Friday, April 29, 2011

Susan's first review!

Today I have a special treat for you, dear readers. Susan, one of our newest Loops Troops, recently volunteered to start reviewing yarns for us. Actually, it was more of a very nice command, as in "I'm so in love with yarn that I'm going to start working my way through the store, swatching and reviewing all the yarns, whether you want to use the reviews or not!"

Susan's ability to command might have something to do with the fact that she's a former Weapons Technician for the US Navy. Although you would never, ever guess this from her sweet, patient demeanor. And just look at this friendly face:

Anyway, Susan has many talents, including great improvisational knitting skills and, it turns out, a nice writing style! So without further ado...take it away, Susan!

Lang Sol Dégradé Review by Susan N.
Overall Rating: 4.75 of 5 Stars

I've knit with flat "shoelace" yarns before. It was a lot like knitting with a shoelace. Well, yards and yards of it. Who in the world wants to knit with a shoelace? Not me, ladies and gents, not me, and take my word for it, you don't want to either. But, Lang's Sol Dégradé is not a typical shoelace yarn.

For starters, the Sol Dégradé is 100% of the the softest cotton I've had the privilege of working with. To top that off, it's also saturated in gorgeously intense colors that gently fade from one shade to the next.

The first shipment to arrive was one lonely bag that made the trek all the way from Italy. It sat on the back shelf in the Utica store for what seemed like an eternity while I gave it googly eyes and snuck in to caress it at every opportunity. I had a really hard time not sneaking some home so I could make a surprise sample in time for it to be released. Oh, just kidding, Shelley. Kind of. On a very cold and snowy winter's day I finally had the official go ahead to make a project with the Sol for the upcoming Hot Loops wall. Woo-hooo! Within a few days, that entire bag was at home with me. I could get started as soon as I had the pattern!

Ah, the pattern. It had not yet arrived with the yarn. So I waited. And waited. Sol was forced to sit in my stash and be admired from afar like a long-lost high-school sweetheart that married the other girl instead. Sigh.

Eventually, the pattern books arrived - stacks and stacks of them - full of beautiful Italian clothes. (You really do need this book.) The pattern arrived just in time for me to work furiously and intensely to finish it in time which was a joy to do with the Sol. It's as soft to knit with as it is to caress and was immediately upgraded from "shoelace" to "pressed Italian cotton". The speed at which I was able to knit this was impressive. It's just slippery enough to fly through the fingers without being...well, slippery. The color changes were fun to watch and occurred often enough that it was no problem at all to knit just one more row so many times that an hour flew by in the blink of an eye. I also like that the color changes softly giving a fading effect without striping or pooling. Dropped stitches were a non-issue because this yarn doesn't run.

I finished my cardigan at the very last minute - I was sewing on the button as I drove it to the photo shoot!

I loved this yarn so much, I immediately cast on for another project - the Destroyed Cowl, a free pattern on Ravelry. Since I usually think I can get away with knitting a pattern my own way - the way of "close enough" - I've already finished, completely frogged it, and re-knit it. All for the greater good, because now I can tell you the very best trait of Lang's Sol de Grade: frogability. Pressed Italian Cotton is hands-down the easiest yarn to frog and re-knit and I bet if you frogged it half a dozen times you wouldn't be able to tell. It doesn't stick, it doesn't pill and it only takes a second to rip a row.

So here's my twice-Destroyed Cowl, modeled by new knitter, Sue.

Sol Dégradé is a great, lightweight summer yarn that knits up fast on size 7 to 10 needles, perfect for trying out your own design or a pattern involving techniques that are new to you. Or, your first (or fifteenth) cardigan. - Susan

To shop Lang Sol Dégradé, go here.

- Shelley
shop online at

Monday, April 25, 2011

Presenting...the Effin Scarf.

The knitters have spoken.

Loretta's brilliant new scarf pattern will henceforth be titled the Effin Scarf. Thank you to all who voted in our blog naming contest. After eliminating the "write-in votes" (all very creative, thanks!), as well as the votes for Stupid Effin Scarf (an intrinsic tie), the final tally was 29 for Effin, and 14 for Stupid Scarf.

Originally, Loretta herself was somewhat opposed to Effin. However, after reading the last blog post, she was convinced by those who know her best - namely, her husband and both of her sisters - that Effin is the perfect choice!

For those of you who knit the scarf for minister's wives, children or others with very tender ears, we have a suggestion. If they happen to see the title of the pattern, simply say that it's a typo and it is really elfin scarf. You know, for cute little elves.

I am also pleased to announce the new pattern is now available in Loops stores and on Ravelry, here. It is only $3.99 and in many cases, takes only one skein of yarn!

Here is the Effin Scarf as modeled by Sarah. This is the Noro King version:

And here is Sarah, modeling the Lang Sol Dégradé version in orange/brown:

Here is Sarah's friend Emily, wearing the Sol Dégradé version in Blue:

Thank you Sarah (hope it has an "h") and Emily, for letting me snag you out of the South store for these impromptu pics! Now, here's Loretta's niece, Lindsey, modeling the Alchemy Silken Straw version that she had on the needles in the scarf video. Just one skein! Lindsey already made off with this version, so Loretta will be buying more Silken Straw to make one for herself and probably her daughter, too.

To recap, here are the yarns we recommend for this scarf and where you can get them:

Lang Sol Dégradé (Loretta used 1 skein for the blue version shown, and barely went into a 2nd skeins for the orange/brown): At both Loops and online here.

Noro King, one skein, at Loops Utica and coming in the next day or so to our online store here.

Alchemy Silken Straw, one skein, online here and at Loops Utica (more colors coming online soon).

Louet Euroflax (Utica and online here) and Blue Ridge Linen (South), one skein. More Euroflax colors will be online in the next day.

Remember, if you need a certain color or want guidance, the Loops Troops are happy to help you pick the perfect skein - just call us at 1-877-LOOPSOK or email us at

Now for the moment you're all waiting for...the big winner of our blog contest. "dskba" voted for the Stupid Effin Scarf. dskba, you win a pattern and a skein of Noro Taiyo Sock yarn! Please email with your email, phone, and which store you would like to pick up your prize from. Congrats!

- Shelley
shop online at

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stupid or Effin? You decide!

In the years we have known her, Loretta has become one of our most beloved Loops Troops. Her sweet, patient manner with customers and generous, kind approach to her coworkers, and her Betty-Crockeresque baking skills, all disguise the secret that lies beneath: a sailor's mouth.

Loretta's northeastern upbringing combined with her more recent years of southern living have given her the ability to smile disarmingly and cuss a blue streak at the same time. She is so soft-spoken and sweet that, rather than shocking gasps, her cussing usually elicits giggle fits.

As one of our two resident webmasters, Loretta has had the chore of picking up newly arrived yarn from the store for photographing and coding to our web store. A full bag of yarn often set off a chain of mumbled curse words from the stockroom. This led one of the Loops Troops to stitch a "special" bag for Loretta. In cute polka-dotted pink bubble letters, it read "Loretta's Effin Bag." Giggles and guffaws ensued.

Fast forward to today. After years of toiling, tweaking and angst-ing, Loretta is ready to debut a masterpiece - this simply brilliant scarf pattern.

The scarf works in multiple gauges, with all kinds of yarns, and is especially pretty in hand-dyed or self-striping yarns with drape - think silk, bamboo, linen and cotton. We love it in Lang Sol de Grade, Louet Linen, and all but the bulkiest of Noro yarns.

She has been testing, tweaking and sample-knitting this scarf for five years. All that time, we've been drooling over it, begging for the pattern, wanting to make it ourselves - but Loretta coyly said "I'm still working on it." At long last, Loretta is ready to debut her new Loops Original pattern. Just one task remains: What to call it? Loretta suggested "Stupid Scarf," because of all the times she promised to get me "that stupid scarf pattern." I suggested "Effin Scarf," for obvious reasons.

Which name would you vote for? Post a comment with your vote, and we'll draw a winner on Monday. The winner will receive a free (as yet un-named) pattern, along with a skein of Noro Taiyo Sock yarn to make the scarf.

Before you vote, watch Loretta's video, here.

Now those comments! And look for the newly-named pattern to be available early next week.

- Shelley
shop online at

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ooh baby, a winner!

Thank you to the tremendous number of you who responded to our Post-o-rama contest! It was incredibly cool to see all of you share and post your projects on our Facebook page - many for the first time!

And now for our winner...drum roll...

It's Lynn Nichols! She shared this post of her Buga Baby Bunting from Spud & Chloe:

When I notified Lynn to let her know she was the big winner, she had this to say:

I am so thrilled to win. I think the answer to your question is that I have been on facebook for a while now and liked Loops many times. It is the first time I have posted a picture except for the actually profile picture...Thank you so much, I love Loops. They should have a Love It button.

I told Lynn she should contact FB Founder Mark Zuckerberg about that ;-)

FYI, we will be offering a free class in May to help you harness the power of more of the wonderful new electronic tools for knitters, including Facebook, Ravelry, iphone apps, Vogue Knitting on the ipad and more. Watch for the May class schedule, coming in the next week!

- Shelley
shop online at

Friday, April 8, 2011


When we started the Loops Facebook page, we were always running these fun little contests, asking people to post their favorite photos, captions or comments, for a chance to win a prize. Often we did this on what we call "Facebook Friday" because, well, Fridays are just fun. Everyone loved it.

Problem was, I met this brilliant Facebook guru who pointed out that it was against Facebook rules. Bummer, right?

We can still run contests like that here on the blog, of course. The thing is, what I want this week is to see all the amazing Spring projects that our Loops customers around the world are making. I love when our customers inspire each other with new pattern and yarn combinations. And Facebook makes it so easy to share you photos instantly. So here is what I propose for this week's Facebook Friday:

Head over to the Loops Facebook Page. Post a photo of a Spring project you're working on. Be sure to tell us the pattern and the yarn.

Maybe something like this:

(Except you don't have to be a Russian supermodel. You don't even have to have started the project. It can be a photo of the yarn, work on the needles, finished project - whatever!)

Monday, I will randomly choose a winner. And because this is sort of a test, to see how many will respond, we've got a mondo prize:

$200 Loops gift card for the winner
$50 if you join Facebook and "like" Loops for the first time when you do this (it's so easy)
$50 if it's the first time you've posted a photo on Facebook (it's also easy - just click the little box above "write something" that says photo when you post, and follow the instructions)

Yeah folks, that's a potential gift card prize of $300!

Yes, our obvious goal is to get all of you on Facebook. This blog is awesome for lots of things (like longer stories, and contests!) but Facebook is where we post every day with new arrivals, inspiration and deals - and we don't want you to miss a bit of it. Plus, it's just fun.

Here's a picture of our Facebook page. See, nothing to be afraid of!

Let the Post-o-rama begin!

- Shelley
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