Friday, December 30, 2011

Hours this weekend

It's the end of 2011, and I just wanted to remind everybody about our shop hours for the next few days.

   Friday 12/30/11: Normal hours 10am-5pm. 
   Saturday 12/31/11: Open 9am-2pm (closing early for New Year's Eve).

   Sunday 1/1/12: Closed. Happy New Year! (We're always closed on Sundays.)

   Monday 1/2/12: Closed. 
   Tuesday 1/3/12: Back to normal hours, 10am-5pm.

Thanks everyone for a great year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Big Kids, Little Kids is a Winner!

Berroco Book #320 Big Kids/Little Kids is packed with TWENTY SEVEN (27) patterns for kids ages 2 to 12. When I first saw the designs in this booklet a couple of months ago I figured it would be at least twice the price of a normal Berroco booklet, but it's not. It's $8 for 27 patterns... so 30 cents a pattern! And there are so many great designs in this booklet, that you're bound to make a number of them.

These designs are in 5 great easy care yarns: Comfort, Vintage, Weekend, Remix and the new Berroco Circus.    

There are always great patterns available for girls, but customers sometimes feel that boys get left out... good designs for young gentlemen can be really hard to find. Book #320 is a good choice for those of you who have boys in this age group (2-12) who need some good hand-knits!
Felix sweater: Rambunctious colors and contrasting sleeves add pep to a color-work pullover with a v-neck
Denison Sweater - With sporty details reminiscent of a varsity jacket, this zip-up hoodie works up quickly in chunky-weight yarn.
Westcott Sweater - A timeless crew-neck pullover with a handsome twisted cable pattern and classic ribbed edgings.
Nestor Sweater - Crisp-looking stripes run across the body and sleeves of a simple drop shoulder pullover with a relaxed rolled neck.
Lyman Sweater - Convenient flap pockets make this half-zip hooded pullover the perfect garment for any outdoor adventure.
Kent Sweater - The cozy knitted version of a classic athletic sweatshirt, this pullover hoodie is worked in a perfectly speckled shade.

The girls' patterns don't disappoint either:
Tolmie Skirt - Cheerful stripes of stranded color-work and texture are topped with a stretchy ribbed waistband, while crocheted scallops trim the bottom.
Rosaria Sweater - Knitted flowers are sprinkled across the front of a sweet long-sleeved cardigan with garter stitch detailing around the yoke.
Marymere Poncho - Four pompoms add a playful touch to the front of a short poncho, while an extra big pompom tops off the hood.
Kendall Vest - Knitted flowers and a matching textured edging are the perfect finishing touches for a stylish open vest.
Josette Sweater - A charmingly over-sized bow adorns the front of a crew-neck pullover with contrasting sleeves and edgings.
Brook Poncho - a whimsical poncho made from alternating stripes of easy Fair Isle stitching and stockinette
Bristol Sweater - A long hooded cardigan with short sleeves looks effortlessly cool knit in an easy textural stitch pattern.
Blake Sweater - Ladylike pleats along the neck and clean-looking fold-over hems are elegant finishing touches for a long-sleeved cardigan.  
This is just 14 of the 27 patterns... the other 13 are just as good. Check them out!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's been a busy week here in the shop. We've had so much fun seeing customers from out of town! And it's been great to see our local customers who are coming in to the shop with friends and family who are in Vermont for the holiday.

This week Barb and I have been meeting with sales reps every day, checking out new spring yarns. They are also showing us a few new wintery yarns that are available for immediate shipment. We did order some, so in the coming weeks you will see new sock yarns, new kids' machine washable yarns and new novelties, including a couple more ruffle yarns and even a yarn with feathers! (Trust me, the feather yarn is cool... it's not for everybody, but we felt it was unique and definitely worth bringing in for select customers!)

We've had fun sharing projects, too! I brought some projects back from Finland, including my Shadow Shawl:

and a cute little baby sweater I made using the new Berroco Versa yarn. The pattern for this sweater will be available soon.
Emily brought in the coolest mittens today - striped with 2 colors of Berroco Flicker
And even though these would have been nice and cozy with just the Flicker, she took it a step further and added a super cozy lining of Chic Fleece. This novelty yarn is mostly used for furry scarves, but Emily chose it as a liner because it's 65% superwash merino wool. So not only is it super soft and fuzzy (perfect inside a mitten) but it's also really warm. 
What a delight to slip your hand into this mitten, and be surprised by the lining that you didn't know was there!

A sales rep the other day showed us a great felted accessory bag that was knit with Noro Kureyon. It's a really great beginner knitting project and after felting, you attach it to a clear (or colored) vinyl accessory bag, like the ones we sell in the shop.
Shawn is our resident felter here, so I am going to save this for her to felt. Beginners, look for a class on this in the next couple of months!

The other day in the shop we were looking at the Trendsetter Dune yarn. I wanted to make a hat in it but I knew I'd need to combine it with another yarn that had some body to it. Barb and I grabbed several colors of Dune and went over to the Berroco Vintage shelf. There are so many excellent color combinations that you can make with these two yarns. Because the Dune is so gorgeous, we knew that a hat in stockinette would be the best.
The easy rolled brim hat I made reminds me of the old Chinchilla rolled brim hat we had years ago, only this one is kicked up a few notches!

Emily also made up a new scarf up for the shop. It's with the new Knitting Fever Broadway yarn, which has a neat metallic edge on it. It's been very popular so far, especially during this holiday week! 

I hope you are all working on some fun projects this holiday week too!
Barb is working on the Hitchhiker shawl in the Ella Rae Lace Merino yarn. She says it's so fun and addicting! 

And she just finished the Popcorn Baby Blanket out of Berroco Circus and Peter Pan Tinkerbell. This was such a quick knit, and remember there are excellent color combinations for this project. We just had some folks in today who found out their friend just got pregnant. They were picking out projects for newborns. This blanket is just the ticket.

Remember we are closing at 2pm on Saturday, closed all day Sunday, and we WILL BE CLOSED on Monday, January 2nd, so my staff can start of the New Year with a well deserved day of rest. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Goodies from Berroco... First Up - Versa

Since we're not able to get out and do much skiing or sledding right now, maybe we should take a mental vacation and start thinking about spring. Perhaps a preview of some new spring garments will create some excitement? I really would rather be dealing with snow - I love snow! - but since there's none of that to be had, I'd rather focus on something that will get my creative juices flowing.

We've gotten in 3 new Spring yarns from Berroco (Versa, Circus & Captiva), and earlier this week we received all 6 new pattern booklets for Spring 2012.  We've still got one more new yarn (Lago) slated to arrive after the holidays, but now's a great time to show you these yarns and some of my favorite patterns!

I'll break it down into smaller, more manageable posts because these new yarns are great, and as usual, there are many good patterns.

First up, Berroco Versa, a cotton blend.

When I first saw this yarn I though it was a variegated ribbon-like sportweight or light worsted yarn. I was meeting with our sales rep and she told me to pick it up and actually LOOK at the yarn closely. I was surprised when I did!
What I thought was a single strand of a variegated ribbon is actually 2 ribbons that are dyed separately and then joined.

I love it! This also means that it's a bulky weight, and knits up quickly.

I've got some of the yarn here in Finland and I've made up a pattern for a cute little kids' sweater that will be available in a few sizes. I really am enjoying working with this yarn. Just 1.25 sleeves left and a few more seams and it will be finished.

It's very soft and lightweight, despite its being a bulky. The colors are really beautiful, and even though Berroco has lots of adult patterns for this yarn, I didn't want people to think it wasn't a great choice for kids. Because it is! It's quick knitting, super colorful and machine wash. That's a perfect combination for kids' items.

Berroco Book #316 - Versa has 9 beautiful items. A few of my favorites are:
Pinara Tank - same as the Pinaretta but in a longer silhouette, with stripes!

Pinaretta Tank - in one color
Dalyan Sweater - this easy sweater uses a drop stitch which looks elegant!
Ferah Scarf - this looks easy and I'd wear it everywhere!
Alanya Sweater - the body of this is worked in one piece in moss stitch and then the sleeves are worked and pieced in afterwards
Iztuzu Sweater - worked side to side, I like how this is figure flattering with the ribbing!

This booklet is available as a hard copy or as an e-Book (PDF download.)

Tomorrow's post is either Captiva... or Circus. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday spirit anyone?

It's hard to believe that the holidays are almost upon us! The lack of snow this year has really made it hard to believe that Christmas is coming. We've had snow off and on, but it's always followed by a day of rain. Check out the treacherous sidewalks here:
That's about 2" of solid ice!
We'll all be glad when the snow falls and sticks around for a bit!

Because we're traveling back to Vermont for the holidays, we didn't get a tree here. Even if we'd wanted to get one, things in Europe are different. In the states, parking lots in most towns turn into Christmas tree markets right after Thanksgiving. Here, the tradition is to put the tree up on Christmas Eve. The whole day is spent decorating the tree, then opening presents and eating a meal with family. You can't even find a tree to buy until at least December 18th. And, the people I've talked to usually take their trees down by January 6th. So that's a pretty short window! Without our own tree, and without tree lights visible through apartment windows, we've been having a hard time believing that Christmas is this weekend.
No snow, but our Christmas Market in town is still fun to visit!
I've been doing some other holiday activities here with the girls to try to get us all in the mood. We've baked a lot of cookies and have been packaging those for friends here. I remember baking with my mom when I was young and I'm so glad my girls are enjoying doing it with me. 
Sophie helping with the thumbprint (or pointer print?) cookies
It's a much longer process here in Finland because of the petite ovens that are so common here. We had many nights of late cookie baking but we were really pleased with the results. 
Fortunately we DID give most of these away, because we certainly don't need to eat them ourselves. 
We've also gotten creative with gift wrapping. The paper yarn here is beautiful. It's made from the leftover pulp from the paper mills. There are several different weights of it and some are used for knitting and crocheting. Most of the patterns are in Finnish, and unfortunately the people who teach the classes do not speak English very well. I am still trying to see if I can learn how to do a few fun things with these yarns, so I can bring them back and hold some classes this summer. They also use these yarns for non-knitting related crafts. I used two of the thinner weights to tie around some gifts. 
It looked great with the Finnish newspapers I used for wrapping. Why not recycle? I was taking so many of these down to the recycle room, so I thought I'd put them to better use.

And I'm bringing some back for my staff so I can teach them how to make something pretty cool... but it's a secret so I can't share it until after we have our staff craft night, on Wednesday, January 4th. I had everyone pick a color and now I just have to fit these huge skeins into my bags.
LARGE suitcase and water bottle for reference. These skeins are HUGE!
At least it's just paper and they are not too heavy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Holiday Sock For Jack

contributed by Shawn

Polly brought in her latest finished project to show us and get us into the holiday spirit this week.  She has just finished her grandson Jack's holiday stocking using Nancy Lindberg's Christmas Socks pattern.  Isn't it just too cute? 
Polly told me this morning that she was very impressed that the pattern allows you to choose your own motifs to place on your project so that you can customize the stocking for different people.  I think the tiny Santas and reindeer for Jack are a good choice! 

You can see another combination of the motifs that are possible in our shop sample here
Polly worked with the Plymouth Galway yarn and added a few tiny details that really make this special.  Take a look at the tiny silver bells she added and how each of the beards has just a bit of extra soft fuzziness!  Polly held a strand of the Plymouth Angora yarn with her cream colored Galway when she knit the Santa motifs to add this effect. 
Nancy's pattern also has a number of other advantages and tips that make for a great finished project.  This sock is knit in the round on a circular needle.  Polly and I agree that for the two of us this makes the color-work motifs much cleaner looking in the finished project than if we were to use the flat knitting intarsia method.  We can also both knit much faster in the round!   

Polly also took the pattern's advice to work the name band on her project on both sides of the sock so that it can be hung facing either direction.
This is more difficult if you need to put a long name on the band, but for Jack it works great!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ruffle Alert!

For the second year in a row, ruffle yarns are a big hit for the holidays. The popularity of these yarns is no surprise, but this year we've had a harder time keeping these yarns in stock, and so have our suppliers! We have received some recent shipments and so we do have quite a few of these yarns in stock now - even if your favorite is not available, there are plenty of choices for substitutions that are very similar, if not almost identical.

So, here's a quick stock status for those of you who are planning to make a ruffly scarf or two in the next week and a half...

As of this posting, we do have 6 colors of Triana Lux and 7 colors of Triana,
4 colors of Flounce, 6 colors of Lacey and 3 colors of Flamenco

We also just received another ruffle yarn called Broadway. This is similar to the Triana Lux - it has a thin metallic fiber running along the outer edge. Just one skein is enough for a scarf and it's gorgeous. Check it out!
Scarf with 1 skein of Broadway