Sunday, May 4, 2008

Natural Knitter and shop update

The Natural Knitter: How to Choose, Use, and Knit Natural Fibers from Alpaca to Yak by Barbara Albright; photography by Alexandra Grablewski. Published by Potter Craft, $32.50 hardcover

Natural Knitter has been sitting on the shelves of the yarn shop I work at since it came out. A few copies sold when it first came out, but with the number of books hitting the market last year I never had a chance to spend any time with this one. I am sorry I waited so long. Natural Knitter is breath taking in both its presentation and content. It is not a book that you power through and then shelve. This is one you luxuriate in and leave by your bedside table.

Before you get to the content of the book, the presentation provides a sensory feast. Though the book is broken in to easily digestible chunks, this book was never meant to be a quick read. You are meant to luxuriate in its slick and substantial pages and to pore over the pictures of animals and their fibers. Even the layout and font choices lead one to want to linger on the page.

Each chapter is broken up in to several components. There is historical and agricultural information about the fiber animal or plant, patterns made from those fibers and profiles of companies dedicated to producing natural or organic fibers. There is information about spinning your own yarn, dyeing naturally and where to buy.

The information about fiber is fascinating and educational. As my twitter friends will attest to, I couldn't stop talking about vicuña mating calls (orgle! orgle! orgle!), the evolutionary origins of the camelid family (North American Plains) or that yaks can be ridden like horses (giddy up!). A good deal of the time I spent with this book was actually spent on the internet looking up more information on fiber animals (especially vicuñas), watching videos of these animals or finding sources for those elusive luxury fibers. Not all the fibers discussed were so rare. Natural Knitter profiles more widely known fiber companies, too, such as Blue Sky Alpaca, Classic Elite, Harrisville and Lorna's Laces.
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The patterns are amazing. Without all the information about natural fibers, this book would be worth it for the patterns alone. Of the 21 patterns, I want to knit 10, at least.

This book came out last year so I'm not sure if there are many copies stocked in your local bookstores or yarn shops, but even if you have to order it through your local shops it is worth the wait. This will undoubtedly be a classic book to spend an afternoon with.

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I have a small update in my etsy shop, including a few new sock yarn colors and a new line of barber poled DK merino called Twisted! (dyed in mostly semi-solid shades). I will be adding a few more "mutant" colors in a fingering sock weight later this week. Mutant colors are one of a kind colors made from left over dyes. This time they turned out to be beautiful nearly edible semi-sold shades of pink grapefruit, chocolate, avocado, pomegranate and saffron. You will be seeing more muted shades in my shop soon. I love the bright vivid colors and so do my customers. However, there have been requests for more toned down colors lately for cable and lace work. If bright vivid saturated colors aren't your thing, stay tuned and you might see something you like. If bright vivid saturated colors are your thing, don't fret. I'm working on some great new colors. *grin*
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My creation