Thursday, May 26, 2011

Now is the month of Maying

and we happily celebrate the second year of this blog! If I've learned anything from this endeavor, it's that I'll never run out of material, because the New England knitting scene is so entirely rich. Upcoming posts will include glimpses of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, and of course there will be continued focus on places closer to my bailiwick.

Loyal readers of Knitting New England will recall my first post, where I described trying to knit a baby sweater while listening to a lecture on beekeeping. (There's a link to the free pattern on that first post.) Demoralized by the pessimism of the apicultural instructors, I decided against beekeeping as yet another sideline of my life, and dropped the course. I did, however, finish the sweater. Here it is, modeled by Langston, who at the age of two has now outgrown it.

Perhaps he'll one day have another sibling, to share in the fun of a sweater with bee and flower buttons.

Then there was the sheep-motif sweater I made for Cy shortly after completing Langston's pullover.

He began wearing this when he was a bit past the ripe age of one. In the two photos above he's two. In the following photo he's three.

The sweater still fits! But it was time for something new. I made Lucinda Guy's "Dangerous Dinosaur" from her wonderful book, Handknits for Kids (Trafalgar Square, 2005).

It is blissful to knit for children, especially those as beautiful as Langston and Cy. Fortunately I have a granddog to knit for now.


To celebrate the anniversary of Knitting New England, I'll give two interesting knitting books from my personal collection to two randomly-chosen people who leave a comment on today's blog post beginning now and up until May 31. Thank you for being there, my friends!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A place for lace

Some years ago, whilst in the San Francisco area, I visited the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley. It's one of the stranger exhibitions I've encountered in my many years of enthusiastic museum-going, not the least because it's actually a store specializing in needlework accessories, and there just happens to be collection of strangely-curated lace tacked onto it. It's a rather nice needlework store with a good selection of needlework-related books for sale. As a museum it's kind of pathetic. In fact, let's call it a "museum." I wonder if a store that calls itself a museum derives some special kind of "tax benefit"...?

If I wanted to become my own lace and textile museum, I might exhibit the beginnings of a scarf/shawl and a sock that are in process as I write this.

The scarf/shawl (haven't yet decided which), a gift for my friend Ana, is the Oscilloscope Shawl from the Fall 2010 issue of Knitscene Magazine.  The Lace Sterling socks, a free download from Kraemer Yarns, are for me, if I ever, as it were, put my nose to the grindstone. The thing about knitting lace, IMHO, is that absolute concentration is required. Such focus has many benefits, but it's hard to summon the focus if your life involves social interaction, myriad commitments, and competing interests, as mine does. So, the sock grows slowly, and I am allowing myself the option of truncating the shawl as a scarf if  I can't finish it before Ana, now twenty-seven, grows grey hair.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

For the birds

The Knitting Goddess distributes snippets of leftover yarn on the driveway, for neighborhood nest builders.

Rosy-Breasted Grosbeak



Thursday, May 5, 2011

Living color...

About a month ago I had some free time before a concert at Boston's Symphony Hall, so I beelined to Newbury Yarns at (where else?) 164 Newbury Street. Hidden in plain sight, it's a bit tricky to find--I first walked past it and had to backtrack--and entry is a bit down-the-rabbit-hole.

That day my time was tight, so after a brief go-round, I said farewell and vowed to return in the near future. Earlier this week I made a longer visit that happily fulfilled my hopes.

Aldrich Robinson, gracious proprietor and resident knitting guru, has purposefully arranged yarns so that the shop is a celebration of color and texture. Rather than being grouped by manufacturer or fiber, the yarns are clustered in colorways.

She wants knitters to be inspired. "When people walk in here," she says, "I try to get them to think creatively about texture and color." She loves to be a soundboard for ideas about patterns, offering advice about color combinations, yarn weights, and visual effects, at any stage of the process, not only at the beginning.

One question I always muse on when I discover a  LYS is "what makes this place distinctive?" Newbury Yarns offers many answers, not the least of which is a unique line of hand-dyed yarns called "DIPS" (Dyed Independently Precious Skeins). Aldrich finds yarns from small local farms and a few not-so-local (think: Oregon). After being dyed in a rich assortment of colors, they're marketed under the DIPS label only through her shop.

I'll be writing more about Newbury Yarns in the future, as there's much to anticipate. Aldrich has a book of children's designs in the works; besides the wonderful selection of yarns and knitting accessories, her shop offers classes, knitting help, and, most appealingly, a magical portal from the circus of Newbury Street to a sanctuary of color, fiber inspiration, and creative energy.