Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Well, no, not really. We've just had an ice storm, but you see, the yarn shop girl always has to be one season ahead so her samples are done for the appropriate season! Which means I'm constantly knitting cottons and slinky things in the middle of february (which is actually more pleasant than say, heavy woolens in July...) This particular piece is from Louisa Harding's Spring/Summer accessories collection from last year. Yes, I'm a year late with this little number, but to encourage my intrepid knitter's I'm teaching a class on this little number in May. It is the 2nd easiest lace pattern in the universe, Feather and Fan, in an entirely manageable number of stitches. You can slide the yarns up the side and tie on the extra sparkly ribbon as you go which makes doing all of those stripes really not so bad. It took me forever (tm) to knit this. Probably because I started it during a super bowl party and messed it up so many times that I got annoyed with it and therefore had negative associations. I'm quite happy with how it turned out, especially my color choice. Originally I had chosen to do it in an entirely different colorway of darker pinks and purple and changed my mind at the last minute into this much more delicate and feminine version. I was half way through it before I realized I had chosen a silver metallic and a gold metallic, but I don't think it detracts. The button is an older brass button from One World Buttons that hasn't sold particularly well for me, but I love the spiral on the button with the wave of the lace pattern. All in all, I think a nice sample. Next, I'm thinking either a lace poncho from the Artyarns collection of modular patterns, or a felted clutch. It will probably come down to what needles I have in the shop.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Another sample, another yarn I adore that hasn't sold very well. The yarn in question is Misti Alpaca's "worsted" 4ply 80% baby suri alpaca/20% silk. I put the worsted in quotes because there is absolutely no way that stuff knits up to a worsted gauge... but it is gorgeous nonetheless. People mistake it for cashmere all the time because it's so freakin' soft. Now, I know it's not cashmere because cashmere feels soft in a different way. This stuff is really slippery soft, probably because both alpaca and silk have that slippery soft feeling to me. Anyhow, I love this yarn, but up until this year when most knitter's decided that they could use smaller needles (bless them!) it really wouldn't have been what most people would want in a sweater yarn. Now, it's right up their ally, and the colors are beautiful and rich and the stuff knits really easily. I thoroughly enjoyed the cowl even though I chose to do it in seed stitch and it was really boring. It felt nice while I was bored doing it! ;)

The finished product came out really well, as you can see from the photo. Most orange colors frighten me, but this one is so nice I put it on one of the models in the front window. I actually knit the thing on #8 needles (because I was lazy and those were within reach... and 20/20 hindsight, I do like seed stitch knit at a slightly loose gauge) 145 stitches, 2 skeins, do seed stitch until you run out of yarn.

PS. I'm so thrilled with the quality of photos that my camera makes. :)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

new toy, new project, new neckache

Well, I got a fabulous rewards check from Staples because I used their overpriced copy service for my last mailing and I couldn't resist getting a digital camera to use for the blog. When I was walking to the checkout the tiny young man that had helped me pick my camera asked if I wanted to buy a case to put the camera in. What?!? Buy a case? please.

I had to run home and make one! As I was on my way home (and to be sure the camera was a bit of an impulse buy) I had not really brought anything home specifically for a camera case so I dug into one of my craft closets. I found some suede from this bag I had been crocheting before it demoralized me completely. I pulled out the yarn I had crocheted and wound it back into a ball and grabbed a skein of the other two colors I had planned for the tote bag and set to work. First I crocheted a chain a little longer than the bottom of my camera. I worked back and forth in single crochet for a while until it was a little wider than my camera and then I started working in the round, changing colors when I felt like it, until it was as tall as my camera is to the wrist strap. Then back and forth for two rows, then joined in the round again (to make a hole for my wrist strap to go through) then around and around until it was as tall as my camera. I did one round of decrease (sc in the next 3 sc, skip 1 sc) then another round even. Then I started working back and forth over 1/2 of the stitches for the long flap. I did that until it would wrap around the whole thing once with the camera inside. I ended by doing one round of sc around the edge of the flap, across the front edge of the bag, then up the other edge of the flap. The tie is just one strand of each of the two contrast colors in a crochet chain with a little tassel on the end.

Of course I was so excited about it that I crocheted non-stop for 3 hours. I now have a serious neck problem and shooting pains up my left wrist and my right thumb. oops. It's a good thing I have a massage schedule for monday, or it might have cut down on my knitting time!

Cammo Bear off to Gay Paree?

Once again, I was staring at my shelves (while knitting the baby bathrobe) and trying to figure out what sample to make next. It gets a little difficult when you have a yarn shop because you stare at yarn all day long most days and sometimes even for you, things get blurry and they all start to look the same.

I've had Filatura Di Crosa Curly for ever. I even had it in my storeroom for over a year one fall when I bought too much yarn and ran out of shelf space. I brought it back early this fall and it's been moving really slow, and so it needed a little something. I thought I would make a hat and then maybe think about making a scarf. (man, I hate knitting scarves) I picked a simple hat pattern that my friend wrote up for me when I opened that uses Schaefer Elaine. I cast on really tight, and eventually mellowed and loosened up on my knitting. The result is a hat that honestly looks a lot like a beret, with absolutely no beret shaping. you just cast on tightly, let it loosen up as you go along and then decrease like you normally would for a hat. I knitted it on a #8 29" circular. it was knit flat with a seam up the back.

I think Cammo looks quite dapper, don't you? Needless to say, I didn't get around to the scarf. The Spiral Tank was calling my name and it was a siren song I just couldn't resist.

Addicted to Knitting Nature

Once again, I was drooling over the masterpiece Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan and Amy, my intrepid employee pointed out that one of the pieces "Spiral Tank" was actually knit out of a yarn that I needed to make a sample out of. It was another yarn that I've had forever that needs a sample (ie. it doesn't sell itself) While Cotton Classic is the farthest thing from pastel hairball, it is kinda boring unless you do something with it and boy does Norah do something with it in the spiral tank.

I found the pattern enjoyable. I knit all of the boring stockinette pieces first in order of most to least boring (hey, at least with the left front there is all that wacky increasing and decreasing! Anything that forces me to use two post-it notes to keep track of what row I'm on is a winner!) I was even a good girl and did all my finishing work before the cable panel so I would have something to look forward to while I was doing all of that sewing and reverse stockinette neckband stuff. (yawn)

I used a color that I hate. I usually do this with samples.... Obviously the colors I like are ones that are easy for me to sell. I find after I spend some time with a truly awful color I can appreciate it more and those folks that love bright yellow will have something truly inspiring. Also, I had a ton of bright yellow. I have to admit that the color grew on me and I really like the result. After the sample has hung around for a year or so, I may even wear it. Sweet!

Of course as soon as I start working on something summer-y our non-existant winter decides to pull a 180 and we are in the middle of a very long very brutal (for southern new england) cold snap. So the finished product isn't getting that much attention yet. I'm sure once it' s beach weather, everyone will be all over it.

PS. please forgive my color levels. horrible florescent lights and a new camera. hopefully we'll have it all figured out soon!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cammo Bear channels his inner Hugh Hefner

Recently I've been in the "must knit samples from old yarns that aren't selling" mode and the first of such projects is this insanely cute infant bathrobe. Who could resist it? The yarn is Filatura Di Crosa Bambi, which looks on the shelf like a scary pastel hairball, but when knit up feels amazing! The bathrobe is already having it's desired effect, more than a bag has sold in the past couple of weeks where I had barely sold that in the last two years. The pattern is from the original Filatura Di Crosa Baby book, which has been a great seller for me since it came out two years ago. The series of simple baby sweaters with minimal shaping have been a favorite for beginner knitters and people who just need a quickie baby shower gift. Zarina, heavily featured in that book, is to die for. The stuff is just perfect. I had yet to venture into the Bambi, because, well, it looks like a pastel hairball and therefore terrified me. I bought it for the store because the bathrobe was the most adorable thing ever, but I had stupidly not knit up a sample of the thing. Amazingly enough, the sample took me less than a day to whip up. Can we say #11 needles for an infant garment? Oh yeah! Why didn't I do this years ago?

Of course, I had to put it on Cammo Bear. He's a patient and forgiving model. I immediately had images of Cammo getting ready for a party at the playboy mansion. Yes, it really is that goofy in my brain. Just be happy I don't have any martini glasses in the store otherwise I would have had to set up a whole tableau.