Friday, February 27, 2009

Sneak peak

Peak at this.
Want some? Get it now, before our email goes out next week.

What normally happens is this... email goes out... orders come flooding in... product is gone... days later folks come in or call and ask to see the yarn that's on sale. Problem is, the yarn is LONG GONE.

Our emails on sale yarns or specials make stock disappear, sometimes within a matter of hours. So this is your chance to see it before the masses. (And I do mean masses!)
This reversible cabled shawl takes 4 of these and 2 of these. Get a free pattern when you purchase that amount and ask for it in the comments section. The trim is optional.
A scarf (half the width of above) only takes 2 of these. Free pattern available with purchase and request.

And here's a tip. Get into the habit of checking our sale page regularly. Then you'll get what you want, when you want it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Organic cotton, self striping wool, and a special on silk!

Are you thinking spring yet? It's February vacation week here in Vermont, and the week started out with some good amounts of snow falling in our area. That made the ski resorts happy! My kids are in Maine and they were treated to a huge dump of over 26" of snow.

Here at the shop we've been quite busy. We had a number of new yarns that arrived this past week. Classic Elite Sprout is an organic cotton that knits at 3.5 stitches to the inch on US 10 needles. It comes in several lovely shades and has a nice nubby texture. (Reminds me of 1824 Cotton, but softer IMO!)

We also received Plymouth Mushishi. This is a fun yarn! One skein has 250 grams and a whopping 491 yards. It's 95% wool and 5% silk, and is very soft! It is a tweedy self striping yarn (think Noro folks) and the label includes a pattern for a crochet hat and scarf set, AND a knit hat and scarf set. Choose one of these sets, and your one skein is enough to complete the project. Not bad!

I've been plugging away on an afghan square for our charity knitting project. I choose Plymouth Encore color #6002, which is one of my favorite neutrals, and a stitch pattern from the Harmony Guide: Knit & Purl. It's SO simple mostly knit and purl with a slip stitch thrown in for fun. I like it! Keep in mind you can NOT see the stitch pattern in this shot. Take my word - it's way more obvious in person!

And check this out!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hey Buddy! You're back!

Guess what? The Namaste Buddy Cases are due back in stock this Friday! Yes, these sweet little items will be back in the shop, and we've ordered a lot of them, so we'll see how long they last this time.
The Buddy Cases were one of the most popular gift items right before the holidays, and it's no wonder. Every knitter needs a place to store all those little notions that get lost in the bottom of our project bags. And the Buddy Case is magnetic! So your scissors and tapestry needles stay neatly in place when you open it up. It also has a sweet divider to keep things neatly in one half or the other.
The Namaste folks were really thinking when they designed this case. It can be used to store just about anything, from makeup to iPods, earbuds and more. See?
We have all been coveting Buddy Cases for ourselves, but we decided to hold off since they were in such short supply. We wanted to let our customers have first (and second) dibs on them. It's not really fair for 5-6 Buddy Cases to go home with us when they're in such demand, is it? Hopefully this Friday we will each be able to buy our own...

So if you weren't lucky enough to get your own Buddy Case this past holiday season, stop in anytime after Friday afternoon and pick one up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

There's something about ribbing

Do you like ribbing? Or hate it? I'm not sure what my answer is to that. I think normally I would say I'm not a huge fan of ribbing. All that back and forth tends to slow things down. But recently, I've done a few projects that have more than just a bit of ribbing. My Noro Silk Garden top had a nice deep 1x1 ribbing at the raglan neck. I thought it was going to take forever, but I cruised right through it. Then my Noro Iro shrug from Jenny Watson Designer Mini Knits was ALL ribbing. This time 2x2, so in a bulky yarn, it was quick. And my most recent project, finished 2 nights ago, had even more ribbing. (More than you see, since I had to redo the neck twice, since I didn't like how the pattern told me to do it...) This is the KPS #275 Children's Neckdown Bolero in Plymouth Kudo. Ribbing certainly isn't as mindless as garter or stockinette, but it does have such a nice rhythm to it, that it's sort of its own TYPE of mindless.

Tomorrow is our last day of knitting session #2 for the kids at school. This session has been going really well. Suzie and I came up with a plan - a few projects that we thought the kids could finish in a 6 week session. A few of the kids have done really well. They're enthusiastic and aren't concerned with dropped stitches, random increases, etc. They take their knitting home and actually knit a bit during the week. Helen and Sophie knit during the week, because when they are finished their homework, and finished playing and dinner's not quite ready, I remind them that they could knit a few rows. Helen will do it without being reminded. She really likes to create things - and wait until you see what she is doing now. (I'm not helping her at all, and I'm BLOWN away. More about that in another post.)

But Sophie needs to be reminded. Knitting is clearly not her favorite thing to do. In fact, there were 2 days when after school activites (ie: their knitting class) were cancelled due to icy weather. She whooped and hollered and carried on like it was the best present she'd ever received, to NOT have to go to knitting. WTH? (Here she is last Monday knitting a few rows for her bag project. Clearly she would have rather been playing with the stuffed "Hedwig" that is tucked under her arm.)It's okay, she's her own person. Just because I love knitting doesn't mean she has to love it. Anyway, the other day she had finished her "bag" and so she learned how to purl. She practiced the purling and made a little square in stockinette, and she thought it was amazingly fun. More fun than just knitting. Then I was working on my Plymouth Kudo sweater, and she saw the ribbing around the neck and wanted to learn how to do it. So grabbed some Brittany needles and a spare ball of Berroco Pure Merino DK that I had lying around, and I taught her 2x2 ribbing.

Well, there's hope folks. She LOVES the ribbing. I have seen with my own eyes that she has picked up her knitting WITHOUT being reminded and worked on it all by herself. I taught her how to read her stitches, so if she puts it down and then picks it up later, she can look at the next stitch and know exactly what kind it is, a knit or a purl. I have even "caught" her knitting now when she is supposed to be doing homework. And look - proof that at least for now, the knitting has won out over the stuffed animal! Hedwig is nowhere to be seen.So I guess the lesson here is that knitting is surely different for each of us. We're all capable of doing all the different stitches, but of those stitches, some excite us more than others. If you're in a rut, try something new, or go back to something you haven't done in a while. You may be surprised at how much fun you can have.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Current Project – Take Two (or Three, or Four…)

So I don’t know about you, but it seems whenever I make something for myself and start to wear it, everyone who knows that I knit starts to inquire about it. It doesn’t matter what it is, or where I am, people start to ask, "Could you make one of those for me?" Some of them find sneaky, subtle ways to say this and some of them just come right out and boldly state the question. Folks offer to pay for the materials, they offer me a trade or a type of barter, and even my family has tried to bribe me with baked goods for socks when they spied the new Berroco Sox colors on the website.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love to give knitted objects away to people. As long as they demonstrate the proper appreciation for the materials and time that goes into the project...

I’ve even been known to give things away to people who don’t actually ASK for something because I’m so amazed that they can restrain themselves compared to everyone else. (Yes, this is a hint. If you don’t ask and just admire, you may very well get bumped to the front of the project line :) )
In any case, I usually end up making multiples of everything. Some of you may have heard me mention in the shop that I’ve worked my way through at least 12 of the Super Bulky Button Hats in almost every color of Malabrigo Chunky that we carry. It’s a good thing they don’t take long to knit!
But I’ve also started to realize that the proper response to all of my friends who admire the knitting I do is, "Maybe you should learn to knit, then you can make whatever you want."

(We do offer Learn to Knit classes. And for those of you who find yourselves in positions similar to my own you can always suggest that someone take one of these classes!)

I’ve also spent some time spreading the art of knitting to some of my closest friends. In the last several months I’ve gotten four different friends started on their first projects (or their first projects in a 10 year lapse.) I’m very impressed with all of them. Most of them picked out fairly challenging projects to work on this winter or they’ve finished multiple projects and have started gifting knitted items to others. And I’ve had so much fun getting together with them all to knit!

I am going to encourage my friends to share their new knitting experiences in our Kyarns Ravelry Group, and also on our Kyarns Facebook group. So be on the lookout for a Peruvian Tweed scarf, a Baby Alpaca Chunky hat, and some amazing orange Ultra Alpaca sleeves with a turtleneck there soon. We hope you’ll join us there and maybe you’ll let us know what you are working on!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I like to knit with apples, not bananas

The other day Helen came home from school and boy did she have something to tell me. Apparently a boy in her class, Tim (name changed) had come up to her saying, "The yarns in your Mom's yarn shop are way too expensive. My mom said she can buy the same yarns at W-store for much less." Wow! Fighting words from a fourth grade boy!

Helen knew it was an insult, but she wasn't sure why. She knows that my shop is so completely different from a W-store and I think to hear the two together ruffled her feathers.

Her teacher, a knitter, overheard the exchange, and apparently jumped right in and told Tim that it was wrong for him to talk about someone else's mother and business like that. She went on to say that my yarn shop is a specialty shop, and W-store is a chain store, and that they are two completely different things. She even used this incident to prompt a little discussion for the entire class later that day, about how talking about other people, friends, their businesses, etc. can be hurtful and damaging. Right on... a little life lesson there!

After school though, Helen was still irritated that someone would make that kind of comment to her. She is protective of her family, and I'm proud of her - it's a wonderful trait. So we discussed it further. We talked about the quality of yarns at my shop, and the quality of yarns at chain stores, and how quality makes a difference in price. I explained that Tim's comment, no matter how truthful and accurate he THOUGHT it was, was completely bogus, and that it didn't upset me at all. It obviously originated from someone who thinks that I sell the same exact yarns as W-store. This person is not being mean, she is just misinformed. She's comparing apples to bananas. I sell apples. They sell bananas.

We also talked about it in a way that made sense to her - like how there are a lot of places to buy kids' shirts. More expensive stores, medium expensive stores, less expensive stores, etc. In the big picture, all of these stores sell kids' shirts. To some folks, a shirt is a shirt is a shirt. And that's fine!

But to other folks (and discriminating fashionista children, like Helen) no two shirts are the same. Some shirts are cozy, others are scratchy. Some shirts fit well, others gape and pucker. Some are really well made (and you can tell!) and others will fall apart when you take them home. So for all the folks who believe that no two shirts are the same, that's why we have different shops out there. These people are thankful that they can make their purchases elsewhere, with no disrespect at all to the shops that sell the scratchy shirts.

Do you like apples? Do you like bananas? You can knit with whatever you want to knit with. Let's not judge each other. Just eat your fruit, knit and be happy. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Building our Community: One Block at a Time

2009 Spring Charity Drive: Blankets for the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program

It is COLD in Vermont-especially on days where the wind chill falls well below zero. Of course my first reaction to winter in Vermont is to pull out my warm and wooly hand knit sweaters, brew some hot coffee, and curl up under a blanket on the couch with my knitting. But I grew up in the Midwest and I am intimately familiar with negative wind chills. I know what it takes to keep myself warm and in good spirits through a long, cold winter season.

Not so long ago I took note of a call for blanket donations and it was a poignant reminder that not everyone who lives in our community is ready (or equipped!) for a Vermont winter. This, paired with a comment by one of our customers about donating knitted items, and a discussion with Jill and Barb recently about ideas for 2009 charitable projects, sparked an idea.

What if Kaleidoscope Yarns knitters took up the challenge of making blankets that are needed by new families arriving in our community? If everyone were to do just a little bit of knitting we would have some fabulously individualized and creative pieces that would help keep people warm in Vermont winters! So the idea for the Kaleidoscope Yarns Blanket Project was born. I’ve since done my research and spoken to staff and volunteers at the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (VRRP) who are immensely excited about the possibility or having knitters take up their needles for this project.

The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (VRRP) helps refugees and immigrants gain personal independence and economic self-sufficiency, become contributing members of their new communities, and able participants in all aspects of American life through a full range of services and programs.

So How Can YOU Help?
We are asking all interested Kaleidoscope Yarns knitters (both local and online) to knit up 13”x13” (blocked) squares and send them to us or drop them off at the shop.
PLEASE READ FURTHER, as there are a couple of things you need to know before you get started!

  • The finished blankets will be machine washed and dried so we are asking people to use Encore worsted weight yarn for their blocks. You don't HAVE to use Encore, but we're in Vermont and just that little bit of wool makes Encore a much warmer choice than 100% acrylic.
  • We have posted several free afghan block patterns on our website, but these are just suggestions! You may use any pattern you like, but help us out by adhering to the following guidelines: Please keep the first and last two stitches of each row in stockinette (for seaming purposes). Also, please knit the first and last two rows of each square (garter stitch). This will be a big help to all those who volunteer to seam the blankets together.
  • Don't weave in your ends! Please leave a one yard tail at the beginning of each block and a one yard tail at the end. This will also help in seaming!
  • Please attach your name and address to each block that you submit. We would like to list the first names, states, and number of blocks contributed for the recipients and recognition of our donors.
  • Mail all finished blocks to our shop (Kaleidoscope Yarns Blanket Project, 15 Pearl St, Essex Junction, VT 05452) by April 15th (tax day).
  • We will be seaming the blocks together into finished blankets locally. If you are interested in taking part in this aspect of the project please indicate this and include your email address on your name & address card, or stay tuned as we will post information about this on our blog.
  • As a fun way to thank everyone for her/his participation, we're going to have a raffle once the blocks are completed. Each block will get you an entry, and over the next few months we'll put together some fun prizes, gift cards, etc to be included in the raffle.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Small squares

It's been a weekend of squares... for me and for some others too! On Saturday, our Learn to Love Entrelac Hat class was full, and from 9 am-12 noon we had 8 folks up in the classroom with Barb. By the end of the class, they had all made quite a bit of progress on their hats... and we think they realized that Entrelac isn't really that difficult... it's just different. Really - just one little tilted square after another, all bonded together and looking quite amazing in the end!

Shawn grabbed my camera and went into the classroom to take some shots of the entrelac action: So here we have photographic evidence of entrelac hats getting bigger, with smiling and fun! It was really neat to see the different yarns that people chose, and in the end, the hats will all be unique. I'm not positive, but this looks like Manos Silk Blend in color 3109!
The pattern they all used was the Fourth Grade Hat pattern, a free download from Twist Collective. Each person downloaded it at home - for copyright purposes. Even though it is free, we are not able to download it for each person. Hopefully it got folks familiar with Twist (that was sort of the purpose!) as it's a great resource for knitters. (Like Ravelry... we're still spreading that word, too!)I have been working on squares of my own this weekend. I'm recovering from a nasty cold that hit me early last week, and about 5 nights of insomnia on top of that. So mentally, small squares are about all I was good for this weekend! We got some new yarns in on Friday, and I grabbed a ball of each to swatch. These will be online either tomorrow or Tuesday. A lovely blend of soy viscose and cotton:A blend of hemp, cotton and modal: A 100% naturally dyed organic cotton: And a merino wool, microfiber and cashmere blend (think Kashmir Aran!) in a sport weight:And speaking of squares, stay tuned for an informative post by Shawn tomorrow. She's going to explain our charity knitting program for this spring - and we want all of you to join us if you can! We've been discussing it for a while now, and the details are finally ready...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A happy ending & some tips to beat the masses

Polly came in to work yesterday to find that her hat had dried. And guess what? It's really almost perfect! The only thing a little "off" is the cute I-cord tie at the top, and we think it just needs to be reattached a bit. Then nobody will know that her beautiful hat almost met its death in a cold and dirty snowbank last weekend in downtown Burlington. And we'll never tell... will we?

Here she is, all smiles, with it on yesterday. Notice the gorgeous scarf she has that coordinates with the hat. For the scarf, she used one Be Sweet Magic Ball and 2 skeins of Nashua Handknits Julia, each in a different color. She knit it lengthwise and it came out really well.

Yesterday we sold out of the Cascade 220 (the colors we are discontinuing) in a matter of hours. We picked 18 colors, and are replacing them with colors we haven't had before. These 18 colors were discounted by 30%, and so I sent an email to our bulk email list. Within just 3 hours, everything was gone.

Some folks were bummed that they weren't able to buy this yarn. By the time they opened the email (later in the day, or this morning) the yarn was long gone. I'm sorry - when we put something on sale, we have no idea how long it will last. We have a HUGE email list, and even though we had a HUGE number of the Cascade skeins on sale, the folks who ordered in the first several hours after the email went out, well, I guess they were yarn hungry. You can tell just by looking at the boxes that are going out today... they are all really large boxes, which means people really stocked up on this sale.

So if you missed out on this sale, or any other, here's a suggestion. I did put this yarn on sale the day before the email went out, and we actually sold quite a bit of it that day. I do normally put things on sale about 24-48 hours before I announce them to the masses. So it's a good idea to save our sale page in your favorites list, and check it often. That way, you can take advantage of a great buy, before it's all gone.

But you may be connected in other ways, and we are too. You can follow us on Twitter if you'd like (look - the Cascade 220 announcement!): or you can become a fan of Kyarns on Facebook:
where we post notes and send updates on special deals.

And, as a side note, the Cascade 220 colors that we still have in the shop (the ones we are keeping) are all 15% off through the weekend.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A run of bad luck with at least one happy ending

Well, this is my very first blog entry because I really haven't been working at the shop that long and besides, I haven't really had anything to write about especially UNTIL today.

My bad luck, which is what this story is about, actually all started just before Christmas when my husband and I were on our way to a dream vacation in Hawaii. In my sleep deprived stupor - en route to Chicago - I accidently left my knitting bag on the plane with not one, but TWO brand new knitting projects inside!

Upon our return, my one attempt to retrieve the bag was a total loss as the guy at the United Airlines Lost Article Department, I could really tell could have cared less.

Then more bad luck. This past Friday night we were headed into Burlington on a cold, snowy nights to see a play. I had my latest favorite hat with me - the Sara's Magic Ball Hat, made with Be Sweet Magic Ball and Nashua Handknits Julia. We parked in Burlington, and I hopped out of the truck. Somehow my hat must have popped out too.

I looked and looked this weekend at home, but to no avail. This morning I figured I'd give it one last try, so I went back to Burlington to the exact same parking place... and look what I found!My hat, dirty and snow and salt-covered, but still there. I'm thinking maybe my luck has turned and the knitting bag will be turning up any day now!

Here's the water in the first rinse: Look how much better it looks: And now it's drying...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Isn't technology cool?

Last Monday, my Berroco Sales Rep was in town and stopped by to show me some buttons, sock yarns, etc from some other lines she reps. On Mondays, I leave the shop early so I can meet the girls when they get off the bus. So I asked Andra to meet me at home. She hadn't been to my home since our very first meeting, over 7 years ago to write my very first order.

Helen and Sophie have a great after-school routine. Owning the shop is more than a full time job for me, so when I leave work early those few days during the week, I usually have another hour or two in which I need to work. Helen and Sophie fix their own snacks and get started on their homework and only interrupt a few times if they have questions. Then at 5pm, it's family time. We get any homework questions cleared up, and move onto family activities. So when Andra came, we still stuck to the routine. We sat at the kitchen table and the girls were at the island. They did interrupt once or twice, and told us they were confused with their math homework. Andra said, "Oh, math! My favorite!" And when we finished up our yarn business, she jumped right in and started explaining the power of 10 to the girls. The power of 10 is actually the easiest thing I've seen recently - math was my best subject throughout school, but this whole "new math" thing that my kids are learning? It's for the birds... IMO. If I have to help them with math, I'm sorry, but I'm going to do it my way, the old way.

Anyway, Andra, with her background in engineering, did a great job explaining the power of 10, and then she and I spent a few fun filled moments comparing apps on our iPhones. I told her about Grocery IQ - a fun grocery list. I used to write down my grocery list like every other human being. But this way I can add to my list at any time of the day - which is when I usually remember I'm out of a key ingredient for some recipe I want to make. And an added bonus... it's a great way to bribe my children to come to the store with me..."I'll let you check off the list on the phone!" I also have a couple of math games for the kids, to help with multiplication and division. Andra showed me some fun apps that she has, including StitchMinder, which I am totally addicted to. It's a Kacha-Kacha for your phone!

I used to just use a pencil and a piece of paper to make hatch marks for each row I worked. Now I'm using StitchMinder and so far so good! This was my Noro Iro shrug (Jenny Watson Designer Mini Knits) late last week: I'm another 18" in now - I had plenty of good knitting time this past weekend. Soon it will look like this:
Speaking of technology, and how things have changed, when we were at our camp this past summer, my husband found something interesting at the dump. There are two days each week that are dump days. It's the time to clear out your camp of gabage and recyclables, and other things that may have accumulated over the years. I don't think Marc has every come home from the dump empty handed. After all, one person's trash is another person's treasure.
Last summer Marc went, left the trash and recyclables, and came back with a computer! Not just any computer, but a 20 year old vintage Mac SE with dual floppies. Can you believe this thing sold for $2,900!? Think what kind of Mac you could get for $2,900 today...

Anyway, it was dirty and had been out in the rain and mud. He cleaned it up and some guys he works with got it all fixed up. It works! Helen and Sophie were in his office recently checking it out.
They thought it was broken because the "touch screen" didn't work! :) They also laughed pretty hard at the floppy disks. They have never seen anything so silly, apparently!

And while we are on the subject of dirt and mud and rain (in this case, snow) tomorrow Polly will be posting her first post about a bit of bad luck she had this weekend. It's pretty funny, and part of it has a very good ending. Tune in tomorrow to see what we were all laughing about.