Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy, happy Halloween...

Hi there I am back...just like a bad penny ha ha! I love sharing with you here on our blog, so I was asked to come back and I am raring to go!!

Today is Halloween which made me wonder how many of you out there made your little ones costumes, this or any year? Knitted, crocheted, or sewn, we would love to hear about them!  I used to make all my kids costumes when they were little and I just went digging around in my garage (Ewwww what a junk pile, sigh) looking for my daughters 1st Halloween picture to share with you, but alas it is not to be found easily. I used a string mop head and dyed it orange and dressed her up like Raggedy Ann! I made one for myself and dressed up as Andy, and I have to say it was pretty darn fun! 

So without further adieu, pomp, or circumstance, let me tell you what's new and exciting for me here at JBW!! I am joining the fabric team in earnest and am super, duper thrilled!! I am going to concentrate my efforts on communicating what's new in the sewing world, sharing sewing techniques and new patterns, as well as being more present here on the blog and on our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages.

I know all of you know me as a voracious knitter and that hasn't changed, but since we started carrying fabric I am succumbing to the sirens call of the luscious designs, colors and textures of our I need another love! At any rate whether I need it or not I am in love and am learning so, so much! I am hoping that I can help you learn along with me, as well as get some ideas shooting around here in cyber space!

I want to share with you one of my (of course not completed yet) recent fabric projects and I hope it will inspire you to take a try at something simple. I will post the beginnings of the project and next week give you some shots of the almost finished piece.

Weaving with a Jelly
I saw a fantastic woven rug from a jelly roll and decided to go a bit around the bend and try something bigger, why not right?

I grabbed a Salt Air Cosmo Cricket jelly roll (unfortunately discontinued, but there are lots of other jelly rolls to choose from) and began weaving. Now, I would like to make clear that I have sewn, but never quilted and it's probably been 25 years since I did any sewing in earnest, but I soldiered on!

I did my weaving on the floor and have to say that next time I will use a table, so there's my very 1st tip...weave on a table that can be sacrificed for a couple of days, as you may want to take a break once in a while.

At any rate for now I will leave you with that little teaser, but I promise to give you more next week!

I wanted to share a little spook with you since it is Halloween and I give you one of our newest beans, Penelope as the cutest little Pumpkin ever!!

I will also be posting our 'Journey of a Quilt' project here on the blog, so stay tuned for that adventure!

On a more serious note:

We have spoken with several of our East Coast customers in the last few days and we send our hopes and wishes out to you all who are affected by hurricane Sandy...hang in there and stay safe!

As always, happy knitting, crocheting and sewing!


PS We are currently working on a fabric newsletter and if you would like to sign up to receive that via email shoot us a note at and we will get you on the list. We are hoping for a mid November launch, so hang in there on that front.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Celebration & Pumpkin Carving


Last week we celebrated the coming of fall with a little potluck celebration and pumpkin carving.  Laura and Doug provided the pumpkins and the beans all provided lots of creativity.  We all had a lot of fun, ate some yummy food and there were some excellent pumpkins carved!  I thought you all would enjoy seeing our big happy family having some fun.

It was a family affair which included significant others, kids and grandkids!


Our newest bean sprout Brandon
Cheryl's Grand kids

Nick, Kristen's hubby and Amanda dig in!
Kristen and Bethany's hubby George.

Rachel & Chris
Nicole & CJ
Autumn & Andre
Brooke, Sam, Beth, Jenn, Jenny, Cheryl, Jeanne, & Doug

Bethany & Penne
Sandy, Shevawn, Kevan, Dave (my beau), & Brooke
Jeanne carved the most rockin pumpkin!
Autumn & Andre carved this great raven!

What else would Kristen carve but a ball of yarn & needles?
And of course Nicole & CJ carved Mickey!

George & Bethany carved this scary face...
Which got even scarier after sitting in Bethany's office for a few days!  Eeeewwwww!!!

Jenny, Cheryl, Doug, Jeanne, Laura, Kathy & Brandon, Geoff (Jeanne's hubby), Bethany, Ailene, Penne & Huck! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stitches East Wrap-up!

Yowzer! Stitches East in five days...what a journey! Sandy, Jeanne, Rachel and I arrived back in Reno on Monday, completely exhausted (mostly from the air travel) but full of memories of new friends made and new yarns to covet.

Not only did we have tons of fun meeting some of our lovely east coast customers, but we met lots of lovely new companies that we'll be adding to the wish list, better known as the "Spreadsheet of Dreams". This is our list of products that we'd love to add to our lineup someday when we have room in the budget. Here were our top favorites from Stitches East:

1) Harrisville Yarns

Not only are their yarns beautiful, but they are family owned for several generations and they create the most lovely colors! They also make Jared Flood's Brooklyn Tweed yarns Loft and Shelter so of course we drooled a little bit (ok, a lot) in their booth. All four of us bought skeins of Loft to make Jared's mittens from the Knit Red book. We even cast on while at the show!

Their color display was AMAZING!


2) The Nantucket Diddy Bagg Co.

These little multi-use bags are SO cool! All four of us also bought bags from their booth. We each bought the "Iddy" size which can be zipped up with the pockets on the inside or outside and carries notions, needles and your knitting project. It has a long strap that can be worn across your body like a sling making it easy to walk and knit at the same time. Also, you can unzip the entire thing and wear it as a tool belt. So cool!

These bags are seriously so handy!

3) String Theory

Rachel and I both went a little nuts in this booth. Not only are the yarns totally amazing but their depth of color is simply to die for! We each bought a skein of Caper Sock and Rachel also bought a skein of Alpaca Silk (which isn't on their website, but is definitely gorgeous). I restrained myself a bit as I am technically supposed to be in destash mode right now although I did make a few exceptions for yarns I can't get out west. I am totally head over heels for my skein Caper Sock though, so much so in fact that one night at the show as we were in bed about to turn out the lights, I was holding the skein and gazing at it trying to decide what I would make with it. I actually fell asleep clutching my yarn! I woke up the next morning and the poor skein was tangled in the sheets, still intact, thankfully. Unfortunately, no pictures were captured of this moment of knitter to yarn twitterpation, but we did have a good laugh over it.


4) The Mother Bear Project

Sandy and Jeanne came back to our booth excited about the Mother Bear Project! The Mother Bear Project makes and sends hand knit stuffed teddy bears to children in Africa affected by HIV/AIDS. The project is so lovely and heart warming that we just had to support it! We'll probably be getting more involved in this campaign in the near future, but in the meantime, feel free to see how you can get involved on their website! (Sorry I missed getting a picture of their booth. Jeanne and Sandy assure me that it was darling!)

I was also fascinated by this booth with beautiful hand-crafted boxes. The company is owned by a super nice couple from Tennessee. Their display was stunning and dramatic to say the least, with this gorgeous tower of boxes. I failed to grab their card so I don't remember their name at the moment, however, they will be at Stitches West in February, so I fully intend to post about them then! In the meantime, here are some of their lovely boxes:

Love the stacks in this booth- such a neat display!

 Lastly, I had to show off my recent knitted item. I made this cowl from Malabrigo Book 3 in the Malabrigo Rasta yarn (color "Stitch Red") just in time to wear at Stitches East. It kept me cozy in the chilly convention hall all weekend, plus it was a super fast knit perfect for holiday gifts. In truth, I made three of these last Christmas to give to my sisters-in-law and never bothered to make one for myself. As you can tell, I am so happy I finally did! We sell this as a kit on our site so here is the link if you'd like to check it out.

Roasty toasty and oh so soft!

I hope you all have had a lovely week! I am headed home for a relaxing weekend before traveling to Chicago next week for VK Live! Hope to see you there!

Happy knitting,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Notes from the Road-- STITCHES East!

Hand knits on the move!

Whew! It's been a whirlwind week here at JBW. I am writing to you from my hotel room in Hartford, CT where Jeanne, Sandy, Rachel, and I are representing Jimmy Beans Wool and Stitch Red. So far, we are having a total blast!

We left Reno at 5:40am on Wednesday morning. First, we were to fly to San Francisco where we would catch a connection to Newark, NJ and then on to Hartford. Unfortunately, our flights were scheduled so closely together that we missed our flight in San Fran! :( Not the most awesome start to the day, but we made the best of it. Being knitters, we found ourselves with plenty to do while we waited in the airport for the next flight out. (We each brought at least two projects for the trip. I think I had the most options with 4 projects! Am I crazy? Yes!)
The "Jo's"

Once we were finally on a plane to Chicago, Jeanne and Sandy were super happy all cozy in their seats! They chit chatted away--the two "Jo's" as they like to call themselves (a reference to the Outlander series, apparently it means that they are friends). Those two are like little peas in a pod. :)

In Chicago, with 5 hours to kill until our next flight, we went off in search of some food. Our first real meal all day! Boy were we hungry! Chicago has some legendary food options and the airport was no exception.  We grabbed some italian beef sammies at the amazing Billy Goat Tavern and settled in preparing for awesomeness. In fact, we were so hungry that we didn't even take the time to document how awesome food was. We just scarfed it in a quite unladylike fashion. (Maybe it's good we didn't take photos.)

Rachel's "Carson" Shawl

The rest of our time was spent knitting and hanging out and being silly. I showed the gals the awesome light tunnel at O'Hare International. None of them had seen it before so it was a must see! Rachel finished up her gorgeous Carson Shawl by Romi Hill in Shibui Sock while we waited. Didn't it turn out lovely?!?
Sandy and the Kollage crew!

Finally, exhausted, we made it to Hartford and STITCHES East! Our Stitch Red and Jimmy Beans Wool booths look great and we are having a blast! We even met up with the Kollage team and they hand delivered our beautiful new red square needles. Here they are with Sandy showing them off.

Denise2Go- Stitch Red edition!
Also, we have some adorable limited edition Denise2Go needles just for STITCHES East and Stitch Red! We chose a fun red print fabric by Denyse Schmidt and there are only 46 sets of these special needles. Each of which are labeled and numbered. What a neat STITCHES souvenir. They are so cute, I may have to get one myself!

I'll post a final recap on Monday. If you are anywhere near Hartford, CT this weekend, be sure to stop by and say hello!

Happy knitting,

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dora's Crochet Corner...and the Capitol Knits Giveaway Winner!

Antique Crochet Sampler,
date Unknown

Are you curious about how old crochet is, when it started, and how it spread throughout the world?  If so, you may be disappointed to learn that there is very little reliable information available on these topics.  Why?  Quite simply, because crochet has not been considered a worthy topic of study for scholars. The history of knitting has fared only slightly better. 

Antique Crochet Sampler,
date Unknown
A bibliography of crochet studies doesn't exist, beyond actual pattern books published in Western Europe in the 19th century, beginning in the 1840s.  You can find some of these, available for free download, at  While they are undoubtedly a great resource, they shed light only on crochet from a limited era, and one culture.  

Here to rectify the situation, on behalf of both crochet and knitting, is Karen  Kendrick-Hands, who is chairing a symposium this November, with the purpose of bringing together both experts and enthusiasts. There will be lectures and panels to explore and brainstorm about the possibility of establishing a museum and research center devoted to knitting and crochet history.

"New Stitches" from Ladies
Home Journal, 1906
Kendrick-Hands received a grant from TNNA's Yarn Group to support the symposium, which is also being co-hosted by the Wisconsin Historical Society.  I met Karen last week at a conference of the Textile Society of America in Washington D.C.  She explained to me the immensity of the task of creating such an institution, and also its urgency.  A Knitting and Crochet Heritage Museum will greatly enhance the perception of these needle arts, raising them to the status of legitimate topics of study.  Further, it can be an instrument that assists in evaluating the many neglected and mislabeled heirlooms that currently lurk in many American museums.

Slipped Stitches from
Tajikistan, date Unknown
Just imagine what it would be like if a website existed with examples of historical crochet not only from Western Europe and the US, but from Turkey, Peru, China, Japan, and all the other places where crochet is done.  Imagine as well that each object had been analyzed by experts, and includes a description of the materials used, the techniques and style of the crochet, and its date.  Perhaps there could also be papers exploring the relationships between crocheted objects, showing how techniques have been adapted and changed as they move through different regions and cultures.  And even more exciting, imagine a physical space, somewhere in the US, housing an awesome a collection of beautiful, historic, crocheted objects of craft and art.

Italian Motif book,
Early 20th Century
My favorite fantasy of this kind:  a sweet lady comes to Antiques Roadshow with a lovely blanket that's been in her family for generations.  The appraiser studies it closely, realized it is crochet, and tells her that due to the fine work and condition of the piece, it's worth, far from the usual $10 or 20 such an object might fetch at a flea market, is ten times that amount!  

Think this could never happen?  Have you seen appraisals of 18th century embroidery on that program? Often they are evaluated at many thousands of dollars, because embroidery is a highly respected craft with a well documented history. That makes it collectible, which in turn gives it monetary value.  It's that simple folks!  So, if you care and want to be involved, consider attending the conference, which takes place November 8 - 10, 2012 in Madison Wisconsin. Check out these links for further information.

If you'd like to read more about the history of crochet, here are some links to articles at Crochet insider.

Thanks so much for reading and happy crocheting!

PS. Courtesy of, the winner of Capitol Knits by Tanis Gray is: 

Commenter #15- Debby, who said, "The Lincoln cardi and the Constitution Hall Scarf would be my first choices. The shawls are gorgeous too and I'd probably get to those next. Thanks for the chance to win this wonderful book."

Debby, please shoot me an e-mail with your shipping address and I'll pop the book in the mail to you right away! It's Kristen (at) jimmybeanswool (dot) com. 

Thanks so much to everyone who commented!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tanis Gray- Capitol Knits Book and Giveaway!

The Capitol Shawl, Cover Photo
            We were so thrilled to recently receive a copy of Tanis Gray's "Capitol Knits." We love Tanis' lovely designs in the book (and her other work as well) and thought a guest blog and giveaway would be lots of fun. In light of the upcoming election, it's nice to put politics aside, and focus on the beautiful monuments that make our capitol city such a wonderful place to visit and in Tanis' case, live. Not only that, it reminds us of the rich history that has shaped our country into what it is today. Here is what Tanis had to say about Capitol Knits, designing, and living in our nations capitol:

           JBW- Can you give us a super quick (2-3 sentences) description of Capitol Knits for our readers who might be new to you and your work?

The Capitol Shawl, full view

          Tanis- Capitol Knits is inspired by the 
          city I live in, the nation’s capital, Washington, 
          DC. There is so much history and inspiration 
          here and it’s like living in a history book. I 
          wanted to combine my love for knitting and 
          my love of this city into a collection of 
          patterns, historical facts, interesting tidbits 
          and beautiful photos.

            JBW- You give a great description of how your love for Washington DC inspired you to create this book in the forward, can you re-cap that for us here?

            Tanis- It’s impossible to not be inspired by DC. The incredible architecture, what goes on here day-to-day, the people, the art, the foliage and the museums… It’s all part of our country’s beating heart and I’m lucky to have that be my backyard.

            JBW- Do you have a favorite design (or designs) from the book that you’d like to highlight for us?  What makes this design(s) your favorite?

The Lincoln Cardigan
           Tanis- I love the Lincoln Cardigan. Cables, lace, ¾ sleeves and top-down cardi construction are some of my favorite elements in a sweater. The Lincoln Monument is a favorite of many and where it’s situated, the history of both the building and what happened there is breathtaking. It’s also very special to me because that was the last thing I shot for the book. My model and I were up at 4:30am, trekking through the darkness to be there for sunrise, lugging cameras, knitting and clothes, freezing. We had it to ourselves and it was magical. It’s always so crowded and you could hear a pin drop when we were there. We stood on the same spot where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech and soaked up the history, the silence and what we had accomplished together in making this book. My model is a good friend of mine and having her there on the journey with me made it even more special. It was one of those mornings I’ll remember forever.
Lincoln Cardi, back view

           JBW- According to your blog, it seems you’ve been 
           working in the knitting industry for quite a while. How did 
           you find your way into this industry?

           Tanis- It was a pretty crooked path. I went to RISD and 
           majored in Film, Animation and video. I had always had the
           goal of working for Pixar, but life can be funny and pull the 
           rug out from under you. I’d always been very crafty and got 
           a job freelancing for Martha Stewart and animation for 
           HBO’s Family Channel. I moved to New York City, began working in film and television in the art department, met 
            my husband and decided that leaving for work at 5am and getting home at midnight was not sustainable. I got the 
            job for Yarn Editor at Vogue Knitting, worked there for 4 
           years until my husband took his dream job in Washington, 
           DC and now here we are.

Constitution Hall Scarf
           JBW- What made you want to start designing knitting patterns?

           Tanis- My mom taught me how to knit when I was 8. I got very into knitting mittens and everyone I ever knew got at least 1 pair from me. We refer to this as my “mitten period.” Eventually, I learned how to tweak a pattern, make my own designs and knit exactly what I wanted. It was empowering. When I started at Vogue Knitting, my boss, Trisha Malcolm, encouraged me to design my first sweater and the rest is history.

           JBW- As a designer and author do you have any advice for those folks out there who are just starting to design on how to make a living doing what they love?

           Tanis- It’s a tough industry. The arts have always been under-appreciated and sometimes the submission process can leave you wondering if you should give up. I always tell people that your design wasn’t rejected because it was bad, it may not have fit into the story the Editors are trying to tell, or the technique wasn’t what they were looking for. You have to keep going, keep trying, keep learning, and keep exploring. I still take classes in knitting every now and then because you never know what you’ll learn. I think once you lose you thirst for knowledge; you simply cannot grow any longer as a designer and person. 
E Pluribus Unum Cowl

           JBW- Have you ever had a celebrity moment as a 
           designer? What was that like? (Or, if not, have you seen 
           your designs being worn on the street randomly? Tell us 
           about it.)

           Tanis- I’ve seen my designs on both the streets of New 
           York and DC on random people and knitted up in shops 
           as shop samples. Anthropologie is famous for knocking 
           off knitwear designs and they’ve “borrowed” a few of my 
            pieces. I really like when people do KAL (knit-a-longs) 
            with my designs because that’s what makes crafting wonderful. Knitting together with your friends in a group, chatting and stitching, all working on the same project 
            either together or online. Crafting is a global community 

           JBW- What is next on the horizon for you as a designer?

           Tanis- I have a few books up my sleeve coming down the pipeline and I’ll continue to do the social media for a few yarn companies and freelance for the knitting magazines and books. The knitting world is so small and I love being part of it and watching what’s coming up. I also want to get knitting needles in my son’s hands as soon as he is able.

Library of Congress Hat
           JBW- Do you have any fun “behind-the-scenes” photos we could use for the blog post?  

            Tanis- I live in a tiny apartment in the city with a husband, son and pug. My “studio” is any available space! No photos!

           JBW- And now for the lightening round! Where did you grow up?

           Tanis Gray-I grew up south east of Boston in a tiny little town called Norwell, right near the ocean and on the North River.

           JBW- What time do you start work?

National Gallery Shawl
           Tanis Gray- I have a toddler, so we’re pretty 
           much up with the sunrise and the day 
           begins. The second he’s down for a nap I 
           sit down and get as much work done as possible. The same goes for when it’s his bedtime and I get most of my work done at night.

           JBW- Tell us about your previous life—you 
           know, before knitting…

            Tanis Gray- I worked at Martha Stewart 
            briefly before she went to jail, then did 
            some animation for HBO Family and found my way to film and commercials working in the art department. That was fun but the hours are brutal and it’s very much a man’s world.

Summerhouse Hat and Mitts
           JBW- What is your favorite non-knitting hobby?

           Tanis Gray- I love sewing and aspire to be great at it. Maybe someday! I also really enjoy cooking.

           JBW- A little known fact about you?

           Tanis Gray- I have had a sleeping disorder my entire life. People always ask me how I manage to get so much done, especially with a little one running around, but when you don’t need much sleep, it’s amazing what you can accomplish!

           JBW- Your favorite book?

           Tanis Gray- I love The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. It’s one of those books that you either love it or hate it.

           JBW- Biggest accomplishment?

           Tanis Gray- Being a mom was always something I had dreamed and hoped for. It’s even better than I could have possibly imagined.

           Thank you so much to Tanis for the interview! Be sure to check out her knitting adventures via the following social media outlets:

           Ravelry Page:
           Facebook Page:
           Twitter Feed: 

           If you would like to win a copy of Capitol Knits, please leave a comment on this post telling us what project from the book you would knit first. I'll choose a winner at random and announce it in this coming Friday's Blog post. Good luck!

           Hope you all are having a great week!

           PS. I apologize for the wonky formatting of this post. Blogger just changed their formatting and it's a mind-boggling learning curve. Hopefully all will return to normal soon! Thanks for your patience! :)