Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I LOVE shopping, and I love sales even more! Bargain shopping is like an Olympic sporting event for me. I will boast about my 75% off clearance Anthropologie sweater and my 90% off Kate Spade shoes found on eBay the same way Jackie Joyner Kersey can brag about her 3 track and field gold medals. I rarely buy anything for full price. I know when clearance seasons are, what websites have the deepest discounts, and how to win online auctions. This is an Asian cheapskate mentality instilled in me by my parents, who saved every condiment packet from fast food joints and stole toiletries, towels, shower caps, and bathrobes from hotels. (My dad still uses a worn, baby-poo brown terry robe he took from a Hilton over 20 years ago although I have no idea what anyone used the shower caps for.)

So when it comes to buying yarn, I have the same approach - buy from clearance bins, clip and save the 40% off coupons for several weeks for chain craft stores, and find online steals. Recently, I was delighted by a couple of deals I found on eBay. Both Cascade Eco and a discontinued color of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran were being auctioned (separately), and I won both yarns at around 50% off the regular retail price - that was with shipping included! What a find! "Mwah ha ha," I thought to myself, "I am beating The System, evil genius that I am!"

However, as several other internet yarn purchases started arriving, I had this unsettling feeling of guilt. I remembered shopping at a LYS closing sale this past fall, and I wondered if it closed because of knitters like me. Am I being a despicable, irresponsible yarn shopper because I buy from chain stores with enticing coupons and websites with bulk buying power? Am I the cause of the failed LYS? Should I be "buying local" just like all those green, hippie foodies tell me to do for my produce?

But not all the yarns I want are at my LYS, I argue. My education/non-profit wages never afforded the luxury of buying full-price yarns, and now, I'm temporarily in retail, which pays even less. Plus, the thrill of beating out another bidder in the last few seconds of an auction and the glory of obtaining the biggest discount are completely absent at the LYS.

Then again, nothing can substitute the sensory experience of the yarn shop. Web shopping lacks the tactile sampling of the softest cashmere, the smooth soy silk, the unique handspun yarns - items that chain stores usually don't carry either. There's the visual feast of seeing true colors undistorted by digitalization. The LYS also offers an element of social connection - running into other needlecrafters, face-to-face customer service, and general yarn networking.

To LYS or not to LYS, that is the moral dilemma. I suppose this is still a question up for debate for me. *sigh*

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Kuna Matata or Tangled Up

The past two years, my knitting (and crocheting) has been the subject of ridicule from my friends - usually my male friends. Although I'll joke about becoming so obsessed with (possessed by?) knitting that I'll knit and drive, for the most part, it has become my secret shame. I worry about whispers of "Poor girl, she's still single so no wonder she knits. Or is it the other way around?" I resent images of old maids sitting in rocking chairs surrounded by a hundred cats playing with balls of yarn. This is why knitting is something that I hide from most people.

Anyway, I tell myself, I'm not THAT big of a knitter. I am eons away from being a yarn snob and will mix Noro with Red Heart in the same project. My local yarn shop does not know my name, birthday, favorite yarns, and that I favor English knitting. I have yet to develop carpal tunnel. Knit patois has not become an inherent part of my lexicon. ("Frogged"?! Pshaw, what the heck is that?!) And I don't exuberantly exclaim "Ah, Jaywalkers!" when someone holds up a pair of socks. Socks are only ankle and knee-hi, right?

However, I have found myself amassing a collection of yarn that I can call a "stash." Who knew yarn was something you could covet? I found a local knit group and attend meetings/outings at least once a month. I know that yarn can be made from bamboo, ceramic, and qiviut - even learned what a qiviut is. When Stephanie Pearl-McPhee came to town for a booksigning, I was there. My vocabulary has expanded so I even know what LYS, YO, UFO, and WIP mean. The most damning piece of evidence is this blog. I think it is time I came out of the (yarn) closet and admit that, yes, I am a knitter.

All the beautiful yarn, the original custom clothing, the creativity in action have entangled me in the world of fiber arts and needle crafts. Hence, the title of this blog is "Tangled Up." Since knitting and crocheting are more than just hobbies for me, this blog allows me to exploit the "intellectual" side of the crafts and vent my frustrations. Plus, I write complusively. So here goes...

(Note: "Hakuna matata," popularized by Disney's The Lion King, is a Swahili phrase that literally translates to "There are no knots/tangles," which is slang for "There's nothing wrong" or "There are no worries." Therefore "Kuna matata" means that there are knots/tangles, and everything is "tangled up." Tangled Up is already taken as a blog title so I had to resort to foreign languages.)