Thursday, June 24, 2010

News From TNNA

Do you read Knitter's Review?

For me the answer is, yes, sometimes. This week's posting, by Clara Parkes, is about news from TNNA, The National NeedleArts Association, or rather from its semiannual trade show. That's the show that shop owners from all over the country attend to learn about new trends in the fiber world.

So what got my attention this time? Well, good news and ... uh, some news that the jury's still out on.

The good news: Karin Skacel of Skacel, who will be our guest here in November, showed a new yarn that supposedly guarantees matching socks. Now, I'm the queen of socks that mostly don't match in terms of color.

Before you laugh, let me remind you: it's easy to match up socks made of one color yarn. But not so easy with a yarn like Zauberball.  Like these:

Or the ones at the top of the page. Great socks, don't match.

And for me, no problem. It's the Lucy Neatby in me.  But .... it's tempting, mighty tempting, to think about having a matched set.

As for the not-so-great news, Novelty Yarns Are Back. Maybe. The industry is calling them Fashion Yarns because they know we all have stash bins full of eyelash yarn we don't know what to do with. But I'm open-minded. Bring it on .... what can YOU do with novelty ... er, fashion ... yarn?

Diana Baber

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Member Question

I'm going to occasionally use this forum to respond to member comments and questions, because I think it's a better place than the newsletter or the website.  It's a good way to share information on a more immediate basis that's not critical enough to send out in an email spam.  In fact, I'd love to have this be an interactive forum, so let me know if you have other things you'd like to know about.

Anyway, here's a question I got this week from a long-time member (used with her permission):

I have one comment about the newsletter. The columns go from one page to the next instead of continuing on the same page. It is very difficult to read & not miss anything. It should read like newspaper columns. Can this be changed? I hope so.

And here's the answer I sent to her: 

At this point, the newsletter  is a "work-in-progress." There are several things going on:

(1) Our VP for Communications and newsletter editor is Jane Higdon, She's doing a fabulous job and has become a very valued member of the executive team. We're very lucky to have someone so enthusiastic to handle what is essentially a difficult job for the following reasons:

(2) We previously did the newsletter in Publisher and published it as a PDF, which we were emailing as an attachment. Most people do not have the Publisher software and are not familiar with it.

(3) At the same time, we've experienced major problems with emailing the newsletter as an attachment--even a PDF--because of email limitations. Some people's spam filters pitch the emails back, our email programs won't send out more than 5-10 at a batch, we're seen as a "spammer" by email programs like Bellsouth and Verizon because we're mass-mailing with attachments, etc., etc.

(4) So we've ended up using a program called Constant Contact which can email a newsletter in large batches. (We email to about 350 members and affiliate organizations.) This part of the system has worked very well and we get few complaints about WHETHER it's been received. Constant Contact is a relatively inexpensive and relatively uncomplicated program to use and that seems to fit our all-volunteer, ever-changing workforce. It is also being used by a number of our affiliates and other organizations, so people are familiar with it.

(5) Where we do get complaints is in the format of the newsletter, which I'll be the first to admit is not ideal. It's a template that Constant Contact can handle and that's the best I can say for it. Some members say it's difficult to read because of the pagination, as opposed, for instance, to WORD and Publisher where you can use columns within a page and then move on to the next page and start over. There are also issues with which articles are forced to the top--not always the ones that you would print "above the fold" in a traditional format.

(6) I would love to see more people read it online at the website but many of our members don't use computers and/or email for various reasons. We still print a few "hard copies" and mail them and that's an expense and a hassle too.

(7) Actually I think it's easier to read online but many of our members want to print it out at home and that's where it gets a little hairy.

(8) Basically what I see is that we are living in a world that communicates online and we're still very much paper-oriented. Our members who want a paper newsletter mailed to them want just that and don't want to hear about email or online. Our members who live online are impatient with paper and don't want to deal with it. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. Postage and printing costs keep going up as we keep trying to walk the tightwire between all our members. In the meantime, we have a whole generation coming along that won't have any idea what it means to "dial" a phone or to "hang up" either, but that's another whole issue.

Bottom line: we're working on it. Our focus this year is going to be improving communication (meaning getting timely and complete information to our members in several ways) and getting members involved and engaged.

Okay, who's next with a question? Send it to me at and I'll answer it one way or another--either personally or here.

Diana Baber

Monday, June 21, 2010

More Knitting in Public

Guild affiliate Rare Purls in Duluth is celebrating their first year of business. In addition to a sale they are hosting a party and a contest.

Rare Purls' anniversary party is on Friday 25 June. Rare Purls shares space in their century-old grand house with a first-class restaurant, so this is an opportunity for camaraderie as well as knitting fun and good food. The Knittery is a separate nice space adjacent to the shop and restaurant. You can just sit, unwind, and knit in public all you like.

The contest is to see who can be the most creative with a mystery skein. Winners will receive prizes that have been furnished by Cascade Yarns. To enter, purchase $25 of yarn during the anniversary sale and pull a skein out of the grab bag. The only rule is that this skein must be the primary yarn in your entry. Projects will be judged on the most creative use of the mystery skein. Entries must be brought to Rare Purls by July 14, 2010. A distinguished panel of judges (Chef Eric, Luke, and Kay) will review the entries and prizes will be awarded on Friday, July 16, 2010. The project entires will be posted on the Rare Purls website.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Visual Warmth

This one has been up for awhile, but it is worth sharing. This is a video using knitting to visualize the warm heat of natural gas. It was made for Natural Gas Belgium. You can also see a making of video here. I particularly love the knit-covered sneakers, children's playset, shower head, and tea kettle complete with knitted gas flames and steam.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Knit in Public

World Wide Knit in Public Day has been expanded to a full week. You can find more information at the official website here. This year's dates run from this Saturday the 12th through next Sunday the 20th, which is also Fathers' Day.

Several AKG affiliates will be hosting events. There is something for everyone!

Needle Nook will be knitting in public on Saturday the 12th from 11AM to 3PM at Artuzzi's. Meet at the shop and then the group will proceed to the restaurant. There will be shop specials for participants.

Only Ewe and Cotton Too will be knitting in public on Saturday the 12th from 10 AM - 5:30 PM. There will be tables and chairs on the porch, and of course there are several good restaurants close by the shop including an Irish pub. There will also be public knitting indoors for those who prefer to get out of the heat. And they now have Wi-fi!

Knitch will be knitting in public on Saturday the 12th beginning at noon at the Park Tavern in Piedmont Park. This is a lovely green setting in the heart of Atlanta. Good food and drink available.

The Whole Nine Yarns will be knitting in public on Saturday the 12th. Knitters can gather at Parkside (the park in front of the shop) or inside the air conditioned shop in Woodstock from 10 AM -4 PM. There will be specials all day!

Noble Knitters will be knitting in public on Saturday the 12th. They will be gathering around 11:30 at California Pizza Kitchen or around noon on the benches at Barnes & Noble at the Forum, 5141 Peachtree Parkway in Norcross, 30092.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June meeting

The Scarf-a-Palooza program turned out extremely well! Who knew there were so many interesting things to do with a scarf? Marian plans to put together a file of the free patterns.

Some of the highlights:
Jan S. showed off her design for a Contemporary Ascot Scarf. She also showed a hurdle stitch scarf and coordinating hat. Jan is the prophet of Hurdle Stitch, always glad to show off its excellent qualities!

Margaret H. showed off many scarves, including a couple unusual ones from Knitting New Scarves by Lynne Barr. Congratulations to Margaret for completing the Drifting Pleats Scarf, which is a very interesting knit! Margaret also showed a scarf with knit-as-you-go fringe, so that you don't have to cut strands and all on at the end.

Ro C. provided probably the most informative presentation of the evening. Ro showed a couple scarves that used intentional pooling to very good effect. She drew out several very nice poster-sized diagrams that explained how to tell if a skein will pool. And she talked about getting a skein to pool the way you want. We may see if Ro would be willing to teach a workshop on this technique. Her beautiful scarves made you want to try this technique right away! (To see her projects, follow this Ravelry link. She is RoInGa.)

Pam C. showed off a Cat Bordhi mobius scarf. Pam had even added an i-cord edging and grafted the beginning and end together for a truly seamless look. Pam was working on another mobius that used two skeins of yarn, one knit clockwise and one knit counterclockwise.

Linda F. had at least four cute shoulder wraps for summer. These are made by casting on about 30 or 40 stitches, and increasing at the end of every row so that the shape gets wide very quickly. Linda had even added some crocheted eyelash-yarn borders. These are very cute and quite appropriate to Atlanta weather.

Nancy B. had worked some patterns out of Knitted Scarves, Stoles, and Shawls by Nancy Wiseman. One of these started with a provisional cast-on in the center, and was then worked outward so that when worn, the leaves in the lace pattern are all falling down. The center area even had an interesting pattern of its own!

Lois M. hailed the benefits of the skinny scarf. She had a cute one made from Crystal Palace Squiggle. These could be as narrow as i-cord. They also can be used to make jewelry, and can be combined with beads or even a left-over earring.

Betty B. showed a scarf made from a Classic Elite ball band pattern. Sometimes it pays to look at those free with the yarn patterns!

Claire G. displayed several of her knitting in the car scarf patterns. She does these because afghans are too big for in the car, but she wants something that isn't too complicated so she doesn't lapse in her job as navigator. As with many of the other presentations, it is very interesting to see the same pattern worked in different yarns. Sometimes it almost looks like the projects are unrelated!

My camera battery died so I only got one shot of show and tell. Debra D. completed the Fallen Leaf Frilled Triangular Scarflette. Stunning! (Follow this Ravelry link to see more pictures.) Other projects included two beautiful striped blankets that Linda W. made as baby gifts for a friend who has suffered several miscarriages but is finally having good luck. And Elizabeth C. had a not-quite-finished double-knit baby blanket with cute animal motifs. (Ravelry link.) Truly an heirloom!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Scarf-a-Palooza Preview

For those of you coming to tomorrow night's Guild meeting, I hope you're bringing your scarves to show off. Several members will stand up and talk briefly about their favorite scarf patterns and the personal modifications they've done. The rest of us will (hopefully) show off during Show and Tell time.

Personally, my very favorite scarf pattern is the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf by Karen Baumer. I've made what seems like dozens of these, though it's probably fewer than that. You can also find it on Ravelry. Either way, it's free and uses one skein of sock (fingering weight) yarn.

But the one above is one of Candace Eisner Strick's patterns for her Merging Colors yarns. It's called "Arioso," and unfortunately only comes as part of a kit. (But it's so worth it! The yarns are fabulous!)  The colors change as you knit--in this case they go from a burgundy-ish red to a deep royal blue at the other end. With a little luck I'll remember to bring it tomorrow night to show it off.

Anyway, I hope I've inspired some of you to bring a scarf or two to show off. Even if you can't, the program should inspire you to get out your holiday gift lists and your needles and yarn.