Friday, December 30, 2005

Update on Charity Knitting

As promised, on Christmas Eve, we held our drawing for the two $75 gift cards. We had so many knitted items donated - hats, scarves, mittens, socks, and more. We received 280 items and want to thank everyone who participated. Our local winner was Maureen S. from VT, and our online winner was Donna L.F. from MN. They were both thrilled and can't wait to spend their gift cards!

My daughters were thrilled with their new hats! I followed the Handpaint Hat pattern but went down one size needle. They fit perfectly. They also love their fuzzy scarves, made with Velvet Touch and Sizzle.

My husband also received a custom made hat to replace one that was on its last legs. There's a story here... I knit him a hat about 3 years ago, out of a sportweight superwash wool. He opened it on Christmas Eve, and after about 30 seconds, he... said... it... ITCHED! I hear you all cringing, and I was pretty upset. Anyway, lesson learned (for him). Never make a negative comment (even if it's true!) about a handknitted item so SOON after it is given to you. Needless to say, I haven't made anything for him since, until this hat. I decided that I'd try again, but I involved him in every step of the process. Feeling the yarn, choosing the colors, trying it on every few rows before the decreases so it would be JUST right (he likes more of a beanie). He says it doesn't itch (it better not, it's Lana Grossa Cool Wool superwash merino, a yarn that is SO soft. We sell it in the shop, but have had delivery issues so it's not online.) And he has been wearing it every day since Christmas. I hope it doesn't come off as soon as he's out of my sight, but even if it does, he's learned his lesson. PRETEND you like it.

Most of us here finished MOST of our knitted presents. India finished the sweater for her oldest son before Christmas, and then finished the one for her youngest in the few days after, when she could openly knit before him (he had opened the pieces of the sweater on Christmas.) And her sister loved the three pair of legwarmers she received!

Betsy finished the felted slippers for her daughter in plenty of time, and even brought them in to dry here at the shop. Our upstairs heaters in the floor are great for drying felted items. She used two colors of Malabrigo (which is all finally back in stock!) She made self striping socks for her husband, and had some good natured fun at his expense - he first believed that she had NOT made them, and then he spent a good deal of time trying to figure out how she had done such a neat job of working with all those colors!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Inviting our feathered friends

All that beautiful white stuff that covered the ground just a few days ago... where did it go? Well, this is Vermont, and while we do get our fair share of snow and cold, we also have these strange meltdowns. When all the snow we have disappears in what seems like hours. Whether it's warm temperatures, high winds or rain (or in yesterday's case, all three) Mother Nature has a way of keeping things interesting.

Yesterday morning, our lovely tree (which had been secured in several places) lost her battle with the 40+ mile per hour wind gusts. She was flat on the ground when we arrived in the morning. We put her back up, and by noon she was dangling at a 45 degree angle. We went right out and set her on the ground. No sense fighting a battle you know you can't win!

This morning after the rain showers ended we all headed out to stand her back up again. We hung our decorations - all edibles for our feathered friends - cranberries, popcorn, birdseed cookies, mini corn cobs, and dried oranges and apples. She looks great. And tomorrow when the temperatures drop down to more seasonable ones, we'll add the peanut butter covered pinecones rolled in birdseed. So birdies, come and get it!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Kindness of Others

Yesterday our postman brought us a box. Betsy and I opened it and found a very nice letter from one of our internet customers, Donna LF. Inside the box, were 14 beautiful knitted items that she was donating to our charity collection. Each one was wrapped carefully in tissue. It was amazing. As we opened each one, we were overwhelmed by her generosity. We know they will be greatly appreciated by those who receive them. Thanks Donna!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Decorating for the holidays

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My husband and daughters and I enjoyed a snowy Thanksgiving morning on the front yard of the shop, putting up our holiday decorations. It has become somewhat of an annual tradition for us. The tree, the garlands, the wreath, the lights, and half a dozen snow angels in the front yard (thanks to about 4" of fresh white stuff!) certainly make it very festive around here. Not to mention some beaded lights, crocheted snowflakes, and hand knit Christmas stockings in the front window. (Don't worry Helen and Sophie, I'll have them home in time for Mr. C.)

Local customers, please remember our 10% off sale, next Wednesday, November 30th from 5-7pm to kick off the holiday season. Hope to see you here!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Knitting for Boys

(today's post was contributed by India.)

My sons are 9 and 15. They only wear T-shirts and cargo pants. My older son rarely wears a coat, even in the winter, despite the fact that we live in northern Vermont. Occasionally, they will wear sweatshirts. So I have decided that it’s time to knit each of them a sweater for Christmas, because even if these sweaters languish, unworn, at the bottom of a drawer, a closet, or worse, in the corner on the floor under the desk, I will know that I have done my best to keep them warm and to let them know that I love them.

But of course I am not doing this simply to be a martyr. Loren, the 15-year-old, actually likes to be cozy, especially if none of his friends are around. The last time I made him a sweater, he happily wore it at home on weekend mornings, though he never, ever, wore it outside of the house. (As it happens, I am at this moment wearing that very sweater, now long outgrown by Loren but perfect for me. It’s very cozy.) So perhaps he will wear it at least on those rare weekends when he’s actually at home and not out with his friends. And if I’m really lucky, he might even wear it snowboarding. After all, up on the mountain in January or February it is really, really cold, and besides he could cover it up with a snowboarding jacket.

Connor, the 9-year-old, is a little bit tougher. Myself, I am always cold. I wear sweaters eleven months of the year. Connor has a higher metabolism than I do, however, not to mention the fact that he rarely sits still, except on Sundays to watch his beloved New England Patriots play football on TV. So that’s my approach: I’ll make him a very simple sweater using the Yankee Knitter Easy Bulky pattern and Plymouth Encore Chunky in navy blue, but I’ll work the Patriots’ logo across the front. (Does anyone have a chart of the Patriots’ logo? I can’t find one on the Internet and I haven’t yet charted it myself.)

Loren’s sweater, which I just started a few days ago (what, knit two sweaters between now and Christmas? Piece of cake.), is based on the Yankee Knitter Roll Raglan pattern but I’m modifying it fairly severely: changing the gauge, working it in one piece from the bottom up, and using 1” of ribbing rather than rolled edges. I’m also using two colors: Plymouth Encore Worsted charcoal heather for the sleeves and clay heather for the body, with each color used for a narrow contrast stripe in the ribbing.

Wish me luck.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Crocheted flowers

I can crochet. A little. I can do edgings and basic stitches. Anything more than that can cause problems for me. Crocheted flowers have always intrigued me, but the directions have never made sense to me. A couple of weeks ago I changed all that. I really wanted to make some felted flowers for my sister's upcoming craft show, and I liked the crocheted ones better than the knitted ones. I grabbed some Cascade 220 and Malabrigo and the Family Circle Easy Crochet magazine, and set to work. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I had previously thought. The first few flowers were a little rough, but now I've made about 20 and I actually GET it! What an amazing feeling it is to master a new technique.

Speaking of new techniques, everyone here is starting to needle felt, since Michele brought in her first bag. Her latest is even more fun! Lamb's Pride Bulky in Deep Charcoal is just gorgeous when felted, and the needle felting she did... well, see for yourself. (And see the bag she hooked? She is so talented!)

We have been so busy at the shop. Yesterday during a quick lull, we thought it might be a good time to put out all the new Cascade 220 colors that had just arrived. Just as we spread them out all over the floor we got slammed with customers. So I apologize to anyone who had to step over the piles of yarn. By the end of the day it was put away and rearranged by color, and we all agree it looks amazing. The new colors will be available on the website next week.

Friday, November 11, 2005

lots of holiday and birthday knitting!

So I was thumbing through my huge stack of catalogs last night, in an attempt to clean off my kitchen island. I got a holiday catalog called Gap Favorites and got a chuckle when I saw, just a couple of pages in, a light green cabled hat, that looks very simlar to the cabled beanie I just made in Blue Sky Worsted! Of course, I prefer mine, without the ribbing. But then isn't that what we knitters do best? Find something we like, and improve upon it? Then 2 pages further, another chuckle. A striped and cabled scarf that is eerily similar to one we are having made up for the shop. Ours is not ready for photos yet, but again, will be better!

Michele is working on her holiday gifts. She brought in the CUTEST little Pink Lady Bag today, made with Lamb's Pride Bulky. She needle felted some flowers with the Lamb's Pride Bulky on the front of the bag, and then covered her snap closure with a crocheted button. It is just adorable!

Barb's mom has a birthday coming up, so Barb made her a couple of ribbed hats out of Malabrigo. One is a watchman cap and the other a 3x1 rib. And Kalen's mom was moved to tears last night when she opened one of her gifts from Kalen: a beautiful Hand Paint Hat made with Lamb's Pride Bulky and Colinette Point 5. This hat is a winner - it really flatters every head shape. We have customers who make it for their kids by just using a smaller needle. The pattern is in the Knit Hats book.

I have started some wristlets in Malabrigo, color Scarlet. They are a gift for... me. When everyone else here is warm, I am freezing. We all joke about it, but I really do get chilled. This is an old building, almost 100 years, and it gets drafty. When I wear something on my hands, it seems to help. I have some gauntlets in Koigu (the Purl Stitch) which I love... but I've misplaced them. I have a pair of wristlets in Manos Multi... but those live in the shop as samples. So I look forward to this new pair and hope to be able to hang on to them.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Thank you DHL and UPS!

We are thrilled with our yarn shipments this week. Tons of Malabrigo (Thanks Tobias! You rock!) and the Cherry Tree Hill Jumbo Loop that had been sold out for a while... We actually have new colors in both yarns and they are gorgeous. When our DHL guy showed up with the Malabrigo, we were out in the driveway to meet him before he had even gotten out of the van. We dropped everything to unload the yarn, drool over the new colors, and assemble all of our special orders for the many folks who'd been waiting so patiently for it to arrive. Needless to say, the UPS guy was a bit overwhelmed with his pickup that afternoon. (He's always overwhelmed at what we ship out, but this day we blew him away.)

Jumbo Loop is one of the most popular new yarns this fall. I am NOT fond of mohair at all, but I love this yarn... what am I going to make out of it? I knit a scarf for the shop and it didn't bother me at all, like every other mohair has. It's so soft, and the colors just blended together in the most gorgeous way.

And speaking of gorgeous colors, Cascade 220 sent us their NEW color card. WOW. So many new colors from which to choose. We had so much fun choosing 20 new colors, and we should be receiving them in the next week and a half. In the quantities we order in, that's a LOT of boxes! So we'll use the next few days to get the warehouse organized and ready.

And I finished the mixed fiber shawl! It is really gorgeous (and was SO mindlessly easy) and has been a real hit so far with both local and online customers. Michele is knitting one in the blue colorway and Betsy is making one too, and she had fun picking out her own mix of colors. Can't wait to see them.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

No knitting for the jurors?

Halloween is over, but the chocolate hangover has begun! Last Monday was my first of three jury duty callings. A whole day of sitting and waiting around. Perfect opportunity to knit! Or not, so it seems, as knitting needles were on a list of "forbidden items" I had been sent months earlier. I had conveniently misplaced that list on Monday, and in trying to pack an "activity" to keep me occupied all day, I figured I would take one of the girls' Velvet Touch sweaters and a crochet hook, so I could crochet my edges. Surely a crochet hook isn't a weapon? After I had waited 20 minutes to go through the metal detector, I noticed the woman in front of me had pulled out some paperwork. I glanced over her shoulder and saw that it was the list of "forbidden items." And crochet hooks, like the one in my pocket, were on that list. I had a bit of a panic attack. Not about losing a crochet hook, but about being stranded in that building all day, with nothing to do. Fortunately the panic attack was over quickly. I stepped up to the guard, whipped out that dangerous crochet hook and prepared to surrender my weapon. I guess the hook didn't scare him. He let me keep it. Long story short: I finished the edging on the Velvet Touch sweaters, did not get picked for the (murder trial) jury, and my goal for next week is to enter the courthouse (legally) with a Denise knitting needle and a knitting project.

India shared some of her knitting projects the other day. She made a great felted ukelele bag for her husband out of Lamb's Pride Bulky. She's working on some legwarmers from the Knit Stitch out of Shepard Worsted. She has modified the legwarmer pattern a bit and is making a second pair out of Malabrigo. She's always got a pair of socks going, too. I don't think I've ever seen her wear a pair she didn't knit herself!

So I guess we're all doing a bit of felting. Last Saturday Rebecca had her felted laptop bag. She used Lamb's Pride Bulky and it's just gorgeous! Michele finished her Malabrigo felted bag, and made a felted flower to cover her snap closure. We are expecting some huge Malabrigo shipments over the next two weeks. It's not easy to keep that yarn in stock.

Betsy has been working on Christmas knitting. She grabbed a few balls of Lang Malibu at our tent sale and made the cutest twirly scarf. We still have some of this yarn, so I'll put it up as a kit in the next week or so.

With trick or treating last night, I didn't get much knitting done. But I did manage to work a few rows of a mixed fiber shawl I started last weekend. I am using 8-9 different Berroco yarns all in the same colorway, and working it lengthwise. I think it will be perfect for the holidays (my colorway is red!) but I've already put together 4 more options that are just beautiful.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Another reason to have a Denise Needle Kit

I had never knit with Denise needles until the TNNA show in June. Barb and I went for several days, with more than several plane and evening knitting projects, and with - I thought - Addi Turbos in all the right sizes. Barb is a good travel buddy. She always packs things that come in handy... extra snacks, pens, even an extra pair of socks for when your feet get cold on the plane. This time it was a Denise needle kit. I asked, "Do we REALLY need that?" She said we did. In fact, she even packed a 40" cable, just in case. I thought she was going a bit too far. But then we saw a cute twirly scarf at the show one day, and I decided to whip one up that evening. Of course I hadn't planned on that so I didn't have an Addi Turbo in the right size. Barb had an "I told you so" grin on her face as I broke out the Denise Kit and that 40" cable and started casting on those 900 stitches. I was determined to dislike the needles. After all, they are plastic, and I've really never liked plastic needles. But as much as I tried to hate them, I just couldn't. They are quite nice to work with. I got back from the show with a newfound appreciation for the Denise kits.

This weekend I just started a little sweater out of Malabrigo. I couldn't get gauge with my Addis. After knitting several swatches, I saw my Denise kit peaking out of my Bagsmith. The Malabrigo is so wonderfully soft and amazing to knit with, that I had NO qualms about knitting another swatch. And that swatch was right on. It's amazing to me how different your knitting experience and outcome can be on different materials. Chalk up another one for the Denise Kit.

It's a good thing I love knitting with this yarn, as I've already re-knit parts of it several times. The body is worked in the round and then you divide for the armholes and work back and forth. This changes how the colorations of the yarn appear, and I didn't like how it looked knitting from one skein. So I ripped back and knit with two skeins at a time. I completed the back, and started to work on the front but I had 12 too many stitches. It turns out I had cast on 12 extra stitches at the very beginning. I had to rip back down to the armholes, redivide the stitches (I am now knitting the next size up, apparently) and reknit the back. Lesson learned: don't be so in love with a yarn that you don't re-count your cast on stitches.

Barb is almost finished her little Blossom Sweater out of Cascade 220. It is going to be adorable. I think Mrs. Claus is going to have to knit one of these for one of my girls. Despite a perfect stitch and row gauge, she ran a bit short on yardage. We'll have to put a call in to see if there's an error in the pattern. She has also cast on for a fun hat in the Shepard Worsted in Rainbow.

Kalen just started her first sweater in Malabrigo. It's a stockinette and reverse stockinette horizontal rib pattern. We went through many needles and gauge swatches with her, and opposite of me, she needed an Addi as her gauge on Denises was off. She's also finishing another striped baby hat in Calmer. Speaking of hats I've just put up a new hat & mittens section on the website. We've had so many requests for them and now they are available!

Next week I should be able to post some pictures of India's felted ukelele bag and Betsy's cute new scarf.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Knitting is more important than...

...brushing your teeth and hair and getting dressed, for starters! Right after breakfast on Sunday, Sophie and Helen (both 6) started a new knitting project - a patchwork blanket for their dolls with bright colors of Encore Mega. Last year they made a few "doll items" - a poncho, a sweater out of squares, a scarf, a neckwarmer, etc. We still haven't gotten to purling, or casting on for that matter. And they don't have much patience for anything less than super bulky yarn, but we have to start somewhere!

Things sure are different when you are 6. Apparently, it is WAY more fun to knit while lying down. Helen even thinks it's fun to knit, dance and sing, all at the same time, while perched atop my husband's lateral file drawer in the basement. The neat thing is, knitting is second nature to her by now, so she is ABLE to do all those things and not drop any stitches! Thatta girl!

On the store front, Kalen has been cranking out hats like mad. The latest is a 2x2 rib in Plymouth Encore for her husband. She's also making lots of baby hats, and has found that Rowan Calmer is a perfect yarn for those. Now we are searching for the perfect sweater for her to knit with Malabrigo...

A few weeks ago we came across an extremely tangled skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot. We'd spent more than enough time trying to untangle it, and it was headed for the trash, but Betsy took it home and after a little TLC and patience, she mixed it with a contrasting color, and it is now a beautiful spiral ribbed hat.

Last night Barb started the Top Down Swing Coat out of Lamb's Pride Bulky, and a pair of itsy bitsy socks in Lorna's Laces Bittersweet. The ribbed hat she's making in Malabrigo is the same color I made my wine cozy and coasters in.

Kim just brought in her shawl - she used CTH Supersock in Spring Frost. She made it several inches longer than our Koigu Lace Shawl and it is just gorgeous. Very soft. Someone on her holiday gift list will be very lucky this year...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Recovering from the Tent Sale

I think we are almost fully recovered from our tent sale last Saturday. We had perfect weather and a huge crowd.

I have to thank everyone who helped this year - our entire staff, the customers who helped for the day, my sister and niece from NH, and those who volunteered. Everyone did a spectacular job and I really appreciate it. We are already looking forward to next year.

Barb and I arrived at 6:15am to find our overnight security guard chatting with our earliest customer! By 8am, she was surrounded by many other enthusiastic knitters and the line stretched far out into the back lot.

Our staff and helpers made sure everything was organized in the tent, and when the doors opened at 9am, we were greeted by cheering and clapping... and the madness began!

Now that things are somewhat back to normal in our work lives, we can do a little more focusing on our own knitting projects. I am taking a small break from shop samples to finish the sweaters I started (last spring!) for my 6 year old twin daughters. I didn't have much incentive to do them over the summer, but they are going to need them in a few weeks, so I must get moving on them. I am making them simple top down raglan cardigans out of Velvet Touch. They are so soft! The second sweater is well underway, and I plan to do my crochet edges on both at the same time - after all, I'm told it's not "fair" when one daughter gets a sweater first...

Yesterday Barb brought in her cabled hat in the Wild Violet Lamb's Pride Worsted. It's the Braid & Bobble hat pattern from Fiber Trends for her class on Sat. 10/15. It's really a beautiful hat and will be just perfect for the cold winter ahead.

India recently finished her Koigu sweater and it is stunning! It's "Martha" from Rowan Magazine #37. It's a great looking sweater and we've already had a few of our local customers start this project. Now she's working on a Koigu shawl...

And Mari arrived early Saturday morning wearing her new Best Friend Jacket from The Knit Stitch, made out of Berroco Foliage. It looks great!

Hmm... Does anyone notice a color scheme here? :)

Saturday, September 17, 2005


We're excited to have a forum for sharing our passion for knitting. We'll use this blog to post about our current knitting projects, new yarns we particularly love, and special events and happenings at our Vermont shop, Kaleidoscope Yarns.