Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow, knitting and more snow...

We have had some more snow down here in our little valley nestled below the Sierra Nevada mountains. My son measured it Sunday morning and it topped off at 18 inches and the schools here were delayed 2 hours on Monday.

Of course it is always funny that Incline Village (lake tahoe) is never closed due to snow, so it just makes me think we are a bunch of sissies down here in the valley, ha ha! At any rate this was the nicest weekend here at my house and it included the snow, the Olympics, knitting and family! How much better can it get??

Sandy and I have started the Hydrangea socks from Janel Laidman's book The Eclectic Sole, but it took me a little bit to find the right yarn for this one. I finally settled on the new Hand Maiden Merino 2/6 yarn and WOW is what I have to say about this yarn! It is so beautiful and I chose the color Fleur for my sock, which is making me giddy as I work it up.

I have also finally gotten the pattern together for the Let's Cha Cha scarf that you have all been asking me for, sorry to have taken so long, blush, blush!

I made it a free pattern from 2 Askew Designs and hope you all enjoy it! We also filmed a how to video on the Cha Cha by Trendsetter in case you need a little bit of help.

Of course the count down for our final push to leave for Stitches West starts today, but I think we will have a great show with all the planning that has been put into it. We are getting excited to get moving and hope to see you all there! We will have new products, samples, kits, yarn, bags, and of course fun waiting for you!!

As always happy knitting and crocheting! Jeanne

Red Fox


We recently started carrying Fleece Artist yarns, and Sarah, Terry and I are all in love with the color "Red Fox" which is available in Merino 2/6 and Sea Wool. This image does not give the color justice. In person its earthy olive green and carnelian-orange positively glow. So striking, so beautiful, and I'm not a huge fan of earth tones, so this is a testament to the power of this magnificent color.

It reminds me of a bright orange fox in a lush forest. A year or two ago I painted a fox, and used an earthy olive green to complement her red fur. When I first saw "Red Fox" I was immediately reminded of my color palette for this painting.

Anyway, "Red Fox" is a gorgeous colorway and I'm going to have to buy some.

- Amerique

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Games have begun!

It has been a very busy week with all the packing for Stitches that Amerique and Jeanne have mentioned but also because the Ravelympics have started. What are the Ravelympics? you ask. Well it's something that has evolved as knitters have sat watching the Olympic games. The Yarnharlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, initiated the Knitting Olympics a few years ago so it is an natural extension with the popularity of Ravelry that members would want to get together and participate in the games. So as the brainchild of a few ravelers with way too much to do already the Ravelympics were born. This is the second year for the games on Ravelry and this year Jimmy Beans has a team. Team Jimmy Beans and I volunteered to be the team captain.

Despite being hopelessly overcommitted already and trying to help keep the retail area running normally while near chaos has reigned behind the black curtain with all the packing I've managed to get two projects started for the games.

For Team Jimmy Beans and the eventplatter event (an event for items made for the home) I've started a rag bath mat for my new apartment. It's made from strips of white sheets and knit on #15 addi turbo following the directions for log cabin rugs found in Mason-Dixon Knitting The Curious Knitter's Guide. This is a real physical workout to knit so progress is slow. I'm not sure I'm happy with my results so far and have contemplated starting over and changing to #17 or #19 needles. Although I do like the texture and think it will be cool to stand on just out of the shower. We shall see how it goes.

For Team Hopelessly Overcommitted, of which I'm a team member, I've entered the laceluge event for which I've started a modified Garden Shawl from Evelyn Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles using Noro Aya in color 12 on #8 Crystal Palace bamboo needles. I'm very pleased with how this is coming out. Aya is really soft. It's 50% cotton 35% silk and 15% wool so will be a great spring shawl. I love the color changes of the yarn so far.

So, what are you working on for the games? We want to see! Make sure you get photos up on Ravelry or bring your projects into the shop or to Stitches for show and tell. We love seeing how creative you all are!

Have fun and play fair.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Packing and monsters.....

Well like Amerique mentioned we are packing for our trek to Stitches West 2010 and we can barely move around all the boxes waiting to be shipped. My son Chris has even jumped in and given us a hand getting yarns priced and packed, phew!

We are taking Iris the Gourmet Monster with us and she comes in a great kit!! She is made from Lorna's Laces Revelation yarn and here you can see Sharon and Sara fighting over who gets to hug her, come on ladies play nice!! Ha ha!

Well for now I have to get back to packing more yarn for this trip and as always, wish you happy knitting & crocheting!!! Jeanne

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy!


We are super busy here at Jimmy Beans! We have tons of new stuff, and we are all getting ready for Stitches West 2010. Somehow, though, we still manage to have fun, probably because we are all incredibly silly. There is always someone singing a made up song, or telling a corny joke. And its hilarious.

Because of my busy school schedule, I have not had time to work on Tin Tin's cat bed since our knit night a couple of weeks ago, but some of our new yarn has me scheming even though I don't have time for more projects. Qina by Mirasol is a luxurious alpaca bamboo blend in jewel -like colors. If I were a sweater maker I would make a sweater out of this. It is so soft, and has the coolest sheen.

Happy Valentines Day,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

As Amerique and Jeanne have mentioned, our team had our first (well, since I've been here) knit-night and, thanks to Jeanne and Sandy, I now know how to knit! Seeing so many different and delightful patterns floating around this store, I've been wanting to expand my basic fiber-twistin' knowledge for some time now since, unfortunately, there aren't too many crochet ones out there for us homely "hookers". To my surprise, our shipment of new Rowan books and yarn came in the very next day and one book specifically was just calling me right back to the one handed hook art.
I always flip through the pages of new books that I check in-you know, to be familiar with the product and all (at least that's what we'll tell Laura...)-and when I opened up Rowan's new summer patten book: "Summer Crochet" I almost wanted to walk out of work right then and there to go home to start the projects right away (let's not tell Laura about that one either)!! In my months of being here, I don't think I've ever looked through a pattern book and wanted to do every pattern in it, too. Sandy and I have already picked out our projects and I just can't wait to make these absolutely stunning summer outfits. I've actually never made anything bigger than a scarf or a hat but these gorgeous patterns gave me the extra push to start planning my course of action and get over my "big-project" anxiety. Besides, just the thought of summer almost makes me as warm as any hand-knit scarf or hat (I said almost!).

I have to admit that there is another reason why I love this book, as well as the new Rowan Knitting Magazine (#47) that also arrived, and that is the fit of nostalgia that settled upon me the moment I set eyes on where the photo shoots were held for both books (reading the newsletter that just came out, I guess there is a lot of that going around). :) For their summer collection, Rowan decided to photograph their fiber magic in the Mediterranean island of Malta, a place I had the immense pleasure of visiting three summers ago for a cultural anthropology field school that I attended for a month. It was like a big Mediterranean breeze wafted in through our frost-covered windows (okay...maybe they're aren't frost covered but they might as well be!) to conjure up for me once again all of the sights, smells, and-best of all-colors that this small but stunning country has to offer. Looking through each carefully crafted crocheted piece and admiring the beautiful colors that each piece offered in and of itself and also in contrast to the landscape, I got to thinking about color-the one thing I think it's safe to assume that all of us fiber extraordinaires love.

So, after work, I decided to indulge in my nostalgic trip down memory lane and look through old pictures of my visit to Malta. I quickly came to the conclusion that Malta was quite possibly the spark that ignited my ever-growing infatuation with color. At first glance, Malta doesn't seem like a very colorful country (especially in comparison to the last country I traveled in, India, which I have now deemed as the empress of bright colors). The limestone buildings blend in with the muted browns of the dry landscape, creating an enduring look of aridness and dreariness. But, if you take the time to look closer, you'll find the beauty that is inherent in the landscape (and why I think Rowan chose this place to show off their spring/summer line): how the cerulean sky (the kind of blue that Goethe called the "enchanted nothingness"-if I ever designed a yarn color, that would be its name) stands out against the fierce browns of the landscape and how the certain style of Mediterranean cultures involves splashing the doors of houses and sterns of boats with the brightest colors imaginable. If you visit Malta in the summertime, it is the season of "festas" which are religious festivals honoring different patron saints. It is also when all the towns and villages decorate their streets, churches, and houses with lights-making everything even more brimming with color and light, like this:

I also have to mention that most of the patterns in the Summer Crochet book are lace-like garments which seem to reflect an important aspect of Maltese culture: Maltese lace! I don't want to go into it too much as I feel like I've been too verbose already..but here are some pictures to demonstrate how the Maltese make lace!

Now, you may be asking at this point: "well, that sounds great and everything but what does this all have to do with knitting?" which I must emphatically reply, "Everything!" I believe that color is intricately tied to culture and thereby who we are (I also believe knitting is a direct expression of both of these). It is how we express not only our personality and our tastes (likes and dislikes), but where we come from and who we are. I think one of my favorite authors, Ellen Meloy, summarized brilliantly what I'm trying to say in her book Anthropology of Turquoise:

"Intoxication with color, sometimes subliminal, often fierce, may express itself as a profound attachment to landscape. It has been rightly said: Color is the first principle of place."

Pulling and shipping orders, I see a lot of yarn go through here everyday and, considering this post, I now have to wonder: What do these color choices say about you-the wonderfully creative people who order them? Do certain colors just reach out to you, reflecting or perhaps reinvigorating a personal attachment for a certain place, person, or even animal (Lorna's Laces' "My Favorite Fellas" being a great example)? Why are we attracted to certain colors and shades and not others? Does my fascination with different combinations of pale blues, pinks, and purples originate from the fact that I live in the desert and see (and love) those colors every day? All valid questions to consider but, for now, I must urge you to try to think about the colors that surround yourself and perhaps recreate a piece that accurately reflects your beloved landscape and home.

Well, I have picked my first project from this book which is coincidentally named, "Gozo", the
tinier island off of Malta which is where I spent the bulk of my time. It is a poncho (shown to the left) and, with the help of Sandy (and her seemingly infinite knitting wisdom and patience), I have chosen to substitute the Cotton Glace with Rowan's Cotton Jeans. Not only is it on sale, but the combinations of tans and browns-for me, at least-reflect the landscape of Malta, as well as the desert that surrounds Reno. It reminds me of the jagged limestone carvings of Malta, while in the same vein, it hearkens back to the sagebrush and creosote bushes of my enchanted desert home! All in all, philosophical rambling aside, I can't wait to get started on this project!

Well, thanks for reading these silly ramblings!
And, as always, Happy knitting (and crocheting!!!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Over the top with new stuff!!

So I know I am harping on all the new stuff, but I just can't keep up!!! On Friday I added the Namaste Monroe bag AND Namaste Wallet to my collection and now I know you are gonna say, Jeanne, you really don't need another bag, but it is sooooooooo wonderful!! I got them both in red and just feel like a million bucks for sure!!

Then I hung out with my knitting buddies, Sandy & Barbara on Sunday and well we are ALL going to knit up the 'Blithe' sweater from the new Rowan Magazine, #47 on page 97. They both have stash Rowan Summer Tweed yarn for the project, but alas, I don't have anything in my stash to use for this one (the sweater does call for the Summer Tweed).

We discussed it, searched the site, discussed it some more and since I bought the bag I have to watch my pennies, BUT I want to get going, so I chose the Berroco Weekend yarn for the project. Of course I am going to knit a gauge swatch and make sure it will substitute in ok, but I am pretty confident about this one. I chose the color Dusk, #5935 and am excited to work this one up. The yarn is an acrylic/cotton blend and is super, super soft! I am in love with the color and the sweater too, so how can I go wrong?

I also, saw that Amerique had blogged about the new Be Sweet yarns and the diagonal wrap that we had in the shop for just a couple of days (Terry wore it all day the one day).

Here is my Diagonal Striped Shawl that I am knitting up out of the Extra Fine Mohair yarn and yummy is the perfect word for this project. Since this picture was taken I am on my 3rd sequence of stripes and am hoping to be done soon. This is a really fun knit because the yarn is fabulous and the pattern is so simple I am able to pick it up and put it down anytime.

Ok so I better pick it up and get a couple more rows done and I can move on to my sweater. Of course I could just knit a little of both of them at once. I wonder.....

As always happy knitting & crocheting!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Be Sweet


I am so happy to report that Jimmy Beans is carrying products by Be Sweet, "a company with a conscious" - read this. I am really excited about our new Be Sweet Bambino Taffy Sweetie Pie Hat kit. At only eleven bucks, it is very affordable, and most importantly, it is super cute all knit up!! How cute is this hat?!!! I wish I had a baby to make it for . . . well there's always other people's babies I guess.

I also love Be Sweet's Extra Fine Mohair. Historically, I have not been a big fan of boucle, but this stuff is so bouncy and soft and gorgeous that I have made an exception to my rule. And the colors are AWESOME!!! We got a sample knit striped shawl sent to us last week, and Terry wore it around the store all day. I couldn't blame her - it is irresistible. Customers were fawning over it, demanding the yarn and pattern!! The great thing about this gorgeous yarn is that the simplest stockinette or garter stitch piece looks fancy and fabulous. That's the power of great yarn, I think.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Great news!

Jimmy Beans is now carrying every single color of Cascade 220! I can't tell you how excited I am! I love Cascade 220! It is my go to yarn for all kinds of projects. It's 220 yds of 100% Peruvian Highland wool, worsted weight, comes in 251 colors including heathers and marls, knits up beautifully and felts like a dream. I often recommend it to my knitting students as a first yarn because it's so easy to work with, doesn't split easily and is very economical at only $7.00 a skein. It is a reliable felting yarn giving reliably consistent results and doesn't get too fuzzy.

We are also carrying a couple of new Cascade yarns in all the available colors, 128 Superwash and Ultra Pima.

128 Superwash is 100% superwash bulky merino yarn at 3.5 stitches = 1", comes in 42 lovely colors and of course has 128 yds per 100gr skein. Machine wash, tumble dry cool.

Ultra Pima is 100% pima cotton, 220 yds per 100gr. skein, dk weight at 5.5-6 stitches = 1" on US 5-6 needles and comes in 53 vibrant colors with a silky sheen. Machine wash, tumble dry cool. And best of all a great value at $9.50. This will make lovely summer weight clothes. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

We're working on getting pictures up on the site as quickly as possible so please be patient. If you really must see the colors now, Cascade has the color cards on their site.

And now a little fun. Here's Jeanne at her birthday party.

As always, wishing the best for you and your projects. Let us know how we can help!


Monday, February 1, 2010

Knitting, crocheting and teaching....

Well as Amerique said we had a special Beans only knit afternoon at the shop on Sunday and boy was it fun!!! Greg is now officially a knitter as is Jen his great girlfriend!

Shevawn is now knitting (a refresher course) a cowl out of the Lorna's Laces Swirl Chunky and she remembered her first knitting lesson and was off and running with very little coaching from yours truly.

It was fun to see how many different ways there are to teach the same technique, as I do my long tail cast on differently than Sandy and was able to help Greg with his stitches, but Sandy had to coach him on the cast on, as she had initially taught him and I was lost.

Then Terry said I wonder how many ways there are to cast on and I counted up 9, but I know that there are probably many more and it's just gets me excited knowing that there is so much to learn and one will never know all there is about knitting. I don't think I could ever get bored with this art knowing there is something new to learn around every stitch.

I don't know about you, but I love to learn something new and if you haven't checked out our instructional section of the site I hope you will. We have put together articles and videos to help you learn new things, so if you ever have something you want us to teach you just let us know and we will put it on the list.

It was fun getting to know some of our newest beans like Sharon who was crocheting like a fiend. The hook was on fire and clearly she is the one to go to for crochet questions. She is using Tahki Cotton Classic to crochet some coasters and they are going to be awesome!

Here is Amerique's cat bed that she mentioned in her post and I can't wait to see a picture of Tin Tin sleeping in it!

All in all a good time was had by all and these little beans got to do what we love to do best, knit & crochet!

Happy knitting & crocheting to you all!!