Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Uptown Girl Most of our customers know that when they come in, we are thrilled to see them. We (especially Myra) want you to be comfortable here. We strive to get yarns in the store that you want. We have our own style, which is jeans and t- shirts, because we are usually doing some kind of physical work. No heels for us. Our manicures are usually done with blue dye; sorry about the seemingly uncaring appearance, but we are just busy! I often spend some time in the barn before coming into the store, sans sheep manure boots. The only reason I started wearing makeup was because it was getting embarrassing with everyone asking me if I was all right, I looked so bad!
If we ever seem uptight about anything, it could be because we just got bad news, are worried about a kid or a dog, had an encounter with a rude visitor, or dealing with a leaking ceiling. Life.
We see ourselves as caring and open to all, not judgemental, trying to walk the line between staying in business and helping customers to make wise decisions when adding to their stash. When we fail, we apologize.
So what am I getting at? We are getting Karabella! Having a more expensive yarn in the store doesn't mean we are getting uppity. It just means that we saw something we thought would be fun to have. This is their Cashmere Lace Weight. For $25 the yardage is 202. A great buy for a luxury fiber. You could make a wonderful shawl for yourself or a special person for under $100. We are starting with four colors to see how you like it, but can get more colors later. We also got the Aurora line, which is an extra fine merino with a beautiful twist. It reminds me of Lana Grossa Bingo Chine. Somehow, they manage to have this distinctively angled twist, but still keep the yarn soft. As a spinner, I know how hard that must be. Again, it is priced competitively. The worsted isn't as low as Cascade, but in the ballpark of Jo Sharp, Rowan and Nashua worsted weight yarns. We should be getting our order by the end of the week or early next week.
We have a lot of fun things happening this weekend; Friday night is our monthly Meetup Group. Go to Meetup.com and check out the Mt. Holly Knitting Group, or just stop by at six and bring your knitting. This is a great group of women who know how to have fun. We had to stop serving wine because of the rowdy behavior of several of the older gals. Not!
Saturday I have room for one more student in our Spinning Class. Class starts at 10am.
Sunday is the monthly South Jersey Spinners and Handweavers Spin In from 1-3pm.
We finally got most of Bijorn's wonderfully dyed yarns priced and out for sale. The sock yarn is the favorite so far. 416 yards for $27.75 is a bargain when you see how lovely it is. The merino tencel superwash is my favorite.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Getting Ready for the holidays....I know, it's unbelievable. One of my kids asked me what we were doing for Thanksgiving; I'm not sure what season is it, time is going so fast. Maybe the change of weather will make us think of fall and winter things.
New Stuff coming into the store includes beautiful Christmas Sock kits by Judy's Colors. We couldn't resist the combination of colors and knitting techniques. The charts themselves are works of art.
Two new button companies grace the shelves; Bull's Eye Buttons, beautifully hand crafted of clay and reasonably priced, and imported buttons from Creative Designs. I'm knitting another Einstein Coat of our hand dyed Alfresco and we found a Bull's Eye Button that will look great with it.
We also have Mission Falls 1824 Wool and Cotton and pattern books available on Woolbearers online store, www.woolbearers.net.
Ryann is working on the Manos Christmas Wreath that was featured in last year's Knit Simple Holiday issue. Along with the Pom Pom Christmas Tree Barb made for us a couple of years ago, we have a good start for holiday decorating.
My husband actually washed windows so we can put our electric candles on the sills. I love to come home in the dark and find the lights on.
Make your Christmas gift list and remember the knitters in your life, as well as your own 'have to haves'!
1. Woolbearers Gift Certificates
2. Glass knitting needles
3. Swallow Hill beaded scarf kits
4. Knit One, Crochet Too scarf kits
5. Weavettes looms
6. Shawl pins
7. Afghan or sweater kits from Handpainted Yarns. (Bijorn's creations.)
8. Annie Blatt Scarf kits which support Ovarian Cancer research.
9. Beaded stitch markers made by our own Meghan.
10. Jordana Paige, Lantern Moon, and Namaste knitting bags.
Remember, too, anything you want that we don't have in stock, we can try to get for you!!!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Our postman, Greg, is one of the people who make our life so much easier. He makes sure we get mail that even six months after our move has the old address, he picks up piles of packages for us, saving countless trips to the PO, and he seems really glad to see us every day! So, thanks, Greg!
On Saturday, I drove up to a little town in the mountains of northern New Jersey called Blairtown, and took a class organized by North Country Spinners, teaching how to dye self stripping sock yarn. The instructor, Tricia Wetherston, provided a jig made of a board and twelve dowels. The yarn is wound around the jig in such a fashion that six bundles of yarn are made so they can be dyed separately. After dyeing, the bundles have to be straightened out and placed back on the jig so that it can be wound into a ball without being tangled into a gross mess.
I'll post a picture after it dries and I can take it off the jig. Keep your fingers crossed.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday was one of those days that Myra and I will talk about for days. There was so much energy in the store; new customers, old customers who had new inspiration and excitement. It was a steady stream of talking and laughter, right up until closing. Knitters sat all day to knit and help each other. It was the sort of atmosphere we strive for. And this after a slow week between Stitches and Rhinebeck. We decided the perfect formula for this sort of day was knitters being charged up by hearing The Yarn Harlot speak at Borders Friday night.
Unfortunately, we were unable to attend the event. But whatever she had to say must have been wonderful and it showed in those who heard her speak. Check out all of our customers sitting on the front row! Gwen, Lisa, Debra, Donna, Brenda, Christine and Karen, and then, Micheal down toward the bottom of the page! (click on The Yarn Harlot above.)
Judy Phillips came in with the beginnings of her beautiful Wrap Me Up shawl. She is adding two colorways of Delaware Valley Ringspun in Jade Garden and Gold Dust to the rich blue Boku she started the wrap with. I think it is going to be wonderful.
This project continues to mesmerize our knitters! Kathy and Trisha Hancock bought their yarn to begin the shawl today; Kathy, Paint Box in #6 and #10, and Trisha, Tapestry by Rowan in the rose and blue. Lovely.
The picture is of Carol Farago's wrap. Isn't it gorgeous? Carol is going to break some records for the amount of knitting she is getting done. She says she is buying for retirement, but she keeps finishing things!!!
This shawl is Gwen's Lacey Leaf Shawl, also a class beginning next Sunday, October 28, at 1pm. It may be knit in any weight yarn and is a great opportunity to learn lace knitting. She will help you start on your way to a new and exciting technique that is sure to bring you a ton of satisfaction and achievement. So if you are ready to move beyond knit and purl, here is a your chance to study with an expert knitter and wonderful teacher. Everyone who takes Gwen's classes says they are great.
Also, it's Einstein Jacket season and it is as popular as ever. Debbie Boyer is almost finished with her Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride coat in Eggplant, which is lovely. This is Gwen's, and you can see it is just missing one arm. She is knitting it of Jamieson's Shetland Heather.
This little cutie is Cayden. His Grannie, Suzanne, is a prolific knitter and made his Candy Corn hat. Mom Tina is a budding crocheter. He is the best baby!
Friday, October 19, 2007
Entrelac Socks are fun and easy to knit. I discovered this fact over the summer. Last year, I got hooked on doing entrelac bags, as in the Market Bag in the great XRX book, A Knitter's Dozen Bags. It's a quick knit on big needles with big yarn. I don't know how to knit backwards, which is also supposed to be easy to do and makes entrelac knitting go faster because you don't have to keep switching the work back to the wrong side to purl. But that doesn't bother me, I still find entrelac fast.
About the same time I got hooked, we had a class in the store which required us to dye twenty different colors of fingering weight yarn. Of course, Myra and I don't know how to dye a small amount of yarn, so we ended up with about ten pounds and forty colors of this yarn, which is also the perfect weight for socks. I decided it would be a good time to try entrelac socks. We could even make little balls of yarn for customers who wanted to do entrelac socks, but didn't want to have to buy whole balls of yarn for the few yards needed per color. The idea of a kit was brewing.
Next, to find a pattern. I loved the entrelac sock in Interweave Press book, Socks. The cuff is nice and long, it's colorful as can be, and allows a lot of creative freedom in color selection. But I didn't want customers to necessarily have to buy an entire book for just that pattern, although there are many wonderful patterns in it.
I wanted a simple sock with an entrelac leg. I found that is takes about 13 yards of fingering weight yarn to knit one row of entrelac rectangles that are six stitches wide. This sock was done on a US 2 needle and I realized too late that is might have been better on a US 1 because I knit really loose. I cast on 52 stitches and knit 2" of 2x2 ribbing. It could stand to be longer. I then knit nine triangles that are six stitches each. In order to accomplish this even number, I increased one stitch on each side of the cuff, equal distance from each other.
I knit nine rows of different colored rectangles and only ended it because I ran out of colors while away from the store, didn't want to repeat a color in the triangles, and wanted to keep knitting. The square heel is adapted from Nancy Bush's wonderful book, Knitting On the Road. I increased after the leg because I have a big foot and a really big instep. Everyone I show it to asks me why it is so big. Do I have to take my shoe off? As you can see, I still have to kitchner the toe closed.
While looking for patterns, I came across this great website called www.menknit.net
Jonathon Whitall has a wonderful, colorful entrelac sock you will find if you click on the above link. The explanation of entrelac was clearly written, better than I could ever do, so I am not going to attempt to reinvent the wheel. I still plan on putting together the kits of little balls of yarn, however!!!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Meet Rex and Bijorn, owners of Handpainted Yarns and the benefactors of the trunk show we are hosting this week. Just labeling and pricing everything has turned out to be a task only a brave woman would attempt, there is that much yarn.
One of the products they have is called the Giant Skein. Pictured above in La Boheme, the Giant Skein contains 12 different yarns that are all painted the same colorway and are the same gauge. With one ten ounce skein you can knit a vest, shawl or scarf, and with the twenty ounce skein a sweater or afghan. I'll post pictures this weekend of the garments they sent us. They are just luscious.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Yarn. We drove home from Baltimore with more yarn than we went there with. How did this happen, you ask? Well, for one thing, we met up with Rex and Bijorn. Bijorn is a 'yarn painter' extraordinaire.... He also produces faster than any other dyer I know. (Except for maybe Myra when she has had too much coffee..) Last June, at TNNA, we arranged with the guys to have a trunk show of their wonderful yarn and kits of yarn at Woolbearers between Stitches and Christmas. When we made these arrangements, we thought it would be a little box of yarn.
Well, you, my friends, will be the beneficiaries of Bijorn and Rex's generosity because not only did we have so much yarn in the van coming home that I had to dump some empty baskets at the rest area in Havre de Grace because I couldn't stand them piled on my thighs anymore, but we also had to ship three giant boxes to the store. I can't wait for them to arrive. Today, several customers were disappointed when I couldn't sell them some of Bijorn's yarn because I didn't know how much to charge! The prices are in one of the yet to arrive boxes.
Myra found a new sock yarn for us to dye. It was a big hit at Stitches. Fortunately, we had some that never dried in time to take with us. It is a blend of 75% wool and 25% nylon, superwash and super soft. Some of our new colorways pictured above, are Purple Reign, Chocolate Rain, Blue Lagoon, Aerial View, Tartan (really an old one, but renewed in this yarn), and about five versions of Matt's Tatts. It's a bargain at $18.95 for 396 yards.
Soon I will post pictures of Bijorn's yarn for all to drool over.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Bikes, Ink, and Lace
There is definitely a theme here. Jim is the cutie with the leather vest. The patches are embroidered, colorful and rich. I was immediately inspired by two of them; a Metallica patch on the upper back, and a beautiful green patch from Hawaii on the front. He and his gorgeous girlfriend spent time with us in our booth. I am looking forward to doing a colorway in his honor. Think it will be called Biker Chick.
The bottom picture is of the lovely arm of Mary, the Bee Keeper. She really is one! She has many tattoos, the number I have forgotten but think it may be 27. Forgive me Mary, if this is wrong. The dragon fly and tiger lily, bee and butterfly, are all 'anatomically correct', Mary tells us. As our readers know, ink really is my latest love. I see someones legs or arms with artwork and it makes me crazy.
My husband told me his is getting his wedding ring tattooed on because he is a guitarist and also builds amps, and his metal ring bothers him when he is playing. Now, everytime I see him, I want to jump him, and we've been married 39 years. (sorry for the disgusting imagery.)
So look for new colorways Biker Chick and Bee Keeper. I cannot wait to get back to dyeing to see what comes up! Matt's Tatts continues to escape my dye pot. I cannot get the same intensity I got with the first dozen skeins. It was just the right combination of the dyes, I guess. Lisa, I will keep trying. She came to Baltimore today and may have a broken wrist after falling at the convention center. Let us know how you are!
The bus was late, but all 47 women made it from Mount Holly to Baltimore today. It was so nice for us to see the beautiful faces of our favorite women. I live two miles from Laurie, but I see her so rarely and today was a special day. A few of our customers who we saw today are Marilyn, Linda, Clara, Annie, Maureen, Mary, Phyllis, Yvaine, Elda, Rina, Joanna, Stephanie, Susan, Teddie, Donna, Brenda, Hinda, Jo, Roz, Donna, Sandy, Arlene, Susan and Kathy, and many more, it was great seeing you! I know you spent tons of money! Sabra did a wonderful job keeping everyone happy. Mary K, Ryann and Beth took care of business in the store.
Ok, tomorrow is the last day, which means taking down our booth and heading for home. Our summer time employee, Suzanne, is coming home with us. She is in college in Baltimore and worked with us this weekend.
We will have more to report next week, once we recover from the experience. I hope you will post your opinions!
Friday, October 12, 2007
We're at Stitches!!! And what a show! You have to see it to believe it!!! It is so well organized and the convention center made it so easy and stress free to set our booth up!!!
Here are some pictures of our booth. The cute guy with Myra is Brandon Mabley, of Knitting Color; Design Inspiration From Around the World fame. He spent about twenty minutes with us and I wish I would have taken notes. He even said we should start talking about having him come to Woolbearers the next time he is in the US.
We will write more and have lots of stories to tell when we return next week.