Tales from the Woolly Side

The assorted ramblings of an obsessive knitter, fumbling mother, and overworked astronomer.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Report from Stitches West

So, I did make it to stitches west, although only to two of the three classes I'd signed up for...

First about the classes. I think teaching knitting (especially at stitches) is really tough. There are a wide range of abilities/backgrounds in every class. And on top of that, there are always people who don't believe they've done it correctly until the teacher comes and holds their hand. And, at least in my experience, the classes are really too full for that. But despite mixed experiences, I keep on taking classes. While I'm often annoyed in class, I have always learned at least something new and interesting. Despite all this, I think Margaret Fischer is an *excellent* teacher. I took superb seaming from her and although I knew the basics, I learned quite a bit. On top of that, I spent very little time annoyed because she *controlled* that classroom. Kudos to her!

In the marketplace, I concentrated on the small, independent yarn vendors. I basically skipped over all of the booths by LYS's. I mean, I can go to a ton of lovely LYS's any old time. So my highlights were:
  • Blue Moon Fiber Arts. The makers of socks that rock. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. They have really great fibers and they stand out among hand dyers in that their dark colors are rich, not murky. I didn't realize they have more (much more) than their sock yarn.
  • Brooks Farm. How in the world do they get mohair like that? No one else has mohair like that... How do they do it? I want to buy it all... But like last year, I managed to limit myself to two skeins. Last year's skeins are still sitting in my stash. Nothing has been worthy of that yarn! Hopefully I'll figure out what to do with this years haul... (They're two coordinating colorways, so that leaves more options open...)
  • Shawl pins by Romi. I'd bought from her online before, but meeting her in person was great. I also picked up another pin for a wrap cardigan I have on the needles. I think a pin will be a less fussy way to close the sweater than the long ties the pattern calls for.
  • Blackwater Abbey. Love love love the complexity and depth of their colors. I'm guessing that they dye the fiber, mix different colors together, and then spin it. Fabulous fabulous fabulous. I bought enough of their rust to make the Kate Gilbert cardiagan from spring 06 interweave knits. Too bad I have to finish my olympic knitting before I can start...
  • Ellen's 1/2 pint farm. I was pretty burned out by the time I got here. Didn't stop me from buying some wool/silk in a fabulous silver to white colorway. I am such a sucker for wool/silk. I blame my weakness on Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb. I had so much fun knitting my clapotis with that yarn...
  • Moving Mud. Marvelous marvelous glass. I didn't buy though. I wish I had access to those buttons during that crucial button picking out part of the project. I just find it impossible to pick out buttons if I don't have the project in hand (and at least partially done).
I think those are the highlights. Sorry about no links. I'm feeling lazy. But hey - at least I wrote something!

Monday, February 20, 2006

So, It's Official...

So it's official -- I suck at blogging. Days go by and I just don't get around to posting... I don't think I'll kill the blog -- but I think I'll readjust my expectations. I would, at least, like to journal my finished objects.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Rowan Review

The store just got the new Rowan Mag in! (yeah!) No matter how many small yarn companies I am now in love with, I think I'll always pray at the altar that is Rowan. There's really no one like them.

That said, here's my unvarnished take on their latest mag... It looks to me like they've finally recovered from losing Kim Hargreaves. After she left, there were several mags with just a few good garments in them. This one, however, is stuffed with good garments -- but, unfortunately, absolutely appalling styling. I mean look at this sweater... Really, it's classic Rowan - classic styling, sophisticated color work -- but what is up with the styling? I mean what does that sweater have to do with anything else she's wearing. And that hat/headdress? It looks like it's hiding an antenna so her people can contact her! This sweater really should be photographed at one of those all-too-perfect outdoor cafes. The model should be wearing a little tank underneath and a pair of smart slacks or maybe even a nice full spring skirt. Heck, if you want to funk it up a little, put the model in skinny leg jeans at a microbrewery. Even the "stories" with less unfortunate styling have a few headscratchers... I can't find a copy on line, but what about the photograph of the kid silk haze sweater/wrap from the beach story which is out of focus? I mean really folks -- out of focus? I think the last time anyone should consider a totally out of focus shot was artistic is junior high.

My advice to Rowan -- get rid of whoever is pushing the high-concept styling. Go back to waifs wandering the moors...
My advice to knitters -- try, try, try to look past the styling. Look at the lines and the schematics. Don't get bamboozled by bad art direction, Rowan still has some of the most classic patterns and fabulous yarns around.