Tuesday, June 24, 2008

OMG! Annie Modesitt!

I met Annie Modesitt yesterday. Not only did I meet her but she complimented my knitting! I'm usually a very modest person and don't go about tooting any horns but for this, I must make an exception.

Annie Modesitt said my stitches were beautiful!!!!

I just about fell apart with gratitude and adoration. Thankfully I was able to hold it together and pay attention for the rest of the classes that she taught at Stitch DC yesterday - Combination Knitting and a tutorial for her Cocoon Twisted Float Shrug that was on the cover of Vogue a few years ago. The Combination Knitting class was a revelation for me - I've always been vaguely annoyed by my purl stitches and now I know why. Most people's purl stitches are looser than the knits. That's because most of us Westerners use just a tiny bit more yarn in our purl stitches. Combination Knitting refers to the melding of Eastern and Western knitting traditions so that the same amount of yarn is used for both the knits and purls. East meets West. How beautiful is that?

The second class was great for imparting some tips and techniques on a very unusual stitch pattern. I don't know how Ms. Modesitt does it, but she may be a genius. The shrug is something that I probably would have never tried on my own. But having been talked through most of it by the designer herself, it feels much less daunting now.

Annie is a fantastic teacher - she is one of those rare people who can translate relatively complex ideas into elegantly simple terms. Her instruction was always clear and she took the time to make sure that we understood - a challenge in a room of almost twenty people. She came around to each of us and inspected our swatches not once but multiple times. She joked around, told stories and imparted a great amount of knitting wisdom in a relatively short period of time. By the end of the day, I was mentally pooped.

One more thing about Annie - she does not suffer fools lightly. Her voice was hoarse and at the very beginning of the class she asked that there be no talking except her own. And she had the balls to enforce it. This is something I appreciated greatly. Especially with the noisome woman at my table who felt her witticisms were too precious to be kept to herself alone. Annie can tell a good joke but she's dead serious about keeping to her lesson plan and woe be to the foolish knitter who dares interrupt.

Overall, it was a great experience for me. And not just because Annie Modesitt complimented my knitting. It was fun to learn new things and to come together with a group of fellow fiber enthusiasts and spend the day knitting. It was great to learn at the feet of a true master - someone who not only knows her shit but also how to impart her know-how with grace and humor. This morning, I registered for classes at Stitches East in Baltimore - bring on the knitting gurus for they are worth their weight in cashmere!

By the way, did I tell you what Annie Modesitt said about my knitting?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

LYS Rave! Loop in Philadelphia

I went to a yarn shop today and it was like I'd died and woke up in heaven - if heaven was a yarn store (and I'd actually behaved in this lifetime to warrant something better than purgatory).
But I digress...

1914 South Street
Philadelphia PA 19146
215 893 9939 | 877 893 9939

This impeccably neat, organized and visually stunning shop was manned by the owner Craig Rosenfeld. And even though a caravan of yarnies flooded the store shortly after I arrived, he still managed to check on me and make some helpful suggestions.

First off, they have a wall of Koigu - well, more like two columns of shelves but still, a really nice selection. Plenty of my favorite smaller yarn companies: Neighborhood Fiber, Be Sweet, Aslan Trends. And some bigger names: Sublime, Debbie Bliss, Big Sky Alpaca. Great color selection in almost every yarn and all beautifully displayed - Craig obviously has a designer's eye for color as every yarn complements its neighbors in aesthetically pleasing combinations. In fact, the whole store is aesthetically pleasing. It's roomy but very well stocked. Lots of notions, needles, patterns and books. And sale yarns are scattered throughout the store - I got some Hemp for Knitting fingering weight for a generous 40% off.

But what I think I really appreciated about Loop was its abundance of weather-appropriate fibers: lots of cottons and cotton blends. Seeing as it's a muggy 90 degrees outside, I don't really want to work with wool right now. Maybe other knitters don't necessarily feel this way but now is the time of year that I really appreciate cotton, linen, bamboo and hemp. Warm and fuzzy in a few months maybe but right now I want only cool, slick and breathable.

Thus, my other yarn purchase was Montoya Beach - an incredibly lustrous and uncharacteristically soft laceweight linen from Punta del Este yarns. Maybe perfect for the Hanami stole? Must. Not. Cast On. Yet. Have too many WIPs right now.

Overall, Loop is a definite must-visit as far as fiber stores in Philly are concerned. And as an added bonus, there's a lovely fabric store right next door - Spool. I got a really great Amy Butler pattern and was sorely tempted by lots of other stuff.

I know, I know. You're thinking, where are the pictures? Sadly, I forgot my camera at home - I've been misplacing it a lot lately and frankly I think it's a subconscious ploy to accidentally lose it so I can get another one. Like a Canon Rebel SLR (you reading this, Yarn Widower?) But had I had the clunky thing, I would have been too shy to start snapping away anyway. It's too LYS stalkerish. And I don't want to freak anyone out. And I really am kinda shy - in a bloggerish I'll share my soul with anyone on the internets kind of way.

Go visit the store. You'll like it. Tell'em the Yarn Widower sent ya.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Whipsawed by the WIPs

Lack of finished objects. That's my latest excuse for lack of posting.

I have 8 UFO's on my ravelry project page. (UFO's are Unfinished Effing Objects for you non-knitterly types). Ravelry denotes them more politely as WIPs (Works in Progress).

I am whipsawed by my WIPs.

According to the Free Dictionary, one interpretation of "whipsaw" is " To cause to move or alternate rapidly in contrasting directions." Frankly, I find this describes my current condition quite adequately as I float from one project to another. But it's getting a little ridiculous. I mean, I need a website to keep track of them all. Sheesh.

Actually I did finish something recently - a dress for my niece's first birthday. But I'm waiting for her to model the garment for me before I actually post about it. Gotta get some good pictures first. Just as a teaser, it got back to me that the Yarn Widower actually complimented my knitting. He was describing the dress and said, "Yeah, you should see it. It's pretty awesome."

Now don't that beat all.