Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Perfect Yarn World

At the MSKR I bought this fabulous little book, "Toys to Knit" by Tracy Chapman (didn't she have an album out a few years ago?). The book is super cute but this post is not a review. Instead, it's about finding the perfect yarn. You all know that buying yarn is easy. You see the skein, the color, its texture and you're racing to the register with your wallet flying open. Then those beautiful skeins sit, taunting you, waiting for the perfect project to come their way. Unfortunately, that perfect project doesn't always come their way and with that we have the basic definition of stash building.
I give you exhibit A, the alpaca I bought at Alpacas of Easton on my trip. It mocks me, it knows I don't know what to do with it so in the storage ottoman it sits getting cozy with the cashmere.

I decided to knit an amazing, little teddy from Ms. Chapman's book. I left nothing to chance.

1. Pick the pattern - check
2. Get the yarn - not specified in the pattern, few options at the LYS
3. Knit it - way-layed by the yarn

Getting the yarn for these kinds of projects is always difficult especially when the pattern doesn't call for a specific yarn (as is the case with Teddy) or worse, that seemingly perfect yarn pictured with the pattern is no longer available. Soemtimes you need to leave things to the experts. I sent a picture of Teddy to my knitting mentor/guru in Los Angeles and asked her to pick the yarn and ship it off to me. Thank you Edith! I couldn't have found better choices! It's New Tweed by Tahki Yarns and a merino, silk, cotton, viscose blend. It's 70% merino and so beautifully soft -- perfect for endless hours of teddy hugging!

The brown tweed is the perfect shade and the pink is absolutely spot on. I just can't get this kind of yarn goodness in Florida. I miss having a yarn store with tons of options and unsurpassed expertise. She even included the embroidery thread! So when in L.A., visit La Knitterie Parisienne, you're sure to find the perfect yarn or at the very least ... something for your stash.

CSM Update: has not arrived yet but we are waiting patiently.

Dave, I didn't know you were a CSM'er as well. This is good, between you and Joe, I've got some serious expertise at my disposal. I'll need help, I'll be in touch with both of you -- you can count on it. I could come to Boston for some instruction and see Mel while I'm there (even though she mocks my turn of the century technology). How's that new IPhone working out kiddo?

Krystal, they're great old machines. If I can ever get it to knit socks, a pair will be made for you, for all of you!

Kyle, so disappointed about Seattle. I checked the airfare costs for New Zealand (that's not gonna happen)! Maybe the Midwest one, if it gets off the ground.

And welcome Christopher, he's from my college town and has the cutest dog!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Should I knit a layette?

Casa Knitguyla has a new addition and I want to introduce everyone to my new baby! I haven't named him yet but he's like Bejamin Button, he's about 100 years old but getting stronger with every day! I finally bit the bullet and bought a circular sock machine or CSM. It's in great working condition (supposedly) and guaranteed (I use that term loosely) to knit and rib! Everything I've read about these machines begins with "be prepared for a steep learning curve". We shall see, so far everyone thinks I'm crazy.

Them: "You're going to buy a machine from 1908 for $1,000+ dollars and it may or may not work."

Me: Yeah, that about sums it up. What? No good?

The nay-sayers won out and back in February with "steep learning curve" warnings everywhere, I decided I shouldn't buy a CSM and a few months went by without incidence. Then I got the urge again and starting asking the experts really pointed questions but again, decided it was too big an investment. I told myself, it's just not something you buy online especially when you've never even seen one in action. "Wait till Rhinebeck" I told myself, they'll be a demo there and every question and concern will be addressed. That was a good plan and I stood behind it for a few more months. Then, last week I gave myself the speech. You know the one, the "this is why I work" speech and started researching with aplomb. It didn't matter that I signed up for another retreat and it didn't matter that I just purchased new living room tables... it didn't matter because "this is why we work", right?

It seems rational, like the cashmere new cotton yarn I just got for $1.98 a skein, yeah, love that $1.98 cotton. Come to think of it, I'm going to need some sock yarn, wait... no... I'm going to need a ton of sock yarn! Where exactly does one buy sock yarn by the ton? stratches chin inquisitively

Oh, and for you CSM'ers out there, it's a Legare 400. A beautifully restored machine that I can't wait to show off to all of you. In the meantime, I'm plugging along on my size 1 needles working my ribbing one row every 10 minutes. LOL. Just think, soon enough (hopefully/fingers crossed) I'll be pumping out whole socks by the hour! How fun is that? I may never leave the house! Yahoooooo!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Craft in America

I don't know how I missed this program a few years back but if you, like me, didn't see it, you should. It's the Peabody award winning mini-series Craft in America. "Craft In America is a groundbreaking, comprehensive visual exploration of the history, vitality, and cultural significance of America's craft movement."

This video is a 9-minute promo for the series and if you didn't see it in its entirety on PBS, this will give you a great overview. For anyone who has ever crafted, in any shape or form, you can't help but be stimulated by the creative endeavors of the artists hightlighted in this program.

First off, I had never heard of the Penland School of Crafts. "Penland is a national center for craft education located in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. Penland's focus on excellence, its long history, and its inspiring, retreat setting have made it a model of experiential education. The school offers workshops in books and paper, clay, drawing and painting, glass, iron, metals, photography, printmaking and letterpress, textiles, wood, and other media. Penland sponsors artist residencies, a gallery and visitors center, and community education programs."

If you're a weaver, you'll want to check out Penland and their resident artist/class studio/programs. I was a bit disappointed that knitting wasn't represented but weaving was and since I just shared a few emails with my friend Dave today, some slack was given. Dave is a weaver and writes about it on his blog HandweavingToday. He's also an amazing photographer and several of his photos adorn the walls of my home. The work being done at Penland and the individual artists highlighted throughout the program were remarkable and inspiring!

When I dream about my life in rural America (handsome lover included) where I run a rewarding bodywork practice, sheep farm and knitting/CSM studio, these are the people/lives I imagine. If you're laughing while thinking about me on a sheep farm, that's where the handsome lover comes in. In the meantime, buy this CD program from PBS and promptly lend it to me. I only caught a fraction of one of the 3 episodes so I can't wait to find an airing of it in its entirety.