Remember to Keep it Small!

Shoppers at The Sedona Knit Wits

First things first—I am totally not hating on Black Friday. I get it, a 3 foot teddy bear is totally worth camping out for. And losing sleep in the name of shelling out less cash for cool gifts makes sense. I guess. 

My sister-in-law is a die-hard Black Friday shopper. Every year we make the drive up to Morgan Hill from Fresno on Black Friday and we usually arrive right when she's just getting home from an 18 hour day of shopping. We get to see her favorite deals of the day while she tells us the tales from the mall—the people grabbing scarves off of a table and pulling on the same one, the purse that one of her shopping companions had to have, and they had to turn around after they'd left the mall because it wouldn't leave her mind, fighting the parking crowds twice. I love Black Friday when someone else is in the thick of things.

But you know what I like even more? Small Business Saturday. I'm sure you've heard about it. Shop Small Saturday is the mom-and-pop shop's answer to Black Friday. This is a chance to use your dollar to empower an entrepreneur to continue building their dream (or empire). Plus, often times when you shop small for your holiday gifts you find unique items you never would have stumbled across in a 4am daze at the mega-mall. It totally ups your gift-giving skill level from super-basic to extraordinary. 

Anzula Trunk Show at Fuzzy Goat Yarns.

Anzula Trunk Show at Fuzzy Goat Yarns.

So why, on a yarn blog, am I talking about Small Business Saturday? Because while the craft giants are super enticing with their "Buy 1 xcraftsupplyx, get 800 xcraftsupplyx," the majority of yarn shops are Local Yarn Shops (LYS) and are part of someone's entrepreneurial dream. As you're stocking up on yarn to make gifts (or to give as gifts) your dollar will take your community further when spent in an LYS. You give a boost to a local business owner, and you usually don't have to fight anyone for anything (even though I have been in an LYS that was wall to wall with shoppers, and people had armfuls of fiber and spinning wheels and yarn and it was STILL all very civilized.) And let's face it—even the lower end yarns at an LYS are still much more fun to knit with than anything you'll ever find at MEGACRAFTSTORE. 

That's because the owners of local yarn shops are part of the community they live in. They pay attention to what their customers like, see the trends. They know that if they live in the desert, in the middle of August they probably want to have a variety of lighter yarns that won't induce heatstroke to just cast on. (I'm looking at you, alpaca.) They pay attention to the colors their customers like, they keep the patterns that appeal to their region on hand. It's a beautiful thing. 

Shoppers at an Anzula trunk show at Fiber Creek.

Shoppers at an Anzula trunk show at Fiber Creek.

Sure, it may be more expensive, but when I'm creating something that takes hours of my life, I like to feel good about it from start to finish. I like buying the yarn that I know directly impacts someone—and when you buy yarn like ours (subtle plug) you aren't just giving your dollar to an LYS, you're also passing that vote of confidence along to a funky little warehouse with a few handfuls of employees who love what they're doing in the middle of a revitalizing downtown. 

Don't get me wrong, there's a time and place for SUPERMEGACRAFT—7:30pm on a Sunday night when you've just broken the knitting needle and you have to finish the project for a gift tomorrow night? Yep. However, when it comes to conscientious gift giving and project making shopping small is the way to go. 

To learn more about Small Business Saturday, click here. Wanna get started right away? Well, here are a few suggestions for you. 

Book Report: The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting

The Backstory

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. 

The Book

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. 

Swatched with Cricket in Arizona

Swatched with Cricket in Arizona

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. 

The Patterns

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!

PS— Faina Goberstein is currently in the middle of a blog tour promoting all of her slip-stitch prowess. Follow along here.