Black Dog

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

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Test Knitters Wanted

How's that for an intro? Seriously--I've made enough progress on the "top secret project" that I'm designing that it's time to test the pattern. I will finish my prototype of the project today or tomorrow and I'll write up the instructions early in the week. Here's a progress check on my version

I'm very pleased with how it's turning out, and I think the finished/felted version will be quite fun. I'll know shortly, as I'll felt it immediately after it's done. So here's the deal on the test knitting:

  1. We will provide the yarn and pattern for you at no cost (to two people). We'll even mail it to you on us.

  2. One will be knitted using four or five shades of Cascade 220 and the other in a single colorway of Noro Kureyon. Most likely you will have some say in what colors you're sent (maybe pick from two or three options) but we reserve the right to make the ultimate color choices.

  3. You will test knit the pattern and report back to me with any inconsistencies, clarifications you think should be made, or problem areas in the directions.

  4. You will be under a time crunch/deadline--we'll mail out things the middle of next week (Wednesday, August 6th) and you will have two weeks to knit and felt the project. We will need your feedback no later than Monday, August 25th. (that includes a picture of the finished work, so I know you've finished and can make comments based on the full experience)

  5. When everything is completed, you will get to keep the finished project at no expense to you (other than your time). We would greatly appreciate, however, your taking a picture of your finished work and granting us permission to use it (I'll be doing two or three versions that will be the cover art for the pattern, but we might use your version in other means).

  6. The choice is going to be a total random selection in lottery format if we get multiple volunteers. We will put all names into a "hat" and an independent third party (not Matt or myself) will pull a name from each of the two options.

  7. We insist you have fun knitting and using your finished project

  8. It would be good (but not required) if you have prior experience with the entrelac technique and with felting--in your e-mail to us to volunteer, VERY BRIEFLY let us know what you've done in each of these two arenas.

Time for the technical parts---if you are interested in participating, please send us an e-mail to a special address--test at threadbearfiberarts dot com. In that e-mail, remember to include your felting and entrelac experience, as well as which version you'd like to knit (you may request to be in the drawing for BOTH the Kureyon and 220 versions--just be sure to say KUREYON or CASCADE 220 or BOTH). That's all there is to it.

You have between now--Saturday, August 2nd--and Wednesday, August 6th at 12 noon EST to put your name in for consideration using the special e-mail address in the previous paragraph. The yarn will leave Indiana that afternoon. Please do not e-mail either of us through the usual channels, do not volunteer in the comments, do not volunteer in the tag board--only those sent via e-mail can be considered (sorry to be a pain in the toches, but I'm trying to simplify the process for everyone). Let's make this a fun endeavor and a way to do some interesting knitting!

In case you haven't figured it out, we're developing a line of ThreadBear patterns to be made available in the coming months. Some will be designed by the two of us, but others are being designed by some rather fun and talented folks who we have approached, who have approached us, or who have ideas but may not have had a venue for them until now. I'm completely excited about the possibility of offering unique, fun, classic, simple, different, engaging, challenging ....... patterns for knitters, and this is a first step out into that arena. Hey, when traditional sources give you chaff, you find the wheat elsewhere, right? (got an idea for a project--drop me a note and we'll talk--seriously).

Thanks for reading, and thanks for considering this request! Happy Saturday!

Friday, August 01, 2003

Change is Good

Today's theme around here seems to be change, and how to adapt to it. I see three different fronts where change is needed/coming:

  1. Tate--he's had a tiny bit of change to deal with around here this past week. He seems to have an affinity (twice) for fluffy/fuzzy yarn, as I caught him with a ball of mohair his first or second day here and then a ball of eyelash the other day. Temptation is everywhere around here, and Connor couldn't be bothered by yarn--she's NEVER taken an interest in anything, even angora bunny fleece that we sell in right-off-the-bunny form (yet she terrorizes bunnies out back). This morning we had a little accident in the house (ok, so it wasn't little..........thank goodness I found it and not Matt, as he doesn't have the constitution for that stuff, and it doesn't bother me other than the fact that I have to pick up ..... well, you know).

  2. Matt--we now share the same computer to browse web rings, answer e-mails, work up orders, blog, do website updates, and do recreational surfing. This is going to take some serious adjusting on both our parts, but probably mostly mine. Film at 11.

  3. Me--I'm going to be figuring out where I fit into Matt's daily routine, how I can help, what I can help with, and how not to annoy him (hard for me--I do that alot). Plus I have to figure out how to be here all day and be productive, probably without the computer.

    Ah, change........we love it.

New goodies abound here, but there's one recent purchase I'm particularly proud of. I try to hunt for bargains for our wonderful friends, and when I find a good one, I go all out about it. For example, when Cascade announce a close out on their incredible yarn Indulgence (70% superfine alpaca, 30% angora, worsted weight, 246yds/hank), we brought in a bunch and offered it at the new price of $9 instead of $18. Awesome stuff for an awesome price!

My latest hunt has produced this:

That's Swiss Chalet, by Froehlich Wolle. It's 80m (88yds) of chunky-weight (4 sts/inch, 5mm-6mm needles) yarn that's a 2-ply combo of rambling colors and a little bit of thick-and-thin texture. Very soft and cushy, it would make a FABULOUS sweater or even a great Einstein coat or jacket. Christie (HIYA) wondered if it would make a good top-down raglan and had to call to ask a few minutes ago. YES. And either would be a great use of the yarn, as it would be dazzling because of the yarn, yet simple knitting due to the construction and stitches used. What you see above is just three of the colors available. I've ordered deep stock in every color in the warehouse, but here's a glamour shot of the color card as a preview of what to expect here by Monday.

The best part? Swiss Chalet used to retail for about $7.50 each. We'll have it for $4.05 ($4.50 less our 10% policy). Dynamite price for a dynamite yarn. Nummy goodness.......I can't wait until that big box arrives. I think I'll swatch a little with one of them. But wait, I have two things I'm supposed to be working on.

Yes, the "top secret project" continues, and I'm about half way finished. I'm going to finish here and do some MARATHON KNITTING on it downstairs shortly, as I was going to last night and just passed out around 10 p.m. You'll see it here shortly, when finished. And it will be fun! (and yes, it's #88 Kureyon). My other major project at hand is to get busy on the Keepsake Shawl from Koigu that I cast on for the other day. While blog-surfing this morning, I found a link to the blog of one of our international friends/customers, Louise. She made not one but TWO of these fabulous pieces of knitting. Check out her archives from April by clicking here and scrolling down to April 3 and 1. AWESOME work, Louise. (if you can't tell, she's a major fan of purple). Louise has definitely inspired me to work on mine (and to visit France---she lives in a beautiful part of it, too).

Does anyone else find this type of knitting disturbing? Why do that when you can make this? Then again, some folks don't understand the types of knitting I enjoy. So to each her/his own.

That's all for now--I turn the computer over to Matt to go knit. And keep an eye on Tate. Connor told him that he REALLY screwed up earlier. I heard her say it, with an evil grin on her face.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Last Dance........

Today's my last official day of office work. Tomorrow inaugurates the new chapter in my life--one where I don't have a "regular paycheck" coming in and both of us will be relying on ThreadBear for sustenance. It gives me the willies, at times, because I've always had the regularity of a salary, either from an office position, from a school district (when I taught high school), or from a university (when I was a professor). But the brightest side of it all is I'll be able to completely throw myself into the fiber arts world and if it works, it's because we're working hard at it. So I'm ready, I'm anxious, and I'm ecstatic.

Meanwhile, you want pictures of coral reef flappy. I'm glad to oblige. Meet felted flappy

Very cute, very hairy, very damp--not unlike our beloved Matt, it would seem. So let's take a look under the hood

I absolutely love the way the colors mingled together and felted into a firm fabric. To me, it's a little bit feral so I'm going to do some trimming when it dries, but the handle is a good size, the bag is a great size, and the color combination is striking in felted fabric. And that little bit of a curl on the flap is easily fixed when things are dry by using a damp towel and a steam iron (carefully, mind you--you can't just steam press felted wool). This wa a fun pattern that I'll enjoy doing again in the near future. But for now, I still have my "top secret project" that's coming along nicely. You'll see more of it shortly, when I'm finished. I'm maybe one-third finished, so it won't be long.

Hang tight, and I'll be back soon. Enjoy your Thursday! I know I will............(fades out to the sound of Donna Summer...."so let's dance.......the last dance................")

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I'm Tired Just From Reading It

Matt's blog entry from Tuesday makes ME tired to read, and I live with him and all of the stuff he showed y'all. I'm just amazed at our growth, and I keep turning right back to y'all to thank you! We've been given an amazing opportunity and we hope to "do right" by it as we turn the page on this chapter and move into the next one in the next two weeks. That's right--in just two weeks we'll have the full retail space and be up and running from a couple counties over. In the mean time, I'm blocking out thoughts of all of the work that has to happen to get from here to there. So what do I do? START A NEW PROJECT!

Those of you who read Matt's blog may have noticed that he blurred out a new secret project I've been working on after Coral Reef Flappy (which I'm felting today--pix tomorrow). Well, here's a different peek at it

Those of you who are fans of the yarn will recognize it and the colorway immediately. It's been an engineering feat that I've enjoyed, and I know the finished project will be terribly fun. Someone out there was in on the plotting and planning on Sunday, and I thank her for her advice and tips. The starting point has changed some from what she suggested, but Matt's new top secret project is going to be based on the original idea put forth by her. In the mean time, I'm going to be working mach schnell on it because I want it finished cuz I think it has good potential. It's funny, however, to know that others have had inspiration in a similar vein of late as well. Hopefully we'll get to compare notes when we see eachother soon. Plus, Sarah put forth an idea on her blog that Matt and I have discussed at length with two others (the others are teacher-types)--it's weird how we can be on the same wavelength while being a five-hour drive apart. There's a certain "pull" between all of us and Lansing.........hmmmmmmm.

Matt wasn't completely thorough in his pictures yesterday--he left out a wall of Cascade Magnum and Fixation and Quatro 220 which is situated just right of the wall-o'-220, but more important--he left off something out in the hall (yes, we've packed two good-sized bedrooms with yarn and have spilled out into the hallway). Here's a morning shot of that one

Please ignore the black mass moving across the lower left---her goal is to be in every picture of late, given her need for attention with Tate around. (by the way, Day 3 and still no calls on him--it looks like we have a permanent family member--HOORAY!) She gets PLENTY of attention and one-on-one time with us, but she's still adjusting. What you see here are "kits" for Charlotte's Web shawls that Matt has put together, an assorment of books and patterns, and the AMAZING superfine prime alpaca in all 11 colors. Ahhhhhhhhh. I think that stuff is next on my "to do" list, right after my Keepsake Shawl project, which I finally cast on for this week (all 401 stitches of it............crochet cast on........fabulous finished edge..........but it goes very........slowly.........). Yes, I still can't stop starting things.

Thanks for dropping by, and have a GREAT July 30. WOW! It's nearly August.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Tuesday Quickie

No long, expository post for me today (several of you just went WHEW!). Just a quickie to share progress and a couple fun pictures. So off we go.........

Yup, that's flappy, finished and ready for the washing machine. Knocked it out last night, after Christie came over (HI DARLIN!) for a little tv time and take-out Chinese and the Designing Women reunion special. Given that we both moved here from Georgia, you have to understand that Designing Women is required watching, especially in the gay community. I mean, they even mentioned our favorite place to go out in Atlanta (Hoedown's) in the special last night, because there's a tradition there tied to the song "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" and one of Julia's terminator rants (on Marjorie, if you've ever seen the episode). And despite laughing so hard last night I was in tears, they talked about the tradition and showed a clip of the crowd in the bar--and I actually recognized a couple of our friends, standing there and doing the lines from the Marjorie rant. Yeah, you probably had to be there to understand it, but it was fun to see a tiny slice of "home" on tv last night. If you're into that kind of thing, go to the Designing Women Page at Lifetime and figure out "Which Designing Woman Are You" (I can see Antonio clicking on that link as I speak...........).

Finishing flappy as quickly as I did makes me feel like Wendy, who's in the home stretch on her latest sweater and figuring our which to do next. But this is no sweater we're talking about, so I'm not her speed yet. She amazes me, from a prolific and from a technical standpoint. If you're interested in fair isle knitting, she's your queen. If you're wanting to learn, do be keeping up with Matt's blog in a few days (yes, he swears he'll be posting shortly), as he's down to selecting colors so we can start making kits for the "Thready Bear" knit along, if you're still interested. He's got the sweater fairly well finished, so he's back to colorways and the like. We'll be in the test knit stage shortly (next week is best guess) so we'll be able to start the knit along in September, I'd imagine. Drop him an e-mail if you're interested--we'd love to have you along for the ride, and this version will have multiple sizes as well as his amazing color sense for the kits and combinations.

Lest you think much changes around here, I leave you today with a couple "beauty shots" of the kids

Tate has settled in well here and we haven't heard from anyone about a lost dog yet. I'm afraid to get too attached just yet, but he is a wonderful little dog that would make a good addition to our menagerie. And the queen of sofa surfing

and he get along quite well. She's not as jealous of him or possessive of us as she was Friday and Saturday, so she's warming to the thought of sharing her home with him, I think. WHEW! Time to run--talk with you later!

Monday, July 28, 2003

And the Results Are In!

What a great weekend! I've said it over and over again, but we are very fortunate to have the friends that we do and even more fortunate that we are able to move towards living the life we want to life---one stuffed full of fiber, creative people, and an all-around pleasant atmosphere. If the weekend is any indication of how life in the ThreadBear realm is going to be, then SIGN ME UP!

Yesterday was the fiber fiesta over at Patsy's (I mentioned it in my last post). The day started with several folks popping by, the first being Susan. I met Susan while teaching at a LYS up the road, and she was a relatively new knitter, yet she tackled a top-down pullover with amazing skill. Over the next year, she came back for several of my classes, including a phenomenal waist-length jacket out of Manos and more. Since we've grown, she's been coming down here for supplies (and sharing awesome eggs from her chickens) and I'm always so impressed with her work. For someone who's been knitting around 18 months, she's a dynamo. And she spins, too! Fearless fibering! Here's a shot of her latest creation

That's Matt's pattern for the Sigma Tank from Knitty, her third and not her last. She's used Cascade Pearls in the same color I knitted the original Broadripple socks, and she's picked up another color for her next one! FEARLESS! After Susan, Josh and Lana ran by before Patsy's to get some spinning fiber. It seems that Josh has taken to spinning (Matt enabled him recently with a drop spindle and some beast.......mwahahaha).

Cut to Patsy's place, an hour or so later (because Tate decided to go on an excursion right before we left, causing Matt to go looking for him with the car--he's back, and I watch him like a hawk outside now). There's spinning going on in two rooms, people are knitting in several others, and there's animals everywhere (Patsy and Jim have two dogs and three cats--further proof they're great people) because we brought our two. Rachel's there, Low Helen and her neice Amy are there, and the place is humming with good energy. Amy started knitting this summer and has completed a large shawl out of Noro yarn and her second project was a felted daypack

Not bad, eh? She's about five feet into a Potter scarf for her little brother---she's hooked for good and a DARNED GOOD knitter. A great afternoon was had by all, including several fun photos that will show up on Matt's blog very shortly. BIG THANKS to Patsy and Jim for their hospitality and to everyone there for a wonderful afternoon.

We got home and I felted dred........curious to see? Here you go:

I like it alot, but I wish I had used brighter colors. So I get to make another, real soon, right? Yup! But more importantly, here's the voting results on which Flappy do I knit (first)? Drumroll please.............

  • Option 1--pink and blues---8 votes
  • Option 2--blue and greens--18 votes
  • Option 3--coral and blues--19 votes
  • Option 4--sapphire and purples--5 votes

    So #3 it is! And it was MUCH MUCh closer than I thought, before tallying things up. But I'm amazed that fifty of you shared your opinions with me---MUCH THANKS for that. Now to get started on the bag..........wait, could I have started it last night and made good progress already? Hmmmmmmmmmm........

    Sure 'nuf--I got started on it last night, about 9 p.m. and knitted on it while watching tv after a late dinner. It's coming along VERY well, knits up VERY VERY quickly (I see many of these in my future, in all sorts of combos, especially of two strands of Cascade 220). Stay tuned.

    There's the final update on things, so now it's time to start my last few days of gainful employment. Off to go make lunch, walk the kids, and roust Matt from his sleep. Another Monday.....(shudder). Thanks for your input, for coming by on a regular basis, and for your energy, support, and patronage! Be well.............

  • Sunday, July 27, 2003

    Weekend Follies

    The weekend......time to relax, to rearrange your head after a busy week, and time to get just tons of knitting and other fiber stuff done, right? Not around this place! If it weren't bad enough (and I use the term BAD very loosely, as we're talking about yarn and patterns and spinning fibers and....) that we had several boxes of goods come in during the weekend that were just sitting around open but not shelved, we also had another "delivery" on to speak........that was totally unexpected

    Meet Tate, or at least that's what Matt has taken to calling him. Short for Tater, or for Little Man Tate. (and yes, that's the nosey girl, a.k.a. Connor, the black dog, horning in on the shot). Around 12:30 Friday afternoon, this little guy comes traipsing around the corner of our building, dragging half of a broken leash behind him. Ever the good soul, Matt immediately gave him shelter and water and chow on our back deck and took a brush to him. We did a little calling around to some of the usual places and let the word out that we found a pup, probably a Shiba Inu and Lab mix (look at that head--it's just like Connor's, but smaller, and he's definitely part Shiba Inu, as he looks just like our friend Sarah's beautiful dog Keiko. (I'd link to a picture of Keiko, but her ISP is down this weekend). We're going to put up flyers saying we found him and see about putting a "Found" ad in the paper for Monday, but in the mean time, he seems to be acclimating himself just fine around here

    I just snapped that one about 15 minutes ago, in the bedroom. That's now his corner, on the afghan, next to the chair/ottoman that Connor sleeps on. She's slowly becoming used to there being a second attention-sucker in the house, but on Friday, she was I-L-L if you paid any attention to the new guy, as she's had my attention all to herself for nearly seven years, and Matt's attention for just a couple weeks shy of five years. And she's a jealous thing. And greedy--we've already been around and around on the "I won't eat my food, but his certainly tastes good" shenanigans with her. I like having the little guy around the house, but he's obviously got "people" out there somewhere--he wasn't hungry when he showed up, he's well cared for, and he has been trained to both vocal and hand commands (something Connor scoffed at when she saw him perform for Susan yesterday afternoon). I'd hate to see him leave, but he does have a family out there that hopefully is missing him.

    Speaking of Susan, Saturday was a great day here. While we may not have had folks lined up out the door to make clogs in July (we'll do this again after we get settled in Columbus), we did have several fun folks drop by. Anne popped in early in the afternoon (you know her from being the beautiful model at the top of the ThreadBear site) and it was great to see her again, as it's been awhile (she's going to make Flappy out of a strand of Cascade 220 and a strand of some new variegated mohair we just got in). Then came Susan, and it was great to see her. She worked on her clogs (there's a picture of a finished pair we felted yesterday somewhere here in the house and I can't find it) and shared some great pictures of her son, who's over in northern Iraq and due home almost any day now (very sobering pictures of conditions, the people, the soldiers, and more). And we had Low Helen in the house, working on her beautiful version of the Helen's Lace shawl in Valentine. Then our fun friend Kristi from Illinois dropped by after a spinning class. She shared an ingenious design of hers with us that you will be seeing a good bit more of around here in a couple months--details to follow. If that weren't enough for one weekend, today is a Fiber Fiesta over at Patsy's house--you know her from being the patient soul that taught Matt and I how to spin on a wheel. She's having a bevy of folks over for spinning, socializing, knitting, whatever--plus playing with her recent family addition, Baxter (last time were were over I made him the aran catnip mouse from Wendy). Good times.

    And lest you think I've forgotten or pushed it by the wayside, there is dred progress to report.........the knitting is done! Here's proof:

    Obviously, I went very RANDOM with the dred color patterning (if you can find a pattern, I'm shocked) and I'm still wondering what to do about the strap and I'll definitely felt it tonight, when we get back from Patsy's. I can't wait to see how it turns out, and I've got my eye on Denise, as she started hers yesterday when her box of fun from us arrived. Her color sense is amazing (go to her blog and review what she dyed when she and Teresa were here last month for a dye-fest) and she's doing her bag in a set of shades that's definitely "her palette" and it should be beautiful!

    I'm outta here for now---the kids are up, they need a walk outside, and I've got knitting to catch up on (and supposedly we may do some dyeing before heading to Patsy's--but Matt's out COLD right now, so that's in danger). Remember, only about 14 hours remain if you want your vote counted in the "which color combo should Rob knit his (first) flappy in" from Thursday. Scroll down and let your voice be heard!