Friday, October 30, 2009

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

For the first time in Lorna's Laces history, we are discontinuing a yarn. Actually two yarns, Swirl DK and Swirl Chunky. The photo you see here is of the Swirl DK. If you start at 12 o'clock, the colorways are Maple Grove, Camouflage, Vera, Midway and Desert Flower.

I have to say that in many respects, this breaks my heart. It was the first yarn that I brought out as the owner of Lorna's Laces. I love this yarn. I think it is beautiful. We had so many fantastic evenings snuggling in front of the fireplace. But, it not the right thing for either of us anymore so we've decided to move on. It was a mutual decision and we're going to remain friends.

At the risk of letting my geeky side show, I'm going to give you all a little chemistry lesson today. If you take a look at the yarn closely, you will see that there are three plies. One is lighter than the other two. The darker plies are spun from superwash merino. The lighter ply is spun from a blend of silk and regular merino. The process that makes a yarn superwash changes the pH of the fiber and the dye behaves differently depending on the acidity of the fiber. That's why you see the barberpole effect. Kinda like magic.

Keep an eye out for it at your favorite LYS or online retailer. There will lots of it available at fantastic prices.

Friday Cuteness

Stef has been all about the knitted monsters these days. This is Chester. He is a gift for Jay and Diane. They are watching Stef's cats while she's out of town.

Edited: It's a KnitWhits pattern. Bramble Owl.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

PIF Powder

Well, here I am sending out the last of my five Pay It Forward gifts. This time around it's some talc-free body powder.

I got the idea from a tweet Amy Singer of sent out a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like the perfect thing to finish up.

It was really simple to make...cornstarch, rice flour and arrowroot powder mixed up with some fragrance oil. I picked narcissus as the scent. It's very sweet and feminine. No one is going to mistake it for patchouli.

The hardest part was finding a cute package. You can find simple cardboard shakers but I wanted something more fun. I finally settled on this shaker that I picked up at the local housewares store. I think it was originally designed for popcorn salt or something like that.

Once I had the shaker, it was just a matter of coming up with a label. I turned that duty over to art director extraordinairre (AKA the husband). I think he did good work.

The last thing I did was add a few grains of rice. I'm not sure if it's an old wives tale or not, but we always added rice to the salt shakers at one of the many restaurants I worked at while I was in college. The theory was that the rice would absorb any moisture and keep the salt flowing. I figured it couldn't hurt.

So, that's the last of my Pay It Forwards. I'm pretty happy with how the mix ended up. There was the Ishbel and Lacy Summer Socks in the yarn category. Sweet Blackberry Wine in the food category and PIF Powder in the smelly thing category. In a class all its own was the the Lacy Sachet. It's part yarn, part smelly thing.

I was trying to decide which was my favorite. I think at the end of the day, I'll have to go with the Ishbel. I hadn't knit any lace in a long time, and it really made me happy. The sachet and the powder would probably tie for second because I made extras for my mom. She gets a real kick out of gifts that arrive without an occasion. But then again, don't we all?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Interweave Holiday Gifts

Interweave's Holiday Gifts issue came in yesterday's mail. Somehow I feel like I must have been the last to get a copy.

That's been happening quite a bit lately. My Vogue Holiday didn't come for more than a week after everyone was talking about it. I'm going to assume it has something to do with the post office rather than thinking that there is a conspiracy to keep knitting publications from me.

Check out these delightful ornaments that Ann Weaver designed.

The are based on old German glass ornaments that were originally produced in a small town, Lauscha, in the mid 19th century. While you can still get glass ornaments, it seems kind of fun to create your own. You could start a family tradition with these.

I'm partial to the pinecone, but the pickle comes with lots of stories. The one I always heard was that it is supposed to be the last ornament put on the tree on Christmas Eve. And it's supposed to be hidden. The first person that finds it in the morning gets a bonus gift and gets to hide it the next year.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Cutenss

It's been a long time since we've had any monsters. This is Albert the Absent Minded Monster. It's another Rebecca Danger design. Stef made him over the weekend for Caitlin's beau, Bas.

Rebecca contacted us last week for yarn for a book she's doing! A whole book of monsters. Squee! It's going to be hard to wait until January, 2011.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

For Gilda's Club

I've been a little remiss in sending off our third quarter Flamingo Stripe donation. I am normally fastidious about getting it on its way on the last day of the quarter but it got away from me this time around.

The donation Lorna's Laces makes for third quarter is my favorite since it is always the biggest. That's because we ship the most Flamingo Stripe of the year in September to make sure it's in shops for you in plenty of time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This time around, Gilda's Club was the charity we chose. I know it's not technically a breast cancer charity, but it is a place that helps all of us who have someone in our lives that is facing cancer. They were a godsend to my friend whose husband died last week. I figured y'all would think that was OK.

I know we all get bombarded with charity stuff. Requests for donations, invitations to benefits, opportunities to buy products that are pink or red or this or that. It's enough to make a girl pull her hair out. I want to thank everyone who has purchased Flamingo Stripe over the years.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Public Service Announcement

Don't believe everything you read.

Case in point: The "hand wash" cycle of your washing machine is not the same as washing a garment by hand. I know it sounds like it should be. But it isn't.

I wish it were. I like a shortcut as much as the next person. Life would be so much easier if we really could toss all of our hand knits in the washer and go merrily along. But we can't. Bad things happen. Even to good people. Don't let your heart get broken.

I've heard a couple of gut wrenching stories in the past few months. Just this week we got a phone call about a woman who had put a Helen's Lace shawl in the washer. It came out a shrunken, matted mess. All those hours of work were wasted. I felt just terrible for her.

I am a skeptic by nature. I wouldn't have believed the washer. Even if it said "hand wash" in all capital letters right there on its front. I probably wouldn't have believed it even if it whispered sweet nothings in my ear. But that's just me.

This wasn't an issue a couple of years ago. Washing machines were much less sophisticated. You only had a few choices like Normal, Permanent Press and Gentle. Or Hot, Warm and Cold. My washer lets me pick from 9 temperatures, 9 levels of spin and 14 different cycles. That's 1134 combinations. I'm pretty sure I don't need that many.

I guess it brings up some other questions. Should knitters be busting the washing machine companies' collective chops about calling a cycle hand wash when it clearly isn't? Should yarn companies label their product differently?

I'd like to try and avert another tragedy. Beautiful yarn is a terrible thing to waste.

Friday, October 16, 2009

An Extra Hug

I was reminded just how tenuous our hold on life is yesterday. A dear friend of mine lost her husband to cancer. They are both in their 50's. Far too young.

Please take a minute to give everyone you love an extra hug today.

That is all.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Where'd It Go?

Have you ever had a knitting needle vaporize? It happened to me last week on the Megabus to Madison, WI. I was happily knitting away on my Vineland Mittens and I dropped one of my double points. And it disappeared. Vanished. Poof. Into thin air.

I immediately jumped up to look for it and it just wasn't there. I looked under the seat, between the seats, in the row in front of me, in the row behind me. I even woke up the man two rows back. He looked sneaky. No needle.

I guess it's in the same place that single socks go. I have a vision of of an alternate universe that has a big ball of string as its center and gravitational force. And floating all around it are the world's lost things. In additional to my needles and all those socks, you'll find the car keys you lost in 1984. They are hanging out with your favorite pen, sunglasses, lots of loose change and a plethora of hair ties, You'll also find those earrings you snitched from your mom's jewelry box when she specifically told you you couldn't borrow them. (Yes, she found out.)

Fortunately for my knitting, I was working with five needles rather than four, so I was able to shift things around and continue on my merry way.

We had a conversation here not long ago about the merits of using four or five needles when working in the round. For me, it's not a clear cut decision. It depends on the project. For the Vineland Mittens, I definitely prefer five.

Even with the needle shortage, I was able to finish these yesterday. They're still a bit damp, but I'm classifying them as an FO anyway.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Between trips

I just got back from the TNNA board meeting in St. Charles, MO and I'm heading out to Spring Green WI in just a few minutes so this post will be very brief.

Day long meetings are always hard for me. Especially because I am used to doing something physical all day, usually dyeing yarn. I just don't sit well for 8 or 9 hours.

Fortunately, one of the great things about a TNNA meeting is that no one looks at you askance if you knit. I was able to make some pretty good progess on Jody Scofield's Vineland Mittens.

I'm knitting them in our Green Line Worsted, Chocolate and Courage. I'm enjoying them. There's enough going on to keep things interesting.