Saturday, December 29, 2007

Of Many Things and Holidays

I visited my family on the cusp of Portland, OR for the holidays. This, for those of you who don't know Portland, means one thing: yarn.

Well, it means a few things, actually. First of all, it means I spent a week with family. We keep things very simple (I've had it insinuated that our version of simple is "cheap"), and this year I either made things myself or bought handmade. More the latter, actually: I find more and more that I'm particular about who I knit for, since I've made a share of things I feel are unappreciated, even if they were specifically asked for. I know that's a popular sentiment right now, and I have to hold to it: knits are not for everyone.

Please ignore that I spent a day crocheting an enormous piece of bacon for a friend who may very well never wear it. That was different. I'll get pictures eventually.

This is about Portland, and yarn. The last of which, I didn't buy any of... well, okay. One skein whose originator I'd never heard of before. It will make beautiful socks. But I did go to two stores, and spent a great deal of time contemplating shelves of fibers with a sober face.

My first stop was at Close Knit. Close Knit is by far and way my favorite yarn store*-- friendly, helpful staff (who flattered my cowl, and I'm a sucker for flattery); cozy, crowded but not impossible to maneuver; great diversity of books; the gamut of yarn.

That's where I bought the sock yarn. I can't really go into that store without buying something. Guilt factor, mostly, after taking up an hour browsing and chatting (I'm also very goal-oriented when I shop. I don't browse well. Window-shop? Hahahaha). The diversity of yarns is exciting... they carry a number of brands I don't usually see in Seattle, and range the gamut from fairly cheap to qiviut.

The other store was Knit/Purl, closer to downtown. The staff offered the usual faintly indifferent front to a young knitter; I don't find that unexpected and wouldn't have noticed except that they (gender-neutral singular) greeted my non-knitter mother who came in a bit after me. Don't get me wrong, there was no rudeness-- I'm simply not someone they expected to drop money.

Which is what the store is going for. Money, that is. By which I mean they're trying for an upscale front. I could feel it from the layout-- so spread out that the square footage felt decadent. Not many places to sit. A mechanized swift (is this a mark for or against?). Generally "upscale" yarns (Tilli Thomas, Blue Heron, some interesting Schaeffer hand-dyed, lots of cashmere, etc). Very few general standbys, and nowhere near the diversity of Close Knit.

However, when they carry a brand, they carry it very, very thoroughly. I've never seen that much Tilli Thomas, Shi Bui, or Habu Textiles in one place. That was truly impressive. I've never seen Habu steel in the flesh -err, cone- before. There were Noro colorways I hadn't known existed. They also have a nice kit collection. It's not a place that will make my regular stomping grounds, although it and I will likely cross paths again, but it was well worth the look and a good place for someone who likes diversity of colorway and doesn't mind paying for it.


Now, I actually don't have a knitting book collection. I mean, I own a book on calculating my own socks (the esteemable Cat Bordhi, of course) and the Stitch and Bitch I bought when I was a knitter in Lion Brand swaddling. There's about six magazines on top of that, and a staple-bound Norah Gaughan collection. I generally don't buy patterns unless I adore them in a way that's a little unseemly.

However. I've had a fixation with the Japanese standard of craft patterns. I've never knit off one before, but I've read through enough to find that they appeal to my mechanical aesthetics: diagrams! step by step visual tutorials! Pictures of the very skeins the pattern calls for. And did I mention diagrams?

Yeah. That's why I bought these. Now, I like the patterns as well, mind, and have a few of them slated toward people I know, but the deciding factor here was a crochet diagram that I randomly flipped to and don't actually really want to work on.

*I don't count the one I work at in this equation, as that tips scales unfairly.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Solitary Sock

This is not the time of year for photography. It's dark early and long, my apartment is no longer the recipient of even a bare smidgeon of sunlight, and frankly it's often too wet to take pictures even when there is a lightening in the grey sky.

Now, mind, this is one of my favorite times of year. It's just not cheap camera photography season.

hedera_1 So, only one picture exceptionally unpretty picture of a very lovely sock. It's one foot of Cookie A's Hedera pattern, knit in Maizy "deep rose."

I can't recommend Maizy enough. It's my favorite sock yarn to date-- a corn and nylon blend, springy and not scratchy in the slightest. That's relevant if you have picky feet like I do. I have the solitary sock on my foot as I write, because it's like warm and comfy and the slip-stitch heel I worked feels comfortably like a pillow. I won't be wearing that through soon.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Limulidae Cowl and Hat-- Available Now!

The winter edition of Knit on the Net went live today. And guess what's on the front page?

My "Limulidae" cowl and hat, as you can see.

The issue has some great patterns. I can't encourage you enough to look through it!

Also, I'd like to point out the advertisement card that Brenna kindly made for me. It has gears on it!

Ahem. I'm a little giddy today, but I'm blaming it on lunch (peppermint bark). A word about the name; I didn't choose Limulidae just to make the cowl and hat unpronounceable. That was the side-effect of the stitch pattern I modified. It's horseshoe lace, and when I think horseshoe, my mind turns to horseshoe crabs... from the family Limulidae.

Yes. I knit soft, warm, fuzzy things and name them after crustaceans. It's a little counter-intuitive.