Monday, September 1, 2014

Ravelry China Knitters Group Shanghai Meetup: The Haul and First FOs

As soon as I got home from Shanghai I started playing around with some of the materials I'd found at the notions market. The impetus for all this chain-buying was this DIY tutorial for a "multchain necklace." I more or less followed that idea for my first project, making some refinements along the way, such as using one single large jump ring to connect the chains and a much more subtle snap rather than the bulky carabiner.

Here's that one, closer up and in action.

I had also noticed that my favorite pair of earrings seemed to be remarkably DIYable. So I detached short lengths of a silver chain and used tiny split rings to attach them to the fish hook earring posts I had. Then I added beaded headpins to some of the loops of the chain. Finally I threaded a longer eyepin through the bottom part of the chain and bent it into a curve so that it would maintain the teardrop shape. Next time I think I would just use a teardrop frame, or a stiffer chain. This one was too droopy, and the eyepin was a quick-fix.


I combined the rest of the finer chains I had with some of the pink leather cord I'd picked up and added jump rings and beaded eyepins. This one might be a bit over the top, but I'm hoping it comes off more punk rock Hello Kitty/Betsey Johnson and less what were you thinking. 

At the notions market, in addition to the chains and findings shops, there was one wholesale beads and sequins shop. We pulled out all of the bags of large-sized seed beads they had (these look to be about 6/0 or 4mm) and rejected the colors we didn't like. Each bag was one pound (454g) of beads, so we asked if they would divide each bag into five smaller bags, so that each of use could take one of the smaller bags of each color. I imagine each of these is enough to bead a small shawl. We divvied up the loot over lunch at a small noodle shop, much to the interest of some of the waitresses. It did look a bit suspicious, I reckon.

Several people had bins of buttons lined up on the ground in front of the market. We all spent a good amount of time digging through these bins. Each pack sold for RMB1 -- there was a lot more variety here than I usually see in Chengdu.

And the Yarn ...

We spent all of Day 1 at the warehouse of MIC MIC, my favorite online yarn vendor. Here's one of MIC MIC's many silk blend offerings. This one is 75% silk, 20% cotton, and 5% cashmere. The blue is slightly heathered, and I'm planning to use it for Toujours, which I'm supposed to be working on for the Joji Locatelli Fall 2014 KAL.

My most pricey purchase of the trip was this brown tweed cashmere that MIC MIC was selling for RMB46/50g. I purchased 100g, enough for a hat or other small accessory. Super soft, super pretty. I'm not hugely into brown, but with the tweed I'm pretty keen on making myself a luxurious hat, probably in some kind of textural pattern, broken rib or some such. For instance, I like the Graham pattern on Ravelry very much.

On Day 2 we visited the often-mentioned-on-Ravelry Ruijin Er Lu shops. These sell more of the standard commercial handknitting yarns, mostly domestic brands but several varieties of imported yarns as well. I was charmed by the muted color palette of this Jiuselu cashmere laceweight and selected three colors that all the knitters agreed went well together. I was particularly pleased to see that this yarn is going for RMB40 on Taobao. We paid RMB30 per skein. Jiuselu is one of the major upscale-ish Chinese brands, and it's one I have never tried before. So far I'm quite pleased with the colors and feel of the yarn.

At another shop, a few of us got quite excited by this (apparently machine washable) chartreuse-colored mink/cashmere blend from E'erduosi/Erdos, another major Chinese yarn and knitwear manufacturer. Jaya had knit with it before and said it was good, so I picked out a nice charcoal that goes well with the chartreuse. Like I don't have these exact same colors already, e.g. in the in-progress shawl that these yarns are laying on top of (that's Madelinetosh Pashmina in Grasshopper). 

And a Bonus Day of Notions

A few days after our Ravelry weekend extravaganza, Jaya contacted me and said she wanted to go to the notions market again to pick up a few more things and did I want to meet her there. Well, yes, because the first time around I had failed to pick up knotting cord, which I was regretting.

For some time I'd been thinking about learning more about knotting, partly inspired by some of the Purl Bee's posts on friendship bracelets and using knotting cord in various knitting projects, so a couple months ago I bought a book on how to tie Chinese knots and how to make various ornamental projects with them. I tried out some of the knots using linen yarn, but it's really preferable to use a material that can be melted in order to fuse the ends together. So I was happy to pick up these colorful balls of heavy knotting cord. I think their heavier weight will make learning some of the more complicated knots more manageable.

At our final stop of the day I spotted these lovely looking scissors and thread clippers. I think they add a nice touch to my tool collection, even though it meant checking my bags to ensure they weren't confiscated at security (they're sharp -- I am fairly sure they wouldn't have made it through).

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