Buy One, Get One, Help Some

This little number has been many months in the making but is the result of much love for the Pangong Craft Center, a solar facility in the High Himalayas of India that gives semi-nomadic women a warm place to add value to the amazing cashmere produced by their hardy goats. 

Today the center gives about 80 women the opportunity to earn money from their spinning and knitting to help pay for their children's education. If it weren't for the center, they would be working on road crews breaking rocks at elevations of 14,000-feet-plus, often with their children in tow. Since the center opened, a year or so ago, it has improved the lives of women and families in this area immeasurably.

I've designed a quick-to-knit, convertible hat/cowl pattern using the remarkable yarn these ladies produce. It is, as they say in the High Himalayas, like yak butter. (OK, they don't say that but hear me out.) While your Land's End cashmere sweater may feel good, this stuff runs <14 microns as it should. It's raised as close to heaven as virtually any place on Earth.

My very patient young model on the left is wearing the version made from this very special yarn and she is rocking it with proper attitude. The model on the right, my very good friend and mother of the model on the left, is wearing a version made from a different yarn, one grown in another place close to my heart, Westcliffe, Colorado. (Natural black, alpaca, people, it doesn't get much better than that--except for nomad-spun cashmere.) 

See how this accessory works? Hatcowlhatcowlhatcowl--at your whim! 

The point of all this is to raise money for the center to fund additional equipment, pay for further training and keep the spinning wheels turning. All proceeds from the purchase of the above pattern on Ravelry will go directly to the Pangong Craft Center.

You can support the center by purchasing the BOGO Hat + Cowl pattern on Ravelry, donating directly to the center or buying some of that amazing cashmere. (It's almost sold out and is intermittently available, so if you're so inspired, make a digital run for it.)

Here's a link to a short film about the center by a talented young filmmaker who grew up in Ladakh. Click on "Perfectly Twisted" to watch. The center was founded by Konchok Stobgais, a resident of Ladakh and Linda Cortright, my editor at Wild Fibers magazine

Yarn love

Over the years I've had the great good fortune to sample a lot of yarns. Everything from cashmere and yak to possum and beaver, recycled pop bottles, milk, corn, soy, pineapple, and even humble-but-illegal-to-cultivate-in-the-U-S-of-A hemp have slipped through my needles.

Most are perfectly fine. Some knit up splendidly but make you want to stab yourself in the eye they're so frustrating to work. Many split. Others arrive disheveled like they've just had a good roll in the hay, and why not? It's a good reminder of provenance. Still others are so soft, if you give them a good stare they'll pill.

Occasionally a yarn will find its way into my shopping bag, because they have a way of doing that. Like the skein pictured above. I had spied it at Wild Yarns and, you know, spent the evening rationalizing: Organic merino, hand-dyed by Cheryl herself, great yardage. Called Kelly the next day to hold.

And here it sat, until a happy convergence of twisted stitches, free time and knitted skirts inspired a new design. What's more, it knits like a dream with nary a split or hiccup. Let's hope it swaddles my backside just as well!

Oh, and the name of the yarn? OM by Cheryl Oberle.



Spring stirs things up doesn't it? Maybe it's all the tiny green things nosing up from the cold earth or the longer days. Maybe it's just a hunger for the sunlight and warmth after a winter of staring at a plastic screen? Two days ago I almost bought a sewing machine and, yesterday, I spoke with an advisor about returning to school, which is insane. I even see it in Mr. Nake-id, who just this morning forwarded a link about bathtub refinishing.

Yes, spring affects us all in different ways.

But what about knitting? The equinox doesn't seem to be providing any juice there. Even with lovelies such as this hank of hand-dyed, organic merino newly logged into stash. (The yarn is OM by Cheryl Oberle, a scrumptious worsted.)

Is knitting over?

Colorado is fiber heaven!

As if you didn't know.

Those of us in the Centennial State enjoy access to all manner of talented designers, hand-dyers, fiber producers, spinners and terrific yarn shops, including shops that showcase our Rocky Mountain wonderfulness.

There has been some movement of late. The much-lamented closing of Knitting Habitat and rumors of others, as well as the expansion and move of Fancy Tiger and the impending move of The Recycled Lamb across the street.

We've had some additions, too. Treenway Silks now lives in Lakewood. And the popular Loopy Ewe opens its new digs in Fort Collins today!

Knitaway goodies, part II

At some level, knitters are material girls and boys. It's not like we're sitting on mountaintops seeking enlightenment; if we were, we'd be finishing that shrug moldering in the closet since 2006 and casting on a hat for the bald guy next to us, clearly shivering in the wind. We bring things to bear. That's what we do.

That Cheryl had door prizes for everyone (the jewelry-like stitch markers in the foreground for La Nake-id), goody bags (Yarn Lover's Lotion from Arvada, Colorado, a clever reusable ChicoBag, chocolate, and tourist information for the out-of-towners) and a yarn crawl planned (Knit Knack, The Recycled Lamb, Showers of Flowers and Fancy Tiger) made perfect sense--and everyone really happy.

Given recent purchases, I was restrained as we yarn crawled through the city: A sock monkey kit from Fancy Tiger, a copy of the new Knit.Wear magazine from Knit Knack and a heaping skein of Cheryl's own organic merino dyed an inky purple (just right of Stanley in the photograph).

Oh, and Wendy, one of the lovely Knitawayers, brought skincare samples from her day job working for a medical esthetics clinic. (A girl after my own heart!)

Stanley, the house bodhisattva, is trying not to pass judgment but rather inspire the Nake-id Knitter to higher things.

Thursday Miscellany: Crocheted rug, fiber-related perfume and more

What a week it's been! A flurry of yarn crawling, shopping (I hope heaven is like Anthropoligie--on sale), traveling (if you ever travel to Virginia Beach, don't miss Wicker's Crab Pot) and dining out. (You needn't bother with the new cheese biscuits at Ruby Tuesday, just sayin'.)

So without further ado:

1. Our wee North Denver Knitting Guild went a-yarn-crawling Saturday to the burgeoning Fort Collins metroplex. Lynn drove her mother's black, Grand Marquis. You wouldn't believe what that thing can do with electric buttons.

We started at the legendary Lambspun. We were dazzled and took our time. Everyone came away with something. My take: Nancy Marchant's Knitting Brioche and a skein of Tilli Tomas silk ribbon for the Frou-Frou skirt.

Next up: My Sister Knits, a jewel of a yarn shop located in a sweet carriage house. All of us were smitten. The store does a great job of showcasing yarns with its models, particular dolls. There are gnomes and birds and a family of Rebecca Danger's monsters. I was taken with a ribbon-knit lamp shade and the crocheted rug, pictured above. The rug is fashioned from roving that's been wrangled into gigantic granny squares. Can you imagine stepping out on that bed of wool every morning?

Finally, we made our way to Your Daily Fiber, a cool spinning-weaving-knitting emporium that emphasizes local, fair trade and planet friendly fibers. You'll find Elsa's fabulous Cormo products here along with other regional and domestic exotics. They have a very tightly edited selection of yarn, so not sure why they included the Louisa Harding, but there's plenty here if you love farm-fresh naturals.

After a lunch heavily laden with comfort food--the day had a nice, drizzly, autumnal feel--we road back in style to the Big D, our stomachs full our wallets lighter.

2. Sunday found me in Northern Colorado again, Loveland and Boulder, where some shopping was accomplished. Pre-business travel is a very dangerous time to let me out of the house. I was taken with a parfum called Cashmere for obvious and not-so obvious reasons but didn't like how it "wore." Nice on the front end, weak on the finish.

3. Completely alarmed at the state of pants this season. Remember those bubble silhouettes we wore in the '80s? Pleated fronts, tapered legs? Skinny jeans make more sense.

4. DPL LYS--Local goils, did you know that the Denver Public Library has a yarn shop? Si, senoritas. Open Mondays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and by appointment. At the Central Branch.