Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Giving shawls a bad "wrap"?

Someone e-mailed recently and told me they are so glad Tulsa "finally has a great modern yarn store." And this may be bad for a modern yarn store owner to say, but I love me some shawls. Yes, I said shawls. Or, as most book editors currently refer to them in order to make them sound more hip, "wraps."

Last year, my (younger) sister gave me a birthday card that said, in big letters, "Welcome to Oldville!" And, in smaller letters, "Grab a shawl."

Well, I'm either living in Oldville, or I've just learned that shawls/wraps can be very, very cool - with the right yarn and pattern. So just to prove it, why not knit up one of the examples below, then throw on your new wrap and go dance to Justin Timberlake at some swanky club while drinking Appletinis. Or whatever.

Example #1: Yesterday, we got in new colors of Prism yarn. This amazing stuff (literally, it's called "Cool Stuff" or "Wild Stuff") changes yarns as you go, having been lovingly hand dyed to match and carefully attached end-to-end. The wrap in the background is made from two "half-skeins" of Stuff and two skeins of Touch Me for the gorgeous fringe. Pattern is free with yarn purchase:

Example #2: "Helen's Lace" from Lorna's Laces. We received their new spring colors yesterday. This "Pie Wedge Shawl" pattern is an easy lace pattern (no, that's not an oxymoron - lace really can be easy!) and best of all, the pattern is printed on the inside of the label, and only takes one skein for a very generous, sexy wrap:

Example #3: Louisa Harding's new books arrived yesterday. A-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y awesome! Every pattern in each of these books is something I would love to make. I'm having trouble deciding! And they all make beautiful use of her wonderfully coordinated new yarns. (By the way, I think we have one of the best Louisa selections in the U.S.) Check out the new yarn "Coquette" with tiny sequins. And look at the "Mexican wrap" on the cover of the first book:

Examples #4 & #5: Sherry always has at least a couple of wraps under wraps! I coaxed her to show me a couple of her new creations. First, Sherry is wearing a free pattern called Rita's Wrap (click link and scroll down for pattern) made from 2 skeins Colinette "Point 5" and 1 skein "Gossamer." The other pattern is a work in progress using Suss "Bunny" and "Love."

Well I guess I'll wrap it up for now...but I've got so many more photos to show you of new stuff rolling in! Look for another entry later next week. OR just pop in the store and I'll show you in person :)

- Shelley

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Terabithia Arm Warmers!

This past Friday, we saw Bridge to Terabithia. It was opening day, as is usually the case for our family...not because we are huge movie buffs, but because my son memorizes all those "coming soon" dates on the movie trailers. Even if it's 14 month in advance, he is POSITIVE we will be there on opening day.

The movie is great. Not a fantasy movie as the trailers imply - but more of a coming of age movie. Also it is not meant for small children. Read the reviews before you go, and bring tissues.

But what I loved most were the cute knitted arm warmers worn by star AnnaSophia Robb throughout the movie. It was a different pair in every scene. I guess the arm warmers were meant to imply she was funky or somehow counter-cultural. (In the original novel upon which the movie is based, the heroine wore pants - very funky for the '70s I guess). Anyway, the first arm warmers I noticed were these fun black ones with pink "lacing." Before the weekend was over, I had a prototype:

M is all over me to get the second one made so she can wear them "everywhere!" They are made with Classic Elite Star, a great yarn with Lycra to give it stretch. You can click the link to buy Star on our website - it's used in the "Brooke's L.A. Wrap" - or substitute another stretchy yarn. I can almost stretch these onto my arm. You can also wear them over a long sleeve shirt. This would be a good first project to try out double-pointed needles - like socks, but no heel or toe.

Here is the pattern:
MC: Classic Elite Star, #5113 Black (99% cotton, 1% lycra, 112 yards, 5 1/2 sts/in on #8 US)
CC1: Classic Elite Star, #5101 White
CC2: Classic Elite Star, #5191 Seafoam
CC3 (for "laces): 1-2 yards scrap yarn of similar guage. I used Rowan All Seasons Cotton.
Size 7 double-pointed needles (DPNs)

Finished size: 8" long by approx. 7" in circumference (when laid flat, unstretched)

With MC, cast on 34 sts. Divide onto 3 DPNs. Join into round, placing marker to denote beginning of round. Knit until piece measures 6 1/2 inches from beginning. Switch to CC1 and knit 6 rounds. Switch to CC2 and knit 6 rounds more. Cast off. Using photo as a guide, thread CC3 onto tapestry needle and add "lacing."

If knitting for a child younger than 6, I would reduce the CO sts to 24-28. For a teen or adult, try 38-40. This yarn is very stretchy and will easily adjust several sizes.

Here's a close-up photo:

Experiment with other colors...enjoy... and let me know how you like them!

- Shelley

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mail bonding.

Whew...what a sale! You all really turned out in record numbers. And just in time...'cause the spring yarns are stampeding in like a herd of buffalo...or llamas...or whatever hooved creature you're into.

Speaking of, on the first day of the sale, our brave mail carrier entered the store and muscled his way to the front counter to show off these lovely buffalo handwarmers. He needed them that day - I think the temperature was in the single digits! It kinda looks like he's shooting a certain digit at me, but he's really just showing off the fine work of his wife, Carol Ann.

Also during the sale, Deborah came in for a kettle full of Lobster Pot cashmere. She has been knocking out a bunch of these awesome scarves, made from a Ruth Huffman Buffalo pattern but using our Lobster Pot (sorry Ruth, but take comfort that lots of people use your buffalo to knit up other designer's patterns :)

I love how the flare at the bottom sort of resembles a lobster tail. Not that I like to think about the crustacean too much on those rare occasions that I enjoy lobster.

And speaking of lobster, Billie Anne swears she can smell the ocean from the 2% of chitin (lobster/crab shells) found in Tofutsies, the sock yarn that has been flying off the shelves. Must be that super-smell ability specially reserved for pregnant women. I can't smell it (thank goodness!!! Can you hear my husband breathing a huge sigh of relief?) Check it out for yourself in our new "Sock Central" section near the checkout.

Keep an eye out for my next post, hopefully later today or tomorrow. I have something really fun to share (with a free pattern). - Shelley

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Square deal.

Utica Square is having a sale. Seriously. As a lifelong Tulsan, I cannot remember a single time that the entire roster of Utica Square stores simultaneously offered up discounts on their precious merchandise. And yet it is happening. Everyone from Ann Taylor to Williams-Sonoma (that's as far as they go in the alphabet) is having some sort of sale. And that means us, too. Far be it from me to go against the will of the brilliant Mr. Walt Helmerich.

We hadn't really planned on a sale, since this is high season for us (we've been crazy-busy with this freezing weather)...but what the hey.

The Square-wide sale is this Friday and Saturday, February 16th & 17th. We are going to offer you, dear loyal Loops customers, a "V.I.P. Preview Day" on Thursday, February 15th. For starters, we will have everything on the Hot Loops wall 20% off, in order to make way for the next Hot Loops wall, debuting in March. There's Muench, Classic Elite, Colinette, even some Alchemy on this wall to your right as you enter the store. Also, there will be 40% off select yarns throughout the store. We'll have some Rowan, Noro, Louisa Harding, Jo Sharp, Muench, Plymouth...lots of really good stuff.

Remember our new hours, 11-8 weekdays and 10-5 Saturday. Phone orders and web orders will be accepted. ALL Hot Loops yarns are currently featured on the website, so get ready to click 'n' save!

Now how about a couple of photos...first, when I was loading some new photos, up from the depths of digital camera world arose some long-lost pics from the San Diego Show. Gina H. was distraught to hear that I seemed to have lost this picture of her and Ellen with the legendary Sally Melville. Well Gina must be livin' right, because it just re-appeared out of nowhere:

Coincidentally, Gina will be teaching a Sally Melville linen sweater in March. Look for the new class list to be up on the site in the next day or two.

Here is a cool picture of the Met Life blimp that appeared between two buildings in San Diego as we emerged from the convention one day:

And to all of you who wrote to offer condolences on my hat fiascos, I offer my heartfelt thanks...and this picture of C bangin' the drums and wearing her NEW Art Yarns Supermerino modular hat. It really is a fun pattern, especially when you use the dang yarn the pattern calls for! Lesson learned:

See you Thursday!

- Shelley

Sunday, February 11, 2007

No sheep for you!

All of you Seinfeld fans are going to love the title of this new book we just got in this week. Remember the "soup nazi"? That must be what Amy Singer was referring to when she titled her new book, which includes patterns for cotton, silk, linen, hemp and bamboo. However, we're not sure what she was intended when she chose the pose for the book cover:

Coincidentally, this week we also received our first shipment of Louet linen. You'll find it on a beautiful new rotating rack. Ingrid is just a fanatic about this stuff (she snatched up a dozen skeins before I could get it out on the floor :-), and Gina H. adores it too. It feels so stiff on the skein, but after you wash AND dry it the first time, it drapes beautifully. We will have some samples out soon. Also we expect a shipment of Elsebeth Lavold's famous Hempathy to arrive any day. So many hemps feel just like straw...but this one is soft and lovely and supported by tons of patterns. Keep an eye out for it.

Also new this week...Country Garden Llama. I love working on Saturdays because such interesting things happen. Couple of weeks ago a nice, unassuming woman walked in casually carrying a little bag and asking for the owner. Imagine my joy when I found out she has a LOCAL LLAMA FARM. She offered up all of the llama yarn produced this season, including this wonderful sport weight in natural colors - each produced by a different colored llama! But this is it, folks, until next be sure to get some quickly. It's in the big bowl on the front table:

You know from my last post I'm a huge Louisa Harding fan (I finished up that scarf and it turned out so so pretty...I fringed it at karate class and got lots of strange looks from the other parents as I sat there winding yarn around a book and counting to myself..."crazy loops lady"). Louisa does Spring so well, you would think she lives in Paris instead of Great Britain. This season, we brought in her staple Nautical Cotton, which is used throughout her books including Modern Classics, the hardcover you love so much - back in stock this week, by the way. One of the best new yarns for spring is Mariposa, a multicolored twisted yarn with occasional shimmer:

Still waiting on her books and the incredible new yarn with tiny sequins. THAT one won't last long!

On another note, as I begin preparing our March class list, I'll be adding more ongoing groups. The new Sock Loop Group met this week, with at least 10 people hanging around making socks! I will be adding a Charity Knitting Group and maybe a sweater group. And don't forget that our Saturday Morning group is still meeting. This group was formed at the request of Annie, who recently moved back to Tulsa from the northeast. She and her husband has established the tradition of Saturday morning "me time," and she didn't want to lose her precious, unadulterated knitting hours! So come on Saturday and join her. Here she is in a Noro Kureyon jacket she made.

Lastly, please give Gina H. and Annie hugs this more yarn continues to pour in, they do such a great job of checking things in and keeping things organized. Billie Anne too - she gets extra hugs because it's tax time and she's got pregnancy hormones to deal with, to boot! And always give Sherry hugs...she despises them, but she needs them, and what better time than Valentine's week?

- Shelley

Monday, February 5, 2007

Throwing my hat in.

I have been in a hat slump. First, I decided we needed a store sample out of the new Rowan Alpaca soft boucle. I just love this stuff and wanted a sample so everyone would want to touch it. The "snowball beret" with tons - and I mean TONS - of bobbles seemed like a good choice. And it did turn out cute...on the mannequin. Trouble is it came out about 2 sizes too big. When I wear it, it looks like a very large, very soft shower cap - kinda like those embellished plastic things that synchronized swimmers wore in the '50s.

Then came the Summer Tweed beret. I got this little crocheted cap at Old Navy and M commandeered it and started wearing it everywhere. She wears it sideways, sort of the "preschool gangsta" look. So many people asked if I made it, I was embarrassed and started looking for a pattern to make a new one. Clearly I had not learned from the shower cap incident because I chose a different yarn that the pattern called for and started right in without swatching. Why, oh why? It should have become clear, by the time I started into my FOURTH skein, that it might come out just a tad big. I tried it on my daughter's head and laughed until I cried. This hat was only meant for the Elephant Man and only if he had really big dreadlocks.

I should've given up. But nooooooo...Next came the girliflauge hat. We got this really great color in SWT Bamboo called "girliflauge," as in camo for girls. Against everyone's advice, I decided to make a hat with it! I chose a pattern that called for merino at 4 1/2 sts/inch gauge, while the bamboo is, well, bamboo, at a 5 sts/inch gauge. M this one, but only because she will wear anything camoflauge. Please don't look too closely at the messy modular top with all the lacy holes. Luckily she can't see the top when she's wearing it.

Ever the glutton for punishment, I decided to just make a hat for myself. Ironically, most everything I have made is at the store, and with this frigid weather, I've really been wishing for a nice, warm hat and pretty scarf to just plain wear. I turned to Louisa Harding. Many of you have not yet discovered these gorgeous yarns that all coordinate with one another in amazing ways. And finally, finally, I found hat success! I swatched like a good girl, and sized down one needle, and made this lovely beanie in the new Pure Angora. Not the least bit itchy, mind you. It's like a little cloud on my head, and in the most gorgeous shade of berry-pink-deep red that absolutely will not reproduce on this computer:

And to go with it, I started this scarf which I can honestly say is the prettiest I have ever made. It uses four coordinating shades in Pure Angora, Kimono Ribbon and Impression. The Impression has some mohair, to which I am allergic. So I am just using it on the ends, which will never touch my face...and I have to run and wash my hands after I work with it. But just look at it - I couldn't pass it up! Again, it is so much more beautiful in person. You really need to check out these yarns.

Now, which hat to make next?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Je t'aime le yarn!

It is February, the month of love and coincidentally, a great month for those who love to knit. The holiday knitting frenzy is becoming a distant memory. You're deep into a sweater or afghan or some other present you gave yourself for the new year - a reward for all those selfless holiday weeks of knitting for others. Now comes February, with lots of lovely snow to put you in the stitching mood, and Valentine's Day - the perfect time to knit something quick and small and decadent for the one you love. It doesn't have to be huge - after all, most people try to get away with a card or some Russell Stoever's from Med-x - but you, YOU are going to put your heart and precious time into it.

Here are a few ideas from your fellow Loops devotees:
Kendall made this hat from the book "220 projects for Cascade 220." Wish I had one of these to wear today. Brrrr..

This creative customer took the pattern for the Sophie Bag and added felted hearts:

We have some other really cute Valentine's patterns in the store...we love the Fibertrends felted heart boxes, the Suss fuzzy heart sweater from "Hollywood Knits," and I just got a new freebie pattern from Plymouth for a red tulip washcloth that would be a great gift, wrapped with a nice bar of hand-milled soap (ask for the pattern when you're in the store!).

Of course, if you want to gift a fellow stitcher with a little something, the best choice is something NEW from Loops! We have a brand-new binder at the front of the store with the latest patterns we've received...this binder will be updated weekly so check it often. We also got a huge shipment from Berroco, with all the new patterns, new colors in Ultra Silk, Ultra Alpaca and Pure Merino, and a giant amount of their new yarn, Love It! Sure, we love it but that's the actually name! We know you will love it too. Click to check out the Love It preview patterns.

A shipment arrived yesterday from SWT with new colors in Bamboo, Karaoake (check out the Karaoake hat book featuring our own Gina Y.), and the smokin' hot new yarn, Tofutsies. This hugely popular new sock yarn is a blend of superwash wool, soy, cotton and chitin. What the heck is chitin? It's a recycled material made from crab and shellfish shells, which makes the yarn naturally antibacterial. Read: less stinky feet! As a mom to a kiddo with shellfish allergies, this stuff scared me at first. But I have been sufficiently convinced by the SWT people that this will not cause a reaction, even in the most sensitive people. So sock lovers, knit on! And check out these 15 amazing colors:

Another fun new item - a new shipment of buttons arrived yesterday (pictured under the sock yarn).

And I will close with one of the little loves of my life, posing (as she so often does) in her Colinette Graffiti coat (a really, easy fast pattern that has lasted 2 seasons of rapid growth spurts!)

Have a happy heart month -