Archive for June, 2012

time is of the essence!

Friday, June 29th, 2012

WE DID IT!

just a few minutes ago, we went over 250 votes; thank you to everyone who voted and watched the countdown; we really appreciate you making the push on our behalf. now we wait; fingers crossed!

ok, here’s a secret we’ve been keeping for a few days: we found out about this opportunity last week and decided to apply; we weren’t sure we’d be able to make tomorrow’s deadline, but now we know we can do it. we have assembled our application to apply for a grant from mission: small business and we need your help to complete the process!!

we must gather 250 votes from knitspot enthusiasts by 12 midnight on saturday, june 30th (yes, that’s tomorrow), to finalize our eligibility.

voting is easy, the support button requires a bit of patience. it may hiccup due to heavy traffic; please be persistent.

please have your Facebook login ready, then follow these steps to cast your vote and help us qualify:

  1. CLICK HERE to go to the mission: small business home page
  2. click the button that says “LOG IN & SUPPORT’*
  3. enter “knitspot.com” and/or “ohio, canton” in the search field and click search
  4. press the vote button (you can also vote for other small businesses while you are there)
  5. spread the word to family and your friends, especially those who benefit from your knitting!

*a Facebook login is required by the organizers

you can read more about the program, its goals, and its sponsors at the mission: small business site.

if we win, we plan to use the funds for both growth ventures (publication of books, hiring a business manager, and hopefully producing our own barenaked yarns) as well as improvements to our infrastructure and physical space (our website needs an major update and we are fast growing out of club central, for instance).

thank you, thank you to everyone who participates; we appreciate your support always!

lurking on the seamy side

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

ah, it’s good to be home. i’ve spent the last two days recovering from TNNA in the quiet of our house and boy, has it been nice. i dunno why, but the show left me completely spent this time—in a good way; we got a ton accomplished in two days. and my first day home was busy, busy, with class, a blog to write, and getting through a backlog of email.

having mostly caught on tuesday, i decided to take the whole day yesterday to digest and work in my study, away from the computer. since i’d completed the last of the knitting on my caïssa sweater the night before, i set about blocking all the pieces and seaming it together while i thought about the information and samples we took home from the show.

as you know, i like to steam block all my pieces before i seam them together, then do a wet block on the whole garment. i find the pieces are easier to handle this way. during construction, this fabric is somewhat distorted and constricted by its texture. the pieces will knit up slightly smaller than the size they will ultimately become, so blocking is imperative to achieving the right drape and size. everything pinned out to the proper measurements without much coaxing at all.

the spirit trail holda yarn i’m using is a 12-ply blend of  lambswool, cashmere, and angora—with all that non-wicking fiber included, it takes longer to dry than most straight wools.

that gave me some wait time between steaming pieces—not as much as if they were wet, of course, but enough to sit and work a few rows on that briar rose lace shawlette i talked about last week (more about that later). i didn’t mind—quiet knitting in the middle of the day is so rare for me now that i felt like i won the lottery!

once all the pieces were steamed, i set about joining them. first i seamed the shoulders and neck, then the sleeves, and finally, the underarm/side seam area (all the while, i’m listening to canada, by richard ford). i like to steam each area as i go, to have as much access as possible while everything is flat.

you can see even here how lovely the drape of this fabric is—and it’s so light too, especially considering the size of this garment. once it’s on, you hardly notice its weight.

there was a lot i couldn’t know about this garment until it was all put together, so yesterday was a big day for me, too; i was nervous, especially about the fit of the neck, which was a new construction for me in hand knit fabric.

and while i like it well enough, there are a couple of things i will tweak in the pattern, so they will be corrected for the test and sample knits. i think the neck opening needs to be narrower, allowing the front band to ride higher on the shoulders and stand up more. also the cross-back width could actually be a bit wider, further off the shoulder (this surprised me).

are you ready??

i haven’t applied the buttons yet, because i’m not sure it needs any. the cardigan stays shut mostly on its own; with the fabric being so light, it doesn’t fall away toward the side seam the way it might in a heavier yarn. which is very nice and i like that it feels like a wrap. if i adjust the slant above the bust just a bit more toward center, i’ll be happy.

i don’t think i’ll be taking this sample apart to do it though—too many seams and pieces to undo. i may either knit it again or wait for a test knit to be finished (it would be fantastic in gray or brown, is what i’m thinking).

i do love the way it looks from behind and it feels delicious on. it’s exactly what i was aiming for—something that feels like a bathrobe but looks like a jacket; i love it. it’s very warm as well—too warm to keep on for very long right now, but when fall comes, it will be perfect.

david isn’t around at the moment to take a photo of it on me, but maybe later

nothing feels as good as an FO, right?? in fact, let’s celebrate with flowers

our row of stella d’oro lilies are in full bloom—i don’t think i’ve ever seen so many flowers on them. i need desperately to get out in the yard on saturday to dead head and weed—i skip one weekend and it all goes to hell in a hand basket, haha.

speaking of stella, let’s go back to the shawlette project i mentioned earlier; something new on the needles always feels pretty good, too, haha. the briar rose stella yarn is knitting up a treat—i love it; it’s very fine, but easy to work with and has good grip.

i’m enjoying this, even though i only gotten a few rows done. i expect you’ll see bigger progress on it now that the sweater is complete. even though the rows are long, it goes pretty fast because the pattern is easy to memorize.

after my seaming was done last night i added three or four more rows; i think that an evening or two of good knitting hours will get me through the lace hem and, once i’m into the garter section, it will be completely portable, so finishing should be quick.

of course there is a bit of competition for my time with a secret project or two on the needles as well, but i’m going to be home for most of the remainder of the summer and i plan to take advantage of that by getting lots of knitting done.

are these lilies not the most delicious orange?? it would be a great yarn color, eh? i love how fresh and lively this is; it make a yummy winter accessory; my mouth is already watering.

speaking of the garden (awww, i know we weren’t, but i’m going there anyway), i still can’t get over the pace at which everything is moving.

the garlic is already dying back and we’ve had bell peppers on the plants for over a week now. look what i found today

and these

oh man, we still don’t have all our mulch down—time to catch up.

and then the eggplant has begun blooming as well—one of my garden favorites

ok, that’s it, just a few for today . . . because i bet you want to know who won the sock knitter’s handbook, right?

but first, thank you all for commenting and a big hand to the authors for providing us with a fun and informative opportunity. and now, the winner is:

elizabeth AKA theknittinggirl

ah, i’m so happy—she is such a fun person, always ready with a great joke and good for a laugh in our clubhouse; it wouldn’t be at all the same without her. let’s give her some flowers to celebrate

ok, now, it’s off to work i go, lots to get done before the day is over. see you next time.

the big top

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

every year in the month of june, the yarn world descends on columbus, ohio for our winter trade show. many, many, many vendors—yarn companies, publishers, producers, designers, accessory companies, gadget makers, and the like—set up booths to show off their wares and even more attendees—including shop owners, designers, teachers, reporters, etc—walk the aisles in search of the newest, latest, and greatest to items to bring to the attention of their respective audiences.

whew, that was quite a sentence.
but hopefully, one that properly imparts the magnitude of the event and how much walking is involved in seeing all of it. according to my fitbit tracker, between three and four (indoor) miles in each of two days to cover what we needed to see of the show. and that was mostly just the yarn part; we did not venture into deep needlepoint or cross stitch territories.

here we are in the ewe ewe booth; she’s wearing the baby knitspot shirt my brother joe printed up at her request. it was a big hit and we had many requests to carry those in our own shop, so we’ll probably stock a few soon to see how they go (joe is an excellent printer; he and his family specialize in small run and specialty orders, perfect for our kind of business). we are also considering a non-maternity shirt that says something like, “olive my knitspot”—waddaya think?

anyway, back to business . . . one of the first people i saw was jill (AKA kniterella); someone i’ve been looking forward to meeting; i love her design work.

the cool thing about TNNA is that we get to see not just new products and producers, but friends, too—the yarn world is fairly small and we are a social bunch. despite that fact that so many of us work independently in our own studios, we avidly make use of the tools of social media to make connections, share tips, tricks, and contacts, create liaisons, and familiarize ourselves with our markets and our competitors.

(beverly from angel fire studios, angela, and kirsten kapur at dinner sunday evening)

by the time we get to the trade shows, we are eager to meet in person and have much to discuss, both on the floor and off. even though we’ve all had a very full day of looking at new fiber products, talking through potential partnerships, signing books, or shopping for yarns, we look forward to evening gatherings to share meals, discuss the industry, and, possibly best of all, participate in the most star-crossed knit nights of the year.

oh and of course, there are the very smallest members of our community to welcome into the fold—haha, and no, erica did not give birth at the show! that is six-week-old oliver, the tot toppers baby, at TNNA with his mom kate; they are somewhat attached at the hip for the time being.

we also saw and cuddled with the ravelery babies—sadly, no photos of the family as we were so busy chatting them up. i was really happy to spend time with them again for just a little bit; it’s always so much fun talking with mary heather, jess, and sarah.

we made sure to stop for breaks throughout the day so erica could rest and baby knitspot could snack, making sure that dad was updated frequently. this was most likely their last foray from home until the kid is born—next time i see them will be at their place.

technically, photography is not allowed on the show floor—it’s a fair policy as we are getting a glimpse at the very newest products, not yet on the market; a photo-free environment ensures that each vendor can freely share their newest and most innovative ideas ahead of the market, without risk. we are very careful to take photos only in public mingling areas and when a vendor invites us to take a shot inside their booth.

however, we can photograph as much as we want at home of the new and notable things that come away from the show with us, so i have a nice parade of goodies to share from people who want you to see what’s new.

above, a selection  of new stonewash colors in shalimar yarns haven, a new merino/silk 5-ply DK that kristy introduced at the show. from left to right, silver sage, sea glass, and mole (my personal favorite).

one of my very favorite accessory vendors, perl grey, was at the show for the first time, ensconced in a beautiful booth featuring pewter and wood brooches, sticks, and buttons, all in a new, matte-silver patina finish. and boy, has adrienne been busy—she has some great new shapes as well, including some really innovative hook closures that can be removed for washing.

fellow canadian felicia lo was also there with her breathtaking sweetgeorgia yarns and handed me a skein of her newest offering, a kid mohair and silk lace yarn. i love mohair; in fact, i go off on a mohair binge every once in a while for which i’m long overdue (the last one culminated in the first pattern i sold on the internet, wing-o-the-moth). this colorway couldn’t be more well-suited to my taste either (it’s woodland; it must be new, i don’t see it on her site, but i know it will be popular). i may just have to put it to work soon (haha, janel was making designs on it all saturday night but i made sure it came home in my tote bag). felicia’s yarns will do that to a person—turn them mean.

at the kollage yarns booth, susie and mark were showing off their new and improved square® needles, now made in the USA, still with two options for cable softness.

anzula yarns was in the house as well, with beautiful hand dyed yarns on display. she works with an awesome array of bases, many of which are out of the ordinary. here i have a skein of milky way, a milk/wool fingering yarn blend in the color violet, i believe. you know how i love the milk blends—and this one has generous yardage, enough to knit a petite size shawl such as budding apple or LOVe.

even though i tried very hard not to bring too much home (i need to work on weeding out my stash), at the dream in color booth, i succumbed to having a couple of skeins pressed into my hands. one was this merino/silk laceweight blend called wisp, in the most beautiful variegated colorway (fortune) that reminds me of iris in my favorite odd shades.

i couldn’t help glomming on to this gorgeous vivid blue mix called nebula, dyed on the calm yarn base, a soft single-ply yarn spun form 100% american wool.

i couldn’t help being arrested by the indian lake artisans booth, where handcrafted hexagonal knitting needles were on display in maple, cherry, and walnut woods, from our neighbor state of michigan. the company also produces cable needles and shawl pins and we were told that circulars are on the way. we accepted an invitation to try them out and i must say, i do like them. when the circa make a debut, i will be all over those. the points are great for lace and socks, while the hex shape allows for standard stitch gauge. they feel lovely to hold.

our friend janel laidman (left, above) was with us for the weekend, to represent her publications in the visionary authors booth. janel has two new magazines on they fire, BTW—the first one, the sock report, made its debut this month and the second one, skein report is due out in late summer. the cool thing about these magazines is that they are available both in digital and print format; when you buy into either one, you get everything from that issue in your package.

the show went on and on; we saw many, many more people who are familiar to you through this blog—we had a nice visit with stephanie and steve from ecobutterfly organics, suppliers of the gorgeous pakucho cotton lace yarn in the wandering thyme scarf i wore at the show all weekend. we also saw our dear friend clara parkes, though not as often as we’d like. as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, with her first booth at TNNA, laura nelkin organized a dinner on sunday night that included all the designer friends you see around the table in various photos above.

after ordering, we all took out our knitting and set to work sharing gossip making conversation. the food took forever to get to the table, but that was probably a good thing; it gave us time to wind down and catch up with each other. i worked on my lace weight cotton fingerless mitt, which i’ve decided to name “sweet tea”, a suggestion by anne marie that i just love.

after dinner we all headed back to the hotel for knitting in the lobby—a TNNA tradition. each night’s knit circle is a bit different as people come and go. i worked on a secret project both friday and saturday nights, but finding that required a little too much concentration for public knitting, i decided on sunday to grab my caïssa sweater sleeve and work on that.

good choice—i made excellent headway on it for a couple of hours while i chatted with my friends from shall we knit? whom i haven’t seen since last fall. luckily, they were traveling with kim o’brien of indigodragonfly, supplier of luscious hand-dyed yarns and sassy buttons. see the one in the upper right corner? that’s the one erica’s wearing until the baby is born. we’ve decided i should be her dula.

HEY, stop that laughing; i’m very calm in emergencies, trust me. really, who else in the world would ask her to just wait a sec when her water breaks, so i can finish my row?? not to mention that i live three and a half hours away . . . but that what the button is for.

and with that, i am leaving you for today. i’ve spent far too much time on this post and i must get some actual work done now.

would these two steer you wrong??

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

erica and i are at TNNA this weekend, looking at all that’s new in the yarn world and doing some shopping for upcoming clubs as well. while i’m there, i’m sure i’ll run into charlene schurch and beth parrot, co-authors of a terrific new sock knitting resource

the sock knitters handbook: expert advice, tips, and tricks

whatever level of sock knitting you are at, even if you’re just at the contemplating stage, this book is one that you’ll want for your library shelf. it covers just about every aspect of sock construction and technique that any of us will want to know about

and from every angle too—top down and toe up constructions are thoroughly investigated from every site line

and then the authors go on to discuss aftercare and restructuring as well. wow.

i really love the clever way they illustrated the differences between techniques and constructions by color coding all the areas of the sock, making the differences between cuffs, heel types, gussets, or toe shaping stand out in sharp contrast.

discussion of each sock region are accompanied by closeups of variations in use.

along with architectural contrasts, the authors also present a variety of techniques, and a discussion of the hows, whys, and applications of each. the pros and cons of various cast ons, bind offs, and shaping sts are investigated.

i love that they included this aftercare section—how great is that?

and for a truly customized fit, turn toward the back and you will find a whole section on that

including a guide that will help if you enjoy knitting socks as a surprise.

if you feel like trying your hand at a bit of designing, some stitch patterns are included that are universally appealing and work in a number of sizes and constructions.

now you might think that a book jammed with this much information is a big, heavy tome that will sit on the library shelf most of the time, but no—as you can see it has a spiral binding so it will lay flat while you knit and it weighs surprisingly little, making it a great knitting bag accessory.

this is a terrific little book—just what you’d expect form two of the most experienced authors and teachers in our field. not only are they super smart and talented, they are generous—they have provided a giveaway copy of the sock knitter’s handbook to one lucky reader of today’s post.

if you’d like to win a copy, leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EDST on tuesday, june 26. we will announce the winner in the blog post following.

have a good week and happy knitting!