Friday, February 26, 2010

Konnichiwa Habu!

As promised, an update on the new Habu shipment which came in last week. Some of you know about Habu but I think it is a mystery for a lot of us. If you're facing the front desk at the store and look to your left, you'll see lots of shelves packed with curious little balls (and some bigger spools) of yarn that doesn't resemble your typical merino or cashmere. That's because Habu brings unique yarns often made from surprising sources. For example: raw silks, hamp bark, bamboo, hand-tied ramies, cashmere with almost no twist, naturally gold silks, handspun silks/cottons, silk stainless steel, and fine silver.

Yes, that's right, I said stainless steel and silver.

Habu is owned by textile artist Takako Ueki, who explains her weaving philosophy at her website. I was lucky enough to meet Takako when I went to Market in January. She and Suzanne are great friends so we spent a lot of time at the Habu booth. The more time I spent looking at all that interesting yarn, the more intrigued I became. I am now officially slobbering to make a project with some of Habu's alternative offerings-- the only thing holding me back is trying to settle on a project. I feel like-- pardon the old cliche but it's totally apt here-- a kid in a candy shop when I look at all the choices. And now that we just got in a new batch, well I'm even more (very pleasantly) stumped about what to make.

The good news is, this month, Ori Ami Knits comes out. The book features projects made with Habu. I got a sneak peek at some finished projects at market and they are lovely. So maybe I'll pick something from there. Or I might buy one of the Habu kits-- there are lots of those hanging just above the shelves.

And now, before I show off a bunch of Habu pictures, here's a fun little tidbit from the Habu website about how Takako picked the company's name:

"habu" came from the name of a "very..." poisonous snake, which is unique to southern islands of Japan, Okinawa. Ever since I begun weaving, I have been in love with the textiles in Okinawa. I wanted to have a name related to those islands."Ha" means "wave." "Bu" means "fabric." We chose a different charachter for "ha" for our name, which means "no. 8." Because of its bottom wide shape, this number is believed to bring a life, which will slowly, but eventually opens up for you.
Maybe I'll take that a step further and knit something on size 8 needles. Okay, PICTURES!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Killing Time: Compulsive Knitting

Soon, soon-- I have more news about more spring/summer inventory arriving. But today, let's talk about art. Since the big knitting resurgence (what's it been-- like ten years now?) there have been a lot of cool art shows involving crafts. There was that interactive installment a while back where knitters were invited to deconstruct a couple of rooms full of knitted art and then repurpose it into useful garments-- Jordi gave an assist for that project. There's a lot of Knit Graffiti going on out there. And then there's the everyday art we make when we add unique touches to the stuff we make. (Like the 3-D roasted chicken hat I made a couple of years back.)

All of my friends know what a knitting fanatic I am, and so it's not a surprise that I get emails with links to cool happenings in the knitting world. My friend Stephanie, also a knitter, sent one just yesterday, featuring the work of Daniela Edburg, who was born in Houston and raised in San Miguel de Allende. She's got a show up now at Kunsthaus Santa Fe, which is in San Miguel, and if you're heading that way I recommend you check it out. But even if you aren't venturing South of the Border anytime soon, you can check out her knit-related photos at her website. And I've posted a couple of pictures here. There's also an interview with Daniela here where she talks about her own compulsive knitting habit.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Classy Lady Report

A few weeks ago I took a great class with Deb-- gloves & knucks (fingerless gloves). I went for the knucks option, and managed to complete an entire single knuck over the course of the four hours. (And no, sadly, I have not yet done the second one but I will!)

Every time I take a class, I get the pleasure of visiting both familiar and unfamiliar territory.

The familiar:
*That very good feeling I get, when I plop down in a chair and turn off my cell phone, knowing that the next several hours will be fully dedicated to knitting.
*The teacher: The different classes I've taken have been taught by different teachers, but I always know it'll be someone I am very comfortable working with and tossing a thousand questions at.
*Good company. For the glove & knucks class we had nearly a dozen knitters in that garage classroom. I love being around a group of knitters.

The unfamiliar:
*Whatever technique we're learning. In this case, I already knew how to make socks and mittens, so I had a general idea of how the beginning of the project would go. But I needed help with fingers, which I figured would be very hard. (Of course, under the guidance of Deb, it turned out they weren't hard at all, just took a bit of concentration.)
*New faces: I get to meet HCW regulars I haven't met before.
*Conversation topics. Okay, I give away no secrets here that I heard in that class. But I will say every class provides a lot of very fun off-topic talk fodder.

There are lots of classes coming right up-- knitting, weaving, and needle felting. Here's a peek at some upcoming opportunities. If you're interested in signing up you can come by the store or call 512-707-7396 to reserve a spot.

KNIT 201
February 22/March 1
6:30 -8:30
Prerequisite - Knit 101 or experience with flat knitting

Gotten your first taste of knitting and want more? Or perhaps you need a refresher class to get back into knitting? We will help you take that next step into pattern reading in Knit 201. Get ready to put that knit and purl stitch to work! You may choose to make either a scarf or a needle case. In both projects you will learn various stitch patterns, basic pattern reading and swatching for gauge.

MATERIALS: Your choice of project. For scarf: 1ball of Araucania Azapa or equivalent. For needle case: 3 balls of GGH Aspen or 2 balls of Lamb's Pride Bulky (or equivalent) in main color plus (optional) 1 ball in contrast ing color. For both projects you will need: size 9 needles (straight or any length circulars), stitch markers, and a tapestry needle.
For the needle case you will also need size 9 double pointed needles.

February 23
Beginner (a little experience)
Fee: 36.00

Great basket for beginners and up. This is a handy basket that fits anywhere because of its swing handle. Beginning with a filled, woven base, we will learn plain
weave, twining and triple weave and finish with a non-traditional woven rim. Come ready to work
because we will take the whole time, but you will be so proud when you leave with your finished

February 27
LEVEL: beginners

Both 2 and 3 dimensional needlefelting will be taught in this 4 hour class. For the 2 dimensional aspect bring a plain colored wool sweater that has been washed and shrunk in the washing machine. We will needlefelt on it to give your felted woolies new life. You will find that the possibilities for creativity and upcycling are endless.
In the latter part of the needlefelting class we will learn how to make the felted rolls, which we will join together to form 3 dimensional objects. I like to make trolls, but you can try whatever your heart desires.

Please bring a plain colored wool sweater that has been washed and shrunk in the washing machine.
If you have needlefelting supplies and wool fleece you may bring those as well or they can be
purchased at HCW.

February 27
5.00 pattern

Using 5 skeins of the stunning hand-dyed Koigu yarn, students will knit the popular Charlotte's Web shawl. Knitting this beautiful, but challenging work of art is a great way to practice chart reading as well as lace knitting.

In this class students will learn to knit a top-down triangular lace shawl, reading a lace chart, tips and tricks to help make knitting Charlotte a satifying experience, binding off for a flexible edging and blocking and caring for your shawl.

Prerequisites: Students must have participated in the Heirloom Lace or Sampler class or completed a few lace projects on their own.
Contact teacher if you have questions regarding the skill level required to be successful in this class.

Materials: 5 skeins of Koigu KPPPM, range of needles #5-7 to test gauge, stitch markers

Instructor: Fran Gooch

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Words Fail... (MALABRIGO IS HERE!!)

Rarely am I at a loss for words. But today, I am mostly letting the pictures do the talking. Why is that? The much touted, much coveted, utterly adored Malabrigo IS HERE!!! And it's going super duper fast. Reminds me of when I worked the Christmas Department at Macy's and the Madame Alexander dolls would arrive and-- well let's just say there was a flurry of activity in the aisles.

If you are already a fan of Malabrigo, I needn't explain the phenomenon of Malabrigo Passion to you. If you've never tried the stuff, let me just say that everyone who uses it can't stop talking about it. So hurry up, don't wait another minute-- come get yours while it lasts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What Is It About Sheep in Uruguay?

Maybe a year or so ago, the word Malabrigo popped up on my radar. I used my context clues to ascertain that this referred to a brand of yarn, though I'd never used it. Then I started hearing Malabrigo more and more. Had I tried it? Did I know the wonders of it? Could I believe how fabulous it was?

Well, no, no, and no. My lack of Malabrigo knowledge had nothing to do with purposeful avoidance. I'm just usually up to my ears in Noro or Manos del Uruguay, my personal choice for comfort yarns. But the whole Malagbrio thing crescendoed at Market, where now I heard the word constantly. Then, last week, I was taking a class and someone suggested I try Malabrigo for the glove project but, alas, there were only a few skeins in the whole store, and none in a color I wanted. I was assured more would be coming in soon, and just a couple of days Suzanne told me the shipment is on its way. So all you already-in-the-know Malabrigo fanatics can get ready to exhale.

Meanwhile, here's some sort-of-related news. We did just get in the Punta yarn. Like Manos and Malabrigo, Punta hails from Uruguay, leading me to wonder what is it about the sheep from this country? They must be super happy or something because for such a small place on the map, Uruguay seems to crank out an awful lot of much-loved yarn. So let's talk about the Punta, shall we? I spent quite a bit of time at the Punta booth at Market learning about the product. The yarn has been used by designers for decades. In 2006, the company started selling to shops so that you and I could have the pleasure of using the same stuff the big dogs use.

The new collection features a range of fiber content, from the 100% cotton African Summer line to the 100% merino Merisoft line. Along this spectrum, there are different blends, like the Merisock (95% superwash merino, 5% nylon), and the Mericash Thousand Colors (80% merino, 20% cashmere). But the best part? Colors. Tons and tons of colors, often many colors in each skein. Something I really dug about the booth was how they displayed this love of color-- think of that feeling you get when you visit the paint supply store and look at all those color cards in the rack-- pretty exciting, right?

So wait for the Malabrigo if you insist. But I double dare you to try the Punta. And if you need anymore inspiration than that, check out their website where you'll find a ton of free patterns. Here are some pictures of what just came in:

[African Summer above]

[Merikash above]

[Merisoft below]

[Thousand Colors below]

[Merisock below]

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Just In Time for Valentine's Day...

Last month, I wrote about my adventures at TNNA Market in California, where I got to learn about the business side of the knitting world. I saw so many booths that excited me-- all that yarn, all those notions, t-shirts, accessories, and doo-dads I never even knew existed. As I wandered along in my daze, I came across one booth that pulled me in like a magnet. Annie Adams Adornment sells knit-related jewelry and keychains. I was particularly enamored of a little necklace, pictured above, that celebrates knitting. Though you can't go on a full-on shopping spree at Market-- it's primarily set up for wholesale orders-- sometimes vendors have a little bit of overstock on hand. When Annie saw how excited I was, she mentioned that she had a few samples she was willing to part with, so-- since it was my birthday weekend and all-- I splurged and bought myself one. I just love it.

Suzanne has been to enough of these events that she's friends with lots of the vendors. This means that she doesn't just shop and move on, she stops and has conversations with folks. So it dawned on her, late in the second day, that given our schedule, she was going to have a hard time getting to every booth she'd planned to visit. Which is how, if only for a day, I became a "buyer." Yep, that's right. Suzanne gave me a shortlist of vendors to visit, and an idea of what to pick out for the store. You might think this was exhilarating. And it was. It was also a little nerve wracking, since I was new to the whole buying thing and worried I might pick out stock that wouldn't fit in with Suzanne's impeccable taste.

But while I fretted a bit over choosing which buttons to buy, when it came time to make selections at Annie's booth, I had no trouble. I loved everything and figured y'all would, too. Her stuff is fun, pretty, and reasonably priced. So what's not to love, right? I picked out some necklaces so you could buy one, too, and we could be BKFF (Best Knit Friends Forever) with our matching jewelry. I also scored some cool keychains. Here they are:

Not that you need any excuses to buy more knitting stuff, but Valentine's Day is coming right up. So I'm recommending you nudge your valentine to buy you some cool something from the Annie Adams stuff, which just arrived in the store. Or, heck, just buy some for yourself.

Happy (Early) Valentine's Day,

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

First Thursday Sale Coming Right Up! Plus More Classes!

Yep, it's already time for another First Thursday-- February 4th. This month, you can get 10% off all books, needles, patterns and booklets. Plus, to make way for all the new Spring yarn that's on the way, we need to clear out some of the winter stock. All yarns that are at least 50% animal fiber are 20% off (Silk and already discounted yarn excluded). So come on down.

Meanwhile, still more classes are coming right up. Here's the skinny on the Wet Felted Valentines Class and the Spin 101 Class.

WET FELTED VALENTINES (pictured above)
February 12
10:00 - 2:00
50.00 (take 3 wet felt classes for 130.00)

Remember your valentines this year with handmade pomanders. Using the resist technique to from, and your creativity to decorate, we will wet felt wooly hearts. These pastel examples were made from a hand dyed palette of pencil roving, but you may prefer red or pink! I put some lavender flowers in the smaller ones for a calming sensual appeal. Gather up some fleece and unspun yarn and join us. It won't be as vigorous a workout this time, but we may still need some chocolate to get in the mood.

No experience necessary.

Bring a few towels, a scissors, needle and thread.

Hill Country Weavers has a nice selection of fleece and roving and felting needles for you to purchase.

I will have lavender, and chocolate∑my salutation,
Fee: $50.00
Mary Macaulay

SPIN 101 Info:

February 13/14
Fee: 65.00 (10.00 materials)

Learn to spin your own yarn in this 2 day class.
In this class you will learn how to prepare wool for spinning through carding, combing or lock spinning, use of prepared wool roving and top, the difference between woolen and worsted, how to use a drop spindle, and how to use a spinning wheel
Prerequisites: none
Instructor: Deb Sayre