Friday, July 23, 2010

Welcome to the World of Buttons!

We've always carried a good selection of buttons in the shop, but our non-local customers have complained that it's so hard to find a decent selection online. So we've been busy over the past few weeks getting all of our buttons up online - and we're so thrilled to announce that the project is complete! All of our current button styles are photographed and available for sale online now.
We've sorted them out in the following categories for now: Adult Buttons, Kids' Buttons, Metal Buttons, Clasps, Ceramic Buttons, Danforth Pewter Buttons, Zecca Buttons, Lantern Moon Buttons, Mission Falls Buttons, Shell Buttons and Natural Material Buttons. So take a look!

Next week we'll put up our discontinued buttons, and these will all be on super-sale!

Speaking of buttons, I finished my Sublime striped sweater last night, as promised:
And pulled some buttons that worked:And ended up with this:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Addicted to flowers

I finished my 1824 Wool crochet project... a flowered scarf and a hat (sans flowers!) to match. And I'm sad... because I just LOVED making those crocheted flowers. This was a really fun project, and 7 balls of 1824 Wool (1 each of 7 colors) did the hat and scarf. I was really proud of the hat, but I thought there was an error in the pattern. I corrected for the apparent "error" in my own way, but now that I've finished the hat, I wanted to research it to see if anyone else had issues.

I asked Barb to look at it today. She has way more crochet experience than I do, and as an ex-CPA, she's got that number thing going on in her brain. She can look
at a pattern quickly and calculate stitch counts like it's nobody's business. Turns out, there is NO mistake in the pattern. It was a simple case of Jill "skimming and scanning" and overlooking a few key details. It's not like THAT hasn't happened before! Oops.

So let this be a reminder of how important it is to READ the pattern and UNDERSTAND it. I don't always think you have to read through the entire pattern before you start... that can be frustrating as some things will only make sense when you get to that point and have the work in front of you in your hands. But it really is important to read each STEP clearly, as you are ON that step.

The hat - though nobody would EVER know I did a few things creatively, is being redone properly. That way the sample in the shop will be exactly as the pattern intended.

And I've moved on to my striped sweater... which will be finished tonight. And then I get to start another fun project... with some fun crocheted flowers, though just a few!
The Insou Hat is knitted with Berroco Weekend, and has been on the Top 10 list of Berroco's Free Patterns for a while no
w. It's really cute, and I'm excited to make it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Knitting Camp Fun

Despite a rainy start to the week, the kids attending our knitting camp had a fun morning yesterday dying yarn.Today's weather was a little better, and so rinsing their dyed yarns and wet felting were lots of fun.They're all knitting little sweaters this week - learning how to follow and interpret a pattern, how to increase and decrease, and how to seam.

Be sure to check out our fun videos of knitting camp on You Tube or on our Facebook page.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Berroco Remix: We love it, but what exactly IS it?

We have a lot of new yarns on our shelves right now, and one I am most excited about is Berroco Remix. I just love the feel of this yarn. It's really soft and wonderful to knit with! It's easy to care for (machine washable!) and it comes in gorgeous tweedy shades. But that's all on the surface. Here's a behind the scenes look at something that makes this yarn super special.

(Following text courtesy of Berroco, Inc.)

Berroco Remix:

Reduce, reuse, recycle. How are you greening your knitting? Reducing doesn't seem like much fun and reusing generally means you've had to rip out a failing project, a painful part of any knitter's process. Enter Remix, a new, 100% recycled Berroco yarn made using a low-impact manufacturing process patented in France. Remix is the result of over a year of collaborative work between mill and textile engineers...

How is it made? Garments and high-quality commercially knit fabric panels left over from the ready-to-wear industry are collected from across Europe and sorted by fiber, then color. Because these pieces are pre-dyed, there is no need to dye them again, which saves water and prevents water pollution. Instead, colors are created by carefully blending garnetted fibers. Garnetted fiber is the result of shredding old textiles to make a new, fleece-like fiber that is ready to be spun into a new yarn.

All about Remix: Remix is a soft, comfortable blend of nylon, cotton, acrylic, silk and linen. A tweedy, rustic look makes this an ideal candidate for casual knits, and its machine washability means any garment will be low maintenance and hard-wearing. The yarn comes in an abundant 216 yard ball and knits to a worsted weight gauge. Finished garments are immediately cozy, with the feeling of well-loved jeans or your favorite old tee-shirt.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Branching out

I've been straying a bit! Even though I have a number of knitting projects in the works, my attention has wandered a bit to other crafts. Now I'm just wishing for more hours in each day, so I can finish up some of these projects.

I still have a sleeve and the edging to do on my little striped Sublime sweater. It's terribly sweet, and I love knitting with the yarn, but I had to put it down to whip up a little doll sweater for knitting camp next week. Shawn is running the camp, and the kids are going to ma
ke an easy raglan doll (or bear) sweater and learn how to seam it together. Months ago, I told Shawn not to worry, that I'd take care of making up a pattern and knitting the sweater. Well, the other day she "reminded" me nicely that I hadn't made the sweater yet... and so I put aside my Sublime sweater, grabbed some Vintage Chunky and made this:I even finished all seams except for a few so Shawn can demonstrate for the kids. It's cute, easy and I know the kids can complete this... it only took me one evening.

And then, I got sidetracked again. We have been working on a category sort feature for all 1200+ patterns on our website... a way to narrow your search quickly - and find just the pattern you are looking for. This is a huge project on our end, and involved looking at (and through) every pattern and pattern booklet and classifying
which yarn weight(s) and category(ies) and age(s), etc.

As I was looking through the Mission Falls patterns, I found an adorable hat and scarf set that are croche
ted (Mission Falls Goes Crochet Pattern Booklet). I love Mission Falls 1824 Wool, and hadn't used it in a while. And, while I'm not a big crocheter, I do tend to go on crochet binges once in a while. I felt the binge coming on, and so I grabbed some yarn and started working on the scarf. (What's that? Is that a Sublime sweater calling my name? I'll pretend I don't hear it!) This scarf is SO much fun. I love love love it. I feel like I'm addicted to crocheted flowers now!

And to make matters worse, I've sort of gotten into a sewing project for Helen and Sophie. Their 11th birthday is in less than a month. I told them I would let them pick out some fabrics and I would make them some throw pillows for their beds. (Apparently, at this age, the idea of lounging or reading on a pretty bed with lots of soft pillows is appealing!) I'm not quite sure how making pillows turned into making pillows, 2 new reversible comforter covers AND 2 sets of new curtains. But at this point, non-sewer that I am, I'm in over my head and there's no going back.
We'll see how it all turns out!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Never Not Knitting Trunk Show

Don't forget to stop in and see the Never Not Knitting trunk show pieces! They're all in the back of the worsted room and deserve a good look!

Here are just a few shots to tempt you, but in person, they are even more spectacular! Let's see, we have Playful Stripes and Sheepish:
Watermelon, Chloe and Very Cherry:Haltermelon and Spring Garden:and 2 different versions of the Molly Beret:And that's not it. There are a lot of other items here too!

New goodies from Manos!

Lots of great things arrived from Manos late last week. New colors of Manos Wool Clasica in semi-solids:and multis:new colors of Manos Silk Blend in semi-solids:and multis:and finally... Manos Maxima! Here's just a bit of it... waiting to be hanked. Maxima is a 100% extrafine merino wool that's available in 10 kettle dyed "multi" colors. It's GORGEOUS! So soft - close your eyes and you'll think it's Malabrigo... or better!

And here's a reminder... this hat only takes one skein and the pattern is free!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Quick, Cute & Inexpensive!

These are the most adorable little booties I've ever seen. Soft, fuzzy and sweet. Need more convincing?

The pattern is free.

The yarn
(Plymouth Angora) costs only $6.
They are super quick to make (I finished the pair in under an hour!)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Stripes Galore

Hope everyone's holiday weekend was fantastic! We sure had some hot weather here in the northeast, but it's better than a weekend of rain, so I'm not complaining. We celebrated the 4th by heading to our camp in Maine. Thankfully, the heat wasn't too much of an issue, since this is what went on for 3 days: And it was breezy enough for sailing, so that kept things cool. I figured that since the weekend was about stars & stripes, I would start a little striped project of my own. I didn't go with patriotic colors, but stripes are stripes. I'm making this:In these colors: And it's coming along nicely!The yarn is new for us. It's Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK from Sublime. Quite a mouthful! But even though I can't ever remember the "exact" name (I get it confused with Cashmerino and others!) it is so wonderful to knit with!! The colors are beautiful and the patterns are incredible. Each little booklet has a wonderful selection of baby patterns. This pattern is in the Second Little Sublime Knit Book #606.

L O V E !

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Polly's back from Kenya!

Remember Polly was planning a trip to Kenya? She's back, and was nice enough to share some details of her trip:

Well, my husband, daughter and I safely returned from our trip to Kenya having truly had a spectacular time. This trip was all about seeing the spot where our daughter, Kate, had been living for the last 5 months and meeting her many friends and c
oworkers. We had been to Kenya 11 years ago as a family when we went on some amazing safaris. The only animals we saw this time were 2 giraffes at the game park located right next to the airport in Nairobi. Now that's an unlikely sight as you touch down!

Just to set the scene, I've enclosed a photo of the small town of Kendu Bay. Things are very rugged by our standards, but teaming with life and a feast for our western eyes.

Here's a picture of Kate surrounded by some of her girls from on
e of the primary schools where she worked.
She was instrumental in starting girls' clubs in several of the local schools with the purpose of addressing the reasons for the unacceptably high drop-out rate of the girls. Turns out that one of the main reasons for truancy on the part of the young adolescent girls is that with puberty they have no sanitary protection and so must miss school on a regular basis. Kate, together with a team of local women, were able to devise and distribute reusable pads that were hugely helpful for the girls. She also was involved with sex education - a taboo subject - to try to address the high early adolescent pregnancy rate.

Getting to the crochet workshop, I have to say that it was a huge success! Turns out that Mrs. Opondo (who was Kate's host mother and important community figure) had gathered about 15 or so of the members of her women's group called Voice of the Youth. She even rented a tent for the occasion which was really useful as a protection from the hot sun. As I mentioned in my first blog before departing, I had no idea whether the group would know anything about working with yarn. Turns out most all of them had crocheted before and were familiar with some of the basic stitches. They had this really odd way of holding the yarn, however, so I spent a good bit of time trying to teach them a more fluid way. They loved when I referred to the "pinkie" finger! Though it turned out that most everyone's English was quite good, they had never heard this word before.

We went on to the techniques involved in making granny squares and without too, too much trouble they all pretty much picked them up.
They absolutely raved about the quality of the Encore yarn that I had brought with me from the shop and were so grateful for it and the crochet hooks. I showed them how to change colors as they worked around their squares and also how to sew together smaller squares to make a large blanket.

After we were several hours into the workshop, we had a lovely tea break. I learned that the Kenyans love their tea and it's delicious. It's served with quite a bit of milk and sugar so there's a lot of nutrition to it.

Among the photos from the workshop is one of us dancing. I absolutely loved this part! As a way of celebrating our completed task, they suggested we dance. Everyone set down their work and commenced to sing as we moved in unison to the music. There were big smiles and warm feelings all the way around. I knew that I had shared with them a meaningful skill which they would be able to go forward with in the future. I felt like the distance between our worlds had just been made a lot smaller because of the time we had shared together. Maybe our political leaders around the globe need to talk less and crochet more!

My last photo was taken on the island of Zanzibar where we went for a beach vacation before coming home. It was a beautiful place and a perfect way to end our faraway adventure.