Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I just made the Knitbits pattern from December 11, 2009. Knitbits is Berroco's e-newsletter that includes a free pattern each week. The Jejune hat is knit with Inca Gold (one of my favorite yarns) and I picked colors #6448 and #6424. The pattern was an unusual looking project and as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to give it a try.

I must admit that the pattern instructions were a bit unusual too! The instructions are written a bit differently than I was used to. But with a little searching on ravelry (other folks were stumped too!) I managed to interpret the directions.
Turns out, it's a great example of needing to read the pattern and do EXACTLY what it asks you to do. It turned out to be quite easy once I understood the method involved in creating the textured bumps. It was such a quick knit, that I've already been able to wear it a lot. And that's good, since it's now very white and cold here in Vermont!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Manic-in Monday

Yesterday was a TOUCH busy (okay, super busy) in the shop, so this post had to wait. We are seeing so many folks from out of town this week. That's right, what better place to visit for the holidays... than Vermont!? Especially now that we have plenty of snow to give us that white, wintery feeling.

This week's outfit is proof that less is more. Our mannequin is all set for a nice intimate New Year's Eve gathering with a few of her closest friends. Her gorgeous shawl can be dressed UP or DOWN, depending on the mood and/or occasion. And her little knitting bag is an eye-catcher in sweet, shiny SILVER.
Shawl: Tahki Ritratto yarn, 2 balls
Knitting Bag: GoKnit Pouch

Pattern: EASY! With size 17 needles, cast on 50 stitches loosely. Work in Stockinette stitch until you have used the 2 balls of yarn. Bind off loosely.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fun Project

I've finished my hat. This pattern was free on Ravelry and is definitely worth a download!
Use any worsted worsted weight yarn. I used Madelinetosh Tosh Worsted in the color: Cove. Look how great the crown decreases look!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! We are here until 2pm EST today, and will reopen at 9am on Saturday.

One of our gifts to you... slashed prices! Check out our sale page for SO MANY great deals!
Cascade... Lamb's Pride... Pure Merino... Be Sweet... sock yarns... and MORE!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Does ribbing bore you?

Recently my kids started a Saturday ski program at Sugarbush. It runs from 10am-3:30pm, and it's nice because they're off with an instructor, skiing all over the mountain, doing things they'd NEVER do if they were just with me & Marc. (My kids are more willing to try new things if Mom & Dad aren't around...)

So Marc and I get to snowboard with each other on Saturdays, which we really haven't done since before we had kids. So even though we would much rather be spending the day together as a family, it's GOOD for them, and it's GOOD for us.

This past Saturday was my first day out this year, and my legs aren't quite in the shape they need to be to ride all day. So I took some really nice runs, and then went inside the lodge. I had at least several hours free (Marc went back out for a bit) and since I knew this would be the case, I had come prepared with a completely mindless knitting project. Even though some people find ribbing boring, I LOVE IT! I started the Classic World War II Watch Cap (free pattern on Ravelry!)and made quite a bit of progress. The hat is a mindless 2x2 rib for the first 6 inches, and then the pattern gives you some nice variations for the top. The crown shaping creates a beautiful pattern, so I'm excited to see it when it's finished.

This pattern is great because in addition to having 3 sizes and several different stitch pattern options, it is also written for circular needles and straights.

And the yarn I'm using, what a treat! Madelinetosh worsted in Cove... yummy, to say the very least!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Free patterns and facial hair

How do the two have anything to do with each other, you ask? Well, we recently made the Colonnade Shawl from the Fall '09 issue of knitty. It's a gorgeous pattern, and FREE since it comes from Knitty (go download it!) It uses Manos Wool Clasica, which is one of our favorite yarns!

We chose Thrush (semi solid) and Moss (multi), but this would also be beautiful in one solid color of Manos. It's just perfect for warming up when it's cool inside.
There's an optional button loop that's really just an I-cord sewn on to the side edge of the shawl. We decided to make the loop, but once it was attached to the shawl, we didn't quite like it. Michele performed delicate surgery to remove the I-cord, and we all agreed that we liked it better without it.
Now the mustache part... Last week I was looking at the film card from the shop camera which usually contains photos of customer projects. Occasionally I find some interesting things on the film card... and this time found Michele sporting a new mustache.
My staff can find humor in so many things, and it looks like they had some laughs over this photo shoot. Sometimes the best laughs are the unexpected ones. Thanks!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Manic-in Monday

Today is the shortest day of the year, which means that tomorrow, we can all rejoice in days that are slowly getting L-O-N-G-E-R!

This week is a holiday week, and our mannequin is celebrating with a bit of sparkle! There's real sparkle in her scarf, and a faux sparkle in her sweater (it's really just black tweed!)

Sweater: Plymouth Encore Tweed (now back in stock after a LONG backorder situation) and brand new pattern, Plymouth #1720.
Scarf: Plymouth Sin City Yarn, 2 balls (free pattern here)
Wristers: Artful Yarns Vineyard - one ball, free pattern on the label (CHEAP project at just $8.95)
Bag: Namaste Laguna Bag in Eggplant

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recent Customer Projects

Take a look at these amazing finished objects that have traveled through the door lately!

Martha's wonderful cabled mittens knit from Cascade 220 yarn. A gorgeous fair isle baby sweater that Shelley shared with us the other day. I really do need to try my own yoked sweater one of these days! Here's a nifty snapshot of some colors in someone's knitting bag recently.
A super bulky button hat that uses a shawl closure, instead of a button. You guys are so creative!
Hope you are having a colorful month of your own and keep those projects going strong!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Eye Candy

Here are just a few things that we've been oohing and aahing at over the past few days!

Michele has been cranking out the Eli Hats for friends and family. This hat is AWESOME and the Nashua Handknits Paradise is a great yarn. Her latest is a gorgeous colorway (Spruce, Dusty Teal & Spring Leaf):Yesterday we received a new shipment of Susan Todd needlecases. This is my favorite shipment yet! The colors are so gorgeous and we have straights, circulars, and combos all in stock. What a great gift!
People are in the holiday spirit, and have been admiring our "trees"! I found these last month and just love them. Especially when the heat turns on and the feathers start to gently blow.
Hot off the UPS truck is Madeline Tosh Lace... not online yet, but will be in a few days.
Also, 4 super new colors of Berroco Sox.
Aren't these colors happy? And you'll be happy to know, that we've discontinued some oldie (but goodie!) colors of Berroco Sox, because we had to make room for these beauties (and a few others to come.) So check out the sale page to get a great deal.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Manic-in Monday

This week our gal is feeling the festive spirit in red and beige with a splash of gold. Like last week, she's intent on proving that summer knits can really work year round, even in cold climates like Vermont! (That's right, we'll be in single digits tonight!!)
Vest: The Maya Vest is knit with Tahki Maya, a unique thick and thin cotton. This yarn has been so popular that you'll soon be seeing it's worsted weight sister (Mia) in the shop! Pattern for the vest available in the Tahki Maya booklet.
Pin: Stone Agate Shawl Pin from Creative Designs
Scarf: This swirly scarf takes just 3 balls of Jojoland Melody Superwash. The pattern (Swirl Shawl) has instructions for a 5 skein shawl, or you can just use fewer balls to knit the scarf. Fun knitting, great yarn, reasonable price!
Bag: The Offhand Designs Suzannah Bag in the Astoria colorway is so gorgeous! This color has been our number one holiday seller, but I also love the Offhand Designs Daisy Bag in Versailles!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

MadelineTosh Yarns

Last week we received a shipment from MadelineTosh. A number of our customers have been asking about these yarns for quite some time now, and I finally broke down and brought them into the shop. I'm so glad! They are just incredible. Now I understand why you folks were so persistent in bugging me. Thanks!

We have 9 colors of the Worsted (with one more on the way):

and 10 colors of the Sock:

We also have the Lace coming in... hopefully this week!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sale Items!

It's that time of year - we've gotten a list from some suppliers of discontinued colors, and since we have new yarns coming in a few weeks we are lowering the prices of select yarns by up to 30%.

Check them out!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The trouble with Alice

Alice is not a person. It's a project. It's this: And while it should be (and IS) such a completely simple pattern, I managed to screw it up!

This pattern is all stockinette, with some increase rows (k1f&b), decrease rows (k2tog), and switching of needles sizes (5 to 3 and back to 5, and so on, and so on.) You start with a provisional cast on and 70 stitches. You are supposed to end with 70 stitches. Then, easy peasy, 3 needle bind off, and you're done.

Two nights ago I was ready for the 3 needle bindoff. I normally jump right in and do it. I must have had a premonition that something was wrong, because oddly, I actually counted my stitches before working the 3 needle bindoff. Good thing I did that!

Instead of the correct number of stitches, I was 6 short. In this super simple, stockinette, basic easiest ever pattern, I lost 6 stitches somewhere along the way.

So last night, I sat down to find my error. And find it, I did. It was all the way back at the halfway point, on a row where I should have increased in every stitch. Instead of working a k1f&b in each stitch, I worked a few k2tog's at the end of the row. Ooops. It called for a zig, and I worked a zag.

So my nearly completed Alice, became a half completed Alice last night. There was simply no other way around it. Fortunately, the yarn (Fibre Company Road to China Light) is truly divine. So knitting it twice is not half bad!

Manic-in Monday

We finally have a teeny dusting of snow on the ground! But our mannequin refuses to wear dark wintery colors. This week she's showing how you don't have to put away those spring & summer knits! Sometimes, these warmer weather knits can work well throughout the year.

Scarf: Our very own Modular Scarf made with 3 different colors of Manos Silk Blend, in both semi-solids and multis. This has been our top selling pattern of the past two weeks!

Bag: Namaste Zuma Bag in Lime... this fun compact shape holds a lot!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Color combos

As a follow up to the Monday's post with the Mixed Fiber Shawl, here are some color combos that we put together.
Our customers have fallen in love with this shawl. It's really so gorgeous in person, I'm not sure it translates in a photo!
Another hot item here at the shop is our Kochoran Cable and Rib Hat. We had this several years ago in Berroco Foliage and Frog Tree Sportweight Alpaca. But the Foliage was discontinued, so we are using Noro Kochoran in its place. The color combos for this hat are awesome! I'm definitely getting in on this one... I've already set aside some yarn to make a few of these.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Making your lists and checking them twice: gifts to include with your handknit gifts

You're generous! You love to make hand knit or crocheted items and give them to your friends and family each holiday. But sometimes it's not enough to just give your handknit gift. Isn't it a bummer when someone doesn't quite understand how to treat their new handknit and accidentally shrinks it or felts it!?

We carry several products that help people care for their precious handknits. I recommend gifting such things along with your handknits because it can emphasize the care and feeding that each piece may require. (Of course a little note with specific care instructions is also a MUST!)

Consider a sampler or travel size of Eucalan, Soak, or Kookaburra Wash to give with your next handknit sweater, hat, or pair of wrist warmers. This is a great way to emphasize that hand made items can use some extra care... especially those that aren't intended to be thrown into the washing machine!

Sweater stones are also really handy, for keeping all handknits looking fresh and pill-free. I love mine and get it out everytime I put on one of my sweaters to brush the fibers back into tip top shape. (Everyone loves admiring handknit sweaters, so make sure yours is properly groomed before you're the center of attention!)

And because handknit items conjure up feelings of warmth, they are perfect companion to warm drinks like tea! Our Harney Teas are quite tasty and are now available in new Sachet Tagalongs Tins.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Manic-in Monday

Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving weekend! This week we are featuring our newest Mixed Fiber Lengthwise Shawl. It is so gorgeous!!! For the past four years, we've come up with a mixed fiber shawl or scarf that uses a number of different yarns. Each year it's different, because we try to incorporate some of the great new fibers that are available.

This year we're using a really gorgeous combination of yarns. I have to say, I had to much fun on Saturday picking out color combinations for this shawl! I've photographed them and listed them all clearly on the kit page for this shawl, so it's easy for you to figure out what works best.

But hey, you don't have to use these yarns. It's really all about taking different yarns and blending them together, and this project is a great stash buster. Best of all, it's easy and the pattern is free!

Any shawl pin will work, but we love this "S" curve pin from Lantern Moon. And the cute project bag is from Hiya Hiya.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Colors

The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season for many folks. We put up our holiday decorations, and the folks who came in to the shop today had holiday gifting on their minds. We saw a few locals, and many out-of-towners who were happy we were open.

I just love the smell of Christmas greens... I bought some kissing balls for the shop, and was drinking in the smell as I prettied them up this morning, before hanging them outside. Why spend extra on pre-decorated wreathes & garlands when you can stash dive and decorate your own?! We had some half balls of Tilli Tomas Pure & Simple, Tilli Tomas Rockstar and Artful Yarns Lustro, and put them to good use.
So now that we've got our green and red... all we need is white! After too many days of temperatures in the 50's, there's snow in the forecast for tonight. I even heard it was already snowing at some of the local ski resorts; though here in the valley, we're just seeing rain.
Fingers crossed!

Sundae for Sunday

Last Sunday I worked on more knitting for the holidays. I have to share this project with you because it was such a quick knit! You might want to grab a couple of skeins of Berroco Sundae and whip one up for your holiday gift stash. This is the Jordan hat from Berroco Book 287: Sundae. There are a number of fun and cute hats in this book but I chose this one because it is knit a bit differently than the usual in-the-round hat. This hat is knit as a flat garter stitch piece and sewn into a tube. I enjoy the difference in the stripe pattern this creates (I used the colors Rocket & Ale.)

I'm very pleased with how it came out - although it still needs a pom-pom - and it only took a couple of hours!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

FREE shipping & FREE gift

Happy Thanksgiving!

All US orders placed through Tuesday, December 1st (midnight EST) will receive FREE SHIPPING! You must use SHIPZERO as your promo code in order to receive free shipping. (Not valid with any other promotions. Offer only applies to Flat Rate Shipping.)

And all online orders in the same time period over $75 will receive a FREE GIFT! It's a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone on your list this holiday season, whether they knit, knot or not!

Turn a Square for Jogless Stripes!

I'm always looking for another excuse to knit a hat. This one gave me a chance to learn a quick and easy new technique that I am now in love with - jogless stripes.

When you knit in the round in stripes, it leaves a jog along the beginning of the round where you change colors. There is a technique to eliminating this column of pesky (to those of us who like symmetry) little unmatched rows.

I used a free pattern from Jared Flood called the Turn a Square Hat. The pattern includes a very easy method for eliminating the jog in the stripes for this hat. Check it out!
The hat turned out great. I used contrasting colors of Noro Silk Garden and matches our striped Noro scarf (another idea from brooklyntweed). I admit, I decreased the number of cast on stitches so that when I blocked my hat it wouldn't get too large for me. The Noro Silk Garden grows a fair amount if you wet block it and I can wear most kids this one fits me.

I made a second one with Noro Silk Garden and a contrasting solid color of Berroco Blackstone Tweed that follows the pattern exactly - that one will go to a friend with more hair and a larger dome!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Manic-in Monday

I came home from my trip today, to find that our shop mannequin is rocking a completely new look. I'm sure she's getting dizzy from these never-ending outfit changes, but if you want to be a trendsetter, it's the price you have to pay.She's definitely leading our style parade this week, and if she could walk, there'd certainly be a spring in her step! She's wearing our funky striped version of the Endless Knitted Cardi, with a bevy of coordinating accessories: a small cabled bag, a cute sweater closure, and a yarn-turned-necklace. Even her shoulder bag - with its brilliant POP of red, is the perfect contrast to the green in her outfit. WORK IT GIRL!

Sweater: pattern Stitch Diva Endless Knitted Cardi; yarn Noro Silk Garden Sock
Shoulder Bag: Namaste Hermosa Bag in brand new RED (it's gorgeous!)
Cabled Bag: pattern Gardiner Yarn Works Cable That Bag; yarn Mission Falls 1824 Wool in Pistachio
Yarn Necklace: Tilli Tomas Rock Star
Sweater Closure: JUL oval stick pin

Monday, November 23, 2009

You can never pack too much knitting

I always stress more about the knitting projects I pack for a trip, than about the clothes, books, shoes, etc. I just took a quick trip and once again, was consumed by which projects I would take. I almost left one of them at home, but in the end I figured it didn't take up THAT much room, so I threw it in my bag.

Phew! I finished project #1 on Friday. Started project #2 on Saturday morning, and was making great progress on it until I got to the 1st lace row. It's over 240 stitches on a size 1 needle, and perhaps starting that row, while watching a special on JFK and chatting with my parents wasn't exactly a good choice. I worked the row once, got to the end and was off by 8 stitches. I realized I had started right in on the lace pattern, when I should have worked the first and last 4 stitches of the row in garter stitch. Stupid mistake, but 4+4=8, so easy to fix on my second try. Right?

Wrong. I un-knit each and every stitch on those tiny size 1 needles. It took forever. And I started the row, a second time, with those 4 stitches of garter stitch. I got to the end and was off again.

At this point, I was getting frustrated. I looked at every stitch I had worked and couldn't see what I had done wrong. I was irritated - this was my plane knitting for today! But, rather than get any more upset about it, I un-knit it for a second time, put it in my checked bag, and pulled out project #3, which I had thankfully packed.

Another project, another Fibre Company yarn (this time Road to China Light), another great free pattern, and I'm a happy camper knitter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Knitting for babies

I'm doing a lot of baby knitting these days. Don't get any ideas! There will be no additions to my family... I just like knitting for teeny-tinies.

Next week I'll have our "Baby Baby" sweater pattern written up and ready for those of you who've been patiently waiting. This sweater is a simple little newborn cardigan knit with 2 skeins of Blue Sky Worsted. I made up the pattern about 3-4 years ago, never really wrote down exactly what I did, and then just recently found the sweater in my office and figured I'd write up the pattern. Lots of measuring and counting stitches/rows later, I came up with a pattern, and now I've finished test knitting it and so folks, we're almost there!

It's drying today but it's a bit humid here (I'm visiting my parents in Sanibel) so I am hoping it dries before I have to fly home tomorrow.
A couple of days ago I started the vintage inspired Lucille Baby Set. It's a pattern from Kelbourne Woolens, our distributor for The Fiber Company Yarns that we just got in last week. I'm using Canopy Fingering and size 1 needles (it's a bit sloooooow going!) The yarn is just spectacular. It's so incredibly soft and luxurious. I just finished the yoke (it's a top down) and am now starting the lace pattern.

Speaking of The Fibre Company... last week I whipped up the Give a Hoot mittens. I LOVE them! I used Canopy Worsted and it was my first time with the oh-so-popular owl design cable. I can see how people become obsessed/addicted to these little owlies!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Manic-in Monday

This week's outfit includes the G'Day Cardigan sweater in Berroco Geode. This is not a new sample - it was in Berroco Book 276 which was new for last fall and winter. But it was one of our most popular sweaters last year, and now that the weather is turning, it's jumped up to occupy one of the top spots for this year.
The funky scarf out of Tilli Tomas Angel - this is a FUN FUN(ky!) yarn with poofs of mohair & beads. The simple pattern is included on the label.

The Namaste Mini Clutch is a great bag - shown here in Saddle. Perfect for a night out with friends, with just enough room for keys, cell phone, plastic (of course!) and some crochet hooks, so you can hook at the bar. WAIT! Not THAT kind of hooking. We mean crocheting, of course!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Making your lists and checking them to share with your fiber friends

I've started making my holiday lists and thought I'd share some ideas with you. We have so many small things in the shop that make great little gifts, and at this time of year, customers are always picking up little "extras" for theit holiday giving. Whether the people on your list are knitters, crocheters, spinners, quilters, or avid needlework fans, these gifts work well across the board.

* No Crack Hand Cream & Knitters Hand Balm: our best selling hand creams. Perfect for the abuse your hands take in harsh, drying weather!

* Nail Files: Fun designs to keep your hands snag-free.

* Wool Wash: whether you like Eucalan, Kookaburra or Soak, we've got different scents and sizes.

* Tea/Tagalongs: Harney Tea is our favorite, and at this time of year, we go through a lot of it. We've got loose tea, sachets, and the fun new tagalong cases.

* Enamel Pins: These are new, and come in a variety of fun designs for all kinds of crafters.

* Shawl Pins: From simple stick pins, to gorgeous glass.

We'll post more gift ideas in the next few weeks. Hope this helps!

December classes

We've posted a few classes for December. There's still time to make some quick holiday gifts!

We have a number of customers who are new to knitting, and only feel comfortable with scarves. They want to try a hat, but are concerned about knitting in the round and working on double pointed needles. We figured we'd offer a class on our Super Bulky Button Hat. It's a great first time hat, as it's a really
quick knit (no purling required.) You'll learn circular knitting, decreasing, and how to work on double pointed needles. Come on in and pick out a fun yarn, a great button, and sign up to learn how to make this fun and stylish hat!

Here's a great stocking stuffer/teacher gift idea... Make an ornament! If you already know how to knit in the round, we'll teach you how to make a delicate lace ornament cover. We've run classes like this before, and people are always so excited to find out that these ornaments are relatively easy and quick.

We've had a lot of calls recently from newbies who want to take beginner knitting and crochet classes. So we've added those into the schedule as well. Now you may not be able to learn to knit... and complete an entire sweater in the next month, but you'll never know unless you try!

We're now scheduling our January - March classes. If you have a request, please let us know at

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Best Picks

Here's a re-cap of the best picks for the past few weeks!

Best Picks Patterns:
* Fiber Trends Snowboarder Hats for Everyone (AC91) is a quick and fun knit! We knit our sample of this hat in less than 3 hours. Once we put the photo up on the web, we couldn't keep the pattern in stock (don't worry, we have it now!) The hat uses Lamb's Pride Bulky and Mille Colori Big, and would make a great holiday gift. The pattern is for adults, but it includes alterations for smaller heads.

* Norah Gaughan for Men is a collection of stunning patterns for men, in gorgeous colors of Berroco yarns. Our customers are snatching up these books at a record rate because it isn't easy to find such great colors and designs for the guys on your knit wear list.

Best Pick Accessories:
* Lantern Moon Rice Baskets are hot! We like these so much that we always fill them with yarn and use them as displays in the shop! But, they are really great project baskets and wonderful display pieces for your home. An added bonus? They come from Lantern Moon, a women's artist cooperative in Vietnam.

Best Pick Yarns:
* Lang Mille Colori Big is a sumptuously soft, variegated, machine washable yarn that comes in a huge 207 yard skein. One skein will make a bulky scarf (pattern included on the label), or grab a Lamb's Pride Bulky and make the Snowboarder Hat (above.)

* Berroco Sundae is another bulky yarn that's become a new favorite. Barb recently knit up a Super Bulky Button Hat in this yarn and it is gorgeous. We've always used Malabrigo Chunky for this hat, but it's such a great pattern, it's super to see it worked up in different yarn choices like the Sundae.

Best Picks Projects:
* The Simple Scarf made with Tilli Tomas Angel is just that... simple! But the yarn is so decadent. One skein knits up to create a gorgeous length of warm and fuzzy beaded goodness! The scarf pattern is included with the yarn purchase. We don't have this one photographed yet, but come in and check it out!

* The Half Crepe Shawl has been in the front hallway for a couple of weeks and continues to draw "oohs" and "aahs" from our customers. It is knit from a single skein of the Mountain Colors Half Crepe yarn. It's a great beginner project and a free pattern comes with the purchase of each skein. The shawl hugs your shoulders and doesn't slip because of the unique construction of the yarn... it's slightly elastic when knit! Check this one out in person, too if you have a chance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sorry kids, you do need to use math in knitting!

So our after school group at the library is going well. Six of the 7 girls have finished at least one preemie hat. (Their hats on the left, Suzie's and mine on the right) We've got a couple of kids who only come every other week, due to Brownies and other obligations, and one week everyone was out sick! It's a great group of girls and it's funny to hear what they end up chatting about each week as they are knitting.

After the kids learn to work in the round and complete their first "basic" hat (by following our pattern) we're asking them to make the same pattern (same number of stitches, same height, same decreases) but to include a stitch pattern.

Here's where the math comes in... if our hat is 42 stitches around, they have to figure out what goes into 42 evenly. They've all learned multiples in math class and even if they don't like math, they have to use it here! So they can pick a multiple of 42 (like 2, 3, 6, 7 etc) and come up with some sort of stitch pattern. Like... k1,p1 or k2,p1 or k3,p3 or k3,p4, or k6,p1... whatever they want as long as it works with the overall number of stitches. Then they make this second hat and concentrate on following their chosen stitch pattern... READING their knitting!

When this hat is completed, they will start a third hat, but in a slightly different size. They get to pick a new number of stitches. It can be a little smaller, or bigger, but they have to understand that the number of stitches DOES have something to do with the height of the hat before the decreases. And there needs to be some sort of a multiple... so that when they get to the decreases, they can follow the basic rules of decreasing, that they've already become accustomed to on hats #1 and #2.
After that, they can learn stripes, colorwork, cables, whatever they want. We could just give them preemie hat patterns to follow, but this way, we're forcing them to think on their own. We're asking them to actually understand WHAT IT IS that they are doing, which in the end, is a great talent for any knitter to have!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Manic-in Monday

Last week we did a major re-org in the shop. As in re-merchandising. We move things around all the time, but sometimes you need to take all of the samples down, and start from scratch. So we spent several mornings rearranging sweaters, hats, scarves, etc. And now it's done. Phew!

We have so many great hat samples, but I always felt they were really hard to see, especially after people come in and move them, stack them, re-stack them and move them again. So I made a little trip to the hardward store, and found that we could be more creative with how we display our hats. This is only a small portion of them, but it gave us a lot of free counter space and they are so much easier to see.

Our mannequin in the front hallway is not the easiest person to dress. It takes a very patient person to undress/dress her. And it takes more time than you'd think, because her limbs are either difficult to remove, or pop off at the most inconvenient times. (Once a kid was playing with her hand and it fell off. He must have been worried he'd get in trouble because he hid the hand in a bag that was on display in the front room. Imagine the surprise of the customer who picked up that bag a few days later, opened it up and found... a hand inside! It was funny!)

Anyway, driving into work one day last week, I decided that the mannequin is going to be changed more often... as in every Monday. So Mondays are now Manic-in Mondays and I'm sure if we hum the catchy Bangles song as we dress her, it will make it easier all around!
Today, she's wearing the One Cable Vest in Blue Sky Worsted. This is my sweater - I loved knitting it and I love wearing it! I made it a couple of years ago, but it is still such a popular pattern. She's got a gorgeous shawl draped over her shoulders (yarn: Schaefer Anne in Jewels; pattern: Jojoland Twin Leaf Shawl) and is carrying the brand new, reversible Offhand Designs Daisy Bag in Versailles. Stylin'!

Now she just needs a name. Ideas?

Monday, November 09, 2009

A mistake... turned around!

We got several new colors of Malabrigo Chunky last week, and the Citrus really caught my eye! So when I left on Friday afternoon, I grabbed two skeins of it to whip up another Super Bulky Button Hat in this fun new colorway. (After all, there are several ceramic buttons that work perfectly with this color!)

This pattern is so simple. So how could I make a mistake? I'm blaming it on casting on late on Friday night, when I was really tired and should have been in bed, sleeping. Obviously I didn't count correctly... because the 54 stitches I was supposed to have, was really only 50. I realized my error when I got to the first decrease round. I couldn't figure out why the decreases weren't working, and so I counted my stitches about 5 times and realized I was off by 4.

At this point, I had two choices. I could frog the entire project and start over... or I could make it work. I decided to rip back about an inch and start my decreases there. This made it the perfect size for a child (probably ages 4-8.)

I had plenty of yarn leftover, and thought it would be nice to make a matching scarf. So on Saturday I scooted into the shop and picked up a skein of Regia Softy. Softy is a great sock yarn, and makes a wonderful pair of fuzzy socks, that are warm, soft and machine washable. It's also perfect for baby blankets, hats, sweaters and booties. The colors are bright and fun and I felt sure I could find one that would make a simple garter stitch scarf pop. Here it is! A cute hat and scarf set. Two skeins of Malabrigo Chunky and one skein of Regia Softy, in a totally simple, randomly striped, garter stitch scarf. My girls both gave it a thumbs up.

Free pattern for the hat is here, and for the scarf is here.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Time for Spring?

Well, not yet! We have a long winter ahead of us, I'm sure. But this week I've been meeting with a lot of sales reps... and fondling some fun spring yarns. It's scary but I have quite a few yellow carbon sales orders stacked up on my desk, which means lots of new SKUS to put into the system.

Some yarns that are already existing have just had new colors introduced. Some of these new colors will be here by next week (like Berroco Comfort DK... FUN new variegateds! We added all of them, this yarn is so great for kids and babies and the variegated shades are super additions to an already spectacular color range!) And other new colors in existing yarns will be here later this month (Berroco Vintage... oh such scrumptious new colors!)

I ordered some Lobster Pot sock yarn... it's not cashmere, but it's in the beautiful bright Lobster Pot colors that we all know and love and it sells for $23. This yarn should arrive in a couple of weeks and there's a really cute little baby sweater pattern that only takes one skein. It's free with yarn purchase. We'll definitely make it up into a shop model.

There are some other great spring yarns that will be arriving in the beginning of January. Seems so far away, but it's actually right around the corner!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Do it Yourself Holiday Idea

It's that time - my mailbox is overflowing with catalogs featuring holiday decorations and gifts. I found a great stash busting idea in the Garnet Hill catalog... an Advent Hats & Mittens Calendar!

Why not take your odds and ends and knit up teeny mittens, hats and socks and attach them all with an I-cord or braided chain? It's easy to put numbers on with duplicate stitch, and it would be a great homemade advent calendar for your family to enjoy for years to come.
Or... a great gift!

Monday, November 02, 2009

From Vermont to Tokyo

Polly just shared this wonderful photo of her adorable grandson, Jack... Look how cute he is! Jack lives in Tokyo, and he is wearing the sweater Polly knit for his birthday. What a great photo of a sweet little boy!

(Pattern: Roo Designs Truck Sweater, Yarn: Spud & Chloe Sweater)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Anything for a little cash!

Cashmere that is! It's certainly not what I knit with every day, but when I do... mmmm. Yummy yummy. On Saturday morning I finished the Driftwood Hat. It took one skein of Jade Sapphie 4-ply cashmere. We have three really cute hat patterns for this yarn, but you'd NEVER know it! Unfortunately, the photographs on the patterns are pretty bad. Barb and I saw these beautiful hats back in June at TNNA at the Jade Sapphire booth and ordered them with the 4-ply Cashmere.

When the yarn and patterns came in a couple of months ago, we were thrilled. But we took one look at the patterns and said... HUH? What are these? These can't be the beautiful hats we ordered. Did they mis-ship us some aesthetically challenged ones by mistake?

But no. They are the great hat patterns we ordered. The pictures are just really bad. It's so sad when that happens!

So luckily, the wonderful folks at Jade Sapphire are sending me the hats so I can re-shoot them. I will replace the not-so-lovely images for these patterns on our site, so folks can see what they really look like.

Our mannequin has had a busy weekend. She's been at home with me so I could shoot some things for the website while I was home sick with the kids. She's been working hard - the other morning Sophie grabbed my camera and tripod, and set the mannequin head up on the kitchen table. She was holding her own photo shoot - and even made the mannequin some hair and clothing from our napkins and placemats. I'm not one to ask folks to work nights, especially "holiday" nights, but I did put the mannequin into service for Halloween last night. I mean hey, times are tough and you gotta do what you gotta do to pay the bills. She helped me out in my scary "fortune teller" window display. She did a good job.Anything for a little cash, right?

Friday, October 30, 2009

A new electric ball winder

Recently one of our notions suppliers sent us an electric ball winder to test. I've been meaning to give it a try for a couple of weeks now, but never had the time. Now that I'm home with sick kids, it was the perfect opportunity.PROS
It's from Boye, seems to be well made and sturdy, and retails for just $89. It has a nice big suction cup and a great carrying handle. It was super easy to set up, and once I plugged it in and turned it on, it started to wind automatically.

I tried the different winding speeds, and found that it was very easy to adjust. And even though I switched the speed numerous times during the actual winding process, it made no difference to the tension in my finished center-pull skein.

This winder would be great if you did a lot of winding. If you really mind cranking the lever on the regular ball winders, this will certainly save wear and tear on your arms, hands and wrists.

There's a certain WHIRRRRR that I'm used to when I'm using my regular winder. It's the sound of the winder winding and the swift turning and it's actually a pleasant sound. The electric winder is a bit on the loud side... a little jarring.

Even when I had the winder working at the highest speed, the umbrella swift was still turning rather slowly. I was actually worried that the swift was going TOO slowly, and that this would cause a problem. So the motor is going quickly, but the yarn isn't being wound any faster.

I'm not sure I felt comfortable leaving the room - or even taking my eyes off it - while it was winding. Perhaps with more use I would be?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Arts & Crafts & Blocking

So it's Thursday and I've been home all week with sick child #1, then sick me, then sick child #2. Fun fun! The good news is that Sophie recovered early in the week and has been back at school since. More good news, I was pronounced flu-strep-pneumonia-H1N1 FREE on Tuesday. I still have an awful cold, but I'll take it as good news. Then bad news, child #2 Helen got a fever yesterday morning and will miss the rest of the week.

Our couch has turned into a sick bed. This was days ago:
This is today:
The only ones excited about all of this sickness are the cats! They like having warm bodies to snuggle with in the middle of the day.

I tried to cheer Helen up today with a French manicure. Let's just say it's a good thing I didn't go into that line of work. Fortunately she's quite happy with it, so that's all that matters.
After playing "nail salon", I was feeling so crafty that I decided to block my Lace Beret (from Vogue Knitting Magazine Holiday Issue). I finished it last night and I love it! However it does need light blocking at the top. It's hard to block hats, and berets can be more difficult. So I got out some supplies: a piece of cardboard, a pair of scissors, a Sharpie, a plastic bag (thanks to all my trips to the drugstore this week, I have plenty of those!) and a washcloth. I drew a circle on the cardboard just slightly bigger than the hat. I cut it out and covered the cardboard with the plastic bag. Then I gently slipped the hat onto this handmade blocking aid.
I saturated the washcloth with lukewarm water and laid it on top of the beret. I used both hands to press down for several minutes and removed it. By tomorrow, it will be dry.
Now I'm off to figure out our new electric ball winder!