Sunday, May 26, 2013

Socks and Natural Selection

Like many of you, I love to knit socks. Behold a recently-completed pair, modeled by my Companion in Life:

These socks are entirely typical of my repertoire, consisting of about three variations of an archetypally basic pattern, the brainchild of my friend and local Langworthy Librarian, Jane Green. It has served me well during the first three years of my sock-knitting mania (life total to date: 40 completed pairs). A pattern like this is a great teacher of sock knitting, and an excellent way to showcase variegated or printed yarn, being, as it were, a blank canvas.

Almost two years ago I started a complicated pattern, with faux cables and lacy bits. It looks great, but I cannot knit it unless I'm in isolation, so I save it for when I have hours on Amtrak ahead of me. This Sterling Lace pattern, while beautiful, has furthered my resolve to simplify, simplify, simplify, as HDT says.

A free download,  Lace Sterling is designed by Clara Masessa for Kraemer Yarns.
Frankly, though, I am getting a wee bit bored by knitting the same old same old, so have been searching for a subtle variation. I found a much-touted pattern on Ravelry that looked like just the ticket, a classic rib with nice detail over two stitches:  SKYP; but I should have known something was wacko when I saw the sizing chart offered the following options only:  Men's X-Small [Small, Medium, Large].  OMG, I wondered.  Where would my women's size 8 feetsies fit into this? Regardless of all warning signs and alarm clocks, I dove right in.

This beautiful yarn is from Dirty Water Dyeworks, a New England hand-dyeing atelier.

It took me until the heel, when I tried it on, that I realized continuance was futile. The gauge and size were enough off to be tacitly annoying for the rest of my life, and suddenly, like a big blurp of water down the drain, the entire pattern lost its allure. I felt annoyed at all the hours I'd wasted, until I thought of how to adapt the herringbone pattern formed by the designer's SKYP (slip 1 purlwise, knit 1, yarn over, pass slipped stitch over).  Then this seemed to me a useful rehearsal for the next iteration, which I will share with you before too long, I hope.

Up close and personal so you can see the SKYP.

So ultimately, the time spent seemed more like a good practice, and possibly an evolutionary stage.

Ripped and ready to roll.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Farewell, Fresh Purls

A sad fact: yet another LYS bites the dust. The latest casualty, Fresh Purls on Hope Street in Providence, Rhode Island, will shut its winsome little door before the end of the month.

Now Providence has no yarn shop. What, I wonder, will fill the void? Since every other LYS in the state is at some distance from the city, knitters will have to drive or be driven to buy yarn locally.

Sudden Yarn Store Death (SYSD) is on the rise, alas. Maybe it's the economy; maybe it's because of increasing Internet sales, maybe it's a lot of snowballing factors.  Knit One Purl Two in Wakefield, Rhode Island, and Windsor Button in Boston have also recently succumbed. Here's an interesting article , "The Assault on Local Yarn Stores" from the Albany, New York area paper, The Times Union, on the SYSD phenomenon. The article raises some questions worth pondering.

Without trying to answer them, I'll say this--our local knitting community is poorer for having lost Fresh Purls. Its owner, Karen, did her best to welcome everyone, provide yarn-craft education, and contribute to good causes. I first met her when I joined a group the shop sponsored, "Needed Knits," wherein the estimable Helen Bingham offered patterns and advice, weekly, for those who wanted to sit and knit for a little while to make hats for good charitable causes--such as a women's shelter in Providence, and for people who frequented a soup kitchen in the Portsmouth area.

Fresh Purls provided much of that yarn.

My final purchase from Fresh Purls.  Sigh.