Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Foxy yarn store?

It's been another whirlwind Christmas season. Highlights include finishing the Sock Monkey Hat (size large), Toconao beret and myriad other Christmas projects (girls loved their hats so much, they wore them all day - even when it got hot):
"Sandy Claus" - yes, we are glad we adopted you in '08, despite the destroyed Cole Hahns and your constant ability to find chocolate in the house, resulting in continuous runny - well, you know:

Our record-setting after-Christmas sale (here's the Friday morning line at the door):

Our family two-day escape to Dallas this past weekend, where we stayed at the W Hotel - which is distinctly not for children, which is exactly why we loved it:

Dallas included a trip to the American Girl store and doll hair salon (this has got to be one of the world's most bizarre jobs):

And the capper: On our way back from Big D, I received an email from our PR friend, Julia, that Loops had been featured/quoted on and Click the links to read all the fun quotes.


- Shelley
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Friday, December 26, 2008

Filled up.

I have a new hero, and his name is Kevin Leaver.

(And I'm sorry, I have no photos to share - I was much too frantic/embarrassed/freaked out to think of taking pictures!)

On Christmas Eve, my two oldest kids were scheduled to perform in the Christmas pageant at church. My son had the lead as Matthew, and my daughter was Townsperson #3 - sure to be a riveting performance. They were both so excited and had been practicing for weeks. Brent loaded them into our Suburban at 4pm and headed downtown for the 5pm service.

At 4:40, I had my youngest and myself all dressed, and we boarded our Mazda for the trek downtown. Immediately I noticed that hubby had neglected to fill up with gas (I had noticed that it was empty when we were all out and about at lunchtime). I didn't really sweat it at first, knowing that hubby likes to live on the edge as far as the gas tank is concerned, but we've never run out yet.


I made it out onto a (very busy, only 2-lane) 91st street, and then it happened. Total lock-up. I managed to get the car almost off the road when the steering wheel locked and we sat their, our "butt" sticking out into swerving traffic, and only 20 minutes to go until the pageant started.

Naturally, it is hard to reach family and friends on Christmas Eve. Everyone - hubby included - had their cells turned off. After several minutes of frantic calling and texting, I called 9-1-1. Within just a few minutes, TPD Officer Kevin Leaver arrived.

(Cue harp music here).

I explained the situation, and he rushed us in his squad car to QT, filled up a 1-gallon gas can for us, then rushed us back to my car, entertaining my daughter all the way. He insisted on putting the gas in the car. Then, as I was mentally calculating whether we could make it the 10 miles to church on that one gallon, he said, "Y'know, you'd get to the church a lot quicker if I drive you."

And get there quickly, we did. Hoo, boy! Luckily, I was prepared for this ride, having just returned from New York City where we spent a lot of time in cabs!

My daughter, of course, was tremendously entertained by all this. She kept up a constant patter from the backseat. The most cringe-worthy comment was, "Boy, I bet this is a fun job - a lot better than being a janitor at the mall!"

I emailed a commendation to the TPD, but I want to do something more, so I'm going to make Officer Leaver something with some Jade Cashmere Handspun (previously reserved for hubby; now hubby is getting a QT gas card instead).

What do you think - hat or scarf? I'm leaning toward hat, so I can finish it faster.

- Shelley
P.S. The big Annual Loops Sale starts today at 11am! 25-75% off all yarns. And online, you can save 25% off everything by entering code "loops" at checkout. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Poor Lucy. First, we bring Sandy the Crazy Rescue Retriever into her world. Sandy steals the attention, steals Lucy's food, tramples her and *itch-slaps her with her giant tail.

And, as if Lucy doesn't already get enough static:

I have a feeling the culprit was a child with a leftover balloon. But for Lucy, groomer day cannot come soon enough.

- Shelley
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Ellen, Gina and I (oh, and Ellen's hubby Rob, too!) just returned from a trip to New York City. No work, gobs of eating, loads of walking, and a ridiculous amount of shopping. This was Gina's first-ever trip to the Big Apple, while Ellen goes many times a year, since her daughter attends school there.

And, to those of you that know Ellen, it should come as no surprise that she projects the most, um, authentic New York attitude.

By that I mean, balls.

This became sort of the unofficial theme of our trip. First, there was the view from our Marriott hotel room, which overlooked where they drop the "big ball" on New Year's Eve. Dick Clark could not have asked for a better view.

Gina's niece, Lydia, who works at the Ritz, got us a rockin' rate on this rockin' room. Thanks, Lydia! (Sometimes you just have to have the balls to ask).

The first night, we saw "Wicked" - fabulous as always - and had a great Italian meal with Ellen, Rob and their daughter, Ariel. Our waiter was good friends with Adam Sandler. Then, continuing the celeb theme, on the way home we noticed some guys with cameras standing around outside a tiny hotel on a quiet side street. So we lingered and out of a car pops Katie Holmes holding baby Suri. I kid you not! We were 10 feet from her.

The next two days were devoted to hardcore shopping. Ellen added the title "Cashmere Ho" to her long list of "ho" monikers ("Bag Ho," "Book Ho, "Ho Ho."). Here she is with more cashmere than she can carry - and this was just the beginning:

Next, we embarked on a 4-hour private shopping tour of sample sales and designer "back rooms" called the Elegant Tightwad tour. Here are Gina and Ellen at the entrance to the Garment District - love the giant button sculpture:

The bargains were amazing. I got a new leather "corset" jacket for about 90% off, and some fun finds like this cashmere scarf:

That evening, we did some sightseeing, and found some balls even bigger than Ellen's:

Our last day, we visited my favorite stop - the enormous Anthropologie store near Rockefeller Center. Their displays were just breathtaking:

And of course, they had balls too - the yarny kind:

Even Starbuck's has gotten into the yarn ball trend:

This is random, but it really does take balls to walk around in a costume for no apparent reason:

And finally, there was my favorite ballsy New York advertisement, pointing the way to the "Charmin restrooms":

That's the thing about New York: You've just gotta go.

- Shelley
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Monday, December 8, 2008

Two heads are better than one.

Good news: I got my first Christmas present completed.

Bad news: It doesn't quite fit.

Good news: this Sock Monkey Hat can still do double-duty as a store sample and an occasional hat for Lily, Billie Anne's stoic little Mini Me:

Bad news: Urgh. I mean, I'm happy to be generous and all, but Urgh. I've gotta knit another hat.

Good news: the hat is a free pattern online. I used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in off-white and silver, held together for the marled-looking parts, and Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky for the solid cream and red parts. This was a rather pricey way to go, but the hat is really soft AND washable, and I've got plenty of Superchunky to make several more hats. But the next one will be a Large.

- Shelley
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Mal-Pal Cuff.

My youngest has just finished her first knitting project:

She calls it the "Mal-Pal Cuff." Yes, the stitches are a bit wonky. But I am thrilled! When you own a knitting store, there's more than a little pressure for your kids to be expert knitters right out of the womb. I taught this one to finger weave when she was 4, and to knit when she was 6, but it never really stuck. In fact, it mostly succeeded in creating tension - and I don't mean the yarn kind.

But she is waaaay into her gal-pals, and she wanted to make some of them a little something for Christmas, so we finally had some natural motivation to work with. I let her dig through my stash and she found this leftover Prism yarn in - naturellement - purple. We cast on 10 stitches on #6 needles and she knit until it would stretch around her wrist (the stretching also helps smooth out the wonkiness). I made a 2-stitch buttonhole, sewed on a button from my box and voila!

(Don't you love the way the Cuff coordinates with her self-inflicted manicure? Thank you, Mr. Sharpy, for inventing the permanent marker).

I told her she did a great job, and she said, "Mom, it's in my blood." But it was the next comment that told me she has true potential to become a Real Knitter. When she finished the first Cuff, she counted on her fingers and declared, "Hey! If I work on these every day, I can have one for all my friends by Christmas!"

Ah, the optimism of youth.

- Shelley
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Je suis une very bad blogger.

Bonjour! Comment allez-vous? I'm sure you're all wondering where the heck I've been. Well, any of you who have ever moved - especially after having children - are already aware of the joy in which I've been mired. But things are looking up! We're down to about 10 boxes (out of, I dunno, 593 or so). Most of them are surrounding me here in my office, which is making it really tough to work (must...unpack...must...unpack). So tonight I think I'll drink a giant diet Coke and tackle the last of the mess.

Picture hanging, though, that is another story.

I've decided blank walls are beautiful, in a minimalist sort of way.

Meanwhile, I'm never so busy that I can't knit. Well, yes I am, but I remain determined not to let the responsibilities of life completely rob me of stitching time. So I whipped out a couple of easy projects over the weekend. The first is the Christmas Creep scarf from the e-newsletter that went out today (didn't get yours? email me!).

The second project is this little red beret. So very French. Je t'aime, je t'aime mon petit beret! (Oh Lordy, I so hope my college French teacher is not reading this).

Anyway, this pattern is from Wooly Wormhead, who, despite her name, it a frickin' hat genius. We have been selling her books like crazy. And this pattern is a freebie! Click here for the link.

It was really fun to make in Toconao, one of our newest hand-dyes. It took less than one skein for the medium, and came out just a tad large. I would make a small next time - even though I have a rather largish head. And I will be making it again. Little miss precocious has already demanded a copy - "in blue and purple, puh-lease Mommy."

FYI, I was inspired to knit this hat by Loretta, who made a beautiful one, out of some ridiculously teensy-gauge yarn, from a pattern by that masochistic lady that Loretta went to take a class from in the northeast. This lady is seriously, seriously serious about pattern writing. She wrote, like, an 80-page pattern for a beret. And Loretta is seriously nuts for making them. But I've gotta admit, I loved that hat!

By the way, Loretta, this hat took me, oh, an hour or two. Just sayin'.

- Shelley
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