Although I respect and admire her, I've never been a huge Elizabeth Zimmerman fan. I've always thought that she was really clever with the technical side of knitting - shaping, creating interesting fabric, but not so clever with the fashion side of design - creating flattering well-fitted garments with flair.
This story and the accompanying photos changed my mind. Apparently she did have a good sense of garment design, although it doesn't appear in her books. I've ordered this pattern, which is now available from Schoolhouse Press, and have some yarn that I think will do it. It's not green, but that's where my design flair might come in.
Those of my readers who don't knit will be amazed when I tell you that people spend huge amounts of time stalking the websites of some indie yarn dyers, hoping to catch the moment they update and dropping hundreds of dollars on what some call 'fairy fart' yarn (as in its quality may be high but it's reputation is largely mythical). I like buttery soft yarn in deep rich colours as much as the next woman, but I don't want to get into a competition for it. For me, it's the knitting and how you express yourself with it that matters.
With that in mind, have a look at something interesting. We like to call ourselves knitters; this man is a KNITTER. He scavenged for yarn in an extremely hostile environment, he spread his skills to others, and he showed his creativity through his craft in the most dire and depressing environment. And he's an Aussie too. Hat tip to Homero's facebook page
Mike Rann, the Premier of South Australia, is accused of having sex 'with a married woman' when he was single, years ago. The woman (who is now separated) has made a lot of money from this accusation.
I don't know who's speaking the truth here, but honestly, who cares, apart from the husband who feels that Rann has taken something from him by having had consensual sex with his wife? The whole thing smacks of old scripts and moral positions that we should have outgrown years ago. None of it has anything to do with Rann's ability as premier and we can only hope that the electorate is more grownup than the media who are running this story as if it mattered. I'm sure that it's not coincidence that SA has an election coming up.
I've been thinking about the number of online yarn suppliers that have sprung up locally lately, and coincidentally the issue was raised on Ravelry yesterday. There are roughly two groups of these suppliers: those who import commercially badged yarn and sell it on (some of them have bricks-and-mortar shops too, and thee may specialise in local products), and those who import undyed yarn in bulk, dye it and package it for sale.
Both of these forms of business seem to be often undertaken by people who have other commitments, like work and/or families, as a way of making money from home. There are now so many of them I can't count the number who take paid ads and otherwise spruik their goods in Ravelry - there might be 30 or more - but their customers are people who literally have the world's yarn sellers at their fingertips. This has led me to make the following Ravelry post (edited for context here).When people go into business, selling widgets (or yarn, or books) they are immediately in competition with other people selling the same thing. Those people could be in Australia or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the buyers: some people will always prefer to shop face-to-face, some will prefer to shop online, some are motivated only by price, others will give repeat business to the person who includes a little note and five stitch markers. Each seller has to find her niche in the market. If the niche isn’t big enough to support the amount of business you need to conduct to make a profit (which of course you have carefully worked out in advance!), you can’t keep going. That’s the bottom line.
My difficulty with indie suppliers and dyers is that some of them seem to be trying to run businesses as well as do about 10000 other things, and for a few the business seems to come last in their time allocation. Businesses that close their online shops for a month and don’t reopen for three months; webpages that are returning 404 errors and no-one seems to have noticed (and they don’t acknowledge PMs or emails); and worst of all, people who aren’t well and take on an online business as a way of dealing with their illness. (Bizarrely strange, but true! You can probably imagine what usually happens in these situations - customers who are out of pocket and much vexed take their complaints to Ravelry and are sometimes abused for being so mean to poor sick [insert name here], who is only trying to do her best). Starting and running a business, whether it is online or face-to-face, is a commitment to selling and/or servicing the needs of strangers, who may not always be nice, civil, or even reasonable. You have to suck it up. You will never be able to meet the needs of everyone who might buy from you (see niche point above). If you’re not committed to the business and you don’t identify your niche and work to it you are unlikely to succeed.
And all of this is why I have never seriously thought of going into business. I salute those who do, but remember we don’t owe you anything except the loyalty that you can earn by running your business in a way that meets our needs in the way that you have identified as possible for you to do, whether it is price point, brilliance with dyeing, stitch markers and wee notes, huge inventory, or something else I haven’t thought of. (I didn’t mention efficiency and basic customer service because it just seems so damn obvious.)
And now, some more commentary... I really resent attempts to guilt-trip me by telling me that something I've bought online from outside Australia was available locally, and that somehow I'm unAustralian for not shopping locally (not that I was exactly Australian in the first place...). This has nothing to do with carbon miles - the yarn has to get here somehow if it's not local in the first place. It has to do with some perception that we 'should' support local suppliers - this is made into a moral issue rather than a business one - and even that I 'should' support small at-home suppliers rather than big stores. Sometimes when someone has posted in Ravelry that a city shop has particular supplies available, someone else will post that one of the home-based suppliers has it too - sometimes for less - which is fair enough. But if it suits me better to hop on a bus and pick it up in the city rather than set up a profile with an online supplier and wait three days for delivery (which may or may not come with 'extras' such as stitch markers and personal notes and lurve) at a slightly reduced price due to lower overheads, I can't be made to feel guilty.
I have bought from some local indie dyers (the even the second of those is no longer operating due to her family situation); their work is unique and really special and their business practices are professional. I treasure my purchases from them, and the things I've made from them - ditto Lisa Souza in the US. They've found their niche, and I'm in it. Apart from that I buy my yarn from whoever can get it to me efficiently and at not too inflated a price. And that may not be someone in Australia.
I've often blogged the jacarandas in Sydney in spring, but this year they are especially stunning, I suppose because we've had some rain in the last few weeks. I captured a few from around the Uni on my travels this week.
A few people have started knitting outside Manning on Thursdays at 1pm. Here are Celia, Rachel and I enjoying the sunshine and each other's company. Feel free to join us if you're around the campus on Thursdays.
And now we've been a year in our house we're finally getting a herb and vegetable garden established. It's small, but it's close to the kitchen and easy to maintain. Everything that has been in for more than a week is going for broke - the spinach (top right) is trying to take over the world. You can also see tomatoes falling down on the left of that picture, and there is a new vine tomato and a dwarf chilli nestling under the spinach. Rosemary is just out of the picture.
picture on the left shows parsley and some baby rocket, and the sage,
which is in competition with the spinach for dominance.
On the far left is basil (2 plants) and dill at the back, and thyme and oregano in front. The bed covered in mulch is where I planted some dwarf beans yesterday. Watch that space!
I don't usually do Christmas knitting, but this scarf for my son's partner has zipped by quite quickly. It's thick but not stiff, and the one skein (204 metres) has made it long enough for him to be able to wrap it once round his neck and tuck the ends into into the front of a jacket. This is a great success, and I will definitely use this idea again. Strangely, at SSK on Saturday, Lyn was making a reversible cable scarf using a 2x2 rib (mine was 1x1) for her son-in-law. She's blogged hers here.
I've also started a cotton cardigan for myself, adding bottom shaping and a flower motif to the fronts of a simple drops cardigan pattern. One piece to the armholes, three buttons at the bust and hanging open below, three-quarter sleeves. Moving along slowly.
Finally, as promised, the finished photos of the Noro cardi. You'll remember that this reknit of an earlier garment was too small across the front, as it had the dreaded negative ease (and I'm a very positive person). So I picked up and knitted a garter stitch band to the required width.
Unfortunately, the earlier buttonholes were still in evidence in the original band, which was knitted into the garment. I didn't want to darn these up as it would have been really difficult to do that invisibly. So I made a feature of the extra row of buttonholes by adding an extra row of buttons - a sort of shadow row. Voila! A unique design feature
I've written before about how difficult it seems to be for the Knitters Guild of NSW to make changes to its processes, or even to understand why changes might be needed. I've been a member for a year now, so it's about time to renew my membership. And, I discover, the executive has still found itself unable to approve the changes to procedure that would be needed for people to be able to renew their membership online by simply providing a credit card number, or by transferring some of their money into the Guild's account through internet banking. It could appear that they don't want people to join or renew their membership.
I've written to the executive, asking for an explanation. And if this isn't fixed in the next month or so I will be putting a motion to the AGM to be held in March 2010, requesting that these changes be made by the incoming committee. Is anyone prepared to second that in writing? (Be careful as you rush forward - I don't want anyone to get hurt.)
My son Daniel, who arrived from Europe in February and has suffered many setbacks and difficult times in the last eight months, has landed a Proper Job in his field (fibre optics) and, best of all, a small flat in an old house in the next suburb. So we have regained total residency in our house, and can now have the craft room/spare room setup that we'd originally planned. We're adjusting.
The day he moved was the day of the practically world-famous annual Howard/Snook Halloween party, at which we ate and ate and ate and ate. You think I exaggerate? I had to take an antacid when we got home. It was that third Reese's peanut butter cup that did it. Or the third cake eyeball. Or the second pumpkin pie (with cream). It couldn't have been the goulash (with sour cream) or the voodoo meatloaf with mashed potato, or the pannacotta brain with rhubarb. There don't seem to be many pictures online, and of course I forgot my camera, but here are our hosts. Great evening, with some of our favourite people. On Sunday we visited friends for lunch, stayed four hours and came home with doggy bags so we don't have to make dinner this evening. Life is good.