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January 25, 2006

Interesting fiber news from unexpected source. I noticed in the recent issue of C&E news (that's Chemical and Engineering News for those of you not married to chemists), that a company called Ingeo Fibers has created and is bringing to market fibers made from corn. Socks made from corn fibers will be available in Japan this Spring. They claim to be "the first and the only man made fiber from 100% annually renewable agricultural resources." Sounds like corn-polyester more than more conventionally produced soy, flax, cotton or linen fibers. Their site does not specifically mention yarns for hand knitters, but how far behind can it be?

04:22 PM

So like I said, there are a thousand things floating around in my head after a weekend exposed to not just fabulous people, but people who are smart and dedicated and know what they are talking about. If going to a big trade show is good for nothing else, it's good for giving your enthusiasm a kick in the tochis. One thing now floating near the top of my head: crochet.

So here's the thing. I'm a lefthander. I am a right handed thrower in my knitting, and, after unsuccessfully trying to knit continental style, it dawned on me to try it gauche, so I can knit continental left handed, if pressed. And in that mind bendingly painful way, I can knit continental right handed only enough to help students who knit that way. Crochet, however, will have to be a strictly left handed thing. I did, a couple of months ago, teach myself the very basics of crochet and I can only just read a basic pattern... my will to do so came because I wanted to make one of those delightfully retro granny square vests. Yes, granny squares.

My new crochet mentor, Kim Werker, has apparently publicly shunned the granny square. Or at least wished it would go on very long vacation. Contrarian that I am, I am now envisioning absolutely fabulous granny square things. Like for instance, the Koigu Oriental Coat, only in grannies. Maybe my limited knowledge of crochet leads me to the square. But you could do other interlocking shapes brilliantly with crochet too. Hexagons, pentagons, something Escher-like. Crochet seems so well suited to such things.

Anyway, I am armed now with Kim and Cecily's brilliant book, Teach Yourself Visually Crocheting and am eager to try things out. And I will get myself a great big hook because Kim says that one of the things wrong with crochet is that there's a big tendency to work it too tightly making it bunchy and ugly and not drapey.

Another bit that has drawn me toward crochet -- freeform crochet. I think the techniques are straightforward enough. I think what is hard about it is having the artistic vision to have it look like Prudence Mapstone rather than yarn barf. I think I will start with separate elements and then work at the combinations of putting it all together. My other idea was to take an actual piece of art and really think about what makes it work and how it could serve as inspiration. How are the colors grouped? Where is the balance? The movement? The scale?

Anyway, I find myself schizophrenically moving back and forth between trying to figure out how to knit lace into a shrug (that will take shaping!) so that my lovely cashmere can come out of the closet and wanting to jump into the stash and start really learning how to crochet.

Or doing the work that I am supposed to be doing. Which is good too. Oh for a second set of hands!

09:12 AM
January 24, 2006

TNNA (the national needle arts convention) has come and gone. It was a wonderful weekend. I could say a thousand things. Floating to the top of the brainpile: everyone was so fabulous. There are a lot of people in the industry I've interacted with, electronically, vicariously, etc. but not actually met over the last, um, 4 years. And while I imagined them to be fabulous, they were, as far as I knew them, a headshot and a pile of words. But you know what? They really are just as fabulous as I had imagined.

Shannon Okey, the Knitgrrl,, and Crochet Me Kim stayed at my house and they were so fun to have. My children actually nearly wept at their departure and the cat misses them too. And they bring the best sorts of hostess gifts -- when was the last time that someone brought you hand dyed cashmere? I had some great photos of them at the beach, but they seem to have vaporized. So we will have to wait for someone to catch up with the photos... Aside from the cashmere and some leftover macaroni and cheese, I have very little proof they were here.

On Saturday night, we went over to Curious Creek Kristine's for a fabulous little evening. Home cooked food and lots of fiber. Just what we needed.

Amy held forth on spinning silk hankies.

Kristine gave an impromptu lesson on her serendipitous dying process.

And the bad girls of crochet, Cecily Keim , Kim Werker, , and Amy O'Neill Houck were flashing the secret sign.

I also got a chance to eat delicious thai food and drink pink drinks with the fine folks at Potter Craft. My camera did not capture much in the low light, but here are Amy and Jillian.

Also there were the wonderful Ann and Kay of Mason Dixon, Fiona Ellis, Margrit Lohrer of Morehouse Farm, Ashley Paige, and the Yarn Girls, Julie Carles and Jordana Jacobs and lots of other great folks.

Anyway, if anyone suggests that you might want to spend your summer on a bus getting sucked into some fiber-loving borg with any of these people, do sign on, you won't regret it!

09:41 AM
January 7, 2006
old shale

someone i know once said she didn't like feather and fan. i think more specifically she meant that it was sort of yesterday's cantaloupe rinds. it had been done. it was in the back of my head, though. and i think, rather than hackneyed, it is a classic.

and then there's the name. while "feather and fan" is evocative, what it evokes for me is more the victorian parlor -- fussy and prim. so i find out that the older name for it is "old shale". which is, on its surface, an uglier name. but what it references is actually a far more picturesque image: the patterns left in the shale-rich sands by the waves.

so old shale it is. and it's pretty.

yarns here are Curious Creek Fibers' Oban, Shira, and Kibo.

06:56 AM

This is what it looked like here yesterday. Brightness, contrast, saturation -- all untouched.

I am hereby likely jinxing your collective TNNA visit, but if you are coming to San Diego, don't forget your sunglasses.

06:51 AM