Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Almost every summer I spend a Saturday afternoon making a jug of homemade liqueur. The first one I tried was limoncello, a lemon aperitif with Italian roots. I tasted it in a restaurant in Jackson, WY when I was visiting my brother a few years ago. It was all over when he told me he had a recipe.

Besides being delicious, it's really easy if you are patient. You take some vodka, add lemon zest and wait. And wait. And wait some more. After 40 days you get to add more vodka and some simple syrup. And wait again. After another 40 days it will be done. Then you can bottle it up and share it with friends. It makes a fantastic hostess gift during the holidays. I recommend keeping at least a little for yourself. I keep mine in the freezer.

The limoncello was such a success that I decided to dig around and see what other liqueurs I could easily make at home. I ran across a recipe for framboise, which is raspberry flavored. The next year there was ratafia, made from brandy, oranges and coriander seeds.

This year I got a little carried away and made all three. It's not actually my fault though. There's a local produce store called Stanley's that has the most fantastic deals. When I went in on Saturday to pick up the lemons I needed for limoncello, they were practically giving away raspberries. I'm not kidding about the giving away....they were 2 half-pints for a dollar! Tell that to the folks at Whole Foods.

Lest you think that I've been drinking all the fruits of my labor...I do realize that there are four bottles in the picture. The fourth is a sweet blackberry wine. The blackberries were bargain priced too and I couldn't resist. It's a new recipe, I hope it's as good as the others!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Stef is finishing up her Pomatomus socks. It's a Cookie A pattern that was featured in Knitty awhile back.

The description tells us that the "finished socks are reminiscent of blue-green fish scales, hence the name Pomatomus, the genus of the blue fish....Blue fish are somewhat vicious with sharp teeth, powerful jaws, and a cannibalistic tendency.

That decription gives me the delightful segue into this photo.

(I'd seen this article earlier in the week and have been trying to figure out how on earth I could tie it into anything that would make any sense on these pages. I know it's a stretch, but hey, I do what I can.)

Another President

We're on a real tear with the cute stuffed things around here. Grover Cleveland accompanied Sam to work today. Who knew the 22nd AND 24th President of the U.S. was actually a pink elephant?! A bad joke about imbibing too much comes to mind, but I'll spare you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Knit Pink!

A couple of months ago there was a banner ad on Ravelry asking for submissions for a new website, Knit Pink. It's raising funds for Breast Cancer research through the donation and sale of exclusive, designer knitting patterns and knit-related accessories and just went live last week.

Both Stefanie and Emily wanted to contribute patterns so Lorna's Laces provided yarn and they were off and designing!

Stefanie designed Peppermint Lattice Socks.

How cute are these? They are knit from one skein of Shepherd Sock in Flamingo Stripe and one skein in Pink Blossom.I liked these so much that I wanted to ask her if we could keep the pattern for Lorna's Laces. Then I put on my big-girl pants and did the right thing for the greater good.

Emily's contribution is Hand-Holders Fingerless Gloves.

They are knit using one skein of our Shepherd Worsted in Pink Blossom. I know it's July and the humidity levels are mirroring the temperatures these days, but before you know it that long, cold winter is going to make these very welcome!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I hit the "publish" button before I got to the FO I alluded to in the original title.

This is the Tamara Jacket that Diane Zangl designed for us. Stephanie knit it up in Shepherd Sport in a colorway she designed herself. It's our Douglas Fir with just a little bit of Charcoal added in for good measure.

It's such a luxury to be able to tweak colors to get exactly what you want. And something no one else in the world will ever have. I wish everyone could have the chance to spend a day with us and play in the dye pots.

A WIP and a FO

First things first. The web guys did their magic again and the site feels more like its usual self again. Thank goodness. I will spare you the details of our voicemail meltdown earlier in the week. If you tried to call, please accept my apologies. It has been fixed as well. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that our technological woes are behind for awhile. Why do things like this all happen at the same time?

Let's move right on to fun and pretty. This sparkly number is a scarf that Emily is working on from Ann Hanson.

And here's a close up of the stitch pattern. Isn't it nice?

As a rule, I'm not usually a fan of glitter and sparkles, but I like this. My guess is because of the neutral colors. If this was hot pink I probably wouldn't be so taken by it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

SQL Injection

That's a bad thing.

Late last week we got an email from a knitter who had tried to go to our website to find a nearby retailer. When she clicked on the "Where to Buy" button all the data was gone! Yikes!

So we got on the horn with our web guys and tried to figure things out. I was told things like "the problem is being caused by a sql injection" and all sorts of catch-y phrases like that. I was nodding away like a bobblehead doll pretending it made sense. They could have been speaking Swahili for all I understood.

I learned that we'd gotten hacked into and someone had added some junk script that screwed things up. Jerks. I mean really. Why would anyone want to mess with someone like us? It's not a site that handles money or has confidential information. Arrgghh!

But by Monday, the web guys were able to do their magic. The retailer buttons were working again and all the data had returned. We were beyond relieved. The prospect of re-entering all the shop information had been weighing heavy on our minds. We did the dance of joy when we dodged that bullet.

So fifteen minutes ago, we got another email. Same problem. Big.Heavy.Sigh. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that it gets fixed for good this time.

Nasty, mean sql injector people. I hope all their socks get holes in them.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Today was a good mail day. We got a big (for us) shipment of HiyaHiya needles. We've been really liking them. There's even a little 9" circular for knitting socks. I've always been a fan of the double points, but I think I need to give this a try.

It's far too easy for me to get stuck in the rut of "I've always done it this way" and not explore my options. Another great example of that is that I still gravitate towards knitting sweaters on straights when there are so many compelling reasons to use circs. You'd think that someone who hates seaming as much as I do would be all over that wouldn't you? I never claimed to be the brightest crayola in the box.

In knitting news around here, Caitlin just finished a pair of knee socks of her own design. They're knit from an organic cotton/wool blend. She was just binding off the second sock when I was taking the photo and I was too impatient to wait. They are identical twins. Sometimes when I am doing stripes in socks I do fraternal twins. It's just a matter of how I'm feeling that day.

I wonder how the percentages would break down of people who love/hate the idea of their socks not matching exactly?I'm happy either way, but I know from peeking at message boards that it drives some people crazy. There's just something in
imperfection that appeals to me. Maybe it gives me permission to accept imperfections in myself. I dunno.

We're sending out the first shipments of the new colors that we introduced at TNNA last month today. It's always exciting when they go out into the world. I sure hope you like them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How about some politics?

I came into work today and found this guy hanging around.

A few minutes later this fella popped up.

I sat down and had a little chat with them. Turns out the tall, handsome one is Lyndon B. Johnson* and his friend is Hubert Humphrey**.

Perhaps they could run on the Fibertarian ticket? Oh, I forgot. Dolores has that nomination all knit up.

*LBJ knit by Sam in Lion and Lamb in a color she concocted herself.
**HH knit by Emily in Lion and Lamb too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

In Which I Gripe about Post Offices

A couple of weeks ago, we mailed some Green Line Worsted in Echo to Ysolda Teague in Scotland. She was going to design a sweater for Twist Collective, the new online knitting magazine that Kate Gilbert is launching is just a few weeks.

Imagine my surprise when I opened an email this morning from Kate telling me the yarn had not arrived and that the tracking report said they had tried to make a delivery in Ireland. Yikes!

Two hours and a gazillion phone calls and emails later, the USPS says that Royal Mail has had the package since June 28th and that they have somehow lost or misdirected it. Not surprisingly, Royal Mail says they never received the package and that the USPS still has it.

So, now we have a trace on it. The helpful folks at USPS say it could take as long as 24 working days to figure out what is going on. That's right, 24 working days. That's August 11 to you and me kids.

How many people work with that much wiggle room? Puhleez. So, now we're developing a Plan B. If I knew what Plan B was, it sure would make things easier.

Isn't interesting that only time-sensitive items get lost in shipping? It's always a birthday present or wedding gift. It's never the book you sent your brother on a whim because you thought he'd like it. Or the mittnes you finished in July and went ahead and popped in the mail so you wouldn't have to worry about losing them before winter.

The weirdest part about the whole thing is that I had to stop myself for feeling guilty about it. And worried that Kate would be mad at me. Like somehow it was my fault that the post office didn't deliver the mail in a timely fashion. If only I had that much power.......

Perhaps I should find some consolation in the fact that that the Royal Post office appears to be just as messed up as USPS.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Fouth of July!

I know it's only July 3rd, but the big fireworks display here in Chicago is tonight so I've gotten used to thinking of today as the holiday. People get up at the crack of dawn to get downtown and stake out their claim to good seats on the lawn in Grant Park.

It's all part of a 10 day festival called Taste of Chicago. Sixty five restaurants set up booths and sell "taste sized" samplings from their menus. In theory, this is a great idea. The reality of it isn't quite as pretty. Think turkey drumsticks, beer bellies and no shirts.....See what I mean?

My brother and his lovely wife have been visiting this week. Last night they treated us to Cirque du Soleil's Kooza. It was amazing! I can't get over what the performers could do with their bodies. The flexibility, strength and creativity were all out of this world.

It made me wonder how a person would get into that line of work. Do they come from acting backgrounds? Or perhaps gymnastics? Maybe more of a circus/carnival thing? I dunno. I guess if I was going to run away and join the circus, that would be the one I'd be heading for.

I keep talking about wanting to take a trapeeze class. There are several of them around town and I've thinking about it for a couple of years. Maybe the trip to Cirque will be a swift enough kick in the @ss to get me going.

I'll leave you for the holiday weekend with this darling little star the Emily created for her beau using our Shepherd Bulky in Sunshine. Cute, isn't it?