Wednesday, January 31, 2007
I am getting ready this morning and Steve comes upstairs - he has found the story on-line - praise the knitting gods, we can all go about our regular business. "What is the big scandal I ask?" Steve replies, "Nuns gone bad. . . . "
A group of nuns in Greece have run up $777,000 in debt from their knitting business and have gone into hiding. . . . . what is the world coming to? Knitting, nuns and bad debt - is nothing sacred?
P.S. For anyone who doesn't normally read January One's blog, you must go over and visit the last 2 or 3 posts to see the incredible knitting gymnastics she has been doing. It's pretty freakin' amazing stuff. www.januaryone.com
Monday, January 29, 2007
I started the year with such a "plan" for knitting. It made perfect sense. I'd work to finish my WIPs while allowing myself to start a new project, using new yarn. Here it is, January 29th and I have lost complete control of my knitting. Between the WIPs, the new projects I've started and the ones I've either got the yarn for, wound the yarn for or have seriously thought about, I can't even count the number of things "in the works". I am jumping from projects, to yarns, to ideas like a lunatic. I have scarves to finish (as noted in earlier posts), I have a hat cast-on and that's it. I have a couple of projects in the works for possible inclusion in a book, I am re-knitting my felted bag for the knitalong, we've got two new Valley Yarns yarns that are coming in this week - advance samples in all colors for us to not only take to Stitches West, but also to do some designing (making my head spin). That doesn't even include the new yarn that has come in over the past three days alone - it is mind boggling - more like, mind numbing. MIND NUMBING.
How much new yarn you ask? How much could there really be? Well, let me tell you - today alone we received in 66 (yes sixty-six) boxes from UPS and another 1/2 dozen or so from DHL. I saw Fedex stop first thing this morning - no clue what they brought. . . . And that's ONLY TODAY!!! We've got new spring, new colors, new additions, new closeouts. Even Steve's head is spinning and that rarely happens! I can't even take pictures of the stuff it's flying in so fast. Tomorrow, I will make an effort to do so.
On the family front, J1 lost his first tooth last week. FINALLY! He was the last 2nd grader to lose a tooth - and trust me, he reminded us of this regularly. His baby teeth were very slow to come in and it appears slow to depart. We've explained that this is good - he could care less when the other kids are all walking around with big, toothless grins.
J2 celebrated his 6th birthday on Saturday. The party was Sunday - 13 kindergarteners (well, 10, plus a couple of others) bowling. He only wanted "the boys", so that is what we had. Great fun was had by all. No injuries, no fighting. It was all good. I am still trying to process that he's 6. He's SIX. . . how did that happen? The growing up thing has never really boggled me with Jackson - maybe because he's the older one. But with Jonathan, I am truly boggled. He was just born! Where did 6 years go? I swear, it was just January, 2001 a couple of weeks back. . . . .
And then there's this radio thing. Steve and I were so nervous in the beginning. We figured nobody would listen, which would be a good thing, since we figured we'd stink anyways. But people are listening and we may not be great, but we don't stink. Scariest of all, we're having FUN. Now I'm afraid people WILL think we stink and we'll get cancelled! The interview schedule is filling up like crazy and I've barelly scratched the surface of the folks I talked to at TNNA about coming on. I've got people - actually, people's people (a.k.a. publicists) contacting me to get their people on our show. They want their people to be on our show!! It's awesome, it's exciting and it's freaky all at the same time! This week we're interviewing Lily Chin. We thought she might postpone because of the unexpected death in her family. But we talked late last week and she wants to go forward with the interview. She just needs to keep busy and if this is our way of helping her, then we are truly honored to do so. Next week, we've got Jonelle Raffino the owner of South West Trading. In the coming weeks we've got Ann Hood, author of the new book Knitting Circle, we've got our friends from Classic Elite scheduled to talk about Spring yarns, we've got Trisha Malcolm from Soho Publishing and former editor of Vogue Knitting. . . . that's just the tip of the iceberg. Oh yeah, lest we not forget Steve, LIVE from Stitches West. I'll be on the phone interviewing him as he goes out early for set-up and I don't leave until the day the show starts. If you haven't tuned in, we air locally on Saturday mornings at 9:00am on 1240AM or 1400AM WHMP and we can be downloaded from iTunes. Here's the link to our website, which can link you to the download. You just need to have iTunes on your 'puter.
So, if I sound a bit whiney, I do apologize. I am not whining in the least. I just wish I could gain a little control, just for a couple of days. . . . If I could just get off the merry-go-round of life for a mere few hours, a day or two tops, it would help immensely.
I promise to provide and update on all of the new stuff in the next day or two. Plus, I owe you a book review of Barbara Delinsky's new book, which I finished late last week.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Then there were the Patriots. 21-3 at half time. Who loses when they are leading 21-3 at half time? J1 was SHOCKED when we told him on Monday morning the Pats lost. He said "But they were leading 21-3 at half time? How did they lose? They must've really stunk up". Yup honey, they stunk up. Even a 7 year old was incredulous - imagine poor Steve. It was a sad day in Yarnville on Monday morning.
Well, enough moping. Onto the yarn. The spring 2007 season has begun! Berroco spring arrived and is up on our website. The yarn, the pattern books, our model garments - all are in the store. I think I can say with confidence that our staff is genuinely excited about the yarn and designs for the season.
First up is Bonsai which is Berroco's bamboo blend. It is quite different than any other bamboo yarn we've seen or purchased for spring. It is 97% bamboo/3% nylon. It's a flat, thin ribbon and the nylon can be seen as little dots or flecks on the yarn. It is really quite stunning and the garments are lovely. Bonsai has 77 yards and knits at 5 sts = 1" on #7 needles. It is available in 9 colors and retails for $6.00/hank - yes, it is a hank and needs to be wound.
Next is Love It! and Love It! Colors. Okay, so the exclamation point might be a bit much, but the yarn is YUMMY. Love It! is 58% cotton/38% acrylic/4% nylon and feels great! Very soft with a bit of spring. It has 120 yards and knits at 4.5 sts = 1" on #8 so it will be a versatile yarn. Love It! has 20 solids and a half dozen or so multis. The color changes in the multis are very long, which to me, makes the yarn interesting to knit and a bit more sophisticated than the average variegated. Love It! and Love It! Colors cost $7.00/ball.
Nostalgia is also a cotton/acrylic/nylon blend, but in different proportions - 46%/30%/24% respectively. Changing the amount of these ingredients results in a different yarn. Nostalgia has a lovely twist and the additonal nylon gives it just a bit of a sheen. I'll be honest, I liked this yarn, until I saw some of the finished garments at TNNA, in particular the Macie smock/jumper. I LOVE THIS TOP! I don't know why, I don't know what is tickling me so much about it, but I have to have it! I've got the pattern book (#261 Nostalgia, pattern #3 Macie)here at home and a ball of yarn to swatch (it calls for a 7 and I'll probably need an 8 since I knit on the tight side). Nostalgia has 100 yards, is 5 sts = 1" on #7 and retails for $7.00/ball.
Last, but far from least is Pure Merino Heathers. Berroco introduced Pure Merino last fall - it's their superwash extrafine merino wool that has been nothing short of a homerun. It is an awesome yarn. Well, they've added heathers - beautiful, inspiring heathers. Twelve "I've got to knit these now" heathers. Yup - what more needs to be said.
We've also got some new colors in Suede, Touche, Boho and Boho Colors. There's lots of great stuff.
All of the new yarns have their own dedicated pattern book, plus there's a kid's book, a handbag book, a crochet book and one called "Yin and Yang" which features half a dozen garments knit two ways - either in a lighter weight spring yarn or a heavier fall/winter yarn. So no matter where you live, Berroco has designed the pattern to work in a yarn for you. No wondering "gee, will this work, will it drape the same, etc." - they've already figured this out for you.
If you are looking for more info on these yarns, check out our website at http://yarn.com/webs/search/0/?keyword=berroco&tab=0. Also, our Berroco sales rep Andra will be our featured guest on this week's episdoe of READY, SET, KNIT! which will air locally this Saturday, 1/27/07 at 9:00am on 1240AM or 1400AM WHMP and will be available on iTunes shortly after the show airs. She will be giving her spring overview and pattern recommendations. Be sure to listen in!
For those of you who have been reading along, you know that Steve and I got to escape to Boston for New Year's and J1 and J2 stayed with Steve's parents. They were in charge of this year's 'Picture at Midnight". Now, we'll never know if they actually stayed up or got up to take the photo, but I will operate under the assumption that they did just that.
Lastly, I wrote about a new book that published this past week The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. It is not the only book coming out. Publishing tomorrow, is Barbara Delinksy's Family Tree. Now, everything I found on-line about this book did not make a single reference to knitting. I was confused. But in fact, it has a very strong secondary and supporting knitting theme. The main character Dana is a knitter and from just a few pages in, knitting is a common thread throughout the main plot. I've seriously powered through this book. It is an easy read, but interesting. I am hoping to finish it tonight. The author has also partnered with the fine folks at Berroco to develop a pattern booklet featuring four patterns referred to in the book. They will use Berroco's Pure Merino and Ultra Alpaca. We'll have the book and pattern book in soon. Given that the author lives here in Massachusetts, is a life long knitter and customer, we're optimistic about a store appearance or at a minimum an interview on Ready, Set, Knit! Stayed tune for details!
I spent the better part of Monday at the printer on press for our spring catalog. Sixty four pages packed with new yarn, projects, pattern booklets, etc. I am really excited about this catalog but also ready to have done. The process of producing a catalog of this magnitude and caliber is not for the faint of heart. I am hoping to be able to show you the cover tomorrow night and maybe a few other snippets. I am particularly thrilled with our new Valley Yarns patterns. Our staff, particularly Kirsten, really out did themselves and did so under incredible deadlines. Steve and I have to be the luckiest yarn store owners around.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
It's our Valley Yarns #130 Al-Araaf Wrap knit from our alpaca/silk blend called Deerfield. Our own Kirsten, designer extraordinaire came up with the pattern. The sweater is darling and looks good on various body shapes.
Here's the link to the pattern, which is $1.99 on its own or FREE when you purchase the yarn.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
But reports on the weather are not what you are most interested in. The show itself was great! Steve and I were busy from start to finish, which is unusual. We purposely plan in some downtime for ourselves, but this year didn't get as much as we had hoped.
Some highlights include getting to hear Kate Jacobs, author of the new novel "The Friday Night Knitting Club" speak twice and score an autographed copy. I'm not much into book signings usually, but there was something about her and this book that made me jump up to the front of the line. The book publishes tomorrow - we will be carrying it as will your local book store and of course the big chains. The story is about Georgia, yarn store owner and the women she comes to know in her Friday night knitting group and the trials and tribulations they endure. As you may have heard, the book has already been picked up by one of the studios and will be produced as a movie starring Julia Roberts. Originally scheduled for release in '08, no word on how Julia's pregnancy will alter filming, etc.
Saturday was spent in appointments with some of our larger vendors as well as mills who make our Valley Yarns - oh boy do we have some goodies in the works! We spent about 2 hours walking the floor at the end of the day. Blue Sky Alpaca has a few new cotton colors and alpaca silk colors that we ordered, as well as a yummy new handspun organic cotton - natural only, that we also ordered. Lantern Moon had some great new items - we were thrilled since we cleared out the bulk of the inventory we had on their old stuff during the Christmas sale. Highlights from them include new round drawstring boxes and really cool messenger bags, made in Cambodia by land mine survivors using a material from bags of fish food. The material reminds me of a sail on a sail boat - coated - and comes in bright colors with the original printing from the bags still on the fabric. Loved them! Southwest Trading was also a great stop - we added Tofutsies (and the crowd goes wild). For those of you not in the know, it's their sock yarn that is made with among other things Critin. Yup, I said Critin - which comes from shrimp and crab shells. The yarn is killer. Then we previewed and ordered the new Vickie Howell collection - three yarns that SWTC is producing with/for her. They are winners - classic yarns, beautiful twists, with the alternative blends we expect from SWTC, including one containing milk fiber. The true highlight here was meeting Vickie - champagne glass in hand (read "hmmm, wonder where I can score me one of those"). She was charming and lovely and did not share her champagne, but revealed the source.
At the close of the show on Saturday, we moved upstairs to Interweave's 10th Anniversary party. Each table featured a recent project in Interweave Knits and on one of the center tables, guess what we saw? A project from the most recent issue that used our own Valley Yarns Stockbridge - the excitement was almost too much for Steve & I - it was the FELTED BABY BOTTLE. The Interweave folks were thrilled we noticed. The party had good drinks and noshables, courtesy of the lovely Interweave folks. Steve and I set about working the room (hey, we've got this podcast thing going on and we need guests!). So, we met Clara Parkes, Amy Singer (sort of). I was so thrilled to see she was there I made one of the Interweave people take me over to introduce me and poor Amy was just trying to eat and had a mouth full of food and there I was saying "hi" and being all star-struck and excited and she was now almost choking and that's when Clara jumped up to say hi. Steve stood by and just shook his head. . . . . . But I did much better with most of the other folks - remained composed and professional and all, until Annie Modesitt asked if I knew "Nicky" who happened to be sitting next to her. Now the room was dimly lit, it had been a long day, I was on wine #2 and I was obviously being an idiot and I said "no, I don't know Nicky". So Annie says - "Nicky, this is Kathy she owns WEBS and Kathy, this is Nicky EPSTEIN (I swear there were trumpets playing somewhere as the name echoed in my head). Now the funny part is that Nicky seemed almost as excited to meet Steve & I as we were to meet her! I am hopeful that our mutual admiration will help get WEBS on her schedule sometime before the boys graduate.
Sunday - busy, busy, busy. . . . where to watch the game, can we watch the game, there seem to still be tickets for game, will someone, anyone, PLEASE take Steve to the game - I'll treat!!!! Our beloved Patriots were in San Diego for the playoffs. It nearly killed Steve to not go and not watch even a single second of the game. But from kick-off to the final buzzer, I had to steer him through the show as he was glued to the updates on his cell phone. Our progress slowed somewhat as we also had to continually zig zag between the booths where others interested in the score, but were required to work.
We managed to buy some cool new bags from Namaste, two new yarns from Fiesta (I love them - the yarns and Brad & Jeannie the owners), some closeouts from the usual suspects, new colors of Jade Sapphire's 2-ply cashmere and Savannah DK from The Fibre Company. Tobias and Antonio from Malabrigo have some great new colors that we added as well as a new single ply, laceweight merino (oxygen masks will eject from your computer shortly). Plus they had some cute patterns to boot! Here's our beloved Abigail on gorgeous handwoven throw given to us by Tobias during his visit to us in Baltimore at Stitches East. Some things meant for the store are just simply too beautiful. This was one of them.
Spent some time with the Interweave folks again (no free wine or munchies this time) talking about some marketing initiatives and then dinner with one of our fave vendors. We ended the night on our own, for a night cap and witnessed a well known industry person being escorted from the fine establishment we stopped into due to his/her poor behavior. You won't get another word out of me - what happens in S.D. stays in S.D.
Monday we purchased a new silk/wool blend from Sheep Shop - Fonnie the owner has a homerun with this one. Misti had lots of new colors and gave us a sneak peek of what's to come. At 2:30 I hit the wall - I could not talk to another person, look at another product, nothing. We went back to the Gaslamp District - the area just away from the bay that houses restaurants and shopping and bars and Petco Field where the Padres play. Had a beer, a burger and then we went and passed out for an hour or so (back in our hotel room, not on the sidewalk or anything). One last dinner with our dear friends from Berroco, packed up and sort of slept before our 6:30a.m. flight home.
Today kicked off with interviewing Stephanie Pearl McPhee. Yup, just a little ole chit chat with The Yarn Harlot for this week's radio show. I was freaking out - although she was at the store last March and I spent a fair amount of time with her, she's like a rock star! I think Steve and I did okay. . . .
So, I still owe you all the Berroco spring pics & run down. But I think this is more than ample for one day - especially one in which I am still not sure what day/time it is.
P.S. I finished the silly garter stitch polar/lurex scarf last night. Woohoo! That's 2 F.O.'s in 2007 and it's not even the end of January! I am on such a roll!
Monday, January 8, 2007
It's just a simple, alternating K1, P1 for one row and then K for the next row. It's really quite pretty. I am also working on a scarf in Misti Alpaca Chunky:
I had previously mentioned that I saw this scarf in a catalog for some ridiculous price (and not even made from cashmere, mind you) and decided to knock it off. I figured out the pattern and got started and then it went into a bag and forgotten. Both of these projects are coming with me.
I am also working on Jackson's hat and maybe casting on for the handwarmers.
Oh and I also found an OLD garter stitch scarf that I started EONS ago made from Rowan Polar and Lurex Shimmer. This project was "in the closet" since we were not carrying Rowan at the time. Both yarn purchases were made at competitors stores/on-line shops to see what they were like to shop/order from.
So, my plan is that I will knit from stash and stay inspired with new as well. If you can do both, I encourage you to do so. If you truly feel you need to knit only from stash for whatever length of time is appropriate for you, then do it. WEBS will be here waiting when you are ready to shop again.
It was 71 degrees here on Saturday, January 6, 2007. Not sure what the "official" temp was, but that was the official high at my house on Saturday afternoon, not directly in the sun (that would be cheating). Personally - it was a dream day. I was warm most of the day - any day that I can be naturally warm, without 2-3 layers of clothing, is a good day for me. I had the windows open in the house, the car. . . . I am going to be a miserable little old lady - let's hope Steve can set-up me up in Miami Beach or some such warm location :)I was not in the store today - we had a STRATEGIC MANAGMENT MEETING this morning at our house. Sounds really cool and grown-up, doesn't it? A bunch of us sat around and talked about the business, things we want to do, how we're going to do it, things that need fixin', etc. By the time we wrapped up it was close to pick-up time for the kids so I hung out here. I believe Berroco spring arrived. I'll be back tomorrow if it did to show you all of the goodies.
We leave for TNNA on Thursday. We have a ton of meetings set-up with all of the major vendors, plus two of the mills we work with. I am on the search for new, fun knitting bags and other accessories. I am excited to look at a few new yarns - the new Vicki Howell yarn from Southwest Trading for starters. Plus their Tofutsie. There are others. If there's anything you want us to carry or look for, just let me know!
The radio show ran backwards on Saturday - not backwards like devil gibberish, but the two segments were played out of order. Disappointing but not the end of the world. Fortuanately the podcast will be hunky dory. We are kicking off a new knitalong this week (not starting knitting yet - just the overview). We're going to do a felted bag that I designed. I'm excited!
Well, that's it for now. Time to get the kiddly winks ready for bed.