Just a quick note to let you know I am still here and do intend to get back to blogging! Mack and I have been very busy trying to help my parents (who are not in good health at all), rehab an apartment for occupancy by June 1 and then doing all the spring things--like plant a garden, brood the baby chicks, ducks and geese, and all the chores that go with having animals. Our most recent (probably quite comic) enterprise was to load up the boys, our two alpacas Machu and Picchu, and take them to a neighboring farm for their annual haircut or shearing. The poor boys are cool now, but oh are they embarassed. They feel naked and the flies are bothering them something fierce. That is a job for us this afternoon.
Here are some pictures of Ridgely, the latest and greatest Knit Along from Skacel and Michelle Hunter. We are using CoBaSi, a cotton-bamboo-solk and elastic yarn. It is great fun to knit and feels wonderful. Ridgely is going to be a "shawlette" when it is finished. In these pictures I am halfway through the second week's clue. Another great project from Michelle and Skacel, although I must confess that one does have to pay attention, it is easy to get on the wrong row. Also, notice that I did something I don't generally do-I inserted a lifeline so viewers could see what it looks like. I rarely use them and so far haven't needed this one, but it is comforting.
Finally, today we are having a day that feels like spring. The sun is out, the wind is not howling, and the temperature is quite pleasant. Of course the signs have been peeking up for awhile--the spring peepers were out peeping the other day, the daffodils are growing, a crocus or two has popped out in the yard, a dandelion showed up the other day and then there is the most important portent of spring, the baby birds at the farm stores. (To be sure, our own birds have been busy for weeks now finding locations for their nests, laying their eggs, and just as they start setting, pulling feathers out to help keep the eggs warm. At the moment we have 7 geese on nests, two chickens are trying (not very successfully) and the year old ducks are laying eggs in goose nests. Unfortunately, our neighbor's dog made a raid on our little domain and killed my setting duck and hens. I was and am still quite upset.
We bought 12 little day old Pekin ducks to help out the diminishing duck flock and soothe my ruffled feelings. They are the cutest little things. They are very friendly and when we clean out their little brooding pen, they come running to greet us making little affectionate peeping sounds and keeping their little black eyes on us. They are 10 days old now and starting into their teenage (ugly duckling) phase. We are enjoying them immensely, even though they are little pigs. It is amazing how fast they can turn their clean pen into a watery mess, but they are eating and drinking and growing like little weeds. We will have to get them a new pen this weekend, because their little heads are just about to bang into the top of the current pen. Now you know what we will be doing on Easter weekend.
Have a happy and safe Easter!
Here is an announcement to alert all of you knitting designers of an opportunity to compete in a knitting design competition sponsored by Skacel. The competition is called "The Fiber Factor" and is being held to find the "next great knitwear designing superstar." You, customers who come up with great designs, know who you are, so get on out there and register if you haven't already. Unfortunately, I just heard about this this week and it is getting down to the wire to get registered--BUT it is not too late. Skacel is accepting application through March 24, 2013. They will select 12 contestants to compete in the contest. The 12 winners will be announced on April 6 and the list of winners will be posted online by April 8, 2013. A series of 6 challenges will be presented to the 12 winners from April through October. Three contestants with the highest scores will be chosen and given a final challenge. The Grand Prize winner will be selected and announced in January 2014. There will be cash prizes for each challenge and the Grand Prize will be a 5 day trip to Germany to tour yarn production facilities and the addi needle factory. Oh WOW! Those of you who love to design and knit this is a dream come true for you. What an opportunity to show your creative side--and get recognized for it!!!! I know you are out there, so get that application filled out and submitted. More inforation is available at http://thefiberfactor.com/
My apologies for not posting a blog during the last couple of weeks. Life has changed my plans. My mother has been quite ill (my dad isn't too well either--we have some appointments scheduled for him) and we have been rushing around trying to take care of her and make sure someone is with her most of the time at the hospital in Morgantown. Mom got through her surgery beautifully, but now we have to get back to the problems that hospitalized her in the first place.
Unfortunately, the stores have had to take the backseat, so to speak. We plan to have both stores open the next couple of weeks, although only one of us may be here. If you plan on coming in, please give us a call to make sure we are going to be open. Our phone numbers are:
Market Street Yarn and Crafts--304-865-9276
Sew Creative-- 304-422-6454
Thank you so much for your understanding!
Pantone has selected "emerald" color 17-5641 as color of the year for 2013. I love it! Emerald, a lovely shade of green with blue undertones, is one of my favorite colors. Not only do I love the emerald shade of green (I am actually wearing it today) I love the gemstone--emerald. Perhaps it is because it is my birthstone, but I have always loved the color. It is a color which heralds spring and growth, calmness and reflection. According to Pantone emeral green is a "lively, radiant, lush green that enhances the sense of well-being, balance and harmony." Perhaps it is lively, I don't know, but I agree with the rest of the statement. Emerald is a lovely green that goes well with all other colors. (It looks excellent with my other favorite colors in the red and pink family, especially magenta. It looks good on just about everyone. The blue undertone makes blue eyes look bluer, enhances the green in green or hazel eyes and is lovely with brown or gray eyes. You can't beat it!
I look forward to a year of working with emerald green colors. It will be great in quilts and clothing. We also have a few yarns in emerald.
While I was rummaging around in my knitting stuff looking for a pattern for a friend, I started looking for an old set of knitting needles that had been my great grandmother's. (Probably not important, but I inherited them from my grandmother when she died.) The needles are very old and very worn. Clearly my great grandfather or some relative of my great grandmother made the set of double points for her. From their looks, I would say they were carved with a knife. They are black with age and use, probably close to a size 5 or 6, a bit lumpy compared to what we use today, but very special nevertheless. I can imagine her making everything with them--sweaters, hats, socks, mittens etc. for her 13 children.
Thinking about her needles made me curious about when the first knitting needles were "invented" so I have done a little research to see what the story is. Amazingly, there is almost nothing. It is like knitting just magically appeared-no written history, no patents, no anything.
Many historians believe that true knitting dates back to 7th- 9th century Egypt. (Maybe some art is the source of the information.) Early knitting probably was an off shoot of an ancient technique called nalbinding which used a blunt needle with an eye. These early instruments were carved of bone, horn, or wood as were the first (and some of the new) knitting needles. Earliest needles were probably double points to produce tube type projects. Eventually straight needles with blobs on one end were developed and most recently circular needles came along. The first interchangeable needles were developed by Bob and Lorraine Linstead in the 1960s for Sears and Boye. The Linsteads went on to invent and patent the Denise Interchangeable system in 1977. (Anne Berk, THe Hazy History of Knitting Needles, Piecwork, March/April 2012.) Each year we have more needles and styles to choose from--square, round, plastic, wood, metal, sharp points, round points, coiled cords, plastic cords, etc. This allows those of us who love to knit (and have 20 some projects going) choose the just right needle for our project. Ahhhh! What a treat!
Unfortunately, as interesting as all this is, it doesn't tell us much about who or when the first needles were picked up, so we don't have much in the way of history. Mack made the needles in the picture for me several years ago. They are made of cherry and black walnut the small set are US #6 and the bigger set is a US #9. It is hard to believe what large chunks of wood Mack had to use to turn them on his lathe. They are beautiful and I treasure them. Hopefully, some day 100 years form now someone will find them, realise they are hand made and treasure them. The bond between generations is one of the many facets of knitting that make it so special.
Note: I didn't find either the pattern or the needles, so back to the search!
This is the first week of a new year! There are many exciting things going on--we started the latest KAL with Michelle Hunter and Skacel yesterday, I have a beautiful new orchid sitting on my "window" sill at the store, I finished my December projects, and I have a whole bunch of new projects I want to start. However, I don't want to write about any of these subjects today! I want to write about color--especially pink and blue.
Working in the store, it has come to my attention that people don't generally pick pink or blue for the new babies for whom they are planning to knit special projects. This strikes me as rather strange, especially since women almost always seem to find out the sex of the child they are expecting long before his/her birth. So I thought I would do a little research on the colors--pink for girls and blue for boys.
During the1800s babies of both sexes wore white dresses until they were about 6 years old. When one thinks about it, the reason is pretty obvious. It was easier to launder white clothes and I guess dresses were easier to manage. So where did the idea that girls should wear pink and boys blue come from and when?
At the beginning of the 1900s colors started being fashionable. To start with pink was promoted for boys and blue for girls. Why? Because pink was a derivative of red and seen to be a stonger color to go along with little masculine tempers and blue for girls because it was seen to be more demure, quiet and feminine. Gradually the color preferences started shifting--at first blue eyed babies should wear blue and brown eyed babies pink and by World War II the colors had totally switched to what we see today--blue for boys and pink for girls.
Who started all this business with the colors--merchants, especially the big department stores! So, I say who cares--let that baby wear the color you like until it is old enough to say "I don't like this color, I want to wear (whatever)."
I have loaded this picture for Gloria--sorry it isn't up on Ravelry, but here it is. I don't think my photo does justice to the yarn or the colors. For those of you that don't look at Ravelry, this is the CoBaSi from HiKoo that we will be using for the January mystery Knit Along with Michelle Hunter and Skacel. We will use 2 skeins for a pair of socks . Michelle Hunter will post the first week's directions on Thursday morning January 3. (No, this is not why we cancelled January's Embroidery Club.) We will get our additional directions the next 3 Thursdays in January.
This sock yarn is great for those of you who don't like or are allergic to wool--ta da, there is no wool in this yarn, only cotton, bamboo, silk and nylon. The KAL is a great way of encouraging yourself and finishing an object (s), after all, who wants to fall behind? I understand that Skacel is offering prizes, but haven't looked at the specfics. Come on in, get your yarn and get ready to get started!
Once upon a time I was reading about Noro yarn and came across some information indicating that the company manufactures their beautiful one ply yarns using a mule spinner. I filed the information away and recently pulled it out of my mind to describe to a customer how Noro was produced. However when I looked for it, I was not able to find my source.
Discouraged and believing that my mind was failing, I started looking into mule spinning--to see if indeed there is such a technique. And, guess what, there is! Mule spinning was developed by Samuel Crompton and combines the best of two types of spinning--the spinnnig jenny and Arkwright's water spinner. We won't go into the technical details since they are a bit much for this blog, but I will say a little about mule spinning.
The original mule spinning machine used mules to pull the sliver and twist it (the draw), the yarn was wound onto spindles as the mules went back to the machine. There was an entire cast of employees that focused on driving and caring for the mules--again not something we are following at the present. Today the mule is gone from mule spinning--it is a totally mechanized process that can allow thousands of spindles to be spun at the same time.
Back to Noro--yes, Noro yarn is spun on a specially modified short bed mule spinner (the mule, but the machine not the animal) to reduce the twist in the single strand yarns. According to my source, the article Behind the Scenes by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton in the Fall 2012 edition of Noro magazine the Noro mule is a beautiful wooden "antique".
Yea! I remembered the source, finally!
I tried to find a picture of a mule (animal) drawing the sliver so we could all get a concept of what it looked like, but couldn't find one. There are a lot of pictures of industrialized mule spinning and you can find those on the internet if you look under mule spinning.