Knit 2 Par 3

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sad SoHo Story

I got a letter in the mail today telling me that P & S Fabrics is closing. Now, this is not a great New York Yarn Store but it certainly fires some tender-moment neurons in my brain.

This is an actual picture of P&S, located at 355 Broadway near the Franklin Street R station. They have a website but it's one of those websites that looks like it was designed and maintained by someone's nephew who is "good" with computers so there is no need for a hyperlink in this sentence.

It's run by two brothers who are the sons of Mr. Spiegel, the "S" in P&S (maybe Mr. P only had daughters) and a variety of lumpish and unsmiling female relatives. The brothers definitely like the ladies and loose no opportunity to chat up customers in that cheesey, vaguely disrespectful garmento way. Not to imply that it's unwelcome, though!

And the yarn is not good quality, just what you'd find in AC Moore or Rag Shop, but it was cheap. There have been times when that is what you need, to find anything cheap in SoHo. Plus they had a good selection of zippers and buttons, and interfacing and mill ends.

So it's a sad thing they are closing. Since the store is close to the R train, sometimes at lunch I would be able to hop on down if I needed to stock up on basic notions or if I didn't get enough cheesey disrespectful flirting at work that morning I could stock up on that too.

Well, their going out of business sale starts today; hopefully the guys got a pile of money to buy out their lease and can live happily, and cheesily, ever after.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

That's What I Want!

Yes, your love may give me a thrill, but it's been a long time since I could get you to sit for an hour and hold my yarn skeins while I wind balls. About whom am I speaking? Every single one of you.

I yearn for this here handcrafted swift. I woudn't leave it outside in the sheep field like these people do. Christy in the knitting group has one. It is not mechanical, and it weighs a ton. For those of you who are golfers, it holds open an unwound skein and smoothly spins as you wind up your ball. No one gets tired arms - or knees - when you wind.

A really good thing to have would be this swift and this ball winder. Things would
really hum along with
this dynamic duo, a
combination you really
only see when you go
to a yarn store. If you
are friends with the
yarn store owner,
or if you really

she will let you crankup the ball winder yourself.

If I had one, I'd let you do it.

But very best thing of all would be to have the swift, the ball winder and this Segway golf cart:

How exciting is this? In the promotional material, I learned that because you can ride this right up to your ball, you can save an hour on your golf game. It didn't say anything about improving your game, just that the pain would be over quicker. I think we'd look swell on these things. I think we'd have custom made outfits with Golf in Space patches on our jackets.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Denise's History of Knitting

After an inspirational Back To School night last week I - with absolute sincerity and no small amount of excitment - offered to come to my daughter's eighth grade class and give a little talk about the history of knitting. My offer was met with so much writhing, eye-rolling and teeth-sucking I thought my kid was having a seizure in the back seat of the car.

Wouldn't you sign up for a class like that? There was recently an very good article in Knitty
about the history of knitting, and you can get down deep on the subject with Knitting in the Old Way, which has a prominent home in our bathroom. So, here is my own history of knitting and as soon as I can I will scan and post whatever I can of the patterns the In The Hole! Link.

The 60's: I came across Jack Frost Two Needle Mittens, my first pattern book, a few days ago while avoiding laundry by reorgnizing my knitting magazines. My grandmother bought it for me at the Woolworth's on Washington Street in Hoboken when I was six or seven (and that would be in the 60's). Boy is this a great book for beginners. It's basically a dozen variations on the two needle mitten for all hand sizes, using a very comfortable thumb gusset so you don't have to be bothered figuring out which hand goes in which mitten.

The 70's: In my teenage years we moved to the 'burbs and there was a yarn store in our tiny town, called The Yarn Barn. They put your purchases in these great boxes with yarn handles. The 70's was a dark time for fashion in general, and knitting was no exception: it turned into crochet. I was famous for my matching granny square ponchos and skirts in wild mod colors. My mom has some of them hanging around in the attic at her house. I was also into groovy crocheted belts and I remember making a few purses too.

The 80's: this decade is notable for the number of sweaters I knitted from the Bucilla Sweaters for Active Men book for boyfriends who demonstrated their activeness by dropping me like a hot potato shortly after being presented with the garment. You can find something like 863,987 hits if you search The Google for "boyfriend knitting curse" and I have almost as many examples of relationships gone bad after finishing a sweater.

The 90's: the availability of novelty and imported yarns in the 90's resulted in a number of tragic mistakes. Vogue Knitting Magazine- the entire decade - is an excellent example. I once knitted a pinky beige sleeveless turtleneck sweater from a Vogue knitting pattern that brought the word "vagina" to mind. Also, I think the end of that decade really gave birth to the bobble. Many of you have been recipients of Red Lipstick's Olive Bobble Hat, reproduced here for your knitting pleasure.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bright Shining Moment

I think I found the best yarn store in the whole wide world. I say this all the time but this time I mean it. For me, every yarn store has the potential to be the best yarn store in the world. I want to look to my right and see handspun and look to my left and see Noro. Straight ahead: needles and books. This one is, though, the very best until next time.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rib - It

Hands down, my favorite sweater pattern this year has been Chicknits Ribby Cardi. I made two of them this year, and plan to make one more for Clem for her birthday.

What is great about this pattern is how the ribs shape the sweater, giving it a lot of detail with very little effort, like you can see in the shoulder decreases above. The back has some nice detail and shaping as well:

While I was waiting for these pictures to download, it occured to me that this would be a very good golf sweater. This raglan construction gives you a lot of freedom to move your arms, and it's a close fitting sweater so it won't get in the way when you putt.

I used two different yarns for this version. The multicolor yarn is from Make workshop, hand dyed worsted. The sleeves and trim are Lorna's Laces Shephard's Worsted, which is machine washable.

Although this is a great pattern it has a fatal flaw: the zipper closing. It took a lot of searching to find a zipper that fit this sweater, and the whole thing turned out real bad. I ended up taking out the zipper altogether and sewing up the front, so it actually is a mock zipper front but it looks surprisingly retro that way. For the upcoming version, though, I've got the problem licked: take it to a tailor and let him install the damn thing.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Finishing School

What do you do after all that knitting? You spend the weekend weaving in the ends.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Where've I Been? On a Bender.

Jane has known Deb since they were in Lamaze together, but lately their friendship has been strained. Deb's knitting on weekends has turned her into a completely different person. Deb used to cook meals from the Moosewood Cookbook and and go to the gym, but since she started knitting she has been hitting Boston Market and she has quit pilates altogehter.

When Jane saw Deb buy 3 skeins of Collinette and 1,500 yards of Silk Garden in 30 minutes at two different yarn stores, she realized how serious Deb's problem was. She knows what Deb is doing: binge knitting.

What Is Binge Knitting?

Binge knitting used to mean knitting heavily over several days. Now, however, the term refers to the heavy consumption of fiber over a short period of time (just as binge eating means a specific period of uncontrolled overeating - but we don't do that anymore).

Today the generally accepted definition of binge knitting in the United States is the commencement of five or more projects at the same time by women — or three or more projects by men — at least once in the previous 2 weeks. Heavy binge knitting includes three or more such episodes in a month.

Why Do People Binge Knit?

Celebrities, yarn stores and overachieving co-workers make knitting seem attractive and fun. It's easy for an uncreative, overstressed middle aged woman - or man! to get caught up in a social scene with lots of peer pressure. Inevitably, one of the biggest areas of peer pressure is knitting.

Other reasons why people knit include:

  • They're curious — they want to know what it's like to work with fiber.
  • They believe that it will make them feel good, not realizing it could just as easily make them sick and broke.
  • They may look at knitting as a way to reduce stress, even though it can end up creating more stress.
  • They want to feel older.

What Are the Risks of Binge Knitting?

Many people don't think about the negative side of knitting. Although they think about the possibility of going broke, they may not give much consideration to having to hide yarn or throwing up.

You may know from experience that excessive knitting can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, mood changes, and other problems that affect your day-to-day life. But binge knitting carries more serious and longer-lasting risks as well.

Yarn Poisoning

Yarn poisoning is the most life-threatening consequence of binge knitting. When someone knits too much and gets yarn poisoning, it affects the body's involuntary reflexes — including credit card use and the ability to hide yarn purchases, or "gag reflex". If the gag reflex isn't working properly, a person can choke to death on his or her vomit.

Other signs someone may have yarn poisoning include:

  • extreme confusion about the color wheel
  • inability to be distracted from knitting blogs
  • little flecks of fiber in or around the mouth
  • very soft hands ("lanolin-ification")

If you think someone has yarn poisoning, call 911 immediately.

Impaired Judgment

Binge knitting impairs judgment, so knitters are more likely to take risks they might not take when they're not knitting. They may drive while knitting and injure themselves or others. Driving isn't the only motor skill that's impaired, though. Walking is also more difficult while knitting. In 2000, roughly one third of pedestrians 16 and older who were killed in traffic accidents were knitting.

Physical Health

Studies show that people who binge knit throughout high school are more likely to be overweight and broke by the time they are 24. Just one regular skein of Noro costs about $12 per 100 ard skein, which adds up to a lot of moolah if someone knits four or five scarves a week.

Mental Health

Binge knitters have a harder time in school and they're more likely to drop out. Knitting disrupts sleep patterns, which can make it harder to stay awake and concentrate during the day. This can lead to struggles with studying and poor academic performance, being broke and vomiting.

People who binge knit may find that their non-knittingfriends drift away — which is what happened with Jane and Deb. Knitting can affect personality; people might become angry or moody while knitting, for example, especially when you interrupt them when they are counting rows.

Getting Help

If you think you or a friend have a binge-knitting problem, get help as soon as possible. The best approach is to talk to an adult you trust — if you can't approach your parents, talk to your doctor, school counselor, clergy member, aunt, or uncle.

It can be hard for some people to talk to adults about these issues, so an alternative could be a trusted friend or older sibling who is easy to talk to. Knitting too much can be the result of social pressures, and sometimes it helps to know there are others who have gone through the same thing. If you're worried, don't hesitate to ask someone for help.

(For information on how the other obessession can ruin your life, check this out)