Saturday, February 25, 2006

Stiches (and Bitches) West 06

I heard of knitting trade shows before, but never attended one. (I've only been knitting for a year, and it's not like they're in my town every month...)

So when I heard that Stitches West 06 was going to be about an hour's drive from where I live, my friend Marissa and I planned to attend.

Attention Yarn Whores. Get in Here.

I imagined a convention center filled with vendors upon vendors selling yarns and yarn-like accessories of stuff I've never seen before. Shopping galore. Bags and bags of stuff wedged into my trunk for the drive home. And it was sort of like that, but also sort of not.

There were many "this is your grandmother's knitting" kind of vendors. (Nothing against the grannies, but they do give knitting an "old lady" reputation.) There were lots of rather unhip vendors selling a lot of boring, blah yarns. A few were there to sell bags of sale yarns that if you asked yourself the all-important shopper's question "would I buy this at full retail?" the answer would be a resounding "no!"

But there were certainly vendors that made the trip worthwhile. Many are small companies that you can't find in your local yarn stores. Some had beautiful yarns of interesting colors. One booth even gave us a brief introduction to spinning. It looked interesting, but thanks -- I'll just keep buying ABS yarn. (Already Been Spinned.) All that spinning would take time from my knitting!

WEBS' booth was jammed with both shoppers and a whole lot of yarn. Their stuff is quite nice and really affordable. Both Marissa and I bought more yarn for a kitty pi ($4.99 a skank, plus a discount, isn't bad for a cat bed. It's not a thick as Patons UpCountry -- but hey, it's not discontinued and my cats need another kitty pi.)

From WEBS I also bought some wonderful Malibrigo that was so soft I couldn't resist. Yeah, yeah, I broke my sort of rule that I won't buy yarn without knowing what I'm making with it, but this was too nice. And when I finish the 7 gazillion projects on my list, this will make a really nice sweater. Eventually.

The other booth that was really crowded was Tess' Designer Yarns. Marissa's dog is named Tess, so we laughed as we entered the booth as she asked: "What kind of yarn has Tess made for us and why isn't she sharing the profits with her momma?"

While I hate to say it (you'll see why later), they had nice yarns. But it wasn't cheap. And not that I went to Stitches West looking for bargains -- but Tess' Designer Yarns is expensive for what it is.

They had a very beautiful ribbon yarn with samples that showed how well it knits up. I was already imagining a scarf with an interesting pattern and had to have the emerald green at $25 skank. We wanted the deep red as well, but none were out on the tables. We asked one of the staff who suggested we speak to Melinda. Melinda almost bit our heads off when we asked for the red, so I just moved to the cashier to pay for the green. And here's what happened next:

Cashier: "Oh, we have a show special on that yarn and you can get two for $20 each."

Me: "Yes, I know. But the other color I want is not on the table."

Cashier: "We can get that for you, there are plenty of boxes underneath."

Me: "Yes, I know that, too. But when we asked that woman (pointing to Melinda) she was not the least bit interested in helping us."

Cashier: (befuddled) "But what do you mean?"

Me: "Well, quite frankly, she was rather rude and not interested, so let's just call it a day and I'll take only the green."

New Cashier Sitting Nearby: (with an attitude) "That woman you're taking about happens to be the owner."

Me: (never amazed how quickly my NY attitude kicks in) "Oh really? Well that's even more reason for her to treat her customers with respect."

At this point, I was so ready to throw the green yarn on the table (or, quite frankly, the floor, just to make a point) but I really wanted the damn yarn. Oh how the yarn ho is conflicted.

The original cashier was getting physically nervous so I poured on my faux-friendly Californian attitude.

Me: "You're the only one in this booth who's polite. Let's just complete this sale and I can move on."

And as we left the booth Marissa summed it up quite nicely: "My Tess is much nicer than those bitches."

After checking out their website, we discovered that Melinda is, in fact, the owner, and the obnoxious little cashier is her daughter. (And if you want to see some really lame prom & graduation pictures, it's worth a visit for a chuckle.) But don't buy anything. As I said, their yarns are nice, but not all that unique and too expensive for what you get. And who wants to support a company where the owner and daughter are two rude and nasty peas in a pod?

All in all it was an OK day. I bought some good stuff, found some good yarn sellers and enjoyed a good laugh at some of the awful clothing samples on display. Would I go again? Probably, because you never know what you might miss if you don't go. (Hello? Can you say problem shopper?)

But I would sign up for a knitting class as I've heard they're great, and I wouldn't buy from Tess' Designer Yarns.

Bitches or not, I picked up some good stash

Friday, February 24, 2006

Frog I Am

Considering the amount of knitting I frog, it was easy for me to answer Val when she IM'd me earlier today with the question: "What is frogging?" "Ripping," I said. "Something I know very well." But I also told her that I had no idea why it was called frogging.

She then sent me this
link to Knitty where it was all explained.

In nature, frogs say "rip it, rip it." In knitting, we say "frogging."

Ah ha. Light bulb: on.

This article also gives a name to backing out of knitting. (Something else I do quite frequently.) Tink. Why? Because it's knit spelled backwards. Backing out of knitting. Oh so clevah, as my mother would say.

But that's not all the article revealed. How 'bout a trick for ripping out a bunch of rows without painstakingly having to put all those stitches back on the needle? Just place a smaller needle or thread on the row under the row with the mistake and rip, rip, rip. The article has photos and very clear instruction.

This is a tip I'm sure to use again and again...

Rip it. Rip it.

Thanks for the link, Val!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm Sick of Knitting Shit I Hate

I've become one with the concept of "ripping is a part of knitting." I'm comfortable with my little "problem" of buying more yarn than one human would ever need or closets could ever store.

But I am not content with the fact that I still create projects that I ultimately hate.

Case in point. The "cute little felted purse." My first attempt failed miserably because I used non-felting wool. I didn't fret, I moved on. I bought new, felt-able wool and started again.

And this is what I wound up with (note: the color is not this bad in real life):

Unfelted. Not bad. Has potential.

Felted. Bad. I hate it.

What's with the handle? It's stupid. Too short. Too horsey. I know it's been said to "trust the pattern." So I did. Despite the fact that I knew the handle was too wide. But I "trusted the pattern" and thought all would solve itself in the felting process.

It didn't.

Lesson learned: Trust my instincts and adapt where necessary.

Valerie's "cute little felted purse" came out really cute. Mine? Not so cute. Time to cut off the handles, re-wash to blend in the cut marks, then replace the horsey, knitted handle with something else.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Make Room For...Yarn

Remember that Nordstrom tv campaign: "Make room for shoes?" The woman in the spot was getting rid of whatever she could (in one, her husband...) because she needed more room for shoes.

In my case, I'm getting rid of yarn -- to make room for, well, more yarn.

I've admitted in this blog before that I have a bit of a problem when it comes to buying yarn. I like to buy yarn. I like to buy lots of yarn. But after reviewing my yarn stash this weekend, it became incredibly obvious that I buy too much yarn. So, I'm having a sale.

I listed 11 auctions of yarns today on ebay. Lots of Rowan, some GGH, and some random stuff as well. Maybe there's something that you'd like for your own stash.

And as they say at ebay: Thanks for looking!