I have finished something fabulous. It is one of those patterns that take my breath away and then there is my story.
Do you remember this? It is a picture I fell in love with on Ravelry. It is called Pfeilraupe or Arrow Caterpillar. I had yarn all picked out, Noro Silk Garden Sock before we went to Hawaii. I was ready to start when we got home.
I could just see this gorgeous yarn knit into that fabulous pattern. While we were in Hawaii we visited Yarn and Needlecraft/Strictly Christmas. Remember that story? It was the combination LYS and Christmas store. Adorable! I found this Noro sock yarn.
Now count four shelves down from the top and find the gorgeous rust, brown and copper Noro sock yarn next to the cream skein. All of a sudden I could see the Arrow Caterpillar knit in that wonderful yarn. And I could see my college bestie, Evie, wearing it. As soon as we got home from Hawaii I started. The pattern had been translated from German (I think) and I had a little difficulty following along. Then I found the chart and the whole thing fell into place. I knew exactly what I was supposed to do! I must say it was much easier than I originally thought. OK, here is the big TA-DA!
I think it is fabulous. It was great when I finished knitting but when I steamed it, it came to life. The magic is six button holes that allow you to weave the long end through.
Here it is sans Lydia. I love the vibrant colors of Noro, but then again you knew that. I don't think I have ever knit a pattern that looks so difficult but is so easy. Shorts rows on the left and increases on the right with the simplicity of stitch markers showing you the way. Believe it or not, it would be great travel knitting. Once you get the markers set up and get the hang of the pattern, you really don't have to check the pattern at all just do your short rows based on the markers then increase every fourth marker. That is pretty much it.
There are several ways to wear this but the first picture is my favorite and what made me want to knit this. It feels so good to finish a beautiful project. It just seemed perfect that Evie would get a treasure made out of yarn I bought in Hawaii. I wonder how many more of these I will make. Will it become my Olga Jazzy pleated scarf as far as a "go to," travel project? I don't know about that, I just know I love this and am very proud of the finished product.
It's taken me a while to post and I apologize for not making my two posts a week commitment but I was waiting for something very special to occur. Today, April 23, 2016, is the first anniversary of Ann's By Design. I thought the store was fabulous when it first opened, but you should see it today.
I really didn't know how walking into this dream of Ann Hughes would enrich my life. I thought I was helping Ann out never did I realize what this journey would do for me.
Ann's By Design started small but it wasn't long before the little shop started filling up.
Over the year, Ann has added to her Cascade inventory until she is bursting at the seams.
This leads me to Part 2 of this post YARN TASTING!!!!!!! Thursday night as part of the 1st Anniversary celebration, Ann's By Design hosted the second annual Yarn Tasting event. What a trip! Women every where, talking, laughing, knitting with old friends and making new friends.
Tables were set up all over the shop with little bowls of yarn bites for people to see, feel and well, taste. Remember the picture of the first days? Now look! Yarn, yarn every where!
Yarn, refreshments, a chance to sample yarn and learn what you love. That's what a Yarn Tasting is all about. About every 15 minutes prizes would be passed out from scarfs and shawl kits to knitting books to circular needles. Everybody was excited with their prizes. Some people even did some swapping to get exactly what they wanted.
If this blog had sound, you would hear a high volume of talking and laughter. What is there about getting a group of knitters and crocheters together!?!?!?! Who loves to talk and laugh more!?!?!? I remember when I used to think knitting was a solitary, singular activity. Ann's By Design's Yarn Tasting proves how wrong I was."I love the feel of this!" "What would you make from this?" "Look how beautiful this looks!" "What is this? I want more!" "I didn't know you are a knitter!"
Every nook and cranny was filled. The class room, the cutting room and the sales room, all were packed with women knitting, crocheting and enjoying each other.
When 8 o'clock came, we had a happy group of ladies heading home with a yarn they had fallen in love with. What a great beginning for Ann's By Design anniversary week.
My original plan was to commit to Ann's for a year to help her get things going then move on. In February, I discovered I had gained as much from my affiliation with Ann's By Design as I had given. I have met new knitters, made new friends and watched a wonderful destination dedicated to needle arts attract people who were looking for a gathering place to share their passion. Because it is not just about knitting and yarn, I have made friends with quilters (I could never be one because I would have millions and millions of pieces of fabric waiting for me to finish it), tatters, crocheters and wool appliquérs (my spell check is telling me this is not a word. But what are people who do wool appliqué called?). I have learned to appreciate different needle arts and love an adorable little shop. I love when people come in on Fridays for me to help them with a knitting problem. Yesterday somebody came in to show me a finished product I had helped her with and another to have me find a mistake for her. I loved both.
I would like to shout out a big "HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ANN'S BY DEISGN" and wish for many, many more. I would like to thank Ann and everyone I've come in contact with this year for all you have given me. If you are in Adrian, Michigan stop in to Ann's By Design or better yet make a special trip to visit a very special place.
Saturday, April 8 was the Spring Fiber Expo at the Saline Fair Grounds. There is one every spring and fall and I've taken you to several. Linda and I were planning to go and leave bright and early. I woke up and this is the view from my deck. APRIL 8!!!!! It was shocking even for Michigan. Linda and I regrouped and left a little later but still. . . SPRING FIBER EXPO! APRIL 8!
We checked out the vendors and were a little disappointed that the Twisted Ladies from Twisted Fiber Art weren't going to be there. And just when I felt the need for more Catnip. I did notice a vendor called Fiber Dyet from Manitou Beach, Michigan. That's just a couple of miles from where I grew up and I recognized the name, Linda Parkhurst so I thought maybe I would see someone I knew from my past. Linda was driving so I got my car knitting ready and after a small delay to let the roads clear a bit, we were on our way.
We entered, payed our money and three steps from the check-in was the most beautiful yarn I have ever seen (at least in the past 24 hours.) The vendor was Why Knot Fibers from Northern Michigan. Well, I couldn't buy something in the first four minutes of being there. I didn't want to carry it around and it's not like I was going to forget where it was. So, on we went only to find at the very next vendor now maybe six feet from the check-in more "yarn I can't live without" or YICLWO. What are the odds? The first two vendors and fiber I covet. This vendor was FIBERSTORY. I was smart enough to get a picture of their booth.
Once again, I just couldn't purchase fiber within the first 8 minutes of entering. This is the yarn Linda always bought to make socks for her father. I could see why. It was yummy.
We turned the corner to go into the building to the left and I ran across a Twisted Fiber Arts imposter.
Even though the Twisted Ladies weren't going to be there, I just couldn't buy it. It felt almost like being a Spartan and donating to a Wolverine fund raiser. Disloyal! I felt sad.
Next, we ran into bunnies, but no babies. Remember this guy?
I think he was eight weeks old and all hair. I wanted him so much but knew that Murphy the wonder dog would be totally bent to have an animal even one this cute in his house.
And then there was this little guy. I am a sucker for a bunny. I still am trying to convince Kathy, my sister, that a bunny would be a great pet for her. I just want to buy one and have it be mine for a few days. I think the white baby which is French Angora is the winner.
We turned the corner, just walking and talking and OMG! There they were! The Twisted Ladies.
Linda and I both squealed with joy. Working that day were three generations of Fiber Females; Anne, Meg and Hazel. Anne is Meg's mother and Hazel is Meg's daughter. Remember when I stalked Anne trying to get her to write out the stocking cap pattern for me?!?!?! Needless to say, they all remembered us. Business is going strong even though they still don't have a retail home yet because of the fire. Their shows and online business are keeping them busy. (I just got an email saying there will soon be a new club with the themes being National Parks and Recreation. I can't wait to sign up. It is very exciting waiting for your brand new colorways to come.) I was a little sad when Meg told me there will NEVER be Lumberjack again. I loved it so much when Beth sent me a cake of Lumberjack Catnip. One would think I wouldn't buy any TFA because I have enough. Please tell me what the definition of ENOUGH is when speaking of fiber!
These colorways are Talisman in Arial, Pinot Noir and Cirque in Catnip and Zen in Muse that yummy silk and merino. I believe that everything is better with a touch of silk. That is all I bought. Possibly my smallest take away ever.
Every Evolution colorway was knit into something so your could see every color progression. Great idea. Those ladies are always thinking. I missed seeing Beth. I love her. I pulled myself away or I would have come away with much more than four cakes.
Next we found Knitting On The Fringe with my good friend Kellie. I have followed Kellie since Jocelynn Brown wrote about Knitting On The Fringe in her Handmade column. I always loved going to Knitting On The Fringe because Kellie always had a fabulous assortment of fiber AND she would kit adorable little projects I couldn't resist. Knitting On The Fringe doesn't have a retail site any more. It is purely online and shows just like TFA is doing. Kellie seems very happy with her new business but I miss being able to physically visit.
Of course, I bought something from Kellie. This adorable little kit using Alchemy yarn just called me from across the room. I feel that I must buy something from businesses I love. It is my duty to help them stay in business!
I did find Fiber Dyet but didn't know Linda Pankhurst. It is so close, I think I will see if I can go visit the business some day.
We watched a sheep being sheared. I was so enthralled I didn't take a picture. I was amazed at the pile of wool on the floor when it was done. I also was amazed at how calm the sheep was.
We also watched a rabbit being combed but once again I was so into it forgot to take a picture.
One of my big surprises was how much roving there was. I would guess it might have been almost even roving and yarn. That tells me there are a lot of people spinning. I think I will limit myself to knitting.
Now on to my purchases from the very first vendors. You really didn't think I would forget or decide that I didn't need or want it, did you?
I bought this beautiful gradient yarn pack from FIBERSTORY. I was surprised when I bought this because it isn't exactly me but I felt drawn to it. They had it knit in this Ravelry pattern called Heaven and Space. Once I got it home, I knew why I bought it. It isn't for me but I know who it is for.
Now I'd like like to make a loud TA-DA!!!!! for last but not least a company who has raced right up there with Twisted Fiber Art and Caterpillargreen and Kauni as my favorite yarns.
This is my purchase from Why Knot Fibers. It is called Starlit because it has a sparkly running through this beautiful DK merino. Once again Jan and her gradient obsession. This is not UDY (undesignated yarn), I know exactly what I want to do with it. I am going to make a scarf where colors represent temperatures and knit the highs and lows every day for a year. I need a couple more colors but am sure my new friends at Why Knot Fiber will be able to help me. Isn't it some of the most beautiful yarn you've ever seen. When I saw it, four minutes from walking in the door, I fell in love. I had to have it. I am looking forward to a long and warm relationship with this company.
I must tell you I am exhausted from reliving the Spring 2016 Fiber Expo. I think I need to knit and relax.
I went up to the Stash Studio to take a couple pictures to illustrate my next five game changers. I was looking for a specific pattern, a very old pattern. I started going through my miscellaneous pattern magazines/books that are stored in magazine holders. To quote Mickey Redman, the Red Wings long time announcer, "Katie, bar the door!" I got into this one holder that was a treasure trove of memories. Now, I keep thinking that I need to look at the old things, not just glance at and brush the dust off but hold it, feel it, remember it. If you could see all of the possible containers you would know that time is not on my side! It could take me months to go through all of those holders, boxes and tubs that I've just got into an assemblance of order. Well, order enough to be able to sit in chairs and knit. Maybe, just maybe it may be a post all of its own, all of those memories.
6. This is what I was looking for my Christian de Falbe collection for my sixth game changer. I remember buying this in a kit at a LYS which used to be in the Cary Town mall in Ann Arbor, Yarn Expressions. I loved that shop and the unique, unusual and challenging designs they carried. They also carried exquisite yarn. Yarn Expressions was the first LYS that introduced me to high end yarns and I never looked back. I had the yarn and pattern for quite a while and just couldn't figure out how this was done. I even took it to Lawrence one Christmas to have Andi help me. She didn't get it either. Let me show you the total design.
Today I would recognize this as Entrelac but back then I didn't. It just looked like magic and I wanted to make some magic. One day I got in a very quite place, no TV, no Dick and started reading the pattern out loud. Then I cast on stitches and read the pattern out loud as I knit. Finally it clicked! I got it. I immediately got on the phone and called Andi. This was a game changer for me in that it convinced me I could knit anything. When I finished it, I gave it to a dear friend for her birthday. She was over the top with excitement and I was over the top with confidence.
7. I discovered my next game changer in the Yarn Barn of Kansas. It was my first glimpse of Interweave Knits and my introduction to the magical, kaleidoscopic world of Valentina Devine. When I first set my eyes on this cover, I had never seen anything like this. It looked absolutely impossible.
I devoured the article then began searching for everything Devine. I read everything I could get my hands on but still didn't think I was ready to tackle this intricate technique. Then Linda and I saw an announcement of Valentina being at Crafty Lady. We signed up and as they say, "The rest is history." Linda and I took the class and we made the magic of Valentina Devine.
This is my attempt at becoming Devinesque. I had a ball. I was overwhelmed to learn that Kaffe Fassett was her friend (my favorite color guy.) After my class with Valentina, I never looked at the meaning of knitting in the same way. I learned that knitting doesn't have to be in a straight line AND I learned how to do it. All of a sudden a new world of knitting possibilities was open to me. I also began to understand the differences between the approach an amateur knitter takes and the approach a professional knitter takes. Thanks to this project, I became obsessed with copper yarn. No longer did I need to say, "How'd they do that?!?!?!" when viewing unconventional knitting.
8. My next game changer is the fabulous Crayon Box Jacket by Chris Bylsma. Linda and I took the class from the marvelous Martina of Crafy Lady Trio. I learned all about color. I learned more about putting color together than I ever thought possible. I also learned the addictive nature of the mitered square. "I'm going to finish just one more square, just one more square, just one more square." I also learned "Once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence and three times is a pattern." It gave the the confidence to experiment with color and pattern.
9. My penultimate game changer is meeting and learning from the amazing Maggi Jackson. Linda and I had the opportunity to take a class from her. Her designs also turn conventional on its ear. They are always a little out there. One of the most valuable things I learned from Maggi was how differently the professional knitter approaches things. It isn't just about beautiful or fabulous designs, it's also about speed. When you are knitting for money, you to do as much as you can without taking mistakes out. You learn short cuts. A valuable short cut involves picking up stitches either around neck edges or other places. You pick up the number of stitches you need to to make the garment look smooth. When you're done, you count the number of stitches. If you have to many or too few stitches, you don't take out and start over. You increase or decrease on the next row. Great idea. After Maggi Jackson, I didn't jump to ripping back when a mistake was made. I tried to problem solve a better way to fix.
10. Last but certainly not least is Marilyn my steamer. I really don't think I need to say more than I already have about how Marilyn was a game changer for me. My knitting looks more professional and I look forward to steaming rather than dreading blocking.
This ends 10 things (but not the only things) which were game changers in my life of knitting. Thanks to these 10 things, I am a better knitter, who enjoys and appreciates the process and the product.
As I was organizing the Stash Studio, I ran across things that changed how I looked at, thought about or practiced knitting. I realized that once these events happened, knitting was forever different for me. And I mean this in the best possible way. Then I began pondering, can I identify 10 Game Changers in my knitting life? And guess what? I could. I will do five on this post and five on the next.
1. The first Game Changer was switching from right-handed, throw your yarn knitting to the wonderful Continental style. You know the story. Mary Helen Growt, owner of the Little Shop in Addison, Michigan taught me to knit Continental and changed my life. I feel I am a more versatile knitter because I knit Continental. I believe there is no right way or wrong way to knit, just a bette way and that is Continental. It took dedication and commitment for this strong right hander without an ambidextrous bone in my body to switch, but I am so glad I did. I think I can keep a more consistent tension without even thinking about it. I can also easily change my tension with just a little concentration. I think it is easier on my hands and joints which will allow me to knit longer pain-free. Continental made two handed, two color knitting easier and even possible for me to master. I see all these silly articles about learning Continental so you can knit faster. It isn't about faster. It is about the soothing zen and yoga of the rhythm of Continental.
2. In the 80's I subscribed to the Italian knitting magazine Filature Di Crosa and it totally changed what I thought was possible with 2 sticks and a string. I was used to seeing patterns in Bernatt and Annie Blatt books but this really kicked the excitement of knitting up a notch. I couldn't wait for that day each month when the US mail delivered this over the top magazine. I would pour over the pictures, study the techniques and languish in the advertisements. It was fabulous. It took my breath away. I had a whole new paradigm concerning what knitting was about. My mind set went from homemade to handmade to high fashion. I realized knitting could be more than knitting back and forth, back and forth. I became mesmerized, enchanted, hypnotized by the breathtakingly, mind blowing creations. The term "outside the box" was invented for Filature Di Crosa. Every garment was designed outside the box. If you wanted to see inside the box, you needed to go somewhere else. This really got my creative knitting juices flowing. Let me show that magnificent sweater on the cover a little closer.
I can remember staring at this picture by the hour. I never made it but it completely changed the way I think about the possibilities of knitting. As a matter of fact, it was finding this box of Filature Di Grosa that inspired me to write about Game Changers In Knitting.
3. In the 80's I bought this Vogue Knitting book. There have been many knitting books written after but none is better. (I should know, I have them all!) I read this book cover to cover then I got in the stitch dictionary part. I spent one whole summer with this book, off white Annie Blatt yarn and size 8 needles knitting blocks of EVERY stitch pattern in the book. My plan was to sew them together and make an afghan which didn't happen, but what I learned was indispensable. I learn what every knit, purl, increase, decrease, cable, bobble did to change fiber. I learned that some patterns make fiber tight and some patterns make fiber loose. I learned tricks and short cuts. When I was done (and I tried EVERYTHING in the book), I felt like I had gone from being a kindergarten knitter to having a Master's Degree. My skills and confidence soared. Years later I ran across the bag with the blocks of stitch patterns and reminisced about all I had learned.
4. In the early 90's, I was in the Yarn Barn of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas and bought this book written by Sally Melville. I wasn't the bibliophile I am now, but I knew I had purchased something special. The title Styles really doesn't do the book justice. This is really a book about changing the way yarn looks using many different techniques including dying a garment after you make it. Stash Buster is a very inelegant term, but that what this book really does. It encourages you to be daring with yarn you have to make it into many different things. From this moment on, I was a Sally Melville devotee.
Next came the three The Knitting Experience books: Book 1: The Knit Stitch; Book 2: The Purl Stitch; and Book 3: Color. If you don't own these, you should. They take the three elements knit, purl, and color and focus on the possibilities of each. I have knit extensively out of each book. Sally is not only an expert designer, she is a teacher extraordinaire. The teacher comes through in her thorough, methodical approach to each element. You come away thinking, "Well, of course! Why didn't I think of that!?" I love to show beginning knitters The Knit Stitch and The Purl Stitch to show them you don't need to know every stitch to make beautiful garments.
I was fortunate to take two classes from Sally each of which changed me as a knitter. I learned two handed, two color knitting from Sally. I am going to write a whole post dedicated to what I have learned from Sally Melville.
5. In the 90's, I met my dear friend and knitting buddy Linda Kaufman at a strategic planning session I was facilitating. (Linda on the right and the fabulous Oleya from Knit Purl in Portland, Oregon on the left.) Until that day, knitting had been a solitary endeavor. After Linda, knitting was also a social experience. At last I had somebody besides the sales people in LYS to talk over yarn, yarn choices, patterns, ideas, just everything pertaining to knitting. When Linda was a first grade teacher, we knit once a week every week. After she became an elementary principal, she really didn't have the time for that. Linda and I have discovered new LYS through our infamous Yarn Tours across the state of Michigan and even into Ohio. One of my Yarn Dreams is to go to a fabulous place with Linda for a knitting weekend. Linda has brought joy to my knitting I didn't even know was missing.
So, there are my first five Game Changers. I will share the next five in a couple of days.
This blog is dedicated to Mary Helen Growt my first knitting teacher and the woman who changed my life. The mission of Knitting: A Love Story is to preserve, share and promote the love of knitting.