Black Dog

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

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Big-Time Arrivals

Uh Oh...........the fiber fairies were very, very good to us today. Not only did we get a tonnage of Koigu Yarns (Shelley, your Magique kit is out of this world--I mean just smashing!). I had to peek--the boxes aren't checked in yet.....but they're packed with lovelies (I saw a stained glass Magique kit that knocked me over, too!). And there's all kinds of wonderful patterns for things I've never seen before--THANK YOU TAIU! (and thanks to Richard for the special markings on the boxes.........details later).

Surprise, surprise....Rowan's here (no advanced all!) but the boxes aren't opened..........yet. Mwahahahaha. But yes, it's Rowan 1, Rob 0 (Anne is very right).

Pick Up Sticks kits and patterns arrived by surprise today, including two models for their ADORABLE hats. I mean adorable. We have both kits (in the most amazing felt bags that hold the kits) and the individual patterns. The projects use......coincidentally.......Cascade 220 yarns, which is a perfect tie-in for us. Look for more goodies about them in the near future on this blog and probably Matt's.

There's more more more......but it's Third Thursday and there's work to be done........and yarn to move out of the way so we can serve food. Here's how bad it is in here right now. For over a week, there's been 14 boxes of yarn in the kitchen. It's down to 11 as of last night, possibly 10. Then today's onslaught arrived. And since I won't cook in front of yarn (hell, I can't even SEE the stove from the fridge, let alone use it), we're having the affair catered............but trying to figure out where to serve from (and where to put the table) is my challenge between now and 5:30 p.m.

I'm gone........go knit! And thanks for everything! Be good to yourselves and to those you love!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I Am Weak

Yes, it's not a secret. When it comes to pretty yarns (and some not-so-pretty ones), I have NO RESTRAINT. What is it this time, you might ask?


Yup--it's ordered, as of 2 p.m. EST today. It should leave Wisconsin later this week or early next week, so I'll have it midweek at the latest. I'm a sucker for a good design, and this definitely qualifies

That's Ingeborg......and there's a knit along planned that starts in May (that emanates from Wendy's blog). And here's another version

That's all I have to say about that...................

A Bliss-Filled World

It's rewarding to see so many of you have so much fun with a post, and yesterday's entry about the new Gedifra pattern collection definitely caused a bit of a stir. From discussions of the designs and fibers used, to sizing issues (many European patterns are written for a narrow target audience and slender wearer, and/or they expect the knitter to be fairly experienced and able to redesign something on their own rather than run a variety of size options), and beyond, it was fun to hear from everyone and to see entries on the tagboard, in the comments section, and over e-mail. THANKS for reading! And no, you don't have to skirt around my blog to avoid purchasing yarn--this is nothing more than an informational let's get on with today's informative entry! Yah-huh.......right.

Check out the title and then below to see who's in the sights of my blog-gun today. Four more boxes of goodies arrived today, and one of them really surprised me (yet it didn't). Guess what came today?

Yup, it was Debbie Bliss day here. Twice. Let's look over the newest book first, her cotton/angora collection, starting with Grace

A nice, comfy-looking cabled cardi with ribbed fronts (no closure seen by my eyes). From the looks of the picture, this yarn holds cables very well. Cardis seem to be the rule..........

More ribbing, in both directions, with ribbon closures on both versions. And a couple designs shown in white

The one on the left has an interesting detail--just off center on the front, the stockinette stitch takes off on the diagonal, upwards towards the shoulder. Cute design, and again--sizing could be an issue, as it's only offered in three--32 3/4, 35, and 37 3/4. Overall, the collection appears to be casual and perfect for weekend wear or just being comfortable

Again with the no-closure thing on the right--held shut with a big safety pin. At least the jacket/cardigan styles are sized a little larger, with the right side being nearly a 47" finished bust in the largest size. More cardigans (she must like to knit several pieces, no??)

I bet the left one is comfy (again, back to the hand of the yarn in the skein--it's NICE). Nice cables again on the left here

and sizing up to a 45" bust for the pink, and a quick 4/5/6 skein project on the right for a little one in your life. What a great picture, no? And back to another wrap/cardigan design with the cover garment

If you're curious about the yarn, it's an aran-weight yarn, 80% cotton and 20% angora, 86 yards to the skein, $7.50 retail ($6.75 from us), and (surprising to me) machine washable. The book is $16 retail, so $14.40 from us. There's some pretty good chatter about the yarn in the Knitter's Review Forums and you can see a full color card here. We received six of the sixteen colors today (that's where I'm not surprised--over half on backorder)

From what I gather, the yarn knits up nicely and has fantastic drape in the fabric, despite both base fibers not having much memory to them. The styles in the book seem to be very drapey, with wraps and cardis predominating. Overall, the palette is signature Debbie Bliss--slightly subdued. I think it would be interesting to try in a different design, which shouldn't be hard given that it's aran weight (18 sts/24 rows in 10cm)--bang on Mission Falls gauge.....or Rogue.......hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Intermission time! Before our next chapter in the Bliss saga, let's see a little bit of frivolity that came today as well

Why that's more Misti International Chunky Baby Alpaca---in the brand new shades. Yup, they're colors that resist digital photography, but trust me in the fact that the left one is a LOVELY fucshia and the right is a rich pumpkin with beautiful heathering in slightly golden tones. And in the center--the brand new fawn/natural moulinette. They join the full complement of their brothers and sisters on the shelves, as we stock all shades in the chunky, sport, and lace weight and offer them at $11.16, $5.13, and $5.13 each (that's $12.40, $5.70, and $5.70 full retail). I know it's turning to spring in a week (tell that to the inch of snow on the ground here), but I couldn't resist the new Misti, now could I?

And speaking of irresistable, you may remember that we placed a monster-sized order for Great Adirondack Yarns a couple weeks ago with our stellar yarn rep Pam. Well, the first phase of that arrived today as well, in the form of one fiber, Rococco.

Rococco is 72 yards of a nylon/polyamid embellishment yarn that is just striking in person. It's got great shine and texture, between the metallic core and the subtle, textured lashes that emanate form that center strand. What you see in terms of colourways, from upper left around clockwise would be Autumn, Cappuccino, Midnight, and Irish Creme. At $9.90 TB ($11 retail), this is a fun way to add a little POP to a project without a huge cost. And it is SOOOOOOOOO soft (surprisingly so for a metallic). YUMMY! Now on to the other half of our program.

Yup, Simple Living also arrived today. That Debbie's been a busy woman. Here's another book ($16 retail/$14.40 TB) from her, but it doesn't focus on a single yarn, but uses a variety of her fibers, most knitting at either 22, 20, or 18 sts/10cm. Easily substitutable across her collections, as well as other yarns of similar gauges, here's a collection of pleasant, simple knits. It definitely starts with a bang, in my opinion

What a beauty! And the throw ain't bad either--shown in Casmerino Aran, it's probably a simple substitution for any aran-weight yarn (ooooooh, maybe Cotton Angora??) that would like cables. I'm contemplating a throw project, and this may be up high on my list. As might be these cool cushion covers

I like the look of the gingham peeking out at the gathering point. Both of these projects (pillows and cardi) are shown in Cotton Cashmere, but I'm sure most any DK would work nicely. The focus seems to be on things for the home

with another cool pillow and throw (in Cotton DK) and a simple seed stitch tote (in Cotton DK held double). Sock in Cashmerino Baby would be a wonderful luxury

or they suggest Wool/Cotton as an alternate. The pillows on the right are Cotton DK again, and kinda fun with a woven stripe pattern on a reverse stockinette field. And the log cabin design here

is kinda fun and would be a good traveling project, as the squares are probably simple to knit on the road. The hoodie on the right is done in Cotton Cashmere. Sooooooooooft.

Can anyone explain the project on the left here

They call it a "pyjama sachet" and it is lined with gingham fabric. Hmmmmmmmmmm. The dressing gown on the right is Cashmerino Aran again. I bet it's nummy---and I bet it wouldn't be so bad in the Cotton Angora, either!

We're doing a two-session class on knitted pillows in a couple weeks, and I think these would be FANTASTIC to have

I really like the ticking fabric used on the backside, and the upper is knitted in Cotton Denim Aran and finishes at 25 1/2" square. They call it a floor cushion, but I like the idea of a BIG throw pillow, in cabled goodness. We have several new knitters who are intrigued by cables--this may be the PERFECT project for them! And not too big an investment at under 500 yards of aran-weight yarn (oooooooh, maybe the Cotton Angora?). And the slippers are cool, shown in Cotton DK (Hmmmm, maybe some of that Butterfly Super 10 we have would be perfect, and very affordable!).

So that's the second new book. Overall, it gives me a feel of being alot like Erika Knight's "Comforts of Home", but with Bliss yarns instead of Rowan/Jaeger. I like it, and I think I'll knit a couple things out of it soon. I like the idea of knitted pillows, so those are what hooked me.

For now, I'm gone........have a great Wednesday, and stay tuned, as we still need a big expose on the Plassard yarns that arrived recently, and they are outta this world. Cottons, silks, some novelty stuff, and great designs. And great Italian yarns from Gerafil. You'll see---soon!

Monday, March 15, 2004

Beauty in Cotton

A semi-quiet day at the ranch, with only two boxes of goodies arriving today (one packed with buttons--HOORAY!! and the other with a single bag of Plymouth Encore as a special order). It's good to have buttons now, and I'm sure the special order was welcomed (she's already been in to get it). So in between the folks needing help in the shop, the mail orders we packed and got out (I filled two of those corrugated plastic tubs today as well as a STACK of boxes), and other duties, I managed to snap a few photos to share with you today. Here's a little essay on a recent pattern book from Gedifra (click on that hotlink and turn up your sound for some groovin' tunes from Germany).

Highlights 041 is out and arrived last week

and I like it a lot. There's tons of fun things in it to knit, many of the yarns look to be fairly substitutable if you don't want to knit with the original fibers, and the price is right ($12 retail/$10.80 TB). The cover sweater is cool! But you'll see it later on.

Once you get over the wicker tires, take a good look at these sweaters, done in Beauty Cotton

I'm especially fond of the one on the left, with it's fantastic lacey design

There's a clearer photo here, but you get the idea. Many of the pundits are predicting the resurgence of crochet as "the next knitting" for the coming year or so, but I don't see the resources out that would be needed, and as someone who gets an advance list of books coming out over the next year, there aren't that many about to be released. But I do like the combination of knitting and crocheting that you see here, in California

The left is a little too 70s/granny square for me, but the shape on the right is darned fine........or maybe it's just that action shot??!?!?! Then there's the neutrals, especially the far right, with the bell sleeves.

Nice stuff, no? I really like the yarn for the far right--California Color, a self-striping cotton/acrylic blend that knits around 18 sts/10cm. Openwork on the sleeves seems to be quite popular (crochet on the right, again)

Modern Cotton on the left (easily substitutable for a number of yarns we have at the worsted gauge) and Beauty Cotton again on the right.

For sheer knitting (and probably wearing) enjoyment, ya gotta love this one

That's done with Mauritius and Azzurro, both really fun ribbon/tape yarns. And speaking of fun, both of these are

and check out the legs on the right. Granted, it's a sharp sweater, but sheesh! What a pair a' gams!

The cover sweater is seen here, on the left

along with another fun one in Mauritius. The one on the left uses Costa Rica, a really wide microfiber rag-type ribbon (7 sts/10cm) and Cubetto, a wicked little polyamid ribbon that we just got in under a different name/label (ours is called Gerafil Luna and comes from a mill in Italy that is just entering the US market--we received a ton of their yarns on Thursday, with our Plassard order--all of which I'll show you in the next couple days; I finished a swatch with the Luna tonight).

I think one of the more practical knits in the entire book can be seen on the right, here

Matt thinks the hair/makeup is decidedly 60s, and one of our locals (HEY DEB) said she used to wear her hair this way, exactly. The one on the right is made with California, the really fun chained-construction cotton that comes in great colors. Personally, I think these two projects look like the perfect all-occasion summer tops

The shell is really cool and would be perfect for the upcoming season (and the yarn, Beauty Cotton, is incredible stuff). Modern Cotton is used for the cabled sweater on the right, which is an easy substitute for worsted-weight cotton (Clip, King Tut, and others come to mind).

Looks like submarine necklines are in style all over Europe

The blue one uses the same stitch pattern as the green one a couple pictures back, and the one on the right is kinda odd.........but one of the hottest sweaters in the entire book is the one on the left, here

made in Modern Cotton (again, any worsted would work!). Why can I just picture Le Bonne Tricoteuse in this little number. And the right--aside from the Jamie Sommers pose--looks like a great project in..........Modern Cotton. Great color work and very fresh colors!

Last, we have the model garment that we expect shortly to go with the spring/summer Gedifra line.

What you see is, in fact, one yarn for each of the color sections. It's called Distrato, a cotton/acrylic blend with small sections of furry spots (runs of smooth, then furry, then smooth........). Check out the pink version

Pretty cool stuff, no? Some of the locals have been making warmer-weather scarves with it in the mean time, and now there's pattern support to go with.

All these patterns are nice, but let's see some of the yarns!

Top row is California Color (blue), California Color (citrus blend), California (tangerine)
Bottom is Beauty Cotton (lime barber pole), Distrato (reds), and California (golden yellow)

Let me share a little secret with you about the California Color (the chained-construction cotton). Here's two balls in the same colourway

They look just alike, right? Watch this....

On the left is Gedifra California Color. On the right we have Filati King Kelly. They're both made in Italy, they're both the same fiber composition, and they're the same gauge and the same yardage per 50g ball. So what, you might ask, is the difference??? The Gedifra California Color is $8.50 retail/$7.65 TB, while the Filati King Kelly is $5.90 retail/$5.31 TB (oh, and Kelly comes in more colors). We met California Color first, then Kelly. When I found the STRIKING SIMILARITY, I ordered Kelly and canceled the remaining California Color. Same yarn, $2.60/ball difference. Shame on the distributor for taking the additional mark up by changing the ball band..

These are solids in California..........
or are they.............

Gedifra California is $7.50 retail/$6.75 TB; Filati King Kim is $4.90 retail/$4.41 TB. Same yarn, same mill, same colors (plus a few extra), same everything--except for labels and price. Shamey Shamey..........again. The big difference is that one is a fairly well-known yarn company name, and the other is relatively new here in the U.S.--Filati King comes from Needful Yarns out of Toronto. Gotta love them Canadians! Seriously--great yarns at a GREAT price--that's ThreadBear. We do, seriously, look for good values to offer to you. I could make a higher markup, but I'd rather have you happy and make something at a decent price (with, in this case, identical materials). If you're curious about the colors in Kim (California), here they are

The very bottom row that you can see are Kelly colors (and we have California Color in ones that we don't have yet in Kelly, but will soon--they're on backorder for now). Left to right they are a blue mix, a deep purple mix, tans/greens, and the neutral mix from above. We also got some great pattern support from Needful Yarns.........wanna see?

These are basically Kim/California patterns. Top left--the pink number has some simple cables moving up the waist area. Top right uses two strands of Kim and a 6.5mm needle--quick work! Bottom left--that's a really fun shoulder reveal. Bottom right--a nice short-sleeved number with small eyelet across the body.

These are for the multi-colored versions of the yarns, as above.

Blend a solid and the multi on the left, use just a multi (with a solid welt) in the center, and all multi on the right, with a crocheted edging. Cool thing is--the patterns are as affordable as the yarns. $3.50 retail ($3.15 TB) for single-sheet patterns, and $5.50/$4.95 for multi-page patterns (I think all but one is a single-page ditty).

One more item, and I'm outta here..........more Koigu is in transit folks (stalk it on UPS using this tracking number 1ZAA52581218007621--no plotting a hijack, Lana--though I hear she's off on family business......our thoughts are with you and yours, kiddo!). This 132-pound batch is lots of Kersti, a good bit of Painter's Palette/Premium Merino, and more Rumba, Loop, and patterns. Also in the batch should be the Carousel and Magique kits several of you have requested, including Shelley's green-based Magique (I adore Shelley, and her Rita Rudner quote at the top of her blog made me howl this afternoon, when I visited), my hand-picked Carousel, and a couple others for some great folks out there. We expect it in house on Thursday (just in time for Third Thursday--dinner's theme is "Springtime Fresh", and I'll be doing lighter fare like pasta salads, cool trays, and the like, despite the forecast of snow and flurries over the next three days).

I'm beat--this is one hella-post. ENJOY!

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Fun, Fun, Fun 'Til The Cows Come Home

That's been what it's like around here lately--more fun than you can shake a stick at! With the close of the "business week" on Friday, we can officially claim to have had FIFTY TWO boxes of yarn (yes, 52) delivered in a five-day period. Do you need pictures to see how we're just overrun with new goodies and wonderful things? Well, maybe later--for now, I'm focusing on a little bit of fun that arrived early in the week.

Fresh from Canada, via Toronto and Needful Yarns comes this awesome yarn, named for the city of it's origin--TORONTO.

Okay, Okay, so it's spun in Italy......who's splitting hairs here? Not me. Besides, speaking of hairs, I call the scarf I made with this yarn "Woolie Boolie",

as it is (check out this close up)

I like it, and oh my is it a quick knit. The yarn is 62% wool, 23% cotton, and the remainder man-made, so it's gonna be warm and comfy. And I made mine on US 17 needles and only eight stitches wide--in about 90 minutes yesterday morning. Seriously. I timed it because I was able to use a ball of yarn per TV show while I was watching the Food Network "cooking school" shows. Three balls makes a scarf, and they retail for $12.80 ($11.52 from us, of course). For under $35US and under two hours of knitting, you have a fab gift or a new accessory. My kinda project!

For something a little more time consuming.........I present to you the new colors in Lana Grossa's Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy, their cotton and wool (and a tish of nylon) sock yarn fresh off the boats from Germany. Here's the first four of the eight colors (bottom left 801 right 802; top left 803 right 804)

and the other four (bottom left 805 right 806; top left 807 right 808)

They're a great value at $12 each ($10.80 from us), which means that the price didn't go up with every other yarn from Europe (most of them went up about a dollar a skein/ball/hank recently, thanks to the devalued dollar/stronger Euro--wait until you see the new prices on Koigu coming down the pike around April 1, which Patternworks has already implemented). Also in this box was one very elusive color in the all-wool Meilenweit Fantasy 4760

We've got plenty of everything you see above, so if you're interested, you know the drill. In the mean time, I'm going back to packing boxes and plotting blog entries (we have soooooooo much amazing new yarn--wait until you see the next few posts). Have a great Sunday and go knit something!