Monday, July 28, 2008

What shoes should Brent wear to our 2pm meeting?

A certain caramel-colored someone found a smorgasbord in Brent's closet last night:

And this one she found particularly tasty:

Here is the guilty party in her latest mug shot:

We know all of this non-digestible leather will be making a re-appearance shortly.

We're just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

- Shelley
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Two links. A whole weekend of fun.

Loretta found this amazing site and shared it with me. Click here and when you get to the site, type something and she will say it. You can also change the language and she will say it in Norwegian, Japanese, etc.

My children found this fascinating. And, given their ages, you can only begin to imagine the number of phrases they were able to concoct using the cerebral words "butt," "underwear" and "fart." Definitely a fun party trick.

Also, if you have never heard of Jib Jab you'll want to check it out. A couple of guys came up with a simple-but-hilarious animation technique that typically focuses on politics (but don't worry, they are equally disparaging to all candidates, regardless of party affiliation :)

My personal favorite was this one. As a local small business, I gotta say I chuckled (hard) at the jab at "Big Box Mart."

BTW, spent yesterday putting out all the glorious new Rowan yarns and books. We have a beautiful display of the Cashsoft yarns in Aran, DK, Baby DK, AND 4-Ply - almost twice the colors we have had in the past. Everyone loves this washable merino-cashmere blend. And with all the stacking, I just had time for one photo - who could resist the colors of this new Kaffe Fassett Colourscape yarn? It's tempting enough - but add a great book, and resistance is truly futile.

See what I mean?

- Shelley
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The big tease.

So, it goes like this: LYS owner makes huge fall Rowan order. Rowan rep happily writes up order, but overlooks writing a ship date on the order. Order of wonderful wooly yarn arrives on first 100-degree July day. LYS owner sighs, calls and emails Rowan rep. Rep's voicemail says she is unavailable until mid-August. Hmm...perhaps Rowan rep is in the south of France, dining on "commission a l'orange"? ;-)

Sigh. LYS owner prints price tags, cajoles employees out of their summer doldrums to price said yarn. Said employees go crazy over books and yarn. LYS owner decides if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Eight boxes worth of new Rowan magazines, new books, new yarns, new colors of favorites like Big Wool, Wool Cotton, Cashsoft Aran & DK. And oh yes, the much-talked-about Kaffe Fassett chunky weight, Colourscape, along with its own book. Absolutely gorgeous. Absolutely WAS going to hold it for the Hot Loops wall. But absolutely can't wait that long. It would be torture for all concerned.

No photos, 'cause Rowan themselves don't even have photos of this stuff yet. And the LYS owner hasn't taken any photos, 'cause she's been far too busy pricing and hyperventilating.

Oh, and cleaning up after a certain furry someone who, by the by, adores Pepperidge Farm Milanos:
And Sonic:

But at least she appears to feel guilty.

Double sigh. See you Thursday!

- Shelley
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P.S. No new Rowan online yet - Loretta is in Italy - but feel free to call to order 1-877-LOOPSOK.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thinking outside the felting Norm.

Norma is one of my favorite felting fanatics. I always look forward to her visits, when she brings in a new creation to share. Usually she makes one bag for a relative, then all the others are clamoring for their own versions. To keep from getting bored, Norma likes to experiment with different colors, textures and patterns.

Her latest, a version of Gina's "Wizard of Ozark" bag, is even better than the original IMHO:

And, even though most felted bags don't NEED a lining, Norma takes it beyond the norm:

We liked the look of Norma's bag so much, we used it on our new class list, which includes an offering of the Wizard bag class, taught by Gina herself. You can access the August class list here.

- Shelley
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Report from my other life.

Some of you have commented that you haven't seen me around the store for the past couple of weeks. I've been there, but less than usual and in the wee hours of the morning or evening. The reason is that I've been awfully busy with my other "lives" - three kids home for the summer and a very busy time in the advertising biz!

One of my many current projects is a new bunch of TV spots for Cox Communications. Ya'll have probably seen the spots that have run over the years, featuring local real customers in a white studio setting. If you knew me well and looked closely, you would notice that many are my friends and some are my relatives! My youngest appeared in a spot a couple of years ago for Cox Phone, where she "loves to talk and talk and talk." All of you who know her know that is definitely "truth in advertising"!

The newest bunch of spots are shot on location instead of in-studio. I felt privileged to be among the few ousiders to get an insider view of the new BOK Center in progress. Here I am with the fabulous Geno - amazing cameraman extraordinaire (doesn't he just look the part?) and fabulous client/friend Donna.

I have to point out that hardhats do absolutely nothing for any ensemble.

If you've seen the spot running, you might have noticed two little karate kids who bear a striking resemblance to me. Keep a lookout for more spots in the series to hit in the coming weeks. Here is a sneak preview:

Oh, what a glamorous life...

Next post: Norma visits Oz.

- Shelley

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ellen eats crow.

If you read the last e-newsletter, you know that I started the Chelsea Sweater out of Twinkle "Cruise" yarn last week. Cruise had become something of a joke around the store. I bought it, along with Soft Chunky, when Twinkle debuted last year. Soft Chunky was an instant hit - could not keep it in stock - while Cruise continued to sit, untouched, on the shelf.

Funny thing is, when I first saw this line at market, it was the Cruise I really fell for. I tried the model garments on and was enamored with the drape and couture look. Turns out, the drape is due to the 70% silk content of the yarn. The couture look is courtesy of Wenlan Chia, a designer who in fact has a very popular ready-to-wear line you can get at Sak's and such places. How cool that this couture designer has her own knitwear design line, I thought. And the finished pieces in Cruise were so soft and light - perfect for year-round Oklahoma weather.

And yet, the cruel jokes continued. Ellen became the Cruise ringleader. Every time someone went looking for a yarn for a pattern, Ellen would loudly offer up, "How about the Cruise?" Hilarity ensued. At least a dozen times, she asked why I hadn't just clearanced it. Adding to poor Cruise's woes were the fact that every pattern called for it to be knit 4 strands at a time. And then there were those Twinkle sizes. In whose world is a medium a 28-32" bust???

So, I finally decided to take on the challenge head on. I found the Chelsea Sweater from the book, Big City Knits, on Ravelry, and loved the look of it knit in just one or two colors (rather than the 3 colors shown in the pattern book model). I read a brilliant tip from Amy, owner of a Houston yarn shop with very chic taste - she suggested pre-rolling 4 skeins of Cruise into one big ball before beginning. To add to the challenge, I decided to work with BLACK Cruise. If I could knit it in black, any other color would be cake.

I researched the sizing, and faithfully followed the Ravelry consensus to just make the size you normally wear. I wear a medium, so I tried to ignore the frightening measurements (32" bust), taking the leap of faith that negative ease is a good thing.
I got out my size 17 needles, and tried not to think about the crocheting with 4 strands that would come at the end of the project.

I cast on, and was amazed - no, shocked - at how fast it worked up. I had the half of the sweater knit in about two hours. SERIOUSLY. This was beyond instant gratification. It was obscene! A sleeve took 20 minutes. And dang, it was actually fun. I haven't had this much fun knitting something in decades! The crocheting was a breeze - just a bunch of simple chains. And I decided to go with grey trim at the end.

The result: My favorite knitted object I have ever made. Ever. And it was made - despite my ridiculously hectic life, with its two careers, its 3 children and its 2 crazy dogs - in ONE WEEK.

Here is the "couture" photo - this is my best angry supermodel look, LOL:

The first day I wore it to the store, Ellen was there. Within moments, she was coveting it. Next thing I knew, I heard the swift and winder rolling. I looked over and saw Ellen winding her very own Cruise yarn. When the yarn was all rolled up, we dubbed them "crow cakes." Happy knitting (and happy eating), Ellen!

- Shelley
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Biker mama in cashmere.

The scooter craze has struck the Loops Troops - literally - and so far we are 2-for-3. Two of the three proud new scooter owners have crashed-and-burned (but don't worry, Ingrid and Paula both survived to ride again). Ellen, though, is very proud of her pretty pink bike and her perfect riding record - she attributes it to years of riding horses.

Here, Ellen is modeling the new one-skein scarf she made from the super-luscious Tanglewood hand-spun cashmere.

Ellen graciously offered (or maybe I bullied her into) sharing her original pattern with you guys:

Ellen's Neck Muffler
Materials: 1 skein Tanglewood Fiber Cashmere, Size 19 needles, button
Cast on 3 stitches
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: Knit, inc FBL 1st, knit to last st, inc FBL
Repeat row 1 & 2 unitl you have 13 sts.
Work in SS for 10 inches, K2tog at beginning and end of each right side row.
Cast off when 3 sts remain. Attach a button on one end. Don't worry about a buttonhole - just slip the button through your stitches.

It was a busy day at the shop. We received a huge order of Plymouth Ecco Yarns, a.k.a. Earth. This is the new line of all-natural yarns I mentioned in the most recent e-newsletter. We got three of the 7 or so yarns we'll be carrying. We got Rainshadow, a super-squishy mostly-alpaca in a chunky weight...Mainland, a luxury alpaca/silk...and Ecco Silk, a 100% silk. Yum!

Still to come are cashmere, camel and a silk boucle TDF. Look for the new display at the front of the store.

Because this line is from Plymouth, it's surprisingly well-priced. And I LOVE that Plymouth went the extra step to package the yarn in paper rather than the usual plastic. Here is a happy customer with two new, full bags of yarn!

Finally, we had a surprise visit from Mama Kristin and Baby Cameron!

Everyone reports that he is an especially sweet baby. No surprise there, considering his genes :) Love that little knitted soaker - made for Kristin by Gene.

- Shelley
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P.S. We took pictures of my new cardi sweater yesterday - just waiting on Gina to send me pics and I'll post again! Oh, the suspense...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Comment allez-vous?

Sadly, the time has finally come for me to crack down on those nasty comment spammers and enable "Comment Moderation." Now, when you post a comment on the blog, Blogger sends me an email to ask if it is ok to publish. So there will be a little delay between when you post the comment, and when it appears.

I hate that!

It seems anti-American, anti-free-speech and waaaay too Big Brother. Most of all, I LOVE comments and want everybody to keep 'em comin' because comments keep me goin'! But the comment spamming has gotten so bad, and to be honest, I just don't get it. Who are these people and do they really think that people are going to click on their crazy comments and go to their websites?

In my last post, I had to delete 4 of these silly spams. My most faithful blog reader, my dad, was really incensed about this. "Who is the creep who found your blog and likes to post his drivel along with Chinese characters?" he emailed me. I think his protective dad thing was kicking in here - like the spammers stalked me and personally chose my blog to terrorize. Hah.

Anyhow, please keep commenting! And watch for my next post. I finished a sweater in one week and it's my absolute favorite thing I've ever made. We'll be taking pictures today and hopefully posting tomorrow!

- Shelley
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