That being said, if you're looking for a few distractions to break from the pace in these last few weeks before the Holidays, here are a few that I'd suggest:
- Stopped off at Lake on the Mountain park where I believe this picture of the Glenora Ferry was taken, which we crossed on to head back to Kingston.
I got to go through my latest of copy of A NEEDLE PULLING THREAD, the extraodinary Canadian needlecraft magazine that is now included for FREE to all members of the Canadian Guild of Knitters. I was delighted to find a lovely design by our good friend of WOOL-TYME Kingston: Sherri Bondy. Her Art Deco Cowl is beautifully classic, as all art deco designs are.
Before going any further, here is the link so you can start planning right away.
I saw the PolarKnit yarns at the recent trade show that I attended and loved the feel of it. It is made of actual polar fleece and comes in good colours and is nice to knit with.
BUT... Why didn't I bring it in?
This brings up a topic that actually came up in conversation earlier today: what are the criteria that we use in choosing a particular company to deal with or a specific yarn?
Generally, I use a series of questions that I ask myself, the first of which revolve around ease and dependability: Is this a company that I can rely on to deliver enough yarn on time? Do my regular suppliers have something comparable that I can include in my regular orders? Does the shipping from its place of origin cause me any issues? PolarKnit appeared to be okay in these respects although the representative wasn't actually there to ask questions of, so that made me a bit nervous.
The second batch of questions are more customer centered: Will my customers be able to work well with this yarn? Will it inspire project ideas for them? Will they recognize its value in relation to the price? And there I found the elements that made me pass up this yarn for this year, anyway. I'm sure that PolarKnit is a great yarn to work with; I'm a fan of polar fleece, why not in a yarn? But because of its very special composition, I guess, it makes it really expensive, especially considering the yardage that is in each ball. For that price, I want it to be REALLY special.
The other issue is that for some reason, they consider 12 stitches over 4 inches to be a Chunky weight and 16 stitches to be a Worsted Weight. This is much heavier than any other yarn on the market. It would drive a knitter crazy to get all set up with their yarn and a "chunky" pattern only to realize that they would need much more yarn than they expected AND they would have a terrible time trying to achieve a typical chunky gauge.
All this to say that each LYS has a different focus and set of criteria when choosing yarns. Each shop owner has their own priorities, preferences and penchants in style. I'm sure that PolarKnit yarns will find a good and happy home in many stores. It just occured to me that readers would probably find it interesting as an exercise, to hear a bit about why some yarns that I see make it in to my store and some don't.
I was however so pleased with the fun patterns like the one above and this skull beanie, both available as free downloads, but I do advise customers to be very careful and look at the pattern gauges closely before choosing a yarn, or 18 days won't be enough time to knit it twice to get the right size!
1.About 2 years ago, I had chosen and put aside a gorgeous discontinued brown Noro Aran weight yarn for this purpose. Anthony, the brother in question, mentioned that he always wanted a green Aran sweater. Solution: Alternate the chosen brown yarn with rich green Manos del Uruguay. It looks great...just like the forests of Vancouver Island where he lives.
2. A hood, said he. I'd really like a hood. Or maybe not. Could you make it with a hood that can come off?
3. Sure, said I. Solution: a hood with a series of small buttons around the bottom that can fit in the holes on the inside of a double neck band.
4. Oh, said I. You'll have to have a zipper at the neck or it will look like a little kid's hoodie. (As I'm saying this, I realize that if the zipper is worn open it will show the tacky inside of the zipper.) Solution: Make a second band on the inside of the sweater and slide the zipper between the 2 layers. Picture at left.
5. Make a swatch to check for colours and designa compatibility. This next picture is proof that I did a swatch last December. (Check my Flickr account. I really did do this swatch before beginning.) More about this later.
6. Knit 2 sleeves to make sure that tension is really okay. Sleeves come out fine. More about this later.
7. (Full disclosure, and a little bit of a spoiler alert: I did get some help here from one of my knitters to do the back with armhole shaping to accomodate a set-in drop sleeve, according to my directions. Also had her do the front to the zipper opening and armhole shaping.)
8. Picked up and finished the front to include the zip opening but forgetting that the back had armhole shaping. Solution: Rip back the back of the sweater to the armhole shaping which is then redone to match the front. (I was not about to do all that front neck shaping again.)
9. Design hood. Knit part of hood. Run out of green yarn. Solution: Find that the emerald green of Topsy Farm's wool is almost exactly the same colour, if a bit thinner. It's okay for the bit that I have left.
10. Sew the sleeves in. Discover that the sleeves have a depth of 8". For those of you who sensibly rely on patterns, 8" is the sleeve width of a fine lady's sweater. A man's jacket type sweater needs at least 10". (You do remember that I made and measured the sleeves in step 6 and they were fine when I made them.) Solution: If you look carefully just below the little red line triangle of the blocking board on the picture here, you will see a band of knitting where the stripes are going perpendicular to the rest of the sleeve. (we'll call it a design feature of some great ingenuity and importance to the integrity of the entire piece). These are bands of short rows that I picked up along the inside of the arm on each side to add the missing couple of inches.
11. While knitting these bands, finish the skein of brown yarn that I wound a couple of weeks ago. Go to the stash and retrieve another, knowing that because this was the original yarn that I intended for the entire sweater, there was plenty. This is a picture of the first of 7 skeins of the beautiful Noro yarn that was destroyed by mice and/or moths over the past 2 weeks. Solution: Turn blue while holding my breath as I examine the 8th and last skein of the yarn. Silent prayers to the knitting gods are answered; the last skein is intact.
12. Sew the sleeve extensions and side seams. Lay the hoodless sweater on the floor to admire the rough beauty of a finished garment before it's blocked. Try to ignore the nagging optical illusion that makes it appear to be smaller than I expected it to be.
13. Flatten out the sweater and measure one last time to reassure myself. Scream. (Remember the swatch from step 5?) Breathe deeply and remind myself that the evil knitting gremlins could not possibly have stolen an inch from each side of the sweater, making it 4 inches smaller in total than it had been when I measured the pieces before sewing them together. This is simply not possible. Solution: Put the whole thing away until the morning when I get up and soak it in a bath of water and Eucalan (to relax the fibres) and block it on the board to the exact size.
14. I am planning on sewing the buttons to the hood tomorrow and HOPE that the idea works and that the effect is a good one. I'll let you know.
All this to say that despite the ...INTERESTING...aspects to this project, I've really enjoyed it as it has given me a chance to "build" a proper sweater from the beginning, refining some of the skills that might have gotten a bit rusty lately and learning as I go along. Meanwhile here are a couple of pictures that also show how nicely the colours work together and how the corrugated ribbing from the bottom of the sweater worked to tie in the blended colours.
I'll hang the finished piece at the store until mid November when the birthday guy comes to town. All in all...it was a lot of FUN.
It could possibly be that I've been reading Eat, Pray, Love and the author's life swings from such desperation to elation that I'm just glad to be little old me having a good time.
The first opportunity that I had to notice how much fun I've been having was when I found myself at the "Knit Trade" Show organized by the ladies at Cabin Fever, where LYS owners were invited to meet with smallish yarn/knitting related product companies who wouldn't have the opportunity to visit all the stores.
Here is some of the fun stuff that I got, much of which came from the booth with the dynamic pair of dye divas from Dye Version.
I had made a small note to myself before going to the show that I wanted to check out the price of their bamboo/lycra sock yarn as it seemed like something new that I thought would work well in my store. WELL, was I dumbfounded when I saw their line up...And I have the MasterCard receipt and the products in my store to prove it.
I've been pondering memories of my own student days, remembering the grade 7 teacher that I had who taught us, literally next to nothing in the entire year, except how to knit a spiral hat much like this one that I found on the net.
It really is quite a funny series and I thought that my oldest daughter would get a kick out of the pictures as she is presently working for a Humane Society as an animal protection officer.
Her response to my email was as follows:
It says a lot about my upbringing when I see buddy at the end getting knocked out by a kangaroo and one of my first thoughts is “nice Aran sweater”.
I guess my children were a bit more immersed in the beauty of handknits than many others would be.
Do you have a group of friends with whom you share some regular knitting, hooking or regular crafting time and would be open to having your group visited or joined by others of the same persuasion? Please let me know the details. I'd love to be able to share the information here on the blog, in our newsletter, on our Ravelry site, or just when people call us to see what's going on in the crafting community of Kingston.
This picture was taken a couple of years back. It shows our regular Thurs. evening gang that meets at the store from 6:30-8:30. This group has been going on for the better part of 10 years with an obvious ebb and flow of participants. It began with the class regulars outgrowing the need for instruction but still looking for the fun and companionship of a regular "class time" with or without the actual class.
As I was working on my "To Do" list this morning I realized that next Wednesday, the 8th of September we will be restarting the bi weekly rug hooking get togethers at the store (the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.) By the way, this is the piece that I was working on for part of last year and finished late in March, but the Reindeer that I was hooking when we left off last spring has not been touched since then. How typical!
The feeling of anticipation reminded me of when I was a kid and I looked forward to my first Brownie meeting of the year, or swimming lessons starting up again on a Saturday morming. There's something really great about the rhythm of returning to an activity that we enjoy on a regular basis.
Here we notice at our regular on going classes that so many of the people who attend form real bonds that sometimes extend beyond the knitting store; there's the fun of getting together with people of like mind who may be from very different backgrounds, age groups, and life experiences but still share our love of learning a new skill. If someone has been away for awhile, they're welcomed back with questions about family, pets as well as the progress of the knitting project.
Please consider joining us on Thursday evening whenever possible. It's free and fun and we'd love to have you.
This afghan (which was made by my husbands great aunt for her sister in the early part of the last century) is a perfect example of a project that can only be considered an absolute labour of LOVE as it is knit entirely of garter stitch sections in FINE, 4 ply fingering weight yarn. When it comes to placing a value on reproducing such a knitted project, it is without price (as most of us would die of boredom long before it was done).
We have so many amazing knitters that we meet each day, and also many who are extremely competent yet all of these craftspeople and artisans often feel shy about answering this rather sensible question asked by those who don't know about such things: "What would you charge to knit....(whatever) for me?"
Despite the fact that anyone who would even consider taking on a knitting or crochet project for money must absolutely LOVE knitting, and be fairly enamoured with the concept of a bit of a challenge in their knitting, it shouldn't take away from the reality that you are giving up a substantial number of hours of your skilled work to produce something for someone who absolutely must realize how valueable that work is.
The people who are asking you to knit something for them usually fall into one of 2 categories: the first might remember the beauty of the handknit article that they received in their past and recognize how rare it is to have someone care enough for you to produce such a garment and are willing to pay accordingly. The second group is associating your work/ability and the finished project with the pair of mitts made of sayelle left over from 1973 that they saw at the church bazaar last fall for $3./pair.
My advice is don't even consider the project unless the person is willing to accept the fact that it requires good quality yarn. You deserve to enjoy the feel of what you're doing. Then when it comes time to charge for your labour, you should at least receive the equivalent price of what was paid for that good quality yarn. (I can almost guarantee that it won't net you much more than $1/hour but at least it's something.) If the pattern is in anyway complicated, altered, hard to understand, boring beyond belief or inordinately time consuming then you should charge twice what the good quality yarn is worth for your part in the process.
Sat. Sept. 11th 10am-2:30pm or Sat. Nov. 27th
If you can knit and purl then you can learn the techniques required to knit socks in any size, using any weight of yarn.
$45. Includes all materials.
2 Dates to choose from:
Students must bring a 10"-14" hoop or frame.
Sat. Sept 25th, 1-4pm
OTHER SOCK TECHNIQUES
For those who are familiar with knitting on 4 needles this class covers a simple, practical "toe up" method and "afterthought heel" so you can expand your sock repertoire and make socks that fit every time.
$45. Material list available at registration.
GET 2 CLASSES IN ADVANCED SOCK KNITTINGFOR JUST $75. READ ON.
Sat. Nov. 13th 1-4pm
THE MAGIC OF CIRCULAR KNITTING NEEDLES
Everything you ever wanted to know about using circular needles for all of your knitting projects. Use long needles for small hats, mitts and socks with the "Magic Loop" method. Learn how 2 circular needles worked together can make any project in the round a breeze. Try out the different materials in circular needles including Addi TURBOs in regular and lace styles, Chiao Goo PREMIUM RED series, and Clover BAMBOO needles.
NOTE: $30 for "OTHER SOCK TECHNIQUE" participants. $45. for others.
Fri. Oct. 1st 6:30-8:30 and Sat. Oct. 2nd 1-4pm
SWEATER BOOT CAMP -I
These Part I weekend sessions are for those who are ready to go beyond the knitted scarf and want to develop the confidence to select the right yarns, choose the right size and learn to read patterns correctly.
$45. class. $20-$40 materials to be purchased on Friday evening. Material list available at registration.
ATTENTION -- GET BOTH CLASSES FOR $75.
Sat. Oct. 16th 1-4pm
SWEATER BOOT CAMP - II
Part II will show participants how to finish their cardigan begun in Part I. Button bands and button holes, sewing seams and inserting sleeves will be covered.
NOTE: $30 for Part I particiants $45 for others.
Bring your finished sweater pieces and learn the best way to pick up stitches, sew seams and give your garment that professional finished look.
$25. Sign up early, space is limited.
$15. Bring your knitted pieces for demonstration.
$45 class $10 materials.
$30. class Material list available at registration
Those who are feeling uncertain about finding their way around the internet for knitting help will love the workshop introducing RAVELRY the site that has it all. Free Patterns, yarn descriptions, technical help, friends, informatio of all kinds.
$30. class No materials necessary.
In Part I you will learn the beginning skills of designing your own patterns by incorporating the beautiful stitches found on-line and in stitch dictionaries to create your own unique shawl or baby blanket. Basic knitting and pattern reading skills required.
$45. class Material costs will vary.
Part II will teach the basics of finishing your beautiful blanket so that it is equally appealing on the front and the back. Picking up and finishing from a provisional cast on will be covered as will working a crocheted edge.
$30 for Part I participants. $45 for others
When I was preparing the August Newsletter I was so impressed by the designs of Laura Chau, a wonderful knitwear designer from Toronto, and we're really pleased to feature some of her patterns in the store. They've been going well. Alana discovered this new pattern from Laura that's now available through Ravelry called Cityscapes.
Cathy Broughton's Diamond in the Rough
Deb White's Silk Bathrobe from the book: No Sheep For You
Maria Leigh's Picnic Cardigan
Link to her blog and you'll not only get the inspiration that contributed to the creation of this sweater but also see the cleverly reinvented version of it as a lady's coat with a flattering A line silhouette (also available on Ravelry).