Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Yarn Diets and the Demise of the LYS

I was reading WendyKnits earlier, and her resolution to knit from her stash (similar to my yarn diet) apparently caused quite a hubbub on the blog of a LYS (local to whom, I'm not certain).

This LYS owner claimed that if everyone knit from their stashes that Wendy would be responsible for the demise of yarn shops far and wide. The phrase "blood on your [Wendy's] hands" was included.

This is ridiculous. I haven't read anything so self-serving in ages. This sounds like the LYSs that complain about internet yarn shops stealing all of their business. Internet shopping is often a supplement to the LYS, rather than an alternative.


The LYS sucks. There we go, I've said it. I have 9 LYS within a 20 minute radius around my house (meaning, if you were to take a compass, put the pointy part on my house, and swoop around with the pencil-y part, there are NINE LYSs within that circle).

I've gone into a LYS where the service was beyond bad- it was overtly rude. One of these LYSs is notorious of having rude employees. I buy the things they sell from online vendors.

Last January I was in a different LYS where I watched the owner be exceedingly rude to a developmentally disabled woman in front of a store full of customers. The DD woman was a customer, and so was her mother- who was standing right there next to her daughter. I don't shop there anymore, again- I buy online.

Rudeness is one of my main reasons for not shopping at the LYSs. Another is the huge difference in price markups between LYSs. This isn't as noticeable when you have one or two LYSs, but when the same yarn is 30% more expensive at a shop 20 minutes away, the consumer is bound to figure it out.

Yeah, yeah, I know the "markup includes our expertise" argument. I actually used to work at an LYS where we helped people, and we had the lowest markup in the area. When it comes to where I shop, I don't need their help, so why should I be expected to pay for a service I'm never going to use?

I have personally never asked for knitting help in a store- the most I ask is "Where can I find XX?" Sorry, the internet shops cut that "expense".

I digress from my main point- Yarn Diets and the Destruction of the LYS. It's not going to happen. Even if you're firm and stick to your resolve, we all crack. My yarn diet lasted about 120 days, but I bought spinning fiber in the meantime.

Wendy's diet doesn't include sock yarn, where mine was a totally kibosh on all yarn purchases. Andrew could probably show you in Quicken how much I spend on JUST sock yarn every year. It's staggering.

My yarn diet stemmed from a love of what I have in my stash. When Andrew and I went through the my whole stash and re-packaged it over the summer, I realized how much yarn I have that I love. I also realized, in my shopping excursions, how I pretty much have everything I want.

Here is the frightening thing: I haven't seen a whole lot of "new" or "different" yarns that appeal to me. That's why I'm insane in the membrane about spinning. It's new, different, and yet- similar enough to appeal to my tastes. (I am insanely in love with Trekking- the subtle variegated ones, and my spinning is similar to that right now.)

So, LYS owners, listen up! If you want more foot traffic, to move more products, and to defeat these evil Yarn Diets, you have to stock NEW and INTERESTING things! Offer classes in techniques that move yarn, or fiber, or whatever. Ask your customers what THEY would like to see, and carry a little initially to see if there's interest.

The one thing that will always defeat a Yarn Diet is temptation. If there is no temptation, the Yarn Diet will be successful.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ply Like a Navajo

On November 6th, I hit a fiber lull. I had * literally * spun all of the fiber I had. I quickly sent Lisa Souza an e-mail, and sent off an order to Crown Mountain. I had a week off from work (theoretically, of course- since I ended up working 4 of the 5 days), and had grand ambitions of spinning up a mountain of yarn and watching enough TV to thoroughly rot my brain.

Then, I called Mom, who had generously volunteered to bring over all of the spinning fiber she had squirreled away. She also, in the spirit of her magnanimous generosity, suggested how she would like each spun and plied.

She pointed at 4 oz of Superwash merino and said, "I'd like this Navajo plied, please."

"I don't know how to Navajo ply yet. Do you?" I ask Mom.

"Not yet," she replies.

As any computer-savvy-spinning-crazed 23/24 year old would do, I googled "Navajo ply", then read the description of how to do it. Then, I found a video with a quick blip on how to do it.

I went home, and used the odds and ends from a spinning project to practice. I have learned that Navajo plying requires coordination, tightly spun yarn, and the most important- to treadle slowly.

My first attempt was grim, and rife with swearing. Needless to say, Andrew was thoroughly entertained.

My second attempt was with the last 20 yards of Linda's gift exchange yarn, which I now realize that I didn't photograph. I didn't want to waste 20 yards of knittable yarn (so, 60 yards of spinning)- because we all know how 30 yards can make or break a project- so I performed my second attempt at Navajo plying. This was exponentially more successful.

Attempt number three is making me feel like I'm getting the hang of it. I'm Navajo plying all 8 ounces of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" on Sandi's Schacht.

Some interesting observations- I can fit about 3 oz of spinning per Ashford bobbin, and on the Schacht bobbins, I can fill it closer to 6 oz (I'm at about 5 ¼ right now, but there is still room on the bobbin).

I think Navajo plying works better in some cases than others, to prevent "yarn barf"-age. ("Yarn barf" is exactly what it sounds like- too many colors jumbled together.)

Pictures will be posted soon; comparing the Navajo plied stuff to the regularly plied stuff.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Maybe It’s the Yarn

I was talking to my co-workers about some of the roving I've bought lately, and how I'm on a spinning binge, and one of the gals, very observantly said, "You don't like knitting. You like yarn!"

I laughed, because it's true. Not the not-liking-knitting part, but the liking yarn.

The thing I like about yarn is it's potential. In the skein it is beautiful and full of opportunities. Each new skein has it's own path, and although most of their paths lead to socks, some become garments that are worn above the waist.

Fiber/roving has that same potential, but moreso. I can take 8 ounces and spin a mile of yarn, or I can spin it heavier. Spinning appeals to my megalomania cal side. When I'm spinning, the world is mine!!!**

**Like Dr. Evil is Austin Powers II.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Beauty, Lady Eleanor is Thy Name

Have you ever had an idea that came to fruition EXACTLY the way that you had dreamed it would? That's Lady Eleanor for me, from Scarf Style. [For anyone who doesn't have a copy of Scarf Style to run and refer to, it's an entrelac wrap with wicked cool fringe.]

As with every truly great idea, it was a perfect confluence of events. It began with a trip to Michaels a few weeks back, to procure materials for a Chihuahua sweater. I saw the Patons Soy Wool Stripes, picked up the denim colorway and thought about what kind of project it called for.

Since I was on the yarn diet (the Chihuahua sweater didn't count, it was a project for pay), I left it there, but I assure you, the SWS lingered in my mind.

A week or so later, I was spinning at Commuknity when one of the Sunday regulars came in, wearing Lady Eleanor. [For your personal reference, I used to think that entrelac was ugly. I have since repented for my judgmental ways (well, at least as far as entrelac is concerned).] I was stunned at the simultaneous elegance and wear-ability of the wrap.

It was then that I knew I had to have one, and a few days later I realized that the SWS would be PERFECT for Lady Eleanor. I dragged my half-dead backside out of bed and demanded that Andrew drive me first to Michaels to procure the SWS and then KFC for the much-craved Buffalo Wings.

I cast it on, and I can tell, four skeins of SWS into it, that I may have to make 78645 of them. Can you tell that I am enjoying this project?

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

There is no right or wrong, only right or left.

There is endless debate on what is the "fastest" or "best" way of knitting. I maintain that there is no "right" or "wrong" way of knitting, there is only right or left.

So long as you are knitting, you are right. If you aren't knitting, perhaps you should re-assess your life.

This brings me to my latest project, the Lady Eleanor Shawl from Scarf Style. It's a brilliant, simple entrelac shawl and it is barrels of fun to knit on.

I can knit backwards, so I'm not doing much turning, but it reminds me of a post that Stephanie wrote a few years back, about her grandmother told her that knitting backwards was "wrong", and nipped that habit in the bud. When she was working on the Entrelac Socks from Socks, Socks, Socks she wished that she hadn't quit knitting backwards.

I tell Andrew, while we're watching TV (and I'm knitting away on my shawl) that I'm really enjoying it and that knitting backwards is cool. I think he called me a freak, or some such thing, which is okay, because he said it with great envy.

It definitely needs the stuffing blocked out of it, but it's going to be lovely. Pics to be posted.