Friday, March 26, 2010

Announcing the Berroco Contest Winner!

Well, I've been so busy all week that I missed posting the name of the winner on our blog. Shame on me!

Many thanks to Gloria Kelly who gave me a little nudge.

The winner of the Norah Gaughan package (with an autographed book, Pure Pima yarn, Crystal palace needles and a Yarnmarket shoulder bag) was Sandra Bennetch of Mechanicsburg, PA. Sandra's goodies are winging their way to her now.

Many, many thanks to all of you who entered. Be sure to watch for our upcoming contest in the next issue of Spotlight.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let's say thanks to Roger Ebert

Tonight I was working a little late on the upcoming issue of KnitchMagazine. I'm always slammed when we get to deadline. Rather than cook when I got home, Alex thought we ought to have something from Steak 'n Shake -- the place I crave most when I need a good, strong dose of grease and sugar.

As I waited in the car for my hideously fattening meal, I saw a couple of billboards with quotes by Roger Ebert. He, too, is a fan of Steak 'n Shake. His quotes indicated that it was the first restaurant he ever visited -- when he was just 3 -- and he still loves it to this day.

So my mind turned to thoughts of Roger Ebert.

If you've ever met Roger, you know what a sincerely wonderful human being he is. If you've seen him recently, you know how bravely he's fighting cancer.

I met Roger many years ago when I worked for CompuServe, the company that introduced online communications to the world. Roger hosted a forum there, and whenever I could, I'd mention his area in our ads and other materials. He was always so happy to participate by giving me a quote or a photo or whatever I needed.

When Alex joined CompuServe, he ended up managing all those wonderful entertainment forums, and he got to work quite a bit with Roger. He'd meet with him at trade shows, and work with him on promotions for his forum. He really liked Roger, too.

Fast forward a few years. I was working at an insurance company in Columbus, Ohio. One of our staff was suffering from breast cancer and wanted to have treatment the insurance company refused to cover. We were trying to raise money so Linda could have the surgery she hoped would save her life. I'd just finished producing the corporate video and was about to present it to the company when it hit me: we could ask for donations! Anyone who wanted to attend our new video presentation could be given free popcorn and admission in exchange for a donation toward Linda's cancer treatment.

Alex told Roger what we were doing and -- you aren't going to believe this -- Roger agreed to leave a voice mail message for EVERY member of our staff asking them to see our video. Imagine their shock when they arrived in the office one morning, and there on their voice mail was a message from Roger Ebert encouraging them to make a donation to see the video, and giving it his thumbs up.

He didn't know Linda. He barely knew me! But he was kind enough to take some time to help raise money for a lady he'd never met.

Today Roger is battling cancer himself. He's doing it bravely. And he's doing it with tremendous optimism and an appreciation for life. Oh, that we could all be so grateful for every day we have!

I'll bet that every one of us has at some point appreciated one of Roger's movie reviews. But we never did anything to say, "Thank you!"

I'm going to send a letter to the only address I can find for Roger Ebert:

And all it's going to say is, "Thank you!"

I hope you'll do the same.

Photo borrowed with many thanks from Jim Emerson's Scanners Blog

More Fabulous Felines for our fabulous knitters!

I'm elated to announce the arrival of five new Fabulous Felines yarns at Yarnmarket. For those of you who aren't familiar with this line, it's an absolutely gorgeous merino yarn that's hand-dyed by the fantastic Iris Schreier of Artyarns. Iris uses the softest, most luxurious yarn so it will feel almost as good as the thick, luxurious fur of a Persian. Many knitters tell us they're surprised by how soft and cushy it feels -- and what phenomenal stitch definition it provides.

I'll be writing a lot more about the winning pussycats on our Fabulous Felines site. But here's a preview for those of you who want to see who won and which colors are available.

Our first pussycat is the lovely Monet. Any cat with this kind of Impressionist coat deserves to be named after one of the Parisian artists...and he deserves to have a yarn named after him!

Next, we have Evie with pretty blue eyes. Evie recently became a mother...and her little babies all have those gorgeous eyes. too. If they didn't live in England, I'd be at the doorstep to adopt one...or two.

Now we present Truffle who lives in Germany. Truffle, we hear, has personal issues stemming from an overly enthusiastic digestive tract. (I suggested to his owner that perhaps the problem belongs to her boyfriend, but he's blaming the cat.) You can read more about it when we add his life story to the Fabulous Felines site.

This pussycat is Hamlet. I think he looks worried, but his owner says he always looks like that. Isn't he a sweetypie? This shot makes me laugh every time I look at it.

And, last but not least, is Spooky. We loved his green eyes. And I got such a kick out of his owner's note when he was entered into the contest. The last line was, "I love Spooky." Yes, we all love our pussycats, don't we?

Congratulations to all the wonderful pussycat owners whose cats have been selected for this new release. We've got many more in the be sure to send your pussycat photos to Winners receive one free skein of their pussycat's yarn.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hey, baby! See CAT's interview with vintage designer, Kristen Rengren

When I saw the vintage white baby outfit in CAT's latest video from Rhinebeck, I just knew I had to make it. Now all I have to do is talk one of the kids into having a baby.

Deidre, our youngest, is getting married in October so maybe she'll agree to have one for me. Deidre loves fashion, so I'll show her the wonderful garment I'll create (for Little Deb or Little Alexa) if she'd just be kind enough to provide me with a grand-daughter.

If that's not enough incentive, maybe I'll throw in a nice pair of shoes. Deidre cannot resist shoes.

Oh...have I mentioned that Brenda, who has been whining for YEARS that she wanted a grandbaby, has learned that she's going to be the grandmother of two! That's right. She hit the Daily Double with twins! Congrats, Brenda.

But back to CAT. At the end of her video she mentions a few of the Yarnmarket newsletters we produce. I really chuckled because "Shear Bagatelle" is actually pronounced "Shear Bagatell" and not "Shear Bagattelli."

Well, that proves me wrong. I figured everyone knew the term...but sometimes I know really dopey stuff that I incorrectly figure everyone else also knows -- like all the words to the A&W radio jingle from 1971 and the fact that Loudmouth Lime and Freckleface Strawberry were really popular flavors of Funny Face beverages. This is why I can't remember my own telephone number. Too much stuff already packed into the files. the video and learn all about Kristen Rengren and her wonderful vintage designs.

Great new bargains at BargainYARNS!

Pat just informed me that she's added three new yarns to BargainYARNS:

Indie Dyers Infinity Organic DK -- 285 yards for $19.08

Indie Dyers Sock yarns -- 420 yards for just $19.08

Ripples yarn by Ripples Crafts -- 459 yards of this great yarn from Scotland for only $21.48

Pat's been adding a lot of yarns to BargainYARNS lately, so you'll want to be sure you sign up for our monthly BargainYARNS Alert. That way, you'll be among the first to know when we've got new deals available.

BargainYARNS is the Yarnmarket sale site where we put ends of lines, special buys we find, and discontinued styles. We've also added a lot of value yarns -- to ensure we've got a good variety to offer crocheters.

If you like all the new additions to our inventory, you can thank Pat. And if you ever drop by to visit, you'll also want to thank her for all the work she's done to make the bargains really easy to find in our warehouse.

If you're in the neighborhood, we'd love to show you around!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jan's Added Several New Yarns to Yarnmarket!

Alex and I are home from our trip to the West Coast to learn more about what's happening in the yarn business and what makes a boutique hotel a boutique hotel: no bulbs over 40 watts, no counters or drawers for your stuff, and no one over 30 working there. But even though your room is so small that they hang the hairdryer in a bag in the closet because there's not enough room for it in the bathroom, you do get a really nice comfortable bed with lots of big, fat pillows!

While we were gone Jan was busy adding some great new yarns to Yarnmarket!

Rowan Purelife Revive for just $10.80
Crystal Palace Cotton Twirl Print for just $5.75
Crystal Palace Cotton Twirl Solid for only $4.75
Gedifra Barina for $8.80
Gedifra Jalia for just $9.80
Gedifra Satata for $7.80

...and last but not least, the
Gedifra Fiorista Fino for only $8.80

These are yarns you'll want to check out because they're great for your spring and summer projects.

BTW, I've been really excited to read some recent comments online from knitters who are comparing yarn prices nationally. It turns out that our everyday Yarnmarket prices on all the current yarns and colors are usually lower than what you'll find anywhere else! We don't have a volume discount, so even if you aren't ordering lots of yarn, you'll still be assured of getting a good deal.

I wonder if our accountant knows about this? Hmmm...let's just keep this our little secret.

Yarnmarket has the Stealth Needles!

Great news for knitters! We've got the new "stealth" needles that everyone is raving about! The Blackthorn needles are double-pointed needles crafted of premium carbon fiber composite. That's the same material used for the outer skin of the Blackbird Stealth jet. Each 5-needle set is individually made in the U.S.

Be sure to order yours now because they're selling very quickly. We have 6" needles size 00 to 3.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sleepy in Seattle

This morning, Alex woke me up at 3:30 a.m. so we could catch a 7:00 a.m. flight to Seattle -- via Atlanta. When you live in Colunbus, Ohio, you always have to go someplace else before you get where you really want to be. Do you have any idea how bad I look when I wake up at 3:30 a.m.? Lots of people at Columbus International Airport now do!

We're here to attend the Yarn Market News Conference...and, not only that, we're here as sponsors! Our other sites, Yarndex and YarnMerchant, provide services to help yarn shops better assist their knitters, so we thought we'd sponsor this important event that helps yarn shops better serve their customers.

It's the first night of the event and we've already met a lot of wonderful people from shops across the U.S. We've also caught up with lots of old friends like Della Q, Stacy Charles, Hal of Universal, Shannon of Cascade, Cecil of Buffalo Gold and all the folks at Soho -- Doreen, Jessica, Trisha -- but we've also met some terrific new people we know will become good friends in the future.

The first night kicked off with a cocktail party with quick speeches by Trisha Malcolm and Debbie Macomber, who has a new line of yarns available through Universal. It didn't take me long to corner Debbie and ask her to participate in an interview in Knitch Magazine.

Alex and I are enjoying this chance to speak with other yarn shops and to learn more about what's going on in our industry throughout America. I have to tell you that the ladies who run the yarn shops are bright, enthusiastic, and filled with creativity. Of course, this event only attracts the BEST! You should see the phenomenal designs they're wearing. Their knitting talents are amazing. Oh...that reminds me. On the flight from Atlanta I started to knit a pretty little lace piece with Qiviut. I don't think I've earned the right to knit with Qiviut yet because I've been trying to improve my skills just for this project...but Alex insisted I give it a try. I love it!!!

Anyway, we're here with all the people who make this industry so much fun. It's wonderful to be surrounded by so many others who share our passion for yarn and knitting. We're sure to return with lots of great ideas...and a few extra pounds because the food they're serving is really, really good!

Keep your eye out for some new Universal yarns we'll be offering in the future...and don't forget to sign up for Knitch because we're going to be launching our Spring edition as soon as Jenny and Jan declare this issue completed. They're busily pulling it together and it's looking absolutely fantastic!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Don't be a chicken! Knit for the birds!

Okay, if you've been reading this blog you already know I'm almost certifiable. Fortunately, I'm surrounded by others who barely notice my insanity because they, too, share some of my more visible lunacies.

Many thanks to Penelope Taylor, editor of Knit 'n Style and Kathy Blumenstock, a journalist/knitter/animal lover who have brought this BBC news report to my attention.

Yes, there are chickens in the UK who have lost their feathers because they've been confined to a cage all their lives. A very nice group of people rescues these chickens and tries to find them good homes. And pretty sweaters.

So...I guess this means I'm going to be knitting for chickens.

I just love living on this planet. How can you get bored in a place where people put sweaters on poultry?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stampede at Yarnmarket! Well, sort of...

Boy, what a day we're having! A lot of people heard we were going to be open and we're absolutely astounded by the turnout. It's such a beautiful day here that some folks dropped in just because they wanted to go out for a drive.

Alex, Pat, Brenda and I are having a great time speaking to knitters, and showing them all our yarns.

Best of all...we've got lots of cookies for our guests to eat. I love cookies.

If you're in the neighborhood, we'll be open until 2 today.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Guest Writer, Erin Chesnut, blogs about Sticks 'n Stitches

Saturday January 16 marked the 3rd annual Sticks 'n Stitches with the Columbus Blue Jackets. This year’s opponent was the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blue Jackets fought hard but the Blackhawks pulled it out at the last minute to win the game 6-5.

Sticks 'n Stitches was great this year! As the organizer it was a bit more relaxed on game day for me, which was nice. We had a good flow for handing out goodie bags and raffling off the prizes. It did become a bit hairy about two weeks before the game when our ticket sales jumped from 48 to 92 to 112 to finally land at 148 tickets sold. It was definitely our best year yet for tickets sold even if it did come with a minor heart attack for me. Our event coordinator with the Blue Jackets, Grant, was very awesome in rounding up enough seats for the majority of us to sit together.

This was the second year for Yarnmarket to be our main sponsor. They are wonderful to work with. Deb provided the grand prize for the raffle, a $100 Yarnmarket gift certificate, as well as the Ravelry advertising (which subsequently was the most common way that people heard about our event!) and a skein of Caledon yarn for each goodie bag that was handed out. All 125 goodie bags! Most of the 125 goodie bags also contained a stitch marker from Pear Tree Designs, Namaste re-useable grocery bags, Cast On and Interweave Knits magazine, Temptations re-useable bags, yarn & needles from The Yarn Shop, Twist Collective pin and postcard, WendyKnits pattern coupon, a free admission coupon to the Ohio Historical Society museums, Ohio State Fair competition information as well as Columbus maps and quarterly event brochure. Once again this year we collected donations for Touching Little Lives a local charity that provides knit, sewn and crocheted items to families of premature infants as well as to families coping with a miscarriage.

We’re really looking forward to next year’s event. If we can get enough people to order their tickets early, (as in a few months in advance) we will be in the Sky Terrace next year. This will allow us to make sure we have enough seats and goody bags to go around and gives us more bargaining power. If you would like to be contacted for next year’s event as soon as the date is picked please drop me a line so I can add you to the list.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Transitional Dressing in the Yarnmarket Newsletter

Jan just sent out the newest issue of our newsletter and it's loaded with information about yarns and patterns that are perfect for spring's hot and cold spells. I just love this one from Noro -- the Silk Garden Cardigan. We've got this available as a one-click project on Yarnmarket which makes shopping for all your supplies faster and easier.

This issue has some great ideas for springwear, babywear (because there are so many on the way), and a terrific looking Supersock Striped Scarf for the guy in your life. (I'm disappointed to report that the guy in the photo isn't included in the one-click project supply list.)

Jan suggests a pretty shawl for spring and has selected a pattern by Ann Smith, a winner of our TKGA pattern contest last year. Ann created the Calla shawl pattern using Caledon Hills. This pattern is free to download so be sure to print off your copy.

It was a real coincidence that one of our TKGA prize-winners lives in our neighborhood and is a Yarnmarket shopper. I love it when Ann drops by to show us her latest ideas and to pick up a few balls of yarn for her knitting experiments. The other day when she visited with us, she selected some very pretty Abstractions yarn by Kollage, in the color Happiness. We both thought it reminded us of nougat candy with the colored jellies. I can't wait to see what Ann creates for this yarn. I'm always so impressed with her work.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you can see all the great ideas Jan presents in her newsletters, bulletins and Just My Type. And don't forget to enter into the TKGA Knitting Design Contest. You could win a $1000 Yarnmarket Gift Certificate or any one of 16 great prizes.

Aliens kidnapped me.

Did you ever have one of those days when you're just certain you were kidnapped by aliens who took you to their spaceship and put a microchip in your brain before returning you to Earth?

Me, too!

It happened sometime early on Saturday morning while I was still asleep in my bed. When I awoke I realized I'd lost 1.26 microseconds that I can't account for.

If this happened to anyone else, please let me know.

Monday, March 1, 2010

CAT teaches us how to double-knit

About a year ago, Iris Schreier knitted the most gorgeous scarf for her husband. I admired it, contemplated bonking him on the head and grabbing it, but didn't even consider making one similar to it because it was reversible. I didn't realize at the time that double-knitting doesn't necessarily mean double difficult!

When I watched CAT's newest episode of Let's Knit2Gether, I was astounded by how easy it is...and what absolutely stunning results you can achieve. She shows us a really simple little reversible head band, demonstrates the technique, and then whets our appetites with some patterns that are truly magnificent.

I'm going to have to give it a try and maybe, just maybe I can become confident enough to create one of the patterns in Iris Schreier's book, Reversible Knits.

At the end of the video CAT also shows us her afghans 4 Afghans project that she's hurrying to finish in time for the upcoming deadline. There's another shipment jetting its way to Afghanistan very soon, so please be sure to contribute if you can.

Little boy sneaks onto ice, gets winning goal in Olympic hockey game.

Sometime around 5:30 yesterday I was pretty certain my heart was going to give out. I'd been sitting in front of the TV since three, watching Team Canada play the American Olympic Team.

Alex was cheering for the Americans (albeit very quietly because he also had his snout in a book) and I was cheering for the Canadians. I can't help myself. I was born there, my uncle played for the NHL and when I see a hockey game, my blood turns from Ohio Scarlet and Red to Canadian. (In other words, it becomes cold and slushy, craves Tom Horton's coffee and wants to fly to Florida until spring comes...around June 15 in the southernmost parts of Canada.)

When the American team pulled the goalie I just knew there was going to be trouble. And I was right. It was such a bold, gutsy move that they HAD to get the goal to tie the game 2-all. Aggghhhh! The mounting pressure was unbearable!

By the time the sudden death period started, I really did think the sudden death was going to be my own. Maybe I've gotten delicate in my dotage, but I was really feeling the pressure. Even now when I think about it, my pulse begins to race and I start to hyperventilate.

Thank goodness we didn't have to go into a shoot-out because that would have made Alex miss his dinner while he answered a few brief questions for the coroner.

To my great relief some little boy who I'm sure is no more than 10 or 12 years old got the winning goal and saved the game for Team Canada. Exhausted, and exhilarated, I could finally relax. But I wondered, "Who's that little boy and what's he doing on the ice with all those grown up men?"

In my day, hockey players were great, big brutes, all of them about 400 pounds and 40 years old. And they possessed not a full set of teeth amongst them. Or perhaps my memory fails me.

But I can tell you this: they sure didn't look like this cute little Sidney Crosby with his perfect white teeth, straight nose and scar-free face. Or like any of those other players who, once they removed their helmets, I was convinced were no more than 16 years old -- about ready to enter Junior B.

But there they were on Team Canada and the announcer insisted they'd come from the NHL.

Is it me? Or did the world suddenly grow very young?

You don't have to answer that question. The surprise delivery of a "Baby Quasar" wrinkle-removing device was a pretty good clue that I'm no longer the spring chicken I used to be. And who among you doesn't think it was awfully sweet of Alex to secretly order a wrinkle-removing device and have it delivered to me at the office last a surprise? I'm serious! And -- get this -- he's still alive!

Okay, back to the game...

I really felt badly for the American team because I think they were formidable competitors and the goalie did a terrific job. He deserved the gold medal, too, and I was happy that the Canadians attending the closing ceremonies gave him a really big cheer because they, too, knew he had played a great game.

And speaking of the closing ceremonies, what a hoot! I love it when Canadians make fun of themselves...because I'm the sort of person who sees no reason why 60,000 people should not be forced to wear moose antlers.

On every planet you need at least one goofy tribe who'll make all the others laugh. Sure, you force 'em to live in a frozen tundra beside a Superpower who'll keep their eye on them in case they get really nuts. But it's great to have bunch of loons who reminds the world that even with all our problems, there's always something silly to laugh about.

And one of these days, I'm going to find the humor in receiving a wrinkle-removing device from my a the office.