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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dealing with the non-knitterati

Most knitters have at one time or another come across someone who simply does not understand the "why" of knitting (or for that matter, social skills).  They will admire your WIP or the finished sweater you are wearing and then say "I could never knit - I can't just sit and do nothing".


I have a younger knitter who recently was asked "Aren't you a bit young to be knitting?"


These people are implying that a) knitters are lazy and b) only little old ladies knit.  I don't know with which I take more umbrage. 

The implication that if you are knitting you aren't doing anything is definitely insulting, and is a splendid exemplification of Mark Twain's famous quote "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."  People who say things like this obviously have never made anything with their hands, nor are they astute enough to realize that the person they are antagonizing is holding two potential lethal weapons.  They are apparently operating under the delusion that hand-knit objects spontaneously generate while the knitter in question indulges her/his inner sloth.

The implication that only little old ladies knit is an exquisite example of full-blown extralocal ignorance.  In Europe school children are still taught how to knit.  In the Orenberg region of Georgia, children as young as 5 are already knitting to help support their families with world famous Orenberg lace shawls.  In the Andes children knit so they have enough warm clothes to wear.  Some of the most famous contemporary knitwear designers are well under 65, such as Melissa Leapman, Cat Bordhi, Cookie A., Cheryl Oberle, and many more.  Celebrities including Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, Dakota Fanning, and Cameron Diaz knit and have helped make the craft more popular over the last several years, and none of them are in any danger of being considered "little old ladies" any time soon.

There are several potential responses to these transgressors of simple social graces.  My favorites are:

  1. "I may be a knitting addict, but at least  I don't share my needles"
  2. "I have to do something with all the yarn I spin" (this one usually makes them back out of the room slowly)
  3. "You have two eyeballs, I have two sharp sticks - you do the math" 
  4. "I learned to knit in prison."
  5. "My psychiatrist told me to knit if I ever felt like killing someone again."
  6. "Are you being deliberately rude, or merely stupid?"
Merry Christmas to all, from me, Bob, Kristen, Karen, Jake, Elwood, Igor, Dana, Midget, Alexis, Lorelei, and Mandy

Friday, December 16, 2011

A word about hand-knit socks

I just received this from one of my best customers, and thought it was too good not to share.   If you have been vacillating about whether or not to knit socks, this might just answer all your questions.  Enjoy.

Hand-Knit Socks

Debra Bronow - Manhattan Beach, California
Entered on January 20, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
I believe in hand-knit socks.
There was a time when knitting was a necessity, and in many parts of the world it still is. Where I grew up, in remote northwestern Alaska, it was more practical and expedient to knit a pair of mittens than it was to wait for mail-order gloves.

Today, in my warmer, more urban corner of the world, knitting is a luxurious addiction. It is a way to indulge my creative urges, support cottage industries all over the world, and even fit in some meditation.
Over the years, I have knit chemo hats and preemie hats; sweaters for adults and children of every size and shape; bibs and baby blankets; sturdy cotton dish-cloths and delicate linen hand towels. I presented both of my sons with hand-knit prayer shawls at their bar mitzvah services.

But always, there are socks in progress. As long as there are heels to be turned, I am patient with carpool lines, waiting rooms, and the longest traffic light in town. Socks are the perfect size to express personal style and practice new techniques. Stockinette or lace, toe up or top down, wool or cotton; hand-dyed and hand-painted, or a simple solid color—the possibilities are endless, and sock yarn is affordable.

Most hand-knit objects come with a long life expectancy and instant heirloom status. But that’s just not the nature of socks. Hand-knit socks are made to be worn. Though they really are sturdier than the store-bought kind and can be mended, even the best socks will eventually wear out. People who wonder why I knit sweaters are utterly flabbergasted when they see me knitting socks; they feel obliged to point out it would be quicker and cheaper to buy a bag of those one-size-fits-all polypropylene tubes. Some knitters wonder why I would waste good wool and precious knitting time on a project that probably won’t—and like underwear, really shouldn’t—be handed down to the next generation.

To me hand-knit socks are a modern-day equivalent of biblical foot washing. Hand-knit socks say I love you enough to make something completely mundane but beautiful, with the full knowledge they will be hidden by your shoes. I love you enough to pay attention to the details—to the size and shape of your foot, your high arches or narrow heels, your preferences for thick or thin in your footwear. I love you enough to make something that, if used properly, will end up smelling like sweaty feet. I love you enough to make something that I fervently hope will wear out before you do, and I love you enough to stick around to knit the next pair.
It always comes back to love, doesn’t it? Love and how we express it. Some people say it with roses. I say it with hand-knit socks.

Independent consultant Debra Bronow works with nonprofit organizations and college-bound students. She has been a knitter, writer, and artist since early childhood. Ms. Bronow lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, a standard poodle, two spinning wheels, countless knitting needles, miles of yarn, and several freshly sheared fleeces.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New kits

There are 15 knitting days left to Christmas, but that is still enough time to make a Hogwarts scarf for your favorite Harry Potter fan.  I now have kits made up for Hogwarts scarves in the Griffindor colors.  Each kit has 150 grams of each Griffindor color and a pattern..  I also have colors for at least some of the other three Hogwarts houses.

Purls of wisdom:  don't take life too seriously - you'll never get out of it alive.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Let it snow!

I love snow.  This morning Bob & I had coffee in the hot tub while it snowed like crazy on us.  And snow makes me want to knit (even more than normal).  Plus it makes everything look clean & fresh.

I am please to announce I have another Matchless spinning wheel at the shop.  I received two yesterday, but one has already sold.  I have ordered another Matchless and a Saxony-style Schacht-Reeves wheel.  I just love the "old-fashioned" look of Saxony wheels.

If you're in need of a calendar for the new year, I have Interweave Knits The Sweater Workbook 2012 wall calendar.  Every month has an analysis of a different sweater type - drop sleeve, raglan, top-down, etc. - and the pros and cons of each, as well as helpful hints.  There is lots of room for writing appointments on each day, too.

If you are looking for a last minute gift to knit, I have dyed some Yeti in Christmas red, green & white.  This will knit up really quickly, and definitely puts one in the spirit.

I have more Interlacements "Rick Rack" on order, as well as more Toasty Toes and Spider Web.  I presently have a Toasty Toes sweater on the needles at home (Chic Knits Eyelet Cardigan) and I LOVE THIS YARN!  It is a pleasure to knit with, both for its texture and color.  I am using the "Oceans"  colorway.

On the needles at the shop, an HPKY giant skein in Turandot  colorway that I am knitting into a throw for the shop couch; the classs project for the Provisional Cast On & Kitchner Stitch class; a Feza Alp Oriental sweater, and a few other UFOs that I will - eventually - finish.

Purrls of wisdom: kittens are not born with brakes.  It is an acquired skill.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy December!

I am pleased to say I have just received another shipment of the Indian Lakes hexagonal knitting needles.  I now have all the currently available sizes:: #6 (feather); #7 (owl); #8 (fish); #9 (rowboat); #10 (arrowhead); #10.5 (lantern); #11 (acorn); and #13 (turtle).

This week I received the Interweave Knits Accessories issue - really nice, quick projects to suit almost anyone.  The new issue of Simple Knits is also available. 

Today yielded a very large shipment of Universal Yarns Poems and Classic Shades, seven colors of each.  A customer brought in some absolutely stunning honeycomb mittens she is making with Poems as the "background" color and charcoal gray as the "foreground" color; I am knitting as fast as I can on two other projects so I can make myself some mittens like hers. 

Three more colors of Feza's Platino arrived today, too.  Platino is the thick 'n' thin yarn in multis.  I also have 5 more colors of Chanel, perfect for a quick knitted evening wrap or scarf.

There are only 24 more knitting days to Christmas!  If you haven't filled out your Wish List at the shop, you still have time.  It's like a gift registry for knitters.

Purls of Wisdom:  Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked "why?".

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New stuff 23 November 2011

Greetings and Happy Day Before Turkey Day!  I am pleased to announce two new yarns at the shop, the first of which is Interlacements "Spider Web", 2500 yards of hand-painted lace-weight.  At $0.02 per yards, this is a very affordable yarn for that big shawl project.  I currently have 8 colorways, and more to follow.

The second new yarn is Katmandu Kreations "Yeti", a bulky weight yarn very similar to Malabrigo's "Rasta", but with 50% more yardage for the same price.  I am painting "Yeti" myself, so this yarn is available exclusively to Yarn Gourmet customers.  I currently have 9 colorways, and am constantly developing more. 

Have a great holiday!

Purls of wisdom: to do nothing is in everyone's power.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Black Friday is coming!

Black Friday is coming, and that means Christmas shopping "officially" starts  There will be just 31 days left to Christmas, so get those needles smokin'! 

Come to the shop on Black Friday for the First Annual Black Friday Event.  After your purchases are totaled you draw a ball from a box with the percentage discount you will receive.  Balls are labeled 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 percent off.  (This excludes items already discounted.)  There will be goodies to buy and goodies to eat.

Also worth noting: yesterday on my way in I saw a bald eagle flying in the vicinity of Cleveland Road.  Impressive, to say the least.

Purls of wisdom:  never be afraid to make mistakes - if Columbus had been afraid, where would we be now?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shop Update 17 November 2011

As I was typing the date above, I remembered all the doom, gloom & hysteria about Y2K.  Seems like only yesterday I sat up on New Year's Eve 1999 waiting to see if Australia - on the leading edge of the International date line, thus the first to hit midnight - would come to an end when the clock struck 12.  It didn't, and I went to bed.

Anyhow, I am pleased to announce that I have received scented candles from Parlour Candle Co.  These candles are clean burning soy wax, and I have 32 different scents on hand.  Great gift for the Secret Santa Party or the mother-in-law that has everything else.

Also new - I now have the "Knit One, Sip One" wine glasses in blue stems as well as the red and violet.  Every glass has its own box, so you don't have to worry about finding one to fit for gift giving purposes.

I have several quick, simple patterns for last minute hats, mittens and such for small Christmas gifts.  Which prompts me to bring up that there are only 38 knitting days left to Christmas.  Is it time to panic?  I would say no; wait till there are only 37 knitting days left. 

Remember I have a Wish List book - you can put in what you want from the shop, then send your loved ones in to get it for you.  This way they don't have to guess and you get what you want.  You can even email me your Wish List and I will enter it in the book for you.

Knit happy (and faster)!

Purls of wisdom: Eat more lamb; 50,000 coyotes can't be wrong.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New stuff 03 November

Greetings and defenestrations!  I am pleased to be able to tell you that the Madelinetosh sport is finally here!  I have also gotten in more of the Pagewood Kugiak and felted silk scarf kits, and I have three new yarns from Feza: Tokyo (perfect for dressy wraps), Mesmerize (so named for a reason - you really have to see this yarn), and Plataino, a thick & thin extra bulky yarn that knits up in a heartbeat.

I have been playing with dyeing some of the superwash combed top I have in the shop.  So far the initial attempts have been very successful, so if you are in the market for fiber, stop in and check them out.  I am now going to try my hand at painting some worsted and sport weight yarns....stay tuned.

Also in today: the "Knit One, Sip One" wine glasses, in clear with purple stems and clear with red stems.   Yesterday I received Christmas ornaments from Pet Sheep Ranch - small balls of real wool with little black faces and feet, just begging to be hung on a Christmas tree.  Perfect gifts for knitters.

Purls of wisdom: success lies not in being the best, but in doing your best.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's here!

The Madelinetosh sport weight yarn has finally arrived!  I have 15 colorways left, and it is selling fast.  I have already re-ordered as the lead time is 12 - 16 weeks, but the good news is I have ordered an additional 15 colorways!

Also worth mentioning: the magazine Jane Austin Knits is in.  I have not had a chance to go through it thoroughly yet, but what I have seen looks very promising.  The next shipment of Pagewood Farm sock yarns is on its way, too - might be here tomorrow.

Purls of wisdom: smile - it drives people crazy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New stuff at the shop and a reminder

Good morning  yarn-aholics everywhere!  I have just received the newest yarn from Cascade: 220 Fingering weight!  This yarn is NOT a superwash, but it IS perfect for fine stitch detail in colorwork, such as Fair Isle, and a perfect higher quality substitute for a less expensive catalog fingering weight yarn (which shall remain nameless).  There are a total of 57 colors available, of which I have 17 currently on hand.

The Matchless spinning wheels that arrived last Thursday have sold out already, but I have more scheduled to arrive in mid-November.  The Matchless wheel is sweet - I had never spun on one until last week.  The best way to describe the experience is that this wheel is to spinning what a featherbed is to sleeping. 

I have also ordered some really neat goodies for the Christmas season, including tree ornaments from Pet Sheep Ranch - little wooly sheep (made from 100% wool) that are perfect for putting on your tree. 

As a reminder, this coming Saturday is the Feza Trunk Show and Hollowe'en party at the shop!  There will be lots and lots of luscious yarns, patterns and inspiration, as well as lots of food & wine & door prizes.  (I had intended to cater this myself, but the best laid plans of Arv have met their reality check, so I will be relying on some excellent local food purveyors.)  Costumes are optional, but what the heck, it's only once a year!

Purls of wisdom: laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Madeline Tosh update

The nice folks at MadelineTosh just called, and they are ready to start dyeing my order.  The bottom line is 10 to 14 days from now they should be shipping!

Purls of wisdom: you get what you settle for.  If you aren't getting what you want, stop settling for less.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Butin Necklace and new stuff at the shop

Greetings, fellow knitterati!

I took one of the Butin Necklace kits home this weekend to give it a test knit.  First off, the small device included in the kit to string beads, referred to as a dental floss bead stringer, is one of the most useful tools I have ever seen come in a kit.  It is rigid enough to pick up beads, yet flexible enough to pull the yarn through the beads with nary a tug.  It took me less than 15 minutes to string the beads at 7 AM yesterday.

The cast on called for in the kit is a reverse loop cast on.  I am not a big fan of this type of cast on, especially with a very non-stretchy yarn such as the yarn in the kit.  It makes the first row of stitches very difficult to knit, and that creates a messy looking cast on edge, so I decided to use a knitted cast on.  After I cast on 66 stitches the directions call for 13 beads to be slid into place, and another 66 stitches to be cast on.  The first stitch after the beads has to be a reverse loop since there is no stitch to knit into, but the rest can be knitted on.  This cast on changes the look of the edge slightly from what is pictured on the package, but I think it compliments the necklace, nonetheless.

The next thing I felt needed amending was in rows 2 through 8 (the whole project is only 8 rows - how many things can you say that about?).  The directions read "...knit x stitches, k2tog, slip y beads, SSK, knit x stitches..."  I found that the k2tog just before slipping the beads was OK, but the SSK afterwards looked sloppy and was more difficult than it needed to be, so I amended this to "...knit x - 1 stitches, k2tog, k1, slip y beads, k1, SSK, knit x - 1..."  This gives the same result but a neater edge on either side of the beads.

The other thing I question is the "clasp".  This is a piece of metal with three loops on each side to attach to the ends of the necklace.  The problem I have with this is the necklace really isn't stretchy enough to go over my head once joined.  What I think I am going to do instead is I-cord and simply tie the necklace on.  I still have to block the necklace (yes, it needs to be blocked), and will let you know how this works out.  But overall, the necklace took me only 2 hours to knit, making it a quick and sophisticated Christmas gift.  And it looks great.

Last week I received a shipment of Lantern Moon products: drawstring baskets, fan cases (for your DPNs or shorter circulars), Mindy cases (for tapestry needles, cable needles, and other short tools), and really roomy 4-pocket bags that not only have 4 large pockets on the outside of the bag, but an additional 2 open pockets and one zippered pocket on the inside. 

There are also several new colors of Poems and Classic Shades this week, and several new books.  And as of today there are 69 knitting days to Christmas.

Purls of wisdom: tough times don't last; tough people do.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You are invited... the Feza Trunk Show / Halloween Party on Saturday 29 October from 11 to 3!  The local Feza Rep, Diana Harker, will be here with LOTS of Feza yarns and patterns, and knitted models to inspire you.   There will be lots of refreshments and door prizes, too!  (As a matter of fact, it is my intention to cater this affair myself.) 

Finally - a  photo of Igor's face!  I probably took about 40 shots to get this one; he is really quick and I had lots of pictures of his tail leaving the frame.  Elwood is always up for a photo shoot, tho.  Igor was a bit sickly this past weekend, and had to go to the vet yesterday.   Over the weekend he became depressed, for lack of a better description, would not play or run, and would not eat.  Igor not eating is front page NY Times material.  We still don't know what was wrong, but the vet gave him a saline subQ injection and gave us some antibiotics to administer at home, as well as some kitty laxative (in case it was a recalcitrant hairball).  This morning he was his old hand-chewing self.  He is also eating a blend of baby food and canned Friskies, but at least he's eating.

Purrls of wisdom: if Mama comes at you with a syringe , RUN.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New arrivals this week

Greetings from technological hell!  As you may know, I was without internet AND credit card machine Friday and Saturday due to Friday's wind storm.  I finally am back on line!  During the Great Outage I received Pagewood Farm Kugiak Sock yarn and Laura Nelkin Butin necklace kits, photos of both to the right.  Half the Kugiak is already sold, but I have already ordered more, so stay tuned!

I also am posting progress shots of Igor.  He is gowing like a weed, but that may be because he is eating anything that cannot get up and run from him.  I am trying to get a face shot, but he's shy.  He comes to his name (most of the time) and is using the big cat litter boxes now insterad of his kitten-size box.

Purls of wisdom: Fear doesn't exist anywhere except in the mind.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New shawl pins!

The nice folks at Paradise Shawl Pins have done it again!  I have just received three new shawl pins, photos at right.  The sheep and cat are both hand-inlaid mother-of-pearl, and both perfect symbols of a love of knitting.  The Celtic swirl is a type of ebony wood referred to as "tiger ebony" - elegant and functional.

The Pagewood sock yarn still isn't in - but I'm on the(ir) case.  Same for MadelineTosh.

Progress continues on the retreat details - I will post more next week when more should be finalized.

Purls of wisdom: it's never good to be the weakest link in anything, but especially in the food chain. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

New info on the Melissa Leapman retreat

Many of you know  Melissa Leapman is coming in March  to do a retreat for the Yarn Gourmet!  Lots of details need to be finalized, but I can tell you that the dates are March 24 and 25, the venue is The Boulevard Inn and Bistro in St. Joesph, Michigan, and the cost will be all-inclusive (classes, gourmet meals, hotel room). 

I am still crunching numbers and waiting for a few estimates before I can issue a final price, but I want to open registration in October, so these details will be forthcoming very soon.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sooner than expected!

The Interlacements yarns are here!  They arrived yesterday (if you got the text alerts you would have known already) and they are delicious!  These yarns are very comparable to Mountain Colors in both colorways and yarn types.  I have Toasty Toes (DK, 100% wool), Rick Rack (sport / fingering, 100% rayon), and Mikado (nubbly, 97% wool, 3% nylon), as well as 16 ounce braids of hand-painted wool superwash top.  I have a limited selection right now until I see customer reaction.  If it is as good as I expect I will be getting a LOT of Interlacements yarns in.

Purls of wisdom: never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and makes the chops tough.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Ladybug is in!

Happy Wednesday!  The Schacht Ladybug spinning wheels have arrived!  The Ladybug is Schacht's entry-level wheel for the spinner who wants to get spinning but can't afford the price of most wheels.  Each Ladybug wheel is unique - somewhere on each one is an enamel ladybug, and each wheel's ladybug is in a different place.  This wheel comes with 3 bobbins, medium and fast whorls, threading hook, and a poly drive band.  It also comes with scotch tension, but can be set up for double drive.  Assembly is quick and simple, requiring only a Philips screw driver and a 1/2" wrench.  Other accessories available for the Ladybug include: Lazy Kate, high speed bobbin, and a bulky flyer package.

If you want a more versatile and sophisticated wheel, the Schacht Matchless spinning wheels will be here in about 3 more weeks. 

Also arrived from Schacht - niddy noddies that adjust from 1.5 yards to 2 yards; curved carders (72 psi), and belt shuttles for the Cricket Loom.

REMINDER: I am now offering an option to have text messages sent to your cell phone whenever I get something new and exciting at the shop.  Simply
Send:    txtrs  yarn
To:        368638
Then reply with a  yes   to the confirmation message.  For people who sign up for this feature there will be a 5% discount offered on whatever merchandise I sent the text about if you come in, show me the text I sent you and purchase it that SAME day.   For example, if you had this feature on your cell phone yesterday, you could have saved 5% on a Ladybug wheel.  That comes to about $35, or almost enough to get a Lazy Kate for the Ladybug.

FYI - Madelinetosh yarns now have a 10 - 12 week lead time for ordering.  I have an order placed, and it could arrive any time from now, but I am in the unusual position of having to re-order Tosh yarns before I receive my first order if I want more before Christmas.  If there is anything in particular you want from Madelinetosh, please let me know by the end of this week (Sep 16).

However, the Interlacements yarn order should arrive by Friday this week, and the Pagewood Farm sock yarns should also be here this week!

Purls of wisdom: never assume a determined kitten cannot escape from anything you use to confine him.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Diary of a Mad Housecat, Part 3

Hi Everyone, it's me, Elwood.  Big news at our house - just over 2 weeks ago Dad found a kitten in the parking lot where he works.  He brought him home, woke Mama, and she sent him out for kitten formula.  He was too weak to stand on his own, and his eyes were barely open.  Mama said he was only about 2 weeks old.  The poor little thing was covered with tar, oil and parking lot grit, so the next morning Mama gave him a bath.  Turns out he really is a black cat.   They named him Igor, but frequently call him "The Kracken".

On the second morning Mama took Igor to the vet to get some nasty larva removed from under his tummy skin.  Igor had to have a shot in his tummy, and then the vet cut his tummy skin to get it out!  Mama said it was a disgusting thing the vet removed and the rest of us should be grateful we live indoors.  Igor had to get medicine twice a day for a week, and I don't think it tasted very good. That night Mama got Igor what she called a kitty corral so he wouldn't have to live in a cardboard box.  Now he has his own litter box (with paper towels in it) and his own cat bed!  Lorelei is the only one of us that has her own bed; the six of us have to share with Mama and Dad. They had to bottle feed him every meal for the first ten days.  Now he has canned kitten food, kitten chow, and still gets his kitten formula, but he gets it in a bowl (warmed up, no less).  I tried it, and I think he's getting a bad deal, but he seems to like it.

The other cats really weren't sure what Igor was, but I knew.  I was a kitten not too long ago myself.  At first everybody hissed and growled at him, even Jake.  Now Jake doesn't growl at him, and if he's out of his kitty corral when one of the girls growls, Igor just chases them.  It serves them right, picking on such a little kitten, but he isn't afraid of anything (except the coffee grinder).  I really like playing with him, and try to make sure he doesn't get near the stairs. Sometimes he runs right off the edge of the couch, so I know he'll hurt himself on the stairs.  Mama and Dad say I'm a very good big brother.  Here's a picture of me and Igor on his second day at our house. 

Igor has gotten much bigger and livelier in the last two weeks.  When Mama or Dad let him outside the kitten corral he likes to run.  Sometimes his hind feet get going faster than his front feet and he flops onto his face.  But he gets right back up.  He likes to chew on things, too, especially Mama, Dad, and my tail.  Yesterday we were wrassling in the kitchen and he bit me in a very personal place.  I had to put a firm paw on his head and hold him still for a few seconds till I could breathe again, but I know he didn't mean to hurt me.

Purls of wisdom: milk teeth are sharp.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reminder for this Friday night

Greetings!  This is just a reminder that this Friday night from 6 to 8 we will have a Wind & Wine at the shop.  For $5 per person you can come in and wind the yarn you got at Stitches or the Fiber Festival and enjoy appetizers and wine. 

I am now offering an option to have text messages sent to your cell phone whenever I get something new and exciting at the shop.  Simply
Send:    txtrs  yarn
To:        368638
Then reply with a  yes   to the confirmation message.  For people who sign up for this feature there will be a 5% discount offered on whatever merchandise I sent the text about if you come in, show me the text I sent you and purchase it that SAME day.  So if I text you "Yarn Alert: just got MadelineTosh Sport in", and you come to the shop that day with your text message, you will receive 5% off the MadelineTosh sport.

Note about the blog's appearance: I'm trying some new things with the overall look of the blog, please bear with me while I sort it out.  Thank Bast I have technical help this time.....

Purls of wisdom: you can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Michigan Fifber Festival Report

This Saturday was my first fiber festival, and it was a wonderful experience.  My primary mission was to locate a local source of alpaca fiber and yarn, but I was unable to find any that I could obtain wholesale.  I did, however, find a couple of good sources of hand-painted fibers and yarns, so I will be investigating those further in the weeks to come.

Even though finding wholesale suppliers was not working out, I did find some "personal loot".  I bought some hand-painted Rambouillet combed top in a deep royal blue and turquoise; a braid of BFL combed top in greens and browns; a half pound of unspecified wool top in lime green, brown, and some other colors; one pound of an alpaca, mohair and BFL blend painted in fire opal colors, and 8 ounces of combed suri alpaca in a progression of natural blue, cream and champagne colors.  And I got a small basket to hang on my wheel for holding my oil, scissors, etc.

The minute I got home I started spinning the Rambouillet.  This yarn is so novice-friendly it practically spins itself.  I had 4.7 ounces and finished spinning all of it by yesterday afternoon.  As the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook reads, it readily spins up to a fine weight yarn - I am pleased to say I have almost 1000 yards of lace-weight from it.  My next choice to spin was the BFL.

What a difference in fibers!  The BFL braid turned out to be very felted, likely from the hand-painting process, and it is a royal pain in the nether regions after the delightfulness of the Rambouillet.  I not only have to pre-draft this fiber like crazy, I have to draft from under the fold just to make any headway at all.  This braid and the Rambouillet came from the same indie dyer, too.  The moral of this story is to carefully inspect fiber before you buy to make sure it has not felted.

I knew I was going to save the suri alpaca for when my spinning skills have much improved, and after reading about this fiber in the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook I am relieved I made that choice.  But it's something to look forward to....

Football fans rejoice!  The nice folks at Artyarns will custom dye any of their yarns to match team colors!  If they do not already have the color formulas on file, they request a bumper sticker for color-matching purposes, as these apparently yield the truest colors.  I ordered sock and superwash light worsted weight in Green Bay Packers' colors to knit up for my husband - and there is plenty left for anyone who wants some.  Not only will they custom dye team colors - if you need yarn to match something like a bridesmaid gown, that can be done too - they just need a swatch of fabric.  Imagine how lovely it would be to have all the bridesmaids in a wedding wearing shawls that match their dresses!

Speaking of Artyarns, I have gotten some cashmere 2-ply in, so far in 6 colors.  This is expensive yarn, but once you touch it you understand why.  It is soft as a tiny kitten.

There are only four days and 12 seats on the bus before the Stitches Midwest Trip this Saturday!  If you are planning on going and have not yet signed up, time's a'runnin' out!  If you have signed up and have not yet paid, time's a'runnin' out!  The tote bags are so full of goodies from vendors that you probably won't be able to use them for much loot.  I have received coupons, samples, pens, and other goodies to stuff into the bags, so everyone should end up with something they like / need / want.  There are lots of potential savings to be had if all coupons are used, too.

Purls of wisdom:  a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

And MORE new stuff!

This morning I received a very large shipment from HPKY - photos to the right.  The HPKY Giant Skeins are 12 skeins of different yarns that are tied together and then hand-painted as one giant skein.  The result is a flawlessly consistent color match in yarn quantities large enough for everything from vests to sweaters to throws.

In the third photo I have placed six skeins in three colorways together; each colorway has one skein in pastels and one in rich tones. All HPKY "Opera Colorways" come in rich and pastel - with this kind of color flexibility the possibilities are almost endless. (Unfortunately, the color reproduction here is not especially good.)

Purely by coincidence the very nice folks at Feza sent me 13 "sample skeins" of their delicious Alp Oriental.  These sample skeins are only about 46 yards (normal skeins are 250 yards), so there is just enough of each colorway to show its best features, and maybe make a small project (the label reads that it knits on #17 needles).

There are only TEN DAYS left till Stitches Midwest and only TWELVE BUS SEATS left!  If you want to go, please register ASAP to avoid disappointment.  Almost every day I get more vendor coupons or samples to put in the tote bags, too, so you will be able to save a bunch of change at some of the vendors.  For example, the Fiesta coupon is offering 15% off your purchase of $100 or more.  Not a bad deal at all, and there are many others.

I am also pleased to say I am going to the Michigan Fiber Festival this weekend for the very first time!  Up to now there has  always been some sort of scheduling conflict.  My mission is to find a local source of alpaca, both as fiber and as spun yarn, plus anything especially unusual and yummy.  A full report will follow the trip.

Purls of wisdom: teachers open the door, but you must enter yourself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stitches Midwest bullet points

Stitches is just 17 days away!  i would like to give a few reminders:
1.  The bus leaves at 8 AM from the old Barnes & Noble parking lot, so please be there before 8 to avoid a delay in take off.
2.  You might want to bring something to snack on.  There are food vendors at the convention center, but it is the same old fried selection, for the most part.
3. Wear comfortable shoes.  Your feet will thank you later.
4.  If at all possible, bring a fold-up wheelie cart or something similar to lug your loot around.  Your arms and back will thank you later.
5.  Classes at Stitches run from 1:30 to 4:30, the bus returns to South Bend at 5.  If you are taking a class, please go directly to the bus afterwards.
6.  The bus will be available to store accumulated loot from time to time - this will be arranged with the driver. 
7.  Be prepared to have a LOT of fun!

Purls of wisdom: Too many people are ready to carry the stool when the piano needs to be moved.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cool new fibers & kits & looms!

More cool stuff has arrived at the shop!  Frabjous Fibers hand-painted roving is in, in 4 different formats: Opulence Blend (30%superfine merino, 30% tussah silk, 20% baby camel, 20% royal baby alpaca), BFL-Silk Blend (70% BFL, 30% Tussah Silk), 100% BFL, and 100% Polwarth.  All these come in 8 ounce braids, except the Opulence Blend which is 4 ounces.  I am practicing my spinning like crazy so I can try one of these hand-paints (with less risk of messing it up).

For those of you who want something a bit less exotic or that you can paint yourself, I have Brown Sheep rovings - Wool Top, Superwash Top, and Punta Top.  These are all undyed, but as I also have dyes now, you can make any colors your heart desires.  The Country Classics dyes do not require any additional chemicals, just a bit of boiling water to dissolve them.

Also new today - the Schacht Cricket Loom, an entry level rigid heddle loom.  The Cricket comes as a complete kit, including an 8-dent reed, threading hook, warping peg, 2 table clamps, 2 stick shuttles, 2 balls of yarn, and complete instructions for 3 projects.  I also have 5-, 10-, and 12-dent reeds for the Cricket.

The Schacht School Loom is perfect for the young person who wants to try weaving, but I also think it could be used for a bit of tapestry experimentation.  At less than $60, it's hard to go wrong with this loom.

The Inkle Loom is specifically for making patterned, narrow bands, such as straps - imagine how cool it would be to weave your own straps for the handbag you wove or knitted.  This is also a good loom for younger people to test the weaving waters.

I also have received some of the Hand Painted Knitting Yarns (HPKY) kits, such as the Scarf in a Scarf and the Scarf in a Shrug.  Each of these kits contains enough yarn to knit a scarf or shrug, respectively, but the kicker is the color-matched silk scarf you weave through the scarf or the front edges of the shrug when the knitting is done.  I have more HPKY kits on their way, including kits for cardigans, kimonos, throws, and shawls. 

Purls of wisdom: never sniff a gift fish.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Christmas in July!

Yesterday I received the Elegant Heirlooms and Googleheims trunk show!  These intarsia Christmas stockings are in kits (several of which I have on hand), and the required skill levels range from intermediate to advanced intermediate.  What really makes them lovely is the embellishments applied after the knitting is done, all of which come in the kits.

The exquisite Elegant Heirlooms stockings are highly embellished with details in crystals, glass beads, and even miniature toys for the gifts.  The Googleheims are less embellished, but still lovely.  With 53 designs to choose from there is something for everyone - even golf and football stockings!  And they are big enough to hold lots of stocking stuffers.  The trunk show will be here until 15 August.

Purls of wisdom: read your pattern all the way through BEFORE starting your project.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New loot!

Ho boy, Boris, do we have new loot!  (Apologies to Natasha, Rocky the Squirrel, & Bullwinkle.)  Yesterday I got a HUGE UPS shipment - 43 new books, plus 2 DVDs, and 70 pounds of Cascade yarns.  Not only did I add colors to the 220 selection, I have added 220 Superwash Sport.  There are several more colors of the worsted 220 Superwash, too.

The DVDs are Laura Bryant's Knitter's Guide to Color.  In case you aren't familiar with Laura, she is the genius behind Prism yarns.  I just ordered more DVDs, as well, covering topics such as crochet, rigid heddle looms, spinning, and of course, knitting.

AND TODAY I got a shipment of Feza Alp Premier.  Some of you have seen the blue/pink/multi sweater I made with Alp Premier; I have gotten in 10 additional colors (of the 40 available colors), and this stuff is nice.  The Alp Premier is 210 yards of hand-tied yarns in mainly worsted to heavy worsted weights.  It is similar to the popular Alp Light I have been carrying for the last year, except it has more bling and more texture.  This is nice scarf yarn, to be sure, but there is SO much more you can do with it than scarves.  It can be used as a component in a crayon box sweater or the crayon box wrap pattern by Chris Bylsma; it can be used as a front panel on a dressy shell for holiday/evening wear (156 days to Christmas); it can be combined with complimentary solids (such as Cascade 220) to make a sweater with just a dash of novelty yarn.  The only limit to what can be done with this - or any - yarn is your imagination.

Purls of wisdom:  maybe a person's time would be as well spent raising food ans raising money to buy food.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's cool in the shop

It only feels like it is too hot to knit!  Seriously, it is dangerously hot out.  If you do not have AC, or know someone who does not have AC, come into the shop and sit a while.  Especially older people without AC are at risk in this heat, so bring your nana or your neighbor to the shop to chill for a while.  I have seating, magazines, filtered water, Goldfish and chocolate.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pictures at last!

FINALLY!  I have images to post.  I may legitimately be called a life sciences geek, but a techno geek I am not.  The borrowed camera I have been trying to use since mine developed senility has refused to upload photos for me.  This morning I surrendered to the inevitable and bought a new camera for the shop.  I know I am lots of images behind, but for right now, by request, here is an image of the new wineglasses.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New at the shop

The wine glasses have arrived!  Purple stems, purple lettering, and these are some rugged glasses - no padding in the shipping carton and every one was intact.  I would recommend hand-washing them solely due to the lettering, though. 

I also have gotten in 3 more scents of Lavishea, plus an unscented bar.  You may recall that Lavishea is a lotion bar designed by a knitter (in her basement for 18 months) for knitters.  The new scents are Cucumber-Melon, White Lily Amber, and Citrus Basil.  This stuff works so well my husband took some of the unscented home.

There is a reason the shop is called The Yarn Gourmet instead of, for instance, The Yarn Fast Food Junkie.  I love food (as you can tell if you have walked behind me), and I love to cook.  Last night Bob and I tried a new restaurant near us, La Nortena (the "n" is pronounced like in jalapeno).  This place is located on Portage Road in the Council Oaks Center, next door to Belmont Liquor.  The requisite chips and salsa were placed on the table, but this is no ordinary salsa - they make it there, and it is excellent.  Not so heavy on cilantro that Bob wouldn't eat it, not so light on cilantro that it couldn't be tasted.  Nice heat, and enough salt.  I would go there again just for the salsa.

Bob ordered a steak fajita, I ordered camarones con chipotle (shrimp in chipotle and garlic sauce).  The flour tortillas were the hottest I have ever had; we had to let them cool a bit.  Bob pronounced his fajita to be quite good, but my shrimp was verging on divine.  How divine, you ask?  Had I not been in public I would have licked the plate.  Bob tasted my shrimp and said he will definitely order it the next time we go there.  There were several items on the menu I have not seen at other local Mexican restaurants, too, (which means a scientific study must be undertaken to assess these dishes). We have both always wanted to try fried ice cream, so we split an order.  I was underwhelmed - I think the fryer oil needs changing, there was a slightly rancid flavor to the fried tortilla and cornflakes.

Service was very friendly, but slow, mainly because one small woman was trying to handle everything while another one sat and played games on a computer.  I thought the portion sizes were perfect - not so much that we had to take boxes home, but enough that we definitely felt full.  Dinner for two and one dessert, with tip, cost about $38.  They serve breakfast and lunch, as well as dinner, offer take-out, and are open 7 days.  We  will definitely go there again.

Purls of wisdom:  Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I may just have seen everything now

First off, I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable weekend.  I know we did.

We did a lot of yard work this weekend - moving mulch to flower beds, assembling a new grill, and replacing soaker hose.  In case you were  wondering, no, this is not the ideal time of year to replace soaker hose, but it was absolutely necessary.  In our backyard we have stone terraces that are heavily planted and get a fair amount of sun.  For years I have used soaker hoses on timers to water these terraces, as well as the front gardens (in full shade) and the vegetable patch.  Being terraces the drainage is excellent, but the water retention - not so much, even with 4 inches of wood chip mulch.  Nothing lasts forever and soaker hoses are no exception - they had dry rotted to the point that every time we turned them on we got at least one geyser somewhere.  When it got to the point of the hoses having more compression fittings than actual hose, we decided we had to replace them.  My plants were becoming desperate for water on days when it didn't rain (which haven't been many of late).

If one replaces soaker hose in the spring, it is easy to weave them around plants.  However, if one replaces them in early July, the difficulty level increases dramatically.  Leaves and branches have to be held out of the way, rose bushes are large and aggressive, and the terraces are hotter than a pizza oven in the desert due to the heat sink effect of the stone.  Navigating around the plantings is challenging to say the least, especially if one happens to have the balance of an egg, as do I.  Let us not omit the constant presence of mosquitoes, either.  Between trying not to step on plants nor be impaled by them, trying to control 75 foot lengths of hose that had its own ideas about appropriate placement, and attempting to fend off the vampiric horde of mosquitoes, I suspect I looked rather like I was having some sort of seizure.

So there I was, doing soaker hose ballet on the terraces, when I heard my neighbor call me - in a whisper.  I extricated myself and went over to her, and she points to the mulberry tree that provides so much food for the squirrels (and thus entertainment for us).  Sitting on one of the lower branches is a woodchuck.  (For those of you not familiar with regional rodentia nomenclature, a woodchuck is often called a ground hog, and occasionally a whistle pig.  Where I grew up they were woodchucks or whistle pigs, so named for their whistle-like alarm call).

Woodchucks are burrowing animals; they do not normally climb trees.  According to Wikipedia, they can and will climb trees if threatened, but are not recreational arborists.  I have no idea what may have motivated this burrowing rodent to take up arborial habits, and the woodchuck wasn't about to divulge this information.  I did not see any particular threat to the woodchuck prior to its entry into the tree, but what I perceive as a threat my not be the same for Marmota monax.  Yet there s/he sat, hale and healthy, enjoying being the center of attention and eating a few mulberries to boot. 

Being a reasonable person, I explained to the woodchuck that we would leave it to get down on its own, but if it had not done so within an hour, we would assist it.  Being a reasonable rodent, the woodchuck departed the mulberry tree shortly thereafter. 

I resumed soaker hose replacement, and by then Bob had finished what he was doing and came to assist me.  We finished up the west terraces and moved on to the east side.  I have three levels of terraces; on the lowest level on the east side is a large rugosa rose bush that Bob has dubbed Beelzebush, or Devil-bush for short.  I think Bob genuinely believes that Beelzebush is a carnivorous plant, but that is because every time he gets within five feet of it he loses a few ounces of flesh.  He actually will not get within five feet of it if he has any kind of choice at all, so I had the pleasure of weaving the soaker hose around Beelzebush.  To Bob's great amusement, I patiently explained to the rose bush that I was bringing it water and it was not to bite me.  To his great disgust, Beelzebush did not stick a single thorn in me. The moral of this story is that it pays to talk to your plants.

Purls of wisdom: When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Friday!

And that means game night!  Last week we played Last Knitter Standing for the first time - it is a scream!  The winner of last week's game was Kathi Benedix; she won a wine glass from Crafty Glasses.  It has a purple stem and reads "Knit one, sip one".  This week we will again have munchies, limited adult beverages, and you may bring your own, of course.  The game starts any time after 5, and you can join in at almost any point once it's underway.

Just arrived this week - the Lavishea lotion bars I wrote about last week.  The lemongrass and lavender scents are selling fast, but I also love the pear and the ginger blossom scents. 

Also new this week - Chris Bylsma Designs patterns.  These are very elegant, classic patterns, and mostly very simple to execute.  One simple ribbed cardigan changes sizes simply by changing the number of stitches in the ribs: 7 x 7, 8 x 8, etc.

The Gift Enclosures by Heritage Fiber Publications arrived today, too.  These are attractive little cards with places to write care instructions, fiber content, and other important stuff.  Use these cards instead of putting an unattractive ball band in with your handmade gifts (you know they usually throw out the ball band without reading it, anyway).

Purls of wisdom:  the real reason Christopher Columbus didn't reach India in 1492 is because he was using a Garmin.  Recalculating.  Recalculating. Recalculating.  Recalculating.........

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

news, new yarn, new magazine....

Attention spinners!  I have just discovered that Brown Sheep sells wool top, superwash wool top (dyed and undyed), and mohair top (in black and white)!  Colors available vary.  The prices per pound are reasonable, and you can purchase bumps, often for less per pound. I will be stocking a bit of this to see what kind of demand there is, but I received a sample of the superwash roving, and it spins nice.  I think you'll like it.

New yarn: Universal Yarns' Classic Shades, a superwash version of Poems.  At $7.50 for 197 yards and colors to rival Noro, this yarn is a serious deal.  And it is soft, too.

New magazine: the summer issue of Interweave Knits Weekend.  Lots of really nice patterns, including the cover sweater which I may make out of Classic Shades (it calls for Noro).

Hypothetical commercial: "Today's thunderstorm is sponsored by The Yarn Gourmet, bringing you only the finest in yarns and atmospheric electrical discharges."  (If we are going to have a thunderstorm every day, sooner or later they are going to need sponsorship.....)

Purls of wisdom: Mind the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.  (This is from my great-grandmother, who dealt with the Great Depression much the same way she dealt with misbehaving children - very strictly.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tonight is game night!

It's Game Night!  Last Knitter Standing starts tonight!  Bring worsted yarn (about 100 yds should do it), #8 needles, and prepare to laugh yourself silly!  Oh, did I mention there will be a prize for the winner?

Also note - there are only 13 days left to buy your Stitches trip tickets for $45 - after 30 June they will be $50.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.......................

...from the trade show!  This was my second trade show, so I actually had some idea of what I was doing this time out.  I was considerably less overwhelmed, too.  Unfortunately for the vendors, the night before the exhibit floor opened there was a HUGE thunderstorm, which closed the airport, which meant that lots of displays didn't make it and lots of potential customers didn't make it, either.  It rained so hard for so long we literally could not see the buildings across the street from our hotel, even with their lights on, for almost an hour.

However - I found some outrageous new stuff.  I ordered a bunch of exquisite patterns from Chic Knits and Chris Bylsma Designs, and 24 tins of Lavishea, a lotion bar designed for knitters by a knitter.  It leaves no greasy residue on your hands and comes in wonderful scents, or unscented.

Friday night there was a program called "Sample It!" and I got some neat samples.  Indian Lakes Artisans makes hexagonal wood needles out of cherry, walnut, and birch with lovely copper sculptures on the ends, such as turtles, fish, cabins, arrowheads, acorns, and more.  I have a pair of size 10 cherry wood needles at the shop with some stitches on them so you can test drive these needles.  The hex shape makes a small gap on the underside of the stitch that the needle tip fits into nicely, perfect for those of us who knit very tightly.

Other samples include two skeins of yarn from Alisha Goes Around, an independent yarn dyer in south Texas who makes luscious colors and fiber combinations, and two skeins from Done Roving, a company whose color saturation is probably three times the legal limit.

Yarns I did not get samples of, but which I plan to bring into the shop, include Hand Painted Knitting Yarns (HPKY).  HPKY puts together several skeins of different yarns and then dyes them as a lot, resulting in perfectly matched combinations for sweaters, throws, or anything else you can imagine.  A really nice feature of their yarns is that all colorways come in an intense shade and a pastel shade, creating endless options in color selection.  But what drew me into their booth to begin with is how they put up their skeins - huge braids, 3 to 5 feet long, depending on yardage.  HPKY also has excellent pattern support. 

Another cool sample that I intend to get into the shop is Gift Enclosures - cards that let you list fiber content, care instructions, and your own personal message when you give a hand-created gift.  An excellent idea.

Spinners rejoice - I have found an incredible source of dyed roving!  Frabjous Fibers has marvelous colorways in their roving (put up as wool tops). 

New at the shop while I was out of town: leather mitten palms in large and medium sizes; small are available if requested.  Hold onto your steering wheel while your hands are warm.  Also - the summer issue of Knitters' Magazine is in!

It is never too late to start knitting for Christmas - there are only 192 knitting days left.

Purls of wisdom:  In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Last Knitter Standing

Just in from Universal Yarns - "The Last Knitter Standing".  This is a game somewhere between Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly, but everything is knitting oriented! 

The object is to be the knitter with the most knitted rows at the end of the game.  All knitters start out by casting on 10 stitches and knitting two rows.  There is a spinner with 8 possible results: two knitting challenges, two knitting questions, one knitting pass and one "lose a turn".  A knitter spins and the person to the left draws the appropriate card and reads the question / task.  The game lasts for a pre-established amount of time, which can be anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.  At the end of the allotted time the knitter who still as 10 stitches on the needles and the most completed rows wins.

The challenge cards consist of things such as unscrambling letters to form the knit-related word, knitting as many rows as possible in one minute (there is a one minute timer included), knitting with your eyes closed,  getting to knit extra rows if you are wearing something you knitted, etc.  The question cards consist of multiple choice or true/false questions such as "What does DK stand for?" or "What is the increase called in which you pick up the horizontal bar between stitches?"  The cards tell you how many rows to knit if you are correct and how many to rip out if you are wrong.  The Pass cards are kept to use if you don't want to answer a question, or don't want to rip out rows.

This game has the potential for a great deal of hilarity - and you might even learn a few things.  I have one for use at the shop and two more for sale (great fun for your knitting group!).  Starting June 17 Fridays will be game nights at the shop.  Any number of knitters who want to come in and play Last Knitter Standing are welcome.  Only two people are needed for a game, but there is no limit on how many can play. Winners will receive a $5 gift certificate.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I just received a shipment of Wisdom Yarns' "Poems" - a felt-able, self-striping yarn that comes in glowingly rich colors.  Poems is an affordable version of Noro - it is only $7.50 per 109 yard ball!  Current MSRP on Noro Kureyon is $8.95 per 109 yard ball, making Poems 16% cheaper!

Speaking of prices, all Artyarns will go 5% up next Monday.  If there is an Artyarn ALREADY IN STOCK at the shop that you have been coveting, this week would be a very good time to get it.  I cannot offer the current prices on special orders placed this week.

I just received the Early Fall issue of Vogue Knitting; it is chock full of great patterns for garments that will provide the necessary warmth for Fall without being too warm.  For all you mohair lovers there are several patterns that focus on mohair, including one that I think could be adapted into a wedding dress.  I stock several of the yarns these patterns call for, too.

Purls of wisdom (from a yarn rep's newsletter):

You need to take care of yourself FIRST, in order to take care of business / life / family.
1. Know who you are.
2. Know what you need.
3. Know what you want.
4. Know your passions.
5. Take very good care of yourself.
6. Be kind to others from a generous heart.
7. Help others from a place of compassion and good energy.
8. Assume nothing.
9. Listen well and openly.
10. Understand that everything changes, including YOU.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New trunk show!

I have just received a Brown Sheep trunk show!  Brown Sheep makes wonderful yarns, and the pattern support is mouth-watering.  The great thing about most of these patterns is that the finished articles look really complicated - but they aren't.  Mostly it is a matter of creative use of slip stitches and textures created with purl stitches.  (Unfortunately, the photography that appears on the patterns seldom does the knitting justice.)  There are garments for kids, for men, for women, and unisex garments that look good on anybody.  I will have all the patterns and any missing yarns by early next week.

Have a safe and delicious Memorial Day weekend.  And remember what it is about - appreciation for those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Purls of wisdom:  Every day you waste is one you never can make up.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New magazines & clearance yarns

With the closing of Borders, previously the best local source of knitting periodicals, I am expanding my selection of magazines.  I have just started carrying Piecework and Interweave Crochet.  If enough people seem interested I will also carry Spin Off and Interweave Weaving.

The River Park Day / Anniversary sale continues!  There are three big bins of reduced yarns still available, marked down 25% or more.  Once these are gone they are gone for good, so if you want any Trendsetter Tonalita, Venus, Dune or Soleil, this is your chance to get it at a great price.  Also reduced for clearance: Berroco Comfort Baby and Comfort DK; Crystal Palace Poof and Popcorn; Feza Cyrpus Mohair; K1C2 Jam, Ruby and Wrapunzel; and Schulana Rodeo.

Purls of wisdom: Goals are dreams with deadlines.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Diary of a Mad Housecat, Part 2

Good morning everyone, Elwood here.  Life at our new home continues to be pleasant.  In the last couple of weeks Mama has taken to opening the big sliding doors on the front and back of the house, so there is just screen between us and the outdoors.  Now we can smell all the smells and hear what is going on outside a lot better.  The bird viewing is best at the front of the house, but there are chipmunks on the back deck, so we go from one to the other.

Mandy still hates us, and I think she's up to something.  The other day she sat on top of the entertainment center and told us that the reason there are 5 older female cats and only 2 younger male cats is because young male cats are good to eat.  I'm not sure I believe her, but I am staying out of the kitchen when Mama cooks, just in case.  Jake, on the other paw, can't bear to be more than a few feet from Mama, and he likes to lie down in front of the refrigerator to watch her cook.  If he turns up missing I am going to be very careful about the leftovers I eat.

I think my brother may be becoming something of a mama's boy.  Not only does he freak out if he can't see Mama, when she comes home from work he gets real excited and rolls around on her feet - like a dog for heaven's sake.  But he does get tummy rubs for his efforts, so yesterday I flopped down on the floor next to him and got my tummy rubbed, too.  Sometimes our morning wet food comes out of the refrigerator and it's cold.  Jake whines and Mama heats up his food.  What a baby.

Anyhow, it's now time for my morning nap.  Maybe this afternoon I'll try to find more pens to put under the couch.  Mama seems to like finding them there.  At least she sounds happy when she finds them.

Purls of wisdom: You may delay, but time will not.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

One year ago today I opened the doors of the shop.  It has been an interesting experience, to say the least, especially as I had no previous experience with owning a retail business.  I have learned a LOT - about retail, about yarns, about knitting, and about myself.  And I have been blessed with meeting some wonderful people, many of whom have become regular customers.  I currently have over 750 names in my customer database!

This Saturday is River Park Day, and the official celebration of the shop's first anniversary.  There will be a parade at 10 AM, most of the local merchants are having a sidewalk sale, there will be food vendors and a magic show for the kids.  Come on into the shop - there will be excellent deals to celebrate the anniversary and show my appreciation for all my wonderful customers.

Thank you for a great year.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Artyarns does it again

Today I got a bunch of new Artyarns patterns - all but one are one-skein patterns.  There are lots of lacey wraps and shawls, at all skill levels.  And yesterday I spoke with Iris Schreirer of Artyarns - she tells me they are coming out with four new yarns that are to die for!  New cashmeres, new silks, new blends.  I'll get all the details at the trade show next month, so stay tuned.

Purls of wisdom: "There are liars, damned liars, and statisticians."  Mark Twain

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The ultimate knitting retreat

In the course of looking for information on cruises (our long-postponed honeymoon) I came across something I absolutely have to share with you - CraftCruises.  These are cruises targeted to crafters of all persuasions: knitters, crocheters, beaders, cross-stitchers, and on and on.  Naturally, I clicked on the tab for knitting cruises, and the next one is described as "The ultimate lace knitter's dream cruise", departing July 25, 2011. 

This is a 21-day cruise that will include London, Amsterdam, Dale of Norway in Bergen, Jamieson & Smith Shetland Wool Brokers, the Shetland Museum, and Storkurinn Yarn Iceland, as well as others.  Myrna Stahman will be the instructor.  The link for the cruise website is here.

Had I known about this cruise sooner I could have planned for it, but I didn't so I will not be able to go on this one.  But if any of you do, Bon Voyage! (read in the voice of Bugs Bunny).

Friday, May 6, 2011

Interweave Summer is in!

The Summer 2011 issue of Interweave Knits is in, and it is full of good stuff.  The patterns are good, but only a few of them make me want to throw my priorities list to the winds.  It's the technical articles in this issue that really grabbed my attention. 

Most notable is the one on designing your own pictorial lace motifs.  The example in the magazine is an elephant design created by sketching it onto graph paper, then figuring out what types of yarn over-decrease combinations to create the effect.  The article goes on to illustrate and explain what effects one gets from these different combinations and their placement.  Very enlightening.

Another interesting article is the Artist Spotlight on Ben Cuevas.  He knitted an entire skeleton using Cascade 220 and #3 dpns!  He used a very fine sock yarn and #0000 needles for the teeth.  This is not anything I am likely to do in my lifetime, but it is worth looking at from a design creativity perspective.

Purls of wisdom:  every day you waste is one you can never make up.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cool new patterns and other stuff

Greetings, my fellow fiber-holics!  I am pleased to announce I have started carrying Schoolhouse Press patterns.  If this is only ringing a faint bell with you, these are patterns (mostly) designed by Elizabeth
Zimmerman (e.g., The Green Sweater), Meg Swanson, and Barbabra Walker.  In all fairness there are other designers, too.  I have some fabulous designs in, including the Baby Surprise pattern, which comes with options from infant through adult sizes!

Effective May 19 the shop will be closing at 5 PM on Thursdays.  I will still be open until 8 PM on Fridays.  There just hasn't been any business after 5 PM on Thursdays; in fact, only twice in the last year has anyone come into the shop after 5 PM on Thursday.

The sign-up sheet for the bus to Stitches Midwest is filling up - make sure you reserve your seat soon!

Purls of wisdom: Whether you think you will succeed or fail, you are right.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Diary of a Mad Housecat, Part 1

My name is Elwood.  That is the name my humans gave me; the name my mother gave me cannot be pronounced by humans.  My brother Jake and I are beautiful all-white cats.  I am a bit taller than Jake and my tail is more impressive, but we are truly spectacular felines. 

My first memory is of being taken from my mother and put in a shelter cage with Jake.  It was small but clean.  They fed us and petted us, and every now and then we went to another place were lots of humans could look at us and hold us.  That's how we acquired our present humans.

The day we arrived at our new home there was a big thing in the corner decorated with lots of toys.  It looked a lot like a tree, but didn't smell or feel like a tree.  Every time we took one of the toys off the tree we were told "no" - I don't know why they put toys out if we aren't supposed to take them and play with them.  There are other cats, too.  Jake is especially fond of Midget - actually, he goes on and on about how beautiful her whiskers and tail are, till I am sick of hearing about it.  I must admit Midget is very nice, though.

There is another black and white cat named Dana - she was pretty bossy at first, and tried to push us around a lot, but seems to have accepted us.  Occasionally Jake gets mad at her and wants me to figure out how to light the stove - he thinks we should burn the witch.  No thumbs, though. 

The orange cat named Mandy hates us with a passion.  She is always growling at us, even when we aren't doing anything.  Mama says her face will freeze that way.  The other white cat, Alexis, is crazy.  Just plain nuts, but harmless.  And then there is Lorelei, who is terribly shy but is trying to learn how to play with us.   She cries a lot and says she wants Katmandu.

We have lots of nice food, just not enough.  Seriously - who can get by on half a can of cat food a day and unlimited dry food?  We have nice filtered water, too, not that nasty smelling and tasting stuff at the shelter.  And LOTS of clean litter boxes.  Our humans use different litter boxes in different rooms than ours.  They are full of water, and after the humans use it the water disappears; it's a lot of fun to watch.  And we get cuddled a LOT.  That's really nice.  I especially like the tummy rubs and chin rubs.

Jake and I are gradually learning the language of our humans.  Sometimes they punctuate their speech with a squirt bottle of water, but we are trying to break them of that habit.  I have learned a lot of words I don't really know the meaning of, like "violin factory" and "Chinese restaurant".  Mostly we hear these words when we are exploring the counter in the kitchen or sharpening on the couch.  Really, how can anyone expect us to walk all the way to the sharpening post every time the urge strikes? Mama gets pretty mad when we eat the houseplants, too, but why put out a buffet if it's off limits? 

About the third day we were at our new home Jake and I discovered that it is really big - lots of room to run.  We had not been able to run at all in the shelter, we were always in that little cage.  We can really get up some speed here.  A few nights ago I was stretching my legs and going for a new speed record.  When I went over one end table I accidentally knocked some stuff off.  Mama was really upset, used the word "irreplaceable" and cried.  I have tried to be very good since then - at least when she can see me.

There is this toy we like that the humans call a "cricket".  It makes a small dot on everything, and we get to chase it.  Try as we might, we never actually catch it.  Someday....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My name is Arvilla...

...and I am a history geek.  There - I said it.  I love history, especially anything from around 800 AD to 1900 AD.  When Shotime had "The Tudors" series on I waited impatiently for each new episode / season (Tudor England is a particular favorite of mine).  I love the Starz series on Spartacus.  Last night I discovered "The Borgias" on Shotime.

One of the things I enjoy most about historical productions of this ilk is observing the accuracy of the costumes and architecture.  I am hardly an expert on either, but as a result of touring Hampton Court in 1980 I do know that doors were not commonly in use in the time of Henry VIII.  This made some of the scenes in the "Tudors" series a bit unfaithful to history, but did allow for the drama of a slammed door.

The costumes, however, were very accurate, and the costumes in "The Borgias" are fascinating.  One of the things I like to look for is knitted lace.  So far I have not seen a great deal of it, but I will continue watching, just in case.

There - I have justified my history geek-ness as knitting research.

I am looking into getting some Schacht rigid heddle looms in the shop, and possibly some spinning wheels.  Please let me know if you are interested in either.  Kristen will teach classes in weaving, and you will be able to try weaving first to see if you want to get a loom.  The ones I am thinking of carrying are the Schacht Cricket loom - a very, very affordable entry level rigid heddle loom, perfect for someone who wants to experiment with weaving without making a big cash investment.  I hope to eventually have one of each Shcacht wheel available for people to "test drive", so you can order the wheel you prefer.

Purls of wisdom:  Harry Truman was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano
player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

arrivals du jour

Today I finally got in the Malabrigo Chunky, in 7 fabulous colors!  This Malabrigo is plied and very user friendly.

Another new yarn: Jam by K1C2.  Jam is a novelty yarn, fuzzy and bumpy (my camera is still broken).  It would make great trim or accents on a knitted article, and would also be good for making jewelry out of yarn.

I have made up some kits, for those of you who just want everything you need in one spot.  New kits include the Watermelon Cardigan by Never Not Knitting - a little girl's cardi, comes with everything but the button; "Beach Party" aka a felted flamingo kit; and the Scalloped Beaded Scarf kit, with enough Panda Silk DK and color coordinated beads to make the Deanna's Vintage Knits scarf of the same name.

Remember to sign up for the Stitches Midwest bus trip before 01 July.  Sounds like a long time off, but this is on a "first paid, first served" basis, so don't miss out.

Purls of wisdom: pennies do not come from heaven.  They are earned here on earth.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ever have one of those days?

Most days are pretty tranquil.  The cats get me up an hour before I need to be up, I feed them, I drink coffee in the hot tub then go inside and knit.  I shower, get dressed, and go to the shop.  Tranquil.  Peaceful.

Some days...not so much.

A couple of Thursdays ago I went through the same basic routine described above.  Except for the fact that Midget, my designated alarm cat, decided 4:30 was a good time to have breakfast.  In case you were wondering, there is no snooze button on a hungry cat.  So I got up and began my day, taking advantage of the extra time before I had to leave the house to spend some bonus time in the hot tub.  And for this the gods of daily routine decided to punish me.

Everything went fine until it was time to leave.  I opened the garage door, started the car, and tried to back out of the garage.  The Envoy did not want to move; then I noticed the left front corner sitting a bit low.  A lot low, actually.  I got out to look, and lo and behold, I have a flat tire.  Not just a soft tire - a "flatter than a duck's instep" tire.  So I went upstairs, told my husband and asked if I could take his PT Cruiser and would he please put the spare on my truck?  I took the Envoy key off my key chain to leave it with him, got in his car and left.

I was only running a couple minutes late, but that isn't a big deal.  As I was driving up Cleveland - heading into the sun - I had to stop at a traffic light and decided to use the windshield washers (my husband isn't a big fan of clean windows).  It was cold out - about 21 degrees - but that is why washer fluid is designed not to readily freeze.  I squirt the bug juice onto the windshield, the wipers start moving....and only the very tips of each wiper are making contact with the glass, leaving several ounces of foamy bug juice on the windshield.  Did I mention I was heading into the sun?

Isn't that special?

I continued on to work, periodically turning on the wipers in the hope that the defroster would have warmed them up enough that they would actually make contact with the windshield, but no, that did not happen.  The bug juice eventually dried, leaving a lovely film on the glass, but by then I was no longer headed east.  Oh well, I say to myself - I'll stop at a gas station on the way home and wash the windshield there.

The day went on without incident (and without much business) and I headed home.  By then the sun had warmed up enough that the wipers were working properly, and I could actually see out the windshield. I decided that I would be a nice wife and take my husband's car to get an oil change and a wash.  When they checked the tire pressure at the oil change place they discovered there were 80 pounds of air in each tire.  Which explains the buckboard-like ride I had been enduring.  (Never mind how that happened.)

Our garage door opener had been acting up for a few weeks - it worked just fine if one used a remote, but the button on the garage wall to operate it had not been working at all. This was normally not a problem for me - I simply hit the remote in my Envoy.  Bob's car, however, does not get parked in the garage.  While the remote in his car will open the garage door, closing it became problematic due to the faulty wall switch.  So I pulled into my driveway and decided to let myself in through the front door.  I locked Bob's car, the horn gave that annoying beep, and headed for the front door.

The front door frame had been replaced just before Christmas resulting in a very tight fit.  I couldn't get the blighter opened.  Everything now fits so snugly and we use the front door so seldom, that my arthritic hands couldn't turn the key in the deadbolt lock.  So back to Bob's car I go; I unlocked it, hit the remote for the garage door, locked the car again (out of habit), it beeped again, and I went inside.  But now I can't close the garage door.

I went to the front door and unlocked it, let myself outside and unlocked Bob's car.  I hit the remote to close the garage door, locked his car again, it beeped again, and I went back inside through the front door.  The chronic beeping of the horn had called my neighbors' attention to the bizarre Chinese fire drill going in in my driveway.  I really ought to charge these people for the entertainment, but they were decent enough not to laugh while I could hear them.

The next day I took my tire to Avenue Automotive and got it fixed in a matter of minutes - a large machine screw had been the culprit.  All was once again right with the world - Bob is driving his car, I am driving my car, and now the wall switch for the remote is fixed.  My dignity is only slightly damaged.

Purls of wisdom: some days it doesn't pay to chew through the leather restraints.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

More good news about Stitches Midwest

I am pleased to tell everyone that the admission price at Stitches is only $8!  This gets even better as I am trying to get everyone discounted admission tickets at $6 each!  The folks who organize this event are bending over backwards to be helpful - they are really great.

More new yarns at the shop - Himalaya Yarns Duke Silk, 225 yards of hand-dyed 100% silk decadence.  And Wisdom Yarns Limerick, a self-striping DK weight superwash.  Only three colors right now - lots of backorders.

Purls of wisdom: fall seven times, get up eight.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stitches bus?

Greetings Knitlings!  I am trying to get a firmer head count for the bus - those of you who are sure you are going to Stitches with us, please email me with your name or post it here so I can put you on the sign-up sheet.  The list is first come, first served, FYI, so I do not recommend waiting too late.  Also, I am offering a $5 discount for payment before 01 July.  Anyone who has not paid by that date may be subject to being "bumped" to the bottom of the list by someone with cash.

Purls of wisdom: No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cool new stuff!

Greetings knitlings (it's like earthlings, but different)!  New at the shop as of today:
  • Fortissima Mexiko Cotton stretch, a self-striping / patterning cotton sock yarn in 8 luscious colors
  • Aloo by Himalaya  Yarns, made of Himalayan nettle, this yarn is used to make market bags, placemats and table runners.  I have a free market bag pattern available.  Available only in a natural color that varies slightly from batch to batch.
  • Pagadi Silk - made of un-used warp threads from a silk fabric mill, this yarn is a great trim, such as on the edges of cuffs, collars and lapels.  The colors are brilliant and unpredictable.
  • Maharaja Silk - a lace weight silk, 800 yards of hand-painted decadence, and reasonably priced.  I have 5 delectable colors on hand.
Cool new find - eraseable highlighters!  Made by Pilot, they are called Frixion, and can be bought in packs of 3 colors at Staples.

Purls of wisdom: Once the game is over, the king and pawn go back to the same box.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stitches Midwest Bus update

It is official - we will have a bus to Stitches Midwest for Saturday, 27 August.  I am looking into having it depart from the former Barnes & Noble parking lot.  This will allow more space for parking cars, as there is not a great deal of that at the shop.  Please sign up now so we can figure out if a second bus will be needed.  And please spread the word; I am going to ask a few other places about putting up posters with the trip info.

The price of the tickets will be $50 per person.  I know this is higher than the $35 I was hoping for, but with the rising cost of fuel it is still a bargain, and at the rate the price of gas is rising it will be an even better bargain by August.  Everyone will also receive a free tote bag and a free Knit Kard listing yardage estimates for various projects, so when you are at Stitches you will have a better idea of how much yarn you need to purchase for the project you have in mind.

Purls of wisdom: a person who aims at nothing is sure to hit it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Count 'em! 53!

As I was putting away a Cascade shipment this morning, I decided to do a count of how many shades of 220 I have at the shop.  Not counting hand-paints, tweeds and superwash, I have 53 shades of Cascade 220 in stock.  Which is about 27% of what is available.

My camera needs to go to the camera doctor, so no images of new things.  Nonetheless, I am pleased to announce that there are, indeed, new things at the shop.  First is the 60 Quick Baby Knits a book utilizing Cascade 220 Superwash.  Some very cool patterns - I especially like the hat with the ram's horns on the sides.

Also new - Pagewood Farms Felted Silk Scarf Kit and Felted Flower Kit.  The former allows you to make your own unique wearable work of art using their silk scarf as a foundation.  The latter can be used to make anything your imagination can come up with, from felted flowers on a sweater to embellishing your own scarf.

And I got a  bunch of glorious new colors in Malabrigo Worsted.  It is the yarn of the month, so come check them out.

Ordered this morning: I found another source of magnetic chart holders (thankfully).  These are harder to find than one might think.
Off to teach a student - later!

Purls of wisdom: alcohol and calculus don't mix; never drink and derive.

Friday, February 25, 2011

In a mere 6 months...

...Stitches Midwest will be in full swing!  Good news - we are looking into chartering a bus to take knitters to Stitches Midwest on Saturday 27 August!  Current game plan is to have the bus depart from HERE at 8 AM and depart from Stitches at 4 PM.  That should give participants 6 hours to shop, drool, and shop some more. 

Advantages to taking the bus instead of driving include:
  • it will cost less than if you drove yourself (round trip gas, tolls, parking come to about $45, at present gas prices);
  • you can knit going there and back (not such a good idea if you are driving)
  • you will be surrounded by other knitters
  • you'll receive a free tote bag to put your loot in
We estimate the price per person will be $35 - it may be less if we get a really big response. Stay tuned for more information as the date gets closer.

Monday, February 14, 2011

just a reminder

Last year I lost my father and Katmandu.  This week I am sending out three sympathy cards, one to a friend who lost her mother, one to a friend who lost her sister, and one to a friend who lost his son.  Without evangelizing or waxing maudlin I want to remind everyone that today is all we have, so never miss a chance to say "I love you" to the ones you love. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

still more about new stuff

This morning it was 13 degrees out when I left for the shop.  Seems cold, until you consider that it was 24 degrees warmer than when I left the house yesterday.

The Artyarns Cottonspring has arrived and it is heavenly!  It is selling very fast, too, so I will be ordering more soon.  If you go onto the Artyarns site and see a color you would like me to order, I will be happy to do so.

The Interweave Knits and the Knitting Traditions Spring 2011 issues have arrived.  I am going to add a new feature to the newsletter, beginning with the March issue: The Yarn Exchange.  In short, it is a list of patterns in recent magazine issues and the yarns I carry that may be substituted if I do not carry the recommended yarn.  I hope you will find this helpful.

Purls of wisdom:  If it ain't broke, it probably isn't ours.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

new stuff

Greetings fellow knit-cicles!  New arrivals at the shop yesterday include Linsey, a cotton linen blend from Berroco.   The solids are heathery due tot he different rates at which the cotton and linen fibers take up dye.  The multis are self-striping (similar to TyDy).  At 114 yards and $8.00 per skein, Linsey is a deal.

Pattern support for Linsey is fabulous!  Not only does Berroco have some killer patterns in their new booklet, but I also have the Nora Gaughan volume 8, and this is packed with gorgeous patterns for Linsey.  It also has patterns for Pure Pima, Berroco's 100% pima cotton yarn, which will be arriving at the shop later this spring.

I have several new individual patterns in, too, mostly for summery garments.  A new pattern vendor is C2knit, who produces amazingly simple and classic patterns that are perfect for cotton or linen blends.

Lest the thought of summer-weight garments make you shiver as you look outside, I have also gotten in some very cool hat patterns from Nancy's Knit Knacks.  These are Fair Isle patterns, and very classic.  One is reminiscent of the hat worn by Flick in "A Christmas Story"; another has a thistle pattern that will appeal to anyone with a drop of Scottish blood.

Later this week a new shipment of Artyarns should be arriving - Cottonspring, the only cotton yarn I have ever lusted for.  It is lovely, soft, and the Artyarns colors, of course, and to swoon over (does anybody actually swoon anymore?).

Any SciFi fans out there?  I am a total scifi and fantasy geek.  A customer ordered some bulky yarn for a hat and it turns out that the hat in question is the one worn by Jayne Cobb in Firefly!  I got the free pattern on-line and am offering the yarn and pattern in kits for $30, including a pom-pom maker (the hat MUST have a pom-pom to be an authentic Mrs. Cobb's cunning hat!).

I am also pleased to say that last Saturday's Super Scarf Knit In and Potluck Lunch was a huge success.  So many beautiful scarves being knitted, and so many really nice knitters.  We had a blast - I may make this a regular event, perhaps on the first Saturday of every month.  Of course it wouldn't be as elaborate, but I'm sure I could manage to bring in a crock pot of stew or chili or such once a month.

Well, off to the showers with me.  Knit happy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Groundhog Day 2011

Greetings knitterati!  If, by some fickle alignment of the stars and weather satellites, the blizzard predicted for tonight actually comes to pass and we receive the 12+ inches of snow forecast, the shop will not open on Wednesday 02 February 2011.  In conditions like that it is best everyone that does not absolutely positively need to be on the roads stay off them, including myself and my customers.

Should we not receive all this snow the shop will open as usual.

On the plus side, no groundhog will see his shadow tomorrow....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gorgeous George update

George came to the shop two weeks ago to be a shop cat.  At first everything was fine, but Friday and Saturday he made two very serious efforts to get out the door when customers were leaving.  He really misses his previous staff, and I think he thought he could get home to them if he got out.  I simply cannot take the risk of him getting out on Mishawaka Avenue, he would probably be hit by a car in the first few minutes.  So Saturday after work George came home with me to be a house cat instead of a shop cat.

So far the other cats have done a little hissing, but overall it has been a relatively peaceful transition.  I think George will eventually end up as alpha cat, but he isn't pushing the issue.  Mainly he just wants the other cats not to bother him while he checks out the new digs.  He does enjoy sleeping on the bed with us, and apparently all cats recognize the bed as neutral territory because everyone slept close together peacefully.

George will miss his adoring fans at the shop, especially those who brought chicken, turkey, cheese and tuna  for him.  He is a much safer cat now, and does not have to sleep alone in a cold, lonely shop.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Noni Felted Bags Trunk Show

The Noni Felted Bags Trunk Show has arrived at the shop!  There are 9 bags so far with two more coming from a different location, including the huge and multi-pocketed project bag.  These bags are gorgeous!  The small red bag in the photo is crocheted; the rest are knitted.  There are two size options for most of the patterns, as shown in these photos.  Speaking of patterns, I have patterns for all these bags and more on hand.  No special yarn is required, as long as it will felt.

Now for the hardware - Noni has a very large selection of hardware available.  I feel that the hardware is a very personal choice, and it may be best made after the bag is felted.  So when you buy your pattern and yarn you may order hardware then, or wait till the bag has been felted.  Noni is not far away, so it won't take long to get here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A rose by any other name....

I am not entirely sure how it started, but Saturday afternoon some of us in the shop began "re-naming" some classic movies and operas with knit-related titles.  Submitted for your consideration are the following:

"Knitter of the Opera"
"The Knitter of Seville"
"The Good, the Bad, and the Acrylic"
"A Fistful of Needles"
"The Wizard of Alpaca"
"The William Tell Yarn-Over"  (yes, I know the difference between an opera and an overture - humor me)
"True Knit"
"Harry Potter and the Sweater Stone"
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Acrylan"
"Harry Potter and the Half Linen Stitch"
"Easy Knitter"
"Five Easy Stitches"
"The Shearing of the Lambs"
"Strangers in a Yarn Shop"
"The Thin Yarn"
"Acrylic and Old Lace"
"Inherit the Winder"

If you wanted to register for Knitting Boot Camp but thought you missed it, there is still time tor register for the Friday sessions.  Due to a scheduling shift the first Friday evening session will begin on 28 January at 5:30 PM.  (The Saturday morning sessions are already underway.)  This course is worth it - you will come away with a wealth of knitting knowledge, improved skills and some new ones, too, and a reference library of swatches and notes you will be able to use for a lifetime.

Recently in: Mochi Chunky - same luscious colors as Mini Mochi and Mochi Plus, in a chunky weight.  Also recently arrived - more colors of the divine Fiesta La Boheme and Knit Collage's Pixie Dust.

Coming to the shop this week: the Noni felted handbags trunk show!  I have patterns for everything in the trunk show, and suitable yarns.  The hardware used in these items may be special ordered, or you may select your own.

Also coming to the shop: Wisdom Yarns and Universal Yarns!  Wait till you see the colors!  Even better, wait till you see the prices!  If you can get something the equivalent of Noro Kureyon for 22% less, why not? 

Purls of wisdom: some days you're the needles, some days you're the yarn.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fractured Fairy Tales

Once upon a time there was a woman who liked to knit.  She had been knitting for years, but carefully avoided any patterns that were not rated "beginner" or "easy".  She loved the look of more complex patterns, but was afraid she might make mistakes or get in over her head.  She always used cheap yarn because she didn't want to "waste the good stuff on my level of knitting".  Her Fairy Knitmother tried to encourage here to branch out, but she was too afraid of making mistakes.

So one night her Fairy Knitmother found several patterns she knew this woman liked, but was afraid to try, and with a touch of her magic wand changed the difficulty level on them to "easy" and the required yarns to higher quality.  The next morning the woman found these patterns and was delighted.  "At last", she said, "patterns I like that are at my skill level."  And she began to knit.

She made a cabled sweater, a Fair Isle hat, and slip-stitch mittens.  They were beautiful, and she was so proud of them.  There was a small mistake in each one, but no one but the woman who knitted these items could find the mistake, and since the patterns were rated "easy", she was not worried about these mistakes.  She gave the cabled sweater and Fair Isle hat and slip-stitch mittens to her loved ones, and they were thrilled.

Then the Fairy Knitmother told the woman the truth about the skill level of the patterns.  "You see," said the Fairy Knitmother, "you only thought you couldn't do these patterns.  You can do anything if you believe you can." 

"But there are mistakes in them!" cried the woman.

"Of course there are, my dear," responded the Fairy Knitmother.  "The only people who don't make mistakes are people who aren't doing anything."

The moral of the story is: believe in yourself.  You can do anything you want to do if you believe in yourself.  If you want to knit with silk yarn, do it - life is too short to knit with cheap yarn.  If you want to try a more complex pattern, do it.  You might surprise yourself with how well it comes out.