Saturday, November 29, 2008

New arrivals from Plymouth

This week we received some new colors in existing yarns from Plymouth. We got 4 GREAT new colors of Plymouth Happy Feet Sock Yarn - #19, #20, #21 and #22 (these aren't pictured in that order!) We couldn't fit the new colors on the wall, so we decided to let 4 of the old colors go... Check out the sale page for a SWEET deal on those 4 discontinued colors of Happy Feet.

We got two new multis in Plymouth Oh My! This yarn is perfect for babies, and the new colors are really nice - one with pinks, one without... perfect for baby sweaters and blankies.

And we got King George in 3 new yummy colors... two purples and a beige. This yarn has been really popular, thanks in part to our Flared Rib Scarf sample!
We also got a NEW YARN from Plymouth. They've come out with Encore Sock yarn, and we have four self patterning colors in stock. This yarn is a great alternative for folks who want a faster knitting sock yarn that doesn't have much wool in it. It's the same great blend of 75% acrylic and 25% wool, but in a DK weight, perfect for midweight socks. It's also a wonderful choice for baby sweaters and blankets that pattern! Reasonable, too at only $6.50 a ball!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sneaky Santa knitting

I've decided to make some socks for Helen and Sophie for Christmas. It's hard to sneak in the knitting, though, since they are pretty much always around me. Sure, I can knit when they're in bed, but I take advantage of every spare moment to knit just a few stitches. If we're going anywhere in the car as a family, Marc drives, and I knit - so they see what I'm doing. If I finish eating my dinner before they do I will pull out my knitting and knit a row or two while they finish.

Because THEY knit, they are always taking note of what I'm making. Marc could care less. I could knit him an entire sweater in front of him, wrap it up, give it to him as a gift and he would be completely surprised, because he never really takes note of it. Not so with Helen and Sophie.

So I decided to make the girls some socks out of the Regia Softy sock yarn. One night after they had been in bed awhile, I pulled out the new Figheadh Yarnworks Fundamentals Top-Down Socks pattern, and cast on. I worked about 3 inches of the cuff, and before I went to bed I pulled one of their socks out of the clean laundry basket and compared it. The cuff of my sock seemed a bit snug. I had followed the directions for a fine yarn (6-7 sts to the inch) and I am using Regia Softy on a size 3 US needle. When checking my gauge, I realized that I should be following the directions for the super fine yarn (7-8 sts to the inch.) Drat!

The next day, before I ripped it out, Helen walked into the room just as I was about to start knitting. She saw my project before I could hide it, and she said, "OH MOM! What IS that? Is it a mitten or a sock! Oh it's SO soft, I just LOVE it. Could you make one for me!?!?!" So I said, "Oh honey, I'm SO sorry, but this is a sample for the shop. It's a child's sock and it's REALLY hard to make. I am SO busy between now and Christmas that there's no way I'll have time to make you a pair. Maybe after the holidays?" She frowned and said "Okay" in this poor little dissapointed voice. So then I said, "Can you help me out by trying this on? I think it's smaller than what I am trying to make." She was thrilled to help, and stuck her foot in the cuff of the sock. I was right. It was too small.

So I ripped it out, and added stitches and now it's on track. I succeeded in tricking her... for now anyway. What's going to happen when she sees me knitting the same thing, in a different color? Hopefully she doesn't put it together.
Anyway, I love the new Figheadh sock pattern. It is so versatile - it gives you 4 weights of yarn (superfine/7-8sts; fine/6-7; dk/5-6; worsted/4-5) and TEN foot sizes (baby; child 1-2; child 3-4; child 6-8; child 10-12; adult xs; adult sm; adult md; adult lg; adult xl). Because the Regia Softy is fuzzy, I am not working the stitch pattern that they call for. Instead, I am using the stitch counts and measurements, but am working a 1x1 rib on the cuff and on the top of the foot. Remember folks, a pattern is just a guideline. Feel free to add a little bit of your own know-how to it.

Check out all the other great new Figheadh Fundamentals patterns: the Baby Pullover; the Child's Pullover; the Men's Pullover; the Women's Pullover; and the Toe-Up Socks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Small needle knitting with Smooshy

This week I've been speeding through a new project. I'm speeding because I'm not a small needle knitter. So if I don't work on this project a LOT so that I can see progress, it will end up in the UFO bin.

Ever since the new Dream in Color Smooshy yarn arrived the Night Watch shade has been calling to me from across the room. (And we just received two new colors today!) It was time to figure out a project on small needles that I would actually finish.
(I have to admit to you now that I've knit a lot of socks. But most of them never end up with a mate to make a pair!)

Recently I've noticed many customers choosing to knit the Yarndance Slip Stitch Mosaic Hat. It really shows off a variegated yarn with a solid - so I knew the Smooshy would be great for it. I'm also a big fan of Berroco's Ultra Alpaca yarns in all three weights (Ultra Alpaca, Ultra Alpaca Light, and Ultra Alpaca Fine) so I choose a bright heathered green in the Ultra Alpaca Fine to combine with the Smooshy.

And as Jill pointed out this morning, I've finally managed to knit something that is not hand wash! Both the Smooshy and the Ultra Alpaca Fine are machine washable! (Laundry day at my house is always a bit like having small flock of wet sheep around. The smell of wet wool lingers much to the delight of my housemate and feline companion, Indigo.)

I'm really pleased with the look of these yarns together and the pattern is close to being done - check it out!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Both socks done!

They're finished, and I love them. I know my mom will too. I tried them on, and then gave them a nice bath in Eucalan Woolwash, and they're drying now. Hopefully they'll fit my mom when she's home and the swelling is down a bit. (But she's doing great! Up and walking around well on two new knees.)

This pattern is fun and worth a try if you're into different sock consruction.
Now on to Christmas presents. I have always loved Regia Softy sock yarn. People don't even realize that it's sock yarn, because it's so fuzzy. But it is! And it's exactly what Helen and Sophie would go for. They would NOT wear regular handknit socks, but this fuzzy, cozy stuff!? Right up their alley.

So I'm trying a new sock pattern (that is SO great - and will be online tomorrow) and I'm starting some holiday gift knitting. Will I finish these? They're small, so hopefully!
At least I have a knitting companion...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kashmir Aran - just in!

We just made some room in the shop for Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran. This yarn is SO soft - it's a blend of merino wool, microfiber, and cashmere. Similar to Rowan Cashsoft DK in feel, but because of its chainette construction, the Kashmir Aran is not going to pill like the Cashsoft, and that's a nice feature! And, it's a quick knitting yarn at 4.5 stitches to the inch - and we like that!
We got 12 great colors - and I think I'm most excited about the gray! Take a peek!

We have a great pattern booklet for this yarn, and a beautiful sweater sample, both of which will be in the shop on Monday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What a frenzy of knitters!

It's 3pm and it's the first time I've sat down all day! At 8am Michele, Shawn and I hit the ground running, and it's been non-stop ever since. Polly joined us at noon, and was helping customers for some time before I even noticed she was here. What a day... Just lots of people, lots of calculating, lots of special ordering, lots of shipping, phones ringing off the hook (be patient folks if you get the machine - we DO return calls as soon as we are finished helping our "in person" customers!) Today was the first time in a while that folks said they got busy signals for us - that means all of our lines were busy... and that doesn't surprise me.

So I'm finally sitting... and realizing that all of the internet stuff I needed to do today did not get done. I had some new things to put up, but you'll have to wait a bit longer. We expect a busy day tomorrow and then next week will be busy too, with Thanksgiving and lots of folks in town visiting relatives. We always see out-of-towners during the holiday weeks.

And it's COLD! I hear rumors that it will be snowing next week, in possibly significant amounts. I'll believe it when I see it! But right now it's just bitterly cold here. The temps haven't really gotten about the high 20s for days, and the wind just goes right through you! Plus it's been snowing sort of non-stop for days now, no real accumulation, but snowing, for sure. And that always causes people to show up on our doorstep!

Customers this week have been purchasing knitting projects for the holidays. A lot of them have been picking up hats and scarves, since we have so many made up in the shop. The most popular scarves have been the Sin City Scarf, the Pleated Scarf, the Wandering Ribs Scarf, the Manos Scarf and the Ripple Stitch Scarf.

And the hats... well the Super Bulky Button Hat is still #1 in popularity, especially with our new colors of Malabrigo Chunky. Other popular hats are the Moss & Sitar Hat, the Alpaca Pom Hat, and the Cabled Beanie. Some things just never go out of style!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The flakes they are a-flying

It's definitely a wintery day in northern Vermont today! We woke up to highway closings both north and south of us - black ice was the enemy of the morning it seems. I got up early to meet my mom before her surgery - poor thing had to deal with a scary commute in on the highway - nothing like windy white outs on the Bolton Flats to get that heart racing.

Sophie woke up with a fever, so Marc is working from home with her so I can go back and forth to the hospital. He sent me this picture of her this morning:Maisy sure looks excited to have a pal for the day! (Note the kitties playing with yarn balls on her pjs!)
I had my knitting this morning at the hospital, but I wasn't going to work on it while I was waiting with my mom in pre-op. After all, the socks are a gift for her birthday on Thursday and I didn't want to ruin the surprise. But after my dad and I were joking with her about how she wouldn't even be ABLE to put on her own socks after today, and how her feet might be a bit swollen, I whipped out the one finished sock and told her it was an early (and unfinished) gift. My reasoning - I wanted to make sure it was the right size, and since her feet will possible be larger after today, I wanted to get an accurate measurement! The result? The sock fit perfectly, and she loves it. So I was able to knit for a couple of hours while we waited for her surgery time. (Photo is on my foot - she wouldn't allow a camera near her this morning.) I'm so glad I used fewer stitches than the pattern called for.

The Piece of Vermont Bamboo Blend sock yarn really has a gorgeous sheen to it. It has been so nice to work with, I will be sad when this project is over. But how can you mourn any yarn for too long when there are ALWAYS new ones arriving? Last Friday we received Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn. And wow. I mean WOW! We sold a bunch of it before it was properly unpacked! My favorite color is the November Muse, followed by Dusky Aurora and Midnight Derby. It is just gorgeous. I'm going to have a hard time keeping my hands off this yarn.

Speaking of last Friday, we had a really nice time with author, Alison Hyde. What a genuinely wonderful person - so interesting, caring, and thoughtful (she made me a scarf! thanks Alison! I love it!) She had a really nice time relaxing with knitters and friends, and we hope to see her again in the near future.

We still have a few of her signed copies of Wrapped in Comfort: Knitted Lace Shawls left, but we have received several emails from customers who pre-ordered a signed copy of Alison's book. We mailed them out on Saturday morning, and these customers are just thrilled with how wonderful the book is. Beth from MA wrote, "I just received my signed copy of Wrapped in Comfort. That name just does not do justice to the exquisite collection of shawls between the covers! Wow—they are gorgeous. I can’t wait to sit and soak up the pages." Thanks, Beth for the feedback, and thanks to the others who commented, as well.

Unfortunately, I didn't even think to grab my camera until the very end - I did have to leave in the midst of her visit to pick up my girls and take them to a Girl Scout function. But here's a picture of Alison, with Kristine and Lucy. Kristine and Lucy were here for more than 4 hours, and Lucy was her lovely little self the entire time. What a pleasant little knitter-to-be!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rug Show Favorites

I'm a little behind on posting here. On Thursday I had the day off and enjoyed a nice lunch at in Burlington with my parents. Afterwards, I took my mom to the Rug Show at the Shelburne Museum. It was fantastic! What a great thing to do on a gray, cold, windy and rainy Vermont day. We spent a couple of hours looking at all the rugs and my mom was excited to see mine in the show. Here's my Fish in Line (not sure why it was hung at an angle?)
And my Whimsie (bottom left):
And my Penny Rug Sunflower (bottom left):
Next year maybe I hope to put my "Welcome" rug in the show, but of course, that means I need to finish it. I was inspired though, by seeing all the rugs, so now I'm in the mood to GET IT DONE! I had reached a point of difficulty - I was trying to do the faces and hair of the figures Helen had drawn to represent our family. I wanted the hair to be three dimensional, but I was having a really hard time getting it to look right, so I put it away. Now, after looking at the rugs in the show, I have a few ideas I'm going to try. Stay tuned.

Here are some of my favorites, for various reasons. This is a Primitive Grace pattern - hers were some of my mom's favorites, and mine too! I loved this one: This little foot stool was precious: And I just loved this rug: The braided edging was so cool. See up close? Now I just need to learn how to do it... Here's another fun one with that edging: I really liked the colors used in this rug. Not such a difficult design, but it stood out: And this was at the entrance to the show. Pieces of the wools were in a quiltlike design in the middle. Very creative! These yarn balls are fantastic! What a great use of the wool strips, very textural. Gives me some ideas for hair: And these flowers? Amazing! Another great 3-D rug: This is a close up of some grasses in a pond or lake. Looks like embroidery floss of some sort. Could work for hair? And I LOVED this one. It sort of reminds me of what I'm doing, but this is more an adult's attempt to draw like a child. And my rug is actually a child's drawing. But look! Glasses (which I am going to have on mine - for Helen) and 3-D hair!Another one of my favorites: I loved these pillows:
And the background and colors in this rug were incredible: I took this picture because Marc's aunt used to have a Scottie named Abby. I guess she wasn't the only one! It waas a great show and something to put on your calendar for next November.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Alison Hyde - she's coming tomorrow!

Just a quick reminder - Alison Hyde will be here tomorrow afternoon so stop in and meet her in person! We'll have copies of her Wrapped in Comfort: Knitted Lace Shawls at 20% off, but if you already have one - bring it in for her to sign.
It looks like another gray New England November forecast for tomorrow, but stop in for some good company, hot tea and sweet treats. See you between 1-3pm!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Malabrigo in the house!

We unpacked a big Malabrigo shipment this morning. It was our first order in quite some time, and as Malabrigo has grown a bit since the early days, and had to change things since the unfortunate fire, they no longer honor backorders. So any colors we ordered that were not in stock, didn't come, and will not come unless we just happen to order them in the future when they are in stock. It took a bit of work on their end and on our end, but we figured out what they DO have in stock in all weights, and placed another order this morning, which hopefully will be here sometime next week.

The good news is that we have several new colors in Malabrigo Chunky... so all you Super Bulky Button Hat fans... come on down and check them out! I love Rhodesian (a darker Glazed Carrot!) and Tuareg and Tortuga. But Rich Chocolate, Dusty, Pearl Ten and Blue Surf are also really nice!

And in Malabrigo Worsted we now have Burgandy, Glazed Carrot, Blue Surf, Dusty, Rhodesian and Rich Chocolate. Next week we will see several new Worsted colors, a few new lace colors, and...

Malabrigo SOCK yarn! Don't miss it... we've heard great things and we'll have 13 awesome colors: Lettuce, Natural, Stonechat, Indiecita, Caribeno, Tiziano Red, Terracota, Alcaucil, Eggplant, Chocolate Amargo, Persia, Abril and Rayon Vert.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's all about the feet

I have to say, I'm not a big sock knitter. It's not that I mind them, I just don't wear handknit socks. (I hear the GASP!) I've made several pair of socks for myself, but I have found them just too hot. And, even though fingering weight yarn is pretty thin, the finished socks are a little thicker than I like to wear on my feet.

In my knitting career I've knit many socks, and I've certainly enjoyed making them. But they've always been for me, and never for someone else. And when you know you're making them for yourself, and you're PROBABLY not going to wear them because they'll be too hot, like all the rest you've made... well, it takes the fun out of it.

So why, then, am I'm experiencing a real joy knitting my current socks? It could be that the yarn (A Piece of Vermont Bamboo Blend Sock Yarn) is just gorgeous - is it the color? The shimmer? The super soft bamboo and merino blend? Or is it the pattern I am doing? Heartstrings Fiber Arts Down and Up Lace Socks? A very different - and fun! - kind of sock pattern, which is yielding gorgeous results.

It could be both of those things. But I think the REAL reason I am enjoying knitting these socks is that I am making them for my mom, and I know she is going to love them. It's just a little giftie for her - her birthday is next Thursday, two days after her double knee replacement surgery. I'm sure she's not going to be feeling her best, and she'll definitely be resting a little to recover from the operation. So I thought that a nice pair of cozy handknit socks would be just the ticket. I'm pretty certain that she'll get a warm & fuzzy feeling each time she slips her feet into these socks. She'll know that all of my love went into every little (yes! LITTLE!) stitch while I was knitting these. So it's a real sense of satisfaction that I am getting by knitting them. It's cool! Way better than making socks for someone who doesn't appreciate it (like myself!)

And speaking of socks, today we received a box from Conjoined Creations... with our latest order of Flat Feet sock flats: This time we received the Kaleidoscope colorway, too, since many of you had requested it. I have to say, checking in this order is tough. They don't mark any of the flats, so you are kind of left guessing when it comes to figuring out which flat is "cool brights" - "cool subdued" etc. I put on my thinking cap and sorted it out, and then took an armful down to the shop, where I was met with excited customers!

We've been very busy this week and last week, and we had two nice women from Canada in today who were thrilled with the Flat Feet - one of them snapped up my favorite flat. They were really excited at the yardage. She looked at my sample sock and then I showed her how much yarn I had leftover and she was glad she'd be able to get a nice length sock out of a flat. We were also talking about the toe up socks, and I described my Down and Up Socks to her. Luckily I had brought in my sock, so I grabbed it from my bag upstairs, and she thought it was great. We're going to have to reorder that pattern!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

An un-traditional sock

So what happened when I went to start my sock yesterday? Needle issues. Don't I always have these? I do socks by using 2 circular needles and this pattern called for size 1 US. I went through my needle binder, and all I could find was an empty Addi Turbo sleeve that should have held a 1/24". The actual needle? MIA. I haven't used size 1 needles in AGES, so I thought I'd do some digging to see if I could find it. I cleaned out about 10 knitting bags and look how many needles I found?
Could I be any more disorganized? I have a wonderful needle binder, but I just can't seem to put things away when I am finished with them. Not only do I not put the needles back in the binder, apparently I can't even manage to put the needles back in the proper sleeves... as you can see from the picture. Must. Try. Harder.

So on the way to the girls' art class after school I had to swing by (well, detour by) the yarn shop. I picked up 2 pair of Addi Turbo needles in size 1/20". I love the 20" length for socks.

I ran some errands in Burlington, and I started the socks while I was waiting for the girls to finish their class. This pattern is really great, but different. You do a provisional cast on, work the heel flap and heel first, then the foot, and then you go back and work up from the provisional cast on. I'm a person who likes the details. I like to have a visual image of what I'm doing. I admit, I like to be in control. This kind of sock is really pushing me out of my comfort zone, and with great results, because I am having fun so far!
And the Piece of Vermont Bamboo Blend sock yarn is luscious! I love the sheen of it... it's just heaven to knit with. I didn't get very far last night, because I was still a bit tired from the late night on Tuesday, but I am looking forward to tonight's knitting!

Suzie, come on in and check out this pattern! I think it would be a really fun class to teach!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Do nerves make you knit faster?

Sometimes tighter, but for me, last night as I was watching the election returns, I can honestly say I was knitting faster. I cruised through my Inside Outside scarf and even managed to block it, just minutes before the 11pm excitement. I just love it!
(And look! It's BLUE, just like Vermont!) The Nashua Handknits Vignette is a gorgeous yarn. I had never knit with it before, and I wasn't sure I'd like it. But I really did! It combined beautifully with the Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky, and the result is a cushy scarf, that is beautiful on both sides. As I was knitting it the garter edge really didn't want to lay flat, but I'm happy to say that after blocking, it's working much better!

We had a lot of people in the shop in the past few days who were all hopeful the election was going to go their way, whichever way that was. We asked them, and they all had knitting projects planned for last night. Seems that the "reducing stress" benefit that we get from knitting was a common thing yesterday! When I got home from work, I fixed everyone a quick dinner, and sat down in front of the TV. My girls don't really watch TV, but last night was an exception! As I was watching, I started a new project: the Jade Sapphire Plum Lotus Scarf.
It's not a scarf that would normally appeal to me, but I've sold SO many copies of it in the past few weeks. And when we're restocking patterns each morning, "Plum Lotus Scarf" seems to be on the list every day. After a few days, I couldn't resist any longer! Anyway, I started last night, but after 8 rows, and coming up short on my stitch count, I realized that a lace project, on small needles, requiring concentration on a graph was just not the project for election night knitting. That's why I decided to finish my Inside Outside Scarf. Much better choice!

I also finished the twisted cord fringe on my Jojoland Rhythm scarf and am pleased with the results. There's something so wonderful about this type of fringe... it definitely takes longer to do, but I think it's so worth it.
And this morning, though I would like to start my Plum Lotus Scarf, I decided I would make something for my mom. She's having double knee replacement surgery next week and I think a nice pair of socks will be a special recuperation gift. I chose a beautiful color of A Piece of Vermont Bamboo Blend sock yarn and I'm going to make the Heartstrings Fiber Arts Down and Up Lace Socks. I think they'll be just the ticket as she's recovering.