Saturday, May 26, 2007

Debra's Bounced Check Jacket is different because she used several of our handpainted yarns in the mix of Shetland. Ten colors in all, it is a really vibrant, exciting piece. The yellows are much more golden than they appear in the picture.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Gwen's Bounced Check Jacket
1. The first photo at the top shows the finished jacket with trimmed sleeves. Note the cool joins on the sides.
2. Front view of finished jacket.
3. Picking up stitches for trim
4. The last two photos show picking up the stitches at the shoulders and doing the three needle bind off.

Inspiration comes from many places. Our Fed Ex guy Matt, has great tattoos. Note, with the nice weather, we get those bare arms in our store on a regular basis. So, look for a new colorway soon, called simply, Matt's Tattoo.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

SURPRISE SURPRISE, BABY SURPRISE I've been wanting to knit Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket for a long time. We finally got the patterns in (as well as some other great patterns from Schoolhouse Press). It took me a while to figure out the yarn I wanted to use -- I knew I wanted to do it in handpaint. I figured that I could get gauge with our Cestari Sock Yarn and dyed some up in pastel shades of pink, yellow, lavender and chartreuse. This is great baby yarn, because it won't felt. Now, one of the gals on one of my lists wrote out a "cheat sheet", so I had row by row instructions, which made it very easy. When you are knitting this, you have no idea what the end product is going to be. Hence, the Surprise part of the pattern title. It was fun, a quick knit and now I'm thinking about the next one. My girlfriend is having a boy and that would give me something fairly easy to knit while I'm on the plane to TNNA next week. Can't wait!
The other jacket, well, one of the other many jackets that I want to knit up is the Adult Surprise Jacket. I thought that would make a great knit-a-long. I'll be willing to do the "cheat sheet" for it -- any takers?

Here are some pictures I took of today's dyeing session. (and you thought I had a day off. Ha!) The picture on the left is mohair in "Purple Pansies", sock yarn in "Don't Leave and Alfresco in green/gold. On the table is our Ringspun in "Don't Leave".

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rug Hooking With Yarn The new Knit 1 Magazine, published by Vogue, has a great advertisment for a hooked bag. It's a large bag with wonderful looking handles and is hooked with what appears to be yarns in shades of red. (It could be fabric.)

We have all the supplies in the store to hook. Meghan, the accomplished young woman who works at Woolbearers, pointed out the bag to me and we decided we would try making one.

We sell a high quality linen burlap that won't deteriorate like hemp burlap. I was surprised at the effort it took to push the hook through the burlap to catch a loop of yarn. I stapled strips of carding cloth to stretcher frames. Carding cloth is a heavy base of a rubbery material that has sharp bent wires embedded into it. The purpose of using carding cloth on the stretch frame is to secure the linen burlap to the frame so it won't slip. I must not have done it correctly, because I ended up stapling the fabric to the frame. I'll just have to remove the staples to move the fabric and restaple.

The hook is what I have been told is the usual hook for hooking! Only $3, sturdy and easy to hold.

The yarn was just stuff we had around the store; hand dyed rug yarns that I unplied, bulky thick and thin felted New Zealand wool, also hand dyed, and worsted weight silk and rayon blend for the center of the flowers. I drew sort of whimsical flowers in Sharpee pen on the linen before I stretched it. The drawing is really helping me.

I found the bulky New Zealand to be a little too bulky, but it looks really good as the flower petals. The picture looks a little like something you might see on an operating room floor, but I wanted to document my progress and will take a another photo when I've done more.

Husbands, Daughters, Boyfriends and Dogs

Saturdays in the store are great because you get to see all the customers who work during the week and can't come in until Saturday, and many times they are accompanied by their lovers and family members who are willing to tolerate a side trip to a yarn shop if it means they can sit down for minute in a day of shopping.

We usually aren't too thrilled about dogs in the store, but this guy, Winston, came in his own pink and green suede carrying case, didn't say a peep, and was unusually observant as the other shoppers slowly walked the aisles and fondled yarn. He is smiling while showing his lower teeth. Very Cute! By the way, Winston came all the way from Piscataway to buy yarn with his mom.

Judith, a prolific sock knitter, lives far enough away that I don't get to see her too often, but it is always great when she comes in and occasionally she brings her husband. They are up in the right corner, Winston in the left...

Jessica spun the yarn for this luscious shawl and finished in the store while her great boyfriend sat and talked with us. Read more about the shawl by clicking on 'Jessica's Blog' in the links section along the right side of this blog.

Tina came in with her family today and here is a great picture of her with her daughter. Tina lives in my rural neighborhood and has battled the great water situation this past month along with all of my other neighbors. We are not having a drought in Springfield Township, if anyone asks. Just ask my sheep and their rotting hooves.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Finally, I got an IPod for my birthday. I've been wanting one, so that I could download all those neat knitting podcasts I've heard so much about. A great thing to listen to on my way to the shop in the morning. Now I can be as cool as my 13 and 16 year olds. The one podcast I've heard mentioned the most is Lime n' Violet. So, I was especially pleased when a customer, Sydney, came to the store yesterday and told us that Lime n' Violet mentioned Woolbearers on their latest podcast. Here's the URL . It's episode 36, entitled "Bellybutton Funk" and about 58 minutes into the podcast, Woolbearers is mentioned as a donor to Jessica's Sock-along. They looked at Woolbearers' website -- they made a big deal of .net vs. .com, but finally found it and said some complimentary things about our yarn. So --- thanks to Jessica we're getting noticed. An even nicer birthday present than the IPod.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Beauty Is As Beauty Does

A few years ago when Myra and I went to The National Needles Arts trade show in Columbus, Ohio, I took a business class called something like Making the Most of Your Customer Contact, or maybe not, but it was in that vein. The instructors gave some good advice to novice and experienced store owners alike. Both were beautifully dressed and coiffed. Toward the end of the class, one of the gals, someone from Michigan actually, made a rather strong statement about store owners' presentation. She felt it was appalling the way some store owners wore jeans and t-shirts, hair pulled back in a ponytail, no makeup.....unfortunately, all the ladies sitting at my table and one of the men had jeans on and my hair was pulled back into a ponytail.

Our store has always been a working store. Until we moved, I did almost all of the dyeing I needed to do for the store right there. We usually have some project to do that requires getting dirty. The store isn't static. Moving things around, stashing things away, and now that we are still getting settled, painting furniture, repackaging fibers, and hauling cardboard is a daily occurrence. I wear makeup because I don't want our customers to think I'm sick and then feel too uncomfortable in my presence to shop! But I can't see wearing an 'outfit' and then digging through an unwashed fleece that a new spinner brings in for us to ogle, or cleaning out the refridgerator.

Hopefully, no one has been offended by our casual dress. Gail Trautz found these absolutely fabulous rubber gloves and gave them to Myra for her birthday. Aren't they fun? So now Myra can dye her yarn while protecting her hands and still look fabulous, Darling! Maybe I'll look for some embroidered jeans like the ones we had in the 60's and 70's. Do they make them in women's sizes?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Feast For Your Eyes Things are shaping up at the new store. We are working pretty much from the outside perimeter in and front to back. Like the grocery store, the meat and potatoes are on the outside and real goodies are on the inside. It just sort of worked out that way. Most of the hand dyed yarn found it's way to the center of the floor, with the exception of the Alfresco, which is sort of a staple for many knitters, and that is hanging on the wall.

Cottons, linens, silks and blend start out the march down the left side of the store. Interspersed with the basics are some luscious things you couldn't even see in the old store, and hanging there as they are now, they look like jewels. The Punta Del Este linen and alpaca blend is one yarn that just calls out to me.

Superwash and washable wools are next, Mission Falls, Dale, Louet, Jo Sharpe (you can hardly call her meat and potatoes, but come on, it's just for fun!), Jamieson, and so many more I can't remember them all. Cascade and Lopi are across the isle.

That rainbow in the first picture is Rowan Cashsoft.

Monday, May 07, 2007

More Yarn Tasting Photos

Three Generations

Our customers who keep coming back with friends and family in tow are the backbone of the business. They read our newsletters and go to the websites regularly to see what is new, or what they have missed. If they get an itch for something fast to knit, they drive to us, rather than a closer big box store. Shevann is a regular customer. We see her during lunch some weekdays, and on the weekends. When her mother, Virginia, from Arizona, and daughter Kristin from Reading, PA came to visit, she brought them to Woolbearers.

When grandchildren are born, weddings planned, and sadly, loved ones die, we are often among the friends who get the news. I realized this weekend that many of my friends are those who came into my life via Woolbearers.

Our three year anniversary was on Saturday. We celebrated by continuing the monumental task of putting away a stash of yarn that I am still in awe of!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Taste of Silk

Last Friday, we hosted a yarn tasting at The Robin's Nest in Mount Holly. The Nest is known in the area for their delicious desserts. All the gals who attended said they had a great time and also enjoyed knitting the little sample balls we wound of our silk yarns. Following is a letter that good friend and customer Doris Cote from Bergen County wrote to knit U about the yarn tasting. She was one of several people who drove over an hour from the north country to be with us.

Knitu -----
I wanted to share with you a wonderful idea my not so local yarn store
had. I travel an hour and a half each way on the NJ Turnpike to go to
Woolbearers in Mount Holly. These gals arranged a bus trip to Stitches
East last Fall and just keep coming up with great ideas! They "invited"
their customers to a Yarn Tasting Friday night, at a great restaurant in
Mount Holly known for its over the top desserts. For $25, we got dessert
and a beverage and a lot of fun. They booked the upstairs room and each
place was set with a plastic martini glass. Each chair also had a bag
with a thank you gift. Mine was a handy purse sized chart where I can
list all my needles types and sizes. Great idea! In the glass was a
cello bag with many little balls of silk and silk blend new yarns for us
to sample. Each little ball had a tiny tag with the name and you got a
print out cheat sheet with all the info on each yarn. The work that went
into all those little balls must have been unreal.The cheat sheet was so

There were about 43 ladies all prepared with needles ready and we knit
our samples, switched to the next ball and discovered which were our
favorites, talked, laughed and made new friends. It was a lot of fun.
Door prizes were skeins of some of their own hand dyed silk blend yarn.
( to dye for) I was surprised at what turned out to be my favorite
because knitting with it was such a pleasure. One poopy color was so
beautiful when put next to a midnight blue. I'd have never given it a
second thought on the shelf, so this opened the door to get out of the
same old, same old color choice rut. I know that there are many shop
owners who read this list and thought you might like to try your own
spin on this idea.
Doris, at the other end of the Turnpike

I also have to mention that Sabra, one of the talented women who work for Woolbearers, arranged the evening and put a heck of a lot of work into planning it. Many thanks to her and the customers who spent time rolling many little balls of yarn.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

One Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

If you were wondering why there have been no posts for the past two weeks, this image should explain. Note the mountain of clear bags piled along the wall; how did that much yarn ever fit in 750 sq. feet? Truly, I had no idea we had that much. So now the task at hand is putting all of the beautiful stuff away. We are taking our time. It's the one job we have in front of us that allows sitting and pondering. Everything else is lifting and shoving. I feel like I was hit by a tank. So choose a bag, pull up a stool, and arrange colorful eye candy. It's therapeutic!

I'll post pictures of the Silk Yarn Tasting later.