Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Anniversary Celebration 1: 10 Techniques in 10 Days

Every day from December 1 through December 10, we’re going to offer a brief introduction to some technique that we think every knitter should know—at no charge. Stop by and add a couple new tricks to your bag. (Note that the times vary--wildly. We hope everyone will find at least a couple that are convenient.)

1. M1L and M1R Thurs. 12/1 at 11 M1 is the smoothest, closest-to-invisible increase you’ll find. Now learn how to do it two ways, so that you can make paired increases perfectly symmetrical.
2. Winding a Butterfly Fri. 12/2 at 11 Keeps your cast-on “tail” out of the way while you knit, or keeps your intarsia tidy—without bobbins.
3. Making and Attaching Fringe Sat. 12/3 10:30 Where would scarves be without it?
4. 3-Needle Bind-Off Sun. 12/4 at 12:30 Shoulder seams will always come out smooth and even; afghan panels can be seamed without sewing.
5. Channel-Island Cast-On Mon. 12/5 at 3:30 Good elasticity, and gives the appearance of a 1x1 rib—perfect for sock cuffs.
6. Suspended Bind-Off Tues. 12/6 at 11:30 Keeps things loose and even without using a larger needle, and flows more smoothly.
7. Reading Charts Wed. 12/7 at 4:30 Don’t be intimidated; it’s the wave of the future.
8. Provisional Cast-on Thurs. 12/8 at 3:30 Put stitches on your needle—and then get them back again later to work in the opposite direction.
9. Duplicate Stitch Fri. 12/9 at 3:30 Use a darning needle to create patterns that look knitted-in.
10. Weaving In as You Go Sat. 12/10 at 10:30 Work in all your loose yarn tails long before you get to the finishing stage.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bah, Humbug: First In a Series?

The holiday shopping season is now officially upon us. While the especially clever of you have been knitting gifts for weeks or months already, the rest are beginning to consider the situation. This isn't going to be one of those posts in which I lecture anyone about leaving things til the last minute (me, of all people!), nor am I going to offer any brilliant suggestions for last-minute knitted gifts (not right now, anyway). Instead, I'm going to ask a contrarian question: why are you knitting gifts?

I don't mean to suggest that you shouldn't. I just want you to take stock for a moment and consider why you do. There are lots of good reasons--knitting someone a gift is a wonderful opportunity to show them how well you know them and how much you care, not to mention giving you a chance to work with yarns or colors you may not have tried before, a chance to show off a bit, and possibly a chance to save some money.

But I've seen lots of knitters who don't seem all that enthusiastic about the gifts they're preparing to knit. There are telltale signs: the knitter who starts out saying, "I want something really luxurious" but then complains if the cost of materials is going to be more than $15; the knitter who says repeatedly, "I love this color, but she wouldn't"; the knitter who wants something "conservative" or "refined" but then grimaces every time a needle size below 10 is mentioned. These are all signs of hidden (or not-so-hidden) resentment: for one reason or another, the gift-maker wishes she could avoid this project.

So I've been puzzled: If you don't want to knit this person a gift, why do it? I never have the nerve to ask "It sounds like you're kind of ambivalent about this person; have you considered whether you should be knitting for them at all?" After all, I'm the shopkeeper, not the therapist. But I listen closely to the clues people give, and I'm surprised how often I hear traces of something like emotional coercion: "It's for my husband's assistant;" "It's for my boyfriend's sister."

Sometimes a knitted gift may be the best option, even if you're not totally enthusiastic. But please, if that's not the case in your life--if someone has said to you, totally casually, "Hey, that's a cute scarf; knit one for my mom, o.k.?"--consider standing up and saying, "Do you have any idea how much time and effort that is? When I'd rather be working on a project I love, for myself or for you? Let's buy a gift."

It's our job to educate non-knitters (if we don't, who will?). Not just for your own sake, but for the sake of knitters everywhere, make sure your nearest and dearest understand what a knitted gift involves. And remember that, just as life is too short to knit with bad yarn, life is too short to knit projects you're not really into.

P.S. Another thing I've noticed: if you've gotten suckered into knitting a gift you're not keen on, buying yourself a set of exotic-hardwood needles from Lantern Moon for the job helps take some of the sting away.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Gratitude: Our Anniversary and Our Customers

Believe it or not, Rosie's Yarn Cellar is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in just a few days! The greeting card industry tells us that the appropriate symbols of the 10th anniversary are (for traditionalists) aluminum & tin, and (for modernists) diamonds. I wanted to discount Susan Bates Knit-Cheks and aluminum-coated knitting needles in honor of this special occasion; but thankfully Lisa Myers is in charge, and she has way better stuff planned. So stay tuned. We'll post more information here about upcoming anniversary events and we'll be sending out the December e-newsletter (and drawing prizes) too.

We are very pleased to have been your LYS for ten years and we hope to be here for many, many more. In honor of Turkey Day, we say to all our loyal, enthusiastic, creative customers: Thank you! Have a happy Thanksgiving filled with good things.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lucy Review

So I missed Lucy’s workshop (someone has to mind the store!), but at Knitting Circle that evening, I got to look at a whole trunkful of her work. Hoo boy: she makes me feel like I should pack it in, since I’m not a serious knitter. I mean, every detail of every item is interesting: no cast-on is ever random, no odd-shaped space is unembellished (the gussets on her socks have their own patterns!). On top of that, everything everywhere is meticulously done—I just can’t bring myself to put that kind of time and energy into finishing—even though I know it would make my work look much better.

Perhaps we all admire most the people who do well what we do not. I stand in awe of the million woven-in ends. But most of all, I’m overwhelmed by the appearance that Lucy has never knit for a deadline in her life: there are clever tricks everywhere in her work to make the process easier or more pleasant, but never any sign of a shortcut. Every single piece testifies that anything worth knitting is worth knitting well, however long it takes.

It would be easy to say that there are certain constraints on my knitting that force me to hurry: I have this shop to tend, which not only makes me short of knitting time, it pressures me to produce as many projects to showcase as many yarns as possible. But that’s a copout; Lucy’s a professional designer and itinerant teacher, which means that there are competing claims on her time as well, and that she too has reasons to want to produce as many new items as is feasible. But there are no signs of hurry anywhere.

Don’t let this make you think that all her designs are year-long masterpieces. Some are. But plenty of the socks and hats are no more time-consuming than any others—she’s just put in all the time and energy to make sure that the patterns are as good as they can possibly be, so they’ll run smoothly for knitters like you and me.

I bow before a master of the craft.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Attention: we want you to get our e-newsletter so we're having a drawing

If you aren't yet on our newsletter list, and you somehow managed to ignore my last request that you email me soI can add you to our emailing list, here's another good reason to do it soon.

As part of our 10th Anniversary extravaganza (Lisa will tell you more about this very soon), we will be randomly selecting individuals on our emailing list to receive free prizes. If you aren't on the emailing list, you can't win when we make our random selection, can you? No, you can't. So drop me an email at carolATrosiesyarncellarDOTcom before midnight November 30th, 2005, and I will add you. You will receive our monthly newsletter AND be eligible for the prize drawing. Fine print: you have to provide us with a working email address (which is only fair, since we can't contact you to tell you that you won if your emails are bouncing).

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Lookie, lookie!

Okay, I apologize for the blurry photography. (New camera. Still don't know how to use it yet.)

But this is what the back storeroom of Rosie's looked like yesterday, right after the UPS man delivered about seven boxes full of -- you guessed it -- yarn.

The first photo shows some of the fun new colors that we got in Nature Wool. The turquoise color on top is eye-catching, and a fuschia caught my eye, but there were also some more muted tones that were lovely. The second photo, to the extent you can make anything out (note to self: learn how to FOCUS!!!), is more Naturewool, plus Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk and Alpaca Silk DK. Yep, we're restocked on the original, heavier weight and got in some of the lighter DK weight, too. Great drape, soft as a kitten, luscious colors, nicely priced. Life is good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

One Good Reason. Sort Of.

Awhile back (it was the last post in September. I don't know how to make a link here yet), I was wondering about people's tendency to buy more yarn than they need. And I kind of felt that, even in the case of hand-dyed yarn, where you'll probably never see another one just like it, we should all just take a deep breath and step back. That, even though we won't see one just like it, we could maybe learn to have faith that the next one that comes along will also be beautiful. Equally beautiful, probably, in its own way.

I'm not exactly retracting those comments. But, in talking with my new colleague Jennifer about Anne (and people's tendency to hoard it), I had another thought. For most of us, most of what we see/use/buy every day is mass-produced. This may be the last pair of size 8 sneakers on the shelf, but somewhere, there are plenty more just like it. But hand-dyed yarn isn't like that (especially since most hand-dyers got into this business because they like playing with color, not looking at the same thing day after day). And I wonder if maybe people's fascination (not to say obsession) with certain hand-dyed yarns isn't so much a sign of anxiety about scarcity, but rather a deep, even visceral attraction to something that's the opposite of mass-produced. We're knitters, after all; we like things that are unique, even if just because we made them. Maybe we want to attach ourselves to one-of-a-kind yarns because they're emblematic of everything we love about knitting -- and everything we don't love about shopping at the mall.

Just a thought. Here's another:

Diana likes to feel that she's helping out around here. Yesterday she made this sign, and taped it to the outer doorframe (at about knee-height, but still). She was fascinated by the idea that Lucy's hair could be sometimes pink, and sometimes purple, and sometimes both. I hope she gets to meet her.

(Lucy's flight gets in a couple hours from now. When she called yesterday to confirm travel details, I asked her, since I didn't yet know who'd be meeting her at the airport and how they'd recognize her, what color her hair is. She responded, "Well, I haven't decided yet.")

Monday, November 14, 2005

Got newsletter?

We're in the midst of updating our RYC e-mailing list, so if you haven't been getting our monthly on-line newsletter and other special updates from the shop, and if you'd like to, just shoot me an e-mail at carolATrosiesyarncellarDOTcom. (Just substitute @ for AT and . for DOT, otherwise the spammers will harvest my e-mail addy....) Of course we'll never sell your name or e-mail address to anybody; we'll use it only to send you our newsletter and other updates. It's a great way to keep up with new class schedules, learn about new yarns and books, and hear about special events.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Top 10 Things I Learned from Dorlynn

1. The many uses of eyeless safety pins.
2. If it isn't right, do it over. Again and again. And again. Until it's right.
3. Meticulous finishing can make even an unattractive garment look better.
4. Who Catherine Lowe is.
5. 101 ways to wear a scarf.
6. When selecting yarn for a project, lay out all the colors under the Ott light, and arrange them proportionally (so that you let only a wee bit of the accent colors peek out lest they overwhelm the main colors, and you use, say, 2 skeins of the main color to figure out how it looks with lots of that color).
7. A bath in a dilute solution of cold water with hair conditioner does wonders for a scratchier-than-desired yarn.
8. Lace, lace, lace.
9. The joys of little zip mesh bags.
10. Don't take your picture in one of those little booths in the middle of the RYC Christmas party. Especially after a margarita or two.

Wishing you well, Dor. The Saturday Crew won't be the same without you.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Is One Socka Color Better Than the Rest?

Here are Ed and Dorlynn playing footsie. It's not something they do that often, but then they looked down and realized that they were wearing socks from the same color of the same yarn:

It used to be Socka; now it's Fortissima Socka Colori; either way, it's still 2419 Kolibri. (Which I'm told means "hummingbird" in German.)

There was a period of a year or more when it was unavailable--not because it was discontinued and then brought back by popular demand. No, it was backordered for a year. We were told that the guy in Europe who dyes the stuff--"the guy," I'm telling you, not "the team" or "the division"--was ill for several months. Now, when I look at yarn with a mass-produced label, I think of it as mass-produced yarn, not something like artisanal goat cheese. How can there be only one guy who knows how to make the stuff?

These are the mysteries of the knitting world. Ed's pair of socks got cut in half by the hiatus: we had one 50-gram skein, I said, "Go ahead, no problem, we'll order more," and then . . . .

But that's all water under the bridge now. It's in 100-g skeins now, so if we have one, your pair is safe.

Ed and Dorlynn, by the way, have swapped status: Ed's crossed the great divide to become a member of the staff (look for him on Friday particularly), and Dorlynn has returned to civilian life, and can now enjoy Knitting Circle in (relative) peace. There are several other new members of the crew; we'll try to get them to submit to photos, and do some introductions in this space in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Where do I find these things?

If the knitted zombies weren't outre enough for you, how about this? Exacting in its attention to detail.