3 major reasons to come to WOOL-TYME Kingston SOON!

IT'S HERE!!! Kureyon sock yarn has just arrived, all 12 colours of it are now in stock, and we're loving it. The colours are just as beautiful in this finer version of that gorgeous Japanese wool/nylon blend than in it's thicker version that has been taking the knitting world by storm for several years now. Don't be disappointed. Come on in and get your pick of the litter.

The second reason to come and visit us from April 1st to April 12th is that I've gone a bit mad, waiting for this spring that never seems to be in sight, so I'm starting the spring sweep early and putting up no less than 28 lines of yarn that we have been carrying for a while, but for whom it's time to find a new home. These babies will be going at great prices from 20%-70% OFF! No Kidding! I am committed to tidy things up so that we can properly welcome spring and the new spring yarns. The regular monthly newsletter will be coming out next Monday, but you blog readers will get a sneak preview: Alpaca, Mohair, Linen, Felting wool, Fashion yarns, Crochet Cotton, Ribbon Yarns, Lace Merino, Silk, Coton blends, Wool Blends just to name a few... Again, COME ON IN WHILE THE PICKINGS ARE GOOD!

The third reason to pop in from Tuesday April 8th to Sat. April 12th is to bring us one of your knitting projects so that we can display it for all to appreciate during our 7th Annual Spring Show & Share. It's so much fun to see what people have been up to. Don't be shy! We love to see what everyone has been up to. And even if you don't have anything finished to bring in, come and see the beautiful things that your fellow knitters have been making. Don't forget the Saturday reception on April 12th, where you can bring your knitting and spend a couple of hours with friends while nibbling, admiring and working on your pet project.


Have you met Georgia Walker yet?

I just spent a lovely weekend visiting with Georgia, Dakota, Anita, James, Marty, Peri, and all the other characters that are part of the Friday Night Knitting Club.

We've had this book in the store for about a year and it's been quite popular. Then in the past few weeks, I've had at least a dozen people tell me that they were reading it and how much they were enjoying it. When I asked Pam from the Kingston Knitting Circle, who happens to work at Chapters what was happening to explain the sudden interest in the book, she said that it had just come out in "trade paperback" format, making it cheaper and more accessible. It really is a great way to read a book.

Being a huge fan of NYC (I have always said that if I ever win the lottery, you can find me for the next year doing the rounds of Central Park and its perimeter,) reading this book was like spending Easter Weekend in the upper West Side, although I dare say it was a bit warmer to visit with them from the comfort of my easy-chair in my living room than it would have been to be trekking through the streets of Manhattan in mid-March wearing an Easter bonnet.

It's fun to be following the progression of this lovely book from its first launching, to hearing whisperings of Julia Roberts' interest in playing the lead role, to seeing that it will be coming to a theatre near us sometime in the future. There's no question, that we have to get ourselves well organized to show this city just how many knitters there are across all generations; we could have a great knit-in for charity to raise awareness of the support that knitters offer each other and the community at large. I'll be sure to keep you posted as to likely release dates.

If you link here: http://www.pr-inside.com/entertainment-blog/2006/11/03/julia-roberts-is-going-back-to/ you will get an update about the movie being made of the Friday Night Knitting Club starring Julia Roberts, by the director of The Devil Wears Prada.

ALRIGHT, Hands up all of you who have just about had enough of winter, and cold, and snow!
Well, according to the Associated Press, in Yellow Springs, Ohio they have an art project that would warm the coldest heart. And it's becoming a growing trend as knitters in many communities are turning their brightly coloured odds and ends into "cozies" for trees, street signs, benches, door handles and other public objects.

On this particular tree, the first panel was a gold piece with the words "Knitknot Tree" and a smiley face, which went up in October. Since then people have been coming from all over to add their own little touches to warm up the tree and the lives of passersby.

When I'm in knitting class and see people fretting over their less than perfect tension, or whether the cast on edge will stretch or be too tight, I can imagine how incredibly freeing it would be to simply KNIT with whatever outrageous colour comes to hand and then stretch and seam your piece of knitting around a tree, without worrying about details, like invisible seaming and perfect matching. LONG LIVE PLAYFUL KNITTING!


The story of a Glorious Mitten

This is my Glorious Mitten. I finished it on Sunday night and brought it in to hang up at the store on Monday. It's made with Manos del Uruguay's new SILK BLEND DK yarn that feels absolutely mesmerizing with luscious colours. (The picture on the right of a skein of colour 3109 shows the colours much truer than my feeble photographic attempt.)
Now the problem is that I love the mitten so much, I want to write the pattern out to share it with all of you, and of course, to make a second one. Unfortunately, I was so excited and enamoured with the yarn as I was knitting with it, I couldn't drag myself away long enough to grab a pen and paper to keep track of what I was doing.
"Okay," says I tonight, as I'm trying to count stitches and rows from the original, " 47 stitches is 23x2 + 1 for the beginning of the thumb gussett." Good! I remember that much. And I remember that I increased up to 17 stitches for the thumb, but I'll be darned if I remember if I did it every 4 rows, or every 2 rows. As for the decreases at the top, all I know is that I tried the thing on and when it was to the top of my little finger I started decreasing (I think that I remember calculating that I needed 20 rows to have enough to make it to the top of my hand. )
As you can see, I'll probably have to reknit the whole thing, just so I can get the particulars.
The interesting thing about this exercise is that I NEVER reknit stuff. I seldom rip back to change something unless it is completely non-salvagable. Usually my tension swatches are sleeves that give me a good fabric to measure from when determining how many stitches that I need for the body of a sweater. I've become an expert at turning errors in measuring, stitch or colour patterning into "design features". Yet I'm prepared to make 2 more of these mitts - not so much because I want to wear them, or I feel an overwhelming sense that I need to share "my" mitten pattern with the world, but because I loved using the yarn so much. It was a true seduction. It caressed my hands as I was knitting with it; I didn't ever want to put it down.
Now you have to realize that I spend my whole day (when I'm not working on bookkeeping, or at the computer, or bringing the recycling to the drop off, or blah, blah, blah...) feeling yarns. I feel lots of yarns and I knit with lots of yarns. That's why I was so intrigued with my reaction to this yarn.
I began by making a stocking stitch swatch before I realized what a waste it would be not to show it off in something that people could try on. Then I made almost a whole mitten on 53 stitches and 4 mm needles before I realized that I didn't like it, it was too loose. It would have fit a man, and this was a Glorious Mitten, it needed to fit a woman's hand. So I got my Addi Turbo 3.25 mm needles to create a firm fabric to keep the wind out, and I reknit the whole thing enjoying every stitch. And I don't feel at all upset that it's pretty useless in it's present solo state. It's a Glorious Mitten!
I almost wonder if I purposely didn't write down what I was doing so I would have to do it all over again - twice.


This man's name rhymes with "SAFE ASSET".

Because I own a knitting store, I'm lucky enough to receive a great publication called Yarn Market News, a trade magazine uniting and informing all of us about the state and the future of the knitting industry in North America. On the back page of each issue, there is a Q&A session with a major knitting/crochet designer. The latest issue featured Kaffe Fassett, and finally someone has discovered a way for the world to remember how to say his name.

In my youth, I was part of a very strange and underpopulated breed: "Young, Obsessive Knitters of the '80's" . With no internet support as exists today, and very little peer enthusiasm, you can imagine how I cherished my barely-watchable home recorded video tapes of Kaffe's PBS series: "Knitting with Color" (I believe that was the title). This great artist had rescued my colour knitting from the hell of monocromatic afghans and Mary Maxim bulky picture sweaters.

I fell very hard (artistically speaking) for him and his way of looking at our colourful world. And during the 1992 Winter Olympics I completed a bright (verging on neon), gigantic (60" finished chest") pullover of the gaudiest acrylics on the market. I may not have learned too much then about the beauty of natural fibres but I sure jumped in with both feet on the colour side of things. And this, more than a decade before the Yarn Harlot typed her now famous, and redundant question onto her blog: "Hey, you know what would be fun?" to then go on to describe her Olympic knitting idea, the frenzy of which has yet to be surpassed in the knitting world (although - only 6 more months to Beijing!)

Over the years, I've used many of Kaffe's ideas in my designing, and am blessed with a partner who is very proud of his sweaters (and luckily can pull off the colour thing quite well.) I love the randomness of Kaffe's technique of a bag of like-colours, where you reach in and grab the next piece without planning, as seen in the background of this take on a pattern from Philopher's called "Alligator's teeth" or something like that.

Unfortunately, my favourite colour blending that I've done was in this vest which is not too visible here but essentially used the same technique of picking from a bag of "lights" for the background and a bag of "darks" for the diamonds.
Other Kaffe inspired sweaters that I've done but not pictured here are the "Tumbling Blocks" pullover that I had to stop wearing to school when I was a teacher, after repeated lessons where I would notice students staring with glazed eyes at my torso, trying to figure out if the "steps went up or down". Then there was the entrelac sweater that I began for my 10 month old where each square was a different colour (32 colours in all if I remember). I finally threw out the unfinished back when she was 10 years old.

One of my favourite Kaffe designs, which is pictured here is called "The Foolish Virgins". I remember when a customer (who was actually a professional knitter) came in with the pattern half done, declaring that "You would have to be a foolish virgin in order to tackle it." I couldn't say, although it really is a beautiful design.
Which brings me to my favourite aspect of Kaffe Fassett's designs: In any of his many publications, you can find charts which are almost mindless in the simplicity of their construction, or you can go to the other extreme - as in the case of the above mentioned virgins - and there are usually a couple that are open to the individuals interpretation where you can just wing it. He offers something for the artist in all of us. The knitters, quilters, needlepointers, mosaic builders of the world owe him a great debt.


A different perspective.

A few weeks ago, Chris from Kingston Links, an on-line business directory for the city (http://www.kingstonlinks.com/.kingstonlinks.com/.kingstonlinks.com/) came in with a digital camera and started taking pictures all around the store. The idea was that they are trying to build an on-line catalogue of products available from their advertisers, and of course a catalogue needs pictures.

Now Chris has a media eye, he sees colour, composition, he doesn't necessarily know what's important in a yarn store so we got a lot of pictures of individual types of knitting needles, a gorgeous shot of our "yarn on sale" table, a really interesting view of our overstock of fancy yarns and many others that were not really of any great value from a catalogue perspective. It would be somewhat like having someone who was not at all familiar with your lifestyle coming into your home and taking great closeup shots of your spice rack, or your box of Kleenex on the back of the toilet.

It was a very interesting experience going through these pictures (all 109 of them) and seeing the store through the lense of his camera. I saw things that I had forgotten that we carried in the store (like these gift cards).

I got to see how beautiful beads are when done up as stitch markers, and understand why we sell so many to people who want to add a really special touch to a gift that they are buying for a knitting friend.

I got to see the beauty of a small basket of hand dyed curly "locks" of specialty fleece that people use for all kinds of things, from felting to doll's hair.

I had to laugh at these 2 "friends", a couple of sample sweaters that just look they've been old buddies for a long time.

I was touched when I saw this shot of part of the collection of sheep that friends, family, staff and customers have so kindly brought to live at the store.

And I was reminded of just how beautiful a tray of glorious yarn can be to a colour-starved knitter who hasn't been in to see us for a while.
It's fun to have a chance to see one's own world through the eyes of a stranger. It makes us a bit more appreciative of the richness to be found in the familiar.


The business of knitting.

This week I've had a couple of meetings with 3 terrific and knowledgeable students from the RMC Business Admin. program who are doing a year-end project based on a local business, in this case they are studying WOOL-TYME Kingston. Hi Guys! (I know that they read this blog).

It's been a very interesting week for them and me as we have been going through what amounts to an inventory of details that are part of the "business" of knitting. As it happened, I had just bought a book called Microtrends by Mark Penn, where he identifies 70 minigroups in Western society that are having a big influence on how markets are driven. One of those groups that is identified is young knitters: teens and women from ages 25-34 who knit and/or crochet, whose numbers have way more than doubled since 2002. I was pleased but not at all surprised to read of this phenomenon. Every day we see more women under 35 in the store than we would have seen in a week when we opened 11 1/2 years ago.

But what struck me about how these young crafters have changed the face of knitting was when one of the guys asked me, just for interest's sake, what would be considered the most difficult type of knitting project, and what would be considered an easy one.

I didn't even have to think about either of these as they could easily be the same answer: a scarf.
However this beautiful picture at right represents a project that I would never have thought would be sold from my store just a few years ago, yet it is exactly these young committed knitters who have recognized the beauty of fine yarn and intricate patterns in a nice smallish project like a glorious blended wool and/or silk scarf. I call this EXTREME Knitting. (At last fall's SHOW & SHARE I think that about 1/4 of all the projects were beautiful lace and all were from the "younger" knitters.)

On the other hand, At the store we have come up with all kinds of easy patterns for beginner knitters who want to make a scarf RIGHT NOW, but don't want it to be too hard and don't want it to look too tacky. Young consumers in any area know what they want and are willing to learn, do and spend a lot to customize what they are acquiring.

I'm so glad that WOOL-TYME Kingston opened when we did - at the bottom of the last cycle of popularity for knitting and crocheting. It gave us time to grow into this new world where technology helps us be more informed consumers and business owners. At the store and through the internet, I can really see what our customers are wanting and needing, and where they are finding it. We can then make wise decisions about what we can realistically offer to make our stores more suitable for our customers.
It's a fascinating world out there, and when you look at the 2 new additions to the store this week: the laptop/internet combo, and the Wool winder/skein holder combo, you can really see how all of our lives are so connected to the simplest and yet most complex technologies.
NOTE: If you didn't get your e-newsletter for March yet, click on the sign up button on the right of this page and it will sign you up automatically. I'll send it out again for those who missed it in about 10 days.