The amazing thing…

The amazing thing about the Yarn Harlot is that she is totally inside my brain. Well, not the part about hating teeth, I find teeth quite incredible and intriguing and I actually made a Tooth Fairy costume for my daughter when she was 4…

But everything else.

I have just finished her book, The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes, and it’s true, I laughed, I cried, I marveled at her talent, I laughed and cried some more… AND, she made me feel like a total piker about this blog and writing and just getting it done. So, good on ya, Stephanie! Convicted. Chastened. And at the same time, with the same words, slightly convinced that I need not write another word, because she will do it for me…

Naaaaaaah.

Because I’ve been itching to find a place to write down how I feel about Amazon and John Travolta.

John Travolta, Scientology celebrity, stood up at the Oscars the other night and absolutely butchered the name of a very talented singer. She’s not a nobody, or a newcomer, and her name isn’t that difficult to say. He managed the rest of the introduction just fine, and then said a name that bore, really, very little resemblance to Idina Menzel. “Adele Dazeem”??? C’mon!
(Luckily, Ellen was quick to mention her actual name immediately after the song).

Twitter erupted with humorous one-liners, AdeleDazeem became a Twitter ID with thousands of followers, and the media covered it the next day… But Travolta basically just said he was “beating (him)self up about it” but then decided to “Let It Go!” Oh, hahahaha.

I WANT TO KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED. What would be wrong with Travolta giving some kind of explanation?… I was too vain to wear my glasses. I was drunk. My super Scientology mind isn’t all that super. The teleprompter was wrong. SOMETHING. But no. Radio silence. No explanation.

Similarly, I pre-ordered my copy of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s new book from Amazon as soon as I knew I could. (January 2, to be exact). I was thrilled to have a new book by the Yarn Harlot coming out, as I basically worship her, and want to read every word she writes ASAP.

March 4 – Hooray! the book will be here today, or at least tomorrow, right? Well, no. “Not Yet Shipped” – ??? Why not?

Contacted Customer Service. Got some guy who put me on hold twice to “see what’s going on.” He came back and said I’d definitely have the book sometime between the 7th and the 11th, and sent me two (2) emails saying:
I can confirm that we will your order in time to be delivered to you by March 7, 2014 -March 11, 2014 .
I wasn’t particularly impressed or convinced by that message. (He spoke just as clearly as he typed, too.)

Then, at 4:15 a.m. the next morning, I got the email saying they were “still trying to obtain” the item I ordered on January 2.

What???

AND:

Still want it? We’ll keep on trying. To keep your order for this item open, please click the link below. Otherwise, we’ll cancel your order on April 04, 2014, if we haven’t located it by then.”

WHAT????

What part of “pre-order” doesn’t Amazon understand? And how is it that they would offer a book on pre-order and then NOT HAVE IT when the release date arrives? And why didn’t Mr. Customer Service have any info about the book actually being unavailable?

I WANT AN EXPLANATION. Don’t I deserve something other than, “Sorry, can’t send it, maybe in a month, or maybe not”?

I went to my local Barnes and Noble, and got a copy. Huh. I’m a big fan of Amazon, before this. Not so sure anymore. Sadly, I have Amazon gift card balances to use up, and lucky for them, my copy of Rachael Herron’s new book arrived today. I’m wary, though. Very wary.

Travolta, I could take or leave before he “Let It Go.” Now, I’m just gonna let him go…

In other news – Here’s my latest scarflet, my own design, done in Sweet Fiber’s Tea Leaves. Very simple design, lovely yarn – and I’m just crazy enough to voluntarily finish it with a picot bind-off. My Instagram friend who I met because of Holden will maybe think this is funny.

I love eyelets!

I love eyelets!

Yes, that’s the yarn I was using for the Yorkshire Shawl in my last post. The hard feelings were still there when I tried to pick it up again, and I decided to just frog it and make something of my own simple design. Is this how knitting designers are made?

Finished my Swirl, and wore it to Stitches West. Was chatting with a lady at a booth where there were about 30 Swirls on a rack for several minutes before I realized I was talking to Sandra McIver!!! What a charming, warm, and wonderful person!

Sandra McIver, Swirl Genius, on the right!

Sandra McIver, Swirl Genius, on the right!

See, when her next book comes out, I’m gonna want to pre-order – maybe I’ll go to B&N. Amazon, you hurt me, and your lack of explanation makes me think you’ll just do it again. It may take a while to heal…

LYS – your Local Yarn Store

I love the feeling of walking into a good yarn store – it’s like a big “ahhhhhh” that flows all through your mind and body. Something about the colors, the fiber, the general zen-ness of it all. Maybe it’s lanolin hanging in the air – maybe it’s the mellowed-out knitters, the camaraderie – maybe it’s the sense of possibilities, of creativity, like the big 64-color crayon boxes of my youth.

Can’t say I get that feeling entering a chain hobby store that carries yarn. It’s just not the same. The good independent local yarn store has something they just don’t carry – it’s called “passion.” It means that the person at the register actually knows something about knitting and fibers and can help you with a problem – and is willing to do so. It means carrying natural fibers, in colors someone would actually want to wear.

It means that there are classes, knitting groups, a sense of community – not just yarn and needles and patterns and books, but a real resource for encouraging your passion and improving your abilities.

I like to see organization in a yarn store, too, particularly when it comes to displayed samples – I might fall in love with some little sweater or scarf that’s hanging up in the store, but that’s no help if it’s not labelled to identify the yarn that was used, and maybe even the pattern or the source of the pattern. But I’ll overlook the lack of a label if there’s a store employee who can and will answer my questions!

My problem when I get into LYS nirvana is that I can be completely overwhelmed by the possibilities. I go “tharn” a la Watership Down – (omigaw, I go yarn tharn!) and have to force myself into action. This can lead to impulsive choices that seem okay at the time, and then days later (when I view them in the cold light of my home) seem absolutely insane. Or dull. Or just “what was I thinking?” – Any of these can then lead to yarn buyer’s remorse. And an ever-growing stash of skeins that may or may not ever be knitted up… Of course, none of this is the fault of the yarn store.

Here are a few LYS’s that I know and love:

Babetta’s Yarn and Gifts: It’s a bit of a drive, cuz it’s in a part of town that just doesn’t seem close to anywhere else I go in town, but it’s worth it. Babetta herself is very nice, the place is packed with beautiful yarns, notions, buttons, books, patterns, and TWO comfy areas in which to just sit and knit. I say this, but I have yet to actually go there and “just sit and knit” – cuz I’m a little shy (no, really!). But I’ve made a promise to myself to actually do that within the next six weeks. There’s a coffee/latte/tea shop IN the store! There’s also a little area for kids to play. And Babetta does a newsletter, Gustine and Maya do classes,… Knitter happy!

Rumpelstiltskin: Right in Midtown, so it’s really easy to get to, and in a nice location next to a couple of art galleries and a tea shop (all kinds of English goodies – yum!). Everything is labelled, type of yarn, pattern, cost to make… Linda is very organized! It’s a tiny shop, crammed with yarn, roving, books, patterns, notions. And I love the name!


Had to stifle my burbling devotion all through class – it’s the honest-to-god Yarn Harlot!

A Verb for Keeping Warm: Okay, I will admit I don’t get the name of this shop, but it is a beautiful place to be. Wonderful people, a great little shop doggie, and it is where I got to meet and take a class (and a photo!, above) with my knitting idol, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot)! They have lots of classes here: sewing, quilting, dyeing, knitting – probably more. It’s a $56, 98-minute train ride for me, which may limit the number of times I can go there, but will NOT eliminate it from my list of favorites. Kristine blogs, and tweets, and the larger scope of the store doesn’t take away from the luscious yarns they carry. And if you look at their website, you’ll find they’re into all kinds of lovely natural fibers, dyeing, spinning, and they even have their own dye garden in back where they grow the plants to produce the natural colors… (And there’s a wonderful “hipster” cafe right next door, where I got the best brownie I’ve had in my life – and I am pretty old, so that’s compared to a lot of brownies…). I flatter myself to think that A Verb for Keeping Warm is like the store I might have had if I’d actually studied textiles in the Bay Area in the 70’s like I wanted to before my second divorce… coulda woulda shoulda. I’m glad Kristine followed through!


Yes, I did take a bite out of the brownie before the delicious sandwich. I’m a grownup, I can do what I want…

Tempe Yarn and Fiber: Oh, what nice people! This shop is in my home town in Arizona, so I only get to go there when I visit my mom. But I manage to fit it in every time, because it’s just such a pleasant, relaxing place to be. They have classes, and a big table where you can sit and knit – I fear this will never happen for me at this store, since it’s pretty much impossible to go somewhere else to knit if Mom is sitting at home waiting for me… They also have looms, and weaving classes, and, God help me, I can feel myself sliding in that direction. I have to get better at spinning before I do anything else, though…… 😉  TYF is also a very charitable store. They were the organizers of a project I’ve mentioned before, the DanDoh Hugs for Japan, for the tsunami victims. And they also promote and provide Knitted Knockers for breast cancer patients.  And finally, this store is where one of my favorite “small (knitting) world” stories happened – I was there, buying too much Marina (why? I don’t know – yarn tharn?) and they asked if I wanted to be on the store mailing list. Well, I usually don’t, but this time, I decided I would. They handed me the sign-up sheet, and there was just one other customer name on the page – it was someone I went to high school with – 40 years ago!  I said, “I know this woman! I went to high school with her!”  And they said, “Well, you can say hi, she’s sitting right over there!” What are the odds? Neither of us actually live in Tempe anymore. Very cool – interrupted her class, hugs all around, knitters all smiling… So, another reason to really like Tempe Yarn & Fiber.

AND, just yesterday, at the end of a wonderful lunch with my daughter and her godmother Jamey, I discovered a new friend, The Tin Thimble. Not right in town, but in a great location in a converted fruit packing shed that is now a great restaurant, a nursery, candle shop, gift shop(s), art gallery, and, most importantly, fiber heaven… The Tin Thimble is a self-described “little creative sewing shop” – beautiful fiber for spinning, felting, etc., great fabrics, buttons, vintage sewing patterns, new sewing patterns, sewing and felting classes, jewelry, silk scarves for dyeing, dyes, and on, and on,… They have an Etsy presence. They blog. Large area for classes, a super creative vibe, and really welcoming. Although the emphasis is definitely on other fiber arts and crafts rather than knitting, I’ll be going back there… intrigued by the dyeing of silk…


The Tin Thimble – delicious!

Should I mention an LYS that I sorta liked, but didn’t really love, and now they have closed? Not that MY feelings about them killed their business – but maybe my experiences were shared by others… Not naming names, but the store was run by a woman who, while a very sweet person, didn’t actually KNIT. She had a knitting machine. She was a crocheter (is that a word?). Okay, maybe I’m a bit of a knitting snob, but I think a yarn store owner should be able to KNIT. And maybe if she’d been a knitter, she’d have known that she needed to stock all the sizes of needles, and display them so you could find what you needed. Seemed to have a lot of trouble with technology – debit cards, email group lists… And I got the feeling that she started the business on a shoestring (haha), since the store was teeny-teeny-tiny, had no place to sit, hardly enough room to turn around, really, and no bathroom. Definitely not a spot to hang out. And now it’s, well, gone.

Here’s hoping you find or have found your own knitting nirvana spot in which to revel, commune, commiserate, or just sit and knit… Where it’s cool in summer, cozy in winter… There are refreshments available, help if you need it, new things to explore, and beautiful, natural, inspiring fiber…

And if you find one with a wine bar, I’d really like to know about it…

Knitting Idols

Listing “idols” can get you in trouble – not only with readers, but with yourself. Let’s just say that today, these are my top three idols in the world of Knitting, for a number of reasons.

First, the immortal and beloved Elizabeth Zimmermann, the Mother of Modern Knitting, the Goddess who came up with the Baby Surprise Jacket and the Pi Shawl, who made knitting logical and enjoyable, a veritable Julia Child of Knitting. I am in awe of her vision, her contributions to knitting, fiber, and publishing, and her empowerment of knitters, all while apparently retaining a wonderful humility. “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.” – EZ

Second, Joan McGowan-Michael, author of Knitting Lingerie Style and contributor to My Grandmother’s Knitting, owner of White Lies Designs. Joan has done what we all want to do, and then some – she knits for a living! What could be better! She designs, she teaches, she is published – and she’s a real live person who I actually know, who comes to our Cafe with her lovely family. Her designs are lovely – feminine, flattering, scrumptious things. Okay, I’ll probably never knit myself a bra and panties (because honey, the world just isn’t ready for that), but Joan made me realize that if I want to, I can. Those, and lacy camisoles, and bed jackets, and all tailored to fit me. She understands the female body (used to design for Fredericks of Hollywood, no less), and she also understands that not all knitters look like fashion models. Go figure (ha ha). So she teaches classes in how to fit your knitting to you. Yay, Joanie!

And last, because she deserves the emphasis, I am in complete awe of the Yarn Harlot. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, big-K Knitter, blogger, author, philanthropist, and kick-ass bicyclist. She’s kept me up late at night laughing at her spot-on depictions of the knitter’s life. Her comic timing, in print no less, is impeccable. I have rationed her books, not allowing myself to buy all of them at once (the last will arrive sometime this week – joy tinged with anxiety). The Blog is like going to a knitting group and having wine and laughs and empathy with oh, hundreds of people all over the world. I even love her Tweets. I was disappointed when I found she isn’t actually on Facebook – yet – but kind of glad because really, how many hours can she have available for that?

Recently Steph (may I call her Steph? I feel like I may) completed a 600k bike ride (Americans, that’s about 372 miles) from Toronto to Montreal (Friends for Life Bike Rally) – to raise money to help people living with Aids/HIV. She and her team did a phenomenal job of raising donations, and Steph kept the Blog involved all through her training, falling, worrying, figuring out how to take knitting on the bike, the ride itself, and after… The Blog responded by donating beyond all expectations, and Steph raised over $52,000, her team totaling over $162,000. Wow. She also started Knitters Without Borders, which raises money for Doctors Without Borders. Knitters Without Borders has raised $1,102,556 to date, since it was started in response to the tsunami disaster in December of 2004. Wow.

She makes knitting seem not only cool, which it is, but normal, which some people might try to tell you it’s not. She validates my feeling that really, all I want to do is knit, and why is all this other stuff getting in the way – but by doing so, she makes me realize that yeah, I guess the other stuff needs to get done, too. Let’s just not go overboard with the dusting, okay?

AND – she put the greatest little sock “pattern” (instructions, really, that I can memorize and use forever) in her book, Knitting Rules. And here is my little sock:

“Little blue sock, little blue sock,…”

My little blue sock, for which there is apparently not enough yarn in this ball… Oops. Which means there’s probably not enough in the other ball for the other sock. So last night, I decided that I will make the toes a different color. I wonder if that isn’t why some socks have different colored toes, anyway… Regardless, this pair of blue/charcoal socks will have purple/charcoal toes, because they’re my socks, and as the Yarn Harlot says, “There are no knitting police”!