Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Greetings from 60° 10' N 25° 0 E,Helsinki, Finland

We've been in 4 countries in two days. the US, Canada, Germany and Finland. (Our bags have only been to 3 countries... we're hoping they join us here in Finland shortly. Thinking of all the warm clothing that is not currently with us, is sad!)

Yesterday, after planning my packing very carefully, we hopped in the car and drove up to Montreal
through snow and driving wind. I started one of my knitting projects, and realized I had forgotten the needle for the ribbing. Crap! I was so good - I even did a gauge swatch and had the right needles with me. I just never checked the pattern to see I also needed needles 3 sizes smaller. Duh. All of the rest of my knitting was in the trunk, so that killed the knitting for the day. I am usually really careful with packing my knitting. This time, not so much.

At least Sophie was able to work on hers at the airport.While Helen and I read. It's chilly by those windows.After arriving in Helsinki this afternoon, and realizing we were without luggage, we grabbed our rental car.
We drove around for a couple of hours to get the lay of the land.

Boy does Helsinki have a lot of snow!
It was a pretty gray day, and at this time of year, there is not much daylight, but the snow really lightened things up. It's amazing to see major roads that are snow covered, and sidewalks that are snow packed. They don't use salt over here, and after driving around all day and walking around in it, I say who needs it? This is a winter wonderland. Embrace the weather and figure out how to deal with it. By the way, is this your car?After freshening up at the hotel (nice view!) we headed out for a walk. The above shot was taken at 3:30 pm. Doesn't it seem more like 5 or 6 at least? Of course the FIRST shop was the nearest yarn shop. I had to buy those ribbing needles... and thankfully they had Addi Turbos so I should be all set for the rest of the trip. They had some beautiful yarns and fun little things, and I did buy a really cool tape measure, since I also forgot one of those...

Then we walked around and checked out the shops and beautiful window displays.
This little toy shop was so cute: And Marimekko did NOT disappoint. Fun displays and even more fun stuff inside the store! And then, just before we went back to the hotel, we spotted something to make us feel less far away.
A Ben & Jerry's scoop shop. Helsinki style.(I think they are saying Welcome?)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Boxes full of fruit

Every year we get a citrus burst at the shop in December thanks to Barb and her daughter. After the post leaf-peeping dreary rain and cold temperatures it is a welcome day when the fruit arrives. Although you may not be able to smell it (mmmmm, fresh grapefruit!) I thought that Indigo's reaction to the whole thing might amuse you. Typical, he only wants to play in the box!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Enjoy your handknits

Many of us are experiencing typical wintery weather, and that's great for enjoying handknits! It's so nice to put on a pair of toasty mittens, a stylish sweater or a cozy scarf that is hand knit or crocheted.

Maisy and Lucy enjoy it too - not that I knit FOR them. No matter what project I'm working on (or have left sitting around unprotected) they are sure to find it and snuggle up with it.
Here Maisy has scaled mountains
of pillows just to snuggle up in my Koigu afghan. And Lucy, needing a hand knit of her own, dragged this baby blanket (made from 2 discontinued Berroco yarns) out of the Sophie's room and took it all the way down to her bed in front of the fire. May you all enjoy your handknits as much as these guys!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Modification for pinkies and pointers

So I finished the girls' mittens last week, and used the Yankee Knitter Hats & Mittens pattern. It's done flat, which was easy and quick to do, and was great for throwing them off track - after all, a flat mitten doesn't really look like a mitten at all, until you seam it up. That enabled me to work on the mittens in front of them, without giving it away. ("Mom, what are you making?"... My answer could have been anything.)

Then I decided that I wanted to make my mom a pair of mittens. I decided to make hers a touch larger than normal, since I wanted her to be able to wear glove liners underneath. Her hands get REALLY cold, and right now she's w
earing gloves, that just aren't working. Gloves don't keep your hands as warm, since the fingers are separated and can't share body warmth when they are each in their own little compartment. But thin glove liners under a nice mitten... well this can be quite toasty.

So I grabbed another skein of Malabrigo Rios. It worked so well for the girls' mittens that I wanted to use it again. I didn't want there to be a seam in the mittens for my mom, so I modified the pattern to be worked in the round. I also added a couple of stitches, since I needed it to be a bit bigger than the woman's size, but smaller than the man's size.

I completed the first mitten with the decreases as written in the pattern. I tried it on, and did NOT like it. It gathered in too quickly at the top. Last time
I looked, my pinky finger was much smaller than my pointer, and it felt like there was too much mitten above the pinky, and not enough above the pointer. It's not as noticeable in the mittens I did for the girls, and since their hands aren't fully grown, there's not as big of a difference between their pinkies and their pointers.

So I undid the top and ripped back to just above where my pinky was. (Best part about knitting these in the round? I could try it on I went! This would not have been possible if I'd worked them flat.) I started my decreases on JUST the outer edge of the mitten. Gradually, as I had worked more rows
and kept trying on the mitten, I got to just above my pointer finger. Then I started decreasing on both sides.Of course, I took EXCELLENT notes as I worked the first mitten. (Totally UN-like me. But I wanted it to be perfect.) And the end result is a REALLY perfect pair of mittens. I hope she likes them and that they keep her warm!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Manic-In Monday

The countdown is on! We're under the 5 day mark now, and it's been crazy here in the shop. People are rushing in, frantically buying little gifties for stockings and even picking up some quick projects that can actually be finished in the next few days. Our online customers are also frantic - as we can tell from all the expedited shipping that people are paying for. (Remember - at this point it's only Overnight and Second Day Air that are guaranteed to arrive!)

And this week, kids are finishing up at school, and adults are finishing up at work before the break. There are still a few holiday parties crammed here and there - and our gal still has a few good sweaters in her closet from which to choose. This week she broke out a gorgeous short sleeved number, in a soft and slightly sparkly yarn. It's just perfect for the holiday cocktail party she's attending tomorrow night. She grabbed a small bag - really a notions case, but it's black (elegant) and whimsical (sheep-y) and it will hold her cell phone, lip balm and car key just perfectly. For an extra bit of glitz, she's got some sparkle around her neck.

Pattern: Dionne Sweater from Tahki Stacy Charles Round Midnight Fall - Winter 2010. Knit with Stacy Charles Luna Yarn

Bag: Frabjous Fibers Mama Black Sheep Bag

Necklace: Berroco Lumina yarn

Monday, December 13, 2010

Manic-In Monday

Are you seeing red this time of the year? It's certainly a stressful period of time for many folks, but we hope you can all just take a moment and relax and focus on what's really important in your life...

like looking GOOD! I don't know if our gal is seeing red, but she's definitely WEARING red, and wearing it well! She's all set for a pre-holiday shopping trip - she still needs to pick up a few stocking stuffers, and her parcels are sure to fit in her stylish bag. We're not sure exactly where she's going, but if you see a flash of red & black ruffles, then you've spotted her... she's hard to miss!Shawl: This ruffled shawl is a free pattern on the Tahki/Stacy Charles website, using 2 great Filatura di Crosa yarns: Superior and XX yarn and Filatura di Crosa Opera d'Arte.
Bag: Zuma bag from Namaste

Friday, December 10, 2010

Free on Friday

This week's free scarf pattern was inspired by a sweater that Barb is knitting for the shop. It's the Hester cardigan in the Rowan Homestead Classics pattern book. She's knitting the sweater out of Rowan alpaca Cotton - which we LOVE... it's lightweight and airy, super soft and warm, and comes in great colors! Oh, AND it's machine washable. My selling point!

The stitch pattern is actually all knit stitches, but you'd never believe it. That's right, just knitting and slipping with the yarn in front. It's so pretty, and totally reversible, so Barb grabbed a few balls of Rowan Lima and worked it up into a scarf.
Since it's technically garter stitch, but not really, we're calling it the Garter "Not" Scarf. Free pattern is here. Enjoy!

And stay tuned for the sweater debut... it's almost finished.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

In over my head

It's the time of year to be finishing up my projects, and not starting too many new ones until things are under control. But I think I'm failing! I've got quite a lot going on right now. My couch is covered with vinyl zippered project bags full of different projects, and my coffee table with needles, notions, needle kits, tape measures, etc. I keep trying to tidy it up, and I tell myself that I can't start anything new until I finish some of these things up, but it's just not working.

I recently started a sweater for spring - with Rowan Purelife Revive - a new recycled yarn we will be selling beginning next month. It actually came out last year and was so well received that I decided to bring it in to our product offering for this spring. I had a bag sent to me ahead of the full shipment so I could start a sample.
We got the Purelife Recycled Collection, which includes 15 great designs made specifically for this yarn, and I started the Shallot sweater last week. It's quite beautiful, and I just love the color and texture of the yarn. It's a really simple pattern, but as there's a YO, p4tog (that's right... FOUR stitches being purled together, OUCH!) I decided to use the Addi Turbo Lace needles. And it was a good thing. Those extra pointy tips make those rows go more smoothly, although they are still not as quick as the other rows. But suffer I will, because it's really a gorgeous sweater! Not sure how long it will take though, because I am quick to put it down when anything else comes up.

My kids have been complaining that they don't have gloves or mittens for school. They do have ski gloves, but I don't let them take those to school. You know how things ALWAYS get lost at school... those gloves are necessary for happy Saturday ski days, and if a glove is at school, and school is locked, well, let's just say Mommy gets very tense. So those gloves stay at home and we usually buy
them cheap-o gloves or mitts somewhere. Because, again... they get lost. But I haven't bought any cheap-o's this year.

Instead, I thought I would make them each a pair of mittens. Who knows? Maybe a hand-knit
pair will be considered more "precious" to them, and they will take extra care not to lose them? I used the Yankee Knitter Hats & Mittens pattern - which I love because it's knit flat and it's super quick to make. I used Malabrigo Rios (super soft merino wool, and YAY machine washable - because how often do those mittens fall on the nasty, dirty bus floor?) and I have enough yarn left to make another pair in each color. NOT that I'm planning on it. But if a mitten just happens to get "misplaced" I can whip up a replacement in no time. Smart, I'm thinking!
After Barb brought in her Snobuddy family last week, I just had to jump on that train too. I made one to take as a gift to a Christmas party last weekend. Unfortunately, I didn't make the party - I was recovering from being sick last week - but the girls delivered it. And Lucy got to check it out before it left for its new home.
In addition to these projects, I have a skein of Twinkle Soft Chunky waiting to be wound and knit into a super bulky hat (it narrowly escaped a cat attack last week though - I had left it within view of the felines), another ball of Malabrigo Rios to be made into another hat, and some Plymouth Select Merino Superwash that's going to be a little kid's sweater. I hope you are all not as buried in projects as I am!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I'm making my list!

We have been unpacking TONS of boxes EVERYDAY at the shop. Obviously, it's knitting season but even more importantly, it is gifting season. We all love to pitch in to unpack the lovely yarn... though lately the lovely yarn has been arriving with LOTS of other lovely things that we ooh and ahh over (like the new tape measures, or the cute project bags, or the fun stitch markers, or the colorful embroidery scissors...)

Some of those things would be just perfect to add to my knitting collection. However, there is a rule that you should not purchase things for YOURSELF this close to the holidays - it could seriously derail someone else's plans!

I very much believe in giving hints about what kinds of knitting supplies are most appreciated by knitters to those people who are non-knitters. Do you know we still have customers asking us in the shop if we keep wish lists on file? Well, we don't do it in the shop but you can make your own on our website! Jill's recent blog post included a step-by-step guide to making a wish list.

You can print out your wish list and leave it in a convenient spot OR you can email it to anyone you think needs some help buying you the perfect gift. (Remember locals! We have a pickup option that's free, so your gift giving friends can purchase things for you directly off your wish list, and come in to pick them up quickly!)

What better way to let your non-knitting friends and family know exactly what you would appreciate. After all, haven't you been knitting them lovely projects all year long? It's time for them to show you a little love. and you can even add gift certificates to your wish list!

(I've just added the Addi Click Lace () interchangeable knitting needle set to my

Customer Know-How!

The days are flying by, and gift giving time is right around the corner. You might have seen our Mixed Fiber Lengthwise Shawl kits recently and thought to yourself, “Those are lovely, but So-and-so doesn’t like wool…”

Well, look what our enterprising customer, Jane R. did... She substituted like mad and came up with an absolutely gorgeous shawl for her wool-averse mother.

She used 2 colors of Berroco Remix (colors: strawberry and maple sugar), 2 skeins of Berroco Bonsai (color: bamboo), a ball of Tilli Tomas Loopy (color: parchment), 2 skeins of Tahki Mia (an awesome thick and thin cotton in color: sage), and a ball of Filatura di Crosa Gioiello (color: coral reef). Well done!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Manic-In Monday

How many holiday parties did you attend this past weekend? Our gal was invited to several, and because some of them overlapped, she had no time to scoot home and change outfits for each one. So, she picked one great outfit, and three knitted accessories to switch it up. After all, it's really those knitted accents that get ALL the attention, isn't it? For the first party - she opted for a shawl. At the second, she wore a thin scarf. And at the third, a wider scarf.Shawl: Free pattern, 3 Tilli Tomas Mystery Skeins
Thin Scarf:
Free pattern, 1 Tilli Tomas Mystery Skein
Wider Scarf: Free pattern, 2 Tilli Tomas Mystery Skeins

Saturday, December 04, 2010

These guys think we need a bit of snow!

Okay, so where's the white stuff? I heard we may be seeing some early next week, and that would make these guys super happy! Knitting at Knoon Snobuddy Pattern, Berroco Peruvia yarn (color Blanco!), and stash yarn. Quick project. Great holiday gift!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Free on Friday

Today's free pattern is a fun one, and it's a two-skein project! Classic Elite featured this free pattern in their Web Letter, Issue 172, back in late October. I saved it because I really want to make it... I just haven't had time yet! This project uses Classic Elite Lush yarn, which is a true luxury yarn at a not-so-luxury price! It's only $10 per skein, and when you consider that this project only takes TWO skeins, it's a gift that comes in at just $20 (although the recipient will think it's WAY more than that!) It's a great opportunity to practice lace, cables and texture all at the same time. Photos courtesy of Meg Meyers and Classic Elite Yarns.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Is Your Wish List Ready? Make sure it is!

Lots of our customers are using our handy "Wish List" feature... but not everybody knows about it. It makes it so easy for others to shop for you... wouldn't you rather get EXACTLY what you want? I know I would! So here's a step-by-step tutorial.

Become a member of our site by clicking on Register at the top left.
Fill in your information so our system remembers it for you each time you return (no more typing in your address!) and click Register. Once you have entered your information, click on Wishist. Now you need to name your wishlist in the Description field... you can have as many as you'd like! One for the holidays, one for your birthday, one for a new baby... Give it an expiration date (down the road!) Then, start browsing the website, and adding everything you want to your wishlist. You'll notice that on each item, next to the Add to Cart button, there's now an Add to WishList button. This will show up each time you are logged in to our site. Remember to be specific, and choose exact quantities and colors that you'd like. Once you've added everything you want... here's the fun part! You can e-mail your wishlist to all of your friends! Include a little note and enter everyone's email address, and you're good to go! When they receive your email, they'll click on the link and go right to your wishlist. This is what they'll see: All they have to do is type a quantity in the Buy column and hit Add to Cart. How quick is that? No browsing on a site that's overwhelming for them! No calls to customer service asking us to select your perfect holiday gift. Just open email, click link, enter quantities, checkout, receive gushing thank you note after the holidays. Sounds great to me!

If anyone loses the email, you can send them directly to our site. They can click on Find a Wishlist in the left nav bar,
enter your last name and zip code, and find it that way.It's a great feature, and certainly saves a lot of hassles when those non-knitter/crocheter types want to get us gifts. They don't always GET it, so this really helps and makes everyone happier in the end!