Friday, May 29, 2009

Have You Met the Veggie Room?

There are many knitters today who - for various reasons - prefer to knit with yarns that are not based on animal proteins. If you are a vegetarian knitter, one who knits with strictly veggie-based yarns due to preference or even allergies, then you probably already know about the Veggie Room at Kiwi Knitting. If, however, you haven't wandered back to check out the Veggie Room and its treasures - or haven't done so recently - then you're in for a treat. Being a devoted wool knitter, I don't talk here on the blog as much about the vegetable-based fibers that are to be found in our wonderful room. But recently, for various reasons, I have been exploring the wonders of this Ali Baba's cave of non-protein yarns, and finding some gorgeous treats here.

The photo above shows just a fraction of what is to be found there - wonderfully dyed skeins of Cotton Stria from Manos de Uruguay. This is a delightfully soft and resilient cotton with a charming squiggle to the yarn. I have to admit that I don't know what gives it its squiggle, but I have used it in more than one project and it knits up smoothly and evenly, in a rainbow of beauty.

Diagonally across the room from the Stria are shelves full of King Tut Cotton, a classic stand-by of cotton yarns. Kiwi also stocks a sumptuous range of colors here. On the standing racks next to it are the lovely Louet Linen yarns. These are wonderful to work with, with a slightly stiffer hand as you begin kitting that softens up as you work, and then relaxes and drapes gorgeously after the first washing. If you have been part of the dishcloth/washcloth craze in knitting and crochet and have only been using cotton yarns for your creations, then you ought to indulge yourself with a bit of linen.

The shelves to the right of the King Tut cotton hold a melange of assorted yarns in a number of fibers, some conventional, some not so conventional. In addition to having some really pretty cotton or linen blends and natural, undyed cottons in an amazing range of soft colors, did you know that Kiwi carries yarns made from bamboo? Corn? Soy? Even milk! Bamboo yarn has a sheen reminiscent of silk, and an incredible drape. Corn and soy can resemble cotton. Kiwi even carries a sock yarn, Tofutsies, by Southwest Trading Company based here in Arizona, made with soy fibers. For you crocheters, Kiwi has a nice range of crochet yarns suited to delicate traditional lace work.

And if - even though some would say you would be spoiled with choice - you just can't find your perfect color among the King Tut Cotton, then just turn around and take a look through the Tahki Cotton Classic. Cotton Classic is another tried and true stand-by of a cotton yarn, also available in a multitude of colors.

Now, this is by no means a perfectly comprehensive list of all that is to be found in the Veggie Room. So come by, take a look and think about patterns such as baby clothing and blankets, washcloths and dishcloths, intricate lace doilies and cool summer garments for yourself.

On a personal note, last week I traded this view:

For this one:

If you and I have talked much, you probably know that I grew up in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York State, Hyde Park, to be exact. All my siblings and their families are still in the area, and two weeks ago my parents - who live here in Tucson and spend their summers up in Montana complaining about the cold weather - made one last car trip back east to spend time with the rest of the family. Everyone was there except me. So a week ago yesterday my husband surprised me with tickets for me to fly back and spend time with the whole family.

Oddly enough, while you here in Tucson were having cooler and rainy weather, we had gorgeous weather of the kind that you forgot summer could have. I spent most of my time with one of my sisters, and we visited several of my favorite spots (she is always very good to me that way) or sitting and knitting (me) or reading (both of us) in her back garden. There is something so charming about being in a village where the library is right across the street! My ideal situation.

I returned this past Monday, and started summer school classes on Tuesday morning. And I happily report that I have a 4.0 for my spring semester classes.

So I hope that whatever you may do this summer - going on a trip, relaxing at home, or spending time with your loved ones either way - that your summer brings you the kind of special moments and irreplaceably wonderful memories that my trip afforded me.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

As you know, I don't get to Kiwi Knitting as often as I used to, certainly not as often as I would like to. (The good news is that I can see the end of the semester from here.) So when I go in on alternate Friday mornings for Knit Dr, I make a point of bringing my camera along and searching for things in the shop that are new to me. It's always great fun to make a new discovery and get turned on by a new yarn, new tools or a new technique. My last trip to Kiwi uncovered so much exciting new stuff that I'm going to have to break it up into two entries.

In the main room I found new projects from the book, Knit One Below. Lynn tells me that the book is on order, I would imagine that it is back in the shop by now, and I'm looking forward to giving it a good perusal this coming Friday. I think I'm going to have to take it home with me.

I'm sure you remember that I showed you a scarf and a vest project using this technique a few weeks ago. Now look at these cute baby booties, and this adorable bonnet! What baby wouldn't stand out in a crowd wearing these? Don't these just say, 'Someone who knits loves me'? I'm going to have to search out a baby that needs a set of these.

I'm also really taken with this tank top. On my body it would have to be a bit longer, and have wider straps (okay, and be a bit wider, as well), but those would be easy tweaks to make. I really love the way that the stitch pattern shows off the color changes of the Noro yarn. This done in some Noro cotton would be just the thing for summer. The chevron pattern would be very flattering to a number of body types.

I also espied this new yarn from Linie 5, called Corafino. It is 50 gms and approximately 191 yds of superwash goodness, with a content of 60% merino and 40% polyacryl. Lynn has a ton of gorgeous colors on hand, and they are really soft and delicious. Also look for some new colors of the Cascade 200 Superwash.

The thing that struck me the most, however, was the bags. There are new knitting bags, project bags, tool bags, sock project bags, gorgeous baskets - everywhere you look! Starting with a beautiful knitting bag from Della Q, with a matching tool case.

Della Q for a knitting needle case, leaning against a Lantern Moon basket bag...

Namaste and Chica, with Della Q hiding in the background...

More Namaste - there's a messenger bag in light blue...

Silk bags from Lantern Moon...

And a basketweave bag, also from Lantern Moon.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm a firm believer that a girl can't have too many knitting bags. The very concept defies the laws of physics. In fact, I'm beginning to suspect that they are like purses - they need to change with the seasons and go with your shoes! :-D

Now if only I can make my husband see the wisdom of that...