Knitters and readers

NOTE ADDED FEB 23RD - If anyone would like to read "A Sweetness in the Belly" for the March 17th get together, that is the one that we will be talkking about. Read on...

Last night the Kingston Knitting Circle met at Chapters as we do each month .(Although apparently we will be looking for a new venue in the near future. Any ideas??? I'll keep you posted.)

And it became apparent that the people who were there last night were not only avid knitters, some driving 1/2 hour from out of town to join us, but that we were also avid readers. My favourite books are Canadian literature by women, (although I am NOT a fan of Margaret Atwood) and so was delighted to stumble recently across Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. A couple of the others who were there last night had also read it and one of the knitters put it so well: "She paints beautiful pictures in her story." I say that the quote on the front of my copy by a writer for the Chicago Tribune should be considered a warning to be taken seriously: "So compelling, so detailed and vivid that I couldn't bear to be torn away from it for a single minute." The dust bunnies in my house are running wild since I began reading it. (Actually they're usually able to run wild around my place, no matter what I'm reading but it's even worse now.)

One of the other ladies suggested that it would be a fun to choose a book and try and read it before the next meeting, ad hocly making our meeting a knitting & reading get-together (next one is on St Patrick's day, by the way, at Chapters from 7-9). The book that she loved and was reading is called "Sweetness in the Belly". NPR's review describes it like this: "Sweetness in the Belly, the new novel by Camilla Gibb, is the story of what happens to a young Irish girl abandoned in Morocco when her parents are murdered." It does sound wonderfully intriguing.

Then as we were nattering away, a very nice young man came into the Community Room where we were sitting and put down 2 copies of "Ten Thousand Lovers" by Edeet Ravel on the table, saying that he had heard us talking, and that due to his insomnia he gets to read 4-5 novels each week ( I wish...) and that this one was one of the best he had read in a long time. The author was born in an Israeli kibbutz and was now living in Guelph ON. I love these serendipitous referrals, and as my degree in Jewish History offers me little advantage at this point in my carreer but an interest in certain times and places in history, I was sold. A few minutes later he returned with 4 hard cover copies that he had found on the sale table that were only $7.99 - It was meant to be!

The other thing that he mentioned is that he had been in touch with the author via her web site and was able to meet her in Westport not too long ago. Alana (our wonderful new worker at the store) and I had been talking about just this phenomenon earlier in the day in reference to her own exchange with Mags Kandis of Mission Falls: how the internet allows us to feel closer to people that we find interesting and would like to exchange ideas with much more easily than if we had to make an appointment to visit them. And the "celebrity" can choose to reply or not, and considering that a reply can take but a few moments, it's lovely opportunity for them to build exchanges with people whom they would never get a chance to be in contact with otherwise. I really am becoming such a fan of the wonderfully human aspects of the internet. After all it allows me to chat with you both here and in the newsletter, it puts me in touch with family and friends from away, it reconnects me with people that I haven't seen since High School yet with whom I'm interested in touching base, it allows me to find every knitting store in the universe (and anything else for that matter). We do live in marvelous times!


Recognizing Natural Fibres and tiny knits.

Look at this logo carefully, isn't it the most creative expression of our natural fleece world. (I particularly like the bunny up in Greenland).

2009 has been designated by the United Nations to be the International Year of Natural Fibres.

And this is the official logo of the effort and celebration. Now this designation is no small potatoes, not like national Kiss your Teddy day, or Regional Rompers' Regatta. This is a big deal that the United Nations has recognized the importance of the interconnectedness of our environment and the importance of the role that natural fibres play in our world.

Check out the website at http://www.keepthefleece.org/ . What a creative bunch these people are on the steering committee. They have set up a design competition with categories such as "Camelot" using fibre from camel, llama, alpaca, etc. Another category is "Inch by Inch" for designers using pure silk. Isn't that fun?

They are also aiming to create the world's longest scarf (which will later be divided into sensible lengths and donated charity.) The altruistic aim of the scarf exercise is to find knitter/sponsors who will contribute $1/row to participate in its growth. The funds will then go to Heifer International which supports the raising of flocks in developing countries.

I love this idea, and it's such a lovely gentle way of contributing to the world in this time when we feel that many small things can come together to create more permanent solutions to our larger problems. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this from us in the future.

Now for another cool knitting story. Coraline, the new young adult fantasy horror 3D movie filmed in "stop motion" didn't really make a lot of sense to me as I wasn't quite sure what "stop motion" was. Isn't that what they used to do in the olden days and what my nephew does on You Tube with Lego? In fact it is exactly that. And one of the features of this beautifully dark movie is that the star (and several other characters) who are only a few inches tall wear hand knit sweaters that are created by Althea Chrome in size XXXS. Go to her site www.bugknits.com to see a video of her methods. You will never complain about knitting 4 ply socks again.
Coraline's sweater here is about 1 1/2 inches long.
I was thinking that this may be the way to go for people who are easily bored...knit a garment that is about an inch long until I realized that Althea gives a 12 hour workshop to knit a cardigan!!! That's a big commitment of time to knit 1".


Taking it to the streets.

I'm sure that most of you are so busy with your life and your knitting that you don't get a chance to read the newspaper but you may be interested in checking out this article from the Globe and Mail last week. This crafty bus is in Mexico and it is the work of urban "craftivist" Magda Sayeg who is the ringleader of a group called Knitta, one of a growing number of groups specializing in "yarn graffiti". Link to the full article below.

I had a customer in yesterday who mentioned that she seemed to be in a finishing mode, tidying up those UFO's (un-finished objects). I said that I too was working at finishing up several things that had been around for quite a while. Then I thought about it and realized that I can no longer say that. Having finished up a rug hooking piece, 2 pairs of socks and mended and defuzzed 5 sweaters since the weekend, I somehow also found the time to begin a bulky cardigan, a DK cotton bamboo sweater, a toe up sock for demonstration at the "advanced sock technique" class that I'm teaching at the end of the month, a cotton silk summer pullover, and a new small rug hooking project while stashing the canvas for the next one(not small) in my work basket.

As the siren of each of these new projects was calling me and putting the needles/hook in my hands, my more sensible self was asking: "What are you thinking/doing?" while my rationalizing self kept replying: "I'm not really committing to this one yet, I'm just going to see if I like it."

The rational self usually wins and I think that I'm down to 2 works in progress (the bulky cardi and the cotton/silk aran pullover pictured here, with the small rug hooking project waiting on the back burner - in fact it's so small that I'm about 3/4 finished already).

Which brings me to a discussion that we had at the supper table this week: why do most knitters need several projects on the go at once?

My personal answer would be a rather sarcastic and impolite "duh??!!" but to be fair to the males of the world who don't seem to get it, it's important to gently remind them that unlike a game of golf, or a large woodworking project, knitting lends itself well to our different moods and the demands of the moment. No, you can't put down your driver half way through a golf game and go throw a half game of horseshoes, and pick up the golf later on. Most crafters need projects that can fill small increments of our time, which is all we have; where as a large woodworking piece demands a big solid block of time, which restricts the number of projects that one would want to take on.

Notice I delicately haven't even mentioned that we seem to be good at multi-tasking: chatting with the other parents, while knitting, while watching the kids' hockey practice, while planning what to have for supper when we get home. I like the variety that small crafts let me indulge in. I know my limits though...3 serious projects at a time with a good week of "finish ups"every couple of months. That's what works for me. (Oh by the way, remind me to explain to my husband that once you get on to them socks aren't considered serious projects, they're more like hand warmers in the arena, or pocket stuffers for while your in a waiting room.)