Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Xanax Cowl Kit.

Holiday stress can be intense.  

Holiday knitting stress can put you over the proverbial edge.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  Just pick the right pattern.  Something very easy.  Something very fast.  Something in a special yarn or with a special touch that elevates it from "homemade" to "handmade."

Last year, our go-to gift pattern was the Necks Big Thing.  This year, we present...

The Xanax Cowl Kit.

You can also wear it folded over, like this:

Here's all you do:
  1. Cast on 52 stitches in Malabrigo Rasta using #17 needles (straight or circular, doesn't matter, 'cause you're working back and forth).
  2.  *Knit 2, Purl 2* to the end.  Repeat this row to desired length (I did 20 rows).  Cast off loosely in pattern.
  3. Feel your holiday stress melt away as you realize you can churn out a cowl in less than one episode of "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo." 
Use our stunning Jul pedestal buttons instead of a seam, and you just saved another 15 minutes.  These buttons screw into the piece and are made of leather...

Cracked coconut shell and leather...

Or dried ferns and leather.

You just unscrew the pedestal button, separating the larger, "front" of the button from the smaller "back" disc.  Place the front wherever you want it to close your cowl, then use the back as a sort of washer on the back of the cowl, and screw it back together.  This protects your yarn and keeps the button firmly in place.  Here's what it looks like on the back of your cowl.  It's nice and smooth and flat.


The kit comes in 3 colorways:  Lettuce/Black Leather.

Or Belgian Chocolate/Cracked Coconut.

Or Natural/Fern.

You can order the kits here.  Easy peasy.  

Ahhh...don't you feel more relaxed now?

- Shelley
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Out of the pigeonhole.

Yesterday, we debuted two of our new Hot Loops Wall projects in our online store.  Both are Loops Original patterns, created by our very own Loops Troops.  Both are part of the new Osage Collection, named for towns in Osage County, Oklahoma, where we did our photo shoot and coincidentally, where a big-time movie is now being shot.   

(Seriously, there have been George Clooney and Julia Roberts sightings all over the place.  We keep hoping for Miss Julia to visit Loops, because we know she is a knitter extraordinaire.)

We can actually imagine Julia sporting this new pattern, called Burbank Bag.  It's a felted bag project from Gina Hills, made from Jewel Handpaint, a new thick-and-thin aran weight from Cascade Yarns.  It also has a touch of Little Flowers from Crystal Palace, used as a carry-along yarn to give the bag extra texture.

Our next new pattern is Barnsdall Blanket, a continuation of our ongoing Missoni obsession, designed by Gene Wiseman in the new Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK yarn.

Here's the thing.  While we adore both of these patterns, we would hate for you to pigeonhole these yarns as belonging only to these projects.

Because this Jewel Handpaint yarn is incredibly versatile and beautiful.  Just gaze upon this color range:

It's soft enough that it should, be no means, be limited to felting projects.  You could make this.

Or this.

Or this.

And the yarn for the Barnsdall Blanket?  It may be called Baby Merino Silk DK, but this ain't your grandma's baby yarn.  It's got merino.  And silk.  And yes, it is washable.  But it's about as far away from that chain-store-acrylic stuff as you can get.

I love that it looks much more expensive than it is, with its subtle changes in hue that feel almost hand-dyed.  Case in point:  This.

And I love that you can use it for other things besides baby.  Like this.

I confess, I'm not much of a pigeon fan.  But thinking outside of the pigeonhole?  That is something to coo about.

- Shelley
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Friday, October 5, 2012

Quaking Aspen Shawl and other surprises.

Some people ask me while I still go to market, when these days most yarns can be sourced and purchased through reps and websites.  My answer can be summed up in one word:  Surprises.

One such surprise greeted us at market in Phoenix last January.  If you'd told me that a yarn with funky little flecks would become the fiber I couldn't stop thinking about long after the show, I never would've believe you.

And yet, this Acadia yarn, from this group of incredibly nice people with the decidedly un-pretentious and indescript name The Fibre Company, etched itself on my heart.  My fingers yearned to play with its smooshy, merino/silk/alpaca dk goodness.

And then I saw this Quaking Aspen Shawl - the way the flecks added interest without disturbing the stitch definition.  I was smitten.

This photo of Never Not Knitting's Peurperium newborn sweater is another great example of Acadia in action.  You can just feel the softness, the loftiness, the richness of the color.

And this Schoodic Cardigan by Hannah Fetig hints at the longevity of the yarn.  This is no flash in the pan.  It's a yarn for a forever sweater - combining softness and sturdy twist in beautiful harmony.

This time of year, there's a new surprise almost every day at Loops.  I've been busy sprucing up every corner, creating little pockets of surprises for our customers.  Here's a new display of our Feza Alp Exquisite yarn (and a one-skein Effin Scarf below).

And I took our amazing array of Alchemy Silken Straw and gave it its due, hanging the skeins so you can see them in all their handpainted gloriousness.  The New Magician's Scarves hanging above were made by Loretta and Gina, and each take 2 skeins Silken Straw (1 each of two colors) and 1 skein Sanctuary.

I made our Alchemy Tweedy "smile."

And filled our favorite Loops blue cabinet with baby yarns and projects.

Another fun surprise just arrived - ChiaoGoo Twist Interchangeable Needle sets in two sizes.  Gina is holding the "Complete" set with sizes 2-15, while the "Small" set has sizes 2-8.

And the best surprise of all - I unzipped the outer pocket to find a needle gauge, cute stitch markers and other gadgets.  How fun!

I don't mind divulging that I ran right home with my set to cast on something new.  This is going to be a Felicity hat in Malabrigo Rios for my friend Maria, who has just begun her fight against cancer.

I am hoping this hat will be a small, bright surprise in her a way that only a handmade gift can be.

- Shelley