Archives from August 2008

The Loopy Elves in The Loopy Limelight

Photo: Sheri Berger
Monday, August 18th, 2008 in Loopy Limelight

We’re lucky to have the best people working with us here at The Loopy Ewe, and we wanted you to learn more about them today. I added Susan in to help here after we’d been open for about 10 months or so (before that, my family did all of the helping with orders!). Within a few months, we had added in Vicki and Anna and Sue. One day, James stopped by to shop and commented on “The Loopy Elves” and how busy they were, and the name just stuck. We’ve been fortunate to find a few more great people to help out here in the meantime. They work hard and they work fast and we are so thankful to have them here, helping get all of your orders out in a timely manner. I asked them all some questions and have used different answers from different people to put together the interview for you today.

Loopy: Hi Elves! You all came to be with us in different ways – tell us how some of you ended up working here at The Loopy Ewe?
Elves: Most of us have Susan to thank for letting us know about the job openings! We’re neighbors and friends of hers (or know her from our kids’ schools) and she is always one of the first people to know when The Loopy Lady is looking for more help. Of course Donna and Marianne have different stories. Donna says: “I was shopping at The Loopy Ewe and overheard Sheri telling Susan that they were going to be shorthanded, since someone was leaving. ‘I would love to work here!’ just flew out of my mouth!” Marianne was with Donna that day and says: “I was an innocent in-store shopper (first time shopper, mind you) and the next thing I knew, I was wrapping 300 skeins of Smooshy!”

Loopy: You just never know when we might be adding new Elves in, I guess! What is your favorite thing about working here at Loopy Central?
Elves: We all like the other people who work here. As Vicki says, “Several of the people who work here are neighbors and friends of mine, so it gives us an opportunity to see each other more frequently. The others are very fun to be around.” We all like the flexibility of the job, too. People are always willing to fill in when we need to be off. Mary added: “Driving to work today and seeing all of the kids going back for the first day of school made me realize that I am able to work without affecting my kids that much. My family is the one reason I was always hesitant about working and the main reason I will always appreciate The Loopy Ewe!”

Loopy: Now that you’ve all been here awhile, have you all learned to knit?
Elves: Not exactly. Donna and Marianne came to us as knitters, so they are the experienced ones of the group. Susan says: “I’m a beginner. I’m on Ravelry as ‘Loopyme2′ and have just a few scarves done. Sheri taught me how to knit and Marianne just gave Mary and I ‘purling’ lessons the other night!” Sue came to us as a crocheter, and is starting to knit as well, and Karen considers herself a “rusty knitter” and is looking forward to starting up again. Anna had one knitting lesson with her daughter a few years back and said, “The instructor was very nice and taught us the knit stitch. We set to work. As the instructor walked around the table, she complimented my daughter and then she came to me and asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I thought I was knittting – I mean I had a product hanging off of the needles. She very nicely told me she had never seen a stitch like mine. I actually have not tried since that time.”

Loopy: Hopefully we’ll get our “Knit Night” started soon and no one will have an excuse for not knitting any more! Are there certain things you like to wrap in orders, and other things that you don’t?
Elves: This is pretty unanimous, I think! Most of us love wrapping Wollmeise (we like Claudia’s nicely done skeins. Donna calls it “5 minutes of pure bliss” when wrapping those orders) and most of us love feeling the soft Dream in Color yarn, but the tags drive us nuts because they’re always poking through the tissue and ripping it. And we all have fun when Little Loopy goes into an order. Anna started posing him in orders and we’ve all begun doing that. He usually likes to hold on tight to the Loopy Kisses. Smart little guy.

Loopy: What are some fun things that we need to know about Life at Loopy Central?
Elves: Susan says, “Everyone who works here is a little loopy, so that makes it fun!” Karen likes the way everyone experiments with names as they check off the products on the orders (how can you not have fun saying “HiyaHiya” a few times a day?). And all agree that Anna breaking into song over yarn names is one of the most entertaining things of all. (Note – it’s not just yarn names. When The Loopy Lady goes home at noon to let the dog out, Anna needs to break into song – “Who let the dog out?”, too.)

Loopy: Is there anything hard about working here?
Elves: You mean besides the noise and mess of the demolition going on at the moment?? :-) Marianne says it’s difficult to stand there and wind half-skeins of Jitterbug because it makes her stand and stare at the wall of Lorna’s Laces and wonder which color she ought to knit next. (Which then causes her to think that she needs to live to be 150 to knit everything, and at that point, will she even be able to find all of her stash?) Susan says the hardest part is leaving at the end of the day because there’s always still so much to get done. Karen wishes she was taller or the wrapping island was shorter!

Loopy: Is there anything you’d like to tell all of our great Loopy customers?
Elves: Just a big THANK YOU for our job security. You really spoil us and it was fun to meet some of you at The Spring Fling!!

Photos: Top photo, L-R: Vicki (VM), Mary (MG), Susan (SK), the rest in order: Anna (AP), Sue (SG), Donna (DW), Marianne (MM), and Karen (KB).

Sheri wanttoknowwhopackedyourorder?Lookfortheirinitialsonyourorderform!

Loopy goes to a wedding!

Photo: Sheri Berger
Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 in Shop News

It was so fun to attend Elf Cassie’s wedding last weekend! We miss her around here, after having her all summer long. Unfortunately we couldn’t talk her into quitting school and joining us full-time. (As a parent, that’s a good thing. As Head Loopy, that’s sad.) She looked beautiful and her new husband is a cutie. Loopy was excited to be able to attend the wedding and wish them well. They’re off on a honeymoon to St. Thomas this week, and then will head back to Chicago to Trinity College, to finish two more years of school. We know they’ll be back to visit when they’re in town. (Right, you two??)

The noise mess demolition continues next door. Here’s a picture of our kitchen (it used to look like this) – notice the hole in the wall? This kitchen has to go in order to link the two spaces, but there is another kitchen in the new space so the red microwave and coffee pot will soon have a new home. When I put my camera into the hole, the second picture is what I see. Part of what I see. Hard to believe that this will all eventually come together to make a bigger and better Loopy Central. (No worries – they have big plastic sheets sealed to the walls to prevent any dust from coming into our area and getting into the yarns.) Actually, I took these pictures on Monday. Now the kitchen wall is completely gone. Joe works quickly. In about a week, he’ll take down another big wall between the two spaces. We’ll keep you posted!

As promised, here is a photo of the first thing I have knit with my own handspun. This is roving from The Sanguine Gryphon that spun up just beautifully. Since I spin thicker than I want to (need more practice), the scarf isn’t very long. More of a neck warmer that will look nice with a shawl pin, I think. (Pattern is a combination of a chevron pattern, interspersed with a few rows of garter stitch.) It’s very “springy” feeling, and that’s because I am obviously still putting too much twist into my spinning. sigh. I finished up another skein of handspun as well. This one is from Yarn Love and I love the colors! (Well, perhaps that’s because Katie at Yarn Love took my favorite colors off of my Ravelry profile and made up a colorway for me. Gotta love Katie.) :-) This is YL’s regular superwash. We currently have their merino/bamboo blend in stock and someone emailed me specifically to tell me how much they LOVE this roving (and to tell me to thank Wendy and LB and Julie and Alice for getting me into spinning!) I started spinning up some of the Lorna’s Laces roving last week and am almost finished with that as well. I definitely need to spin more of that. I’ll photo it when I get it done!

Short week this week as I’m out of town on Friday for the weekend. I’ll check back in with you on Monday, when we’ll have the Elves in the Loopy Limelight! College Guy and Knitting Daughter College Girl both leave for school a week from tomorrow. I can’t think about it.

Sheri tryinghardtobuildarovingstashthatrivalsmysockyarnstash,apparently

Web Guy in the Loopy Limelight

Photo: Sheri Berger
Monday, August 11th, 2008 in Loopy Limelight

As promised, we have our very own Web Guy in the Loopy Limelight today. Most of you know that Web Guy is also known as “College Guy” and “Our Favorite Son”, too. We’re lucky to have him in our family AND here at The Loopy Ewe! (And we have one son and one daughter, so we can call him “our favorite son” without slighting anyone else. As you might guess, Knitting Daughter is also “our favorite daughter”. Nice how that works out.) I thought you might like knowing more about him today. We couldn’t do The Loopy Ewe without him! Thanks to those of you who emailed questions for him.
Hi Web Guy! So the first person wants to know: “Did Web Guy design your superb web site?”
Web Guy:
Yes. When we first started, we wanted something nice and simple. The default blogging theme we were going to use for this blog seemed really simple and well laid-out, so I decided to build off of that and add a bunch of things here and there to make it good for an online shop. Since then and as we add new features, we’ve kept adapting it while trying to keep the site easy to use. A bunch of features came about because customers suggested them (like having little magnifiers on the corner of thumbnails…that’s pretty nifty).

Loopy: The Loopy Lady has mentioned in the blog before how you started building our website using one of the typical “template” e-commerce sites out there, but decided that you wanted to be able to add in too many unique things to it and so started over to build it our own the way, so that it would work best for us. I’m glad you did! Part two of the question above: “If so, did Web Guy study web design somewhere?”
Web Guy:
Not really. I just end up browsing around the web and looking at a lot of different types of websites as I’m doing various projects and am always picking up new ideas to try and also ideas to avoid.

Loopy: Good point. It’s also good to know things to avoid as well. The next person wanted to know, “What is the most important thing he learned from his mother, and from his father?”
Web Guy:
To find something you enjoy doing and do it – and it’s exponentially better if you can bring along others to help and enjoy it with you. Both have started their own businesses and, while frequently time consuming, you get to be directly involved with something that’s bigger than a plan you could have come up with individually. I mean, it’s really cool to be a part of a small, young business and community of over 30 countries like TLE. Not many kids are lucky enough to be a part of that, much less see how that happens and learn through it.

Loopy: You’d think there would be a way to come up with a business plan that necessitates us traveling to all of those countries “for business purposes”, right? The next person said, “I would like to ask WG if he liked his internship in Florida and how he compares life here and there for somebody his age?”
Web Guy:
The summer in Florida has been pretty amazing (this is going to be my last week here…) and Sentry Data Systems is about the best technology service company I could have imagined to intern with. It was a bit weird living away from Home and Loopy Central – apparently they got a little crazy without me … going and doubling their space … good grief – but, it was fun. I lived with a couple friends from school (Taylor University) in Fort Lauderdale which was great. (Don’t tell the Loopy Lady – but I think every college person definitely needs at least one summer away from home … it was a whole barrel of new experiences and living/working with friends made it much more fun.)

Loopy: Ok, Web Guy. That is our secret. (But I think she agrees with you. Although I know for certain how much you were missed around here this summer.) The next person asks, “Now I want Web Guy to tell us how he got so smart, so young, that he could put together your fabulous web site.”
Web Guy:
I ate my fruits and veggies as a kid. :-) Other than that, I just like experimenting and trying new things and then applying them. It’s a vicious cycle, really.

Loopy: The Loopy Lady says you’re right – you were always good about eating those things. Another question, “I’d be curious to know how Web Guy got interested in computers in the first place.”
Web Guy:
I don’t know – for as long as I remember, there’s always been some piece of technological equipment around that I could push buttons on and try to break. Lots of people use them and get frustrated when they break…I get curious about why they broke. But I guess that’s what a Web Guy is supposed to be, right?

Loopy: The curiosity sounds good. We hope that not too many things will break on the website for you to deal with, though! The LL says that you were hooked on computers from the first time you sat down to one, which was when you were about two. I guess computers have come a LONG way since then. What feature on the Loopy website was the most challenging one for you to write up?
Web Guy:
Hmm, well, not sure which was the most challenging, but I think the most fun and interesting thing I’ve worked on is the yarn color finder. I’d never done much with color matching (still am a novice) so it took a bunch of time and reading, and then I’ve been experimenting ever since. It’s not perfect yet, but there aren’t too many sites around that let you find items by color, so I couldn’t resist putting that online for Loopy visitors to try out a while ago. When I first put it up, we only had a few hundred of our items colorized … now we’re up to most all of our products which is pretty cool. (P.S. – it doesn’t show out of stock products in your color search results now.)

Loopy: My personal favorite color is red. Like my socks. In case anyone wanted to know. So, what is the best and worst part of being The Loopy Ewe Web Guy?
Web Guy:
There are definitely several “bests”: having a reason and purpose to learn and apply new technology/ideas, getting exposure to the business side of my Computer Science degree, and also being a part of a unique business that has such a fun community around it. As far as a worst part, hmmm. It’s a bit difficult being both College Guy and Web Guy – both are really fun and great experiences … it’s just a matter of finding the right amount of time for both. Also, maybe being relatively clueless about the various types of yarn we sell, but I try to leave that all up to the Loopy Lady.

Loopy: And I know that she is just as happy to leave the technology side of things up to you! Do you have any friends who are knitters? Do you knit?
Web Guy:
Well, if you’re counting all the people I’ve gotten to meet through TLE, I’ve got a whole world of knitting friends. I do have a few friends who knit though – but being stuck in the Computer Science Department doesn’t typically lend itself to inviting the college knitting masses to bring their yarns and needles to sit behind computer screens. If you’re asking TLE Web Guy if he knows how to knit, he knows the basics … if you’re asking normal College Guy, he pretends to be a little more clueless.

Loopy: I think that the Loopy Lady just wanted to make sure you knew what this knitting thing was all about when she made you try a few rows one time! Too bad it didn’t stick, because we all think that knitting would make a good pastime for any college student or full-time employee who needs some relaxing downtime. Or pretty much anyone else, for that matter. Any sneak peaks at new features that you are working on for the website?
Web Guy:
Well, let’s see. One thing that we’re working on is finding a better way to browse through our online shop. It’s kind of annoying to have to always go by category when maybe you want to go by vendor or weight or material or color. Another fun thing in the works has to do with connecting together the knitting world, blogging world, and The Loopy Ewe. Oftentimes people link their blog posts to the yarns and products they used when they are finished. Soon we’ll be showing some trackbacks for our products and vendors to let people see what the blogging world has said about them and see how products turned out. Feel free to send us your ideas, too. We’re always interested.

Loopy: Thanks for taking time out to talk with us, Web Guy. You’re the best!
Sheri athomewejustcallhimDanny.Welikethatnameforhim,too :-)

Knitting for Others

Photo: Sheri Berger
Friday, August 8th, 2008 in Shop News

Do you mostly knit for yourself, or do most of your handknits end up being for someone else? I find that I mostly knit for myself these days. I’m not sure why. I decided pretty early on that if I was going to do gift knitting, it was going to go to someone who’d really appreciate the time and effort that went into it. (Like another knitter, or someone else who works with their hands.) The exception is knitting for babies. I haven’t had any babies to knit for, but when I do, it will be just for the fun of making those tiny cute outfits/socks/hats/whatever and it’s totally fine that the baby won’t know the difference between that and the storebought ones! Babies are the exception. (Now I just need to wait for some babies to appear in my life. Well, not in MY life, per se, but you know what I mean.)

Miss Violet emailed me yesterday to let me know about a special new concept in dyeing that she has come up with, and it started me thinking about knitting for others. She calls this line of hers “Intention Yarn” and here is what she had to say about it:

“As prayer-shawl knitters will tell you, there is a certain power in knitting something with meditative intention. There’s a whole school of thought that says that the love you’re feeling when you’re knitting something for someone can be felt when the recipient uses the item.

Lime & Violet’s Intention Yarns takes this concept one step further, attempting to start the process from the very dyeing of the yarn to be used in the project of your choice.

Intention Yarns are dyed using the same process as most hand-dyed or hand-painted yarns, with colors that are selected for a relevance and conveyance of the yarn’s purpose. During the last step, however, just before the skeins are steamed and the dye set, we write the word or phrase on the skein, like you see in the “love” photo.

The final knitted object doesn’t show much sign of the original word, but while knitting with these yarns, every so often, you come across a very small “spot” of the word, which serves as a mental reminder to refocus your attentions back on your wishes and prayers for the project. It’s very subtle, but effective as a reminder to keep your attention and intention on the recipient or focus of the project.”

We are so happy to be getting Miss Violet’s first batch of Intention Yarns here at The Loopy Ewe. (And in the future, you will only find them here and on her website.) This first batch will include 15 different colorways. They are: Peace, Balance, Love, Clarity, Strength, Connection, Healing, Patience, Joy, Faith, Hope (shown at the top of the page), Fertility, Perserverence, Courage, and Creative Inspiration (shown here).

She also says, “The colors will remain constant (but handpainted, expect a few variances between skeins and dye lots), with one exception: Creative Inspiration is different every time, an explosion of colors on a white base, to simulate the creative process.”

Watch for this yarn to arrive and go up on the website in about 2 weeks. We think it’s a very special idea and we know you’ll like it for knitting beautiful things for those you love.

Now we have some prizes to give away! Y’all outdid yourselves in the comments section from last Friday – woohoo! We have loved every comment that you left and we’re going to go back to them whenever we have a bad day! (Not that we have many bad days. But I’m a little concerned that several of you mentioned we ought to avoid “The Terrible Twos” stage. We hope to do just that.) For this contest, we had over 1600 comments, so we’re giving away prizes to 16 different people! Each prize package includes one skein of Wollmeise, one skein of yarn from another one of our awesome indie dyers, one Loopy Red Canvas Sock Bag, one sock pattern, and one Loopy Ewe pin for your knitting bag. We hope you love it! The packages are going out to these 16 randomly drawn people: Julie-Ann in Jamaica, Theo in OR, Teri in VA, Kirstie in Canada, Debbie in WA, Cathy in VA, Erin in MN, Nancy in IA, Liz in IL, Adina in OR, Heather in OH, Janet in CA, Karin in NC, Michelle in IL, Tammy in CA, and Sheryl in VA. All of the winners have been sent an email, so if you’re wondering if it’s YOU, check your in-box!

So – do you knit more for yourself or more for others? We’re curious!

Sheri thisnewyarnmightjustinspiremetoknitforothersmoreoften

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