Welcome to the extravaganza of fiber, color, texture and fun. Kathy (my sister from Atlanta), Linda (my favorite knitting buddy) and I went to the seventh annual Fall Fiber Expo near Ann Arbor over the weekend. We had a ball. I got to see some of my favorite Michigan yarn people LYS and yarn makers (I am sure that is not the correct term but you get the idea.) From the minute we walked in we were overwhelmed by the sights.
We were first greeted by these adorable alpacas. They were a little shy. The booth right next to them had beautiful alpaca fiber.
Next, I ran into Kellie from Knitting On The Fringe one of my favorite LYS. Kellie has been very supportive of Knitting: A Love Story. I bought a fabulous woven basket to hold Kathy's and my purchases and a fabulous kit for a linen tunic. It is always great to see Kellie. She had purchased four booth spaces so it was like walking into a mini Knitting On The Fringe.
Next, we ran into these adorable sheep. They were only seven months old but pretty big. I would have liked to see some baby lambs. Is there anything cuter? Well, wait and see what I discovered toward the end.
Next, we ran into Twisted Fiber Art from Mason. They make absolutely magically, beautiful yarn. I've posted about the LYS, the yarn and the genius women who put it all together before. Remember the yarn tasting party? I was so excited to introduce Kathy to this remarkable enterprise. She of course couldn't resist. It must be genetic.
Isn't it yummy?!?!?! If you haven't purchased yarn from Twisted Fiber Art, you must! Not only are the colors exquisite, the touch is glorious and the patterns are amazing. Experience the magic of TWISTED FIBER ART.
I discovered a new company Happy Fuzzy Yarn. It's tag is "Does yarn make you happy?" As soon as I read that I knew that this company was for me because YARN MAKES ME HAPPY! I bought a scrumptious fingering yarn called Vesuvius that is pinks and corals. I can just see it in the Olga Jazzy scarf.
There is Linda picking out her Happy Fuzzy Yarn. The next few pictures are worth the trip. You will smile and get a warm feeling.
The beautiful French Angora bunnies. Ken's (Kathy's husband) parting words as we left for Fall Fiber Expo were "No rabbit!" Without those two little words, I think Kathy may have had one of these adorable, seven week old bunnies in her pocket.
We started with alpaca and ended with camel. What a great day! Two of my favorite people spending time touching that which makes me happy--yarn. We may make this an annual event.
I am so excited! My sister Kathy from Atlanta is coming this evening. She is bringing things I have knit for her some of which are kind of "WOW!" even if I do say so myself. Sunday I'll post with pictures and tales, but right now I need to get the house ready. See you Sunday!
This has been some week! My article was in Homestyle, many wonderful people friends, acquaintances and strangers sent their good wishes and my 90 year old Mom is very proud. Jocelynn Brown did a wonderful job capturing my deep love of knitting. I would like to thank readers of "Knitting: A Love Story" who read the article either in print or online and welcome new people who have just discovered "Knitting: A Love Story" through the Homestyle article.
Several years ago, my father gave me the most wonderful Christmas gift. An alpaca farm opened in Addison the little town where I grew up, and he gave the the first yarn made from the wool. I was thrilled. It was a beautiful natural color. I began searching for the perfect pattern for the exquisite yarn. I ran across this pattern by Goddess Yarns. It was also made in alpaca so I knew finding it was fate. The only problem was, you could not buy just the pattern, you had to buy the kit. Even I had second thoughts about paying for an alpaca kit when you only wanted the pattern. I called the company and explained my predicament. It wasn't that I wanted to cheat the company. It was just that I had the perfect yarn and the pattern was the equivalent of its soulmate. They were so nice and I got the pattern and knit a gorgeous shawl.
I bet you wonder what this seeming rabbit trail has to do with Terri, my far away sister.
In 1992, the HR director at the place I worked told me we were hiring a new women for the community education position. She would be coming in March but her family would stay behind in western Michigan. I asked where she would be living and he said, "A motel, I guess." I said those fateful words, "She can come and live with us." Terri and I laugh about that leap of faith on both of our parts. Terri moved in and stayed us Monday through Thursday from March until July. I loved it! Terri's family came but our sisterly friendship continued. There was nothing I loved better than having a mocha at the local coffee shop and solving all of the world's problems with Terri. If only the "Powers That Be" would have listened to us! We both were deeply involved in strategic planning and loved working together on helping others build their future.
Terri and I had committed to retiring together but one day in May Terri came into my office with tears in her eyes. Her children had recently moved to Seattle and she missed them too much to wait until we had agreed on to retire. I said, "Great! Let's retire at the end of next year." We both went on our way to see if it would work for us. It worked for me, but it didn't for Terri. She had to work longer than one more year but my head was already into, "One more year! One more year!" Now, I am going to tie that beautiful Goddess Yarn shawl to Terri.
I had this beautiful, pink yarn which I decided would look perfect as a Goddess Yarn shawl. I knit it loving every second I worked on it. The yarn was yummy, the pattern was enjoyable and the shawl turned out beautiful. As soon as it was finished, I knew it was for Terri. Little did I know this was my first Survivor Shawl. Terri moved to Seattle with the shawl but we kept in touch. Once in a while, email wasn't good enough so I had to have my "Terri fix" with a phone call. She talked about the shawl and how she loved to curl up with it on a chilly Washington day. In the fall of 2010. Terri was diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt so helpless and worthless being so far away from my dear friend. She told me how much comfort she got from wearing the pink shawl. I could imagine that when she wrapped herself in the shawl, I was wrapping my arms around her. Terri is doing great. I think she the bravest person I know.
There is another labor of love I would have knit only for Terri.
Terri has a fabulous daughter Kelli who was in high school when Terri first moved to Adrian. I fell in love with Kelli the first time I met her. She was smart, strong everything you would want in a daughter. Kelli ended up being a University of Michigan grad. I am a Michigan State grad. Kelli moved to Seattle, got married and was a fabulous middle school science teacher. Terri called me one day so excited, Kelli was pregnant. I thought long and hard about if this was something I really wanted to do. Could I do it? Could I actually touch maize and blue long enough to make a baby bunting without my fingers falling off? Well, I did it and here it is. I really wouldn't have done it for anybody but Terri's grandchild. It turned out pretty cute, well, as cute as anything maize and blue can be. ;-)
Oh, I think I need to go and have a "Terri Fix."
It doesn't seem possible that six months have gone by since the birth of "Knitting: A Love Story." Just like with any relationship, there have been ups and downs but many more ups. Really, there has just been that technology thing which had me panicking. Anything to do with yarn, knitting, LYS, etc has been wonderful. Before I get on with my post for the day, I thought I would revisit why I called it "Knitting: A Love Story."
"My heart races with excitement at the thought of it though out the day. When I think about it I smile. Even when it's boring, even when it's hard, I can't imagine not having knitting in my life. If that's not love, I don't know what is."
That perfectly captures my feeling about knitting and all that goes with it.
Now how about a couple more "50 Things Knitters Didn't Have 50 Years Ago."
The standard yarn weight system was genius! I have always been a little experimental with my knitting. I remember trying to substitute yarns (I'd probably found one a little brighter, a little sparkly, more colorful) but never knew exactly what was interchangeable. The little skeins of yarn with the 1, 2, 3's took much of the guess work out. I also have a chart some where that shows how to combine lighter weight yarns to make bulky and worsted. Of course, I couldn't find it for today! I learned the hard way early on in my knitting the importance of gage and using a comparable weight of yarn. After several sweaters for me became either sweaters for a doll or the jolly green giant, I caught on that needle size was just a suggestion not a requirement and that a gage swatch slows you down so you can speed up your knitting. One of my regrets is that I didn't save all of my swatches as kind of a history of my knitting. I must admits that I never have completed the swatch, bound off, washed it to see how it reacts. I am MUCH TO ANXIOUS to get started. I also have this fear that I will run our of yarn and need the exact amount in the swatch to finish. I keep a little laminated weight system in my purse.
COLOR! COLOR! COLOR! Was something that that knitters didn't have 50 years ago. This is a beautiful hand dyed yarn, but it could be any yarn from most companies. Colors today are beautiful. They snap! One thing that LYS can give you that online and catalogue stores can't is exact color. I have purchased many skeins of yarn online and by catalogue only to discover that the yarn wasn't quite the color I thought I'd purchased. The Yarn Barn in Lawrence does the best job with photographing color accurately. I've learned in Knitting: A Love Story that light greatly changes color. Look at the pictures I took of my Knit Swirl, it doesn't really look like the same garment.
Now one of my very favorite websites, Patternfish. When I made the first Rattlesnake scarf, I went to Patternfish to see what patterns were available in snake scarfs. You can usually find exactly what you want or in my case something I didn't even know I wanted. You just put in your requirements like type of project and/or weight of yarn and/or designer and TaTa, you have many patterns to choose from. I love knitting books, obviously from my library, but sometimes you just don't want to buy a whole book for one pattern. Sometimes, I just browse Patternfish looking for nothing in particular. That's usually when I find something I can't live without. Did you notice it says 17,671 available patterns. WOW!
WOW! OMG! WOW! I just finished reading my article in the Detroit News/Free Press Homestyle. It's called "Knitting: A Love Story blog informs and inspires." It is beautiful (Well, except for the picture!) I love it. Jocelynn captured my love affair with knitting and yarn. If you don't get the News or Free Press you can read it online. Catrine emailed me at 11:40 saying she'd just read it. So I got an early sneak preview.
Just to recap the 50 Things Knitters Didn't Have 50 Years Ago that we've already talked about:
1. Swifter and Yarn Winder
2. Interchangeable Knitting Needles
3. Exotic Yarn
5. Laura Bryant and Prism Yarn
7. Tilli Tomas Yarn (sparkley)
9. Valentina Devine
Only 41 more to go!
The next is HAND DYED YARN THAT STACKS AND SWIRLS. There is definitely a story behind this sweater. Several years ago (like maybe 20), I went into one of my favorite Toledo LYS, Village Knits which unfortunately is out of business now. I was stunned, stopped in my tracks when I saw the sample of this sweater. How many different yarns were involved? How did the pattern know when to switch yarns to get the magical swirl? Did you have to use bobbins to carry your yarn? Was it too advanced for me? When I asked Jan the owner, she just laughed. She said it was one huge skein of yarn and you just cast on and knit. Did I think I could do that? I special ordered the yarn in my favorite colors at the time blues/purples/greens and with a little texture to the yarn and waited for the enchanted yarn to come in. When it did, Jan had already wound it for me. I was a little disappointed because I love to wind yarn (obviously post purchase of swifter and winder.) She said this specially dyed, huge skein of yarn had to be knit in exact sequence. So I got balls of yarn marked 1, 2, 3 and 4 which I had to use in that exact order to get the swirl. I bought the yarn and I was on my way.
This was not only my first attempt at the hand dyed swirl, it was also my first sweater knit in the round on circular needles. Gage is everything. Without the right gage, the swirl disappears. It would be just a sweater made out of beautiful variegated blue/purple/green yarn. To get the colors to stack and swirl like you want, periodically you can either add stitches or K2T anywhere you want. It was so much fun to make. I really couldn't put it down. I finished the body and came to a devastating realization. I had to cut the knitted fabric for the sleeves and the neckline. I got out my scissors, stared at the body and my upper lip started sweating. It literally made me sick to my stomach to cut into my beautiful swirled body and risk the chance of it raveling out.
This went on for several months. Then months turned into a year. Then Christmas came. We were on our way to Lawrence, Kansas, Andi and the fabulous women at The Yarn Barn. I packed the body of my beautiful sweater, brought some yarn and knew deep inside that Andi would fix it for me. When I showed her my problem, she packed me into the car, we went to The Yarn Barn where she bought Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears. Thank goodness the wisdom of Elizabeth Zimmerman was around over 50 years ago and remains with us through her wonderful books and her daughter Meg Swenson. I bit the bullet, followed the directions and finished the sweater. I also learned the power of the steek.
Though I loved the swirl and how the yarn looked, I never really loved the sweater. I will say every time I wore it at least one person asked about it. I was very proud to say, "Yes, I knit it." and "No, it wasn't hard." I never mentioned the diabolical steek.
This is definitely something knitters didn't have 50 years ago, LIGHTED KNITTING NEEDLES. I have two different types, the one just has lighted tips and the other has the whole needle glowing. When I saw these I thought, "Oh my gosh (this was way before OMG), this will be perfect for knitting at movies, the theater or when you're traveling in a dark car. I do have to admit that the one with the clear needle that glows down the whole needle is my favorite. Of course, I purchased one in every size made (I have mentioned that in addition to a yarn collection and button collection I also have a needle collection). My friend Cheryl and I were going to the Croswell Opera House and I figured this would be a perfect maiden voyage. The orchestra tuned up, the lights went down and I turned on my needles. Every person around us turned to stare at me. The needles were so bright! I was given the equivalent of an "eyeball shhhhh." I wasn't noisy, but I was distracting. I turned them off and have pretty much saved them for night knitting in the car.
Now we only have 39 more 50 Things Knitters Didn't Have 50 Years Ago. I going to the Stash Studio to take pictures for my next post. Don't forget the article in Homestyle this Friday. I talked to Jocelynn Brown 6 times Friday while she was writing the article. I guess this is really going to happen.
I have shared many stories with you about friends I have knit for, now I want to share that wonderful friend I knit for and with, Linda Kaufman. Linda and I have so many knitting stories. We have taken classes together, knit in coffee shops and restraunts and taught classes. I have to admit that Linda is a much better knitting teacher than I am. Linda is an elementary principal who was once the world's best first grade teacher. She is so kind and patient. Linda and I taught a couple of knitting classes for her elementary school students. Linda knits with her right hand and I knit continental (or left handed as Linda would say.) One of our first questions is "Who here crochets?" We've found those people pick up continental very quickly. Our first class had a third grade boy who had been a first grader of Linda's and his mom, a kindergartener and her great grandmother and a couple more girls and their moms and grandmothers. I left exhausted. They move so fast! When I got home Dick asked me how it went. I said, "Fine. Nobody cried including me!" Linda and I had a wonderful series planned full of telling stories, having treats and exploring yarn.
Of course, Linda has a Jan Bag. It is made from her favorite Noro colorway. It looks like Spikey likes it, too. Linda's son Joe gave Spike to Linda and named him Squirt. Linda renamed him Spike because she really wanted a dog (hint! hint!). It wasn't long before Linda had Chip, a Chocolate Lab. Both Chip and Spike love yarn.
Linda and I took the Stash Buster class from the marvelous Martina at Crafty Lady. I came away learning the Magic Ball and Linda made this fabulous Stash Buster Sweater. After I fell in love with Linda's sweater from the class (it practically felted from all of my drool), she made this one for me for Christmas. What a great friend! You start at one sleeve and continually change yarns and stitches until you reach the opposite sleeve and bind off. There is a yarn in this sweater from Linda's Mom who is deceased. It means so much to me that Linda shared that special yarn with me.
Check out the buttons! Absolutely one of a kind! Linda had her friend Barb make these lamp work buttons. Barb and I were in the same lamp work class. I was so geeked! I had my own goggles and blowtorch. My plan was to make buttons for everything I knit. (Does this sound like my plans for woven/knitted garments?!?!?) In the class I made one bead that was kind of beadlike, one that was a blob and one that looked like a freeform chicken. I am not a button maker just as I am not a weaver. I guess I better stick with what I love--knitting.
Linda received my very first Bubbles Scarf. I was knitting it during our social knitting time. The first scarf was the Kauni rainbow on one side and a cream on the other. One day Linda said, "I really like that but I would make it Kauni on both sides." So, I gave my Mom that first scarf and made Linda the scarf she really wanted. She was right! It is spectacular. Thanks to Linda I am a Kauni collector. Kauni yarn is all beautiful.
Linda is so funny. She always makes me laugh. One of our unique friendship traditions is going together to the Gynocologist and for mammograms. It really gives us an excuse for visiting a yarn store. Linda and I are attracted to very different yarns. You know what I like and Linda is teal, teal, teal. When we are looking in a LYS, we always find yarn that the other one can't live without. I have many skeins of Linda recommended yarn. Before Linda and I started knitting together, she always finished one project before she started the next. I taught her the TBFL (To Be Finished Later) concept and helped her get over the guilt associated with it.
Linda is kind, generous, funny and quirky. All fabulous qualities in a friend.
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.