Saturday, December 16, 2006

Retrospective: GKIYH's Best of '06

The end of the year is the traditional time to look back and look forward, and even though I resist cliches, I feel myself starting to look back at 2006 through the eyes of a knitter. Lucky youse guys get to partake of my ruminations. Today: the Go-Knit-In-Your-Hat Best of 2006 (not including books. You know me, I'll have to do a separate entry on books.).

The Best of 2006: Non-book edition

1. Destiny Circular Needles, by Lantern Moon. Yep, I love wood needles. Yep, I love the notion that Lantern Moon is one of those fair-trade companies. Yep, I love beautiful knitting accessories. Yep, I love a smooth join on my circulars. So a big thumbs-up for Destiny Circular Needles.

2. RYC Wool-Silk yarn. My favorite blend -- the sheen, drape and silkiness of silk, the elasticity and body of wool -- and a versatile DK weight. Great pattern support, as usual, from the talented Rowan designers. I'd love to see the palette get broadened a bit, maybe lightened up, but this is one nice yarn.

3. Koigu Felting Wool. I haven't sensed a major buzz about this, which shocks me, since who wouldn't want another way to enjoy the great colors of Koigu? When felted, the fabric remains light so you actually could felt a garment in it yet still wear it south of the Arctic Circle. Hats? Mittens? C'mon people, trust me on this one.

4. Lace, lace, lace. All of a sudden, the knitting masses discovered lace. And we all benefited: new lace patterns, new lace books, new laceweight yarns.

5. Soak Wool Wash. I don't know if this is new, or just new to me, but I saw this product at TNNA. It comes in a few different fragrances and all smell great.

6. Etsy. Again, this may have been around before I cottoned on to it, but Etsy is a great and badly-needed alternative to Ebay. The popularity of Ebay led all kinds of scam artists, junk peddlers and corporate sellers to join. Meanwhile, fees steadily increased. Ebay still has its place as a lower-priced alternative to buying new and full-price, but Etsy is superior for craft-related items. By limiting its products to handmade items (or supplies used for handmade items), Etsy keeps it fresh and interesting and ensures that indie crafters are the bulk of the sellers.

7. Smith Island Pattern Factory. Disclosure: the owner is a friend and colleague of mine at Rosie's. Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find nicer or more professional patterns from an indie designer. Several lovely shawls (which we promptly sold out of at Stitches), but also an extremely cute and creative baby jacket,

nice guy socks and an adorable baby blanket. More, please, Courtney!

8. Wild Geese Fibres. Does the world need more small-producer, breed-specific yarns in their natural state? Hell, yeah. Bring 'em on, Barb.

9. The rise of the Podcast. One of the extremely clever ways that the Internet continues to evolve and stay fresh. I'm partial to Knitty D and the City, but Cast On is great, too.

10. Rhinebeck Blogger Bingo. Brainchild of the inimitable Stitchy McYarnpants, illustrated by the prodigiously talented Franklin, Blogger Bingo made Rhinebeck even more fun by facilitating introductions among bloggers and blogreaders. The knitting community, with emphasis on the community. Well done, Stitchy.

11. The rise of the novel fiber. 2006 saw less-widely-known fibers burst onto the shelves of knitting shops. Yak yarn that's soft and sproingy (yes, sproingy, Lisa). Rowan's wonderful wool-soy silk blend, Transitions. Classic Elite's yummy wool-bamboo blend. Not to mention ingeo, sea cellulose, more organic options... it's an embarrassment of riches.

12. Black Bunny Fibers.

What -- you didn't think I was going to shamelessly promote myself? Hah! I've had more fun dyeing my yarns than I ever expected, and I hope you consider them a valuable addition to the virtual knitting marketplace.

I'm sure I've omitted some noteworthy developments in 2006, but I'm also sure my loyal readers will tell me what I missed.....

And a special Philadelphia "yo!" to Carol B-R, who stopped at Rosie's this weekend and had a good long visit with us. I do loves me visits from my blog readers.


Anonymous said...

Koigu Felting wool??? I just looked at the web site and I see no such beast! I LOVE koigu but as you know it does not felt...?

Anonymous said...

I agree with your "best of" list, and Black Bunny Fibers ought to be at the top. I am having a serious love affair with the Wensleydale roving I bought from you. The fibre itself and the colours and how they spin up...gorgeous! Now if I can just find a Wensleydale breeder here in Canada...
Barb B.
PS thanks for the kind words!

Carol said...

Carla, babe, not only does special felting Koigu exist (it is not the same as the regular) but Rosie's carries it. It's deliberately made to felt. Try emailing: rosie AT rosiesyarncellar DOT com to see what we've got in stock, but I was just there today and I know we've got several colorways on the shelves. It comes in a 100g skein instead of the typical 50g Koigu skein.

Leanne said...

Thanks for the great list. Some of these things I'm aware of, some I'm not and will have to check out. I'm looking forward to your best books of 2006 list as well.

I have two additions to a great things of 2006 list. First, the Knitting Olympics. Second, although you may not agree, for me Knit Picks Options certainly would make the list. They are everything I look for in a needle - lightweight, pointy, smooth joins, flexible cable, inexpensive.

Have a great holiday, Carol.

Carol said...

Well, I've never used their needles, so I don't have an opinion about them. I've heard people rave and I've heard people who sent them back, so it's probably just a personal taste thing. I didn't participate in the Knitting Olympics, either, so I guess I don't feel qualified to comment on it. But I'm glad you mentioned them both!

Bridget said...

Black Bunny Fibers is *definitely* one of the best things (knitterly and otherwise) about 2006! And the fact that you have a great time with it shows - and for me at least, makes knitting with the yarn more fun. :-)

And I have to say YES to the Lantern Moon needles. I bought a pair to make a vest, and if I had lots of $$, I'd buy them in every size.

Carol said...

Was that the "vest" you "made" for Tim? You know, the one you talk about but we never have actually seen? ;)

Carol said...

Oh God, I just noticed that I actually referred to a yarn as "yummy." Will somebody please smack me upside the head?

Larjmarj said...

Great list and PROPS! for Etsy! You're right it's a really great source for all items handmade. Ebay is good for some things but it is FULL of junk.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention how much I like the colours in the yarn picture for the Black Bunny plug.
Barb B.

Jen said...

Um...Knitting Olympics?


Jen said...

Whoops, should have read other comments before posting. It was hilarious even to watch, huh? I think it was just funny how it kept going and going. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for adding Blogger bingo to your list! I'm glad it made such a good impression, it was fun to put together. Can't wait to do it again next year.

And I agree, those Black Bunny Fiber folks really know what they're doing. Gorgeous stuff.

Carol said...

Hiya! Thanks for the shout out. It was great to meet you too. Really looking forward to seeing your project.

I'd like to add the (hopeful) demise of fun fur/novelty yarn. I'm basing this on the fact that I've only seen 2 people wearing scarves of this stuff instead of the usual half million from last year.

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