Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey day do-over!

I don't know about you, but I haven't had much time for knitting this weekend.

Thursday was spent making pumpkin pies (my annual contribution to whichever side of the family's, or set of not-yet-in-laws' Thanksgiving dinner), going to the movies, and eating dinner at Cory's mom's. Friday was a work day (the internet doesn't stop for Black Friday, haha)...and spending time with a good friend back in town for the weekend.

Somewhere in all of that though, I found myself a little sad as if something were missing. I picked up my knitting first, thinking surely I was just going through withdrawals...nope wasn't it. Then it occurred to me--I almost always spend the day in the kitchen with my mom on Thanksgiving--even when we don't end up eating there (I think I stuffed my first turkey at the age of twelve or so). I know from years past that it isn't necessarily the act of cooking with my mom (imagine two grown women running around a relatively small kitchen frantically trying to do everything THEIR way), but the act of cooking.

So, yesterday I got up early, made an apple pie (yes, from scratch), stuffed the turkey, made the cranberry, and with some much appreciated help peeling, prepared the yams and potatoes. I then of course cleaned the house frantically because company is a rarity around here and I don't necessarily want everyone that sees the place to say it looks 'lived in'. By the time we all sat down to eat, I realized that it's the challenge and the relaxation that comes from preparing the meal that has become my Thanksgiving ritual, the thing that really makes it a 'holiday' for me (plus I was amazed and got a little of the same rush I get finishing a project when the turkey didn't look like something out of Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation).

Sitting there eating, with good friends and good food, I felt truly thankful.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Who me, finish a Sweater?

Who me, finish a sweater? Never!!

I finally did it - finished this sweater that's been sitting here for over a year. i think i only had a few inches - and the collar - left to go, so i thought i'd just get to knittin' this weekend. Yep - it was me, my GGH Cashmere (stash yarn that was a gift from my favorite people at Muench/GGH/Lana Grossa), and the Lifetime Movie Network.

The sweater fits pretty well, but i did end up with 2 sleeves that aren't exactly the same size. In fact, the right sleeve is probably an inch bigger. oh well - if you don't tell anyone, i won't either. Plus, my theory is this: if you can find the flaws in my hand-knit sweater, then you're simply looking TOO CLOSELY! haha.

I think i've mentioned before that this is the 2nd time i've knit this pattern (from Rebecca Magazine #9). the first time, i remember knitting the last few inches while doug and i were on our 1st anniversary... we took the amtrak train from SF to paso robles - and had a great time. It's just beautiful there! (and the wine doesn't make things any worse).

oh yeah - one last thing (then we're off to reno - we added a new phone line and need to do some adjustments) - guess how much yarn i had leftover? Um, yep ... just a few yards. that's the problem with knitting from your stash. I actually had to stop knitting on the body and then knit the collar... cause i figured it would be easier to make the body longer through blocking than it would be to lengthen the collar. then i cut whatever yarn i needed for sewing up the seams... and then used that last bit of yarn to knit on the body for as long as i could. I haven't blocked it yet (it's nice and poofy now, so i'm not sure if i'll do a full block or not), but it seems long enough for now.

And i have a new project in mind... i'll share it with you before thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Thanksknitting and more....

I am so overwhelmed with gratitude for ALL of our customers it is hard to put into words. I love talking to all of you and having you stop by the shop to say hi! I just had a gal come in from out of town and it is so nice to be able to put faces with names/voices. I just want to thank all of you for keeping us going with your great knitting stories and of course show and tell. Keep 'em comin'!

Now onto what's going on around here...I just found out that the SWTC (Southwest Trading Company) Amazing went on sale today; along with the Vespera at 25% off! So being the crazy knitters that we are; the chatter has begun. How about the Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman? Both of these yarns would be beautiful. I think I will pick 2 or 3 colors and cast this on ASAP (of course I was just looking at all of my starts last night and thinking of finishing something, NAH :) This pattern is explained wonderfully by Elizabeth in The Opinionated Knitter which is available at School House Press and our very own Sandy just finished this pattern for her sweet Maya. Of course she is good and the yarn was from her stash, but I just can't say enough about both of these yarns! Of course the price is right which is always a plus!

I do want to do a bit of show and tell to keep you all up to date on our projects; again our own

Sandy is making the Icarus shawl (Interweave Knits, Summer 2006 ) for her mother and is

using the Classic Elite Alpaca Sox for it! Yummy!

I also, had blogged about my 'Top Secret' shop knitting and wanted to give you a little taste (I know I am an evil knitter :), but the Artyarns Beaded Mohair and Sequins Yarn is so scrumptious that I just can't stop knitting! I think I will have this ready to unveil by our

Christmas party is on December 8th! It is quickly turning into an Ethereal Cowl and scarf all in one. I decided I could use a bit more pizazz in my life and I am happy with the results. I promise to keep you posted on this one!

Again, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there and as always, happy knitting!

Jeanne =}

Monday, November 17, 2008

I dream of...Addi?

Sure, we all dream about work related events at one time or another...but lately I've been dreaming, and dreaming, and dreaming about Addi Turbos. Usually I'm filling unbelievably long orders for them (think laundry hamper-sized box to ship them in), which makes sense since they've been on sale all month long. Or, maybe it's my newfound love for knitting socks on them. Who knows. I finally (woo hoo!) finished my first complete pair of socks last week (please excuse the obvious laddering on the is pre-blocking!). These were the Tiny Bubbles socks by 2 Askew (our very own Jeanne's pattern!) in my absolute favorite Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock color--Amy's Vintage Office. Lavender, pale blue, and charcoal--what more could a girl want?

Then I got inspired by my beloved (and again temporarily abandoned) Gayle jacket to knit up some cabled socks for my grandma. She's the type of person who has everything, and if she doesn't have it she probably doesn't need it--so when I started knitting I learned that making her gifts was probably the best (and most meaningful) option. She loves red, so I chose Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Ruby River. Yes, I know, cables on variegated yarn is sort of a no-no, but I like that they're kind of subtle this way. Plus, the shades of red give make it just unique enough...

And now to spend some time with my very own Addis...just the one set...that fit in a small envelope. :-)


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fancy stuff and Grandpa's....

I am such a lucky knitter! I am working on a top secret project (as my honey's sweater is on hold as mentioned in my previous blog) for the shop and I am using Artyarns Beaded Mohair and Sequins yarn in color 164. It is sooooooooooooo amazing to work with and I just can't stop! It is what I imagine knitting with butter would be like. So I am hoping to inspire you all to treat yourselves to a bit of luxury and think about knitting just for you! Hmmm, that's an interesting concept :) This yarn would make a truly elegant scarf, or edging for something bigger.

I am also working on getting the new Lana Grossa Royal Tweed on the floor for some touch time. It is so nice and I may have to knit a hat and mittens for my guys? We will have to see how the top secret project goes.

The Royal Tweed is really soft and has a nice feel to it. It's a heavy worsted and the suggested needle is a US 10, so it should work up quickly. Gee whiz, like I need more yarn to lust after!

Well, as you may know, Laura, is out of town right now to attend her Grand Father's service and we are all thinking about her and her Grandpa. So I wanted to take a minute to suggest remembering our Grandparents; with us or not and all that they have given to us.

With that said I was thinking about what kind of a scarf my Grandpa may have enjoyed and we just got the book Scarf Style in the shop and I thought he would have enjoyed being hugged by the Interlocking Balloons scarf on page 41. This book is one of my favorites and I have knit almost all of the scarves in it!

Thank you Grandpa for all you have taught me...I miss you!
Laura, we are ready to have you back at the computer; it's just not the same without you....Jeanne and Co.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We're done! New Look and Feel on the Website... and the start of fancy socks

It's done! It took us a little longer than we thought, but we put up the website makeover yesterday evening... and we think it looks fantastic! There are bound to be a few bugs here and there - and some of the areas still need a bit of finishing work - but the bulk of it is ready for public consumption (if you do notice bugs or problems, please email us or comment on the blog).

What is different, you ask? The color and fonts, of course, but one of the biggest changes shows up on each of the product homepages (e.g., yarn, needles, buttons, etc.): each homepage now prominently displays a featured item. We've written a few sentences about why that item is our favorite at the moment - and have included links to reviews & more information. We hope that it's helpful - and that you enjoy reading about what excites us! In addition, if you scroll to the bottom of each page, you'll see a section titled "Looking For..." which then leads you to other areas on the website. We'll be adding a bit more to this footer section soon, but this is a good start - and it's organized.

You'll also notice that we have links to video reviews on most of the product homepages - as we continue to film reviews, they will show up under these "recent video reviews" headings.

Again, the site is a work in progress - and we have lots more to do- but we definitely welcome your comments... just be gentle when making them -doug has been working 12-14 hours a day/7 days per week for over a month and is a wee bit tired. :)

Ok - enough about the website... i wanted to show you guys my most recent project - as of friday. I have been wanting to knit with the Indie Dyer SuperSock Select Yarn even since we received it, but was just never motivated enough to get started. On the way out of the store Friday night, i stopped and picked up Cat Bordhi's New Pathways For Sock Knitters Book and started scrolling through. To be honest, i picked up the book because i was trying to find written instructions for a flexible sock cast on - my long tail cast on has just been too tight lately... If i cast on with bigger needles, it helps, but i still figured there had to be a better way. Anyway, i started thumbing through the book and stumbled upon her Coralis sock (pictured here)... it's beautiful! I don't like to knit socks with too many fancy patterns, cause i feel like it just takes forever, but this looked simple enough that i could zone out - but still have something unique. So, i bought the book and brought it home.

Well, needless to say i didn't realize i was about to learn a bunch of new techniques (not just cast on!). And for once, i decided to actually read the directions, instead of skimming through them and then getting started. Ok, Ok, i'm not being entirely honest.... at first, i did decide to just start knitting without reading. I had found a section called "Judy's Magic Cast On" and just started going... didn't bother to read about the cast on - or when it was used. I followed the directions to put on about 30 stitches, and then knit the first row. Um, the stitches were all connected - and had formed an impenetrable fabric. Dangit! What did i do wrong? So... i tried it again - surely i must have done something wrong... After ending up with the same result again, i finally gave in and did a bit of reading. Oh. This cast on is perfect for toe-up socks... and the "cast on" is creating the closed toe. Geez... didn't Cat realize that i wasn't going to actually read - couldn't she have named the cast on something a little more specific like "Judy's Magic Cast On - to be used only for Toe-Up Socks because the Cast-On Creates a Closed Toe?" LOL...

Let's just say I was a bit humbled after that. alright, alright, Cat, i'll follow the directions from now on... and will even knit the first little learning sock that you suggest - the Little Sky Sock. A friend of mine just told me she is pregnant, so these little buggers should be perfect for the baby (knit out of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted Yarn in Tuscany - i had a rogue hank at home that someone had returned). So here's my sample... i think it took about 2 hours total - including "blocking" with Soak. I know the photos are goofy - but we had fun taking them this morning - and that's all that matters. haha.

After knitting my learning sock, i felt ready to embark on a Coralis sock of my own (even though i skipped knitting the Coralis Learning Sock - i know, i know).

So... here's where i am with the Nesting Blue color of the Supersock Select Yarn - and size 0 40" Addi Circular Needles. As Cat suggested (and i'm doing everything she suggests now), i measured doug's foot from all different directions - and have come up with a formula for knitting socks that will fit him. Obviously, i started with the sock on the right, but realized that i better start a 2nd one - or i'll never finish the pair. Once i get the 2nd one to the same length as the first, i'll throw them both on the same needle. I've never knit socks from the toe-up, so i'm pretty excited.

On a 3rd - and final - note, i wanted to say thank you sooo much for all the support with regards to my grandfather. i can't tell you how much it means to me. My flight leaves at 6am tomorrow, so we'll be leaving tomorrow morning at about 3 (the sacramento airport is 1:45 away). The memorial service is Tuesday morning and then i'll return Wednesday night. I'm so thankful to be able to go and visit with a group of people that loved him as much as i did.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I have proof!

It's been a busy week here at Jimmy Beans!

If you call or stop in the shop you'll probably meet our two newest team members. Amanda (well technically she's one of our oldest--she worked here way back in the early days before we even used electronic postage!) and Kristen joined us this week and have brought their talents just in the nick (sp?) of time. With the weather changing and the holidays approaching, we're all doing our best to make sure your needles keep clicking!

Speaking of needles clicking...
No, that's not a picture of some bizarre new knitted outfit for two dimensional yarn gremlins (sorry Amber!) it's proof of my progress so far on the Gayle jacket. Just in case anyone thought I gave up, frogged it, or forgot about it entirely, here it least parts of it! It has been stashed, but not forgotten.

Sometime last week Sandy and I were talking and realized we hadn't knit in at least a week....practically sinful seeing as we work in a yarn shop! So today (Saturday) I made it a point to hunker down and get some serious progress done n the sleeves (yes, that's the Magic Loop you see there...sleeves, two at a time! Who'da thought?!?)

A word of advice though, fellow loopers: plan your cast-on carefully. If I hadn't been doing these on Denise Interchangeables (see the handy black section? That part twists off allowing for a break in the cord) I would have been doomed to frogging at least once. Sure, really it's designed to make the cord length variable...but it saved my butt! Let's just say every time the cable pattern widened, I had to unsnap the cord and move two more stitches onto the right side of my loop (I'm not a fast learner, apparently!). Anyway, if you decide to do cabled sleeves on the Magic Loop, be sure to cast on enough to complete your cable pattern on one needle. Lesson: learned.

On a more personal note--what's a 20-something doing blogging about yarn at 11:20 on a Saturday night? The kind that hastily canceled her cable after the box just about caught the house on fire...but I'm glad I did--we've been waaaay more productive without it. We even managed to clean out the garage enough to in it ;-)


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Legwarmers, Sweaters and what do you want to knit/crochet?

Well, in my last post I talked about my honey and his pending sweater (swatch in progress) and also, teased you all with a peak at my legwarmer project (more in a bit on that). Ok, so Geoff (my honey) came home from a business trip and saw me knitting the legwarmers and FREAKED out for Fair Isle! He is so fickle and now wants to me to knit him a sweater like the warmers. Of course I just gave him the blank knitter's stare that said 'Excuse me, you want what?' I couldn't get him to pick a pattern that he liked and well now I have a problem and when he gets up off the floor I am sure that he will want the Aran Cardigan =} (ok just kidding, there was only a little blood) So as the good little knitter I am, I think I will just have to work on 2 sweaters at once? He does still like the Aran pattern, but is CRAZY for the Fair Isle style. Please Geoff make up your mind!

Ok, ok, idea, how about I knit that beautiful Lana d' Oro up in the Alice Starmore Aran sweater I want to do for myself, hmmmm now that's a terrific solution! So stay tuned on this one, as clearly things may change....

On the legwarmer front I have to frog a bit on the ones for Shelly (my daughter), because she is so tall that I need to add a bit more length. She has fallen completely in love with them though and can't wait to wear them. I better get going, because there is snow in them there hills. I also, am working on a pair for myself in the Greenline yarn. I LOVE Intrigue and Silence, (the one that is in progress on the left of the picture which is the color combo my honey loves so much) and for a little extra something I went stash diving, adding in a bit of Kidsilk Haze and Spray (discontinued, sorry) Wow, what that has done for them is incredible! You can't really see it in this picture, but talk about snugly warm! If you would like to work them up for your selves I used a 2 color pattern from the book Stitchonary 3 by Vogue. Now, I will be getting this pattern ready for all of you out there as a free pattern, but until then go for it yourselves! I know that you can do it!

Now onto how can I inspire you? How about with my Amy's Vintage Office socks? Why I mention this is I was talking to Ashley today and I would love to hear about what you use for inspiration in choosing your projects? Do you gaze out of the window and use natures color palette? Maybe you have a fantastic woven piece that gets your creative juices flowing? You get the idea. So I would like to hear from you if you would like to share with me. Email and put INSPIRATION in the subject line. I will post some of the ideas here next week and hopefully we can all inspire each other. Now, I am off (thanks Laura :) until Sunday, but will reply to your emails as soon as I get back.

As always, I wish you all happy knitting! Jeanne :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sad News... and Taos Thanksgiving.

I know you haven't heard from me lately - heck, you probably forgot who i am (Jimmy) and what my favorite color is (brown). Let me take a second and explain why i've been seemingly MIA for the last few weeks:

1. Vacation in Mexico - 1 week. Doug had food poisoning for the last 1/2 of the trip. I felt fine (though didn't sleep well because someone kept tossing and turning all night... haha - i'm kidding!).

2. A few days after returning, my soon-to-be 91 year old grandpa visited us from Mechanicsburg, PA. Yes, he's 91 and still flying around the country like he's 25. Crazy man - we love him very much and had a wonderful week with him.

3. The following week, doug's sister - and her boyfriend - flew out from Sterling, IL for 5 days. Had a great time!

4. The day after they left, i drove to Sonoma County to attend a 2 day workshop on how to be a better business owner. Whew - i needed that! I learned some great stuff - and am sooo glad to have attended. Got back late Friday night, then had to get the newsletter out - (yeah, that's why it was so late this month - sorry!).

5. a few days after returning from class, my Best Friend/Grandpa (bob) in Fairfax, VA was admitted to the hospital. As you might recall from previous postings, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about 3 years ago. It's just the 2 of us left - and he hasn't been able to use email like he used to, so i've been visiting him every 6 months or so for the last few years.... You can imagine that the news of his hospitalization hit me rather hard. Well, his stay there only lasted about 10 days - he passed away peacefully last Sunday, the 26th. Doug and I will be traveling back to Fairfax/Arlington next monday to participate in a very small memorial service at a friend's house. The pic is one of my very favorites - it's from his William and Mary college yearbook - and helps me to remember how active and absolutely adorable he was. I love you, Grandpa, and will miss you forever.

So... orginally, i was going to post a message about this month's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock color: Taos Thanksgiving. Let's just say that there are tears in my eyes now - and the color of the month seems a little less important. I'm showing it here so you can see it - and i'm supposed to also tell you that we're putting Addi Circular needles on sale at 20% off for the month of November (we're giving thanks), but i really hope that you'll be thinking of my grandpa when you close this page...
He was as close to perfect as they come.