Monday, September 29, 2008

A Day of Surprises

I was greeted this morning by not one, but two nice surprises! (Actually, more than that if I count all the nice comments on my recent sweaters...thanks!!!!) The first was that it started pouring rain at 8:00 this morning, and I haven't seen rain like that since late last winter. Of course it lasted less than two minutes, but to a native Minnesotan any change in the weather is a welcome one and it meant that I got to snuggle under a blanket on the couch for an hour while it was still gray outside and pretend that it was still rainy.

The other surprise was that the books I ordered from Amazon last week actually turned up early!!!

I was ordering a couple of other things, so I decided to toss Vintage Knitwear for Modern Knitters into my basket so I could get free shipping. I have had my eye on this book for a while and I was just waiting for someone to review it, but so far no one has. So, being the intrepid knitter that I am, I took the plunge and ordered it.

This book has a cute and compelling concept: take vintage sweater patterns, update them to modern sizes and yarns, and write them out in a way that we can understand today. There are a lot of vintage sweaters out there that are super cute, so I was hoping this book would have a good collection of them. Plus, it's written by a woman who does this for a living: she recreates authentic vintage knitwear for film and television.

First off, I have to say that I like the way this book is laid out. After a one-page introduction, it launches right into the patterns, without going through a chapter on how to knit, how to do the techniques used in the book, what the yarns are like, etc. That stuff is covered substantially in other books and I'm always tired of seeing it in pattern books. The pages are also in all different colors, with photos of both the modern sweater and the vintage one from which is was taken.

The problem(s) I have with the book are that for most of the patterns, there is only one photo of the finished product, so you don't get to see how anything looks from multiple angles. There are schematics for the patterns though, which helps a lot. There is also a conspicuous absence of any models: all the sweaters are on a dress form with no arms, which makes the tube tops and off the shoulder tops look funny. Many of the finished sweaters are also knit with really dark yarn and it is very difficult to see details (or, in the case of one sweater, tell where the arms are separate from the body of the sweater).

I could actually see myself making 5 or 6 of these patterns, which is pretty good for a book that has 21 patterns total and costs less than $14. I think it's odd that only two of the patterns are up on Ravelry. Plus, if you go to the Ravelry page, there is a link to a free pdf download with 5 or 6 patterns from the book for free--including several of the cutest sweaters! I would say that unless you just want to add the book to your collection, get the pdf instead.

* * * * *

So here's a little dilemma of mine: Back on August 15, I placed an order with a small, online yarn shop. I had just sold my car and I was treating myself to a few long-awaited goodies: Kim Hargreaves' Heartfelt and Nectar, Rowan 44, and a sweater's worth of yarn that was on clearance. Now, this shop claims that everything is shipped out within 48 hours. I got a confirmation email of my order and I figured that I would have everything within about 10 days.

Well, a week and a half went by and my bank account hadn't been charged for anything, nor had I gotten any shipment notifications by email. The shop's website stated that they had someone to answer phones Tuesday-Friday so I called them. When no one answered, I left a message asking if there was anything wrong with my order and requesting a call back. I emailed them as well. Days passed with no response. I called again, and this time a woman answered and said that my yarn would be going out any day now, but that the books were all on backorder. This annoyed me because I only placed an order with this shop because all the other websites said that Nectar was out of stock and hers was the only one who appeared to have it in. All right, fine. I can wait.

A week later, still no yarn. I called back and she checked my tracking number and said it would be delivered that very day. A week after that, I called again and she said that actually there had been something wrong with the delivery address so the package had arrived back at her shop the same day I had called looking for it, but that it had been sent out again with the Heartfelt book. The other two books were expected in her shop by the end of the week and would follow in the mail. She also said she was a one-woman operation so things like emailing customers to let them know that something is out of stock or delayed or whatever is really difficult. (And I'm're a business! Writing an email takes 30 seconds!) has now been 6 and a half weeks since I placed my first order. Nectar is sold out everywhere and I've even heard rumors of it being out of print. If I missed my chance to buy it somewhere else because I was waiting for this woman to get her act together, I will be royally miffed. I saw that WEBS still had a few copies of it and thought about canceling my order with this woman, but wanted to give her another chance because I prefer to support the smaller shops. WEBS is now sold out and I'm bummed.

I won't bore you with my recent story about damaged Addis and the order I placed online in August that I won't see until the end of October. This is why getting my Amazon order so early was such a shocker! The shitty stuff usually happens to my orders! This is also why I wish I had a good yarn store closer to me. *sigh* Someday, right?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another FO Parade

Yes, I know: I've been a delinquent blogger. But honestly, I don't have a lot of interesting things to report. I'm still job-hunting, and I even considered opening my own yarn shop for a while, but as typically happens, realistic finances sidelined that idea. (Why don't banks accept fantasy finances? They look so much better!) I'm still waiting to hear about the results of a big interview I had over a month ago, and in the meantime I'm scouring San Diego for other possibilities. *sigh* The only good thing about being unemployed in a city where you know absolutely NO ONE is that you get a lot of knitting time.

Unfortunately, most of my knitting time lately has been taken up by unexciting gift knitting. But I do have a few FOs that I finally managed to get pictures of:

My B-Side, by Laura Chau. I love this sweater! Even through all the problems with running out of yarn (twice!), and being sent the wrong yarn by my old LYS, all is forgiven and I love the sweater. It's longer than I meant to make it because the yarn is kinda heavy and it pulls the sweater down a bit, but that's OK. It's all soft and snuggly and I have been wearing it all over town. (Ravelry details)

Next up: I finally finished sewing the buttons on Chrissy Gardiner's Auburn Camp Shirt! The shirt was a pain in the ass to knit with lace weight, but it turned out well. I really don't like the way the collar and the sleeve cuffs were designed, but I'm too lazy to rip those out and do them again. I don't know that this shirt will get a lot of wear. It fits well and is surprisingly warm, but it's also not really my style. It was just supposed to be a quick project made with cheap yarn to tide me over between yarn buying binges. (Ravelry details)

Finally, my Elm Row scarf, by Anne Hanson. I looooooove this one! The pattern is fast and easy, but looks complicated and decorative. I can't get enough of leaves in lace! The pattern calls for 25 repeats of the lace chart, but I kept going until I ran out of yarn and I'm glad I did. I got about 40 repeats in, and it's the perfect length for me (54.5"). I used Kaalund Yarns Enchante in Glass House. 100% silk, baby! This is the loveliest lace I have ever used. I would use this over and over again. It is so soft and shimmery and the colors are to DIE for. I also bought my first pair of Addi Lace needles and I'm glad I did. I don't normally like needles with "grab", but the silk yarn was so slippery that the needles helped out a lot. Definitely recommended. (Ravelry details)

By the time I have my next post, hopefully I will have gotten some more orders in. Yes, I'm STILL waiting on the same order that I placed more than a month ago. Is it any wonder why so many people just shop at WEBS?