August 30, 2007

AUGUST 30, 2007

The week of August 6th I took four days off from work for a family reunion. In the whole four years I've had Two Swans Yarns, these were the worst four days I could have chosen to miss, because that was the week many, many knitters chose to start the Autumn Rose sweater. And, because it never rains but it pours, that was also the timing of the arrival of my fall Rowan order.

When I resumed working on August 13, it was like a bomb had gone off and I was buried in orders for Autumn Rose -- as well as the usual steady stream of people wanting Kidsilk Haze, hedgehog kits, and sock yarn. No blogging for me, as I was filling orders as fast as I could. Fortunately, Allegra is still home on summer vacation and has been a tremendous help -- she is even more into the packing tape and the bubble wrap than I am. Finally, when the smoke cleared at the end of a crazy week in which I had re-ordered and had quick-shipped to me Autumn Rose yarns not once, not twice, but three times -- I was out of the Old Gold color of Spindrift, and the distributor was out of this color, too. We are waiting for more to come in from Shetland. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be only a matter of a couple of weeks. I hate having to put items on backorder for my customers, so I do very much appreciate everyone's patience.

I am gratified that so many people chose to shop at Two Swans.

What I Did on My Four Days Off:

I left my Nihon Vogue class homework at home and instead worked on

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Sandness! After I had ripped back to the break at the underarm, I had a fiddly time of it, getting all the stitches back on the needle and trying to re-establish momentum on this project. (My first time around, I used the wrong color of yarn, of course, and didn't realize it until the next background color change. So that was a whole 'nother inch of tinking....) Now that I'm feeling full steam ahead, here, I've added a half an inch to the length to underarm, and done the underarm shaping that Janine recommended.

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For fun and mindless travel knitting, I also worked on the Short-row Slippers and the Basic Black Vest. That's Slipper #2 you see in the photo (since its mate is already finished), and I'm nearly up to the break at the underarms on the vest.

Where Last I Left Off on Nihon Vogue Homework:

I was thinking of incorporating beads into the pink sweater I'll be knitting for Allegra. Although I was tremendously busy, I justified taking the time for sisterly bonding by way of a shopping trip to the world's largest bead store.

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My sisters looked at, I swear, every single bead in the place. I'm not naming any names, but one of them practically bought out the store. That gray thing in front of them is a shopping cart, and she loaded it up. I, on the other hand, was much more focused; my sister offered to re-string a necklace for me and make a pair of matching earrings from beads we'll "borrow" out of the re-strung necklace, so I zeroed in on some onyx beads and some garnets that will go into the old-necklace-made-new.

Shipwreck Beads may be the world's largest bead store, but for what I would need for Allegra's sweater (namely, a small bead with a big hole), their selection was extremely limited. I was envisioning a nice metallic silver-colored bead, or perhaps a pretty purple crystal bead. What Shipwreck had in terms of small beads with big holes were made from ceramic, wood, or bone -- not at all the feminine quality I was looking for. So I will probably just go forth on this project sans beads.

A Little Guy with a Big Opinion:

August 22nd marked two months and one day past the date of when our cat Nippy went to that happy hunting ground in the sky. And that's really enough time spent grieving for the ol' Nipster.

Welcome to your new home, Malcolm:

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He's four months old -- and his tail is longer than he is! I adopted him from the pet store on the evening of August 22nd, and then, before he had a chance to meet our other resident cats, took him to the vet for a check-up the next day. Cappuccino was due for his shots, so Allegra and I loaded up the big cat and the little kitten into carriers and went off to the appointment. While we sat in the waiting room, a man came in with one of those little dogs that's more hair than dog . . . a Pekingese or something. His dog walked around the waiting area a bit. I could hear a growling, and I assumed it was the dog. Seconds later, one of the exam room doors opened, and a Labrador came out followed by its owner, and the veterinarian. The growling noise increased by 50 decibels and I realized it was coming from Malcolm. The vet laughed when she saw that it was only a kitten making all that racket, and said, "Now there's a little guy with a big opinion."

Maclolm had no ear mites, no fleas, and tested negative for feline leukemia, so I guess we'll keep him. ;-)

I wasn't sure about the name Malcolm, at first. (He was already named this by previous owners who had to give him up.) Jennie was with me at the pet store to sign the paperwork. The saleslady at the pet store was filling in the forms with the name Malcolm, and I kept saying, "I'm not sure he'll go by that name." Jennie is even more of a Shakespeare buff than I am, and, standing there at my elbow, she reminded me that Malcolm is a character in Macbeth -- he speaks the last line, in fact. So maybe we'll stick with the name Malcolm.

Allegra, who has been my right hand this month, taking pictures of yarn and uploading them to the website, has had the pleasure and the duty of unpacking that Rowan order; she's fallen under the spell of the promotional materials we were sent for the upcoming book, Kaffe Knits Again. She feels strongly that we should re-name the new kitten Kaffe.

When he's not sleeping, or being a wriggling bundle of purring fur, he does endearing things like attack my shoe:

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Meanwhile, Back at the Two Swans Site:

Loads of new products being uploaded daily.

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New shades of Kidsilk Haze: Fern, Cocoa, Blood, Blackcurrant.

New shades of Kidsilk Spray: Tea Rose, Clay. (I think either of these would look smashing in the Syrian shawl from Victorian Lace Today.)

New shades of Kidsilk Night: Port, Bronze, Thunder.

And if looking at these gorgeous new colors of yarns from the Kidsilk Family has you thinking about lace, here's a book I highly recommend:

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Posted by Karen at 09:44 AM | Comments (5)

August 07, 2007

AUGUST 7, 2007

Monday of last week, I phoned Westminster Fibers to place an order for more yarns. Among other things, I was looking to order some Jaeger Siena, having in mind that crocheted sweater from Cool Crochet. (My blue swatch in the previous blog entry is done in Jaeger Siena.) I was stunned when my customer service person told me, "We don't have any." It was all news to me, but what he told me was that Westminster recently decided to no longer be the US distributor for Jaeger. Unless and until another distributor picks up the line, I can't get any more Jaeger.

I've been totally bummed about this news all week. Jaeger yarns are really high quality yarns! I hate to lose them.

Jaeger Roma is what I chose for the sweater I'm going to make for my daughter Allegra (Project 3 of the Nihon Vogue class). I'm still swatching:

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The swatch at the bottom was my first, stockinette attempt. On a size US 6 needle, it came out a little dense (remember, I'm a tight knitter). I've been trying some different, very simple stich patterns on a size US 7 . . . the little purls keep reminding me of beads. I'm definitely going to incorporate some beads into the next few inches of swatching. And, since my sister is here visiting from Arizona, and since she's a beader, there's nothing else for it but for us to make a road trip to the world's largest bead store, which is right here in Washington State! (I think we'll be going, early next week.)

I've put all the Jaeger yarns on clearance. Pattern booklets, too. And I'm really, really hoping that some other distributor recognizes that these are high quality yarns that deserve to be in the hands of US knitters, and picks up the line.

Also on clearance are the last of my stock of Ellen Originals bags. The people who owned and ran Ellen Originals retired earlier this year and closed their shop. You've seen these knitting bags around for years . . . hard to think that these, too, won't be available any more.

* * *

It was an all-musical weekend for the Campbells. We saw a production of Kiss Me, Kate at a local community theatre on Friday night (this is one of my all-time favorite musicals). We saw the new movie Hairspray (very fun!) on Saturday night. And we saw Children of Eden -- although this was a kids' production, it was superb! I'd never seen this show before; I thought it was utterly charming.

My waiting-for-the-show-to-start and intermission knitting throughout the weekend was the first in the pair of Short-row Slippers:

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When last I blogged about these, the multicolored yarn, Lakeview, was color pooling. At first I had the idea to knit alternating rounds from the inside and the outside of the ball. While that did, indeed, break up the color pooling, what I also noticed was that the yarn coming from the inside of the ball did not seem to color pool, or at least, not nearly so much. (The first, majorly color-pooling attempt came from the outside of the ball.) I remember one of my customers having a similar experience with Lorna's Laces sock yarn . . . she was knitting two socks at once on two circulars, and one sock was tending to pool and the other not. We figured out that she'd wound one skein of yarn one way, and the other skein the other way. I'm wondering if any of you have had a similar experience.

Anyway, in all this experimenting with trying to avoid the color pooling, I had one of those Aha! (or, Oh, duh!) moments and realized that I don't have to slavishly follow the pattern and knit the foot in the multicolored yarn only. What I think most makes the slipper is a little stripe of chartreuse (i.e., Carol Green) every few rows. So now I'm making stripes, using Lakeview from the inside of the ball, with a stripe of Carol Green every fifth round. I am very happy with this project, now.

* * *

It's practically an avalanche of new products around here. I can't believe how many new yarns I've listed on the website over the past four or five days. (16 colors of Simply Shetland Silk & Lambswool; 16 colors of Simply Shetland Lambswool & Cashmere; many shades of Crystal Palace sock yarns, we're just beginning to list on the website the Jamieson & Smith 2ply jumper weight yarns . . . .) Many thanks to Allegra, who's taken on the task of photographing the colors and uploading them to the site for me. (I feel like I've cloned myself! O happy day!)

Yesterday it was a whole big box -- 12 colors! -- of the new yarn from Regia. It's Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fassett. 6 of the colors are self-striping (they're called 'Landscape' colors) and 6 of the colors are variegated, producing a mottled sock (these are called 'Mirage'). You can mix and match them!

If you've seen all those bright and happy sock yarns I've gotten in recently from Crystal Palace and you've been rolling your eyes, thinking, Oh, no, more candy-colored sock yarn from Karen -- let me assure you that these Kaffe Fassett colorways are more sophisticated. No namby-pamby pastels in this Regia Design Line. These are a grown-up's colorways.

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Posted by Karen at 12:50 PM | Comments (4)