Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sooo much Yarn! Soooo much Fun!!!!

Take this photo of the Kiwi Knitting Shop from Christmas - multiply it by a thousand, add lots of people - shop owners, designers, vendors - and wonderful displays of garments and needlework tools and notions and you have The National Needlework Association Trade Show just held in Phoenix. Lynn describes this best:
"As I write this, the staff, teachers and I just returned from our winter trade show at the Phoenix Convention Center where we took classes by some of the best needlework teachers in the country and viewed all the new yarns, tools, and fun accoutrements for needle workers and fiber enthusiasts. Cat Bordhi, Gwen Bortner, Beth Brown-Reinsel were there to name just a few. This was a real treat since the show is usually held in California and only one or two of us can attend. Everyone came home EXCITED with new skills and projects to share with you. Although most of the staff attended only classes, Jill and Carolyn joined me on Sunday for a trip around the trade show floor. Let me warn you about shopping with these two!!! Jill and Desi had attended a “Sample It” event on Friday night so Jill was armed with new tools and yarn that I should investigate and ushered me to several great booths – of course I had to order. On the way across the floor there was eye-candy everywhere – resulting in several other orders. We had so much fun & hope that you will enjoy the new classes and products coming to Kiwi this spring!"

Carolyn and I are still jazzed about everything we saw and the samples we brought home with us. I am spinning the samples of fiber we collected - gorgeous colors: the yarns - fabulous - no time to "taste" these yet. We even have a notebook collection of one skein lace designs by The Fickle Knitter. There are three designs in there I want to knit now! Ask to see patterns the next time you are in the shop. So inspiring to see all of this and take classes too!

And speaking of classes:
One of our Kiwi regulars is going to Cat Bordhi's spring retreat this year. She wanted more after attending Cat's classes here. There are a few spaces still open. Here is the link if you are interested:

Check this blog next week for details on Kiwi's very own Sock Summit the second week in February.

Comments, experiences with knitting conferences, retreats and classes are welcome.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Where does yarn come from?

Sheep, of course! And alpaca, llama, cashmere goats, mohair goats, angora rabbits, musk ox, yak, and even buffalo. And those are just some of the sources of animal fiber. There is a similar litany of cellulose fibers with cotton and linen the most well-known. But sheep give us the wonderful wool so perfect for knitting - forgiving, resilient, soft, strong, absorbent and insulating. Don't you think that is what this sheep is saying?

This is a Churro sheep from the Canyon Wren Ranch in Arizona, photo courtesy of the Tucson Handweavers and Spinners Guild. The Dine (AKA Navajo) have used Churro wool for centuries to spin and weave their beautiful rugs. Churro wool yarn can be found in breed specific yarns.

Knitters are less likely to use Churro as it can be coarse. We gravitate to luscious Merino, lustrous Blue Faced Leister, soft Targhee, sturdy Corriedale. These are some of the breed specific yarns available now at wool festivals and online. Merino has led the way and has been in yarn stores for years where lace knitters seek it out as their preferred yarn. As knitters become even more discerning, we may choose Corriedale for sweaters, Romney for jackets, 3-ply Merino/silk blends for socks- tailoring the best features of the sheep breed to our knitting.

The National Needlework Association will be held later this week. It will be interesting to see if there are more breed specific yarns for the market this year. No doubt there will be new and even more beautiful yarns and goodies for knitters. Check out your local yarn shop in the coming weeks to see what is in store for us.

Book Signing at Kiwi Kniting with Antje Gillingham

Antje Gillingham will be in Tucson at Kiwi Knitting, Tuesday, January 24th from 3-4 pm to sign her book Knitting Circles Around Socks. It is always interesting and informative to meet and talk with authors. It is especially nice to have them in town with us. Going to conferences out of town is fun but they can be crowded and hectic. Our local shop allows us more time and conversation with visiting authors and designers. See you there.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Knitting Resolutions or Rules

Resolution #1: Spend more time at Kiwi Knitting Company.

In case you are new to Tucson and/or have not been to Kiwi Knitting, the shop is located on the south side of 6th Street, a bit east of Tucson Blvd and across the street from the parking lot for Rincon Market. There are only three parking spaces in the front of Kiwi but much more in the back. There is a driveway beside the shop on the east side to the back. The back door is usually open so you don't have to walk around to the front. There are lots of ways to spend time - shop, take classes, come for Monday Knit Night or Second Saturday Sock Group, or just hang out surrounded by yarn and knitters.

Kendra, a Kiwi teacher, suggests: How about recuperating from the holiday crush with some nice, soothing garter stitch. There are lots of patterns, starting with almost anything Elizabeth Zimmerman. The Stripe Study shawl was popular this year. A survey of Ravelry may give you more leads.

More Knitting Resolutions

I am not sure these are resolutions as much as rules. Either way I have resolved to stick to them this new year with an excuse clause that allows for flexibility and forgiveness if needed for health and sanity.

Resolution #2: No more than five knitting projects in progress at one time.
That means once there are five projects going one must be finished before starting a new one. This resolution usually works until seduced by a pattern or yarn or the need for a gift. Then it works to keep the projects at no more than six- usually.

Resolution #3: Evaluate any UFO i.e unfinished object that has been untouched for too long.
"Too long" is undetermined but can be assessed by a feeling of a long time. The evaluation determines if the UFO should be finished, unraveled or re-designed. One of these actions should be taken immediately once the decision is made.

Resolution #4: Buy quality yarn.
Staying within a budget is important in today's economy so shop sales. Knitting requires a lot of hands-on time with yarn. This time will be more enjoyable and the end product better if the yarn is lovely, appropriate for the project, great color or colores and a joy to handle while watching the project grow. This principle applies to knitting needles and knitting notions too.

Resolution #5: Get organized.
It is always nice to know what you have and where to find it. Re-organizing seems to be necessary at frequent intervals too. It almost seems like the yarn shuffles itself around and multiplies.

Resolution #6: Start with the stash first for patterns and yarns.
Then supplement with new yarns or a new pattern as needed. A good excuse for going shopping at the local yarn shop.

Resolution #7: Always have a mindless project in progress and one that is more challenging. Mindless projects are great for those times when the mind is not fresh or there is some distraction. Challenging projects keep the mind engaged and learning and are perfect for quiet focused time when less errors are made.

Resolution #8: Take knitting classes.
There is always something new to learn - techniques, color combinations, designs, finishing, beginning, embellish, fitting and on and on. At the very least it might be what is not appealing or a better way.

Upcoming Classes at Kiwi Knitting

In keeping with the resolution on taking classes, here are some of the classes this month at Kiwi's. For more details see the classes in the newsletter on the Kiwi website.

1 Color Brioche - January 13th

Lace Elements - January 17th

Cast Ons- January 25th

Entrelac Hobo Bag- January 31st & February 7th

Lace Scarf- January 24th & 31st

Mariposa Shawlette-January 9th, 16th & 23rd

Socks Your Way-January 10th, 24th & 31st

Swirl Jacket-January 14th, 28th & February 11th

Lace Anyone?

Scarf to be knitted in the Lace Scarf class: