The World according to Nicky Epstein

Nicky Epstein now has 14 books to her credit on her web site, and they all seem to have a sense of FUN that I absolutely love. From her first book of knits for Barbie that flew off our shelves despite the $30 price tag, I loved how Nicky put glamour and cheekiness into each idea that she brought to life through her knit and crochet patterns.

That being said, as far as I'm concerned, I would consider her latest book: KNITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD her magnum opus.
A beautifully produced book, it covers history, geography, regional crafting and resource distinctions, and shows a thorough respect and appreciation for what knitters from around the world have brought to the development of this beautiful craft and artform. Then in order to give knitters a chance to try out and perfect the techniques that she features (colour work, cable, etc) she offers 4 wonderful patterns for 20" sweaters, which would fit a baby but also double as an interesting hat, a tea cosy, etc.
Now follow this link http://www.vogueknitting.com/node/529 to check out how she has interpreted that respect for these regional traditions: a matador jacket with curlicue epaulettes, a cowl neck jumper dress with beautiful classic cable motif, a Scandinavian yoked cardigan of the most untraditional colours, and even her take on Canada's own Cowichan sweater in an oversize wrap of gigantic wool with more than a touch of blue.
I loved this book, not because I would run out and make all the patterns therein, but more because Nicky Epstein inspires me to look at traditional styles and patterns that I see every day in a new way. She has taken the best of what she saw in each of these traditions and translated them into her own sense of style; and she invites us to do the same.


Traditional Rug Hookers UNITE and meet at WOOL-TYME Kingston

Just a quick little note to let the world know that we have decided to open our doors to traditional rug hookers in the Kingston area.
On the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month (in May that will be the 13th and the 27th) we will be meeting at WOOL-TYME Kingston for some sharing and a bit of learning and showing.

This is my "Cat on Mat" pillow made from one of our new line of Hooked on Yarn rug hooking kits now available at the store.

Rug hooking is easy to learn and opens up a wide range of possibilities for fibre freaks who love to work with wool. Come and spend some time with us and check it out. I'm having a ball, and you all know what a die hard knitter I am.


The Coffee Table Book tradition

I've been thinking a lot about creativity lately.
One of the things that the creative mind needs is a chance to be quiet and simply observe new things, relationships, colours, ...the stuff of everyday life but seen with a fresh set of eyes.
A few weeks ago I came across this lovely book of sheep "portraits" and thought of what an interesting project it would have been for the photographer to collect these portraits and how wonderful that she found a publisher that saw the value in it.

Anyway, this is the first book to become part of our new "Coffee Table Book" collection. I don't know about you but although I love to buy books, I am an equally avid peruser of all sorts of interesting books and that is the idea behind the Coffee Table book collection. I'm hoping that it will be a collaborative effort between us at WOOL-TYME Kingston and customers who would like to donate special, gently used, interesting knitting related books to give our customers a good excuse to sit a bit and discover something new in the world.

Please feel free to take a few minutes to sit at our table and go through the books on display in search of inspiration and/or a smile.

One of the ideas that I found recently was in the British magazine "The Knitter" that I spoke of a few weeks ago in a post here. There was a lovely little article by the editor about the Ball of Wonder = Wunderkanauel, which was a ball of yarn that she was given as a child by her grandmother. It had been wound incorporating many little surprises: little charms, sweets and a miniature doll in the middle. She had to knit the yarn, and as the ball unrolled the treats fell out.
What a delightful way to share with children the surprises that come in life with some persistence and a little patience.
Come and see what surprises might fall into your lap when spending some special time at WOOL-TYME Kingston. We love to have you.


The resillient bird gets the worm, or sells the soap...

I was walking through Market Square today, marvelling at the dedication of the few vendors who braved the wash of ultra violet rays and the energetic winds across the expanse of interlocking brick when my eye was caught by the Kingston Soap Company's well stocked little stand. http://www.kingstonsoap.com/

I stopped and bought 4 tiny guest soaps: rose petal, herbes de Provence, Lavender and Clove for $5. Now really, did I need little guest soaps when we almost never have guests staying over, and even when we do, we only have 1 bathroom; where did I think that I was going to put these little gems? But that's not the point. The point is that for a buck and a quarter each, I was able to support local crafter/merchants, and I could dream of the luscious feel of the soaps made of olive oil and all other natural ingredients. Best of all the gentle scent did NOT bring on a migraine.

Every time that we turn on the news or read a paper, we are reminded that things are not very settled out there in the big marketplace. I for one am getting tired of hearing about the economic downturn and I'm sure that those who are more directly effected are even less inclined to want to hear of it. But it is true that we are all more prone to spending mindfully these days, and that is never a bad thing.

At WOOL-TYME Kingston we have noticed a big swing towards the use of cash over debit or credit cards; but interestingly enough, we have not seen a particular downturn in sales. We've noticed people treating themselves to an extra special project, maybe even a small cashmere scarf, but lets face it where else can you buy true luxury for about $30. You could spend the same $30 on a movie and popcorn and it's over in a couple of hours. With a skein of natural cashmere, you have hours of cherished knitting and a beautiful product at the end of it all.

In Canada, and dare I say in Kingston particularly, we are somewhat sheltered from the harshest aspects of market turns but we all can appreciate that as a society we need to reflect on how we are using our resources. People like the idea of creating rather than consuming these days, and to that end, we'll continue to offer new ideas, projects and products to keep you touch with your inner artist who needs to be fed, no matter what the economic season.


A well rounded knitter, designer, writer, etc.

It's funny that my last post was about observing what makes a perfect activity for a certain individuals and that it's important for each of us to understand that in ourselves. Well we are getting a good view of Laura Birek's well rounded interests.
I first saw an example of her Obama sweater at right in a knitting trade magazine, and being a big Obama fan myself, I was captivated. In this, we see Laura the knitter, the politically aware expressionist, and the designer. (Laura #1, #2, #3)
Laura offers a free download of this pattern at her blog: Nocturnalknits.http://nocturnalknits.blogspot.com/2008/10/obama-rama-free-pattern.html

On RAVELRY and on her blog, Laura's knitting name is "iwriteplays", which suggests activity #4 and she is the author of Picture Perfect Knits(#5), available at WOOL-TYME Kingston.

At another one of her blogs: http://pico-andtheman.blogspot.com/ she announces the staging of her new play, "Beneath Her Feet", which happens to be running right now. I suggest that we get a group together and hop down to catch it. I's about living, working and loving in L.A, which unfortunately is where it's premier is being presented.
Laura's last blog identity can be found at http://hikingla.blogspot.com/ where persona #6 is an urban hiker and although it appears that her other incarnations have taken over her life for the last little while (last post on this blog was Nov. 2007) there are some amazing pictures of the fires in California and some fun reading too. (In case we ever do make it down there, we can go for a good hike down the length of Pico Blvd.)
Although some may criticize that the computer is destroying our interpersonal skills, who can complain about a medium that allows us to spend a little time with other knitters like Laura. We can get to learn about people that we may never meet but who are darned interesting anyway, in a setting that is so much less formal than a professionally presented article or documentary. And many of the people on the blog scene are just wanting to share a bit of who they are...whether it be their recognizable self that others around them would know, or their fantasy self to which they can give voice by virtue of anonymity.
We all need a little fantasy and to connect with others who "get" our passion/s.