instagram @indianlakeartisans
Hilary is the winner! Thanks for playing along everyone!
Stay tuned more hosted giveaways are in store for the weeks ahead!