Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jane The Knitter

It's great when someone is branded by their profession. It's nothing new, I imagine that anyone with the last name Carpenter or Cook can boast an ancestor who actually was a carpenter or cook. I awaited the Jane Ellison seminar at Stitch with much anticipation. I hadn't realized how prolific this lady was until I counted the projects designed by her in my queue alone.

This cardigan called Esme is out of one of the Queensland design books (yarn stashed...check) and Manhattan from Pure Noro last year is languishing but still makes my heart beat faster. Meeting her did not disappoint. Poor thing was fighting a nasty cold and given her apparent schedule, it's not surprising.

The group was intimate - only about seven of us. Stitch is an amazing little store. It's actually the first floor of a Victorian house. Imagine what your house would look like if you could decorate it with gobs of designer yarn and you've pretty much got the picture. It's charming, soothing and filled with creative inspiration. Jane brought with her sweater samples from her Mirasol books. Mirasol is a fair trade yarn line in support of the families who shepherd the Alpaca in Peru. Mirasol book 3 is wonderful and my personal favourite is this cabled, hooded tunic done in Qina (a blend of Alpaca and Bamboo of all things). I tried the sample on as did several other knitters and it looked great on everyone. That's the hallmark of a great design in my opinion. Jocelyn (who owns Stitch) brought in the Qina in a wonderful Wisteria shade and I can't stop thinking about it. So far, so good though - I'm still at the longing stage and haven't actually transgressed to the plotting stage but I'm darn close. The workshop revolved around a lovely little Inca-styled hat with slip-stitched patterning. Jane is charming and patient and lovely (if you like willowy, model-like blonds who are talented and nice).

Jocelyn had this mock newspaper front page made up to hang discretely on the wall for Jane to casually notice.Ironically, she found her first designing job in this same publication. She's focusing mostly on the Mirasol yarns for now though the new Jane Ellison Noro book is to die for also. If "Jane the Knitter" would just create fewer amazing designs then maybe I won't have to have my name legally changed to "Princess Running with Mastercard".

Friday, October 10, 2008

The FUNdamentals of Stashenomics

Are we having fun yet?

Every knitter tells themselves as they (yet again) purchase 1600 metres of Aran weight blue tweed yarn "If I ever fall on hard times, I'll have the stash to rely on. I will be able to continue to knit". I said it to myself every damn time.

I never thought I'd have to mean it.

Canada will go to the polls this coming Tuesday to elect a new government and our friends to the South are coming into the home stretch of what can only be described as "the mother of all elections". I've been watching lots of TV to try and keep abreast of the political issues and I've been working alternately on Cobblestone for DH and Roam for myself. My thrill at finishing The Diamond Fantasy Shawl has made me want to clear up a few UFOs so these two are on deck.

As I think about why we've come to this point, I look at my yarn stash and ask myself, was it a good investment? Those Starmore kits I hoarded in the early nineties when she ended production of her Campion yarn label could probably be sold easily or if I knit them provide many long months of knitting enjoyment. Good investment.

Ditto with those Kaffe Fassett kits - Spanish Combs (now there's an epic project) and China Clouds I actually had ear-marked for when I retire and have long hours to knit, free from forty-something obligations.

Yorkshire Tweed DK in various colours and Noro Kureyon and Silk Garden...great investments. These yarns have been hundreds of possible creations in my head. They'll hold their value.

Let's not talk about the gittery stuff. I consider these to be the junk bonds of the stash.

My yarn portfolio is solid and if I have to live off of it for a while - no problemo. This whole fiasco has however made me think about what political statement my stash makes. I've decided how to vote in my election this Tuesday and I had to look no further than Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Yes funding for the arts is important - heck I served on my local Symphony Board for five years. There won't be any arts or even an economy if the planet is going down for the count. Whether one believes we've caused climate change or not - most agree it's happening and we ain't helping. It seems to me every problem traces back to greed and the desire for a few to benefit often at the expense of others. Fair trade means everyone in the supply chain makes a decent living and is treated appropriately. On October 20th - Stitch yarn store in Grimsby will be hosting Jane Ellison and we'll be working with Mirasol yarns which are produced based on fair trade principles (visit here for more info on the seminar). These kinds of yarns will have an honoured place in my stash going forward as will local yarns. Shelridge Farms here in Ontario makes a beautiful selection of yarns lovingly shepherded from field to fingers by Buffy Taylor. I will continue to support my local yarn stores too even if it's smaller amounts of lovely yarns to make accessories.

No doubt, the election will provide many more knitting hours which is a good thing because I had to rip out the second front of Roam. My gauge was off and the piece was about and inch wider than its twin. After this picture was taken, I ripped the sucker out. All of those gains wiped out in only 15 minutes.
That's ok - it may take a while to get back where I was but it will be so much better in the end than if I hadn't ripped it out.