Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Short and sweet.

My last post was a rambler so I'm going to try a quickie this time. Call it an experiment.

I just opened my mail and found a fantastic new FREE pattern from Classic Elite. Free patterns are not always the creme-de-la-creme, but this one really stood out. Now, please forgive the picture, which is a photo of a photo, but it will give you the gist of this advanced-beginner scarf with a really pretty little lace edge:

This scarf calls for 2 balls Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo in color #19, and size 6 and 9 needles. You can buy the yarn on our website by clicking here.

Buy the yarn online, or in-store. Either way, the pattern is free. And since we're working hard to build the sales portion of the site, I would love it if you'd post a comment (or e-mail me) about your online shopping experience. Thanks!

- Shelley
Click here to browse the loops online store

The look.

There is a look. A universal look. Sometimes, I can sense the look even without looking. Maybe it's the slightly timid way a customer opens the door to the store. Maybe it's the hesitation in your step as you approach the desk. Whatever it is, my sixth sense tells me what is coming. I'm tempted to jump in ahead, relieve your stress and guilt, say what I already know you're thinking. The look tells me the words before you even say them.

"I really messed up this time."
"I knew I shouldn't have had that second glass of wine."
"My kids were running around like maniacs and I lost my concentration."
Or, my favorite, simple and straightforward...

Does this look ring a bell?

Bruni is a talented and engaging knitter who was leaving for Colorado and wanted very much to bring two lovely pair of handwarmers to her hosts, but she had momentarily forgotten how to create a thumb gusset. She was hesitant to "bother" me for help. This is a common sentiment.

So let me take a moment, please, to put your mind at ease. We WANT to help. We're here to help. We love to see you, even when you're dragging a project that the cat got into, hanging off needles that the dog chewed on. I am not making this up. And most of the time, the boo-boo's aren't really that bad. It's just you've dropped a stitch or twisted something and that horrible mental block has popped up, you know, oh-boy-I've-really-done-it-now-I'd-better-BACK-AWAY-from-the-yarn. We actually take pleasure in correcting this for you. It feels good to help and after all, a blocked knitter is a frustrated knitter and frustrated knitters are not all that interested in buying more yarn ;-)

If you still think your boo-boo's are tremendous, consider this: one of our most stylish, creative, fantastic knitters once came in with a sweater made of $300-400 worth of bulky-weight, 100% silk. This sweater was gorgeous...until she decided she didn't like the hem, wanted to add a decorative border...and took scissors to it. All the way across. Imagine dozens of silky pink tendrils hanging off the bottom, like worms ready to unravel. Now this was an oops worthy of Sherry's attention. And yet, I was impressed! The sheer chutzpah of taking scissors to silk, all in the pursuit of a one-of-a-kind piece, knowing that somehow, it would come out ok.

See? The purl row that's supposed to be a knit row on your felted bag suddenly doesn't look so insurmountable, no?

So I say, bring it on! Bring us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses of mohair yearning to be free.

And while you're here, check out these new arrivals. First, Hempathy from Elsebeth Lavold. I've searched for a soft hemp blend and finally landed on this one. The blend of eco-friendly hemp, cotton and modal is yummy, and the patterns in this book are stunning:

This next one, I just want to open up all the bags and roll around in it. Seriously. This is Rialto, 100% merino sport weight, new from Debbie Bliss. Supported by a positively bliss-full pattern book. Proving that merino wool actually can and in fact, should be worn in Oklahoma in the spring and summer. If you don't believe me, stop in and flip through the book:

And alongside the Rialto, you'll find Debbie's two other yarns for Spring/Summer: Pure Cotton, a lovely worsted-weight in luscious colors...and Stella, a silk blend in vibrant hues. The book for this is two books in one. All fantastic designs and very do-able. Start one now, while we have a very generous selection of colors:

And if you get off track, we'll be here. Just give us the look.

- Shelley

Friday, March 23, 2007

Show and Tell and Show A Little More...

What's more fun that the tulips popping up around town? Ya'll, popping in to Loops to show 'n' tell your fun spring projects.

First, Becky popped in with a whole bunch of felted baskets for Easter. Becky, ever the over-achiever, had these complete before St. Patrick's Day! We love when Becky visits because she is so creative and is always finding new patterns, then adding her own color or twist. She must be part of Gina's vampire club because she seems to knock stuff out overnight. Check out these baskets made from various felting yarns and a Plymouth pattern from our single pattern binders:

Next, in pops Gail to show us the most amazing crocheted afghan. From across the store, I thought it was double-knitted but lo and behold, it's an original reversible crochet pattern passed down through generations of her family. I asked her to write it up and we are going to start selling it in the store, making Gail our first official Loops freelancer. She calls the pattern "We Don't Care...As Long As It's Healthy."

Gail wanted a smooth yarn with definition and sheen, and I recommended Cotton Glace (click the link to go to the Loops site to buy some online) Her afghan takes 7 balls of each color. She wants to emphasize that it's not just for babies - get creative with your colors. I'll have the pattern in the store late Saturday. If you want to purchase the yarn online, mention the blog and I'll include the pattern for free! (Don't worry, Gail will get her percentage...we wouldn't want to upset her agent ;-). Here's a detailed photo of the pattern:

And here's a photo of Gail's smiling face! I think she crocheted the afghan in less than a week. Welcome to the Vampire Club, Gail! How about a Bloody Mary and some garlic dip?

Next we have an incredible afghan by another very creative and talented knitter, Tricia. She used a pattern from the Little Box of Throws, along with bunches of yarn she has collected at our various sales. Tricia is a Loops Club member and always takes advantage of the club events (there's one coming up a week from Saturday, on the 31st...get details in-store). Last fall, Tricia didn't get her Hot Loops party invitation and was so devastated to miss the party...which prompted to me to initiate a triple-check procedure to make sure no Club member is left behind again! Anyway, the afghan is a stunner:

And last but oh-so-definitely not least...your reward for reading this far. Last weekend, I threw a party to reward the staff for their hard work last month. I had little secret surprises for everyone to open. Gina opened two little mink flowers, which we decided were the perfect complement to the flashy sequined "peekaboo" bra she had decided to sport for the evening to impress all of us lesser-blessed gals. This is what I was hinting at with the title of this post:

Talk about flowers popping out!

- Shelley

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Charity begins at Loops.

This past Sunday, we had our first Charity Loop Group. Since we opened nearly two years ago, hundreds of people have come in looking for yarn and patterns for charity stitching projects. We wanted to offer some organization, direction and cameraderie for those who feel that little tug to knit for a cause. We have never been opened on Sundays, but decided that once a month, for a couple of hours and for good causes, we could make an exception.

With the help of Dawn, the store has begun to compile a list of local and national causes to stitch for. Our group decided to choose a new project every month or two (and of course everyone is free to knit their own project.) For the first project, I found a simple baby burpcloth on a great little site called Bev's Country Cottage with tons of free patterns for preemie and baby things. Everyone was knocking these out very quickly in Muench Veneto (currently on the sale rack):

If you're interested in joining our next Sunday Loop Group, check out the just-completed Loops April Class List. It's one of the ongoing groups listed at the bottom right. We also have a slew of fun new classes, including the "Recognizing and Fixing Mistakes" class, and a little silk purse class with Ingrid - I got a peek at this in person yesterday, despite her best efforts to hide her project - you are going to want to check this one out.

I'd like to close with photos of two men who have inspired the spirit behind the Charity Loop Group. First, I love this photo of Gene "modeling" a baby bib he designed with a breakfast theme. Gene gives so much of his time to others. Last year, when Loops employees started going to Cancer Treatment Centers of America to teach cancer patients and their caregivers to knit, Gene enthusiastically volunteered. Now he leads the whole effort - never misses a week. He's always got at least one non-profit project on the needles. Plus, he's just a great guy - we love having him around - who wouldn't, with this obviously well-honed sense of humor? ;-)

And finally, I have been looking for a good time to share this picture of my Dad, wearing the buffalo hat I made for him two Christmases ago. Dad is originally from Bartlesville, and loves to visit the Tall Grass Prairie. We've gone together with the kids a couple of times to see the awesome sight of adult and baby buffalo grazing across that big stretch of land. Dad taught me at a very early age an appreciation for others, including those in need. I remember very vividly sitting with him on our porch, closing my eyes and working to "get out of myself" and think of situations from other people's perspectives. Dad is a great writer and inspired me to pursue my first career, advertising copywriter. Dad was also a great champion of my decision to open Loops, despite all of the other important commitments in my life. Plus, he reads the blog faithfully. Here's to you, Buffalo Bill:

Love, Shelley

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Let me first declare that I have always been completely true to my husband.

My knitting projects, not so much.

In fact, I'm not just a two-timer. I'm a five-, six- or ten-timer.

So many of you come into Loops and gaze longingly at our juicy new yarns and projects...but for you, it is forbidden fruit. "I can't. I have to finish this cardigan first..." "I still need to do that second sock..." "My husband's plain, black, XL sweater still needs sleeves." Sigh.

I'm here to tell you, ladies, let the guilt GO. We all work hard, either at jobs, for our families or both. We don't get nearly as many facials or massages or, heck, unaccompanied trips to the bathroom as we deserve. So if you want to dabble in a little yarn dalliance, I say, go ahead and step out with that shiny new silk yarn. Buy that exotic bamboo that tempts you. Cast on with the cashmere. One day, your eyesight will fade...your hands will be too tired...or you might simply lose the urge.

Of course, the grass is always greener on the other side of the yarn store. For instance, I thought I was completely smitten with Coquette, a new Louisa Harding yarn with tiny, multicolor sequins, and dove right in to a relationship with a bell-sleeve cardigan trimmed in cotton (here is a sleeve):

But then I was swayed when a very sexy, black, lace silk project flirted its way into my life (that's all I can tell is so indulgent I have to save the surprise for a later post):

Depending on my mood, I wontonly shift back and forth from the sophisticated sequin sweater to the racy black lace. Meanwhile, I have left in the dust my Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere cable cardi. It's the sort of reliable project that's always there, content to wait until I'm in the mood for it, just happy to be loved:

And if I go digging a bit, I can uncover dozens of cast-aways, projects temporarily forgotten. There is a tinge of guilt, but also pleasant memories of that first blush of excitement, when I cast on for the silk shell...the felted bag...or the fair isle sock. (Oh...THERE'S where I put all those point protectors!)

There's more, but I can only bear to reveal so much. Total honesty could result in permanent damage to my psyche. Yarn confession is good for the soul...but only to a certain point.

Would you like to confess your yarn discretions? Feel free to post a comment.

Perhaps anonymously.

- Shelley
P.S. Have you seen our re-launched web site? You can now shop by line as well as by project. All Blue Sky Alpaca and Rowan yarns are now available for purchase online. Go to

Monday, March 5, 2007

Bag ladies.

A lady's knitting bag is a very personal thing. And when the disucussion at Loops turns to knitting bags, things can get reeeeally personal. We have had quite spirited debates over size, pockets, material, price - you name it.

You may remember that, early on, we had these neat bags from a California girl named Francesca Mirabelli - very romantic name, no? - but then Francesca romantically and mysteriously disappeared - probably returned to Italy. (This is a problem with a lot of the bag suppliers in the industry - they pop up with these wonderful bag confections, then poof! they're gone.) Then we all fell in love with Offhand Designs - another California company that is nice and stable - we love their funky, vintage looks and very sturdy construction, and the way the sides snap shut to keep the contents from falling out all over the car when you take a sharp turn (or the plane when there is a Code 4 - see earlier post). Offhand is still our bag of choice, and we eagerly await their new designs each season.

They are a bit of a luxury, though, and Sherry, in particular, has crusaded for a more practical, economic option. First it was those clear vinyl bags that show off your yarn to the world. But I kept thinking about all of you who like to keep your yarn purchases on the down-low. Often, I have commented that we should offer to bag people's yarn up in Reasor's grocery bags, so when you return home, your hubby will be none the wiser. Why do you think our Loops shopping bags are frosted? ;-)

Next, Sherry suggested a certain line of very cute plastic-coated bags. But when I found one for four bucks at Tuesday Morning, I decided it just wasn't quite exclusive enough. Not to be deterred, Sherry spoke separately to each Loopy before we departed for the San Diego Show, suggesting we look at a line called Della Q. We were on the plane and Dawn said, "Oh, we've got to look at this line called Della Q for Sherry." Then Gina said, "She told me that, too!" And Ellen and Billie Anne said, "Me, too!"

"Della Q - for Sherry!" became our rallying cry as we entered the San Diego floor. Yes, they were cute, if a bit small...but the Della Q cry was soon to be eclipsed by the squeals of joy as Ellen encountered the incredible silk grommet bags from Tilli Tomas. These are the holy grail of bags...gorgeous colors, large size, grommets to pull your yarn through, separate zippered pouch for needles, large pockets...even a free little pair of collapsible scissors in their own matching pouch.

They aren't as cheap as clear vinyl, but they're silk, and about half the splurge of an taupe, black and green.

Now to the fun people is Gina H. in her Sally Melville linen sweater, which she is teaching this month:

And here is Rae Ann's darling daughter, in a skirt Rae Ann knit out of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, from our favorite book Barefoot Knits. Sherry will be doing a class on this in April:

Last but not least, in order to dig myself out of the hole I have dug here with Sherry, I want to plug her "Be a knitting star" class. Sherry came up with a great idea for a 9-session class, where you choose the 6 classes you want to attend. You learn to make a baby, child or adult sweater, plus tube socks and a hat, using "Star" by Classic Elite. The class was supposed to start last Thursday, but I didn't get the sign-up sheet done in time...I may never get out of the doghouse on this one, unless you all sign up! It really will be a great class, and at just $60 that's $10 per session - an awesome price for all of the knowledge that Sherry is sure to impart. Call the store for details 742-9276 or check your e-mail box for the last e-mail I sent - it had an attachment with a class flyer.
- Shelley