When I first started knitting, a little over a year ago, the only sources of yarn in my area I knew of were Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann’s, and Wal-Mart. I knew there were nicer yarns out there, thanks to all of the knitting magazines I read, and I read about that mythical wonder called a “local yarn store.” I just couldn’t find one, and the result was a rather limited source of inspiration.
Knowing the big one-zero-zero was coming up, I found myself staring at more yarn that I have room for in my current storage set up (the one that, once upon a time, seems so spacious) and wondering just how I’d gotten there. It took a bit of thought and reviewing of my blog, but I finally managed to piece together a timeline.
First, there was KnitPicks. Actually, first there were knitting magazines, but I can’t remember which ones in particular. At any rate, several had the same ad that caught my attention: the one for KnitPicks Harmony circular needles. I had a pretty sizeable collection of inexpensive bamboo needles, both straights and circular, but I wanted the Harmony needles. Their appearance generally cause one of two reactions: either the knitter hates the colors, or she loves them fiercely. I adored them. But, although they weren’t really expensive, I wasn’t about to spend that much money on something that might not work well.
That meant I needed a review, preferably several of them, that I could trust as being impartial. I found just what I needed on Knitter’s Review Forum–a rather lengthy and in-depth thread about the needles from actual knitters who could report on the pluses and minuses. It convinced me to buy them, but more than that, it introduced me to my first knitting forum. At the time, I didn’t have a “real life” community to share my love of knitting with, so I cherished the new internet one I’d found.
While reading one of the threads, I saw a post by someone named Genuine, and her signature had a link to her blog. There was no way I could resist a blog entitled The Lumpy Sweater, so I stopped by. I loved it so much it became my first daily read knitting blog. I greatly enjoy Genuine’s sense of humor and perspective on all things knitting.
One of her posts made reference to a sweater that to her was reminiscent of wrapping crime scene tape around the wearer’s chest. Now this I had to see…except that I couldn’t. The link was to the pattern page on Ravelry, and I was not yet a member. At that point, I’d only heard vague rumblings about the site, but they were promising rumblings. The lure of the sweater pushed me over the edge, and I signed up. A week later I got my invite.
I hadn’t been a member for very long when I got sucked in to the now infamous MCY thread, which eventually became its own group. It was natural for our conversation to move from a specific independent dyer who was alleged to be defrauding her customers and faking her death to members of the group who were themselves indie dyers. And that’s how I was introduced to Artsygal and Castle Fibers.
They were the first independent dyers I ever bought yarn from, and it was amazing the inspiration that could come from…well, I can’t call it a “simple” skein of yarn, because there’s nothing simple about what these two women put out. I bought my first sock yarn ever from Artsygal– a bamboo/merino blend in one of my favorite color combinations of purple/yellow/green, and two wool/nylon blends that I was drawn to because of the colors but had to have because of the names: Neptune and Yo Ho Ho! I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to make with those yarns. The yarns are almost too pretty to put on my feet and hide under jeans and shoes…so I’m collecting all sorts of non-sock patterns for fingering weight yarn.
From Castle Fibers, I picked up a skein of gorgeous purple sock yarn, but then decided to branch out a bit. I picked up a skein of a wool/silk blend that was in some gorgeous autumn colors (and I still wish there had been more than one skein!). Then with great trepidation–because I wasn’t sure my knitting skills were worthy–I added two skeins of gorgeous lace weight, hand-spun silk yarn: one in the colors of the morning sky, and one in beautiful browns and golds. The only one I’ve made any attempts to knit up is the first of the silk lace weight, which I’m turning in to a rather luxurious lace scarf.
It was really from these purchases that my love of yarn and my adventurous pattern searches sprang…so it seemed appropriate, on the occasion of my 100th post, to share my first and best inspirations. In that spirit, I’m giving away two $50 gift certificates–one to Artsygal and one to Castle Fibers. To enter, all you need to do is post a comment in response to this 100th post and you will be entered to win! The winner will be chosen in a random drawing (using an online random number generator) on November 8, 2008 at 10 pm CST. Why November 8? Because that’s my baby girl’s first birthday…and since it was her impending arrival that inspired me to pick up knitting in the first place, it seemed appropriate!
(Please make sure you use a legitimate email address when posting, so I’ll have the means to contact you and send you your gift certificate!)
But that’s not all!
“The Sarah Winchester of Fiber Arts’” 100th post is being sponsored by Artsygal! Shop at Artsygal during the month of November and use the discount code TenOffFromJen to get 10% off of any item on the site (except the sock club, which is already offered at 20% off retail). This is a special gift from Artsygal to my readers–so please say thanks while you’re taking advantage of the offer and buying her store out (if you get there before I do, that is!).