Thursday, February 15, 2007

What Valentine's Day Means to Me

Winter has arrived. . . .in the form of a foot or so of solid snow/sleet. Yesterday was wild. No school for the kids and we even had to close the shop early. You know it's got to be really bad for Steve to be willing to close up early. I was emailing back and forth with a customer (from Hawaii no less, is that not poetic justice?) and she suggested that in addition to the bad weather, maybe he decided to close early since it was Valentine's Day. Sitting here in my home office, I lauged out loud until I was nearly in tears. Steve Elkins, close the store, send everybody home, because it's Valentine's Day? No way! Now this is not to say he's not romantic, but trust me, it was all about the weather.

We were back up and running bright and early this morning, despite the frigid temps. It's quite beautiful here now and looks like how New England should look this time of year. Doesn't mean I'm very happy about it, but there's not much I can do about it except count down the days until we head to Florida next month.

The big news of the day is that we have scheduled Kate Jacobs to make an appearance at the store. She is the author of The Friday Night Knitting Club, which was just published last month. It's also the book that has already been sold and will be made into a movie starring Julia Roberts.
I had the pleasure to hear Kate speak twice at TNNA and to meet her in person. She is lovely, engaging and a real knitter. She will be at WEBS on Monday, March 12th at 12:00pm for a book reading and signing. We're going to have a little luncheon - plans are still brewing, but mark your calendars. This is her only appearance in Massachusetts (and CT, RI or VT as well) so make your plans now to join us! I'm hoping to have her on the radio show as well on March 10th. I'll keep you posted on that.

Now onto some yarn. More new, new, new is just flooding through the door. Here's a quick summary.

First up is Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton. It's a lovely plied cotton, with a very soft hand. The yarn has nice texture and the colors are just what you would expect. I am interested to see how the swatch that is knit wears, although I think the twist of the plies will help minimize pilling. The dedicated pattern book is also in and it is signature Debbie Bliss. The yarn retails for $6.50 and the pattern book is $17.95.

Two new yarns from K1C2 have also arrived. 2nd Time Cotton and Ty Dy .

2nd Time Cotton is created from new textile waste originating in the apparel and textile industries. This 8 ply yarn is spun from this recycled cotton contributing to the conservation and global re-utilization of products. 2nd time cotton is made in the USA. It just doesn't get much better than this. I am personally not a fan of cotton, but this is on my short list of yarns to work with this season.
Now, Ty Dy is pretty interesting as well. Helene of K1C2 has put together stunning color combinations and it has nearly 200 yards for $12.99. It has a soft hand and to me, it's screaming "Spring Bag, Spring Bag, please make me into a Bag" or a cool t-shirt. It's also screaming "crochet me", but that's just me. . . . . .

New from Louisa Harding are Mariposa and Cinnabar. Mariposa is a cotton/viscose blend. Two solid cotton strands are plied with a variegated strand of viscose. The yarn is interesting on the ball and when knit up. It is worsted weight and retails at $5.95/ball.

Cinnabar has a little bit of everything in it, from cotton to linen to silk to viscose, acrylic and polyamide. This yarn has a bit more of a crunchy feel to it initially, but I'm confident that once it is blocked, it will soften up nicely. Cinnabar retails for $6.99/ball.

New yarns from Rowan are trickling in. Summer Tweed has arrived, which is very exciting. This is the first time we've ever carried the spring offerings.

We have a great new selection of Plymouth Yarns including Bamboo Garden, Linen Isle, Shire Silk (which we personally love because it reminds us of our own Everett Silk which we used to have) and Jean'nee which is a yummy cotton/acrylic blend that is priced at only $3.49/ball!
Last up is Noro Cotton Hill, which is a cotton boucle dyed in six spectacular colors. It's a cotton/wool/mohair and silk blend. Look at how lovely the yarn knits up in the swatch I've photographed!

(Ooo - two pics side by side. I'm feeling pretty darn impressed with my technical prowness!)

So, what's on the needles for me? Well, I finished the second Vermont Felted Bag, but not without a bit of a "finishing" disaster. As I have stated, sewing is not my thing. Melissa was helping me on Saturday and was determined to get me over my fear of finishing. Well, I had a lovely seam, but we managed to forget that (a) the bag was being felted and (b) the top was going to be folded over. So I felted the bag Sunday afternoon and I had the most hideous, bulky seam. Don't get me wrong, it was a technically beautiful set of seams - really, but not appropriate for this particular project. I thought I handled it pretty well, I really had nobody to be mad at but myself. Hey, it's a mistake I'll never make again. Linda our customer service manager was convinced she could save the day and she did. With a little TLC, restitching, refelting, the bag looked okay. We got the handles on and off it went for the book submission before I could even photograph.

We are now focusing on designs for our next catalog, which will be all Valley Yarns. Anyone have any suggestions? It's funny the items that have done well vs. the ones that haven't. Not a whole lot of rhyme or reason. I am going to be making yet another Vermont Felted Bag, but using our Berkshire Solids. I am also swatching for a felted rug right now using Berkshire Bulky.
Hey, I was serious about suggestions - what would you like to see in our catalogs? What types of projects inspire you? Which Valley Yarn are you itching to use, but none of the projects we've offered have tickled you? I'm sure if we get some good ideas that we use, I could be swayed into sending out some yarn or something to those who have helped us!

Anyways, then the next thing is a top down raglan sweater. I have never made a top down sweater before, but Kirsten in customer service (and one of our amazing designers) swears by the technique. The sweater is for the next knitalong on the radio show and I'm going to be using this color of Silk Garden. Yum!

Speaking of Silk Garden, we knit up the Circle Vest from the new book Silk Knits by Elaine Eskesen. There was something about this pattern that just jumped out at me the first time I saw it. Berroco had a circle jacket created from Foliage last fall that our customers couldn't get enough of. I think this vest is a great next interpretation. Erin who works in the store knit the sample and she said it was an easy project. She is extremely partial to Noro in general, Silk Garden in particular, so somehow I think she might be a bit biased. Everyone who has tried this vest on looks great in it.

(So much for my technical savvy. . . . . )

Lastly, in reading many blogs yesterday, there was quite a bit of editorial about Valentine's Day and love. There were a lot of thoughtful posts and observations. Many people choose not to celebrate the day. Steve and I have certainly evolved our celebration from the early days until now. We often get lost in the day-to-day craziness of life and I like to have a day that makes me stop and remember. I like to remember those butterfly days. I like to remember the Valentine's when I was in Vegas for a tradeshow (which was common for many years) and I had the staff at one of the nicest hotels on the strip running around like crazy people trying to find the Fedex package that Steve had sent me. It was a card and stuffed bear. The overnight shipment cost three times as much as the contents. I still treasure the card and the bear. I am grateful for the day to day steadiness and consistency of what we have, but I like having a reason to celebrate as well. So yeah, we celebrate. But in all honesty, here's what Valentine's is all about for me:

What you can't see are the globs of pink sparkly glue - "because I know you love sparklies Mommy". . . . . . I am so pro-Valentine's Day. . . . . . . .How can you not celebrate?



S said...

Valley Yarn yarns that I'd like to see patterns for:

1. Brilloso. The yarn sounds really interesting, but it keeps missing the cut on my to-buy list because I can't see myself making a hand-wash-only T-shirt, and I can't immediately think of something else I'd make with it. (Though I wonder how it'd do as a summer shawl in a lacy pattern -- would it block well enough to show the lace, or would it be so-so?)

2. Monterey. Would it work well as a cardigan to keep in an overly air-conditioned office during summer? Or is it too heavy for that?

3. Florence. It's high up on my to-buy list because I like the look of Meghan, but I'm curious what else could be done with it.

(My catalog just arrived today, so my wanna-buy list just expanded....)

Melissa said...

blame me.


You know, I never get to see any of this new stuff. It comes in, and I walk right by it to get to the classroom. I miss it all. It's really very sad.

Bronwyn said...

I can't use any animal fibers, so a few projects out of cotton/silk/linen/etc would surely catch my eye. Often I gaze longingly at the gorgeous wool sweaters, but I can feel the prickly heat at the thought of knitting one. :(

Kathy said...

Melissa - it is not your fault. Stop the sniffling or your gift goes back (trust me - you would be majorly sad)

S - sorry 'bout the timing of the catalog. Really, it wasn't on purpose. The Monterey suggestion is good - we love the yarn, but it's not being loved. The "summer air conditioning is too chilly" angle is perfect.

Bronwyn - Our new Goshen and Southwick will hopefully be winners for you. If you get Amy Singer's new book (founder/editor of and also sufferer of animal fiber allergies) I'd love for you to email me a review.

chrispy said...

I really can't wait to work with the Southwick. I have a project to knit for my SIL but I want to make some sumptuous spring T or something. I have been a bamboo yarn addict since I learned about Habu's bamboo.

Deerfield is absolutely radiant in my opinion and would like to create a lacy transitional vest/short sleeved top.

Goshen is also tempting. I don't know what I would do with it but I do love to fondle my yarn.

Sue J. said...

I used nothing but Valley Yarns Superwash for all the scarves I did for the Red Scarf Project this year, and I will do so again. Wonderful to work with. I did lots of cables, and they came out great. Also blocked well. I am so glad you have started your own line.

Karen said...

Hurray for Valentine's Day!!! I was a little disheartened at how much anti-Valentine sentiment I saw flying around so it's nice to find someone else who enjoyed it also.

Thanks also for all the pictures of the tempting yarns!! I'm a couple hours away from WEBS but can't wait to make a trip up there soon!!!

tiffany... said...

perhaps some kid-tested / approved yarn and patterns! seriously, the kiddies are knitting machines! (i think they eat it when i'm not looking...) i have an idea for a simple two colored pattern... just not sure which valley yarn to use until i touch it... we'll talk monday!

Kathy said...

Hey Tiffany

I'm psyched to talk design with you on Monday! How fun will that be!


S said...

Don't worry, Kathy, I have no objection to my wanna-buy list doubling in size, though alas my disposable income and knitting time aren't doing the same ;-).

And I have to say, despite my previous comment about hand-wash shirts, I'd really like to make the Twilight sweater as something to wear to work -- see previous comment about air-conditioned offices. I'd like to see what Southwick's good for too -- would it work for, say, the Soleil pattern on Knitty?

Varia said...

I am so thrilled you have the Summer Tweed now. I'm another no-sheepy sort of knitter (looking forward to Amy Singer's book very much) and I loved seeing all the non-animal fibre yarns in the spring catalogue. Very exciting! So many different lovely options.

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