Saturday, December 23, 2006

Rain, rain GO AWAY!

It's two days before Christmas and it's pouring. And I mean POURING! As in buckets of rain coming down. And rivers flowing down the street. How depressing.
This is Vermont - we are supposed to have snow! Well, it hasn't dampened people's spirits too much. We've seen people today from all over the country - here visiting relatives and friends and coming in to see us and get some last minute presents for others and for themselves.
Hope you all have a great holiday!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

goodies for COTS

This year we had a great response to our charity knitting drive for COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter) in Burlington, VT. Yesterday we sorted everything, and packed it into 5 huge boxes that we'll take to COTS later this week. Look at this loot!
We had the following handknits donated: 7 sweaters, 13 blankets!!, 3 pair of slippers, 26 scarves, 161 hats, and 54 pair of mittens. WELL DONE everyone! A mountain of hats!
A huge pile of blankets!
And a ton of mittens! Michele and I sorted everything and we just couldn't believe how nice everything was. People really put a lot of thought into this, and that's what it's all about. Thanks so much for donating your time, efforts and materials to help out. We are sure these items will all find a good home.

We've had a busy week here at the shop. People are coming in for last minute things and I think we've sold a record number of gift cards, both in the shop and online. Maybe you're one of the lucky ones who will be receiving a gift card? It's always fun to go out after the holidays and cash those in. How great to be able to choose your own gifts!

Michele just finished a pair of slippers for her neice. Aren't they cute? She needle felted stars on them - they're really adorable.

And last week I did finish my handpaint hat. I was able to get it to my sister-in-law in time for her birthday and she loves it. She's all about pink.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Need some ideas?

It's definitely crunch time. While many of you have started and completed most of your handknit holiday gifts, some of you have procrastinated and are starting to freak out as we approach the 11th hour. It's pretty obvious that most of us can't start and complete a large project at this point that will be ready in time for gift opening. So may I suggest some of the following smaller projects?

Hats are a great idea! You can make a quick ribbed hat in Blue Sky Worsted:

Another quick hat (cabled) in Blue Sky Wosted:A soft and washable ribbed hat in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted: Scarves are also quick. How about this gorgeous (and totally do-able in a week) lace cashmere scarf in Jade Sapphire:
And this pattern just arrived - an adorable kid's teddy bear and matching jacket in Oh My! (I made the bear body in one evening and the jacket will be done tonight.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A lot of sitting and a little knitting

So surgery is over. It went well, and the recovery has been good so far. The day after surgery I felt wonderful, but then reality set in, and I've been swollen and slow to get around since. I am good friends with my couch, my ice bag and my flannel pajamas.

I thought I'd get some knitting done in pre-op. Call me a wimp, but the IV gave me enough discomfort in my left hand that I had no desire to knit. Even holding the People magazine was painful. Being drugged is a funny thing. That feeling of sort of, but not really remembering things? Like how Marc was taking pictures of me with his phone (ha ha to send back to everyone at the shop) and how he would take a picture of me (in the recovery room) and show it to me... and I would be SO horrified at how awful it looked (come on - who looks good in the recovery room?) that I would make him take another one. See? Death warmed over...Apparently he took three pictures, and by the third I must have told him not to bother taking anymore because clearly they weren't getting any better. Then that night at home he showed me the pictures and I had absolutely no recollection of him taking them? I do remember that one of the recovery room nurses is one of our customers, and then I saw another nurse (and customer) as I was being wheeled out to the car. This one is my "Deer in the Headlights" look.So on the knitting front, I have done okay. I finished the Jade Sapphire scarf and it is now blocking.I finished the handpaint hat and Barb stopped by this morning with yarn for a second one. (My sister-in-law has been staying with me this week and I am going to make one for her in pinks.)

I finished Sophie's hat in Velvet Touch, and am just about finished Marc's second hat. I made a really cute hat out of the Blue Sky Bulky last night, and I just need to make 3 cool pom-poms to go on the I-cord tassels.

Unfortunately our pom-pom makers did not come in the shipment this week, so I have to either make my own using cardboard (somewhat okay option, although they NEVER come out as perfect as they do with the pom-pom makers) or wait to borrow Kalen's when I go back to work on Tuesday. I will most likely wait. I may start the Blue Sky Worsted hat today, since that should be quick.

Today I have nothing but time. The girls are at a tennis lesson, and they have a birthday party this afternoon. Then they're going out to dinner and on a Christmas light tour with Marc's parents, sister and their 3 year old cousin, Ainsley. And Marc has his company Christmas party which he will attend solo, since I can't go. So that's a lot of quiet time for me. I think my only outing today (and first since Tuesday) is to go rent some DVDs to watch while knitting.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A vacation... of sorts

Today should be a good day. My second hernia (the first one got fixed two years ago) gets repaired this afternoon. Right now I'm a little hungry with the lack of food and water, and bummed that they pushed my surgery back several hours, but what can I do? It's given me time to write this, so that's a good thing! (It's a big day for the Bujolds in terms of surgeries... my hernia surgery, Marc's aunt's shoulder surgery, and the two kitties are getting spayed.)

During the next week, I will have a bit of down time at home to recuperate. What a perfect time to finish up all of those projects that are staring back at me with evil eyes! Of course, with the holidays approaching, I have added a few gifts to the queue... Here's where it stands.

Top left: a neckdown cardigan out of Velvet Touch for my daughter Helen, who (along with her sister) still wears her last year's sweater about 3-4 times a week. It's getting a little on the short side, and she won't wear any of the store bought sweaters she has because she says they itch. SO, in her new favorite color... blue, I started another sweater for her in the summer. I haven't gotten to the armholes yet, so I can increase more to accommodate for her growth since summertime. It may or may not be finished by Christmas. The other day I whipped up a cute little hat for her - out of the same Velvet Touch and a strand of blue Baby Ull. VERY cute, with some I-cord fringies at the top. The pink/purple one will be for Sophie, and the multi colored/pink one MAY be for my niece. If I get that far.

Last year I made Marc a striped ribbed hat out of Cool Wool, which we have discontinued. It was red, gray and black, and he wears it every day. It's been washed numerous times and is still in pretty good shape. I saved a few balls of the yarn, and I'm making him two more hats to add into the "rotation." I've finished one, so I have one more to go. Last night when I was leaving the store, I grabbed 2 skeins of Blue Sky Worsted in Cranberry to make a set of wristers and matching hat (a Blue Sky pattern). Gift? Maybe. More likely... shop sample. I also pulled 2 skeins of Blue Sky Bulky in Lilac to make a bulky hat. Again, not sure if this is for someone or for the shop, I just felt the need to knit with this yarn in this color.

I started (and did not finish) two scarves when I went to Florida with my sister a few weeks ago. One is a dragon scale slace scarf out of Jade Sapphie 2-ply Mongolian Cashmere in Caribbean Mist. Talk about soft! I am almost finished this - I'm just having a hard time knowing when to stop. It is going to change pretty dramatically when blocked, both in width and length. I think I only have a few more repeats and the border, and then the blocking. I have a SIMPLE Koigu scarf that only takes one skein. That shouldn't take too long to finish. And then I am going to make my friend a Handpaint Hat. She saw mine the other day and commented on it, so I thought it would be fun to make her one, since it is SO quick.

If I finish all of these things, I can always go back to my crocheted pillowcases for my family room. I really would like to get those done in the near future. Or I may call the shop and ask for some yarn delivery!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hand Dyeing Kits & BIG Berroco weekend coming up!

First up, a BIG reminder that Andra (our Berroco sales rep) will be here next Saturday from about 9:30am - 3pm. And we will be having a big Berroco sale that day in the shop! She was here yesterday showing me the new Spring '07 Berroco yarns (they are great!) and she brought up a LOT of garments - some from Berroco and some of her own, using Berroco yarns. We will have all of them for you to see in person. They are so inspiring!

Our favorite is the Foliage Fleur Shrug, from the cover of book #247. I wasn't too sure about this sweater from the picture. But when I tried it on I was sold. It is comfortable, cozy, lightweight, and FUN! We all agree, it's an awesome sweater. And it's here for you to see! Andra had just returned from Stitches and she said that jacket was the hit of the show. People were snapping it up right and left.

Another favorite is Andra's own pattern - the Cabin Lap Throw, which uses 5 different Berroco yarns and is a simple wave stitch. I put together 5 really pretty color combinations for the website and can't wait to knit one up for the shop. I think were going to do the blue colorway.

So next Saturday, November 18th, come in, get inspired and $AVE on Berroco yarns! If you're in a rut, Andra will get you moving on your holiday knitting. Bring needles if you want to swatch some yarns, or we'll supply them if you forget.

So Barb, Michele and I took home our Louet sock kits, and dyed our sock yarn this weekend. It was so fun to come in on Monday morning and see how each other's yarns came out. It is so much fun and it is so EASY. What a great project!Here are the steps. Soak yarn in Meadows Wool Wash.

Prepare dyeing surface with plastic wrap.

Lay yarn on surface, side by side.

Have fun with your colors (all three of them).

...TA DA!

Wrap each skein in plastic wrap.

Put all three skeins inside of two Ziploc storage bags.

Microwave for 4 minutes once, and then turn over, and another 4 minutes.

Take out. HOT! Squeeze out excess liquid.

Hang to dry.

When dry, wash again in wool wash. Rinse, rinse, rinse. Dry. ENJOY!

Friday, November 03, 2006

New yarns, samples and some acrobatic kitties

It's been a hectic week for me - each day I've been coming and going... dentist appointment, early pick up for Halloween, hernia appointment, teacher's conferences, etc. But we all worked hard to completely rearrange more than half of the sport/dk weight room. We had to make space for Colinette Cadenza, a 100% merino that is hand painted, and machine washable. It's so soft and gorgeous, and I REALLY hope it arrives today! If not, I will have to find another knitting project for the weekend. I am about 30 minutes away from finishing a little Minnowknits pattern with Berroco Pure Merino. It's wonderful to knit with Pure Merino, and at 4-4.5 stitches to the inch, it's quick too. Which is great because it means almost instant satisfaction... and not so great, since it means I am then out of a knitting project. (Hope the Cadenza arrives!)

We got in our remaining colors of Plymouth Tweed, so I was able to put those up on the website. Tweed is a gorgeous yarn from Plymouth. The colors are incredible, and the yarn is a soft 100% virgin lambswool. I can't wait to knit with this yarn.

Joy has been knitting samples for us now for a few months, and without her help, we would not be able to keep up with all of the new yarns we keep getting. Thanks Joy! The other day she sent us the Organik sweater and it is just gorgeous. We've been doing really well with both Organik and Terra, from the Fiber Company. Both yarns are beautiful, and wonderful to work with. This pattern for the Organik sweater is from Design Source Cotton Collection #1. It is a great looking sweater.

We sent her a Cabin Fever pattern last week and some Cascade Fixation and that should be back here tomorrow. Do you know that you can get 5 stitches to the inch on a 9 or a 10 US? And it looks great at that gauge. What a perfect sweater yarn for kids - comfy, stretchy and washable. Don't just think socks for Fixation!

Two of our sweaters in the shop (and online) have become best sellers. The first is the Cropped Cardigan which is made with two strands of Blue Sky Melange. We have this on the mannequin, and as soon as people see it, they want it. It's a really cute sweater, and because there is no button, it looks amazing with a Gita Maria pin at the neck. The second is the Shaped Cardigan - a Classic Elite pattern that we knit up with Berroco Ultra Alpaca. The sweater is SO flattering, and such a classic design, that it can be worn for years and years. The Ultra Alpaca was a perfect choice for this sweater - it has a beautiful drape.

Yesterday we received our Louet hand dyeing sock kits. These are so great! They're available in five colorways - reds, browns, blues, pinks and greens and they are the perfect gift for sock knitters who want to dye their own yarn! Barb took a blue kit, I took a green kit and Michele took a brown one. We're going to show the results of our dying next week. The yarn in the kits is the GEMS fingering weight yarn by Louet, a super soft merino yarn with a unique twist that gives it great loft, elasticity and stitch definition. These kits will hopefully be online by this afternoon!

We have a number of new samples in the works - a 3/4 sleeve woman's sweater out of Berroco Pure Merino, a very classic raglan pullover out of Cleckheaton Country Silk 8-ply, another Cabana Shawl.. but this time out of just one color of CTH Thick & Thin, a cute baby sweater with a nice lace pattern out of the new colors of Dreambaby DK, a lace wrap out of CTH Cascade Fingering... we are busy.

We also sorted through all of the donations we've received so far for COTS. Remember, we are taking donations of new, knitted items through December 20th. Then we will then take them to COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter) in Burlington. We've had a really nice response so far from our local customers, Remember - sweaters are welcome too! Maybe pull out that sweater you've never finished, that's been sitting in your stash for years, and finish it and bring/send it in. Hats, scarves and mittens are awesome, but socks and sweaters in any size are also nice! We will be giving away two $75 gift cards - one to a local and one to an internet customer.

Have you all started your holiday lists? Last night my daughters did, and they each have a theme going. Helen wants a lot of I-Pod things, including an I-Pod, and everything needs to be blue. Sophie is asking for an assortment of American Girl Doll accessories, like hair things, ice skates, crutches and bandages... It's pretty clear I need to help them to round out these lists so they are not putting all their eggs in one basket.

The best "toys" I have ever gotten them have been the kittens. They carry them around all the time. The other night they were handing out Halloween candy at the front door, while holding the cats like baby dolls in their arms. I kept hearing "Trick or Treat! AWWWW... cute kitties! Can I pet them?" I think the cats were more well received than the candy.

The cats love to be pushed around the house in the doll stroller. Helen even gives them pretend bottles... And all of this is tolerated by Maisy and Lucy (luckily).

They are even teaching them to read! (Lucy! Pay attention!)

So with all of this attention that is being showered on these little kitties, they will surely grow up to be well rounded cats.

I recently learned that they might have a future as world class gymnasts. I was watching TV and knitting the other night. They like to sleep on top of the entertainment cupboard, which is about 6 1/2 feet tall. The basement door was open, and when open, it is near the entertainment cupboard. All of a sudden I sensed that the door was moving and I looked over to see this:

What this picture does not show is that the door was moving. They were both balanced on top of the door, and with each movement they made, the door swayed back and forth. They must really enjoy it, as it's become a nightly routine.

UPS just came! I'm all set for my knitting this weekend - the Cadenza arrived!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

You can't judge a yarn by it's label

I have always been a bit of a label snob. My sales reps laugh at me when I see and touch a new yarn, but then shrink away from it when I see the label. I always wonder why yarn companies come out with great new yarns, and then slap a cheap looking or badly-designed label on them. I have decided against bringing in new yarns simply because the label is so cheap looking that it detracts from the yarn itself. (It's all in the presentation, people!)

I almost didn't buy this new yarn from Plymouth. At first sight (not touch) I said "no way!" It wasn't so much the label this time, it was more the name...
OH MY! Yes, with the exclamation point. Bad name. Really really bad name.
But then I touched it. And my reaction was... Oh My XXXXXX (put in whatever word you would use when something is BEYOND description.)
This yarn is so soft, cuddly, scrumptious, cozy, velvety... well I can't pick just one adjective. I still think the name is awful, but I am a believer in the product. It's a great pick for babies and kids. Plymouth had some adult colors available in this yarn, but none of them were spectacular, so we're targeting it for kids with 8 kid friendly colors.
I started a little hooded pullover with it last night and loved working with it. It's on size 10 needles and very reasonable at just $5 a ball. And machine wash and dry!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

SALE this Saturday!

Just a reminder - we are having a sale on all Rowan and Jaeger yarns this Saturday only in the shop (not online - sorry!) Our sales rep will be here and if you want to swatch Rowan or Jaeger DK & Sport weight yarns, just call the shop at (802) 288-9200 ext 4 to sign up for a slot. Bring your own needles (size 5 and 6 US) and you'll get to knit with the following yarns:

And ALL Rowan and Jaeger yarns will be on sale in the shop. If you swatch one of the dk/sport weight yarns and end up buying it, you'll save an extra 5% on that yarn.
Don't miss it!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A great new yarn and a borrowed stitch

I started a men's scarf last night out of Soffice, a new yarn from Lana Grossa. This yarn is fabulous! I can imagine a gorgeous men's sweater knit with this yarn... it's a blend of extrafine merino, cashmere and acrylic, and it's machine washable. I'm doing an easy stitch pattern on size 10 US needles. It's worked over an odd number of stitches - the first row (WS) is knit, and the second row (RS) is K1b (p1, K1b)* repeat to end. The K1b is knit 1 in the stich below. My sister called the other day from work, and a coworker of hers was knitting a baby sweater. This two row pattern was in the sweater, and they were having a hard time figuring it out (it does seem weird on the first couple of rows!) I swatched it up, and it's really pretty - sort of like a slipped rib, which doesn't pull in as much as a real rib. And both sides are attractive, so I'd go as far as calling it reversible.

I had been looking for a nice stitch pattern to work up in a men's scarf with Soffice, and so I chose this one. Sometimes when we help our customers figure out a stitch, we end up borrowing it for something of our own. Barb also knit a hat for her husband out of this yarn. Trust me, it's lovely!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Playing Hookey

Today I skipped out of work to join my daughters and their classes for their annual hike of Mt. Philo, about a half an hour south of us. There were more than thirty 6-8 year olds, a few teachers and 12-15 parents. We are so lucky to live in such a beautfiul state. Look at the view across Lake Champlain toward New York state!

And the leaves are just gorgeous. Especially when the sun comes out! Though we didn't have much of that today.

One more...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Leaf Peepers 5K

Well, today was the day! After THE most beautiful day yesterday, I woke up at 7am to the sound of pouring rain. It wasn't supposed to start raining until later in the day but clearly that forecast was incorrect. By 8am it had stopped raining and even looked like it might clear up a bit. When Barb and Michele picked me up at 9:30am, it was chilly (52 degrees) but it looked like a pretty good day for a run. Here's a shot of some smiling faces pre-race:We drove to Waterbury, and it started to drizzle. A few miles later, it became a steady rain. A shame, as the foliage is probably close to peak, and it was pretty foggy and we couldn't see much of it. We arrived in the parking lot, and sat in the car for about 10 minutes. NOT to escape the rain. Why? Well... we actually couldn't decide what to wear. How typical! Shorts or tights? Short sleeved shirt or long sleeved shirt? Or both? Rain jacket or fleece? We still had over 45 minutes to the start of the race, so we knew we'd be soaked, and we all wanted to start off as dry as possible.

We finally made our clothing choices, and headed over to register for the race. We checked in, figured out how to attach our chips, got our race t-shirts, used the port-o-lets, and headed back to the car to dump our jackets. We jogged over to the start, and waited under a tree until the gun went off. And then we ran. It was a lot of fun - and had the weather been better we would have had a gorgeous run through red and orange colored hills.

We each ran at our own pace, beat our previous times, and had a great time. We saw people of all shapes and sizes - further proving that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. We saw several of our customers from the shop who were running, and though I didn't see you Carlie, WOW I am impressed at your stellar pace in the half marathon. (I checked for the results after the race.) You rock, and I am inspired to keep going.

In non-running news - I did my first needle felting this weekend. It's so much fun!