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, May 19, 2007

We Are One!

The sleeves are done, the joining round is complete, and I've started up the yoke

At the point you see above, I had just joined and completed a couple rows back and forth. Since then, I've initiated the raglan decreases and turned one cable, so I'm at least six rows up into the yoke. WAHOO!

Progress would be more substantive had I not fallen under the spell of a new vixen

More on this as it grows, but the yarn is Filatura di Crosa 127 Print and the pattern is a great multiple-options cardigan sheet pattern. Details to follow....I'm off to go knit on Emerald, since Connor has gotten off of my yarn. She had laid down ON the skeins that were on the floor, essentially preventing me from knitting without disturbing her. Dumb dog my ass!

Friday, May 18, 2007

No-Progress Friday

Slim pickin's on progress shots today. I cast on for the second sleeve last night, knitted two rounds of ribbing, and left it there. I picked up the same knitting this morning, worked the ribbing (20 rounds--toot sweet) and broke into the stockinette portion. Took care of the first or second set of increases, and came into the shop to make sure obligations were fulfilled, certain work got accomplished, and to meet up with a sales rep who said she'd be dropping in after another sales call. So here's all I got

About half a sleeve and two more skeins of yarn wound into balls, in preparation for getting onto the yoke (once I finish second sleeve syndrome). You see that the color difference is still in effect.....and I really like the contrast in these two skeins. They should be stunning together.

In other news, we received an INCREDIBLE thank you gift from a certain special someone on Tuesday via FedEx.

That's what's left, as of Thursday night, of the ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY amazing pound cake she sent over. I've not thanked her properly (that's gonna be written this weekend), but I'll announce here in public that I may have (personally) eaten about half of it over the past three days. Dee, somehow you have managed to capture my paternal Grandmother's pound cake, to a T. My dad's mom used to make Easter pound cakes in lamb and bunny molds (then frost them, cover the lamb in coconut, and put red jelly beans in for eyes--thereby making devil bunny and devil lamb for the Easter table). I swear to you, after the first bite I was running around looking for my (long-deceased) grandmother, wondering if she had packed the box.

Seriously, Dee, thank you so very much for an incredible thank you gift. And for an incredible trip over(that's another blog post that's coming soon) two weeks ago. Your generousity is amazing! And from our end....Dee, You're the Best!

I'm outta here for the evening.......the shop is closed, I've got knitting to do, and LOOKIE!!!! Matt actually posted today! WAHOO!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Slow Progess Day

There was progress on Emerald, but it was slower going than earlier this week. Check her out so far

Yup, that's sleeve #1 completed and severed from the two skeins I was using in alternate rounds of two to blend colors. Sometimes, while working on this project, I wonder why I bother blending the skeins, as they're so different, even from pair to pair as I work them. I mean come on, here's the four currently in rotation

Two are attached to the body and two were used for the finished sleeve. See how incredibly different all four are, despite my doing the split-pile technique outlined earlier this week. WOW...but the resulting fabric is sooooooo worth the effort.

Today, I discovered that the sleeve is worked in the round and that I'd have to carry the non-working yarn up the inside of the tube, catching it on alternate rounds and changing skeins every two rounds. Sounds like alot of work, but it wasn't hard at all, even when coupled with counting for increases. Again, I credit Amy and her great pattern writing skills (this one's a winner!).

I'm not the only one being productive around these parts--here's a new model sweater for the shop

that Mara finished this week. I think the choice of sailboat buttons was the perfect topper to this adorable little garment. The pattern comes from a Debbie Bliss book called "Simply Baby" and the yarn is GGH Bali, a worsted-weight cotton/microfiber blend that's AWESOME for children (machine washable!).

I took some grief for my portrayal of our loving pets in a recent post. Fine, here's more natural shots of both of them, as they lounge around the shop.

Connor can typically be found enthroned on her ottoman, near the patterns and books up front. I made her look up for this picture, so you can see her adorably expressive face--something I've always loved about her. Classic lab head, beautiful brown eyes, and the cutest ears ever when they perk up.

Tate, however, is almost always found in his hidey-hole

He likes the comfort and solace of the spot under our mail order table, behind the main counter. He also likes the option of being away from children and men, should any enter the shop (he's not a big fan of men, and sometimes too many adoring fans can freak him out...he's a delicate flower). He either stretched out on his side like a dead cow or curls up in a tight ball, very cat like.

So of the pups that don't put them in an unflattering pose.

One last shot before I take off for the evening. I've pulled a big old switcheroo on the Spirit projects today, after speaking with Matt this morning. Given what we feel like we want to emphasize this fall as far as projects go, we're going to change the blue Spirit to this

It's a single-sheet pattern for a chevron-stitch jacket--very nice stitch patterning and pretty good style, I'd say. I'm swatching for that one tonight. HOORAY! New project!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Your Daily Dose

Emerald continues to grow....

That's right--your eyes don't deceive you. I am finished up to and including putting stitches on hold for the armpits. That means it's off to sleeve island for me, as from here it's worked in raglan fashion. How about another vantage point

In her more natural state this time, folded up as a cardigan. No, the fronts shouldn't meet, as there's a wide button band/welt around the body opening, up and around the neck and back down. Very smart construction! Best of all, I'm not finished with skeins #3 and #4 and I'm already 18" from the cast on edge. Did I mention I'm making a 47" finished bust (size L)--don't freak's a jacket, to be worn over other clothing!

After yesterday's deliveries to the shop, I hear the siren song of my next project(s) calling me. Here's the yarn

Three different shades of Freedom Spirit by Twilley's of Stamford. Great stuff--ultra soft, tweedy/stripey construction, a big soft singly, and about 136 yds for $4.49 US. GREAT bargain! These three shades are up for grabs for models for our upcoming Yarn Tasting evenings, in late July. Here's what's on deck, as of today

They call it a long-waisted bolero or some such. I consider it to be a cardi with ruffled edges. Nice!

Option 2

Ribbed Cardigan (on the left) in the longer length with v-neck opening (versus the shorter version with the nearly-crew neck on the right). I'm also contemplating this

the ever-popular wrap cardigan--flattering for a wide variety of shapes, they tell me. All three are excellent options in my opinion.

Here's the rack of yarn--all current shades, minus one (fire--a bright red), with four more colourways coming for fall (in July/August, they tell me).

All of the above designs come from the current book that retails for $9.99. There are two other options available, in sheet pattern format.

I think the red chevron jacket on the right is in strong contention, after having looked it over tonight. We'll see what Matt thinks when I get home shortly (I'm still at the shop, working on a few things).

As always, there's a sock in progress, too (at least one....truth? there's two that currently trundle around with me in my knitting basket).

That's Ornaghi Filati's Luna Park, which we have stocked since it arrived in the US last fall. I've had this particular sock on the needles (to about half this leg distance) since the yarn arrived and have picked it up again recently (to use as a demo on how to start your heel flap in last week's Intro to Socks class that I taught). I worked on the flap today in the HELLACIOUS line at the post office. I got a good inch or more done on the flap while waiting (otherwise I may have created a scene, given how moronic some of the patrons were today regarding the new postal rules and charges--not that the new rules aren't blurry as hell with regard to size of parcel, thickness of parcel, and more....URGH!). At least I had a sanity sock with me!

I'm outta here for now. I fed Connor about 40 minutes ago, starting what I like to all "the dog timer". Being a diabetic, she needs her insulin injection within an hour after completing dinner, so I have about 30 minutes to get home (7 minute drive), but I have to stop for gas and get something for poor Matt to eat. He's at home not feeling well and getting woozy. See you soon!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Joy of Hand-Dyed Yarns

Emerald, she is started! HOORAY for Emerald and her designer, Amy Swenson!

That's the most current photo of the cardigan, but I've worked even further along by the time of this writing. It's a quick knit and I'm really, REALLY enjoying it! Plus, big needles and big yarn makes for quick progress.

This project is not without hiccups, however. Here's what I had for progress last night, around 11 p.m.

That's it, with the needle out of the loops and on top of the entire project (you can see the glint of metal from the Addi Turbo just above the yellow sheep). And here's what was left after I had to rip out a little bit

because I either A) can't read properly or B) can't measure properly or C) I'm an idiot or D) a combination of all of the above. The instructions say to knit to 8" from cast on edge prior to starting the waist shaping, but for some reason I interpreted this at 6" and started it way too soon. Of course, I didn't find out until it was time for the next measurement, at I should have had 11" and only had 9" and had to problem solve where they went. Row gauge--nope, that's not the problem, it's fine. Counting between decreases--nope, just fine. So a rippin' we went!

And check out this beautiful fabric in close up

Lovely'd never guess I'm working from skeins

that are so incredibly different. The yarn is Malabrigo Chunky Merino in the colourway Vaa. I adore it. That's the beauty of hand-dyed yarns--said tongue in cheek, of course. I still love the knitted fabric produced by them.

What I did was figure out how many skeins I needed and look at the total pile of what we had, trying to find that number and hope they all matched eachother well. NOT gonna happen. So I separated into two piles and had half the number required to complete the chosen size in one pile and half in the other.

and then work two rows from one skein and two from the other, blending out the differences and working all of the shades into a lovely piece of knitted fabric

as shown above. Remember, most hand-dyed yarn companies recommend working from two different skeins at the same time so that any sort of difference among skeins is minimized. It's easy to carry the non-working yarn up the side of the piece, and in this case you pick up an edging, thus hiding the carried strands.

There was animal activity at the house last night, both outside and in. Here's a shot from the front yard

We live right on the Grand River, which is heavily populated by ducks all year long (it doesn't hurt that I feed them all winter.....a local convenience store runs bread at three loaves for $2 all the time). I know we have a clutch of eggs in the scrub between our home and the water, and I'm guessing that these are the parents. They're always bedded down in our yarn (front or back) during the morning/early afternoon, catchin' a few ZZZZZs. They're adorable! Inside, the activity is very typical

Either/both pups can be found on the sofas at almost any point in the day, and I managed to wake Tate while trying to snap his picture. Connor was busy ingesting her dinner

and gives us her best side! It was a great, relaxing evening of knitting yesterday, yielding the progress you see above (before and after the ripping). And more progress today as it's our day off from the shop...yet I'm here blogging and Matt out running errands as I type this, and the pups are holding down the sofas, I'm certain. We need to get home soon, as a BIG storm is looming and Tate freaks out with heavy electrical storms. And I have knitting to do!

I close this post with a fantastic picture I found on a floppy disk today

That's Barb T, from central Indiana. She's showing off a great top-down pullover (Cabin Fever 602--Take It From The Top) that she made in a class I taught at a local shop way back before we had a yarn shop business of our own. I'd guess the picture to be from 2001, if I had to put a date on it. Barb is one of those ambitious knitters that refuse to back down from a project--she just goes in head first and tackles it for all she's worth--with great success. Her daughter Judy is much the same, and she and our good friend Low Helen were a fearsome threesome back when we lived in Indiana. It was a WONDERFUL treat to find the picture today, as it reminded me of good friends and much simpler times. Yet I wouldn't trade what's going on right now for anything--I LOVE WHAT I DO!!!!

Off to go knit--you do the same!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fait Accompli!

Yup, it's true......the knitting of the garter stitch jacket is finished!

I liked the project, it should be beautiful when it's all assembled and buttons are attached. I can thank my good fortune that most excellent friend Marcia needed sweater pieces to teach a session on finishing next week and she agreed to use this garment in her class as the example. Am I lucky or what? Even better, she's an amazingly good finisher and the completed garment will be sharp! THANKS, MARCIA! (and no, no one out there can borrow her....she's MINE). So, one down, another goes on the needles.....

Yup, that's the very start of Emerald, which I've been threatening to start for several weeks now (you saw the swatch for it about two months ago, remember?). It's officially on the needles and in progress...WAHOO! And it's just lovely as can be so far, as I'm using Malabrigo Chunky in Vaa, a lovely deep green with blue and yellow-green highlights. I'm sure I'll have tons of progress to share tomorrow or Wednesday, when I blog again (hopefully tomorrow). I didn't realize this until this morning, when I read through the pattern before commencing. Amy is a genius, and I love her even more because of her pattern, her recent blog post, and because she's a very decent human being. Speaking of decent human beings, my other half, known around these parts and across the web as a color genius, is at it again.

Yup, there's three disparate colourways of yarn in that combination, ready to be turned into something wonderful. Either he or I will be working on it soon, I'm sure!

In the mean time, I'm off to go work on Emerald some more. YUM YUM! It was 84F here today and I'm knitting with bulky-weight 100% merino and couldn't be happier!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday Catch Up

Hey everyone---I'm still alive, despite the spotty posting I've fallen victim to. Sorry about that. Better habits ahead!

I'm proud to say that I've snuck in a little bit of productiving in and around sales rep visits. It's been a busy week of buying, as I mentioned in my last post. I'm just excited for the cooler-weather knitting season, as fall is my favorite season. I'm just an autumnal kinda guy! I did whip out a sock this weekend,

made with the brand-new-to-us TOFUtsies, from South West Trading Company, in shade 723 (Put Your Foot Down). We received all 30 shades on Friday,

so I whipped up a basic sock following my favorite pattern, "Knit To Fit Socks" by Nancy Lindberg, so folks could see how it knits up. The yarn is very nice to knit with (I was concerned about potential splittage, as I had heard some grumbling on the web about this, but problems; and I abhor splitty sock yarn) and the resulting sock fabric is quite nice. Matt's comment was "it's not woolie feeling, which is a good thing if you want summer socks". I'd have to agree, as it's 50% superwash wool, 25% soysilk, 22.5% cotton, and 2.5% chitin. Perfect for year-'round wear! I pronounce it wonderful! This sock will have a mate shortly, and after they serve as a shop model for awhile, they will become a BIG SURPRISE gift for a very good friend that I've been wanting to make a pair of socks for. Best of all, she has NO idea they're coming, we've been out of touch for a couple/three years, and this will (hopefully) be a nice surprise for her and a great way to remember me and be remembered by me!

If you're interested in the yarn, it's $16 a skein for over 460 yards of sock-weight yarn that you'd typically use US 2 needles for socks. Slip me an e-mail or contact the shop toll-free at 866-939-BEAR to secure yours. We're already going to reorder, as it's been a strong seller this weekend.

I am in the final stages of teaching a Beginning Crochet class at the shop, and we're to the point that my class is working on their own projects of choice. I pretty much troubleshoot and monitor their progress, so I'm also working on things. I started something terribly cute

again, the the TOFUtsies yarn and a pattern that's free with purchase of the yarn, courtesy of SWTC. They're great about pattern support, especially free one! (I think there's over a dozen for TOFUtsies, including around 10 socks, this crocheted scarf, some mittens, a couple baby sweaters, and more). The scarf is on the order of the knitted "potato chip scarf" pattern that's been around the web for awhile now, but it's a string of attached starfish motifs (as above), over and over again until you're out of yarn or the scarf is long enough. The first motif was fairly easy to do, so the scarf shouldn't take long once I knuckle down and do it. In the mean time, it's a fun conversation piece to pull out of my project basket and show off. We have very few crocheted models at the shop, so this will be a nice addition.

It's a quiet evening here now that we've closed

Yup, that's how we roll at ThreadBear. These two have it made, as this is their typical posture most of the day (Tate can sometimes be found under the black tables in the center of the store, especially if there's food involved!). So while I was taking that picture, I decided to share a few more things with folks out there.

We have a couple really nice trunk shows in the shop right now, with two more coming before the end of the month. Check out this first one

That's a collection of throws and shawls from Colinette, including several different versions of their Absoultely Fabulous throw kits, a couple Stash Pak throws, a Mini-Pak shawl (that coincidentally I made for them), and a stole made from an AbFab kit. They're very beautiful and highly inspirational! I need to get crackin' on the striped AbFab I've cast on for (over a year ago) and on the Stash Pak throw that's been in progress for about 15 months now (shame on me!).

Also here right now is a trunk show from the book "Knit 2 Together" by Mel Clark and Tracey Ullman.

Sabrina (our store manager) and crew did a FANTASTIC job of arranging and displaying the wonderful projects from this book. We have everything from knitted (and dressed) stuffed mice to a doctor's bag (that's an AWESOME project bag) out of Manos del Uruguay wool to a skirt/blazer combo that's TO DIE FOR to a ruffled tea cozy and a hoodie out of GGH Aspen. It's here a few more days, so if you're in the area, don't miss out!

Lest you think I haven't been making progress on anything other than that sock shown above, and to make good on a promise I've been going on and on about since Lucy Neatby was here a couple weeks ago, here's the pieces and parts of a garter stitch cardigan

using this pattern

from the Classic Elite book "City Park" (new this season) and using their ultra-affordable yarn called Flash, which we stock in abundance. This garment, a 42" finished bust, can be made for under $50 using the yarn specified in the pattern, as it's just $3.90 a skein and calls for 10-14 hanks, depending on your desired finished size. Flash is a dream to work with and is machine washable, and the worsted weight gauge makes things a quick knit. Even though it's all garter stitch, this cardi has taken less than two weeks (including sticking other knitting in there, lots of distractions, and sales rep meetings galore).

What you see completed so far is the back, one front, two sleeves, and the other front to the part "RIGHT HERE", marked to show how far I've gotten since noon today. Not too bad, when you toss in a day at the shop to boot! I'm excited to get this completed, as I want to see it finished and my project on deck is one I've been salivating to start (it's out of Malabrigo Chunky--can you blame me?).

Alright, that's enough for now. Off to go work on the other front and maybe cheat a little bit and cast on for Emerald. I'm like that, you know.