The ramblings of a working, knitting, writing wife and mother.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Those People at Knit Picks

I tell you what – those people at Knit Picks have my number and they call it frequently. If I were to only purchase yarn from one supplier for the rest of my life, it would be them. They have everything I could possibly want, and most of the time it’s kitted up in gorgeous bags of temptation. Sock yarn, wool, superwash, tweed, it’s all there. . . and it’s all yours for a song!

They are the only company who made me think for more than one second that perhaps, just maybe, I should purchase all the available colors of Palette. All 100 colors at less than $2 a ball. That’s 23,100 YARDS of yarn, people, and I really thought that I needed it because Knit Picks had it in a kit, and even though they offered no suggestions as to what you would do with all that yarn, it all seemed so possible.

I pulled myself back from the brink at the last moment on the 100 balls of Palette offer, but you see what they do to me? They throw some yarn together, tell me I can make a breathtaking sweater (as shown here in blue), slap a $35 price tag on it and suddenly I’m thinking, “Yeah! Steeks couldn’t be that hard, could they? I could totally whip that out in a week and I’ll be suddenly transformed into a creature of elegance and sophistication.”

And then, after they have your attention with that amazing sweater kit for only $35, then they remind you amiably that if you purchase a mere $25 more of their wonderful yarny goodness, they will mail it to you For Free. Well! I can’t tell you how often I have browsed their site, picking out a few skeins of sock yarn here and there that I absolutely do not need, just to bring that total over the $50 mark so I could qualify for free shipping. That’s $50 yarn purchases at one time! Who does that? I don’t know, but I bet I’m not the only one.

I have about twelve of these sweater kits in a box in my basement that are neither elegant nor sophisticated because they are still lovely little balls of color nestled in their original bag, but the potential that rests with them is overwhelmingly inspiring. I also have hundreds of grams of sock yarn strewn all over the house, ready to grab at a moment’s notice should the perfect pattern come along. They rest, two by two, perfect little orbs of wool, just waiting to become baby sweaters, lace stockings, cabled tams, whatever my little heart desires!

Not that all the yarn I’ve ever bought from Knit Picks just sits around waiting for me to build a little shrine around it. Nay, verily, there is quite a bit that has been knit and even gifted. Yes, that’s right. I bought it, knit it, and then allowed it to leave my presence. Sometimes the turn around time for these events is less than a month. I’ve knit thousands of yards of Shine Sport into turtles that have gone to live in every part of the world. I’ve knit silk ties as Christmas gifts. I’ve given away dozens of pairs of socks, every one a luxurious prize. I bought a single ball of white Palette and turned it into three dozen tiny snowmen ornaments to give to all the people I work with at the lab, complete with teeny scarves and miniscule embroidered branch arms. My husband sports a magnificent green hat knit from a superwash merino in a World War II pattern that has been in every movie about that war since its creation. So many happy projects. So many more awaiting me.

This month’s struggle (I don’t actually get $50 worth of yarn a month. It’s more like every six months or so, but I have to talk myself out of a lot), started innocently. My mother, sainted soul, managed to lose a mitten I knit her in 2003. These mittens were so boring I can’t believe I let someone else see them. Plain, dull mittens knit in plain, dull Wool-Ease blue heather. Nothing remarkable about them at all, but I wasn’t a very good knitter in 2003, so I thought, of course, that they were quite awesome.

So, my mother requested I knit another mate so she can have her boring, blue mittens back again. And I technically could do it. I still have some blue heather somewhere in a bin that’s probably enough for a worthless little mitten. But I want to do something better, something more befitting the woman who brought me into existence and had the patience to keep me alive for years and years. She just needs something, I don’t know, nicer.

I looked around and found some absolutely stunning mitten patterns, finally settling on Wintertime for Adriana by Spillyjane. They are exquisite. They have a calm, soothing snowy forest and poinsettia flowers knit into them. They require six colors and patient attitude. They will force me to concentrate on counting and knitting with more than one color at a time. Magnificent mittens.

The best part? The recommended yarn is Knit Picks Palette. Suddenly this pattern has been catapulted from being exquisite to essential. I WILL knit these mittens for my mother for Christmas, and she will be astounded by my love and ability. I click over to the Knit Picks site and gleefully add to my virtual cart Palette in Spearmint, Pimento, Ivy, Blush, and Garnet Heather (no need to purchase the white, seeing as I, um, already have some leftover from the snowmen. No need to be extravagant. If I’d wanted to be extravagant, I would have bought the whole Palette kit, right? Moderation in all things!). And even though I talk myself out of the white – I can’t help but think what else I could buy that would bring my total over the $50 mark. All I need is $40 more.

I think about upcoming birthdays and Christmases. Is anyone having a baby that could use a turtle? Are there any new colors of sock yarn? Click.

OH! THERE ARE! Look! The new Felici colorways have come out. Felici is an extra-special soft brand of self-striping sock yarn. The colors are always limited. Felici dyes eight or so at a time, then they allow them to sell out before replacing them with a whole new batch of colors. The old colors? Gone FOREVER. The last time a new line came out, it included a Rainbow colorway that sold out in a few days. That’s right. Days! I was lucky enough to purchase one (because I needed a few more dollars for that free shipping again) and I’m going to knit my daughter a pair of socks with it one day. I got it into my head that maybe I had been too frugal in just purchasing one, but when I went back, the Rainbow was gone.

But what’s this? The Felici people are not stupid. New colors are always exciting, but apparently they know a winner when they see it. There’s the Rainbow colorway again even though the Felici pride themselves on never duplicating a color. I’m not so conservative this time – I dump 200g of the stuff in my cart. Great. $20 left to go. There are usually some nice kits for sale around that price.

I mosey to the kit section to see what they’ve got. Sock kits are a personal poison, but I’m lucky this time around that all of them seem to include colors that I find not attractive. (Honestly? Who wears mustard yellow on their feet? What would that possibly match? Your favorite vomit colored blouse? Yuck.) There are other kits for things I’m equally not drawn to – hats and mittens knit from chunky wool, a kit for three baby bibs, a kit where you can knit about fifteen cup cozies that I, ahem, already own. It’s for the lab! I’m going to knit the fifteen cup cozies for those dear scientists who live on coffee and the possibility that this time they look at their frozen bacteria under that microscope they will indeed get the Image that they so desire. My love knows no bounds.

Wait a second! Wasn’t there a sweater kit that I was drooling over not too long ago? Yes, I remember now. The Dogwood Blossoms sweater, a kit that comes with about thirty balls of Palette and would probably take me three years to knit. I wanted the blue version, and it’s, you guessed it, $35. That will more than qualify me for free shipping. I click around the site. No sweater kit. I click around the patterns. No sweater kit. Now, normally even if they sell out of kits, you can find the pattern and make your own kit. Not this time. There is no trace of the Dogwood Blossoms sweater – not in green or blue. It’s just gone.

And since I can’t leave it alone and I’ve become obsessed that This is the Sweater that will qualify me for free shipping – there is nothing else I would rather spend my money on, I call the Knit Picks people and question Amber about how I can get my hands on it.

I can’t.

The sweater kit is long gone, but they may bring it back later. I return, disappointed, to my cart where I have dumped the mitten yarn and the bunch of Rainbow Felici. Well, if I can’t also add a Dogwood Blossoms sweater to this mix, it’s starting to look excessive. I just need the mitten yarn. $10 worth of it. It probably only requires a few more dollars for them to ship it to me – let’s face it, 600g of fingering weight wool isn’t going to weigh that much. Why buy $40 more of yarn that, again, let’s face it, I do not need just so I can save a few dollars on shipping?

I left the site without buying anything. Because Christmas is a long way off, you know, and just maybe by the time I really need it, the Dogwood Blossoms sweater kit will be back again. I’ll keep an eye on it. This does mean, of course, that the Rainbow Felici will be long gone, but I already have some of that and I don’t have anything like a Dogwood Blossoms sweater. I’ve got my priorities. Besides, there are other manufacturers that do make rainbow colored self-striping sock yarn. And even though I say that I would only buy from Knit Picks for the rest of my life, I don’t actually have to make good on that assumption.

I will wait. I’ll knit other things. Maybe I’ll drag one of the older sweater kits from the basement and actually work on it to make room for the newest object of my affection. After all, I have thousands of grams of Knit Picks wool to take the sting out of this deprivation. There are other drugs to soothe this withdrawal. And there’s always next month when the newest Knit Picks catalog will show up at my door, full to bursting with new projects that might even make me forget I ever saw that Dogwood Blossoms sweater.

Maybe. No, surely.

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