Sunday, December 30, 2007

In praise of: Magallanes.

Poor little Magallanes. For many months, she shone in the glory of the Hot Loops wall, proudly displayed beneath our photo of the Fringed Jacket:

She enjoyed the support of multiple patterns in multiple books - lovely projects like the Antique Sweater and the Chunky Little Jacket:

But then Magallanes suffered a devastating blow. She contracted Bottom Shelf Syndrome. It wasn't her fault, really...SOMEBODY has to go to the bottom shelf. And after all, it was springtime in Oklahoma, and she was 242 yards of beautiful, kettle-dyed, thick-and-thin wool. She waited patiently for the next fall, but alas, she remained on the bottom shelf, cruelly and carelessly obscured by a bowl of shiny new Cascade Fixation.

Occasionally, some passer-by would notice Magallanes, and ooh and aah over her loveliness. But they were often confused by the fact that her look in the hank is bulky, but her stated gauge is DK - and in reality, she knits like a slightly finer Manos - a true worsted. The suffering seemed that it would never end.

Then, the kind and benevolent yarn store owner re-discovered little Magallanes, alone on that bottom shelf, and went on a quest to search out a new store project for her. Wonder of wonders, there were 71 projects on Ravelry featuring Magallanes. Joy of joys, three of the best patterns were free! There was the lovely Knotted Scarf:

The beautiful Caribbean scarf:

And perhaps most wonderful of all, Felted Booga Bag:

It felts! What a discovery! The benevolent store owner decided, then and there, to do a version of the Amanda's Squatty Sidekick felted bag as a store display, and also to remind everyone that Magallanes is available in the Loops online store. Plus, she found a romantic tidbit about Magallanes on the company website: "The Magallanes Region is located in one of the most austral parts of the world, this beautiful region is blessed with a unique landscape, with mountains up to 2,000 meters high, various types and sizes of rivers, ventisqueros, an abundance of different flora and fauna, as well as ice fields, national glaciers, channels, fiords, bays and parks."

Little Magallanes need never suffer again.

- Shelley
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Friday, December 28, 2007

The Christmas Marathon and the Sale Sprint.

Everyone keeps politely asking, "How was your Christmas?" And, although I am grateful that this question has replaced "How long were you out of power?" as an opening social greeting, I struggle with an answer. The polite response is "Great, how was yours?" but what I really want to say is...

"It was a marathon! I worked at the store until early closing (4pm), then dashed home to finish helping Brent get the kids ready for the nativity program at our church (S. was Joseph, C. was Townsperson #2 - if they gave Oscars for Townspeople, she'd be a shoe-in). We then dashed out before communion and headed to my dad's house for some holiday cheer...and back to church at 9pm because Brent and the kids were serving as acolytes (for you non-Episcopals, that means carrying candles and crosses and stuff). I didn't make it to the 9pm service because my youngest got a bit "over-tickled" at Dad's and, ahem, we didn't have time to change clothes. Stayed up late to finish a hat and make sure everything was ready for Santa, then got up at 6am to make the requested cherry pie (how do I say no when Mom's making/hosting the whole dinner?), had our family Christmas at 7am, went to Brent's family celebration at 10:30, then at my Mom's at 2. Home by 6, preparing for the big Loops sale at 7, collapsed on the couch by 9. Up for more sale prep at 5 Christmas really over already???"

So that's why I just say, "Great, how was yours?" And dream of a Christmas in the mountains next year.

Somehow, amidst the craziness I remembered to snap some pictures. Here's my sister and her Michael Jackson-style single Koigu glove ("It fits me like a glove! And it's so warm!"):

My nieces on Brent's side, with their Victoria fingerless mitts and Cell phone cozies/gift card holders:

And my brother-in-law, Kelly, whose Highlander Alpaca hat transformed him from Bank President to Homeboy:

Finally, the sale crowd at 11am Wednesday - without a panoramic lens, I could only capture about a third of the crowd (!):

And what a crowd we had all day! Thanks to our wonderful customers for making it our biggest sale day ever. Some poor souls came in the store for the first time in their lives, and we had to explain it's not usually wall-to-wall-knitters! The sale is still going on and we have gobs of yarn, bags and kits left - all at least 25% off - so be sure and stock up before the sale ends at 5pm Saturday.

At which point, I plan to sleep for a week.

- Shelley
There's a sale on our website, too! 25% off everything - just enter code "LOOPS" at checkout!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


At first, I thought the tennis had done it. My aching shoulder and pinched left elbow must be due to an overexuberant overhead, too much serving, or too many backhands. Then, I realized I hadn't played tennis in a couple of days, yet the pain had increased exponentially. I had to face the facts.

I had a Repetitive Knitting Injury (RKI).

Each day, I've been up at 4:30 or 5, (lovingly) cramming out gift after gift. Two sets of handwarmers, one shrug, two scarves, one American Doll sweater, two hats and one (yes, only one) glove had done me in.

I think the only cure may be a long soak in a hot tub. And maybe a massage. Don't we all deserve that? Not that I would think of taking a break from knitting. I'll pop some Advil and just keep on stitching. 'Cause after all that holiday knitting, I am fully justified in knitting something for me, me, me!!!

Soon I will work up a nice entry on how all the Christmas gifts were received. For now, I must say it's hard to imagine topping these gifts from my dad to my kids:

Now you all know from which parent I get my sense of humor.

Now, I'm going to go enjoy my one and only day off, and get ready for tomorrow's big sale. I'm sure you read your email from me earlier this week, but just in case...25-40% off every yarn in the store, plus 75% on clearance items (which will be restocked each day), 25% off kits and single patterns, and 10% off needles, hooks, notions and books. Great time to use those gift cards and the perfect time to pick out a nice big splurge project for you, you, you!!! See you then.

- Shelley
P.S. We will also have our first ever online sale, starting Wednesday. 25% off sitewide! Just click here to go to Enter code "LOOPS" at checkout to receive your discount.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A tomboy and a girly-girl.

My two daughters really could not be more different. One likes pink and purple; the other's favorite color is "indigo." One is working on her Hannah Montana dance moves; the other is working on her black belt in karate. I'm aware of this, but what really brought it home to me was sitting back and looking at what I knit each of them for Christmas.

One of them is getting this:

The other one is getting this:

Need I say more? Well, actually, yes. I need to tell you that the American Girl doll sweater was designed by our fabulous Kendall years ago. I've finally made it into an official Loops Original Pattern. I used Berroco Pure Merino, then added a ruffle in Online Solo. This knitted tape yarn was a big hit for scarves when it debuted last year. I found it was even more fun to use for an edging. I also found a video on (oh, it pains me to type it - just promise me you won't be tempted by all that acrylic) that shows how to use it (they have a knock-off product called Ruffles).

Brent has the Ruffled Jacket for 18" Doll pattern on our site already (all except the colors for the Online Solo - that should be up later today). Yea Brent!

Now about the Alien scarf. This is arguably the coolest thing I've ever made. It's from the original Stitch and Bitch book, and I made it with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK. It's called illusion knitting. When you look at the scarf straight-on, it looks like a regular ol' boring stripe:

But if you look at it from the right angle, the image begins to emerge:

Spooky, huh?

So I'm in the home stretch now. We're down to every knitter's biggest fear - the two-digit days in December that begin with "2"- and I just started on my son's scarf 2 days ago. It's out of Alpaca with a Twist Highlander in charcoal, forest and cream using a pattern from the creatively titled "Knit Scarves," and I would be adoring this soft yarn if I weren't in such a blinding panic to finish everything.

Sorry, this is a lousy picture but time is money - what do we want people, great photography or finished projects under the tree???!!! I'm trying not to look at those ominous giant balls of yarn in the background behind the scarf. And I'm still thinking I can knock out a hat from the leftovers for my brother-in-law, PLUS the other Koigu glove for my sister. Yeah, that's right. Second Glove Syndrome.

Must. Go. Back. To. Knitting. Now.

- Shelley

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Feels good down to my toes.

Today I got my first-ever pair of hand-knitted socks. Strange to say, since I own dozens of hand-knitted garments, but I don't own a single pair of knitted socks. I have only ever made one pair, and they were for my sister (the other, half-finished pair still sitting on my needles from last year doesn't count). So I was especially, totally thrilled to get this pair from Gina Marie:

She made them from our Adriafil KnitCol, using a pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. I agree with my tennis partner, Karen, who exclaimed, "THOSE ARE THE CUTEST SOCKS I'VE EVER SEEN!" It's funny, but I don't get a lot of knitted gifts. When you own a yarn store, I guess some people think that knitting for you would be, I dunno, redundant somehow. But nothing could be further from the truth! More than anyone, I understand the huge amount of care, time and effort that goes into a gift like this. I still smile every time I pull on the Koigu handwarmers Ingrid made for me last year. There is just something so fragile and warm and wonderful about giving a handmade gift, and something even more wonderful about receiving them.

Which leads me to my other point. If you live in the Tulsa area, you know how much this city's world has been rocked in the last week. With around a million people out of power in Oklahoma, and many out of water, for a week or more, life has truly been chaos. Which makes the giving of handmade gifts made from locally-purchased yarn all the more meaningful. None of us have time to shop and few of us have money leftover after all the unexpected expenses - tree-trimming, meals out, and if you were lucky, hotel charges. But we can make something special - even if it's a one-hour hat - for someone who was there for us during the craziness. And that, truly, is the best gift of all.

That, and a Loops gift card ;-)

- Shelley
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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Knitting on the job.

It's very rare to find me sitting and knitting at the store - usually there is just so much to be done, and I am easily distracted by a shelf that needs to be re-arranged, or a customer with a fun story to tell. But yesterday was different. We had just received this amazing new yarn, which I ordered only the week before from our fabulous rep, Gale. It's called "Alp Oriental" and is unlike any other yarn I've ever seen.

Like its popular cousin, "Alp," it is made up of many different yarns, color-coordinated and tied end-to-end. Unlike Alp, it is a bulky gauge, comes in a giant ball, and has a bohemian texture that is completely irresistible. Oh, and get this: It comes with fringe already PRE-MADE. The only way this could be faster and easier is if they knit the scarf for you. To demonstrate, I whipped up this vertical-knit scarf while at the store. It took me a couple of hours from start to finish. Just ask Gene or Harriett, who saw the whole thing!

This is going to be a gift for one of my kids' teachers - I can't say who, because she might read the blog ;-)
We have Alp Oriental in lots of colors, and we're awaiting the little booklet that has a pattern for the scarf, a shawl, and even an amazing sweater (Gale was wearing one when she sold me the yarn - nice sales tactic!). Meanwhile, here's the pattern for the scarf. Cast on 120 stitches on a #17 circular needle, 32" or longer. Knit until you're almost out of yarn - I got 16-18 rows I think, and had a fair amount left. Cast off LOOSELY (I was a bit tight, which made the edge of the scarf curve a little - you can use a #19 for casting off to help avoid this, but I kinda like it). Use a big crochet hook to pull the pre-made fringe through the ends of the scarf, matching up the yarns to the vertical rows if you like. Pull long ends of fringe through and you're done!

P.S. Please shop early for Alp Oriental - we only have about 16 balls left. It may be another mad rush like the Ozark Handspun - and BTW we have already gone through our second shipment of Ozark - but more is on the way!

- Shelley
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The power is back on! We are fully functioning, with power, heat, internet and lots and lots of yarn! Come on in, knit, drink free coffee and stay warm. Tell all your friends who are without power that we will be here til 8pm tonight! Yeaaaaaa! :) - Shelley

Hi from the hotel.

Just a quick note to update everybody on the status of Loops, Tulsa and our biggest ice storm ever. Both Loops and my home are still without power, as are over 100,000 people in the Tulsa area. My family was lucky enough to secure a hotel room, and we, along with my mom & her husband, have been living together in the small but warm space. My fondest hope is that my children will get through this without murdering each other. Yesterday, I returned to our dark, cold home for a fresh supply of clothes and plastic crap (i.e. toys)- but, horror of horrors, could not find the Gameboy recharger. Guess what the kids are getting for an early Christmas present? Yeehaw!

Utica Square, with its many beautiful trees, is like a war zone. Most of the Square is blocked off, but our area is accessible because our neighbor, Polo Grill, secured a generator and has been doing a brisk business since Tuesday. I asked if we could hook into the Polo Grill's generator, but apparently it is barely supplying their own needs - all the plugs are full.

I also spoke to the Utica Square powers that be. They have been in close contact with the city, PSO and the tree services, and they have been told the Square is a high priority right after hospitals and nursing homes. They are guessing Friday - but maybe earlier. We will pray and hope because we know you need your yarn, especially right now - and it would be great to provide a nice, warm place for everyone to come and knit.

Mr. Helmerich, owner of Utica Square, is currently out of the country, but I would not want to be there when he first catches a glimpse of his beloved trees. He is very protective of them and it is legend that he has always insisted on trimming them himself.

If any of you would like to help, I have one simple solution: When we re-open, come and buy lots of our yarn! You can still place web orders on and we will fill them the very first thing when we re-open, hopefully in just a day or two. Of course it is devastating for a yarn store to be closed in the height of the season, but we have already survived a flood this year, and we'll get through this, too! With your help we will be back on track and knitting again with you very soon.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Why baby patterns are not often photographed on actual babies.

I am sweet little Lily. I was peacefully sleeping like an angel, when evil Shelley, a.k.a. "Aunt Flashy," RIPS back my carseat cover, SHOVES a felted hat on my head and begins shooting off her blinding camera flash. I try to cooperate...but is it my fault that her crazy camera has a delayed flash that perfectly aligns with an infant's blink reflex?

I have titled this photo Rudely Awakened:

Jack Daniels:


Blinking again:

Top Heavy:

Three Stooges:


Standing Tall:

Winston Churchill:

Playing Possum:

Tastes Like Chicken:

Oh, the Humanity:


I Like Big Booties, and I Cannot Lie...

Thanks to Lily, Mike, Billie Anne and Ian for being good sports about this "shoot"! BTW the pattern is a Loops Original by Sherry Taylor, featuring Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride yarn, and will be available this week.
- Shelley
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Friday, December 7, 2007

Calling all Cowboys.

Wow! It's been nearly a week since my last entry. But the store has been very busy with holiday shoppers and knitters, plus for some reason all of the sales reps have scheduled our spring buying meetings this week! Go figure. But it has been awfully fun seeing all of the stuff for spring. While many yarn shops slow down in spring and summer, Loops stays hoppin' with stitchers who share our love of working with cottons, silks, soy, bamboo, hemp etc. So the buying never stops!

But now, onto today's subject: Cowboys. At our store, anything orange flies out the door. That's mostly because the Oklahoma State Cowboys are just over an hour away. It's also because there are a fair amount of transplanted Texas Longhorns around, and although many will search for that exact shade of burnt orange, it's a color not often found in nature, so they often will go for whatever orange is around.

Good news for ya'll - we just got Karabella Margritte Bulky in a new color - orange! Actually it's a beautiful shade of what I would call Pumpkin.

You can use the Margritte Bulky for our most popular project, the 3-way wrap:

And on my personal to-do list, this flattering pullover from the recently published book by the owner of Karabella herself titled "Runway Knits." We had this for a very brief trunk show and still have the book in stock:

We also have a great Nicky Epstein scarf single pattern:

And this pretty lace cardi pattern:

Not all Margritte Bulky colors are in our online store, but we're going to work on updating that this week. Meanwhile, if you Cowboys can't wait to order, just mosey on in or call us toll free 1-877-LOOPS OK.

Oh, and before I get an avalanche of email from OU fans, yes, we have Margritte Bulky in crimson AND in cream.

- Shelley
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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Photo lagniappe.

It's happened again. My desktop file entitled "Blog photos to use" has gotten backed up. Usually, I try to group related photos into a nice, cohesive, themed blog entry. But if I want to clean my file out, I've gotta throw caution to the wind and do what Jason Ashley Wright, the Scene writer at the Tulsa World, calls "lagniappe." This is a Louisiana cajun term and since my mom's from New Orleans, I feel that justifies my haphazard approach.

On the upside, you get lots of eye candy in one blog entry.

1. Ms. McFadden's Stashball scarf - my new design uses just over 1 skein of Twinkle Soft Chunky, plus whatever yarn is in your stash for the "balls." This is a Christmas gift for my daughter's fun-loving teacher. email me if you want the free pattern.

2. New, back-ordered colors of Baby Twist Alpaca (huge yardage!):

3. New bags by Sweet Life, distributed by Rowan. Big and beautiful!

One guy, who Gina refers to as "Dream Husband," bought a bag for his wife and asked us to fill it to the brim with stuff she would like:

4. Harriet just finished a pair of socks in Buffalo sport weight. Luxurious!

5. Felted iphone case made from Tilli Tomas Flurries beaded merino. I got two cases from just one skein! Helloooo gifts for my twin nieces :) Yes, I have the rhinestone buckles and yes, you can email me for the free pattern.

6. Peggy just finished these cute wristers using Colinette Cadenza (only $10-ish a skein for hand-painted!). These are a free pattern courtesy of Ingrid:

7. New GUMBI sock kit by Gina Yates, with help from four others...available in our online store as a kit with Tempted Sock yarns. FYI this was our November Sock Club pattern. We're having lots of fun with the club! I am adding a few more spaces for December. Email me if you want to join.

8. By customer request, we've added 4 new, semi-solid colors of Tempted Yarn:

9. Alchemy Scarf from the cover of the Vogue Knitting Anniversary issue. We have a few kits left which include 3 skeins of hand-painted 100% silk and a bag of Swarovski crystals. They retail around $100. A great gift for yourself!

10. Six new self-striping colors of Regia sock yarn arrived:

11. Debbie Bliss Silver Belle cardigan, also from the VK Anniversary issue, and a free pattern. Calls for Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, which we have online plus more in-store (the silver is not online but it is in-store). This is still on my short list to make!

12. Last but never least, sleeping Lily wearing a hat KNIT (not crocheted!) by former Crochet Queen turned knitting fiend, Billie Anne. I think she used Zarina by Filatura di Crosa, and the pattern is from Itty Bitty Hats:

- Shelley
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Gift cards now available online!