Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back to the cold weather

So I know it was in the 70's in Vermont the entire time I was in Florida... and I arrived back to see everyone else had been out in the sun just as I had... well, maybe not as much! Now today it is in the 40's and I am frozen to the bone.

It was a super vacation, and once I kicked my awful 2 week cold, I was really able to shut down. For many of you, a vacation means lots of extra knitting time. Sometimes it means that for me too, but my work is ALL ABOUT knitting. So when things get hectic and I am consumed by work, a vacation can mean NO KNITTING, and that can be a really good thing. I did a bit of crochet during the trip down, and off and on during a couple of the car rides. And then I did NO knitting or crocheting until the night before I left, when I picked up my Flat Feet sock. It felt really good, just to turn everything off.

We had fun at Discovery Cove - the girls loved it. I fed some tropical birds - they landed on us and ate from our hands - it was kind of freaky for me. I saw the movie "The Birds" at a very impressionable age and I'm just not really fond of flying creatures when they get that close to me. But I did manage to hide my fear (for the girls' sakes) and Helen was certainly brave! she had a kookaburra (?) on her head for about 10 minutes and she loved it.

Like me, Marc was not thrilled with birds landing on him.

So I guess the bird gave him a little gift, to make him feel more (or less) comfortable. They say it's good luck...

I tried snorkeling for the second time in my life, and the last. I realized that it's just not for me. Am I scared of fish? Possibly. Claustrophobic? Probably. After two attempts to snorkel, I was hyperventilating, so I gave up. But that's okay! Marc took some great pictures with his waterproof camera, so I don't feel like I missed a thing.

So if I am scared of little fishies, how can I be completely comfortable swimming out in the middle of a lagoon all by myself with a HUGE dolphin? That's the big question. But that was super fun, and definitely a memory. We did the dolphin swim with the girls and my parents and it was really great. We met four dolphins: Jenny, Yoko, Rose and Daisy. Pictured with me is Daisy - very sweet.

My "purse" if you will, for the vacation, was the new Lexie Barnes Jinx Hobo bag. It was great to have a bag I could sling over my shoulder. I also LOVE the fact that I could reverse it to a solid... you know sometimes when you are wearing a print, you don't want your bag to compete too much with the clothes. It was perfect as a beach bag - it kept all the sand out, and water... it's waterproof! It held my book, lotions and sun hat. The two zippered pockets were perfect for my camera and wallet.

It was also great on the plane - just the right size for a bottle of water, some paperwork, my wallet and my knitting... which I'm glad I had! I was in shorts and the air was blowing something FIERCE on the plane. Poor Helen was freezing, so she used my Flat Feet as a little lap blanket. She would give me about 1 yard of yarn to use at a time - she loved unravelling the flat.And now I'm back to work, getting ready for the big anniversary sale... on May 16th and 17th. Lots of goodies! Lots of SAVINGS!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not too bright or flashy

The Ecologico by Schachenmayr is such a soft yarn. It's soft on the ball, but it becomes so much softer to the touch when it's knit up! And I really like the overall tweed pattern that it creates. It reminds me of an old L.L. Bean sweater that my Mom had years and years ago.

The colors are really natural and earthy, perfect for those friends and family who want a handknit "something" that will go with just about anything. You know, the people who can't decide what color they want, they just keep saying, "I don't want anything too loud or bright."

I know that my husband and brothers would really dig anything made up out out of this yarn. But knowing me, they probably will all be getting hats!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Summer Tank or Cardigan?

I am trying to make a decision on my next project. It's for me, and I have it narrowed down to two.

My first choice is in the Berroco Book 270 - Linen Jeans. I have looked in this book several times and totally missed this cool top! It’s called the Latitude. It's a striped tank knit up in Linen Jeans. It’s a really nice tape yarn of 70% Rayon and 30% Linen. The colors are earthy shades which definitely appeal to me.

My other choice is the One-Button Cardigan in the Terra Collection book. The sweater is on the front cover and it caught my eye the day I was pricing the pattern booklet. And we just got in some wonderful new colors of the Blue Sky Cotton - and I LOVE that yarn - so Im thinking I'd substitute that...

So maybe I won't just pick one. I can always do both... but which one FIRST?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A time to relax

I made it. I'm officially on vacation - as much as I can ever "officially" be on vacation, that is. After working my butt off for days, testing our new website and running into many "issues" that delayed the launch of all the new features... from last Tuesday, to last Thursday, to Monday of this week, to Tuesday of this week, to today... and then I got down here and plugged in my computer and guess what... it's delayed again until tomorrow. WOW has this been stressful.

When you work so hard for weeks on something, and then it's just out of your hands... And the hands that are trying to fix it, well, it's just not getting fixed fast enough. So as my plane got further and further from Vermont, and closer and closer to Florida, I definitely felt the stress lifting from my shoulders. At least I have left things in very capable hands while I'm gone (for which I am eternally thankful!) I just hope that when I check my website tomorrow afternoon, it is the NEW one, and not the current one. That would be a relief.

So we're here in Orlando for 4 days - doing a little Sea World, a little Discovery Cove and a little Aquatica. Tomorrow is a rest day - a hang at the pool day - a general unwind day, which is most needed. Then we are heading to Miami to hang out with a great college friend of mine. We have plans to ride the high seas on their boat - which is always interesting as her husband does deep sea fishing and we've been able to see him bring up some amazing catches on past trips. Then a jaunt across the state to hang with my parents in Sanibel and to finish up the trip with some gold old R&R. Lots of driving time for sure! I only brought my Flat Feet socks for knitting - I think I was in a bit of a funk when packing. The whole website stress thing just really drained me, that and being sick. I couldn't even get excited about packing my knitting projects. And that's always the MOST FUN part!

I also brought two crochet projects. The first is a granny square bag I am designing out of Cotton Rich DK. I brought my 200 Crochet Blocks book and on the plane I tried out a few squares. I couldn't get into it though, perhaps it was all the screaming children and babies on the plane - I have never flown IN to Orlando before and I never have been on a plane with so many children!

My second crochet project is some sort of flowery things out of Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed... I guess you might call them granny squares, in a way. All I know is that I saw one in a book, wanted to try it, and it's a lot of fun, so I am making a bunch of them in different colors, and then I hope to fashion them into some sort of a fun scarf. Stay tuned. It could work, or it could be a disaster!

Anyway, others will be posting this week to pitch in, but I leave you with two happy kids on a balcony...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ideas for baby gifts

I have several friends who are pregnant and due to have their babies soon... a sign that spring is here! The tough part for me, is to decide what to knit for them.

We have several books and patterns to choose from, so it makes the decision even tougher. I love all of the patterns in the book Simply Baby by Debbie Bliss. Most of the patterns in this book are knit with sport or DK weight yarn. This may give me an excuse to finally knit with a few of the new yarns we got in, like the Rowan PureLife Cotton, the Cascade Cotton Rich DK, Berroco Comfort DK, or the so soft Babyboo!

I also have my eye on a few Plymouth Patterns... I've just been helping Jill to add hundreds of patterns to our website. I've been doing lots of data entry on over 100 Plymouth patterns and let's just say I am now very well acquainted with these patterns! During the process, I found several I'd like to make... including the Booties, Sweater, and Hat pattern. Pattern #1121 is a Baby Sweater, Hat, and Blanket which would be a great gift set especially for someone having their first baby (and like all things knitted, can be passed down to the future kiddos too.)

And, since I love color so much, I am immediately drawn to the Adriafil KnitCol Yarn. We just got in more colors that are ideal for babies, and children too. Since the yarn changes color all the time, you never get bored. In fact, you don’t really want to stop knitting, because you want to see how the pattern evolves. I find myself saying, just one more row! Patterns #1213 Baby Cardigan, and #1214 Baby Pullover are super cute and easy to knit with this yarn. So I’m back to my original problem of what to knit. Too many projects and not enough time!

Sharing our customer's projects!

We just received 2 emails from customers of ours sharing their projects with us. We were so impressed that we thought we'd share them with you all!

First we heard from Leslie T. from Vicksburg, MS. She sent us a picture of her Fiddlesticks Peacock Shawl that she made out of Cherry Tree Hill Merino Lace in Winterberry. Gorgeous! And we have to give Leslie EXTRA kudos for her amazing blocking job. I bet those blocking wires helped...Then one of our local customers, Nancy R.D. from Waterbury, sent us two pictures of rugs she has hooked with yarn. I remember when she brought in the Thistle Rug - she was picking out more Lamb's Pride Bulky to use in it and we all just couldn't believe how gorgeous it was! She said it is SO soft and springy! (Looks small but it's over 5 feet square!)Her second rug was made with some Lamb's Pride and some natural wool rug yarn that she dyed herself. WOW. Gorgeous.Thanks for sharing!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Two sweaters for the guys

I am very excited. I finally finished my son Andrew's Christmas present...(it's only April!) At Christmas he opened a box full of yarn and a pattern. I had finished the back, and only half of the front. I'm not sure if other people wrap unfinished gifts but for me, it's becoming a bit of a trend.

Even though it was not finished, he was still thrilled, and he was surprised that I had knit so much of it without him knowing. I used the Blue Sky Alpaca's Mens Ribbed Sweater pattern. The pattern calls for Blue Sky Worsted (which is one of my favorite yarns) but to make it machine washable I substituted Berroco Pure Merino Nuance in this beautiful blue color. It also made it more affordable.

Andrew just loves the sweater and has actually had a chance to wear it since we are still experiencing some cold weather here in Vermont.

My youngest son Eli is patiently waiting for HIS sweater to be finished. I'm making him the "Hacky Sack Hoodie" from the Son of Stitch N Bitch. I am knitting it in the Lambs Pride Worsted which is what the pattern calls for, but I'm substituting the Berroco Jasper for the contrasting color. This is actually my first top down sweater - and I love it. Definately the way to go if you're not fond of seaming.

6th Anniversary Sale - May 16 & 17th!

So WOW, time sure flies. I can't believe that Kaleidoscope Yarns is turning 6! It doesn't seem like it's been 6 years, but when I sit down and realize that when I opened the shop, my girls looked like this... and now they look like this...Well, it's been a long time.

So to celebrate we are having a 6th Anniversary Sale on Friday, May 16th (10am-4pm) and Saturday, May 17th (9am-4pm). Mark your calendars - you're not going to want to miss the great deals on fabulous yarns, books, bags, etc. We've already started pricing things and there are already discounts of up to 50-75%!

Some of these yarns are ones we are discontinuing, and others may just be colors that we are thinning out. Everything will be on sale in the shop, though - but the major discounts will on discontinued/thinned out items. So we hope to see you there!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Green is a sign of spring...

Or maybe just a color we like to knit with? Things in our part of the world are starting to look and feel a bit more like spring. We're certainly not seeing any green leaves or grass yet, but spring bulbs are pushing up, and the landscaping crews have been out in full force this past week, taking advantage of the warm temperatures. So even though it is still very brown and dead looking, there are small signs of spring trying to make themselves noticed.

And here's some more green that's sure to be noticed! Barb finished her Fairisle Tote last night - and I'm going to take it home and felt it this evening. It is gorgeous! It's actually 2 shades of green Cascade 220 - Black Forest #9405 (which is a dark green that really almost looks black) and Chartreuse #7814. I can't wait to see it when it's felted!And I have started knitting my Flat Feet - I picked a Cool Bright flat, which is mostly bright green, turquoise, a lighter blue and a bit of periwinkle. It is knitting up VERY nicely! I really like it. I thought I would mind the fact that the yarn is so kinked, but after about 5 minutes I didn't even notice it anymore. I do notice that on my knit to purl transitions (which for me are always a bit looser) it will benefit from being thrown in the washing machine. Because the yarn is kinked, those sections look a touch uneven. It looks fine on the rest of the sock, and the label does say that you will want to wash them when you are finished to get the stitches to block out. Fun fun.Speaking of warmer weather, my spring vacation is starting on Wednesday and we're heading way down south to Florida. I am SO excited to go, and to pick out some fun little knitting projects to take with me. After all, I have 4 flights, and a couple four hour-long car trips that are just begging for some knitting. I may (don't freak out) just focus on crocheting this trip. I've been having a lot of fun with crochet, and there are some projects that I've been dreaming up, so we'll see.

Here's a little shot of Sophie and Helen at GOTR (Girls on the Run) this week. As you can see, still chilly and brownish looking on the ground, but they are having a blast. So great to get outside and get in some healthy exercise!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tilli Triangle Totes!

We just received the Tilli Tomas Triangle Bags which are awesome. I love the colors and the feel of the cotton, just in time for warmer temps! As I was unpacking them in the shop yesterday, one of our customers spotted the Hot Pink one, and she had to have it. So, GONE for now! Until we get our next shipment, that is!

It’s a great size, perfect for knitting, or an every day purse/bag. I may just have to get my hands on one of these too!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New spring projects

Spring fever - what does it mean for you? For me, it means I'm eager to start lots of new projects. The trouble is finding time to finish all of them.

I did finish my Granny Square Hat for the class I taught last Saturday. We had a great time. All the fibers that people chose looked wonderful! I used Rowan Silk Wool DK and the others used either Frog Tree Alpaca, Cotton Rich DK or Alpaca Silk Georgette. The hats are all going to look great! I can't wait to see the progression when they come back for the next class.

A while ago I received an email from Interweave Knits about how “HOT” crochet is right now. I have been mostly knitting and weaving recently, and hadn't really done any crochet in quite a while, so I started looking at our crochet books and magazines. I found the Boteh Scarf in Interweave Crochet Spring 2007 and it looked so neat! I thought I'd use a yarn I've never used before, so I selected a spring pastel of Anne by Schaefer. This was very interesting to crochet (not difficult). I am almost done - only about an hour of single crochet remains around the scarf. It will look amazing once it's blocked. I also started a crocheted felted bag from the Crocheted Pursenalities book. I cruised through about half of it, but got sidetracked by another crochet project...

We've been discussing recycling and the environment, both here at the shop, and at home. I have been using fabric bags at the grocery store since 1985, but thought I could use something more up to date. I decided to create a pattern for a crocheted re-useable bag that I could teach a beginner's crochet class on. I'm using Tahki Cotton Classic in some fun colors. I started with a ring of chains and single crochet for the bottom and I'm now working on the sides. I am thinking about some easy beginner crochet stitches to do (in the round) other than single, half-double and double crochet. I want the bag to not be more solid and less “mesh” as I do not want anything to fall out. And then some new patterns arrived from Cabin Fever and the Felted Fairisle Tote Bag (knit) caught my eye. So of course, I started that. It's a quick knit and it will be a great bag. You could certainly use more than the 2 colors it calls for as there are several distinct bands of pattern. I am eager to see the finished product – less than 50 rows to go! This is such a fun knit, and a great introduction to color knitting, that we are doing a class on it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Catching the crochet bug

Yesterday I got an email from Shawn. She's one of our "weekend warriors", who works for us on Saturdays, and works at the Green Mountain Club during the week. This is what she had to say:

"Just wanted to share that I taught myself to crochet last Sunday – couldn’t resist making my own shopping bag since I’ll be working for the class Barb is teaching. Trying to answer questions in the shop last weekend got me motivated too. I checked out a book from the library and have a nice cotton mesh bag now!"

She would have taken Barb's class, but she is scheduled to be working in the shop that day, so it wasn't possible. How cool that she was so motivated that she taught herself, and completed her own bag in just a day or so?!

So many knitters think crocheting is hard. It's not. Different, yes. Addictive? Yes. As fast as knitting? The jury's out on that one. For me, it's not faster. For others, it could be. but really, who cares? We have found that our "knitting only" customers who have recently learned to crochet, have really enjoyed adding this new skill. There are some items that are better suited to crocheting, than to knitting. And by knowing how to crochet, you are really just increasing your overall talent - and what's wrong with that?

Need some great ideas for crochet? Well besides the obvious reusable shopping bags, and granny square scarves, blankets, and hats...and what about a super easy potholder? That was my first project, and it was easy and small and totally do-able. These potholders are nice and beefy, and as you can see, get a lot of use when we are dying our rug hooking wools here.How about a sampler scarf, to practice different stitches and use up some of your stash?Or a little belt for summer - just grab some fun colored cotton, and some rings from the hardware store and make yourself a one-of-a-kind belt. How about some hanger covers? This is a very easy project - and it makes a great gift. What better way to cover your satin hangers so your clothes don't slip off? Try a simple one like this:And then get more daring and try some scallop stitches like this:Once you learn a few easy crochet stitches, you really open up the door in terms of finishing options. Believe me! You can do some amazing crochet edges on knitted sweaters.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Oh it's maddening...

...when you run out of yarn! I started the Tidepool sweater on Saturday and cruised through it. Last night I was all set to finish up when I found I was JUST short on one color of Soft Chunky. My gauge is right on, and I have about 3 more rows at the neck, but I do not have enough yarn to knit those 3 rows. After all the mistakes in the first Twinkle book, I have to say, I'm not surprised. But at least the directions seem to be without technical problems! I grabbed another skein to finish it tonight, but of course I only have one set of 19 circulars... and I will need another set to finish the neck. Oh well, one more day won't kill me.

So I had to switch projects at 9:30pm last night when I realized the Tidepool sweater was at a standstill. Luckily I had grabbed a skein of the Blue Sky Worsted before heading home yesterday. I wanted to knit something with just one skein, and Barb suggested the Twisted Wrister Bag, a fun little pattern by Iknitiative. I only got a few inches done on it, but it's quick and fun, and oh, how I love that yarn. I chose the new hot pink!

She knew that pattern would be perfect because we've been working on getting these patterns online, and she'd just been focusing on getting all of the pattern details up, as well as linking to the yarns they call for. She had just finished working on Iknitiative patterns, and remembered that she had linked this one to Blue Sky Worsted. Cool!

If you haven't checked out our online pattern selection yet, now's the time to do it! We've added hundreds of patterns in the last two weeks. More coming!