Thursday, May 31, 2007

Prism - our biggest, baddest trunk show ever.

It's like someone dropped a whole new store into the back room of Loops:

Beginning today, Loops is hosting a ginormous Prism trunk show. We are the first store EVER to have a Prism show for an entire month. We also are the first store EVER to offer Saki, Prism's new, hand-dyed sock yarn. Prism is a line of incredible, hand-dyed yarn best known for its "Stuff" yarns - lots of artisan yarns color-matched and hand-knotted end-to-end. But there are dozens more Prism hand-dyed yarns, ranging from lace to felting wool to the most gorgeous ribbons and unique yarns you have ever seen.

We have 18 models on display (can't fit them all in one photo)...

...and tens of thousands of dollars in yarn, along with books and even some kits. At the end of June, all of it goes back to Prism! We have classes in support of the show all month. And we have Gina Marie, the Prism queen, who can't wait for you to see all of her favorite yarns. You should have heard her unloading the show (all 12 boxes, thanks UPS man!) - it was ooh and aah and OMG and ooh some more!

BTW we are offering a FREE Berroco pattern booklet with any Prism purchase while they last (there are about 12 different booklets to choose from, in a basket near the trunk show).

And as if that weren't enough, we also have a Berroco Trunk Show in the front of the store. Check out this adorable mom-and-tot duo in Love It:

Get in quick so you have the pick of the show (although we have PLENTY to last through June!) - Shelley

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Pennies (and dollars) for your thoughts.

To market, to market, to buy...what? Gina Marie and I are heading to the TNNA market in Columbus, Ohio this weekend. I do most of my buying through reps and online, but TNNA is a great time to make sure we're not missing anything fabulous! This is your chance to speak up...what line do you wish Loops would carry? We've had requests for Mountain Colors, Frog Tree, Cherry Tree Hill... Any certain yarn you're craving? Tell us! We'll check it out for you.

And I'm even going to sweeten the pot...since so many of you seem shy about posting a comment. Just click below to post a comment, telling us what you want to see at Market, then print out your comment and bring it into the store for 10% off your entire purchase! But this offer is only good through this Friday, when we leave!

Now here are two show 'n' tells from customers who brought in recent projects today (and claimed their free Loops tape measures :) First, two sweaters in Muench Goa from the book "Hollywood Knits" - this is one of my favorite, super-quick baby gifts - knit by Lena:

And next, a darling Rowan Biggy Print capelet, modeled by Katie and knit by Jeanne:

Be sure to come in this week, while we've got the Vogue Knitting magazine trunk show (really cute baby things and some great summer tops), and a fabulous Berroco trunk show (our first!) will go on the floor around Wednesday...right before we begin our HUGE Prism event! (more to follow...)

- Shelley

Two sides of the story.

Here's a simple little tip that lots of people don't know. When I make a cardigan, I always work both sides of the front (right and left) at the same time. Ditto for the two sleeves. Here's what it looks like - you have one ball of yarn for each side, and when you work across, you just pick up the second yarn after "crossing the divide" in the middle.

There are two reasons for this. One is psychological: It's just so much nicer to think of a sweater in three parts - back, front, sleeves. Instead of having to make FIVE PIECES - back, front one, front two, sleeve one, sleeve two.

The second reason is practical. If you work both sides at once, you're less likely to end up with one side longer than the other, or a lace pattern that doesn't quite match up.

* * *

Have ya'll met Loretta, the newest member of the Loops Troops? Loretta is an expert knitter with a passion for socks. You may know her as past newsletter editor for the Tulsa Knitting Guild. She is self-described as "a little OCD" (aren't we all???) and loves to stock the shelves and make 'em look purdy. She is super-nice and can help with any stitching problem. Please welcome her next time you see her!

BTW, this sock is from the cover of "More Sensational Socks" and only uses two yarns (a multi and a solid). We also have the new book, "More Sensational Socks," in stock now. Don't miss it.

Another new book that arrived and immediately sold out (but is now back in stock): "Charmed Knits" - a complete collection of patterns for Harry Potter fans! What will they think of next?

- Shelley

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Knitters love rainy days!

In Oklahoma, Memorial Day weekend usually means rain. Frustrating for most people - but not for knitters! That's why I'm sure many of you will rejoice in this weekend's forecast, which calls for rain - a perfect excuse to sit around and knit. Even better, you can come and knit at Loops on Memorial Day, because we'll be open 11am-8pm.

Holidays tend to sneak up on me, so when I realized last week that Memorial Day would be following oh-so-closely after our birthday sale, I decided to extend the sale through Monday. So you get a rainy day AND we're open AND we're having a sale. Be still my heart.

Plus we're going to renew the "bring-in-something-you've-recently-finished-and-let-us-take-a-picture-for-the-blog-and-we'll-give-you-a-free-Loops-tape-measure-or-nail-file offer." Otherwise known as the showoff offer (and showoff is meant in the best possible terms).

Sweet Sarah brought in this afghan she just finished in mostly Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece. The pattern stitch was given to her by Gene (so thanks to you too, Gene). It's just a simple pattern stitch. Here's the free "pattern": k2tog, k1, k1, kfb, kfb, k3, ssk. You just do this for 6 rows, then switch colors, and you've got an afghan that's worthy of Kaffe Fassett!

And here's a close-up:

Also, yesterday we got new books in, including "The Friday Night Knitting Club" - a great read which you may even put aside your knitting for. Julia Roberts bought the rights and is set to star in the movie version next year. In the same shipment were more copies of "Knitting Around" by Elizabeth Zimmerman. We bought this in at a customer's request, and they were gone a day later. Kendall bought one and waxed eloquent about it (and if you know Kendall, you know waxing is not really her thing).

She said, "I just bought the Elizabeth Zimmerman book Knitting Around today. I'm in love. I think it should be a must read for all knitters. I have Knitting Without Tears, and I like it a lot, but in addition to the advice and knitting instruction in all of EZ's books this one has her personal memoirs interspersed, and it's amazing. Her life is incredible and I'm enjoying it so much! I'm looking through my stash to see if I have enough RYC to make a Baby Bog already! I haven't gotten this excited about a book in a long time, and it's not even new! (Yes, I know I'm using too many exclamation points, but they're all necessary.)"

Here's the book cover:

See you today or Monday (or both!)

- Shelley
P.S. Just put all the Rowan Big Wool Fusion on clearance! Get it before it's gone!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tempted by the sock of another.

For someone who has only knit 2 1/2 socks, I sure do seem to buy a heapin' helpin' of sock yarn.

Maybe it's Gina Yates' persistent pursuasion ("It's a-DOR-able!" So a-DOR-able!") or maybe it's the endless array of yummy colors, but I am a shopaholic for sock yarn. So when Stacey and Amanda walked in the door with their dyed-right-here-in-little-ol'-Tulsa yarn, under their brand name TEMPTED, well, clearly I could not resist. Then when I saw these crazy, funky colors, and heard the names ("Toxic," "Punk Junkie," "Wicked Witch") well, even Billie Anne couldn't hold me back from the checkbook (actually come to think of it, Billie Anne wasn't there, tee hee).

Also, did I mention we have the Oklahoma EXCLUSIVE???

Stacey has ordered the yarn and promises we'll have it in the next couple of weeks.

Lucky Gina Yates was the first to get to knit with the sample skein - enough to make a pair. She also greedily grabbed my only skein of the new Kaffe Fassett Regia sock yarn - Ohhhh the colors - coming in the fall. (I myself had greedily grabbed the only skein from the Regia rep when she visited this week). Here's Gina's Toxic sock:

Stacey and Amanda are even going to make up some teeny kits with enough yarn to make a teeny sock ornament. We'll add a class called "sock weenies," for those of you who want to dip your big toe into the sock water, without the upfront commitment. (We'll just have to make sure no one thinks we're making "weenie socks," which would be a whole other kind of class, and we're just not that kind of store.)

While I was taking a pic of the sock, Eileen suggested I shoot this hat she just finished in Koigu Kersti. It's from the ever-popular book, "Last Minute Knitted Gifts." Darling use of this DK weight Koigu:

And if you haven't been to the birthday sale yet, shame, shame! It is one of our best sales yet. Come in on Wednesday, bring something you've recently knit, and let me photo it for the blog - you get a free tape measure or nail file, not to mention bragging rights!

- Shelley
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Friday, May 18, 2007

2nd birthday bash sale!

Loops is two years old this month! If you haven't read your e-mail yet, here's the scoop: We're having a sale starting Saturday and lasting through next Friday. It's 30% off on more than 40 I've restocked the 50% clearance section to the brim, and I'll be adding more each day of the sale.

Hot tip: The Rowan rep was here today for our marathon fall buying spree, and I found out about a bunch of beloved Rowan lines that are on the way I've added them into the sale for some really juicy buys!

Also, we'll have some special events each day to keep you coming back for more:
Saturday: One word - cake! (my personal favorite event)
Monday: "Twosome day" - bring a friend who is a new customer and receive a free copy of Jill Eaton's book "After Dark" while they last
Wednesday: "Showff day" - bring a recently completed project, let us take a photo for the blog, and receive a free Loops tape measure or nail file
Friday: All needles and hooks 10% off! We NEVER do this - live it up!

As I said in the e-mail, stock up during the sale...the more we move out, the more we can buy for fall!!!

- Shelley
P.S. The June class list is up, hot off the press. There are a bunch of FREE classes - but you've gotta sign up!
Click on this link to view the class list

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What I did on my summer vacation.

Just in case you've been wondering where the heck I've been for the last week...

Yep, we pooled all of our garage sale money and headed for Destin, Florida...home of the world's most beautiful beaches. Our family has been going there for years. The last couple of years, we've stayed at the Sandestin resort, which has tons of stuff for the kids and tennis for mom & dad. One of my best friends from high school, Leslie, lives in the area and told us we should try coming in early May - she was so right! It was in the 70s and sunny every day, and the crystal-clear water was the perfect temperature. (Unfortunately, Leslie had to fly to Tulsa for the week to visit her ailing dad...I missed our annual catch-up girl talk :(

I took tons of pix but most are of my I will show you this nice shot of Brent and I on the beach, taken by our youngest:

And this is the shot taken right before it, where we are both trying to tell her how to work the camera:

The downside, for some, is that Destin is a 15-hour drive for Tulsa. But for me, a knitter, this is a HUGE upside! I started and finished this whole shell in Rowan Cotton Rope. It's similar to the one by Blue Sky Alpacas that has been so popular, but it has a great little tipped neckline and armholes. Gina H. said I would love knitting with Cotton Rope - and I did - it is smooth and a VERY quick knit at just 3 stitches per inch on #10s - yet the finished product is not too heavy. I love the slimming effect of the long ribbing at the bottom (I doubled the number of ribbing rows from 18 to 36, to cover the tummy). This pattern is in the Cotton Rope Collection book and uses 7 balls (main color) and 1 ball (contrast color) of Cotton Rope.

On our return trip, I made some good progress on that Louisa Harding cardigan in Coquette and Nautical Cotton. When the Coquette with tiny sequins arrived, I quickly worked up part of a sleeve to see how it would look - then dropped it awhile. Now that I've picked it back up, I'm really loving the Nautical Cotton - very similar to Tahki Cotton Classic, but feels smoother, and we have Louisa's more subtle color pallette. You will also notice I have the back crammed on to Lantern Moon straights - I just adore these needles and will always try to get away with this rather than using circulars.

When I got back in town yesterday, I ran into Patti at Lambrusco'Z and she was carrying her darling, original purse design:

Okay Patti, we're gonna need that pattern! Don't you love the little Zecca button she chose? Also noticed that Patti was carrying a copy of "A Good Yarn" by Debbie Macomber. Debbie was in town last week for a Junior Leauge event. She asked everyone which was the best yarn in town - of course they said Loops! - and she surprised us with a visit. She was just lovely, and signed all of her novels that we had in stock. There are just a few left...

When I returned to the store, there were some fun surprises waiting for me, including Delight, a one-of-a-kind yarn from Suss, which we ordered way back in January at the San Diego Show. I'm going to grab some today and start a summer scarf...

Also from Suss, we got some adorable kits for a crochet Bohemian Scarf (great first crochet project - c'mon, you know you've always wanted to learn - why not schedule a private lesson with Billie Anne, Dawn or Kendall?), as well as some super-cute purse kits complete with handles and applique flowers.

Okay, hopefully this huge blog entry has made up for my beach absence. Keep an eye on the blog for the next couple of next entry will be a short but substantial announcement! (Hint: Loops two-year anniversary is this week and we plan to celebrate this weekend!)

- Shelley

Monday, May 7, 2007

Hamman it up.

One of the first things I learned this weekend is that Helen Hamann pronounces her last name "ham-in." As in, ham'n'cheese. I also found out she likes white wine and lobster bisque (if you order some, watch out for her spoon!), she LOVES alpacas (ok, I knew that already) and she is a positively brilliant designer. She kept us all enthralled through her day-long workshop with the stunning garments from her new book, "Andean Inspired Knits," and her ingenious techniques for everything from short-row shoulder shaping (no ugly stair-stepping!) to reverse knitting and much more.

Helen arrived early Friday, having not slept the night before (she had to get up at 3am, so why go to sleep?), and hung out at the store for awhile before going antiquing with Gina H. Then our group converged on Los Cabos for mega margaritas and Mexican munchies. Afterwards, it was a beautiful night to stroll down the Riverwalk. Here are Ellen and Gina H. with Helen:

And here's me with Helen:

The next day, in the middle of our workshop, along came Dave and Karen Galbraith from Walnut Creek Farms with some precious cargo in the back of their one-ton pickup:

Helen immediately connected with these guys from the camel family which Helen refers to as her Peruvian "cousins."

BB (the black one) and Angel (the white one), the two young, recently-shorn alpacas, were incredibly sweet, gentle and smart. Their quiet humming noise was so enchanting. Even surrounded by a crowd, they were calm and tame:

Dave and Karen even brought Angel's fleece, which was the softest cloud of fluff you ever felt! They have just connected with a spinning company, so we look forward to carrying some local alpaca in the near future!

And here's the funniest thing I learned about Helen. Let me set the scene: We had come home from the Riverwalk and settled onto my couch with our knitting and "Must Love Dogs" on the TV. I pulled out my black lace Tilli Tomas dress, the one I have wrestled with for many moons - both Gina H. and Kendall have consulted with me over a very complex pattern with occasionally mystifying instructions. As I started to work, I noticed that on the "V" neckline, the pattern had me decreasing on BOTH sides on the knit rows, but only ONE side on the purl row. I exclaimed to Helen, "Look at this! This is the WORST PATTERN I have ever seen!"

Helen took the pattern, then looked at me with a twinkle in her eye. "That's my pattern," she said. about a glass of wine?

Let me add that Helen's patterns are terrific - it's the editing that is a tad lacking. Oh, and in the future, I'd like to request that Tilli Tomas give credit to their designers on the pattern. Preferably, in LARGE BOLD print.

- Shelley
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P.S. My dad wrote a little poem about the alpaca's visit:
Alpacas have the most exquisite hair,
And love the lawn ‘round Utica Square.
Here’s a toast to Mister Walt, and
Grass gnawed short near black asphalt.
The beasts are gone, but what remain
Are pleasant thoughts, the song’s refrain:
Happy days are here again!

P.P.S. Wouldn't it be great if Amy Singer of, and author of "No Sheep for You!" would come to Loops? You can help "demand" that she come. Click here to join us!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Debbie Bliss is online at Loops! (and blissing out to music).

OK ya'll, Brent has been working his little hiney off adding new stuff to the Loops website. You can now shop online "by line" for Blue Sky Alpacas, Rowan, RYC, Karabella, Fiesta, Brown Sheep, Karabella and now...drum roll...or maybe a drum to the beat of some Beatles tune, since she is British...Debbie Bliss! Loops has, in my humble opinion, a gye-normous selection of Debbie Bliss yarns and pattern books. Feel free to call the store for guidance on finding that perfect pattern from the books.

We have a particulary nice selection of Debbie's new yarns, including Stella, Pure Cotton and Rialto. This nice selection may be at least partially due to the fact that Debbie herself showed me the lines at the San Diego TNNA show. How do you say "no" to a color when the color genius herself is walking you through the yarns? I was terrified I would reject the color closest to her heart - say, the cornflower blue of her daughter's eyes...Honestly though, I do particularly love the vibrant colors of Stella...and lo and behold, I just found a free tank pattern using Stella on Debbie's own website.

Now, on a completely different note, Phara my blogging junkie friend has introduced me to the concept of "tagging" and "memes." You get "tagged" by a fellow blogger and then give your own take on a particular subject, or "meme" - in this case, my favorite seven songs of all time. I hope ya'll will keep reading my blog, even after you read my kinda embarrassing list:
1. "Top of the World" by the Carpenters - what can I say, I remember my mom blasting this on the radio when we went on a childhood sort of Thelma and Louisa road trip with her best friend, Barbie, and Barbie's two daughters - one of whom remains one of my best friends to this day. No way to stay in a bad mood while listening to this song.
2. "You" by Bonnie Raitt
3. Tie: "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilara and "This One's for the Girls" by Martini McBride - I have cataloged both for the day when either of my girls are feeling those low self-esteem moments that come with middle/high school.
4. Anything by Amy Grant
5. "Yellow" by Coldplay
6. "I Ain't in Checotah Anymore" by Carrie Underwood - the only song on her album that she wrote herself. One caveat - she says she'd "rather be tippin' cows in Tulsa than hailin' cabs here in New York." Now I know tippin/Tulsa makes for some nice alliteration, but when's the last time you saw a cow in the city limits?
7. "Always on Your Side" by Sheryl Crow - would've said "Not Fade Away," until they sold it out to the haircolor people. Great marketing idea, but it wrecked the song for me.

Now, I'm supposed to "tag" five other bloggers but the truth is, I barely have time to write my own blogs, let alone read others! So feel free to comment and provide your own list.

Don't forget...alpacas at Loops, 12:30 Saturday! - Shelley
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

How to "rowan" your washer.

I know, I know, I know. When you felt, there are certain rules to follow. One is to protect your washing machine motor by stashing your knitted piece in a pillowcase, then tightly securing with a rubber band. This is important so the piece won't shed during felting and ruin your motor.

On the other hand, if you're tired of your top-loader and would like an excuse to get a shiny new front-loader, by all means, blow off the pillowcase.

I was felting with Rowan Little Big Wool, trying it out to see how it would go. This is a mostly-wool wool, but with a springy nylon core, so it was sort of an experiment. The bag came out great, and I added some beaded fringe, then made up some really cool little kits in these pretty mesh bags, hand-surged by dear sweet Gina Marie.

Isn't it just the bomb? The kits even have a free pattern and the clear, double-sided tape to attach the fringe if you don't want to bother with sewing (I always fall into this category).

Trouble is, when I was fixin' to felt, it was late and the kids needed to be put to bed and I wanted to get in a few rows on my knitted Bobbi Bear project, so I just grabbed some jeans and tossed them in with the bag. No pillowcase. Living on the edge. Bag came out adorable...but the next day, when I went to do some regular laundry, the spin cycle wouldn't spin. So I called Omstead Service, who sent out our friend Hank.

Please don't blame me for the wallpaper in the background. We just moved in November and the rest of the house has been re-done - the laundry closet wallpaper has not been a high priority. Hank found lots of gunk in the washer from previous felting adventures.

Funny thing is, the gunk didn't turn out to be the problem. $65 for the service call later, guess what caused it all? "Whoever was doing the laundry," said Hank - and that would be ME - "didn't have the spin button pushed in all the way." Uggggghhh...

My day was made brighter when the Utica Square powers that be miraculously granted my highly unusual request. In conjunction with this weekend's visit from Helen Hamann, international knitwear designer and alpaca proponent, we arranged for Walnut Creek Farms in southern Oklahoma to bring some alpacas to visit! This Saturday, two little guys will come grace our parking lot.

Helen will do a book signing at 10:30, followed by the alpaca debut around 12:30. So, even if you can't attend the workshop from 11:30-5:30 (and there are about 7 spaces left), be sure to stop by to meet these fluffy little guys. Well, they may not be super fluffy, since there were just shorn - but they are sure to be friendly. See you then!

- Shelley
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