The Natural Stitches Newsletter
Issue 23
March 13, 2009

Natural Stitches: Where Pittsburgh knits together
6401 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15206 * www.naturalstitches.com * 412-441-4410

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Franklin came and visited

Natural Stitches welcomed Franklin Habit, author of It Itches, at the end of last month for a signing/class combo extravaganza. We were amazed by his grace, his willingness to just “go with it,” and his humor. This is not a man who needs a bowl of red M&M’s waiting for him at the airport. Here are some of our favorite moments: (And Franklin, please come back to do your photography class. Lord knows we need it!)

Anna & Monica “in position,” placidly awaiting the galloping hordes. Why is it that knitters never mind a wait? Editor’s note: It’s not waiting; it’s free time to complete a row.

Franklin shows no fear in the face of technology while Flat Stanley looks on from the front row.

Franklin signs wearing his signature stocking cap from Knitty. We would learn a lot about this pattern on Sunday. Ok class, who can tell me what a delayed decrease is?

Obligatory “Franklin & Staff” Picture

Melissa found this book on her honeymoon in Scotland, and immediately thought of Franklin. We won’t linger too long as to why that was, but it’s been sitting on her bookshelf at home for almost three years waiting for their paths to cross again.

Franklin aids a student while Cheryl shows supreme concentration.

Thank you to everyone who donated and continue to donate knitted items for the women’s shelter. The basket is even fuller now than it was when Franklin visited! So many gorgeous things! Thank you for sharing your talents.


What’s New?
  • From Noro: Noro Flowers #4 by Jenny Watson featuring patterns with Noro’s newest yarn Chirimen, new colors of Noro Taiyo and a big restock of Noro Silk Garden.
  • Simple Style, the latest from Interweave’s Style series, this book is for you if you like clean lines and classic shapes.
  • Cottage Creations patterns, including the famous Wonderful Wallaby pattern.
  • New Spring colors of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton Whirl.
  • Buttons, buttons, buttons! This particular group is both stylish and inexpensive.
  • And lots more!

Spotlight on Classes: Owl-Mania Invades Cable Classes

If you’ve walked into Natural Stitches in the past month or so, you’ve probably thought, if not said out loud, “Hey, what the heck is up with you guys and all the owls?” Carla seems to have come down with the Owl-Flu, festooning owl cables on everything imaginable. But it’s not just Carla: Ravelry has become an Owl-a-Palooza lately as knitters across the world share patterns for pullover, cardigans, mittens, hats, and even knee socks featuring this winsome, surprisingly simple cable.

Carla models her O W L S sweater, a FREE pattern based on the seamless designs of Elizabeth Zimmermann. See her here in the designer’s Owl Parliament, a collection of photos of this lovely fitted sweater as interpreted by knitters all over the globe (did you know a group of owls is called a parliament?). This was the #1 new pattern on Ravelry for weeks, and with good reason: it’s quick (so no, it’s not too late in the season to start a new sweater), flattering to all body shapes, and amazingly easy.

Here Carla interprets another free pattern, The Owl Baby Vest, in Rowan Calmer for a shop sample, and for Anna’s son Henry in New Zealand Naturelle 10 Ply.

Still want more owls? Try these free patterns we’ve collected in our fits of Owl-Mania
Need help with cables? Want to add owls to everything you knit? Carla has updated her Cables Untwisted class to reflect our love for the owls. In her regular cables class she covers the how-to of cables, their backgrounds, and how to correct them when they go wrong. Now it’s new and improved with more owls! Learn to incorporate these little cuties in lots of fun and different ways. She’ll also discuss up or down sizing a sweater to make it fit your size. She’ll even tell you how she made her owl eyes stand out from the rest of the parliament. The rebooted Cables Untwisted class will be offered in April; our calendar and class descriptions are always available online. Stop by the shop or give us a call to register.
As one customer put it when she walked in and saw Carla’s sweater, “I am a FREAK for owls.” We think many of you share this love. Whoooo knew this wise bird could engender this much enthusiasm?

Book Review: The Intentional Spinner:
A Holistic Approach to Making Yarn

by Judith McKenzie McCuin

By Carol
As a long-time spinner I truly believe that there is nothing as valuable to your learning curve as when you can sit down with an experienced spinner. They can watch your motions, suggest tips for easier spinning, and are available for immediate answers to your specific problems. However, if you’re one of the many who “spin in a vacuum” because there’s no one nearby to mentor you, this is the book for you. Judith is an incredibly knowledgeable textile worker and spinner who approaches the craft from a technical aspect. I have taken classes with Judith and can attest to her knowledge of fibers and teaching skills.

Each of the eight chapters deals with a different spinning topic. The first few cover the history of fibers, their growth habits, processing and goes on to divide them into plant, animal and manmade sections. The technical content is just technical enough for us spinners to understand the properties of fibers and yet written in such a way that it holds our interest. In Chapter 4 we move on to the characteristics of different fibers—what makes them warm? Are they easily washable? How strong are they? These are questions we need to ask if we are to choose the right fiber for a sweater or an eco-friendly string shopping bag.

The last four chapters cover spinning techniques; drafting methods, novelty yarns, yarn design and tips and tricks to overcome the problems we all encounter with the different fibers available to us these days. The final chapter has a few projects to try with your handspun. There’s a kese (back scrubber) that I just may try out—the last one I made was woven 18 years ago and I loved the thing to its demise! I must find out how a knitted one would perform.

To finalize all this information, Judith has included an appendix at the back with advice on caring for your work, and most especially how to avoid the dreaded M-word (you know, that four-letter word that no well-behaved wool-worker would dare to verbalize? Don’t say it, and be careful even thinking it, as The Powers That Be WILL curse you with an infestation…..ssshhh) If you’re fascinated by spinning, yarn and things fiberish this is a great book for you to have on your shelf as a reference. I know it’s one I’ll be consulting often.

Show and Tell: Design Edition

Carla and Melissa have been experimenting with stripe patterns.

Carla striped two colors of Kertzer Marble Chunky for this top-down men’s sweater

Melissa used various colors of Simply Shetland Lambswool & Cashmere in this stripe sequence based on the Fibonacci numbers. This pattern is also top-down. Don’t you want Melissa to write it up and submit it for publication?

From all of us at Natural Stitches, we wish you a happy March!

From the entire staff of Natural Stitches, we wish you happy knits, creative crochets and splendid spinnings. LogoAnd, as always, if there's anything we can do to help, just let us know!

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