Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Midtown Manhatten Bead Crawl...

Do you ever find yourself between a train at Grand Central and a train at Penn Station, with an hour or two to spare? You know that I do! You could shop for clothing or souvenirs. You could see the sights around Times Square (which is now a Disney version of its former edgy self.) You could eat. Or you could shop for beads, which is my usual favored option. If you are starting at Grand Central, walk west on 42nd Street until Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas.) Turn left (south) on Sixth and walk:
1) Stop one is Bead Empire (1032 Sixth Ave between 38th and 39th,) where you will find a good selection of Japanese seed beads, including 8/0 in many finishes. They have Matsunos and also some cheaper ones. You can't always tell, so look at them with care!
2) Stop two is Fun to Bead (1028 Sixth Ave between 38th and 39th.) The have all sorts of strands upstairs, but if you go downstairs they have a wall of small tubes of Matsuno beads for a good price (especially if you just want a small package.)
3)M&J trimming (1008 Sixth Ave) is stop three, which has some hanks of Czech seed beads, but more importantly has more trim and buttons then you will know what to do with. Way fun.
4)Stop four is Toho Shoji (990 Sixth Ave between 36th and 37th.) They have large packs of Mastuno beads and smaller packs of Miyuki beads, in many sizes, finishes and shapes. They also have findings and crystals and other goodness. This one is a favorite of mine.

If you have time for yet more, turn around and go north again on Sixth and hang a right (east) on 37th. As you walk east you will see a slew of shops that stock beads and trimming, so explore! Here are some I have shopped at:
5)Margola, at 48 west 37th, has a wall of Czech hanks. You have to buy the entire hank, so be warned! If you go all the way in, you will see a small wall of seed beads in large tubes. They have some nice 8/0s with pretty finishes, for not much money.
6)City Beads, at 15 west 37th, has a huge selection of Delicas in all sizes and MANY finishes. They are not cheap, but they are not bad for Delicas, and it is cool to see such a nice selection.
7)York, at 10 west 37th, is a tiny shop STUFFED with strands of all sorts of lovely beads. Most are Czech, including hanks of 8/0 3-cuts and other nifty stuff.
8)Phoenix Stone and Beads, at 5 west 37th, had really big bags of seed beads for very little money, in case you want to re-sell. They also have many interesting strands.
You really can't have too many beads, right? The fashion district is full of great shops for beads, buttons and trims. Feel free to add your favorite midtown bead shops in the comments section. Until next time, knit on (with beads!)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer Swatch Me: Wrapping up Loose Ends!

We are finishing up the Summer Swatch Me group project this week, with a special packet of ideas about using our Swatch Me stitch patterns to design our own unique stoles. I am posting some general directions and concept charts in our group files today. I really can't wait to see what group members come up with. The Summer Swatch Me project includes so many talented and generous knitters, it has been a real pleasure to host you all. In a few weeks I will present a gallery of Summer Swatch Me Photographs from group members. I hope that everyone will be in the mood to share their work! To encourage this big group share, I am offering up some small goodies. For each project a group member photographs and shares with me, their name will go into my hat once. Send me a picture of five projects, and your name goes into the hat five times! Details will be posted to the group, so look out for that email. First prize will be two skeins of Madil Kid Seta in a melange of browns(420 yards total) plus about 10 grams of matching beads and a special coordinating origami star, courtesy of BadKitten. This is enough for a double wide Fountain Scarf, or any other scarf you choose!
Second prize is one skein of Crystal Palace Kid Merino in the Wild Clover color(221 yards) plus about 7 grams of matching beads and a special coordinating origami interlocking squares, courtesy of BadKitten. This is enough for a Fountain Scarf, or any other scarf that you like. All Summer Swatch Me group members are welcome to join and I will ship anywhere, so look out for the group email and start sending your photographs!
I look forward to another few weeks of Summer Swatch Me fun, as we design our own stoles and finish up projects. I will be back next weekend with a post about shopping for beads in New York City. Until then, knit on!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Swatch Me week 12!

This week our Summer Swatch Me focus is on pattern manipulation. There are a few simple ways one can take a stitch pattern and modify it for very different effects. We played with some of these simple manipulations already. With stitch pattern 8, I used garter stitch instead of stockinette stitch to give a different look. The first way I manipulated our stitch patterns was to mirror them, as we saw in some of our mitt patterns and both sock patterns. Stitch patterns 3, 5, 7 and 9 can all be mirrored with ease. One can use this technique for a "right and left" purpose as I did for mitts and socks, and also for the look you see above. This photo shows stitch pattern 9 and its mirror, side-by-side. Both our special patterns this week use stitch pattern 9 and its mirror. A third way to modify our stitch patterns in by changing their size, which I use for the border of our first project today. The final photo in this post will really show you what I mean by changing the size of a pattern, to the extreme...

First, we have the Lilac Stole. This piece is knit using ArtYarns Silk Mohair and some 8/0 beads. The yarn has the drape of silk and the froth of kid mohair, making a lovely wisp of a stole. I use stitch pattern 9 and its mirror for the body of the stole and stitch pattern 6 for the border, but in a larger format than the 14 stitch repeat we used for our sampler.
The border runs along the bottom edge of the piece only, and creates points using increases in the final section. The main section also scallops, so the side edges have points too.
This piece is romantic and dressy and really lovely to wear!
You can see the bead detail below, along with just how gossamer this fabric is...
The second special project this week is called Falling Leaf Cowl, also using ArtYarns Silk Mohair and 8/0 beads.
For this piece I used stitch pattern 9 and its mirror, along with inserts to create the shoulder shaping.
This piece is also very romantic, but not so formal, looking good with both jeans and something a bit more dressy
Finally, I want to show you something I am working on, which uses a super-sized version of stitch pattern 9 for a really different look! Much more bold modern...
I am posting the patterns for Lilac Stole and Leaf Cowl at the Summer Swatch Me Group today. Both patterns are also available in my Ravelry Pattern Store, for immediate download, in case you missed joining my summer group this year.
I will be back next week with more Summer Swatch Me fun, including ideas to design your own stole with the charts we used this summer and details of my Summer Swatch Me gallery post contest! Stay tuned and knit on!