The Yarn Gourmet Important Information

Location: 2915 Mishawaka Ave, South Bend IN 46615 (across from River Park Furniture)
Phone: 574-232-9276

Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 10 - 5
Friday: 10 - 8
Saturday: 9 - 3
Closed Sunday & Monday

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ah, the wonders of nature....

Nature is a grand thing.  I grew up probably closer to it than lots of you - not a neighbor in sight, lots of fields and woods, and trees to climb.  If my father didn't hunt, we didn't eat.  I can still skin a rabbit pretty darned fast.

While feeding my koi a few days ago it came to my attention that nature had taken its course: apparently my fish have fornicated.  We now have at least 4 baby fish, 2 orange, 2 black (how very politically correct), about 1 1/2 inches long.  We are not yet sure if these fish are koi or comets, as we have both.  Our biggest koi, Koizilla, refuses to take a paternity test.  Our shubunkin, Koi George, is not inclined to the fairer fish.  Not that there's anything wrong with that. The babies look nothing like our blue koi, or the spotted tricolor one.  The mystery continues.

There is no mystery about what happened to my roma tomatoes.  I had been patiently waiting for days for three of those lovely tomatoes to ripen - it was my intention to make smoked tomato soup, of which my beloved husband is quite fond.  When I ventured into the garden for a color check yesterday, I discovered that the striped pox (aka chipmunks) had eaten 2 of the 3 romas, and didn't even have the simple decency to finish them!  The eviscerated carcasses of my lovely tomatoes lay on the ground next to the zucchini, mocking my culinary intentions. 

My copy of The Joy of Cooking is quite old - I believe it was published in the 1960s.  Back then people were more adventurous eaters out of sheer necessity.  The book is full of unique and fascinating recipes for things such as bear, woodchuck (groundhog, to native mid-westerners), possum ("catch the possum 10 days in advance, if possible, keep it in the garage or barn and feed it cereal and milk..."), and SQUIRREL.  I am fairly certain that a former professional cook who has studied under two Culinary Institute-trained chefs will be able to adapt a squirrel recipe into a CHIPMUNK recipe.

In 2004 I had such a chipmunk infestation that I had to resort to drastic measures.  That year I spent a lot of time in my office, writing a very large submission to the FDA.  A choir of 13 chipmunks sat under the office window every day and barked out their version of "Dueling Banjos".  I assure you that it is quite impossible to work under those conditions.  So I hied me to the hardware store and got 3 rat traps.  I do not enjoy killing things, but these little spawn of Satan not only barked incessantly, they dug up my lawn, burrowed under some of my rarest plants, killing them from root damage, and desecrated my vegetable garden.  A rat trap is a quick, painless way to kill chipmunks - and rats.  Over the course of six weeks I caught 56 chipmunks, two mice, a squirrel, and the first two fingers of my left hand.  Silence, at last.  I was going to skin them and make a coat, as I had almost enough of them.  I figured out that it would take roughly 400 chipmunks to make a decent coat.  I could also use their tails for the fringe on the sleeves.  But I decided against it.

Purls of wisdom: don't believe anything that you hear, only half of what you see, and only two things that you read: Gentlemen, and Wet Paint.  Knit happy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

They're baaaaaaaaack...........

...the Herbert Niebling books are back in stock, including the "Lyra" pattern.  Get 'em while they're hot!

Just a reminder - the Great American Aran Afghan Knit Along begins in 3 1/2 weeks on August 21.  Make sure you order your yarn by August 14 so it gets here in time.  I have tapas of the afghan yarns recommended for the project, so if you aren't sure which yarn you want you can try all three.

Speaking of in time, the cut-off date for early registration discounts for Maggie Jackson's workshops is August 10, two weeks from today.  Registering for both workshops by August 10 saves you $40.

Starting in August there will be a monthly drawing for two different prizes.  Every customer who purchases $50 or more of regularly priced merchandise will be entered in a drawing for a $25 Yarn Gourmet gift certificate.  Every customer who purchases $150 or more will be entered in a drawing for a set of Addi Clicks!

Here are the rules -
  • The purchase amount must be for regularly priced merchandise, and must be before tax is added.  You can still buy sale merchandise, but it doesn't count toward the total for purposes of these drawings. 
  • You may only be entered in one drawing per purchase, so for a $150 purchase you can choose to enter either the Addi Click drawing or the gift certificate drawing, but not both. 
  • You may enter every time your purchase amount qualifies you.  If you spend $150 five times in one month, you are entered 5 times.  And I will make you cookies.
  • Purchases are not cumulative - you can't spend $30 five times and be entered in the drawings.
  • If you return the merchandise that qualified you for the drawing, your name will be removed from the drawing, or you may exchange merchandise.
Most of the Yarn Tapas are assembled and available.  When you know what fiber you want but not which specific yarn, tapas let you play with at least 3 different yarns so you know what each is like.

Purls of wisdom:  Eat a bullfrog first thing every morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.

Knit happy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Congratulations Rachel!!!

Our very own Rachel Erin (aka Rachel Horsting) has had one of her original designs published in the new Fall issue of Interweave Knits!  The design is for a beautiful wrap called "Slanting Plaid Stole".  It can be found on page 81 of the Interweave Knits issue.

Many of you may not know Rachel - yet.  She is a knitwear designer who will be teaching the Basic Cables and Intarsia classes this fall at the shop.  She has adorable kids (I do NOT use that term lightly), and is a most excellent asset on my teaching staff.  Way to go, Rachel!

By popular demand, the yarn tapas are in the works!  So far I have planned seven different tapas: Silk & Bamboo, Cotton, Aran Afghan, Worsted, Alpaca, and Sock.  Each tapas will contain 3 to 5 mini-balls of yarns, roughly 20 to 30 yards each, allowing you to try several different yarns without having to buy whole skeins of each.  Most yarn tapas will be about $7.50; some of the ones with more expensive yarns will be a little more.

For those of you unfamiliar with tapas, they are one of the best inventions of the human race.  They are small dishes - always served in a tapas bar - that can be hot or cold, eaten with the fingers or a fork or spoon, and may be composed of virtually any food.  The principle of tapas is that they are small , allowing one to eat several different tapas for a broader food experience.  When tapas are prepared in the traditional size, it is quite possible to eat 5 or 6 different tapas without spoiling your dinner.  Or you could just have several more tapas for dinner and call it wonderful.

Once while in London a friend and I went to a tapas place and one of the dishes I had was of baby eels - looked kind of like short spaghetti with little tiny eyes on one end.  I have had a tapas dish of potatoes cooked in tomatoes, onions and spices that was heavenly, one of shrimp and eggs on buttery toast, tapas of sausage, cheese, clams, oysters, ham, vegetables....there is no end to the possibilities of tapas.  I would be positively ecstatic if a real tapas bar opened in South Bend.  For the record, that is "tapas" bar, not "topless", gentlemen.

Of course, being the penultimate omnivore, I will eat almost anything.  I spent 9 days working in China in 2007, and I ate things there that I could in no way positively identify, despite having done many a dissection in college.  One time at a Sezchuan place I had a duck dish that was made of the duck, the whole duck, and almost nothing else but the duck - some oil and hot peppers.   I swear on my cat's tail, everything but the feathers was in that pot - the bill, feet, blood, innards...the Chinese are not in the habit of wasting much.  

I did not actually order that dish (not that I wouldn't have).  While we were there (I was traveling with four colleagues) we were considered guests of the company we were there to audit, so every meal was a banquet, with much formality.  At all meals except breakfast we sat at huge round tables with huge Lazy Susans in the middle.  Several different dishes would be placed on the Lazy Susan for us to share, family-style.  If one did not at least try each dish, our hosts would be offended.  Soooooooo...........actually, the duck dish was quite bland.  It really needed salt.

However, I digress - the yarn tapas will be available next week.  Today is supposed to be indescribably hot, so stay cool, drink lots of fluids (remember beer is a fluid), and knit happy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sign up now for Fall classes

I am pleased to tell you that I am now accepting enrollment in the following classes:

  • C101 - Intro to Crochet
  • K102 - Funky Felted Bags
  • K104 - Kids' Knitting class (limit 3)
  • K201 - Intro to Lace Knitting
  • K204 - Neck-Down Sweaters
  • K205 - The Magic Loop
  • K206 - Enchanting Entrelac
  • K208 - Stranded Color Knitting
  • K301 - Charting Lace Patterns
  • TC101 - Intro to Tunisian Crochet (Thursdays)
  • TC101 - Intro to Tunisian Crochet (Saturdays)
  • TC201 - Intermediate Tunisian Crochet (Thursdays)
  • TC201 - Intermediate Tunisian Crochet (Saturdays)
  • SP101 - Intro to Drop Spindles
The remaining classes will be available for enrollment as soon as I have full course descriptions and materials lists. I will post them the minute I have them.

Remember you receive a 10% discount for purchases made the day you enroll in a class, and a 10% discount each day you attend a class.  This does not apply to Maggie Jackson events.

Speaking of Maggie Jackson, sign up soon - the workshops are already filling up.

BTW, it is supposed to be in the high 90s for the next couple of days - come into the shop, have a seat and knit, and enjoy the AC.  Knit happy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I knew this would happen someday....

...I am going to a doctor who is younger than me.  He's a nice enough kid - he gave me a great feeling of confidence in him.  But he is SO young.  Or is it that I am SO old?  I don't feel old.  Not really.  Except when I get up in the morning, or out of a chair after more than 20 minutes.  Or when I try to do as much yard work in a day as I could do 10 years ago.  Or when I look at some of the knitting patterns for clingy, sexy little tops that I would have worn in a heartbeat 15 years ago.

But there is something to be said for being my age - 55, for those of you who aren't keeping track.  My 50th birthday was the best birthday of my life - a half century!  I saw it as a landmark of accomplishment - after all, who knew I would last this long?  Being 50 was rather liberating, actually.  I decided that having accomplished a half century on the planet I could comfortably take the position that I am no longer going to take any guff from anyone.   I think I have achieved that goal.  I blithely throw out every AARP mailing I receive.  I insist on good manners from sales people and cashiers.  I flatly tell telemarketers and other obnoxious life forms exactly where Ursus americanus has most recently defecated in the forest. 

And I continue to age.  Now that I am 55, I am officially old enough to be considered eccentric, instead of just crazyAlas, I am not yet old enough to qualify for senior discounts, at least none I have so far discovered.  My husband, being 9 months younger than me, proudly claims to be a trophy husband.  I am not convinced a 9 month gap qualifies me as a cougar, but I go along with it.

Being older than my physician was an inevitability.  Actually learning to appreciate aging was not, but I am glad I have.  I am a better knitter today than I was 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago.  I am a better cook, gardener, business person, and human being than I was in younger years.  I have learned what is truly important in life, and don't get too bothered by that which is not.  I do not feel I have anything to prove to anyone.  I am truly comfortable in my own skin.

The point here is this: if you are worried about turning 30, 35, 40, etc. - don't.  Getting older is great. And besides - think of the alternative.  If you are bemoaning not being younger than you are - don't.  Ben Franklin once said that it is a pity youth is wasted on the young.  While I wouldn't mind having the body or energy I had 15 years ago, I do not wish to return to those days.  I prefer to look forward, because yesterday is irretrievably gone.  I like the feisty, opinionated, creative, crazy eccentric person I have become.    

So enjoy life and aging.  Never miss a chance to tell someone you love that you do.  Look forward to tomorrow, but live like it will never come.  And knit happy. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

@#$%@&%#$*@ deer!

Those of you who know me know I not only knit, I am an avid gardener.  My half acre is about 30% gardens, including several hosta varieties, lots of daylilies, and several rare plants, such as black bamboo.  Along the street in front of my house I have planted a row of hostas, roughly 60 feet long.  I have hostas and lilies in the front beds near the house, and a 60 foot row of daylilies along the back stone terraces.  I also have several containers on the back deck, this year many with lime green sweet potato vine.

Deer were never a problem in my yard until last year.  Last year the ubiquitous ungulates grazed on the hostas near the street as if they were a smorgasbord set out just for them.  They ate my daylilies.  They drank from my koi pond.  To defend my plants I tried several different "deer repellents", but the one that worked best was "Deer Off".  I had to order it on-line, and it was quite expensive, but it worked.  It did not smell bad, and as long as you stayed upwind and didn't get any of the aerosol in your mouth, it was inoffensive to humans.  If you did get the mist in your mouth you simply spent the next two hours eating Limburgher cheese to rid yourself of the taste - hence its effect on deer.

This year Deer Off is not in the budget, but the deer didn't seem interested in our plants until last weekend.  Then they went after them with a passion, including the sweet potato vines and impatiens in my containers.  So I resorted to "Liquid Fence", obtainable at Meijer.

Have any of you ever used Liquid Fence?  It claims to repel deer and rabbits, and I completely understand why.  This has to be the foulest smelling stuff on the planet.  The best way I can describe it is it smells like a decomposing skunk that has been peed on by a Tasmanian Devil.  That may be an understatement.
Not only does Liquid Fence repel deer and rabbits, it does a fine job of repelling humans.  To avoid the stench as much as possible while spraying it I basically try to run into the wind and spray behind me.  Once the yard is sprayed I have to close any open windows, as this smell lingers a LONG time.  I can't sit on my deck after I spray this stuff.  My neighbors can't sit outside after I spray this stuff.  Birds fall out of trees unconscious.  Squirrels lose their fur.  Vultures circle overhead.

But on the other hand, Liquid Fence is multi-purpose.  If one can bear to do it, transfer a couple ounces of this putrid potion to a small spray bottle, about 3 ounce size, and keep it in your purse.  It is not only an excellent and inexpensive substitute for mace, but will also mark any culprits sprayed with it rendering them socially unacceptable on every possible level, and easy for police to locate.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Maggie is coming to The Yarn Gourmet!!

Maggie Jackson - the Maggie of MaggiKnits - will be at The Yarn Gourmet the weekend of August 27 - 29!  Maggie is not just a knitter who designs patterns - she is a fashion designer who knits.

The weekend will start with a fashion show on Friday evening and the workshops will be on Saturday and Sunday.  Maggie's classes are exclusive and timeless as the many designs that make Maggiknits an award winning business.  During these 4 to 6 hour workshops (showing the Maggiknits collection previewed in the Fashion Show) Maggie personally guides students through the various steps that make a Maggiknits design unique.  Many students will leave the class thinking "outside the box" with their knitting.  Maggie shows stitches taught by no other teacher in her own unique way.

Friday (August 27) will start with drinks and hors d'oevres at 6 PM, during which you can try on Maggie's garments, look through books, and pet the yarn.  The Fashion Show will start at 7 and last about 1 hour.  When I was at the trade show a woman passed me wearing the most gorgeous knitted garment I had ever seen.  I literally chased her down and asked whose pattern / yarn it was, and the answer was "Maggiknits".  Believe me when I tell you - the Fashion show is not to be missed!

On Saturday "Oh No - Not Another Scarf" will be the first workshop.  You will be doing rag, splits, tubes and ladder stitch, plus Maggie will show you some finishing techniques.   "Wearable Art" (erroneously listed as "Knot It and Knit It" in the original post) will be on Sunday, working with different weights of yarn, feathers, leather to create your own yarn and think outside the box in a lacy stitch, short tube, ruffle stitch, loop stitch, and more.  Each workshop will begin at 10:30 AM and will run 4 to 6 hours.  Lunch will be provided by the Yarn Gourmet, and catered by Thyme of Grace.

The fee for the Fashion Show is $10, non-refundable.  Maggie is known for her excellent workshops and fantastic sense of humor.  Each workshop costs $110; if you sign up for both workshops the price is $200.  There is an early registration discount of $10 per workshop if you register by August 10.  If you must cancel attending, 50% of the registration fees will be refunded.  There is a maximum of 20 students per class, first come, first served.

Friday, July 9, 2010

follow the bouncing email

Slowly but surely, kicking and screaming, I come into the 21st century.  I found out today how to tell which newsletter emails bounced back.  Once I got the list I checked the addresses against my Excel database, and sure enough, out of 15 bouncers I had the address wrong (typo) on 10 of them.  OK, I can fix that.  So some of you may have received the newsletter only today, and for this I apologize.  If you STILL haven't received your email newsletter, I probably cannot figure out what is wrong with the email address in my system.

How did I fix this problem, you may ask?  I went through over 300 Customer Information slips one at a time to find the names that matched the emails and check them.

Some of you who have only recently signed up to receive the newsletter will be getting July's newsletter soon, lest ye be left out.

2 hours later: OMG!!! I was just trying to find out if my printer would do enlargements.  I scrolled through the options and lo and behold!  it has a built in set of forms including GRAPH PAPER!  It will simply spit out graph paper on demand!  It's a Kodak ESP7250, FYI.

I'm off to chart some sweater modifications on my shiny new graph paper.  Knit Happy!       

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New books

Greetings my fellow yarn junkies! Some customers last week were asking about books on Aran knitting, and one customer wanted one on Knitting with Ribbon.  I am pleased to say the books have arrived, as has Phoebe's Sweater. One Niebling pattern for doily borders has arrived; the other Niebling books are on back-order.

I also now have Elizabeth Zimmerman's books The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting Around, and Knitting Without Tears, plus the Knitter's Almanac.  The latter is going to be re-released later this year in an expanded edition.

I am slowly but surely establishing specific sections for types of books, such as lace, Aran, socks, etc.  I have reorganized teh circular needles AND placed labels above them by size, so the right needle will be easier to find.

Kristen brought in a "loaner" model of a hat with ear flaps made with Malabrigo Rasta in color Piedras - it is gorgeous!  The colors remind me a lot of Mountain Colors, which I will be ordering next week.

Unfortunately the rain does not seem to have done much to cool things off.  If it's too hot to knit at your home, remember you can come into the shop at any time, have a seat, and knit yourself silly. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This will make you smile

Phoebe's Sweater, a picture book about the adventures of Phoebe the mouse, will arrive in the shop soon, likely this week.  The book appears to be the first in a series.  In this book, Phoebe's mother knits her a sweater; it includes directions to make Phoebe, a dress for Phoebe, and matching sweaters for Phoebe and her owner (sizes 2/4/6).  This is not only a great way to get young kids interested in knitting, it also brings the story to life for them.

The Great American Aran Afghan Knit Along is scheduled to start Saturday, August 21.  Please order all the yarn you want for this project soon, and make sure you order enough for the entire project to avoid dye lot issues. Recommended yarns:
  • Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted (21 Skeins for entire project)
  • Cascade 220 (18 skeins)
  • Berroco Ultra Alpaca (19 skeins)

The class list and schedule have been finalized - I am only waiting for complete course descriptions and materials requirements from my instructors.  As soon as I have all that I will post it here, on Ravelry (if I figure out how) and on Facebook.  Of course, all the details will be in the next newsletter as well.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A short survey

I need some help deciding how many classes to ask Maggi of MaggiKnits to teach when she comes to the shop (tentatively scheduled for August).

How many of you are interested in attending a MaggiKnits workshop?  Each workshop will be about 5 hours long, and there will be a fashion show with munchies on the Friday night of the weekend she is here.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Feza yarns have arrived!

Late yesterday afternoon the FedEx guy showed up with this HUGE, battered box full of Feza Yarns.  I had expected it to arrive somewhat later this summer, but I ain't complainin'.

First we have the "Alp Light", kind of a knock-off of Prism Cool Stuff, but at $28.00 for 312 yards, much more affordable.  I am still waiting for two back-ordered colors, a black and white, and a turquoise and brown.  The poncho is made with one skein of alp Light, and yes, it does all those color changes for you - all you have to do is knit.

Next we have "Fanatic", a gorgeous, self-striping chained yarn that has loooooong repeats so you get nice, wide stripes.  Two colors of Fanatic are still back-ordered.  At 230 yards for $16 it is only 7 cents per yard, and knits on size 10 needles.  The sweater shown takes 5 skeins.

"Cyprus Mohair" actually has no mohair in it at all - it is wool and acrylic, but has the soft feel and the light haze of mohair.  At 198 yards for $14 it si also 7 cents per yard and knits on size 10.5 needles. I am waiting for three back-ordered colors, but the ones I have are lush.

BLING!  Feza "Night" is a metallic that is very soft, not at all scratchy like some metallic yarns can be, would be perfect for a shrug or shawl for special evenings.  At 93 yards and only $6, it is 6 1/2 cents per yard and knits on size 8 needles. 

BLING! BLING!  Chanel is a very large flag type of yarn that is very soft, and comes in rich colors.  I am waiting for black and silver, which are back-ordered.  At 99 yards and $10 per ball it costs 10 cents per yard and knits on size 13 needles.  The Feza pattern book Dare to Dream has a glorious lacey wrap pattern for Chanel that takes only four skeins.

This is Fourth of July weekend.  I encourage everyone to remember what this day stands for, and to fly our flag.  I also encourage you to have a great and safe weekend.  Knit happy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

When you need a giggle...

...check out Franklin Habit's blog.  His most recent is absolutely hysterical, especially if you've had enough of Twilight.

Sorry I haven't updated the blog lately.  I've been up to my eyeballs in getting the newsletter ready and getting the fall class schedule done.  Still have quite a bit to do on the latter, but at least it is coming together.  My needle felting instructor had to cancel for this fall - anyone want to volunteer to teach needle felting?

Yesterday I ordered some Mochi Plus, a worsted weight version of the Mini Mochi sock yarn, and Mochi Chunky, a bulky version that won't be available for another 4 to 6 weeks.  Very. very rich colors, and soooooooooo soft. 

I also ordered some Himalaya Silk.  If you haven't worked with this yarn, it is like candy for knitters.  It is made of scraps of silk from sari factories, and is just lovely.  It can be used for a simple scarf, all the way to a unique sweater.  I love it.

This is going to be a short update, as I have to get me to the showers and head off to the shop.  Speaking of the shop, my Number One cat, Katmandu, is now a shop cat.  He is 18+, deaf and recently went blind from a stroke.  Otherwise OK, I am bringing him to the shop so I don't have to worry about him falling down the stairs at home, or being harassed by the other, younger cats.  Especially Dana the Destroyer, who is lobbying to be the next alpha feline by trying to stage a coup de cat.  Du pretty much stays in the office on his heated cat bed, so even if you are allergic to cats, there shouldn't be a problem.

Knit happy!