Saturday, August 29, 2009

Classes, classes, classes!

We have a class schedule! We've had people asking this summer for all different types of classes, and I was assigned the task of coordinating with our instructors and my co-workers to come up with a good class listing, so I hope everyone can find something fun on our list.

Those of us who will be teaching, and leading adventurous folks in these new knitting directions have been busy preparing, knitting swatches and samples, and we're getting excited! It is always so much fun to meet new folks and get a chance to share a great fiber experience with them.

I myself can't wait to share some of our swatch notebooks from this summer's knitting camps with beginning knitters in the new Learn to Knit Patterns & Swatches workshop. It was such a hit with our young folks this summer, that we're using it for adults now!
We have an impressive set of swatches for newer knitters in our swatch notebook. Do you have one? You should! Take a look at ours the next time that you're in the shop and you may start one for yourself.

I'm also looking forward to delving into the world of crochet with knitters who are looking to expand their repertoire and folks who are curious to try the fiber arts with just one hook rather than two needles. I'll be teaching the Learn to Crochet Class, and we'll each make a fun and easy potholder. We're getting Mission Falls 1824 Cotton back in the shop which is perfect for this project! Jill and Barb told me how great this yarn is. I've never used it before, so I can't wait to whip out a few potholders with it.

Some of our project classes feature designs that are very popular with our customers. Norah Gaughan designs are our most popular, so if
you want to tackle a sweater project, take a look at the Eastlake sweater class.

Another one of our most popular patterns is the Flared Rib Scarf. It's not that it's difficult, but it is a charted pattern, so sign up for this class if you need instruction reading those nifty little charted symbols.

We also have technique classes - for those techniques you haven't yet tried, but would like to! Cables, lace, knitted toys, fair isle, and first time socks on double pointed needles. Don't forget rug hooking! And just in case you can't find what you're looking for or have a project that needs a bit more help, we're making appointments for individual private instruction too.

For more information about these classes and our full class schedule please take a look at the listings online or stop by the shop for a handout. We hope to see you soon!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Errata - part 1

An errata is a list of errors in printed matter. Especially such errors noted in a list of corrections and inserted, usually on a separate page or slip of paper, in a book or other publication.

You've got it, no one is perfect. Designers, knitters, editors, and publishers all have a hand in working up those pretty little booklets and sheets that eventually find their way to your LYS and into your pattern library. It can be really frustrating or confusing when some of the instructions don't seem to make sense or the numbers don't add up! It's good to understand that everyone makes mistakes, and you can (and will) find mistakes in some of your knitting patterns.

Do yourself a favor. When you get started on a new project check for any erratas before you cast on! The catch here is that mistakes in a pattern don't always appear on a slip of paper included with your pattern. You may have to search online.

The mistake may not have been noticed yet (for new patterns) or corrected yet. Or, you may have purchased the pattern before the errata sheet was printed. A quick online search before you start a project sometimes can avert frustration, frogging and even moments of nervous knitting breakdown.

Step 1: Read completely through your pattern or look through the entire pattern booklet in case there is an errata sheet included.
Step 2: Check the designer's website for published errata that hasn't made it into the pattern, booklet, or book yet.
Step 3: Check the publisher's website for the same reason.
Step 4: Try a search for the pattern you are going to begin on Ravelry or the internet itself. There are so many knitters out there that chances are good someone else is knitting the same pattern that you are. If they've found an error or are less than happy with the pattern, wouldn't you like to know about it?

Now you're ready to start your new project. We get many visits and phone calls from customers who are struggling with patterns. One of the first things that we do is check online for erratas. If only we all were in the habit of doing this to begin with it could save a lot of time and frustration!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


First of all, we have a TON (and I mean TON!) of yarn on sale. We are making some changes to our inventory lineup and bringing in some new things - so these yarns MUST go. Check the sale pages, and place your order before it's all gone! It's online only, and locals should select PICKUP as a shipping method.

It's been a busy few weeks for me - the kids are getting ready for school, which starts next Wednesday. So the past couple of weeks have been full of back to school shopping, various appointments with doctors, allergists and orthodontists, and even a nice trip to the police station! Don't worry, I didn't do anything illegal! I was just there for fingerprinting. I am chaperoning an overnight sleepover on the second night of school and I had to have a background check. My kids got to see the holding "cell" and witness the new way of doing fingerprints. I was so glad that I didn't have to walk around with ink on my fingers afterwards... but really, Jill. It's 2009, wouldn't you expect that they have more modern methods of fingerprinting? (In my defense, I've never been fingerprinted, and have probably only seen it on TV shows years back!)

Anyway, my knitting has suffered because of the back-to-school routine. I did manage to whip up a quick baby hat in the Tilli Tomas Elsie. Forgive the picture here, it's blocking. It looks so much better when it's upright!

I put the Elsie yarn online a couple of weeks ago. It's a supersoft blend of milk protein, silk and wool and as I photographed (and held) each skein, I felt it would be perfect for a little baby hat. (Also for a sweater, but with my lack of free time, I couldn't commit to that!) The yarn is so soft and it comes in a great color range. I grabbed a skein of it and made up a little pattern. I used the Tilli Tomas Planet Earth Beads to add some fun to the hat. I'm excited with what I came up for at the top. I wanted something different, that I hadn't seen a lot of. So this is what I came up with - it sort of reminds me of a lettuce edging? I'll admit, the top detail took some time, but I think you'll agree, it was worth it.The hat took one skein of the Elsie (and I had a lot left!) and 2 colors (1 skein each) of the Planet Earth Beads.

The pattern will be available soon in our free patterns section.

Edited to Add: Here's the pattern!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fall Classes are posted

We posted the fall classes online yesterday, and we've already had people calling to sign up. Check them out now and sign up either online, by phone or in person.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Best Picks

People always come in to the shop and ask us what other people are knitting. So we thought we'd do a show and tell for you on the products that have been really popular over the past month:

Best Pick for Kits:

Scarf Kits Galore! The Pagewood Farms Tinkerbell Needle Felted Silk Scarf Kit, the Be Sweet & Artyarns Synergy Shawl Knit Kit and the Jade Sapphire Cashmere Scarf Kits (for Him or Her)

All of these kits are really grabbing attention in the shop. We have some gorgeous samples to fondle and purr over if you have a chance to stop in. There's such a variety of fiber goodness in these four kits, and they come in such wonderfully tempting colors that everyone is ogling. Come in and see these before the selection is gone - they'll make a great gift or an outstanding conversation piece for yourself. (I know not enough of us create FOR ourselves and all of these kits are great values! Now I just have to finish my own cashmere scarf...)

Best Pick Patterns:

Norah Gaughan volume #5, Berroco Book #288 Blackstone Tweed, Jane Ellison's Queensland Collection Book #9 (featuring some of the most handsome new men's designs!) AND Queensland Collection Book #10

Best Pick Accessories, Notions, & Needles:

The Namaste Mini Clutch, especially in Black or Eggplant (this is a super supple PVC-free faux leather mini clutch with a shoulder strap-check 'em out) and the Kollage Square Double Pointed needles in both 5" and 7" lengths. We're still getting great feedback about these needles and how much people love trying them out both in the store and as additions to needle collections.(Yes, there's a set on the counter for you to try!)

Best Pick Yarn(s):

Berroco Vintage Wool and Kollage Half & Half are the favorites of the month! Vintage Wool continues to be a strong choice for customers because it's so soft, and they can't believe it's a washable acrylic/wool/nylon blend. We added more new colors, too, so we've rounded out the pallet a bit for those of you looking for more options. And Half & Half is milk protein mixed with wool. NO, you can't drink it, but people are amazed that it contains milk. And once you touch it, it's on the counter waiting to be rung out.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Busy, busy summer knitting visits!

I just want to share some of our summer shop fun with our blog readers. So many customers visit us during the summer months and many of them drive great distances to stop by the shop (or Vermont). It's such a wonderful feeling to meet and connect with other knitters.

Excitement abounds each time someone walks through our door; it is such fun for all of us here to share new and exciting yarns, patterns, and accessories with other knitters. Sometimes our visitors get into the act themselves, introducing themselves to eachother and helping others discover just the prefect button or perfect color combination for their new project.

It is even more amazing when folks bring their finished projects in with them to show us the gorgeous, lovely, whimsical, and colorful things that they have created with such careful and attentive energy.

It provides so much inspiration to the people who are in the shop to see finished projects and learn new ways of combining techniques, fibers, or colors. I hope we continue to see many more finished pieces as it really is such a joy - we love to take photos and always ask if we can share with other knitters.

Here's a great example! Jenny B. stopped in the other day with her Cambria sweater (designed by Rick Mondragon in Knitter's magazine, Summer 2009.) She had been in earlier to find yarn for it, and we substituted Cascade 220 and Colinette Cadenza. Check it out!
She's made great progress and it will be done in time for the cooler weather.

Stop by for a few minutes with your latest project so we can see what you're up to.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

That something extra

Recently we started carrying the Planet Earth Beaded Silk Yarn, from Tilli Tomas. When I first saw these mini skeins, I didn't quite get it! They're so small, each skein only has 25 yards. I wondered if they would even sell!

Tilli Tomas made these mini skeins for needlepointers, cross stitchers and crazy quilters. They've been out for a couple of years, and they've been really popular with these folks. Tracy told us they were also selling like hotcakes in knitting shops, so we ordered them at the TNNA show in June. They arrived on Wednesday, June 23rd, just as the Vermont Quilt Festival was starting, and quilters were streaming through our shop.

We were unpacking the Tilli Tomas box down in the shop and were swarmed by some quilters. All of our Planet Earth Beaded Silk Yarn was gone by the weekend.

Fast forward to last week. Barb and I realized that in the last month, we've had to reorder these mini skeins numerous times! Each time we increase our quantities, and each time they sell out! And while the quilters did gobble up our intitial shipment, it's been knitters buying them since then. People want to add just a little something to a scarf, a hat, a shawl, etc. and the size of these little skeins is perfect! I'm now a believer!

Last week I made the Chill Chaser, a cute little scarf pattern by Tilli Tomas. I used one skein of Tilli Tomas Raw Silk and 2 Planet Earth Beaded Silks. It was so easy, and super quick. Here it is (not yet blocked, sorry!) When blocked, it will look more like this:
Then this week we got the Tilli Tomas Elsie yarn - this yarn is 1/3 wool, 1/3 silk and 1/3 milk protein. It is gorgeous and SO SO SO soft! I touched it and immediately thought "baby hat." So I grabbed 2 mini skeins (in Caribbean & Dill) and a skein of the Elsie (in Warmth) and got started.
It's going to be really sweet. I introduced just a hint of the sparkly stuff on the brim of the hat... I'm saving the rest for a statement at the top!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I love knitting camp!

I had the pleasure of being a part of knitting camp here at the shop TWICE this summer and I loved every minute of it. When you are an instructor, you really have a chance to learn right along with everyone else because each new skill for someone else is explained in detail - sometimes in ways that you haven't thought of before. Besides any knitter can benefit from going back to some of the basics and practicing them BEFORE working a new project.

Our second camp session ended on Friday of last week and two of our campers came back into the shop on Saturday to pick up supplies for new projects! It was such a pleasure visiting with them. These
young knitters were so excited to work on new projects that I guess they just couldn't face the idea of no camp session on Saturday. (It is a bit much to ask everyone to go cold turkey from knitting camp!) Knitting Camp was a great experience for everyone involved and there were many people who helped get our first knitting camps planned and implemented. Thanks to everyone who assisted and most of all thanks to the young knitters who attended and made it all great fun. From fiber exploration to knitting, and felting to dying yarn,
we really covered a lot with these kids!

We hope to see everyone again in the future - we're already thinking about Knitting Camp level II for next summer, and possibly Knitting Camp for adults due to the excitement our Knitting Camp for young people caused. Guess I better start working on new and more difficult Knitting Jeapardy questions!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A little birthday knitting

Ten years ago today I was 3 and a half weeks away from my due date with twins. I had a checkup, as my blood pressure had been climbing and they were worried about pre-eclampsia. At my checkup, the doctor came into the room, after running some tests, and very calmly told me that my blood pressure was super high and I needed to check in to the hospital within the next couple of hours so they could induce labor. Marc and I headed home to pack a bag (hadn't even done that yet) and drive 10 minutes to the hospital, not even needing to break the speed limit along the way.

The next 7-10 hours went quickly, and just after 9 that night, I was taken down to the emergency room to join the 22 or so folks who were on hand for this "multiples" birth. Nothing like a small, intimate birth! I think I had 8 or so people tending to me, and then there were at least 6 people on hand for each baby. At 9:37 pm Helen made her entrance, followed at 9:55 pm by Sophie. They were whisked away to the NICU... and the rest is history.

So today is the big double-digit birthday. When I asked them what they wanted to do, they both begged to knit all day! If you think about it, wouldn't that be the greatest gift?!
Right now they are sitting upstairs in Sophie's room in their new bean bag chairs... knitting. They were so excited after last week's knitting camp, that they bought the Charmed Knits book. (We're reading the 7th Harry Potter book together, aloud, and it's Harry Potter talk, all the time, around here these days!) They are each making a beret from the book, with Berroco Vintage Wool, and following the instructions all by themselves, with only a few questions so far.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Thing One and Thing Two

Well the rainy weather over the past few weeks has been good for one thing - knitting! Even if it didn't feel much like summer weather (until this week!) I've been knitting quite a bit and it doesn't seem inappropriate to be working on my fall and winter projects due to the cooler temperatures. So the wedding gift I'm making is growing and I just finished a really fun set of socks for a couple of my friends.

I often knit when I'm at other people's houses while I'm sitting and visiting with them. One of my friends has a daughter who is very interested in watching me knit. She's not quite ready to try it herself, but she is enthralled by the motions and the fact that something like a hat can grow out of the process. She also loves to wear socks to bed and I thought it might be fun to knit up a pair of slightly crazy socks for her so she could see what was happening along the way. Since I've been having such a good time knitting with Berocco Vintage Wool on my other project I decided to try it out on these worsted weight socks - especially since it is machine wash and dry.

I picked out her favorite color, red, and matched it with something fun, robin's egg blue, for stripes and contrast. The socks were quick (I used the Yankee Knitter #29 Classic Socks pattern as a guide) to knit and everyone who has seen them is tickled by the colors and stripes.

I finished up the red pair for my friend's daughter and realized I had plenty of yarn left to make another complimentary pair of socks. Wouldn't it be neat for these two to have a 'matching' pair of slipper socks?! I love them and the colors remind me of Dr. Seuss' Thing One and Thing Two who appear in the Cat in the Hat aptly during a rainy day when no one can go out to play.
Hope you are tickled by Thing One and Thing Two Socks just like my friends and I are! :)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Lima, and not the beans!

A quick Google of "lima beans" returns this interesting bit of info:
"Lima beans originated in Peru (or possibly Guatemala). They have been cultivated in Peru since 6000 B.C., and their common name comes from Lima, Peru's capital city."
I didn't know that! All I knew was that lima beans are one of maybe three foods I just don't care for. Of course the pronunciation of the beans has surely been Americanized. The capital city of Peru is pronounced "Leeeema", just like the new Lima yarn from Rowan. And while I would not eat lima beans, I would gladly devour knit through a plate full of Lima yarn.

This yarn is sinfully decadent. It's a blend of baby alpaca, merino wool and nylon. It's got a unique hollow core chainette construction, that produces a light and airy knit. The colors are lovely - heathered soft shades with a halo of fuzz.

I just loved knitting with it. It's a keeper, and I am so glad that there's such an incredible pattern booklet to go along with it! The Lima Collection has 15 beautiful designs for women AND men. That's right, there are some great men's sweaters in this booklet.

My favorites are the Brea sweater:

the Sean Wrap:

the Deirdre sweater:

and for men, the Nathan sweater:

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Amazing bag sale! Ends Friday at 5pm

Great deal! Great deal!
We're offering super low prices on Offhand Designs bags, now through Friday 8/7 at 5pm EST. These bags are beautiful! Very high quality, lovely fabrics, great styles, lots of pockets & other great features, and handmade in the U.S.

You must order online - but locals, don't forget that you can select PICKUP as your shipping method, and we'll email you when your order is ready.

These bags will be ready next week - they haven't shipped to us yet.

Get wrapped up with fun stitch patterns!

Knitting new stitch patterns is always fun, but even knitting up a new pattern can quickly get "old" when it's a large project.

This isn't true with the Wrap Me Up pattern by Knitting at Knoon. We saw this knit up at TNNA in the Knitting at Knoon booth. I knew it would be a fun project, and a great idea for a class!
It's a fun wrap to knit, as it's a modular sampler wrap. The blocks are all different sizes, shapes and patterns. So just when I get bored with a stitch pattern, the block is done and I move on to a new one! It's going to be gorgeous when it's done.

I think I might like a small blanket done the same way. OR.. I have even been thinking of a scarf with a fingering weight yarn, smaller needles - but the same pattern. I can't wait to knit tonight! I'm moving on to another block.

Chris de Longpre intended this to be knit with a self striping yarn as the main color, with a solid yarn as the contrast color. Obviously any of the Noro yarns would be a wonderful choice - either the Silk Garden or the Kureyon would be just beautiful. We wanted to make our shop model in a washable yarn, and we also wanted to show that it can be an affordable project, so I chose
Jojoland Rhythm as my main color, and Vintage Wool for the contrast.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Swatching across the border

This weekend we were lucky to have one gorgeous day - but Sunday wasn't so great. So Marc and I decided to do a day trip to Ikea in Montreal. I love Ikea! And I'm already having the "shoulda, woulda, coulda" bought a few more things I needed. So I think we'll have to go back sometime soon...

Anyway, the drive to Montreal is easy and quick from Burlington. The girls were excited because they got their first stamps in their brand new passports! (The man was nice enough to oblige!) Thankfully Marc likes to drive, because it gives me time to knit. I worked a bit on the second sleeve to my Cormorant sweater, but I had some new Rowan yarns with me and I was eager to swatch them!

I swatched the Rowan Cocoon first. I love this yarn! It is quick to knit (I used a 10.5) and super soft! For some reason it reminds me of a luxury version of Lopi. I used a lot of Lopi in my college days, but I don't really care for it - I find it scratchy. The colors are gorgeous, but the scratch factor is too much for me. The colors of the Rowan Cocoon remind me of the Lopi colors, but this yarn is in a totally different league. It was lovely to knit with. Here's the unblocked swatch:
I am eyeing a few things from Rowan Magazine 46 for this yarn. I like Stockport:
and Guiseley:
Then I swatched the Rowan Alpaca Cotton, which is a brand new yarn for fall. This is a yummy yarn, available in six natural shades. A word of caution - it does not work well with cuticles that are dry and prickly! I've been in and out of my gardening gloves a lot recently, and have not been taking care of my poor hands, so my cuticles are in terrible shape. I didn't have any hand lotion with me in the car, so as a last resort I grabbed some lip balm and massaged a little in to each cuticle. Luckily this did the trick, and the rest of my swatch went smoothly! This yarn reminded me of mohair, but it's alpaca and cotton. I can't wear mohair. But I could wear this!
Alpaca Cotton has a whole book dedicated to it called Classic Winter Solace. I am in love with the Tilda Coat:and the Lotta Pullover:
So it was a great day... international travel, IKEA, knitting time in the car, and two great new yarns.

And by the way... the Swedish meatballs were delicious, and I now have more of my favorite Plastis dish brushes!

Monday, August 03, 2009

A summer snowman

We've passed the six month mark for Christmas 2009. For me that means it is time to start thinking about what I would like to accomplish in my knitting world before December looms any closer. I have a few things on my needles already of course and plans for more. (No peaking, you'll get to see them soon enough!) Even though we are finally getting some nice summer weather, I'm thinking warm wool presents for friends and family.

Two weeks ago I got a start on a tiny little project that is just perfect for setting the winter mood. I took home Malabrigo Worsted in the natural color, and Snobuddies, a Knitting at Knoon pattern. I also grabbed a set of the square Kollage double pointed needles. I quickly knit up the baby snobuddy that evening before I headed out with some friends.
I stashed it in my knitting bag along with the roving I'm using for stuffing, the needles and the Malabrigo. I did not zip the knitting bag. I SHOULD have zipped the knitting bag.

When I came home that night to relax and start one of the larger snowbuddies, I pulled out the roving, the needles, my wool and the pattern and got started. But the baby snowbuddy was no longer in the bag. Hmmmm.

Small woolen snow people generally do not go exploring by themselves. And despite the recent high temperatures, I don't think that this one melted. I looked everywhere for the tiny little creature. I used a yard stick to retrieve all the cat toys from under the refrigerator and stove. No luck. Baby snowbuddy was MIA.

Apparently tiny snow people are great cat toys. I'm sure Indigo had NOTHING to do with the disappearance.
Now a couple of weeks later, we have the completed snowbuddy family (not quite decorated yet!) I was sure to zip my bag this time. Check out the earmuffs!