Monday, February 25, 2008

Thick and Thin

Where have I been, you ask? I wish I could tell you that I just got back from a fabulous trip to Bora Bora. Or that the fittings for my Oscar gown took hours each day and by the time I sat down to the computer I was utterly exhausted and couldn't write a word.

But no, life just got in the way. Nothing earth shattering, but the daily grind ate up time. Ordering yarn, dyeing yarn, going to the post office, grabbing a cuppa.

Today's FO is Emily's. It's a wonderful sweater from Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits. Beautiful, don't you think? It's knit from our Revelation in one of our new colorways, Edgewater.

We seem to be selling more Revelation these days. That always makes me wonder if there's a trend on the way. It's also quite possible that a few shops have just decided to start carrying it. As a small company, it's amazing how small things can really skew data.

I'd like it to be a trend. I've always been a sucker for thick 'n thins. I like the way the different weights play on another from stitch to stitch and row to row. I guess it's similar to the way the different colors in multi colored yarn work with one another as you knit. All fun stuff.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Library Visit

I stopped by the neighborhood branch of our local public library today and look what I found!
Perhaps I wouldn't have been quite as surprised to see such a big section of knitting books on display a couple of years ago, but I was delighted to see them still getting this kind of attention. It was a pretty nice selection too. Maybe not the hottest things off the presses, but a good solid display.

Before I took the pictures, I decided to ask the librarian if it was OK. It would have been easy to get a couple of "stealth shots", but I figured they wouldn't mind and then I could pat myself on the back for doing the right thing.

Well, you would have thought I'd asked them if I could burn the books rather than take a picture! I had to find the branch manager, explain exactly what I was using them for, get her approval of the pictures once they were taken and promise not to use the name of our fair city in the description. Crazy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Red Thread Sock

A couple of months ago, I got a call from Stephanie Steinhaus. She owns Unwind, a rockin' yarn shop in Burbank California. She had an idea for a very special custom color and project.

Unwind's owners adopted their daughter, Mia, in China in 2002. Mia's Chinese name translates to Magnificent Meadow, and her wit, wisdom and energy are a constant reminder of the babies in China who wait for families.

Half The Sky is a Berkeley-based non-profit that serves children in China's state-run orphanages. HTS trains infant-care givers and preschool teachers;
builds school facilities and foster home villages; and provides
educational scholarships for older girls who wait, sometimes their
entire lives, for a family. Without HTS, the lives of these children
are bleak. HTS ensures that each child touched by their programs is
loved and nurtured.

The Red Thread Sock is a collaboration between Lorna's Laces, Cookie A
and Unwind to raise funds for Half The Sky Foundation. The team focused on the
red thread fable from Chinese lore -- the idea that each child born has an invisible
red thread connecting her to all of the important people in her life.
As these connections are fostered, the thread becomes visible leading
the child to the life she was meant to have.

Cookie A designed the sock evoking vintage seamed stockings with a
wandering rib design that highlights our individual life paths. The
red thread may be knit in a continuous piece to show the continuity in
our relationships.

The two colors, custom dyed by Lorna's Laces are the cornerstone for
the design. "Magnificent Meadow" brings to mind the rolling, green
meadows of Chinese brush paintings. It is contrasted beautifully by
"Red Thread." The colors are currently available in Shepherd Sock,
Shepherd Worsted and Angel yarns.

We are proud to be part of bringing this exclusive design and custom colors to the
knitting community. Half the Sky Foundation will receive 20% of the retail price of Red Thread Sock kits, patterns and custom yarns.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks 5 years since I took over the reins at Lorna's Laces. It hardly seems possible!

On Friday, we went out to a local hot dog joint, Hot Dougs, for lunch. I call it a hot dog joint, but it's far more than that. For example, the special on Friday was Kangaroo Sausage with Gin-Juniper Mustard and Sheep's Milk Brebille Cheese. Pretty fancy, huh?

It's also Amanda's fifth anniversary here. She does so many things that keep the place going. So be sure and congratulate her the next time you see her!

I can't tell you how good it feels to love going to work every day. Thank you to everyone who makes it happen!!

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I grew up thinking that we Caseys aren't creative. We can't sing. We can't paint. We can't dance. We are athletes, not artists. Stories were passed down from brother to sister to sister to brother about the indignities we suffered at the hands of the band leader and painting teacher. We actually wore our non-creative badge with a certain amount of pride.

Even when I started knitting, I didn't think of it as being creative. I was following patterns for goodness sake. That wasn't any more clever than reading a road map. Not only had I sipped the family Kool-Aid, I'd guzzled the entire jug.

Then I met my husband, the artist. He spends his days drawing and is very good at it. His perspective is that everyone is creative and has talent, it's just a matter of whether you work at it. The more you do it, the better you get. He uses running a marathon as an analogy. If you wake up one morning and try to run 26.2 miles, you probably won't succeed. But, if you run a mile today and a little further each and every day, before long a marathon will be within reach.

So, with a swift kick, gentle nudge, he embarked down the road of showing me all the things I do that are expressions of creativity.

One of the first things he pointed out is my use of color. When I said I was just following a pattern, he pointed out that it wasn't done in the pictured color(s). Then he would mention that there wasn't a white or beige wall anywhere to be found in our home. I've always felt that color was an easy risk to take. You can always repaint a room if it doesn't suit you.

Then we talked about cooking. I love cookbooks and have dozens of them, but there are very few recipes I follow as written. I always add a dash of this or a smidge of that. And while we have a full set of measuring spoons, I bet I haven't used one in 5 years. (Unless I'm baking, but that's a different story.)

Over time I've learned to appreciate the gifts I have. Coming here and working with yarn has certainly helped.

That said, does Michaelangelo need to worry about his place in history? Goodness no! But I flex those creative muscles every day. So when my sister tries to pass the Kool-Aid at the next family get together, I'm going to have a beer.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mail Bounty

Like everyone else, we get plenty of junk mail at Lorna's Laces. Lots of credit card offers, catalogs, Best Buy circulars etc etc.

But every once in a while, something special comes in the mail. We recently had a company send us samples of their knitting needles. An entire set of straights and double points just appeared unannounced! They might not be the best needles I've ever worked with but it's nice to have a spare set around here to do quick swatches or to cast on to answer questions about a pattern.

Yesterday was another one of those interesting days. An Avon box showed up with a Ukraine return address. I have friends in Sweden and Italy, but no connections to the Ukraine.

It turns out that the box contained a hank of handspun, a mohair/silk blend, and a shawl knit from it. It was very fine~600 yards to 50 grams. I have to admit that at first blush, I wasn't loving it. The skein was limp and didn't have a mohair halo. Emily described it as feeling like horsehair, and she ought to know, she rode in high school.

But, I knew that it wasn't fair to make a judgment before we'd had a chance to dye the yarn and block the shawl. So the first thing I did was get the shawl damp and blocked. It made a huge difference. The yarn bloomed and became much softer.

It doesn't hurt that it's a really stitch pattern.

The dyeing takes a bit longer. I had Stef add it to a lot of #24ns Navy that she was doing this afternoon. It didn't take the dye quite as well as I'd hoped but we need to wait to see what happens once it's dry. I want to be fair.

And even if it turns out that this isn't the next great Lorna's Laces product, we got to play with new yarn on a dreary winter day. Really, does it get better than that?

Friday, February 1, 2008

FO's and WIPs

The snow started falling in the middle of the afternoon yesterday. It was still going strong this morning on the way to work. Now, it's just past lunchtime and it's starting to let up. Looks like we got about a foot of snow.

Last night, Sam sat down and knit a brand hat to keep her ears warm today. She used three colors of our Swirl Chunky; Vera, Island Blue and Cedar. She just knit in the round for about 6 or 8 inches and used the 3-needle bind off. Voila. Quick, easy and toasty. What's not to like?

Stefanie is working on her first toe-up sock. It's Charlene Schurch's Oriel Lace. Stef is our in-house sock knitter extraordinaire, so it surprised me hear there was anything new to her when it came to socks. She mentioned she'd tried it a couple of years back when she was pretty new to the sock thing and abandoned the project mid-heel. I'm glad to see she's back on the horse!

This next shot is of Sam's technicolor laptop case. She's using up odd bits from several projects she's finished over the past 6 months or so.

Sam works a couple of days a week at one of our LYS's, Nina. It's a really pretty shop.

I like having someone here that also has a foot in the retail world. I get so focused on what we do here at Lorna's Laces that I sometimes don't do as good a job as I should of seeing what else is around.

That's kind of a double edge sword. I don't want to know TOO much about what other companies are doing because I want to maintain the integrity of our products. At the same time I need to keep my fingers on the pulse of what is making knitters happy. I guess it's a balancing act, just like everything else in life huh?