Friday, October 29, 2010

Steph and Rachel Come to Town

Yesterday was pretty freakin' fantastic.

There was pizza.

And beer.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee took some pictures.

That Rachel H dyed some yarn.

A good time was had by all!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vogue Knitting Holiday 2010

I just got a preview of a sweater that's going to be in Vogue's Holiday issue. It won't be on newsstands until November 9th, but their website has some great stuff.

I particularly like the site's VK 360 feature where the camera pans all the way around the garment so you can see how it really looks and fits. You don't have to wonder if the photo was styled with a bunch of clothespins down the back to make it look nice. They put the model in plain black so you aren't distracted by props and can focus on the garment rather than the cute hat or great belt.Don't get me wrong, I love the styled look the magazine has to offer because it provides fantastic ideas for accessories, but having both the pared down and ramped up versions makes it easier to make good decisions about project selection.

Mari Lynn Patrick designed this beauty from our Shepherd Worsted in 24ns Navy and 38 Mixed Berries. You can't tell from this picture, but there's a really nice button detail that closes the neck in the back. The VK 360 shows it nicely.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

Every once in awhile a big box of samples comes in the mail from a mill. Yesterday was one of those days. This time around there were things from Italy and Argentina. Last week, we got a bunch of stuff from Great Britain.

Most of the yarn was wool or a wool blend. Some of the fibers in the blends were a little different than I usually see. One had fox. Another had nettle. There was also the usual suspects like angora, mohair, alpaca and silk. There were even a few that I had to look up, like lino and cabrito. (I'm still not 100% sure what cabrito is...maybe goat?)

Sometimes the samples we get are dyed, like the ones you see here, other times they are not. Even though color is what we do every day, we all have to consciously remember not to let the color sway our opinion of the fiber. Even though we are "trained professionals", it's not always easy.

It feels almost like Christmas when the samples arrive. Except for the fact that decisions are required. Do you like this yarn? No? Then how about that one? One of the crew likes yarn that's not quite so soft. Someone else insisted that only soft will do. What about the one with a little sparkle? Is two ply the thing? What about this six ply? Silk? Cashmere? What if we took this and made it a bulky rather than a worsted? The choices are endless.

Sometimes the conversations become, ahem, spirited. Ummm, now that I think about it, it's exactly like Christmas what with those spirited conversations. After all, we ARE almost like family around here.

We took that big pile of yarn and whittled away at it until there were about a half dozen that we decided were interesting. Next step is getting more significant samples to do some testing. Then the real hard part comes...trying to figure out what you will want to knit with this time next year.

It would be so much easier if my crystal ball were not all full of wool.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gifts Issues

A couple of things went live today over at Interweave Press. Both their Crochet Accessories and Holiday Gifts are up for your reading and stitching pleasure.

Check out Tara's Tunisian Scarf in Crochet Accessories. Ellen Gormley designed this great one-skein project using Lorna's Laces Pearl in the Baltic Sea colorway. Pearl is a luxury fiber and this would make a stunning gift for somebody special. I like this yarn more and more all the time.

Then there are two projects using Lorna's Laces yarns in Interweave Holiday. The first is this slouchy hat designed by Katya Frankel.

It's called the Soft Ribbed Hat and it's made from our Angel. Angel is a 70% angora/30% wool blend and is shown here in the 56ns Fjord colorway.

Last up is the Anouschka Scarf by Mel Clark. It's made from our Helen's Lace in 55ns Butterscotch. Butterscotch is a nice, warm yellow that's going to be flattering on a wide range of skin tones.

Helen's Lace is 50% wool/50% silk and comes in big 1250 yard hanks. I'm thinking you'd have enough left over here to make a second project. I always love a twofer.

I want to send out a big thank you to all the designers here that made out yarns sing. And to Interweave for sharing them with you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Colorway Names

Here's a recent exchange on the Lorna's Laceaholics group on Ravelry.

amigtov: I was scrolling through the color swatches online while yarn shopping, and I was startled to see that a lot of the colorway names for Lorna’s Laces yarns are locations in El Dorado County, CA. It was so bizarre because I lived there since I was a child, for more than 20 years. My parents still live there. I kind of squealed while reading off the colors to my husband (he just rolled his eyes, lol). Does someone at Lorna’s come from that area?

amallen: Spot on! Lorna’s Laces was originally located in that area! In 2003 Lorna’s moved to Chicago and we started naming colors after Chicago locations.

keeperofbear: there’s a place in Chicago named Zombie Bar B Que?

amallen: Yep! It is right next to the Turtle Rodeo but if you reach the Unicorn Parade you have gone to far!

keeperofbear: geez! i better turn around! I’m all the way down by Robot Overlord!

amallen: careful he bites!!

keeperofbear: got it. staying in the car and locking the doors. :-)

amallen: good plan!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Civic Duty

Look what came in the mail yesterday.

Jury duty gets me kind of twisted. The first time I was called, I got seated as a juror on a murder trial. Not some fraud case or a burglary. I drew murder.

The responsibility of making a decision about the outcome of another person's life was almost more than I could fathom. Even though I was sharing that decision with eleven strangers, it weighed very heavily on me. I didn't sleep well for awhile after.

Although it was almost fifteen years ago, there were many things about the experience that still stand out in my memory. Like the fact that start to finish, the entire trial only took three days. Monday morning I was sitting in the bullpen with a hundred other potential jurors and by the close of the day on Wednesday we had convicted a man. Three days. It doesn't seem like enough time to me for a crime of that magnitude.

Another odd thing was that, as jurors, we were escorted to and from a special courthouse cafeteria as a group. We weren't allowed to go out into the world and have lunch. We weren't sequestered or anything but we weren't really free either. I remember looking out the window after lunch and seeing the defendant walking back from a little restaurant across the street. Intellectually I understood that he had not been convicted yet and had every right to go out to lunch, but somehow it seemed strange that he could go and I couldn't. I realize that it sounds petty, but my inner teenager stomped her foot a bit.

Throughout the trial, the defendant looked like a nice person. He was young and good looking. When he testified, he spoke well. He looked like someone that I could have been friends with. But when the verdict was read, his face completely transformed. His rage was palpable and all of the sudden I could see the man who'd bludgeoned an ice cream man to death. That still haunts me.

Maybe the hardest thing of all for me was listening to the evidence and slowly coming to realization that I was sitting in a room with someone who killed another human being. It was very scary.

But even though that experience was pretty disturbing, I actually don't mind jury duty. I'm fascinated by the process and honestly believe in our system. That in order for that system to work, all of us have to be willing to step out of our day to day lives and take our turn sitting in the jury box.

OK, the civics lesson is over. Will return to yarn and pretty next week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Knit Simple Holiday

Dang, pretty stuff just keeps coming across my desk. Knit Simple hits new stands today and I'm in love with these two bags!

They're both designed by Mary Reigstad and require two skeins of our Shepherd Bulky yarn. The bag on the right is in 11ns Bold Red and knit in garter stitch.

The one on the left is Zombie BBQ and is simple stockinette. (You gotta love anything in Zombie BBQ.)I love the way the colors kind of zig zag down the bag. You can see it even better in the close up on their site.

I think if you forced me to make a choice, I'm going for the one of the left because I like bags with flaps.* I'm kinda klutzy and unless things are sealed up tight I have a tendency to lose them.

*Edited: Oops, just heard from the editor of Knit Simple. That's not a flap, it's a scarf. But, adding a flap would be a super easy modification. You'd just have to pick up stitches along the edge in another color and you'd be set. You could even get fancy and add a cable.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's October

Yep, there's a nip in the air and the leaves are starting to turn. That means it must be Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

For the last few years, we've dyed a colorway called Flamingo Stripe to benefit breast cancer charities. We always donate 20% of our proceeds from this yarn. Susan B Koman, Walk for a Cure and American Cancer Society have all received gifts from us. So have some smaller groups recommended by knitters like Breast Cancer Angels.

We'll continue to do it as long as we keep selling the yarn. We've been shipping lots of it out to your LYS and we have plenty here if they need more. We want to keep all our breasts happy and healthy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Just Bag It!

We've had a couple of things we've been working on for quite awhile come to fruition at the same time. Both of them involved Jimmy Bean's Wool.

First is this innovative new shipping bag.

Jimmy came to me last spring with this crazy idea. (Jimmy is always full of the crazy ideas.) She wanted to know what I thought about using shipping bags to distribute patterns. I thought it was genius. We both hated the fact that the bags almost always headed straight to the dumpster once they were opened. We wanted to make them useful. And provide our customers with a nice little "thank you".

The graphic designer who did the art suggested we make them friendly for a three-hole punch so you can keep them in a binder, all neat and tidy. This sock is just one in a series of patterns that will come with your shipments.

The bags just arrived and they are busy shipping orders in them.

I'll tell you about the other project later. It's pretty cool and involves alpaca.