Thursday, July 23, 2009

New sheep on the block

I love marketing. I admit it - the art of product story-telling amuses the shit out of me. I guess that's why I love my job (all the wine not withstanding).

When I saw the new Spud and Chloe line at Needle Emporium, my inner marketer stood up and cheered. At last - some innovation.

Spud and Chloe is a sub brand of the Blue Sky Alpacas parent brand. (Note to self - never choose a company name that defines you in too narrow a sector). By creating the Spud and Chloe brand, they can now launch "non Alpaca" fibres to their heart's content. The logo is cheeky and whimsical. I'm a sucker for red-headed girls who like sheep.

The patterns are packaged like sewing patterns on one large 11 x 17 inch sheet which folds into a paper sleeve. I wasn't sure I'd like this format but it's great for making a copy to mark up and carry around with you. I always wrestle with the Rowan books when I make copies for my knitting bag. There's even a section to make notes.

The designs strike a nice balance between classic and cheeky. My personal favourites are this bulky weight cardigan which may nicely fit with some Adrianne Vittadini Mimi I have in stash. Also, this hooded vest is very cute but my favourite is this wave pullover in shades of brown, burnt orange, teal and lime green. I must confess...I bought the yarn for this one.
The yarns are also classic with a twist. The fingering weight yarn is called "Fine" and is a merino/silk blend that is super wash. It's very soft and the Wave pullover I bought uses it. The Aran weight is called "Sweater" and is a wool/cotton blend and the bulky weight is dubbed "Outer" and is also a wool/cotton blend.

The patterns are stored in a cool branded filing box with dividers that are labelled according to the yarn it uses. Nice touch marketing department!!!!

I'm guessing BSA is targeting those younger knitters who have made their umpteenth novelty scarf and are ready for garments. I think the patterns will have broader appeal though this little cardigan feels young to me (though I do love it). Julie is having a store sample made of it in different colours so once I see it in the flesh - I may feel differently.

Is Spud and Chloe all gimmick/no substance? I don't think so at all. This is where the industry needs to go. Give us great, easy to care for yarns with innovative pattern support and you'll "have us at hello".

Monday, July 06, 2009

Down the Rabbit Hole

I have an FO to announce! My first woven article (a scarf) is complete. As I blogged about earlier, this was a project that I completely underestimated. I thought it looked easy but in fact, it was a multicoloured, multi-fibre warp with fairly complex tie-ups and treadling. I just really liked the picture and since I've developed an affection for Tolani scarves, I'm all about trying to create my own similar effect.

Project Name: Turned M's and O's Scarf
Designer: Emilie Pritchard
Source: Handwoven Magazine November/December 2004 issue
Materials: 8/2 mercerized cotton black, teal and tan, chenille in natural, warp
10/2 pearl cotton white for the weft.
From: Camilla Valley

I ended up cutting off the first 20 inches I wove because I was missing a few threads from one of the sections and it was thinner than the rest. I still had the threads hanging off the back of the loom so I was able to do some re-threading and tie on again to get the pattern correct.

I had a brief heart attack when after cutting off the erroneous piece I realized that "loom waste" included tieing on and getting started again but fortunately, my guild mentor who helped me measure the warp had given me an extra yard or so. Whew - lesson learned.

The true beauty of the piece comes when you wash it and those straight panels of pattern shift around and make the oval shapes. The fabric really softened up too.

I admit it - I'm smitten with this new hobby. I'm so glad I got the 8 shaft Baby Wolf too!

I wrote to Schacht to ask a technical question last week and gushed at how much I was enjoying the loom.

They wrote back a lovely explanation to my question with the following opening line

"Welcome weaver!"