Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Prehistoric Education

I've been working on a couple of fun new samples for the shop using our Noro Kureyon yarn. (We just got in some new colors, too!) Here are the different pieces of my first project: Not sure what this was going to be? Neither were my friends, when I was working on this last week. And explaining it to them was a bit of a challenge. I was with several people who use American Sign Language to communicate, and I'm still learning. I tried to finger spell "triceratops" and got some very strange and confused looks. At that point I switched to finger spelling "dinosaur" and I learned my favorite sign yet! Here's a hint of the sign, but come on by the shop and I can show it to you in motion:Our resident toy expert, Emily, helped me out on Saturday and sewed the pieces together. So here is our newest sample, a Triceratops named Pokey. We took him out for a walk today:He liked hanging out in the "dino forest" the best:
The pattern I'm using is the Knitting at Knoon Prehistoric Pals. It's such a great way to use some of the fun bright colors of Noro Kureyon. I can't wait to finish the Stegasaurus (to be named Spike)!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Special Project, Finally Unveiled

A is for "Alex"!
Last month I got an email from a friend and former kyarns staff member in Florida. Many of you will remember Alex, who worked with us at the shop on Saturdays for about 2 years. Alex moved to Florida over a year ago and emailed me that she had just found out she has breast cancer and was planning a mastectomy, chemo and radiation for this summer. We were all devastated. We just felt awful, and wished she were closer so we could pitch in and do whatever she could possible need help with. But we're in Vermont, and she's in Florida, so that wasn't really going to be possible.

I had just spent several hours seaming one of our Plymouth Encore charity afghans, and I had also just finished a little baby sweater out of Berroco Pure Pima. I was feeling really good about the charity afghans, and was loving the Pure Pima and sad that the project was over. So the idea was born... I came in to work the next day and asked everyone on the kyarns team if they would help knit a square or two for a blanket for Alex. I thought it would be a nice reminder of all the well wishers that she has up here in Vermont, and she could also use it to cuddle up in whenever she was feeling yucky or in need of a little love. Not to mention - doing something like this for charity makes you feel good. But doing it for someone you actually know personally is an even better feeling. Everyone on the kyarns team was thrilled to help and so the ABC (Alex's Breast Cancer) Blanket was started.We figured out the finished size that we wanted (40" x 50") and determined that it would take about 20 skeins of Pure Pima. I picked 10 colors and grabbed 2 skeins of each. Then I contacted everybody on our team and gave them general instructions - pick a color, cast on 50-60 stitches and knit until the end of the skein, or until desired length. The great thing about this project is that no two pieces would be alike. People chose all different patterns - some they just liked, some they were sampling for a future project, and some that had special meaning.
I knew that piecing it together would be a bit of a challenge, but this wasn't a perfect quare thing we were aiming for. It was more of a chance for each of us to choose a design or pattern and just go with it. (I can't speak for everybody else, but I did choose my green cabled design -pictured at bottom in this next picture - because it reminded me of different sized "boobs" and that old commercial for the cross your heart bras... the ones with a tape measure... and after all, this was all about the boobs, you know?)
So everyone pitched in, got the squares knit and blocked, and I began the job of piecing it together. And it was an interesting job! 100% cotton is not as forgiving in seaming, so several seams were done over and over and over. And in the end, I longed to be seaming the charity blankets out of Encore. Boy are those simple compared to this one!
Going in to this, I knew the edges wouldn't line up properly - that was sort of the point - but I also had to make sure that the colors were evenly spread out. In the end, it worked out pretty well. I only had to knit 2 small rectangles to fill in a bit of space along two of the edges. I then used the leftover scraps of Pure Pima to do 3 rows of single crochet around the edges.
I washed it and dried it, and popped it in a box to send to Alex in Florida. We were all on pins and needles - having really enjoyed participating in this special project, but also anticipating Alex's reaction to it. She received it on Friday afternoon and was really touched. Here she is with it:
She's a few weeks post surgery, and hasn't started chemo yet. We're all thinking of her, and even though we can't be near her in person, at least we're there in spirit, with our blanket.
Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this blanket... Barb, Shawn, Michele, Emily, Polly, Suzie, Tom, India, Andrea, Marilyn and Kali. And special wishes that it brings Alex love and warmth whenever she needs it.
Oh yeah, I'm overdue for my mammogram this year. Don't worry - I'm calling tomorrow to make the appointment.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Norah's here!

Well, okay, not in the flesh... but her pattern books are here! Fresh from the printers, with that newly printed smell even...
Yummy! This is the last of the boxes ready to ship for tomorrow morning. We had to do them in batches, and this was the third or fourth I think? Since we've shipped out all of our pre-orders, we are now in a bit of a quandry...


Monday, June 22, 2009

Time for a little reorg?

Don't worry - "reorg" doesn't refer to people here... it refers to "stuff." We are an organized bunch, but even the most organized folks can wake up one day and find that things have somehow gotten a bit out of control! Last week we started a major cleansing - first with all of the closets and then with the shipping room and the classroom. Then we moved to all warehouse areas and finally the shop. We are planning to change the front area of the shop just a bit. Rug hooking supplies will be moved upstairs to the classroom.
Don't worry hookers! Everything is still available, but you will need to ask one of us for assistance, and we'll take you upstairs. (Then you get the table to lay your rugs out on... it's all good!) We just really need more space for the wonderful yarns we have coming in each week. (And samples... I can't forget the samples!)

Because we are changing the front of the shop around, I went shopping for some display things this weekend. I was looking for a folding screen, and couldn't find anything that would work for us. I looked online, but the closest thing I could find to what I was looking for was close to $175, and that was before shipping. And, it wasn't REALLY what I wanted. So I went to Mason Brothers Architectural Salvage, just a stone's throw from the shop - and found some beautiful old shutters. I bought some hinges, and for less than $60, an hour of heavy scrubbing, and 15 minutes of drilling, viola! Just what I wanted, and I saved a lot in doing it myself. Gotta love those DIY projects. Can't wait to hang yarn all over this baby!

I found another great piece for the shop - this old wool winder was on sale for half price! Did they know I was coming? Perfect for the shop, and it still works.
And I got another great cabinet that will be perfect for holding yarn in the front of the shop. That one also took a lot of elbow grease in cleaning it up, but it was so worth it. I love re-using things - makes me feel good.

Late last week we were hit by all the great people who came to the Vermont Quilt Festival at the Champlain Valley Expo. We always forget exactly HOW busy we are when these folks are in town. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday felt like our typical days in November and December. The shop was just mobbed with groups of people. We had so much fun helping them, but we were all a bit droopy at the end of each day!

We had some new Tilli Tomas yarns that they were grabbing right out of the box. They weren't even in our system yet (and still aren't!) so it was a bit of a feeding frenzy. We are getting another shipment from Tilli tomorrow and then I'm locking myself in the classroom and not coming out until these new yarns are online.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Camp prep

Back from TNNA! What a great trip. I'll be posting about that soon! The weather in Columbus was just gorgeous. It's usually really hot and humid with thunderstorms and major downpours. This year was a treat with temps in the 70s, sun and a lovely breeze.
Back in Vermont, however, the weather forecast isn't looking quite as nice. Today is a bit damp and chilly so I'm thankful for our new Half-Crepe Triangular Shawl sample, knit with Mountain Colors Wool Crepe Halves. It keeps my shoulders warm and I can see it's going to be my go-to piece when the chill of the A/C starts to bother me this summer. (You should make one! Easy, quick, and the weight is perfect!)
So we've got our first ever Kyarns kids' knitting camp coming up in less than a month (still a few spots left!) We're putting together the daily schedule and buttoning up all the details for the week. We are so excited! It's really going to be a lot of fun for those lucky kids! (Why didn't they have this when I was a kid!?)

I'm putting together the master swatch notebook, and I'm about halfway through. I'm using the Berroco Vintage Wool because you know I love it! I picked some super bright colors - remember, we're dealing with kids, and these colors are WAY more appealing than they might be to you and I!We have kids of all different abilities coming to the camp, and as I've learned from the rec department after school knitting program I did with Suzie this past year, it's good to have lots of options for all the kids. We're focused on teaching them skills that they can use once they've left the camp, so the knitting time will really be swatching time. They'll learn how to read charts and how to read their knitting. (I know some grown ups who would benefit from this exercise!!) Kids who are beginner knitters can start at the beginning of the swatch book, and kids with experience can start in the middle, or beyond!

If you think about it, making a swatch 10 stitches wide by 10-12 rows high seems very basic. But pair it up with chart reading, and lots of casting on, binding off & weaving in ends, comparing it to other swatches to learn about gauge, and these kids will be really skilled at many techniques at the end of the week.

There are hands on non-knitting (but fiber related - of course!) activities each day. And here's an example of a felted flower that they will be making: Gorgeous! Shawn made this one, and now I want to do it!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The perfect sweater for Liz

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter Liz asked me to knit her a sweater. Her thinking was "knitted sweaters are totally in fashion and she could get one (actually she asked for several) for free". Let's say the search for a pattern and the right color of yarn was a bigger job than the actual knitting was. I must say, her idea of a short sweater is not the same as mine!

She chose the Nolicare cardigan from Berroco Book 285: Linen Picnic. It's really cute and I was excited to knit it for her. Liz didn't like the feel of the Berroco Linen Jeans and thought the colors were a bit too mature for her (she's 14.) So we ended up with the Tahki Cotton Classic in white. (I'm glad this yarn is washable!)

I worked on my gauge swatch that weekend. Liz saw the swatch I knit and asked if her sweater would be ready the next day. Now I know I knit fast... but really! She was so eager to wear this sweater.

I knit the back until about half-way up the armhole. I held it up to her for size, and she wasn't happy with the length. I could tell by her tone that even though she said "It's okay mom," that wasn't at all what she meant. So I ripped out about 10" of knitting. The only benefits of her wanting it shorter was that the fronts took less time to knit.

I finished the sweater early enough so she could wear it to school before summer vacation. She was thrilled. She said she felt so pretty that day. Score one for mom!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thunderstorms as usual

Barb and I are waiting in BTV for our flight to Columbus, which is delayed. Every year we've had delays due to thunderstorms. LGA is having them now so we are just waiting patiently...

Barb is swatching away on her Lang Alpaca Superlight. She says it's very soft and not itchy like a mohair would be. I think it is gorgeous, but a yarn that thin would drive me crazy. Luckily she doesn't mind it. Maybe she'll be nice and knit me the sweater I want in it for the fall...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And then it was summer

School was supposed to end tomorrow, so how is it that today was the first day of summer? Well, a little thing called H1N1 (also known as "Swine Flu") forced our school to close down a bit early this year. Kindergarten was closed on Monday, since there were 5 confirmed cases and others with flu-like symptoms. By Tuesday, there were 17 other students and 5 staff members with symptoms as well, so Tuesday at 5pm we received an emergency alert call (LOVE THOSE!) that told us Wednesday would be the last day of school.

Helen wasn't too phased, but Sophie was really upset. They are 4th graders, and in our school, 5th graders go to the middle school. So it was the end of their elementary school era, and when you think you can strut your stuff as a big 4th grader, and draw out the teary goodbyes for the rest of the week, but then get news that you only have one day to do it... it can be a shock. So yesterday they had their graduation ceremony and it was actually a bit sad for me. It was a big reminder of how quickly time passes. It's sad that my little girls are now big girls. Luckily they are still little at heart! It seems that just yesterday they were getting off the bus - their first bus ride home from kindergarten:
And then 1st grade:
And 2nd:
And 3rd:
And now on graduation day from 4th grade: Anyway, they had a pretty lazy day today for their first day of summer. And look who must be excited that they're home all day now! Maisy is usually not so tolerant of dressing up, but she looks very nice in her bonnet.
She even wore the Irish step dancing wig without putting up a fight. I never would have believed it, but with photographic evidence, it has to be true.
Speaking of graduations, my neice is graduating from high school tomorrow. My sister is crocheting her a "take to college" afghan out of.... Berocco Vintage Wool. She picked 14 colors and taught herself to "granny". There's been a little hand holding on my end, but now she's well on her way. The Vintage Wool is perfect for this project. It will be gorgeous, and it will be soft and warm, but be completely easy care for an 18 year old college freshman.

Unfortunately I am missing her graduation because Barb and I leave for Columbus for the TNNA Fall show tomorrow morning. We'll be checking out all sorts of new things for the shop. And my travel project is putting together swatches for our Kids Knitting Camp this summer. We still have a few openings for July, and I think, one for August, so sign up your kids!

And one last thing. WWKIP (World Wide Knit in Public) day is Saturday and our shop is opening late, at 11am, instead of the regular 9am. Shawn and Emily will be downtown in Burlington right by the Farmer's Market, knitting with the masses (we hope.) They'll be there at 9am and will stay for a bit until they have to come back and open the shop. Bring your knitting, a chair, and snacks if you get hungry, and knit with some like minded folks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Where did our seaming help go!?

We're still seaming the charity blankets... remember we have 5 blankets to put together, so that's a lot of seaming! A lot of people said they wanted to help, and maybe the first three dates we put out there for seaming didn't work for many of you, because we didn't have many people show up! So we are making it easier for you.

Come in to the shop, any time during open hours and sit down and seam for a bit. We will take 5 minutes to be sure you are seaming properly (heck, this sort of qualifies as a free lesson, doesn't it!?) and then you can sit and seam.

It's very theraputic, and it's all for a good cause. Please, please, please! We have just finished the first blanket, and it is truly beautiful. We are not on a deadline to finish these, but we really would like to get them done soon, as we have some other projects coming up. Here's the first twin sized blanket - isn't it beautiful!?

Thanks again to Kali for arranging the squares.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


So many customers have come in to the shop and admired the Rocketry Baby Blanket and Cardigan set that Jill knit up as samples a while back.
The patterns for these two projects are really nice and because the Dream in Color Classy is a little pricey, we've been helping people find substitutions in colors that are similar, but less expensive. The Classy version takes 6 skeins of Classy, 1 each in 6 different colors. It's enough to make the blanket and sweater and costs $108.
An easy substitution is Berroco Comfort. This worsted weight yarn comes in wonderful bright colors and is quite soft and machine washable. If you choose to use the Comfort, you need to purchase 7 skeins (1 each in 5 different colors, and 2 of the sixth color.) At just $5.75 each, that comes to $40.25. Big savings!

If you like the colors we used in our shop model, you'd want to get the Berroco Comfort in Pimpernel, Dutch Teal, Purple, Seedling, Kidz Orange and Delft Blue.

We've also made up a few combos for customers wanting some different mixes, so you may also like:
~ Seedling, Adirondack, Primary Blue, Deft Blue, Navy Blue and Agean Sea OR
~ Seedling, Dutch Teal, Primary Blue, Purple, Pimpernel and Filbert OR
~ Teaberry, Rosebud, Turquoise, Cornflower, Agean Sea and Rasberry Sorbet

And in another attempt to save some money, did you know you can buy the PDF versions of these patterns for less $$$? We've just added a bunch of Tilli Tomas PDF patterns online too.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Asteroid scarf - finished!

The other night I finished my scarf in the Tilli Tomas Asteroid. It's lovely - and by having it in my bag here at the shop, lots of customers have been able to see it. Needless to say, the yarn sells as soon as the scarf comes out of the bag! The pattern is free with purchase (ask for it if you order online!)

I'm not working this weekend, but the scarf will be here for any of you who want to see it. The yarn is technically online only, but we'll have it in the shop this weekend for anyone who wants to see it. It's gorgeous stuff... too bad it's going, going, gone! (ADDED: My scarf took one skein. Yardage varies on each skein because some beads weigh more. If I cut off two stitches I would have had some extra length.)
Directions: Cast on 14 stitches. Purl 1 row. Work in pattern to desired length of end of skein.
Row 1: k1, *yo, sl 1 wyib, k1, psso; rep from *, end k1. Row 2: p1, *yo, sl 1 wyif, p1, psso; rep from *, end p1.

Finally some nice weather in Vermont! I have a lot of gardening/outside painting/fort building to do this weekend, so I plan to enjoy the time outside. I can't wait to relax on my deck in the lounge chair, and knit! Will try to finish my next project to show you all early next week.

Also, a few more yarns added to the sale page! I've been buying, buying, buying for fall, so there are some good deals right now. Check them out!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Loose ends

I'm trying to finish up some projects I have laying around. I finally finished my Pure Pima swatch - isn't this the coolest cable? Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will be able to show you our top-secret Pure Pima project. It's a collective effort and we are all so eager to see it when it's finished!
I also have a cabled hat going in Mille Colori Big. This is a new yarn from Lang. It's brand new - not even on the website yet, maybe tomorrow? But many of you will remember Mille Colori - the worsted version of this that we did SO well with a couple of years ago. Here it is in a bulky. One skein will make a hat and mittens, I believe. So I just have to finish the hat, and then make the mittens!
And then I started a teacher end-of-year gift. This is with Tilli Tomas Asteroid, a gorgeous beaded silk. It's a two row pattern that's quite simple and the result is stunning! I think I already contributed for a class gift, but I couldn't resist with this one. And this yarn is on sale at a rock bottom price! I am also planning a hat with it, but I have to design it, and I'm a bit stumped with what I see in my mind, and how to actually achieve the exact result I want.

So I have these loose ends, and I want to finish them up. They are all relatively small projects, but it's the last two weeks of school, and there are so many school related activities that are filling my evenings!