Sunday, December 17, 2006

Join Our Lace Scarf Knit-along! Last weekend at Woolbearers we held a lace scarf class taught by popular knitting teacher, Gwen. There was some discussion about all the techniques that are involved in the pattern, which got my interest. The collection of lace scarves and shawls by Margaret Anne Halas are each more interesting than the next. Gwen chose Oak Leaf, shown above, for the class. She knit one in Hand Jive Knits and another in Turquoise Jeans by Claudia Handpaints shown above before blocking. Ellen's scarf in Chocolate
Covered Cherries Claudia Handpaints is about three inches into the tails. My scarf is done in JoJoland Cashmere blend sock yarn and I am just beginning the tails. I only had size three needles when I started it (I own a yarn store) so the lace stitches are a little closed. I cannot wait to do another one on bigger needles, out of Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

Please join us as we knit these interesting and beautiful scarves. Margaret Anne Halas patterns are available online at our online store .

I'll keep you posted about the progress of the knitters at the store and hope you'll keep us posted about your progress.

Don't knit with white yarn while eating pizza .... and other wisdom from the old country. Woolbearers held our first annual Finishing Frenzy tonight from 6PM until midnight. Twelve gals got together with unfinished projects and diligently knit until we couldn't see clearly, which often happens in older people. We ate the pizza, we drank the soda. It was all good. And we really did get knitting done! Joanna finished the hat she making for her boyfriend, Rich.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Market Basket Bag is finally done and felted. In this rare, never before seen photo, my partner, Myra, can be seen to the left of the giant bag.

The smaller bag was knitted by Sabra. She used several different yarns which all felted beautifully including Nashua and Brown Sheep. It's about half the size of the larger.

Oh Mr. Elda, why are you still in my thoughts?

Friday night we hosted our 'monthly' knit in, attended by what will forever more be known as the wildest group of knitting women in Jersey. Occasionally, the conversation strayed from the usual comparison of the latest yarns and needles, to the clothing preferences of retired husbands. Needless to say, it was one of the most amusing evenings we have had, but I still wonder how I will ever get that vision out of my head? And also, thank you Bean.

In a saner moment, we sang Happy Birthday to Joanna, ate delish cake from the Acme bakery, and showed off some truly beautiful knitting.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I have had the luxury of knitting most of the day because I am home sick. Unfortunately, the yarn I need is at the store, so the kimono jacket has been put aside once again and yet another project has begun!

We got some interesting yarns to dye this month, among them a cabled composite yarn made up of a fancy boucle of silk and rayon plied with a synthetic boucle. As a test, I soda ash dyed some of it in the Gold Dust colorway which seems to be a favorite with our customers. It is very bulky.

Sabra showed me a pattern in a book by Elizabeth Zimmerman that caught my interest. The body is knitted in one piece from the bottom up, and then stitches picked up around the armholes and the arms then knitted. Sort of like the Garter Stitch Vest in Folk Vests, which I am also knitting. I thought the sweater would be great in this new yarn. The sizing is done by varying the yarn gauge.

I cast on 120 stitches on size eleven needles and went to town. After about four inches, I thought the yarn would really look great in a ripple sort of stitch, so I did a row of a similar stitch I saw Lily Chin do on the Knitty Gritty TV show on the DIY Network, but it was too tedious to do on that many stitches, so the rest of it will be in garter stitch. Will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Getting projects finished, finally, before the holidays has me chomping at the bit to finish more so I can start another sweater. I think I want to do something in the Jamieson shetland.

The Long Sakiori Vest from Folk Vests took me longer than I thought it would. The body is really easy, the back is done in two separate pieces and then joined together. After you finish the fronts and attach them to the joined backs at the shoulders, you pick up stitches around the neck to midchest, knit in seed stitch for a couple of inches, put those stitches on holders and pick up the rest of the stitches from midchest to the bottom of the fronts, put the stitches on the holders back on the needles, and knit six or so more rows in seed stitch. For some reason, I had trouble getting the seed stitch trim to lay flat, so the corners curl. I blocked it to death, and short of cutting some of the stitches, the fronts don't hang right. It still looks very lovely on the dummy, but because I am becoming somewhat of a perfectionist wannabe (thanks to the influence of my partner), I can't stop tugging on the fronts. If I make it again, I think I should add some stitches. It is VERY flattering to wear.

The next thing to get finished gave me the most knitting fun I've had since the Best Friend Jacket from the Knit Stitch and that was the entrelac Market Basket bag from A Knitter's Dozen Bags. I made it in Nashua Bulky and Manos del Uruguay. The squares done in the painted Manos look spectacular. The bag felted wonderfully. Can't wait to do another entrelac project. Gwen is teaching a class on an entrelac vest that looks really fun. It's a great technique to do with handpainted yarn.

So now I have the Kimono Sweater to finish and the Garter Stitch Vest. Easy to knit. The sweater is the first I have done that will actually be big enough to fit me, and I'm not thrilled with the amount of yarn it is taking! So much easier to do a size small rather than the large. (or xl......) Better get back on the diet.

Pictures of all of these things later.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Who's a Lady?

Many years ago when I was a young mother, my operating room job allowed me to wear jeans to work everyday, since I would change into scrubs when I got there. Day after day, my little two year old daughter, would see me wearing clothes similar to what her father wore each day as he went off to classes. One night in mid December, we were preparing to go to a formal Christmas party the hospital I worked at hosted for its employees each year. I made the dress I was wearing, a long, white velvet halter dress with a short little jacket. As I was standing at a mirror doing something, I don't remember what it was, but I was already dressed, I noticed that my daughter was standing next to me, staring intently up at me. "Mom, are you a lady?" she asked, increduously. It occurred to me that the poor kid had never seen me in a dress and watched enough Sesame Street to know that ladies wore dresses.

Only a few years before that, I wouldn't have gone out for the evening without white gloves on. We were talking about white gloves during our knitting group meeting Friday night, and these pictures are the result of that talk. Cate went to Columbus Flea Market this morning and found white gloves, both short and long, still in the original packaging, which had to be from the sixties and seventies. Joanna said they are hard to knit in, but Cate thinks they might work if you are using bamboo needles. I felt so glamorous!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Woolbearers hosts a knitting group of great gals from all over Burlington and Mercer counties. Once in a while even someone from Camden will venture out to the hood to knit with us in the evening.

Last night we had the biggest crowd ever with 17 women squeezed into the space. The pictures speak for themselves. Anyway, it was fun and seeing the different knitting projects was inspiring.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Today was a beautiful weather day and a wonderful yarn arrival day. First, Fed Ex came with a couple of giant boxes, one of them from Brown Sheep. It barely was on the shelves for an hour when new customer, Ann, came in and bought lots of it for a rug she is knitting. It turns out her daughter works at a wonderful yarn store in Colorado. People are so interesting.

Then, a few hours later, our favorite UPS driver arrives and with him a giant box from Plymouth Yarn. Opening the box was like Christmas. We got lots of colors of Linen Isle, a cotton, linen and acrylic blend, very soft and lustrous for $4 a ball! I still think that low price is a mistake. Also, a 100% silk yarn in six wonderful colors, and a colorful collection of bamboo yarn. Finally, we got their bulky baby Alpaca which is super soft, and more colors of an old faithful, Yukon, a super bulky mohair blend.

Old friends Gwen, Janet, Jane, Nina and Debbie came in today, as did several new gals in addition to Ann. It made me feel really lucky to have been in the store today because yesterday a REALLY old friend, Pat, one of our first customers, came in and I was off for the day and missed her. There is a fine line between customers and friendships in many, many instances.

The entrelac purse I am doing is coming along well. Adding the Manos tier seems to be making a big difference. I am anxious to get it done and start another project with Wool in the Woods Pizazz. I found it when we were moving things around in the store today and it really knocked my socks off. I hope I have enough of the colorway to do something fun, like a vest.

Speaking of vests, I finished (almost) one of two vests I'm knitting from Folk Vests. Still have to do the side pieces.

More later.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Stitches.... what can I say about Stitches? I could say that our customers really enjoyed the bus trip we arranged for them. Forty-five excited women on their way to yarn nirvana, plastic and paper ready to depart from their wallets. I could say that it was a nicer venue than Atlantic City; bigger, better lighting, enough chairs and tables to sit and relax between purchases and more food and snacks available. Our customers seemed thrilled with their buys. They are still emailing about the fun they had and the yarn they bought.

But I could also say that I was disappointed in Stitches. I felt badly for some of the small businesses who don't have their own product to promote; Webs was there with phenomenal discounting and who can compete with that? Truly, I wouldn't be surprised if some day I hear that Webs is franchising. I just hope they don't open a branch in my town if it ever happens. I thought it was interesting that the same women who won't shop at Walmarts because they undercut local businesses didn't bat an eyelash at buying from Webs.

So what did I buy at Stitches? Nothing. That's right, nada, nil, nothing. I even gave myself permission to buy whatever I wanted and ran through the show one last time before we left, and there was nothing I wanted. I think I already have everything I want in Woolbearers!

Woolbearers bought some gorgeous angora lambs wool, hand dyed from Shady Side Farms, the people that do our spinning for us, and her booth was one of the few I saw that had something really different and unusual. DoneRoving Farm had some really pretty rovings and handpainted yarns. The new Noni Bag patterns and samples gave me a thrill. I can't wait to get them in the store.

We ordered glass circular knitting needles that our customers bought and were raving about at the show. We gave them a wish list to write down anything they saw that we should stock and I am anxious to get those back to see what we should get.

Maybe by October 2007 I'll be excited about going to Stitches again.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The photo of the bag is the result of a mother in the United Kingdom being inspired by the picture of her daughter's bag, which she saw in this blog. I love that! She saw the picture (Joanna's Noni bag), her daughter sent her yarn, and she took off with her own creation. What a great way to nurture one's creativity.

The story made me miss my own mother in Michingan, and although she doesn't knit much anymore, we inspired each other to bake bread this weekend and talk on the phone during the process.

Inspiration to create fiber art comes from many places. I have the type of design imagination that often is unrealistic in its composition. I see in my mind's eye something that I want to create. The next step is to figure out the method of execution.

For instance, a few years ago I wanted to weave fabric upon which I could then silk screen images that reminded me of Manhattan. However, the images I drew looked too juvenile, so I scratched trying my hand at silk screening and decided to photocopy old postcards I collected onto transfere fabric and then iron those unto the woven fabric. That didn't work either because the postcards were too detailed and the transfers at that time didn't do well with detail colored photos. I forgot about the project until recently. Myra found transfere fabric made of cotton that you run through your printer. I think I'll copy the postcards onto the fabric and sew the copies onto a jacket I will construct out of woven fabric.... let's face it, I am no artist. But I have the desire and inspiration to creat.

Seeing someone else's design, either in a pattern or in the finished work always inspires me. That must be universal and is responsible for all of the unfinished projects I keep hearing about. The desire to create moves at a faster pace than the process allows. This is why I bought the knitting machine, sock machine, and keep looking at the automated looms. Not as satisfying as doing it with one's own hands, however.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Real men prefer knitters....
because it means they may get a great sweater to wear. This dapper gentleman is Stanley, husband of Harriet, an expert knitter with an eye for color and design. She choose Rowan Aran Cashsoft in Charcoal and a handpaint from Schaffer to strand together for this sweater. Doesn't he look handsome? The two of them are a beautiful couple

We love it when husbands, boyfriends, men friends and the rare, man knitter come into the store. We get to hear their opinions and see what choices they make. They love beautiful yarn as much as we do. One couple who come in regularly from the shore spend time finding just the right color for his socks. They love Mission Falls 1824 Superwash Merino. When we order more yarn, I always think of them and their next visit! Men also love the tools we use. They spend time looking at the looms, wheels and handmade needles we carry, examining them and trying to figure out how they are made or work. It's fun.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Color&Abundance .... abound in Woolbearers. I am in the midst of four major knitting projects and as many smaller ones. It is directly related to the amount of color I see every time I walk into the store! Not too long ago, I only had one thing on needles, and then the store sort of exploded with yarn, and I could no longer contain myself and had to start several things at once. The projects are...
1. Sakiori I from Folk Vests of Woolbearers Hand dyed wool boucle in the colorway Amber Lace.
2. Simply Garter from Folk Vests in Woolbearers Ringspun in colorway Women's Intuition. This started out as a gauge swatch for another project, but I liked the colorway so much, I decided to do this piece as well.
3. Kimono Cardigan by Dovetail Designs also in ringspun, colorway Softfall. Just has to be seen, words don't do it justice. I CANNOT wait to finish this sweater!
4. Garter Lace Shawl from Shawls and Scarves, in my handspun yarn. This piece is supposed to be an example of what students will accomplish in our Sheep to Shawl class, if I ever get it done. It's fast and easy, but not as fun as the last project to knit.

I like knitting simple things that showcase our yarn's beautiful colors. Sometimes simple doesn't necessarily mean easy, however. The Sunrise Circle Sweater is a good example of something that is beautiful in it's simplicity, but took extra concentration as each row was different. Hence the eight pages of instructions. I am hoping to find the time to knit it in hand dyed yarn.
Another example of a good technique to use with hand dyed yarn is the slipped stitch. Our customer Gwen, has been knitting with hand dyed yarns using the slipped stitch and the effect is amazing. The color shift behind the slipped stitch gives the effect of stained glass.

more later.....

Noni Bags keep inspiring us to knit! This one, knitted by Myra, is a special favorite because of it's gigantic flowers. I'll have to get a picture of the back with it's equally huge flower.
Our lovely customer Joanna.... and her lovely camisole of Woolbearers Lanamira. Surprising that just a hint of cashmere can make a yarn so soft. I love the waves of color.

I did feel just like a genius.... just as Sally Mellville says you will when you knit her Einstein Coat. This was a very easy, fun piece to do. A couple of weeks of knitting and four skeins of Woolpak 14 ply, and there you are! It's hanging against a background of Lopi to the right and Woolbearers Delaware Valley to the left. Isn't it colorful? I just love our yarn. It's so difficult to limit myself to one or two projects. Each and every time I go into our store, I am surprised by the abundance of yarn!

Felted Tapestry Capelet.... knitted by our customer Joanna, of Jamieson DK Shetland. Isn't it beautiful? The collar is taken off of a sale sweater she found. Perfect.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Still life.... a woman and her yarn.... will not be separated. Linda brightens our day with her lovely smile and kindness and encouragement. She loves our yarn and lets us know as often as possible. That is all handpaint in those bags.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

We are all goddesses.....whether we know it or not. This little gal is an example of what Rosemary Dunaif is going to teach in her Goddess class in the fall. She is embellished with needlefelting, embroidery, charms, sequins, you name it. She is also zoftig.

The student can express themselves through, as Rosie says, 'Creating this personal icon (or Goddess doll) is an intuitive process which often results in the "working through" of issues or "knots" in our lives. Alternatively, you can create a goddess doll celebrating the person you are and any milestone in your life. Come with an open mind and a willingness to have fun and "let go"! '

Woolbeares class list is becoming more diversified. We added machine knitting taught by Yvonne Bingham. Yvonne teaches machine knitting at FIT! How lucky are we to have someone of her knowledge and ability? Makes me want to get that machine out today! We are going to concentrate on the popular Bond machine, because that is easily available and easy to operate. More later...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

This is Oscar Wild, by the way.

We had a pretty nice day today for a knitting shop, considering it is August. South Jersey Handspinners met in the afternoon to spin and several gals came to knit. I think people are starting to look to the fall and cooler weather and thinking of things that compliment that. Several new weavers and spinners came in this weekend, excited about up coming classes. We are sponsoring a bus trip to Stitches Baltimore in November and it is almost full! That is an indication to me that heat and sand do have a shelf life. But fiber endures forever. Or something like that.

Lots of baby things being knitted around Woolbearers. I think several new sock yarns are responsible for the craze; Regia Bamboo and Regia Silk. The book name escapes me at the moment but will post it later. It's Regia something or other with wonderful baby patterns. And we got the new Bouton d'or Baby Book; oh my gosh, I don't care if I never have a grandchild, I'm definitely knitting something out of it.

The new Rowan magazine came in, and I want to knit three things right away; a gorgeous off the shoulder, collared, cabled sweater, a felted purse of Tapestry, (to die for) and a drop shoulder sweater. (My shoulders are the only part of my body that doesn't have crapey, cellulitie skin.)

The new Interweave Knits Magazine is also a treasure trove of patterns. Even the 'arty' stuff appeals to me. The amazing thing, I feel, is that the designers of these publications are able to continually turn out such beautiful, wearable garments.

Dog With Icelandic Cardigan Never have I seen a more perfect fair isle yoke. I'll try to take a better picture to show the symmetry, but look at that face. And he loves yarn, too.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Newsletters.... are a great tool for keeping friends up to date with the latest news in one's life. Here's a preview of Woolbearers fall newletter. I was going to post parts of it, but think it is too interesting to tear apart.

Hope you all are enjoying your summer. Woolbearers has been extra busy this summer – creating new yarns and buying lots of new yarns.

We’ve gotten so many new yarns – I don’t know where to begin --- how about alphabetically? In case you haven’t been to the store in a while, we have...

ArtYarns, Silk Rhapsody – a silk/mohair combo. Great for shawls.

Artful Yarns has a new yarn out called Serenade. It’s an angora/cotton mix – feels like cashmere and knits at a worsted weight. We’re getting ...

Classic Elite’s new Wool Bamboo yarn – if you haven’t seen Kathy Zimmerman’s new patterns for it, you must come in. She really outdid herself this year.

Farmhouse Yarns is a fairly new hand-dye company from Connecticut. Carol Martin, the owner, has her own sheep and also buys fleeces locally, has the yarn spun for her and dyes it. Sound familiar? Anyway, we have her “Fat Sheep Yarns” and “Silk Spun Cotton”.

We think it’s really important to support the small farmers and businesses/artisans around us. Hope you feel the same way.

We have lots of fingering weight yarn – good for socks, shawls, anything you want. One of those yarns is from ...

Hand Jive Knits, another small business from California – all naturally hand-dyed and great selection of colors.

Jo Sharp has a new yarn out Alpaca Kid Lustre – kid mohair/alpaca mix. Just gorgeous and great pattern support, as usual. Come in and see ...

Lily Chin’s new alpaca/merino mix in multi colors – of course Lily’s patterns are great as ever and she has promised to make an appearance at Woolbearers sometime in October. We’ll keep you posted. As promised, we have finally received our ....

Mountain Colors shipment, lots of Bearfoot sock yarn and Weaver’s wool.

Nomad Yarns from Mongolia is handspun camel in two different weights – worsted and fingering. The name of the nomad spinner is on each label.

Regia’s new sock yarn is bamboo and we have it. It’s also great for baby garments.

Rowan has some new yarns out – Tapestry, which is an alpaca blend and comes in beautiful muted shades of soft stripes. We are also getting their new wool/silk blend in DK weight and finally getting Kid Silk Haze in lots of new colors. We couldn’t resist...

Skacel’s new yarn called Adagio. It’s a llama and silk blend – so soft! You must come in to see The Fibre Company’s Terra yarn – an alpaca/silk/merino blend. We are also getting in Claudia’s Handpaint sock yarn – looks just like Koigu and it’s better, since it is available to us; Knit One, Crochet Two’s PJ yarn – great for making baby items and their Paintbox yarn, which is wonderful for felting. I’m sure I’ve left something out – so you will just have to come to the store to see it all!

Suzie and I have been dyeing up a storm. We had a very successful venture at TKGA and have lots of new yarns in new colorways that we want to share with you. We’re especially pleased with our own “Delaware Valley Ringspun”. We bought about 600 lbs. of fleece from Charlene Carlisle in Mt. Laurel and had some of it spun in a fairly loose twist by Shadyside Farms in Pennsylvania, and then, of course, we dyed it in lots of beautiful colorways. Other new yarns include “Lanamira” a wool/acrylic/cashmere blend, a merino two-ply and a very soft single ply merino that we got from Uruguay. We also have lots of “Alfresco” dyed in tons of new colors.

We’ve got loads of classes. New classes include Sheep to shawl, triangle loom weaving, wet felted rugs, rug hooking, machine knitting, tapestry crochet, knitting tips and techniques, cables, colorwork, modular knitting, cast-ons -- please check the class list for more info.

Woolbearers will be sponsoring a bus to Stitches on Saturday, November 4th. Space is limited, so reserve early. We will be leaving Mt. Holly at 7:45 am and the return trip will be leaving Baltimore at 5:30 pm. Should be back around 8 pm. Cost is TBA. More details at the store.

Remember – the first Friday of every month, is our knitting meet-up group meeting, starting at 6 pm. The South Jersey Handspinners are now meeting at Woolbearers the first Sunday afternoon of the month at 1 pm.

Myra & Suzie

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Another Noni Bag....this one knitted by Joanna.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Knit and Crochet Show....
.....was successful for Woolbearers. We met so many lovely knitters from all over the country and from our area. I spoke to two women who are opening knitting shops in the Delaware Valley, no competition to us. It is exciting to think that the art is still growing and thrilling people enough that they would take the risk to start a business in a highly competitive and difficult sector.

Personally, I had no idea running a yarn store would be so much work. It amuses Myra and me when customers tell us they wish they had the kind of job that would allow them to sit and knit all day. I have not had knitting needles in my hands since we went to TNNA. My bag with the Chris Bylsma Crayon Box Jacket is sitting in the shop where I put it when we returned from Indianapolis. Preparing for the show took every spare waking minute that Myra and I had, mostly for dyeing yarn. It paid off however, and I am looking forward to getting into the studio tomorrow to start working on the custom orders we picked up.

It appeared to me that knitters were looking for something different. They liked our vibrant colors, and the yarns I saw in bags from other booths were unusual and colorful. The knitted and crocheted garments we saw were lovely and well made. You could tell the wearers were proud to be have their creation on their body.

I'll have some pictures of the show to post soon.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rina finished this beautiful piece a few weeks ago. I'll have more to write when we get back from The Knit and Crochet Show in King of Prussia this weekend. We are in booth 107 so come to visit if you haven't already been to see the market. Tons of yarns and fun things for fiberists. More later....

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Noni Bags ....

....are so cute words don't do justice, so here's a picture of the Majolica Bag our Gwen knit. The body is Lopi and the flowers are Woolbearers. This is my favorite Noni bag; I just happen to have a pretty big collection of Majolica pottery and actually had a lot more before I sold some of it to pay for part of my son's second year at NYU. Several blue pitchers I have are lined with pink glaze and have pink and yellow flowers on them! I love Gwen's interpretation.

Follow up on this morning's early post; I accomplished some of the things on the mental list. Dyed half the cashmere blend yarn, didn't skein any sock yarn, but Mary skeined some other yarn for me, found a wet, moldy towel under the back seat which attributed to the stench in my car, and decided to keep the little dog myself if my three Boston Terriers didn't mind and they don't seem to.

We had a fun afternoon with Linda, Joanna, Beth, Cate, Nina, Hinda and Mary in for knitting and spinning. The best part of this is getting to see what the women are doing and to hear their comments about each other's work and also the new yarns in the store.

I need to find out what it is Hinda is knitting and add the pattern name later, but suffice it to say that most of us were really impressed with the difficulty of it. She is leaving for Canada next week to attend her second year's class at the Ontario Handspinners Certificate Program, a six year commitment.

Linda was spinning silk and brought in some white merino she spun laceweight. Just beautiful.

Nina finished the shawl she did as part of the Twisted Woolbearers (Yahoo group) community knitting project with yarn we donated. It's lovely and will keep someone warm this winter.

Beth graced us with her presence, the first outing this new mother took without her little son, Patrick who was safe at home with Dad.

Joanna is putting the finishing touches on her Felted Tapestry Cape from Wrap Style and it is really beautiful.

Cate is knitting socks and told us her bread baking in Williamsburg stories. I can just see her in her Revolutionary War era dress, explaining to onlookers the nuances of baking bread in a brick oven, out of doors.

Rina finished her black Jo Sharp Silk and Cashmere blend Sunrise Circle Sweater; it has to be seen to be appreciated and felt to really appreciate it! If I can get a picture of it from her that doesn't include one of her new appliances, I will upload it! She did an excellent job on the sweater.

Our customers help us make decisions about new yarns to carry and also color choices. So these gatherings are important for more than just their entertainment value.

More later.....

Great Expectations

My mother is a great list maker. She will sit for hours making a list each morning and then complain she will get none of it done. I attribute this to unrealistic expectations. She will list everything that she wants to accomplish in her lifetime in her morning list. I inherited this but go about it in a different, more destructive way. Each morning at about two am, I awake with my list swirling in my head. This morning is no different. My list looks something like this.

1. Dye eight more skeins of each of three new colorways of wool cashmere blend.
2. Find home for rescued pit bull puppy who has monopolized my every thought this week.
3. Skein twenty pounds of sock yarn and dye by next Tuesday.
4. Exercise.
5. Find source of bad smell in car.

There are at least ten more items I could add, but don't want to bore you.

My teeth are finding a closer relationship lately, and to help diminish the pressure before I grind them to the bone, I have been knitting little squares of our new colorways. This relaxing
task seems to be just what I need right now. No pattern to follow, just cast on and knit stockinette. I love to see the pattern the handpainted yarns create. Myra developed two new colorways that are so rich and vibrant with autumnal tones that I want to pick apples and bake apple pies when I looks at them. I can't wait to knit a sample of our new yarn spun for us by Shady Side Farm dyed in one of these new colorways.

We have a yarn called Cotton perles that we are just starting to do more with. It's not the softest yarn we dye, but it has wonderful design qualities, is great for men's and children's garments, won't pill or sag, and takes dye like a sponge.

Handling yarn; skeining it, dyeing it, washing it, knitting it, and of course, buying it, has huge therapeutic properties. When life gets in the way, reaching for my knitting bag or sitting at the loom to throw the shuttle back and forth a few times help to calm the brain and feed the soul. When I see the flood victims on TV or read about some horror in Baghdad, my small anxieties find their proper place. But life is what it is and must be lived, so to the list to put things in their proper perspective.

In the meantime, we continue our preparations for The KNit and Crochet Show in King in of Prussia. I am chomping at the bit for daylight so I can go back to the store and start inventorying the yarn I have dyed so far. The colorful piles of yarn all around the store and studio are just phenomenal. We have really outdone ourselves and I can't wait to see our display. It should be interesting to see what we can pack into a 10 X 10 square.

Also, we finally got our back issues of Vogue Fall 2005 which contains the pattern for the Twisted Float Shrug Myra knitted out of our wool mohair blend, pictured above. This pattern has been the most popular model in the store. Two gals purchased Lorna's Laces for their sweater and the rest bought our handpainted yarn.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Classes Here and There

Rosemary Dunaif, creator of this great felted rug and rug hooking diva, is going to teach these techniques at the Woolbearers this fall. She used our dyed and carded wool and laminated it to muslin. Called nuno felting, this technique is commonly used by modern felters to create garments by felting light layers of wool to woven silk. Rosemary secured the wool to the muslin with a felting tool before she wet felted it, which I thought was a great idea. I call her piece 'Celestial Olives', which we think is pretty funny.

Back to TNNA.....I took an eight hour class with Chris Bylsma learning tips to make her Crayon Box Jacket. It is a nifty little garment which makes fine use of short lengths of yarn and all those great novelty yarns. The next day, I had the pleasure of learning to crochet with Melissa Leapman. She is a doll. It was great, fast moving class. I left after three hours knowing how to crochet!

Myra took classes with Cat Bordhi learning toe up socks, Celtic cables with Melissa Leapman, and cut flowers with Nicki Epstein and said they were all great teachers. So much to learn, so little time. Speaking of time, I noticed again today as I was spending more hours than one should beaming a horrible warp unto my student's loom, that I no longer weave for myself. If I didn't teach it, I would never get near a loom. Must make more time for that. Forget weaving or knitting anything for myself. I'd get too warm anyway.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This past week brought Woolbearers new yarn and new customers. Myra and I went to TNNA, The National Needlearts Association, (I think), trade show in Indianapolis. In a word, it was overwhelming. We went last year but it seems as though there were more vendors this year. We saw so much beautiful yarn and some gorgeous patterns, needles and bags. And we bought lots of yarn. More than lots. I forgot everything we bought. I'll do a list;

1. Merlin, a lovely and soft wool and linen blend by Louet. We got all ten tweed colors.
2. Wool Bam Boo by Classic Elite. A very beautiful blend that drapes like a dream. And patterns galore. One I can't wait to knit is a just gorgeous fitted, cabled sweater by Kathy Zimmerman. I'm having a love affair with the patterns from Classic Elite and her's are right there among the top ten favorites of mine.
3. More yarn by Classic Elite that I can't remember the name of.
4. Lots of books.
5. Mongolian Camel, lace weight and worsted weight.
6. Circular Solutions...very nice needle organizers.
7. Louet spinning wheels; new design, less than six pound portable wheels that are a joy to spin.
8. Nashua yarn and books.
9. Rowan books.

I know there are more yarns but for the life of me, I can't remember what. Before we left for TNNA, we got our order of Farmhouse Yarn, very nice wool and silk blend, naturally dyed yarns to die for, and Hand Jive Knits naturally dyed yarns that are heavenly. We also got our Fiber Company order. These yarns have to be seen to be appreciated. They are wool and alpaca blends naturally dyed, that have an overlay of silk spun around the yarn that is naturally dyed a different color. Just beautiful. I am looking for the perfect pattern for those yarns.

After I came down from my natural high from TNNA, the work we are faced with to prepare for the Knit and Crochet Show in King of Prussia, PA came back into focus. I have never seen so much hand dyed yarn. There are piles of it drying all over Myra's house, my house, the store and the studio. The piles of color are so beautiful. It is very exciting to be part of this process. Just the inventory process alone is daunting. This is also a chance to develop new, lovely colorways. One of the things that make Myra and I unique is that we do our own colorways. Myra is better at this than I am, so occasionally I'll get her to give me a colorway to do. Japanese Garden is an example of this and it is becoming one of my favorites. In light weight yarns I do it paler, and in heavy yarns, like the New Zealand Felted Woolshire, I do concentrated and bright. Fun!

Ok, enough of this. Tomorrow I will write about the really great classes we took with some wonderful teachers like Melissa Leapman and Cat Bordhi. Hopefully, once we find our equilibrium, I'll write more than I have in the past. Please comment, too. I love to read what you have to say.

Monday, May 29, 2006

No posts mean a busy life. Since the Sunrise Circle Sweater, I finished another sweater, the Adrienne Vittadini fitted raglan sleeve pullover out of Woolbearers bulky cotton boucle. It was easy! It's a model for the store, and now I wish I would have made it big enough to fit me because it looks like the kind of garment you could wear with shorts in the summer, the yarn is light enough for hot weather.

In the meantime, a jacket I wove as an example for a class Woolbearers' offers, Painted Warp Jacket, appeared in the Spring '06 Handwoven Magazine in Daryl Lancaster's Forecast column. That was a real honor. The warp is painted, a thick and thin wool and mohair blend we sell in the store. The weft is part handpainted mohair and part La Gran. The La Gran was too dark, I thought, so after I constructed the sleeves, I pushed them over a plastic yarn cone and tied them up shibori style. Then I put them in my kitchen sink full of water with a little bleach thrown in and soaked it for a few minutes. The effect is subtle. It's simple rectangles sewn together. I had an old taffeta gown that made perfect lining after I stamped it with gold paint and stitched it a little bit.

We are getting ready to be vendors at The Knit and Crochet Show in King of Prussia, PA in July. Other than that, it is business as usual, madly knitting models, dyeing yarn, teaching and shmoozing. More later...

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Indigo dye Update .... Oh my gosh, I guess the word 'fermented' should have tipped me off, however, I never expected the stench that came from that dye pot to be as vile as it is (was). I got used to it yesterday, but even after a shower last night, it was still in my sinus'.

This morning, like a blast of heat, the smell greeted me when I opened up the studio and knew right then that my Sunday weaving students wouldn't be able to tolerate it. Mary K. got the back door opened and the breeze that comes off the creek right behind the building blew through and freshened things up. We moved the vat out of doors. I'm going to have to trade control over it's temperature for a breathable work space. The yarn is pretty smelly too, but I haven't washed it yet. I'll have to investigate and see if this is supposed to happen. Maybe I'm keeping the vat too warm. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Also, I sewed the Sunrise Circle together and steamed it. It looks very lovely. The sleeves are a little long, but I measured them and they are the right length for the size I made. The pattern calls for four toggle closures, but I decided to use just one. It's a dark toggle, so it blends in with the yarn color which is a chocolate brown tweed. We'll post a picture later in the week.

Myra's Knit Along of Nicky Epstein's Tapestry Cape is going well. The knitters are using
Jamiesons's DK weight shetland wool in the most luscious colors. The bottom of the cape is fair isle and the body has a lot of intarsia flowers and leaves. Joanna finished one side and she is doing a beautiful job. Intarisa is a technique I am looking forward to trying. We'll also post pictures of the cape and the other gorgeous sweaters that customer's are bringing in.

Kelly finished her Alice Starmore fair isle cardigan and it is a breathtaking color study of greens, pink and burgundy leaves done in Frog Tree Alpaca. She did a remarkable job. It's trimmed in burgundy velveteen. Carolyn brought in her Wonderful Wallaby hooded sweater with pouch in Cascade 220. It is so soft and just perfect for the cool weather we've had. Sandy is almost finished with her's; the sleeves are finished and she is adding them to the body of the sweater.
One of the many things I love about having a knitting store is the inspiration I get from seeing all the beautiful knitting going on.

Happy knitting, spinning and weaving!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sunrise Circle Sweater

The Sunrise Circle is finished!!!! Well, the knitting is finished. When I find the courage, I'll sew it together. The pattern was an interesting journey for an 'intermediate'* knitter. Every single row, except for ten stockinette rows on the sleeves, is different. I found that using stitch markets, even though their position changed at each right side row, helped me considerably. I'm a little worried about the length of the sleeves; they are LONG.

The Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed was as soft as butter and a real joy to use. I hope this sweater, which is a model for the store, does the yarn justice and knitters can see how lovely and soft it is. Now that it's finished, I can return to working on the Adrienne Vittidini pattern that I'm doing out of our bulky cotton hand dyed. I am allowing myself to fantasize about my next project. Rowan Classic is a front runner, a capelet out of Soft Lux with lots of beading. Myra said she would help me with the beading part......I've no idea where to begin with that.

*I think I can now refer to myself as an intermediate knitter after knitting this sweater. I can't wait to block it; my increases look fairly invisible!

Brown Sheep finally arrived. I'm getting used to it's new location slowly. We moved our Dale Of Norway Baby Ull and Stork to a new and more visible location and put the Brown Sheep where the Dale used to be, closer to the other felting wools.

Indigo Update..... I tried it out yesterday and it wasn't ready, so let it rest today and will try again tomorrow!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Indigo Update
Three days now and the vat is starting to look like it might be fermenting. It smells alive, but not bad. I hope I'm doing it right; you keep it warm but not hot, keep the air out of it, yet stir it daily; it needs a little pampering to keep it going. Already this is becoming one of those projects that I think about all of the time, which yarn I am going to try first, (our own Shadyside spun Columbia X) and also, a pima cotton warp for a woven kimono.

The vat is ready when it has a coppery film on top. Will write more when I see the vat again Tuesday.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Indigo Dyeing mystifies me, because of it's history and also for the length of time it takes to prepare. The dyehappy group on yahoo has been having an interesting discussion on dyeing, what else, that has inspired me and also lead me to check out some of the participants sites. Cheryl Kolander 's site, , is full of exciting techniques and things to buy. She describes a method of preparing indigo that doesn't require lye, so we thought we'd try it for dyeing at Woolbearers.

Indigo is mixed with wheat germ, madder and soda ash in three gallons of warm water and then kept warm for one week. Being careful not to incorporate air into the bath, skeins of wetted yarn are slowly placed into the bath, squished around, and then brought out, squeezed, and placed on newspaper. Successive dips darken the color. We mixed up our vat last evening so I'm expecting to dye next weekend. This just thrills me. I usually want things done yesterday, and the idea that I'm having to wait is not making me as crazy as I thought it would. Cheryl writes that the process is meditative, and I agree.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Myra and I have been dyeing up a storm, stock piling yarn for TKGA in King of Prussia in July where we will be vendors for the first time. (Not counting years ago at Salem Harvest Sheep and Wool.)

One of the best parts of getting a block of time to dye is the opportunity it brings to try out new colorways when the inspiration strikes. I don't like to mix dye, so when I get the bug to try something new, I generally write down the recipe and try it on fiber later.

Dyers know what preparation is involved with dyeing. Preparing the yarn by skeining it, prewashing it, soaking it in an auxiliary, mixing the dye and then finally the application and heating. Since mixing the dyes is not my favorite part of the process, I try to get it done in one sitting. I use liter sized bottles that sterile water and saline comes in for the Operating Room (my old life). They are perfect for dyes because they are graduated, they clean up well, and they are unbreakable. I fill the bottles with fairly hot water, not too hot, but as hot as comes from the tap and line up as many as will fit on the counter. I use disposable t-spoons so I can move quickly and not stop to wash off real measuring spoons, and with my nose and mouth covered, start adding dye powder to the bottles. Occasionally a customer will come down to our studio when I am in the process of doing this and it always amuses me to see the expression on their face when they see the mask.

When I mix a big batch of dyes like this, they tempt me for days. Until I can get there again for the real application, it will nag me that all that color is waiting to be released.

One of the many benefits of having a business partner is that I get to use her dyes. I think I will shop at her house tomorrow for some new inspiration.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Last night was our group meeting. As usual, it ended with me feeling refreshed and relaxed. I did drink a one inch glass of wine, but I don't think that was what helped. The women were sharing their stories, the older gals giving wisdom to the younger. It was very cool. There is something about a group of women coming from all walks of life who have knitting in common. Everyone's knitting totally different projects. Sabra is working on a tremendous Colinette mitered square afghan, Bernadette had some lovely cotton stranded novelty yarn that she is making a shell from, Joanne is doing an entrelac felted bag from the class we offer, Barb is knitting socks from handspun yarn she spun from blue wool and mohair she bought from Woolbearers; I can't remember what other lovely things I saw. I am inspired now to try other yarns and patterns. Fun!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Saturday night is a time for wine and straight brain waves for me. I know my partner is sitting at a performance of The Wizard of Oz right now, watching her eleven year old daughter dancing her heart out. I am too old and decrepit to do anything but reflect on the week and drink this wine.

We had five new customers this week. While our old customers sustain us, the new ones keep us on our toes. They don't know (or maybe they do) how important their comments are. Our faithful customers probably are used to seeing the store so may not notice that the patterns, while in the same place, have some new additions. I try to surprise them by mixing up things; Tuesday I love to change things around a little bit. Make things look new.

Myra and I had a small chance to converse this evening and remarked about how our most important role is to get the yarn the customers want. For instance, since we opened, you asked for Brown Sheep. We couldn't get it for a year because they were overwhelmed with new dealers. Then we didn't think we needed it because we have so many wonderful yarns that are great substitutions for it; Lopi among others. Finally, we wanted it. That seems like the cycle. We have to like it in order to sell it. Now I can't wait to get it in.

The Mission Falls cotton still isn't in, but we are hoping for Tuesday. I already have something in mind to knit. We got our Regia Sock Silk in, it is gorgeous and soft! New Lorna's Laces, Fleece Artist Sock Kits' and Felted Purse Kits. We have no idea how we managed to find room for all of the new yarn.

We've been dyeing up a storm, too. Myra has dyed some sock yarn that is to die for. I wish I had time to knit socks.

I didn't get my Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed sweater done like I said I would. It is so much fun to knit, the Sunrise Circle Sweater in Spring Interweave Knits, but you must count each stitch on every other row as you are knitting, and this is slow going for me.

Myra and I counted all the sweaters, bags, shawls and scarves we knit this year and we impressed ourselves. I took some pictures and will put them on the blog once I figure out where to put them.

Have a great weekend and do comment if you want. suzie

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday is the only day the store is closed, and as much as one would think we would welcome it, I always feel a little paranoid. Maybe I should run in and see if I remembered to turn the heat down, see if there are any knitters wandering around, lost, looking for a yarn fix, see if UPS get the point. So I am forcing myself to stay put and actually work on some projects. This has me thinking about setting goals, planning the next project, and for some reason, trends.

If you have lots of projects in mind, and weaving projects really fall into this category, how do you stay ahead of the trends? Is that important? I have a lot of yarn in my stash that is from the 1970's. LOTS of Manos, believe it or not, and some Lopi, both of which have changed in quality dramatically, but you should see the colors! I must have purchased the Manos with the Partridge Family in mind.

I think there must be a big difference between trends and trendy. Thank God and my partner, Myra, that we don't have a lot of 'trendy' yarn in our store. We got some, but just enough for the customers who asked for it. I wondered what it must be like for some great stores who have a ton of it. So I went to some their websites last night and got a surprise. One of the stores still specializes in it. It must mean that their customers like it and want more. This just amazes me, because it means that everything that the sales representatives and magazines are telling us doesn't apply to that store and it's customers. Are their any demographers out there?

My son is big on demographics and his theory is that you can forget everything you thought you knew about them and create the market you want. You provide the interest and motivation to capture the interest of your customer. If you like it, they will buy it. And then you have the internet, which upsets the balance. What we like on the east coast is completely different than what is liked on the west coast, or so I've heard.

I wonder what other's are doing with their eyelash ribbon fake fur acrylic $15 a skein yarns? Surely not another scarf? I like Chris Bylsma's Crayon Jacket as a way to use several interesting yarns together. Maybe I'll do that project next!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Weekends at Woolbearers are usually hectic, always interesting, and include a host of interesting knitters and weavers who come from all over the state to visit. This weekend was no exception. Yesterday Daryl Lancaster came from Lincoln Park to teach Seams and Finishing Techniques for Handweavers. She is a nationally known designer and popular teacher among the guilds. But my new weaving students heard of her for the first time this past month and were definitely in awe by the end of the workshop. Her garments are constructed of handwoven fabric, but that is the only common link they have with weaving. She guides you in thinking out of the box when planning a piece.

I have woven fabric for clothing with the intention of cutting into it as little as possible, using narrowly woven textiles to drape across the body with just a small amount of sewing. Daryl does just the opposite. The fabric is treated with interfacings and stabilizers so that it can be cut and pieced and trimmed. She uses techniques that utilize the tiniest piece of fabric. One of the students had a piece of silk she wove in another workshop that wasn't larger than 4" X 10", and Daryl suggested some ways it can be used by added commercial fabrics that compliment it to make a vest. Fabulous ideas and inspiration from a wonderful teacher right in our little urban studio made us proud to have been able to offer her workshop.

Today we had two more classes, one taught by a young woman, Susan Saladini, who comes from Woodbridge about once a month to teach some wonderful knitted technique, and Maureen Oberle, who lives a little closer. I wish I had been a fly on the wall in Maureen's classroom; I heard laughter the entire time class was in session. The ladies are a joy to have in the store.

In addition to the two days of workshops, Myra had a class each day herself. Wonderful Wallaby, probably the most popular and well attended class we have had, and today was the first day of The Felted Tapestry Capelet Knit Along, Nicky Epstein's beautiful fair isle cape of Jamieson's Simply Shetland.

A short, tense visit by our landlady and a little cold rain was the only dark spot. And today we saw some of our favorite customers and met several new gals as well. We just got Fleece Artist Hand Dyed Sock Kits on Friday and saw most of it go out the door this weekend.

I got a little, tiny bit of knitting done on the Sunrise Circle Sweater from Interweave in Jo Sharp; my goal is to finish it this week. Hold me to it.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Starting to blog feels a little strange to me. Why do I think I have anything to say about knitting that anyone would want to read? I'm not an experienced knitter; my partner, Myra, has been knitting for forty years, and much of what I know is from her generous teaching. The rest I made up as I go along. I've been told I bind off like no way anyone has seen. Yarn requirements and gauge are still a challenge. I avoid trying patterns that have abbreviations of longer than four letters. No pair of socks from my hand are the same size. Yet. I want to perfect what I do with needles and yarn. I rip all the time.

And I love knitters. There are no generalizations I can make about knitters, except they like yarn. Yarn and fiber, especially wool, gives me goose bumps. As a weaver, I obsessively bought yarn until there was no room for me to weave with it. My weaving studio housed an impressive range of coned yarns, much of it now stored in Woolbearers studio, ready for our students to weave with.

I learned to love yarn in skeins and balls when we opened Woolbearers, in 2004. We use a color wheel to arrange the yarn in the cubbies Myra's husband built for us.

Knitting needles are for more than knitting; they are for collecting, too. When I first met my business partner, my knitting accomplishments amounted to two scarves and a couch throw, but I had more than 100 pair of needles. The old white plastic, bakelite and wooden needles are a thrill to use. Until we opened the store, I had never heard of Addi Turbo; now I lust after them. How lucky am I to own a knitting store and be able to use whatever my heart desires to knit with, meet wonderful women, and occasionally men, who knit.

Woolbearers has a yahoo group called twisted woolbearers. On it a young woman posted a list of her unfinished projects and they amount to over 70. I have four or five in progress right now and feel nervous about not getting them done. They are an Adrienne Vittidini designed fitted sweater from Vogue Very Easy Knits that I'm doing in Woolbearers hand dyed bulky cotton, the Sunset Circle sweater in the latest Interweave Knits in Jo Sharp Aran Tweed, a fair isle papoose that will be felted of hand dyed, some lace gloves from a Simply Shetland book and several pair of socks. The socks date about a year old. Not good.

So that is it for now. I'm taking the knitting bag to the gym tomorrow so while I'm waiting for a class to start, I can accomplish something. I wonder how many ladies will ask what I'm knitting?