Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Madison's a YarnMartian!

This week, Alex and I have a visitor from Orangeville, Ontario, Canada. It's our grand-daughter, Madison Snow. Madi's a great little kid who was excited about the prospect about coming to Ohio to work at Yarnmarket. The ladies at Yarnmarket were thrilled at having a nice little girl to make a fuss over I've mentioned before, being an online company we don't get a lot of visitors and we long for human companionship.

Madi got up bright and early this morning and could hardly wait to get to work. When she arrived, she was overjoyed to discover her own little work station where she was to pack up boxes to prepare them for Marlon, our wonderful UPS guy.
Lisa, Lynn and Pat went out of their way to make sure Madi was warmly welcomed to Yarnmarket. Pat created a special sign for her cubicle. Lynn and Lisa prepared packing lists and even created special "flower top" pens for Madi to sign,"Thank you from Madison" on her orders, and Lynn also arranged for a lunch for all of us -- complete with her delicious home-made macaroni salad. Lisa's 17-year old son, Patrick, dropped by with samples of beverages he makes at the local slushie parlor. Mmm... He even had one that promotes weight loss. (Yes, that's the one I chose. Do I look any thinner?)

Madi now thinks that work is great because you get to eat lunch for free and it even includes slushies and cupcakes.

Madi's first job was to take her orders into the warehouse and find the yarns for them. She was thrilled to discover that among the products she was to pull was a pattern for "Madison's Scarf" .
Once she'd collected all the yarns, she learned from Lisa how to pack them up and sign her thank you, and then put her box into the UPS bag to await Marlon's arrival this evening.

Have you ever noticed how Lisa seems to get into an awful lot of our photos? She's also in the Yarnmarket introduction for the upcoming Knitting Daily TV show. But you never see her face because she's always hard at work. One of these days we'll have to get her to turn around for the camera.

Anyway, Madison has had a great day helping us out and entertaining the ladies with her singing, dancing and -- we suspect -- whispered comments that her grand-parents are raving lunatics. (Yesterday we taught her that the three most important qualities a girl can have are: intelligence, niceness and anti-magnetism...because if you're not anti-magnetic, you'll get stuck to the fridge every time you walk by it.)

I don't know what it is about Alex and me but we have so much fun saying the most absurd things to our kids and grandkid. A while back, we had our middle daughter, Laura, convinced that the world was switching to metric time. 100 minutes to the hour. 10 hours to the day. 10 days to the week. We worked out the most complex story and acted absolutely shocked that she hadn't heard about it. We told her we'd converted and were finding it difficult to adjust to the sleeping schedule. We figure she'll forgive us for this by...oh...2010.
Well, it's almost closing time and Madi's put in a full day so I guess I'd better go find her. She's a bright little girl and is probably re-structuring the company while Grandma and Grandpa are glued to their computers.

Thanks for helping us, Madi. You made a wonderful YarnMartian!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bulletin Day

Today's bulletin has been a real hit! Jan sent it out this morning and the response has been phenomenal. The Cherry Tree Hill Possum Sock yarn is getting a lot of attention, as are all those wonderful new Berroco yarns.

Norah Gaughn has come up with some terrific Berroco patterns for autumn that would look terrific on any shape.

A lot of our knitters are purchasing Sirdar's Just Soya and I'll bet it's because we've got that nice little summer top pattern for it. The buttons are adorable...I just love the feel of soy, don't you?

The Panda family from Crystal Palace sure has created a lot of excitement, as has the Noro Silk Garden Sock. (A lot of our knitters are sox fiends, but we don't hold it against them.)

Tonight we're keeping the lights on for some lovely ladies who called to say they'd like to visit us after work. I love it when I have an excuse to buy cookies for guests. They wouldn't have eaten dinner, I'm sure, and all our delectable Soya, Milk and Corn yarns will surely give them an appetite.

Tina's little boy had surgery on Monday and we're all wishing him a speedy recovery.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Possum Love

The Cherry Tree Hill Possum Sock Yarn arrived and it's absolutely gorgeous! We've got 11 pretty colors that would make fabulous socks (or warm undergarments for my Canadian relatives).

You just occurred to me that our soldier friend's idea is perfect for all of us who really hate to knit that second sock.

Our daughter, Deidre, is visiting this weekend with her boyfriend, Matt. Little does he know that while Deidre and I are getting a pedicure today, he's going to be trying to fix my laptop. I think I need some new security protection and I know I have to change all my passwords. Last night, Alex mentioned he was trying to get into my email and he said, "I tried all of the passwords you use," and, I'll be darned, he rattled off a whole bunch of them. I didn't know he'd memorized my passwords! (He had a valid reason for wanting to get in. I was having trouble with it and he and our IT guy were trying to get it working again.)

But now that I know my husband knows ALL my passwords, I'd better find some new ones.

What if I get a love letter from David Bowie? If Alex reads my email and sees it, I just know he'll delete it before I have a chance to respond, "Yes, I'll gladly leave my husband for you. I've booked a flight to NY and will be there in two hours. Please don't tell the paparazzi." You know how much I hate having my picture taken.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Knitting Daily TV

Alex and I spent a good part of our weekend watching previews of the new Knitting Daily TV show that will soon be airing on PBS. It's really well done and is chock full of information about yarns, knitting, crocheting and designs.

We appear on a bunch of episodes. When I say "we" I mean "me." Alex made me go on the show even though I hate being in front of a camera so much that I didn't even have a photographer at my wedding. (Alex didn't mind. He didn't want any evidence that could later be used against him in court.)

Anyway, we're really excited about the debut of the show. But now that I've seen myself on TV I have to reconcile myself to the fact that:

1. Yes, I should have shed one or two pounds before the shoot. The camera adds 15 pounds even those the techie guys at the studio told me it's the curvature of the TV screen that does it and with my flat-screen TV I'll look my regular weight. Ha!
2. The human nose actually does continue to grow throughout your life.
3. There are certain colors I shouldn't wear.
4. I really do use the word "lovely" a lot.

I'm now getting prepared for Knitting Daily TV Part Deux. And do you know the first thing I've done to prepare myself? No. I haven't gone on a diet. I've invited Jan to replace me on most of the episodes!

The Cherry Tree Hill Possum is here!

Boy, that was quick! Alex spent the morning getting our Cherry Tree Hill Possum in place for all those sock lovers who need it...want it...must have it.

Ta da!!! Click here for your little bit of possum heaven!

We're taking pre-orders and will ship as soon as it arrives -- by the end of the week.

And now an X-rated soldier story!

As Liz was doing research for her story, she received this funny item from a front-line knitter who didn't want to be identified. You'll know why when you read it.

All I can say is that I don't think Yarnmarket has a pattern for this particular project!

The X-rated front-line knitting story...

"I'm a DoD contractor, and although I am back Stateside now, I was on a long mission working with the military in Asia. I knit when I'm on the job.

Currently, all of my military coworkers are guys, and they don't - although I do knit stuff for them.

I look for projects that have a beginning, a middle and an end, since a lot of my official work overseas is ongoing/never ending--so it's nice to see results in my knitting.

The irish hiking scarf pattern (from was requested by a couple of my friends, but they can't wear them on-duty, since the scarves are not regulation for their uniforms.

I am a small-project knitter: scarves, hats and mittens, although I have knit a pirate flag, many baby blankets (the base has a lot of young families), a couple of teddy bears and a life-sized thigh bone.

I also knit a weenie warmer (which came out HUGE due to an error in gauge.) This was much to my consternation but the owner of the weenie was thrilled.

Elke's Story from Afghanistan

I had a wonderful chat with Elke Landenberger, who also serves in our military. A while back, she sent us a postcard from Afghanistan, thanking us for getting her yarn to her, and telling us how her knitting helps her deal with the stress she experiences in a war zone. Her postcard made us cry. We kept it up on our bulletin board for a long time to remind us that others are risking their lives for us. While we're humbled by people who sacrifice so much, we're very honored to do what we can to help them -- even if that just means getting yarn to them halfway around the world.

Our good friend, Elizabeth Palmer, wrote this story about Elke's experiences:

Uniform stitches

Yarnmarket regularly gets orders for knitting supplies from women deployed overseas in the US military.

Elke Landenberger is one of them – now safely back from a 15-month mission in Afghanistan. Like many of us, she knits to relieve stress – but the kind and intensity of stress most of us will never have to face.

Elke was not only one of the Battle officers for her brigade, but also the Mortuary Affairs officer. That meant she responsible for dealing with all the human remains in her brigade’s area of operations.

“If we had local people die at the Field Hospital, or [U.S.] soldiers get killed by IEDs or in a fire fight I would receive, process and evacuate the bodies to the … Bagram air base,” she writes.

To relieve tension off-duty, she knit in the tent and room that she shared with 11 others.

“During duty hours I couldn't knit. We're not even allowed to read non-military books or magazines on duty. But I always ensured that I made time for my knitting because it was one of the very few de-stressors that kept me moving.”

“I taught another soldier - a girlfriend - to knit the German way, and I knew of two more female soldiers in my battalion who were knitters too.”

In Afghanistan, where many women are skilled embroiderers, Elke even got a nod of recognition from the locals.

“As I sat outside my living quarters one day when it had warmed up, some Afghan workers went past, smiling and giving me the thumbs up.”

War zones are notorious for periods of frenzied, sometimes terrifying, action – followed by long spells of calm – even tedium. It was during the hundreds of hours of quiet time that Elke turned out a stream of garments.

“Many hats, which started out as a project for a friend with cancer and then turned into gifts for Christmas. Also scarves, sweaters and cardigans, lots of socks, a blanket for myself for the winter and blankets for animal shelters.”

“I liked knitting socks for some reason. I think it was because I could use crazy colors and actually wear them as opposed to the other projects that never got worn until I left the war zone.”

”The really tricky part was finding enough time to knit. Or the times when the power went out and it would be pitch black since we had to have our windows painted black.”

“Or when the mail would take longer than usual and I had to stretch a project out until the new shipment of yarn would arrive.”

Our sincere thanks to Liz and Elke...
Every once in a while it's good to think about those who serve our country, and often other countries around the world, through their work in the armed forces and the news media. We owe a debt of gratitude to those brave men and women who travel to places that we wouldn't dare to venture. Let's hope that their efforts bring about changes that -- ultimately -- restore order and peace to the world.

Knitting at the Front by Elizabeth Palmer

We get excited when customers contact us from around the world, and we were REALLY thrilled when one of our customers turned out to be Elizabeth Palmer, news reporter for CBS. She was over in Baghdad when she needed some yarn.

I wrote to her and mentioned that we get quite a few military orders (including ones from the Air Force Base in Antarctica) and that we're always so happy to be able to get yarn to our service people so they can knit -- wherever in the world they might be. Before you knew it, she put together a great story about Knitting on the Front. It was published in the most October 2008 issue of Knit 'n Style -- complete with photos of Liz in Fallujah.

Be sure to get that issue!

We've got a couple more items from knitting soldiers that I'm going to post.

Ahhhh...autumn with Berroco.

Or should I say "fall"? People often ask me if I'm British when I use the term "autumn." In Canada, we're a hybrid of British and American culture (and every other culture in the world!) so we use both terms.

But I I so often do!

The autumn yarns and patterns are arriving on a daily basis and I'm really excited about the new styles. For instance, I like the part where we're not supposed to wear belly shirts anymore. Belly shirts aren't good for anyone over...oh...47 pounds. And I really like the "Renaissance" looks that are coming into vogue.

To help you create the new winter/fall fashions, Berroco has offered some fantastic new yarns.

Two new bulkier yarns are Berroco Peruvia Quick of 100% Peruvian Highland Wool. It's a two-ply yarn that will knit up quickly. It's available in 13 scrumptious colors.

This is Berroco Peruvia Quick.

This is Berroco Cuzco. Cuzco is another two ply that comes from Peru. It felts up beautifully.

If you're allergic to wool (like the devastatingly handsome John Barrowman of Torchwood, according to a knowledgeable Raveller who'd like to knit him some socks), you might want to try the soft and non-allergenic Berroco Comfort in super fine nylon and super fine acrylic. This yarn comes in about a gazillion shades -- solids and prints.

Oh, in case you don't know him, Barrowman's the guy in the middle of this photo from the BBC site. No single man should be allowed to look this good. I'm glad Alex doesn't look like this. If he did, he wouldn't want a wife who looks like me. Come to think of it, he wouldn't want a wife at all!

Lastly, but not leastly, Berroco Geode is a pretty wool/acrylic blend from Italy. It's auto-striping, and has lots of great, easy-to-make patterns.

I guess that's about it for our latest acquisitions from Berroco. Many thanks to Warren Wheelock and his team for coming up with some wonderful yarns and patterns for the upcoming season!

Scarface the Cat is really Dum Dum the Cat

Alex called me about a week ago from home. He was working there -- and despite what people might think, it's not because I nag him at the office. It's because he likes to do his Accounting at home (and he loses count when I nag him at the office).

Anyway, he got a telephone call from a lady who asked if we had a pussycat who had part of his face missing. He told her we did. She then informed us that he (the pussycat, not Alex) had been visiting her house for a very long time, and she'd been feeding him and he disappeared about five weeks ago and she's been terribly worried about him. Her stepson saw a picture of him posted at a veterinarian's office, and he called her to say that somebody had "Dum Dum" the stray she'd been feeding.

She said she really liked the cat but she was afraid to capture him to get him to a vet, and she wanted him back so he could live with her family and their two cats...if we'd let her have him.

Ah! A moment of decision! Alex had to decide whether we really did want to part with Scarface. Over the weeks, we'd become very fond of him. I fed him half-and-half cream and human tuna. Alex shared some pate de foie gras with him. He slept on my bed. I tended his wounds. He'd become our baby!!!

But, he was also another lady's baby.

Well, Alex called me and gave me the woman's phone number. So I called her and we agreed to meet at my house. She came armed with a cat carrier, prepared to take Scarface away.

We chatted for a while and I asked questions like, "Where will he sleep?" and "Will you feed him tuna?" and "Will you take him back to Dr. Shields?" (Dr. Shields of Cross Creeks Veterinary Clinic in Pickerington happens to be the BEST veterinarian in the world. He's so gentle with animals, and even the most frightened pussycat, like our old Hannibal, liked him. Dr. Shields had done everything he could for Hannibal, so we knew he'd take very good care of Scarface for us. When he'd fixed him up, he allowed me to put a poster on his bulletin board so I could find a new owner for Scarface, even though I really didn't want to give him up.)

Okay...back to the story. The lady told us the "Dum Dum," as she called him, loves cream and turkey and a scratch pad made out of corrugated cardboard (just like the one I'd bought him), and I knew that she really did love this cat. When he heard her voice, he even sauntered down the stairs from his room to see her.

I knew I had to give him back.

The lady, Lisa, was so happy that she'd found the stray she'd been caring for. We were happy that Scarface (okay...Dum Dum) was going back to someone who really loved him. And Scarface seemed happy that he was getting so much attention -- and people were almost fighting over him -- after living in the wilds for so long.

So I guess this story has a happy ending...except the part where I don't have a cat anymore.

Oh! Here's something neat that proves Alex is not the cat-hater he claims to be. About a week after Lisa picked up Dum Dum, she came to our house with a check to pay us for the vet bills. Alex refused it. He said we'd made the decision to help the pussycat, so it was our responsibility.

What an old softie. And what a fraud. We both miss Scarface. On Sunday, we walked over to Lisa's house and hung a little bag of pussycat treats on her door knob. We wanted Scarface to know we were thinking of him.

BargainYARNS Newsletter arrives this morning!

Hey, if you want to get great deals on yarns that are discontinued or ends-of-lines, you'll want to check out BargainYARNS. We've got lots of great deals on yarns, books, accessories and even a Yarnmarket Bargain of the Week.

BargainYARNS is sort of like Tuesday Morning. You've got to visit their all the time to see what's new. You might not find exactly what you're looking for -- because the inventory changes all the time -- but what you do find will be a really inexpensive treasure.

I think everyone should sign up for the BargainYARNS newsletter because you never know what you're going to find in it!

New Arrivals! Fabulous Summer Yarns

It's been really busy here at Yarnmarket. Not only are we getting lots of visitors thanks to the wonderful article in Knit 'N Style magazine, we're also meeting lots of Ravellers. What fun!

They're coming to see our new Showroom (that isn't quite finished yet because we're still adding yarns, moving furniture about, and putting up a computer station for our guests). By the end of this week, everything should be ready for prime time!

One area our visitors are particularly fond of is our "New Arrivals."

You should see what we've just gotten in! Absolutely gorgeous, lustrous Provence from Classic Elite. It's 100% mercerized cotton from Egypt, so you can imagine how nice it looks and feels.

This is Provence. Ahhh...Provence. I can smell the fields of lavendar...

Sirdar's Just Soya is not only ecologically thoughtful, it's fashionably sumptuous -- in a variety rich colors.

I really love our new Loop-d-Loop Birch by Teva Durham. It's 90% cotton with silk and has a lovely nubbly texture.

If you're having a baby, or you know someone who's having one (this is a hint to my daughter, Laura), Babyboo by Knit One, Crochet Too is soft and pretty for baby garments. It's 45% bamboo/55% nylon. It comes in lots of pretty colors.(If you want to see Laura, she's the lovely young woman on Major League Baseball's podcast, The Dish. She gives the movie, music and video info. Check her out on The Dish Episode #62. Wouldn't she look sweet knitting little booties out of Babyboo? In her job at MLB, Laura gets to meet all sorts of famous people I've never even heard of. In this podcast she's talking about movies I'll never see. But she says Alkaline Trio and the Pogues have new CDs out...and I'll probably want to buy them. I'm an Alternative Rock kind of Grandma.)

Okay...back to yarns...

Sirdar has also created a simply sublime organic cotton DK. Amazingly enough, they call it Sublime. It would be perfect for summer tops.

Another delicious organic cotton is the naturally dyed Purelife from Rowan. It's a DK, too. Every single ball is traceable -- just so you can be sure it's truly organic.

One of our newer manufacturers, who we're proud has joined the YarnMartian team, Frabjous Fibers has sent us the most divine nubbly silk yarns. Banana Silk Yarn has a beautiful luster. And for the eco-minded, their Recycled Silk Yarn is great for planet while it knits up into pretty summer wear.

This is Frabjous Silk Banana. Wonderful colors, eh?

We've also gotten in some autumn yarns...but I'll write about them in another post.

If you're in the area (and who wouldn't want to come to the thriving megalopolis of Pickerington, Ohio) drop by and see our new Showroom and all our new yarns.

One word of warning: When you walk into the building that has the "Showroom" sign on the window, and you look to the right, the person you see hunched over a computer, typing furiously, is me. Yes, I know my office is messy...and I really do plan to clean it up one of these days. (Our wonderful cleaner, Anne, just dusts around me and all my stuff when she visits us every Monday. I promise my home does not look like this!)

The Possums are Coming!

We just got off the phone with Cheryl at Cherry Tree Hill and, boy, are we ever excited. We've just ordered a ton of Cherry Tree Hill Possum Sock Yarn and are now scurrying around getting everything ready for its arrival. We've got to build the web page, make sure all the Ravellers know about it, and get everyone ready for the onslaught. This is an absolutely gorgeous yarn and it's a big hit around the world. (We just got a call from a Yarnmarket customer in Germany asking when it will arrive! Boy, word travels fast.)

We love working with Cheryl because she's brilliant and creates the most gorgeous colorways. If you haven't seen what she did with our exclusive Impressionist Collection Sockittome yarn, check it out! '

Stay tuned for further updates on "The Day of the Possum."

This is a possum.

This is a possum on feet. (Well...foot.)