Have I mentioned before that I have
a bag problem, issues with too many bags, more bags than I could ever use, a lovely collection of knitting bags? I think bags appeal to my “I want to be organized” nature. Or my “Oh, isn’t that beautiful? I need that.” nature. Therefore, we tend to carry a lot of different bag options for you at The Loopy Ewe, and I have personally tested and used each type. (Yeah, that’s it. I NEED to be testing all of these lines….) At the moment, I have three favorites (and I’m fickle. This will change with the wind.) I love my Offhand Designs Weekender bag. I packed this one to the gills and took it with us on Spring Break. It holds so much, and it’s in my favorite colors, Peppermint Mocha. (They call it Ruby Splash, but it’s clearly Peppermint Mocha.) We got a lot of different fabrics in, but I went for that one right out of the box. Another favorite is my new Atenti bag, which arrived last week. I will admit to having trouble picking out the one I wanted, because they’re all so cute. I picked Pops, but I have my eye on two others as well. This is another bag that would hold a whole weeks worth of knitting if you were to take it on vacation. (It also makes a great carry-on bag if you fly.) The fabrics are gorgeous and the workmanship is top notch. I love this new line. A lot of you are getting these in the mail this week and I know you’re going to be so happy with them. We have another order to put in with them already. My other favorite bag is my Namaste Laguna bag that I just received in the new Peacock color. I like how soft the animal-friendly faux leather is, I like that I can just wipe it off with a damp sponge if someone’s Latte should happen to drip, and I like how roomy it is inside. We just got a whole new shipment of all of the colors (and the new Newport Style bag) in and put them all up today. I know you’ve been waiting on them! (Several of you also have bag problems lovely knitting bag collections, and I like that about you.) Oh – and the Red Canvas Loopy Sock Bags are back in stock, too. Another bag that I like….
Remember that Little Loopy mentioned that we have Elf Cassie working here for the summer? Cassie is in college and will be getting married this summer (but we get to keep her until August). Her brother and sister have taken to calling her “Keebz”, since she’s a Loopy Elf and they liken that to the Keebler Elves. (Doesn’t that sound like a brother/sister thing to do?) They bought her a fun shower gift – a Loopy T-Shirt – and they personalized the back for her. Here she is showing the front and the back in the photo. We thought it was really cute and made her wear it around Loopy Central today. (Does that make her fiance “Mr. Keebz”? Just wondering.)
Today’s recipe is a delicious Macaroni and Cheese dish that takes comfort food to a whole new level. YUM!!
1 pound pasta (corkscrew holds the sauce on best, but use your favorite)
4 slices day old bread
1 Tbl. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
1/2 lb. Gruyere cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
1/2 lb. fontina or provolone cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into 1 ” strips
10 Tbl. butter (unsalted)
3 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup flour
Stir fry bacon pieces in a large saute pan until done. Remove to drain on paper towels. Chop bread by hand or in a food processor until crumbly. Add 2 Tbl. bacon drippings to 3 Tbl. butter in a pan, and toss in bread crumbs. Stir until they are lightly golden and crisp. Set aside.
Cheese Sauce: Heat milk over medium heat (do not boil). Melt 6 Tbl. butter in a separate saucepan and whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in warmed milk next and cook until it starts to thicken (stirring occasionally.) Remove from heat and add in your cheeses, stirring until melted. Add bacon and salt and pepper to taste.
Cook pasta about 8-9 minutes in a large pot of salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add pasta to cheese combination and stir well. Put in 9 x 13 pan and top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling.
June Blog Contest: I know you’re not supposed to view food as “comfort” – any smart dieter will tell you that. Nevertheless, there are some foods (like mac and cheese) that just DO make you feel better. At least until you get on the scale again. Leave a comment and let us know what your favorite comfort food is – this could be something that you like to eat now, or something that you liked to eat growing up. We’ll use the random number generator to pick a winner next Friday from all of the comments. (The winners of our monthly blog contests receive a $30 gift certificate to The Loopy Ewe. Maybe you need a new bag??)
We had so much fun with the first DC-KAL! I truly lost track of how many people participated, but there were a lot. There are 83 photos that were posted by June 1st in our photo gallery, and even more of you who kept us updated on your progress in the KAL threads on the Loopy Groupie board on Ravelry. I hope you will still finish your sweaters and share the photos with us. They’re very inspiring, and I’ll be ready to jump into another sweater pattern this fall when it’s not so hot.
It’s time to start up another one and this one will be fun, too. I like making the KAL about a certain yarn, and then letting everyone be creative with what they do with that yarn. For our first KAL, you could pick any sweater you wanted to make with Dream in Color Classy. For this KAL, you can pick any pattern you want to make with Dream in Color Baby! I wanted to pick a yarn that would be lighter to knit up for the summer months, and Baby is perfect. No, we won’t always be knitting with Dream in Color yarns for our KAL’s (I have the next KAL already figured out and it’s not DC), but I know many of you fell in love with other colorways during the first KAL and this will give you a chance to experiment with another one of their amazing colors. (Click on that photo to make it larger and see some of them up close!) The other thing I like about Baby is that it can be knit up as a laceweight, or a fine fingering weight. You can do shawls or scarves, cowls or mitts, hats or socks, as long as you pay attention to your gauge and needle size. I had some people doing a challenge a few months back where they were buying 2 colors of Baby because they had to knit socks by using two different colored laceweight yarns together, knit as one. What a fun exercise that would be! I had a great time pairing up colorways. (And gorgeous results, no doubt, with two DC colors intermixing.) For those of you participating in Summer of Socks, this might be a good option, as I’m sure you’d like to be knitting socks during this time. This is also a good chance to get a jump on holiday knitting by picking something that you can do for a gift. (I can’t believe I said that. I never start holiday knitting this early, even though I swear I’m going to.) I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the KAL. I have already picked my colorway and pattern (In Vino Veritas and Gust – although I think I will make Gust wider than the pattern calls for.) We’re going to again offer you a 20% discount on Dream in Color Baby for this KAL, from now until the end of this month. All you have to do to get the discount is to leave us an order note telling us that you’re participating in the KAL and telling us what pattern you’re going to knit up. We’ll take the 20% off of your DC Baby when we process your order. (Note – if we run out of the colorway you need in Baby, just let us know by June 30th which color you need and how many skeins, and we’ll get it ordered for you at the discount price.) This KAL will go from now until October 1st.
I have knitting to show you. Remember when I mentioned that I had started a Feather and Fan scarf (free pattern here on Wendy’s blog) at the Spring Fling? Well, they’re addictive. I must say, they do take a rather long time to knit, because it’s 58 stitches across and it’s fingering weight yarn, but the results are so fun and the pattern is easy-peasy. The scarf I started at the Fling (and just finished, because I had to complete my KAL sweater in the middle of it all) is out of Am Kalten Polar from Wollmeise. I had done a few inches of it at the Fling and then set it down on the table to wander around and talk to people. I looked over a few minutes later and Claudia (the Wollmeise herself) had picked it up and was knitting on it! So that makes this scarf special. While I was in the middle of that one, I started another one that I wanted to do as a gift for someone. (Because I’m fickle like that – always starting something new.) This time I used Noro, because I could just envision how pretty the Noro colors would look in this pattern. I like it so much that I’ve already wound another skein of Noro into a cake to make another. (Um, and I’ve already wound another skein of Wollmeise into a cake to make another out of that, too. I told you these were addictive.) Both scarves were knit out of 1 skein of yarn, on size 4 needles. Of course I’m starting my KAL first, because I am bound and determined to finish this one before 11:45 pm, the day it is due. Ahem.
In other news, we sold our first spinning wheel! Tracey had been eyeing the very wheel that had already arrived here (I was going to use it as a shop wheel, but so far it had remained untouched) and she said she’d buy it if Loopy put his
paws hooves on it before it shipped. Loopy was happy to do that, and now the wheel is on its way to a new home. We’re really excited about offering wheels here and we’ll keep you posted when they start arriving and go up on the website, later this summer (including news on what lines we’ll have and which models.) Two questions that people keep asking can be answered now – “Will it count towards Frequent Shopper Benefits?” and “Will it include free shipping” can both be answered with a YES! (Not yet a spinner? Ohhhh, just wait. We’ll keep enticing you to join us……)
KD and I had a great time in Indiana for College Orientation Week-end. First of all, she drove the whole way there and back so that I could knit. Isn’t she the best? (She loves to knit – but not in the car. That works out really well.) I’ll have to show you pictures of both of my Feather and Fan scarves on Wednesday. I love them, and I don’t get to keep either one. Oh well. But beyond the knitting, I discovered that I am kind of a fickle person when it comes to coffee. This first photo is taken from our hotel room. That’s how close we were to Starbucks – right there next to the hotel parking lot. But did we go there even once? No. Because we like the coffee at Payne’s better. Their Mocha Lattes and Caramel Lattes are wonderful! We went there the first night we arrived and sat out in their patio area until after midnight, drinking their wonderful coffee. Then we had to go back the next day for more. I didn’t take a photo of the inside, but it’s very cute. I might have to have a little coffee shop when I retire someday. Of course there would be a corner set aside just for knitters.
On Saturday, we attended the exciting Strawberry Festival in downtown Upland. (Downtown Upland is all of 2 or 3 blocks long, but they know how to throw a Strawberry Fest.) I made KD and our friend Jess pose with some flats of strawberries to prove that we were there. Apparently we missed the Barbershop Quartet which came later. (Did I mention that there was a lot of fun to be had?) Another favorite stop that day was to Ivanhoes for a sundae. If you have ever been anywhere in mid-Indiana, you have probably heard of Ivanhoes and their 100 flavors of Sundaes and 100 flavors of Shakes. My favorite is the Trojan Two – ice cream, chocolate-covered graham crackers, fudge sauce and peanut butter sauce. YUM. We make at least one stop at Ivanhoes every time we are up there visiting. Really, between Paynes and Ivanhoes, it’s totally worth heading up Highway 69 and getting off at Gas City for lunch, ice cream, and coffee to go.
We’re having a great week weather-wise, but last week it was HOT and I snapped this picture of Casey-the-dog, cooling her paw. When she was a puppy, she used to put her whole head on top of the register. That changed abruptly one day when the tag on her collar slipped between the slats and the whole register cover pulled up, attached to her collar when she tried to move later on. She howled and cried and carried on until we came running to rescue her. For about 10 years after that, she wanted nothing to do with registers. Apparently in her old age she has semi-forgotten why she didn’t like them, because now she cools her paws there.
We have a busy week this week. In the Sneak Up (coming sometime soon) we’ll be adding The Sanguine Gryphon, new Indie Dyer colorways, Yarntini, new Trekking colors (including the Hand Art colorways), large-sized GoKnit bags (which y’all have been asking for) as well as their new royal blue color of bags, Dream in Color Classy, Atenti Bags, and a few new accessories. On Wednesday, I’ll be telling you about our next KAL project, and on Friday we’ll have our June blog contest. Speaking of contests, I drew the names of the DC-KAL winners way back around June 1st, but have never put them in the blog! The drawing was open to anyone who completed their sweater and posted a photo by June 1st. Many thanks again to everyone who participated, and for those of you still knitting, keep going and keep adding your photos to the gallery. It’s so fun to see what everyone has accomplished! We drew 3 names and these gals win a $30 gift certificate to The Loopy Ewe:
(Caution: long post. Too much to tell. Pour yourself an iced tea before reading on…) I’m back from steamy Ohio and almost caught up on the email situation. I thought about all of you so often while I was walking around the floor of the Convention Center in Columbus. I kept finding things that I knew you would like! So I thought I’d do a blog post on most of the things that we’re adding. There are still a few secrets, of course.
I arrived on Friday night, just in time for “Sample It”. This is a crazy hour-long selling event (and the only time that you can actually buy things that you can take home) and it’s not for the Faint of Heart. Each company has the opportunity to sell a “sample” of their products – as long as it’s something new for the season. They get one table in the very large room, and fill it with their samples for sale. (Can you imagine 20+ people crowding around each table, several deep, waving money or checks?) It’s a fun start to the weekend. If you survive the masses, you know the rest of the weekend will be a piece of cake.
The mornings start bright and early. A little too early, since it’s an hour earlier than my time zone. Of course you can opt not to take any 8 am classes, but most people would rather learn than sleep! My first class was “The Best Kept Secrets of the Most Successful Shops”, presented by Christine Bylsma and Kathy Morrow. I had actually visited Kathy’s shop a couple of years ago, so it was fun to see her again. It was a good class with lots of great ideas – I took notes! My second class was on Monday morning at 8 am – Celtic Cables by Melissa Leapman. I learned to do her “amazingly inventive way to increase and decrease before cabling so as not to cause any puckers on your fabric” system. It was a good class, and she was happy to pose with Little Loopy. (Oh – you thought Little Loopy stayed home to work? Well that’s just one of the many mysteries of being “Loopified”. All kinds of things can happen.)
I spent several hours walking around the floor, putting in orders, talking to all of our different yarn companies, and finding new items for our “maybe” list. Pretty soon I was ready for a Latte Break and I took it outside on the patio with this group. There is no shortage of interesting conversation when you have Cat, Janel (check out her new sock book – I got a copy!), Anne, Clara, Stephanie and Franklin at the table. Loopy was glad that Franklin held on to his feet in the photo. It was a precarious situation.
By dinnertime, I was glad to be away from yarn (can you imagine?) and out getting a good meal. I had a lot of fun going out for dinner with Nancy and Veronica, the Dream in Color girls. (Except that they ordered an appetizer that had raw meat in it. The waiter corrected us and assured us that it was “cured”, but it just looked raw to me.) We got back to the hotel rather late in the evening and this is important to note. Why? Because when we got back to the hotel to hang out in the lobby with a bunch of knitters, there was this weird thing going on with dry ice in a bowl and knitting things surrounding it.
I can’t explain it. The best explanation? The result of a long day of yarn fumes and a late late night, apparently. Is there a “Dry Ice Vibe” that I’m not aware of? Is this some way to hasten the completion of your knitting, or the sales of your new book? Does it make money appear in your totebag? I’m puzzled.
Sunday – more walking and talking and ordering and chatting. I met Dianne from Creatively Dyed, as well as Tricia (one of our brand new indie dyers). I had fun catching up with Cookie A (her hair is blue now. I love how the accent color changes from time to time. It was green at the Spring Fling.) I talked with Jess and Casey and Mary-Heather, and Little Loopy wanted to pose with Bob-the-finger-puppet that the Malabrigo folks made for Jess and Casey. Doesn’t Loopy look happy about that? There is just never any shortage of interesting people to run into at TNNA.
There’s also never any shortage of yarn and products to view, and I picked up some new stuff for us. The new “seasonal color” for the Namaste Bags is this gorgeous blue. Fortunately, I came home with one! Also, fortunately, we will have our Namaste bags completely re-stocked (including the new color) as soon as they get home and can ship them out. Their warehouse has just been re-stocked, and I know that some of you have been waiting to get one. We have new colors (and old favorites) coming from Fiesta Baby Boomerang, new colors (and old favorites) from Colinette Jitterbug, 6″ Rosewood Sox Stix (coming from Lantern Moon this fall), brand new Alpaca Blend sock yarn from Alpaca With a Twist, new colors from Mountain Colors Bearfoot, and wonderful Targhee Top Roving from them as well (Little Loopy wrapped up in it). We have Silk/Cashmere laceweight coming from Jade Sapphire, as well as their brand new Cashmere Scarf kits that comes with the yarn and a booklet of 7 patterns designed specifically for men. (What a perfect gift to knit up for the holidays.) Lots more colors of lace from Prism (including some subtle blends that I couldn’t leave alone), a new cashmere blend of sock yarn from Pagewood Farms, new patterns from Gardiner Yarnworks and Chic Knits, Beanie Baggies (a weighted sock-holder bag), spinning wheels from Schacht, and needles from HiyaHiya. The biggest order we placed was for all 240+ solid and heather colors of Cascade 220! I went to the show wanting to find a good solid-colored worsted weight line and queried a few sweater pattern designers to see which line was a “must have”. Hands-down, Cascade won. Not only is it great for sweaters, but it’s also great for FELTING. (And if you’re going to carry the line, then you might as well “go big” and get it all.) This will round out our worsted weight offerings at The Loopy Ewe for awhile. (For those of you who were here for the Fling – don’t you wonder where all of that yarn is going to go? You know how full Loopy Central is already. We have it covered…..) Watch for these lines and others to trickle in to The Loopy Ewe in the next few weeks and months. We’re happy with everything coming up!
Speaking of that – this week’s Sneak Up went up yesterday morning and contained all kinds of fun things that went like hotcakes. We added Malabrigo Worsted, Cherry Tree Hill’s Summer Sock, Duets Skinny, All Things Heather, Perfect Day Yarns, Indie Dyer Yarns, Tempted Glam Girl, and Berroco Sox. We’ll be re-stocking Crystal Palace, Austermann Step, Trekking and Sockina later this week, and we have those cool Atenti bags I was telling you about. We unpacked them today and I had the Elves pose with the different fabric options. Those will go up next week. In addition, our Neighborhood Fiber order has shipped, as well as The Sanguine Gryphon, the Large size of GoKnits bags, Dream in Color Classy, new colors of Trekking (including new Hand Art colors), and Yarntini. We’re working on the photos and will have all of that up for you asap.
I know I have taxed your patience with this long post (and you probably ran out of iced tea mid-way through). I’m heading off to take Knitting Daughter up to her college orientation on Thursday night, so no blog post on Friday. After this long post, I don’t think you could’ve handled (or needed) another one this week anyway, right? I’ll be back with you on Monday! In the meantime, what have you been knitting since I’ve come and gone??