Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sock groupies and new Karabella book.

What IS it about socks? Is it the endless sock yarn colorways? Is it the way you can get endless hours of knitting fun out of a single ball? Is it the thrill of sitting at Starbuck's and wow-ing all the passersby with your double-pointed needle skills? Whatever it is, you love them...and we love that you love them. Our Tuesday night Sock Loop Group has definitely gotten off on the right foot (and eventually, the left one, too). Gina Yates (far left in photo) holds court over her growing sock kingdom, patiently talking them through this heel or that. Right now, they are all about the Magic Loop:

One of our other free groups is focused on the opposite end of the body - heads! Our 3rd Sunday Charity Loop Group has decided to focus on making preemie hats. Already, we have several dozen of the tiny little head-warmers, and more are underway. Our goal is to have 100 preemie hats to deliver to an area hospital this fall. This is a great way to use up leftover DK weight yarn - especially if it's really soft. Come by or e-mail me and I'll get you a free pattern. Then just drop off completed hats at Loops and we'll keep you posted of the progress!

For a complete listing of our May classes and free groups, click here.

Carl the UPS guy has brought us some great little goodies this week. The Addi lace needles are in, plus a new shipment of Filature di Crosa Bon Bon baby yarn, and this new gem of a book from the owner of Karabella yarns, Berta Karapetyan. In case you didn't know, Karabella got their start by supplying luxury yarns to top-name fashion designers for their couture garments - and they continue this business today. So when Berta says she knows the runway, she's got the street cred to back it up! If you knit to be noticed, this book is for you:

BTW, Karabella yarns are now available on the Loops website. Click here to check out the great patterns and yarns.

Have you knit anything with Karabella yarns? Post a comment! We want to hear about it!

One last thing...we have been getting lots of bounce-backs from the bi-weekly e-mails we send out. You really DO want these e-mails - they're chock-full of news on new products, sales, events, and free pattern links. If you haven't been getting them, PLEASE let us know so we can be sure your e-mail address is correct in our system. And while you're thinking about it, add our e-mail addresses to your address book on your computer: They are and Thanks!

- Shelley
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mom memories for sale.

I had a garage sale this weekend. Or rather, I had a GARAGE SALE. We moved last November, and the garage was literally filled, floor to ceiling, with boxed that were stuffed and hurriedly labeled "GS" prior to our move. Since a full 6 months has passed, of course I had lost all memory pertaining to what was in the boxes, so opening them was something of a surprise. But I was determined to harden my heart and ruthlessly priced it all to move - $2 was the average selling price.

Why is it so easy to let a $250 lamp go for $2, but so hard to let a My LIttle Pony half-used play-doh set go for $3?

The tortuous Barney toy that played "I love you" over and over, loudly and frantically, became difficult to hand over to the fresh-faced two-year-old holding out the fistful of quarters. I found myself asking my 6-year-old, "Are you SURE you're not going to play with this anymore?"

Maybe it was hormones getting to me. Maybe it was the fumes from the jumbo magic marker I used to price everything. Or maybe it was just memories.

I was equally sentimental about my yarn stash. I only sold 2 yarn items - one big bag each of Rowan Linen Print and Rowan Cork, both discontinued. Both painful to let go. They were nabbed by my friend Jane, who was my best customer of the day, and also hung around awhile to help with the sale - turns out she is a terrific garage-saler. She was even calling friends to come and check out my cute chenille-covered glider rocker (the one I rocked both daughters to sleep in...sob!) photos of the garage sale. I was too busy running around crazy to take pictures.

And now forgive this leap, but here's a little tidbit, mom-to-mom...have you checked out Laptop Lunches? I have been raving about these lately. They are plastic compartmentalized lunchboxes designed to cut down on waste (think plastic bags of chips), and help you create more economical, balanced lunches. It actually makes making lunches a lot more fun. I know adults (doctors!) who love them. We've been using them all year and my kids look forward to lunch every day. Really! Check 'em out.

And here's an idea for making your own Mom memories. Sign up for the Helen Hamaan workshop! It's coming up on Saturday, May 5, 11:30-5:30. We moved it to the Polo Grille so we can make room for up to 20 people, and that let us drop the price to $75, which includes lunch by Polo Grille. We go to great lengths to attract major designers like Helen to little 'ol Tulsa. I want to make sure and pack the house! So tell your kids/husband you want the Loops workshop for Mother's'll get to treat yourself to a full day of knitting, plus maybe they'll throw in a Loops gift card so you can shop some, too. Even better, make it a mother-daughter event and treat each other! But call the store soon to get your spot.

Now on to some new photos...First we have this gorgeous piece created by one of Tulsa's best knitters, Ruth Nelson. This starfish design is from a back-issue of Knitter's magazine. Reminds me of the designs Nora Gaugin's latest book, "Knitting Nature" - which Ruth also bought.

Ruth was working on an amazing piece in Louet Euroflax linen...which she finished up and kindly brought in for me to photograph. Isn't it dramatic? E-mail me or post a comment for info on the pattern.

Yesterday, we got two new books that I'm so excited about. The first is a new and very unique felting book from Ella Rae. It's reminiscent of the Nicky Epstein felted bag book, but with its own fresh, couture look. If you're into felting, you'll definitely want to add this to your collection (I did!):

And from Aurucania, a brand-new book of designs from Jane Ellison. We have long been fans of the Aurucania yarns, especially Patagonia and Nature Cotton, the specialty-dyed chunky organic cottons. This book has fantastic designs for both, plus really cute patterns for Puehon and Quellon, the coordinating yarns that came out last year, but never had pattern support...until now!

See you soon - Shelley
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Friday, April 13, 2007

Colinette within reach.

At Loops, our #1 selling yarn is Colinette Giotto. This gorgeous rayon ribbon hangs up high in luscious skeins at the front of the store, tempting all to reach and touch the Colinette patterns are so simple and so stylish and so quick to knit on #11 needles, they make a great 1st sweater (or a great 100th one). Still, at around $25 a skein, it is an investment.

That's why we were so thrilled to find Banyan, a new dk weight cotton blend that feels sumptuous and drapey. This lovely stuff is hand-dyed just like all of the Colinette yarns, with the same unique colorways. Yet it is just $9.95 a skein! We just got our first shipment in a great palette of spring colors:

There is an awesome little Banyan the pullover with the little Banyan is interchangeable with another new Colinette yarn called Cadenza. I don't have this yarn yet (it is a wool blend we'll carry this fall), but I do have the book. So there are tons of patterns to choose from:

And if you're into variegated yarns like Banyan, you're no doubt a Noro fan. This past week, we got a new shipment of colors in Silk Garden, our #1 selling Noro yarn - a wool/silk blend that is great for shawls or even mixed with Cascade for felting. I got the two most popular Silk Garden colors, #87 and #84, plus some other popular ones (aren't they all popular?) This won't last long, so come in soon:

Here's a link to a free pattern for an afghan made from Silk Garden:

And coming soon...Noro Aurora...a beautiful yarn similar to Silk Garden, but with a touch of metallic for extra shine! You can preview it by taking a look at the afghan on the sofa knit by Gail, a loyal Loops customer who inspired me to order the yarn. Thanks, Gail!

- Shelley

Alchemy and other transformations.

After the Miss America shoot (see last post), it seemed like a good time to use my skin treatment gift certificate the Loops Troops gave me for Christmas. I went to visit Gabe at Dr. Joey Manduono's office. Gabe is an aesthetician (and also a fantastic knitter) who does microdermabrasion and other medical-grade skin treatments. He offered to do my first peel for me. If you were at the store late Thursday, you might have noticed I had more "glow" than usual - in the same way that a dangerously sunburned tomato would "glow." I was downing Benadryl and wondering what fun the next few days may bring. After the molting is complete, hopefully you will see a gentle transformation. I'll keep you posted.

Coincidentally, this week we got a new shipment from our friends at Alchemy Yarns of Transformation. Austin and Gina live on a farm in northern California where their hand-painted yarns can be hung to dry on bamboo rods and "allowed to dry by the cooling breezes of the Pacific Ocean." Kum-bay-yahs aside, this stuff is unbelievable. If you haven't made a garment out of Alchemy yarns, you haven't lived! The shell I made from their Silk Purse last summer is my very favorite knitted piece ever. I had to take it to the cleaners last week and kindly implored the employee to carefully remove the coffee stain. VERY carefully.

We got new colors in Wabi Sabi, the quick-to-knit silk and wool blend:

And a sampling (2 skeins each) of their new Silken Straw, a 100% silk with a raw texture that makes it sturdy yet silky for patterns like the "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down" men's tie and the Felini hat.

We also got some original new patterns for our favorite yarns, like Silk Purse, the 100% silk sportweight yarn we love. Here's the beautiful Ginger modeling the Birds of a Feather Bolero. The second she slipped it on, she decided to buy yarn to make one herself! It feels THAT good.

Also be sure to check out the newest Alchemy fiber, Migrations, on the Hot Loops wall. There are several cute patterns including a great hat and a self-striping bolero. This fiber is a "bridge" yarn for Alchemy, meaning you get the same high quality at a lower price...because the yarn is painted prior to spinning, which reduces production time.

But be forewarned: once you've transformed to knitting with Alchemy, it's may be hard to knit with anything else.

- Shelley

My other (secret?) life.

Many of you know that Loops is just one of my full-time jobs. In addition to motherhood and wifehood, I run an ad agency with my designer husband, Brent. (That makes him sound like I picked him up in the Missoni section at Saks. I mean he's my husband and a graphic designer :). Anyway, last week I got to direct an exciting new series of spots for Cox Communications, starring none other than Oklahoma's own Lauren Nelson, Miss America 2007.

Lauren's platform is Internet Safety, so she has partnered with Cox to produce a series of PSA's that will run nationally. Lauren was a complete pleasure to work with - sophisticated and poised beyond her years, but still with that down-home friendliness of her hometown, Lawton. And boy, does the camera love her! She aspires to a career on Broadway, but I'm thinking she should be looking toward Hollywood. Here she comes...getting her makeup touched up on-set. By the way, did you know that on the final night of the Miss America competition, the contestants have to do their own make-up? You'd have to have nerves of steel to keep the eyeliner brush or the mascara wand steady.

During the filming, I really had to be on my best behavior. Not only did we have about 30 clients milling around - including a bunch from the Cox corporate office in Atlanta - but one of the spots also featured Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson! I checked on the way in to be sure my license tag was up to date ;-) Actually, Mr Edmondson was not intimidating at all. In fact, he hammed it up quite a bit, serenading us into the camera when we weren't rolling. Here he is on the left, and on the right, Dave Bialis, president of Cox/Oklahoma, and also a bright, engaging guy.

Though Lauren was incredibly nice and gracious, hanging out with Miss America is definitely not good for the ego. Seeing myself in this photo with her makes me feel every one of my nearing-40 years:

On a break during the shoot, Lauren mentioned she is the 86th Miss America. Someone said that 86 would always be her lucky number. I spoke up and said, "Yeah, I graduated high school in '86." And Lauren offered, "I was born in '86!" Ouch! Reality hurts.

Look for the spots, coming soon to a TV near you. And by the way, if you have Cox Digital Cable, have you checked out the new On-Demand service on Channel 1? Tons and tons of free shows and movies you can play anytime. If you have premium channels like HBO, you get HBO on Demand free. We've been having a heydey with the kids, watching tons of movies without having to go to Blockbuster, and I've been catching up on old episodes of "Big Love." All while knitting, of course. It's nice when all of my "lives" intersect at once!

- Shelley

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Shutter bug.

It really bugs me to have my picture taken. I'm sure I'm not alone. As a mom, you just get used to being the one behind the camera, the one missing from all the photos in the scrapbook you paste together.

People often ask why I don't "model" on our Hot Loops wall. The truth is, the first season they talked me into it, but no amount of Brent's PhotoShop work could make it easy to see myself on the wall every day!

Still, at the San Diego show, when Daren the computer guy was shocked to meet me because he expected me to be Ingrid ("her photo is on the blog so much, I figured it was you!" he said), I realized I couldn't hide forever. So I grudgingly added my photo to the blog and the site. And every now and then, when there's no one else available, I will throw on a sample and let someone take a pic. In this case, it was a little easier, 'cause I got to model this amazing wrap that Barbara just completed, in 5 or 6 new yarns from Louisa Harding:

This is a really fun and quick knit, and lends itself to creative mixing of yarns, since all the Louisa yarns are simliar gauges and color-coordinated.

Now that that's over with, I'll show you a sweater on the model I wish I could be (gotta love those proportions - "she" can even pull off the no-pants look):

This is a bell-sleeve sweater in Karabella Gossamer. It only takes 3 skeins and is super-simple! You can even skip the side ruffle and just seam it straight up the sides. You can see a sampling of our Gossamer colors here. There are lots more colors in-store, including some lovely spring greens and pinks.

By the way, the model in the link picture with the Gossamer wrap is Kendall - a NATURAL model - has even done a few professional modeling turns in her time. Check her out on the new Loops wall and you'll see why (but you won't see me ;-)

- Shelley
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Ga-ga over Koigu.

I don't know why everyone's so excited. It's ONLY been two and a half years since we ordered this stuff. It's only the most gorgeous hand-painted merino in colorways that just can't seem to be duplicated elsewhere. It's only called for in, oh, half of the hardcover books out there. It's our first shipment of Koigu, with KPPPM, Kersti and a funky mohair called Loop. And it's flying off the shelf. I took this pic yesterday, but who knows what the shelf will look like by tomorrow!

Fortunately, they say we have more coming in about a week. Operative words being "they say." Do things often get caught up in Canadian customs for 2 and a half years?

I took my youngest to an American Girl fashion show last weekend. You may not know that we have a bunch of pattern leaflets for these dolls and matching things for girls. Ingrid, who sadly went through her entire childhood doll-less, adores these dolls and can whip out amazing creations in very little time. She made an incredible dress coat & purse set for my daughter in Muench Bel Air (click the link to go the Bel Air page on our site - love this feather-light, worsted merino), and had this KPPPM sweater for her Kit doll knocked out over night (I'm not sure, but I may have seen Ingrid wiggling her nose magically like Samantha in "Bewitched"):

And while I was hovering over the Koigu, I took a photo of four wonderful new pattern leaflets and books for throws & afghans in Manos wool and cotton. These are amazing books with patterns from simple to more challenging:

Look for Manos coming to our "shop by line" section soon. And come in today to go ga-ga with us.

- Shelley
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The pulse.

A customer came in yesterday and commented that what makes Loops different is it has a pulse. I love that description. Sometimes the pulse has a nice steady beat, with just a handful of folks hanging out, peacefully stitching along. But I really love when the pulse quickens - the store is buzzing with classes - every seat is taken, it's S.R.O. - customers are oohing and aahing over each other's creations - children are in the playroom, creating on the chalkboard wall - and everything feels so alive.

Other times, it's buzzing but it's really just that I've had one of our strong Topeca coffees.

The Loops pulse was definitely racing Saturday night, when we debuted our new Spring '07 Hot Loops wall. For six months, we scour the marketplace for the hottest new knitwear designs, then the whole staff pitches in to create the projects, we shoot the photography and present 16 new designs for your knitting (and crocheting) pleasure. We offer a preview night for Loops Club members, complete with my (in)famous pomegranate margaritas and a yummy spread of food - this time, catered by our friends Jay and Janice at the Palate.

Move over, P.F. Chang's - no other Utica Square establishment can rival the buzz at Loops on Hot Loops night!

They were lined up out the is a photo of customers "discovering" the wall:

Here are good friends Pat and Linda "discovering" the margaritas:

Love Linda's pastel cardi in Giotto (this link takes you to a Loops project page where you can see a sampling of Giotto colors in stock - this is our #1 selling yarn!), and Pat's minisweater (aka boobholder) in Nature Cotton.

Here's the lovely Marisa working the register (sorry guys, she's taken...but you can see her modeling other items on our website, like our #1 selling Cable Couture Bag. Just click here).

And here's Tricia with an amazing bag she just designed. She's working up another version and promises to have the pattern to us soon!

The pulse has been pounding the last couple of days, as you have all been flooding into the store to see the latest spring things. Check back here soon for more new product photos...

- Shelley
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