Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thank You Knitters!

contributed by Shawn

Just last week I called the Denise Interchangeable Knitting & Crochet Company since our stock of Denise needle and crochet kits was getting low.

When I explained that I wanted to place an order I received a great big THANK YOU!

On June 1, 2011 the amount of money donated to the S.D. Ireland Breast Cancer Research Fund by the Denise company had reached $150,000!

Why the thank you? Because five dollars from each purchase of a pink Denise kit goes directly and entirely to breast cancer research through the S.D. Ireland fund. The purchase of a pink Companion Set contributes $2, and pink long cords $1 to the Fund. Knitters help make this happen and we wanted to share the "THANK YOU" with all of our customers.

We love Denise kits - it is so handy to have every size needle available! And since our shop is in Vermont (and so is S.D. Ireland!) we know a lot about the Fund and the story behind this effort.

Check out the Denise connection here and the Vermont S.D. Ireland connection here for more information.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I've arrived, but the yarn hasn't

We made it! A week ago today we landed in Helsinki, Finland with many, many bags and made the trek to our new home in Tampere, about 160 km north. (That's about 100 miles... I don't think I'll ever be able to think in kilometers without doing a conversion!)

The week leading up to our trip w
as a tough one. Saying goodbye to almost 17 years of memories in our house and to good friends and family is not easy. This is the obligatory "last day of school" picture.We really only do "first day of school" pictures, but since there wouldn't be another first day picture at this house, we thought we'd capture this one. We spent 2 nights at my parents' house in Waterbury before we left. We packed, unpacked, packed and unpacked. It was hard fitting everything in! It was a beautiful weekend, and we enjoyed all that we love about Vermont.The trip was long (20 hours total) but the cats made it safely. Maisy doesn't look thrilled here, but she was sedated so...Our two seriously "scaredy" cats rode in or on cars, trains, monorails, elevators, escalators, and luggage carts, and were subjected to all sorts of loud noises like PA systems, jet engines and NY traffic & lots of beeping horns (we had to go out of the terminal and cross the street to get to the other terminal). The hour of bad turbulence around Iceland was not good for Lucy. She foamed at the mouth the entire time, poor thing. So if they made it through all that, it should be a good sign? They've already picked out some new favorite sleeping spots in the apartment. Lucy's favorite is the sunny window in the sauna. (Clearly NOT when the sauna is on!)

The girls got right down to business and decorated their room. Our days have been filled with unpacking and organizing, and trips to the grocery store to attempt to find things we are used to and like to eat. We've walked around and explored the town, and even dipped in the beautiful lake.
We've gone on several bike rides by the lake, through the town, and through wooded areas. This place is just beautiful and it's fun to have everything be new and exciting. Last night after dinner, we went for a stroll downtown and then came back to sit outside in front of our apartment. This picture was taken at 9:00pm. The sunsets are just incredible - the colors seem more vivid here. This was the sky last Friday at 11:12pm... the longest day of the year. Now that we are mostly unpacked, I have work to do! I have to set up my office and figure out how to get my 19 pound "stash" to be delivered! On June 15th I sent over a bunch of my knitting things from the shop... needles, some stash yarn, paperwork, patterns, office stuff, etc. I just received a notice in the mail yesterday... it was addressed to ME, said "posti" (mail) on the outside, and showed the shop's address on the inside. From what magic I could work with Google translate, it seems my box arrived in Helsinki on June 21st and it has cleared customs. I have no idea how or when it is going to get here. Marc took the notice in to work today to have someone translate it for him.

Do you know how hard it is to go this long with NO yarn and NO needles? It's torture. I usually take a project on the plane... but limited carry-on space and 2 cats in bags got in the way of that.

So I patiently wait...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Got Questions? We Got Answers!

Here are some questions that we get asked daily!

What is your favorite way to block your FOs that need blocking? Hats? Sweaters? Shawls? Do you use blocking boards and pins or something more homemade? Do you wet block or lightly spritz?

I sometimes wet block, but when the fiber is heavy, or when I need to block individual pieces before finishing, I opt to measure and pin the pieces, and then lay a damp towel (clean towel put through a rinse and spin in the washer) over the work and wait for it to dry. Since we tore up most of the carpet in my house, I was happy to obtain some blocking squares for a portable blocking surface that you can also adjust to the needed size, and I really appreciate blocking wires as they help me keep my edges straight and not unintentionally scalloped.

I always wet block. Most of my projects are sweaters or hats so I usually can shape the garment to size without pins. In the past I have always used the top of my dryer or towel on a bed for the blocking. We now have the Knitter’s Block back in stock which I think would be very helpful, so I may be making a purchase soon!

It depends on what fiber my project is knit in. If it’s wool, I wet block and just lay it flat on some towels to dry. If it’s something like linen or silk, I will pin it on blocking boards and spritz it. I have learned through hard experience that those fibers will stretch like crazy when I have tried to wet block them.

I love the smell my knitting when it has just been washed with Kookabura wool wash. So I am most often to be found wet blocking my knits (really this is just a hand wash when I’m done knitting) and then spreading them out flat to dry on a towel.

Most of my projects are made with sport/dk weight yarn or heavier and these things tend not to need much pinning to keep them in the shape I want them to be after blocking. (If you do use pins please, please, please, use only nice stainless steel blocking pins when blocking your hand knits because the first time you end up with rust spots on a finished project will be the only time you ever make that mistake!)

I have found in helping to block samples for the shop that blocking wires are a must for me if I have to block something with lace work to keep the edges straight and all of the patterns even (read symmetrical).

There are exceptions to wet blocking of course. There are some fibers that streeeeeetch when they get wet because of the weight of the fabric. From experience with different yarns I know that I prefer NOT to wet block anything made from Noro Silk Garden and other items that include silk. For these projects I prefer lightly misting the finished fabric and then laying flat to dry. This helps prevent the fabric from being pulled out of shape by the weight of heavily soaked fibers.

I prefer the wet blocking method. I always find that my finished piece no matter what it is, is dirty after being picked up many times and carried around all sorts of place while in the process of knitting so a gentle clean with a good wool wash is just what the doctor ordered. My current favorite is the Eucalan in the lavender scent. After washing, I very gently squeeze the water out and lay the garment (be it a sweater, hat, mittens or scarf) on a thick old towel on my wooden floor. I then block it to shape with my hands and let it dry in that position. I find changing the towel at least once helps speed up the drying process.

I should add that if it’s a lace shawl or scarf that I’ve made, I do like to use the blocking wires in order to keep the exact lines and shape that are required. Also, I find with an all cotton garment that it really helps to pop the item in a medium dryer for just a few minutes when it’s nearly dry. This gives some much needed shape back to the finished product.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Our goof, corrected!

contributed by Emily

As some of you may have noticed, we have been hard at work getting some instructional knitting videos up on our website! As with all new ventures, there are sometimes some glitches, and we are always so appreciative when our customers bring them to our attention. In this case, the glitch was simply that I was trying to present a technique that I had never used in my own knitting before, and I goofed! A lovely customer emailed to alert us to the fact that our videos for the SSP (slip slip purl) decrease were incorrect, and I’m so glad she did!

Mistakes are nothing to be afraid of, because they are the best way to learn. I grabbed a couple of books off the shelf and looked up this decrease -- and wouldn’t you know, the two books showed two different methods! What’s a knitter to do?!

What I ended up doing was grabbing a bit of scrap yarn, and working both techniques in a tiny swatch, just to see what the difference really was. I cannot recommend this enough to anyone who is struggling to learn a new technique. There’s no pressure, no project to worry about, just some sticks and string, and a new understanding of what you’re doing and why.

The results of my little test were interesting.

According to both books, the SSP ought to look just like an SSK when viewed on the knit side.
And so that we could compare them, I first worked an SSK decrease the way that I normally do (slip one as if to knit, slip one as if to purl, slip both back onto the left needle and knit them together through the back loop), at the bottom of the swatch.

I then worked a k2tog tbl (knit 2 stitches together through the back loop), just to have another left-leaning decrease for comparison.

The third decrease is an SSP, worked as described in the Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques:

“On the Purl side, slip two stitches, one at a time, as if to knit. Transfer the stitches back to the left needle. Insert the right needle from left to right through the back of the stitches and purl the two together from that position. Drop the
two stitches just purled together off the left needle.”

The fourth decrease in my swatch is the same SSP, but worked as described by The Knitting Answer Book:

“Slip the first stitch knitwise, slip the second stitch knitwise, insert the left needle into these two stitches knitwise and slip them back to the left needle together. Reinsert the right needle and purl the two stitches together.”

The last decrease is a traditional SSK (slip one as if to knit, slip one as if to knit, slip both back onto the left needle and knit them together through the back loop). This matches the SSPs a little better than my twisted SSK technique, but it still doesn’t match perfectly.

As far as I can tell, both book methods lead to the same outcome, but Barb (whose eyes are better trained than mine for this sort of thing), says that she likes the look of the Knitting Answer Book method the best. We’ll update the video as soon as we can to reflect our new-found information!

I’m so happy to have learned this new method, because as it turns out, I really think the SSP is a much better match for the k2tog, and from now on, I’m going to incorporate it into my knitting where ever possible!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Straight from Norah Gaughan... a preview of each Berroco design for Fall 2011

The new Berroco pattern booklets for fall 2011 are in stock and now shipping. We've really had a great response to them so far in the shop.

And here's a super treat for the day!!!

Listen and watch, as Norah Gaughan walks you through each pieces and shares the important design aspects while the slides show informative closeups and/or back views that aren't visible in the pattern booklets.

Enjoy the slide shows!
Norah Gaughan #9
Berroco Book #310 Souffle
Berroco Book #311 Flicker
Berroco Book #312 Boboli
Berroco Book #313 Comfort & Vintage
Berroco Book #314 Voyage & Nanuk
Berroco Book #315 Bohemian Mix

Thanks to Norah for explaining the "real" pronunciation of Boboli... when I was in college I lived in Florence for a year, a block away from the beautiful Boboli gardens... Pronouncing this yarn Bob-Oh-Lee just kills me! Remember BOW-BOW-LEE... grazie!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And the race is on!

contributed by Shawn

Yep, it is official. Emily and I are racing to see who can finish their mitered squares blanket first! Even though Emily is working on her blanket using much smaller needles and fingering weight yarn I am worried that I am very much behind her.

She sent me a couple of photos and told me the following: "I didn't quite realize how far along I was until I laid the blanket out on my king size bed -- I'm about halfway!"

Whew, I better get cracking. Emily has 408 squares done and I have about 150. (If I'm generous I'm about 1/4 of the way finished with my blanket in worsted weight garter stitch squares.)

Just to let you know Emily's blanket looks a bit different from mine because she is working her squares in stockinette stitch. The outer squares are still done in garter stitch to ensure the blanket lies flat when she finishes.

I think I better go knit...

Friday, June 17, 2011

A different way to bind off

We all know that your tension in binding off can make or break your project. Sometimes you really need a bind off that has a good amount of elasticity. This instructional video on our site will teach you a new way to bind off:

A very stretchy bind off (continental) from Kaleidoscope Yarns on Vimeo.

It's been getting rave reviews!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flicker Hat

Berroco Flicker was introduced late last spring. It's really a fall & winter yarn, but it was ready in 6 gorgeous neutral colors, so it was introduced prior to fall 2011. Our customers loved it!

This fall they've introduced 4 new colors... and I just love ALL of them! I grabbed a skein of the Pyotr (really, these names are crazy! Let's just call it purple!) and whipped up a cute ribbed hat this past weekend. After all, it was cold and rainy and the weather was perfect for knitting and hat wearing.

We used to have a hat sample in the shop knit from Berroco Jasper. It was a fun hat to make, and it fit SO well. The self-striping nature of the yarn made the hat look even cooler.
But when Berroco discontinued Jasper, we had to pull the hat from the shop. I used this free hat pattern to make my Flicker hat. The gauge was a bit different, so the needle size and some stitch counts had to change, but the end result is lovely! The Jasper version was fun & sporty, but the Flicker version is elegant & sophisticated. Helen tried it on last night and LOVES it. She said she "needs" one for Finland this coming winter. She definitely gave me the good old guilt trip, "poor me, none of my hats fit me anymore, I have to have a handknit hat in my new school in Finland..."

Funny, I packed all of the winter gear and sent it over on the container with our furniture. If I open my google docs spreadsheet and search "Helen winter hats" I'm pretty sure I will find several line items that match...
"But MOM! This one is SO pretty. I NEED it. Puh-LEEEESE!"

I agree. It is pretty. It's pretty spectacular. And who am I to stand in the way of this fashionista? So I guess I better let her pick out a color before we leave next week!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Manic-In Monday

This week's sweater is a beautiful short sleeved number with a flattering fit. It looks great with dresses, shorts, skirts and jeans. You can add buttons if you'd like, but why not just grab a shawl pin to close it at the neck like our gal did?Sweater: Gaia Cardigan made with Berroco Remix
Pattern: FREE pattern from
Shawl Pin: Free Form Abalone Shawl Pin

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Elephants on Parade!

contributed by Shawn

The NEW issue of Interweave Knits arrived recently and it has the
most amazing and whimsical child's pattern in it! The Baby Elephant Vest by Melanie Rice has elephants on parade! The design is SO simple using yarnovers to pick out the stylized elephant motif that is repeated across the vest. I love the look of this and the idea of creating custom lace charts to make your own motifs. (I love the simple motifs on the Roo Designs sweaters for children, but yarnovers are faster than intarsia color work for me!)

There is a very detailed article that describes how the charts for this
pattern were created. Melanie not only points out how she created this motif for her design but gives great tips about how to start making your own lace motifs. There are tips concerning yarn
choice, information regarding knitter's graph paper - a must for developing your own motifs - and plenty of encouraging words to take you step by step through the process.

Even if you
are not interested in creating your own lace motifs there are plenty of sage words in this article for any knitter. It's always good to remember that a break from your project can often lead to an "aha" moment when previously faced with only

While I find the Baby Elephant Vest enchanting, I can't wait to read through
the Swirl Skirt pattern to check out the knit-on-a-bias fabric that claims to prevent knitted skirt sag.
There is also a great pattern for the Nantucket Vest: This is knit in the Tahki Ripple yarn which knits up into the most amazing textural fabric: This is a very popular yarn for summer and we featured it on the Manikin recently in the Myrtle Pullover.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Summer Plans

It's hard to believe that summer is almost here! My girls get out of school on Friday, June 17th... which is just around the corner.

Usually our summers are full of magic camps, day camps & tennis lessons. We usually try to squeeze in a bit of travel, too. Some years we go to our camp in Maine (where we've had a consecutive 3-year-run of rainy weeks!) and last year we managed to visit my younger sister in France
. This year we've got some SUPER CRAZY plans!

On Monday, June 20th, we
(Marc, Helen, Sophie, the two cats Maisy & Lucy, and I) are all hopping on a plane for a HUGE adventure. This adventure will take us far, far away (almost 4,000 miles!) and will last a little longer than the average vacation (3 years). We are moving to Tampere, Finland!Marc has been working at Nokian Tyres for a few years and was offered a 3 year position in e-Commerce at the company headquarters in Nokia, Finland. It's an amazing opportunity for Marc, for my girls, and for all of us as a family, so there was absolutely no way we could pass it up. He already started his new position in early February and has been commuting back and forth ever since.

The first thing out of everyone's mouth when I tell them my news is "So you're selling the business?!" The answer (OF COURSE) is...

NO WAY! I am NOT selling the business!

Kaleidoscope Yarns is my life. It's my baby. I've learned so much in the past 9 years. I've grown both personally and professionally. I've met the most wonderful people - whether it be co-workers, customers or sales reps. I get up in the morning and once the kids are out the door, I can't wait to get to work!

I've poured my heart and soul into the shop since May of 2002. I absolutely love the products we sell, the service we provide and the things we all get to do on a daily basis. It's fun, it's exhausting, it's stimulating. And in this day and age, with technology the way it is, there's NO reason to think for a moment that I can't continue to own and
run the business from afar!

So that's exactly what I'm going to do, with the help of my excellent team. Everyone here at Kyarns is excited about the what the future brings. We're always looking at ways to be better, and this change will surely force us to look at things differently - more "outside of the box" and that can only mean good things.
Here's my new office (empty, because the furniture was still on the boat. It's getting moved in this Friday!)I will still be doing most of what I do now - working on the website, sending out weekly emails, blogging, coming up with new sample ideas, collaborating on classes, coming up with patterns - and by being out of the day-to-day hustle and bustle, I will have more time to focus on the long-term. Do you know I've had things on my "to-do" list for 2 years now? Things that I want to do to the website to make it better, that I just haven't had time to do? I'm excited!

We're all set up with WebCams and Remote Access and Skype and FaceTime. Who knows, when it's busy in the shop, someone may Skype me in Finland and you can carry me around on the computer
while I help you! (We're joking about that, but not really sure how effective it would be!)

And of course, there's a lot of knitting over there! I'm so excited to check out the Finnish and European
knitting scene (and fashion scene too!) and see what tidbits I can bring back to all of you. Remember, it's very dark in the winter... and cold + dark + snowy = lots of knitting ideas for Jill! After all, this cool knitting-related video about an obsessed knitter comes from Finland:

I'll be back four times a year, and in contact with my team on a daily basis. And you can expect some blog posts about how we're adapting to life in a new country...
There's bound to be some humor in there somewhere!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

More squares, more colors, and I-cord

contributed by Shawn

Just thought I'd share an update: I went on a bit of a Noro Silk Garden
color search and picked out some additional skeins to add to my mitered squares blanket. I also found a color that has nice green/grey colors in it to use for the I-cord so I worked on weaving in all the ends that were surrounded by finished squares and applied the I-cord edging along the bottom. Take a look! Emily was inspired by my progress and she's begun working again on her blanket. I joked with her that we should begin a contest or race to see who can work to finish their project first. She scoffed. Emily is knitting her blanket in fingering weight yarn - that is a lot more stitches than the worsted weight in mine! I've hardly begun and she is 1/3 of the way through!

I still think she will beat me even though I don't have to knit as
many stitches. We'll see!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Over 100 squares!

contributed by Shawn

There are now over 100 squares in my Noro Silk Garden
mitered square blanket! The colors of the yarn are clearly the star of the show.
In our class we've discussed adding squares on each edge of the blanket so that it continues to grow into a rectangular shape rather than narrowing into a point at the center. For a while I wasn't sure how wide I wanted this project to be. I've settled on 15 squares across the bottom which is wide enough to provide a coverlet for my full sized bed. So the past few days have seen me plugging away at filling in the sides. I've fallen a bit behind as when it's nice out I've had gardening to do. I'm still averaging about 2 squares a day but haven't tackled all of the loose ends yet. I'll have to take a break soon and work on some of them so that I don't get too far behind.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


We just marked down some Encore, Encore Colorspun & Encore Tweed... we're getting some new colors next week and we need some space...

We've also lowered prices on existing sale yarns, so check it out!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

And the May winners are...

contributed by Shawn

What the month of May is over already?! I must have missed some of those days – they were awfully rainy.
But June is here and so we have drawn the winners for our May Lake Monsters Stitch n' Pitch ticket giveaway.

Congratulations to our local customers Christine D., Tim D, and Angie B. who have each won a pair of tickets to the baseball game on June 24th! (We've contacted the three of you personally.)

Don't forget that if you are looking forward to some baseball and knitting fun we will be choosing additional winners before the game on June 24th! Every time you make a purchase in the shop before the 22nd of June we'll enter your name in the new drawing. Stop in soon because we have 4 pairs of tickets left to give away to 4 more lucky winners!