Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I have had the luxury of knitting most of the day because I am home sick. Unfortunately, the yarn I need is at the store, so the kimono jacket has been put aside once again and yet another project has begun!

We got some interesting yarns to dye this month, among them a cabled composite yarn made up of a fancy boucle of silk and rayon plied with a synthetic boucle. As a test, I soda ash dyed some of it in the Gold Dust colorway which seems to be a favorite with our customers. It is very bulky.

Sabra showed me a pattern in a book by Elizabeth Zimmerman that caught my interest. The body is knitted in one piece from the bottom up, and then stitches picked up around the armholes and the arms then knitted. Sort of like the Garter Stitch Vest in Folk Vests, which I am also knitting. I thought the sweater would be great in this new yarn. The sizing is done by varying the yarn gauge.

I cast on 120 stitches on size eleven needles and went to town. After about four inches, I thought the yarn would really look great in a ripple sort of stitch, so I did a row of a similar stitch I saw Lily Chin do on the Knitty Gritty TV show on the DIY Network, but it was too tedious to do on that many stitches, so the rest of it will be in garter stitch. Will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Getting projects finished, finally, before the holidays has me chomping at the bit to finish more so I can start another sweater. I think I want to do something in the Jamieson shetland.

The Long Sakiori Vest from Folk Vests took me longer than I thought it would. The body is really easy, the back is done in two separate pieces and then joined together. After you finish the fronts and attach them to the joined backs at the shoulders, you pick up stitches around the neck to midchest, knit in seed stitch for a couple of inches, put those stitches on holders and pick up the rest of the stitches from midchest to the bottom of the fronts, put the stitches on the holders back on the needles, and knit six or so more rows in seed stitch. For some reason, I had trouble getting the seed stitch trim to lay flat, so the corners curl. I blocked it to death, and short of cutting some of the stitches, the fronts don't hang right. It still looks very lovely on the dummy, but because I am becoming somewhat of a perfectionist wannabe (thanks to the influence of my partner), I can't stop tugging on the fronts. If I make it again, I think I should add some stitches. It is VERY flattering to wear.

The next thing to get finished gave me the most knitting fun I've had since the Best Friend Jacket from the Knit Stitch and that was the entrelac Market Basket bag from A Knitter's Dozen Bags. I made it in Nashua Bulky and Manos del Uruguay. The squares done in the painted Manos look spectacular. The bag felted wonderfully. Can't wait to do another entrelac project. Gwen is teaching a class on an entrelac vest that looks really fun. It's a great technique to do with handpainted yarn.

So now I have the Kimono Sweater to finish and the Garter Stitch Vest. Easy to knit. The sweater is the first I have done that will actually be big enough to fit me, and I'm not thrilled with the amount of yarn it is taking! So much easier to do a size small rather than the large. (or xl......) Better get back on the diet.

Pictures of all of these things later.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Who's a Lady?

Many years ago when I was a young mother, my operating room job allowed me to wear jeans to work everyday, since I would change into scrubs when I got there. Day after day, my little two year old daughter, would see me wearing clothes similar to what her father wore each day as he went off to classes. One night in mid December, we were preparing to go to a formal Christmas party the hospital I worked at hosted for its employees each year. I made the dress I was wearing, a long, white velvet halter dress with a short little jacket. As I was standing at a mirror doing something, I don't remember what it was, but I was already dressed, I noticed that my daughter was standing next to me, staring intently up at me. "Mom, are you a lady?" she asked, increduously. It occurred to me that the poor kid had never seen me in a dress and watched enough Sesame Street to know that ladies wore dresses.

Only a few years before that, I wouldn't have gone out for the evening without white gloves on. We were talking about white gloves during our knitting group meeting Friday night, and these pictures are the result of that talk. Cate went to Columbus Flea Market this morning and found white gloves, both short and long, still in the original packaging, which had to be from the sixties and seventies. Joanna said they are hard to knit in, but Cate thinks they might work if you are using bamboo needles. I felt so glamorous!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Woolbearers hosts a knitting group of great gals from all over Burlington and Mercer counties. Once in a while even someone from Camden will venture out to the hood to knit with us in the evening.

Last night we had the biggest crowd ever with 17 women squeezed into the space. The pictures speak for themselves. Anyway, it was fun and seeing the different knitting projects was inspiring.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Today was a beautiful weather day and a wonderful yarn arrival day. First, Fed Ex came with a couple of giant boxes, one of them from Brown Sheep. It barely was on the shelves for an hour when new customer, Ann, came in and bought lots of it for a rug she is knitting. It turns out her daughter works at a wonderful yarn store in Colorado. People are so interesting.

Then, a few hours later, our favorite UPS driver arrives and with him a giant box from Plymouth Yarn. Opening the box was like Christmas. We got lots of colors of Linen Isle, a cotton, linen and acrylic blend, very soft and lustrous for $4 a ball! I still think that low price is a mistake. Also, a 100% silk yarn in six wonderful colors, and a colorful collection of bamboo yarn. Finally, we got their bulky baby Alpaca which is super soft, and more colors of an old faithful, Yukon, a super bulky mohair blend.

Old friends Gwen, Janet, Jane, Nina and Debbie came in today, as did several new gals in addition to Ann. It made me feel really lucky to have been in the store today because yesterday a REALLY old friend, Pat, one of our first customers, came in and I was off for the day and missed her. There is a fine line between customers and friendships in many, many instances.

The entrelac purse I am doing is coming along well. Adding the Manos tier seems to be making a big difference. I am anxious to get it done and start another project with Wool in the Woods Pizazz. I found it when we were moving things around in the store today and it really knocked my socks off. I hope I have enough of the colorway to do something fun, like a vest.

Speaking of vests, I finished (almost) one of two vests I'm knitting from Folk Vests. Still have to do the side pieces.

More later.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Stitches.... what can I say about Stitches? I could say that our customers really enjoyed the bus trip we arranged for them. Forty-five excited women on their way to yarn nirvana, plastic and paper ready to depart from their wallets. I could say that it was a nicer venue than Atlantic City; bigger, better lighting, enough chairs and tables to sit and relax between purchases and more food and snacks available. Our customers seemed thrilled with their buys. They are still emailing about the fun they had and the yarn they bought.

But I could also say that I was disappointed in Stitches. I felt badly for some of the small businesses who don't have their own product to promote; Webs was there with phenomenal discounting and who can compete with that? Truly, I wouldn't be surprised if some day I hear that Webs is franchising. I just hope they don't open a branch in my town if it ever happens. I thought it was interesting that the same women who won't shop at Walmarts because they undercut local businesses didn't bat an eyelash at buying from Webs.

So what did I buy at Stitches? Nothing. That's right, nada, nil, nothing. I even gave myself permission to buy whatever I wanted and ran through the show one last time before we left, and there was nothing I wanted. I think I already have everything I want in Woolbearers!

Woolbearers bought some gorgeous angora lambs wool, hand dyed from Shady Side Farms, the people that do our spinning for us, and her booth was one of the few I saw that had something really different and unusual. DoneRoving Farm had some really pretty rovings and handpainted yarns. The new Noni Bag patterns and samples gave me a thrill. I can't wait to get them in the store.

We ordered glass circular knitting needles that our customers bought and were raving about at the show. We gave them a wish list to write down anything they saw that we should stock and I am anxious to get those back to see what we should get.

Maybe by October 2007 I'll be excited about going to Stitches again.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The photo of the bag is the result of a mother in the United Kingdom being inspired by the picture of her daughter's bag, which she saw in this blog. I love that! She saw the picture (Joanna's Noni bag), her daughter sent her yarn, and she took off with her own creation. What a great way to nurture one's creativity.

The story made me miss my own mother in Michingan, and although she doesn't knit much anymore, we inspired each other to bake bread this weekend and talk on the phone during the process.

Inspiration to create fiber art comes from many places. I have the type of design imagination that often is unrealistic in its composition. I see in my mind's eye something that I want to create. The next step is to figure out the method of execution.

For instance, a few years ago I wanted to weave fabric upon which I could then silk screen images that reminded me of Manhattan. However, the images I drew looked too juvenile, so I scratched trying my hand at silk screening and decided to photocopy old postcards I collected onto transfere fabric and then iron those unto the woven fabric. That didn't work either because the postcards were too detailed and the transfers at that time didn't do well with detail colored photos. I forgot about the project until recently. Myra found transfere fabric made of cotton that you run through your printer. I think I'll copy the postcards onto the fabric and sew the copies onto a jacket I will construct out of woven fabric.... let's face it, I am no artist. But I have the desire and inspiration to creat.

Seeing someone else's design, either in a pattern or in the finished work always inspires me. That must be universal and is responsible for all of the unfinished projects I keep hearing about. The desire to create moves at a faster pace than the process allows. This is why I bought the knitting machine, sock machine, and keep looking at the automated looms. Not as satisfying as doing it with one's own hands, however.