Thursday, March 29, 2012

Knitting in 1997 and Today

In 1997, I started flying and needed a hobby to fill my time as a reserve flight attendant. I bought some Peaches and Creme yarn, a pattern and some knitting needles at Michaels and knit a baby sweater with an intarsia kitten face on the front and a striped tail on the back. Call it beginners luck-it came out pretty darn cute. I followed the pattern for the most part. I ignored or made up stuff for the directions I didn't understand. I changed the pattern a little as I knit and added the tail pattern for the back. I guess I have always altered patterns to fit my whims. Knitting was a perfect fit for my new lifestyle!
Flight Attendant Graduation 1997

In 1997, there were far fewer Yarn Shops in the area. My choices were Michaels, Hobby Lobby and Walmart. But... they had yarn, patterns and supplies. Later that year, I went to visit my mom in Tuscan, Arizona with my Red Heart yarn in hand. I needed more yarn so she took me to a little yarn shop near her house...a real yarn shop! I was like a kid in a candy store and I made my first "Big Girl" yarn purchase--some Rowan Yarn and a "Always Arizona" pattern.
Always Arizona pattern by Sealed With A Kiss

Well, since then many things have changed--including my fashion choices!
My first visit to a LYS (Local Yarn Shop) transformed me from a person who knit as a hobby into a real knitter and yarn snob. The LYS had yarns of every fiber, color and gauge. They had patterns for things I didn't even know you could knit. And, the best part...personal interaction-they offered help, assistance and classes!

For the next few years, I visited as many LYSs as I could find. Interweave Knits used to publish an annual Yarn Shop Guide that was always in my suitcase. I looked up "Yarn" in the Yellow Pages of every hotel room I stayed in and called to find out how close they were. I ventured to Ohio--which if you've read the blog, know that I don't like to drive outside of the zip code. Each LYS had a personality-some good, some bad. I built up my yarn stash with yarn "souvenirs" from every place imaginable.

Jump to the present. Wow! Things have really changed for knitters. The internet and Ravelry have made yarns, patterns, designers and fellow knitters accessible with a few clicks of the keyboard. Now, Curious Georges like me can research just about anything without leaving the zip code. In addition, YouTube tutorials, knitting websites and blogs offer 24/7 answers to questions when your LYS is closed.

The computer isn't a substitute for the LYS experience of touching, feeling and even smelling the yarns, and interacting with other yarn obsessed friends, but it is a wonderful way fuse the old school handicraft of knitting with modern technology.

I hope we are able to deliver that "Kid in a Candy Store" experience when they come to Knitwits. I hope our website helps knitters find us and want to come visit. I hope our blog will entertain and get knitters to know us better. And, I hope our Ravelry group and Ravelry page are utilized by fellow Ravelers. If you can't come buy...log on!

Jill has scheduled a class at Knitwits called Unraveling Ravelry on Saturday, April 21st from 1:00-2:00.  This is our most popular class. Ravelry and Knitwits are THE knitting resources that I can't live without!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Packing for Prague

I'm leaving for my Prague/Vienna trip on April 20th and I have not a clue what to pack for my knitting entertainment. With everything else going on in my life and at the shop, this is what is consuming my thoughts!

I'm thinking socks are the way to go. They're small, they take a while, I owe Captain John a pair and I enjoy knitting them. But, a voice in the back of my head tells me that there is something far more exciting out there. What could it be?

I thought Color Affection in Alchemy Silken Straw might be the answer. I adore this shawl and know that it will be a tremendous amount of knitting but the end result would be worth it. I cast (casted?) on last week and started a test drive to see if it was road worthy. I'm thinking not. The yarn is rather splitty and requires very sharp needles, good lighting and each stitch (especially the M1s) requires concentration and needle dexterity. At the end of the project, I'm supposed to have 447 stitches on the needles. Yikes!  I'm thinking this is a project better left at home!
Color Affection
As usual, I log onto Ravelry for inspiration. I click on Patterns and look at "hot right now". Nothing looks familiar. Then, I realize I have "crochet" checked. I correct mistake and click on "top 20". I find two candidates, Quinn Sweater and Breezeway Cardigan both by designer Amy Gunderson from Knitscene Summer 2012. Drats! I don't have it yet.
Quinn Sweater
Breezeway Cardigan

I do a pattern search of the Color Affection designer, Veera Valimaki. Her designs are all stunning. I'm especially fond of Folded, a round neck pullover that is pleated at the front for more interesting shape. It’s stylish and cozy – all at the same time. The pullover is worked in one piece from bottom up.
 Is 800 yards of fingering weight yarn too bulky? Probably not. But, it's a heck of a lot of stockinette. Still in the running. I wonder if the Madelinetosh Steam Engine would work.

On a whim, I typed "Prague" into the pattern search. Stuff popped up, but nothing worthy of packing for Prague. Same with "Vienna". Back to the drawing board.

Next whim, check in on the YarnHarlot. I type her name into the people search and Voila! There she is. I looked at her queue, her favs and her projects. This woman knits LOTS of socks!  Just as I suspected, I've already knit many of her projects.

My queue now has 189 projects and 114 favorites. I have more UFOs than I can count. And...I still can't find a project to pack for Prague!