Saturday, March 28, 2009

Knit One Below

Knit One Below is the name of a wonderful new book by Elise Duvekot, that demonstrates an exciting new way to work with color in knitting. The book also offers several patterns using this unique technique. The appearance is somewhat similar to slipped stitch colorwork, but is worked entirely differently. The resulting fabric is warm and inviting, and when worked with yarns that have long color changes - such as Noro Kureyon or Silk Garden - the effects are really quite beautiful.

This wonderful method of doing colorwork is both easy and fun. I always enjoy learning something new and different to add to my knitting repertoire. I already know that I'll be making a few gifts for next winter using this technique. And the patterns in the book look like a lot of fun as well. I'm sure it will be no surprise to you if I say that I especially have my eyes on the socks. I'm thinking that I'm going to need some of those.

This is a featured technique at Kiwi at the moment, and if you stop into the shop you can see not only this gorgeous vest, but also a lovely scarf worked in the same technique. Lynn and staff have made up some quick scarf kits for those wanting to try their hands at this easy yet visually impressive method. Each kit includes 2 skeins of Noro yarn, as well as the pattern and an explanation of how to work the stitch.

Brigid recently attended The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) conference and took a class from Elise Duvekot. She then returned to Kiwi and taught a class on the technique. Another class is planned for next quarter, as well as a two-day class in the booties you see below, made with this same method.

So stop in and take a look at the vest and scarf on display. I promise that you are going to be intrigued by this new technique, and the beautiful fabric that it makes!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Some Great Links!

I just thought I'd pop in with a couple of wonderful links for you all!

If you are part of our local knitting guild - Old Pueblo Knitters - then you know that last month we hosted Amy Singer, the founder and editor of Knitty, for a talk at our guild meeting as well as a few days of classes. I spoke with Amy briefly after her presentation at the guild, and I have to tell you, she is really a very lovely person.

Last week, the latest edition of Knitty came out, and guess what? There is a great article there about Kiwi Knitting, Jill Holbrook, and Heather Ordover, as well as the spinning group that meets at Kiwi, and the Tucson Handspinners and Weavers Guild. Take a look! It just confirms my thoughts about what a great person she is.

And just for a good, sheepish chuckle, check out this video... My husband comes from Wales, where this was filmed, and tells me it is fascinating to watch the dogs work the sheep, controlled completely by a series of whistles.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Learning More Ways to Use Fiber!

I usually get my blog fodder from being in the shop frequently, and from the project I am knitting at the time. But as you know I've been in school full-time since mid-January, and I have to admit that whole weeks go by where I don't manage to find the time or the energy to knit. However, it should be noted that I am a Fine Arts major in Fiber Arts. Just so you don't think that I haven't been playing with yarn in all this time. I've just been playing in different ways.

The first technique that we have covered in my Mixed Media Fibers class is coiling. This technique is most often seen in indigenous basket-making, both with several tribes of Native Americans and also from far flung places such as Africa. But what can you do if you take this fun and interesting technique and put a different twist on it? I started with the question: What would happen if a bird got loose in my studio and started building a nest? Trust me, there are days when it looks as though birds are already building nests in here. But here is my interpretation...

Upholstery cording was used to form the core, and is wrapped with luxurious yarns - a few from my stash, and many others from Kiwi. There is Bambool in a color called Petrol, Silk Garden with it's ever-changing color palette, here in blues and greens. Some Lantern Moon rayon yarn acquired back when Kiwi first opened (not as much fun to coil with due to it's uneven texture, but it looks great once you get it on there), some Silky Wool in a color called Woad. Flashes of Starlight in Copper. I added some recycled glass beads to the mix, and made some small totems of hammered copper wire.

Fashioning the interior of the nest as I went along, I wanted to have a 'feathered' effect. What would a bird find if they were hunting in a knitter's nest? I made thrums of some merino roving from the shop and wrapped them into the basket. Loops of Kid Merino in Pacific Blue, as well as some scraps of silk yarns. Some green boucle yarn pulled from my stash - also acquired from Kiwi so long ago that I no longer remember what it's called. All work together to form a warm, plush interior that is ready to welcome incubating eggs.

The bird started with a form that was needle-felted of wool roving from Kiwi Knitting. After I had a shape that worked, I wrapped it in left-over Kureyon Sock. In areas where the shape had angles too steep for the yarn to stay in place, I needle-felted the strands to the body form. Some feather scraps and a beak of coiled copper were added. The eyes are made of paillette sequins with seed beads. A little scrap of the rayon yarn is held in her beak as she finishes her nest. And the edges of the nest? Double-pointed needles, wrapped with the same rayon yarn.

Coiling is a technique that I will most certainly use in the future. I like the way in which the coiled piece can be shaped as well as the decorative stitching that can be added, and find it a wonderful way to use yarn without actually knitting or crocheting. Already I can imagine several ways that I can use this technique to enhance my knitted and/or felted pieces in future.

Also, a reminder from Lynn - Kiwi Knitting now has the book Estonian Lace, by Nancy Bush back in stock!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New Yarns and Books!

Forgive me, please. I was just gazing out our windows at the view and breathed a deep sigh of, Ahhhhhhh! It's Sunday! When I suddenly realized that I hadn't posted yesterday as planned. So I'll be back again in a couple of days with another post...

In the meantime, I want to tell you about some new yarns at Kiwi! I love it when new yarns come in, it is such a pleasure to pet them all and ooh and ahh over the colors and textures. This yarn caught my eye right away as I went past it, and now of course in the back of my mind I am cooking up a pot of 'What can I do with that?' I know something will come out the other side, but not sure what it is just yet. That is half of the fun!

This new yarn is from Noro, as you may have already guessed by looking at it, and is called Furisode. The colors are as rich and as saturated as you would expect from Noro, beautiful blends that really look gorgeous! The fiber content is 45% silk, 40% cotton, and 15% wool. At 100 grams per skein it measures out at approximately 163.5 yds.

Also from Noro, we have Taiyo. Think of a cotton version of Kureyon or Silk Garden. The fiber content is 40% cotton, 30% silk, 15% wool and 15% nylon. The yardage is 218. As you can see, we have a whole bouquet of colors and they are really lovely.

Kiwi also has a book of patterns for the new Noro yarns, called Flowers. There are some gorgeous sweater patterns worked in different directions to show off Noro's characteristic long color changes and subtle transitions.

And lest you crocheters think that you are forgotten, Lynn has also gotten in a beautiful crochet cotton called Garden from Nazli Gelin. The colors are wonderful, very lush and lustrous. The fiber content of this yarn is 100% Giza cotton, and the yardage per ball is 306.2 yards per 50 grams. There is also a beautiful book of crochet patterns that goes with this yarn. The book (as well as the yarn) has been flying out of the shop, and as of Friday afternoon Lynn had one book left in stock, but I know she is planning to order more asap.

It occurred to me back there as I was figuring yardage for the Noro yarns, that a number of you might be scratching your collective heads and wondering why Noro comes up with such odd yardage numbers. Noro, like many non-American yarn companies, measure their yarns in meters rather than in yards. How can you know what kind of yardage to expect to get from a ball of yarn when only the meterage is noted on the ball band, and your pattern calls for yards, or vice versa? There is a very simple formula for that, and in these days when we all carry cell phones, and our phones can do everything short of packing our lunch, it is easy to whip out your phone and turn on the calculator function. To convert meters to yards, simply multiply meters by 1.09 to get your yardage. Therefore, Noro Furisode's 150 meters comes out to be 163.5 yards.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! Mine is just starting...