Black Dog

Just a little outpost on the web for me to ramble, post pix, share ideas, and be a part of the crowd.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yarn--Real, Live Yarn!

I've taken a good bit of heat lately, from locals and distance folks, about the lack of posts AND about the lack of fiber-based inspiration around these parts over the past few weeks. Then I go and post spinning stuff yesterday, and BOY HOWDY did I catch some flack from my yarnies. HOORAY! You really DO still love me.....(blush)

First off, I start by showing you a brand-new (to us) bag that's currently available at the shop

That's the beautiful "Plane Bag" by Skacel. It's a lovely shape, made of silk fabric, and is just crammed with pockets all around the inside. See

They're well priced, too, at just $49.50 each for a beautiful silk bag. And if you're feeling like Nana from Peter Pan, it makes excellent head gear

I'm not quite as hairy as a Newfie, but the hat works. Thanks to Sabrina, our store manager, for snapping the pic. You never know what you're gonna see around the shop, as I wore one of these for a few minutes today, while helping folks with a couple knitting questions and yarn selection, and I think I may have scared one lady. Yes, the insane really do work at ThreadBear (or at least own the place).

Yarn---it's all about the yarn

We received a partial shipment from J Knits today--partial because it's only about 40% of our total order (which I must have misunderstood Julie, as she told me she shipped about 60% last week....darn).

That's her Superwash Me Light Sock, her sock-weight yarn that comes in 4-ounce, 55-yard hanks for a reasonable price of $23.90. What is currently in stock, you might ask? I'm glad you did

and even more!
Wow, that's some pretty stuff. If only the remaining 60% of the order would arrive soon, I'd be a happy man. I think I may nab a skein of New Mexico for a pair for myself, as it's GORGEOUS (and out of my traditional color palette, too!).

Other deliveries today included a trio of summer magazines for your inspiration and needles.

That's the latest Piecework, which is all about lace, including designs for a Russian Lace Scarf, Knitted Fans (yes, fans), and a really sharp pair of socks by Ann Budd.

Also in the stack, you'll see the BRAND-SPANKIN' NEW Interweave Knits, hot off the presses (and 45 copies in my shop). We have two models for the shop already on the needles (yes, they're that compelling). Just wait and see (or call us and get your own copy--866-939-BEAR, toll free).

Last on the stack would be Verena, a European knitting magazine that's now available in the US. This is the premiere issue for North American distribution and it's JAMMED with over 50 different projects. WOW--50 projects for $6.99, so even if you like just one, it's basically the cost of a sheet pattern (and you'll like more than one, between the fashionable garments, nautical-inspired knits, and kid's things). Want one? We've got'em!

With that, I'm out of here for now.....and yes, eventually I'll post some knitting (actual knitting) content, as I'm close to having something finished. Need anything you see above? E-mail us or be in touch at 866-939-BEAR and anyone here can help. BE WELL!

Who Wants Another Blog Post? I DO!

Coming shortly--I'm formatting pix and back soon!

Who Wants Another Blog Post? I DO!

Coming shortly--I'm formatting pix and back soon!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quick, But Hopefully Meaty

Oh, the possibilities in that headline...but I digress

Well, I did promise a certain someone in Virginia I'd post pix of some new spinning fiber on Friday (of last week). So here goes, for Jody

These are three-ounce bundles of hand-dyed Blueface Leicester love, created by a local artist.

But wait, there's more

and still more

Carol and a partner market fiber and travel around doing shows/festivals as River's Edge Studios, but they're located in the next town to the west of Lansing. Their stuff is beautiful and priced fairly. The BFL is $15 a hank and is soft as you can imagine (no wait--it's even SOFTER!). But wait....there's even more to tempt you with

These are novelty batts, which are 4.5 ounces of 65% hand-dyed Blueface Leicester and 35% silk, angora, bamboo, Tencel, and "other fun fibers" (their words). That's "The Berries 1" on the left and "Calypso 1" on the right, and they're $30 each.

It's all lovingly blended into a ready-to-spin batt that's even layered with paper and rolled/trapped in cling wrap for protection. Matt spun up a little bit on Saturday, when Carol came by, and the result is rather cool

He's taken to spinning again, so watch out over at his blog for updates and the like. He also completed a total revamp of our shop website recently that has been getting big praise from folks. He has quite the talent for that sort of thing.

In a related note, there's also a new page for the TOFU Tee project. a short-sleeved top for warmer weather (it's here! it was 82F on Friday, but we might have flurries overnight tonight....go figure!) that is made by knitting with Southwest Trading Company's TOFUtsies, held doubled, and blending five shades across the project (much like a Charlotte's Web shawl). We have kits available (from the page) and since it's a featured item, it's 10% off right now, and the pattern is free with purchase of the TOFUtsies yarn to make it. How cool is that! Of course, I've got one on the needles that I'll share with you in the next post.

In the mean time, it's definitely Spring in these parts, so check out these great tulips

that were a gift from Matt's mother when she was here early this month (that's part of the reason for the lack of blogging--it was GREAT to have her here for a week at the start of the month, as a part of Matt's birthday celebration).

With that, I'm outta here...have a great start of the week and I'll be back shortly with more goodies, progress checks on projects (so much to share), and lots of other shenanigans. And if you need anything you see above, give us a call (toll free) at 866-939-BEAR or slip us an e-mail and we'll be sure to help you out!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Oh, Holy Sh#t!

So, we're here in Chicago to attend the "Smart Business Conference" put on by Soho Publishing (the folks that bring us Vogue Knitting, Knit.1, Knit Simple, and tons of great books). We're sitting in the lobby with Gina from Notions Marketing, Meg from Yarn Expressions in Alabama, and a couple other folks passing in and out of the lobby.....

A woman stops by our group, chats us up, and talks a little about knitting, but doesn't have any of her own with her. She said she worked for Soho, our hosts for the week. When asked "who are you?" by me, she said "Trisha Malcolm" ..... HOLY's the editor-in-charge of Vogue Knitting. Talking with us!

Yet another amazing moment, courtesy of our fantastic industry!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I'm Dreaming, of a White.........EASTER?!?!?!?!?

Yup, folks--we have a white Easter here in mid-Michigan. It's a combination of Michigan Spring weather and early Easter, but it's beautiful!

and it had to be plowed late Friday night

which means we received a decent amount. Turns out that the official report is five inches at the airport, which is just five minutes north of the shop. It made for a fun drive home Friday night, but by Saturday morning the roads were clear. The parking lot, however, was a sheet of ice until after noon.

Today is Easter Sunday and it's 37F (well, it was on my way in just now) and we're open, as always. We ONLY close for Christmas and Thanksgiving--you never know when you'll need a skein or a needle or ????? and you definitely need somewhere to escape to after Uncle Herb has had his sixth hard-boiled egg (they work their way through a digestive system quickly....get OUT OF THE HOUSE).

Plus, there's goodies here...folks have brought in crock pots, I made brownies, and I saw crusty French bread. YUM YUM! Family of choice is the best family....I'm going to spend some time with my family of choice!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Don't Fall Over

OK, so I've been AWOL again. But not for bad reasons (in my opinion, but you may feel free to disagree). We've been UBER-busy of late--Terri Shea was here at the start of the month conducting sessions on her Selbuvotter book and the hand-knitted items from that region of the world. Chris Bylsma was here last weekend for workshops on the Crayon Box Jacket (a fun stash-buster project with great technique involved) and Stashology (seriously--this one will change the way you look at your stash!). Matt and I are out of town for a few days this coming week for a conference in Chicago, and the following weekend is our semi-annual Yarn Tasting event on Saturday and Sunday. Plus there's all the usual preparations for that, new yarns and other merchandise FLYING in the doors of the shop, as well as classes to teach and events to plan (we're doing a Stitch-N-Pitch in conjunction with our local Lansing Lugnuts, and today it's snowing outside like MAD (ah, the joys of heavy, wet spring snow). WHEW!

So, lots of goodies have been flowing in (and out) the doors of late. Spring has sprung around here and the warmer-weather yarns and patterns started arriving a couple weeks ago will continue in earnest deep into the next month. But that doesn't mean we give up on wooly goodness, as there's always restock and new stuff showing up, as we knit with all types of yarn all year long around here. Sock yarns have been on the agenda of late....check out some of the new goodies from Lorna's Laces

That's some of the new shades of Shepherd Sock that showed up this week. YUM-O! I really like both, and I've taken to calling the Pilsen "chocolate-covered roses". And there were more

Apple Hill showed up this week as well, along with more Winona (we've had it in Shepherd Sock for a couple weeks now). And there's one new nearly-solid shade for 2008 as well

It's PERFECTLY named! It looks just like the little disks that used to inhabit my maternal grandmother's purse. Shepherd Sock retails for $11 for 215 yards of superwash merino goodness.

Same boxes, different fibers. Some Lion & Lamb arrived, too!

That colourway is beautiful knitted up, and I bet it would be FAB in a Clapotis. Yeah, the pattern has been around forever, but let's make it official and call it a classic design, alright? Lion & Lamb is $33 a skein for 205 yards of silk and merino, aran weight. YUM.

Shepherd Worsted is some beautiful stuff--perfect for kids' garments, great for accessories, or just the right touch of softness and color for a cozy sweater for yourself (yes, you deserve it!)

I can see this being knitted up (or crocheted) into one amazing baby blanket, adult cardigan, or children's pullover. Or, it's just the right thing for those hat/mitten/scarf combos you need, even this time of year. Shepherd Worsted is yours for $18 for 225 yards of machine-washable merino.

I've been knitting like mad, most of it to support the upcoming Yarn Tasting. That means that most of it is kinda on the DL and shouldn't be shown here. I did start something completely new yesterday, out of Bergere de France Magic, a chunky-weight wool blend that's nice to work with and really meaty in fabric

That's "Roxie" by Black Purl (picture later, when it's finished), but I'm doing the version that's cropped length and bracelet-length sleeves. Should be too cute, and it's a FAST knit. Progress here in a couple days. But so far, I'm a big fan of the pattern (I've wanted to make it for awhile now).

Charlottes, we have Charlottes!

Yup, we have kits put together again. The yarn is $13 a skein, there's five skeins in a kit, and if you need the pattern, it's $4.50 or $5 (I forget which). If you're interested, there's one and ONLY one of each of these available. Shall we commence?

I used to live in Columbia, South Carolina, and my front yard had a HUGE stand of azaleas in it, and they come to life about this time of the year. This reminded me of my yard, as I had a wide range of colors in that planting.

Looking at the colors in this combination reminded me of the odd bits of glass you find walking on the beach in Florida. Lights, darks, blues, greens, yellows....a little bit of everything.

Seasonal in name, but true as well. Look at the fun pastels, the brights, the subtle shading in some of the skeins. It just screams SPRING.

Dark and brooding, with pops of color for little flowers and mossy bits, too, this one definitely reminded me of a walk in the deep forest near where I grew up, in rual Southern Missouri. There's one hank that's deep navy, DEEP teal , and steel blue that is just exquisite!

OK, name after name after name is something Spring or flower-inspired. I must be ready for a change of seasons. But look at the various colors in the bundle--peaches, neutrals, pinks, blues...all the colors you'd find in new growth, small flowers, and bulb plants.

Again with the spring flowers, but look at this combination of purples, lavenders, and rich blues. It looks like you're laying down under a lilac bush in full bloom and looking up into the night sky. Great smoky shades in this bundle!

So I jump ahead a season, reminiscent of my maternal grandmother's stand of roses in her backyard. She had the traditional reds and pinks, but she also had some golden and peach ones, too.

Wow, that's a nice set of options for someone looking to make a beautiful shawl, add to their Koigu KPPPM stash, or just covet something lovely. Hurry up if you're interested in them, as I'm sure they'll go quickly. And remember, if you need the pattern, be sure to mention that on the phone or in your e-mail. Many of you have it already, so we don't automatically include one with your purchase.

Need anything you see above? Just give us a call (toll free) at 866-939-BEAR or slip us an e-mail and we can definitely hook you up. In the mean time, I'm off to go make a second front to that cardigan and then whip up some sleeves (which have a very unique construction--not your typical sleeve cap design!). Be well!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Crazy Beautiful!

That's the St. Elias (a.k.a. blueface leicester) from Pagewood Farm. It's here, I have pictures snapped, and you'll see them below. But first, a tiny progress report.

It's definitely warming up in these parts, as it's been closer to normal temps (40F right now) and the river has completely thawed in our section (it never freezes over completely by our house, but the edges get frosty) and the migratory fowl are at it again. We even spotted a couple wood ducks (or so we think) near the back deck

and Matt snapped a picture for me while they were swimming around. Cute!

I've made great progress on the Dusk cardigan (materials shown in my last post). In fact, all pieces/parts are knitted up, Matt has most of the seaming done, and I've got the belt finished (did a good bit on Sunday, when we saw "Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day" with Blogless Emily--cute movie, go see it!). Here's what the back looked like on Wednesday of last week

with Mr. Hambone (a.k.a. Tate) sneaking in. It's some seriously pretty fabric

It's nice, and you'll see the finished garment here shortly, as there's one side seam to go, then I have to add the up-and-around ribbing for the collar (from waist up around neck and back to waist) and the cuffs on the sleeves. Not too much knitting...WHEW!

Like I mentioned, the Pagewood Farm St. Elias arrived today, and it's INCREDIBLE! It's a blend of 80% bluefaced leicester and 20% nylon and NOT a superwash fiber (hand wash, folks, you can do it...if you can wash a baby, you can hand-launder socks or a sweater). If you think the Chugiak is pretty.....oh my is this stuff soft! It's a 4-ounce (113g) hank with 450 yards per hank, and they're $25 each. Not shabby, especially for BFL!

Let's look at colors, shall we? We received three of each, just in case you're curious

That's River Rock (yummy purples, golden tones, and some browns), Spring Brights (fun pops of color on a really nice blue/green base), Mocha (everything tan--perfect for stitch work!), and Sky Blue Pink (really REALLY pretty, rich blues with pinks and purples). More you say? OK

Misty (LOVE that teal and smoky grey/brown together), Bird of Paradise (VIBRANT greens, and so different from the Chugiak), Crayons (fun primary colors on a blue base), Butterfly (awesome pink base with pops of blues, melon shades), and Vineyard Blues (such a great combo of blues and purples). Still want more? OK OK OK

I present to you Greens(really sharp, spring greens!), Harvest (a beautiful autumnal palette, kinda like maple leaves...not my colors, but I GOTTA HAVE ONE OF THESE), Really Red (and it is truth in advertising!), and Meadow (a really pretty combo of greens, blues, and purples, with the right spring-y greens). And still more? You're greedy!

Mardi Gras (not as solid as it looks, with shots of purples and oranges), Forest Camo (really nice blue-greens with bits of browns), Camo (rusty-brown goodness!), and Grape Juice (nice lilac shades--perfect for Spring! and textured knitting).

One last group....

Turquoise (really nice teal/turquoise blues!), Prism (a purple lover's dream, trust me), Ireland (lovely medium greens--not too bright, not too soft), Rainbow (great pinks with awesome reds and blues), and Mississippi Mud (too pretty to be mud...beautiful toffee shades).

That's all 22 shades! They're ready for adoption to a good home.....for just $25 each. If you're interested, slip us an e-mail or call at 866-939-BEAR and anyone here can help. Just be sure to ask for the blueface, or the St. Elias (unless you WANT Chugiak, which we still have some on hand, with more being dyed for us for delivery in a few weeks...YUM).

With that, I'm off to go knit a little bit before closing up the shop for the day. Matt's teaching a class, as is our manager, Sabrina. The pups are sleeping on the couches, so it's a good night in Michigan. I hope you are experiencing similar "good" where you are, too!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Not a whole lot new around these parts as of this morning, as I posted yesterday, it was a fairly busy day at the shop, and I taught the final session of my "Intro to Socks" class last night. Basically, I came home late, fell asleep on the couch (again), and eventually turned in for the night. Not a single stitch of knitting was accomplished last evening. Bad Rob.

The Pagewood fairies delivered again late last week (Friday, I believe). With this batch, we've exhausted our TNNA orders for her 2-ply Chugiak yarn (from now on we'll do reorders with specific colors). There may be another shipment already in transit (typically they leave on Friday and are here the following Friday), this time in her sock-weight yarn that's a blend of Blueface Leicester and a little nylon for strength (but not a superwash fiber...just so ya know). But for now, I present the beauty of Chugiak, in 450-yard skeins of superwash merino

Three new-to-us colourways in this batch, including Seabreeze (not as electric blue in real life), Misty (a stunning blend of dusky greens, interesting neutrals, and a little bit of teal), and Pretty Pastels (this one just screams SPRING and EASTER), as well as a rerun of Mississippi Mud (that alwyas sells out fast).

Three more new shades, including Navajo (there's some khaki greens in there that balance the turquoise quite well), Really Red (which is just that!), and Cotton Candy (perfect for textured patterns).

Grape Juice and Fabulous Fall (really, really pretty knitted up) have been seen here before, but Forest Camo is a new one for us. All three are nearly monochromatic and would be great in designs with texture or patterning (think CookieA designs), yet have a little bit of color going on that make the fabric really interesting. (We have a customer sock trunk show on display right now and someone took a Fabulous Fall and combined it with a Gardiner Yarn Works "Autumn in Oregon" sock pattern for great results!).

If you need any of this beautiful and affordable yarn, they're $17 each and we have as many as four per colourway available. Contact us by phone (866-939-BEAR) or e-mail to get the ball rolling!

A few other things arrived yesterday, including a fun new yarn for the Spring/Summer season that comes to us from Filatura di Crosa, purveyor of beautiful yarns from Italy. It's called Dusk

and is a color-rambling cotton blend that knits up around worsted weight, 115 yards for $9.95. Pretty stuff! I've already cast on for a garment from one of their new pattern collections

and Lisa took home yarn to start on a cute shell

both of which will serve as shop models as soon as they are completed. The hand of the yarn is quite nice, and I'll show my progress later (hopefully tomorrow!), as all I have done right now is a cast on and two rows of ribbing--not that exciting.

That's about it for today, as almost no knitting happened yesterday. I made a little bit of progress on the Habu Shippo Tail Jacket, but most of what I accomplished got ripped out due to a small issue with the pattern/directions. Well, that and the fact I did the "crash and burn" on the sofa last night. I hope to get some knitting done today, as it's the day for my monthly hoof trimming, which gives me an hour of uninterrupted ME time. That's a rarity!

See you here again very soon...........