Tuesday, June 24, 2008

February Lady Sweater

It's surprising how many knitters I know who are starting this great sweater. Right now, many of us are loving anything that is Elizabeth Zimmerman. The February Lady Sweater is a version of EZ's February Baby Sweater. Pamela Wynne offers the pattern free on her blog, and if you are a Ravelry member, there as well.

I spent two days thinking about what I would knit mine of. This is really going to be for me. So, instead of my usual xs size project, this is an XL. A lot of knitting.

After lots of consulting with customers and partner, I decided on Somerset Pima Silk by Plymouth in a soft lilac. I cast on and have been knitting away and already think it was a great choice. It's going to be nice and cool, drapey, and not add too many inches. The yarn is incredibley soft and a great price as well. I got 12 skeins and it's going to cost less than $70.

As soon as I get enough knitted to look like something, I'll take a picture and post it.
WWKIP -- Finally got around to downloading the pictures. Thank you to everyone who came -- we had about 25 gals knitting chemo caps under the trees on a very humid day in June. It was so neat to realize that folks were knitting all around the world at the same time. Here are the pix:

Hope I got everyone's picture! When you finish y0ur chemo cap, please drop it off at the store. We hope to collect them all by the end of July and donate the caps to Virtua Hospital. Thanks everyone!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Promises, Promises

If it was heard once today, it was heard one hundred times; I can't start another project until I finish something else. How practical is this practice? More like bondage, not allowing myself to indulge my creativity by casting on, and often that is all it takes is to cast on, is as punishing as going all day eating nothing but a small veggie tray from Wawa and a non fat cottage cheese, and then ordering a large cheese steak from Europa and eating the entire thing myself. (I've done both.) Can ya tell I'm from New Jersey????

Buying more yarn than you can use in a lifetime is probably not a good idea, but if you already own enough to start your own business, what harm will it do to start something new? As we often say here in NJ, you could be going to AC every weekend and gambling your paycheck. We know many who do.

A dear customer, Donna, along with Brenda, came in to the store today to knit and show off Donna's new tatt; a pink ribbon on her ankle. It looked sore! Oh I want a tattoo....maybe for my sixtieth birthday. I'm waiting for a picture of Brenda sitting at the tattoo parlor, knitting. Needles and needles! Ouch. Anyway, we agreed that what you should do is to throw out by giving away all of the yarns you first bought that may not be the best to knit heirlooms with. You know those giant one pound pull skein things of acrylic? Give em' away. That kind of thing pads your stash unnaturally, so that when you look at that spare room that your cat disappeared in last week, it will be full of something you can really knit with, not tie up your tomato plants with.

I say that I am not starting anything new all of the time. And then, we will be visited by knitters like these two delightful young women (below) who stopped in today, Sharon and Sarah. Their excitement and generosity of spirit infused everyone in the store. They were happy to be knitting together! So, because of them, I broke my vow not to spend more than ten minutes a day on Ravelry. Also because of Sharon, I am going to knit a new sweater, which I shouldn't do, but must. Called the February Lady Sweater, it is something I think won't make me look like a linebacker and I could really wear it! I am going to use a yarn we have spun for us from wool off of sheep right here in our community, and then spun by friends in western PA. Myra dyed the yarn and because we had run out of clever names that day, called it 'greens'.

Sharon and Sarah; enabling all of us to a happier life! I want your energy!
Woolbearers Ringspun Greens, of Romney wool.

Here is my most exciting project! We started our Stonington Shawls yesterday; why I started mine in Oxford Grey Jameison is beyond me, but I was feeling really regretful about it, but Gwen suggested that I could do the center square in the grey shetland, I could do the trapezoids in violet shetland, and then the lace border in the grey, black and violet Kauni!!!!! I can't wait now to have the time to knit on it. Of course, I have to drive back into Mt. Holly tomorrow because I ran out of the grey wool.......

Sharon, Sarah, Beth , Gwen and Myra all got me hooked on looking at the Kauni sweaters on Ravelry....the Eunny Jang's Tangled Yoke Cardigan ......unbelievable! My life was manageable before Ravelry, now it may be going out of control! Beth said you simply place the projects you want to do in your whatever it is called, and then you have that reference to refer to ...I 'm not convinced.Beth knit this cap from the Knit Two Together book out of Ty Dy and Fixation, to be used by a dear friend of ours as a chemo cap. It is softer than we could have imagined.
Beth's sock for her husband with bamboo shoots around the ankle. It really does look like bamboo.

Karen knit this really wonderful sweater as part of a class she is teaching at Woolbearers next fall. Karen is a fearless knitter; she can take just about any pattern and alter it for ease of knitting and fit. She does everything from the top down and then in one piece with minimal sewing, no matter what the pattern calls for. She is a no nonsense knitter and I think that her class is going to become a must take at the store. We are encouraging our employees to take it. You can see how beautifully it fits her! Karen wants to liberate knitters. She doesn't worry about gauge, so participants will learn how to alter patterns for different yarns.
Watch for more detail in the late summer. The sweater will be in the store next month.

Stephanie crocheted this lovely pineapple shawl for a class we offer at the store. It's a real work of art.Lisa knit purses for her son's teachers and some lucky gal will be receiving this fun bag! Good job, Lisa!

One more thing about Kauni; we have ten colorways. They are all lovely! So I have been thinking about what I would like to knit Lisa Myer's kimono from Knit So Fine out of, and I think the Kauni would be perfect!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Runway Woolbearers!

Saturday, December 6th


Charley’s Other Brother

Mount Holly, NJ

Are you ready for this? We are going to have a fashion show of your knitting! Runway Woolbearers is all about you, our customer. It’s a chance to show off your work, your knitting and crocheting, weaving or felting. If it can be worn on your body, it’s eligible to be in the show.

The garment or accessory design may be a pattern you bought from Woolbearers, something you found in a book or the internet, or an original design. The only criteria are that the garment or accessory is adult sized and that you purchased the yarn from Woolbearers.

You may place as many garments in the show as you want!

In addition to your garments, we will be having a simultaneous trunk show from Skacel, Mission Falls, Cascade, Plymouth, Simply Shetland and others.

Watch for more details this summer. But in the meantime, get those creative juices flowing! We have a lot of knitting to do!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

One Foot In Front of the Other

What a week! But knitting continues to sustain me. One of our customers, Judy came into the store on Tuesday and said she just can't stop knitting! I know the feeling. The focus on the action of the needles is soothing and almost meditative. Why do I have to do anything else? Maybe I should say, I don't want to do anything else! The good thing about running the business is that it forces you to stay somewhat balanced. Same thing having the farm. The sheep will hop the fence and come up on the deck and knock on the sliding doors if I don't get out there and give them some kibble. The dogs will fight if I don't pay some attention to them. The house and yard need some help! I can't just knit all of the time!

Anyway, I'm going to have a poster made that says, Thank God for Knitting!

Beech Tree Vest, knit by Sydney of Classic Elite Cotton Bamboo. It is a beautiful piece of knitting. Sydney is also one of the fastest knitters I know. She starts a piece and finishes it. And that is that!
Sydney and her great children.
Donna's wonderful socks of Woolie Bears superwash sock yarn in Wildflowers. She knit them at the same time on one long needle and now is the resident expert on the technique!

Lynn knit this Wrap Me Up Shawl of Rowan Tapestry. This one is for her daughter, and the next one is for herself. It's light as a feather and perfect for cool summer evenings.

Our Rowan rep came yesterday; oh, I can't wait for the new stuff to arrive! We bought Felted Tweed, Kid Classic, Purelife wool, and tons of books. I keep talking about book number 44...everything in it is gorgeous. I have to hurry and finish some projects so I can begin one of them. I have a pullover tunic in Felted Tweed in mind.

Ok, enough for now! KNit!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Today we have the honor of hosting the Knit So Fine blog tour. The book is coauthored by Carol Sulcoski, Lisa Meyers and Laura Grutzeck. Our guest is Lisa Myers.

Thanks for having me visit, ladies!

So if you've been following the tour so far, you know that we've all been focusing on specific thin yarns and how we chose particular yarns for particular projects. Today, I want to wind up by talking about using different yarns -- about how knitters might go about choosing a yarn other than the one specified in the pattern.

This is something we touch on in the book: many knitters are taught that gauge is the only thing to consider when you want to substitute yarns, but gauge really isn't the whole story. One way to understand this is to think about a yarn like Rowan Kid Silk Haze, that Carol wrote about a few days ago. Kid Silk Haze is labeled for needle sizes from US 3 to US 8, and gauges from 18 to 25 sts per 4 inches. If you have a project that uses Kid Silk Haze at 18 or 20 sts to 4 inches, you might try to substitute a worsted-weight yarn, like Cascade 220 -- and your project might not be a disaster, but it certainly won't be light and floaty like the original.

You get a little closer if you replace another yarn with a similar fiber content. For instance, Kid Silk Haze is a blend of mohair and silk; Cascade 220 is all wool. But Schaefer Yarns Anne is a blend of mohair, wool, and nylon, so it's likely to be a more successful substitution. (And in fact, Anne is another one of the world's outstandingly versatile yarns, and for the same reason: it *looks* like a fine yarn, but if you knit it on a larger needle, the mohair has room to fluff out and fill the spaces, so that the fabric doesn't feel "stringy.")

Finally, you can really feel confident of your substitution if you find a yarn of similar fiber content and similar yardage per pound. (Yardage per pound, or ypp, is a way of measuring how fine or thick a yarn is spun.) Kid Silk Haze is 70% kid mohair and 30% silk, and it has 210 m (= +/- 221 yards) per 25-gm ball. K1C2's Douceur et Soie is 65% baby mohair and 35% silk, and is 225 yds per 25-gm ball. Anything Kid Silk Haze can do, Douceur et Soie can do -- you can interchange them freely.

Once you've established that the yarn you're considering will give you a similar fabric to the one in the pattern, common sense may suggest other questions. For instance, Claudia Handpaints Merino Fingering and Artyarns Ultramerino 4 both make very good substitutes for Koigu Premium Painter's Palette Merino -- 100% machine-washable merino, 175 to 191 yards per 50-gm skein, similar twist and ply structure -- but you may not want the handpainted, multi-color effect if you're making, say, Laura's Lattice Lace Pullover from our book. (Though it might be terrific in Carol's Anemone Beret.)

Sometimes, color effect may trump other considerations: Carol's Ribby Vest needs that tweedy effect that comes from three plies of yarn changing colors independently. In addition to Trekking, Fortissima Colori and Online Supersocke both offer that style of yarn, and that's going to be more important than matching the percentage of wool vs. nylon.

You can also substitute a different fiber of similar characteristics: Laura's Wrap Dress is made of a silk-blend sock yarn, but one of the bamboo blends would function in much the same way, with the bamboo providing the same drape as the silk does. On the other hand, you could move to a more typical sock yarn (wool/nylon, or even all wool) for something with a lighter, bouncier feel.

Of course, all these guidelines will only get you so far: the real test for yarn substitution is to swatch, swatch, swatch. You'll see some results that will surprise you, not because they behave exactly the way the original yarn did, but because they behave differently and reveal new potential in the design. Thanks, Suzy and Myra, for having me as a guest on your blog. And thanks to all of you who have been reading along all the way to this last stop on the Knit So Fine Blog Tour. I know I speak for Laura and Carol as well when I say that we look forward to seeing all the new and different ways our designs look when knitters start making their own choices to knit them up. (There's a Knitalong starting on Ravelry . . . hope to see you there!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My garden.

Knitting Divas, Designers and Dogs

Finally home from work and in the air conditioning, I can sit with computer and camera, surrounded by husband and dogs, and do some serious blogging. We avoid checking baggage when we travel; one too many lost or delayed bags so there wasn't room for a computer this trip. My sloppy notes don't mean much to me now, so I will try to remember what really impressed me.

We went to Columbus, Ohio for the annual trade show put on by the National Needlearts Association. This year we decided not to take classes, which turned out to be a good thing because we were able to sleep a little later in the morning, have a leisurely breakfast, and get to the show at ten. We had the opportunity to talk about the yarns and new ideas we saw and how they would fit into our plan for the store and ultimately, benefit you.

In between these dreaming sessions and buying frenzies, I had some soul feeding by participating in my most favorite past time; Star gazing. My friends know how totally star struck I am. Put a famous designer or author in a mile radius and I feel the vibe. I wrote our yahoo group about the first sighting.... Michele Rose Oren, author of a nifty new book called Inspired to Knit. What was so serendipitous about the meeting is that Myra had just told me about Gwen and Lisa telling her about the book and how great it was. We hadn't even left Philadelphia yet, were sitting in the airport at our gate, and Michele was there also, knitting with Rowan Denim a lovely, diaphanous lace, below. We enjoyed talking to her. We also ordered her book at the show!

The next sighting took place within the first hour of the show. We were ordering needles at the Hiya Hiya booth (nine inch long circulars, by the way), and I saw Amy Singer! I LOVE Knitty, and know that everyone who reads it, loves it too. She does so much for knitting and knitters, and I had to run after her and tell her. She graciously allowed me to gush and then gave me a Knitty.com button!!!Mary Beth Temple

Then, in this order, we saw Mary Beth Temple, author of the Secret Language of Knitters and several soon to be published books and patterns, designers Melissa Leapman, Chris Bylsma (Crayon Jacket), Kathy Zimmerman, Norah Gaughan, who I got to talk to briefly and she is a delightful young woman. Annie Modesitt, Lucy Neatby, Cat Bordhi, who I spoke with briefly, and Vicky Howell. I wasn't quick enough to pull out the camera, which really aggravates me; I think there must be one that you can wear around your neck like a tourist.

Something I wanted to do is to find links for the things we bought so you can read about them, but most of what we bought isn't on the manufactures websites yet. I love when that happens, because we will all be surprised when the yarn makes it to the store. There were several things that really excited me. We ordered the yarn from SWTC called Therapi which contains jade. I think that is so interesting. The things we got from Knit One, Crochet Too are wonderful; the patterns, especially, are very exciting. Several things I must knit right away to make my life complete, that is how cool they are. Unfortunately, either because of my age or mentition, I can't remember one of the yarns we ordered from them, but trust me, they are thrilling.

When we first opened, we were more conservative about what we bought, both for financial considerations and especially for space. (remember the old store....) We were a little more relaxed this year. The most extravagant thing we bought is buffalo yarn. (Well, maybe I wasn't relaxed, but I was willing to consider it.) We bought lace weight 100% buffalo, and a buffalo bamboo blend that is really spectacular. We were in the Heartstrings booth, ordering patterns and Jackie was knitting a lacy scarf out of one skein. It was pretty fabulous, and I was convinced then that, although it is a bit pricey, one skein will make a lovely lace scarf for a special person. (ME!) I think that you will be surprised at how lovely it is, and when you consider how really special it is, feel as I do that the price is well worth the luxury.

Another of the most exciting lines we picked up is Isager Knit, the alpaca merino blend yarns which are featured in the book, Knitting Out of Africa. We met the designer, Marianne Isager, in the US from Denmark. We also are stocking her newest books, which are filled with patterns that will inspire you.

We met so many lovely people at this show. Audrey and Eliot own Needles and Knobs in St. Petersburg, FL. We enjoyed visiting with them while we waited for our plane. Eliot works for the airlines and they were flying stand by; I hope they got home today!

Stu Berg was one of our first sales rep. He never made it to the store, so we have enjoyed ribbing him about that over the years. He was at the airport waiting with the rest of us! I got to listen to his wisdom regarding the yarn business; there is nothing like the experience of a good sales rep. We have several who we depend on for honest advice; Donna, Sharyn, Andy, Cece and Antonia.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Noni Metro Bag

The first picture is before felting, above is felted. I still need to put the zipper in. It's great looking, isn't it?
This adorable child's sweater and hat is knit of three balls of Limbo, a new space dyed yarn we will be getting in August. I can't wait to knit it!

Raspberry Sorbet, in Kona. We have several colorways of Kona in stock now.
Loft, a new Zitron self stripping yarn, and Bamboo Soft, a worsted weight bamboo yarn from Austermann, will also arrive in the fall. You will not believe how soft both yarns are.

We also ordered several new lines of Trekking. You can never have too much sock yarn!

The new Sheep Shop colorways are yummy! We got most of them for you. Remember, we haven't even left yet for our show!

The Fall Della Q line of bags are as nice, if not nicer than the summer bags, which didn't stay around for very long!!
The DellaQ Shoulder Bag comes in these woven fabrics. We'll have a limited number of the bags, and both Myra and I already claimed one for ourselves! Place your order to insure you get your pick of these great bags!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Stuff From the Barn
Some of you know that I need inspiraton to dye; color doesn't come easily to me, unlike my partner, who can't dye her ideas fast enough! I use a color wheel continuously and have to read about it and look at it. Then, something will spark and I'll get an idea. Two books have been like bibles to me lately; Deb Menz Colorworks, and an old, out of print early Interweave publication called The New Dyer from 1979. It looks like it has been through hell; nothing like thumbing through a book with dye soaked rubber gloves. The title states that it comes with Colorcue hue analysis aide, which sounds strangely like something I used to wash my legs during bathing after I had my hip replaced. Four acetate overlays make up the aides. My problem is that you should be able to use them right in the dye kitchen in order to match colors and I'm just too messy and would ruin them. So I look at color, which is so subjective, and try to carry the memory of it into the barn where I dye and keep the illusion of the color while I am mixing dye powders. I know there is a better way, and I am working toward it, after many, many years of dyeing!! Anyway, the colorway above is supposed to be a smokey, mysterious blend of olive drab, royal blue, a dark maroon, and five other colors. It turns out bright and cheerful!!! Not enough black. But I do like it and am calling it Homage to Kaffe Fassett.

Above is just garden variety Matt's Tatts, more green in the picture than it really is.

And this is Biker Chick!!! It too, should be a little drabber, but I really like it. It's orange, red- violet and blue- green and everything in between. I'm going to the barn early tomorrow to do some more experimenting.

Customers! We get lots of inspiration from them, too!

Racheal found us on Ravelry, and when she moved to the area from Manhattan, she came right to the store. Her adorable top is the Evening Star sweater from the Spring 2006 Interweave Knits.

This is proof that you can use your stash for years to come; our friend, Doris, brought in the twenty year old Bernat Lock Spun Shetland and the pattern support for it. She had enough of the green to do the sweater but just needed the contrasting colors, so the Jameison. You should feel better about your yarn buying now.

Noah came in with his grandma today to do a little browsing....it was his first shopping trip with her!! Can't wait to see you again, Noah!

This great group of gals are from the Bucks County knitting group, Knitting Nuts! I only had to take one picture and they are all smiling! Come back soon!