Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Vintage Christmas and Knitting Dog Sweaters

Christmas is almost here. We wish you peaceful knitting, joy in the season and time to enjoy friends and family.

Here are some very special vintage Christmas postcards from Carolyn Webb. Although this first one does not say "knitting" all knitters will know the sentiment.

For the dog lovers among us, here are some photos from the Dog Sweater classes at Kiwi Knitting by Brigid Connolly. These are very lucky dogs. They are most likely enjoying their new sweaters this holiday season. I love the way Brigid has captioned the pictures. See her thoughts about the class, dogs and dog fashion below.

Lynne instructs the dogs; Maddie approves the plan; Juan supervises.

Measuring reluctant puppy; Wrangling dogs & knitters; Darcy helping Lily knit

Bulldog or bulldozer; KC modeling his sweater; Darcy too sexy for his sweater

People always tell me that their dog doesn’t like to wear sweaters, even if it’s really cold. I ask them what kind of sweater and invariably it’s an off the rack, one size fits none, synthetic thing that is in whatever random color was available. Dogs like to look good, they know when they look silly or shabby. Don’t believe me? How does your dog act after grooming or a bath? Try telling your canine friend that he/she is ‘Oh so cute’ and see how your best friend reacts. Even a kerchief around his neck gets the ‘show off’ going in most dogs. There is no such thing as a ‘standard dog’ so those off the rack sweaters won’t do for the great variety of sizes and shapes that dogs come in.

My custom dog sweater class solves canine hypothermia and is great fun for dogs and their people. Dogs are required to attend the first class in the series of three. Their people learn to measure them, find appropriate fibers and weights for their canine comfort and discover the dog’s ‘power color’ in preparation for making a unique, well fitted and comfortable sweater for their four footed pals.

We, (knitters and dogs) have had great times, lots of laughs, yummy treats, puppy wrestling, bark attacks, endless sniffing during the classes. Incidentally, we have learned a lot about knitting techniques, design and dog preferences and everyone has ended up with a lovely bespoke dog sweater for their best buddy.

As you can see from the pictures, most dogs took the class seriously and reveled in the attention. It was hard to say who socialized more the humans or their pets, but all in all, it was a blast! I look forward to future chances to teach knitters and clothe our canine friends comfortably. Brigid Connolly

Friday, December 2, 2011

Knitting for the Holidays

Kiwi Knitting Shop

The holidays always bring memories of friends, family and past times. Knitting is usually part of the holidays too. We are either knitting for gifts, knitting decorations or knitting just to relax and enjoy the music and movies of the season. We would love to post any holiday knitting stories you are willing to share.

Here is one from Kendra, a Kiwi teacher:
My family, since we reached "adulthood", have gotten a little more relaxed about holiday deadlines. We often give a photo of an intended gift, cleverly disquised by being wrapped in a nice box with pretty paper and ribbons. Sometimes we even indulge in picture-grams. More particular to knitting projects, we have given a partially completed project with a certificate that promises to complete the project. The idea is that you can double your gift giving pleasure and your gift recipient's delight by letting them know you are working on a special project for them and delivering the project later. It may help to reduce that holiday angst that comes from having taken on too much. Even the Yarn Harlot doesn't finish everything on her list on time.

A Bit of History: Grace Coolidge and her Knitting by Carolyn Webb, Kiwi Staff

I have long been interested in the history of knitting (and other textiles), and over the past few years have developed a power point talk with several tables of vintage tools, knitted and crocheted vintage pieces, magazines and books, pictures, and other items. It is a fascinating history, one mixed with our own social history throughout. There are many interesting books on the history of knitting in America, especially Susan Strawn's excellent Knitting America, a wonderful collection of historical information, pictures, patterns, and much more. Another very interesting book is No Idle Hands, The Social History of American Knitting, by Anne L. Macdonald.

Piecework Magazine, published by Interweave Press, is another wonderful resource for interesting historical articles on knitting and other needlearts. One knitter Piecework has featured is Grace Coolidge, the wife of President Coolidge. (See: Piecework, issues July/August 1999 and January/February 2011).

Grace Coolidge was an excellent knitter and needleworker, including petit-point, needlepoint, and crochet. The Coolidges were from Vermont, and later lived in western Massachusetts, and Grace could be seen knitting on the porch. Like many knitters of her era, she entered her knitting in fairs, and won prizes for her beautiful work. Grace learned to knit and sew when she was five. To quote her autobiography: "In the sitting room my workbasket fitted with its tiny thimble and round-pointed scissors had a place beside my mother's. I have heard her say that I sewed on buttons before I could walk."

Grace graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902, and moved to Northampton, Massachusetts to teach at the Clarke School for the Deaf (now called Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech). It was in Northampton that she met Calvin Coolidge, who was then Mayor of Northampton. There is a funny story of Grace working outside in the yard, looking up at a boarding house window across the street. In the window she saw Calvin Coolidge in his long underwear and hat, shaving in front of a mirror. She laughed out loud, he noticed, and that was the beginning of their courtship. Grace and Calvin Coolidge married in 1905. Coolidge went on to be a Massachusetts state representative, lieutenant governor, governor, and Vice President, and then President of the U.S. from 1923 - 1929. Throughout her life, Grace continued to knit,crochet and create beautiful needlework. She also loved baseball, and even after she had a TV, she preferred to listen to games on the radio, using her imagination to see the game. And, she knit while listening! She knit while riding on trains, traveling with her husband, and, it seems, every chance she could.

The January/February 2011 issue of Piecework focuses on a beautiful knitted counterpane she made, after receiving a fragment of an earlier one. Grace wrote an article accompanying the pattern in the November 21, 1926 New York Harold Tribune, explaining how she happened upon the pattern. Another article accompanying Grace's stated "it was falling to pieces and only an expert like Mrs. Coolidge could copy its intricate design, for hers is no mechanical occupation, but the skill of an artist." The Piecework issue also has the counterpane pattern included. Grace's pattern called for needles that are no longer made. They would have been between a size 0000 and 00000.

The other Piecework article (July/August 1999) has other examples of Grace's work, including a petit-point pillow and a wonderful needlepointed carpetbag. It also shows the Official White house portrait of Grace Coolidge with her dog, a beautiful portrait of Grace in a red velvet dress. After retiring from the White House, she wrote: "Every girl should be taught to sew, not merely
for the sake of making something but as an accomplishment which may prove a stabilizer in time of perplexity or distress. Many a time when I have needed to hold myself firmly, I have taken my needle, it might be a sewing needle, some knitting needles, or a crochet hook; whatever its form or purpose it often proved to be as the needle of the compass, keeping me to the course."

"Grace's needlework undoubtedlyserved to keep her to the course’ in 1924 when her sixteen-year-old son, Calvin, Jr., died of blood poisoning from an infected blister sustained while playing tennis on the white House lawn. To distract herself, Grace undertook a new project: to design a filet crochet coverlet for the Lincoln bed in the White House. She experimented, crocheting bit by bit until she was satisfied with a motif." She finished the coverlet in 1927, and wrote, "This coverlet for the Lincoln bed has been made by the wife of the thirtieth President of the United States, stitch by stitch and square by square, with the hope that each mistress of the President's House will leave there some token which shall go down through the ages to serve as a definite and visible link connecting the present and the past."

Grace Coolidge was elegant and charming, and knew that "needlework was a valuable skill, not only for its practical purpose but also for its ability to beautify and soothe life." I know all of us knitters and needleworkers couldn't agree with her more.

Carolyn Webb

All of us knitters, no doubt, can relate to this. Knitting is always there, always a comfort at hand.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Knitting Classes Extraordinaire

At Kiwi Knitting last weekend we were treated to some extraordinary knitting classes by Cat Bordhi Magical Moebius Knitting, Finding the Fountain of Fresh Knitting Ideas and New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I was delighted to be able to attend two of them.

Finding the Fountain of Fresh Knitting Ideas was a ton of fun. We combined design elements using random numbers and were challenged with planning a knittable garment. It was not only helpful to work together but increased the flow of ideas as we were inspired by each other's ideas and suggestions. The generation of ideas was in full flow when we invented the life story of an almost real person based on simple objects found in almost anyone's home. The stories were fascinating and poignant. Just goes to show what you can do with the mundane. Designs are everywhere.

New Pathways for Sock Knitters was all about the architectures of knitting socks that Cat Bordhi is known for - really amazing. There so many ways Cat has created to accomplish the same thing - a sock that is easier and more fun to knit and better fitting. She is also very generous. Check out her website for links to tutorials showing some of her wonderful heels and Cat's demonstration of Judy's Magic Cast-On - perfect for toe up socks.

All the photos were taken at the Fresh Ideas class by Linda McKittrick. Cat Bordhi shown teaching, smiling with Linda and Lynn, owner of Kiwi. The rest are students in a rare moment of seriousness.

I highly recommend all of her books and any of her classes. Now I have a host of projects ideas. Is there such a thing as a stash of ideas?

To all the Kiwi students to Cat Bordhi's classes - please post comments to the blog. We would love to hear from you.

Back Issues Anyone?
Did you know there back issues of magazines at Kiwi Knitting? Even better - they are 15% off until December 31st! Here is what is available:
  • Knitters: Fall 2005; Winter 2007; Spring 2008; Summer 2008; Fall 2009; Winter 2010; K#102 2011
  • Rebecca: NR 27, NR 42
  • Debbie Bliss: Fall 2010, Winter 2010
  • Knitting Traditions: Winter 2010
  • Knit 'n Style:October 2011, August 2011
  • Knit.1: Spring 2007
  • Knit Simple: Winter 2005; Winter 2007; Winter 2008; Fall 2009; Spring 2010; Summer 2010; Spring 2011; Winter 2011
  • Vogue: Fall 2006; Winter 2007; Holiday 2007; Winter 2008; Fall 2010; Winter 2010; Early Fall 2011; Winter 2011
  • SpinOff: Fall 2007; Winter 2007; Summer 2008; Fall 2008; Winter 2008; Spring 2009; Summer 2009; Fall 2010; Winter 2010; Summer 2011
  • Interweave Knits: Fall 2006; Summer 2008; Winter 2008; Summer 2009; Fall 2009; Winter 2009; Spring 2010; Summer 2010; Summer 2011
  • Interweave Felt: Special Issue 2008
  • Interweave Crochet: Spring 2008; Summer 2008; Fall 2008; Summer 2009; Fall 2009; Winter 2009; Summer 2010; Fall 2010; Winter 2010; Spring 2011; Summer 2011

Meet the Staff at Kiwi Knitting
Deborah Levine: Deborah has been beading since childhood and teaching since elementary school. She enjoys designing stitches, and improving her techniques to help students learn more easily. She especially enjoys watching students conquer new things and making beautiful jewelry that they had not previously imagined.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

They're Here... the holidays that is. Are you knitting yet?

It seems early, doesn't it. I feel a bit jarred when I hear a Christmas commercial since it is weeks away. But maybe the retailers have it right. Either that or time is in the fast lane. I have dreams of leisure time to knit for the holidays, watch Christmas movies, enjoy the Christmas lights and decorations and listen to holiday music. It never happens - or definitely not leisurely. It seems that they are here and gone in a blink of a eye and frantically at that.

Well, we can still wish. I wish you lots of knitting time while watching movies and enjoying friends and family. Some of us at Kiwi's will be working on what we learn in Cat Bordhi's classes this coming weekend. There are even more classes coming up. See the newsletter or come by the shop and pick one up. Stay for a relaxing moment or two.

Kiwi Knitting News:

Did you know that there are back issues of knitting magazines available at Kiwi Knitting? A list will be coming soon.

Owner, Lynn Davis, was surprised this week with a book called Knit One, Purl a Prayer: a Spirituality of Knitting". This book includes two Kiwi Klub patterns and comments from an interview with Brigid Connolly. It is dedicated to Lynn!! as well as the owner of the author's other favorite yarn store in Rochester, New York. Look for a book signing event soon when copies of the book arrive in the shop!

The yarn storming is still in progress on the bicycle at Kiwi's. Here are some of the new additions- Daisy Spokes and an R2D2 Banner. See if you can find the tiny gnome. There is still space for more if you are feeling a little rebellion coming on and want to join the yarn storm.

Meet the Staff and Teachers at Kiwi Knitting:

Desi Leotaud:
Hi. I have worked at Kiwi for several years but have not been around much in the last two years due to life happening. I am a late thirty-something with two active young kids -three years old and 21 months- and a wonderful husband. We are all native to Tucson and southern Arizona. In the summer months I sit out by a pool and help a friend with private swim lessons by day and am a knitter by night. In the winter months I am a knitter every chance I get day and night. The best thing about working at Kiwi besides all the wonderful yarn? - All the wonderful knitters I get to meet and knit with. See you on Fridays.

Kendra McNally: I was raised in Tucson (in the house where I now live). I went to the Northwestern University and vowed I would never be that cold again. I went to law school at the University of Arizona, spent two years practicing law in Casa Grande, then moved to Los Angeles where I was a federal prosector for 30 years. When I retired, I moved back to Tucson as fast as my feet would carry me. I was taught knitting as a small child by my Great Aunt Mary who was originally from Ireland. I lost interest (acrylic socks in Tucson were not a hit.) Then I started knitting again when I wanted a portable hobby to fill all those communting hours in California. I started teaching after retirement when I showed Lynn one of the the eight Kousa Dogwood shawls I have knit. She asked me if I would teach a class on that. I gulped and said yes. When one of Lynn's teachers moved out of state I was asked to teach more classes. I gulped again and said yes again. After all, I'm still learning myself. The good people at Kiwi have been tolerant of my learning curve and I have found a great community of knitters in a friendly space created by Lynn. I go every year to the Knitter's Review Retreat, have been to both Sock Summits and two TKGA converntions. My two most used teaching phrases are: "Breathe" and "It's yarn, not blood".

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Not So Scary Halloween Knitting

Happy Halloween!
This is the fun side of Halloween - the decorating, the silly, funny parts, like a knitted Halloween scene. This scene was inspired by a book - Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi: More than 40 itty-bitty minis to knit, wear, and give by Anna Hrachovec. The teeny ghosts are great and the tiny cactus too. And then, it grew from there.

Maybe you would like to create your own little scene or vignettes - send photos, please. Or just give away the little guys for gifts, decorations, more inspiration. The books are available at Kiwi Knitting and the little ghosts and pumpkins will be there until Halloween.

Credits and Details:
The ghosts, cactus, pumpkin and cat were knit by Jill, the blog editor. The pumpkin is not in the book but based on many of the techniques there. The cat was an original design based on one of my cats.

The adobe house and the coyotes are from a group project created by The Spinning Study Group of the Tucson Handweavers and Spinners Guild, a Fiber Community, as a challenge to make a toy of handspun yarn. The "toy" grew to become a collection in an Arizona style late 1800s miniature ranch affectionately known as "The Ranch". Sharon Ewing designed, spun and knit the adobe house. Yani Gudenkauf created the two coyotes (hiding at the corner of the adobe house) from her handspun yarn, designing them on the knitting needles. Anne Fletcher handspun, designed, crafted and crocheted the vineyards just visible behind the house. There are many more items in The Ranch contributed by 25 members of the guild. For more information about The Ranch see the December 2009 issue of SpinOff magazine by Interweave Press. Also The Ranch is displayed at the County Fair and other venues when requested. Tucson Handweavers and Spinners Guild or Kiwi Knitting will have information when it is to be displayed again.

For some perspective, here are the teeny-tiny ghosts, pumpkin, etc with a quarter and a ruler. The gnome is not in the Halloween scene but is on the yarn stormed bicycle at Kiwi Knitting.

New Feature: Meet the Teachers and Staff at Kiwi Knitting
Carolyn Webb: "Although I'm an "equal opportunity fiber lover", knitting was my first love. My mother taught me how to knit when I was about 10. At about 19 I began knitting in earnest, and have been at it ever since. I enjoy knitting just about everything, but no longer make sweaters as I used to(no need out here!). Shawls, socks, vests, hats, mitts, neckwarmers, etc. And, like many knitters, there is an endless list of the items I hope to knit, including a large, fine, lace shawl. I have taught children to knit, which I think is very fun. Felting is another love. I like to nuno-felt especially, and teach felting. This past year, I acquired a beautiful, hand-made floor loom, so weaving is again in the picture. Another area I'm particularly interested in is the history of knitting and crochet, and vintage books and patterns. I've amassed quite a collection of vintage books, patterns, and knitted and crocheted items and tools over the years, and occasionally give a talk on this subject. And then there is spinning....well, there's just not enough time in life, but I do my best to try and fit it all in!! I'm happy to be spending a few hours a week at Kiwi, amongst all the fiber and color and friendly people!"

Jill Holbrook: "It has long been my dream to work in a yarn shop. I am thrilled to say I am working at Kiwi's! For now just a few hours every other week but I will be working a bit more and teaching starting in January. I love yarn and color and knitting. My favorite knitting is lace and Fair Isle, but I enjoy almost everything in knitting. I have been knitting since I was 13 years old and it felt like I always knew how. I also spin and weave and crochet and these did not come so easily. Weaving is hard to fit into a busy life as it is not so portable but spinning is my way to relax and something I do almost daily just like knitting. Teaching is another love as I enjoy passing along my passions to others. There are so many fiber journeys ahead!"

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Little Knitting Idea and a Few Hints

Isn't there an expression that need is the mother of invention? Not that my idea is so grand as an invention but need (or desire) certainly spawned it.

I love the T shirts by Sabaku. They are truly artwork and lovely. I have more than several. The last few I bought were cropped T shirts. I wore them but I was never comfortable with how short they are. The idea of adding a knitted edge just popped into my mind. This is the second one I have done and by far the most successful. I have received numerous compliments on it so thought I would pass along the idea.


The edging is called Cockleshell from The Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker. I added a faggot stitch to the straight edge. The yarn is a handpainted silk yarn by Robin Pascal. I chose it more for the colors but it does have a wondeful drape. It is sewn on using sewing thread in a whip stitch on the very edge of the shirt.

If you decide to do something similar here are my hints. (1) Pick an edging like this one that is worked to the length - not one that you have to start with the length. That way you can start sewing the edging on the shirt and add to the knitting as needed. (2) Work in two pieces and leave the sides open. This drapes better and is easier then putting the edging all the way around and sewing or grafting the beginning to the end. (3) Choose a yarn that is compatible with the way you wash the T-shirt, that is, cotton, rayon, silk. bamboo since the T-shirt is cotton. You could probably use a silk/wool blend. I have been washing mine on the delicate cycle and drying it on gentle in the dryer.

We would love to see pictures of your edgings and how you use them. Also all ideas and hints are welcome too

Have fun.

Yarn Storming

Yarn bombing/storming/grafitti is a world wide phenonmenon. There have been various articles and even books written about the subject. A group of Kiwi customers have organized to beautify Tucson with the pictured bike now on display at Kiwi. Eventually you may see it around town. A Big Thanks to The Ordinary Bike Shop for donating the bicycle! (The Ordinary Bike Shop is on 7th St. one block west of 4th Avenue.) You can join in the fun by coming by Kiwi and signing up for a part to decorate. We have yarn available or pick something you would love to get rid of from your stash!

Lynn Davis
Kiwi Knitting Company. LCC
2540 E. 6th Street
Tucson, Arizona 85716

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A New Beginning

We're Back...Well, Kiwi Knits Blog is back. I'm Jill and I am new to the blog. Lynda was really great at this but she is now a full time student at the University of Arizona. I cannot replace her but will do my best to make this interactive and informative.
Fall is a good time for a beginning. Fall was when I learned to knit. I was 12 years old and I signed up for an elective afternoon knitting class. Knitting seemed very easy until I made my first mistake—a ridge across a field of ribbing. My neighbor helped me out in more ways than one. On my way to her house I dropped the ball of yarn I had tucked under my arm. It unrolled in the snow all the way from my front door to hers. She helped me gather up the yarn and dry it and fix the mistake all in one lovely afternoon. I think she is at least one of the reasons I love knitting.

Do you have a story about learning to knit you would like to share? I will post as many as I can.

Next up, Lynn!
All the best,

Welcome back to the Kiwi Blog!
It is exciting to be reopening this venue with a slightly new focus. Here is a place where we hope you will enjoy sharing expertise, inspiration & learning. We’ll document events and keep you informed. Jill Holbrook has signed on as the blog manager but won’t be the only expert.Kiwi teachers and employees will share their experiences. Jill & I invite you to participate, too. Tell us what you like or dislike, information you’d like to know, and celebrate your successes with us.

I know Jill has something planned to begin our journey but first I thought it would be fun to share pictures from some of the activities of the past couple years:

Christmas 2009 & 2010 – Make-A-Hat Days. This year, we’ll make hats, scarves and mittens for the homeless.

Carolyn’s Felted Bead Workshop

Cast of “Cats” takes classes.

Dyeing Class

Thanks for visiting Kiwi