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.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Be considerate people!

Today has been rough. We've have been swamped, and we've had a crazy day with a busy shop and a TON of internet orders. We are psyched - we love it when it's like this! However, I had to just take a few minutes to sit down and vent about the following:

Parents of small children... please do not let your toddlers roam wild in the shop. Are you aware that our shop is not child proofed as your home should be? Does it worry you that the mannequin your child thinks he is dancing with, starts to teeter and totter and tip over? Where are you when I rescue your child from being crushed under that very heavy figure? Oh, that's right. You are looking for a pattern 2 rooms away, not paying any attention to your child. Do you hear me asking your child not to play with the mannequin because it is not safe for him, and I don't want him to get hurt? You DO hear me? Great! Why then, does your child do it another 2 times, while you are still paying no attention to him?

Did you just hear the big wooden smacking noise, followed by tears, and a nice young lady saying she's sorry? Do you know that your child was standing right inside our front door (out of sight from the outside) and a customer just came into the shop and opened the door right into your child? (Don't worry, I told the nice lady not to feel badly - it's not her fault, it's yours.) Now your child is screaming, most likely because you are paying no attention to him, and you are still looking for a pattern.

You know that bag of Sesame Pretzels that your daughter has been snacking on? Do you see that she is spilling hundreds of sesame seeds all over our floor? That may be okay at your house, but it's not okay here. Now those sticky little hands are touching so many different balls of yarn. Hmmm. Do YOU want to buy a ball of yarn that has been touched by sticky sesame hands? I sure don't. Do you realize that every ball of yarn we find, when straightening and restocking yarn, that has been manhandled by your children, or snot-dripped upon, must be taken out of stock?

Great, now your daughter is dancing with the mannequin. Wasn't she standing right there when I was reprimanding your son? Oh sorry! I forgot. You wouldn't know. You weren't paying attention.

You know those beautiful shawl pins that we have at the counter? Did you realize those aren't chew toys for your kids? The nice display with the marbles that houses those shawl pins? Not a game of Pick Up Sticks. Our customers do not enjoy jarring, crashing sounds as your daughter knocks over the entire bowl of glass marbles, because she didn't like it when we asked her not to play with them. Nor do they enjoy tripping over the marbles, as they shop.

Those Brittany double pointed needles we sell? Those size 0's, 1's and 2's are pretty small, aren't they? Does your child have to test them to see if they will break? Let me save him some time. YES. They break. And since you don't want to pay for a broken needle, I guess we'll just have to put it with all the sticky and snotty yarn we've already pulled from the shelves.

You know, we're not just trying to look after your children because you aren't doing it yourself. We actually have a job to do here, and it's not daycare provider. We're actually really concerned for their safety and for our inventory. You know that if that mannequin fell on top of your child, even though you were in the other room not paying attention, you would blame us. You know that if your child opened our basement door and fell down the steps, again it would be our fault somehow.

And for those of you who are starting to feel the stress of the holidays, hear this. Please understand that we are only here to help you. When you come in with a really bad attitude, we are still going to smile and treat you like all of the nice people who have preceeded you. But if you don't let up on the attitude, we fully reserve the right to politely remind you that there's no reason to be rude to us.

When the UPS truck is backed into the driveway at 4pm, and there's rush hour traffic on Pearl Street, do NOT pull in and block him. Do you really think you have enough time to come in and make an exchange? Do you not realize that he is on a schedule? Do you not see that you have parked your car next to a sign that says "Please Do Not Block Driveway?" Do you see that now there is another customer behind the UPS truck, waiting to get out, all because you will not move your car? I am aware of your dirty looks and snotty attitude when I tell you I cannot help you until you move your car. The other customers in the shop are also aware, and when you finally go to move your car, they have nothing but raised eyebrows about your behavior.

Okay, rant over. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The holidays are a-coming!

Just yesterday I realized that we are just 2 short weeks from Thanksgiving. It seems as if it was just Halloween yesterday, but that was over a week ago. I guess time really flies when you are crazy busy. And that's what it's been around here. Lots of customers, classes, internet shoppers, and new yarns.
Before I skip over Halloween, I'll show you what treats we get to enjoy around here on certain holidays. Michele makes these amazing cookies, and is always nice enough to bring in a big tray for us. Of course, they are gone within a matter of hours. This poor little guy hung around until the next morning - I guess people were shy and didn't want to take the last one. Well, I was bold and gobbled it right up. Nothing like cookies for breakfast. This, only days after Kalen brought in half of a Costco cake - the leftovers from her brother's birthday. It was chocolate, and Michele doesn't eat chocolate. Barb was out for a couple of days so she missed out on the cake, but never fear, Kalen and I managed to eat almost all of it. Cake for breakfast, snack, lunch and snack is not the healthiest of diets, but hey, that's life. And then came the leftover Halloween candy. We live in a big neighborhood that gets a LOT of trick-or-treaters. And I never know just how much candy we'll go through, so I tend to overbuy. I usually have leftovers which come into the shop the next day. This year was no exception. And we've gone through those leftovers pretty quickly.

At least the sugar has helped us keep our energy up. We've been busy moving around some yarns - check out our sale section for lots of new markdowns. These are ONLINE ONLY. They are not in the shop any more, they have been moved to one of our warehouse locations. If you want them, place an order on the website and write HOLD FOR PICKUP in the comments section. We'll deduct your shipping charges and call you when the order is ready. I'm sending out a mass email on these yarns tomorrow, so they won't last long. Great sock yarns - perfect for gift knitting or gift giving. Plus some colors of Plush, Plush Colors, Touche, Love It and Bonsai that we are discontinuing. This always happens at this time of year. I meet with some reps to buy for spring, and they always have some yarns in stock already - some new yarns and some new colors in existing yarns. And since I can't resist, I end up buying them, and having to make room. So help us move them out so we can show you the new stuff!

Marc and I took the girls to NYC last weekend. It was fun - certainly a whirlwind trip - but we really had a great time. Some highlights:

The gorgeous ferry across Lake Champlain to New York. Look how calm it was!
The American Girl Doll Store... CRAZY! Can you see my eyes rolling into the back of my head?
A man wearing an Eros scarf... after being so tired of this yarn, I was actually pleasantly surprised to see him wearing it! It looked very fashionable on him.
A very interesting (?) hat I spotted on the train. Hmmm. Enough said.
The M&M store! Note the ceiling high bins of different colored M&Ms.

I won't tell you how much money I spent on M&Ms, nor will I disclose how many peanut M&Ms I've eaten since my trip. I can't even say how many (few) days it took me to eat them.

In summary - it was fun! It was quick and busy, and exhausting and stimulating. But fun. And furing the long car trip, I was able to whip up a couple of neat hats. Kalen gave me some great ideas of what we needed to write up for free patterns, and this is what we came up with. This one is a great unisex earflap hat using Frog Tree Alpaca and Berroco Foliage.

This one is the ever popular super bulky ribbed pom pom hat. Love it! It uses Berroco Peruvia and Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky. It came out a little big, but it would fit an adult l-xl. To make it smaller, I'd use the same pattern with a smaller needle. It's oh so soft and warm, and the huge pom pom really makes it.