Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Official Loops recipe: Pizza in a Pot.

Yes, it sounds disgusting. Like something they would make in medieval Italy. And it actually doesn't look that great either - hence, the lack of photos. But this recipe, which comes from Ellen's cookbook "Slow-Cooker Favorites" (2003), is actually better than real Pizza (well, except for maybe the portofino pizza from Tucci's)...and almost as fast as delivery. Perfect for throwing in the crock pot when you'd rather spend your evening knitting:

"Pizza in a Pot"
1 1/2 pounds bulk Italian sausage or ground beef (we use a mixture of both)
1/2 cup thin onion wedges
1 15-oz. can pizza sauce with cheese (I use Newman's marinara - no cheese because we have a dairy allergy in the family)
1 14 1/2 oz. can Italian-style stewed tomatoes
1 4-oz. can sliced mushrooms or one 2 1/4 oz. can sliced olives, drained (I use both)
1 loaf Italian bread
1 8-oz. package shredded pizza cheese (or mozzarella)

In large skillet, brown sausage and/or beef with onion. In 3 1/2 or 4-quart slow cooker combine meat mixture, pizza sauce, undrained stewed tomatoes, mushrooms and/or olives. Cover, cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Bias-slice bread into 1-inch slices. Arrange bread on large baking sheet. Place baking sheet under broiler for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown (I also brush with olive oil prior to broiling, or just bake it). Place bread on plates, spoon meat mixture on top, sprinkle with cheese. Makes 10 servings, or 1 really big serving after a singles tennis match (only kidding, sorta).

Need something to do while your Pizza in a Pot is cooking? If you're on ravelry, check out these free pattern downloads for the Dean Street Hat, Warwick Hat and Haymarket Mittens by Nina Machlin Dayton - all use incredibly soft, hand-dyed in Uruguay Malabrigo Worsted - now available in our online store (and we just got a shipment of new colors!). Here's a pic of Nina's mittens.


- Shelley
Our website has been updated! Check out the new "shop" section at

Thursday, April 24, 2008

FOs and a WIP.

I've got a couple of Finished Objects to share with you. The first is a Mesh Scully Cap in Alchemy Wabi Sabi for a friend who is going through treatment for brain cancer. This particular girl is stunningly beautiful, very stylish and with very fine features. We're always searching for good "chemo cap" patterns, and I think this one is ideal for summer. Very stylish. And the color - "Sangria" - is just beautiful.

This was my first time to work with Wabi Sabi, the 66% silk/33% wool hand-dyed chunky weight from Alchemy. It was just butter in my hands! Works up so quickly - the hat only took a couple of hours on size 9 needles - and the end result is soft and squishy like chenille, but luxurious like hand-dyed silk. I've been hoarding a bunch of Wabi in a red blend for Alchemy's Trench Coat pattern, but haven't gotten around to it's moved to the top of my to-do list! Yum!

Next up is the Yellow Halter Top from the new Rebecca Magazine, modeled by BF Kristy and me. We did this as a very short knitalong because it was so quick to knit up! The fun thing about this halter is you can also wear it criss-crossed (see second photo of Kristy).

I asked Kristy what she liked best about knitting it, and she said:
"I love halter tops because they seem to be flattering on just about every woman at every age. It must be the exposing of the shoulders. It looks a little sexy without showing too much. Add to this the fact that this pattern has a v-neck, and you’ve got a winner. As Tim Gunn from Project Runway pointed out during his appearance helping dress the contestants on The Biggest Loser: a v-neckline is very slenderizing on a woman. Sign me up! I’ll take all the help I can get!"

So there you have it: Make it work, people! The yarn, Leona, is available on our site here, and well as the magazine with the pattern, here.

And all this finishing means I get to start a new project! I chose "Affair to Remember" by Annie Modesitt from her book, "Romantic Hand Knits." I have nicknamed it the "Boredom Buster Bootie" skirt. The Bootie part is obvious:

The Boredom Buster part is that it has lots of different parts, easily broken down, so that just when it starts to get monotonous, you get to add a new part. Tired of stockinette? Here comes a little cable! Tired of that? Here come the lace panels! And yet it's simple enough to work on without constantly referring to a pattern. I'm using Berroco Love It and, predictably enough, I LOVE IT. It's a cotton/acrylic blend so I can wear it year-round, and it's very stretchy so it should keep its shape well (or as Ingrid says, after a few wearings, your "po-po" won't be hanging out.)

Best part - the pattern is written for either DK yarn held double, or worsted held single. That means only 7 skeins of Love It for the medium - less than $60 for the skirt! Wahoo!

- Shelley
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P.S. Big shipment of Malabrigo worsted just arrived, plus more Silken Straw in new colors!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oh, the humanity.

If you were at Loops from 2-3pm yesterday, you know I have a cold. I sound like Demi Moore meets Brenda Vaccaro meets Al Pacino ("HOOWAH!"). I wasn't going to be able to keep my germiness on the down-low, with my voice and coughing, so I had to go back home

No! Why rest, when you can take a bunch of 12-year-olds out to a Mexican restaurant and then to play video games and then for a sleepover? Hey, it was our oldest's birthday, whaddrya gonna do?

For those who haven't had the pleasure, here's what kids look like after chips, salsa, five gallons of pop (the evil waitress kept refilling) and an hour at an arcade:

Billie Anne and her husband, Mike, came along to keep an eye on Ian (no need, he was perfectly behaved as always), but joy of joys, they brought little Lily, who I hadn't seen in about a month:

Brent, the self-proclaimed night owl, was supposed to take the evening shift with the kiddos. But Brent has the same cold as me and, as everyone knows, the husband's cold is ALWAYS far more deadly, dangerous and miserable than the wife's cold. Ahem. So he was comatose from 9pm on.

(Yawn! Cough!) Anyway, during my hour at the store, I managed to snap some pics of new items that have arrived. We got 5 new colors of Kureyon Sock yarn, so now I think we have most all of the colors in stock:

And Ingrid was flipping 'cause the new HiyaHiya stainless steel double-points we ordered at January market finally arrived, as well as the size 1's in the funky little 9" bamboo circulars. These little guys make knitting socks a breeze (at least until you get to the heel and toe).

My favorite new arrival was a surprise sample garment in the yummy new Pima Fresca yarn.

It comes from a darling new baby book that features Queensland yarns - some we have, some we don't, but all are easy to substitute and all are "a-DOR-able" in the words of Gina Y. Expecting mom Kristin already snapped one up, and we only have 5 left, but I'm sure to be ordering more. The hoody set takes only 1 skein each of two colors in Pima Fresca, which you can buy in our online store - click here to see colors.

Off to tend to the hubby and clean up the frosting on the ceiling.

- Shelley
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

A mini tour of Loops from the 4-foot-tall perspective.

Here is what happens when a certain short Someone gets hold of her dad's iPhone while Dad and Mom are busy changing light bulbs before the store opens.

And the photographer's other favorite subjects:

Shameless, self-serving posing by said Photographer of said Favorite Subject:

And... "peace out, baby!"

- Shelley
P.S. Overstock Sale! Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran (superwash merino), Muench/GGH Bel Air (merino blend), and Classic Elite Lush (luxury angora blend) - three great worsted weight sweater yarns, all 30% off!
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Selvedges!!! (and cleaning toilets and root canals!!!)

I know, most of you are just like I was. A riveting discussion of selvedges is right up there with ear hair removal in your list of Favorite Conversation Starters.

But really, this is pretty cool. And very easy. I promise.

The Yellow Halter Top pattern from Rebecca instructs to use a "seam selvedge" on one side, and a "chain selvedge" on the other. Kristy and I both did some research on this, because neither of us was raised with the natural-born German intuitive knowledge about selvedges (apparently for the Germans, Selvedge Knowledge is right up there with Breathing Knowledge and the Sucking Reflex). The best explanation that I found was from "Mary Thomas' Knitting Book" - click here to read it.

And since I'm sure 0.001% of you actually clicked that, and 0.00% of you actually read it, I'll give you this Cliff's Notes explanation. "Selvedge" just refers to the edge stitches - the first and last stitches in the row. If you're working stockinette, you normally make a "seam selvedge" without even realizing it, i.e. knit the edges stitches on a knit row, and purl 'em on a purl row.

To get the "chain selvedge," you still purl 'em on the purl rows, but SLIP them knitwise on a knit row. The result looks like you used a crochet hook to make a nice loose chain along the edge of the work. Like this (fuzzy picture alert):

So, what good is that?? you ask. And I'll tell you, I asked the same thing. Then, I finished my halter pieces and started seaming them together, and about halfway through I realized the benefit. I could make my seam by picking up half of each chain, and I got this really pretty decorative seam. See, at the top of the stockinette section, the little diagonal stitches?

Cool, huh? Too bad I realized this when my seam was already halfway complete (see where the cute decorative stitches give way to a plain seam, far right of photo above). Which means, halfway decorative it shall forever stay. And if you ever notice it, your eyes are better than mine or you are WAY TOO CLOSE.

- Shelley
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P.S. I'm going to wear my halter to the store tomorrow. (Don't get too close.) If I can get Kristy to come by wearing hers, I'll take pics and post them next time.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sale-bin Sundays.

To encourage our Sunday gang to knit, party AND shop, I've decided to start re-stocking the 50% off bins at the back of the store at the end of every Saturday. Today, I loaded 'em up with Muench Safari, a soft 78% linen blend that's a great substitute for Louet Euroflax. We don't have this color, but we do have two multis (blues and greens), a great neutral khaki and black. Check out issues of Rebecca magazine for pattern ideas.

I also scooted all the Crystal Palace Deco ribbon to the clearance area. About 7 different colors to choose from. Great substitute for Colinette Giotto, at a rockin' price! Check out the free patterns for Deco Ribbon here.

So come on in and empty those sale bins, so I can load 'em up again Monday. :)

- Shelley

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The changing moods of a 7-year-old female.

I thought I had a couple more years before it came to this.

I walked by my 7-year-old's room and happened to notice a sign, clearly posted for her two older siblings to see:

Translation: "Keep out, or else." Complete with little skull-and-crossbones.

I pointed out that this was a bit harsh, so the next day, a new sticky note was posted:

Translation: "Please knock." This genteel message is tempered with a picture of a face missing a tooth. And note that the second note was merely stuck over the first, in case her hormones swing back the other direction at a later date.

- Shelley
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Monday, April 7, 2008

Miele rhymes with peel-y.

We got a new shipment of the medium-size bags from Be Sweet. If you enjoy people stopping you everywhere you go - Sak's, Mazzio's Pizza, dragging the trash cans to the curb, wherever - and asking you where you got that adorable bag, this is the bag for you. No, we don't make 'em. The ladies in the South African job program created by Be Sweet make them. And they are totally TDF:

BTW, "Miele" rhymes with "peel-y," as in, "I didn't wear sunscreen when I played that 3-hour tennis match, because I was so pasty, and now I'm all peel-y."
Also, new from Be Sweet are these very charming button sets at an even more charming price - around $8 for an entire card - enough to really deck out a hand-knit cardi:

These buttons are on the front counter, next to the beautiful new shawl pins from Moving Mud.

See you soon,

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Yellow again, yellow.

I'm singing Lionel Ritchie in my mind (the David Cook version, of course) because we have two more HOT yellow projects in the house! The Gisela cardi from is rockin' the Loops crowd! Seems like all the Loops Troops and customers are making this very hip, online pattern (available to download at their site for $6):

For yarn, most people are using Alchemy Silken Straw - yes, it's luxury 100% silk but the pattern only takes 4 skeins. We even have a knitalong going for this one, too - if you're on Ravelry, check the loopalicious group.

The pattern goes very fast. But even faster was Terrie. She had been working on a design for a longer, wide-collared, crossover jacket using linen. When she saw everyone working up Giselas in Silken Straw, she was inspired to loom up her own design in the Straw. She went home that night and came in the next day, wearing this:

Terrie is a whiz on the knitting machine and whipped this puppy out with 5 skeins of Silken Straw in a couple of hours! I don't know whether to be awed or nauseous. Maybe a little of both. But the gorgeousness is undeniable. P.S. Did you see that she had sunglasses to match? Which by the way, she already owned? I feel like such a Target shopper in comparison.

Our other yellow fellow is from the fabulous Paula (who first discovered Gisela - Paula, you little trendsetter, you - no wonder you used to date a rockstar.) This is Glampyre's famous Boobholder (Paula hates this name and calls it a top-down mini cardigan.) She has made several, but this is my fave. She made some modifications - a smaller diameter and shorter, puffier sleeves. Very couture, Paula!

Paula plans to teach this sweater in May. Keep an eye out for our May class list, coming out around April 15!

- Shelley
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Friday, April 4, 2008

Shelley & Kristy's Yellow Leona Halter Knitalong

We're going to try something new: Our first bloggy Knitalong! My bestest childhood friend Kristy and I are knitting a halter top, #12 Yellow Top from the new Rebecca magazine.

Kristy and I have both knit since we were about 16. She is the very fastest knitter I have ever known (yes, even faster than Ingrid). She can knock out a baby sweater in the afternoon and has pretty much outfitted all of the new offspring of her gigantic Sunday School group. This, all while she balances the demands of 3 kids and a busy law career. And you thought I was Type A! Here is the Rebecca photo of the Yellow Top:

I have always been a huge fan of Rebecca patterns. For those of you who haven't discovered Rebecca, it's a German magazine produced by Muench/GGH yarns, and is billed as "The young Knitting magazine with the big pattern section." It is always full of gorgeous young European models cavorting around. The instructions are thorough but written in a terse style that is geared to German knitters who picked up the needles in school at age 5. This can be scary to some folks, so we thought a knitalong might help you feel braver about taking it on.

The Yellow Top is in Leona, the big new GGH yarn for spring. It is a cotton blend that is multi-plied. There are tons of great patterns in Leona in the new Rebecca (most of these are in Leona):

We chose the Yellow Top because it's fast, easy and well, Yellow. In case you haven't ventured into stores recently, yellow is the It color for spring. And also I may have been inspired by Brooke White's outfit when she sang "Here Comes the Sun" on Idol. Or maybe not.

Anyhoo, I had a belated birthday lunch with Kristy, who has been in a bit of a knitting slump. I showed her the pic (I knew she couldn't resist a halter) and offered to split a bag of Leona with her (the top takes just 5 balls - plus the figurative balls needed to take on a Rebecca pattern, LOL). I asked Kristy to take photos as she progressed.

Kristy: "How often should I take pictures? Every couple of hours?"
Shelley: "No, every couple of days."
Kristy: "But I'll probably have it done by then."
Shelley: "I loathe you."

Sure enough, she has already made it this far:

Mine looks dinky in comparison, although I do have the added interest of Sandy in the background:

The top has an interesting construction. You make the "body"piece, mostly in stockinette (quick and easy in the round), then make two separate "strap" pieces in ribbing. We both had to do a little investigating on the selvedge instructions, which were new to both of us. We both learned something new and I'll share that with ya'll in our new Knitalong installment.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to join us, you can buy Leona in the loops online store by clicking here. You can also get your copy of Rebecca Magazine #36 (while they last). It has 43 designs in all! Kristy and I are both making the medium (34-36"). The small fits 30-32" bust and calls for 4 balls of Leona. The large (38-40") calls for 5 skeins. I found the yarn a little splitty (Kristy of course had no problem with this), and we both love how light and airy the finished garment is. Kristy also loved the stitch definition.

See you next time, when Kristy will no doubt be finished. It may be the fastest knitalong in history!

- Shelley
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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A futile attempt at catch-up.

Here comes my lame attempt to catch up after the bi-annual chaos that is Hot Loops. I'm sure you read your e-blast (went out yesterday) and read all about the new Hot Loops project ideas. Now I'm going to get you up to speed, in no particular order, on the goings-on of my life and Loops. Numbering will hopefully help me keep it brief. But bear with me, because this is gonna be chock-full o' bloggy goodness.

1. Tulsans, did you see the incredible skyscape this morning? (Yes, Officer, I was taking pictures while driving. Please ignore the warrant that's out for my arrest since my speeding ticket payment was returned to the wrong address):

2. Made the best salad EVER last night. It made me want to eat salad every night (well, maybe salad and chocolate). Click here for the recipe. And be sure to follow it closely - the dressing rocks.

3. Got the newly-printed Juliet and 28thirty patterns from You can purchase and download these directly from the site, but the printed patterns are very nice and IMHO, worth the price.

4. Received the much-anticipated Mulberry from Louisa Harding. This is 100% silk, the very finest, from the very special Mulberry silkworm. It has a great, tight twist that Louisa sez will NOT pill. Great patterns for this yummy stuff in the new Louisa Harding Summer Classics book. And it is only $15.99 for 136 yards - excellent price for silk.

5. Check out Judy's adorable Noni bag:

And her "Ninjabun" from mochimochiland (available at Loops!):

6. We have decided to keep Sandy. Verrrrrry long story! Basically, for three days the SPCA kept saying they had space to take her back, and then they didn't. Three days of torture for us, three days of PERFECT behavior from her! Since that time, there is still occasional growling, but each day is better. Clearly, from the following pictures, you can tell she is not a vicious beast. Here she is, caught in an illegal lounge on the bed ("but hey, Lucy's doin' it too!")

Sizing each other up:

In her favorite chair - note the natural camouflage - Sandy dog, sandy chair:

7. Confidential to Ingrid: I like you! I really like you!!!

Next time: the first official Loops knitalong!

- Shelley
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