Black Dog

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

Friday, December 05, 2003

'Tis The Season..........

Sorry for the day off yesterday, but it was anything BUT a day off. The past two days have been wildly busy, between the shop during the day (Wednesday is typically a very busy day, between arrival of goods, me sending out the weekly newsletter e-mail, and our being open until 9 p.m.), fun classes in the evening, and assorted other things to accomplish. Our main focus for the week, outside of the daily operations of ThreadBear, has been preparing for a holiday art show/fair. It's that time of year (thus the title of today's post). LynnH is doing one in Lansing, MI; QueerJoe is scarfing himself into oblivion for one, and Matt left at 7:30 this morning (about an hour ago) headed to Indianapolis, to represent us at Tis the Season at the NCAA Hall of Champions today and tomorrow. This one is a function of the Indianapolis Art Center, where we have items on consignment in the Basile Gift Shop and participate in their annual Broad Ripple Art Fair (which is where I designed and knitted the Broadripple Socks for Knitty this past summer).

"What does this have to do with why you weren't here yesterday?", you might ask. Well, on top of regular duties and things, we had not had the time to organize, tag, price, and inventory our goods that we've been creating over the past few months in anticipation of this weekend. Wednesday evening we had scarfers here until after 10 p.m. and we were bushed, so it fell to Thursday. Thursday (yesterday) was a rainy day here, so we weren't too busy in the shop, but we had fallen behind in getting e-mail orders taken care of, so several of you should expect packages in the coming days, as we worked on mail order yesterday (and I'll continue that today in the hopes of catching up). Then there was the "learn to knit and make your first scarf" workshop last night, where five newbies were introduced to the joys of knitting and started projects. We ate after the workshop, around 9:15 (with Low Helen, who graciously helped out with the class since she can't knit right now---THANKS HELEN!) and about 10 p.m. we started in earnest. We called it quits around 2:30 a.m., got up at 6:15 this morning, and I wrapped up the last of the computer paperwork while Matt prepped to leave. He's probably on the outskirts of Indy right now, so we're right on target. I'll disappear into the back as soon as I'm done here, and we'll open at 10 a.m. as per usual. WHEW! Mission accomplished, but barely! I hope things go well today, but whatever doesn't sell at the show will go on consignment in the Basile Gift Shop at the Center. Supposedly folks have been itchin' to see what we've got that's new for the holidays---so here's a few!

I haven't done much knitting in the past few days, but here's a progress shot on the Opal sock I started earlier this week

I knit on this in line at the post office every day, so there's always SOME progress, but not much of late. But it's fun to watch the new designs appear. Maybe I'll get to work on it a little bit later today, if I can get to the Post Office (maybe LOW HELEN will rescue me around 4:30 today and let me mail boxes).

Earlier in the week (Monday) we did receive a big batch of Plymouth yarns, and inside was something that was a special order for one of our "back East" custo-friends (HI JENNIFER). It's a very unusual yarn

That's Geisha Print Microfibra by Le fibre Nobili (as if you can't read that much from the label). It's exceptionally soft as it is 100% microfiber (you knew that, even if you don't speak Italian and read the label above) and the color is wild. I'm not much for oranges and yellows (being the pasty white blondie that I am--even if it is dark blonde, JoJo......), but this stuff is kinda fun. And here's about 10 minutes of knitting progress from 3 a.m. in the morning

Big needles, big yarn, big fun. I'm hoping to finish one or two of these today so Matt can take them with for tomorrow's day of fun and sales. We'll see what I can accomplish, given that it may well be a busy day (but I have excellent assistants--right Anne & Martha?). Either way, I know I can knock out this scarf at least.

That's about it for now.....time to go light candles, tidy up, and maybe get together an order for notions and needles, and maybe Nancy Lindberg patterns (oh, how I love her stuff, especially the knit-to-fit ones and in particular the sock pattern---the ONLY one I teach with and swear by). Have an awesome Friday, go visit a friend who may be staffing a booth at an art/craft show near you, and knit a little for yourself for a change. It's good to be a greedy knitter! BE WELL!

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Multifarious Influences

We're still chortling around these parts about the Ger-lish found in the most recent Filati, as outlined yesterday. There's also a good bit of fun translation inside, to go with the fun sweaters and such. And the issue is going fast, so if you're interested in one, do be in touch.

Being multifarious, I'll now seek to snare a few sock knitters (Em included)--need some? $12.99 retail, but just $11.69 ThreadBear, and a skein makes a pair of socks for most feet. We received our first shipment of OPAL sock yarn last week and I've been asked to share which collections and which colorways are now on hand. So awaaaaaaaaaaaaay we go

Lollipop Collection

Of these, we have 1011, 1012, 1013, 1014, and 1016. I'm really liking the looks of 1016 and 1012, but for now, I'm making a different pair.

Brasil Collection

We have the three remaining colorways on hand--5004, 5007, and 5008.

Southwestern Collection

Again, we have all of the remaining colorways available--3701, 3702, 3705, 3706, 3707, 3708


This is the collection my sock-in-progress comes from--we have 5024 and 5028 on hand, and mine is 5024. It's not much further along than what I showed you yesterday, but I hope to work on it some today. Tuesday knitting was mostly dedicated to the Eros Glitz scarf I'm working on. It's nearly finished, and today's a long day for us (open until 9 p.m.). Hopefully lots of knitting time, but since we're expecting two or three different shipments later today (more books and Lorna's Laces for sure, but maybe one other). We still have yesterday's FOUR LARGE BOXES to check in and shelve, so this could be a busy day.

With that, I'm off to go answer e-mails and respond to inquiries and fill a bunch of orders. Time to make yarn dreams come true! Have a GREAT Wednesday and check back tomorrow--you never know what we'll be up to around these parts. And if you're in Columbus, come by and knit for a bit today--there's an open sofa with your name on it!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Keep 'Em Guessing

First, a little "housekeeping" (if you're a regular reader, you've heard me discuss this term before). Macie in Alabama asks where I lived in the Deep South--after completing my PhD at the University of Missouri in 1996, I took a faculty position at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. My next position was at Auburn University, in Auburn, Alabama, but I lived in a hole called Shorter (great house, icky town). Vanessa asks where I'm from in Chicago. My entire family, both sides, are from the South Side. I grew up around the intersection of Archer and Harlem just inside the city, my maternal grandparents lived near Scottsdale Shopping Center (my gram worked at the Goldblatt's there in the toy department), and the paternal grandparents lived around the corner in West Lawn neighborhood, just a couple blocks from Midway Airport. On both sides, we're staunchly Eastern European--Mom's 100% Lithuanian and Dad's Czech with a touch of German tossed in a couple generations back. So I'm a complete pasty-white blonde who grew up on very neutral-colored foods...........

Busy busy--the story of our lives, of late. And I'm loving it. I know that Matt is as well, but sometimes the toll of constant yarn shop and constant work shows on him (and on me--who's kidding). We're nearly caught up on things around here, and then another massive batch of boxes shows up (will I *EVER* stop ordering yarn? Survey says.......NO). I do believe, however, that we have neared capacity for now. There's one more space that will contain yarn in the near future, but for now, we've added about as much new shelving as we can. It's amazing to see it all, spread out across five large rooms in this drafty old house--but it's really fun to watch it grow and change. And change it does--several folks who were in over the holiday weekend made comments, especially if they haven't been here in a month or so. We've added a good bit (you've seen the boxes) and we've moved things around a little bit. The shelving and stock will always be in a state of flux, so as not to get overly predictable. Keep 'em guessing.......that's my motto.......and the perfect segue into the next section......

Who'd have thought I'd be bringing in more railroad ribbon yarn? Well, gimme a fresh color card and the opportunity to purchase something brand new, and I'm gonna run with it. So when the Plymouth Yarns order arrived yesterday (massive amounts of Encore), there were some bright and beautiful new shades of EROS in the box, as well as something new (not just new to us, but BRAND new)

Those are the spankin' new Eros Glitz--a baker's dozen of a fun new fiber that I couldn't resist working with last night. It's your standard railroad ribbon with a twist

That's a crappy picture, but I couldn't get the camera to focus on something so small. What you can barely see is a very small strand of gold that zigzags back and forth from track to track throughout the entire ball of yarn. I didn't think it was much different than other railroads, but knitted up, that tiny filament of shimmer adds a certain glitz to the knitting. Seriously.....and of course, I had to start a scarf, so I relied on a tried and true free pattern from Plymouth that you've seen knitted up on here before. This time, however, it has a certain shimmer.......

I like it, and I think it will make the perfect accent for a holiday outfit. The yarn is in stock, all 13 colorways, and full retail is $11, so we have it for $9.90. The scarf pattern uses just a single ball, so you're talking a really fun pop of style for under $10 and just a couple hours of knitting. Yes, my kinda project!

Last night was Franklin Knit Night (every first and third Monday), so Low Helen drove and Matt and I rode (Sarah wonders if that makes us Low Riders. I think so. We always stop for dinner at Mi Pueblo, a tacky but fun Mexican restaurant in Franklin prior to heading over to the CARC to knit. Knitting away, we found Kristie, Renee, Pam (who's having minor surgery as I type this note), and Karen (and her two daughters), but no Eva (she had a surprise out-of-town visitor). Not to worry, we had a fun night and we had seen Eva the day before (and shared Mongolian barbecue with her at "the Bon"). Lots of knitting and chatting and comforting Pam that her simple surgery will be over in a snap and she'd be knitting on the sofa at home in no time (Helen was very comforting to her, telling her not to worry). I started yet another project while we were there.......see........

That's one of the new OPAL sock yarns we received last week--from the Inspiration collection, number 5024. It's knitting up very faded denim like, and I think I'm going to enjoy this one alot. It's hard to put down, as you wanna see what comes out next. This continues my sock bender, and I'm happy that I still enjoy them, even if I do have to knit with size ZERO needles (loosey-goosey that I am). Em asked me which OPALs we received--maybe that's for tomorrow's posting. But for now, there's a new Filati in the house (and the latest issue of Knitters'). Let's check out those wacky Germans.....

Once a month we get a new pattern book from Germany (via Petaluma, California, of course) that supports the Lana Grossa line of yarns we've been beefing up on (oh, are they F-A-B). This month we have a new women's (many of you are still reminiscing about the men's issue from November...YES, there were sweaters in the magazine, folks.........). Here's the preview pages, with a thumbnail of every design

First off, before the designs, you've gotta appreciate the very literal translation from German to English that's inside this magazine. Here's a snippet

Granted, with no foreign language skills of my own (other that selected swear words in Lithuanian and Czech--see above), I can't toss around any stones. But I do find it fun when things are translated and there's just a li'l sumin' missing. When did fashion become multifarious? On to the knitting!

I think my favorite part of the book would have to be this section---stark contrast and bold graphics

I think the chullo on the right is big fun, and the cowl and bag on the left could be great for the cold weather (not for me, mind you). If you're thing is all-white with a good bit of patterning tossed in, check this out

This issue has several projects like this--very neutral palette with good stitch interest. Of course, there's plenty of color

The one on the left uses Telaio Print, a fun yarn I've not seen knitting into anything but scarves so far this season, and it's good to see it used for a garment. Personally, I really like the ethnic-inspired designs

But can anyone explain the trend to design things that point to the nether regions?

There was one in the Fall 2003 issue of Knitter's, and I've seen them in other collections as well. It is just me (probably), or is this an odd trend?

Speaking of me being odd...........does anyone else find the sweater on the left a bit unusual and maybe it has unfortunate placement of the embellishment?

That's big patches of black furry yarn at the elbows and ......... well, it's weird. But I'm a traditional kinda guy and a little boring when it comes to clothing. I leave you with one more design that I find very attractive (on the left). The color is fun (not one I can wear--pasty white, remember??), but the texture....oh, the texture. Very nice.........indeed.

Be well, knit lots, and be in touch. Thanks for the comments and e-mails..........we love your input and feedback!

Monday, December 01, 2003

The Long Weekend

Nothing says holidays to me like a snowfall. Maybe it's because I was born in November, in a blizzard year, in Chicago. Works for me--I've been using that tag line for years now to explain my love of snow and the four seasons. I truly missed cold and snow when I lived in the Deep South from '96 to '01, and I'm glad to be back where the weather has that certain crispness to it during parts of the year. I mean, who could resist this

That was taken off our front porch late Friday evening, after a day of flurries and snowfall and a tiny bit of accumulation. And how's that for a perfect way to kick off the holiday shopping season? And yes, I said a tiny bit of accumulation

Not quite the blizzard we had in Chicago in '63, but you will do for now. It made me smile. A lot. And that's a good thing.

So much yarn came in last week that we spent the entire weekend helping folks decide on new projects, working with a variety of knitters, old and new, and stocking shelves, yet it's still not all out. Yes, there's still a couple boxes back in the secret area I showed you on Friday (but instead of it being new stock, it's what came off of some of the shelves to put up the new our Debbie Bliss stuff is semi-hidden for now....I'm naughty). Speaking of new knitters and moving on to the next project, how's this for a glam shot?

Melissa came in a couple weeks ago and picked up a skein of Musique and of Fizz, both yarns from Crystal Palace, to learn how to knit and to make this scarf. As you can see on the right, above, she has great success to show for her efforts (and her youngest seems to enjoy wearing her finished scarf--not to mention that her eldest seems to enjoy wearing a half dozen of our models of that scarf...LOL). Not one to be daunted by a task, she's on to her second scarf, full steam ahead! love fearless knitters!

The Parade of UPS trucks will continue this week---today we expect a new issue of FILATI (probably a women's issue, as we've had men's and children's lately), a large shipment of books from Unicorn and our first order from Plymouth (mostly their Encore and Eros yarns, but a few others). Several Grams out there have been waiting for this delivery to get started on their holiday knitting for young'uns. Also expected this week is the new issue of KNITTER'S magazine (I saw a copy over the weekend.........eeeeeeh, it's alright---I'm waiting on their new book "Best of Knitter's Celts and Arans", which should be out shortly). Also expected this week is more Manos del Uruguay (I can't help myself), Lorna's Laces, and Brown Sheep (FINALLY), as I know this last one left Nebraska Tuesday, so a Wednesday delivery is in order (due to the holiday). I'm sure we'll have other things show up, but it's nice to anticipate a fun week of new stuff!

Speaking of new stuff, lookie lookie what came in last week, amid the hubub of new yarns and the like. Why, it's patterns from Bags by Mags, a new designer from Washington state. They're quite fun. Let's take a peek at her first round of patterns..........

ATTENTION FELTERS and LOVERS OF NORO KUREYON................these first three are for you........I present the "Original Mags Bag"

Just two skeins of Kureyon and another of a coordinating/complementary wool and you're in HIGH style. I think this is where I'm going to start---one may hit my needles tonight, at Franklin Knit Night (Community Arts/Rec Center, 7-9 p.m., across from the Masonic Home--BE THERE). Great shaping, fun handle, and a good use for a couple skeins of Kureyon you just didn't know what to do with. I'm there!

And then there's the fun of the "Rose Again Bag"

Just one skein of Kureyon and 150 yards of complementary-colored wool and this little charmer is yours. What fun! Look at the fun rose detailing, including the leaf. It was a tough choice between this one and the one above for the title of "first on the needles", and I'm not 100% certain yet. I like this one, and I have just the single skein that might be perfect.

High style more your speed? How's about this fun little number

Two skeins of Kureyon, 150 yards of worsted wool, and a great shape make this a fun project. Again with the rose detailing......this should be about 13 x 5 when finished, which is a great size for an accessory, no? Mags designs great bags........If you like them a bit on the hairy side, check out this one

Flapper is made with 50 yds each of a DK cotton and a worsted cotton, a metal eyelash (we have Flutter Metallic for just $5.40 a ball for this purpose), and another furry novelty (SR Kertzer Fizz anyone? ) and you have a great little statement bag that's 8 x 6 at the base. And in case you've been wondering what to do with all of those leftovers (not of the turkey kind, sorry.......for that you have to look here), how about her Scrap Bag

Not only is there great style involved here, but Mags gives explicit instructions on how to combine yarns to achieve the right extra bulky gauge (how many strands of which weight to use). I told you she wsa awesome! And guess what? All of these are available from us.........they would retail for $6, so our price on each is just $5.40. Can't beat that with a stick! It's better than a Wal-Mart 7 a.m. markdown! and much more useful!

With that, I'm out for the morning. I've gotta get ready and get everything open and light candles, and Connor just woofed to go out. And it's trash day, so the last of the big cardboard boxes need to hit the alley. Be well, stay warm (it's nippy here today, and we expect more snow midweek! YAY!!!!). Thanks for reading, and hurry back soon. You never know what I'll be up to!