Friday, February 24, 2012

The Yarn Whisperer: Clara Parkes

I had the pleasure of attending the February Madison Knitter’s Guild meeting where Clara Parkes was the guest speaker.  You may be familiar with Clara’s blog Knitter’s Review or one of her fabulous books in The Knitter’s Book of… series (we carry all 3 books here at Firefly Fibers).  Her most recent book is The Knitter’s Book of Socks in which she thoroughly covers the fundamentals of creating the perfect pair of socks – elasticity, strength, and moisture management.  Knitter’s Review and her books are essentials for the curious fiber enthusiast, regardless of skill level.

Clara launched Knitter’s Review in 2000 as a source for honest reviews on yarns, tools, books and more.  This was before Ravelry - can you even remember a time before Ravelry?!   

With over a decade of reviews, there’s a very good chance you’ll find one on what you're looking for.  I did some digging in the archives and found a review of our beloved Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight here from 2003.  I was smiling and nodding in agreement while reading Clara's step-by-step analysis of this yarn.  Blue Sky Alpacas has grown quite a bit since then and the yarn is now presented in a hank rather than the pesky center-pull skein she speaks of - other than these minor details, this review is just as relevant in 2012 as it was all those years ago.  
“We are witnessing the end of a revolution…” 
Clara shared how the internet has recreated the fiber landscape - the days of print magazines and books as the main source of showcasing designers has come to an end.  In the light of the digital age we are seeing changes in how people connect with each other and how we share and receive our information.  Through Ravelry, Etsy, the blogosphere and other social medias, the internet has given way to a multitude of venues for yarn and pattern designers to showcase their work.  It's rather exciting!   
“We each have equal responsibility for what succeeds…”
Each of us has a vote and we cast this vote when we purchase patterns by independent designers on Ravelry or at our LYS.  Clara spoke of the good professional patterns that are available to us and how the independent designers that provide quality can rise to the top via the democracy of Ravelry.  Through Ravelry and the self-publishing of patterns, these designers can be fairly compensated for their hard work and it’s wonderful to see them make a living while following their dream. 

Clara was gracious enough to sign my books and have a photo snapped with me before the meeting started.  Thank you Clara!

Madison Knitter’s Guild is one of the largest knitting guilds in the country with over 550 members varying in skill levels from beginner to expert.  MKG currently meets September through May with a nationally recognized designers, authors, and teachers speaking at the meetings about, what else, knitting!  

Happy Knitting!

Friday, February 17, 2012

della Q to the Rescue

I use interchangeable needles, 3 sets to be exact, and I use them all regularly.  I tote these needles back and forth from the store to home and back again on a daily basis.  As one can guess, this doesn't leave a lot of room for yarn in the project bag and also increases the chance of misplacing or leaving a set behind. 

This last fall, I was anxious for della Q's new Interchangeable Cases, yet for months after they arrived I continued to jam my 3 needle cases (seen below on the left) into my knitting bag each morning and evening.  Finally, I decided enough was enough and tried a della Q Double Interchangeable Needle Case (seen below on the right) - oh, why did I wait?

The cases on the left are actually empty and the della Q case seen here has the needles from all 3 sets stored in it.  
The Double Interchangeable Case is full and smaller than one case.

Yes, I know, I said I have three (3) sets and double means two (2) and this means I have one (1) set too many for this case, but I'm a creative thinker... 

This case will fit 2 full sets of interchangeable needles US sizes 2-17, so I moved things around a bit.  This is how it all worked out on the inside:
The Hiya Hiya small set (I love the US size 2 and 3 tips in this set) are on the top right, the Addi lace are top left, the Addi Turbos are on the bottom, the Hiya cords are in the bottom pockets in front of the Turbo tips and the Addi cables can be seen in the bottom right corner peeking out of the zippered pocked on the other side.  

I also have a needle gauge, two Addi cable connectors and the Hiya needle grips safely tucked away.  I now have everything I need right at my fingertips in one single compact case.  
We carry both the single and double cases in several colors here at Firefly Fibers, along with a selection of other della Q needle cases and project bags. 

The interchangeable cases - in either the single or double set version - offer so much in a compact size for needle organization.  And, if you're as prepared as I am for ANY knitting emergency with 3 sets -- yes, I know this is foolish -- this case can provide flexibility for you, too. 

You can read more about the specifics of these cases on the della Q website:
Happy Knitting!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kidsilk Stripe: WIP

Kidsilk Haze Stripe is one of the new yarns at Firefly Fibers and we currently have all 6 colorways in stock.  

This yarn has all the luxury of the light-as-air solid Kidsilk Haze, but has beautiful self-striping combinations designed by the master of color, Kaffe Fassett.  The 50 gram ball (twice the size of the solids) includes a simple knitting pattern on the ball band for a scarf measuring nearly 6 feet long using just the one ball. 

I've been anxious to cast on and the needles started clicking away a few days ago - I'm working on the ball band scarf pattern for our shop sample (photo in Circus colorway).  Rowan suggests using the entire ball of to see the full effect of this beautiful yarn and I can guarantee that I will be knitting up every last bit! 

Disclaimer: this does not mean that I finished another project or there was actually room in the project bag, it just happened.  I'm not sure how, it just did...

Happy Knitting!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Malabrigo Arroyo & Hermosa

Malabrigo's new sport weight yarn, Arroyo, arrived recently and it is fabulous! 

In beautiful colorways that are distinctly Malabrigo, this 100% superwash Merino wool is not only gorgeous, but a pure pleasure to knit with. 

When a new yarn arrives, there's always a flurry of excitement with searching Ravelry for a pattern that highlights the yarn and inspires our knitters - with Arroyo, Hermosa by Melissa J. Goodale perfectly fits both these requirements!
 Our shop sample knit in the Jupiter colorway.

Using just one skein of this lovely yarn, Hermosa is a well-written pattern that is suitable for a variety of skill levels and a quick knit using a US 8 (5.0 mm).  

Both Malabrigo Arroyo and Hermosa (Ravelry PDF pattern) are available for purchase in the store.

Happy Knitting!