Archive for September, 2011
Crocheted Bow Tie by Linda Permann
As a joke, I recently asked my brother if he would wear a knitted tie if I made one for him. I assure you it was a joke and not a test to see how much he loved me. His eyes got bigger and he started grinning madly, “Totally!” I got so excited I promised him seven handmade ties. I also found out that he was planning to wear one for his first day of his senior year of high school (I am a little unsure if he is doing this to demonstrate his “power” as a senior, able to wear whatever he likes, or because he actually likes the tie that much). This whole experience got me thinking – what is it like to knit for guys?
Obviously, my brother is a good sport and he would happily put on whatever I made for him (provided it was not completely hideous or pink). And the guy friends who were lucky enough to receive a lopsided hat or hastily made mittens from me knew better than to criticize my creations. My dad, on the other hand, maintains a general distaste for knitted goods and would rather leave the house with just a t-shirt than put on an itchy wool sweater. Are guys with overwhelming older sisters or female friends the ones that do not mind a nice scarf?
I mean, it seems that all guys are different in their views on yarn handicraft. Think about the “boyfriend sweater” curse, for instance. On nearly every knitting blog, in nearly every cheeky knitting book, and on the lips of seasoned knitters is the warning “DO NOT, REPEAT, DO NOT KNIT A SWEATER FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS NOT PUT A RING ON YOUR FINGER (children and close relatives excluded).” There is truth in this warning, of course – why go through all the pain and suffering of making a sweater for someone who has not committed? There are stories of knitters who, during their breakup, are confused as to who should keep the sweater – the maker or the receiver. There are stories, even, of the sweater causing the breakup (“You didn’t even bother to consider if I’d like this color,” etc.). Mittens and scarves are fine for boyfriends, but sweaters are for husbands. Fair enough. But I’m still confused on what to make exactly that would be the universal man-friendly knitted gift.
Some guys wear scarves. Some wear gloves. Most wear hats when it’s cold. Few wear sweaters, opting, instead, for sweatshirts or jackets. And here I am, with all this yarn, no money, and a growing Christmas gift list. What to do?
No seriously, do you guys have any suggestions?
September 26th, 2011
This has just come in, and we just LOVE this stuff! 100% merino wool, worsted weight, 250yds/skein, 20 wonderful colors…what more can you ask for? This is one of the softest 100% wool yarns you will touch. Each color is very subtly heathered, which adds a nice touch to all projects created from it.
Debbie McDermott is the woman behind this small company. Located in northern lower Michigan, Stonehedge Fiber Mills operates out of a 150 year old farm. They do all their animal raising, carding, spinning, and dying. We love supporting small fiber businesses – especially those with stunning, high quality products like those that Ms. McDermott puts out.
Now, whatever shall you do with this yarn once you fall in love with it, take a bunch of skeins home, without an idea of a project in mind? We’re here to help! The following are some suggestions that will really show off the Shepherd’s Wool:
Escher’s Oriental Poppy Cowl will really show the yarn off! This cowl is really stunning in person, and it’s great fun to knit, too!
Try the French Press Felted Slippers, a cute design by Melynda Bernardi. The Shepherd’s Wool felts beautifully, and many people on Ravelry have already had the fantastic idea of using this yarn with this pattern!
How about going for a full-blown sweater with the Shepherd’s Wool? Girl Friday by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark is a tried and true (free!) pattern from Knitty! This will be great for a fall sweater (or all-year outerwear, if you live in the Bay Area)!
September 20th, 2011
I often think that knitters and crocheters form a sort of geeky cult (and I mean that as a compliment!). This is probably because knitting has transcended age and gender divisions to become something fashionably doable. That being said, yarn crafts seem to fall in step with various other nerd cults and fandoms – think Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Yo Gabba Gabba, and millions more. I guess the rule is “If it exists, it can be knit.” Like in my previous article (Harry Potter and the Tangles of Cascade), sometimes it’s pretty easy to see where knitting and these fandoms meet. With Harry Potter there were knitters around the world recreating their favorite knits from the books and the movies. Or they were creating their own knitted versions of magical objects. And maybe it’s something about British creations, but Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings also have a pretty large crafting community.
Doctor Who, a British television show that began in the ‘60s, has a new and hipper face since its 2005 continuation. And its fans are as creative as ever. If you check out doctorwhocrafts you can see what I mean. Here are a couple of my favorite Doctor Who designs:
1. The Original Doctor Who Scarf
Harkening back to the beginning (ish), here’s 4’s scarf in all its original glory! This site is wonderful as it shows you how to do 4’s other scarves as well. Everything you’ll need to make the scarf, like the instructions, tools, and recommendations, are so precisely and meticulously laid out (though you could still use scrap/stash yarn for the most part) – knitting nerdiness at its finest!
2. Adipose! (“Amigurumi ‘Fat’ Baby”) by Jennifer Christensen
From season 4, the terrifying yet adorable fat babies! This pattern is great. If I were you, I’d make a million or two of these little guys.
3. Dalek Egg Cozy by Ellie Skene
EXTERMIN-EGG! (I came up with that all on my own.) How better to stick to those pesky Daleks than have them keep your eggs warm? It’s the perfect plan!
4. Ood Ski Mask by Lilana Wofsey Dohnert
This is a crochet pattern and probably the most creative Whovian creation I’ve ever seen. It’s kinda scary, but maybe it’ll be a conversation starter (or a Who-dar) at the ski lodge.
5. Tardis Ornament by Laura Fisk
How great! I’d love an ornament Tardis for my Christmas tree!
With The Hobbit in production (I’m so so so excited) and the Lord of the Rings book series still sitting soundly in my English Major heart, I have been seriously considering taking on some of these detailed charts and dolls.
1. Tree of Gondor Chart by Emma Schurman
I must be an über nerd because I would adore to have this on a sweater. Looks like a straightforward chart pattern and the pictures are very helpful in showing how it knits up.
2. Hobbits by Sammi Resendes
Look! Amigurumi hobbits! How lovely! I’d make all four from the fellowship – I imagine an amigurumi Pippen would be so huggable.
3. Days of the King Socks by Lobug Designs
This pattern must be purchased, but it’s a great-looking pattern for socks. The color-work looks so pretty. I would love to cuddle up with The Two Towers with these socks on.
And as a little extra, here’s some great Yo Gabba Gabba – themed knits:
DJ Baby Rock by Vickie Howell
I adore this pattern. I’m actually considering making one for every baby I see from now on.
2. Brobee Cap by April Scripps
How perfect! Any Yo Gabba Gabba fan would jump for this hat.
And there you have it, just when you thought knitting couldn’t get any nerdier, Nadya, daring intern and geek extraordinaire, proved you wrong! But seriously, if any of y’all make any of these things, tell me so we can exchange photos and jump up and down in our mutual appreciation of pop culture.
September 19th, 2011
We posted a bit ago about the yarn bombing movement, and how we are having the author spend an evening with us at the store. Well, October 8th is nearly here, and we are starting to get excited! Leanne Prain will be giving a yarn bombing talk and book-signing of Yarnbombing: The Book from 6pm to 8pm. The author has just published a new book called Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery, and she will be speaking a little about this, as well. Both books will be available for purchase at the store.
To honor Leanne’s arrival, we have started a little flower project: customers and staff have been knitting or crocheting flowers and leaves, which we will put together into a beautiful collage! We will either be using this art piece to yarnbomb San Mateo’s own Central Park, or we will at least display it for all to see at the store! We need your help ASAP to make this into a beautiful piece overfilling with colorful flowers! There is a bunch of donated yarn at the store, along with a slew of flower patterns, so stop by if you have the time and help us make this project special! Here are a list of flower patterns I pulled from the web for the first yarnbombing post:
Simple Knitted Flower (Ravelry)
Lots of Different Flowers (pdf)
A Felted Flower
September 12th, 2011
I have been working away on my blanket for the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital. I am loving crocheting this blanket in Handpainted Knitting yarns and was working on it last night when Kimberly (our newest addition to staff at Nine Rubies) asked if we could have everyone knit up a square and we could volunteer to put the squares together. We quickly sketched out some ideas that would teach some techniques – all done in the same spirit of the free workshops from spring of this year. The idea is that when you are done with your square, you could donate the square to the store for use in the Palo Alto Veterans Hopital blanket. Join us in learning new techniques and knitting up a storm of squares for veterans!
Each square is approximately 12″ x 12″ and will be knit up in worsted weight wool, like Cascade 220, with US 7 needles. You can bring your own worsted weight yarn – if you don’t have the appropriate yarn, there is a lot of donated yarn at the store for this project. Bring your own US7 needles for sure – we will not have sufficient quantities of donated needles
The techniques we will be teaching and the dates that they will be taught on are:
1. Mitered Square by Melissa Poon (this is a Nine Rubies pattern): Wednesday 14th September at 7 pm; Thursday, 15th September at 2 pm
2. A Cabled Square: Wednesday 21st September at 7 pm; Thursday, 22nd September at 2 pm
3. A Bobbled Square: Wednesday 28th September at 7 pm; Thursday, 29th September at 2 pm
4. A Lace Square: Thursday, 6th Octoberat 2 pm (No Wednesday session as we have another previously scheduled event that day.
All sessions are FREE at the store and will last for about 30 – 45 minutes, we hope. For more about the Palo Alto Veteran’s Hospital and the project to donate knitted items, see our previous blog. We hope to have the blanket ready for the Trunk show on October 12th!
Please call the store at 650-685-6205 to RSVP and even though the sessions are free, we’d like to make sure we have sufficient pattern copies and chairs for everyone. See you next week!
September 9th, 2011
In the wake of the recession, and most notably in the past few weeks, Economists and small yarn store owners have been bewailing the hike in wool, cotton, and silk prices. It seems that in the past two years, while many of us where silently freaking out (or, if you’re like me, running around like a headless chicken) over the media-reported state of the economy, many sheep farmers and wool harvesters converted to the more lucrative dairy farm industry (see the Financial Times article on this). Flocks of yarn-yielders are now considerably smaller than they were a few years ago, and, as such, supply is low. In addition, according to the previously mentioned article, during the recession many fiber farmers burned through their inventory (read: sold it off at discount prices) in attempts to cut their losses.
For silk and cotton, synthetic fibers have all but replaced them as they are cheaper to create and sell. Big brands like Lion Brand Yarn and Red Heart, which produce acrylic blends and ship to craft store chains like Michael’s and lower-priced department stores like Walmart, estimated a doubling or tripling in their sales as knitting has historically been a recession-proof hobby (read about it here). Synthetic fiber yarns, it seems, tend to do well despite economic dips because they cater not only to the frugal crafter but also to a range of skill levels. Even the pricier brands of yarn were expected to sell in larger numbers than before (here and here); knitting was the perfect stress-alleviating hobby in troubled times – it felt cost-effective, it is meditative, and it harkened back to simpler, recession-free times. But this huge payout for yarn venders never came. The sad fact is, during the recession, the amount of crafting that occurred was not enough to stabilize the wool, cotton, and silk industries and now they’re skyrocketing in price.
Here, you can see Australian wool has more than doubled in price since last year:
Even if you track five years back, to before the recession, wool prices are still at their highest today (and about two and half times more expensive than they were in 2006):
There was a momentary drop in prices in late 2008 and early 2009, when the above articles were written, but they didn’t stay down. In Economics, this is what is called “Future Expectations” – the expected price or amount of sales influenced what was then the present pricing. Directly after those happy eight months, prices went up again.
Looking at American upland cotton with the same parameters yields similar results (with the same drop in late 2008). Though cotton pricing is on its way down from its peak this past year, it’s still very much more expensive now than it was five years ago:
In the store we carry Pima cotton. Pima has hit $3/lb. on the world market.
What does all this mean for us? Our suppliers can no longer afford to stay at the prices that they have been offering us as the mills that supply them can no longer get the wool and cotton at the original low prices.
What does this mean for you? You’ve probably seen quite a few of your favorite yarns going up in price. Right now we’re considering alternative yarns, so stay tuned for yarn-tasting announcements and supply updates!
- Nadya the Intern
September 7th, 2011
Labor Day Sale!
Happy Labor Day Weekend to everyone! Hope you are enjoying your 3-day weekend and getting all things sorted out for the Fall schedule. We are open on Monday, September 5th - Labor Day from 10 am to 5 pm and to celebrate will be having a Sale at Nine Rubies! Huge, huge discounts – quite a bit will be at 45% off and everything else – classes, books, yarn – will be at 10% discount (and 15% for members). We are making space for the lovely Fall lines coming in. And look forward to sharing a little bit of the holiday weekend with you!
September 4th, 2011
Here at Nine Rubies, we’re delighted to be carrying a new bulky yarn from Swans Island. It’s something special and we are one of the first shops to carry it.
Swans Island yarns start out as certified organic Merino fleeces. This fine, soft wool is then spun by the Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont before returning to a 1790′s farmhouse off the coast of Maine to be dyed. Each color is hand-dyed in small batches, with dyestuffs like Osage orange, cochineal, and indigo. Swans Island uses only natural dyes, ensuring that each color is subtle, yet vibrant, with a tonal variegation that imparts a beautiful hand-crafted look to anything you wish to create.
Swans Island was founded in the 1990s as a hand-woven blanket company. The owners, seeking an authentic product that honored northeastern textile traditions in its beauty and utility, learned to dye and weave. They began to be recognized for the quality of their blankets, and expanded the business to a variety of woven items and the hand knitting yarns we love.
For a sneak peek into what goes on behind the scenes at Swans Island, be sure to check out their blog. The photography is beautiful.
Okay, you say, so now what can I make? The Swans Island Bulky is a soft yarn with subtle variegation. It knits at about 3.5 stitches to the inch on a 10.5 needle. Each skein has 130 yards and the yarn is spun with many plies – which helps the yarn keep its structure and reduces pilling. Right now we have nine different colors.
It would be perfect for a luxurious accessory like Alana Dakos’ Shawl Collared Cowl. Maybe you’d like a warm hat or fingerless mitts. This yarn will show off beautiful stitch details like seed stitch and cables. Come on by and see for yourself just how lovely it is!
September 3rd, 2011