Monday, January 29, 2007

Ooh la la, new stuff!

As I promised/warned, beautiful new things are arriving almost daily from market. The new French Girl patterns arrived on Monday, and Gina had this little jacket for Marissa done by, um, Wednesday? Further proof of the Gina-is-a-vampire theory. Also, at market, we decided that Gina's catchphrase is "Wouldya like a cup a coffee?" because she's always offering caffeine to customers. Maybe that very coffee is Gina's secret weapon for turning out pieces so fast. Anyway, we love the results! Gina used the quick-knitting Rowan Ribbon Twist, but it is also adorable in Big Wool or Big Wool Fusion.

Also received a giant shipment from our friends at Blue Sky Alpacas. Check out the new colors in Bulky Alpaca. These would be great for the Cable Couture Bag. To preview the pattern, click here

And below are brand new spring colors in our favorite Blue Sky Dyed Cotton. This is a super-versatile, super-soft worsted cotton, great for baby blankets, all kinds of garments. Also great for my striped, self-fringing wrap we often display at the store. Sneaky Ellen actually packed MY wrap to take to San Diego! But then she ended up letting me borrow one of "the precious" cashmere pieces she owns from Abersons to wear to the big all was forgiven :)

Gina Yates may soon take over Gina's vampire title. You know the new j knits DK hand-dyed yarn from my last post? She's already got a sock made! She is happy to report that one sock took one skein, with plenty left might even get three socks from two skeins.

And if, like Gina Y., you are sock-addicted, you also probably have a nice stash of leftover sock yarn laying around. What to do with it? Here is a great idea from Elizabeth - a tiny domino scarf made by her mother (who also happens to be Sherry's sister). Isn't it stunning?

Other new arrivals this a nice shipment from Rowan, including All Seasons Cotton in white, taupe and popular robin's egg blue, plus Handknit DK in some of our best-selling colors - great for the baby projects in the "Itty Bitty Hats" book.

Finally, thanks to everyone for the well-wishes regarding my burned hand. After my last post I ended up at the minor ER with a bunch of 2nd degree burns. But two days later, I became a big believer in Silvadene cream! This miracle stuff has left me with two minor blisters and I'm already knitting and playing tennis again. (I will spare you the pictures here). The moral of the story: a skillet that emerges from a 400 degree oven really is HOT.

- Shelley

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Renee, Daren and other saints.

For the last few months, I have been teaching Renee how to knit. Renee is one of those rare people you meet who really should qualify for sainthood (that is, if it weren't for that annoying martrydom requirement). She is trained in the Orton-Gillingham method, an intense, multi-year program for dyslexia. Many of you may know my daughter, C, is an extremely talented artist...and profoundly dyslexic. Sweet Renee has been coming to C's school for the past two years, twice a week, rain or shine. She has truly worked miracles. You would not believe the change in her reading, writing and confidence.

Awhile back, Renee asked me to teach her to knit. How could I refuse? And she has proven to be just as great a student as she is a teacher - and like C, a very hard worker! She would come into the store with her cardboard box top to serve as a "lap tray" for her scarf project, earning her the dubious title "hobo knitter." Then she decided to take on her first big project - a baby sweater and hat for her new grandson, Landon.

We chose a set from Suss Cousins' book, Hollywood Knits, in Muench Goa - a great, washable, soft and springy yarn. I assured Renee that this set is just made of blocks of garter stitch, ingeniously crocheted together with a contrasting yarn. She chose red and white and added a little OU patch because Landon's parents are big red fans. Check out this photo:

Now...after my last post, some of you were curious about what our "web guy" Daren looks like. He has graciously forwarded this photo. Sorry ladies, he is married and lives in Utah. But he could also qualify for sainthood, as he has patiently been putting up with my computer rants and web demands for many months.

Next, we have a new design from Kendall, saint of patience and lace. It's a gorgeous scarf in our Lobster Pot laceweight cashmere. First I admired the pattern, then I touched it...OMG...liquid butter! Kendall is offering this class in February and is worried that ya'll will be intimidated by lace. Please prove her wrong and sign up for this class! Lace is hot and now is the time to learn, as we have lots of new lace books and yarn heading our way this spring.

And now, Janet, saintly mom to Sara, who showed Janet her appreciation by knitting her this scarf out of a variegated Debbie Bliss Soho. We LOVE how this stitch shows off the variegated yarn! Sara, if you're reading this, we want this pattern!!!

And last but not least, we have Ellen, saint of...oh, who are we kidding? But she did make an awfully nice scarf out of Posh, our silk/cashmere blend. This pattern is taken from the ever-popular book "One Skein," although she admits she switched yarns and it did, in fact, take two. When it comes to cashmere, Ellen knows no bounds. (Saint of Cashmere???)

New stuff is starting to pour in. We're expecting the big Berroco spring order within a week! And check out this new DK superwash hand-paint from J Knits:

That's all for now. Burned my hand on a pan tonight when I pulled it from the oven so typing is a tad painful.

Even more painful - I can't knit tonight! - Shelley

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Code 4 and other tales from Market.

Narrowly escaping the Tulsa ice storm, five of us "Loops Troops" left last Friday for the annual TNNA market in San Diego. We cheered for Billie Anne as we took off, because this was her first commercial air flight ever (and pregnant to boot - now that's a commitment to fiber). Luckily the first flight was smooth - but when we landed, it was about 40 degrees colder in Kansas City - brrrr! And San Diego wasn't much better, averaging 40 degree highs during the four days we were there. One restaurant didn't even HAVE a heater. Life is really tough for those Californians. Sigh.

Still, the show was our best ever. We made a big impact right off the bat, all entering the show with our "loopalicious" t-shirts. Sally Melville remarked that we looked like a gang - I agreed that all we needed were a bunch of chains and some semi-automatics. ("Be quiet and hand over the cashmere!")

We bought so many great things for spring - over two dozen orders were placed with different reps - I really can't list them all. Highlights included a big order of Louet 100% linen, Karabella laceweight cashmere, Migrations new lower-priced silk blend from Alchemy, tons of new patterns and some beautiful beaded yarn. We can't wait for you to see it! I also bought almost every color of three new yarns from Debbie Bliss - a 100% merino (yes, for spring!), a pure cotton and a cotton blend. This was a bit larger buy than I planned, but I had a great reason. Because as I was sitting down with our rep to place the order, who should round the corner but three lovely ladies:

That's Debbie Bliss on the left, Cornelia Hamilton next to her, Louisa Harding on the right. And me in the middle, trying not to faint or say anything completely stupid. Next thing I know, Debbie is offering to show me the yarn, despite our rep's offer to do it himself. I spent nearly an hour with her - she was just as lovely and down-to-earth and brilliant as you would expect. I told her all three of my children grew up in her designs, and that I have two of her projects on the needles right now. "Only two?" she quipped. Oh that's right, there's also that Pure Silk shell that still sits on the needles from last summer...Make that three. She even said she would look into visiting us at Loops soon. Fingers crossed...

Here is the beginning of the cabled jacket I started on the trip, in Debbie's Cotton Cashmere - a cotton/cash blend with beautiful softness, drape and definition (this is the back - the front has lots more interesting cabling):

After our first day in San Diego, we went to Rockin' Baha for some real California vittles. We were all so exhausted we could barely drink our margaritas (somehow we perservered.) Then we headed back to our hotel by the bay, and Gina proceeded to give Dawn a makeover, complete with a facial. Unfortunately, I only have a "before" picture - but suffice to say that Dawn was completely gorgeous afterward.

Saturday was the first day for the show floor to be open, exhibiting all the yummy yummy yarn. Ellen focused primarily on standing in line for free book signings, earning her the nickname "Book Ho." The downside of this was when she had to lug all the books through the airport on the return trip, resulting in this picture, below left.

Saturday night, we all attended an invitation-only event sponsored by Unicorn Books at a bar called Gallileo. This was the yarn world's equivalent of the Oscar after-party. We chatted with Knitty Gritty's Vicki Howell, Suss Cousins, Sally Melville and lots of other yarn royalty. Then we headed back to the hotel to collapse. Sunday it was another day on the show floor, followed by some non-yarn shopping in La Jolla. (The three San Diego newbies among us were shocked to discover that it's not pronounced "la jolla" but "la hoya.") We went crazy at lucy (a sporty clothing store, not the felted bag) and at Gepetto's, we bought some toys for our little ones stuck at home with the ice and the daddies (I think more than one of us had visions of Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" while we were away.)

Monday it was one last day on the show floor:

From there, on to the airport. I started with my usual pre-plane glass of wine, and had an experience perhaps even greater than the Debbie Bliss encounter: I GOT CARDED at the airport bar. Those of you in your 30s and beyond know exactly how blissful this can be. Nevermind that the bartender was at least 90 and clearly vision-impaired. Here's me with Gina after getting carded:

Those who know me know I'm not really a big drinker, but that San Diego to Phoenix flight made me grateful for the airport wine. After taking off over the ocean, the captain warned that the flight attendants would have to hustle with the beverage service, because it looked like there were "a few bumps" ahead. Next thing we know, we're rockin' and rollin' and the bell is going off and the captain says, somewhat nervously, "Flight attendants, take your seats! Code 4!" Now I don't mind the rockin' and I don't mind not getting my beverage and I don't even mind the flight attendants sitting down, but what the heck is code 4? Does the captain want a snack, or did we just lose an engine? Our airplane virgin, Billie Anne, took this in stride, but Dawn looked like I was feeling inside:

Still, we survived and made it through Phoenix to Tulsa, where that pilot executed an A+ perfect landing, to cheers from the entire plane. Guess we had all been imagining how they would land on 4 solid inches of ice. Hooray for runway shovellers!

One more thing: I met our "computer guy" at the show. His name is Daren and we all agreed he is as nice as he is good-looking. (Funny aside: Daren thought I was Ingrid because her picture is in the blog so much!). Daren helped us change our blog so it is now much easier to comment - so click on the comments button and let yourself be heard!

Happy knitting and stay warm (wool helps!),


Monday, January 8, 2007

Necessity is the mother of inventory.

Ahhh joy. Inventory time has arrived.

All but one of the 16 Loops Troops dug in yesterday to count ALL THAT yarn. Well, not quite all. We still have lots more to go, and since we are all really into finishing things (haha), we are going to close today (Monday) for inventory. We will re-open Tuesday at 11 a.m. Here are Annie and Ingrid counting away. What a surprise, Ingrid has chosen to count the cashmere.

We were all looking our Sunday (the-boss-dragged-us-out-of-bed-to-count-yarn) best. So when I asked if anyone had a project I could take a picture of, Kendall was happy to oblige - provided her face didn't show. So here is anonymous Kendall with her 100% silk, lace, reversible shawl. This is a new yarn that will be arriving in the next few weeks, and Kendall has promised to teach a class.

Paula said she didn't have any projects with her – then I noticed her sneaking out with this fabulous bag. It's the "sea anemone" bag from the Tracy Ullman book (with a couple adaptations), in Manos.

Emily is so excited about her "first really hard project." Mind you, this 17-year-old has made felted intarsia bags and socks out the wazoo. So we hope you are inspired by her sweater in Pure Merino from a recent Interweave Knits. Emily says "Yay!" Her mom, Gina says "It's a-DOR-able!"

In contrast, we have a rare shot of Gina H. making something that is NOT mind-numbingly difficult. This is a simple scarf in Karabella's Aurora 8. Gina loves this yarn - incredible stitch definition. And January is a month for doing what you really want, whether it's a complex sweater or a simple scarf for yourself. Because, after the holiday knitting frenzy, you've earned it. Seriously.

Coming up...more spring orders may arrive this week, along with three huge needle orders, hopefully some re-orders from Cascade, Manos and others, and some more surprises. I will probably put a few yarns on special this week after inventory. And next week, five of us head to San Diego for the spring TNNA show. So there should be lots of, um, interesting pics. See you then.
- Shelley

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The happiest part of Happy New Year is the sale is over! Wahoo, what a sale it was! Here is a pic of the line before the store opened on Tuesday (thank you, ladies, for letting me snap the picture and not trampling me :)

And here is a shot of Annie after the sale:

It is so nice to see a few blank spaces in the storeroom...because that means we can buy more spring yarn! Already, some new yarns are arriving. The latest yarn from Southwest Trading Co. is Gianna, an enviro-friendly soy/wool blend in a chunky weight, perfect for quick, soft baby blankets. Really yummy colors! We also got this great kit that has, I think, 34 balls of Gianna in a rainbow of colors, plus a pattern for an easy, self-fringing blanket big enough to fit a twin bed. And it is a great price to boot.

We've also put out the coveted, new Esperanza lambswool/alpaca blend, great for felting but also soft enough for sweaters or scarves. This is the yarn we've been using for the new Sophie bag. I just finished one and added some Joy for fun.

Ingrid is teaching a class on this bag later this month. Check out the Loops January Class List for details. Hurry, the classes are filling quickly this month. I think everyone has resolved to do more knitting in 2007!

Gossamer, one of our most popular yarns, has just arrived in two back-ordered colors - chocolate brown and navy. All it takes is 2 balls and the basic ability to create a knit stitch, and you've got a stunning wrap. Yes, you can even do this while enjoying a glass of wine. There are also two easy sweater patterns and a ruffled shawl pattern in the store.

Finally, I can't resist sharing a pic of my kids on Christmas morning, all wearing their new scarves (and my youngest holding her Blue Sky Baby Bobbi bear).

Hope your new year is off to a great start! Please post a comment so I know there are people out there reading this :)
- Shelley