Thursday, May 10, 2007

Store review

(Comments responses coming next entry, I swear.)

Sunday afternoons are SnB times at the new LYS, according to their website, so I exercised a great deal of willpower and actually held out on visiting them until then. (DH could hardly believe it.)

It was heck deciding what project to bring with me, though. Me being me, I wanted to make an impactful first impression by knitting on something desperately complex (or at least something that looked desperately complex). Unfortunately, all the WIPs I have that fit that bill have no more knitting work to be done on them. For example - the Elizabethan Jacket? Has to be blocked and sewn together before I can knit the collar. The Peacock Feathers Shawl? Needs to be blocked and have the ends sewn in. I did consider the Larry's Cabled Cashmere Sweater, but there was a good chance DH would have seen it (it's his Christmas present, so that would be bad) and it's not complicated anyway, just a bunch of ribbing. Everything else was either too simple or not high-priority enough to want to work on. So...what to bring?

Bayerische socks
In a desperate attempt to have an impressive project to work on in front of other knitters, I started these. They are extremely fiddly and slow going, but very, very handsome.

I'm still not sure whom they're going to be for, though. DH's birthday is coming up soon (panic!), but I'm not sure they'll fit him. I'll have to wait until I get a bit more done, so I can try them on and see how they fit my calves. If they fit nicely, DH is SOL and I'll have to do panic knitting for him on another pair. If they're loose, I will have to accept that the socks were not meant for me.

As it turns out, the socks were even more impressive than I thought they'd be, because I ended up being the only person at the SnB who'd ever done socks.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning.

The store is an extremely short drive from my house. The shop itself is nice, clean, bright, and run by a very nice lady. Unfortunately, its location (in my humble opinion) is not great - it's located in one of those mazes of commercial real estate where you would expect to find, say, discount computer shops; or the physical location of a high-volume eBay shop that sells refurbished office equipment; you know the kind of thing I mean? It seems to be a very poor location for a yarn shop, especially since the LYS is deep within the maze, at the very back. To make matters worse, the maze itself is off of a commercial/industrial side street. The shop will attract the square root of ZERO walk-in custom from people just passing by, which is a handicap. I suspect the owner got space there because the cost is cheap. Also, I have to admit that my neighbourhood does not have really good commercial space available anyway, so I'm sure the owner's options were pretty limited.

However, location aside, I like it. It's small, but yarn stores often are. Admittedly, I was initially disappointed because a lot of the stock is acrylic. However, DH pointed out to me that we do not live in hip, young, organic downtown Toronto; we are in convenience-oriented, older-clientele suburbia, and there is probably a very large demand for good acrylic yarn around here, especially since Lewiscraft went belly-up. So the owner is really filling a niche with the acrylic stuff. Fortunately, there is also a good selection of natural fibre yarn - cotton, alpaca, merino, silk, etc. (for example, there's a fair bit of Noro). They also have a very decent selection of sock yarn, including Fortissima Colori, Patons Kroy, and Austermann "Step", to name just a few. JOY! I was also lucky enough to be there when one of the employees came back from a yarn-buying expedition with some really, really nice stuff. It seems like the owner already has a pretty good idea of what kind of stock she wants to carry, although she seems to be fine-tuning it.

The SnB itself was sparsely attended, but I got the distinct impression that more people usually show up. The owner said she thought all her usual attendees were at home puttering in their gardens. (This was unsurprising - it was indeed one of our first perfect gardening weather days.) I asked the owner how business was going, and she said that it was slowly growing, which was GREAT to hear. It sounds like she started out with a decent customer base already, thanks to bazaar sales at a local church, so she's not just building from nothing. I really, really hope this store does well.

As already mentioned, I was the only person there who had ever done socks, so I spent a few minutes trying to explain the addictiveness of sock knitting. :) The other woman there was working on her first project (with a novelty ladder yarn, if you can believe it - and she was doing really well with it, too), and I was able to help her with some of the instructions. All in all, it was a totally lovely afternoon and I was encouraged to come back. Insinuations were also made about the possibility of me teaching a beginner's class, which is SO DAMN COOL. So! Excellent first contact. I absolutely intend to go back this Sunday.

The only real problem was the environment guilt I felt taking the car to go somewhere so close. But although the shop is very, very near my house as the crow flies, it's quite a ways as the car drives. I originally estimated that it would probably take me at least half an hour to walk there, which is too much with the baby and the diaper bag AND a project bag, even in nice weather. HOWEVER! A few days after this enjoyable LYS expedition, DH discovered the existence of a pedestrian pathway that would allow me to get there much more directly. SCORE! I'm hoping to get out and time that walk one evening this week.

Overalls for baby Potwin
Well, of COURSE I bought something at the new yarn store! What do you take me for? Last month (or thereabouts), we heard the news that one of DH's cousins is expecting their second baby, which is fantastic news. So I figured that I'd do the baby overalls project for them (the one that's been languishing untouched in The Schedule since January). I wanted to make it out of cotton, and I found a super-nice blend at Knitters Attic: Kool Kotton from James C Brett. It's a 50/50 cotton/acrylic blend, DK weight. There was a sample sweater made out of it on display at the shop and oooh, did it ever feel nice. So I snapped up two balls, in white. It must have been on sale, too, because my total was less than I'd calculated from the tag price, even before taxes.

Next up: design the overalls.

Muppet roadkill
It's getting there. I've got about seven more pattern repeats to go:

Some kind of blanket
This is mostly just a sparkle in my eye at this point. For a few days, I've been mulling over an idea for a new method of blanket construction. This morning I woke up determined to test-drive the idea. I haven't taken a picture yet, but the test piece worked out really nicely and I'm very excited about it (visuals coming soon). Knitting being as old and popular as it is, I'm sure that I'm not the first person to have invented this, but I'm still pretty high on myself at the moment for having thought it up my very own self. :) The inspiration came from a pattern I have by Elsebeth Lavold, where she uses short rows to go around corners for an edging, and uses cables to hide the lines of short row shaping. With what I've done, the edging IS the entire blanket, and I use lace to hide the lines of short row shaping (if that makes any sense). I'm pretty excited by the possibilities and will probably be experimenting a bit with this.

1 comment:

kelpkim said...

HI! very nice review! and that is so great that they want you to teach a knitting class! it's so much fun and you get to meet nice knitter people! :o) i love finding a nice path to walk directly to your destination with an emphasis on the Directness and Niceness of the New Path! :o)
i hope that works out and what a bonus that the wee one and you get a nice walk out of it too!