Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blame Lime & Violet

Lime & Violet's
Daily Chum features different Etsy shops everyday in a feature they call ESotD (and I have no idea why it's called that). So last week I succumbed and bought lace weight yarn from Blarney Yarns. I loved the name, and even more I loved the idea of 800 yards of lace weight for $16 - so I bought two! One purple and One Sea Grass green
They came neatly wrapped with a lovely handwritten note and a small sample skein of pink dahlia!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Casting on

Since my unsuccessful attempt to learn provisional cast ons, I had wished someone would teach a class in various kinds of cast ons. Well when I saw that one of my LYS's Woolwinders in Rockville was offering just such a class, I told myself, I couldn't pass it up.
Today, October 26th, Cathy Cea taught the class. We learned severn cast ons (that are many more), and I learned the provisional cast on. Yay! Another cast on technique I will be adding to my sock knitting repertoire is the Twisted German cast on. It's stretchy making it perfect for socks and other cast on edges that we want to be stretchy. There are some good videos on You Tube and other sites, to see these techniques. But there is nothing better than direct instruction.
The Knit Witch demonstrates the twisted German cast on on YouTube.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Staying afloat in hard times

Just this week, I was chatting with my friend Martha via email (she's been on the road ) about the closing of ArtFibers in San Francisco. On their blog, ArtFibers summarize the reasons their store on Sutter St. is closing (lease is up, gas prices, etc.), and commented on the state of the yarn business in general (lots of options, hard to stand out). This statement particularly hit me:
Yarn is a durable treasure, easily stashed, abundant. New web tools allow people to engage in 'stash sharing', extending the usefulness of what is on hand. If no yarn sold in the next year nobody would be without a project.

I have friends who earn their living through crafts. They live in Maine; Hillary is a weaver and Mark is a potter. They do a select number of crafts fairs each year. This is not an easy way to make a living, and the cost of gas has had an impact on the artisans expenses, and attendance. The public pays $8 to $10 to get in to spend money. This August I went up to the League of NH Crafts Fair in Lake Sunapee to see them. Word was that business was OK, but down.

This has led me to think a lot about the current economy, the need to cut back on spending, while at the same time trying to keep local artisans and my LYS's in business. After reading Barbara Kingsolver's
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this summer, I have expanded my awareness of buying local, and noticed what choices I have to do so. If I ask myself would I be happy buying all my yarn, fiber goodies, and books online, or in large chain stores, the answer is a clear no. If I ask myself if I have enough yarn to keep me knitting for a couple of years, again the answer is yes.
approach perhaps I should focus on would be to try to shop more locally knowing it is important for keeping my LYS's open, and when I can, support local artisans, who enrich our community so much. This holiday season, I will be more aware of reducing my purchases, get by without lots of holiday consumables, and making purchases that contribute to others' well being.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tiaras, books, and anarchists

In 2006, one sunny Sunday in October, my friend Linda, who lives in Silver Spring, and I were at a local fall festival. There was ethnic food, ethnic crafts, diverse musicans and vendors, but we noticed that there was little diversity amongst the attendees. In a way, it felt as though exotic foods, the people selling them, and exotic crafts were on display - kind of like a museum. We decided to cut out and drive to Baltimore's Book Festival. The event was full of diverse folks enjoying themselves, not just on display, in contrast to the one we'd left.
We have returned for the past two years, each time enjoying ourselves even more! Last year, we joined a tour of Mt. Vernon Writers' homes. This year,we went on Sunday, Sept. 27th. There was a Radical Book Fair tent! Most of the vendors were young, tattooed, anarchist types :), and I bought several birthday presents for my son.We drank pink champagne and got plastic tiaras from the Sweet Potato Queen, and to top off the day, we went to Greek Town for fried calimari (Linda) and moussaka (me).

Rescuing handmade objects

My friend Amy O'Neill Houck is a rescuer of handmade knitted and crocheted objects that end up in thrift stores. She had blogged about it (sorry can't find the entry), and recently moved from Takoma Park, MD to Cordova, Alaska. I wonder if there are thrift stores in Cordova?
So a week or so ago, when a friend of my son's came over wearing a crocheted poncho she bought in a local thrift store, I had to take a picture!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

knitting as soul soothing

Today my son Camilo is 24 years old. Today we went to a wake to say goodbye to his friend, Josh, who was killed in a shooting in the U Street neighborhood of Washington DC last Sunday. Josh was a tall, 22 year old, handsome, goofy, loyal friend, and Camilo had known him since they were in second grade. For the past few years, he had been living with his father in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where he will be buried. But he came back often to see his mother and sister, and of course, his friends.
After an hour overwrought with emotion, I went to the car to wait for my son, so he could be with his friends. I had my knitting with me, and once again discovered the comfort that knitting brings.
Josh, que descanses en paz.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Swell Season in Pittsburgh

The weekend of September 20-22nd I headed up to Pittsburgh. I had tickets to see Swell Season with my college buddy (and knitting buddy too!) Becky. They were playing at Pittburgh's Byham Theater, a beautiful restored 1904 theater in Pittsburgh's Cultural District (which didn't exist in our college days at Carnegie Mellon).

I will quote some of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review by Scott Mervis:

"Hansard has Bono-sized talent and charisma but with a straight-from-the-heart intimacy and playful sense of humor you don't get from his compatriot in U2.

The set was a dynamic mix of musicians coming and going, starting with Hansard and Irglova setting the tone with a sublime duet of Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" and then going right into Oscar winner "Falling Slowly," their harmonies as delicate and beautiful and as a male and female voice can be. He has the warmth and rasp of Cat Stevens, while she's like a shyer, gentler Sinead O'Connor.

With The Frames on stage for songs like "The Moon" and "When Your Mind's Made Up," the sound took on the epic quality of Radiohead.

Hansard was just as powerful stripped down to his acoustic guitar with the hole in it. For "Say It to Me Now," he stepped to the tip of the stage and belted out the emotionally charged song as he'd do it on the street, with no amplification. Before doing "Back Broke" and "Leave," the talkative Hansard joked of the songs being about "feeling like you're in a place where you can't get any worse -- which is kind of what we do." He balanced those angry breakup songs with "Happiness" -- more of a resigned breakup song, offering his lover his blessing."

My third time seeing SS, and I'll go again!!

While in Pittsburgh, Becky and I went to a new yarn store Natural Stitches. This is a great store with so much yarn! And they have an entire wall of Cascade yarn - which you can see in the top picture on their website.