Friday, June 26, 2009

TNNA Report, part 2: Westminster Fibers

I am very relieved that my computer continues to work just fine and so I am able to continue my TNNA report with a sneak peek at what's coming this fall from Westminster Fibers.

Yes, yes, my adoration of Westminster Fibers is well-documented by now -- and has taken a leap into the stratosphere since I discovered their fabrics. (Check out these adorable bags from Amy Butler). But as TNNA does not include fabric or quilting, today I'll tell you about some of the things that my favorite yarn companies Rowan/RYC, and Nashua have coming up.

I first must borrow a schtick from Stephen Colbert and issue a Wag Of The Finger to Rowan. I am most displeased about the discontinuation of Rowan 4-ply Soft. Courtney said it well in this blog post: this is a wonderful, versatile, soft, machine-washable fingering weight yarn that is all wool! You can make socks out of it, you can make sweaters like this one:

you can make adorable baby items, you can make gloves and mittens and hats that will be wearable so many days of the year, so many pretty colors, why, oh why, why must you discontinue it?

Now, when my dear husband, whom I love more than anything in this world, sees the UPS man bringing in boxes of 4-ply Soft that I shall have to begin stockpiling, he will begin saying things like "Honey, beautiful woman that I treasure, do you not already have bins and bins full of yarn? Dearest, do you really need WEBS to send you more boxes of yarn?" and I shall have to explain to him that this is an emergency, that they will not be making this wonderful yarn anymore and I must Take Steps or it will be Unavailable Forever Except At Exorbitant Prices On Ebay.

Mr. Coats and Mr. Clark, if I ever run into you, I'm going to administer a spanking to each of you (and not in a good/sexytime way). Also, a word of warning: don't you dare to even consider discontinuing Rowan Wool-Cotton. I mean it. You Don't Want To Go There. Trust me on this one.

To start off the preview, it's worth mentioning that I think -- but I am not positive so if someone knows for sure, please correct me on this -- Rowan Classic or "RYC" will be folded into regular Rowan, with everything being called "Rowan" in the future. (The RYC website hasn't been up lately, which supports this theory.) I suppose it makes sense to get rid of any duplicative yarn lines and just call the whole darn thing by one name.

Anyhow, Rowan has some lovelies to introduce to us this fall, including Lima, which is not made from beans, but rather a lush blend of 84% baby alpaca, 8% merino, 8% nylon in a chainette construction (similar to Cork's?). Rich colors, supersoft hand, and the combination of the fiber blend and chainette construction will, I suspect, give it more elasticity than alpaca usually has, meaning less of a tendency to stretch or sag. (Linda, do you need my address to send me some to swatch with? Because, oddly, you forgot to give me one -- or one of each color -- when I saw you at TNNA.) At 109 yds/50g, looks like a worsted weight. Yum, yum.

Felted Tweed will now be coming in aran and chunky weights. (Is it me, or does Rowan seem to spend a lot of time swapping out tweeds for each other? Because the Scottish Tweed is going bye-bye, to join DK Tweed, Magpie Tweed, Chunky Tweed, Rowanspun, Yorkshire Tweed and Soft Tweed to that big tweedy knitting basket in the sky.) The single-breed Purelife British Sheep Breeds line -- introduced last year -- will now come in a second, lighter weight (DK -- yay!). Some of the shades will be undyed single colors, with a few marls in which two undyed colors are blended together.

More colors in Kaffe Fassett Colourscape (nom, nom); an 80% wool/20% silk blend called Silky Tweed in a heavy worsted weight (a nice blend for places like Philly, where the addition of the silk makes the wool more wearable); a 100% cashmere DK; and Alpaca Cotton, a 72% alpaca/18% cotton blend which at 148 yds per 50g ball sounds like about a DK weight or so -- but I seem to have no good notes on this, so don't quote me on that one.

There will, of course, be a new Magazine (lots of cabling, fair isle and colorwork), along with a booklet of Lima designs, a book of DK patterns shown in the new cashmere yarn, a new PureLife book with patterns for the original chunky weight and the new DK weight, and another book devoted to the Kaffe Fassett Colourscape yarn.

From Nashua, I was most excited about Best Foot Forward, a self-patterning sock yarn with colorways designed by Kristin Nicholas:

Very nice indeed:

(Plus Kristin has a book coming out this fall, so we have even more colorful goodness to look forward to...)

Nashua will also be giving us
  • Champlain, a 100% wool knitting at 3.5 to 4 sts per inch in some subtle multicolors -- some are truly multicolors, with 3 or more distinct hues, while some look more marl-ish, with several shades of the same color varying in lightness or darkness;
  • Paradise, a blend of 48% wool/48% baby alpaca/4% nylon, around 4 sts per inch with a slightly thick-and-thin texture; and
  • Shenandoah, another 4 to 4.5 st per inch yarn but with subtle, long color changes (think Tapestry kind of color changes rather than Noro).
In addition to a new edition of the magazine, Nashua will release a book of kids' sweaters knit in Creative Focus Superwash, and a booklet devoted to cardigan patterns.

So there you have it, folks: some of the great things you should be seeing in your favorite LYS around mid-July or so.

Next week: a sneak peek at Berroco, and (I hope) a new No-Bull Book Review...

Get your lace on

Just updated the Black Bunny Fibers website with some laceweight... including a new base "Flutter," 80% superfine merino/20% silk, 1300-yd skeins of lace delight,

and five skeins of 90% alpaca/10% shetland wool, also 1300-yd skeins but with a looser twist (this is a base I cannot get on a regular basis, so once they're gone, they're gone!):

(this one is a lovely mix of olive greens, but it's not quite photographing right -- looks less gold-y than that),

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Computer mishaps

I had planned to post more substantive content this week, but on Monday, when I tried to boot up the computer, there was a weird and ominous message on the screen, and no booting. All the usual fixes in my (limited) bag of tricks didn't work. I debated about whether to try to fiddle with it myself, but one big problem when your computer won't boot up is that you can't use it to Google what the problem is and how to fix it. We figured out a way around that, but Googling only revealed more uncertainty -- it could be a virus, it could be the hard drive, it could be software issues, blah blah blah.

I decided to schlep the thing over to the computer store. As I waited my turn, in a line of equally panicked computer users, all bearing their wounded machines and a look of desperation, an 8-year-old kid sat down next to me, lugging a computer tower.

"What's wrong with your computer?" he asked me in a chirpy voice.

How cute, I thought. Keeping my explanation simple in light of his age, I said, "My computer keeps giving me this weird message when I try to start it up."

"What does it say?" How adorable, I thought. He wants to help me fix my computer and he can barely tie his shoes! (I didn't notice that his shoes closed with Velcro.)

"It says [insert computer jargon here], whatever that means."

Without missing a beat, he says, "Well, it sounds to me like you have a hard drive issue. Have you defragmented it lately? I hope you have up-to-date virus protection," he added sternly.

"Um, okay, well, I guess we'll see what the computer nerd--guys say," I said weakly.

"Do you know what kind of disk interface family your computer uses?" he inquired solicitously.

"I don't know, it's a Dell," I said, desperately looking to see if the next available customer service representative was free to help me.

"You don't know?" he said in a tone steeped with condescension. "I suppose it's a PC rather than a Mac. Why on earth people continue to buy PCs when the Mac has a superior life span on its stock system, the potential for customization is endless, any disadvantage at symmetrical or pre-emptive multitasking is far outweighed by the intuitiv--"

"Do you like SpongeBob?" was my last salvo, and thankfully I was saved by the cry of "Next!" from the customer service counter.

Although I was given all sorts of dire expectation-lowering disclaimers about their ability to fix my computer, and how long it would take (punctuated by helpful observations and suggestions from the eight-year-old douchebag computer whiz), I was very excited to receive a phone call from a tech a few hours later telling me that he'd fixed the problem with some tweaks to software settings that mysteriously (read: courtesy of Elvis?) got switched.

So now I'm back on-line and, thankfully, did not have to get a new hard drive or computer to achieve that. Tomorrow I SWEAR I will continue with the TNNA update, but for now, having wound about 10 skeins of this lovely laceweight:

I am whipped. (Look for a BBF update Friday-ish.)

Monday, June 22, 2009


Spent the weekend with the flu, now I've got some computer "issues." (Don't you love "issues"? It can mean so many things, from a nervous breakdown to a fried hard drive to .... the sky's the limit!)

Don't panic if it takes me longer than usual to get back to you, and keep your fingers crossed I can fix this myself.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We interrupt this TNNA recap...

to show you these:

Aren't they lovely? It is Turtlegirl's first for-pay pattern, called Candi Wrapper (named after her sister, Candi). You can find the pattern through
this link, and you can also feel a little extra virtuous because in addition to supporting an indie designer, you will get a warm feeling knowing that 20% of all pattern sales go to help fund childhood education in Malawi. (Suck it, Madonna.)

Update: Link fixed -- sorry!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Looking ahead: what's coming this fall (part 1)

A couple of good nights' sleep in my own bed worked wonders. Now I'm rarin' to go. TNNA was exciting, inspiring and fun. Since a certain person whom I missed dreadfully because he wasn't there to share the fun with me accused me of being a namedropper, hmph, I shall today tell you about some of the very exciting things coming to a LYS near you this fall.

It's hard to figure out where to begin, but since I spent a good bit of time hanging around the Classic Elite booth, I'll start there. I know I've been yammering about Véronik's new yarn line, St. Denis, but seeing all the colors in real life

and seeing the garments in real life, and seeing some of the photographs of the garments that will be in the magazine.... well, I think this is going to be one of the must-haves of the fall. I mean, you've got American-made, 100% wool at a great price point, 32 colors, terrific pattern support, and you can knit it 5.5 or 6 single or even around 4-4.5 sts per inch doubled -- this is a great yarn, people. And the magazine that will accompany it is going to be dynamite. So if you haven't ordered it yet, you better call your Classic Elite rep ASAP. (I have been begging Véronik to send me more sample skeins to knit with...)

Another thing that knocked me out at the Classic Elite booth was the pattern collection by Jared, a.k.a. Brooklyn Tweed. "Made in Brooklyn" is a mix of men's and women's designs that are spectacular. I was struck by a lovely stranded colorwork hat and a silvery-blue woman's yoke sweater, but the entire collection is gorgeous, and well worth seeking out. I met Jared there, and he was very warm and fun. I'm going to be following his work very closely.

If you haven't seen or touched the Minnow Merino from Jil Eaton (also distributed by Classic Elite), you should. I picked up two skeins of this from Woolbearers when I was booksigning there. It's a very soft, machine-washable wool that knits at around 4.5 sts per inch. Even though it's superwash, it doesn't feel it and retains a softness and cushiness like a soft singles yarn, but without the potential for felting. I would definitely make an adult sweater out of this yarn, too. Great colors, too.

Once I was able to tear myself away from Classic Elite's booth, there were tons more exciting things to see. New from Manos del Uruguay is a worsted-weight wool with a smooth, consistent twist called Rittenhouse Merino 5-ply. There are 12 kettle-dyed colors and 200 yds per 100g skein -- very nice indeed. Also worth noting is The Fiber Company -- their booth was lovely, and the muted, complex colors of their yarns are gorgeous. I was especially taken with Terra, a slightly slubby blend of merino, alpaca and silk. (Hmm, I wonder what I have to do to get Courtney to send me a skein or two to play with?)

That's just a teaser of some of the things that I saw this weekend. I'm still way behind and the kids are off this week, so I think I have an appointment with a large bucket of popcorn and the movie "Up." I'll post again tomorrow and tell you about what's coming from my beloved Westminster Fibers, among others....

(There, Mr. Franklin Habit, are you happy now? If you had been in Columbus with us, singing along while Amy Singer played her ukelele,

you wouldn't be nearly as cranky. Plblttttttt!)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back from TNNA


This is why I am so tired this morning. Man, Louisa Harding and Trisha Malcolm sure know how to par-tay...

More tomorrow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Off to TNNA

Sorry so quiet this week -- lots to do before I leave for the big trade show (or as my family calls it, "the Yarn Convention") in Columbus. If you're there and see me, say hi. I'll be taking notes on all the goodies that will be appearing in yarn stores near you this fall -- and I'll try to collect some funny anecdotes and juicy gossip, too.

If you hear a very loud wailing sound, that is probably Miss Thing realizing that I am going to be in Columbus instead of at her ballet recital on Saturday. (She's right: I don't know how to love....) Rest assured that a large arrangement of very pink flowers along with groveling apologies will be delivered to her on Saturday. Sigh. (Why, yes, I do feel guilty, thank you for reminding me.)

Friday, June 05, 2009

It's Friday

and I got nuthin'.

The kids followed up their trifecta of strep by catching a nasty little cold, which they then passed on to me. So..... today I will simply share with you several things that amused me while I was wasting time procrastinating recovering from my cold this week.
Have a good weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

If you just can't get enough of me

I briefly guest-bloggged for Mindy today while her internet is out. Go here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Check this out...

Yesterday was Ve-ve's birthday -- and apparently one of her gifts was a brand-new website for her brand-new yarn company... go here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Knit for some homeless teens...

If you've got some time and room on your needles (or hook or under your presser foot), please consider participating in a drive to provide handknit (or crocheted or sewn) items for homeless teens through a shelter in New York City called Sylvia's Place. Sylvia's Place is an emergency shelter open 365 days a year, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. It provides food, beds, clothing, showers and other services for teens who have three strikes against them: they are young, they are homeless and they are gay/lesbian/bi/transgendered. One aspect that is especially fun from the crafter's standpoint is that there is so much flexibility in what you can make to help:
  • Sweaters
  • Hats
  • Scarves/Shawls/Shrugs
  • Mittens
  • Gloves/Fingerless Gloves
  • Legwarmers
  • Socks
  • Slippers
  • Blankets/Afghans
  • Pillows/Throw Pillows/Pillowcases
  • Washcloths/Dishcloths/Dish Towels
  • Bags (Market bags/Handbags/Tote bags)
If you belong to Ravelry, you can go to the stickied thread in the Knitters for Obama group and read more about it. There is a mailing address in the introduction to the thread. The shelter is in need of items on an on-going basis, so you can mail whatever you wish to send whenever you finish it. I've already done some hats and am going to figure out some other items to make. Machine wash is good but not essential, so long as you tag the items that need handwashing.

We're also collecting handmade stuffed animals and toys for neglected and abused children in the Chicago area, and there is a separate stickied thread with the details on that collection.

Both collections are going to continue through the summer, so if you're looking for small, portable projects to knit while traveling or in the park or on the beach, a quick hat or set of fingerless gloves would be just the ticket.

UPDATED: Just learned that the month of June has been declared "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month" by President Obama. Perfect tie-in, no?