Archives from April 2008

Movin’ and Shakin’ …. or not

Photo: Sheri Berger
Friday, April 18th, 2008 in Sheri's Recipes

DSC01698.JPGHere is the total damage done at Loopy Ewe Central by the earthquake at 4:36 a.m. We found a needle that had slipped from it’s package on a peg, and was laying on the floor. Yikes. Think this is a matter for the insurance agency? We’re considering it. In the meantime, did anyone else here in the midwest feel the quake? We have a major fault line running right through St. Louis, but it’s normally pretty boring. I think we have had 2 tremors in the last 20 years. (Tremors, where you say, “What was that? Did a truck just drive down the street?”) The one this morning was a 5.2 and things were definitely shaking. Besides a few aftershocks, that will probably be it for another twenty years.

DSC01699.JPGWe have an Adopted Elf today! Keri (Kyrana on Ravelry) lives about 90 miles away and is coming to the Spring Fling next weekend. She called yesterday and said that for one of her Random Acts of Kindness this month, she wanted to offer to drive in and help us for the afternoon because she figured we were “probably going crazy right about now, trying to get everything ready.” How fun is that? She’s doing a top notch job of unpacking t-shirts and folding them up all nice and neat. (And she brought me one of her wonderful bags – woohoo! I’ll have to photo that next week for you.) How is everyone coming along on our April Blog Contest? The contest is to do 3 random acts of kindness for the month, and then we’ll have Reporting Day on Wednesday, April 30th. I hope you’re looking for great opportunities to help others this month.

This week’s recipe is another one that we enjoyed on vacation. It’s a gray, rainy day here today and supposed to get cooler, so soup sounds like a good dinner to me right now. This is thick and delicious – just add some fresh bread and a good salad and you have a great meal.

DSC01647.JPGCheese and Broccoli Soup

3 carrots, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 stick margarine
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans cream of potato soup
1 1/2 lbs Velveeta Cheese
2 boxes frozen chopped broccoli
sour cream (optional)

Saute finely chopped carrots, celery and onion in margarine. Add chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Add broccoli, potato soup and Velveeta cheese. Simmer 10-15 minutes, or until broccoli is cooked through and cheese is melted. Garnish with sour cream if desired.

Good news – they called to say our Noro Sock order has shipped! As you know, we have been waiting for a long time. (And yes, we do have another order in already.) We hope to have that within days. We also have Boye DPN’s going up soon, as well as Pattern Tamers – did you see those reviewed in the latest issue of Knitty? Great magnetic strips for keeping track of where you are on your pattern (but made to look cute!). What else? Numma Numma’s BabyBoo, Chameleon Colorworks, more Schaefer, more Casbah, more Duets, and some Black BFL roving that has me totally addicted.

DSC01697.JPGWant to know how many steps the average Loopy Elf (oh – none of them are average – they’re all amazing. But you know what I mean) takes on a post Sneak Up day? Donna (one of our newest Elves) wanted to find out, so she came to work with a pedometer on Wednesday. During her day, she pulled orders for 4 hours (so that involves walking around) and she packed orders for 2.5 hours (which means she was mostly standing still while others did the pulling and walking around). She racked up 4110 steps that day. How about that? A fun job with yarn, and exercise too. Life is good.

Sheri whoseofficeisover-runwithspringflinggoodybagcontentsatthemoment

Q2-08 – It’s all about someone else

Photo: Sheri Berger
Wednesday, April 16th, 2008 in Loopy Challenges, Shop News

DSC01689.JPGIt’s time for the 2nd Quarter Loopy Ewe Challenge! Last year, our second quarter was all about knitting for someone else, and this year we’re doing something similar. Melissa has been talking about knitting socks for those dealing with illnesses and cancer, and how comforting it is to have a pair of handknit socks on when you’re sitting there going through various medical treatments. (Join her Power Socks group on Ravelry!) Others of you have wonderful Prayer Shawl groups going on, knitting shawls (and knitting your prayers right in there) for friends and family who are going through tough times. We like doing things for others here at Loopy Central, so we’d like to focus this quarter’s challenge along those lines. Knit something (socks, shawl, scarf, sweater – whatever fits the person and occasion) for someone who needs some extra love in their life. It can be someone you know well, or someone who would be completely blown away by your generosity and kindness. We’ll let you figure out the proper recipient. (And if you really don’t know someone who might need this, you can send your item to us and we’ll find someone who would love it.) This Quarterly Challenge goes through the end of June, and all photos should be up in the Photo Gallery by July 7th. As usual, there will be a drawing for a Gift Certificate to TLE from all participating photos, as well as a “Knitter’s Choice” award, based on voting. We hope that you’re inspired to do something wonderful for someone who will be blessed by your efforts!

Speaking of prizes, we also need to vote on the Q1-08 award! Check out the Gallery and email Susan-the-awesome-assistant (susanATtheloopyeweDOTcom) with your vote for favorite project. I’ll announce the Knitter’s Choice winner and the random drawing winner a week from today. The Challenge first quarter was to knit something you had never knit up before (or to try a new technique). I always love seeing how people come up with things for our challenges. I will show you what I did for the Challenge after the Spring Fling. :-)

DSC01692.JPGI know a lot of you already caught the Sneak Up last night, because we’re busy wrapping wrapping wrapping today! But just in case you haven’t found it yet, make sure you check out: Numma Numma Toasty, Lime & Violet Mermaid, Yarn Nerd, Fleece Artist Merino 2/6, Lorna’s Laces Fiber, Lawre’s Laine BabyBags & NeedleBooks, The Tabletop Caddy, Loopy Legends, Zen String Bellissima Lace, and our Loopy-Red Water Bottles! Also – here’s a sneak peak at what else has arrived over the last two weeks – the sweatshirts, t-shirts and hats that you’ve been asking for with Loopy on them. These will go up the week after next, we think. The shirts and sweatshirts are available in S – 3X. (I tried to take the hat off of Loopy when this mini-photo-shoot was over. He won’t give it back. FPS.)

Sheri alsogotsomenewcoolfiberintoday&itmakesmewanttogohometospin

Allen from Numma Numma in The Loopy Limelight

Photo: Sheri Berger
Monday, April 14th, 2008 in Loopy Limelight

IMG_0021Today we wanted to introduce you to Allen, the creative force behind Numma Numma! (Psst – we have more of her beautiful yarn going up sometime this week, along with more of Adam’s yarn from last week’s Limelight – yay!) I hope you enjoy reading more about Allen and her business.

Loopy: Hi Allen! It’s nice to have you with us today. We’ll start with the basics – How long have you been a knitter and who taught you?
Allen: Hi Loopy! I’ve been a knitter for almost 30 years now. My great-grandmother taught me when I was nine. I was totally bored one summer, and she was making this giant afghan on a circular needle. (In my child mind it was giant, anyway – probably, in reality it was just a throw.) She told me something about idle hands (in German – don’t remember what it was) and taught me how to cast on. I knit a belt out of this awful rust-colored acrylic (it was the 70s, so it was fashionable) and wore it all the time.

Loopy: It’s nice that you were able to make something that you actually wanted to wear when you were done. Do you have a favorite thing that you like to knit?
Allen: Probably socks and kid’s stuff for my girls. I love larger projects too, but I suffer from project start-itis and need to finish things in a reasonable amount of time or they are toast – into the UFO pile for who knows how long. In fact for the DC KAL, I chose a vest – because I know me and, well, I want to finish…

Loopy: We know nothing about Start-itis around here. (Umm – have you seen the display of single socks that the Loopy Lady has here? Jeesh.) What’s the most difficult project that you have attempted so far?
Allen: Knitting-wise probably lace in general. Only because it takes so much concentration and focused attention – which I never have with 3 girls who are 7 and under. In fact, right now the 2-year-old, Ruby, is hanging on my leg saying “Hi, Mommy” while she unpacks my desk – so I hope my answers are actually coherent.

IMG_0080Loopy: Well so far I understand everything you’re saying, so you must be good at multi-tasking! What made you look into dyeing your own yarn, and how did you learn how to do that?
Allen: I started dyeing my own yarn to develop colorways that would be favorites for me and my girls. The first colorways that became toasty flavors were fig preserves (my favorite), georgia peach (my Claudia’s favorite – the 7 year old), grape jam (for my Stella, who’s 4), and strawberry jam (for my Ruby who’s 2). All of those colors still have sentimental significance for me. I learned by trial and error and from friends. There are actually several excellent local dyers in the area who are generous enough to share their knowledge, and there are great opportunities for dye classes – here in Atlanta we have the only LYS with a dye studio. Makes for some fun learning times. I am pretty analytical – so the science of it is interesting to me – it really took practice and patience and lots of notes. I have notebooks full of dye samples, and I am constantly trying to improve my work.

Loopy: Can you tell us what else you do, in addition to your yarn dyeing business? Do you have another job as well?
Allen: I am a mom. And wow is that a second job! Who knew that vocation was so demanding and rewarding all at once… When I became pregnant with my first Claudia, I was actually in New York City working on my PhD in management at NYU’s Stern School of Business. Studying organizational behavior. Considering the strategy of games in decision making. Analyzing entrepreneurship and trying to figure out what sparks it. Recently I caught up with my major professor from Stern. We laughed about the fact that I could be the subject of entrepreneurial study now, and I told him that motherhood required more strategic thinking than anything I was required to do at Stern. All that said, I am totally happy with my choices. I am here for my girls as they grow, and they will have a childhood filled with memories of handcrafts and fiber art – what could be better. My studio (which has just undergone renovation and is finally complete – yay!) is in my basement, and my girls have their own play area. It just works, and I am so thankful for this life.

IMG_2423Loopy: The new studio looks fun! How do you come up with your colorways? Do you have a personal favorite?
Allen: Well, I steal the colors. Really, I do. Right out of nature. All of the toasty flavors are toasty toppings – so I think about the colors of the finished product as well as the fruits and vegetables, etc that go into those products. Then I pull out my “color books” – books full of small, dyed samples and go to work. All of the babyBOO colors are baby food flavors, and I follow the same creative process. Saucy is sauces and saucy things. Spicy (my laceweight which is currently in development) is all spicy foods and spicy things. Texas toasty (my dk merino – currently in development) is all tex-mex flavors. This is the most fun part of my job, and the creative process always makes me so grateful to live in a world created in these brilliant colors. Personal favorite, this is tough because I really like them all for different reasons – but if forced to choose, I would probably say that my personal favorite is Elvis. Just because it is so puzzling to people. Elvis is named for Elvis’ favorite sandwich – peanut butter and banana on white bread with a bit of honey, fried or grilled. So the flavor is manifest in brown, black, soft yellow, white, gold and deep ochre.

Loopy: Mmm – now I might need an Elvis Sandwich for my dinner. There are a lot of dyers out there these days – how do you stay fresh and unique in what you do?
Allen: Wow, good question, Loopy. I am particular about my base yarns, and I am always asking my mills to spin new stuff. I am always auditioning new yarns. Always experimenting with technique and color. Always listening to opinions from test knitters as well as the knitting community and constantly tweaking and improving my craft.

Loopy: Ok, besides knitting and dyeing, do you have other hobbies or interests?
Allen: I love to spin – that’s a new love. My dear husband got me a wheel from Christmas this year. I love to read. I love paper crafts. I love to play with my kids. I love to talk and eat – are those hobbies? Maybe just interests.

Loopy: And do you have a favorite book/movie recommendation?
Allen: I am such a goober when it comes to movies. I watch tons of documentaries – the latest one that I really liked is Protagonist. As far as movies I can watch over and over – Gone With the Wind, My Fair Lady, Baby Boom (because my Ruby looks just like the baby in the movie), and (my husband would say) anything with Matthew McConaughey – but that’s not really true most of his movies are, well, silly. I am a MUCH bigger fan of Alan Rickman. I am a total book worm and will read anything you put in my hands. I really enjoyed reading the entire Harry Potter series (twice – I warned you I was a goober). I also love Waiting by Ha Jin (a writer who lives here in Atlanta and is an Emory professor) – actually I have loved all of his novels and stories, but this one was my favorite. It makes you think about wishing and waiting and time and what you really want in life. And I am a southern girl, through and through, so I have to give a shout out to my favorite southern trio – the late great Ms. Eudora Welty (I have my own Stella-Rondo – named for my grandmother and nick-named thanks to “Why I Live at the P.O.”), Clyde Egerton, and Michael Malone. In the reading cue right now are Three Cups of Tea (Greg Mortenson) and The Ten-Year Nap (Meg Wolitzer). At least one of those will probably come to the fling with me.

Loopy: Lots of good recommendations! Anything else you’d like to add?
Allen: Maybe you shouldn’t ask me that, Loopy. As you can see, I am a bit of a talker. Perhaps I should just close by saying that I have really enjoyed our chat, Loopy. I am honored to be in the Limelight, and I can’t wait to meet you and that fantastic Loopy Lady in person in just a little over a week at the Spring Fling.

Loopy: We can’t wait to have you here!

Sheri thepostmanjustrolledhiseyeswhenhewalkedintodayandsawalloftheboxesgoingout.
Ithinkwe’restretchinghim.It’sallgood. :-)

Good News, Bad News Friday

Photo: Sheri Berger
Friday, April 11th, 2008 in Bad New/Good News

DSC01682.JPGGood News: Spring has been springing up all week long. The trees are blooming, the daffodils are up, and the weather has been warm.

Bad News: My summertime body has not arrived yet. I keep waiting for it to show up. What is the holdup? It’s a good thing that it is supposed to snow flurry tomorrow. I have the winter body down pat. (I think I’ll eat a cookie.)

Good News: The Spring Fling is only two weeks away – can you believe it? We’re slowly but surely getting ready for all of you.

Bad News: Well, it’s not ALL of you, by any means. But we wish you could all come!

DSC01680.JPGGood News: Took both cats to the vet yesterday and both are healthy. I was sure they’d tell me that Gracie was too fat had her winter body on and needed to exercise more. She’s a mere 10 lbs and in perfect health. (Zoe is a petite 6 lbs, 4 oz – no wonder Gracie seems so big to me.)

Bad News: The vet bill. sigh. (Also bad news: two cat photos in two posts in a row. But she’s awfully darned cute.)

Good News: We did some major re-stocking today – did you catch it? Travel Mugs are back in stock, along with more Shibui Knits (and some of their new patterns), Araucania, Cherry Tree Hill, The Alpaca Yarn Co. Paca Peds, Bee Bars, knitting accessories, new Offhand Designs bags, Namaste Messenger Bags, Cotton Panda, and more.

Bad News: Still more boxes of yarn and things to go up next week. (Or is that good news?)

DSC01685.JPGGood News: Starbucks still has good coffee.

Bad News: They made their cups brown. I miss the green. (Two new yarn lines in the photo, just to make you wonder…. They’re scheduled to arrive in a few weeks.)

Good News: The “Don’t Be Blue” sock kits are ready to ship! Click here if you’re eligible for one.

Bad News: They’re just available (while supplies last) to those who signed up for the sock club this year and didn’t get in. (What happens if you try to buy one and you weren’t really on the list? A hand comes out from your computer screen and pinches you on the nose.)

Good News: So many of you have emailed to tell us how much you like the special Loopy Groupie Appreciation Gift that we have been sending out this week.

Bad News: “LG Appreciation Time” runs through Tax Day and mostly there’s nothing good about Tax Day.

DSC01679.JPGGood News: I found my perfect pair of shoes – they show off handknit socks and they make my size 11 feet look smaller. (No small feet feat.) It’s a Dansko Merrie. (Socks are Fiesta Boomerang. We do have a large order in with the – they’re just backordered on Boomerang at the moment. We’ll keep you posted.)

Bad News: With Spring here, sock-wearing weather is almost gone in Missouri until the fall.

Good News: My friend Monica gave me the DVD August Rush that I like so much. I think I’ll knit and watch it tonight.

Bad News: I have so much knitting that I want to do, that it’s gonna take more than one movie (or five) to knock it out.

Good News: I had time to knit last night.

Bad News: But I didn’t get one stitch done because Knitting Daughter and WH and I spent so much time laughing and going through the pages of photos on this website.

DSC01687.JPGGood News: Possum Sock Yarn from Cherry Tree Hill. (80% Superwash Merino, 20% New Zealand Possum.) Wow.

Bad News: It won’t be available for awhile, but I have one of the sample skeins from Cheryl at Cherry Tree and it’s really a fun yarn base. Just thought I’d give you a sneak peak at a unique new sock yarn base that they will be offering for a limited time this summer.

Sheri anygoodnews/badnewsyouwanttosharewithus?

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