Saturday, May 31, 2008

One Hot Item for Summer

As soon as the Side to Side Cardigan sample came into the shop a couple of months ago, it became the new "must knit" project for summer. In fact, our shop mannequin (LOLA!) is currently modeling it as I write this, and as she normally hangs out right by the front door, she's been getting noticed A LOT in this top. And noticed by people of all ages, shapes and sizes!
Just a couple of weeks ago we had a gal in her early 20’s who had to knit this top. She was in with her grandmother, who decided that she’d make one, too. And today we had a woman in her 30's buy yarn to make it, and another in her 50's. See? ALL ages!

I think the fact that it is knit with the Tahki Cotton Classic really appeals to a lot of people. The colors of that yarn are amazing. And it's SO soft. Though it’s knit double stranded, it’s got a really nice feel and drape.

This sweater is such a classic style and shape that it really looks good on all body types. You can dress it down with a tank and jeans, or you can wear it to a wedding with a cute summer dress and a long necklace; the choice is yours!

Welcome Sin City!

We carried Plymouth Sinsation a few years back, and now they have introduced Sin City - a lighter weight version of Sinsation with the teeniest fleck of glitz. I took home 2 balls of it last night and started a short scarf. I'm on size 8 needles and it's amazing to knit with. SO SO soft and really quick. I should be finished this evening.
Hope to put the yarn online in an hour or so. It's so hard to photograph that sparkle!

Tomorrow I need to felt my Noni lunch bag, it's been done for a few days now, but I had SO much laundry to do, that I couldn't spare the machine for a felting cycle. I also have to felt the handles for the Fair Isle Tote bag that Barb knit. It is beautiful, and has become a very popular kit in the shop. I think next week I will kit it up in some fun colors for our internet folks.

One week ago tomorrow we ran our Vermont City Marathon Relay - we've now got the pictures to prove it! What a gorgeous day it was - a big contrast to the wet and windy weather we are experiencing this weekend.

Here's Warren at the beginning - looking good:
and at the end of his leg... he really pushed himself hard!
Here's Michele at the beginning of her leg - what a gorgeous background in this shot! Lake Champlain and the Adirondaks behind... WOW. If it could be like this every day!
Here's me after 5 miles, with just a 1/2 mile to go, weaving in and around Waterfront Park:
And crossing the finish - big sense of relief!
Here's Kalen, who ran the whole marathon - what a great shot of her in downtown Burlington, at the beginning of her race.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Upgrading the swift

I've had my umbrella swift for years. Eighteen years to be exact. And though I may have craved a wooden one many times over those past 18 years, my swift was working just fine and I really couldn't justify the upgrade.

But the past 6 years have been hard on my trusty old swift. Six years of owning the shop have meant more knitting, which means more winding. It started making some funny noises a couple of years ago but it still worked. (Kind of like the garbage disposal that sounded like it was grinding wood and metal scraps... the tech said I could spring for a new one, or plug my ears each time I turned it on. I plugged my ears.)

There's another reason my swift has fallen on hard times. Any knitter with kids knows... a swift can be a real treat for children. They know it's not a toy, but if you leave it set up on the table, and you leave the room for any period of time, even mere minutes, you can be sure that when you come back into the room, that swift will be going faster than you've ever had it going before.

So, lots of use, a bit of abuse... and my swift finally kicked the bucket. So now I am able to upgrade to my new wooden one. Hopefully the kids are older and wiser now. We'll see.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A must see in Vermont

My mom and I have started a tradition. It's been years now, not sure how many? Each spring we take two cars and head to the Von Trapp Greenhouse in Waitsfield. Two cars, you ask? With gas at $4 a gallon how can I justify it? Well, my mom and I are both plant fiends and this is our major annual purchasing trip of the season.We simply cannot fit our purchases in just one car. We take Helen and Sophie and have a "ladies who (buy plants and) lunch day." It's always so much fun - well, not so much fun for the girls. They actually think it's fun at first, when they go around picking up all of the spent blooms from the grounds. That wears off after about 10 minutes, and then they are quite bored. But how can you be bored with this to look at?I repeat myself many times, saying "Just a few more minutes. Gan and I are doing our best to be speedy." When of course we're not, really. We are both overwhelmed at the wonderful things we see each year. I could go to a greenhouse closer to home, but it IS a tradition, and quite frankly, the selection and quality of the plants is totally worth it. They grow all of their own plants from seeds, cuttings or divisions. No imports here. Just homegrown Vermont. And the scenery, well, that's another reason I go.My visit here each year really signifies the start of summer for me. So I guess now I am ready. Bring it on!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Knit One RUN, Purl Two Too!

Today was the 20th Anniversary Key Bank Vermont City Marathon. Kyarns had a relay team last year, and it's become an annual thing. We wanted some fun shirts that would set us apart from the rest... and this is what I came up with:We had four women and one man, so I had to make a men's version as well:
We got a LOT of comments on the shirts as we were walking around the waterfront today, both from people who knew the shop, and from people who just thought they were funny. A few people even asked if we had any for sale. Hmmm, let me think about that.

We started off the marathon weekend with a bib pickup for the people on our team. We met at my house on Saturday evening, for a quick meal and a logistics meeting. We wanted to calculate the approximate time that it will take each of us to get to the handoff, so that we'd know when we had to be at each exchange zone. Of course, you have to remember that most people end up running faster during a race than they think they will. And that's what happened for us this year.

Our team was Warren (our Cascade sales rep), Barb, Michele, Alice (my good friend and running buddy), and me... running in that order. We asked Warren to join the team several months ago, and he agreed, thinking it would be fun, and a great way to get back into shape. He was working hard on the getting in shape part - until he had a couple of house rennovation incidents... involving scaffolding, rusty nails, knees, infections, etc. So he didn't get to start his real training until about a week or two before today. He arrived in town on Friday, with a lot of enthusiasm for his 3.1 mile leg of the race. Unfortunately, he must have been SO excited to get here, that he completely forgot his running shoes. A trip to Dick's and $90 later, he was ready for the race.

So we figured out when and where we'd meet and where family members should be to cheer us on. We also had a "call" system in place - so that when runner #1 tagged off to runner #2, we would call runner #3 to her know the time... so she could have a more accurate estimate of when to be ready. And it all worked really well.
It was the MOST gorgeous day. Perfect weather, great crowds, lots of fun. We were only EIGHT SECONDS behind our time from last year (DARN!) but we had such a blast. It was really a great "team" activity! It's so fun to be there working together to reach a common goal, and supporting each member along the way. We all ran better than we thought we would, and we're already looking forward to next year!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Piece of Vermont

Today I started thinking about all of the great folks from out of state who will be visiting our shop in the next few months. They come from miles around just to visit our shop, and we are so glad to have them! It's always fun to meet people who are visiting our beautiful state. They always say how lucky we are to live here... and well, we agree.

We always like to have some special yarns for these folks - as most of them want to take home some yarn that will remind them of their visit to Vermont. We do have some Green Mountain Spinnery that is very popular with our out of towners, and the Cherry Tree Hill yarns, which are dyed just a few hours from here, are also a big hit. But I'm always looking for more yarns that have Vermont ties, so...

today I called Jessie Raymond, owner of A Piece of Vermont, in Middlebury, Vermont. She has been hand dying yarns in Vermont for several years now, and so I talked with her about getting some of her beautiful yarn in our shop. She has a number of fibers that look really interesting, and she handpaints these yarns in an array of gorgeous colors. I decided to try one of her sock yarns - a blend of superwash wool, bamboo and nylon, and it looks amazing! We've settled on about 8 colorways to start, and depending on how they are received, we'll take it from there. She does have some 100% Vermont Fiber, but I'm waiting to see that in person. Maybe it, too, will end up on our shelves?

I normally buy in really large quantities for the website, and that means I need to have large amounts of the same colorway (sweater quantities, etc) even in hand dyed yarns. But with A Piece of Vermont, I'm going to do it differently. These will really be one-of-a-kind "grab it when you see it" yarns.

In talking with her I realized that we both went to Middlebury College, and pretty much graduated in the same year. We didn't know each other then - so much for it being such a small school! But I am thrilled to be doing business with her, and eager to meet her face to face. I'm just as eager to get my hands on her yarn!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The perfect wedding shrug

Months ago (I think it was back in the fall?) a customer and friend of ours, Kali, came into the shop looking for a yarn to use for a wedding project. Her wedding. And the project was something she wanted to create - sort of a shrug - to wear with her dress.

She had envisioned some sort of lace pattern and we discussed the idea of making a rectangle and seaming it up so it fit like a shrug. Then we started looking for the perfect yarn. She wanted a white (or was it natural? - can't remember!) yarn and we were talking about adding something with a little glitz. It took me a few minutes, but I pulled out a skein of Tilli Tomas Disco Lights, and she fell in love. What could be more perfect than 100% spun silk, pre-strung with petite sequins?

She bought a few skeins and then went home and came up with a gorgeous lace pattern. She simply knit a rectangle and folded it in half and seamed for each arm. I think you'll agree it is stunning!

I didn't get to see a picture of it on the big day, but I did ask her to bring it in to the shop recently so we could check it out. I'm sure it looked incredible at her wedding, but it also looked great with jeans and a tank! A perfect example of a yarn (and pattern!) that works with many outfits.

Thanks, Kali... for sharing!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Leftover sale, now online!

So our sale went really well on Friday and Saturday! It was so great to see all of you who came - there were old faces, new faces, Ravelry faces... we had a good time catching up with everyone. We moved a TON of yarn, which is nice... and now we can't wait to start getting in the new fall yarns....

BUT WAIT! It's not even summer yet, so I won't rush you. Plus, we do have some "LEFTOVERS" as promised, and they are now available on the sale page of the website. So for any of you locals who missed the sale, and for all of our customers, have at it!

To tempt you, there's:
Manos - 31% off
Ultra Alpaca - 33% off
Cascade 220 - 37% off
Peruvia - 34% off
Malabrigo Chunky - 34% off
Blue Sky Cotton - 57% off
Ole Ole - 60% off

and a lot more, so don't miss it! A bulk e-mail goes out tomorrow morning, and then things will be flying out the door.

I have to thank EVERYONE who worked for us on both days, both current regulars (Barb, Michele, Kalen, Alex, Bob) and past regulars (Suzie) and special helpers/friends/customers (Kali & Betsy). We couldn't have done it without all of you! THANKS!!! (until next time...)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I guess I felt like felting

May is always a tense month. It seems as if there are so many school things that are all scheduled around the same time... meetings, reading restaurants, sports, Brownies, Girls on the Run, teacher meetings, birthday parties, etc.

Add to that the daytime sales rep meetings that I have (it's fall buying season!) which can last 3-4 hours at a time, and a big anniversary sale that we are getting ready for. It's a bit overwhelming at times.

So I've felt a bit burnt out each evening after all of these things tugging me in different directions, and the knitting mojo has suffered. The other day I felt I needed to start something to get it going again.

I've done a LOT of felting in my 25 years of knitting. I love it because it's really pretty mindless and quick. Perfect for my current frame of mind! So I decided to break down and knit the Noni Yummy Lunchbag that's been tempting me every day for several weeks now.

I was a bit startled to find out that it takes a whopping SIX skeins of Cascade 220. That's a lot of yarn... but I broke down, because it's really adorable. And it is supposed to be naturally insulated, and I imagine it would last a LONG time.

So I dove in. I found that it was excellent practice for knitting continental, as I used my left hand for one color and my right hand for the other. I know how to knit continental, but it's not my method of choice, as I was not taught that way. I just prefer to throw my yarn. But I must say, I am QUITE the picker now, and I did a wonderful job on that section of the bag - very even tension, it looks great.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Koigu + Cats = Catastrophe

A Koigu remnant. Part of my stash. Inside a zippered bag in a big wooden chest in the family room. Safely hidden from two feline frolickers who get into all sorts of mischief between the hours of 8am and 6pm, when the house is quiet and all humans are at work and school.

Cute cat. Sitting in a little wooden doll high chair. Looks so sweet and sleepy eyed and well behaved.

Koigu catastrophe.

Do my cats have super powers that enable them to lift a heavy wooden lid, take out my bag of Koigu, un-zip it, and remove a ball of yarn? That would be cool, but no. It turns out Helen and Sophie have been working on something for Mother's Day for me. I don't know what it is, as it's all been behind a closed door up in Sophie's room all week. But apparently they were using my Koigu scraps for some sort of decoration and left the bag un-zipped... and the door open.

Mystery solved. Koigu salvaged. Cats scolded. Bag re-zipped and hidden, again. Until next time.

P.S. Koigu is on sale. While supplies last. Online only.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

6th Anniversary Sale - next weekend

Just another reminder, next Friday and Saturday (May 16-17) is our 6th Anniversary SALE!

Here are the details:

  • Because we have SO MUCH STUFF on sale, we can't fit it all in the shop. And because the weather could be iffy, we are having it in our WAREHOUSE next door.
  • There are great deals in BOTH the warehouse, and the store.
  • All items in the warehouse will be mostly at closeout prices (BIG SAVINGS!!!)
  • There will be one register in the warehouse, so there could be a line at times. Cash, checks, and credit cards (Visa/Mastercard/Amex/Discover) accepted.
  • There are plenty of great deals… but we can only fit a certain number of people in the warehouse at one time, so again, there could be a line. (Good chance to meet your fellow Ravelry buddies and to convert others…)
  • Everything in the shop will ALSO be on sale.
  • There will ALSO be some items in the shop at closeout prices.
  • You should plan to hit both the shop and the warehouse so you don't miss anything!
  • We will be asking that all bags are left outside of the warehouse and the shop. We are probably NOT doing a bag check this year due to lack of bodies, so please leave backpacks and other bags in your cars.
  • DOOR PRIZES!! We have some great ones!!
  • All leftover items will be listed on the sale pages of our website for our internet customers, and locals who missed the sale
  • Hours on Friday are 10am-4pm
  • Hours on Saturday are 9am-4pm
  • There is some road work going on around the Five Corners. You may need to be creative with your parking - check the Municipal Lot first and if that's full, here are some other options. Parking lots (Municipal Lot and a stealth - always empty - lot on one way School Street are marked PL. Side street parking is marked P.) If it were me, I'd park & walk!

That's it for now.