Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Darn pretty needles!

We ordered these months ago on a tip from Loretta. They are called Darn Pretty needles, they're made in Vermont and they live up to their name. We have them in sizes 1, 2 and 3...and my sister gave me a perfect excuse to try them out.

I (foolishly) asked what she would like knit for Christmas, and she said gloves. I was excited thinking I could make some cashmere fingerless mitts, and she said, "No, those are for hobos, I mean real GLOVES." (Really my sister is quite compassionate, but she was having a garage sale at the time and no one was coming, so she was in a sour mood.) Anyway that meant size 1 needles, lots of patience and my first time to use Koigu KPPPM. It is so yummy, and the needles so beautiful, it is actually turning out to be some nice knitting. Of course, I'm not to the fingers yet.

These are from a Mac & Me pattern. Another plus.

I have a feeling that by the time they're done, I'm going to be saving a special finger just for my sister.

Only kidding. Ho ho ho.
- Shelley

Friday, October 26, 2007

Louisa Harding is coming to Loops! Wahoooo!

I had a wonderful meeting with our Louisa Harding rep this morning (Cherry, you're fabulous! Thanks again for the samples & the Starbucks :) and we "inked" the deal to bring Louisa herself to Tulsa mid-January! We are still working out the exact date and details but meanwhile, I wanted to give you the scoop and let you squeal with excitement right along with me! This is such a rare opportunity, as Louisa is from England and rarely able to visit a smaller market like Tulsa. So please excuse my overuse of exclamation points!!!

Meanwhile, just yesterday we received a "secret" Louisa trunk show. Cherry was given this show directly by Louisa herself - these are the garments straight from the pages of her gorgeous, brand-new Venezia books. What an amazing opportunity to see the yarns and pick out a project to start now and wear all season long.

Every gal really deserves to knit herself a Louisa project. Seriously, they fit so beautifully. You can truly tell that Louisa Harding began in fashion design and got into knitting later (rather than vice versa). She understands how to make a knitted garment really flatter the female form. Of course, the colors are stunning. But most surprisingly, the prices are affordable - especially for the quality.

Anyhoo, I could go on and pulse is still racing from a morning spent choosing colors and yarns for holiday and (yes) Spring! But here is a little taste of the trunk show - be sure to stop in this weekend and check them out in person.

- Shelley
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Getting too close to my knitting?

So I was sitting in the store yesterday, helping Renee duplicate stitch an initial "L" onto a baby blanket for her grandson, Landon. I was hurrying along because it was almost time to pick up the kids from school. I felt like our stitchwork was getting a bit tight - something felt wrong - but I rushed ahead anyway. Then I stood up to go:

Yes, that's right, I stitched the blanket right into the skirt I was wearing!!! I had become one with the blanket.

Now, look at this beautiful sweater Jayne just finished in Rowan Summer Tweed, from the Kasbah Collection book. Great job, Jayne! Readers, if you'd like to buy the yarn and need to know the yarn amounts for your size, just email me.

- Shelley
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Treat bags.

We got two Halloween treats yesterday in the form of two large knitting bag orders! First, the long-awaited Sabrina bags from Offhand Designs, in the new Ruby Vine and Punch Bloom fabrics:

I've been in love with these since Market in June, and eagerly snatched up a Punch Bloom bag (don't worry, we got four!) What I'm crazy about, besides the soft fabric and slouchy shape, is the way the center is divided with a high pocket - FINALLY a bag that will keep my knitting safely protected from my sharp-edged stuff like keys and pens:

Next, we got some gorgeous Asian duffel bags from a new supplier. I found this company thanks to our friend Gabe - he works in Dr. Joey Manduano's office and does amazing skin treatments - and anyway, the woman who makes these had the best idea. She wanted a big knitting bag she could take on a plane or in the car and squash it down, under the seat and out of the way. She wanted it to snug up securely against her body, and to be able to settle down onto the floor in a nice little heap to hold her knitting at home. The result is TDF:

We got 10 of these bags, all handmade and all completely unique (of course, Ellen snatched one up for herself already so that makes 9 ;-)

One more Halloween treat for you: I participate in an online group called Yarn & Thread retailers, and they held an online Halloween recipe swap at a different recipe every day, along with neat little stories. I'm dying to try the Pumpkin Crunch Cake. And you can read my recipe from October 16 here. Yum!
- Shelley
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Chinese wedding and a Fiesta!

It's a party in any language at Loops these days! First, check out this ring pillow that Gina H. made as a surprise for the upcoming wedding of her son, David, and his bride, Li Jie, who is originally from China. Since the traditional Chinese wedding color is red, Gina chose this gorgeous shade of "American Beauty" in Tilli Tomas Rockstar (with built-in beads!):

Gina has generously agreed to share the pattern. If you would like a free copy, please email me.

Also new this week is a great new color of Tempted Hand-Painted Sock Yarn: Fiesta! Stacey says a friend helped her put this fun color combo together - she said, "I never would have thought to put the turquoise in there, too!" Maybe it was margaritas that provided that creative inspiration???

And another long-awaited item...we just received the Fino laceweight alpaca from Alpaca with a Twist! We have some great lace patterns for this delicious stuff...but hurry, because I only got 3 skeins of each color:

The weather is cool and so are all the new things at Loops! Come sit & knit with us this week...
- Shelley
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

More Kidsilk Haze for the Modern Quilt Wrap.

I included the free pattern for the Modern Quilt Wrap from Knitting Daily in our early October "loops scoop" e-mail...but then today, Aloah came rushing in wondering if we had ever heard of it! So I think it bears repeating, since (a) it's about the hottest free pattern to hit the web this year, and (b) we just got Rowan shipment of Kidsilk Haze in many of the colors called for in the wrap - including 2 OF THE VERY LAST 5 BAGS (!) of the now-discontinued "Swish" color.

So first, here's a picture of the wrap. Everyone who's doing this swears it is much easier than it looks - a great first "multicolor" project. Also, the 7 skeins of yarn called for will actually make 2 whole wraps! One for you, one for a gift!

Click here to see our online selection of Kidsilk Haze - you can buy them online (or of course, at the store). Don't be afraid to choose your own color combo - maybe even pop in a color or two of Kidsilk Spray - a slightly more variegated version of Kidsilk Haze, or Kidsilk Night with tiny sparkles. One other option is Alchemy's Haiku, a gorgeous handpaint.

Click here to get the free pattern. If you're not a member of Knitting Daily, you'll need to sign up to get the pattern. I highly recommend it - this is the only e-blast I read on a daily basis, and there are lots of really good free patterns and tips for subscribers. And of course it's all free!

If you, like me, suffer from the dreaded, debilitating mohair allergy, try following Ellen's lead and using Suss Fishnet Alpaca Blend. Look ravishing without the rashing!

- Shelley
P.S. Not getting our "loops scoop" e-blasts? Go to our homepage, scroll down and enter your info to be added to our newsletter list.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Who says?

So I got this great new red, red coat with a stand-up collar at Pavilion (under $100!). I wanted to make the "basic hat & scarf" set from Melissa Leapman's book, "Cables Untangled," and I wanted to use the yarn it called for - Kashmir, a yummy blend of cashmere and silk. And I! Ingrid was horror-struck. Everyone said that pink and red are a huge no-no except on Valentine's Day. But I said..."Who says?"

Not usually a hat girl - but I love how this one fits. Love it much more than having my picture taken, actually.

Now, in case my red-and-pink drama is not enough to enthrall you, here are some new things we've gotten into the store in the last few days. First, Baby Twist from Alpaca with a Twist - a DK alpaca with 549 yards per hank!

Also Highlander, an alpaca/merino in gorgeous tweeds - softest tweeds you've ever felt, and a good worsted weight:

We got our fall order of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, including some new colors - Blackwatch and Sassy Stripe:

We also got books, including "Itty Bitty Nursery" (follow up to "Itty Bitty Hats"), and new book from Rowan, "Knitting for Him" - great guy patterns for those of you have the patience to knit for your man!!!
- Shelley
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rib tickler.

This morning, I got up early to prepare a recipe from Gina H. that calls for Short Ribs - you know, the big nasty-looking rack of ribs that tastes oh-so-yummy once prepared. I was trying to get it in the crockpot before the kids were up. But the girls heard me and wandered into the kitchen as I was getting the ribs out of the fridge. One of the girls asked the other to teach her some letters in cursive, and they seemed safely pre-occupied, so I began to chop the ribs into 3-rib sections...trying to be subtle with the sound of the knife-whacking. I feared that if they noticed what I was doing, we might have two instant vegetarians on our hands.

I was almost home free...the final WHACK...when I felt my 6-year-old's eyes on me. Caught in the act, I asked, "What?" Expecting an "ewwwwww," I braced myself for the worst.

Her response was matter-of-fact:
"OK mom, I think that's officially dead."

- Shelley
P.S. The recipe: Two racks of short ribs, one bottle of ale or other dark beer, 1 can of diced tomatoes, cook on low in crockpot all day. Season with salt and pepper. And yes, it is tasty!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Red necks.

Every once in awhile (ok, pretty much every day), I'm truly moved by the good feelings and warmth generated at our little ol' store. Whether it's the controlled chaos of Tuesday night sock group, or just a quiet little Monday morning when the front table is humming with fix-the-weekend-oops activity, I just feel so happy that we've managed to share our love of the craft with so many - and I'm filled up with the joy that gives us in return.

Another one of these moments came in a BIG way when I heard about the Red Scarf Project. Completely on their own, a group of Loopies had jumped in to this national effort. The Red Scarf Project was begun in 2005, when the Orphan Foundation of America launched a unique initiative to send warmth and encouragement to college-bound foster youth - kids who have "aged out" of the foster program. They began taking donations of handmade red scarves to put into Valentine's Day Care Packages. Word spread quickly around the charitable knitting/crocheting community. In the first year, they took in 3,500 scarves. The following year, that number swelled to over 15,000.

And this year, they're getting 13 scarves from Loops customers:

How cool is that???

- Shelley
P.S. If you'd like to help in a more local way, join our 2nd Sunday Charity Loop Group. We're working toward having 100 Baby Hats ready to give to a local hospital preemie ward by the holidays. Check our new November Class List for date/time.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

The Evil Temptress reviews "Yarnplay."

One of our customers, Alison, dubbed me "The Evil Temptress" when I first introduced her to Lantern Moon needles. Mind you, I entered into the conversation with full disclosure. "You will get addicted," I warned her. "So if you want to remain in innocent, less expensive bamboo bliss, continue on with your Crystal Palace needles. Just forget you ever saw these smooth, beautiful rosewood needles with the gorgeous tops." Yet, to this day, Allison blames me for her collection of Lanterns in every size. Sigh.

So I begin this blog with this (futile) warning: You will be tempted. Yea verily, though ye wallow in the valley of unfinished objects, ye shall be seduced by these projects. Read on at thy own risk.

Today, I'm reviewing the book "Yarnplay," by Lisa Shobhana Mason. This book is not entirely new, having been published in 2006, and having been on our shelves for a couple of months. But it's new to ME, because even though I ordered it, I only recently popped it open over a quick lunch and perused it in depth. Ohhhhh...I want to make them ALL!!!! And I'm not alone, judging from the number of people out in Cyberspace that seem to be working these up.

The most popular seems to be the cover sweater, "Poppy," knitted with 6-8 skeins of Noro Silk Garden. Can you just imagine this in the new, super-soft Noro Cashmere Island? I noticed online, it seems to be flattering on all figure types - chalk it up to the vertical lines:

A close second is Lorelei, knitted mainly in a Noro yarn I've never heard of (discontinued?) called Lily, plus a little Silk Garden. This would be amazing in a worsted cotton, like Tahki Cotton Classic...or Rowan Handknit Cotton:

Yarnplay also has a guy's sweater that is popular, made from SWT Karaoke, a nice blend of soy and wool. Would also be great in Trendsetter Tonalita, or maybe even Rowan Tapestry if you could get gauge on the slightly smaller yarn. It's called K.I.S.S. - Keep it Simple So Your Man Will Wear It:

And I love, love, love Edie, an asymmetrical cardigan that would be gorgeous in Berroco Pure Merino, or maybe even ArtYarns Supermerino:

There are great smaller projects, too, including elegant "scrubs" (exfoliating warshrags), the "Georgetown" table runner in Rowan Denim, and "Havana" - a great cushion cover in Araucania Nature Cotton. But mainly, I want to play with Yarnplay for the innovative, fitted knits that bid farewell to boxy and embrace the feminine form. Hooray!
- Shelley
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Terrie cloth.

Please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Loops Troops, Terrie Fadem.

I asked Terrie to write a bio about herself. She said:
"I never had picked up knitting needles until 5 years ago. The first project I made was a felted handbag. It was love a first sight. I had good basic concepts of ready-made fashions and wanted to develop this in the knitting world. I, like many, in the beginning had difficulty reading patterns, but saw that by assembling various shapes, I could make a garment. The creating of color and textures has always been my passion. I currently design and manufacturer my own knitwear line which is at Boulevards in Tulsa. I have since expanded and have a few things in Santa Fe. I have had several years of retail experience in knitting. Along with my passion of knitting, I have designed high end jewelry and do porcelain and acrylic painting."

We already have a couple of Terrie's latest concepts in the works, so keep an eye out for some new "Terrie Cloth" original knitting patterns, coming soon! You'll also find Terrie in the store on Wednesdays, and she plans to join our teaching roster soon.

- Shelley
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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sine qua Noni.

I'm harkening back to a dark period in my life here - High School Latin - but it is the best way to describe Noni bag patterns. The Latin phrase "sine qua (or quo) non" means "An essential element or condition: 'The perfect cake is the sine qua non of the carefully planned modern wedding.'"

And so it is with Noni felted bag patterns. From the moment she came on the scene, Nora Bellows has owned the sophisticated felting world. We heard that she recently had a baby, and might not have a fall '07 collection - and then lo and behold, out came the best collection thus far! We decided to stock all 11 patterns - it was just too hard to choose! Check these out. First, for the person who just has a lot of $%&# (I fall into this category):

For the sophisticate:

For the workaholic with style:

For the granola:

For the nonconformist:

For the homebody:

For the kids:

And my favorite, for the overachieving kids, a huge backpack:

See? Something for everyone! You'll find these, plus Noni patterns from previous season, in the Cascade cabinet.

- Shelley
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bruni's beach bunch.

From the moment she first walked into Loops and started chatting up Ingrid in their native German, we have loved Bruni! She's got so much enthusiasm for life - and for knitting. When Bruni read that I would be cleaning out my camera, she wanted to know: where the heck were all the photos of her family at her Atlantic City home - pics that she brought in over a month ago?! Oops! I'm so glad she reminded me...just look at this family full of little Brunhildes on the beach;

Love the baby yamulke!

Great sweater in Rowan All Seasons Cotton - and his twin got one in another color!

Don't you just want to pinch these cheeks - and touch this yarn?!

Matching Twinkle hats with funky buttons were a hit with the older set:

And this Prism shrug was the piece de resistance! Bruni special-ordered this gorgeous cream color because her niece wanted something she could wear over any outfit, to keep her shoulders warm in church:

Whoa're a one-woman knitting loom! (Something else you and Ingrid have in common.) Time to knit something for yourself!

- Shelley
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Relief is mine.

With this post, the Blog Constipation will be resolved, and my camera will be entirely cleansed. At least for the moment.

Many of you have been coming in to show off your completed Baby Surprise jackets. After the first night of the Baby Surprise class, the group was calling themselves the Lynch Mob - planning to string poor Kendall up over the seeming complexity of the pattern. But everyone was impressed with the way Kendall navigated the Mob and got everyone back on their feet. Now, it seems everyone is planning their next Baby Surpise! Here's Sammie's, in Popcorn from Filatura:

And here's Jane's, in Berroco Love It:

Speaking of babies, here's an adorable set that Tricia made using Love It, a Tilli Tomas pattern for the hat and a free pattern from for the sweater:

Tricia also brought in two hats that she made from some stash yarn, coupled with Berroco Pure Merino. This is another free web pattern she shared (thanks, Tricia!):

Just two photos to go...A great shot of Terry with three recently completed bags (left to right - Loops Easy Beady Bag Kit, Moda Dea Belted Bag, and Sophie Bag in Shaefer Esperanza):

And last but not least, four people in different stages of Ingrid's Swishy Eyelet skirt pattern.
Harriet won a ribbon for her version at the Tulsa State Fair! Way to go earned an extra-long corn dog AND a cheesecake on a stick!
- Shelley
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Monday, October 8, 2007

Legalized pot.

OK, yarn junkies, here comes something completely legal, completely addictive, and completely available if you have the right source (aka Loops). It's Lobster Pot cashmere, hand-dyed in Maine lobster pots and hung to dry in the salt air, producing the richest colors and softest hand you will find anywhere. And you can't find it just anywhere - we are one of only a couple stores in the world to carry this stuff. We got a huge shipment of the worsted:

A ginormous amount of the new Chunky (we are the only other store to have it besides Purl/Soho in NYC). Your holiday gifts will knit up even faster in this:

And until now, we only had the cashmere laceweight in cream and black (Purl had the exclusive). UNTIL NOW:

So c'mon dude, just try it once, dude. You won't be able to stop!
- Shelley
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