Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Anzula!
A few weeks ago I was lamenting that grown-ups never get to do book reports after my 8 year old got to make a campaign poster for Peter Parker/Spider-Man after reading a book about him. That was easily my favorite part of school and jealousies were high as he put the finishing touches on the poster- a dab of gold glitter on the radioactive spider.
Thank goodness for friends like Sabrina (the queen of Anzula, in case you didn't know) who always have my back. It was less than 24 hours before I had a shiny new book in my hands to read and review.
After fruitlessly searching for slip-stitch patterns to rival those that The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting authors Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Dest remembered from their childhoods in Eastern Europe, the two set out to create new stitch patterns.
These patterns challenge everything you've ever thought about slip-stitch knitting. Gorgeous yarn and the right needle can create divine garment that you'll simply love to put on again and again.
—That's what I'd write if I were leaving an Amazon review or something. But I'm not. So here's my real
review book report on The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting.
Charlie, the glue that keeps all of the behind-the-scenes day to day business together at Anzula, basically is gonna have to pry this book out of my cold, dead hands to get it back. I'm not a strong knitter, and my pattern reading skills are seriously lacking and I usually have to pry a knitting needle out of the couch cushion that I've stabbed it in after ripping all of the stitches. That said, I was able to follow along and swatch several of the stitch patterns with (relative) ease—a big deal for me. There's a lot of background information on slip-stitch knitting in the introduction, which talks beginners or knitters with crummy pattern reading comprehension down from the ledge. I have a feeling that amazing knitters (like my sister, UGH.) would be able to breeze through and get right to creating the knits themselves without tarrying too long on the swatches.
I got all swatchy with my bad self and experimented with floats. To my surprise, it actually looked almost like the picture. Guys, I can never do this on the first try.
Textures and color combos are plentiful in this book, with patterns to emulate fair isle colorwork, textures galore, and garments that are timelessly classic. Each pattern has a Russian or Czech name, which I love about this book. My absolute favorite is the Koketka Sweater, Russian for Yoke.
This one uses a DK weight and I can just imagine how cozy it would feel in Croquet, especially if you don't live somewhere that ever gets cold enough for alpaca sweaters like the pattern calls for. (Even so, let's all let out a purr of appreciation for how amazing alpaca feels. Mmmmm.)
Second favorite, and one that I could totally do without even having to frog and start over a billion times, is the Zlatý DéštˇCowl. Even better, it calls for For Better or Worsted. If you've never cast this one on, this is a good pattern to experience it on. Beautful zig-zags in super close shades (here in Temperence and Butter, but I'd love to see it in Denim and Elephant, or Shiitake and RootBeer and a two-tone depth
I mean, c'mon, right? It's gorgeous and most importantly, it looks super warm and comfortable without lapsing into A Christmas Story amounts of layers.
And speaking of A Christmas Story, gift giving season is drawing near. There are, of course, smaller projects in the book, like the classic šiška Hat and , which would make beautiful gifts, or in my case, if you don't have time to knit for everyone on your list, you can always buy them a copy of The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting. I'm pretty much crossing my fingers that my sister won't see this blog and she'll be surprised when she unwraps her very own copy, along with the perfect skeins of Anzula yarn to complete her first slip-stitched project!
Do you know what's happening in this photo? Sure, it looks like a toddler who is about to start a Mandy Moore film fest, but I can assure you there's a lot more happening here. It's enough to cause your stomach to drop.
My daughter has figured out how to open the drawers in the hallway. More specifically, she's fixated on the DVD drawer and will do everything in her power to be near it. This drawer is only one down from my *gasp* yarn stash!
Let that sink in—all of my precious pretties, one drawer handle away from the most destructive force known to mankind. This, of course, got me thinking about stashes. They're such a personal thing to us fiber fiends. If my husband were to ask me to make some closet space by getting rid of half of my wardrobe I wouldn't be bummed. However, if he even hinted that I should maybe pare down my yarn stash to the essentials, I would smack him with divorce papers faster than you could say paralegal. (I think he knows this and has never once even mentioned my stash. We just don't talk about it.)
We live pretty simply, but even if I did have a thing for non-Target-brand shoes or electronics, I could most likely still say with confidence that my yarn stash is the most expensive thing in my entire house. I will put off buying more dryer sheets for weeks because I don't want to spend the $5 and endure the static cling, but I have no problem laying down $30-$40 for a skein that feels amazing in my hands or catches my eye from across the LYS, even without a pattern in mind.
And beyond pure monetary value, each skein in my stash has a memory attached or tells a story. I know where I was and what was happening in my life with every single one of them. I'd be willing to bet that you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Here are a few of the stories my stash tells.
The first thing you can tell about my stash is that I start out with the best intentions when it comes to organizing my life, but then it all goes to heck.
While the girl-hurricane was napping I pulled everything out and created a set to take photos of my yarn. This meant I had a massive pile of yarn in the hallway. I'm panicking thinking about what a close call it could have been had she woken up halfway through the project. We'll call it a project, it seems less weird to take photos of yarn while mumbling creepy things like "yeah, that's reaaaallllll nice" when you can call it art.
I bought this fancy lady from the Yarnover Truck when they visited Fresno earlier this year. My only mission was to buy something in the Minty Unicorn colorway, one that was developed exclusively for Yarnover. Two years before this colorway was named, Chiva and I were working in the yarn reskeining room and for whatever reason I couldn't remember the name of the Country Green colorway, so when I asked her if we were through with the lot of that particular yarn, instead of saying "Hey, we done with Country Green?" it came out "Did we finish with the Minty Unicorn?" The name, apparently, lived on. I was pretty happy to find it in Nebula, which has become my favorite line of Anzula yarn for obvious, sparkly reasons.
I didn't know this about myself until I went through my stash just now, but I really love combos of browns and mint greens, apparently. (Look at that gray-brown, bottom row, center. That one is Squishy in Sexy. I'm calling your attention to it because THE COLORWAY IS CALLED SEXY. SEXY, folks! How could I not have it at that point?!)
When you spend any amount of time working for a company like Anzula who, even when I wasn't paid to say their yarn was the best, still was great enough that I would tell anyone within earshot about the superiority in Anzula's quality, you invariably end up with 80% of your stash being made up of that company's goods. I remember when I bought this skein of Wash My Lace in Paradise. It was the end of summer and the warehouse was hot. I was just on the verge of breaking up with this one dude I had been dating and was looking for comfort. But not too much comfort. It was 105° outside. Then this skein of paradise WML called my name from across the warehouse. Or maybe it was Chiva or Sabrina calling. It was hot. I was delirious. Anyway, I peeled the cash out of my wallet and smacked it down on the table and walked out with a puffy, lovely, happy skein. And it did the trick. I It's not you, it's me-ed the situation at hand, wound it into a cake and, well, uh, okay… My follow through stinks when it comes to projects. and I've since frogged the Adrift that I'd started, but someday I'll revisit this nearly-thousand-yard powerhouse and it is going to be so comfortable on summer nights. And hopefully my husband won't mention my yarn stash so I won't have to evoke this skein's power again.
Does your stash tell a story? What is your favorite skein? Do you shop with a project in mind or do you go all willy-nilly and end up with a million mismatched skeins that have someday written all over them? I'd love to hear about it! Drop me a line in the comments about what your stash looks like these days.