Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gifts from Ann Arbor....! today I was minding my own business, frantically knitting the final (FINAL!) of four sweaters due in less than a week for the TKGA competition, when suddenly the phone rang. It was Larry. Very gently, he reminded me that "the Happy Fuzzy person" was in the studio. EEP. I had arranged for the wondrous Riin Gill to come by with a wagonload of new handpaints, and.....I COMPLETELY FORGOT. Was it creeping senility? More likely knitting overload. I was in my caftan (the at-home unifom in the summertime). Within ten minutes I was no longer in disarray, and within fifteen I was in the studio, loudly prounouncing myself a complete idiot.

Riin didn't care. What a gifted woman she is. I learned today that the gorgeously colored (and fancifully named) fingering and DK skeins she produces are done in turkey roasters (!), which makes it possible for her to produce artful, close-range colorations while not bending over tables for long hours, hurting her back .... The down side: The technique makes if more difficult to produce more than a couple of skeins at the same time. I think I've persuaded her to try to increase the number of skeins per lot so that people can make big shawls, sweaters, and other stuff with more square inches than, say, socks. Her colorways are exquisite: There was once a ravishingly gorgeous mix called "Mallard" and another called "Duck" that sold out literally the day after I got them. This time, we have "Gothic Rose," which is a beautiful (and also amusing -- it reminds me of Abby on NCIS!) black/navy/rose mix, with the rose bubbling up through the 'gothic' tones -- and other eye-catchers.

This woman (and her Happy Fuzzy Yarns) came to Artisan Knitworks indirectly -- in fact, the story illustrates why I so love dealing in small-producer yarns. It's not unlike historical research or detective work: The evidence leads in particular ways, but almost always those ways could not have been predicted at the outset. In Riin's case, I first encountered her former business partner, Susan Forbes (Wisconsin), because I was looking for sock blanks (the 'flats' that people like Conjoined Creations are selling) that were not as tightly knit as, say, "Flat Feet," which to my eyes yield yarn that is much too kinked, and which has been 'killed' in the process of making it into machine-knitted fabric. Why risk losing all that elasticity just to be able to paint directly on fabric and unravel it so that it can be reknitted?

I had it in my head that if the blank were less tightly knitted, the result might be more satisfactory (that is, more elastic, less like 'used yarn'). And the painting sounded like great fun. I even went so far as to buy a tabletop knitting machine at a Big Box store (which is now in a closet). Hence, Susan. I found her on-line. She was selling loosely knitted blanks as well as pretty painted flats. So I invited her to come to the studio for a trunk show. She said, "Do you want me to bring Riin? I will be staying with her in Ann Arbor -- she makes really nice hand-paints and does some spinning...."

So they both came. I have since decided that, however beautiful the painting might be, I still don't like the 'used' and kinked quality of the resulting yarn. But -- we have Riin! What a joy. There are maybe two dozen beautiful new skeins of Happy Fuzzy Yarns on our big black table. She'll come back sometime in early fall for a trunk show of her own. I want her to become famous. Big things can spring from small beginnings. She has a rare eye for color, and she knows how to paint a skein with real artistry.

Back to the final FINAL FINAL contest sweater -- this one in Trendsetter Dune and Tonalita. Still haven't figured out the photograph mystery -- but hang in there. I will learn how, and you'll be inundated with pictures! svb

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