This is the fourth morning in a row that a cute little duck has been swimming on our pond. It is a very tiny thing--about a quarter to a third the size of our domestic ducks. At first we thought it was a merganser but when I looked them up, they were way too big to be our guest. After perusing the field guide and looking at all the ducks (most of which were gigantic comparatively) I decided the little stranger is a female bufflehead. What a strange name! So more research. A buffle is a puzzle, something that doesn't make sense or isn't obvioyus. Poor little thing, all by itself and seemingly far from where it should be (according to my field guide, buffleheads like salt water or estuaries where the water is brackish) maybe bufflehead is a good name for it.
It reminds me of LG (pictured above). Many of you have been asking about him so I will provide a brief summary of his history as we know it. LG, a Canada goose with a hole punched in one foot (a way of marking water fowl) arrived on our pond 3 1/2 years ago along with a female Mallard duck. Strange as it may be, they seemed to be a pair. After a month or so, some attractive Mallard drakes showed up and she started flirting with them. After a few days she took off with them. LG was very depressed but didn't follow her. A month or so later, she came back! He grabbed her by the neck and thumped her. She left, never to return and he is still with us. He lives with our flock of Pilgrim geese and as far as we know he has not left our farm since he arrived. He can fly and has taught all of our geese to fly, but he only flies from the shed to the pond. He is quite affectionate (will let me pet him) and I have grown quite fond of him. I doubt our Bufflehead will be a permanent resident, but she is welcome as long as she stays.
This morning as I was decorating for Christmas and putting the lovingly made hand crafted items (conceived of and created by customers and employees) on the tree, remembering and thinking about each artist, it occurred to me that the store is seven years old this week. WOW! We have been in business seven years! Who would have dreamed we would make it this long! We started out seven year ago with about $20,000 worth of inventory (yarn) which looked pretty scanty even when carefully arranged in one small room. Our first Christmas tree, which was one of our first projects, rather a pitiful site, was decorated with hand made spindles and red bows. ( We found the tree abandonned and unloved in an empty aparment. We are still decorating the same tree, it is becoming an icon.)
We added more yarn, spinning wheels and looms as we could afford to do so, eventually stocking what amounts to 3 rooms and a storage area. Of course we can't have every yarn that is out there, but we have tried to have a wide selection focused on natural fibers and whenever possible items produced in the United States or as Fairtrade.
[ Here we will stop for a little discussion on Fairtrade. Fairtrade means that producers in the developing world get a better deal for their products. (Yes, that generally means that it costs us more--but isn't it worth it to contribute money to better lives for people who produce our yarns.) Two of the yarns we carry, MIrasol and Bee Sweet both take a percentage of every sale and invest it in schools, health care (like tetanus immunizations) after school care and other worthy projects that help out children of the people who produce the yarn.]
It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, that the only reason a store can be successful is if it has customers. It is the loyaty and support of customers like you that keeps us in business. So many of you came to the store on Small Business Saturday to support us that it was an incredibly successful day and made me feel really good. Virtually all of you said that the reason you came was to support the store and show how much you appreciate it. Your comments and support were especially meaningful this year with Mack's illness and the reduced hours we had to put in place. I also want to thank those of you who comment on this blog. Your comments motivate me to keep up the research and to be more diligent about writing a blog at least every week. Thank you so much for seven years of business. Running a store is hard. If I had realized how hard it was, I don't think I would have started it. However, we are where we are and the truth is I love the store. I have learned so much and there is so much more to learn. I have met so many wonderful people from all walks of life and have been part of their lives as we talked and worked on finding the right project or shared a special moment. Thank you so much and lets keep our fingers crossed that we can make it for 7 more years
I have been somewhat remiss in writing blogs the last two weeks. We have been somewhat busy in the store, but mostly it is because I was trying to finish two shawls I started in October. My goal was to finish both in October and believe it or not--I did. The shawls didn't show their beauty when finished so against my nature I blocked them this weekend. Until blocked, the lace didn't show up and there were no points where there should have been. The shape wasn't clear and the beads didn't show at all, they might as well not have been included on the one shawl. The process wasn't too bad and what a difference in the shawls! (Disregard the ends that haven't been woven in yet!)
The gray shawl is made of Juniper Moon Farm Findley lace yarn (50% merino and 50% silk) with beads and the fuschia shawl is made of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Silk Single (75% merino, 15% cashmere, 10% silk). I loved working with both!
Wow!!!! How do you like this for a mask? This is one of the most unique applications of felting that we have seen at the store. It just shows what one can do with some imagination and materials. Carol, the creator is behind the mask. Wow, again!
The picture below is a lovely example of an Indian landscape. I love the water, the mountains and the beautiful sky. Lynn did a great job.
Those of you who have been following my blog know that September 23-29 is wool week. To celebrate, yarns that are more than 50% wool will be on sale. 100% wool will be 10% off, 50% or more wool will be 5% off. These prices only apply to yarns currently in stock at the store. We will also have some unadvertised specials! Come in next week and check out the new yarns, especially those that are 50% or more wool. So if you have been planning on purchasing some beautiful wool yarn next week is the time to come in!
P.S. Remember that wool is a fiber that comes from sheep--we aren't including fiber from any other category of animals--goats (cashmere and mohair), alpaca, llamas, camel, rabbits, etc. are not included in the sale.
Recently I finished a beautiful knit hat. It was a quick, easy knit that I finished in three days. There was a small bit of yarn left--just enough for a pom pom. The pom pom came out pretty well and I started to stick it on the hat. Mack said, "You can't do that. That will make it into a tam instead of a beret." Well the completed hat was supposed to be a beret, although it wasn't blocked so it could be anything, but is it a pom pom that makes the difference between a beret and a tam? Who knows?
I turned to the authority--Wickipedia and looked up both tams and berets. A tam (tam o'shanter) is a specific type of beret. It is named after Tam O'Shanter the hero of a poem by Robert Burns. It is brimless cap made of wool (most of the pictures I saw were wool fabric) with a toorie (pom pom) in the center. And indeed Mack is right-- the pom pom is the biggest distinction between a tam and a beret. Tams are (or were) generally worn by men and part of the headgear of Scottish soldiers. This style of hat when worn by a woman is called a tammy.
Now that we have discussed the tam, let's go into a little more detail on berets. A beret can be made of wool, either woven or knit, and often felted. This type of hat has been worn in Europe since the bronze age. It is also worn by many military units and these generally have a headband. Many European countries have traditions and specific types of berets associated with them.
Other types of hats are:
cloche--received its name because of its bell shape. A cloche is a felt (or knitted) hat designed to fit close to the head, down low on the forehead. The eyes of the wearer should be visible only slightly below the brim. The Eton crop, a short slicked down style, was inspired by the cloche.
tuque--a head hugging cap often referred to as a beanie in the U.S and a skully in other countries. (Skully sure gives you the impression of a tight fitting sort of hat.)
toboggan--when I looked this style up, I kept coming up with information on the wooden sled. After some searching I found a definition for a knit hat--a close fitting woolen cap with a tassel. Apparently, whether a toboggan is a sled or a hat has a lot to do with where you live, but we won't go into that.
There are lots of pictures of each style of hat, but wouldn't it be more fun to come in and look at some of the patterns in books and magazines here at the store!
Well, August is finally over! It has been a stressful month for us, actually, it seems that the whole summer has been difficult, but now we can look forward to fall and winter--and hopefully great knitting weather! I have re-organized the store. Yarns are now located by content and washability. Many stores are organized by color or yarn weight, but I thought it would be fun to have them organized by composition for a change. Machine washable yarns are shelved together. Alpacas are herded togehter, feltable wools in another, tweeds are together, llama has its own section, etc. It is much more convenient for the customer who wants cotton or plant fibers with no wool--at least in theory. We will see how it goes.
The United States will celebrate the first American Wool Week 2012 will be September 24-30. News regarding this week will be available on the Campaign for Wool website--www.campaignforwool.org
What is Blue Faced Leicester? We all have trouble pronouncing the name, but those of you who are yarn enthusiasts will know right away that we are talking about a breed of sheep with a blue tint on the skin of its face that shines through the short fiber on its roman nose. The fiber on the rest of the sheep is long, lustrous and lightweight--so lightweight in fact that its fleece generally doesn't weigh as much as those of other sheep. Blue Faced Leicester fiber makes a gorgeous soft yarn with luster and fantastic drape.
Debbie Bliss, a designer whose yarn we feature in the store, has always liked fiber from heritage sheep. This fall she is intrdoucing a new line of yarn--Blue Faced Leicester--spun with Blue Faced Leicester fiber in England. It is aran weight and machine washable. The picture below shows the beautiful colors.
August 1 was a beautiful full moon! Many of you may have noticed it, it was so prominent in the sky. We did! About 9:00 pm we were out sitting in our lawn swing looking down over the hill watching the bats fly over the pond. Finally it was cool enough to be outside. The moon started peeking out over the tops of the trees--an absolutely beautiful pink color set in the blue but graying sky. Of course, it appeared to get smaller as it rose on the horizon and eventually turned a bright yellow white. Gorgeous!
In a weird coincidence, this month also will have two full moons--the one we saw on the 1st and another on August 31. This happens once in a while. According to folk lore and legend the second full moon is called a "Blue Moon" . (The fourth full moon in a season can also be called a blue moon and of course, we are all familiar with the famous phrase "once in a blue moon" for something that is fairly unusual.)
The inspiration for this month's color was the full moon on August 1. It would be impossible to replicate the colors and the glory of the moon, but we are doing our best--dyed yarn with pink (and some yellows, greens and grays) on a blue background. It is also quite beautiful in its own way.
On another note, the fall yarns are starting to arrive. We have new colors in some of the old favorites and a lot of new yarns arriveing. So far we have new shades of Silk Garden from Noro, some gorgeous metallics from Great Adirondack, and a Kama, a brand new yarn from Noro. We have the new fall/winter Debbie Bliss magazine with lots of fun knits. It includes a lot of cute animal scarves and matching mittens for kids and several men's sweaters. Patterns your man will love and something we are always looking for. The Fall Interweave Knits has a beautiful two colored sweater called Downton for you fans of Downton Abbey.
My complements to Michelle Hunter! Once again her instructions and videos are fantastic. I finished knitting my Independence Pillow (which should probably have been done in red, blue or white) last week, but haven't got it sewn together. I just reviewed the videos for the mattress stitch--both for vertical and horizontal seams-- and they are excellent. Everyone who participated in this knit along is going to be very pleased with the results. The next knit along with Michelle will be in October. This Progressive Needles KAL we will be doing seasonal projects so we will have a knit along every 3 months. Unless something comes up, we will be using the Hikoo Simpliworsted again. The project hasn't been announced yet.
Those of us working on the Building Blocks Afghan (designed by Michelle) will be meeting at 3:00 this Friday, July 27. We are all moving along beautifully. I have six blocks done and most everyone has at least 3. The seventh block is stymieing me, because I can't decide what color I want to use. Maybe I will skip to #8. We will officially be starting the 4th block on Friday. Everyone is welcome to join us, we have mostly devolved into a knitting circle, since most of us already know the techniques. We do enjoy the socializing--or at least I do!