Monday, November 29, 2010

Playing Martha (and busted at the craft store).

A couple weeks ago, Holly sent me a photo of a really cute, simple wreath made from yarn. It just screamed (or rather, gracefully yet firmly spoke) "Martha Stewart" to me. Then last week, Gina Y. asked me (gracefully, yet firmly) when might we would be getting some holiday decorations in the Loops display windows?

So I put on my best Martha smile and got busy.

First, I went to my local craft store and got some styrofoam wreath forms.

I was planning to use some yarn from Loops and my stash, but while I was there, I grabbed a couple skeins of acrylic bulky yarn. When I was checking out, I got to talking with the clerk - she said she wanted to learn to knit, and I told her about Loops classes, handing her a card. I left, carrying lots of wreaths in bags.

About 10 minutes after I left, I got a call from Gina at Loops/Utica. Speaking loudly over the busy crowd in the store, she said, "SHELLEY? MICHAEL'S JUST CALLED - YOU FORGOT YOUR YARN!"

Oh, the humanity!

Anyhow, now that I'd been busted, I sheepishly returned to Michael's and retrieved said yarn. From there, all I had to do was break out the ol' glue gun, glue down the first strand and start wrapping.

For this one, I started with some Twinkle Soft Chunky from my stash, then layered over it with the cheap, squeaky stuff (hard to handle after I'd just been caressing the soft, lovely Twinkle):

I also found some old Classic Elite Tigress in my stash - I like how the different natural colors give a crunchy Anthropologie look to it:

The wrapping looked so fun, I quickly gained a volunteer helper:

Before you know it, I had a whole pile!

Then one of our new Loops Troops, Sherri, crocheted up a whole garden full of crochet flowers using Spud & Chloe Sweater worsted-weight yarn. A little more glue gunning, and voila!

Martha, eat your heart out!

- Shelley
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

A.P.B. (All Purls Bulletin)!

It's one of those dirty little secrets, a dark underbelly of the business that no one likes to talk about or even think about. It's shocking because we all think of yarn stores as little utopias, immune to woes that befall other retail outlets. And as knitters and crocheters, we simply can't imagine the depth of evil it must require. It's a decidedly un-Christmasy topic (except in a Grinchy sort of way). And yet, I believe the time has come to expose this reality and bring its perpetrators to justice.

I'm talking about (gasp) stolen store models.

I know, it may be difficult to read further. But, for the sake of stitchers everywhere, read on.

I'm putting out an A.P.B. (All Purls Bulletin) for this scarf:

This was Jane's first store model for Loops. As one of our newest "Loops Troops," Jane was especially excited to make a model for the store to show off our new "Bubbles" yarn from Araucania. Just look at her, beaming with pride!

Jane eagerly offered to knit the scarf and together, we chose the fun pink color, thinking it would just "jump off the shelf" and invite others to knit with it.

Well, jump off the shelf it did.

Jane finished the scarf, blocked it after soaking in Eucalan ("It made it so soft!" she said) and put it out for display about two weeks ago. A couple of days ago, we realized it had gone missing.

Sadly, this has happened more often than we can count. I remember the capelet I made from black Berroco Suede five years ago - oh, poncho, where did you go? And just the other day, I went looking for the Koigu Tabbed Mitt that I made last year. My youngest daughter had requested that I complete the pair for her for Christmas. Imagine my chagrin when we realized that, too, had sprouted wings and flown from Loops.

Really, who steals a single fingerless glove? It can't be Michael Jackson. A one-armed bandit?

I've talked to other yarn store owners about this. Many of them "lash" their store models to wire shelving...but then, how can customers try them on? Others tie jingle bells to their handmade pieces - the constant jingle sound could be festive...or it could be annoying.

So, dear readers, fueled by the passion-turned-disappointment that Jane is feeling after lovingly spending so many hours to make that scarf, I'm "outing" this secret and making a direct appeal to you.

Tulsa is a small community. If you see this scarf out and about, please do what you can to help it find its way home to Loops. I'm offering a $100 Loops gift card for its safe return. No questions asked.

Here it is again. It's really quite unique, so take a close look:

And thank you, in advance, for your help. Knitters unite!

- Shelley
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Monday, November 22, 2010

We could all use a little more "free."

I have a friend who has a favorite saying, "Everyone love free stuff." Well actually, she uses a more colorful word than "stuff," but this is a family blog so...Anyway, these days it seems like more than ever, we could all use the surprise and joy of special little things, given freely with love.

In that spirit, I have three free things to share with you. Two that you can get, and one (perhaps the best) that you can give.

First, Classic Elite has kicked off a promotion that comes as quite a cool surprise. The "Love Your Shop" giveaway is an unadulterated celebration of the LYS.

Here's how it works. You spend $40 or more between Nov. 11 and Dec. 15 on yarn, patterns or books at any LYS that carries Classic Elite (like Loops, hint hint). It doesn't have to be Classic Elite products - it can be anything. You send Classic Elite your receipt, and they send you a free pattern booklet plus 3 mini-skeins of yarn. All the details are here. How awesome is that?

Now for the second freebie. This Friday, yea the veritable Black Friday, Loops is jumping into the "doorbuster" melée for the first time. We are opening early, at 9am at both locations (We can be early birds, but 4am? Masochists we are not.) We'll have secret "doorbuster" discounts from 9-11am, and will have a free, really cool gadget-y booklight for the first 25 customers through the door at each store.

So you can knit in the dark without stabbing yourself. Or knit in the car at night without your husband/driver glaring at you. Yeah Brent, I'm talkin' to you.

Now the last freebie - your chance to give - comes courtesy of my friend Marilyn. Her sister, Gretchen, is about to undergo surgery for a benign brain tumor. And somehow, amidst all the chaos and emotional turmoil that must accompany such a challenge, she is leading an effort to help others. Here is the letter I received:

Dear Friends and Family:

I will undergo an operation at MD Anderson Hospital on December 10 to remove a benign meningioma tumor from just under the skull above my forehead on the right side of my brain. The predicted outcome is excellent and the risks are 5% or less. That doesn’t mean it isn’t scary, but I remain optimistic that I will recover completely and return to work in good health, minus a bit of hair, in January.

One has only to sit in the waiting room at MD Anderson’s Brain and Spine Clinic to realize that a benign tumor in the quietest part of the brain makes you the luckiest person in the room. Most of the other waiting room patron’s lives are profoundly affected by cancer. Except for the friendly, supportive staff, there was not a smile to be found.

I would like you to help me bring some happiness to cancer patients at MD Anderson. You can do this by donating a cute hat or scarf to me for Christmas or for my birthday, which is also in December. I will wear as many as I can wear and donate all your gifts to MD Anderson in the New Year. Your donation to Hats That Smile can be for a woman, man, or child and the hats and scarves can be as fun and festive as you like. (Please avoid wool because it itches!)

The idea behind Hats That Smile is to brighten cancer patient’s lives with something special and unexpected that allows them to give and get smiles during a difficult time. Your name will be put on the card attached to the hat you donate. The front of the card label will have the Hats That Smile logo. The message on the back of the card encourages the recipient to smile at each person they meet while they wear your gift. I personally can’t wait to wear your hats with a big, healthy smile!

Send your hat donations to me:
Gretchen Bebb Poplinger
c/o Speech Pathways
2509 Dorrington
Houston, TX 77030

Thanks to all of you for your hats, prayers, love and healing thoughts. Your kindness and well wishes will be on my mind in December. I’m twice the lucky one because I have you!



And here is a photo of the gorgeous Gretchen:

To be honest, I receive info on these types of charity efforts quite often - but it's been awhile since one has touched me as much as this one.

If you'd like to participate, here are a couple of patterns to inspire you.

This is Felicity by Wanette Clyde, a free ravelry download (photo by lapoli). Would be perfect and inexpensive in Berroco Comfort.

And this is Swirl Hat by Mandie Harrington, another free Rav download (photo by knitwit). Try Panda Cotton for a soft, itch-free hat.

You will bring softness and love to someone you have never met. And "free" doesn't get any better than that.

- Shelley
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

North vs. South.

It's the funniest thing. Lately it's become the "Battle of the Ginas" over new stuff that arrives at Loops Utica and Loops South. Gina H. manages the South store, while Gina Y. is full-time at Loops Utica. Every day, new stuff arrives at each store, and we also transfer yarn back and forth, depending on stock levels.

After an ad featuring the Snooty Snood appeared in this weekend's Tulsa World, there was an epic (albeit friendly) Ginas battle over the Baby Alpaca Grande. I briefly considered organizing a jello wrestling match and selling tickets.

Only kidding. Sorta.

So I thought this would be a fun time to show you some of the new stuff that's been happening at Loops South. Gina Y., close your eyes...

We just got some incredible hand-dyed 100% silk from Blue Ridge Yarns. Can you think of anything prettier for a shawl? I can't.

As an avid linen devotee, Gina H. has been bitterly complaining about the lack of 100% linen at South. So I ordered in this hand-dyed linen with the Louet linen base, also from Blue Ridge.

There's even a really cute vest pattern to go with the linen:

We also have these stunning afghan kits from another new yarn company, Great Adirondack. These are like the ever-popular Colinette AbFab kits, but with a little more bling to keep things exciting. Perfect for students going off to college, or to add some snuggly pizazz to your living room sofa.

Janet came in yesterday to show us two great projects. This Snow Cowl is just amazing in Misti Alpaca Handpaint Chunky.

Look at all those colors!

Janet also had this Infinity Cowl in Malabrigo Worsted Merino. So scrumptious!

Linda just finished her Juliet in Malabrigo. Here is Becky modeling it:

Such a versatile pattern. We have hard copies for sale at both Loops. OK Gina Y., it's safe to open your eyes, 'cause we have the Misti and Malabrigo and both stores, as well as the Spud & Chloe yarns needed to make the items in these next two photos. We got a Spud trunk show with this fabulous Uptown Downtown Coat in Sweater:

Plus this baby set, also in Sweater:

See all of these things for yourself tonight, when Loops South hosts our first annual Cookie 'n' Pattern Exchange! Bring some cookies and copies of your favorite free pattern to share. It's from 6-8pm at 8287 S. Memorial. Both Ginas will be there. No tickets required ;-)

- Shelley
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