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, May 04, 2006

And I Said I Had Nothing To Post About

About three this afternoon, I told Matt "I don't know what I'll post about today--I have nothing to say". Those who know me well (hush up, Sheila) know that I'd never be silent or have nothing to say. Cue our UPS driver, Dan the Man, with a box of love for me that has me VERY revved up to start something new....and thus, the content of this post.

Here is my muse

Good things come in small packages--oh how true!

As I've mentioned previously, yarn reps have been making their semi-annual trek to Lansing and visiting our shop, bringing us their new and returning lines for the upcoming fall/winter knitting season. This makes me VERY happy, as I get to shop for yarn and see what new patterns and ideas the various companies have come up with for knitting and crocheting and more. Well, our very favorite sales rep made an appointment for Tuesday of last week and we spent the better part of the day (from about 9 a.m. until after 4 p.m., with time off for lunch that I fixed for us) buying yarns from her, from a wide variety of different vendors that she represents (she has 6-8 large companies that we buy TONS from, so it's typically three or four or five days of visits to get through everything--good thing she lives an hour away). This time around it was Tahki/Stacy Charles/Filatura di Crosa, Bagsmith (a new one for her), and Russi Sales (another new one for her), as well as Schaefer Yarns (I bought cash-and-carry, as usual).

We had a great time with the goodies from Russi, as they're the US distributor for Heirloom Yarns and Fonty Yarns. While the Fonty wasn't that interesting, we both fell in love with the Aussie yarns....especially the Easy Care 8-ply, a dk-weight merino that's machine washable! View the full color card here, but know that some did arrive today

Those two piles of beauty are for making shop's what I've chosen, given the patterns that arrived and the colors we have (with the good help of Carol Russi)

Carol recommended the pattern and hand-picked the color for the garment. I wonder if I should make it in a size to fit me, or do it quickly and make it for the shop as a model exclusively. It's going to be a dream to knit with, as the merino is divine and the cabled construction is really nice to work up. My favorite part is that there's 109 yards in 50g and it's merino and superwash and just $5.50 a ball.

Also in the box, this devilish delight

The yarn is Heirloom Cashmino, a dk-weight blend of merino, cashmere, and microfiber that's amazingly soft and very springy. VERY. And that's the model I'm going to make with what showed up today. It's definitely a luxury fiber, at $12 a skein for 107 yards, but you're worth it, no?

Also in the box, this nice collection of patterns

I'm always on the hunt for new patterns, especially for children and especially at this weight of yarn. And yes, there was more in the box

I've wanted to get these adorable tapemeasures for quite awhile now, so I'm glad we can get them from a great rep and what looks to be a great company to deal with! If you're interested in one, they're $7.50---drop me an e-mail or call the shop and we'll talk!

No knitting progress to show, as last night's post was not that long ago and I didn't knit when we finally got home last night, nor did I knit much this morning. I think I'm ready for the neck opening on the front of the red cabled sweater, but that's not overly newsworthy. Maybe tomorrow I'll have the front done and a swatch or something from this new stuff. No, I won't be able to resist working with it...I'm that way, alright? At least I admit it!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


That's my current state.....a little sleepy. It's been a busy few days (Sunday late night out, Monday late night at the shop, and then yesterday with a day off and an adventure...more on that shortly). And today? Matt and I were at the shop at 9 a.m. to meet with a sales rep and then a long afternoon of paperwork and catching up for me, followed by session #2 of "Intro to Socks" (which I absolutely ADORE teaching, and my current group is terribly, terribly FUN to work with)....all makes for a tuckered out boy.

We are already buying yarns for the fall/winter knitting season, and it's fun to see the pattern collections various companies are assembling. I like the trend I'm seeing as far as a return to more traditional types of knitting--today's visit with the GGH/Muench rep gave us a sneak peak of the upcoming Rebecca 32. It's packed with LOTS of cabled and textured designs, several sharp styles, and is overall a good collection. With that in mind, we bought deep and heavy in these yarns, including one of their new ones for fall that's going to be spectacular! It's so-so in the ball but incredible in knitted fabric. I'm very excited about it...for sure! And we picked up several "new to us" lines from GGH that have been around before (Davos, for example), to add to our collection of their fantastic products. Yum...I look forward to July even more now!

With a day off yesterday, Matt and I decided to hop in the car and head east--towards the metro Detroit area. The idea was to show him a couple things I've stumbled into on my recent trips over as well as to visit a couple yarn shops we'd never been to before....Mission Accomplished, for sure. We stopped in Brighton at Ewe-Nique Yarns, a nicely-appointed shop in a large shopping center along the main drag (Grand River Avenue). The owner was most pleasant, as were the two other ladies there (one working, one knitting). I picked up a couple balls of odds and ends and we headed back onto the highway, pleased to stumble into the shop.

Next up was The Knitting Room, in Birmingham. Beautiful yarns, a sale on anything with wool content, and books at a discount made me happy....and I saw some great ideas in the model garments they had on display. I picked up two Jo Sharp books that are hard to find (25% off, too!) as well as some of the new coil needle holders from Clover (ordering them immediately!). Meeting two of the four owners was a joy, as well, as it's great to make connections with other shop owners in the area.

Next we went Ewe-Nique Knits in downtown Royal Oak (sorry, couldn't find a web link for them). This adorable shop is owned by a mother/daughter team who were very gracious and welcoming and the mom talked spinning with Matt for awhile. I bought a couple skeins of yarn and got a hat for Matt, but there was so much more I wanted to fondle and take in. Plus, I got to talk with one of my absolute favorite yarn distributors on the phone while we were there (I spied a kit at The Knitting Room that I had to order for our shop).

The remainder of the evening was spent shopping in downtown Royal Oak (some interesting "specialty shops"), having dinner at Spicy Siam--a Thai restaurant on Woodward, north of I-696--and then at a monstrous two-story Borders, the likes of which we haven't seen since leaving Atlanta (we're both bookstore fiends). I brought lots of knitting (gotta have choices!) and made some decent's my Samoa cabled baby pullover

The back is finished and the front is about half finished....this one is a QUICK knit that should be done shortly.

I did knit (in the dark) in the car on the way home, so project selection is always a consideration. I figured that garter stitch in a crisp yarn was just the ticket, so here's the progress shot of my first section of "Moderne Log Cabin"

I'm loving the knitting on this.....but it's going to be a long-term project, given all of the other distractions....I mean models....that I run into on a daily basis. For example, somehow this little number hopped into my WIP queue and got started today, while meeting with Sharon, the sales rep.

I'll show you the finished product in a day or so, as I'm on ball four of five on this one and it's going fast. And yes, you see a crochet hook in the picture--if knitters have their felted scarf in Touch Me called "Vintage Velvet" in Scarf Style, then its time that crocheters have their due.

I FINALLY finished the knitting on this little number last week, about 20 months after first casting on

I even did the seaming myself (wow....all 14" of it). We're calling this the Nannette Wrap/Poncho, and it's made with about 450 yards of yarn. This version is out of Blue Heron's Rayon Boucle, but you could easily make it with their Cotton/Rayon Seed or any other colorful and textured yarn. We have the pattern (such that it is) written up and free with purchase of yarn to make it, and you can see it on display at the shop any time you'd like, as it's on the mannequin near the Blue Heron yarns.

One last little teaser.......I totally, shamelessly fell head-over-heels in love with a yarn in the past week. Here's a nameless/faceless shot

of something I have resisted ordering in the past but now can no longer hold back. The sample cards are already in transit and the initial order is all but written up. I'm looking forward to playing with the two skeins of this stuff (one may become a project out of "One Skein" if all goes well) and then getting the order placed ASAP. Yes, I'm completely without regret.....

And with that, I'm out for now--time to finish up closing the shop and writing our weekly e-mail newsletter that starts to go out on Wednesdays. My public demands it!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Progress! We Have Progress!

I warned you that the Anna sweater was sent off to my finishing machine. Well, not only did he wrap up the assembly on the two parts, but I was able to do the single crochet edging, as directed in the pattern

That's our own Marti, hamming up a storm and modeling the garment. We think it's a great fit, and it even looks good with the slacks she had on today (over the weekend she wore a wrap/poncho that was bright primary colors over a pastel pink top and she complained about how she was all mis-match all day...LOL). So to sum up the project, Anna was a quick knit that was quick to assemble, and the finishing wasn't overly detailed, so it went together in about four days, total--and yes, I knit quickly, so your mileage may vary. I'm still shocked that even in the largest size (42+"), this project is under $30, including the yarn AND the pattern. WOW.

This morning I was able to pick up the cabled baby sweater out of Samoa, which is motoring along quickly

I would expect to finish the back this evening and get busy on the front tomorrow morning. The sleeves are probably a non-issue, and finishing looks so simple I may even attempt it myself (my finishing service was a might bit overwhelmed by my input lately). This one will be done before the weekend, I'm sure.

I made a tiny bit of progress on my "Modern Log Cabin" today, while standing in line at the post office (our postage meter is empty...URGH). See

Not exactly record-breaking pace on this one, but it's mindless knitting that's great for the car, for standing in line, or for movie watching. Hopefully I'll get to do most of these activities (nix the standing in line) in the next couple days, as Tuesday is supposedly my day off (I still come into the shop in the morning, and we're expecting a LARGE shipment from Aurora Yarns of both GarnStudio and Ornaghi Filati tomorrow (lots more of the Silke-Tweed yarn I'm using for my throw...and more of that addictive Biberon that I used for my "Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono" from Mason-Dixon Knitting that I whipped up in a day or two and sent off to finishing, but it's not back yet).

Otherwise, it was an uneventful weekend filled with friends and food and fun....last night in the Detroit area was interesting, and I made a big ol' batch of Thai for dinner at someone's home, and he seemed duly impressed (he just sent me a text message that his belly was thanking me for leftovers). I enjoy cooking sooooo much and I'm definitely my paternal grandmother's decendant with respect to how much I like to please, especially with food. It's a good thing!

Be well, and do some knitting for yourself!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Better Late Than Never

A late post is both a good and a bad thing--I hate breaking the loose promise of posting that I made for Friday, as I said I would post that day. The good part is that I said I'd show the start of a sweater and now that entire garment is knitted (but not assembled--it's off to my finishing factory, a.k.a. Matt). When he's done seaming, I get to add a quick single crochet trim to the neck and the sleeve cuffs. What is this project? Why it's "Anna"

Made with Kim (second color card here), a yarn by Filtes King and distributed by Needful Yarns out of Ontario, it's a very quick knit and the yarn is very affordable! It's the first yarn I've ever seen go DOWN in price, as it went from $4.80 a skein to $3.60 each this season. Kim has a sister named Kelly and a second color card here, and Kelly is a self-striping version of the same yarn. Both are 55% cotton and 45% acrylic and totally machine washable, and they're actually quite soft in knitted fabric. The yarn is a chained construction, so it's really fun to see it knitted up. Here's proof of a finished piece

and here's proof that I've finished BOTH the front and the back (they're just alike, actually)

It was a very easy knit and this would be a great pattern for a beginning knitter who wanted to make their first sweater, or it would be a great quick knit for a more experienced knitter. The best part of it all in my opinion is that it takes 4-7 balls of yarn for the five sizes, so that means this sweater is a bargain at $14.40 to $25.20 (plus $4 for the pattern). No matter how you slice it, this is a very affordable project!

I'm liking this idea of quick-to-accomplish projects, so I'm off into making things for babies and small children. Here's my progress on the Samoa cabled pullover

Not that impressive, but I hope to have more to show you next time we visit, as this is now my focus project. I stumbled a little in interpreting a chart, but yes--Kirstin came through for me and hooked me up with Lisa, their expert decipherer. She and I conferred on the chart and it's off to the races on this one (tomorrow, most likely, as tonight I have a social engagement and probably won't be doing much dinner, visiting, and most likely watching dvds with someone over near Detroit is on the menu....).

I did get a little bit done on the Aspen sweater the other night, when I was a dolt and misreading instructions/charts on the cabled number. Here's what I have so far

Not much, but that's about 15 minutes worth of knitting (with the accent color peeking in from the top, in ball format). This is on tap immediately after the red number, as I have some done already and I like the QUICK progress on this one.

I did do a couple more rows on the initial square of my "Moderne Log Cabin" from Mason-Dixon, but I didn't take a picture of it today (it's not that impressive yet, trust me). I'll try to accomplish some shortly and show you how lovely the fabric looks....I'm completely enamoured with it and it will be STUNNING in my new living room (of course, after it serves as a shop model for awhile at ThreadBear.

That's about it for today....have a great remainder of the weekend and we'll see you again here early in the week!