The Community that Knits Together.....

A lot has been written about the many changes in the world of knitting and fiber arts.  As retailers, we hear concerns about the closing of local shops, the growth of internet sales and the glut of free patterns that don't make it easy for designer and magazine sales. While we agree that rapid change is on-going, we would like to share another  perspective on the evolution of the market.

It is true  that the market has been altered by institutions like Ravelry and the proliferation of independent designers, brands and online sales. Online groups are terrific. They link people all over the world,  create international camaraderie and, in some cases, create lifelong friendships. Since there are now more ways in which yarns and equipment can be purchased, buyers have more options and sometimes those choices leave an individual store out of the equation.

Equally important, however, is the personal interaction that can happen only in the real world. That is where the store or organization comes in - as a facilitator of community.  As a local retailer of yarn and related products, we have witnessed, first-hand, the way in which the fiber arts facilitate an intimacy that happens when people personally share their interests. We have seen how kindred passions break down barriers, encourage learning and facilitate growth.

A few days ago, we sent out a newsletter, asking for "stories" about the difference that knitting and related crafts have made in people's lives. Almost immediately, we began to receive examples of kindness, healing and friendships. The following is from one of our customers.  We are honored that she makes the trip to see us since it involves more than one subway change. The power of our community draws her to us as we are drawn to her.

     I was asked to knit for my relative Adam, who had been diagnosed with cancer, a cozy woolen hat to keep him  warm. One he could wear once he had lost his hair during chemo treatment. It takes me four subways to get to the Knitty city store, but I went almost immediately.  I asked your son, Zach, to help me find the right material, in the right color, which he did.  'Do you need a pattern?', he asked, and I answered 'no'. I thought I was experienced enough to make my own pattern. However, it did take a couple of tries of knitting and undoing before I had the correct measurements.  My completed hat was  shipped to my  36 year old relative. He said in his thank you note that it fit perfectly and that the color and material were just right. The good news is, that Adam is responding to treatment.   - Story submitted 12/7/16                                 PS: This picture shows the author who was a contributor to the Blanket Square Project - a worthy  and "warm" cause supported by  NYC knitting guilds, groups  and organizations  for The Blanket of Love Program.

We often hear the term "random acts of kindness", but it can be seen in action in the spontaneous and generous things that people who make things together often do for one another. Here's another case in point, sent to us by one of our KC team members, Melissa:

   This gift was a great example of what I value about Knitty City;. I was recently covering the register for just a few minutes on a day that I wasn’t working. I checked out a customer who was visiting from Montreal. I  started to ramble on about how I loved her city, and how I missed my regular supply of yogurt seasoning from Akhavan, a great Middle Eastern food store. She offered to pick me up a bottle and send it along to NYC. Initially I declined, as it would be asking too much of someone I barely knew…..she insisted and I offered to give her money for it, which she declined. Weeks later, a bottle of yogurt seasoning was handed to me. This delicious act of kindness is a reminder to me of two things:  First, knitters are awesome. Second, to continue this act of kindness by doing the same - no strings attached.  

We have seen sharing like this played out for the past 5 summers when Knitty City partners with the Bryant Park organizers for our weekly free summer knitting classes in the park. People teach one another, swap stories, histories, losses and gains all within a 90 minute session in the center of the city. Sometimes people learn to knit, sometimes they share their knowledge and, sometimes, they even entertain.

With Thanks to Melanie gall & Lisa Daehlin who entertained the knitting group in Bryant Park 

With Thanks to Melanie gall & Lisa Daehlin who entertained the knitting group in Bryant Park 

Always benefit abound. - and it happens with the type of relationship that is facilitated best in person. Local stores have a unique opportunity to offer something no isolated computer or discounted price can compete with.: personal touch and relationship.

We would love to hear your stories about how the craft or a shared experience has helped you. If you have a personal anecdote, tale, or experience regarding knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, or any fiber work, we would be interested in hearing it. If it involves Knitty City, so much the better, but that is not a requirement.  

With your permission we will share them, as the opportunity presents. Unless directed otherwise, we will keep them anonymous. Please send directly to pearl@knittycity.com with the subject: Story.


 

 

 

 

   

 

Lars Rains, Guest Blogger!

Lars Rains is a multi-talented friend, designer, knitter and teacher -- and that's naming just a few of his talents. He is also a friend to Knitty City, and when we heard about his new book, "Presto", we were excited by its subject matter, as well as its timing. The sub-title, "10 Accessory Projects You can Knit in a Weekend", made it perfect for this busy season.  

We always enjoy being in his company, so  we asked him to come on in for a book signing. He took us up on it, and he will be here on Saturday, December 3, from 2:00-4:00PM for a meet, greet and signing. We also know him to be a good poster person for knitting and its rewards, and we asked him to consider a little guest blogging with us. He complied, and the result follows:

Lars Rains

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People often tell me that they could never learn how to knit because they just don’t have the patience. I respond by saying that I learned how to be patient because I learned how to knit. I look forward to having to wait at the doctor’s office because it means that I can fit in a few more rows of knitting into my busy day. I also prefer to knit sweaters, which means that I may have to wait a couple of months before I end up with a finished object.

That’s not to say that we also can’t appreciate instant gratification. Indeed, there is nothing better than buying a skein of yarn (or ten) on the spur of the moment, simply because we have to have it now. Quick projects are a joy to work on, as well, because we can almost immediately enjoy the fruits of our labor. The fastest projects for me to knit are small accessories made out of bulky yarn.

 

I recently published a book of ten accessory patterns that feature Madelinetosh’s A.S.A.P. yarn. With these simple designs, I wanted to take advantage of the vivid colors that are available while also exploring new construction techniques. Just as the great masters would produce smaller studies in advance of their masterpieces, these patterns are a great opportunity to learn new skills that can be applied to larger projects in the future. Here's a look at a few of them, all featured in my new book, and all beautifully photographed by my colleague, Gail Zucker.

Crimson Horror is named after an episode of Dr. Who. It is also a cowl that is the perfect introduction to cables and lace.

Longbottom Leaf takes a simple rectangular scarf construction and elevates it with a symmetrical lace pattern.

 Pinstripes is a scarf that alternates between seed stitch rows and garter stitch rows with offset color changes.

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 Super Gay celebrates life by combining any two colors in a geometric cowl that makes use of stranded colorwork.

 Southern Gothic is a crescent shawl with stacked eyelets and an unusual approach to shaping at the end.

Polar Coordinates hides its crown decreases in its pebble stitches to create a hat without any observable decrease lines on top.

Corduroy is a cowl that is knit vertically but which features horizontal lines through the use of tuck stitches.

Titania expands on the idea of tuck stitches to produce a stunning cowl that looks more like an Elizabethan collar.

Threesome is a hat that uses helix knitting to demonstrate how easy it is to produce stripes in three colors.

Dark Mithral features a cable pattern that requires the use of two cable needles and results in a pair of fingerless mitts.

With the holiday season upon us, the patterns in my new book, "Presto", will make your gift knitting go by quickly (and painlessly). Not only is it fulfilling to get projects off the needles in no time at all, you may also learn some new techniques along the way. Don’t forget to knit something for yourself this month! You deserve it!

With Gratitude

A Thanksgiving  Letter from Pearl Chin


 

As we approach the holidays, we would like to express our appreciation to our friends and customers for their support of Knitty City. We take great pleasure in doing this as we look forward to our eleventh year in business on the Upper West Side.

In doing a little research, I  discovered that the traditional symbol for an eleventh anniversary is "Steel". I couldn't help but think it fitting that a material synonymous with strength marks this year's anniversary. Our community of makers is a strong one because of our shared interests and diversity.
    

In addition to our local friends, we are fortunate to meet people from all over the world at Knitty City. They visit us to find new treasures and share their love of making things. Each person is a strong link to a culture and, often, another language. We have gained much in meeting them and count them as part of our extended community. Like the city in which we live, we take pride in making them welcome and in sharing our knowledge, as we benefit from theirs.
   

Please accept our heartfelt wishes for a healthy and safe Thanksgiving and a peaceful holiday season.

Pearl Chin & Family

The Knitty City Team

 

 

 

From Ireland....A Creator's Style

FROM IRELAND.....WITH STYLE

Kieran Foley is an Irish born knitwear designer who is influenced by many forces, among which are: his native land, travel, environment, art, animal and plant life. We became aware of his work when we discovered his magical website at www.kieranfoley.com. At first glance, it was hard to believe that he could get the effects he did from hand-knitting. His designs have a dimensional quality that make them appear more woven than hand-knit. His use of color was (and is) confident and bold. Through his blog at knitlab.wordpress.com, we accompanied him and his beloved cocker spaniel on trips that influenced his design work. Inspired, we pursued him and asked him if he would consider being a guest blogger.  In response, Kieran put together a series of collages, comprised of images that sparked his work. and then created the words that explained his choices.  Join us as we "orient" our way along some of his creative byways.

 

Meet Kieran Foley

Thanks for your interest in my work! I have always been interested in colour and patterns, and spent a lot of time as a child doodling, drawing and painting. I learned to do stranded knitting at home at an early age and went on to study textile design at the National College of Art in Dublin, Ireland in the 1980’s. At the time, students were encouraged to have a notebook on hand at all times to sketch down ideas, and to collect postcards, cuttings and ephemera for inspiration - this was in the days before digital photography.

After college, I worked in the printed textile industry in London, before moving on to Milan. Much of my spare time in London was spent travelling on the Piccadilly Line (the subway/underground) to explore the various museums and galleries - the British Museum, where the Egyptian and Mediterranean collections, in particular, are fascinating; the Victoria and Albert Museum with its vast collections of textiles and decorative arts and its emphasis on the history of design; and the National Gallery with its highly decorative gilded altarpieces, and historical portraits, with great details of costumes from different centuries.

In Milan, the fashion industry, the architecture, the general interest in design and the opportunity of convenient train travel in all directions, armed with my sketchbook – Venice, Florence, Rome, Paris, Munich, Bucharest.

More recently, holidays in Greece, Morocco and Iceland have been stand-outs. Greece has scintillating light, whitewashed houses decorated with geraniums and handmade textiles passed down from previous generations, museums with fabulous regional costumes featuring embroidery, lace and weaving, churches with gloomy interiors stuffed with icons and chandeliers, the ancient traditions of hand-painted pottery and terracotta, and colourfully painted fishing boats bobbing on the horizon.

Morocco also has fabulous light, as well as intriguing architecture, carpets, textiles and ceramics, and beautiful mountain scenery with an abundance of wild flowers.

Iceland has breathtaking volcanic landscapes, intriguing little towns, and many small museums with natural history displays, vintage knitting collections and arrays of old photos, a wonderful source of costume history and details.

All sorts of textiles fascinate me - I love travelling to places with strong knitting traditions - Estonia and Latvia was a great trip, I hope to visit Lithuania some day - in general I seek out ethnographic museums in search of unusual clothing and bodily adornments.

The west of Ireland, where my roots are, has beautifully textured and subtly coloured landscapes, the shimmer of the Atlantic, wide cloudscapes, small harbours with rusty ships, and beaches with an infinite variety of delicate sand patterns created by the flowing tides - as well as the old cottages with their rambling roses and fuchsias gone slightly wild.

Plant life in general is a great source of design ideas - spring brightness and autumnal richness, the textures, patterns and hues of leaves and petals - I like to visit botanical and historical gardens wherever I go – Farmleigh and the National Botanical Gardens in Dublin, Kilmacurragh and Avondale in Wicklow, Kew and Great Dixter in England, to name a few.

Lots of experiments are conducted at knit/lab. Not all of them are successful, which leads to much frustration at the knit/lab kitchen table! When I am happy with a design, I knit a sample, create a chart, and put them together in a pdf. You can use the designs to create unique and individual items of your own - scarves, shawls, garments, patchworks, throws, afghans, blankets, cushions, bags, socks, etc. Information on the techniques used can be found on the knit/lab help page. 

If you have any comments or suggestions, photos of your projects or comments on the website, you can contact Kieran here. You can find the patterns shown below on Kieran's website or on Ravelry,  You can also  follow him on Instagram and Pinterest.  However, you get there, we can promise you won't want to leave.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Brilliant Light!

A Brilliant Light!

When one passionate person gets to know another with the same interest, the result can light up their world. So it must have been when Kathleen Dames and Anne Podlesak first began communicating. They "met" on-line when each was working on a project for Jane Austen Knits, a specially themed publication from Interweave Knits, and the compatibility was further strengthened by a collaboration on Knitty.com. Their complementary skills convinced them of their suitability as partners in craft, and they soon decided to merge their talents to create "Filament", a quarterly online magazine. Kathleen and Anne live far apart, but distance was no barrier for them. In fact, it may have aided their design work since each lives in a uniquely stylish area of the country: New York (Kathleen) and New Mexico (Anne). That's part of the creative spice which is evident in their first collection. Here are 4 examples from Issue #1, whose theme is Classic Nostalgia, a combination of vintage form and practical function.

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These "Hankies" are not for sniffles!

These "Hankies" are not for sniffles!

I had one of those mothers who always carried a hanky in her purse. It was a charming, if old`fashioned, habit and I loved it. So, when Mary Hayne, our resident spinning guru, showed me Knitty City's collection of beautiful "silk hankies," I was smitten. When she explained that this beautiful 'hanky" could be turned into knitting yarn without being spun, I instantly wanted to try it. Mary, being Mary, pointed me in the right direction. I love a good "how to" so, as soon as I got home, I checked it out online.

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Revisiting Woolfolk Yarn... And Kristin Ford

Revisiting Woolfolk Yarn... And Kristin Ford

Woolfolk Yarn appeared on the knitting world's horizon in 2014 when Kristin Ford, owner and CEO, debuted the yarn at the Fall TNNA Show, the industry trade show for independent retailers. It was there that she introduced a uniquely luxurious yarn: Ultimate Merino. The inaugural presentation was for two superb weights: Far (worsted) and Tynd (fingering). The yarn was introduced in an assortment of colorways that reflected Kristin's appreciation of the colors of the Pacific Northwest, her family's home territory. In no time at all, the show floor was abuzz with talk of the special new merino yarn.  

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The Creative Life of Computer Scientist Ed Rodriguez

The Creative Life of Computer Scientist Ed Rodriguez

For the past 8 years, Ed Rodriguez has been attending Men's Night at Knitty City. Quietly he sits at the table, always working on a spectacular project. Cabled vests, cabled hats, doilies, and magnificent woven pieces have gone through his hands and wowed customers and staff alike. Seeing such beautiful pieces coming from this quiet man, one cannot help but wonder how and when crochet, knitting, and weaving came into his life. This is the story of Ed Rodriguez, a valued member of our craft community.

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A Knit Life... from Coping to Helping

A Knit Life... from Coping to Helping

Margaret Crawford is a knitter, a crocheter, and a newly graduated social worker. She was taught to crochet by her grandmother. It helped her to cope,  following the death of her own mother. "My grandmother taught me to crochet in 2001, and that began my healing. That began my healing. The rhythm is what I found kept me calm and distracted me from my grief."

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A Member of The Knitty City Men's Knitting Group REPORTS IN...

A Member of The Knitty City Men's Knitting Group REPORTS IN...

For a number of years now, Knitty City has been host to a Men's Knitting Group. Meeting every Wednesday, from 6:00-8:00PM, it has brought together a very special band of creative men. The group, open to all, encompasses men of a variety of ages, professions, and cultures. For a number of years, the lead mentor in the group, Alphonse Poulin, was a treasured source of experience and support. Alphonse retired to Maine last year. He is missed, but the group soldiers on. This week we asked David Freeman, a gifted writer, fiber artist, and painter, to share with us his insights on what has transpired for him since he became a part of the Men's Group. Originally, with the help of Alphonse, he completed a beautiful Scandinavian style sweater that we reported on in a Facebook posting. As David's love of fiber art progressed, he discovered he had an affinity and passion for weaving. This, then, is that story, written in his own hand. 

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Remember the ZickZack Scarf?

Remember the ZickZack Scarf?

This blog post  is a follow up to one done a few weeks back, "A Tale of Two Scarves." 

It all began when Jane Martin, a Knitty City team member, gifted teacher, designer, and artist, fell in love with a scarf project that Diane Scheinman, a colleague and fellow artist, made. On a previous blog, Jane explained how she created a new version for her daughter-in-law:  

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A LIFE IN YARN - A study in Twists & Turns

A LIFE IN YARN - A study in Twists & Turns

One of the huge perks in this buisness is that we get to meet a lot of people who are passionate about yarns and fashion, and some are fortunate enough to have made a career out of it. One of the best in this category is a yarn representative named Antonia Shankland.  Her background is steeped in sales, retailing and, recently, designing. Antonia  represents some of the finest yarn providers in the industry, including Madeline Tosh, Woolfolk,The Fiber Company, Shibui Yarn, and Manos del Uruguay. It's always a pleasure to sit and talk with her during one of her frequent trips to NYC. With that in mind, we asked her to be a guest blogger so that she could share with our customers how and why she's in the business. Here's her story, in her own words:

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One of Our Team: Maxine Levinson

One of Our Team: Maxine Levinson

Last week we announced that we would be using our blog to post more about the artists and creative "influencers" that enrich our world at Knitty City. In the weeks to come, among other things, you will be reading about the people who work at the store. They are a diverse and talented group and all of us are bound together by our love of making things. This week, we asked Maxine LevInson, a Knitty City instructor and designer, to take the blog helm, and tell us more about herself. 

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Something New...

Something New...

On any given day, there are a thousand stories in our city, and when it comes to artistic endeavors, there are even more. So, we have decided to use our blog space to share some of those stories. Some are from our team members, some from our friends and customers (one and the same group) and some are things we discover in the byways of our marvelous city.    So we'll be sharing those tales here, from now on. We hope you will let us know how you like them by commenting. Also, if you have any interesting tales of your own to share, we hope you will let us know by leaving us note at the store. In the meantime, first up, is a little story we like to think of as "A Tale of Two Scarves."

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