Yarn ‘tasting’ at the library

June 29th, 2009

mk carroll

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.

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6 Responses to “Yarn ‘tasting’ at the library”

  1. Islena Cara:

    The article was spoiled by the superfluous insult: “I don’t know why librarians always make a person feel 10 years old.” You knew the rules, so why gripe about the workers
    who are obligated to have you follow the rules? Yes, paper is made from trees,
    but libraries don’t grow without financial support. How about paying up for a new
    library card so the libraries can keep on with offering good programs and new books?

  2. mk carroll » Blog Archive » Yarn: Tasted!:

    [...] Yarn ‘Tasting’ at the library (Fashion Tribe) [...]

  3. Joanna DeRyke:

    “I don’t know why librarians always make a person feel 10 years old,” wrote Nadine Kam regarding her attempt to borrow public library books without her library card. What a sad, disparaging comment in an otherwise interesting article, “Yarn ‘tasting at the library.”

    I have found our public librarians to be polite, patron-friendly, interesting, knowledgeable, creative (yarn-tasting?) and yes, thorough and deliberate as they serve the public and account for the hundreds of books and materials they are responsible for each day.

  4. James:


    What’s so hard about keeping your library card in your pocketbook? I assume you keep your driver’s license with you at all times, plus a credit card or two, maybe even a grocery store club card.

    It’s just another piece of plastic, no larger, no smaller, no heavier, no lighter. Come on, you can squeeze it in there.

    I’ll be biased (yes, I work in a library) and say it’s far more valuable than a driver’s license. Didn’t you just find out how useful having one can be? Use it once a year and you’ll be okay for the rest of your life. No fuss, no muss.

    Your attitude about the “burden” of having a library card with you is unfortunately shared by far too many people… but I don’t hear too many people bitching about always having a driver’s license with you when you drive. What’s the difference?

  5. Nadine Kam:

    Hi all,

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I actually like feeling like a kid and have always tried to cultivate a childlike sense of wonder in the world.

    James, I hear you, but some of my purses are so small I can’t even fit my car keys in them. No exaggeration! My priority in that case is: camera, license, 1 credit card, 1 $20 bill, mini pen, 1 sheet of paper. No lip gloss. No cell phone.

    I also switch out purses constantly, so often leave home w/o license, credit card, money or cell phone. But I do know where my library card is — in the left side pocket of a gold faux croc purse.

  6. Tammy:

    Dam this Blog is AWESOME. If you wrote this any better i would think you were a super human. lol nice.:)

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