Saturday, August 25, 2007

Shibori Scarf

In the truest definition, Shibori is a Japanese word that refers to methods of folding and manipulating fabric for dyeing and creating texture. The cloth can be stitched, tied, twisted, bound, folded, clamped and otherwise shaped before dyeing, creating a wealth of texture and color. Each method of binding the cloth before dyeing produces a very different result. What we know as 'tie-dye' comes from this artistic discipline. But the root of the word Shibori actually comes from the verb that refers to the method of binding the cloth, rather than the final result.

Lately the term has been used more and more for a new technique that adds dimension to knitted and fulled (felted) fabrics. From the most simple Shibori techniques to the most elaborate, it is a fascinating way to take your knitting to the next level, adding texture and movement to the finished piece.

I've been playing with Shibori felting lately, and on Saturday, September 22nd I'm offering a class at Kiwi in a simple Shibori scarf to let you dive in and get your feet wet. So far I have had great response to the class, and with the sample scarf now in the shop, it invites a LOT of comment - everyone wants to pet it and feel the puffs. One of my favorite students walked in for Knit Dr. yesterday morning, spotted the scarf, and literally started screaming with happiness! I just love that woman! And before she left the shop she had signed up for the class and bought her yarn.

Students in the Shibori class will knit up their scarves before the class, and then during class time we will play with various techniques for binding the fabric and adding texture to it, before they take their scarves home with them to felt. If you are interested in learning this new technique and getting some hands-on instruction, be sure to sign up as soon as possible, and get your homework pattern from the shop so that you can get your scarf knitted and ready for the class day. As of yesterday morning there were only 3 spots left in the class. So hurry to sign up, we are going to have a lot of fun turning something like this into the scarf you see above.

In addition to your pre-knitted scarf, you will want to bring a variety of objects to the class with you, including but not limited to wooden beads of various sizes, binder clips, cotton kitchen twine and a big needle, plastic kitchen wrap, and any variety of small shapes that catch your eye. I find that pointy things such as almonds tend to push themselves out of the fabric during the felting process, so make sure that your objects are smooth and light in weight so that they don't put too much stress on the fabric. You will also need a large quantity of tiny rubber bands, and these can usually be found where hair supplies or dental supplies are sold. You will need more objects and rubber bands than you think, so don't skimp.

Come join the class and let's play!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wonderful Worsteds

We knitters have to plan ahead. When it takes anywhere from two weeks to a month (or more) to complete a project, some advanced planning is required in order to make everything happen before the time your finished project is actually needed. Have a few Holiday gifts in mind that you would like to make? Start knitting now! Nothing worse than feeling frantic and panicky about unfinished gifts, instead of relaxing and enjoying what should be the best time of year. Want to make a great Fair Isle sweater for the cold winter days? Start now. It is a lot more useful to you on your back, than in your knitting basket when the winter rain is coming down and it's 35 degrees outside.

The great thing is that this is the time of the year when all the new yarns for fall start hitting the shops, and at Kiwi they are coming in fast and furious. I have three wonderful worsted weight yarns to show you. Personally, I love worsted weight yarns, they are the work-horse of the knitting world. Hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters, felted projects... we'd be lost without our beloved worsted weights.

One of the most delicious that I have seen in a while is Malabrigo, a kettle-dyed, variegated, worsted weight yarn in luscious, melts-like-butter merino. Now, I admit that I joke about the Merino, the Goddess of All Knitting, but if you know me, you know that I'm not really joking - merino is IT for me. And the colorways are incredible. I have seen several of our customers standing and petting and oohing and ahhing over the colors, unable to make up their minds because the colorways have something for everyone, each one better than the last. Deep cherry reds mixed with chocolate brown, rich peach blended with sky blue, vibrant magenta set off by emerald. We are spoiled for choice with this line. And at 216 yds per skein, there is a lot to play with.

And... (are you sitting down?) we have Lamb's Pride! Lamb's Pride! This stuff is just so soft and wonderful that I want to take a skein home, name it and teach it to sleep at the end of my bed. With 190 yds. of 85% wool/15% mohair, it has a lovely bloom that would make any project knitted up in this yarn just look and feel so luxurious. The colors are super-saturated and rich, and every time I am in the shop I gravitate over to the cubies where it's on display to pet, pull out more colors to look at, and think about what I project I must start to give myself an excuse to buy this gorgeous stuff. Lynn ordered this in in just a ton of colors!

The last yarn I'll tell you about right now is from Nashua Handknits, called Creative Focus Worsted. This is a lovely blend of 75% wool/25% alpaca. Again in a lovely range of rich colors, and Lynn tells me that she has had several customers buy a sweater's worth of this already - and it is barely out on the shelves! With 220 yds. per skein it wouldn't take many to make that beautiful cabled yoke cardigan from the new Fall Interweave Knits that you have been fantasizing about. And alpaca! Need I say more about how this yarn feels?

So start thinking now about the projects you have been waiting all summer to start. August is on the wane, with September right around the corner. Yes, yes, I know that last October 1st I was driving home from teaching at Kiwi with my a/c on. But I also remember last November and December of freezing mornings at the farmer's market with everyone around me shivering and shaking, while I was wrapped up in one of my beloved hand-knit sweaters and with hand-knit socks warming my toes. And everyone around me wishing they had some. Plan ahead. Start knitting now!

Upcoming Classes-
Aug 20 - 1-3 - Beginning Knitting Series
7-9 - Knit Night
Aug 21 - 7-9 - Beginning Knitting Series
Aug 22 - Knitting Circle
7-9 - Beginning Knitting Series
Aug 23 - 10-12 Felted Hedge Hog
3:30-5 - Kid's Kamp
7-9 - Diagonal Seed Stitch
Aug 24 - 10-12 - Knit Doctor
1-3 Stepping Up Socks
Aug 25 - 9-12 Uniquely Yours
1-3 - Knitting Coach

Friday, August 10, 2007


Sorry to be a bit later in the week than my normal, but I wanted to have the chance to take some photos and get some more information at the shop this morning in order to tell you about some new yarns, a new book, and a new class - all at Kiwi!

Last week I filled in a couple of afternoons at the shop while Lynn taught the Kid's Kamp, and so I got to be on hand when some new and exciting yarns for fall came in the door. I'll tell you about some of them today, and save some for next time.

The big news in sock yarns right now is that Regia is producing a line of self-patterning sock yarns designed by Color Master Extraodinaire, Kaffe Fassett. You may remember him as the incredible designer of all those richly colored knitting patterns of amazing intricacy and depth of a few years back, or you may know him as a quilter, a mosaic artist, a painter or as a needle-point designer. But however you know his name, once you see what this man does with color, you don't forget him easily. Even if he had contributed nothing else to visual and fiber arts, the way that he has made our eyes open up to color combinations alone has earned him his place in heaven. Now he has brought his astounding color sense to yarn with two new lines for Regia - Landscapes, a self striping sock yarn; and Mirage, a blend of diffused colors. Both lines are pictured at the top in their various colorways. The product info with the yarn includes a sock pattern, and having seen one of the colorways knitted up today, I can tell you that you will love working with the super-saturated depths of color and the beautiful patterning of this yarn. I've been hearing a lot of buzz and anticipation about these yarns among knitters on various lists, and now that I have seen them, I know why. The yarn is a blend of 75% Superwash wool for warmth and easy care, and 25% polyamid for durability. Each ball has 210 meters (approx. 229 yards), and the two variations come in 6 colorways - Storm, Fog, Earth, Twilight, Fire and Caribbean.

We also now have in a new sock yarn called Knit Col Trends, an incredibly soft 100% Merino superwash in a range of colorways from muted earth tones to warm fall mixes and bright bursts of color.

For those times when you want to use a solid sock yarn for lace patterns and cable designs, don't forget that we also carry a wide range of lush colored solids from Regia. Also in a blend of 75% Superwash wool and 25% polyamid, these balls have 420 m. (approx. 458 yds).

Bear in mind that this is just the tip of our sock yarn iceberg, you can also find Cascade Fixation in both solids and variegateds, and Cherry Tree Hill sock yarns, among others in the sock room.

Now, let's just say that you are in love with the new yarns - and who could blame you - but are just uninspired about what to do with them. Well, then you are in luck because we have a couple of ways to inspire you with new ideas and new ways of looking at the same old socks.

Cat Bordhi - whose brain I believe works in weird and wonderful ways about knitting the way that Einstein's brain worked in weird and wonderful ways about physics - has just come out with a new sock book called 'New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One'. The story has it that one day while trying on a toe-up sock that she was knitting she started turning it around on her foot, finding that no matter which way she turned the triangular gusset, it still worked with the shape of the foot. In typical Cat Bordhi manner, she took that revelation and ran with it, opening up the concept of sock shaping to places and constructs that I promise you that you have never seen before. Cat turns her discovery into eight Master Patterns and their endless variations that will excite you about socks all over again.

And our own sock devotee Marianne Casteel has a class coming up that you won't want to miss - Stepping Up Socks. The purpose of the class is to take people who have knit socks plain, who are ready for a change and want to step up their style by using one the hundreds of great sock patterns out there. Requirements would be to be fairly proficient in simple sock knitting whichever method you prefer, and Marianne will help you make the pattern work for you, whether you prefer to work with dpns, 2 circs, magic loop, top down or toe up. The class is scheduled for Friday Aug 17 & 24 from 1-3.

Aug 13 - 18
Aug 13 - Beginner Knitting Series, 1-3
Knit Night, 7-9
Aug 14 - Socks Your Way 10-12
Beginning Knitting Series 1-3
Aug 15 - Knitting Circle 10-12
Roll Brim Felted Cloche 1-4
Aug 16 - Hedge Hog 10-12
Kid's Kamp 3:30-5
Aug 17 - Knit Doctor 10-12
Stepping Up Socks 1-3
Aug 18 - Felting: Texture 10-12
Spinning Group 1-2

See you at Kiwi!