Thursday, August 25, 2005

What a Cut Up

Cynthia writes:
Over the past month, I have discovered the joy of cutting into my knitting. For some reason, I get a real kick out of putting scissors to sweater. (It might be that streak of Morticia Addams I have in me. She cuts the heads off roses; I cut apart my knitting.) It all started with this sweater:

I had tried a new way to make the sleeves, starting with the stitches on the cuff, and then doing a two-stairstep increase to a very large rectangle for the upper arm. I was excited about how easy it was to knit sleeves this way. After the sweater was done, I tried it on.

The sleeves were worthy of cruel laughter.

I had a choice: I could unravel and reknit them, making them tapered as usual, or I could try steeking (sewing and then cutting) to taper them. I didn't have much to lose. I talked to Mother of Kevin of Cynthia, who is not only a quilter but has also done a lot of Sewing of Knits. (Remember "Stretch and Sew patterns"? If so, you were born before about 1960.) She suggested using washaway paper, then sewing with a zig-zag stitch to keep the knit stretchier. These were brilliant ideas, and the sweater was saved with just one hour of sewing. I was emboldened.

Then came the shadow-knitting pillow incident. To create a pillow from the back of a sweater, I had to sew it and cut it. Once again, it was easy.

After that, a customer came in with a poncho that she had literally made while on drugs. (Don't worry--recovery from an operation.) It was, shall we say, an odd shape. We were trying to figure out what to do to fix it, and I told her that if she wanted to, I'd try to sew it and cut it--with no guarantees. She was game. I did it, and it worked.

The truth is that knitters are always worried about dropping stitches. I think that this stems from the days when we first learned to knit and didn't know how to pick up dropped stitches. It was scary when our stitches fell off the needle, leading to the risk of having to rip out our entire Barbie blanket (kid beginner) or scarf (adult beginner) and start over. From these early days, we have an underlying feeling that knitting wants to fall apart. It doesn't. When you begin to cut and sew it, you can see just how much it wants to hold together.

Today I got to do more cutting, and this was the most fun of all.

One of our customers had knit a sweater for her son--twice. The first time it was too big. She unraveled the whole thing and made it again. She is a strong, brave woman, who loves her son very, very much. It's gorgeous and was well worth that effort:

After she had ripped out the entire sweater out and reknit it in a smaller size, her son tried it on again. It was perfect--except for one small problem. The sleeves were one-and-a-half inches too short. She could tell by his face that he would never wear that sweater. She asked me what to do.

I'm sure you have guessed my solution:

Do I look a little too happy in this picture? (Hey, it wasn't my sweater.)

So I cut the cuffs off:

And after I had picked up the stitches, Ellen knitted down the sleeve... ending with the cuff. We used a Kitchener bind off so that the cuff was stretchy enough. (We read the Big Book of Knitting to learn how to do that.) You absolutely cannot see where we started and stopped, which was about an inch above the cuff:

And so Ellen went home a happy woman.

Me--I learned for real that knitting down is the same as knitting up. I had known this in theory but had never seen it happen before with my own eyes. And I loved that new bind off. I think it would be great for toe-up socks.


I suspect you'll be seeing a modification of my Really Clear toe-up pattern later this year.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Show and Tell is the best part of our job. We see wonderful finished projects almost every day. (Other bloggers actually have to make their finished objects. We get to let someone else do the work, and then we take the photos and still enjoy a certain sense of accomplishment.) Here are some show and tells from the past few days. First, a couple of quilts:

They both won prizes in the Huntingdon County Fair. Aren't they gorgeous?

Below are some kids' quilts that a customer made. Along with their cuteness, these show you why blue and yellow is always a great color combination, either in pastels or in brights:

Those two quilts will be on display at the Grange Fair. Go look for them!

Here are three scarves from this Saturday's wet-felting class:

They were done with a technique called "nuno felting." You take fabric gauze, and you lay merino fleece over it in layers. Add embellishments, mix it all with water, wrap it in bubble wrap, roll it on a table, and by the end of the day, you have a scarf.

Below is Jane, with her "weekend sweater." You knit it on size 36 needles, and it's done in a weekend! She seems happy that it went so quickly:

She used Mountain Colors mohair, held together with Berroco Zen ribbon.

Here is the finished top from a recent bargello class:

We picked out a triple border for it today of dark purple (inside), then gold (middle), then burgundy (outside).

And finally, we'll add a show and tell from Cynthia, a crocheted basket she just finished felting:

You can bet that when the class schedule comes out in a few weeks, you'll see this one on the list!

Friday, August 19, 2005

UFOs are Falling
Kim writes:

Fall is in the air. Store shelves are stocked with paper, pencils, and rulers. Penn State has put up signs to help incoming students find their dorms. There's a flock of Canadian geese hanging out in a small, puddle-like pond on 550. The light is changing from the crystal sun of summer to the golden glow of fall. House flies are flocking indoors. And I have begun tackling a five-year backlog of UFOs.

This has happened more by accident than design, but now I have become obsessed with the idea of finishing things. (Have I mentioned before my tendency towards obsession?) I bought a new sewing machine over the summer--a Bernina Aurora 440, with built-in stitch regulator. This is my fourth Bernina (again, my obsessive tendency to trade up), so I'm familiar with them, but the Aurora is different enough that there was a bit of a learning curve. I created a few new pieces with it--a couple small (8" x 10") abstract landscapes, a fabric vase, a rag quilt Christmas tree skirt....

--but didn't feel quite comfortable with the machine yet.

To become more comfortable I looked toward the looming pile of UFOs (unfinished objects) on my quilt stand. I found a small, log-cabin wall-hanging that I made as a sample for a talk on color. It had been quick to piece, so I felt comfortable using it as a guinea pig. I tried a couple new free-motion quilting patterns on it and was thrilled:

I had become one with my machine again. This was fun.

I looked back toward my pile and found a blue-and-tan pineapple wallhanging that needed borders and quilting. I quickly mitered the borders and basted it together. Five hours later and I had finished another project.
This was really fun.

I looked again at my pile and there I saw the Beast--an enormous 20-block sampler quilt (80" x 100") from my very first quilting class. (Again with the obsessiveness. Could I have made a more manageable 9-block wallhanging? Apparently not.)

Believe me, it has all the shortcomings of a first quilt. Cheap fabric that is already starting to disintegrate. Too small seam allowances that are coming apart. Points that aren't exactly points, more like plateaus:

Sashing strips cut too small with an extra inch piece added on. And possibly the worst mistake of all--hand basted with the wrong type of batting. (I can still remember every last one of the 13 hours it took me to baste that monster.)

I started hand quilting it in 2001, believing that my first quilt was supposed to be hand quilted. But my batting choice was my undoing. It was too thin and slippery. Every time I would rock my needle, it would slip through the quilt. I quilted 11 of 20 blocks before I gave up. But still the Beast sat for four years. Staring at me. Mocking me. Challenging me.

A year ago I picked it up, thinking that I would finish quilting it by machine. The batting still was an issue. Because it was thinner and less bulky than my preferred batting I had trouble maneuvering it through the machine. I quilted half of one block and put it back in its corner.

The other night I saw it again. As a looked it over I came to a realization: this quilt was so poorly made that nothing I could do to it would make it worse. I was determined to conquer it, instead of letting it conquer me. Once I finished it, I rationalized, I could give it away and remove it from my life forever.

So I loaded my machine with ecru thread, queued up all three Harry Potter movies (yet again with the obsession), slipped on my quilting gloves, and tackled the Beast. I free-motion quilted in the ditch and in the major seams of each block. I quilted a leaf-and-vine pattern in the sashing and a flower-leaf pattern in the border. Then the quilting was done. It took me one viewing of "Sorceror's Stone", one viewing of "Chamber of Secrets", and two-and-a-half viewings of "Prisoner of Azkaban" to finish.

Last night I got to straighten it up, bind the edges, and begin removing the basting threads. The power went out, so I couldn't finish it, but it's sitting in my sewing room right now, nearly defeated.

I showed my husband what I had accomplished:
He said to me, "I remember that quilt," with a tone of nostalgia. I told him I was planning on giving it away. He said, "You can't give away your first quilt." He's right. Besides, it matches the sectional in our family room. For better or worse, the Beast will remain a part of my home and my life. At least now it knows its place.

I have chosen my next victim: nine appliqued flower blocks. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Our preparation for Stitches East continued. We took an afternoon "off," and went to Wegman's to work. (Hey, big corporations have offsite retreats. There must be something to it.) Cynthia's mother kindly watched the shop. We wanted to have an unbroken stretch of time to think about our booth.

For this meeting, we decided to think about three main things:

1. How will we describe our fashion-show garment?
2. What yarns do we want to take?
3. How do we want to lay out our booth?

Fashion Show Garment
We started with the garment when we were freshest. And because the deadline was ... well, that day. It absolutely had to get done. We are making a shrug out of Crystal Palace yarns, as you know from the last Stitches entry. We needed to find a name for it, and then to describe it for the fashion-show booklet.

First, we described it. We decided to use the names of some of the yarns (Splash, Party, and Stardust) as a play on words in the description. We wanted people to know that this was a quick knit. We also wanted them to know that it would look good on them, and that we had a bunch of colors to choose from. After much revision, we finalized our copy:

"Make a Splash at your next Party, as you dance under the Stardust in this quick-to-knit Kimono shrug. Random stripes of Crystal Palace yarns create a flowing silhouette to flatter any figure. Choose from one of five colorways to suit your spirit!" A little corny, but fun. We liked it. So if you go to Stitches East and are at the Friday night fashion show, you will see this description in your program booklet.

Now we needed to come up with a catchy title for the garment. What would describe it? Somehow, this was harder. The brainstorming began:

The Intuitive Shrug.
The Western Kimono.
Waves of Texture.
The Spirited Wrap.
Spirit of the Kimono. (This one was the best so far, but it did not match the spirit of our description even slightly. We did not want to rewrite our description, so it was rejected.)
A Knitter's Kimono.
Wings of Sleeves.
The Dancer's Co... No.
A Spirited Kimono. Hmmmm....

We finally settled on "A Spirited Kimono." We liked the idea of the Kimono being spirited, and we liked how the word "spirit" can be either ethereal or fun. Time was pressing, so we went with it and moved on to booth planning.

Yarns to Take
That was easiest. We took the list of all our yarns, figured out which were the most show-worthy, and which ones of those we had already made samples from. These yarns included Berroco's Hip Hop, Cherry Tree Hill's Oceania, Manos Del Uraguay wool, Mountain Colors Bearfoot (along with other sock yarns), and many others. We also wanted some fun things, like bags, socks, pins, and other goodies.

Then we had to figure out how to lay out the booth. We calculated how many bins the yarn would take up and how much would hang. It was time to make a layout. We had brought paper and scissors, but not a ruler. Since we were at Wegman's, Cynthia ran over and bought one. When she got back, we looked at our papers and realized that we needed tape too. Some days it would be nice to be able to think more than 1 second ahead.

Kim ran and got tape. The cashier said to her, "This is getting really strange. About 10 minutes ago, I had a ruler come through here."

After an hour or so of playing around, we had a booth layout, thus:

Yes, we know. It's hard to believe that a few taped-down pink squares that look as if they were made by a second-grader could actually take a full hour. But keep in mind that as we worked with the paper, scissors, ruler, and tape, we were mentally placing all the yarn into bins, making sure that we had enough planned for the amount of yarn we wanted to bring along. Unless you are a large store, booths are only 10 x 10, which is a very small amount of space to work with. You have to plan what to do with each corner. On paper the booth looks huge in the center, but in reality, there's probably only room for a few people to stand comfortably.

We're still trying to decide whether we want to decorate the booth with any special theme at this point. Probably the deciding factor will be how much time we have to devote to (1) thinking of the theme and more importantly (2) executing the theme. We tried one theme for another show, and it looked stupid. (Warning: Do not attempt to cut out colored paper and tape it to popsicle sticks with any hope that this will resemble lolipops.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

We are preparing to be vendors at Stitches East, which begins September 22 and lasts for four days. Stitches East is a large public knitting show in Atlantic City. It is coordinated by XRX, the company that publishes Knitter's Magazine. We'll tell you a lot about our preparations over the next month.

The first thing we are doing to prepare is to design a garment for the fashion show. We are keeping it simple because (1) we don't have time to do otherwise, (2) real people don't have time either, so this is a great project for them, and (3) we think this shrug will look beautiful on the fashion runway because it's so showy. (Let's be honest here. No matter what we make, it will look beautiful on the runway because of the 6-foot, willowy professional model wearing it.)

We are making a novelty shrug. It's been fun to do! We picked 5 different novelties from Crystal Palace yarns: Party, Splash, Little Flowers, Fizz, and Deco Ribbon. We're knitting a large rectangle and will sew it from the wrists toward the center for about 10 inches to create sleeves. Here is our knitting so far:

That colorway is what we're calling "The Bronze Age." Here are the other colors we've chosen for kits and what we've named them: "Passionate Purple"....

"Caramel Latte"...

"Glorious Greens"...

"Blue Moons"....

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

It happened today: The ever-dreaded mistake on the Block of the Month. We got the first two distress calls. Kim was out, Cynthia fielded the calls. She looked at the instructions. She realized what had happened: When she fixed a typo in the instructions last week, she accidentally fixed it twice, thus making one part of the instructions correct, and creating a new part that was incorrect.

So before she taught her quilting class tonight, Cynthia fixed the typos, ate a chicken-salad sandwich, printed out 60 copies of the page, ate a brownie, then turned over the printed pages, and printed out the return address on the back of the page so it could be stapled shut and mailed out. (There was only one paper jam during this process. It was a pretty good night for printing.) During her class, she addressed as many of the letters as she could in between helping the people. She was grateful to the class for being good-humored about watching her do this.

After the class left, she finished the addressing. It was now 10:15. Time to get stamps and get the corrections mailed out. She grabbed two $10 bills from the cash register and headed to the Pine Grove Mills Post Office to get this task completely finished by the end of the night so she would no longer have it nagging at her. When she got there, she learned that the machine accepted bills no larger than $5.00.

So she went home, and she and Kevin of Cynthia went to Wal-Mart's postage machine and got stamps. It was now after 11:00. Kevin of Cynthia felt sorry for Cynthia, so when they got home, he put the stamps on all the letters.

Then he suggested that if she wanted, they could go to the Post Office to deliver the letters. After a 13.5-hour workday, Cynthia decided that this was probably a bad idea--although extremely well-intentioned and, on some level, tempting. The letters would not go out any faster anyway.

And so the letters will be posted first thing in the morning, and then, with any luck, the Block of the Month Trauma will be over.

Shop owner's prayer: Please, oh please, let the customers procrastinate long enough to receive the letter before they begin the block.

Monday, August 08, 2005

We have just finished August's sessions for our Rainbow Bright Block of the Month (BOM). Each month, since January, 60 people stop by the store to pick up their block, learn how to piece it together, and be inspired by design ideas. This year, our BOM is first Saturday of each month, and the Monday following. In no particular order, here are the blocks we have completed so far:

When we say bright we mean bright!

Now that you've seen all these blocks, we can guess what you're thinking: "Wow! You're kidding! Sixty people each month! How do Kim and Cynthia possibly do this? How do they coordinate for a Block of the Month? I sure would like the inside scoop on that!"

We can't hold back from telling you.

Starting in December, we decide the scope and focus for next year's program, and how we are going to run it. This year, Kim decided to design our blocks, but we may do a commerical one next year. We're not sure yet. (It's nowhere near December.)

Then Kim draws up all the blocks on Electric Quilt, designing the entire quilt so that it is ready to go for January. Each month, as the year goes on, she looks at that month's block separately, and writes up instructions for how to do the block. This takes days. This is because during the process, she inevitably decides that (1) she is not happy with the colors she originally chose and (2) she also doesn't want to do the block she originally chose. And so she redesigns the block 3 to 4 times until she is satisfied--or until Cynthia is ready to kill her because it is getting too close to the weekend and we still need to get the block tested, cut, and bagged. We try to keep the wailing and gnashing of teeth to a minimum on both ends.

When Kim is finally finished, it goes to Cynthia, who is our tester. Cynthia makes the block. This takes an afternoon. We try to be sure that the instructions are clear and that the fabrics are cut to the right size. She makes notes for corrections as she goes. Occasionally we miss, even then. But we always try our best to make sure that everything works. Trust us, we do not want to get sixty distressed phone calls.

When the block is finished, we cut the fabric, and we put each block's worth into a separate baggie for each person. We've found that this is the only way to keep them straight. It takes at least two full days to do that because we're cutting out and keeping track of so many pieces, in between helping people as they come into the store.

We need to get the room ready, putting away our usual large classroom table, and putting out 10 chairs so people can have a seat during their timeslots. Kim prepares mini lectures, giving tips for making the block, pointing out new items that have arrived in the store since the last month, making announcements about what's coming up (for example, the Centre Pieces guild show this October), passing out the new packets, and sometimes giving little surprises to the group.

We're always extra-busy with customers on Block of the Month days; we have to admit that from our point of view, that is a great reason to have this type of program. But the people doing the blocks also get an advantage. They receive a quilt's worth of blocks, which means that by the end of the year, for what seems like very little sewing time, the quilt is basically finished.

If you're in our Block of the Month, you're on the home stretch after this block. If you're not, look for our end-of-year newsletter, and sign up beginning in January. We think you'll like it!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Yarn Market, Part 2

Where were we? Oh, yes. Yarn market.

After the fashion show Friday night, we knew we needed a good night's sleep. Sleeping well is hard at market. Your brain swims with possibilities. You close your eyes and see skeins of yarn. You keep sorting through ideas and decisions. You just can't fall asleep. Our minds were swimming, and ironically, we found that the only way we could settle down and sleep was to swim in the hotel pool before bed. We vow never go to market without our bathing suits again.

Remember, before market we made a list of our needs--and we were determined to find it all. Here's our list:
  • DK weight, merino superwash baby yarn
  • New sock yarns
  • Organic cotton yarn
  • Some new patterns
  • Wide ribbon yarn
  • Replenish our Manos Del Uruguay yarn
  • More felting yarns
  • Alpaca. People have been begging. (Until market we hadn't found any that we loved, so we hadn't ordered it in to the shop. Our rule is never order anything that we are lukewarm about. It never works.)
  • Get the scoop on Sally Melville's new book on color
  • Buttons
  • Whatever else was new and interesting

And so we set out. Saturday was just for looking. We ordered almost nothing. The market floor is huge, so we wanted to sort through everything before making commitments. We did the same last year, and it worked so well that we kept our system.

Remember, our sales reps for Berroco and JCA/Crystal Palace had stopped by the week before market and spent the entire day with us. This freed up time at market for finding other new products. We ordered from Berroco, JCA, Knit One, Crochet Too, Crystal Palace, and two new companies before we even went to market.

What's new from Berroco? We have Foliage, Crystal FX, Hip Hop, Runway, Suede Tricolor, and several new colors of Tosca. These are available now!

We replenished a few of our JCA yarns, such as Blizzard. Flirtation by JCA is a new, wonderfully nubbly yarn. JCA's yarns will arrive in September/October.

Douceur et Soie, from Knit One, Crochet Too, is a beautiful lace-weight mohair for scarves and shawls. We are also getting coordinating colors of a yarn called 18 Karat, so that you can make your shawl sparkle if you wish! K1C2 yarns should arrive early September.

Our Crystal Palace has also arrived. Along with Musique and Squiggle, we now carry Splash...

Nubbles, Little Flowers, Party Ribbon, Stardust, and Fizz. We are designing a shrug made from coordinating colors of all of these.

In addition, we opened relationships with two new vendors, which we are very excited about. Both are smaller companies specializing in hand-dyed yarns. Steadfast Fibers offers hand-dyed, worsted-weight mohair and coordinating hand-dyed wools. The colors are clear, but not bright, soft, but not gooey pastels. They are solid, but with the slightest gradation of value for depth. Steadfast Fiber's palette reminded us of sherbet ice cream and candy. They should arrive in September. Ellyn Cooper's yarn provides a richer palette of colors based on intense jewel-tones. These yarns reminded us of Saris in their color mixes and metallic additions. They'll come in October.

That allowed us to spend more time with new companies at market to work on our checklist.


1. DK weight, superwash, merino baby wool in good colors. This was the hardest yarn of all to find. It took two full days of looking to find one that met our all our needs. You can easily find this yarn fingering weight, but not DK. We won't tell you all the companies we looked at, how much acrylic we saw, how much nonmerino, how much fingering weight, how many bad colors. We finally found our answer at Aurora Yarns, a yarn called Biberon.

It is gorgeous. (We were so relieved to find this yarn that the Aurora sales rep offered us a celebratory glass of chardonnay. Kim happily imbibed.)

In addition, we replenished our supply of Allsorts, another superwash DK merino from S. R. Kertzer. It is the perfect baby yarn for boys, coming in darker primary colors (red, blue, green, and purple).

People often think that wool means scratchy, but they do not realize how many different types of wool there are. Merino is much softer than any acrylic. Babies don't itch when wearing merino. Acrylic is made from plastic. Enough said.

2. New sock yarns. Found. We replenished our supply of Bearfoot from Mountain Colors, and ordered a few of their new colors. It should be here sometime in September. (We already have a good stock of it, but it is our most beautiful sock yarn and goes quickly.) We also found a lot of good sock yarns at Skacel. The most interesting one is a wide striping one called Missoni. We have a pattern for a baby sweater made from it. By the way, if you do want fingering weight baby yarn, sock yarn works great. It is superwash and, with the nylon added, very tough and able to withstand anything a baby can dish out.

3. Organic cotton. This one was another difficult search, but Cottage Industry won us over. It is extremely soft, the colors (all of them coming naturally from the cotton) are soft and beautiful, and it looks even better after a few washings. It's hard to believe that plain cotton can be that exciting, but we could hardly stop talking about it all weekend. In some ways, it was our favorite yarn.

4. New patterns. We found some new sweater designs, mainly from Chris Bylsma and Fiber Trends. (Fiber Trends also offered a new, felted pink flamingo pattern. Cynthia won't be able to resist making this one.)

5. Luscious wide ribbon. We know how you love Cherry Tree Hill, so we were thrilled to see their new ribbon, Glitter Sachet. Glitter Sachet is similar to regular Sachet, but with a glorious sheen that is perfect for evening wear. Very pretty. Look for it in September, along with new colors of Oceania, one of our best selling hand-dyes.

6. Manos Del Uruaguay. We replenished it with a huge order. Amazingly, it is already getting low again and we will need to order more soon. Manos is one of our most popular yarns, and for good reason. The texture and colors are like no other yarn. Plus, it felts like a dream.

7. Yarns for felting. Skacel has great offerings this year. Loft has been one of our standard wools, but the new colors are irresistible. Purses made from felted Loft were delicious. Loft is a merino wool (see speech about Merino under "baby yarn") so it is a comfortable yarn to carry around as a bag. And Musique felts!

We were surprised by this, because of the partially acrylic content of this yarn, but our sales rep assured us it was true. Farfalla, from Skacel, comes in bright, neon-like colors, very, very soft, with little nubbles, making it the perfect accent yarn for any felted project, Himalaya wool/silk felts amazingly well. Look for new colors in early October.

8. Alpaca. Alpaca is not really a wool; it comes from the fleece of alpaca animals. Alpacas are beautiful, sweet creatures, with fleece as soft as cashmere. Our general pickiness is to your benefit--we shopped hard to find the perfect alpaca. We chose a baby alpaca from a company that began only in January 2005, Catalina Fibers. It comes in both natural and dyed colors, and it all felts--even the white. We have never felt a softer alpaca. Cynthia couldn't stop petting it. Delivery date is set for September 5.

9. Sally's new book. Sally Melville's new color book is a follow-up to her first two books in the incredibly popular Knitting Experience series. We got the scoop and saw the garments from the book. Sally has done it again. You will love intarsia. You will love Fair Isle. Sally makes it easy to learn, and she creates classic designs. Thank you, Sally.

The book is slated for publication in November ... but we are hoping that it might possibly be ready for a debut at Stitches East. We'll see. We have a case ordered. If you want to reserve your copy, please let us know. We also ordered several new books from XRX, the most exciting of which is a new scarf book with the coolest scarves! That one's sitting on our counter now!

10. Buttons. We found some beautiful new buttons from several companies. We now have a wide selection of buttons, ranging from funky, fun buttons, to artistic fused glass to the classics.

We are very, very picky about buttons, and it has taken us two years of slow looking to find buttons that we liked enough to carry. We're now pleased with our full selection.

11. New and interesting. There is so much at a market that it is impossible to describe. We looked at thousands of yarns from scores of companies, but just like everyone else, we have only so much space, time, and money. People often ask us how we choose. It's not that hard for us, because we are both decisive people, and we have roughly the same taste (but opposite color palettes). We know what will be a consistent look for our shop, and we know what we like. We finally came down to these new ones: Mango Moon Recycled Rayon, and Sarong. Another new one, Mountain Colors Twizzle, is perfect for people who want a sport/dk weight merino--it's a tweed with a hand-dyed kick.

In nonyarn excitement, we found these knitting necklace kits from MagKnit:

The clasp is a magnet, designed like fine jewelry, and you knit a simple stockinette pattern in any yarn you want. Then you add the yarn to the clasp, and it turns into a gorgeous necklace. Kim and Cynthia are trying to figure out what yarns they are using. Right now, Cynthia is leaning toward Sinsation. Kim is thinking about Daria Multi. We have the MagKnits in the shop now.

What colors did we select for all our yarns? To tell you the truth ... we don't remember. Remember how we said it's like Christmas when we get yarn? That's because it's so long between ordering and receiving, that half the time you can't remember what you're getting. Rest assured that Kim has chosen warm colors for you, and Cynthia has chosen cool colors.

We'll surprise you--and probably ourselves. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Just looking at this picture makes us laugh.

We found the Sun Magic the other day when we were cleaning. Here is its story.

Flashback to July 2003. We had just started the shop the month before. We were in trauma. We had spent the past few weeks buying merchandise as fast as we could to fill the shop.

One day, Kim was out running errands, and Cynthia was left alone. An odd-looking man came into the shop, and he started talking fast--real fast--about his wonderful cleaner that could clean almost anything. He walked over to a wall, and drew on it with what must have been a special crayon. One of our customers, a particularly tidy person, gasped in horror.

But not to worry! "Sun Magic" would take care of that awful mark! The man got out a cloth, dipped it in the Sun Magic--and like magic, the mark was gone! It was hard to believe how effective this product was!

The man said that Sun Magic was $15 a jar, but if we got two, it would be only $20. Cynthia, somehow confusing this man with a knitting/quilting store supplier--even though two jars of this product would clearly never sell, and he was clearly not a supplier of any type--wrote out a business check for $20. Two jars of Sun Magic were ours. The man ran away, never to be seen again.

Kim came back. After seeing the jars of Sun Magic and hearing what had happened, she burst into laughter.

No, friends, it was not the type of laughter where you laugh with the person; but rather, it was the type where you laugh at the person.

She explained to Cynthia that we do not want to buy this sort of product, and that sometimes there is a steak guy who comes by too, and we most definitely do not want steaks either.

We used the Sun Magic to clean for a while, but really--you guessed it--it did not work. And so the Sun Magic was relegated to a back corner, only to emerge this week when we were clearing out some clutter. It is now in the Great Sun Magic Graveyard in the Sky, and only this picture remains as a fond memory of our early days in retail.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

We now have a cash register.

It is not yet in the store. We are not really sure if it will ever be in the store. "Kevin of Cynthia" found it at Penn State Salvage for $25. (Cynthia and Kim both have Kevins. They are both tormenters, each in their own way, giving us strangely parallel lives. We usually call them "Kevin of Cynthia" and "Kevin of Kim" to distinguish them. Grouped together, they are "The Kevins.") It is a very good cash register and would cost about $400-500 new. It even works. Because she knew it was an inexpensive way to test whether a cash register would be useful, Cynthia approved the purchase.

There is only one problem. We have no place to put it. Oh, and one other problem. The tape reads "Penn State Bookstore" at the top. We are not the Penn State Bookstore. And maybe one more problem. We have no idea how to use it, and it has lots and lots of buttons (all marked with bookstore categories).

Kevin of Cynthia assures us that we can solve all of these problems. We shall see.