Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Leslie is knitting the Clapoti, which has never gone out of style, of our hand dyed Kona. She can't wait to drop the stitches!

Maria knit this hat out of Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo and said it is wonderfully soft.

The Fire and Ice Festival took place last Saturday, and unless you were among those who braved the crowds and found a place to park, this was the scene in front of the store; a nice young policeman and an icey sheep. It was one of the most hectic days we have had in a while. But we still found time to take pictures of custom er's and their p rojects.

Pam knit this undulating scarf of Cascade. She considers herself a new knitter, but I think this design might have taken her up a rung of the ladder. The soft curves of the design are pretty seductive. We first saw the pattern when a young woman came to our monthly meetup group last fall and was knitting it of a Woolbearers hand dyed. The valleys were one color and the hills another. It was fascinating.

Beth is knitting a lovely fair isle sweater out of Manos Del Uruguay. She was concerned that she was getting the stranding too tight, but found out it fit over her head perfectly, so no worries.

Blame it on Kelly or Linda, but I could not hold out any longer. I just had to start the “Ivy League Vest” from the Interweave Knits Winter 2007 issue.

I love color work in knitting. I love to look at it. However, I have a love/hate relationship with it doing it. I finally learned how to do two-handed fair isle and that

Myra's Jamieson Yarn for Vest

Linda's Jamieson Yarn for Vest

has saved me. I always knit too tight for stranded knitting and always ended up with great big puffs of color here and there, instead of a nice smooth fabric. I remember all too well the college boyfriend’s argyle sweater. But then, no one knitted when I went to college (except moi), so no one knew the difference.

I start great guns on a color work project and then let it sit for a very long time. Lots of times they end up as UFO’s forever. This time, I am going to get it done. No sleeves – how hard can that be?I have already ripped and reknit a few rows. Gotta get this one perfect. But I will finish it – maybe before Linda or Kelly have theirs done. Whaddya say girls?

Still working on the Great American Afghan. Sabra finished the socks square. I think these are the cutest socks I have ever seen.

Here are some new customer projects. Remember Donna's bag when it wasn't felted yet. Well, here it is felted -- still big enough to hold at least 15 projects.

Here is a picture of our hand dyed mohair knit up by Heather, who we met at Stitches and she has come all the way down to our shop from Jersey City to buy more. Great job!

Jamie's first pair of socks -- hope to see Jamie and her new baby soon.

Julia and her daughter Jennifer just love hand dyed yarn. Jennifer made a scarf from Sheep Shop yarn and mom made some handwarmers from Woolbearers Kona yarn

Barbara Jean was inspired by "Homespun Handknit" and made these beautiful mittens in several different colorways of Woolbearers sock yarn.

Janet also loves knitting socks with our hand dyed yarn. I just had to get a shot of those toes!

Monday, January 28, 2008


Donna is our faithful sales representative who keeps us informed about the latest and greatest trends. The upper left picture shows a selection of the fabulous new sock yarns we will be getting very soon! These bags, from Vietnam, are sturdy and beautiful. I can't wait for them to arrive!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We are back in business!

Thank heaven, all is well with servers and other technical thingamajigs and is working again. I don't want to know all the ins and outs of computer stuff. I just want it to work. So, to those of you who tried to link to the store from the blog and couldn't, try it now.

Through a series of links, I found the following video podcast about a knitter who bought some buffalo roving, learned to spin, spun it, then knit a beautiful shawl, entered it in Rhinebeck last year, and won second place! I love the views of Rhinebeck and the gals' description of the knitted things she saw there.

Check it out.

We had a sock class tonight at the store; see picture above. Knitting two socks on one long circular. It was a nice sized class; nine students, and one great teacher, Chris. Everyone who takes Chris's sock classes love her. I took pictures of everyone's needles tonight, and will follow up as they progress, then post them together.

We also booked Nelda Davis for two classes this spring. Nelda is a Master Spinner who studied spinning with the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners Guild. Her classes are popular throughout the state and we are honored that she will take time to teach at the store. The first class on Saturday, March 8th is for students who are able to spin a stable yarn but wish to learn how to be more consistant in their spinning. The second class is April 5th. Nelda will teach all aspects of plying that day. We'll have more information posted about the classes soon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A quick note to all of the faithful customers who are dying to log onto our online store tonight to buy tons of our yarn; the shopping cart we use is having server problems, so you may not be able to get there!!! Please be patient and come back soon!!!! Or, come into Mount Holly and buy in person!!! We will be there from 11am to 8pm tomorrow night!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Another attractive image of moi. I told you I was going to finish those UFOs, but maybe the truth is, some should simply be thrown in the trash.

This is, well, I'm not sure what it is, but I think it was going to be a felted purse. However, it shrunk depth wise, but got wider. This is a common problem with bags I design. You can see it's too big for a hat. One could cut legs in into it and make a rather large soaker.

Because I am always hopeful, and I don't think the Vietnam Veterans want anymore failed felted projects from me, I think I will find some long, leather straps to sew on it and make a knitting bag.

Tonight I will finish another baby surprise jacket out of our hand dyed wool boucle. I think we have finally found a wonderful use for this yarn. It is textured, soft, machine washable, and fun to knit. Knitters aren't always sure what to do with it. Two customers have made vests out of it that were successful. I'm also knitting a rib warmer from EZ from it. Will hopefully post pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Do you remember during the '70's, a picture of Richard M. Nixon with a caption that read, 'Would you buy a used car from this man?' I thought of that when we moved from one house to another twelve years ago, and my husband, loving though he is, moved my refrigerator out from the wall in front of six women I worked with at the time. I thought, 'they'll never eat a meal I've cooked again.' If memory serves, there was a dehydrated mouse under there. Gross.

I tell you this because I'm outing myself right now regarding UFOs. Embarrassment aside, this is a picture of my dining room table. Last week, I promised my husband I would finally clean out all of the knitting bags from the coat closet. It was sort of a deal; he would clean his business papers off the dining room table and I would clean out the closet. However, the contents of the closet ended up on the dining room table. There are more than twenty bags on the table. I found at least ten projects out of my hand spun. There are socks on circs, bags to felt, two sweaters, a lace shawl, several scarves, and something unidentified. I have no idea what it is.

There is a vest from Folk Vests that needs a skein of hand dyed yarn to be dyed, an entrelac jacket out of our hand dyed that is on too small needles and I am working up the courage to rip, about five projects out of Manos from the '70's, including a messenger bag and a dog sweater, several things in Shetland that I forgot I had started, an Einstein jacket, several Elizabeth Zimmerman things, a 'faux' Entrelac hat that Myra gave me to knit a few years ago but I don't think I understood the pattern back then; maybe I could do it now. There is a chenille 'thing', a commercial wool boucle 'thing', and a silk blend 'thing'. I am going to rip them out because, again, I have no idea what I was doing. It could be I was designing on the needles and then had a brain fart and thought better of it.

To get back to the dining room, notice the loom folded up against the wall with another, smaller loom on top of it. Then, if you look really hard, you can see in the left foreground, yet another loom, this one a 16 harness. Look, I cooked for thirty seven years and served a hot meal to any one within shouting distance. We don't even need a kitchen now, let alone a dining room, so what better thing to do than use it to organize my knitting??? I refuse to feel guilty, I refuse to feel guilty, I refuse to feel guilty.

Friends and Family

Kathy and Mary are friends of Woolbearers since the beginning of time.....they escaped one evening to come see us last week. It was great having them in the store!

The socks on needles are Kelly's first try....she wouldn't just go for a basic sock pattern, this girl. Oh no, we have lots of cables. The heel is so crisp and beautiful. She is amazing.

The mitten with the pop top, and the Black Ice socks are Beth's, the gal who works in the store on Saturday. The mitten is so cool, I forgot where she got the pattern but will ask and post. The sock is a size 13.....her husband is such a doll that she will knit anything he asks for. I believe she is doing an Afghan for him now, the Great American, but in a colorway to compliment a piece of art they bought together.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I have completed 9 squares and have 2 more on the needles. Sabra’s done one square and is diligently working on another one.

Square 4 by Celest Pinheiro
I must say, I have had more fun doing these squares than anything else in a long time. There is a notation in the book that 5 of the squares are more challenging and 5 others are easy. Well, I’m not sure how they got to this conclusion.

Square 7 by Susan Z. Douglas For example, Square 7 by Susan Douglas is supposed to be “challenging” -- I thought it was pretty easy. Just follow the chart, line by line and it wasn’t a problem. There are a few 1-5 and 1-3 increases – pretty much the same as making a bobble and you have to keep track of all the different cable stitches (some are p1k1, others are k1p1). I made an enlarged copy of the chart, marked off row by row as I went along and kept referring back to the printed word instructions if I had a question. Voila --- I had it done in no time.

On the other hand , Square 8 by Kathy Zimmerman is listed as one of the “easy” squares and I had to rip it a few times before I got the first row set up correctly. Once I got past row 4, I was on my way, but it did seem to pose more of a challenge than Square 7, at least for me. I think it had more to do with going back and forth between 2 charts – I shouldn’t admit this, but I did sometimes put chart A stitches where chart B stitches should go. Must be an ADHD thing.

Square 8 by Kathy Zimmerman
Square 17 looks like it had an unusual construction and it does, but once you get going on it, you will see how easy it is to do.
Square 17 by Karen Kendrick-Hands
Sabra is working on Square 1, since she loves knitting socks. In order to knit the little socks for the square the instructions say to do what Priscilla Gibson-Roberts calls a “straight-wrap cast-on”. It looks exactly like the “Middle Eastern” cast-on that I did when I knit the fingers for top-down gloves from a pattern by Therese Inverso. A new technique to a lot of folks, but it makes a great, almost seamless seam. I just love doing new things like that.

Square 9 by Lily Chin

Currently I am working on Square 9, by Lily Chin. I’m really happy with how it is coming out. While I have been talking about loving this project, there is one square that I’m not happy about.

It’s Square 6 by Maureen Egan Emlet. It’s a really fussy square and right now I’m not into fussy. One of the stitches is that “Knit Bullion” stitch I mentioned in an earlier post. Sadly, right now I am doing it with a crochet hook. No matter how I tried it with a knitting needle, I could not get my needle through 10 wraps at once ( I suppose I could try the Addi lace needles – I’ll let you know if that works). I saw the crochet hook bullion stitch demonstrated here -- I can’t quite get her technique so that all my stitches are even, so I have been pulling one stitch over at a time. It’s a pain and I just want to get the square done. I will persevere (probably after I’ve finished all the other squares).

Square 6 by Maureen Egan Emlet
I started thinking about fixing mistakes and ripping out as I was working on this aghan, because I have done my share of ripping. I remember all too well all the ripping and fixing of mistakes I did when I quilted. I did take a brief detour into quiltmaking back in the '80's. It seems that it is so much easier to fix mistakes in knitting. Lots of times, you don't need to rip -- you can just drop your stitch down a few rows and fix the mistake and bring it back up.
Quilting is another story.

When I would piece a quilt -- each piece was sewn together with a 1/4 inch seam; not much room for error. (Ah yes, blame it on the sewing machine). Many times I just had to do the whole thing over. I still have the partial top I did for my nephew when he was first born. After I got the star pieced (I'm not going to count all the pieces I cut out), it just wouldn't lay right, the center buckled, so I did the entire quilt over again. Cut out all new pieces. My sister was mad that I didn't have it done in time for his birth. She should only know. He did receive it when he was two years old (just turned 21), I didn't think that was too long a wait. Completely machine pieced and hand quilted. Sorry that I don't have a picture of the finished product. Wonder if they even know where it is.

My husband is still waiting for his sweater which I started 16 years ago. He is just going to have to wait a little while longer.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Beautiful fabrics are what attracted me to weaving. Then, years later, when I saw the yarns that I could buy, cones of silk, wool, rayon, cotton, I was hooked. Then, when I realized I could buy MILL ENDS, I was obsessed! A yarn guy I know would call me from North Carolina; 'I got a nice bunch a woolen stuff 'herea fow yo' he would drawl. 'An, if ya take it all, I give you a rale good praaaice'. So the next week, UPS pulls up and unloads ten large, worn, cardboard boxes. 500 pounds. I tried to hide it in the garage. No luck. When Mr. got home, he commented 'What the hell is in the driveway?' He had to find a way to fit the boxes in the garage because I was too exhausted from opening them up and rolling around in the yarn. It was heavenly.

Joann wove this lovely hounds tooth of two shades of silk and rayon blend singles, sort of slubby, great luster and amazing drape. The yarn she used is among the last cones of that first haul. My goal was to use (sell, or give away, enough to make room for more!

So, the search is on!

The accumulation of raw wool is an obsession, too. The fleece right off a sheep, the smell of it, the fresh cut end so clean and shiny, it just thrills me. We have a lot of fleece. Probably close to 1000 pounds now. We keep buying it, because we love to wash it and dye it and card it. Very rarely, we sell a raw one, more because we forget to offer them for sale. Soon, our shipment of Gotland will arrive in the US. We are getting 130 or so pounds. It is so beautiful; shades of silver, lustrous, silky. We can hardly wait. We are keeping a few or more for ourselves! Then when they are gone, we will buy more, and so on and so on. I have four fleeces in my car, waiting for the opportunity to hide them somewhere. For a short time, whenever I asked my husband if it was all right with him if I bought another sheep, he'd ask why I wanted it and the answer was always because I wanted the fleece. His reply was to just buy the fleece, then. Since the last big fleece purchase however, he said maybe I should get the sheep after all....
Paris, London, Rome, Mt. Holly

A FAQ at Woolbearers is, how did we happen to choose Mt. Holly as the place to open a yarn shop? Neither of us live there, although I once did, about 12 years ago. I raised my children there, had a network of friends, liked the urban feel in a little, bucolic looking town. Don't be fooled though, it's not Mayberry, a fact locals and those in the southern part of the state know.

We are down the street from the county prison, have three bail bondsmen (and a woman) in our block alone, have a few homeless people. Because it's the county seat, Mt. Holly also houses all the services humanity could possibly need. We have a sign on our door guiding people to the offices of the Public Defender, Family Services, and Miss Nancy's Bail Bonds. It's an interesting, alive place to do business.

The top picture is of Karen and Stacey, who spent Sunday yarn shopping together. They made a big dent in the Happy Feet, among other yarns! Behind that basket is Stacy's next baby, due January 23rd! Congratulations!

Lovely Judy in her pink sweater of Nashua in the next picture. The ruffle is removable. Judy looks great in pink and knits lots of pink yarn into wonderful sweaters for herself. It took Judy, Elda, and me over an hour today to figure out the yarn requirements for the Alice Starmore sweater in last month's Vogue. Judy will have it done in no time.

Mt. Holly is 20 miles from Philadelphia, 70 from Manhattan, 35 from Wilmington. We have loyal customers from those cities and many cities within that circle. Today, a lovely young woman from Dunellen, a tiny town in the northwestern section of New Jersey, drove for almost two hours to come to the shop. Barbara, an avid sock knitter and supporter of her LYS, (us), comes from the northern Philly suburbs every week. Phyllis, a wonderful friend and customer since we opened, drives from Barneget a couple of times a week. That's Phyllis in the picture. She couldn't take her eyes off her knitting. Debbie, another shore dweller, will drive down at the drop of a hat, as she did today. She loves yarn and can sniff out a new arrival like a blood hound. Her husband is a riot, too. He will drive her to our shop, Stitches (even Stitches Midwest) to try to monitor her yarn purchases. Also in the picture is Marian, who is felted bag knitting machine, Donna, of giant brown bag fame, her Breast Cancer Three Day Walk Buddy, Brenda who, besides being one of the funniest gals I know, is also the quickest learning sock student, and our own Sabra sock knitting teacher extraordinaire.

Almost daily, we have visitors from out of state who have seen or heard about us. I think it is because we love our yarn and store and love to see our customers. They know that, and tell their knitting buddies, and so through word of mouth, we meet more fiber fanatics.

Ellen and her daughter looking for scarf and vest yarn. Ellen is another knitter who buys the yarn and next week, the project is finished!

Today, Myra's friend Robin and her friends came in. Robin had a sweater with her that she is knitting from yarn she purchased when she was in the Hebrides. The yarn is shetland, of course, but what sets it apart is that it is naturally dyed. It is to die for. I'm not kidding. She is knitting a fair isle sweater from it; what else? She also finished this great Noni bag.

About the same time I was lusting after this yarn, the UPS guy came in with our latest order of Jamieson yarn, my favorite. It was 12 more gorgeous colors of Spindrift for that Alice Starmore sweater. I think we need to add hand-dyed Woolbearers shetland yarn to our huge Jamieson collection.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year.
2007 was an absolutely fantastic year for fiber folk. In case you haven’t already heard of Ravelry, run, don’t walk to your computer and join up ( While you are there, please add Woolbearer as one of your friends. We’d love to see all the projects everyone is working on.

Sunday, February 3rd is our annual SuperBowl Sunday Sale.

Last May, we moved to our new home at 90 High Street and now you can actually see all the yarn we have. Of course, since we have a much bigger space we had to get even more yarn. One of the newest additions is Karabella Yarns, with their Aurora 8, Aurora 4 and SuperCashmere Fine yarns. Come and touch – it’s so soft. We also have beautiful DK weight cashmere from South Africa.

We’ve expanded our Cascade 220 collection to almost 100 colors. We’ll be doing a KAL for the Great American Afghan using Cascade colors. See our website for more info. We started carrying Cascade’s Lana Grande – 2 stitches to the inch of the soft yummy wool – knits up in no time. Kraemer is a new company for us. We have their Mauch Chunky and Sterling Silver sock yarn, some of which we are dyeing in mottled solids. Have you touched the Dream in Color Smooshy Sock Yarn? We also have their chunkier weight yarn called Fatty – beautiful colors. (see the Yarn Harlot for more pictures)

Have you seen the Modern Quilt Wrap from Folk Styles? Knit out of 9 colors of Rowan Kid Silk Haze -- it's like knitting a cloud.

Join the KAL online at Knit One, Crochet Too’s yahoo group, Knits, and knit the Painted Diamond bag made out of Paintbox, a beautiful self-striping wool yarn. We also have their new Babyboo yarn – it’s a bamboo/nylon combination and is a superwash yarn. Suzie is knitting a vest out of it and you can see a picture of it on the previous entry. Want to dye your own yarn? We have kits called Culinary Collection – includes a 450 yard skein of Douceur et Soie (silk and mohair) and enough dye to make a shawl or 2 scarves.

For all of you lace knitters we have something really special. Cherry Tree Hill was able to get some Orenburg Lace yarn and of course, we had to take some off their hands. One skein is enough to make a beautiful Orenburg Lace shawl or scarf.

LLamajama is a new addition. We have their 1855 wool handspun and naturally dyed merino (spun by a co-op of women in Ecuador), beautiful alpaca, and chunky weight natural colored wool. Great pattern support too!

Plymouth keeps coming out with new yarns. We recently brought in their Happy Feet sock yarn (who needs Koigu now) and Knitcol – a self striping superwash DK weight yarn. The Bristol Yarn Gallery from Plymouth has added some silk/cotton yarns to their collection – we should have it in the shop by March. We just got our new shawl pins from Plymouth too.

Artyarns has a new self-striping yarn – gorgeous colors – hope to have it in stock within a few weeks.

We dyed a lot of fleece that we get from a farm in Mt. Laurel and sent it out to be made into roving. Well, we just got the roving back -- it's gorgeous and spins like a dream.

And if that’s not enough fiber for you – Woolbearers is proud to announce that we will be the sole importers of Gotland fleece from England this year. We’ll keep you posted on the details.

We are really excited about our new class line up. We are starting a study of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Workshop. The first project we’ll tackle is the Garter Stitch Baby Blanket. We are also beginning a “Getting Started” series. See demos of dyeing self-striping yarn, felting techniques, triangle loom weaving, etc. (see the website for more details).

Have you seen the latest issue of Vogue Knitting? Woolbearers is mentioned in the CyberStitches column. We’ll have to thank our mailman, Greg for inspiring us to write that blog entry that was mentioned.

And yes, we will be doing another Yarn Tasting. Details to follow ...

Spinners take note – the Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel is on its way.

Remember – 1st Friday of the month is our meetup group at 6 pm; 1st Sunday of the month is the South Jersey Spinners and Handweavers Guild spin-in at 1 pm. Or stop in anytime for knitting, spinning, a cup of coffee and friendship.

Suzie & Myra