Remember that song, “Just another Manic Monday”? We’ve decided that we need to change the lyrics to “Just another Frantic Friday”. Somehow, between in-person shoppers and getting orders packed up and out and taking care of new cases of yarn that come in and need to be unpacked, Fridays have turned into crazy days. Lately, we come in in the morning and race through until 3:00 (when the mailman comes) and then sit back and look at each other and just ….. blink. Frantic. Friday. But lest you feel too sorry for us (and we’re surrounded by yarn all day, so I know that you really don’t), we had Loopy Groupie Lori stop by with Chocolate Chip Gooey Butter Bars, and Elf Wendy brought some dense chocolate desserts with her to work today. Since they both have such good taste, they both shopped for these delicious items at this bakery. I can see that I am going to have to pay an in-person visit there. Especially when they have lattes that look like that.
Question for all of you who live in Indiana. Last weekend when we were driving up to meet College Guy and College Girl, we passed fields and fields of these bright yellow flowering plants. What are they? They looked so cheerful, and they were planted in rows so I know it’s something that was planned and planted on purpose. We just couldn’t figure out what they were. Does anyone know?
Today’s recipe was adapted from the Year of Crockpotting blog. She has such great recipes – I hope you have that site bookmarked. This soup recipe is delicious and SPICY!
Buffalo Wing Crockpot Soup
3 cups cooked and cubed chicken
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup butter, unsalted
1/4 cup flour
2 cups fat free milk (or no higher than 2% – it will curdle)
1 cup chicken broth
4 oz. Velveeta
1/3 cup hot wing sauce (more, if you like it hotter)
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
Add chopped onion, celery, and chopped chicken to your crockpot. Pour in chicken broth and milk. Add Velveeta and salt.
Make a roux with the flour and butter. (Melt butter in microwave and then whisk in the flour.) Add to the crockpot, along with the hot sauce.
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 3-4 hours). Delicious.
Watch for next week’s Sneak Up – we have fun things going up! Just in – the new Color Commentary from Lorna’s Laces, and this time it’s in honor of our friend Wendy at WendyKnits. We ordered lots in Shepherd Sock, Shepherd Sport, and Roving to go up next week. We’ll also be adding in new colors of Claudia Hand Painted Fingering and Silk, as well as new colors in Mountain Colors Bearfoot. We have more Fleece Artist Trail Socks to go up, Yarn Pirate Roving and Fingering weight yarn, and Creatively Dyed in a new Worsted Weight. We did a lot of photographs this week (and by “we”, I mean Elf Wendy) and we’ll do a lot of color correcting this weekend (and by “we”, I mean WH), and then we’ll get it all up for you asap next week (and by “we”, I mean me). It takes a village, you know.
Here in the St. Louis area, if you want acres between your house and the next, you drive about an hour west of the city, or you spend several million dollars. Instead (because we don’t want to drive an hour, and we don’t have a million dollars), we live in a neighborhood with lots of other houses along the block. People walk their dogs, kids ride their bikes, joggers run by with their ipods attached to their heads, and the sound of lawn mowers can be heard from early Spring through late Fall. Typical suburbia. It was interesting enough when we had a raccoon living under our screen porch last spring. (Really, in the middle of a very populated neighborhood? No woods nearby?) I thought he was kind of cute and the cats were enthralled with this interesting creature, but WH pointed the hose under the porch and the raccoon shot out of there like a bandit on the run. We haven’t seen him back. (It’s a good thing. He brought fleas into the yard and shared them with the dog. FPS.)
This spring, we were again surprised to see a pair of mallard ducks in our yard. There is a neighborhood pond about 3 blocks from our house, so I suppose they get their water fix there. But they continue to walk around our yard and waddle under the big bush by the bird feeders almost every morning and night. I know that some of you were guessing that we’d have baby ducks when I mentioned something in Monday’s post. So far, no babies. However, the wildlife IS increasing in our backyard (in the middle of suburbia). Monday morning I looked out and saw these two possums eating birdseed under the bird feeders. POSSUMS. Those snarly, hissy, not-at-all-nice animals. They’re not cute (like the raccoon) and they’re not fun to watch and listen to (like the ducks), and I don’t want them in the backyard! I took the photo of the two of them and then raised the window to see if I could get a closeup. One ambled under the screen porch when the window went up, but the other one just sat there with his teeth bared. I haven’t seen them since, and I hope not to. (What were they doing out in the morning, anyway? I thought possums were night animals?) It appears that it is time to board up the space under the porch, don’t you think?
This month is birthday month at our house. Yesterday was Web Guy’s birthday (Happy Birthday again, Danny!) and Monday was my mom’s birthday (Happy Birthday again, Mom!). We celebrated Web Guy’s birthday in Terre Haute on Sunday (along with celebrating Mother’s Day with them). It was really fun to see both of our kids and spend a couple of hours with them. Totally worth the 3 hour drive each way to get there. I’m so glad that they were up for it! On Monday night, we went out for dinner to celebrate my mom’s birthday. See that Creme Brulee she has? It was divine.
Today we have Mona and Stephanie from Dye Dreams in The Loopy Limelight. I was so happy to find their booth at Stitches East last fall, and quick to talk to them about adding their line here at Loopy Central. I love what they do with semi-solids. I added a couple of my photos, below, that I have done up in their yarns. Their colors are perfect for showing intricate patterns in your socks, hats, scarves, mitts, gloves and shawls. We have two of their lines here right now, Comfy and Dream, and have more coming soon!
Loopy: Hi you two! Thanks for being in the Limelight today. So first tell us, how long have you been knitting and who taught you to knit?
Stephanie: I’ve been knitting for over 40 years – I started at a very young age. My great-aunt Bert taught me how to knit.
Mona: I’ve also been knitting for over 40 years. My Dutch mamma taught me to knit on long double point needles with the right needle held under my arm. My first project was a pair of baby booties knit with fingering weight wool for my 1st grade teacher.
Loopy: It’s always fun to hear about knitters who have had this passed down in their families. Hopefully we are all trying to do that with family members around us. What is your favorite item to knit?
Stephanie: While I love knitting socks and always have a pair on the go, nothing beats the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a sweater.
Mona: I also always have a pair of socks nearby and really enjoy knitting them because so many different knitting and construction techniques can be used — cast ons and cast offs, heel and toe shaping, textures, lace, cables, beads, multi-color, etc.
Loopy: What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Stephanie: That’s a hard question – maybe some of my lace projects. I think I need to set myself up with a challenging project.
Mona: The most challenging project I have undertaken is a beautiful lace shawl called Renaissance Shawl by Not Just Plain Jane Knits. The pattern has no charts, just pages and pages of written instructions. I’m nearly finished with the project after working on it on and off for the past couple of years. It will be a pleasure to finally be able to wear it.
Loopy: Wow – you will have to email us a photo of that Renaissance Shawl when you’re done, Mona. We’d love to see it. And Stephanie – how about doing the Second Quarter Loopy Challenge with us? I know where you can get some beautiful semi-solid sock yarn to work with … :-) How did you two go from knitting to dyeing?
Stephanie: Years ago I started dyeing fabric and clothing. The move to yarn and fiber was a natural progression.
Mona: Several years ago, I started spinning with a group that has an annual dye day where they experiment with various dyeing techniques. They generously taught me to dye and I was bitten by the bug. After numerous dye “play dates” that left me feeling invigorated, it was easy to begin to dream of taking this to the next level as a business.
Loopy: I’d say you’ve both been seriously bitten by that dyeing bug! How do you come up with your colorways, and do you have a favorite?
M&S: We are always looking for new color ideas and inspiration. Some of our colorways happen by accident and others are the result of careful planning and trial and error testing. There are times when we are trying to achieve a particular color for a specific purpose. The “discards” from that process sometimes make it into our line of yarns. In the end, though, they are all our favorites.
Loopy: I had fun getting that box of variations on forest/sage green from you awhile back for the kit we were working on. It was hard to choose. (In fact, didn’t I say, “I’ll take this one for this kit, but then can you do these two in the regular line?”) Too many great possibilities! What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Stephanie: My favorite part is attending various fiber events and meeting so many creative, talented people. My least favorite part is ramping up and getting everything ready so that we can attend these events.
Mona: I enjoy the fiber events, too, but it’s really satisfying to get feedback from customers about how much they enjoyed working with our products. I can relate to finding a pattern you enjoy and a yarn that feels nice in your hands in a colorway that works; it’s a joy to knit that project.
Loopy: Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
M&S: Both of us do this in addition to other full time commitments. It is challenging to juggle everything – our families have been very understanding and supportive.
Loopy: It’s so nice that they support and encourage you, as I would think that it would be difficult to make everything work without that. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Stephanie: All of my children knit, including the boys.
Mona: I come from a family of knitters. In the Dutch school system my parents attended, all young girls were required to learn to knit, crochet and embroider. My mother and her sisters knit first out of necessity and later, out of a love for the craft and they passed this on to their girls. I have two teens, a boy and a girl, and both learned to knit when they were younger although they aren’t active right now. I also taught my husband to knit and he always has a pair of socks on the needles.
Loopy: Oh, that’s great! It’s really fun to share knitting with family members (unless they are the type who might go shopping in your stash. Or maybe even then, too.) Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Stephanie: I enjoy spinning and reading although these days most of my books are audio books.
Mona: I enjoy gardening, as well as reading and walking.
Loopy: And what would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Stephanie: If I were to get a day off, I would spend it knitting and spinning. There’s nothing more relaxing than to have uninterrupted time to make progress on existing projects and to plot out new ones. And I would stay away from the computer as it tends to eat up huge amounts of precious time.
Mona: Me, too, and do it with friends.
Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
M&S: Dye Dreams has been a great adventure. Our initial vision was on a much smaller scale than where we are today. We often look at each other and say, “Who would have thought . . ? “.
We’ve been knitting for a long time and never thought we would see such an explosion of knitters and designers. We always knew that knitters were a creative, generous bunch of people. We’ve had the opportunity to meet everyone from traditional knitters to knitters who think outside the box. Some knitters are technique driven, others throw caution to the wind and wing it. Dye Dreams has been everything from exhausting to exhilarating. It’s been a rewarding experience.
Loopy: Thanks again for taking the time to talk to us today!
I woke up to such a great thunderstorm this morning. Long, loud crashes of thunder that seemed to go on and on. (The cats – not so thrilled with that. They dove under the bed.) This is what it looked like in my front yard today. It’s very green around here right now! I really ought to live in Seattle. By the afternoon, the sun was out.
We had a crazy day here at Loopy. I am particularly fond of the mailman today, as he brought us 2100 boxes. You gotta love a guy like that. Consequently, invoices for Sock Club were emailed out today, and the Sneak Up is back on for next week. (It’s a good thing. We have lots of things waiting in the queue.) You all are so good about paying those Sock Club invoices quickly. I think we got most of the kits out today as well. In case you didn’t catch it, we did re-stock all of our Namaste bags yesterday, including the Malibu and Laguna in Eggplant.
We were also busy with shoppers. Thursdays and Fridays are drop-in days, and it’s fun to see where everyone comes from. We get St. Louis shoppers, but we also get out-of-town shoppers almost every week, who are just passing through. (Can you imagine that conversation? “Honey, as long as we’re driving in the midwest on a Friday, can we drive an extra two hours to swing through St. Louis so that I can stop in at The Loopy Ewe to shop for an hour? Please?” And you know how much guys like to drive longer and then detour. For knitting. Sometimes the weary husbands come in with their wives and sit on the red couches and eat Loopy Kisses while their wives shop. Other times, the wives send them down to Starbucks so that they can shop in peace. It’s kind of funny.)
One of the shoppers today was James. You’ve heard me mention him before, because he is the one who named the Elves. He came in about two years ago and commented on how “those Loopy elves” were scurrying around, packing up orders, and the name stuck. Today he brought his very first ever lace project, and his second ever lace project, both completed recently. His first lace project is this Girasole by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. I am also working on my own Girasole and really enjoying it. (I’m using this yarn. James used Cascade Eco-Wool, I think.) We both agreed that this is a great first lace project, because the charts are so easy to read and do (and no purling. James is a fan of no purling. I’m a fan of knitting lace in the round so that you don’t have to make the symbols do the opposite on the back side of the project.) His second lace project was done for a friend – this pattern, out of Dream in Color Starry (he said it took 2.5 skeins). That’s Elf Donna modeling it, and she didn’t want to give it back. I don’t blame her. I love seeing completed lace projects. It’s amazing to me how you can turn yarn into such incredible works of art with two sticks. I am tempted to do another Girasole out of a fingering or sport weight when I’m done with the alpaca worsted one. (I know, I know. Finish the one I’m working on first…)
I hope you all have a great weekend. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you out there who are mothers or have a mother. I’m happy that our two college kids are meeting us halfway between here and their school so that we can have lunch on Sunday. That’s a GREAT Mother’s Day to me!