Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Moby Duck

Wool/Angora on cone
I was just reading a review of a book by Donovan Hohn, who decided to track the fate of a lost cargo of those iconic rubber ducks. Apparently sometime in the early 1990s approximately 28,800 bath toys spilled from a container ship into the North Pacifc Ocean. Well, a large number of those bath toys were those bright yellow rubber ducks. In his book, Moby-Duck, Hohn travels the world in search of the final resting places of as many of these rubber survivors as he can find.

Partly environmental, partly saga and apparently very entertaining, this is a quest of the magnitude of the original Moby Dick - but much more readable. In fact this book may make National Rubber Ducky Day a real cause for celebration.  Follow the link to read my post on that particular day.

Now what does Moby Duck have to do with knitting? Well, I have always wondered what happens to my products when they leave Infiknit. I know that they are shipped to stores and knitters buy them and maybe knit something with the pattern or the yarn or both and maybe that article is then given to someone, or worn by the knitter or given to charity or stored away.

My friend Julia has just returned from a trip to Morocco, which she had organized for Fibre enthusiasts. Julia said that she was amazed to find one of the group, a knitter, knitting with a yarn that we had carried a few years ago.  It was a fine blue laceweight wool and angora blend which this person had bought on e-bay.  Well, imagine the trip that this skein has taken. First it came to Infiknit on the cone. Then we wound it into skeins and overdyed it. A shop ordered it and it left Canada, possibly going to the US or another part of Canada. Then it was put up on e-bay; bought by a knitter, who took it to Morocco. The knitter had decided to knit a shawl with the yarn; however, after one of Julia's wonderful beading classes in Morocco, this clever knitter decided to add beads to her shawl and Voila - we have Rainbow - wool & angora - knit and beaded into a lovely shawl!
knitted and beaded

Please send me stories or pictures of products from Infiknit and I will post them!! Enjoy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Madness of March

Gaugeless Hat from Cabin Fever
March is one of those amazing months that is full of a lot of "crazy things." First it begins with St David's Day,  which is celebrated in Wales, a country known for its ties to the ancient Celts, the Druids and other mysterious "things."  March 1 is followed closely by, this year anyway, Pancake Tuesday, March 8. Actually some places really go to town and celebrate the eve of Lent with full blown Mardi Gras celebrations - nothing as flat as pancakes!

Next there is March 14 - Pi day, a celebration of infinity, it certainly can't end here. March 15 is the Ides of March.  Really just an innocuous marking of the middle of the month in Roman times; but a day that has gained infamy by being the day on which the Roman Emperor, Julius Ceasar was murdered. In fact, we may have forgotten this event altogether had Shakespeare not made the date almost immortal by including it as a prophecy in his play Julius Cesar.

There is, of course, major craziness as the world celebrates St. Patrick's Day! - with everything green, including the beer on March 17!

Jester Hats from Fiber Trends
Somewhere around March 21, we celebrate the Vernal Equinox. The re-awakening of the earth, immortalized by the somewhat "mad" poet, Dylan Thomas, in the line - "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower."

Most of March falls under the astrological sign of Pisces, which tends to be a mystical sign given to otherworldliness and perhaps its related madness. We also can't escape the fact that Houdini's birthday is March 24 - try to get out of that one!
Chunky Cabled Brioche from Le Tissier

This year's March is also marked by the death of Elizabeth Taylor, a star, who drove men mad, especially Richard Burton. The two were first married on March 15, 1964. If passion is a form of madness then their love affair had to be insanity! I have always had difficulty separating the personae of Dylan Thomas and Richard Burton. In fact either could be, to me, the personification of "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower."

Oh, yes and I believe that March Madness has something to do with sports. :)

The pictures are of knitted hats - to mask the madness!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lucky Day Diary March 18, 2011

It was lovely this morning - Spring bliss and........

1. Luckily I remembered to answer all the questions for my interview with Vogue Knitting for the Made in Canada column. It should be in a Fall issue. I always speak from the heart; but sometimes when what you say shows up in print, it sounds so much different then what you really meant to say.  I'm holding my breath!

2. A nice catalogue order came in to-day! Thank you!

3. JB is back from Morocco and had a great time!! She will be back at work on Tuesday and then things will really get moving around here!

4. It was such a lovely day that we BBQ'd hamburgers for dinner - it felt like summer.

5. Also I forgot to mention that my friend Meredith dropped by (the other day) with her son Jeremy.  She said that she was going to post a comment to this blog; but, decided to drop in, instead!  Wow, I can take that. Anyone who wants to drop in rather than comment, or do both, is more than welcome. 542 Mt Pleasant Rd. Toronto.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lucky Day Diary March 15, 16 & 17

Things are moving along well. There were no major set-backs on the Ides of March and my luck over the last few days was.....

1. I got my post done for St Patrick's Day and I had the most delicious corned beef and cabbage for dinner that night.

2. Fortunately, I walked to the bank and got a 2.5mile walk in through city streets, passing gardens full of Snowdrops.

3. I am almost finished Pisces. I hope to block it on the weekend.

4. The last machine at Infiknit has finally been moved and my re-organization is almost done!!

5. The weather has been amazing these last few days with temperatures around 10C. I think that I can say that Spring is here!

Hope that you had a good few days too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wearin' O' The Green

Trilo by Carol Feller - copyright
The Irish are amazing marketers. Few cultural figures enjoy the popularity of St. Patrick, whose feast day - today, March 17- is celebrated virtually everywhere! Even fewer nations have a  colour that is so recognizable. Add to this "branding" a capacity for fun, fantasy and fortune and you have an irresistible magnet for luck.

The Irish, however, have never really been that lucky. It is true that they were an enlightened society in the 1200 to 1400s. Their monasteries were centres of learning, in fact they even ordained women priests. Unfortunately, this time was short-lived and when the English arrived, Ireland began more than 500 years of  misery. A misery that was compounded by famines, when the potato crops failed. Events which forced almost half the population of Ireland to leave in the hopes of finding prosperity elsewhere.

And prosper they did. Maybe this is why they are called "lucky," because they have survived so many hardships. My great great grandmother was one of the famine survivors. While her husband stayed in Ireland to work their passage over, she left with her 9 year-old son and two very young daughters.  They were given crown land and homesteaded near Mt Forest - a small town about 2 hours north of Toronto. Years ago I spent a summer in a log cabin without electricity or running water. The "house" was located in the middle of a 100 acre farm, not far from where my ancestors began to re-build their lives.  I can't imagine how one woman, with the help of a young son managed to run a farm, under those conditions for 10 years, until her husband could finally join them.
Trilo by Carol Feller - copyright

That boy was my great grandfather. He had 14 children. One of the boys, Peter, was my grandfather. My father is 96 and still longs for Ireland - a place he has never been.  The Irish may have left Ireland, but they took their culture with them and have instilled in each generation, a haunting need to return. Failte ar ais - Welcome back.

Trilo by Carol Feller - copyright
I think that I have to knit Trilo by Carol Feller of Stolen Stitches, who lives in Ireland with her husband and four children. When I saw this sweater, I knew that it was special. It may be knit in any colour; but the green is lovely. It goes with the leaves in the pattern and congers the idea of verdant fields and mossy rocks. The hint of lace suggests a lightness in the air, maybe a song and the entire silhouette is timeless.

Erinn go brach

To see all of Carol Feller's patterns which are distributed by infiknit follow this link. (Please note that all pictures are copyrighted.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lucky Day Diary March 14, 2011

Mandala Shawl from GoddessKnits
Today is Pi day so it has to be very lucky!! I posted earlier with pictures of knitted shawls following the principle of Elizabeth's Zimmerman's Pi shawl - gotta do one. Here is another shawl from Goddess Knits that follows the same principle. There is also  Mandala 2. Lucky to have so many examples of Pi shawls.

1. Today I had to take a few pictures for Robyn Hunter, as she is going to do a guest post about Infiknit. At first I thought that this was not going to happen as I was missing a small attachment to my camera to affix it to the  tripod; but a frantic search of the house produced the attachment in the last spot to look - the knitting basket - go figure! Very lucky to have found it!

Pisces shawl - centre panel
Crest of the Wave Stitch
2. I also took some pictures of my Pisces shawl for Pi Day.  It's almost finished! I hope that you can see the fish in the panel shot. I also used the lovely "Crest of the Wave" stitch for the main part of the shawl. Lucky to have had the time to work on it.

3. Today was sunny and almost warm by March standards. Fortunately, Spring is coming.

4. Got a lucky offer to be in the "Made in Canada" column in an upcoming issue of Vogue Knitting. Just waiting for more info!

5. Fortunately the 18-year-old is on Spring break, so mornings are peaceful - no constant hasseling to get him out of the house on time. I know that there will be a time when I will miss not having him here to hassel; but for the moment I am enjoying the peace.

Hope you had a great Pi day too.  Tomorrow it's the Ides......

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pi Day

Circle of Life Shawl from Fiber Trends
Somehow, over the years, I have missed Pi Day.  Maybe it's because I'm not really mathematically inclined - give me a crossword puzzle over sodoku any day. Well, right there in the morning paper was the notice that March 14 was "celebrate Pi Day." Now I do like a good celebration and any little "thing" that can be ferreted out of the closet to get a party going is fine with me - rubber duckies, oatmeal month - you name it and I'll celebrate it! This is why I was a little stunned when I realized that I had missed Pi Day all these years, especially when you consider that you celebrate it by eating pies - one of my favourite desserts!!

Boy, do I have some catching up to do!!  Here are some things that I didn't know about Pi Day. Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879. He would be 132 today. He is also a Pisces. Givenchy sells a perfume named Pi. Pi Day was founded in 1988 in San Francisco - the 14th day of the 3rd month (3.14). Pi is an infinit number - Infiknit will be celebrating in future!!

Now Pi figures a lot in knitting especially with Elizabeth's Zimmerman's Pi Shawl. Above is a shawl using the Pi concept from fiber Trends. The concept is that to get a circle, you increase 8 sts every other round until the circle is the size you want it - It's as easy as Pie (Pi)!


Lucky Day Diary March 4-13, 2011

Okay, so there were one or two days that I really had trouble finding something NEW to write about. Most of the snow has gone - this is lucky, but that means the challenges (and luck) of getting out of the snowbanks are not there. Plus you can only celebrate the opening of clams once or twice or people begin to think that ....well.... maybe you should get a life. So I took a few days off and boy, am I sorry because things have opened like floodgates. I don't know where to begin - maybe a few headings would help -

Outside - Fortunately there are lots of signs of Spring!! On my 3-mile walks, of which I managed 3 in the last 10 days, I saw sprouts - probably tulips, heard the Cardinal singing, had a day of sunshine and had lots of things to do for the 9 days that it rained!! On the day that it was raining, sleeting and snowing all at once, I luckily reminded myself that I have given up a dream (maybe a nightmare) of going to live in the Outer Hebrides - it is cold and rains a lot there too.
Knitted Royal Wedding

Inside - I finally devised a way of listening to my new CD from Celtic Thunder. I bought it about 2 weeks ago and since I am the only one in the house that listens to folk music, I have to play it when no one else is around. However, I did find some earphones and the "hole" for the earphones on my portable CD player, which I moved beside the knitting chair. A nice escape from the hockey game!

Meredith and Jeremy paid another visit - a great escape from work. My new website is coming along! as is the lace shawl Pisces. Carol Feller sent me 9 new designs to print and put up in "What's New"
More knitted wedding

My favourite guest - knitted
Knitting - My friend Brenda sent me a link to an article in the Guardian about the KNITTED wedding.

I  may have missed a few minor items - like National Grammar Day and FB ideas like National Book Day - where you grab the book closest to you, turn to page 56 and read the 5th sentence, then post it to your wall on FB.  Of course the book closest to me was a Barbara Walker - so the line I posted was a little dry and technical - something about slip stitches - nothing really juicy!  But one of the best lines in the 10 days came from a friend who forwarded a horoscope onto me. It said, "Be Alert" - the world needs more lerts!!!


Friday, March 04, 2011

Lucky Day Diary March 2 & 3 2011

It was a very lovely pre-spring day today and....

1. Luckily I had quite a few orders for patterns.

2. I posted about Managing the Long Tail - something that I have been meaning to do for some time now.

3. Fortunately, I just had enough sleeves for all the patterns that I printed - off to Staples later.

4. Also, luckily, I've been re-arranging things, at lot, at the office and all the shelving and items going on the shelving fit amazingly well.

5. Nearly ready for pictures of Pisces.

6. Fortunately, my son got accepted at another college - Ryerson - actually a university!

7. Also luckily, the eldest was having friends over so he cleaned up around the house!!!  Hurray!!

The forecast is for warmer temperatures and rain - this means the snow will be gone!!  Hope you had a lucky few days too.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Managing the Long Tail

In 2004 Chris Anderson, then editor of Wired magazine, wrote a book entitled The Long Tail - "why the future of business is selling less of more". It was an observation of  a business bell curve that showed how a few very popular items are bought by a lot of people in a relatively short space of time and then their popularity and sales start to drop off. - think of Beanie Babies. Well Anderson suggests that these sales never drop off completely.  That is, the bell curve never really reaches the bottom or the original starting point on the graph. Rather the tail of the curve stretches out into a long, long line, suggesting that a few people are still buying, Beanie Babies.

Not only are a few people still buying Beanie Babies, they are also buying a little of a lot of other things. The Internet is the perfect place to reach a huge number of people many of whom may be interested in the rare items found in very tiny niche markets. As print dies, for example, those businesses selling printed books must sell more titles to fewer people. Vintage sites will proliferate and those sites stocking parts to repair vintage items will also do well. Sites making custom items, that might have been mass produced at one time, but now, although there is still a demand, it doesn't warrant a whole factory - think buggy whips, as an example, will do well too.

What does this have to do with knitting? Well, the long tail in knitting is supplying stores and knitters with patterns and accessories that are slowly disappearing. Printed patterns come to mind. With the availability of pfd down loadable patterns, printed patterns may go the way of the buggy whip.

I intend to manage the long tail, that is, I intend to continue to supply stores and therefore knitters, with hard copy printed patterns for as long as they are needed - swish that long tail!!

Lucky Day Diary Mar 1, 2011

It is slowly warming up and luckily today was quite bright, my other luck was....

Dion from Sheepish Knitworks
1. Luckily two sets of shelves that I moved from one room into another, at the office, fit against the wall.  We are really re-arranging things a little - for more luck, of course!

2. Also fortunately, I was able to get all the patterns of a new designer from BC - James Emslie - up on the Infiknit website. The pictures are of his wonderful hats!

3. I was also able to complete two questionaires for Robin Hunter who plans to interview me on her blog for both Infiknit and Queen Anne's Lace. What luck!

4. Fortunately, although I forgot to puree the diced tomatoes for the soup, it still tasted great - just a little chunky!

Lith from Sheepish Knitworks
5. Lucky too, I'm back on track for posting. March 1, is St David's Day in Wales - no Daffodils or Leeks here - but milder weather, sun, longer daylight hours - March us into Spring!!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Snowdrop Cometh

When was the last time you paid $565.00 for a snowdrop bulb? Well, apparently, this is the price that an e-bay auction fetched for Galanthus plicatus - a very special (and expensive) cultivar of the more common Galanthus nivalis, which is pictured here. Follow the link for the whole story. Actually I wrote several blogs in succession on Snowdrops in my garden in March 2007. I even did some knitting with snowdrops in fair isle.
Snowdrops Toronto 2007

A Snuff of Snowdrops

Snuffier Snowdrops

Snuffiest of Snowdrops

Snowdrops are the precious first flowers of Spring, at least here in Toronto and I watch for them to come up,  as soon as the snow goes. I have several clumps in the garden - they really are a joy.

This doesn't actually have a lot to do with knitting except that the story of the outrageous price for the cultivated Snowdrop bulb reminded me of the classic stock market story of tulip mania in1637.  Things went really "viral" then, even without the internet, and at the height of the market, tulip bulbs were selling  for 10 times a labourer's annual salary. Then the market "crashed." People suddenly came to their senses and realized that no flower was worth that much.

As these flower stories suggest, it should be fairly easy to get a lot of people to find you and pay a handsome price for your offerings. Please let me know if you do....and how you did it.  I'm still hoping that something as amazing as Snowdrops and Tulips happens to knitting!!!!!

Lucky Day Diary Feb 23 - 28 , 2011

I'm going to do a week's catch up & then I'll be back on track, as my daughter has gone back to university and I have one less person in the house to cook & clean for etc...etc.. So I should have blog time!

A week's worth of luck was...

1. My friend, Arlene, dropped in on Thursday and we got caught up on kids, careers and life in general.  It's always nice to touch base and it helps me keep on track.

2. Luckily, I finally got someone to take an unused desk, that had been preventing me from moving forward with re-organizing my office space. I then had a burst of energy and moved all my lace weight yarn into one room!  Amazing!

3. Made 3 lunches in a row and saved $15.00!  What luck!

4. I may have to double my fibre order to Nepal, lots of good response to the e-mail broadcast!

5. Luckily Fiona Ellis responded to my request to distribute her patterns to stores - I will call her and work out the details!

6. Fortunately, also Cricket Walker of learn something new everyday posted to my FB wall this great link to a cooking site. Enjoy! you may have to login to FB to see it. Sorry.

7. On Saturday I nearly forgot to buy my lottery ticket. Of course, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have slept and my numbers would have won. But because I bought it I could sleep and I somehow felt that this day I wouldn't win. Still, lucky I could sleep!!

8. I am still ripping out Pisces - but fortunately, I am getting further each time!

Tomorrow is March 1 - a new start!!