Thursday, October 30, 2008

Now this, I like!

Our Jojoland distributor sent us a link to this free pattern the other day - it's called the Inside-Outside Scarf and it can be found on (do a search for 'inside outside' on the bottom right when you get there.) Anyway, my Jojoland distributor suggested we do it up in 2 balls of Rhythm, but I had just completed a different scarf with that yarn, so I picked something different.

I pulled two balls of Nashua Handknits Vignette and 1 skein of Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky. I started on an 11 but it was too loose, so I ripped back and am now on a 10.5 (perfect.)
It's a fun 4 row pattern. And the reverse side is quite interesting too!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Moving on

It seems my last post ruffled some feathers, and for this, I apologize - as I meant no offense. I appreciate each and every comment - both positive and negative - as everyone is entitled to her/his opinion. That, however, includes me.

My opinion - when writing my post - was that I was going to use this one example as a reminder to folks that copyright violation is something we feel strongly about here at the shop. I was not at all complaining about that particular customer, nor did I refer to her as difficult. I was using her as a nameless, faceless example of a problem we deal with on a daily basis in the shop. Just yesterday I was asked THREE TIMES to copy patterns for customers out of various books. And three times, I explained copyright violation. And as author alisonh commented, I DO assume (hope?) that by educating these three people (and all the others) about a law they may not have understood, they may do the right thing in the future... and support these wonderfully talented knitwear designers who inspire us on a daily basis.

I understand that when two people read the same thing, they can interpret it in different ways, and find messages in what they read, that may - or may not! - be there. I can assure you that the only thing I wanted to address was copyright.

So, moving onward, let's leave it at that. You now know (if you didn't already) our policies on copying things. Just know that if you ask us to copy something, you will get an "enthusiastic" explanation of copyright violation. Because if we're anything, it's enthusiastic! :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's not that I'm not enthusiastic...

The other day a girl came up to the counter with two Rowan Magazines. She was buying one, and asked me if I could make her a copy of one of the patterns in the second magazine for her. I said that I couldn't do that, as it would violate copyright laws.

She said, "Well, another shop I went to was more than happy to make me a copy from a Rowan Magazine. I don't like all of the patterns in this magazine and I don't want to buy the whole thing."

She sounded entitled... and I have to admit, I was taken aback. So I explained to her that I didn't like all of the patterns in the Rowan Magazines either, but that's how I have to buy them from Rowan. They are sold as a collection, and I can't copy them.

As I was ringing her up for the one Rowan Magazine she did purchase, I asked, "So another shop made a copy of the pattern for you? That's not legal." She answered, "Well, I was buying a lot of yarn to make the project, so she was happy to save me some money on the pattern."

I didn't respond, but it's not legal to do that. You can give something away for free - that's your choice as a LYSO, but copying something is copyright infringement. And that's wrong.

And then the kicker... as I was handing her the change, she said, "You see, THEY were REALLY enthusiastic about knitting, so they gave me the pattern."

Let me explain. It has nothing to do with us not being enthusiastic. We are completely enthusiastic. In fact, a lovely woman from NY today - who had just found us for the first time - commented to us how it was so clear that we all loved what we were doing.

It's sad that this girl felt she had to put us down, because we wouldn't give her something she felt should be free. She felt justified in not wanting to pay for something. And justified in asking me to break the law. Because I didn't do that, she did the only thing she felt she could do - she diss'ed us. Well, we are who we are because of how we run our business. We have high standards, and we're not going to change that. We do what we do because it's right. We care about our customers, and put them first. But if they ask us to do something we are not comfortable with, or something illegal, we aren't going to do it. Like it or not, it's who we are.

This past weekend I went to Postmouth, NH. We didn't make it to the NH seacoast this summer, but at least we made it this fall. What a gorgeous place!I had some nice knitting time in the car - Marc is a saint and never complains about doing all of the driving. I finished my ribbed scarf with Jojoland Rhythm:
Just three balls make the scarf and I'm going to use the 4th for fringe. That will only be a $20 project... not bad at all. Barb has a little contraption that helps make twisted cord so we're going to experiment with it for the fringe. The stitch pattern on this scarf is cute - give it a try! It's (k3, p1) rib over a multiple of 3 stitches. My new favorite rib!

(By the way - I added 3 new colors of Jojoland Rhythm online today... #04, #26 & #28.)

On the drive home, I started a hat out of Berroco Jasper:
I've wanted to make a hat like this for a while, with a not-so-traditional ribbing around the botton. And it looks great in a yarn that stripes. I should be able to finish it up in the next day or so. Speaking of Berroco, can you believe I will be buying my spring '09 Berroco yarns and patterns in less than a week? I'm so excited...

I got Helen started on her Super Bulky Button Hat. She's doing SO well. We're almost ready for double pointed needles, but there's too much homework tonight for that. Here she is, hard at work before dinner on Saturday night:See anything wrong with this picture? This is my desk at home. What's that.... CANDY?! Well, Halloween is this week, and so we went by Target in Manchester and used our Target gift cards (love those credit card points) for Halloween candy. Of course I wanted to keep the bags sealed until Halloween, but we had already ripped into one before we got out to the car in the Target parking lot. I'm really trying to be good, but it's good stuff, that candy.

Christmas projects

I just started another project... on top of all the other ones I have going. Last year I had the high hopes of giving each of my sons a hand knit sweater from me. They seemed to both show interest in having me knit them sweaters, and that hadn't happened in years!

Andrew got his sweater - all neatly folded in a tissue paper, in a wrapped box. Poor Eli received a wrapped book. I had picked a pattern out for him, but hadn't even gotten to the point of purchasing the yarn. Months later, I finished Eli's sweater. Both of them were thrilled, and love their sweaters.

This year a friend of mine (I won't mention any names) teased me about how I didn't finish Eli's sweater and had to give him a book in it's place. So I decided to start a little earlier this year and use bulkier yarn.

I picked a new yarn we have in the shop: Nashua Handknits Granite yarn. The color is gorgeous. Ever since we got it, it has been calling out to me each time I walk by it. (It's extremly hard to work in a yarn shop. You just can't control yourself!)

I'm using the color Blue Brown:and am making a pattern right out of the Nashua Handknits Quarry pattern booklet. It's a great guy sweater and with bulkier yarn I'm hoping it goes quickly. This time, in time for Christmas!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Next up, a hat for herself

So Helen knit pretty much all weekend, and she finished her scarf last night and learned to weave in the ends. The Plymouth Encore Mega was perfect for this project. This morning she took it in to give to her teacher. Only two mistakes teeny mistakes - not bad for her first real project!After she finished the scarf last night, she started talking about her next project... yay! It seems she's hooked! I told her if she'd like, I could teach her to knit in the round. Her eyes LIT UP when I told her. I think I'll have her knit a Super Bulky Button Hat, which is our most popular hat this fall, and most popular free pattern. Our shop sample is in Malabrigo Chunky, but I will have her make hers in the Encore Mega. More reasonable for kids, plus, it's washable.

Poor thing - she was so excited about making a hat, that apparently she didn't turn her light off right away last night when I put her to bed. I went in this morning to wake her up and this is what I found on her desk.
"Mom's Hat Designs" with a whole bunch of different drawings of hats. I like the "Mom's Choice" hat, which is an all-in-one concept. How cute! I think we have a budding knit designer on our hands. I can't wait until she's old enough to work here!

Friday, October 17, 2008

This is how a stitch & bitch starts

Today Helen and Sophie had their friend Julia over after school to play for a bit. We taught Julia to knit a couple of years ago, and she hadn't really knit much since then. Until recently, that is. On her own, she decided she wanted to pick it up again, so she pulled out her Encore Mega Colorspun, her Brittany knitting needles and her Kyarns small vinyl tote bag, and has been click, click, clicking with her needles ever since.

So today they got off the bus and Sophie came in the door saying, "MOM! We're going to knit today!" She was bursting with enthusiasm, and dead-set on knitting. Unfortunately, it's been a couple of YEARS since my kids last knit anything. Sure, they know how. I taught them when they turned 5. They've gone through periods of knitting, periods of not knitting, and even periods of finger knitting (who needs needles anyway?)

During one of those periods of "not-knitting" I got rid of their stash. There wasn't much left - only a few yards of Mega in a couple of different colors. They had already made several doll blankets and scarves with it and they were in an uninterested phase, so goodbye it went. Of course today, they were intent on knitting because Julia had brought her stuff.

I only had sportweight and fingering weight yarns at home, and those are certainly not gratifying for 9 year olds. So we piled in the car and headed back to the yarn shop for some super bulky yarn. They were so excited in the car - talking about what color they were going to get, what they were going to make... isn't that how WE feel when we go yarn shopping?

I pulled into the driveway of the shop, and they were out of the car and in the front door before I had even turned the car off. Helen and Sophie both chose Encore Mega, this time in a solid color.I cast on for H&S when we got home and the three of them headed outside to knit on the swing set in the sunshine. Nothing like a little outside knitting! Too bad it was only 48 degrees out. That whole thing about keeping your yarn pristine? Doesn't matter to a 9 year old. Heck, throw it on the damp grass in the leaves, it doesn't matter!Helen was more concerned about her yarn - it stayed nice and clean in her vinyl bag. That's my old Berroco Furz poncho on her head. When it got really cold they came inside to play in the basement. I was making cookies and I heard them playing on the keyboard down in the basement. Then, as I was dealing with one cookie sheet after another, things got quiet down there. I had seen Julia race upstairs to get her knitting bag several minutes earlier. I figured they were knitting again, so I grabbed my camera and tiptoed down the stairs. As I rounded the corner, this is what I saw.Who needs a formal stitch-n-bitch? Just grab a few close friends, head over to your local laundromat and knit! As you can see, it can be very informal. Apparently, chairs are optional. Laundry baskets and cat condos work really well. Take off your shoes! Put your feet up. And enjoy knitting with your pals.

I'm so glad Julia kept up with her knitting, and that she inspired my girls to pick it up again. It's 8:30 at night, and they're STILL knitting! Thanks Julia!

Speaking of kids and knitting, Kaleidoscope Yarns is sponsoring a 3rd & 4th grade knitting class at Williston Central School through the Williston Rec Department. Suzie von Reyn, who teaches knitting classes for us here at the shop, and who used to work here full time several years ago, has been informally teaching kids to knit for years. She's doing a 6 week knitting workshop on Wednesdays for 3rd & 4th graders at ABS and WCS - it starts in a few weeks. Just $25 and they'll learn to knit, get yarn, needles, a cool vinyl bag, etc. It's going to be a lot of fun.

We're so excited to be involved in this. Helen and Sophie and I will be there the last few weeks... once their art class is finished we'll be free again on Wednesdays after school. Can't wait!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A work of art

Yesterday I left work and picked up the girls after school. They have an art class in Burlington on Wednesday afternoons. Acrylic painting... they love it! It's so nice for a kid to be able to get messy, be creative, and just paint, paint, paint for two straight hours!

Usually I have errands to run, but yesterday I really didn't feel like spending any money. If I went to Church Street, even just to wander, I would probably end up buying something. And I was determined to keep the plastic IN the wallet.

So I decided to hang out in the little lounge next to the art class. And I created a little artwork of my own! Look how gorgeous it is when you combine a super bulky with a lace weight yarn! I grabbed a skein of Colinette Point 5 in Morroco and a skein of Madil Kid Seta in #681 and the result is spectacular.

Speaking of spectacular, a few shots of some fall color around here. This is the back entrance to the shop:
Vines on a wall downtown near the art studio: And another burst of color against the blue sky. Too bad it rained most of today!P.S. Cashsoft 4ply is on closeout. Get it while you can.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jojo came, but doesn't seem to want to stay!

Well, it's not as awful as that. But the Jojoland yarns and patterns arrived last Friday and we have already sold a BUNCH of them. Quite a few people have jumped on the Swirl Shawl bandwagon:and several others have gone the way of the Autumn Shawl: I am partial to the Ripple Shawl: Still others have chosed the cashmere scarf patterns that only take one skein of the Jojoland Cashmere. This yarn is to DIE FOR! it is so unbelievably soft and one skein = 400 yards = JUST $21.60! Now that's a deal if I ever saw one.

I just love the cashmere scarf we received as a sample: It's so pretty, and really different from others I've seen. It would make a really nice holiday gift for someone special.

There's also a really cool crocheted scarf pattern that uses the cashmere... but I might push Barb to make that one. I'm not sure I would have the patience to finish it. Start it... sure. Finish it... don't think so. At least I'm honest!

So today I had to reorder about 7 colors of all of these yarns. I think that's a record, and this is all from sales in the shop... no online orders, as these yarns and knitting kits weren't even on our website until late this morning.

Funny thing - as I was adding the yarns and kits to our website, I would publish the data every so often, and then go back and check to make sure everything was correct. It usually takes about 20 minutes or so to show up live on the website, so I move on to other tasks while I am waiting to see the changes. At 12:27 this afternoon, as I was waiting for the data to publish I heard a "DING" and checked my Inbox... Mandy E. from Orlando, Florida had just ordered the Swirl Shawl kit AND the Autumn Shawl kit, literally the MINUTE they had been added to the site. She ordered before I was able to check it... luckily there were no mistakes! It's always so cool when it happens like that.

And Mandy, if you read this... we got your order in time to ship today. You'll have it on Thursday!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Three days, three hats

Back in Vermont. What a great weekend away! Our day in Vail was fun - it brought back memories of skiing there when I was in high school. We had a great time walking around Vail Village.The scenery was just amazing. How can you beat this?
Saturday morning we woke up and looked out the window... brilliant blue skies and sun to the left, and clouds and wind and snow flurries to the right. They were calling for 3-9 inches of wet stuff that evening - rain and snow, so we left Breckenridge early and headed over Loveland Pass into Denver while the weather was still decent. We stepped out of the car at the top of Loveland Pass - who knew they had a spa at the top? Well, not really, but I did get a free facial with dermabrasion while posing for this picture. The temperature was in the mid 30s and the wind was about 40mph. So the blowing snow felt sort of like dermabrasion... or what I would imagine it would feel like. Those white blurs on the picture are the fast moving snowflakes. It was cold!

Down in Denver the weather was foggy, gray and wet but we managed to have fun anyway. I went to ANOTHER 3 yarn shops! I was able to get quite a bit of knitting done in the car, as we were in and out of it for the better part of the day.

We flew back on Sunday, and even got to see Niagara Falls from the plane! It's certainly spectacular in person, but even from high above it was incredible. See the spray from the falls?
The Adirondaks in New York were breathtakingly beautiful: As was Malletts Bay, just north of Burlington, Vermont:Even from high above, it's easy to see why Vermont is special. I think this weekend was absolutely PEAK foliage. What a great weekend everyone had here in Vermont - all the visitors enjoyed 60 degree temperatures, sun and brilliant leaves.

After unpacking last night, I sat down and finished up the last of the three hats I knit while I was away. Hats are perfect for quick trips... obviously so are socks, but I'm more of a hat gal. The family kindly modelled my hats this morning as I was scrambling out the door.
Helen sported the Odessa Hat, in Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend Multis. What a fun pattern! I like it in the variegated, but am eager to make it in a solid as well. This yarn is a perfect weight for me. Not too hot, just right. And the pattern - a one row pattern - was super simple to memorize.

The second hat I made (modelled by Marc in group shot above) is one of my favorites. I used Loop-d-Loop Moss for the band, double stranded. Then I used Nashua Handknits Sitar, single stranded, for the top. These two yarns really work well together. The Moss is unbelievably soft, perfect for the band. And the Sitar is gorgeous - so many of the Sitar colors work with the Moss. It will be fun to kit this up for the website tomorrow.

The last hat - worn by Sophie - was quick and fun, and I think it's really cute. I grabbed a skein of Ester Bitran Socos and whipped up a quick hat - on size 10.5 US needles. It took no time at all, and fits really well. I alternated vertical bands of stockinette and rib. I know some people like their hats longer, and I did have enough yarn left to make it about 1" longer, so the option is there. This took just one skein of Socos!

Friday, October 10, 2008

A weekend away

Yesterday I did a bit of traveling... Burlington to Chicago to Denver to... Breckenridge, Colorado. Marc was doing a presentation on Google Analytics up here and so I joined him for the weekend. The drive from Denver to Breck was amazing. I have been to Colorado many times before, but only to ski or snowboard. So each trip on I-70 was full of white outs, trucks pulled over putting on their chains, cars off the road, etc. Yesterday was quite different. It was so beautiful - the green pine trees with the cottonwoods and aspens at their peak of yellow and orange such a stark contrast against the rocky, brown mountains. I have pictures, but my camera doesn't connect to Marc's MacBook, so we are limited to photos taken with his I-Phone.

And as we got further from Denver we could see the snow covered mountain tops. Ju
st beautiful. And a not-so-gentle reminder that the winter season is right around the bend. I arrived at Beaver Run - the hotel - and Marc said a quick hello before he went out to dinner with his group. I would have joined them but I was exhausted after a long day of traveling.

Today the weather is nice but tomorrow the high is only going to be 40, and it's going to be raining and snowing. GREAT! I'm being sarcastic of course, but
I'd prefer not to deal with winter weather so early in October. This was what I saw this morning:Today we took advantage of the gorgeous weather and drove to Vail. Here are a couple of obligatory Vail shots. The skier, who looks a bit naked with the lack of snow:
And the clock tower that I think reminds everyone of Vail Village:
Of course it's always fun to visit other yarn shops, and today I went to three of them! I have to say I still like Kaleidoscope Yarns the best, but perhaps I am a bit biased!? I just think it's a little off-putting when you walk into a yarn shop and the person working is knitting and can't even be bothered to get up, or look up from her knitting... I mean, I know we all love to knit, but customer service is number one in my book. I don't think it's right when customers are ignored.

I found it interesting in this particular shop that nothing was priced.
I had to keep asking "how much is this? how much is that?... and she would say, "I don't know, $9 or $10 dollars?" All the while she kept knitting away. She just couldn't be bothered to get up and check her price list. I was immediately thankful that in our yarn shop we have all our our yarns clearly tagged, with prices, yardage, washing instructions, stitches per inch, etc. Just makes it easier all around.

I also noticed at one store that the return policy was "90% in store credit only, and ONLY if the dye lots still match what we have." What!?! If I buy something and it costs me $50, and I return it, why should I only get $45 back? And the part about the matching dye lots, well, that just abo
ut put me over the edge. Personally, I think our return policy ROCKS compared to some others I've seen.

But it is always great to visit other shops to see how other people do things. I get ideas for trying new things, and I also see what we're already doing really well. We also went to some ski shops today and I bought a VERY cool hat for research purposes, of course. It's a neat hat, but I realized that I could make a better one. It's crocheted, so I will have to whip out a big ole crochet hook, but I already have some great ideas on how to make one that's about 20% like this, but 80% cooler. So stay tuned.

I called the shop earlier today - Barb says it was going to be 70 degrees in Burlington! She checked the incoming log and Jojoland is arriving today! So for all you locals, come on in this weekend and check out the awesome Swirl Shawl pattern that's been all the buzz for the past few weeks, plus the three new Jojoland yarns we'll have. Barb also told me that we got 5 or 6 new colors of the Piece of Vermont yarn... this time we got fewer colors, but more of each so we can put them online. So if you all can be patient for a few more days, they're at the top of my "to do" list for Monday.

I did bring some small knitting projects too. The one I started first is the Odessa Hat (free pattern on Ravelry) and I am using Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend Multis.
I chose one of the newer variegated colors - number 3120, called Olivewood. It's gorgeous. I have only ever knit a swatch with this yarn, and let me tell you... it's divine. Barb was raving about it after she finished the Basket Wave Scarf. I thought she was overdoing it a bit, you know, gushing like that... but she's right on target. This is now one of my all time favorite yarns to knit with.

By the way, if you can't reach the Ravelry link above, or if you've never heard of Ravelry, head on over to their website and sign up. We'll be referencing it more, and if you not ON Ravelry, you are truly missing out. There are almost 195,000 folks on Ravelry. It only takes about 3-4 days to be added, so go put your name on the list!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Two great scarves

A couple of weeks ago Barb wanted a new project. We had just gotten in the Queensland Collection Rustic Wool Tweed and we thought we should come up with a scarf that would appeal to both men and women. Something with a nice stitch pattern - not too boring - but not so feminine that men would run screaming. The yarn is so soft and beautiful, and it has several colors that are fabulous for men.

Barb searched for days and came up with the Ripple Stitch Reversible Scarf Pattern. It's not the same on both sides, but the reverse side is nice. (I can't stand scarf patterns that are only one-sided... whose scarf ever stays put and doesn't flip over?)This yarn is a great deal. It's got 278 yards for only $16! We've already sold it to several people for men's sweaters. It's perfect for that... great colors, tweedy, soft.

Another yarn Barb wanted to knit with was the Tilli Tomas Beaded Lace. This yarn, though a bit more costly than the Rustic Wool Tweed, is just gorgeous. Two skeins (and we had some left!) made this elegant scarf. Barb did lots of swatching and found that this stitch pattern was perfect for this yarn. The Beaded Catena Scarf - as we are calling it - would also look good in a non-beaded yarn. But we love beads, they just add that little something extra.

Both scarves are available as knitting kits, or you can buy the patterns separately and use your own choice of yarn.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Knitting at the finish line

Well, not exactly at the finish line. But it's my reward for CROSSING the finish line. See what I get to work on now? A new yarn. Will be online tomorrow. Can't even tell you what it is.
Today was the half marathon I've been training for since 12 weeks ago. I think I trained about as much as I did for last year's, which means I followed Hal Higdon's 1/2 Marathon training program. I may not have followed it to a "T" but I sort of followed it. And by "sort of" I mean that I ran 3-4 times a week when I was supposed to run 4-5 times a week. I kind of neglected anything on the training schedule that said "cross-training", and as usual, I was pretty bad about the post run stretching. But miraculously I escaped any major injuries and was able to pull out 2 ten mile runs in the two weeks leading up to today's 13.1 mile race. So not bad for someone who just didn't have any more time to dedicate to this "training program."

Don't get me wrong. I WISH I could have followed the program to a "T". I would be in better shape today, and I would have finished the race faster too. But it would have meant less time with my husband and kids, and more time away from my job, neither of which I am willing to sacrifice. It's hard to work full time, pick up the kids, help with homework, make dinner, clean up, spend a bit of quality time with the family, and get a run in each day. Some people do manage it, and more power to them. I just couldn't do any more than I did. I achieved my goal, by balancing things the best I could.

So, the race is over and how did I do? I'm happy with the results. After being literally sick to my stomach since Wednesday of this week (pre race jitters) and having insomnia most of last night (again, more jitters) I woke up this morning feeling surprisingly good. I was more nervous about what to wear (not as in being fashionable - I'm not that shallow! more about shorts? long pants? short sleeves? long sleeves? tank? etc...) because the weather was supposed to be 49 and cloudy and up here in Vermont, that can be pretty cold. At the last minute I opted for shorts and a t-shirt, and gloves, and my friend Paula and I headed out at the start with big smiles in anticipation of a fun run.
Just after the two mile mark, we came across a massively huge cheering section... just for us!
Okay, well, our fans were sort of few and far between, but Helen, Sophie and Marc cheered, held signs, and caught the gloves that I no longer needed. The cheering was over in a split second... but it was a memory and it got us through when the going got tough!
Here's the glove toss in action:I felt great during most of the race - perfect temperature, good energy, a few minor aches and pains, but nothing major. I had enough left in me to power through the last mile - here are those awesome fans again - Helen giving me a high five, and Sophie, who I've just passed, in the background. They were with Marc, and my mom and dad were over by the finish line.
I finished just 49 seconds slower than last year. 2:18:52 this year... 2:18:03 last year.
I may not be a speedy runner, but I'm perfectly happy being consistent. And if you drop those seconds... it's still 2:18! Who cares about the seconds anyway? They're like pennies.

Here's the cool visual from Google Earth of my actual run. Love those GPS watches!
Now, however, I am dead. I am again feeling sick to my stomach. Was it the dried up round thing they called a bagel at the end of the race? Or just the fact that my body is feeling abused? I have a few developing blisters on my feet, the veins in my ankles and feet are still pumping hard from all the abuse they received today, and my back hurts from lack of proper stretching post race and getting chilled too quickly. But you know what? I am thankful because I have just about enough energy to do one thing.


It doesn't take much folks. Sit in a comfy chair, put up your feet (sounds good to me!), throw on a little music or mindless television, and get those needles clacking.
One more thing... hope that your husband and children will wait on you for at LEAST the rest of the day. It's not really asking THAT much, is it?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Harry Potter is in our classroom!

Well, not in the flesh... but Opal Harry Potter sock yarn is here! It's not what I was going to post about today, but it's sort of so exciting that it gets top billing here. Exciting things do not always come without drawbacks though - and we had a minor one. Only half of our order LEFT Opal to be shipped to us. When we (and they) realized this today, the problem was resolved... the other half has now shipped and will be here by this time next week.
Don't be disappointed... be thrilled! We weren't even supposed to get this yarn until October 15th... and today is, what? The 1st! So even with the snafu, we will still have the rest of our October shipment a week before we should have.

Now onto my actual post. I finished my "half" afghan in Manos. I made the Adventurine throw out of Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica. It's in the Manos del Uruguay Geometry book. You see, it's for a shop sample and you can TOTALLY get the idea what it's going to look like from just half of it. So by only having to knit half, it leaves me more time to knit other shop samples. Anyway, I finished knitting the squares, blocked them all and seamed them together. It looks amazing, and it was a lot of fun to make. I especially loved the seaming. Wait! Why do I hear you all groaning? It IS fun if you know how do it right. I've been knitting for almost 26 years now and in the beginning I didn't know how to seam properly. I hated seaming and you could tell by looking closely at my FOs. But then somewhere along the way I learned how to do it properly and what was dreaded, became fun and satisfying. I can't even remember when that was, it's been way too long now.

I tell you, if you ever take a class, JUST ONE knitting class, please let it be a finishing class! Your seams, your buttonholes, your increases and decreases, your picked up stitches... they will all thank you a million times over for taking that class. And most importantly, you will thank yourself!

Our finishing knitting classes here at the shop have always been popular. Yet this past month, we had two finishing workshops (on seaming) that did not run due to poor signups. I think a lot of people can't be bothered to spend an hour or two learning how to finish properly because they really think they are already pros at finishing. We see quite a good number of knitted items at the shop that look hand made, rather than hand "crafted." Once you've completed a gorgeous seam, you can spot the bad ones from a mile away.

Most of the folks who have ever taken our finishing classes usually leave with a sick feeling in their stomachs... not because they didn't enjoy the class! But because they literally feel SICK just knowing all the things they've made that have been so poorly finished. And SICK because it is so easy to do it right, but they didn't ever want to take the time to learn.

If you can't make a class - don't worry. Their are several books out there that have great instructional sections on finishing. Heck, you can even find entire books dedicated to the subject. My favorite is Nancie Wiseman's The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques. In this book you will find excellent information on all aspects of finishing - and yes - there are great illustrations for those of you who are visual people, like me. I keep my copy right beside my knitting chair - and after all these years of knitting, I still refer to it often.