Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gifts without Purchase

Gift with Purchase. I'm pretty sure that phrase is the bane of every parent of a teenage girl.

Cosmetics companies love to bribe impressionable young women with free perfume and make up when they buy one of their products. The victims of this ruse are instantly identifiable by the overwhelming odor of Eau de Whatever and the ample application of the perennially popular 8th Grade Blue eye shadow. I can still remember the look of horror on my father's face when I emerged from the bathroom the day after my annual GWP super sized box of makeup was opened.

Today's post is just a little heads up about a quickie blog tour that a few of the teachers at VK Live are putting together next week. There will be gifts. No purchase required. Join us.

4 July-- Go Knit in Your Hat Carol Sulkowski
5 July -- Knitgrrl Shannon Okey
6 July -- Lorna's Laces Moi
7 July -- Knittyblog Amy Singer
8 July -- Indigirl Amy Swenson
9 July -- Bricoleur Knits Cirilia Rose

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's a boy!

We have a new crew member these days, Mento.

He's one of many we've stolen away from a big coffee company over the years.(Right now we have two.) Be sure and introduce yourself to him when he answers the phone. He'll be glad to know you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chicago Tour Part 3

Time to continue on with our tour of Chicago landmarks and new yarn colors.

We find ourselves in Grant Park. Grant Park is a often referred to as Chicago's Front Yard. It's a big urban park right downtown. It's named after President Ulysses S. Grant.

We grabbed onto the idea of fresh and green for Grant Park.

The socks are Everyone Wants Sox from HeartStrings Fiber Arts. The shawl below is Brick House from Laura Nelkin. It's knit in a combination of Grant Park and Watercolor. The colors really sing together.

Let's jump on the Outer Drive and head north. The Outer Drive is a nickname for Lake Shore Drive. It's a north-south freeway that runs parallel with and alongside the shoreline of Lake Michigan in Chicago.

Here's The Outer Drive in Judy Sumner's Oh So Beautiful Socks.

And again in Miriam Felton's Furrows Shawl.

The last stop on our tour is The Magnificent Mile. The Mag Mile is best known as one of the city's most prestigious residential and commercial thoroughfares.

Robyn Chacula of Crochet by Faye created the Patte Cardigan using Magnificent Mile. This may have been my favorite color/design combo of the season. This sophisticated yellow fits perfectly with the great crochet.

Hope you enjoyed our little tour. We're always delighted to show off our city and give you a little peek behind what we're doing around here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fall Knit Simple Cover

We're on the cover of Knit Simple's Fall Issue! Between this and the Early Fall VK cover, we're just beside ourselves around here.

This sweet little beanie is designed by Faith Hale and takes just a single skein of our Shepherd Bulky. I know it's a little hard to think about hats right now, but they do make good portable projects for summertime knitting.

Keep an eye on your mailboxes will hit news stands on July 12th but subcribers should see theirs a couple of weeks earlier than that.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting

Melissa Morgan-Oakes is one of my heroes. She chucked a cushy life working as a charge nurse at a nursing home and moved out to the country to raise chickens and bees and write books. I have a dream that I'll do that one day too. But then the city girl in me kicks up a fuss and says that I'm gonna die with concrete under my feet. Who knows? Maybe one day...

Melissa's latest book is Circular Knitting. It's part of the Teach Yourself Visually Series that Wiley publishes. The idea behind the series is to use minimal text and maximum illustrations to get the point across. While I'm no expert on pedagogical theory, I think knitters as a whole are a visual lot so this makes sense to me.

This book is pretty much soup to nuts. It starts out with a discussion of the pros and cons of circular knitting along with recommendations for needles, yarns and tools that might come in handy. It then goes on to talk about different methods and special techniques of circular knitting. All the while, there are lots of pictures, diagrams and drawings to help you visualize the process.

The middle section of the book is projects. Again, she walks you through from starter projects like potholders and mitts all the way through scary things like steeks. (Eeks!) Each pattern has a nifty little section called "Plan Your Project" where Melissa holds your hand through the process of picking things like your circular knitting technique, yarn, size, stitch pattern etc.

Melissa finishes up with a brief stitch dictionary designed to serve as a springboard to allow you to take the projects in the book and customize them to your own tastes. All in all, this is a great introduction to a way of knitting that is becoming more and more popular all the time.

Lorna's Laces is featured in one of the intermediate projects, Basic Socks, Kids to Adults. The instructions are clear and concise and provide a template to make any size socks in several gauges. This is a feature that will keep me picking up this book again and again.

And this sweet little baby set, Infant's Cardigan, Hat and Booties, is in the advanced project section of the book.

It's knit from our Honor yarn in the Calumet colorway. Seems like a fun project for a lucky baby!

Speaking of lucky...would you like a copy for yourself? I have a signed copy right here on my desk waiting for a good home. Leave a comment here until 5PM CDT on Friday, June 24th and we'll pick a winner with the ever-so-popular random number generator.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tour of Chicago 2

We had a long discussion around here about whether it was The "El" or The "L". Most of us thought it should be "El" for "elevated" but we decided to let the CTA have the last word and they shot us down.

Amy Christoffers over at Savory Knitting made this for us. I'm a big fan of this type of design. Simple lines that let the yarn do the work.

It's knit in Solemate and the stripes are created by doubling the yarn. That Amy, she's clever.

Navy Pier is the next colorway of the day. A few years ago I was at the Ferris Wheel and they stopped it because they were shooting an episode of ER. I was THAT close to George Clooney. Seriously folks, THAT close.

These socks are a Lorena Haldeman design. She calls them Baba Yaga. That's the Slavic form of the Wicked Witch. The pattern naming game is sure creative isn't it?

There are four more landmarks on our little tour. We still have to go to Grant Park and check out The Bean. After that we can take a trip up the Outer Drive and maybe do some shopping on the Magnificent Mile.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tour of Chicago Part 1

It's time to start showing off our new colors. This season we decided to use iconic Chicago landmarks as names. In the past, we've used streets and neighborhoods, but Caitlin came up the the landmark idea and we ran with it.

We have nine new colors for you. That seems like a lot to show in one shot, so I'm going to break it up over the course of a few posts.

First up is Buckingham Fountain. The fountain was a gift to the city from a woman named Kate Buckingham in honor of her brother Clarence. It was dedicated in 1927.

Glenna C created the Highness sock in Buckingham Fountain. The soft colors work so nicely with the pattern. Pretty, yes?

It's knit in our new Solemate sock yarn. Solemate is a blend of 55% superwash merino, 15% nylon and 30% Outlast, a fiber that interacts with your body's microclimate to moderate temperature from being too hot or too cold.

Our next inspiration is Lincoln Park Zoo. It was founded in 1868, which makes it one of the oldest zoos in the U.S. I live just a few blocks away and I love having a free zoo so close.

The colorway doesn't really have a ton to do with a zoo, but according to Pantone, this Honeysuckle color is the color of the year. We had to jump on the bandwagon.

When we saw what Jeannie Cartmel did with it, we figured all was good.

Here is Not Connected.

And Technical.

Last up for today is The Skyway. While the Skyway is technically a 7.8 mile portion of the toll road that stretches from Illinois to Indiana, I think most of us think of it as the 1/2 mile steel truss bridge that spans the Calumet River.

Amy Swenson from Indigirl designed the Asking for Roses Shawl in Shepherd Sport.

It took just two skeins.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Bit About Naming Colors

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Facebook or Twitter asking you what you'd like to hear about from me on these pages. One of the things that I learned was that you were interested in some of our processes like color development and naming.

Naming colors is probably my second favorite thing to do around here. (Creating colors is hands-down number one.) It's also something we put a fair amount of thought into.

Let me start with a bit of history about the names of Lorna's Laces colorways. Back in the day, Lorna Miser looked to her surroundings for inspiration. She lived in an old mining town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. So we have Motherlode.

And Mineshaft.

There was a town nearby called Somerset.

Which isn't far from Tahoe.

When we moved Lorna's Laces from California to Chicago, we thought her original scheme was pretty darn good. It gave us a framework to work in while still allowing us to stretch our wings a little bit and make it our own.

At the time, I lived on a street called Bittersweet.

Lorna's Laces is in a neighborhood called Ravenswood.

At some point, we noticed that all the neighborhoods and streets we were picking were from the north side of the city so we traveled down south and Ashburn was born.

Pilsen too.

We're not only about the local though. Sometimes it's all about a vacation. Lorna and her husband took a trip to Washington D.C. and Georgetown was the result.

Another story I like is about Black Watch. Lorna had always dreamed of taking her family on a long trip to Scotland. Selling the business gave her the ability to do it. While she was away I got to thinking about her trip. We were both embarking on new phases in our lives and I wanted to do something to mark it. Black Watch plaid is such an iconic Scottish image that I decided it made sense.

Then we went through a bit of a fantasy phase. Most of these names came out of fits and giggles over lunches. We had Unicorn Parades.

And of course Zombie BBQ.

We're heading back to our local/neighborhood roots this season but with a bit of a twist. This time we're doing landmarks. The "L", The Bean, Buckingham Fountain and Lincoln Park Zoo are amongst the names. I'll posting more on each of them once they get properly launched at TNNA.

There's a story for most every name. Which would you like to hear about?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I saw this on a light pole on the way to work this morning.

Does it qualify as yarnbombing?