“But It Itches!” – Part I

I hear this all the time, and I explain to the customer “wool” is not the irritant. Most of the time, it’s the processing, etc. Thanks for the information.

The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts

Two years ago, I wrote a two-part post about itchy wool.  According to my WordPress statistics, it continues to receive a lot of visitors.  So I decided to repost!  Here’s the first!

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I have lost track of how many (non-textile) folks who, while admiring a wool sweater I knit, sadly lament:  “Oh, I can’t wear wool; I’m allergic to it.”  (Source of pic at left)

Highly unlikely.

What’s the most common description of a person’s claimed allergy to wool?  “It itches.”  That is not an allergic reaction.  Further, there could be other factors one could be reacting to, including (but not limited to):  laundry detergent, the dye and/or mordant used to color the yarn, the chemicals used to dry clean the wool, the chemicals involved in original processing the wool, and organic matter (e.g., dust and pollen) remaining in the yarn.

With that in mind, here are allergic…

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Who Needs Jewelry

This week while working (if you call surrounded by gorgeous yarn, patterns and buttons work), one of my students stopped by Very Knit Shop in Los Gatos, CA to model her completed scarf from class.  The focus of the class is to combine 20-30 different yarns, gauges and textures in order to create random blocks of pattern and color.

The gallery downstairs was having an artist’s reception and my student was attending, proudly wearing her scarf.

I’m always surprised when combining different yarns and ribbons with Loopy and Luscious by Natalie Wilson, another option for embellishment adding just the right amount of style and design.  For the pattern, checkout http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter02/PATTloopy.html

Luscious and Loopy with oil painting

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Looking For Yarn In All The Right Places

Recently, I had an amazing travel experience cruising up the Danube River.  My trip began in  Sofia, Bulgaria and ended in Prague.  The last three days of the trip were spent in Prague and I stayed at the Art Deco Imperial Hotel.  Upon entering the hotel lobby, the architecture in combination with the wall decoration and tile work transported me back in time.  I was awestruck by the beauty and the history of the hotel.  Walking the cobblestone sidewalks of Prague was a surreal experience, one I will never forget.

With all the amazing sights and sounds of Prague, I was on a quest for yarn.  I located the Kotva Department Store, and found amazing buttons and the largest ball of mohair yarn I’ve ever seen.  The Big Ball from Schoeller and Stahl consists of 600 meters of 67% acrylic, 14% wool an 10% polyester.  It was a trick packing, but I managed to get it home.  When I returned home from my trip, I started to knit a gauge swatch and decided to keep the ball of yarn intact.

Across the street from Kotva Department Store is the Palladium.  The Palladium is an indoor mall with multiple levels.  I discovered a fascinating window display of stitches.  (I think it was an H & M window display)

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No Preconceived Notions

As I munched on my traditional “toasted bagel on Sunday,” my husband passed the Sunday New York Times Style Magazine.” (A tradition we started together three and a half years ago.)  I guess it can be considered a tradition…Right?

Anyway, I came across an article, “Sign of the Times,” by Andrew O’Hagan discussing a writers need for solitude.  Many writers seek the solitude by hiding away in a luxurious hotel room.  Hagan shares a female friend’s ability for “negative capability.”  “Her innate talent for devoting herself, at times, to being something other than she is.”  I vaguely recall this philosophy associated with Keats and also while studying the aesthetics of modernism.

I find it interesting to consider this philosophy in relation to the “straight jacket of the color wheel.”  As a fiber artist, I’ve always found the rules of color theory  a bit chaotic to wrap my mind around…primary, secondary, tertiary, complementary and so on.  This brings to mind a class I recently attended  on color with Brandon Mably, from the Kaffe Fassett studio.  Yarn separated into lights and darks created a paintbox of fiber.  A palette of lights and darks, from which an arms length of five different colors were combined creating visual harmony.  One ball of light and another of dark were used to knit a chart of a poppy design.  When someone brought up the color wheel, Brandon replied, “throw the color wheel out the window.”  As evidenced by all our knitting, perhaps “negative capability” transcends the rules of color.

Color Workshop with Brandon MablyColor Workshop with Brandon Mably #3Color Workshop with Brandon Mably #2Color Workshop with Brandon Mably #5Color Workshop with Brandon Mably #6Color Workshop wit Brandon Mably #4I

There are many things in life I want to experience, and a color workshop with Brandon Mably is one of them.  I must admit, in all honesty, my love and admiration for Kaffe Fassett’s contribution to our world of color, knitting, quilting and decorating.  To my surprise, what a treat it was to be in the company of the color guys…Brandon and Kaffe.

Color Workshop with Brandon Mably #7