Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Favorite Catalogue

There is one catalogue that arrives each month that I genuinely look forward to seeing. I actually watch for it in the mail and have a little happy feeling when I see it’s arrived. It’s the catalogue from KnitPicks, an online retailer. They sell yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, patterns, books and notions. Notions are little items like yarn needles, stitch markers, scissors and row counters that make projects a little bit easier. I always read through the entire catalogue cover to cover, going through each page slowly in order to savor it. I look at the new colors in the yarns. I dream about buying the entire collection of one yarn line, which would about 120 different colors. It would cost about $400, and what on earth would I make with it and where would I put the yarn in the meantime? So it remains a daydream, but an enjoyable one.

I think what I like about the catalogue is the sense of possibility it gives me. Here are all these beautiful yarns and lovely projects, hundreds of things to make and enjoy, all photographed in one place. They have toys and hats and socks and sweaters and dishcloths and more; a whole life’s worth of crafts to contemplate. I won’t make most of them, of course. I love to knit but I’m not a particularly fast knitter. Baby blankets usually take me four to six weeks of steady knitting. Toys, depending on their complexity, take somewhat less, maybe three to four weeks. The two sweaters I’ve made for myself each took me about three months of knitting, although I took breaks and made other projects in between because frankly sweaters are kind of boring to me and don’t seem to turn out well. So I have to think carefully about the projects I take on and most of the projects in the catalogue just won’t ever make my list. But I love the potential, just like I love pens and notebooks. All the wonderful things that could be created are there in those raw materials. And once in a while I do find a wonderful project that I end up making. My daughter’s baby blanket, for example, was made from a pattern from KnitPicks.

I have a few conflicted feelings about buying yarn and supplies from an online retailer. I love the items they offer and their prices are really good. However, there is an ethos in knitting which says “support your local yarn store!” Which means that whenever possible, purchase from them so they stay in business. It’s something like avoiding big box stores and shopping at smaller, locally based retailers instead. Unfortunately for me, my closest local yarn store is about 30 minutes away through significantly bad traffic. Its hours aren’t very convenient for a working mother. And to be honest, I don’t really care for the yarn selection it offers. The owners focus heavily on specialty and locally produced yarns. I can appreciate the concept but it’s been hard to find yarn suitable for kid’s projects when I’ve tried to shop there, and these days most of my knitting is for children. I need sturdy, washable yarn in a range of colors that lends itself to toys, blankets, hats and sweaters for small people. So in the end, my conflicted feelings are only a very few. I am happy to have a great, reliable source for all my creativity supplies. And I get a wonderful catalogue each month as a bonus.