Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Update: I was verklemt!

A quick update on that Koigu bag I made: I was touched and honored when I saw my friend carry it down the aisle with her.

Monday, June 27, 2005

When the Going Gets Tough

After much soul-searching--you all know how hard it is to close this place, even during a snow emergency--we've decided to take next weekend off. We figure that Live 8 will have the place totally gridlocked by 10 a.m., and pretty much everyone we know is planning to get out of Dodge for the weekend in anticipation. So with apologies to all of you who actually live here and might mosey in on foot:

Rosie's will be closed on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, July 2 - 4.

We'll still be open until 7 Friday night. We'll be back bright and early Tuesday morning at 10. But if you need something to work on over the weekend, or if you even think you might get to a point in your pattern that you don't understand, please make time to come in before the end of the week.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Kippah Project (or, What's On My Hook)

When I became bat mitzvah, my grandmother, Eve Plotnick, undertook to crochet kippot for the occasion. Not for me, mind you—this was a looong time ago, before girls or women in conservative synagogues routinely wore kippot—but for the male guests. She enlisted the assistance of her sister Sophie, which was prudent, as there were 40-some male guests. They used blue crochet cotton and a pattern from I-don’t-know-where, and the kippot weren’t identical: they had a repertoire of different border patterns, mostly geometrics, and a couple variations on the center. They blocked them over inverted salad bowls spread out over their kitchen tables. The guests were impressed and very appreciative.

Two years later, when my brother Jonathan became bar mitzvah, they did it again, this time in burgundy.

They did it again eight years after that, when my brother Andrew became bar mitzvah, and the following year, when it was my cousin Erica’s turn. (Hers were pink with silver.)

By 1992, when Jonathan got married, Sophie had died. Grandmom was by this point well on in years, and wisely restricted her efforts to making kippot for the members of the wedding party.

Grandmom died in 1999. Two weeks from now, Andrew is getting married. It’s not his fault he’s the baby, but there it is: no Grandmom, no kippot, right?

You see where this is going. I don’t crochet well, and I don’t crochet often (think there’s a connection?). But I had to step up to the salad bowl, so to speak.

I’ll spare you most of the saga—how I couldn’t find crochet cotton in anywhere near the right color (a kind of aubergine), how I had a sudden inspiration about some leftover Euroflax from a weaving project of Suzanne’s, how inadequate Grandmom’s notes are. Suffice it to say that I need to have nine of these puppies finished by July 10. (I note for the record here that Grandmom was retired when she undertook this madness.)

I don’t have any pictures right now, but I’ll try to get some in the next couple days, and you’ll see why I haven’t been blogging (let alone knitting).

Thursday, June 23, 2005

News from Knitting Circle

We had fun last night: interesting projects led to interesting discussion of techniques.

First, Wendy had her completed shawl to show. She made it out of alpaca she got at the Sheep and Wool Festival, using the Feather and Fan pattern from Folk Shawls (the long straight one, not the triangular version). Now, she says, she just has to wait four months until she can use it.



Regina confessed that she’d realized she’d gotten the pattern wrong on the second sock of her pair: it’s supposed to be two pattern rounds followed by two plain stockinette rounds, but she’d been doing one of each. You have to look really closely to see the difference, though, and she says that they’re for her—and she doesn’t mind.



In the course of the evening, she finished the second one. Here they are in their natural habitat:



Meanwhile, Jennifer was casting on (again) for her Koigu cardigan. Seems she skipped the initial swatch—on account of having worked with Koigu recently—and then discovered that she was getting 8 sts per inch, not 7. So it’s back to square one, this time with a #5. Yes, #5; Jennifer’s a tight knitter. So tight, in fact, that it was almost impossible to get the cast-on stitches off the needle when she discovered that her long tail wasn’t going to be nearly long enough. We wound up cutting it off the needle, since the yarn was getting so frayed that it wouldn’t have been usable anyway.

But this provided an opportunity for a handy cast-on tip: if you want to do a long-tail cast-on but you need a large number of stitches (in this case, 364), it’s mighty tough to estimate the amount of tail you’ll need. One solution is to add a supplemental strand: instead of pulling out a long tail, tie a second ball of yarn to the first, and hold the join on the needle to begin casting on. Now hold one strand over your forefinger (this will be the strand you continue knitting with), and the other over your thumb (when you’re done casting on, you’ll cut this strand). If you don’t have a second ball of yarn on hand, you can work with the inside end and outside end of a center-pull ball.

The only drawback to this tactic is that it gives you two more ends to weave in later. Depending on your temperament, this may be trivial, or it may be annoying enough that you’d rather take your chances guessing on length of tail—or just do a one-strand cast-on like the cable or e-wrap.

We also had a little review of splicing techniques for joining new balls of yarn: some prefer the “spit splice,” while others think it adds too much bulk and would rather unply both strands and then cut away a few plies from each before re-twisting them together. Sherry prefers the “Russian” join, which doubles each end back on itself and then darns the loose end through the main strand with a needle.

Magda’s Pi Shawl is almost finished, and Cathy has found a satisfactory solution for the beaded fringe on her Blue Heron shawl, but I don’t have pictures of those, so they’ll have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

New Kids on the Block

New York Yarns. Nashua Handknits. Louisa Harding. Handmaiden. Kollage Yarns. Nestucca Bay. Color Me. The Alpaca Yarn Company. American Buffalo Products. Prairie Fibers.

What do all these companies have in common? They’re yarn companies that are advertising in the new Fall issue of Interweave Knits—who weren’t there a year ago.

If you’ve noticed that there’s a new yarn shop on every corner lately, you may not have noticed that there seems to be a new yarn company every week. With occasional exceptions, the products they offer are not much different from the products the existing yarn companies offer. (Sometimes, they’re identical: plenty of mills out there will sell the same yarn—in the same colors—to two or more distributors.)

It’s a tough business if you’re a new company trying to break into the market—you’ve got to invest a lot of time and a lot of money to get started, and who knows whether you’ll make it, or where you’ll be in a few years if the knitting boom takes a downturn. (We all know that’s not going to happen, right? Right.)

I do see one undeniable advantage to the influx, though: the magazines get fatter and glossier on all that ad revenue, and that in turn makes room for more content. Which translates, in this case, to more designs per issue. Now there’s something we can all applaud. I think I might even learn to like the new hybrid “advertorials” that have been appearing in Vogue Knitting for a couple years and have just started in Knits. (For examples, see pp. 12-13, 26-27, 32-33, or 38-39, all of which are two-page spreads advertising specific yarn companies and directing the reader to a page of Interweave’s website where project instructions can be found.)

And of course, someone has to design all these extra patterns, just like someone has to provide pattern support for the new yarn companies. (Even in the case of designer-driven yarn lines—Louisa Harding, Kim Hargreaves—the designer’s departure from her previous position creates opportunities for other designers there. Look how many different names are credited in the latest Rowan magazines since those two left!)

More content, more designers. Those are good enough reasons to put up with the annoyance of more ads and trying to keep up with the flood of new names. (Oh, and yeah, some of the newbies have pretty great yarn. Keep your eyes open for Nashua Handknit’s Creative Focus Worsted, possibly the new yarn I’m most excited about for Fall.)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Teva Durham Workshops

We don’t know everything, but here’s what we’ve got so far:

Teva Durham, author of Loop-d-Loop, will teach two workshops here on Sunday, July 17.

The first one will start at 10 a.m. and run until about 1:00. The topic will be designing with short rows—have you seen the two amazing short-rowed sweaters in her book? Here’s one:



The workshop is not intended for beginners. The cost is likely to be in the neighborhood of $75.

The afternoon workshop, however, is intended for less-experienced knitters. It features this ballet top from her book:



The garment is knit all in one piece in the round from the top down, and it provides a good introduction to these techniques as well as several kinds of increasing and decreasing (and where you’d use which). This project moves quickly; you won’t finish it during the workshop, but you’ll apparently be more than halfway there. The price for this one is higher, since it includes materials for a whole project: $100 if you already have a copy of the book or would prefer to work from a single copy of the pattern; $120 with the book.

After the second workshop, Teva will sign books and chat from about 5:30 to 7 (or when she collapses from exhaustion, depending).

Call (215-977-9276) or e-mail us to sign up, quick!

Just a few other notes—

The Summer Sock Intensive started on Thursday night, with introductions and thoughts on cast-ons and cuffs. Susan and Michele both brought some recent or current socks: Susan got a great bobble edging in Classic Elite’s “Cotton Sox,” a yarn from just before the sock boom really began—



And Michele has been experimenting plenty with self-patterning yarns—



Dorlynn provided a few (!) examples of different cuff possibilities:



Next session is Thursday, June 30—the first of two meetings on the leg section. If most aspects of sock construction are about function—how elastic is the cast-on? How much grip does the cuff have? What heel is most durable?—the leg is the freest element, where almost the only considerations are aesthetic. Get in touch if you’d like to join us!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Second thoughts & second chances

A friend of mine is getting married in a few weeks, and I wanted to make her something festive in honor of the occasion. I decided to make a Koigu beaded bag (we have one with copper beads hanging by the Koigu shelves at Rosie's; the pattern can be found in a relatively recent Interweave Knits issue). The bride is wearing a pale gold dress, I'm told. So I found some gold beads at Foreign Bazaar and picked this yarn:



Karabella Breeze, a silk/cashmere blend, in cream. This is an incredibly soft, lovely yarn that comes in muted pastels. It’s a little heavier than Koigu, but not much. I got gauge, then strung what seemed like a gazillion beads and began to knit.

I didn't like it.

For a little while, I tried to ignore that it just didn't look right to me. Sometimes when I start a project and am just a little underway, I get knitter's remorse: I start to second-guess my yarn choice, or become paranoid about gauge, or convince myself the recipient will hate it. Often it's irrational and goes away. But this time, I came to realize it was more than that, and if I kept knitting, I'd only have more to rip out later.

So I presented it to Dorlynn for some knitting 9-1-1. Her diagnosis: too much of a contrast between bead color and yarn. She prescribed either paler beads, or brighter yarn. Effortlessly, she plucked a skein of Koigu out of a bin and said, "Here. This is what you need." It was this.



A pale, lovely green, but green just didn't fit in with my mind's eye view of what I wanted to make. I murmed about going for more beads, maybe in a pearly ivory, but that didn't seem right either. My friend is chic and elegant and sophisticated – hardly a blushing bride all poufed out in white -- and anyway, I had hoped to use the gold beads since her dress is gold. But the more I looked at the gold beads against the pale green Koigu, the more I liked it. There was something about the way the beads and the yarn complemented each other that worked, and the yarn certainly didn't shout leprechauns or lime Kool-Aid or Astroturf. Quite the contrary; it looked fresh and chic, and neutral enough to accessorize many different ensembles. Then I started thinking how green was the color of spring, renewal. According to that prestigious research source, the internet, Asian cultures view green as the color of eternity, peace, family and harmony. Even Kermit the Frog eventually came to grips with being green.

So I started again, and this is the result:



Dorlynn felt strongly that the bag deserved an elegant black velvet background, so here you go:




I love the finished bag, and I'm pretty sure she'll like it, but I don't have any illusions about her carrying it down the aisle with her. Maybe she will, and I’d be thrilled if she did, but if it doesn't match, or she already has Aunt Patty's heirloom clutch or whatever, I'm still happy to have made it for her. She can bring it along on her honeymoon, or put keepsakes in it, knowing that each bead strung, each stitch knit, was full of love and hope and good wishes from an old friend.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Oops

So here’s the bag as it looked before felting . . .



and after.



Sigh.

The dimensions were 16” wide by 16” high by 7” deep. They are 13” wide by 7+” high by about 4” deep. For those of you keeping score, I was hoping for 12” wide by 10” high by 4” deep. That’s 12% over in width, 30% short in the height, 75% over in depth. The i-cord straps actually got longer during fulling (though thinner and denser); they were 31” long and are now 43”.

Rather than just throwing the blasted thing in the corner, I’m testing a new theory: that the problem isn’t my inability to get the results I’m after, but rather that I give up after the first try. I’m not ready right now to get back on the horse—cast on immediately for another, basing new numbers on these results—but I am going to try to salvage this by playing around with the fulled object a bit. It won’t be the bag I had in mind, but it might be a passable bag.

Stay tuned. The saga continues.

Monday, June 13, 2005

You Think You've Got a Problem? Stash Enhancement at the Professional Level

You’d think that, after ten years of buying a shopful of yarn for the Fall season, it would be fairly simple: fill in the depleted stocks of the yarns we always carry, picking up any nice new colors the manufacturer offers; replace any yarns that have been discontinued; choose a few from among the huge number of crazy novelty yarns that change every year. Get a preview glimpse of the Fall designs, chat with the sales rep about trends in handknitting and in ready-to-wear, call it a day.

Not quite.

It usually goes more like this: sales rep comes in, opens one of a profusion of suitcases and bags,



shows you a brand-new yarn—say, a tweedy wool that gets about 5 stitches to the inch. Of course, we already have maybe 5 wool yarns that get about 5 stitches to the inch, and at least one of them is a tweed, but you look at it anyway. (Do I hear someone thinking that that’s the mistake? Why even look at the yarn when we already have one like it? Putting aside that we like yarn,



so it’s always fun to look, there’s the fact that some knitter’s going to come into the shop next season holding a pattern that calls for every new yarn, and we’re going to have to try to remember what it looks like so that we can recommend another like it if we don’t have it.)

So you look, and the colors are really pretty. And someone says, “That’s a really nice range of reds.” And someone else says, “The one we’ve got doesn’t really have a good red.” And someone says, “This one costs fifty cents less.” And someone says, “The other one has 20 more yards.” And someone says, “Check out this pattern from the new book—people are going to want to make that.” And someone says, “We’ve still got a ton of the other one in backstock.”



Along about now, the rep usually pipes up, “If you order 15 bags, we’ll send you the model sweater for free.” Or, “The company’s really committed to this one—we’ve ordered a warehouse full of it, so you’re going to be able to get it easily whenever you need to reorder it.” (To which we’ve learned to reply, “Yeah, right. That’s what they all say. Come December, you’ll be backordered like everyone else.”)

And someone says, “I hate how long it takes to ship that stuff from Seattle.” And someone says, “The other one comes in balls; this one is skeins we’ll have to wind up.”

And on it goes. Eventually, we reach a decision about whether to stick with the one we’ve got, or try a new one. Then we move on to the next yarn, and have a similar discussion about whether we’re satisfied with our brushed mohair, or our DK-weight baby yarn. Tomorrow or next week (or sometimes only an hour later, if the same sales rep carries multiple yarn brands), we’ll see another wool tweed at 5 stitches per inch, and we’ll do that same whole conversation again.

I exaggerate just a little: fairly often, a rep flourishes a color card, and we say, “Nope, we’re happy with the one we’ve got, no need to look at this.” And there are also lots of cards we pass quickly by, saying, “Nope, we don’t have much call for 100% acrylic yarns,” or “Nope, we don’t carry fur yarns.” (I’m not talking about all the faux-fur textures here: I’m talking about strips of rabbit fur, pelt still attached. Ew.)

But the stuff that’ll drive you crazy, and the reason we just seem to cram more stuff into the same amount of space every year, is the yarns in new categories. When I used to play “fantasy yarnshop” (you know, “If I ever have a yarn shop, I’m going to carry every color of La Gran mohair”), I’d think about the categories I’d need to fill: fingering weight, DK weight, worsted weight, bulky weight; a mohair, a washable synthetic for babies, something affordable and easy-care for afghans. Back then, I didn’t have to consider anything thicker than “bulky”--the biggest pattern gauge we routinely saw was 3 stitches per inch, and about the only yarn on the market thicker than that was Colinette’s Point Five. There were a few sweater patterns for Point Five, but mostly people used it for scarves; you either carried Point Five, or you didn’t.

Then, in the late ‘90’s, yarns started getting fatter and fatter, and patterns calling for them appeared as well. For about a year, you could hesitate and consider whether it was just a momentary fad. Then it became clear that it wasn’t. The competently-stocked yarn shop was going to need something that got two and a half stitches to the inch, whether it was Rowan’s Big Wool or not.

At the time, we thought the question was simply, “Will anyone want to make sweaters this bulky? Are they unflattering, or too warm?” But it turns out that we were seeing a whole new category of yarn emerge, and if you used to know where you displayed the thin yarns, the medium yarns, the thick yarns, the baby yarns, etc., you were now going to have to figure out how to carve out some real estate for super-bulky yarns. (And you can take that shelf-space question as a metaphor for the inventory-buying budget as well.)

Remember Darwin and the finches in the Galapagos Islands? One of the principles of evolution is that species will evolve to fit every available niche in the ecosystem. Well, when Darwin’s in the yarn cellar, the principle of differentiation of yarns means that “superbulky” won’t stay one category for long. For one thing, it’s particularly difficult to fudge gauges with superbulkies, because every half-stitch per inch makes such a difference in the garment’s finished size. (Substitute a yarn that gets 2.5 sts per inch in a pattern calling for 2 sts per inch, and the sweater that’s supposed to measure 40” around will measure 32”.)

And if you’re trying to keep all your customers happy, I’m here to tell you that having one yarn that gets a given gauge isn’t going to do it—even if it’s the exact yarn specified in the pattern. Someone’s going to want one that isn’t wool (because it’s too warm, or too itchy); someone’s going to want one that’s machine-washable; someone’s going to want one that’s less expensive; someone’s going to want one that’s a solid color (if the original was a multi) or a multi-color (if the original was a solid). Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that. Just that it’s suddenly gotten much harder to have enough kinds of yarn, because the number of kinds of yarn you need has expanded.

This is the sort of thing that leads to ordering our third alpaca-silk blend, as we did last month. It’s how we went from carrying one beautiful, perfect laceweight yarn—Zephyr—to adding Alpaca Lace (a bit heavier, not so shiny, warmer), Merino Silk (to fill in some colors Zephyr didn’t have—and it turns out Merino Silk is thinner), and now Jade Sapphire’s Lacy Lamb (because someone pointed out that we didn’t have one that was just wool).

So there you have the biodiversity theory of yarn-buying. Or as Proust describes the family cook, Fran├žoise, choosing the menu for Sunday lunch: she might have “a brill because the fish-woman had guaranteed its freshness, a turkey because she had seen a beauty in the market at Roussainville-le-Pin, cardoons with marrow because she had never done them for us in that way before, a roast leg of mutton because the fresh air made one hungry and there would be plenty of time for it to ‘settle down’ in the seven hours before dinner, spinach by way of a change, apricots because they were still hard to get, gooseberries because in another fortnight there would be none left, raspberries which M. Swann had brought specially, cherries, the first to come from the cherry-tree which had yielded none for the last two years, a cream cheese, of which in those days I was extremely fond, an almond cake because she had ordered one the evening before, a brioche because it was our turn to make them for the church.”

What’s the difference between a rationalization and a justification?

Next up: TNNA.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Yarn Harlot's Visit

I know I’m days late writing about the Yarn Harlot’s visit last weekend, but it’s awfully hard to know what to say. I don’t want to just gush and say that she’s as smart and funny in person as she is on her blog, but she is. Those of us who were there got really lucky: most of you stayed away because of the weather or the traffic or whatever, so we got to hang out with Stephanie. Everyone got a chance to talk with her one-on-one, and not just for the usual 30 seconds when you get to the front of the line and the famous author signs your book. Here she is wrapped up with Jim in his just-finished Sarah Blanch shawl from Folk Shawls.



(One thing about those sideways-knitted shawls: kinda hard to know exactly how long they’re going to be until you bind off. Surprise!)

Two of her most interesting observations: first, that the thing about knitting—the heart of its fascination—must be the act of transformation. Or as she’s saying in the picture below: we turn this (the ball of yarn) into this (the sock-in-progress), and that’s amazing.



And the other: that she’d set out to write a book about knitting, but turns out to have written a book about knitters. Without drifting into Yeats’s puzzle--How can you tell the dancer from the dance?—it’s still worth noting how the mind slides away from matters of history or technique toward the human element—“I met a knitter who . . . “ or “Isn’t it funny how we . . . “ Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

It was great, Steph—come back soon!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Funky Fibers

We at Rosie’s are big fans of natural fibers – and with good reason. Among other things, natural fibers feel good to wear and they are easy on the environment. In the past few years, yarn manufacturers have begun to show interest in finding new, natural sources for making yarn. Corn, bamboo, and soy are just a few of the untraditional sources used to produce these new yarns. Some of these new fibers are already being sold as yarn; others are only available right now as fiber for handspinning.

When I think of bamboo, I think of stir-fry and pandas. But bamboo is now being used to produce yarn. And it’s really soft, silky stuff, too. Rosie’s is currently stocking Classic Elite Bam Boo, a yarn made from 100% bamboo.



The yarn is made from the stalk of bamboo grass. It has a short staple, and the plant has a quick growing cycle. The bamboo is processed in a way similar to tencel: the starchy pulp of the plant is processed, then extruded into fiber (think those plastic toys that push out Play-Doh into spaghetti). Bamboo is a renewable resource – when your crop of bamboo is used up, you can just plant another one – and the entire process is better for the environment (it takes less time to produce the pulp, less energy to process than comparable fibers like viscose, and more of the byproducts can be reused). Interestingly, bamboo fiber has natural antibacterial properties and is used to make medical supplies, like surgical clothing and masks. (But don’t expect to see knitting patterns for scrubs any time soon…)

Best of all, the end product is lovely. Bamboo yarn is very soft and feels something like silk – drapey and cool. It’s breathable, non-allergenic, takes color well (check out those colors!) and has luster. Jim is working on a wonderful vest using Classic Elite Bam Boo – check it out:



We’ll update you when he’s finished.

In addition to bamboo, you can find yarns and fiber made from soy (using the waste that comes from manufacturing tofu); ingeo, derived from corn; and milk (using the milk proteins). How about peanut shells and poultry feathers? Textile researchers at our own Philadelphia University and the USDA are now experimenting with ways to chop up these items, add heat and pressure, then extrude a fiber. And blending these new fibers with existing ones means even more new yarns and fibers to try.

Manos Bag Update

So there I was, listening to the Yarn Harlot (which I promise I'll talk about soon), and blithely knitting away on the long, plain stockinette section of the bag. And then I started to wonder exactly how long that long, plain section should be. But of course I didn’t wonder enough to stop knitting until I could check some figures. So: although my conjectural calculations (more about which, below) were that the body of the bag should be about 12.5” before fulling, what I now have is 14”. Sure, I could have ripped back—especially once I remembered that I’d been planning to put in holes for the straps before I got to the top edge. But I really dislike ripping out perfectly good knitting, and it’s not like I was that sure about the 12.5” anyway, so I left it.

I did, however, go back and put in the buttonholes by dropping stitches down at the right spots, thusly: As I knit the next round, every time I got to a buttonhole point, I dropped two stitches off the left needle and raveled them back 4 rows. Then I put the two (live, 4-rows-ago) stitches back on the left needle, and with the right needle, used the raveled float to knit the 2 stitches together and then form a yarnover. This takes slightly less yarn than knitting the stitches individually would have, so technically I’d have a little extra slack left, but in work this loose it really doesn’t matter. Then I re-knit the three rows above the buttonhole, being careful to use the floats in order. Here's a picture of the afterthought eyelets. Just to the left of center, you can also see the ridge of slipped stitches for the crease.



There are 8 buttonholes in this puppy, two in each of the four sides. It’s doubtful whether I saved myself any time by working the fix this way, as opposed to ripping out the four rows. But boy, I hate to rip my knitting.

So here’s where we stand to date: rather than try to establish a percentage by which the fabric will shrink, I came up with my cast-on number and stitch counts by thinking about the felted gauge of the project, and then knitting loosely. In other words, I’m confident that I can make Manos full down to a gauge of 4 sts per inch, since that’s what it gets in “normal” knitting. So for a 12” width, I want 48 sts—but instead of the usual stockinette gauge on #9s, I’m on #11s, getting about 3 sts per inch.

Length is trickier, because I don’t have much idea how many rows per inch I’ve gotten on fulled Manos before, and my experience is that my stockinette shrinks more in length (height) than in width. I consulted a couple patterns and found that 20% shrinkage in length seems a pretty common assumption, so I had planned on 12.5” from base of bag to edge border in order to yield a depth of 10”. The garter-stitch border at the top adds almost another 2” right now, though it should shrink down even more than the stockinette. (Shouldn’t it? I mean, garter stitch gets more rows per inch than stockinette every other day, right?)



The bag is currently 16” wide, almost 7” deep, and a total of 16” high. I couldn't find any #11 dpns, so here's a reminder that you can make i-cord on a circular needle if you have to:



I’m committed to doing the straps next (before the pockets) because otherwise I’m afraid I’ll never get around to them.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Travel FYI for Yarn Harlot Reading/Signing

We thought we'd let you know that Sunday June 5th happens to be the day of what most Philadelphians still call the "CoreStates" bike race, now renamed the Wachovia USPRO Championship (I think). The race starts at 9 a.m. on Sunday, and you can get a look at the course map here.

This may or may not affect you if you're traveling to Center City to se The Yarn Harlot, but you can try MapQuest for driving directions, and KYW radio (1060 AM or via the website here) might give additional information about commuting conditions tomorrow.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Hello, Knitting Circle!

The whole point of having a Knitting Circle page on the website was to help people keep in touch if they couldn't get to the shop on Wednesday evening, whether because they live in Kuala Lumpur or because they had to go to their kid's piano recital that night. But the mechanism we had in place, the What's On Your Needles and Gallery pages, was really cumbersome: first someone had to take the pictures, then someone had to write something about what was in the picture and who knit it, then someone had to send the picture(s) to our web guy Alec, then he had to edit the pictures, then he had to put each one in the right person's spot (Phone call: "No, not that Karen; the one who made the shawl. The blue and purple shawl. The blue and purple rectangular shawl." Repeat weekly.), with the right text.

Still wondering why those pages haven't been updated in a while?

This should be better, because it cuts out several steps. It does have one drawback: it's entirely chronological, so one can't see pictures of the various steps in a particular project all at once. We're working on a solution for that.

Does this mean we've abandoned the old format? Not necessarily. For the moment, everything that used to go in What's On Your Needles (and What's On Ours, for that matter) will be appearing here. Stay tuned.

With that preamble . . .

Here's Magda working on a Pi Shawl:



We see so many Half-Pi Shawls here that it's easy to forget their foundation, the original Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi Shawl. Magda is doing hers in Koigu in an assortment of colors (mostly remnants, not full skeins).

And here's the cardigan Robin made for her niece. (At least, I think that's Robin. If I'm wrong and it's Robyn, please let me know, and I'll correct it!)



There was talk about a pink border, but everyone agreed that it's more classic and versatile this way. After all, every little girl needs a white cardigan for summer. In fact, looking at this one, we thought maybe every big girl needs one, too. "Why don't I ever knit myself a sweater like that?" was a common question. The short-term answer was, "Because it's Provence, and it would take me forever in my size." But the larger question--why don't we knit the things we want to wear?--is one I'm going to take up here sometime soon.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

More Knit Lit for Kids

If Carol hadn't included Sheep in a Shop, that would have been my first choice. My second, though, is Sheep in Wolves' Clothing, by Satoshi Kitamura.



The illustrations are all kind of off-center, and the plot is equally eccentric: while some sheep are swimming, wolves steal their fleeces (which they've left on the grass). The search for the missing fleeces involves a sheep detective and a half-dozen alley cats.

And don't overlook Ruth Hearson's Knitted by Grandma,




a pop-up book which enumerates Grandma's prodigious knitting output during a weeklong visit.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Harlot in the Cellar!

We've nailed down the details at last: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, better known as the Yarn Harlot, will read and sign her book, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much, this Sunday.

(For those of you who aren't familiar with her incisive wit, check out her blog.)

Those of you who are already fans know that our space in the cellar is woefully inadequate to the kind of crowd Stephanie will attract. So the reading will be at 2:00 p.m. around the corner at Temple Beth Zion Beth Israel, which is on the southwest corner of 18th and Spruce Sts. (The entrance is on 18th, and we'll be upstairs in the auditorium.)

After the reading, we'll go back to the shop for book-signing, chatting, and cookies.