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 25, 2006

Agent Secret Squirrel Reporting For Duty

I'm truly, seriously. I get to do what I love for a living, I get to work with some of the most amazing people (sales reps, yarn company folks, other shop owners), and we meet fantastic folks daily in the shop and on the phone and in person and outside of the shop......... and I get to help folks find great things to be creative and add beauty to their lives.

And sometimes, I get to play with fun new things, before anyone else

That's the new yarn called TAO from Colinette. You know, the one I mentioned last week after ordering our share, for fall. You know, the yarn that won't be available until July. I was sent six hanks and a pattern from upcoming booklet for the yarn

and given the chance to hurry up and test knit this garment to be on display at the upcoming trade show (two weeks from right now). I'm glad to do it as a favor for a great distributor and a good friend (HI CHRISTIE) that takes amazingly-excellent care of me and my shop. It doesn't hurt that I'm a major Colinette whore, either. I mean who wouldn't be, for this

That's 100% cultivated silk, hand-dyed in Wales in the Mardi Gras colourway. OH MY! You know me and bright color--I'm a crow! And talk about soft.......I was calling this "Sin Yarn" all night long, while knitting a swatch in my sock class. I'm looking forward to watching the pattern develop and I'm headed home now to get some quality knitting time in, actually.

This was just a quick drive-by post for the evening. I'll post pics of the newly-completed Allison Jacket tomorrow--Matt did the seaming Wednesday night and I put the crocheted neckline on, while Marti added buttons tonight (THANKS, MARTI, and happy birthday to you!). Have a great day and look for more on Friday!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Just A Quickie And I'm Outta Here

I have a couple progress pix and a bragging pic to show you today. All other knitting has been put on hold while I complete this garment

That's the "Back to Basics Cardi" by the fabulous folks at Mountain Colors. It calls for 20 sts/4in (10cm), so I'm using their newest yarn, Twizzle (a blend of merino wool and silk). I showed pix of this months ago, when I first started it, but it got back burnered. It will be used as a model in an upcoming function in late June, so it's back on HIGH BOIL right now, until I get it finished. Here's a progress shot

That's the back and large parts of both fronts--due to a calculation problem, I went forward with the fronts and then had to start a second one when I didn't have the pattern with me while knitting in the car in Detroit/Ann Arbor yesterday when traveling with Matt. We've been spending our Tuesday/day off together for the past few weeks (things actually were kinda positive between us), but I think that's about to come to a screeching halt, as of yesterday and all of the events and conflagration that ensued. Nuff said on that. Back to pretty knitting fabric

I adore knitting with this yarn, as it's so incredibly soft and then you add in the single ply of silk, and mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. It's yummy stuff. I hope to have it finished in the next couple days, but I did get a call from one of our biggest/favorite distributors asking me to do a favor for them...details forthcoming once the box arrives tomorrow. Trust me, it's gonna be delish!

Here's the bragging part...

One of customers (HI JAMIE) is making a Log Cabin Throw out of Cotton Classic by Tahki (from the fantastic book "Mason Dixon Knitting"). It's for one of her sons, and it's going to be BEAUTIFUL. GREAT WORK JAMIE!

With that, I'm off to teach a modular knitting t-shirt class in nine minutes, so I gotta run! BE WELL!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Canada Was A Blast!

I think I can safely say that a good time was had by all on our daytrip to Philosopher's Wool in Inverhuron, Ontario, on Saturday. The ever-competent Marcia put on a spectacular day of comfy bus rides, great lunch along the way, touring and shopping on the farm, and tasty dinner on the way home. We don't thank her enough for her hard work for these trips, as there's HOURS of planning and HOURS of errands to run in preparation for this event, which lasts just 14 hours but is worth so much more than what she charges. So I'll say it here

THANK YOU MARCIA--you planned ANOTHER special day for all of us

Where to start....where to start.....

We rode in luxury, on a great big bus piloted by the ever-competent Renee (no picture of her, but she put up with us with a smile, all day long--including when the wiper blade flew off and it started to rain on the way home). Some took time to nap and conserve energy

(that's our store manager, Sabrina, in the back of the picture. She's showing us what she does on weekend mornings, while she's not at the shop She even took time to knit a little bit, too

I'm not sure what she was working on, but we all had time to work on projects, given the 4+ hours of driving time each way. To break up the drive, we stopped in Goderich, Ontario, for lunch.
The site of choice is Rotary Park and Beach, along Lake Huron. And it's LOVELY there

It was a little windy,

but the full sun and blue skies made up for that. Look at the scenery

and the cute seagulls on the shore

and Delaine, modeling her recently-finished poncho out of Trendsetter Blossom (in her signature color--LIME green)

We ate our lunch

and deep conversations of knitting were the norm

I wandered the beach with a few folks and picked what I thought were interesting rocks to bring back for Matt, but they met with a less-than-spectacular reaction when I gave them to him on Sunday. He collects interesting rocks, but I suppose mine weren't interesting enough. No matter, it was a beautiful day on the sand and surf. I look forward to returning later this summer, when the weater is warmer. The beach is recently renovated, and they're working on preserving the lakeside

and helping the dunes come back. I bet the swimming is fantastic when the water heats up. Hopefully I'll find out in July! (anyone wanna go swimming in Ontario in Lake Huron this summer? lemme know

A short trip up the lakeshore by highway and we landed at the farm, in Inverhuron, near Tiverton, just north of Kincardine. The beauty of the natural setting was not lost on us, but neither was the opportunity to invade the home of Ann & Eugene Bourgeouis, the gentle and wonderful folks behind Philosopher's Wool Company. Ann met us at the bus and welcomed us, asked us to split into two groups for tours and shopping, and off we went

That's the wool barn in the background, with their home and yarn room on the right. It's a real working farm, with gardens

and sheep

and even chickens

That's Sabrina again, with her VERY fresh eggs collected on her tour of the barn with Noah, Ann & Eugene's grandson. I hear the eggs were still warm!

The yarn room was packed with inspiration

as was the room off to the side, which was laid out with finished garments of all types

that served as inspiration if you wanted to knit, or temptation if you wanted to shop (you can purchase finished garments as well as everything you need to make them--the choice is yours). I fell in love with one particular grouping,

their new Baby Layette kit, which makes all of the pieces you see in the picture. Not only did I get one for myself to make (yes, as a shop model), but I picked up kits for all three available colourways--Sunshine is what I fell in love with, and the previous picture (two pictures up, actually) shows Pastel and Blue. And yes, I started mine on the way home....progress check below.

Some fell in love and purchased finished items

while others shopped in earnest in the wool barn

That's Lynda on the left, intently deciding on which (of several) projects to start off with, as well as wearing a hat she just couldn't take off her head (it's a hat from Anna Zilboorg, worked up in Philosopher's Wool yarn). Just look at all of those kits waiting for us (that's one of at least four displays in the wool barn). The line to check out was quite active

but Eugene handled it with his usual efficiency tempered with kindness. My favorite part of visiting is sitting on their sun porch and knitting

I staked my claim on a chair immediately after leaving the bus, as the porch is cozy and warm with sunshine and laughter. And yes, when there's not 50 people traipsing around, this is their HOME. The upstairs loft was set up (Cat Bordhi was there doing a workshop, recently) and there's new throws on the two beds in the loft area

That one's a sampler throw, with a different stitch pattern in each square. I was captivated by this throw
which is just a larger version of the baby blanket from above--in wider squares and longer strips. I think it would be PERFECT for a back-to-school spread for someone living in a university residence hall. Plus, it's all garter stitch, which qualifies as "idiot knitting" for me (and thus perfect for making up in the car--and the strips are VERY portable!).

Another highlight for me is seeing the new things that they're always dreaming up. I loved the new designs and fresh takes on older patterns (their new Fractured Diamond Jacket is stunning!) I loved this personal coloration of the Southwest design

as seen on one of the capable and friendly staff there to help us that day (SO SORRY--I cannot remember her name, and she was MOST kind to our entire group). The color combo is different from the usual PW instructions as well as the usage of color (less frequent shading, thereby making blocks of color). I have a kit to make a Southwest in the Hollyberry combo. I've started the sleeve four times, only to rip it out (Ann says I'm overly critical of my knitting, which she deemed perfect, and that blocking would remove any of the inconsistencies that I think I see that she claims are NOT there).

No trip to the farm would be complete without the obligatory group photo

and we packed up the bus and headed back southward. Dinner along the way was at the Colonial Inn in Grand Bend, Ontario. Grand Bend is a major tourist city and this past weekend was Victoria Day weekend, so the town was replete with folks wandering the street and buying beer (there's a place called "The Beer Store" right next to the restaurant, so there were cases moving along the street left and right).

A fairly uneventful trip home followed dinner (unless you count throwing a wiper blade and then rain falling "eventful"). Our great driver managed to put the remaining wiper blade on the driver's side and we hit Lansing around 10:30 p.m. a little weary, covered in yarn and kits (and in some cases, new garments), and off to bed was in order!

I made some progress on the Modern Log Cabin on Saturday

but it wasn't the focus project for the day. To say I focused on ONE project would be foolish--you know me! I managed to start three things that day, one on the way back and two on the way up. Here's a shot of one from the way up

That's the Willow Crocheted Throw, from the Colinette book "Comforts". It's made with their Mohair, and I'm using a colourway called Chamois. Here's a more detailed shot

I took endless hell from the front of the bus for crocheting, but I like the project and I think it's gonna be beautiful (we had one roll through earlier this year, during the trunk show). I also cast on for another Colinette project (yes, I'm a self-avowed Colinette whore), but I don't have a picture of the progress (cuz there's almost none to show--trust me). It's going to be a Vintage Vest, which is one of four different projects you can make with one of their Vintage Kits. My chosen colourway is Terra Cotta and you'll see more of it shortly.

The third project I started on the trip will come as no surprise, given what I said above.

That's the first of several strips for the baby blanket from the layette kit I mentioned above. It was perfect for knitting in the dark on the bus (my overhead light wasn't working). The only downfall was that we (Marcia and I) had to wind hanks into balls by hand so I could work on it on the way home.

That about sums up the day....Sunday was a catch-up day for me at the shop, as I handle most of the paperwork stuff as well as receiving new goods and inventory stuff, and we did have some of that to take care of (new goods from the farm as well as from other vendors), plus we were busy with in-person and mail order shoppers. HOORAY!

I'm going home shortly to knit and relax a little bit, so keep your eyes peeled for more updates and inspiration all week long. I hope to make some serious progress on a couple things today, so I can show you new stuff on Tuesday morning (plans are coming together for my Tuesday day off, so..........we'll see what happens). Take care, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Back From Canada

A great time was had by all, I have great pictures by the dozens (I took five full disks of photos), and I did get some serious knitting done.....not on what I should have (yes, I started three new projects on the bus yesterday), but good progress nonetheless.

Look for photo updates and more on Monday--PROMISE!