By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
MK Carroll shows the many knit and crochet possibilities available through patterns in books in the Hawaii State Library system.
The culinary world is known for its wine, cheese, chocolate and cigar tastings, or tastings of whatever ingredient happens to capture the imagination.
The Hawaii Public Library’s main branch hosted a tasting of its own on Saturday, to introduce yarn afficionados to its vast collection of knit and crochet books, as well as its large craft-book section. When deciding whether to borrow or buy one’s craft books, librarians shared the wisdom of adding stitch glossary books and classic patterns to one’s collection, while borrowing some of the trendier titles with designs likely to go out of style in a few years.
Designer MK Carroll was there to introduce her favorite books, past and present, and guests were able to share information as well, such as the pitfalls of trying to recycle yarn from thrift-shop sweaters. Depending on the garment’s construction, you could a continuous strand of yarn, or hundreds of barely usable 2-foot long pieces. The audience oohed when told of recyclers who, knowing what to look for, have unwound skeins of cashmere for a mere dollar.
In addition to sharing such book titles as “Stitch’n Bitch Nation” (I borrowed this one) and “Get Hooked: Simple Steps to Crochet Cool Stuff,” staffers shared Web sites such as Ravelry.com, a social community for knitters and crocheters, and yarnstandards.com. You can also check out mkcarroll.com for the designer’s latest goings-on and Etsy sales.
Shown clockwise are some of the yarns in my “tasting.” From left is a Maui Yarns sample of its hand-dyed 100 percent Merino wool yarn; a blend of wool, soy silk, cotton and chitin made from crab and shrimp shells; a Mini Mochi ball of 80 percent Merino wool and 20 percent nylon; and Araucania 100 percent sugar-cane fiber yarn.
Of course the highlight was looking at some of the newest yarns on the market, and taking them home to see how they knit up. It’s great that crafters always see the beauty in raw materials and have the creativity and imagination to see alternative possibilities. They’ve always been green minded, so yarns incorporate chitin and unusual plant fibers that might otherwise go to waste.
When it came time to actually borrow the books, I didn’t have my library card. I don’t know why librarians always make a person feel 10 years old. It’s been a long time since I borrowed any books, and cards expire in five years so I was hoping my card had expired, but it was still good so a friend borrowed two books for me rather than pay for a replacement card. The last time I borrowed a book was when I was living in Kailua and the parking situation made it easy to go to the library. (Market forces prevail even in the free public sector.) Now I just stop off at libraries mainly to drop off (recycle) magazines. I leave some and pick some up, although the titles are limited. People tend to pick up the fashion and women’s magazines first and leave the news and finance ones, though once I hit the Mother Lode and scored a bunch of Japan fashion magazines.
At the end of the session, all were invited to join the Aloha Knitters group (crocheters and spinners are also welcome). The group meets at Mocha Java Cafe in the Ward Warehouse from 7 to 9 p.m. each Thursday. There are no dues, and it’s OK to be a newbie. As Carroll said, they just want to be able to talk to people who understand them and who don’t think it’s weird to want to spin one’s dog or rabbit hairs into yarn.
One of the knitters in the group shared one of her recent projects.