Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reporting In: From the Field & From NY

I can't believe that it has been over 3 weeks since I last posted. I plead guilty to having a job, a life and an easily distracted attention span. I am not ashamed of the first two, but apologetic about the third point as well as the delay in posting.

While I was out of commission, blog wise, I attended the bi-annual TNNA Show. This is held twice year for the trade. It is the show for the industry where all the yarn manufacturers and producers and distributors come together to display their fall line (and take orders). Since my client is a publisher in the Craft and
How-To category, we attend. Since I have recently been involved in the launch of a new trade magazine for the Yarn Industry, we socialize. I love it. The people in the yarn industry are, by and large, a wonderful, sympatico group. While there (the June show is held in Columbus Ohio), I sampled yarns, brought myself up to date on all things knitting related and came back to tell the tale.

What to look for this year? Colors. Not unlike the runway shows that we have seen in the print media, the colors in yarns are a riot of subdued and earthy tones. Alpaca continues to grow in popularity. The premium yarns such as Koigu and Lorna's Laces astound with colors that would make Michaelangelo weep. Kids knits are popular and lots of new designs are forthcoming from companies such as debby ware and cabin fever. A host of new knit accessories companies have brought forth even more variations on needle cases, knitting totes, knitting related jewelry and knit-knacks. Lantern Moon, the wonderful company from Portland Oregon, are continuing to expand their incredible line (imported from Vietnam) with sumptious silks, and bags. Another thing to keep one's eye on is the new range of colors for Butterfly 10 - a cotton yarn (S.R. Kertzer) that is the best buy in the universe. Also, do watch out for the new colors from Cascade as well as the new line of luxury yarns from Classic Elite. Come October check out the new book, Knitting with Luxury Yarns. It covers the subject of knitting with cashmere, merino and silk. It's a beautiful book!

Shortly after arriving home, I was thrilled to receive a big bunch of alpaca in the mail, ordered when I was in yarn heaven and not responsible for my actions. I don't know what I'll do with it yet. There's close to $300.00 worth of the stuff in my office, but I know I'll find a wonderful use for it before I shuffle off to that big knitting group in the sky.

I'm thinking I just might use it to honor the promise I made to duplicate the sweater you'll see posted above. It's owned by a friend, and I was so enamored of the design that I plucked it off her back and swore to duplicate it in chart form. Thank goodness it's so hot that she doesn't need it returned immediately. I fully intend to recreate this beauty in cotton or alpaca - I sure have enough of the stuff.

The day after I arrived home , I was visited by the two cherubs you will see pictured above. The first is my niece and god-daughter, Olivia and the second - the sturdy 2 year old, is her younger brother. I had totally forgotten what it was like to chase a toddler through F.A.O. Schwartz, but he brought me up to speed quickly. Great fun, but the best was when he fell asleep in my lap after he finished his square panted sponge bob popsicle. If there's anything sweeter than the sweaty, sticky head of a little boy pressed close, I am sure I don't know what that could be - not even cashmere comes close.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I know what I did last Weekend!

I took a course in Couture Finishing Techniques. It was given by Katherine Lowe.
I have wanted to meet this woman and take her class for over 2 years. Her knitting and techniques are in a class by themselves. If Kaffe Fassett is one end of the spectrum, in that he's a color genius who paints with yarn, then Katherine is the other end. She's a perfectionist in terms of all finishing techniques. If it's true that god is in the details, then he/she must be wearing one of Katherine's hand-finished garments. She doesn't sew - she joins and the techniques are flawless. She uses couture finishings and tailorings to insure beauty of fit and form.

The course was 2 days long, and at the outset, she said she'd spend 1/2 a day on theory. Katherine is a scholar and a professor of french literature who basically transferred her teaching skills into the knitting classroom. I think it is for this reason that she truly enjoys the lecture mode. She is a purist and takes the subject of yarn to heart. However, I would have preferred it if hands-on demonstration had balanced out the lectures during the two days. As it went, she spent a day and a half, talking and that only left us with a little more than 4 hours to learn some of her brilliant techniques.

Using a combination of many different sizes of circular needles she shows you how to join seams with a knitting technique instead of a tapestry needle. Her buttonholes and her binds offs are a subject of conversation in heaven, I am sure. All in all, I am thrilled to have met her and learned from her , but as i said to her, 'This will never be subway knitting.'

And therein lay the rub for me. I cam imagine doing this type of work for a first baby (just once) or if I decided to knit a cashmere cloud. But, I'm the type of person who uses her knitting the way Linus uses his blanket. For security, to fill down time, sometimes just because it's there. I do great work, if i do say so myself, but it's work done in the middle of my life and not always with great lighting. Sometimes I fudge it, sometimes I screw it up, but always I love the magic of the doing as much as the done deed and I believe that comes from the surprise as much as from the "plan". Knitting as perfect as Katherine's is too much of endurance test for me - and knitting, like life, loses its charm when it's about endurance and measuring myself against the perfect ideal - and she has created the ideal.
She has also created a wonderful compilation of work in the form of a hand-bound journal named, aptly, "The Ravell'd Sleeve". It's well worth having. It's a beautiful addition to anyone's knitting library. Her first two editions are out - with two more to follow.

I'm off to The National Needlework Association's Convention in Columbus, Ohio - it's the 20th Anniversary and I'm thrilled to be going. I'll write about it next week. I'm taking the requisite second suitcase!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Daddy's Girl

Meet Mae

Regan's Wedding Quilt