Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Berroco spring 07 yarns in stock!

This week started off with a lovely 16" dump of the white stuff. The totals were anywhere from 8-24+ inches of snow, depending on what town you live in. It was nice and cold and windy on Monday, but that's okay - we were inside getting all of those Tilli Tomas orders out the door.
We've received many new things this week, and hopefully they will all be out in the shop and online in the next few days. Several of Berroco's spring 07 yarns are here and they are lovely! We won't get the pattern booklets until January, but we're going to try to get some samples worked up before then.
One of my favorites arrived today - Galaxy, by Regia. Look how cool the yarn knits up!
Yesterday Helen and Sophie wanted to start a knitting project after school. They wanted to knit with the needles that have the "string in between" (circulars!) They wanted to pick their own yarns, and both chose some Koigu from my stash at home. Hmmm. Koigu, for 8 year old kids? No way. I want them to feel they're making progress with their knitting, and I knew Koigu was the wrong choice. So I steered them into the bulky room and they ended up picking Foliage. Better, because it's bulkier and it changes colors on its own. So I cast on 20 stitches for each of them and worked the first row. Then I reminded them of the rhyme we use to tell them what to do... and I left the room, thinking they would call me in when they got the end of the row (they've only used straight needles before.)
I came back 15 minutes later and they were on row 8 or 9. I was amazed that they figured out how to work with circular needles all on their own! A lot of people don't understand that you can work a flat piece on a circular needle, you just turn the work at the end of the row. Both of them figured it out all by themselves, and when I came into the room and asked them how they knew what to do at the end of the row, they gave me that "Duh, Mom!" look, and told me that it was SO easy. Wow, that's something that a lot of our customers don't understand. So I'm definitely proud of them - it must be in their blood!
Michele brought in another plate of her famous cookies... with an appropriate winter theme. We enjoyed them, and are eager for Valentine's Day, which is when we will most likely get another plate!
We have been busting some serious you know what here, getting our packages out the door. It is always amazing to me how people wait until the last minute, and then think that it will only take us 2 seconds to pick, pack, charge and ship their order. But really, I have to say, we are quick. Just 30 minutes ago, I saw two orders come in - both were expedited... so I clicked on them to download them, and just as I got up to get them off the printer, I heard Barb coming upstairs. In her hands was the Offhand Designs Zelda Weekender that had just been ordered for overnight shipment. She had seen the orders come in too, and we were both jumping to attention to get the stuff out the door. Within 5 minutes, the orders were charged and shipped and now those 2 people will be loving it when their packages arrive in time for Christmas. See all those Red, Blue and Orange stickers!?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Big Birthday... Blizzard?

So we are supposedly getting a big storm this weekend, thought we're not sure exactly how much snow we will get. Hopefully it will hit on Sunday and be cleared up by Monday, as it could certainly interfere with our shipping of orders for the holidays! When it gets this close to Christmas, you don't want to lose a day in transit... but with some weather conditions, UPS just can't get through. That's what happened last night - a huge Tilli Tomas order was supposed to arrive here today, but it didn't get here. The folks at Tilli Tomas were affected by the weather - their 15 minute drive in to work took 5 hours, due to awful road conditions, and then they got a call from UPS at the end of their day, saying the truck wasn't going to be able to pick up their outgoing shipments. Oh well! That's life and there's no sense getting upset about these things. They are completely unavoidable, so we move on, and we'll get the yarn on Monday. That is, if we aren't affected up this way!

Things have really picked up, as all of our online customers are frantically placing orders. We've been working like crazy to be sure we can ship everything as quickly as possible. And the shop has been VERY busy over the past few days. The door is opening and closing constantly. People are in shopping for small projects, big projects, gifts and more. Lots of folks are coming in for last minute finishing help. They're frantic and almost at the end of their projects, and we've been able to help them through their trouble spots.

I have a big birthday tomorrow. The big 4-0. I am conveniently NOT working on my birthday. Marc has some special plans for me, which involve some time at Topnotch in Stowe... and the spa... so that should be FUN! I'm certainly getting grief from people for being so OLD on this birthday - ha ha! Funny thing is, I actually feel much better at 40 than I did at 30. That's what I'm hearing from a lot of people these days. I guess that's why they call it 40 and fabulous!

For those of you who are rug hookers and haven't forked yet for a Puritan Frame, here's another reason why you should get one. NOT ONLY are they wonderful in that they hold your pattern tight when you are hooking, but they double as a cat grooming machine! I always wondered why I had fine white "hairs" on one corner of my frame. Then last night I caught Lucy in the act.

I guess we're not brushing her enough - she's forced to do it herself!
And I'm making some progress! It's going to be great...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

101 steps to drawing up a pattern

So I decided to draw up my next rug pattern this past Sunday. Michele had already surged a piece of linen for me (I'm not that great with a sewing machine, and the surger... well it scares me.) Helen had already drawn her picture, and I had enlarged it on our copier at work. Then I took a Paper Mate Flair (my favorite pen!) and drew over the lines so they'd be darker.I cut around each figure so I could move them closer together, and I got out my handy dandy painter's tape and put some on the back of each cutout.I taped the figures up on my sliding glass door. (Nice snowy backgound!)

Then I figured out how big I wanted my pattern to be, and I drew the border with a Sharpie. It's easy to draw straight lines - just keep the pen in the same groove as you drag it across the linen.

Then I started tracing the drawings onto the linen. Sure, a light table would have worked better. But you have to make do with what you have, and I had a sliding door and a gray Vermont morning. It worked just fine.

Completed figures.

Since Helen had drawn the figures, I wanted Sophie to give me input on the background. She practiced her cursive and wrote the "Welcome" for the bottom. First in pencil, then traced over it with the Sharpie.

Note the pajamas. There's nothing better than a lazy weekend morning when you can stay in your pajamas as long as you want. So I added her landscape ideas and Welcome word...

And there you have it. Done!

I've already started hooking it. I'm using #3, #5 and #6 cuts. The detail just might kill me... it's not going to be as fast as I'd like to go. But I think the end result will be just perfect.

Friday, November 30, 2007

New wools

Yesterday afternoon I was able to put 21 new rug hooking wools online - all of them are plaids or prints and are beautiful as is... but many of them look amazing overdyed. For those of you who are local, we've just added more wool scraps so you can buy just a small amount of a color, and today I cleaned out the classroom, and made up a lot of little bags of pre-cut wool in assorted colors. They are mostly #8 cuts, but there are a few #6 and #5 in there too. So come on in and pick through it!

Tonight I will finish hooking my Penny Rug Sunflower. I just have a little bit more to do on the one end, and then I am going to rip out a very small amount and re-hook it in white.
The nice thing about rug hooking is that you can change things at any time. This pattern is random, yet it has some order. I'm okay with the randomness, but I am unhappy with how the purple border (marked in the picture below) meets up with the flower petal. So I am going to rip out a couple of inches of the purple, and make it white. Then I'll be more happy about it. I picked Lamb's Pride Bulky in Spice to finish the edges. That's a long process, but there's no way around it.

For my next project I am going to hook one of Helen's drawings. Michele's son drew a family portrait years ago, and she hooked it and has it hanging in her family room. It's really cute!
I mentioned it to Helen and Sophie and they want me to do one too. Helen got right to work on her drawing, and Sophie wasn't too confident with her ability to draw people, so she's going to draw the 2 cats and some background items. It will be a nice collaboration. I will enlarge their drawings, and then I'll most likely use a #5 cut. It's really so easy to draw up your own pattern - it will be fun! Although this is Helen's drawing, and I'm a little worried I won't do such a good job on it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

It's all about the pies

We were talking the other day about Thanksgiving pies. I've always been a "one-pie" maker for Thanksgiving. I know there are a lot of people out there who love this time of year, because they get to make and eat so many different kinds of pies. Barb usually makes several pies for her family get together. And Bob's family also makes a lot of pies. Different flavors of course. So that after you eat your traditional dinner, you proceed to the "pie buffet." I've never experienced the pie buffet, but it's sounding really good to me and I may have to have one next year... or at Christmas?

So today Bob stopped in and we were all talking about yesterday, and we asked him how all the pies were. He said he only tasted 3 of the 5 or 6 that there were, but he said they were all delicious. One of the pies at his gathering was a Homestead Pie. He said it didn't appeal to him, so it was not one that he ate. He told us it had Ritz Crackers and whipped cream. It sounded different... well, interesting... actually, kind of scary, to us. But he said that everyone loved it. So off he went and we told him we'd see him on Monday.

About an hour or so later, I saw his green jacket go by the window. He came in the front door, carrying something, and snuck upstairs to the kitchen. He had gone home and asked Marilyn to bake us a Homestead Pie. So this is what I found when I came up for lunch. Clearly, several of us enjoyed it! Thanks Bob and Marilyn! It will most likely be gone by the end of the day.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. The weather was so awful, that I didn't set one foot over the door. It was so fun to stay home and not "have" to do anything. I spent a lot of time hooking my rug, and I hope to be finished soon. It may have to live in the shop for a while before I hang it up at home. And I'm already thinking about my next one...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New colors, and new yarns

JUST IN! Comfort DK from Berroco! The worsted weight Comfort has really taken off, and they just came out with the DK, so we have 24 great colors. And I mean great! Colors for babies, kids and adults. They really did well with the color palette. It's so new that we received the yarn yesterday, and when I went to put it up online, I realized that Berroco hadn't sent me a color card with the color names yet. And it's not even on their site yet. So I called them and thankfully D was able to email me the color names so I could be accurate when posting them online. We really appreciate when a yarn company is that responsive to us. To be able to contact them, and have them get back to us immediately with the answers we need - for us and for our customers, is really wonderful. I've called them before with pattern questions and I've been put right through to the correct people. They do a great job with customer service! Not to mention, their website is a wealth of information. As a yarn shop, we use their site multiple times a day - looking for yarn information, free patterns, color names, and more.

Some of the other large companies we deal with can take days and even weeks to get back to us when we call with an issue. We recently knit up a sweater from a pattern (from another company) and there was a major error in the number of stitches that it said to pick up for the neck. Our stitch AND row gauges were right on, and the pattern said to pick up 82 stitches around the neck (a V-neck, mind you!) The gauge on the larger needles was 4.5 stitches to the inch. The neckband was done on the smaller needles, which means the gauge was probably more like 5 stitches to the inch. Let's do the math - 82 stitches divided by 5 stitches to the inch = 16.4 inches! That would barely fit over a kid's head! Even if we used the larger needle, 82 stitches divided by 4.5 stitches to the inch = 18.22 inches. That's smaller than almost any adult head I've ever seen!

Of course, we always pick up stitches like this - 1 stitch for each stitch on horizontals and 3 stitches for every 4 rows on verticals and diagonals. By doing it this way, you would get a total of about 112 stitches. So... 112 stitches divided by 5 stitches to the inch = 22.4". Much better. But when we called this company to discuss our findings (and this obvious error) it took 2 weeks for them to get back to us. And when they did, even though the math clearly does not work in their pattern, they refused to admit that they had made a mistake. I guess it's just an example of customer service that could be a little better. So, in the end, we just put our own correction on the pattern, so that our customers will not run into any problems. And we appreciate the easier to deal with companies, even more.

Speaking of new Berroco things, we just received some gorgeous new Touche colors! This yarn is obviously great for kids, but it's a wonderful worsted weight alternative for adults who cannot wear wool. The color palette is so much better now than it was before. Speaking of new colors, we got a big box from Colinette yesterday, and in it we found three new Iona colors that we ordered last week: Toscana, Ginger Cinnabar and Morello Mash. They are lovely! Unfortunately there were no Ab Fabs in the box. We are still waiting for the Ab Fabs to come back into stock. Some of these have been backordered for months and months! This morning we got word that by Tuesday all Ab Fabs will be back in stock and shipping. We can only keep our fingers crossed, as we've heard that before and ended up disappointed. It is completely out of our control, though.

Also - new yarns from Plymouth! Heaven Lite - fun baby yarn - perfect for sweaters and blankets, Magica - great novelty yarn for scarves, and King George and Lafayette - lovely yarns from Plymouth's new "Bristol Yarn Gallery" division.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New Lamb's Pride Colors

We got these great new colors of Lamb's Pride a little more than a month ago... and when my rep was here she brought a great swatch of all of them knitted. I didn't get to keep it, of course! But I did snap a photo of it so you can all see how neat they look when knit up. We have all 8 colors in both worsted and bulky.
Gorgeous day! And Stowe is open!!!! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What's clear to one, may not be clear to another

Recently a few of us knit the Aamu top in the Norah Gaughan book. It can often get confusing when you are working the neck, shaping both sides at the same time. It can be even more confusing when you are also doing underarm shaping at the same time (as in this sweater.) I admit that when I knit my Aamu, I did have to sit for a minute and really think hard to figure out exactly what I would be doing on each row. I'm a visual person, and I usually draw something out on paper to help me visualize what I'm supposed to be doing. With this sweater, I didn't draw anything out, but I COULD have, as it was a bit confusing.

When Kalen got to this point on the sweater, she asked for some advice on how to make sure she kept track of everything properly. My first thought was to draw it out for her, so that's what I did. But what might have worked for me, didn't make sense to her.
So I put my computer skills to work. And this is what I came up with.
It worked perfectly for Kalen, and I wish I had thought of it earlier! Look how easy it would be to follow this! Lesson learned - use whatever tools you have to make it more clear. It doesn't matter how, just do it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rugs, rugs and more rugs

This week is the "Hooked in the Mountains XII" hooked rug fiber art show at the Shelburne Museum. Yesterday was my day off, and I spent a couple of hours there looking at over 400 hooked rugs. If you have some free time, I would definitely recommend heading over to the Round Barn to check out these amazing works of art. The show runs through November 18th, and is open 10am-5pm (4pm on the 18th). I had my camera, so this post will be picture heavy. But really, you need to see these rugs in person, to really appreciate their beauty. I loved the random colors of these fish.
These colors were great too. Very soothing!
A nice funky chicken!
This is a Primitive Grace pattern that we sell. Love it hooked! Very inspiring...
Beautiful view! Very realistic.
This was amazing. It is HUGE (almost 5x8 I'm guessing?) and the details are just incredible. You HAVE to see this one up close.
I just loved this one. Very artistic use of color.
This was very cool. Life size! And such vibrant color.
Not my favorite design, but incredible work...
Very nice! Love the top and bottom borders.

This was neat. Four pieces, and three dimensional. Wow.
Wow - vibrant colors! Makes you think of spring.A dark and dreary day, captured well.
And in contrast, a sunny day on a cornfield. Look how those leaves POP off the background.

I liked this one a lot. Orderly, yet random.
These two go together well. Wish my garden looked like that!

This was very 3 dimensional. I normally don't like all the texture, but I really liked this one!
WOW! Vivid.
I'd seen this one before. Fun!
I really thought this would have been fun to hook. I really liked the use of color.

Great example of what to do with scraps!

There was a lot of nice detail in this dragonfly.

I liked the background in this one.

And I remember when the woman who hooked this brought it into the shop a couple of years ago! She may have been looking for wool to bind it. It really lookes great finished. She made it for her friend whose dog had passed away. What a tribute!
So needless to say I was inspired to hook last night. And I found out that Lucy likes my rug as much as I do.