Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Too sick to knit that has been the question....

Well I finally caught whatever has been causing sickness in our area. I have spoken to so many of my customers who have had exactly what I have (NOT the swine flu btw) and it has been a real tough one. I have been out of the shop since Thursday (Thanks Laura and Co.) and was even so sick Sunday night I couldn't even knit, HORRORS!! The good news is the power drugs, inhaler, vitamin C, and tons of fluids are working and I am back up and knitting! Yeah! I will be back in the shop tomorrow too and can't wait to get out of this house! It is so great to work somewhere that you miss when you are away.

So while down for the count, I was able to finish my Offset Raglan Sweater by Veronik Avery from the book Simple Style. I chose to use the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn and am blocking it today. How do I block a garment is a question I get a lot and I thought I would give you all a quick overview and hopefully get your confidence up. Blocking is basically 'setting' your stitches and getting to the finished measurements of your piece.

To the left you see my sweater soaking in my tub for about 20 minutes, in tepid (not hot, not cold) water with a mild detergent (I recommend Soak) to help things along and get any oils that maybe in the fiber out.

In the other picture you see my sweater laid out after rinsing in tepid water and squeezing (NEVER wringing) the excess water out and then a little tugging and pulling to get the piece to the correct finished measurements. It doesn't take much if your piece was knit to gauge and thankfully mine came out right, even though when I tried on the unblocked piece it felt too snug, phew, that was close :) I use rust proof T-pins to pin where needed and you can see my little black sheep that helped me measure to make sure all pins went in the right places. Now I just wait for it to dry and that will probably take a couple of days. Now there are lots of ways to block pieces and not all pieces require a wet blocking and be sure you know what your particular piece needs, wet, steam, or maybe it's just good to go as is. This is knitters choice and I am also very proud of myself on this piece as the only sewing (besides weaving in any ends) are to graft the stitches under the arms, so I looked up just what to do in my The Ultimate Knitting Book by Vogue and it is beautiful! There is also tons of great blocking information in this book! My next big thing I need to do to have a more complete tool kit for my work is to make a blocking board. Sandy has a great one and we are going to make one with one of our friends soon, then I won't have to pin things out on the dinning room floor.

I mentioned before that I want to embroider on this sweater and I will keep you posted on that. I have pulled out every book I have on possible designs and am just trying to decide do I use duplicate stitch and then maybe chain stitch around it to give it a bit more pop, or do I embroider all of it.

As always happy knitting and make sure you get plenty of fiber in your diet daily! Jeanne


Sunday, April 26, 2009

For my fellow cat lovers...

Knitting has never been a covert operation in my house...until now. My 9 year old cat, Tinker:
is a sauntering, affectionate, docile creature attributed to sleeping his nights away on my pillow. I'd like to think have a bond to him much like a mother to her first born...or at least that's what I liken it to because, well...he's a lot like my kid, and I don't have any human kids. Frankly, he could care less about my yarn or what is on my needles.



Meet Marcus Aurelius and Alexander the Great:
Two very curious, very active longhair Siamese we adopted on Saturday (Cory named them!). They're about a year old, and they get into just about everything...including burrowing right into my yarn basket. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera handy when I caught the little culprits, but you can imagine.

It all started when we decided to stop off at Petco to price dogloos (thought we'd better make sure we could afford to adopt a dog and buy a decent dog house in the same weekend. After all, it gets windy out here). And then, right there in the entry way, was the kitten and cat adoption group of the week. With Marcus and Alexander attracting all the attention. Now normally I'm not really one to pick young animals over older ones. Everybody wants a puppy or kitten. However, I'm a firm believer in that adoptive animals choose us, not the other way around. While every other cat there could have cared less at one more couple walking through the door, these two were practically speaking to us. Have you ever seen a cat make and maintain eye contact on purpose?

So that's how they got here. And as I learned this morning, knitting (still finishing the Gayle) is now a touch and go activity, at best. Knit a row, with yarn balls stuffed inconspicuously away in knitting bag...defend yarn against kitten attack...cover yarn and project tightly....kittens retreat...lather, rinse, repeat. As for Tinker, he's adjusting to his new brothers quite well, and even getting in on the action:
What I have to wonder though...is how do people do it with human children?! I had such anxiety over bringing Marcus and Alexander home, and have been so preoccupied with making sure Tinker doesn't feel left out or less significant (yeah, I think he's a pretty complex cat)...I can't imagine how it must be with children!

*Ashley*














Saturday, April 25, 2009

World of color...


So, I've been immersing myself lately in the colors of Noro. I am absolutely in LOVE some of the colors we've got on sale in the Kureyon Sock. I started making myself a beautiful Ishbel shawl from Ysolda Teague's "Whimsical Little Knits" and I am loving the pattern so much that I have started a second one to give as a gift (I won't say for who, since that person might read this blog.) Anyway, I am probably going to end up making 3 or 4 of these before all is said and done. The way the Noro colors are striping is simply stunning, I just love it. Not to mention that 1 skein of the Kureyon Sock will make a whole shawl. Amazing, I know! I love this little book though. There are so many sweet little things I want to make from it...





I have also been making some good headway on my Prudence top from "Amber" by Kim Hargreaves. I'd like to finish by the end of May. Only a couple of months late... I know, I know, but i've just been tempted by all of these amazing colors.... Not to mention all of the gifts i've been making lately. So many new babies coming into this world, I plan to make sure that they are all wrapped in knitted love. But in all seriousness, I really want my prudence top off my needles in time for summer. Although it's not exactly a summer sweater, it will be nice inspiration in the shop for the fall knitting i'm sure will start in another couple of months.



Lastly, I have recently been learning to spin my own yarn! I am so excited! One of our lovely knitting instructors Allison, gave me a lesson in spinning the other day and I made my first skein (the white one.) I promptly went home and played around with my hand spindle all afternoon and made the fun little multi-colored yarn also. I think this is going to me more adicting than I originally thought. Now I am dreaming of spinning wheels and beautiful hand-spun, hand-dyed yarns. Yet another hobby to explore. I am so hooked! I'm sure you'll be seeing much more evidence of my adventures in spinning soon. Until then, happy knitting...
~Kristen~











Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Miss me??


Well thanks to the JBW gang I was able to take a vacation, WOW! It was so cool and thanks all you beans for helping me get some time with my family.


Left, Chris and I are by the Lone Cypress on the 17 mile drive in Carmel, ooohhhh the homes are incredible!

Some of you may know that one of my other passions (like I need another obsession :) is riding my motorcycle; as a matter of fact the license plate is K1 P2, imagine! Well my husband and I love to ride together as much as possible, but it can be a bit tiring to ride to the good riding spots, like the California Coast. With that in mind my great negotiator (aka husband Geoff) was able to procure us a terrific toy hauler that will hold our bikes and we can still camp, oh yeah another love of mine.

He is fantastic at getting prices down on things and I have considered hiring him out for a small fee, as he truly enjoys the deal making and it so incredible at it (he is in the picture to the right with Chris and Sierra)!

Anyway off we go with trailer in tow, bikes, dogs, and our son Chris (said son and dogs, Piglet is white and Sierra is black in the picture to the left *Note Chris' hat, no I did not knit that one, but will knit him one someday. ) on spring break to the Monterrey Peninsula for some fun! The weather was pretty good all in all for this time of year and we saw some beautiful places and had a GREAT time!

Of course there was knitting and I am currently working feverishly on my Offset Raglan by Veronik Avery from the book Simple Style and am using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn from my favorite yarn store Jimmy Beans Wool, hmmmm, imagine that? My goal on this simple, yet elegant sweater is to embroider, yep you head that right, some Celtic knots here an there. Wish me luck on that one! This sweater is lovely with or without extras and I am truly enjoying the simplicity of the pattern and the yarn is FABULOUS!!


Thanks again to all you little beans who pitched in and let me get away and as always happy knitting! Jeanne :)










Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yards...

It's been a long, yard-ey weekend.

It started at about 8:30AM on Saturday with me digging up the (sadly) dead purple sage bushes in the front yard (you wouldn't believe the size of the roots on those suckers! Such a bummer that they didn't get water while the house was vacant!!). Aside from a few moments of irony (realizing I was digging them up with a 'Homeowner' brand shovel, purchased well before we were actually homeowners); and resourcefulness (realizing I neglected to buy hedge trimmers, pruning shears, a hacksaw, or any other tool suitable for clipping/cutting down bushes; and deciding the 20 mile drive to the nearest hardware store wasn't worth it--then using a pair of bolt cutters brought over by Cory's mom), it was a productive and exhausting day. Meanwhile, Cory fixed the fence in about two dozen places. I'm pretty sure his motivation was more because he wants to adopt a rescued dog; not so much because the HOA will soon be sending nasty-grams if we didn't.

Now, I really should explain that I'm addicted to bargain hunting. I'm pretty sure I haven't paid full price for anything in my home or closet for at least two years. Thrift stores, yard sales, clearance racks, hand-me-downs...good finds are out there and I'm bound and determined to find them. And I have. With help of course. Between my mom, and especially this weekend Cory's mom--I've collected some amazing things. This weekend's find: two stoneware serving platters, a buffet server, and a punch bowl all for the wedding, all for $11. So cool.

And the last of my 'yards' this weekend: it's time to choose my next project. I'm about 4 knitting hours away from finishing the Gayle (finally...egad!) and while I admit I'm better off with small projects, I'm really, really itching to try lace. I don't want to bite off more than I can chew, but I think I'm going to try the Shoalwater Shawl for my mom in a non-wool. There's no way of course it'll be done by Mother's Day--but perhaps by the wedding, if not then by Christmas. No pressure, just dying to try it. I think I'll try the SWTC Terra. The bamboo content really gives it a nice drape and besides that there's no animal fiber at all (my mom's sensitive to pretty much everything) it's an eco-friendly yarn, so it makes me smile too! She, like my grandma, loves red, so I think I'll knit up my test swatch in this color:

And I'm thinking I'll need about 850 yards :-)


*Ashley*









Sunday, April 12, 2009

Family heirlooms...

I'll first start off by saying...I had no idea we had one. We have some traditional coming-of-age things (this crazy huge silver-dollar necklace my grandpa gives all of the women around high school graduation time, for example) but I was totally unaware of a family heirloom until...(gasp) my mom came by the new house and realized we suddenly have um, space.

Next I'd better explain that the nice little picture of said family heirloom still lies in wait on my xD card, because, well...my laptop is a dinosaur and apparently has only one USB port that is currently occupied by the prehistoric roller-ball mouse we've been using since the mouse on the laptop pooped out. And I guess it's time to look into fixing the mouse on the computer, or even better, look into upgrading (better not say that too loud, I need this thing to last at least through this blog!!). This definitley won't do next time I want to sync my iPod...

Ok sorry, back to topic. My family heirloom is a really cute (and currently squeaky, unfinished) rocking chair that has apparently been in the family since my grandma was a baby. Egad! I remember it being in my room when I was reeeeellly little, painted white. Since then it's been stripped and sat in wait in a closet at my mom's house, and now it's in my (hopefully) able hands to refinish and um...hang on to until the little ones come along. In...awhile.

So after it gets a nice stain, I think I'll add my own touch by knitting a cushion for the seat. I'm thinking something like theBlue Sky Bulky Gusseted Floor Cushions:
scaled down a bit of course to fit on the seat, haha!

That said, the house is amazing and it's coming right along. We hung pictures in most of the rooms today and Cory and his brother started clearing the backyard (it was something like a small desert wildlife reserve in the middle of suburbia). As much as I would love to leave it as a...wildlife reserve...I don't think our wedding guests would appreciate the blue belly lizards quite as much as we do. ;-) But, he has promised he'll leave anything that resembles a cottontail 'home' untouched.


*Ashley*











Friday, April 10, 2009

Greetings and thanks!

Hey everyone! As this is my first time blogging here at Jimmy Beans Wool I just want to say thanks so much to Laura aka. Jimmy for inviting me to begin blogging regularly. It's such an honor, and I hope to represent Jimmy Beans Wool in a way that will make our little family of beans proud. I'm so very excited to share my knitting adventures with you all! There are so many knitting related things I am excited about right now that I hardly know where to begin!

First, I know it's a little late in the month, but can I just say how much I LOVE the April Limited Edition from Lorna's Laces-Robin's Eggs! The color is flying off the shelves here at the shop and I am tempted to get even more than the two skeins of Sportweight that I already bought. When Jimmy brought the sample of this into the shop a couple of months back, I asked if she would make this the April color (since my birthday was April 1st.) She said "maybe" but I didn't think she would remember. When the color came in I was so pleasantly surprised! That Jimmy has a pretty good memory... Anyway, I just love this color and if you are thinking about getting some, I recommend snapping it up--before it's all gone!

Also, I am really excited about all the new Rowan sale yarn we got in this week! Seriously, I wish I had my camera with me at work today to take pictures of how full our new back-room has gotten. With all of the new Rowan yarn (not to mention the Noro and Debbie Bliss), it's getting hard to move back there! Granted, the girls in the back have done an amazing job of keeping it all organized, but man to we have a lot of yarn! I suppose it's to be expected, we sort of like the stuff after all. Of all of the new Rowan sale stuff (which is all 50% off by the way) I think I am going to have to get some of the Cocoon and the Big Wool. I do have some particular projects in mind. For the Big Wool, I want to make this Alpine Shrug from Rowan Magazine #42.


I'm not sure exactly what I am going to make with the Cocoon just yet but it is just so soft I can't resist! I just want to wrap myself in it! I might also buy some of the Scottish Tweed but I can't decide-- Aran or Chunky? Oh it's all so delicious!

Every time we get a new shipment of something wonderful I have to hold back from declaring it "all mine!" What is it about yarn that makes me think like 2-year-old all over again?

My most recent Toddler moment was when we got all of the Malabrigo worsted in about 2 weeks ago. I think I was the most excited person in the shop wanting to hold it all and rub it against my cheek. I of course said it was all for me and Amber said, "no Kristen, you have to save some for the customers." I gave her my best pouty face and the proceeded to only buy one skein. For now. I'll share what I did with that one skein very soon. I made a lovely, cozy cowl that I may put on the site soon as a free pattern. Yum, I just LOVE Malabrigo!

Well, that is all for now. I promise to show off some works in progress soon including some updated pics of my Prudence shop knit (from the Rowan book Amber) in
the Rowan Bamboo Soft. I just love Kim Hargreave's timeless designs and can't wait to show this one off.


Signing off for now from the biggest little yarn shop in the west--
Happy Knitting to you all!
Kristen










Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Showering Babies?

Now why do we 'shower' the baby? It's the baby incubator that really gets all the stuff and the baby doesn't need a shower yet. Ok, ok, I know I crack myself up :) We did it, we showered our baby incubator and the incubator's husband too! It was a BLAST!!!! We had knitting royalty attend and I don't think I have ever seen so many beautiful (small) hand knitted gifts in one place.

Here a few of our Litlle Beans (left, Amber, Sandy, Amanda & Kristen) chat it up before we eat all the yummy food the was made! Come on I am hungry!!

In the picture to the right, Doug is by the door, and Laura is chatting with Kirstin Muench of Muench Yarns, Renie of Knitting Pure and Simple is listening and then our own Dot (who used to light up the Truckee and Reno shop with her great personality and fantastic knitting skills) chats with Sandy.

Left, Dot and Victoria are getting to know each other and a HUGE thanks goes out to Victoria for letting us hold this affair in her beautiful home. Victoria just found out that she will be moving to Southern California next week and still she didn't falter at opening her home to us! We will miss having you in the shop, but Victoria will still be helping with all our yarn buying and more via long distance cyber space!


Doug is ALWAYS smiling and Laura always listens! It is so great to be part of our JBW family with such fantastic bosses who teach this little bean something new everyday. I want to be like them if I ever grow up.

In the pic to the right Christel (on the left) and Sandy (in the doorway), two of our absolutely fabulous customers/friends, get to know each other better. You would be hard pressed to find two more generous, gentle, thoughful, women anywhere!

As many of you may have noticed, dogs play a big part of our lives at JBW and I want to thank Lilly for being such a sweet hostess. We rattled her a bit, but she was truly a sweetie and allowed us into her domain with few compaints.

The pic on the right the AMAZING diaper cake that Ashley created for the Zander's and the little Zander to be. It is truly a masterpiece with all of the little things that one needs to keep the baby sweet and neat.

Here is our own Amber who had just participated in a 24 hour, yep that's right, 24 hour bike event here in Reno. There is a reason those cool shades are there and this pic doesn't show off her sunburn, but it's there. The event is called the Scalley Cat Bike Race and the racers have to take pictures of themselves doing crazy things, kind of like a scavenger hunt and ride to all sorts of places in the 24 hours. Phew, this event is not for the faint of heart and Amber has never failed to amaze me with stuff like this! Way to go!

Isn't Karla so cute! To the right, is designer, Ann Norling checking out the cutest Blue Sky Alpacas Baby Bobbi Bear, knit by our friend Sandy H.! Way to go Sandy!!






Below, in the right pic, Laura is opening one of the many gifts for the Rock. You can see Ashley in the background keeping track of them in Laura's notebook. Of course left, is Kristen pouting (I can't remember why) and Amber always sticks her tongue out at me!


The pics below are, on the left Laura opening Kirstin's gift to the Dogs and in the middle pic, are from left to right, Renie, Dot, Diane (Knitting Pure and Simple Patterns designer). On the floor left to right, Kristen, Amber and Amanda. The pic to the right is the coolest hand drawn card that accompined Amanda M's gift of handmade soap and hand knit organic, cotton cloth. Amanda M. had to leave the shop to work on her schooling to become a Nurse and I must say we are all very proud of her!!










What would a party be without party favors? We each took home one of these awesome little favors filled with Dove Chocolates! A good time was had by all and I can't wait to meet the 'Rock' at the end of May!
As always Happy Knitting! Jeanne :)


Monday, April 6, 2009

Quickest Post in the West!

We've had a record past few days (and in April!), so I've got to run to Reno in just a few minutes... hence the quickest post in the west. (Apparently everyone else besides me is also in love the Debbie Bliss Pure Silk DK - at 50% off, it's literally been selling faster than we can pack and ship it!)

I've almost finished Baby Z's blanket, so thought i'd show you a photo... in case you're interested - it turned out great!!! i've been sewing together the edges over coffee (1/2 decaf, of course) each morning and should be done in a few days. For more details and photos, click here.

I also want to mention that we had our first baby shower last night, compliments of the gang at JBW (former and current employees, customers, vendors - Ann Norling was there!). It was the most amazing party i've ever been to - doug and i are still quite a bit choked up and can't get over the fact that all of these wonderful people came together for us (and for the kid). You should have seen the knitting that had been done... baby bears, little lambs, hats, booties, sweaters, and more!! I'll put photos up (with jeanne and doug's help) over the next few days - i promise.

We had a great time... and I am still completely speechless.

Thank you guys for everything. We are truly the luckiest people in the world.