Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cleaning the classroom!

Classes have started up again, which means we have to keep the classroom clean. It's hard - we use the classroom for unloading all of our shipments, and I use it to take pictures of everything for the website. We also use it for our show and tell - we bring things in that we are working on and show them to each other each day. This is what it looked like last night, right before we had to clean it for Suzie's class: Michele and Barb are taking a weaving class and this is Michele's table runner.
Joy drove up the other day to give us some of her craft supplies that she no longer wanted. I was most excited about the Puritan frame for my rug hooking! I love it and it is so much nicer than my hoop. And I'm already inspired by her stash of wools. Only about another week until I finish my rug. We will have to wait for a slow day to go through all of the other amazing things she gave us. Thanks Joy!!!

Tomorrow is a dyeing day. I mean dyeing wool. Did I mention... we're adding rug hooking? And we are so excited! Barb said the other day that I've corrupted her. Before she worked here, she worked at a church and was a pretty clean cut broad. She never imagined that stripping(1) and hooking(2) would be part of her job... and so much fun! (Please don't tell her husband!)

(1) strip*ping the process of cutting wool into strips
(2) hook*ing the process of pulling wool strips through a backing with a crochet like "hook"

Friday, January 26, 2007

Freezing Friday

Right now it's 0 degrees, but feels like 12 below with the wind chill. Brrrr. We're nice and warm inside though, and so we'll call it a good day. We had a little lunch celebration earlier - it's Michele's birthday today. We've always enjoyed cake for people's birthdays, but in December we had a little holiday lunch here at the shop, and I realized that everyone who works here likes sushi. So, for Michele's birthday I asked her if she wanted a cake, or a sushi lunch. This is what she chose:

We managed to put away all but about 5 pieces - and those went home to Michele's sons.

This morning we got some new yarn. Twelve beautiful heathered colors of the Shearer's Yarn. This may make it onto the website by today, or Monday at the latest. It was delivered to us by David Hinman, the shearer, himself. This yarn is the real stuff, baby! It reminds me of Candide, but nicer and a bit lighter weight. As David says, "No one knows wool like the shearer who shears the sheep!" David started his own flock of sheep as a boy in New Hampshire, and has been shearing sheep and alpacas throughout the Northeast for more than 40 years. From the sheep he shears and from his own flock of Blue-faced Leicesters, David selects the best wool. Then he has it processed into fine-quality, 100% wool yarn and wool blankets at a mill in Canada.

Our kitchen turned into a dye studio of sorts today. Barb and Michele dyed some wool for rug hooking. The aroma of wet wool filled the building and they had a great time!

They over dyed and spot dyed and came up with some really great pieces. It was a lot of fun and will be great when our Cushing dyes and dye books come next week!
Kalen brought in her mixed fiber rib scarf - it's gorgeous! I wear my new one just about every day and I get stopped right and left when I am wearing it. I went down in the shop to add my colors and Kalen's colors to the website, when our good friend Karen came in (who gave us this scarf idea in the first place!) We all picked out a BUNCH of new color combinations and they are all online. I think I might have to make another one - I like the Black, Burgandy and Stonechat. I already have Vaa, and I made Brown Sugar for the shop. Kalen's is Sealing Wax.
And I'm still making great progress on my rug!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A new hobby!

You know that feeling you get when you are about to hit the yarn shop? You wake up, knowing it's the day you're going yarn shopping. You're excited, because you're on the hunt for a new project. You can't wait to peruse the pattern booklets. You're eager to fondle the yarn. You're lightheaded just imagining the colors... And then you decide on a project, you pay up, head out the door and you're so eager to start. Your pulse is racing. You can hardly wait to get home and start knitting. You stay up late that night just trying to squeeze in a few more rows. It's really a wonderful feeling!

Well I haven't had that feeling for a while, about yarn, that is. Don't get me wrong! I love buying yarn for the shop. I love unloading a new yarn when it arrives in boxes and bags. I love playing with it and finding a perfect home for it in the shop. But I am surrounded by all of this yarn everyday. So it's not AS exciting when I start a new project. For me, it's just walking into the warehouse and finding the color I want. I miss the thrill that I used to have before I owned the shop. I still have the thrill of knitting... but the picking out thrill seems to be thing of the past.

At least with yarn! Last week Barb and I went to Green Mountain Hooked Rugs in Montpelier on Tuesday. Barb has a couple of rugs that she is currently working on, and of course Michele has been hooking rugs for a long time. Michele has some AMAZING pieces. She's really an inspiration. So we've all been talking about it, and I have always loved hooked rugs - how they look and feel, and what amazing designs you can do with them. I decided I wanted to get a small project. They didn't have a huge selection of patterns - but I did find one I liked, though it was a little bigger than I wanted. What gorgeous wools! I am using shades of greens and teal blues and oranges and I had so much fun picking out fabrics. I could hardly drive home - I was THAT excited. I just wanted to pull over and start hooking my rug. And then when we got back to work, we both wanted to cut our strips and get started. I had a million ideas in my head about how to arrange the colors. And I'd never even hooked before!

So now I've been up until 11:30 each night (that's very late for ME!) working on my rug. It's really fun. I am treating this as a learning experience. In each little section that I work, I get better and better. I can already look back at my first square and see things I'd like to do differently, but I'm not going to change anything. This will be my starter piece and I'll enjoy looking back at it and remembering how much I learned.

I haven't totally set aside the knitting needles. I did finish another mixed fiber rib scarf. The first one I made turned into a shop sample and is usually found around Kalen's neck. Now mine is in greens.
LOVE it. Might have to make another one.

I've also been doing some punch needle. Kind of fun. Different. I like rug hooking better, but this mixes things up a bit.
I think my next hooking project will be a chair pad, with yarn. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Mmmm, I smell a special!

This arrived today from Cherry Tree Hill. Supersock Potluck in 6 colorways. Really no two alike. So many gorgeous skeins of yarn. So many cool socks just waiting to be knit.We have Earth... and Jewels...and Blues Greens...and Blues Purples...and Brights...and Water...Hard to choose!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

It's always a hard day back at work/school after the holiday break. Very hard to get those kids up and out of bed in time for the bus. But thanks to new alarm clocks for the kids from Santa, it was a little easier today.

Last week we saw some strange weather, and that both scared customers away, and brought them in to the shop in droves. It just further proves my theory that you can never predict anything in retail. You think you're going to be slow and you are slammed. You prepare for crowds, and you're only steady. Oh well, we always have things to do here and when it is slower we are never idle. Last week in our down times, we did last minute year end and inventory things that needed to be done. And just so we didn't get too comfortable counting things, another crowd would arrive and we'd have a few hours of being slammed again. But we were thrilled to see the snow on Saturday. It was long overdue, and we enjoyed it (while it lasted.)

So Barb got a new pet a couple of days after Christmas. A week or so earlier, she told me that she and her daughter Lizzie wanted to get an angora rabbit. She had called a place locally but did not get a response. I gave her a contact in Charlotte and she went online, contacted them, and by the next day she had arranged to be the new owner of Milo, a one year old white angora bunny. She picked him up last week, and he has grown accustomed to his new home. He is really cute and Barb can't wait to spin up some of his fur!

Speaking of pets, Maisy and Lucy have been mischievous recently. They have taken to stealing my knitting. Not just grabbing a ball of yarn and messing it up by dragging it throughout the house. No, actually TAKING my knitting and hiding it in another room. It started when the Christmas stockings came out. Two Yankee Knitter stockings that I made for Helen and Sophie about 5 years or so ago. Just plain old Cascade 220, not even any fun angora in it, just wool. The cats thought the stockings looked interesting, so they jumped up on the tv cabinet (where we hang them... no fireplace in our house) and pulled them down. Each day I would come home and the stockings would be missing. They would turn up in various places around the house. Not ruined, but pulled here and there and in need of a little TLC.

Then last week, I started a new project. Two years ago we had this little "ponchini" or "shoulder warmer" as I like to call it. It was made out of Mountain Colors Alpaca Blend. I wore it all the time, but last year stopped wearing it. Betsy now wears it when she is chilled. Whenever someone sees her wearing it, they comment on it. So we decided to make another one, in Malabrigo. I picked out a color and grabbed the pattern and the Alpaca Blend "shoulder warmer" from Betsy's office - so I could compare it as I first started knitting. I worked on it that night, and went to work the next day, leaving the Alpaca Blend piece on the top of my knitting bag. When I got home that night, it was no longer in my bag. It was all the way upstairs by the linen closet. Luckily, no damage.

Yesterday, I finished the new one out of Malabrigo. I took it down to the basement and blocked it. It was nicely laid out on a couple of towels on top of the washing machine. I went upstairs for NOT EVEN five minutes and came down to see the towels, sitting on the machine, with nothing on them but a wet impression of the shoulder warmer. Marc and Helen and Sophie (and the two cats) were all in the basement. "Did anyone see my poncho?" I asked frantically. "Did anyone see the cats dragging a wet piece of pinkish-purplish wool around the room? The very room you are all sitting in? Is anyone paying any attention to anything? How can you miss something like that? It's like 400 yards of knitted wet wool! It's not invisible!" Well, no one saw anything. I searched the entire house and it was nowhere to be found. Finally I found it in a wet heap behind the couch in the basement. Hmmmmm. Again, no damage. Why can't they play with the nice catnip mice I gave them? Clearly I have to be more careful.

Our customer and friend Karen was in last week with a scarf she has made many times by mixing fibers. I had always heard her talking about it and she finally brought it in. It was gorgeous and inspired us to make one up for the shop. It's a pattern we used for Duo (a Berroco bulky self striping yarn a few years back) with some added fringe - just a simple 1x1 rib on size 15 needles. But it combines three soft yarns in different colors, creating a beautiful blend. It took NO time at all and I've already picked out another combination to make myself one. Thanks Karen!