River Colors Studio Yarns

River Colors Journal

Friday, April 17, 2015

Swatching Spring Yarns
I laugh to myself when our customers come in and say "I don't know how you work here, I would buy all the yarns if I were here all day".  The reason it is funny is because we are all in the same boat.  The best example is pictured at left.  I have totally fallen for the new spring yarns(or you might want to think of them as 3 season yarns).  Because I need to knit spring/summer samples for the store  I stashed away my woolen projects. Right now I want to work up something in cotton, linen or silk; just not wool.  The beauty of knitting/crocheting garments for this time of year is that usually the garments have short or no sleeves and therefore get done quicker.  I zeroed in on these 4 yarns;  On Line Donita, Berroco Indigo, Berroco Remix and Juniper Moon Farm Zooey.  I love the colors, and the textures of these four in particuliar.  In contrast to my usual style I decided to swatch first and then pick out patterns based on the final swatches.  The silk and the cotton in these blends will cause the knitted fabric to change after washing so I made myself wash and dry the swatches before measuring.  I decided to start with the bright orange Donita.  Once I found the fabric I liked I was able to determine the gauge.  The gauge helped me narrow down my garment choices and I finally decided on the pattern Drift
knowing that I will make it a short sleeve.  The last part of the swatching journey required that I knit in the round and narrow down my needle size because I knit differently in the round.  Watch for the finished piece! Erika

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Time for an April Tease by Rachel
It's time for a teaser for the Colors of Cleveland again, and for the April colorway I decided to go back to my photo clues, inspired of course by some of the sunshine and warmer temperatures we've been having.  I have to say that out of all of the neighborhoods I've covered thus far, this was the one that I discovered  the most about, so that was exciting. Sometimes we think we know an area or something in it, but with enough exploration there's so much more to find!  For me there was a little air of mystery and intrigue while meandering through this area, which will be leading me back to try some more of the cuisine and hunt through some of the little shops and galleries scattered throughout.
Floral Sculpture
A peek at the Cleveland skyline
Cozy interior space
Do any of these spaces look at all familiar?  I know for me I could of never guessed! We would love to hear back from anyone wishing to take a guess at this!  And also, what Colors of Cleveland neighborhood have you learned the most about through this color journey?  What have you done and experienced there?  Or perhaps you have an interesting adventure in another part of the city.  Either way, we'd love to hear your feedback!  See you next month, but in the meantime, enjoy the weather and explore our growing city!

Fun and colors!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An Unexpected Baby Blanket
At River Colors Studio, we always joke that the #1 event that sends someone into a yarn store is a baby.  There's something about anticipating a new life in the world that requires creativity in response.  And if you're a knitter or crocheter, well, you express your creativity in yarn.

I recently received an invitation to a baby shower, the first one in a long time.  Most of my friends have empty nests now, but there's always another stage ready to begin.   Diane is the first of our Preschool PTA/Book Club group of friends to welcome a grandchild.  What else could I do but knit?

I have known the mother-to-be since she was a child, and have celebrated other milestones in her life.    
She is very involved in our community and passionate about the intersection of food, health and local economies.   Instinct told me that the usual go-to easy-care synthetic fibers would not be the right choice for this baby.  I also wanted soft, natural colors rather than too-sweet pastels or aggressive brights.

So.  I knew I wanted to make a blanket out of natural fibers that would be light but hardy.  I wanted it to be the blanket that got put on the floor for tummy time, that gave mom some privacy for nursing, that protected baby from shopping cart seats or windy days.  I wanted it to be soft and look almost fuzzy from wear although it would be new.   I didn't want it to be too precious to use.  With these criteria, cotton was out--too heavy.  Alpaca or a merino/cashmere blend would be too fussy.   It's got to be wool.  But which wool?

I am well-known at River Colors for being the advocate for the "crunchy" yarns.  If you like the Swans Island, that one-off Bartlettyarns Maine wool-alpaca blend, the Lopi, and the Kauni, you are my people.   I like soft yarns, too, but the rugged rustics call to me.  Maybe that's how I got into spinning, too. (A story for another day).   So my search was narrowing.

But aren't these yarns too rough for a baby?  I didn't think so.   In fact, I had a couple of different projects in mind that led me to believe that Kauni was what I wanted.  One of our regular customers, Elizabeth, had a beautiful striped shawl made of Kauni that was her little son's favorite snuggle.  It was gently felted and had the soft halo I envisioned for my blanket.  The other project was a market bag that Gretchen had crocheted and felted.  I figured if I felted the blanket, it couldn't be "ruined" by accident, making it easy-care for the new parents.

My next challenge was finding the right pattern.  I had some time constraints, so center-out in-the-round seemed like a good idea.  Off to Ravelry to search for patterns...and I have to recommend Louise Tilbrook's Fuss-Free Baby Blanket.  The center square saves a lot of time.

Now to choose the right colors.  The parents truly do not know the gender of their expected arrival, so nothing too pink or too blue.  (There are some great colorways of Kauni for doing the traditional pink and blue, however.)  I chose a 150 gram ball of EN, a soft gradient of neutrals, and a 150 gram ball  of the solid NN, an undyed natural.  Using size 6 (4 mm) needles, I cast on on a Thursday evening and knit steadily and monogamously for two weeks.  I finished a week before the shower, giving me time to felt the blanket.

Everyone at River Colors had an opinion.  Erika loved it as it was on the needles-open and drapey, with deep textural differences between the stockinette and garter rounds.   I still imagined the fuzzy weathering that I hoped the felting would bring.  Here's a picture of the unfelted blanket:
While I loved the colors, unfelted, the blanket seemed too loopy to me.  I didn't want any tiny fingers and toes getting caught in it, and, to be honest, it was still pretty crunchy.  Into the washing machine it went, mingling with other laundry in a load of whites with a hot wash/cold rinse.  I didn't do it by itself because in a front-load washer, there would not have been enough water and friction for it to felt well.  I did not interrupt the cycle, just trusted in the process.   When it emerged, it was smaller, smoother and deliciously soft.  It was also practically dry, from the spin cycle, but I sent it into the dryer for about 10 minutes.   Look at the difference:

The baby shower was this past Sunday, and the blanket was exactly right.  I was so pleased to know that I understood the parents' wishes for this baby, and that the blanket I wanted to knit was the blanket that they would want for their baby.

No less an authority than Elizabeth Zimmermann says, in the February chapter of Knitter's Almanac, "Nothing keeps a baby as warm and comfortable as wool; even when damp, let alone wringing wet, it doesn't become chilly."  I am glad I chose wool; as I told the young mother, "The best compliment you can give me is that this blanket becomes a rag over time.  Please use it--wear will only make it better."


Thursday, February 19, 2015

March Teaser is Here by Rachel
Hard to believe it's time to talk about March teasers already!!  I know many of us are most likely still in winter hibernation mode, staying cozy in the house, knitting, catching up on movies and shows.  But... this IS the month when Spring will begin, and when the weather breaks it will be a motivator to get out and explore our neighborhoods in the CLE once again.  So let us dig in to some fun facts about our upcoming March neighborhood inspiration!

There is a wonderful, award-winning  farmers market in this neighborhood which happens to be my personal favorite out of the many there are to choose from in the Cleveland area.  Not only is there the typical fare with produce, flowers, eggs, etc, but this market offers live music, demos every week by local chefs, and the occasional featured artist.  When the warm weather turns too chilly for the outdoor location, this market turns to the indoors nearby in a cultural party center.

This area of Cleveland is the location for a very important Police and Fire Fighters Memorial, and is actually the neighborhood where many of our city employees, cops, and firemen reside.  Kind of like the hub for our own heroes of the city!!

The main drag running through this neighborhood includes several authentic Irish pubs and restaurants.

In May, there is an annual homecoming celebration, called the Hooley.  Live music, dancers, pipes, drums and delicious foods are just a few of the things you can find here on that day.

Many of the homes in the residential part of this neighborhood were built in the 1920s and 1930s, and many families have called this tight-knit community home for generations. Church activities, community, and local support of businesses are essential in keeping this area together.

Some of the eclectic shopping that can be found here includes comic books, cigars, skates and costumes, plus a fresh seafood shop.

Lastly, I feel it's of great significance to mention that there is a rich influence of Catholicism and spirituality in this neighborhood including churches, schools, convents, homes of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration and also the Franciscan order.  A beautiful retreat and spiritual center located in a lush, woodsy and cozy setting  is also an attractive draw for many.  This kind of a mecca is a reminder of how important tradition and strong family values are here in this part of our city.

Hopefully these little bits of trivia spark some memories or peek your interest and keep you guessing about where we are going to be next!  For me this month, I'm still focused on spending some quality time over in February's neighborhood, University Circle. Even with a bit of snow still due to fall I'm sure, activities on my list include Orchid Mania at the Cleveland Botanical Garden,  ice skating at Wade Oval Park, checking out one of the old classic films playing at the Cleveland Cinematheque,  Red Dust or Strangers on a Train.  The other thing I am planning is to head over to Moca for Jessica Eaton's exhibit "Wild Permutations".  This artist investigates the relationships and behaviors of color, which is something I am continually enamored with in my artistic studies.  Seems a very fitting exhibit for any Colors of Cleveland member or just anyone who loves color.  We could all use some at this time of year!! Enjoy.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

River Colors Closed February 15,2015
Hi everyone!  We want to encourage you to stay home today to spin, knit or crochet.   We will be closed today, February 15th 2015.   While it may not be cold for Minnesota it is for us Ohioans!  We will reopen on February 17th at 11 a.m.   when it is supposed to be a balmy 21 degrees farenheit.  I'll be working on these mittens.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New year, new neighborhood!! January teasers from Rachel
The start of a new year is always an invigorating, motivating feeling full of new goals, fresh starts, and mindful resolutions.  For us knitters, crocheters and creative souls that often translates into organizing and going through all of our stashes of yarn and supplies in order to make room for new ideas and projects.  Or sometimes it's about resolving and finishing all the things that have been waiting around for a year.... or two!  The latter of the two is the one that is topping my list! But also on my goals for the New Year is to continue my journey of exploration around our amazing city that seems to only become more interesting over time.  These inspirations for the Colors of Cleveland project have swept in a new breath of fresh air for my love and engagement with my hometown, and I cannot wait to share more of them with you in 2015.

On that note, January starts out with a bang in one of my personal favorite neighborhoods.  It's vibrant, it's diverse, and it's constantly evolving, so you can expect colors to reflect this profile.  Someone could leave me in this area for days and I wouldn't run out of things to do.  And if I was not already a resident of Lakewood, it would probably become the neighborhood I would choose to call home. I will leave you with some clues and facts to ponder upon until yarn pick-up day!!

This urban neighborhood is home to 9,000 residents and provides all the amenities one needs all in one area

This neighborhood has attracted migrants and immigrants since the late 19th century from Germany, Hungary, Ireland.  The employment they found was mostly at the docks, mills, distilleries and foundries.

By 1978, this area was known to have residents from more than 15 ethnic groups, now including Hispanic, Asian, and Native-Americans.

James A. Garfield, the 20th president of our country, served as a pastor at one of the Christian churches here.  Also, James Ford Rhodes, millionaire Pulitzer Prize winning historian, was born and raised here, and his brother's landmark mansion is nestled in the heart of this neighborhood.

USA Today recently named the area one of the ten best places to bar hop around the world!  It was sharing the list with other fabulous places like Dublin, Ireland, Austin, Texas, and Rio de Janeiro.  And there are for sure a wide variety of spirits to choose from.

Speaking of bars, let's talk about food.  You can be in this one tiny place and have many cuisine choices at your fingertips.  Mexican, French, Thai, Vietnamese, Vegetarian, Middle Eastern, Puerto Rican, Southern/Soul, Caribbean, Irish, and many more! Isn't this just a great piece of information to know?!

The oldest indoor/outdoor market is housed here and was originally known as The Pearl Street Market.  Architecturally it is built in the Neo-Classical/Byzantine style and cost $680,000 to build.

Also located here is one of the country's largest urban farms.  It includes a farm, a retail stand, and a community kitchen on a six acre city parcel.

Houses Cleveland's first and only hostel

I hope this provides you with some interesting food for thought as you enjoy the rest of the holidays and prepare to ring in the New Year.  The Cleveland Colors yarn will be here before you know it!  And I wish everyone a year of discovery, creating, and generosity!