Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Break out the bubbly!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered Mallory's VIP Sneak Preview Contest. We just loved seeing all the project photos you submitted! It was painfully difficult to choose five winners.

All photos submitted will be posted on our Mega Magnetic Wall of Inspiration at our new South store when we open next Friday, August 6th. I spent about four days lovingly painting this huge wall with 3 coats of magnetic primer - the heaviest, blackest stuff on the face of the earth - topped with 2 coats of metallic silver. I would love to show you photos but that would spoil the surprise.

What I can show you is the photos from the five contest winners! These five ladies will be sipping bubbly and noshing on nibbles when they get the first sneak peak at the new Loops at 83rd and Memorial, on Thursday August 5. Winners, please email me (shelley@loopsknitting.com) for the party time!

And now, without further ado...Winner #1 is Mary Kell. Baby Vivienne is "modeling" the Puffin Peek-a-Boo blanket - one of our most popular store projects. What a beautiful photo by Nicole Burgin!


Winner #2 is Becky Howey. Becky submitted several project photos. Our fave is this pic of her modeling "Sage" from Rowan's New Shapes book in Big Wool.


Like Becky, Winner #3 Mary Jo Wimbish submitted several shots. The winning photo is this shawl, created with three colors of Cascade Ultra Pima plus leftover sock yarn. She didn't list a pattern for this one, but it looks a lot like Citron, a free pattern online.


Next up is Winner #4, Britt Westergard. She wrote, "Since the baby for whom this hat is intended is still gestating, Hello Kitty will have to serve as the model for now." Kitty is modeling the one-skein Sweetie Pie Hat pattern that is free on the ballband of every Bambino Taffy skein.


And last but not least, I just love this shot from Winner #5, Britani Bowman. These Koalas from Itty Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson are so darling in Blue Sky Cotton. You've gotta love the way knitted stuff brings people together like this!



Congratulations to all!

P.S. Thanks go out to Tasha of the award-winning blog, Tasha Does Tulsa, for this wonderful post about Loops. What a cool surprise - and amazing photos!

- Shelley
shop online at loopsknitting.com

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Top-secret color selection tips from an obsessed yarn buyer.

I recently saw a post in the Local Yarn Store Owners' group on ravelry. "How do I pick colors?!" asked an overwhelmed new yarn store owner. "Do I pick what I like, what customers want, or both?" You could just feel her panic.

I could really empathize. There's was nothing quite like that very first meeting with the Cascade yarn rep long ago, when he whipped out that color card and displayed the 220 colors of Cascade 220 ("plus hand-dye colors!"). Where to begin?

Lately I've been doing quite a lot of buying, with Fall fast approaching and our second store opening in just a couple of weeks. I tell you, it never gets old. Opening every yarn's color card still gives me that kid-in-a-candy-store feeling. Kinda like our new customers feel when they open Loops' door for the first time. Yummmm! So many colors!

So, there are three behind-the-scenes tricks I use when selecting colors, to help me stay focused. First, I closely follow color predictions, which come out several seasons in advance. There are many Nostradamuses of fashion color prediction, everyone from the Color Marketing Group to Vogue to Rachel Zoe. Being in advertising, I have come to trust Communication Arts and the PantoneĀ® Color Predictions. Here are Pantone's predictions for Fall 2010:


I am personally very heartened by these predictions. After a couple years of grey, charcoal and black, this feels like a fresh, new, waxy box of Crayolas! Much more like a Spring palette than a drab Fall/Winter one.

My second guidepost for color selection is simply, what is selling at Loops? For our first few years in business, pink was the thang. Anything pink was the first to go. Red was a close second (the Aries in me always gravitates to red), followed by lime green - yes, lime green! In the past year or so, I've noticed a trend back toward all things blue. Again, perhaps a sign of the national mood. I'm hoping for more pink and lime days ahead.

And lastly, I will share with you my most coveted, closely guarded secret for yarn buying color selection. This is the trick to fall back on when the Berroco rep lays out her 8-foot-long swatch card for Comfort. Remember the little Rainbow Song we all learned as kids? Sing it with me..."Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue...I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow TOO!"

Yes folks, when I am overwhelmed and exhausted with choices, I use this little mnemonic tool to make sure I've covered the whole color wheel. I do it in my head, of course.

Most of the time.

P.S. Looking for a project that treats you to a whole rainbow of yarn colors? Check out the Spectrum Baby Blanket.

- Shelley
shop online at loopsknitting.com (check out the new Shop Loops page!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Earn your summer stripes.

For all of you who still think Noro is only for fall and winter knitting, I've got one word for you:

Aya.

Oh, and two more: Furoside and Furin.

Can't pronounce them? (Can't blame you. "Aya" sounds like what my daughter used to yell in karate.) And not to worry, these gorgeous hand-dyed, self-striping summer yarns from Noro will do the talking for you.

We just received Aya - it was on extended backorder which is always a sure sign of a winner! This cotton/silk/wool blend works up at 5 stitches to the inch on a #7 needle, making it a great substitute for your favorite light worsted-weight yarn when you want to add some self-striping drama. The 35% silk content provides especially vibrant depth of color, as well as a light silky softness. Just a touch of wool adds resiliency. And check out just a few of the great patterns...

"Rita" from Jane Ellison's Noro for Kids Book 9:


Pattern YS493 from Noro Volume 27:


"Eva," also in Aya from Noro for Kids:


Furoside is another Noro summer yarn that really works year-round here in Oklahoma. Use this chunky-weight blend as a substitute for Noro Iro. This one has 45% silk, 40% cotton and 15% silk. The silk lends a light hand to the yarn, even as it knits up quickly on a 9-10 needle. Here's design YS488 from Noro Volume 27 (wear it over a cami for now, and over a long-sleeve fitted T through fall and winter):


Here's "Big Blanket" from Noro for Kids. Wow the crowd at the baby shower!



Last but not least, for those of you who like a little touch of texture or whimsy, here's Furin. It's got the great Noro striping plus a tiny little 3-D fluff every so often. The aran weight blend is mostly cotton and silk, for a quick knit and airy texture. Here are two designs we love from Volume 27:




And a Furin top called "Amy" - you guessed it - the Noro for Kids book. Takes just 3-5 balls:


Each of these Noro summer yarns has great yardage, so you can whip out a year-round garment before the first cool breeze of Fall arrives.

- Shelley
shop online at loopsknitting.com

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It takes a (constructive) village.

Since I've been teasing everyone with little tidbits about the new South Loops location (and I've seen lots of you trying to peek in the windows, when I've been there painting and schlepping stuff around), I thought I would build this tease around the folks who've been so busy making it all happen.

You can try to get a few glimpses of what's going on in the background...but for the full picture, you'll have to wait for our opening day, August 6!

Meet Chris, the electrician. He's fond of classic rock, has a booming voice and is always smiling:


Here's Phillip, the painter, capable of painting huge walls with 14-foot ceilings in a single bound. Phillip is very proud of his work (as he should be) and has been policing the joint to be sure that the rest of the crew leaves no handprints behind.


Philip's colleague, in a photo that speaks volumes about work ethic (and reminds me of a couple of unfortunate events back in college):


Norm, the millwork magician, who created the cashwrap desk of our dreams (I always have to yell "Norm!" in Cheers fashion when he walks in; I can't help myself):



Dave, the mastermind behind it all, the puppeteer deftly handling an endless list of subcontractors, not to mention yours truly, always with the calm demeanor that only a former military man can muster:


We've also met Alto, our South UPS guy, who has very big shoes to fill since we love Karl from the Utica store so very much. But Alto seems ready for the challenge! (I want to ask if he has a daughter named Mezzo or Soprano but I've resisted):



And here's Harriet, occupying herself while waiting for Alto to arrive with the day's shipment of yummy, gorgeous, irresistible yarns and other goodies. Although her eyes are closed in the photo, she's gotten a real eyeful behind the curtain. But don't try to pry it out of her. She's sworn to secrecy.


Want more details about the coming opening and Grand Opening events? Watch for the next issue of Loops Scoop, arriving in your email within the next 24 hours.

- Shelley
shop online at loopsknitting.com

Monday, July 12, 2010

Too much of a good thing? Nahhh...

There's no hiding it; I'm a sucker for silk. Last year, when a rep showed me the Tupa yarn from Mirasol, I immediately ordered it. The colors were so saturated. The 50/50 merino/silk blend was so rich and, well, silky. And the stitch definition? Fab, fab, fab!


So enthralled was I that I temporarily "spaced" the fact that we already stock two yarns that are much the same as Tupa: Malabrigo Silky Merino and Louisa Harding Grace. Same content. Same gauge. Same silkiness.

Oh well, the more the merrier, right?

So when Annie forwarded this great new Wakefield Scarf pattern from Melissa LaBarre at Knitting Daily, and asked me if we were going to keep stocking Tupa, I said "No worries!" We've got merino/silk out the ying-yang.



Here's a link to the free pattern (you need to be a member of Knitting Daily to access the pattern, but membership is free). It takes three skeins of Tupa, or three skeins of Silky Merino, or four skeins of Grace, plus a size 7 needle.

They say the pattern is "hypnotic" to knit and you can easily double it to make a wrap. The silk makes it seasonless and not too wooly for poolside knitting.

Cast on and enjoy the fruits of my silk addiction!

- Shelley
shop online at loopsknitting.com