Thursday, September 24, 2009

So wierd there aren't words

It occurs to me that while I am doing something that I love (designing knitwear and knitting patterns) I am also doing something that I hate (using patterns).  It is a rather odd juxtaposition (I love that word) of creating the one thing I really hate to use.

I began (taught myself) knitting February 2005.  I apologize for mentioning this fact ad naseum but I have a hard time grasping the time span.  Since then, I have made 2 sweaters from someone else's pattern.  The first was a hugely bulky sweater for myself out of Lion Brand "Thick and Quick".  The sweater is so warm as to be unwearable indoors and so big (I'm already a 3X on top) as to be embarrasing.  But it was my first sweater so I cut myself some slack on my choices that I made then.  What did I know (apparently, not much).  The second sweater I knit from someone else's pattern was the "February Lady" sweater by Pamela Wynne.

I used Noro.  I modified the pattern in a couple of ways.  First, I used a different ball for each section of the sweater so that it would give me different stripe widths.  Then, I made the bottom of the sleeves larger for a bell shape.  Finally, I put a split in the cuffs to exagerate the sleeve shape.  But all-in-all I followed it pretty closely (for me).

Aside from these two, every other sweater has been one of my own creations.  I started off making some simple drop shoulder sweaters for my husband, my boys, and my nephew.  The challenge on those was stripes.  They were made from the same yarn with varying colors and stripe patterns.  The challenge was to match the sleeves exactly with the body.  Then, I did a little colorwork for Jake in the form of a heart and reverse stripe.

At some point Carter asked for a hoodie made out of Lion Brand Homespun.  This was that result:

Then there was the sweater knit sideways for my husband out of a thick and thin varigated roving yarn from Nashua that I don't think I have any pictures of...

And the bazillion pairs of socks I have knit since I first learned how in January of 2006.

And, let's not forget the first "serious" attempt at colorwork, the Jake sweater.  Made for Jake for his 5th birthday last March.  Here he is in all his glory:

There are also two other sweaters made for me that I did recently that I love.  The point of this is that while I do lots of sketching and even more math, I do not "write" patterns for any of these.  I love to use my creativity  (and lots of math skills) to make my own creations.  Having to learn to write my stuff down (in a format that others can understand) is really hard.  There are not words for how wierd it is to have to create that which you never use.

How could I forget?

The absolute best part about the Colonial Yarn shop is the selection! Kathy is wonderful, the store (while small) is so warm and inviting, the events she holds are great, and I love the shop layout. But the very best part is the amazing selection!

When I asked Kathy how many different lines of yarn she carried she started naming them. I'm talking full or mostly full lines. I lost count when she got past twenty. Then she started listing some of the individual yarns she has on hand.

What blew me away the first time I perused her selection was the fact that I didn't know or hadn't heard of so many of them.  I know I have only been knitting for four years. But, I read every knitting magazine I can get my hands on. I have a pretty good selection of knitting related books. I have been to Rhinebeck once and the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival twice. Yet, Kathy continues to surprise me with yarns that I can't get anywhere else locally. (I'll discuss Webs in a future post)

She also features a local independent dyer, Alice Bish. Her label is Altobish. She is on Ravelry as "Azalea". You can check out her blog here.  I even met Alice at the shop a couple of days ago.  I like to dye my own yarn from time to time (something I plan to do more of in the future) and I can't wait to talk techniques with Alice. How many LYS's can you do that at?

And, as a by-the-way kind of thing; Kathy is on Ravely as"colonial1".  Stop by either in person or on Ravelry.  I'm sure she would love to meet you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Colonial Yarn Shop in Shiremanstown, PA

The second in my series of yarn shop reviews is the Colonial Yarn Shop in Shiremanstown, PA. This shop has been around for quite a while (25 years!) with different owners. Kathy is the current owner/operator.

I love this shop for a variety of reasons. First of all, Kathy really knows her stuff. And, more importantly, she knows how to teach and seems to enjoy helping the knitters who come to her. There is a round table smack dab in the center of her shop to sit and knit at or just put your stuff down on while browsing. That brings me to the yarn.

There are many ways that I can think of to organize a yarn shop. The first is by fiber type (all the wool together, all the silk, etc.). The second is by weight (lace, sock, DK, worsted, bulky). The third is by manufacturer (Noro, Shaeffer, Lorna's Laces, etc.). The fourth (I've never seen it done this way but would absolutely love it) is by color. And, then there is Kathy's way. Which is actually probably the easiest to deal with and that is no particular order. Sorry Kathy, if there is a method to your yarn madness I can't tell. I actually love this though because it requires that you look at everything.

I don't particularly like to work with cotton yarns. They're ok while I'm working with them it's just the way they tend to sag and not recover later on that frustrates me to no end. Yesterday, I was looking for a particular color/weight of yarn and when I found it at Kathy's it turned out to be 100% cotton. Had her store been arranged by type of yarn as most stores tend to do I never would have found it.

Kathy offers a number of knitting classes, hosts a lace knitting group and a sock knitting group and has knit nights once or twice a month. I hope to see you there!