Sunday, July 23, 2006

Congratulations to Deb, who was the winner in our contest! Deb correctly guessed that blue and silver were the team colors for the Italian team in the Soccer World Cup. Kim has been wearing blue and silver toenails for weeks now, in celebration, and she wore the colors as we set up our booth in Valley Forge for the TKGA/CGOA convention last week.

We are going to give another prize to Amanda, who came up with the most creative explanation for the blue and silver nail polish:

"I am convinced that Kim painted her toenails blue and silver to remind her of the uniforms of the early Continental Army who spent 6 months encamped at Valley Forge. The colors would remind her of the strength and energy of those who fought for our Independance from the monarchy and help her to complete the given task of setting up the booth in record time!!"

Amanda, you are not only creative, but a true patriot. We commend you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More about the prize at the end of this post.

In the meantime, let's talk about TKGA/CGOA in Valley Forge this past weekend. We had our noble Kirsten minding the store, and so we were able to go without worrying about anything back home. No matter what we do, we never close our store. It's very important to us that when you drive to see us, someone is always there waiting excitedly for you.

To pack for this show, we brought our usual piles of yarn bags in plastic bags:This great pile frightened the security guard when we went to lunch and didn't return until 2:00. She was afraid that we would never get the booth set up by our deadline of 6:00. But we are seasoned professionals. Kim had worn her sturdiest OSHA-approved cabana sandals and painted her toenails blue and silver as inspiration:

Cynthia similarly inspired herself by wearing her Wicked Witch of the West striped knee socks:

And by 5:00 we were set up and ready to go:

We loved the bright pink, especially the boas.

The Crochet Dude stopped by our booth that evening and advised us to get even more boas. We took his advice--so the final booth had even more fluff than you see here. (People kept asking us if they could buy the "feathered yarn." The answer was yup--at Target in the little-girls' area.) One person asked us where our Johnny Depp poster was. Don't worry: we'll be bringing him back to Stitches.

We had a great time all weekend. We talked to lots of fun knitters and crocheters, and we even had a chance to take classes with Pauline Turner (Kim) and Melissa Leapman (Cynthia).

In the evenings, we had a great time at the King of Prussia Mall, which was right next door. We particuarly loved goofing around in the Sephora makeup store, a store with a breathtaking supply of makeup, a store where we were able to try out any makeup on our hands, where we could rinse it off at rinsing stations whenever we had reached maximum smearing and striping....

...and start again. Did we buy any makeup? We'll let you judge whether we look more glamorous when you stop by the shop.

We stayed up till 1:00 a.m. every day because when we were done shopping at the mall, we we still keyed up from our adventures and started thinking about what we wanted to do with our Stitches East booth this November. We took the opportunity of the quiet time together to get our ideas down on paper. And then we got up at 7:00 every morning to make it to the show with enough time to get ready for the day.

At the end of the weekend, we were tired but happy:

All good things must end, and sleep must at some point become a priority. We are back home now.

And we are in the middle of our next event, our Christmas in July this Saturday.

We had such fun at the show, and are in such a Christmas mood that we are going to give a prize, your choice of this skein of beautiful hand-dyed cotton yarn from Wool in the Woods....

or this fabulous 6-pack of quilter's fat quarters....

(you can see that we're still in a kind of pink/purple mood) the random winner of those who correctly guess the answer to this question, or, if no one guesses the answer, to the person who gives us the most creative answer:

Why on earth did Kim paint her toenails blue and silver?

Send your guesses to stitchyourart out (AT) yahoo (DOT) com by Saturday, July 22, at 5:30, with the word TOENAILS in the subject line. If you come into the shop and ask us to answer the question, we will happily tell you, which will increase your chances of winning. (Phone calls don't count.) If you live far away and send us email, we will happily mail you your prize if you win.

Good luck!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

We're just back from the TKGA/CGOA yarn show in Valley Forge, PA, and we're in such a good mood that we're ready to give out a prize to someone. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cynthia writes:

I feel guilty. I was not able to make it to the most recent Knitting Guild meeting, and I am the president. Please, everyone, forgive me, and let me explain.

I was attending a drawing class at our store. The class had gone into overtime. I just couldn't bring myself to leave.

You see, just 3 weeks ago, I could only draw stick figures. They were not even good stick figures.


This spring, when I went to Disney, I had gotten a little taste of drawing. In 10 minutes, 50 of us in a big room learned to draw Mickey Mouse from a Disney artist. (I suspect he was a new-hire.) I learned that it was easy to draw Mickey. You put him on a grid, and you placed the ears and eyes in their places, and suddenly, you had something like this:

We learned at Disney that since we were artists, we should sign and date our pictures. My Kevin was so proud of me that he bought me the frame with the carved Mickeys. Kim was so proud of me that she bought me a 64-box of crayons and a tablet.

So that was my start. I had a lot of support from those close to me.

When I got home, our resident fiber artist Jenni Bateman and I were scheduling classes for summer. We decided that we would try a drawing class. Since I was intimately involved with the scheduling, I was the first one who signed up. (Rank has its privileges.)

And so the class began. We started by learning to draw bananas. We first learned to draw 10-second outlines that looked pretty crappy. I swear that this is a bunch of bananas, not a baseball glove or a cow udder:

Then we started working in more detail. Jenni kept telling us to give her the information about the object we were drawing. To me, this was very freeing. Drawing was about giving information. I kept drawing bananas, and they turned into something like this:

You're right: It does look a lot like a banana pencil.

Then Jenni told us to go home and draw something that wouldn't rot too fast. I chose a skein of yarn:

I called it "Still Life with Cotton Chenille." I thought that this was an amusing title, and I thought it was fun squiggling with my pencil to make this drawing. We learned to see shadows to create depth when we drew.

On July 6, the night of the Knitting Guild meeting, we had our last class. That night was the most fun of all. We learned about different drawing media. Jenni brought her box of goodies...

..... and we played with many of her different drawing tools and paints.

Jenni also had brought in some of her beautiful drawings, and she told us just to draw right on top of them, with the tacit permission that we could go ahead and wreck her work. I liked this. It showed us that art is something fun to do, not something to be afraid of messing up, and that not every single thing we draw has to be Precious and Valuable.

It was really cool: No one seemed afraid to draw by the last night of the class, even though--believe it or not--we were still not professional artists after 3 weeks and 10 practice drawings. We had all gotten better.

Here is Kate, putting her shoulder into her work:

Lore putting shadows into a still-life painting:

And me, on the same painting....

Tina learning to use.... well, I forget the name what she was learning to use.... I'm still a rank amateur:

And Janet (with Jenni behind her) helping us all learn that some objects are behind other objects, and you need to give people that information:

By the end of a couple hours, with a lot of help from Jenni, the group had taken turns interpreting this:

Into this:

It's not perfect, or really even very good, but I don't think any one of us cared. We had learned to see where it could go. Then Jenni encouraged us all to go home and use our newfound skills to make quilts or any other fiber pieces we wanted.

I think I'm just going to draw skeins of yarn for a while.


Many people think that drawing is something that you're born with. A few days ago, my parents both emphatically informed me that I did not inherit any artistic skill from either one them. I cannot think of a single artist on any side of my entire extended family. I could draw only stick figures for 47 years. Is it a sudden miracle that I can draw? I doubt it. I can conclude only that drawing is learned. Don't waste your time believing otherwise.

I think you need to learn to draw from someone, and then you need to think about it and practice to get better. Remember that "perspective" is a recent invention. If drawing is so inborn, why did humanity go for centuries without understanding how to draw a simple box shape? Drawing used to be a normal part of school curriculum in the 1800s for everyone, but that's gone now. This unfortunately makes drawing seem more mysterious than reading, science, or math.

And not every drawing has to be part of your soul. Sometimes a banana is just a banana.

You may never have a calling to be an artist, but you don't have to become an artist to learn to draw. You can cook a good meal without having to become a chef. It's fun to learn new things, and it was fun to learn to draw. If you think you'd like to learn to draw too, then come on into our shop, take a drawing class from Jenni--or take any other kind of class that sounds interesting to you--and just have fun and play!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Our Final Selections!

We have a lot of yarns coming from now through December. We’ll tell you what but we won’t tell you when: You have to keep coming into the shop and being surprised.

First, we have two new fingering-weight merinos: One is “Pearl” by Louet. It is a classic, solid, superwash merino wool. It will be great for crocheting or knitting beautiful sweaters (including baby clothes)!

The other is a gorgeous hand-dyed fingering merino from Claudia’s Handpainted Fibers. We have 8 colors coming. We dare you to choose just one. Claudia herself was wearing a stunning mitered-squares coat-sweater at her booth. She took a liking to us for some reason. When we left, she gave us each a big hug. We loved her too. We loved her yarns even more.

Our new sportweight yarn is also from Louet. It’s a fabulous blend of merino and linen. The drape is phenomenal when it’s stitched up.

Our DK yarns are also beautiful! First, we added new colors of Silky Wool to our line up. This is a great year-round yarn. The sales rep, who was from Texas, said that her customers use it for Huston summers and it keeps them cool even in the Texas sunshine.

We also have a great classic cotton yarn coming in—what else but Tahki’s Cotton Classic. We chose many colors, each more glorious than the other. Still want DK? We’ve got another interesting one called “Pure,” which is made from Soy fibers. It’s pure soysilk. (We've got that one in the store now. Hurry in to see it!)

We have several new worsted-weight yarns: Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca, an alpaca-wool blend (very soft--and in the store already); Tahki’s Torino, a merino blend; and Southwest Trading Company’s Karaoke, a soysilk-wool blend. (Psssst! That one is in the shop now too!) We also will have new colors of Kureyon and Silk Garden.

We were sure that even all of this wasn’t enough choice for you, so we picked up some new bulky yarns: Mondial’s Seven, a self-striping merino/acrylic blend that stitches like heaven; Torino, a merino-blend bulky from Tahki; Vanere, a colorful yarn from Mondial; Indra, from On Line Linie, and Larissa, a really cool boucle also from On Line. Here's a sneak peak of a few of them:

We didn’t want to forget pure Alpaca! We love the new one from Misti Alpaca company. At knitting market, it’s hard to score any treats from companies, other than chocolate at the booths (Mountain Colors has the best chocolate-covered huckleberries), but this time Cynthia snagged a little stuffed alpaca at that booth. Her name is Sabrina. She is sassy and cute, and only about 5 inches tall.

There’s more. Cashmere is coming—enough said. New sock yarn. Patterns from Lisa Knits, Fiber Trends, Oat Couture, Knitting Pure and Simple, and a new company, Black Purl. (Psssst: The patterns are all in.)

And we met a few celebrities along the way. Debbie Bliss, who is from England, impressed us with her knowledge that the “PA” on our badges stood for “Pennsylvania.” We chatted with Maggie Jackson. Cynthia took a class on creativity from Sally Melville. (Sally was kind enough to turn in Cynthia’s purse that she had left behind in the class. Thank you, Sally.)

And we got autographed copies of Debbie Stoller’s Happy Hooker. Debbie was wearing a t-shirt that was a skull and crossbones, with knitting needles as the crossbones and yarn in the head of the skull. She was very friendly. We caught glimpses of Melissa Leapman, Frank Bielic from Trading Spaces (he was sitting crossed-legged on the floor in a purple shirt), Lucy Neatby, Rick Mondragon, Jo Sharp, Louisa Harding, Nicky Epstein, Chris Bylsma (we carry many of her fantastic patterns), and Candace Eisner Strick.

Okay. Our shopping is done. Now it’s your turn.