Archives from November 2008

Mountains … of Yarn

Photo: Sheri Berger
Wednesday, November 19th, 2008 in Shop News

Last weekend I was knitting with mountains and snow outside of my windows. What a sight!  You get the fire going, you settle in with a Latte and a good pattern, and hunker down for some serious knitting. It was so fun. We did find plenty of time to do a little shopping (I visited my favorite soap shop – the

people who made the Loopy soaps that were in the last Sock Club box), and we always manage to make a meal out of Nick & Willy’s pizza when we’re out there.  I’m ready to go back any time, but there’s the little issue of Loopy Central and work.  So the Colorado visits are pared down to a couple of times a year, but we do make the most of them when we go!

I have some yarn photos for you! The first one is a scarf that I’m knitting up with a yarn that I wanted to try. I bought it at Stitches and have decided to add the line in here. Any guesses on what it is? (Oh, it’s more fun to have you guess!) Here’s a sock I knit up last weekend and it’s a new indie dyer line that will be arriving in December or January. (Well – a kinda new indie dyer to us, kinda not. How’s that for puzzling? Any guesses on that one?) Here’s a question for you.  This is their sportweight yarn and there were 250-ish yds. in the skein.  I divided it in half and knit toe up for my size 11 feet.  I typically make the cuff as long as the foot, although in this case, I ran out of yarn too early. (But boy did I love how fast that yarn knit up.  You gotta love sportweight and size 2 needles. And the sock is so comfortable.) I think I’d like 300 yd skeins in sportweight – what do you think? (The pattern is an easy one – just knit 4 rows, then do a [slip1, K] row and then a [slip1, P] row.)  The last photo shows a few more skeins of yarn that I bought at Stitches and am contemplating (as in, contemplating the possibilities of adding some of those lines in here.  Any thoughts?) I thought you might like to see some of them what came home with me. (You recognize the one on the far right – it’s Dianne’s Creatively Dyed Calypso – that new line we have on order from her.)

Guess what arrived today? Boxes and boxes and boxes of Dream in Color Starry. I am in love.  I took a photo of a few of my favorite colors, but it didn’t turn out that great. I’ll have WH do a GOOD photo and then will post it on the blog on Friday. We’re working on the photos this week so that we can get it up on the website for you next week.  That way, maybe you’ll get it over the Thanksgiving holiday and will get to jump right into knitting it. Because you’ll want to.

So check back on Friday. I’ll be sharing a good soup recipe that I tried last weekend, as well as sharing the Starry photo, and we’ll have our November Blog Contest, too.

Sheri whohasdecidedshehasKADD.Knowwhatthatis?(I’llsharethatonFriday,too.)

P.S. Bunches of new stuff went up at The Loopy Ewe last night – did you see? Including our Team Spirit colorways from Lorna’s Laces!

Dianne in The Loopy Limelight

Photo: Sheri Berger
Monday, November 17th, 2008 in Loopy Limelight, Shop News

Today we have Dianne from Creatively Dyed in The Loopy Limelight. You have so loved her unique and beautiful Luxury Sock yarn and Seacell Roving and I know you’ll also snap up the new line that she is sending soon! (Her dye techinque on this new line involves using 15 colors per skein.  The results are stunning. We hope to have that in just after Thanksgiving!)

Loopy: Hi Dianne!  Thanks for being in the Limelight today. Let’s start at the beginning – you’re from Trinidad – how did you end up living here in the States?
Dianne: I came to America at the age of 13 because my mother wanted a better life for her children than my country had to offer.

Loopy: We’re glad that your family found their way over here. Are there things you miss from your country? And things you love about living here?
Dianne: I miss the food the most.  I didn’t learn to cook many of our traditional foods before I left Trinidad.  I have lots of cook books from my island but the ingredients are hard to find in my area.  I have to drive 3 hours to Atlanta, GA for my country’s food.  I love living in America because of the opportunities that I have here I didn’t have in Trinidad.  In my country most citizens do not go to college even though we have some of the best colleges in the world on the island.  When I came to America with one suit case containing all my worldly processions, I said to myself I’m going to take advantage of everything America has to offer.   I wanted to go to college and wear better shoes than the ones I left behind in Trinidad that I kept repairing with a safety pin so I could play with my many cousins who lived near by. I remember when I came to America and found out that television was on 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  Television in Trinidad only came on from 9am-12pm then from 3pm-9pm when I left in 1988. Most of the programs on TV were Indian Movies, Sesame Street or political talk shows.  Not much to watch for a child my age so I spent most of my time reading books or playing with my cousins.  My first week in America I watched so much TV that my eyes hurt.

Loopy: That must’ve been an interesting indoctrination into things here in the States. Not necessarily a good one, but I’m sure you learned a lot. Now let’s get to the knitting – how long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Dianne: I’ve been a knitter since February 2004.  During my year in graduate school (Pursuing my master’s degree in Technology Management) I made a friend who happened to be a knitter.  I learned to crochet at the age of 10 from one of our neighbored ladies but I hadn’t crocheted in years.  My friend said you should learn to knit to relieve some of the stress. I called my local yarn shop to take the class but they didn’t teach beginner knitting classes.  I went to my local Michaels with another friend from work because I didn’t know what to expect.  I remember my friend learned the stitches right away but I struggled with every stitch.  I was determined not to let this set control my life. I went home and stayed up until 2 am knitting because there was no way she was going to be knitting without me.  It turned out that my friend learned the stitches but hated knitting, for me it opened a new world.

Loopy: What a great lesson in determination and perseverance. What is your favorite item to knit?
Dianne: My favorite thing to knit are socks. A couple of years ago I was bedridden with my 3rd sinus infection in a month.  I knit 2 pairs of socks in 3 days for a friend.  I don’t know what it is about knitting socks for me because I’ve had as much as 7 different socks on needles at one time.  I tend to have my socks in various stages and my favorite pattern of all the sock patterns I’ve ever seen is the 2X2 rib.  I can do that pattern in my sleep.

Loopy: You had a yarn shop for awhile.  How did you go from owning a shop to dyeing?
Dianne: I opened my yarn shop in 2004 and closed in 2007.  While I had my shop there were other shops in the area who would receive the same items that I did then put them on sale within 2 weeks of delivery.  I wanted something that was mine that no one else had or could acquire.  I begun dyeing my own yarn. I gave away yarn for months then after taking a sock dyeing class at John C Campbell Folk School I begun selling my hand dyes in my shop.  It was funny because I often thought that my finished product was horrible but one of my good friends would tell me to stop being so hard on myself.  She liked it and if others had any sense of style they would like it also.  She’s still one of good friends and customers.

Loopy: And now you have a whole bunch of people all over the country who love your yarn and collect your different colorways! How do you come up with your colorways, and do you have a favorite?
Dianne: I have to be honest, I have no clue.  When I first started dyeing yarn I tried doing repeat colors for my shop but I found that it was like pulling teeth for me to do repeats.  I’m blessed to have some of the best bases spun for me and I decided that I would become an artist whose paintings represent what’s in their heart.  I do my best work when I blast gospel music and let the skein talk to me.  I start with one color then stand back feeling the vibes coming from the skein and create my work of art.  I believe that dyeing unique color ways that I never write down is my favorite colorways.

Loopy: You do come up with some very unique color combinations, and they knit up just beautifully. (Here’s a sock that I knit up with one of your skeins of yarn, so that everyone can see how the colors mix together as you knit. Pattern: Cookie A’s Monkey Socks, done toe-up.) What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Dianne: Favorite part of my job is that I get to take my daughter back and forth to school every day.  I know that some people may not think it’s part of my job but it is.  After years of working 8-5 and missing out on so many of her plays, school trips (I love to volunteer) or games, my job as an indie dyer helps me stay close to my only child.  I don’t get paid even 1/10 of what I received at my job as a computer programmer but the smile on her face is worth all the money in the world to me.  Another favorite part of my job is vending at a show in an area of the country that I’ve never been to before.  This year we went to CA (to name one state among so many); I’ve been there several times (in my previous life) but never got to see the redwoods or the Golden Gate Bridge. My not-so-favorite part is when I get soaking wet because I’ve dropped a bucket of water.  One time I dropped a bucket and I got wet from head to toe.  All I could do was laugh because if this is the worst part of my job, I’m blessed.

Loopy: Ha!  I think we need a photo of that sometime. :-) Tell us about your family and how do they help in your business?
Dianne: My family is s huge part of my business and I couldn’t be where I am today without them.  My husband (aka superman aka Jerry) works a full time job yet he still has time to listen to my request for this or that for my business.  When I have shows that I know are to big for me to handle, he always finds time to come with us.  He built my racks, the stands for my pots, ran hot water to all my pots so I no longer had to use buckets; he’s currently running lines to all my pots for a new 300 lbs gas tank for my studio.  I’m blessed because all I have to do is give him a description of what I need and he does his best to create it for me.  Our daughter (aka princess aka Diana) is one of the hardest working teenagers that I know.  I pay her for her help (she doesn’t accept candy for payment like she did when she was younger) after school and for helping me out at shows during the summer.  She doesn’t have much time during the school year but she does her best to help me on the weekends.

Loopy: It’s so great to have a supportive family and I’m glad you share a photo of the three of you. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Dianne: I haven’t had a day off since July 2007 when we took a family vacation to Cancun, Mexico.  While we were there I couldn’t dye but I did get to plan colors from the beautiful colors of Mexico.  We went on vacation this year about a 4 hour drive from our house and you guessed it.  We came home early because I wanted to dye.  In 2009 with my show schedule it doesn’t seem like I’ll have a day off until November.  I work so hard because our daughter will be leaving for college in less than 4 years.  I believe that the next generation should not have to use student loans like I did so I’m working hard so I can pay her tuition.

Loopy: College costs are skyrocketing these days. I know your daughter appreciates all of your hard work to help pay for that coming up in her life. (Or if she doesn’t appreciate it yet, she will someday!) Anything else you’d like to add?
I am a workaholic who loves her job and wish I found this job earlier in life.  I have an AA in General Studies & a BS in Computer Science & one year left to finish my MA in Technology Management.  In my previous life I used to be a computer programmer. I am SO BLESSED.

Loopy: And we feel blessed to have you here at The Loopy Ewe.  Thanks, Dianne!
So many fun things arriving at Loopy Central and we’re photoing as fast as we can! Wait until you see the cute sheep-y bags from 3AM Enchantments – too fun.  And we have that special new line from Dream in Color called Starry arriving this week in all colors, including their brand new semi-solids.  Can you guess why it’s called Starry? Here are the new colors you can look forward to (but these were dyed on the regular base – not Starry.  So the photo will give you no hints on Starry yet…) New color names (L-R): Cinnamon Girl, Gold Experience, Shiny Moss, Bermuda Teal, Romeo Blue, Purple Rain, Absolute Magenta, Tea Party, Grey Tabby, Black Pearl and Crying Dove.  We’ll be getting these new colors in Smooshy and Baby and Classy as soon as they’re available, but first we’ll have them in Starry.

Sheri backfromColoradonow,photosonWednesday!

Rocky Mountain High

Photo: Sheri Berger
Friday, November 14th, 2008 in Sheri's Recipes

Last week it was a working weekend at Stitches, and this weekend it’s pure fun! WH and I came out to Colorado for a long weekend of fresh mountain air. (And some eating out, and some movies, and some knitting, and some reading and some hanging out.  Not necessarily in that order.) The Elves are keeping things running at Loopy Central and I’ll be back there on Monday!

I know you’ve been waiting to find out a couple of things. First of all, which Dream in Color Baby projects won the Reader’s Choice Award and the “glad you participated in the challenge and your number was picked by the random generator” award for out latest knitting challenge? The Reader’s Choice award goes to Woodland Baby - a beautiful shawl knit up out of Happy Forest by Jade in Australia. The second award goes to Timmie for her wonderful scarf done up in Wisterious.  Both have won $25 gift certificates to The Loopy Ewe. :-)

Today’s Recipe – Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
6-8 chicken breasts
2 boxes of frozen broccoli, chopped
1 pkg. long-grain wild rice
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. curry powder
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Cook the chicken and cut into small pieces.  Cook broccoli and rice, and then mix them together.  Layer the chicken and broccoli/rice mixture in a buttered 9 x 13 pan.  Mix the soup, mayo, lemon juice and curry powder together and pour over the top.  Top with grated cheese.  Cook for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.  Serves 6-8.

The other thing you’re waiting to hear, are the winning color combinations for our Team Spirit line. They all arrived this week and they look great!  These will probably go up Thanksgiving week, since The Loopy Photo Color Corrector (aka – my hubby) is here in Colorado this weekend instead of spending his Saturday in the Loopy Photo Studio, as usual. I thought I could at least fill you in on the colors that will be up.  We (ok, Elf Susan) spent a long time going through your 500 comments to pick out the top most-requested color combinations.  We’re open to adding more eventually.  We’ll let you know when you can vote again!  We had these dyed up in Shepherd Sport, since we know you will be using them for socks, as well as hats, scarves, gloves, mitts, and … whatever else you come up with. We’ll look forward to seeing photos of your finished products.

Team Spirit Colorways
Black and Dark Yellow 
Black and Orange
Black and Red
Green and Dark Yellow
Green and White
Dark Green and Silver
Purple and Dark Yellow 
Purple and Orange
Purple and White 
Navy and White 
Navy and Gold
Navy and Orange
Royal Blue and White 
Royal Blue and Red
Royal Blue and Silver
Maroon and Gold 
Dark Red and Gold
Red and White
(plus solids to match all of the colors)

Sheri andit’scoldhere,soIamwearingmywarmesthandknitsocks

Janie in The Loopy Limelight

Photo: Sheri Berger
Wednesday, November 12th, 2008 in Loopy Limelight

Today we have the originator of those wonderful Beanie Baggies that you keep buying up. I met Janie at the TNNA Market this past summer and placed our first order with her then.  She is amazingly quick in getting orders out to me – I don’t know how she does it!  I know you’ll enjoy learning more about her in this Loopy Limelight.
Loopy: Hi Janie – thanks for being with us today. We love having your wonderful bags here and have a hard time keeping them in stock.  How long have you been sewing and do you remember the first thing you made?
Janie: Thank you to all at the Loopy Ewe for allowing me to visit with you today and to all of the wonderful customers who have purchased Mind Your Knitting products.  I began sewing when I was a teenager.  It was most certainly out of necessity.  When I was in high school I was just over five feet tall and weighed about 90 pounds soaking wet.  Since that was back in the sixties and there was no such thing as petite sizing, I asked my mother to teach me to sew.  She was a wonderful seamstress and had an impeccable sense of style not to mention the patience of a saint.  I began making my own skirts at a time when mini-skirts were all the rage.  Since I was so short and fabric was so much less expensive I could make a skirt for about .25 cents.  My mother did the hard part since she knit me matching sweaters and made me the best dressed girl in school. It’s obvious she had a huge influence on all of my needlework skills by passing her knowledge onto me just as her mother, my grandmother had passed them onto her.  My grandmother lived with us and helped raise me.  One year as a surprise she took all of the scraps from my skirts and made a quilt.  My daughter who is now 32 still has it and every time I see it I have quite a walk down memory lane.

Loopy: A skirt for a quarter sounds like a really great deal – and then you got a sweater to match?  No wonder you like sewing. What made you get into making bags as a business?
Janie: I guess you could say necessity knocked on my door again.  I travel quite a bit and on one particular plane ride I think I must have rescued my ball of yarn at least 10 times from under the seat in front of me.  I was certainly not making any friends and out of my frustration I muttered something about the fact that someone needed to invent something to deal with this problem. In that moment a light bulb went off and I realized I didn’t need to sit back and wait for someone to invent something that I was dreaming of.  I guess it was the concept that if you can dream it you can do it.  So I went to work and after about two weeks and 50 attempts the Beanie Baggie was born.  Many days I would be so frustrated because I knew how I wanted the Beanie Baggie to look. Though it looks simple there are many steps involved.  It was a real lesson in perseverance.

Loopy: They really are colorful and you came up with a great design. What is a typical day like for you. Do you sew all day long?
Janie: I really don’t have a typical work day.  Some days I might work an hour or two and some days I might get up at 2:00 A.M. and work until 6 00 P.M.  Working at home takes a lot of discipline because in a sense you’re always at work and you have to learn to draw a line. It is just as easy to play hooky as it is to get so involved that you forget to quit at quitting time.  When I set up Mind Your Knitting the most important thing for me was to be able to work from anyplace at any time.  It has been my biggest accomplishment and has allowed me a great deal of freedom.

Loopy: It’s nice that your business is portable, since you travel a lot. Do you have a workshop where you create? What things are “must haves” for your sewing room?
Janie: My workroom is actually a converted bedroom with a huge walk in closet devoted entirely to my business.  I have found that I can have all the fancy tools and machines ever created but if I don’t have the space for spreading out while still keeping organized, I can’t think.  So I guess organization is my must have.  If you sew you probably don’t need as much space as I do but do try to carve out a little spot for yourself someplace in your home where you can keep everything at your fingertips.  A tip I learned from my brother who did a lot of woodworking was always make sure you clean up your workspace at the end of the day.  There is nothing worse than starting a new work day surrounded by chaos.

Loopy: You mentioned that you were knitting on a plane. How long have you been knitting and what do you like to make the most?
Janie: I have been knitting since I was a little girl, when both my grandmother and mother taught me.  I love to knit everything but especially enjoy knitting anything I can give as a gift.  I feel there is something special about giving a handmade gift to someone.  Any knitter knows how many emotions can go into a project beginning with picking out the yarn to finding a mistake halfway down to binding off that final stitch.  It’s like giving a piece of yourself to someone.

Loopy: And hopefully you’re giving it to someone who appreciates the work that you put into it! Do you find the time to knit as much as you’d like? Any tips on squeezing more knitting into a busy life?
Janie: No I don’t knit as much as I would like.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.  I am sure most women can relate.  I always make sure I have one project that is quick, simple and portable.  It is surprising how easy it is to finish a small project even if you only have a have a few minutes here or there.  Of course scarves are a great item.   A change in yarn and needle size can give an entirely different look to the same pattern.  I also like to do baby items as they also work up so quickly.

Loopy: Hmmm.  Scarves.  I seem to know someone else who is making a lot of scarves, too. :-) For any other artisans out there, do you have any advice in starting up a business and marketing yourself?
Janie: I used to own a retail store as well as work for Corporate America.  I always thought that starting a business such as Mind Your Knitting would be so much easier.  In some respects it is because there are no employees to deal with, you can work in your p.j.’s if you want and there is no boss telling you what to do.  But the hard part is that you become the employee as well as the boss.  You have to learn a new kind of discipline which isn’t always easy to develop at the beginning.  Your new business will seem like a shiny new toy.  But then the daily chores show up and you realize that owning your own business is so much more than selling your product. I believe one of the hardest things for very creative people to deal with is paper work.  But I can’t stress how important it is.  If you don ‘t have the knowledge of how to set up your books or protect yourself financially ask someone for help or do some research on the internet.  A good set of books and accurate records are not only a road map to your success, they can make you or break you in the end.

Loopy: You have brought a lot of good experience into setting up your own business – and you’ve shared great advice with us. Can you tell us about your family?
Janie: I have been married to the boy next door for 38 years and he has always been my biggest support.  Together we have two sons and a daughter, who are 32, 33 and 34.  That’s right, they are 13 months apart and at one time I had a newborn, one year old and two year old.  The day they could all put on their own coats was a great day.  Unfortunately they all live in different states but this does make any family time we get very precious.   Our daughter has given us two beautiful granddaughters who are 2 and 3.  They are such a joy and give so much comfort without even knowing it.

Loopy: No wonder you travel – you have family spread all over!  We appreciate you spending time with us today. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Janie: I feel extremely passionate about passing down the many wonderful handcrafts we have to our daughters and granddaughters.  I was given that gift by my mother and grandmother and it is a something that I will always cherish.

Loopy: And I’ll bet you will have some fun family knitting sessions as those granddaughters get older!
Sheri whohasalreadyconfessedtohavingathingforbags

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