Thursday, January 31, 2008

Eucalan gets a facelift

The Eucalan bottles are looking pretty hip these days! And in addition to their updated look, there are new flavors... okay, scents. Try unscented or grapefruit, or the lavendar or original (Eucalyptus.)
We still have some old 2 oz bottles left, and when they're gone we'll switch those over to the new 3.3 oz size.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

a new book - Knitting for Peace

We just received a new book the other day - Knitting for Peace, Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time. I took a few minutes to look through it, and I'm really impressed. It's a nice compact size, but it's FILLED with so much wonderful information. I've only skimmed it, but I've already learned so much, and I'm looking forward to reading it cover to cover. So if you want to learn a lot more about troop knitting, Peace Fleece, afghans for Afghans, Lantern Moon, the Shawl Ministry, Warm Up America, Hugs for Homeless Animals, Prison Knitting, Project Linus, Children in Common and so much more, then check out this book. And of course, it includes patterns!

Regia Softy - not just for socks

We are buried in new yarns here. This is the time of year when we get all of the new yarns from our vendors, as well as new colors of existing yarns. In fact, UPS just brought us 10 boxes today. It's so hard because obviously, we want to knit with all of the new yarns, and it can be really difficult to stay focused when they are all so tantalizing! I am really trying to finish up some projects, but of course that didn't stop me from starting a few new ones over the weekend.

For one project, I used Softy - a new sportweight sock yarn from Regia. This yarn is perfect for a nice pair of squishy socks - socks that would be worn at night or on the weekends... lounge-around socks. I also see this yarn in scarves, hats and wristers... and since I wanted immediate gratification (and because my hands are always freezing) I whipped up a pair of wristers this past Sunday.
Softy is a blend of superwash wool and nylon. I used size 4 knitting needles and worked a 2x2 rib. I knit them flat, and then seamed them up to fit. The yarn was soft and the knitting was speedy on my Addi Turbos. I wore the wristers yesterday - and they were so soft, warm and cushy. Loved them! And this yarn is not just limited to accessories and socks. It's perfect for baby sweaters and blankets!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bag Credits

This weekend on the news I heard some frightening statistics on plastic bag waste. The Sierra Club's Sierra magazine estimated that almost 100 billion plastic bags are thrown out each year, and that only 5.2 percent of those are recovered for recycling. But for all the arguments against plastic bags, there are just as many about paper. I'm not expressing my own views here, but it is something that I've been thinking a lot about, so it lead to a decision.

At the grocery store, I've always answered "paper" to the paper or plastic question. The paper bags stood up nicely in the back of my car (try going around a corner with plastic grocery bags in the back - the food ends up scattered all over in the back of your trunk!) They also fit perfectly in my old kitchen trash can, so they were going to good use. Then two years ago, Marc and the girls got me one of those fancy kitchen trash cans that opens automatically, and those paper bags didn't fit anymore. Since I didn't have a use for the paper bags, I purchased the re-usable shopping bags at my grocery store.

They were inexpensive, and I was so excited because the straps were long enough that I could carry multiple bags at a time over my shoulder! Last night we filled 10 of these bags at the grocery store, and I was able to carry 7 of them in from the car at one time because of those awesome straps. They live in my car, and I use them all the time. The best part is, I feel good each time I use them because I'm doing a small part in not generating any extra waste.

In the shop, we used to use paper bags. About 5 years ago we switched to nice, durable, clear plastic bags. I honestly think there are pros and cons to both, but we went with the plastic for several reasons. Most importantly, we want the yarn to be protected when it leaves our shop, in the event it comes back for return. If kept in the plastic bag, it is protected from pet hair, liquid spills and (some) odors. Another reason for the plastic - marketing! When people see yummy yarn right through your bag, they start to think about knitting!

Many of our customers LOVE our clear plastic bags, because they can easily organize their projects by sight. A few of our customers like our bags SO much that they constantly ask us for extra bags. Some of our customers choose to use their own bags when they shop here.

Well, starting tomorrow, we're changing it up a bit. Bring in your own bag, and get a 5 cent credit. It's not much, but it's more than I get at my grocery store. Don't have a reusable bag? You can purchase one of our nice, logo'd bags for just $1.50. That's less than our cost on it.If you do not use re-usable bags, don't worry! With your purchase, you will still get a bag - same as always. For those of you who like the plastic bags SO much that you ask for extras, you can have all the extras you want - at 25 cents each.

When our current supply of plastic shopping bags runs out, we will investigate the other options that are out there. Hey, baby steps! Lots of little baby steps can certainly make a difference.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Silky "Merino"

Okay, I was calling it by the wrong name. Sorry! It's called Malabrigo Silky Merino (not Silky Wool) and it is fantastic! It's a light worsted/dk, and I'm so glad I had to photograph it today because I can't stop touching it! We've already sold some over the weekend, and about 6 colors are still on backorder. We will be ordering more colors as well, but it is at least 4 weeks out. At least...

Also brand new is Cascade Sierra - a blend of 80% Pima Cotton and 20% Merino Wool. This yarn is really calling out to me. Would be PERFECT for a spring sweater. I am not a fan of cottons, but this one is definitely on my "A" list. I'm seeing it as a great yarn for a baby blanket, too... one with a nice stitch or lace pattern...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New yarns await me!

I am packing up and getting ready to head for the airport. Just talked to Barb and she told me that the two new Cascade yarns DID arrive on Friday - can't WAIT to see them! Also, great news... Malabrigo Silky Wool ARRIVED on Friday too! It's gorgeous and already in the shop. Will be online as soon as I can manage to get it there. Maybe Wednesday? I'm so excited to start knitting with it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

All kinds of weather

Well, I've been here for 3 days and I've seen it all. We've had dark skies, heavy rain, thunder, lightning, high humidity, cool breezes, warm breezes, gorgeous sun, cold winds and temps in the high 70s down to the low 50s (not including wind chill!) Brrr. Despite the crazy weather, we've been doing lots of relaxing. We've ridden bikes... and the girls have certainly enjoyed the pool - they go in no matter what. Even though the weather hasn't fully cooperated, it is lovely to be away from the single digits for a few days. I hear it is SO cold up there.

I've seen Lois several times. I delivered her Lobster Pot yarn, and yesterday gave her some help picking up stitches on one sleeve of her gansey. She has been trying to get us out on her boat, to explore some of the little islands around here, but the weather has not been cooperating for boating. Today and tomorrow are 3-5 foot seas with big winds. So it most likely will not happen. Too bad! It would have been so much fun.

This weather is good for one thing - knitting! I started a little neck scarf - it's a simple cabled one knit with Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky. This yarn is just so wonderful to knit with. It is so soft and warm. It's one of our best selling bulky yarns.I also started the Babyboo sweater (hmm, same color - turquoise blue. Was I thinking tropical things, or what?) I'm only making the 3 month size, so it should go quickly. This is another great yarn. We just got it a few weeks ago, but it's definitely a great sport weight baby/kid/adult yarn. It's a blend of bamboo and nylon, and it's washable. It's very soft, and knits up beautifully. The day before I left, one of our customers (Robin C.) was in the shop. She had brought in a sweater she was making out of Babyboo. It was really nice, and she went ON and ON about how much she loved this yarn. Let's just say - I completely agree.So today will be filled with a little knitting, a possible bike ride, a visit to Ding Darling, a run and some shopping... cuz hey, that's what you have to do when the weather doesn't fully cooperate!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Heading south

Tomorrow I am heading south for a few days of R&R with my husband and the girls. We're going to Sanibel Island to see my parents, and I'm even making a special yarn delivery (of some Lobster Pot Cashmere in the color Salt Rose) to Lois H., our local customer who is in Sanibel this month. She's actually staying down the road from my parents, so I'm sure I will run into her more than once! She called the other day and asked me to pack a skein of the Lobster Pot for her. I know she's working on a gansey, and I think she must be in search of something a little more mindless as a break from the sweater.
Last week I did manage to dye some wools on Friday. This one was my favorite!
My current rug is coming along: I hate to put it down for the next week while I'm away, but it's really not a travel project. So I have packed some Babyboo, brand new from K1C2. It's a machine washable blend of bamboo and nylon, and I'm making a little sweater called "I Love You Baby" which is featured in K1C2's add in the latest magazines. We'll have it online, both the sweater and the pattern, when I'm finished.
Boy were we hopping last week with the Jumbo Loop Throw sale. This is what we sold in the first few hours of the sale:
And this:
And finally this:
Needless to say, we had a lot of big boxes in the mail that day. We still have a bit of the Jumbo Loop left - online only.
Suzie brought in her gorgeous cable & rib scarf - knit with King George. She RAVES about this yarn each time we see her. The scarf is just beautiful - and the pattern is new - we have it in the shop, and it will be online next week.

Yesterday and today were days for major reorganization in the shop. We are getting 20 colors of Sierra (by Cascade) on Friday, and then any day now we hope to get our Silky Wool by Malabrigo. It is going to be SO exciting when that arrives. So we had to completely reorganize the back of the worsted room. We really consolidated things - it looks great! We do have empty shelves now, but don't be fooled. We didn't get rid of anything back there (only Berroco Nostalgia - which is now on sale online.) When the new yarns come in and are out on the shelves, we will actually have SO MUCH MORE to choose from. And hey, who can argue with that?

Barb is knitting Norah Gaughan's Ellis sweater out of Berroco Love It. I think she will be finished maybe sometime next week? Can't wait to see it. And Joy just finished the Banesha out of Bonsai - it is SO cute! Thanks Joy!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Freedom Spirit from Twilleys of Stamford

We received Freedom Spirit about 2 weeks ago, and it is a new favorite of mine. It's 100% wool, and sportweight, and it is just beautiful. I made a beret for the shop (book #455), and I just loved knitting with it.
Very soft! The pattern support is really great too - there are a number of sweaters I'd like to make in each of the two pattern booklets that go with this yarn.
Here are some of the items in book #455... A great close fitting vest that can be done in two lengths:
A nice v-neck cargidan with ruffled sleeves:
A sweet v-neck sweater with a tie at the waist:
A cardigan with two length options:
A wrap sweater:
A fun bolero with a neat ribbed collar:
In book #456, a cute T-neck sweater with a cable up the front:
A really pretty scarf and set of fingerless mitts:
Of course there are more, with a total of 14-15 patterns in each book.

Tomorrow is dye-day. We have several customers waiting for more of our custom dyed wools for rug hooking. This morning I organized everything in the kitchen so I can start tomorrow at 8am. At least the cooler weather is back! It's hard to stand in a sweltering hot kitchen all day when it's hot out!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Oooh, la la! New Tillis online!

Yesterday I got some yummy Tillis in... Tracy sent me one of each color in Fil de le Mer:
Voile de la Mer:
Demi Plie (sorry, blurry picture):
and two new silk lace yarns - one with beads and one with sequins:
These two aren't even on her site yet, they are that new! I photographed them and the first three are online now, the last two will be up today. We order from Tilli Tomas almost daily and we've decided to add these 5 yarns to our offering. They are all amazing - Fil de la Mer and Voile de la Mer are blends of silk and seacell (kelp!) If you haven't tried a Tilli Tomas yarn, you are really missing out on a heavenly knitting experience! They are amazing.

Anyway, it always takes a lot of time to get things photographed and online, but it's important. Helen was waiting patiently while I finished up at 5:15 last night. As long as she has a book, she's content.

Today I have to get an email ready to go out. Jumbo Loop from Cherry Tree Hill is no longer... Cheryl called me last week and said she can't get it anymore. So I took the rest of her stock (we LOVE this yarn!). We already pulled the stock we had in the shop, and we got 4 skeins (1 dyelot) in each of her custom colorways, plus 4 skeins (1 dyelot) in 13 solids/semi solids. It takes 4 skeins to make an awesome throw (easy seed stitch on a size 17 needle), or 2 skeins to make a shawl. I'm not sure how I'm going to offer these online (lots of 2? lots of 4?) but I'll figure that out today. I have to take my camera and computer over to the warehouse to photograph these colors - there are so many that I can't possibly lug them over to the shop. That, and it's raining.

I hooked some of the sky last night, and I'm hoping that 3 pieces of blue (each slightly different) will be enough to do it. I'm doubting it though. So I think I will need to grab another blue just to be safe. I'm having a hard time putting it down at night. I keep thinking, I'll just hook one more piece of wool, and then it's way past my bedtime! It is truly addicting.

I'm in the midst of working on some exciting new changes for the website. Yes, a bit of a redesign! I'm very happy with it the way it is, but I feel there are some things we can definitely change for the better. So hopefully in the next few weeks we'll be able to unveil these changes to all of you!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Coolest New Hat!

Michele just finished this hat for her son Eli. And it's SO cool.
The pattern is in the new Son of Stitch'n Bitch and she used Jawoll Solid Fingering Weight Sock Yarn (brown) and Baby Ull (green). The book is, in our opinion, well worth it. It has a lot of great projects.

The other night I hooked a cloud. And I am so thrilled with how it came out! I know - it's silly to be so in love with a stupid cloud, but maybe some of you can understand. I was really concerned about how it would look - I had two different wools, which seemed to work, but before I started hooking I had my doubts. Not anymore. It's perfect. It came out SO much better than I had expected. And the wools, which I didn't think would even work so well together, surprised me. Now I am tackling the sky, in three different shades of blue. I've done some work on the figures, but those are hooked in a #3 cut, and to be honest, I'm scared of hooking the faces. Not sure how they will turn out, so I'm saving them for later.

Want to see the most popular sample in the shop? For several weeks now, it's been this awesome shrug out of Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky. Nobody can even figure out what it is when it's not on a body, so it's certainly a conversation starter! And we just got in 2 great new colors of the Baby Alpaca Chunky, with Navy on the way.

Enjoy the warm weather - it's pushing 60 degrees out there! The white stuff is almost completely gone. These January thaws are getting to be routine.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

We're the first with NEW Berroco yarns, patterns & kits!

The holiday week has come and gone. It was a bit odd this year, with the holidays on Tuesdays... we can't seem to figure out exactly what day it is here. We were super busy after Christmas and into New Year's. Please take note - our holiday schedule next year WILL be different. I haven't decided exactly what it will be yet, but I do know that we will be closing for some R&R time. I need it, and my employees need it. It's hard because I hate to close when we are so busy, both online and in the shop, but next year all those last minute things... well, you'll just have to plan ahead, because we will be taking some time off to be with our families. And visitors to the area, take note of the hours and please work around them!

Christmas was nice - I don't think I set foot outside of the house. The girls are 8 1/2, and pretty much clued in on the whole "Santa" reality (or lack of) this year, but Helen did not want to let go of her beliefs. Sophie was pretty matter of fact about it, but all of a sudden, on Christmas Eve, she became a believer again! Funny. It was a great morning. Some of the highlights were... Helen getting her starter loom (she REALLY wanted one).
and Sophie opening her AGD skis.
One of my own highlights was drinking my coffee (leisurely - this never happens) out of my brand new favorite mug. (Thanks Mom!)
The funniest part of the morning was that when the gifts were all opened, Sophie went up to get her dolls and Webkinz, and she pulled out a few more wrapped gifts from under the tree. On Christmas Eve, she had gone around and found something in the house for each of her dolls, and wrapped it up so they'd have something to open on Christmas. She had even written them note cards - how funny is this?
She gave her dolls a "toothbrush," which was really an eyebrow brush she dug out from underneath my bathroom sink. It was comical.

Later in the day, Sophie and Marc went skiing while Helen and I stayed home. I worked on my hooked rug, and Helen "loomed" as she calls it. She has gotten quite good at it. It's so funny to hear her say, "Mom, I'm going to go loom for a while." I don't have the heart to correct her (kind of like when she went on a field trip to see the Vermont Sympathy Orchestra! (Symphany) or when I "scare the death out of her.")

And when Sophie came back from skiing, look who got a private ski lesson on the family room rug?
So now here we are back at work (we didn't really ever leave!) and I had time today to do a TON of work on the new Berroco spring 2008 yarns. They are all online, as are the new pattern booklets, and 18 kits from these books! The patterns and yarns are great, so browse around the site and check them out. We will have 4 samples coming from Berroco, and another 4-5 from our own knitters, which will be here sooner.