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, June 08, 2007

Socks Reign Supreme!

Around these parts, socks are the project of choice for knitters on the go, for summertime knitting, and for anyone who wants a quick "high" with a not-so-large investment. I'm always working on a sock (or seven) so I have something for when I'm in a it at the post office, the bank, waiting for dinner at a restaurant, or ???? I even knitted on a sock while we attended last weekend's trade show in Columbus, OH. I took a little grief from a couple vendors (one in particular--hi Myrna!), but even more fun, one needlepoint canvas vendor (we don't carry needlepoint) saw me walking by and exclaimed "I remember you! You were knitting a sock last year, too!". Now that's recognition!

Speaking of sock in motion, here's what it looked like a couple days ago, when we got back from Columbus

You can almost see the orange cotton waste yarn in place below the words.....and then you can see the inserted heel here

I did that last night, while teaching my intro to socks class and while they worked a traditional heel turn (they were slightly a good way). The yarn is Apple Pie from Apple Laine, a Canadian hand-dyer who's products we'll have in the shop within the next month, maybe less, and I couldn't be more happy! Intense color, beautiful dyeing, and a little bit of silk in the yarn for lustre, warmth, and durability (it's a blend of superwash wool, nylon, mohair, and silk....yum!). Trust me, I cannot wait until this stuff shows up!

This morning I swatched a little bit, using the Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome that I scored last week

and the swatch is gorgeous

It's 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon and comes in 480 yard skein for $22 (thank you to Betsy for loaning a hand--literally--so I could photo the swatch). I scored ten hanks last week from Cheryl at Cherry Tree (she did a test run and wanted people to get some and react to it). It was supposed to be available in July, but she called today and said she was able to accellerate delivery and expects the base yarn to be in Vermont on Friday (next Friday) and will commence dyeing immediately. That means we'll have this very yarn mid-week or later the week after that (so about two weeks from now). Oh HOO-RAY on that one, as it was dreamy to knit with. Of course, look for it to be posted here as soon as it's available. FOr now, the ten skeins we had are long gone....

Speaking of new products, here's a little teaser from Claudia Hand Painted

Not due out until late November or early December, we of course ordered it deep (I think they said we were their first order for this yarn...but I could be mistaken--but that may mean that we'll be the first delivery, too!). It's fingering weight, 55% silk and 45% merino (not superwash) and all lovely. I think it's going to be around $15 a hank retail (I think....don't quote me there) and the swatches that Matt has already made with his hank (two so far.....he keeps ripping it out and knitting it again) are just lovely---excellent drape. I'm thinking STUNNING shawl here, but socks would be just luscious!

You don't want to wait, you say? Fine then, here's something that's available right now, as of today's UPS delivery

Lotsa Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. In several $11 a skein, it's a stunning yarn with amazing yardage and fun color sense (and I'm an idiot--I've misidentified a skein--"River Run" is really "Bucks Bar", and I should recognize one of my favorite colourways...sheesh!). I'm particulary smitten with Envy and Devon, two of their newer shades that were introduced earlier this year. We love Shepherd Sock! But it wasn't alone while traveling from Chicago

Yup, that's Helen's Lace, a wonderful blend of merino wool and tussah silk laceweight yarn, dyed in their amazing colors, including one more

Helen's Lace is $56 a hank from us, and that includes a free pattern for a beautiful (and deceptively simple) shawl that's a breeze to make and lovely to wear. We have two models in the shop and they both command a good bit of attention. Here's to more beautiful yarns in stock!

Speaking of beautiful things, we received more Twisted sock yarn from our local dyer and friend Meg

All are her Arial base (480 yards, superwash merino, $27 a hank) and the Netherfield and Portal are repeats for us (and very popular!), while two others (Stone and Mayhem) we've had, but only in the bamboo. Guardian is a brand-new colourway for her and it's stunning in person (deep rich color in intense shades of reds, fuchsias, golds, etc.). Wahoo! the best part--this stuff makes stripes when you knit it, and it's hand dyed, and it comes from good people!

I scored some nice swag while at market last weekend.....check this little beauty out

That is one amazingly beautiful hank of 100% silk laceweight from Claudia Hand Painted in her breathtaking colourway called John B. We ordered a boatload of this yarn for delivery any day now (according to Claudia when I called the other day--it's all in stock!). I saw dozens of skeins of this yarn hanging up in the booth and was inexplicably drawn to this one skein (unless you consider being drawn to such beauty easy to explain...). I begged a little bit and was given permission to come back at the end of the shop and pick it up (THANK YOU SHARON!). I can't explain how lovely it is in person--the hand of the yarn is divine and the color is just sooooooo rich. One of our hourly staffers wore it like a necklace on Tuesday evening, while she worked (Kyle has GREAT taste!). Now to find something to make with it that does it justice! And when the yarn arrives, it will be $40 for 1,100 yards of beautiful hand-dyed silk....NUM!

Scholler/Stahl has a new sock yarn out called Sockina

Our first order shipped out yesterday or today, so we'll have it next Thursday/Friday. This is the perfect yarn for you wool-phobics out there, as there's not a lick of animal hair in it (55% cotton, 45% nylon and acrylic). I'll start something with it tonight or tomorrow, as it's too lovely to let sit (and the hand on the skein is quite good). To find a self-patterning NON-wool sock yarn was a coup, in my get it shipped out this week was shocking! There's other new sock yarns coming from this company (and I may or may not have scored a skein of them...heheheheh) that you'll see here shortly. LOVELY self-patterning wool blends, but the designs are a little different that the usual self-patterning stuff...YAY!

That shipment of Rio de la Plata sock yarn from earlier this week? GONE. All of it! That went fast...I only managed to score two hanks

But best of all, when I called about getting more (remember, it's a limited availability yarn), they must have had an order get cancelled or something, as there's seven more bags headed our way (just 35 hanks) with a delivery date of early the week after next (the week of the 18th). You'll see pics here when it arrives, trust me. Has anyone out there knitted with this stuff yet? I have no idea what it will look like in fabric....anyone? anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

We also have the two new sock patterns from Dream in Color available for purchase, as well as their Smooshy sock yarn. They're just $4 each, and the yarn is $21 for a ton of yards (450)of superwash merino with lotsa sproing in it. I've swatched with a skein and I love it!

That's a nice wrap up for socks and swag for now....if you need anything, be in contact--via e-mail or toll-free at 866-939-BEAR. We're here to help!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Danger! Danger!

Matt is about to post to his blog (newsworthy enough, but read on). He's posting color combinations/options for the Tulip Sweater, the uber-hot project that everyone's clamoring for from the folks at Dream in Color Yarns.

We have received the pattern, so if you've asked for one, we'll be in touch today/tomorrow about that. It will also be available in person at the shop on Thursday (tomorrow). Kits will be $32 (pattern included) and individual sheet patterns are just $4.

Let the feeding frenzy begin! Contact the shop at 866-939-BEAR or e-mail me for details.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pictures, Some of What I Promised

First off, here's what's currently on hand in the $18 (introductory price) Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome

And today's deliveries at the shop brought a most wonderful surprise

That's hand-dyed sock yarn from Rio de la Plata, a Uruguayan yarn company. This is VERY special yarn, as there was a slight problem in figuring the cost for this batch, which should be quite a bit higher than we paid for it, wholesale. Being the gentleman that he is, the owner of the company honored his commitments and provided yarn to the shops that ordered at this pricepoint. Unfortunately for us, the yarn will not be produced again (the real price would be me). So, what I have is all that I will ever have, as it is very limited availability.

Each ply is a hand-dyed wonder, and the resulting fabric is supposed to make rambling color, much like Trekking from Zitron (but hand-dyed loveliness). It is machine-washable wool, and each 100g skein is 437 yards, or enough for a pair of socks for most feet. Recommended gauge is 24-32 sts/4 inches, on a US 1-3 needle. I pulled six skeins for my own stash (eight colourways arrived today) and I'll probably use a US 0 (2mm), as always. Oh, and our price on the yarn is $16.95 (I've seen it as high as $19.95 on the web....we're taking standard markup on it at our price, so others are taking a little extra margin, it appears). We have stock in all eight colourways (only one skein in one of them, however) and some we have as many as nine skeins, but most are about 3-4 each as of this writing.

Interested in anything? E-mail me and we'll get you what you need. Want a potentially faster, real-time response? Contact the shop toll free at 866-939-BEAR and anyone here can help!

Connections Do Matter

One of the great "perks" of being in the yarn business is that you often get to hear about new products prior to their being available to the general public. And sometimes, if you're a strong customer with a certain vendor, you get to hear about things even sooner. Last Monday, Memorial Day, was no exception.

Cheryl Potter, the amazing hand-dyer behind Cherry Tree Hill Yarns, e-mailed me to inquire about our interest in a new yarn she's adding to her collection. Called "Sock It To Me", it's a blend of 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon (blended in for added durability). A 100g hank has approximately 480 yards and knits between 6.75 and 8 stitches to the inch on a US 1 - 3 needle. It should be available in late June, and the yarn was debuted this weekend at the trade show.

Well, you KNOW that I snapped some up from the initial run, and it arrived while we were gone (thus no photos here tonight--I'll try to post one tomorrow/Tuesday). The standard price, when available in a few weeks, will be $22US for a hank (one should make a pair of socks for any feet you'd come into contact with) and the colourways are going to be standard Cherry Tree Hill colors (either card 1 or card 2). Right now, however, Cheryl's interested in getting the yarn into the hands of knitters (especially DESIGNER knitters) who will provide feedback on the fiber and how it behaves. Also, she's actively soliciting submissions for patterns and is going to be purchasing several from those submissions. Since she wants the yarn on the needles ASAP, she's made us a deal on it and we're able to offer skeins at a special price of $18, while this supply lasts. I have ten skeins, one each in these shades

  • Silver Streak
  • Java
  • Spanish Moss
  • Misty Moor
  • River Run
  • Martha's Vineyard
  • Tropical Storm
  • Spring Frost
  • Winterberry
  • Sugar Maple

    I think I'm gonna confiscate one (most likely Tropical Storm--yet another perk of owning one of these) and take it for a test drive. Anyone else reading this that wants some should slip me an e-mail and we'll take it from there.

    I have tons of other schwag to share with you soon, including beautiful reelings of new and upcoming yarns, full skeins of stuff we ordered, inspiration galore, and on and on and on. I'm on overload with it all, so I'm going to lay down for the evening and catch up on some much-needed rest in my overly soft bed (that I refer to as "the marshmallow", as it just swallows you up in comfort). See ya!

  • Monday, June 04, 2007


    Nothing's better than a little puppy lovin (ok, LOTS of puppy lovin) and my own bed. Matt and I have been busy tonight putting together a list of what was ordered, what we restocked on, and what we didn't get a chance to order (previous product we wanted to reorder) and that list is tooooooo much fun. More info shortly, but trust me, it was a L-O-N-G weekend, but very fun. My feet are screaming for attention, so tomorrow may be an improptu pedicure visit (mostly massaging!) if I play my cards right.

    Keep your eyes posted for more goodies listings, as well as knitting progress photos (I made almost an entire sock FOR MYSELF while walking the trade show floor this weekend...given that my foot is 10 1/2 EEE, that's some serious knittin'!). Tomorrow is Tuesday (duh!), and I'll run by the shop for a little bit and tidy up some odds and ends, but most of the day I hope to spend off.....and peaceful!

    Sunday, June 03, 2007


    I'll let you decide if we've been overfeeding at the trough while

    a) shopping at the big trade show today (see below)


    b) taken out to dinner at a marvelous steakhouse by one of our long-time and favorite Canadian sales reps


    c) feeling the effect of two consecutive nights of sushi while here at market


    d) all of the above

    It's been a wonderful two-plus days here in Columbus, and today was no exception. As mentioned yesterday, we feasted on sushi at one of our favorite places here in Columbus (Haiku Poetic Food at 800 North High Street, just up from the convention center). Lucy Neatby and her assistant Susan were incredible dinner company, and the Japanese hangover continued this morning.

    We had a wonderful and productive "private appointment" at 9 a.m. this morning (the trade show floor opens at 10 a.m., so you need special passes to get on the floor prior to that). We met with Takako from Habu Texties and we bought and bought and bought and bought. Look for all sorts of incredible yarns from this Japanese company headquartered in New York City. In addition to yarns, look for a series of workshops to be held over the weekend of September 21st and 22nd (should be a Saturday/Sunday) when Takako will fly in from NYC to host a trunk show and two days of workshops on how to use their yarns, interpret Japanese patterns, and how to create their incredible garments. Look for details soon, but it will be an incredible fall of amazing Japanese delights like 100% raw silk laceweight, silk straw yarn, paper yarns, cork chenille yarns, mohair/silk blends, silk with stainless steel yarns, and so much more. YUM YUM their stuff is intriguing--and VERY VERY affordable (most garments are under $100, and we purchased bag kits that will be $28 and $56 and the resulting bag is JUST FREAKIN''ll see SOON, as the yarns start arriving before the end of the month).

    Follow up that visit with a 2.5+ hour appointment with Alchemy (do you hear that, Kristi!) where we purchased a silly amount of yarn (tons), patterns, and more, plus scheduled two trunk shows and possibly have one of the owners, Gina, coming to Lansing to conduct workshops in a few months. We tried some of their yarns three years ago and had a rough time with it, but I think our buying was significantly better this time around. Trust me, the Silk Purse, Bamboo, Haiku, Silk Straw, Synchronicity, and more will be lovely and the models for inspiration will blow you away.

    Further purchasing included reorders on shawl pins from a current vendor, more great bags (Matt did that, several other fun yarns, a ton of sock yarn from a COOL indie dyer from DC (yes, bring on the indies!), and more goodies from standard vendors. It was also fun to see the newest things from Hanne Falkenberg and Vivian Hoxbro (kits ordered, trunk shows scheduled), preview some glass circular needles (ordering tomorrow), schedule a Cookie A trunk show (complete with the leg.....), and so much more.

    And then tonight---BURP....the phenomenal meal with a dear friend and wonderful sales rep for a great vendor and his wonderful wife. Plus, we got to meet the rep from the mill at Twilley's of Stamford and see the newest shades of the Freedom Spirit (the wool that's been FLYING off the shelves here) as well as the new pattern collection. Also at dinenr, Sandi Prosser, a talented designer. There's a small (50 cent) price increase coming July 1, but it's still going to be $4.99 a skein. WOOT..that's good stuff.

    Tomorrow means a short day (only until 3 p.m.) and we have yet to order from Lorna's Laces (sock yarns galore), get more accessories and bags, and visit with some other vendors we need to re-look at. Oh, plus we ordered some VERY well priced Chinese yarns (wait until you see them) that come from the distributor in Troy (Michigan). Hooray for supporting the local economy (and at some unbelievable price points! sock yarn for $5 a skein--retail--that rambles in color). We talked with Skacel folks today, and the lace needles (sharp points, red cords) are going down to 000 in size and up to US 9 in they're listening, folks! Look for their enhanced size range coming in the fall. YES!

    Gotta run--battery power slipping!