Socks & Shawls & Cowls…oh my

My friend Mary lives out in Kingston (same town I live in) and she’s a very good knitter.  She loves to knit socks, but she also knits shawls, hats, sweaters, cowls, felted clogs, dishcloths, scarves, mitts, ponchos, and baby items.  Here are just a few of her finished items.

Prairie Socks by Kay F Jones using Lolo Did It’s Everyday Sock.  This pattern is available on Ravelry.  I just love all these speckled yarns out now.  Great job Mary!

Next, Fireflies Rising Shawlette by Helen Stewart.  Mary used Fancy Image Yarn Merino Tencel Fingering!  This looks like spring spring spring. This too is a Ravelry pattern.


 

Finally, her 3 Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli.  Mary used Juno Fibre Arts Alice for the Oyster & Stone colors and then Blue Sky Fibers Alpaca Silk for the Orange.  I just love that pop of color with the neutrals.  Orange is such a happy color too.  Don’t you find some patterns just have it “IT” factor?  If think this one does, it has a cult following.  I really want to knit one.  Again, Ravelry for the pattern.

Thank you Mary, so much, for sharing your work!!!  Remember you can click on any of these photos to see them larger.

* Good Prices *

Hey Everyone — So, last weekend, I took a trip down south (south Washington) to visit a couple of yarn shops.  Teva, at Loose Ends Fiber Arts had been asking me to come and visit her store.  Working full time, working America’s Knitting, knitting and walking my dog keeps me pretty busy, but my husband Wes & I thought we’d take a drive last weekend down south, to check out her store.

Loose Ends is in the town of Centralia, Washington, which is south of Olympia, Washington’s state capital.  We had a dry but chilly day for our drive, but I knit in the car while Wes drove.  We brought Mae with us, and she got a nice little walk in with Wes while I visit the yarn shop.  Loose Ends is located in the original downtown area with parking on the street.  They call the area, the antique district as there are lots of antique shops, for your antiquing pleasure.

When I arrived, the store had a couple of customers, and the owner, Teva, was in.  She quickly greeted me and I introduced myself.  It was a surprise visit, as I didn’t even know I was going to be making the trip when I got up that morning.  I guess I could have called when I was on the way down….but I just thought of that, so it was a surprise.  She was happy to see me and meet me.  She was busy with her customers, a mother/daughter knitting team.  She was winding their purchases, so I just looked around and took pictures.

My first observation was that she carried lots of Cascade Yarns.  That’s not really surprising, as this is a local company to Washington state, and their line of yarns is vast and wide.  But, I also saw Noro, Madeline Tosh, Juniper Moon Farm, Malabrigo and Universal Yarns.  The second thing that I noticed, was that another customer had come in.  The prices were very good.  I know that there is suggested retail on things, but the owner does have some discretion on what they want to charge for things, and what goes on sale, or if they need to charge more for things, depending upon their overhead that has to be covered every month.

I saw, what Teva called the ‘fiber room’.  That is where she keeps the roving, fiber, top…..I’m not a spinner so I don’t know the lingo or what I’m talking about – but she had a room for it.  Also, in the back was a room with a table where she holds knit night and classes.  Before I left, a group of young gals came in to shop as well.  It was a busy Saturday at the store.  

While I was there, I purchased some self striping sock yarn (I’ve never knit with that kind of yarn before, I’m excited), and a Valentine card.  Teva had the cutest cards in store for Valentines Day.  I could tell Teva was a very comfortable, friendly gal that could quickly become your friend.

If you are headed to Centralia to go to Great Wolf Lodge, the outlet stores, or possibly Dicks Brewing…or maybe you’re on your way to Portland, Oregon.  Stop in to Loose Ends Fiber Shop — you have to have lunch anyway.  Teva has really good prices on yarn, and the vintage feel of downtown is so relaxing.  You won’t be sorry!  Loose Ends Fiber Arts is on Facebook and Instagram, so follow her and her store~

**You can click on any of these photos to see the larger version of them**

Hollows

Here is my friend Sarah wearing her new Hollows shawl that she knit for herself.  The shawl pattern was written and released by mandarine’s (Melody), and can be found on Ravelry.  The shawl uses fingering weight yarn, and Sarah chose Tern by Quince & Co., in the colorway Dusk.  I think all of it is perfect; the drape and color.  It’s generous in size and will stay wrapped.  To follow Sarah, check out her blog at The Aspiring Farm Wife!

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year to everyone!   New years is a time of reflection and new beginnings.  We moved into a new house back in August.  We actually down sized into a smaller home.  With small square footage comes less storage.  This is where one realizes that there is a problem with lots of yarn, and lots and lots of projects, and project bags.  Projects in various stages of doneness.

I have mitts, socks, socks, and lots of socks, scarves, stoles, shawls and cowls.  I have hats, berets, boot toppers, shrugs, tank tops, ponchos, sweaters, and a Christmas stocking.  I have baby blankets, baby hats, and baby sweaters.  Some of my projects are in the beginning stages, some are a third of the way done, some are half done, some have beads, and some are fair isle.

When a project is near completion, I finish it.  It builds momentum, it’s fun, and I finish.  Most all of my projects are knit with nice yarns, and I love them all.  When I moved, I did get rid of a few and I also gave away a little bit of my stash.  The stash is a whole other story.  I have a representation of all the weights and all the colors, but I don’t have huge quantities of anything.  So, if I want to knit a sweater or an afghan, I’d have to go purchase yarn.  I don’t have a lot of sport weight and I don’t have much chunky weight or bulky.  But, I have mohair, alpaca, new wool, merino, silk, cotton, wool/alpaca blends, wool/cotton blends, some metallics, and even a bit of cashmere.

My husband and I had the retirement talk over the weekend, so the situation needs to reduce further.  All the time, the designers are coming up with fun sweaters that are hard to pass up, baby items that are beyond cute…the yarn companies are coming up with yummy colors, tweeds, heathers, halos and marls.  I’m going to have to down size some more.  I’ve just let it get out of control.  I want to knit everything, and I don’t want to miss out on anything.  Yes, I know some knitters that don’t have to purchase yarn, that don’t really care what everyone is knitting, that aren’t on Instagram; that just finish what they’ve started — but that’s not me.  I love yarn, I love knitting, and I love yarn shops.

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

I must work hard this year of 2017 to wrap up some projects, finish what has been started.  I will start each month with projects planned.  I will try to finish a few things, and if I’m successful and feel the need to purchase yarn, or cast on a project I will let myself, but only one, if two have been finished.  If I’m not really feeling it I will continue to finish projects and just keep going.

I’m planning to blog it through, and I hope it will inspire knitters to carry on with their projects.  I also want to mention, that if you want to spotlight your yarn shop, if you are a knitter, or a yarn shop owner, let’s do it.  Just email me over some digital pictures and a few lines and we’ll talk about your shop, and your town.

The yarn shop ally in the Pacific Northwest~

Happy New Year Hat

Hat’s are so popular, and HELLO it’s Winter, and baby it’s cold outside!!

Sherri over at Rainy Day Yarns in Gig Harbor, Washington is a prolific knitters.  Seriously, she gets so much done, I’m always in envy of her work.  This hat is not just a hat to keep warm…one you throw on because you are having a bad hair day, or you are so lazy, throwing a hat on ‘is’ you doing your hair that day.  This hat has style!  This hat is going to say to people, look at her, she always looks so nice…love her!

Here are all the deets:  Nollie Hat by Monika Sirna; yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Mecha #33 Cereza, which is a bulky weight yarn, so this hat knits up FAST; knit by Sherri, Rainy Day Yarns, Gig Harbor, Washington. It’s a pattern for purchase over on Ravelry.

So to quote the “Plucky Knitter” — ‘when in doubt, knit a hat’!

 

Annual New Year Report AND Purly Shell

Todays blog post will combine two things; a trip to a yarn shop on Thanksgiving weekend, and our annual LYS report that happens every January!

Diana Cripe is our moderator over in our Ravelry group.  She and her husband took a little camping trip over the Thanksgiving weekend with some friends.  Here is what she had to say…

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we stayed at Cape Disappointment State Park with friends.  When we went to check in, I noticed the gal helping us was wearing what looked like hand knit fingerless gloves.  When I asked if she knit them, she said she had, and that there was a great yarn shop in Ilwaco, just a short distance away.

On the Friday, my friend and I went for a visit.  The store is called Purly Shell, and the owner, Heather, was very nice and let me take photos and ask her some questions.  She is a spinner and has her own handspun in the shop. She has it displayed on the walls hanging in nets, which I thought was quite clever, as Ilwaco is a fishing town.  The Christmas tree has a couple of Wingspan shawls that are draped like garland, also fun and creative.  The business also carries brands that you would recognize as well as her specialty dyes.

I bought a beautiful hand dyed yarn from a Portland area dyer that she had.  The color way I got is called University of Washington but the colors are more subdued than typical UW colors.  I’m anxious to see how it knits up!

Now on to the 2016 LYS report.  Every January I report on the yarn shops.  Startups open, shops close, and shops certainly move around…but here is how the numbers shake out for 2016.  We started 2016 with 1,089 yarn shops and finished 2016 with 1034 shops…that is a deficit of 55 yarn shops.  When I started America’s Knitting in August of 2007 we had 1,445 yarn shops with a decline every year since.  Having a discussion of why the LYS is in decline, takes on many forms — an over saturation of the market? — a decline in the craft? — a tightening economy where folks have less disposable income?  You will have to give this some thought and decide for yourself as to why local yarn shops are on the decline.

One thing I do know, when you support small business of the local yarn shop, you are directly impacting families and communities.  They are open for us daily with their commitment to the craft.  They teach and build community through classes and open knit groups – you meet your friends at the local yarn shop.  With a store front, you can see and touch the yarn, and see how it knits up into samples.  With a local yarn shop you can be inspired!

America’s Knitting is a yarn shop registry with a heart!  We humanize yarn shops, so they can be remembered through stories, pictures and people, not merely data!  I help yarn shops tell their story.  You can have 12 yarn shops in a major city and they are all different, because they are owned by different people with a different story.

If you visit a local yarn shop on your travels, please take a few snaps and email them over with a few lines~

Yarnhouse Studio

Kathie Malcher, one of our roving reporters, traveled to Alabama in October of this year.  Here is what she sent me:

Mary –

I was in Auburn, Alabama the last weekend in October. On Saturday, the 29th, I stopped into the Yarnhouse Studio in Opelika.  It serves Opelika and Auburn.  The owner, Jan, said that it was the only yarn shop for 90 miles.  It is located in beautiful, historic downtown Opelika.  It is owned by 2 sisters and they have over 100 years of combined knitting experience. The day that I visited, Jan was working so I got to meet her.  She is the person in the picture that you see. 
The store looks like it is small when you come to their front door, but, believe me, it is not – the store has 3 large rooms and they dye their own yarn right in the store.  I believe that their hand dyed yarn came in all weights.  There is no other indie dyer in the area.  Yarn lines that they carry are – Cascade, Berroco, Brown Sheep, Baah, Blue Heron, Cestari, Classic Elite, Done Roving, Juniper Moon, Malabrigo, Shibui and others – a great selection of quality yarns.  They cater to knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers and felters.
A delightful shop – great lighting – and friendly people.  Stop by if you are ever in the area.
Thanks,
Kathie
20161029_130504Thank you Kathie — you are always so good to remember America’s Knitting, and help us out with a peek into yarn shops around the country.  I used to live in Montgomery, Alabama when I was a child.  I loved the south, the people are so warm.  You did a great job, and this shop looks right up my alley!  Click on any of these photo to take a closer look. Please support our local yarn shops~ 20161029_130537

Shop Small

If you haven’t figured it out yet, America’s Knitting is all about the yarn shop!  From coast to coast, up north, down south, Hawaii & Alaska!

I love yarn shops, the little quaint ones in old buildings with old floors, the classy ones with upscale brands, the ones that have locally hand dyed yarns, and everything in between.  I’ve said it before, that yarn shops are like a flavor of ice cream…what’s your pleasure, no two are alike.  You can have 13 shops in a major city, and they will all be different.  WHY?  Because they are all owned and operated by different people.  It’s the human being factor.  We are all special, unique and have something different that we bring to the table.

You’ve heard the phrase, it’s a small world — well, our little corner of the world, the United States, is 1.927% of earth’s total surface area and 6.598% of earth’s land area….so they say??  We have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday coming around again, this time of the year.  Why have they come up with these special days?  To give us reasons to shop and spend money, or to try and focus on meaning, behind our spending?

In the spirit of Shopping Small, this Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to also say shop USA!  The economy is like our stitches, continuous and connected.  When one company succeeds, it can employ more people, and there town or city succeeds.  When that town or city succeeds, the whole state succeeds.  When one state succeeds, it becomes a model to other states….and so it goes.

I had the opportunity to meet Victor Schmidt of Kraemer Yarns, located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania!  Like every knitter, I immediately go to yarn….”I have a yarn called Nazareth”.  In chatting with him, he tells me that this company dates back to 1887!  Now, he has my attention — WHAT?  Kraemer Textiles has been custom spinning yarn for many types of industries for over 100 years.  The company began their hand knitting line in 2005.  Yep, they spin 20,000 pounds of yarn every week.  That is enough yarn to circumnavigate the globe.

Kraemer Textiles is now on their fourth generation since 1887 — isn’t that amazing!  I love stories like this.  The Schmidt family purchased Kraemer in 1907.  The textile manufacturers specialized in yarn for the apparel and the home furnishing industries.  The company watched the market, going to overseas companies as time went by.

Enter a knitting resurgence — the Schmidts developed a line of colorful wool and acrylic-cotton blend yarns, giving them fun local names like Mauch Chunky, Naturally Nazareth, Little Lehigh and Tatamy Tweed.  Kraemer knitting yarns are now sold in over 300 yarn shops across the country, giving the company’s craft specialty part of the business, at 10 percent.

The company creates fiber for the carpet industry, apparel industry, and also produces yarns for lots of indy dyers in our great nation.  They are looking to grow their hand knitting part of the business, and I hope they succeed.  This is a great story.  This business, Kraemer Yarns, is very easy for shops to work with because there is NO minimum order for brick and mortar stores, but at the same time, they give volume discounts on large orders, and shipping is free to anywhere in the 48 contiguous United States.  This sounds to me like they WANT your business to succeed.  They also participate in SHOPATRON.  So, how this works is, you can go to their business, and purchase what you want online, and it get’s filled by a shop carrying what you need.  So you get what you want and need, they sell their yarn to the public and the yarn shop gets the sale.  WIN/WIN~

On Small Business Saturday, let’s support small business, and family businesses like the Schmidt’s, Kraemer Yarns.  Let’s be conscience of this all the time, every day.  These businesses pay taxes and employ people, and when we support them, they in turn support our towns, city, states, and country.  It’s challenging to run a small business, to pay the overhead involved, and to be open for you.  The local yarn shops are at the heart of our knitting community.  Their establishment is where we meet our knitterly friends, and learn new things.

Kraemer Yarns is open to the public in Nazareth Pennsylvania for tours, they also have a company store that is open seven days a week on site, and they teach knitting.  Victor Schmidt, pleasure to know you, and blessings onto your business, Kraemer Yarns.  Here’s to another 100 years, and another 300 yarn shops selling your yarns!

Yarn Crawl…do you crawl?

They are pretty much nation wide now!  I love the concept of an organized event, created towards a fun outing for all the enjoy!  Knitters plan and plot out their course, and sometimes even take a husband, a non-knitting friend, or pups for company.  Most do I think, crawl in groups…but there are even some loners out to crawl.  It could take a day or a weekend, for all this fun to take place.  I say knitters, but these shops also create a free crochet pattern for crawlers as well.

The premise is that the shops come together with meetings all year long to come up with a theme, a set of rules, free patterns, and some prizes to make it super fun!  We have a couple of these crawls in my region of western Washington state.  I’ve done the crawl over in Seattle one time.  The crawl in the south sound I do every year….so far.  The crawl in Seattle is too big for me.  If someone wanted to drag me, I could be persuaded, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Sometimes, life’s circumstances veer knitters off course.  Knitters almost always come back, and this is always a great outing.  Visit all the shops, check it out, see what’s happening.  The first thing you do is print out your passport. There will always be something in one of the shops that really speaks to you.  Each shop has a project and free pattern.  They typically have a yarn that goes with the project that they are offering at a discount, and then decorations and other items that coincide with their theme.  Each shop has snacks to offer the crawler.  Then, there are daily prizes and something for the finishers.

Because it takes all day, or in some cases all weekend, you have to have coffee out or lunch.  It’s Fun!  I think knitters know how to have fun….from KAL’s, to joining yarn clubs, to going to events, to going on yarn crawls.  Personally, I love all things that include and support the yarn shops, that’s my favorite.  This weekend is KnitFit in Ballard, Washington.  I’m not taking any classes, but I will be going to just check it out and go to the market.  Out of 28 vendors, only 1 is a yarn shop.  So, does a sale from an indy business take away from the business of a LYS?

 

2 Gray Hats & a Toque

Carmel is cranking out hats.  One she knit on vacation with Dale, one for her nephews birthday and one was a test knit for Jane Richmond in her new book Within written with Shannon Cook.  Here we go…first up the test hat, it’s called Lodge Toque by Jane Richmond, knit with Cascade Yarns Ecological Wool in colors Berry and Chocolat.  You can find this pattern in the new book Within by Jane Richmond and Shannon Cook.

Next we have Carmels Day Beret by Hannah Fettig.  This is the hat she knit on vacation with Dale.  The yarn she used is Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash Solids.  You can find this pattern on Ravelry!

And lastely, the  Antler Hat by Tin Can Knits.  Carmel used Cascade Yarns 220 SuperWash for this project.  I love the cables – her nephew is a very lucky guy.