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Hat's Done!

I finally got around to knitting that Misti Alpaca hat last night. It's very soft, and when on, it feels as light as air. A lot of people who come into the store say they don't like to wear hats because they make their forehead itch, or because hats are never loose enough, and the tightness gives them a headache. They should make this hat; it's extremely soft and is loose and comfy, tension-free. Plus, it's alpaca, so it will be really warm. I haven't blocked it yet, so it still looks wrinkly, but here it is:


It took more than ninety minutes to knit, but not more than a couple hours. I wish you could feel it; this yarn's hand is its best feature.

First Square Done!

Pics, as promised....drool at will:


Lovely stuff, this alpaca. My square blocked out a couple inches larger than the pattern decreed, which I knew it would. I actually thought it would be more like 4 inches bigger, so I'll happily take only 2 inches bigger. It's going to be a luscious, luxurious wrap to snuggle into on those cold days this winter!


Update on the Misti Alpaca Hat: I ended up doing some machine knitting instead, because I couldn't find the right size needles to knit the hat (how ironic, eh?). I was a lot more productive doing the machine knitting, though.

I'm one-third done the Kaleidoscope Wrap; I'll post pictures after I block the first square. The wrap is made by joining together 3 large lace squares, and the first square is just a few rows shy of being a full square. I must say, I love knitting this. I daydream about it, and think about knitting it, the whole time I'm away from it, like an adulterous spouse who can't wait to get away to his/her lover. I feel jealous of the time I have to spend machine knitting or running errands or doing paperwork or helping customers at the store. So, customers? When you come in and I'm helping you find the right size sweater or the needles you need or the pattern you want or ideas for color combinations? Just realize that a good part of my mind is actually fantasizing about knitting my luscious little alpaca square back home. Hope you don't mind.

Er, maybe those Lust Bars we're selling at Unique One are starting to waft strange radiations toward my brain.....


My, my. It's hot.


So of course, I brought home bulky weight alpaca to knit a hat. I guess being surrounded by yarn and knitting supplies all day does affect the brain. But if you could reach through this screen and touch this Misti Alpaca Chunky, you'd understand. It feels so wonderful, it should be illegal. I'm knitting a simple hat from a FiberTrends pattern, and it seems like I ought to be able to knit through a 90-yard hat in 90 minutes in 90-degree heat. Right?

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks to everyone for the lovely comments on the "Helen's Lace" shawl. It was all I could do not to put it on and wear it all day; it feels that good! (and we have air conditioning at the store, which I turned on at 8 a.m. and kept it cranked all day.) And Ellen, if you think you have yarn lust now, wait til Wednesday night when you try the shawl on! And if we don't have a color you love, I'd be happy to order whatever your heart desires. The same goes for you, too, Helen! Whatever you want! Any excuse to order more Lorna's Laces..... :)


Nora, playing Jungle Kitty Girl. Yup, she's lying on the ground, chewing on grass. What can I say, she's our "problem child", but we love her.

Helen's Lace Shawl

Forgot to mention, I finished the "Helen's Lace" shawl I was working on when Kristin and I were in Ohio. The color is called "Bittersweet" and the pattern is printed inside the label on the Helen's Lace skein.

Here's Risa wearing it in the store:


I love it. It's my new favorite thing. :)

Shopping Bag


Going shopping this summer? Here's a handy little bag you can knit that won't take up much room in your purse, but when you stuff it full, it'll hold a LOT of stuff. It's great to take to a Farmer's Market! And you can knit one in a couple of evenings:

Net Shopping Bag

Yarn: 2 Balls Lingarn -- or 140 meters of any worsted to heavy worsted cotton/linen blend. It would also be nice in hemp, or 100% linen, all cotton, or any tough, not-very-stretchy fiber.

Needles: size 13 double pointed needles; size 13 circular needles, 16"

*Note: the bag is started on double pointed needles; switch to the circular needles when it is feasible.

Base of Bag:
Cast on 9 stitches, divided on 3 double pointed needles. Join.
Round 1: (K1, yarn over) around (18 sts).
Rounds 2, 3, & 4: Knit (on Round 2 knit into the backs of the yarn overs to close them up a bit).
Round 5: (K1, yarn over) around (36 sts.)
Rounds 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, & 11: Knit (on Round 6 knit into the backs of the yarn overs to close them up a bit).
Round 12: (K1, yarn over) around (72 sts).
Round 13: Knit.
Round 14: Purl.
Round 15: Knit.
Round 16: Purl.

Body of Bag:
Round 17: (yarn over, K2tog) around.
Round 18: (K2tog, yarn over) around.
Repeat rows 17 & 18 until bag measures 12" from last purl row. You can make it longer or shorter at this point. Just remember to buy more yarn if you want to make the bag longer!

Bag Top & Handles
Knit two rounds, knitting into the backs of the previous row's yarn overs to close them.
Next round: Knit 9, bind off 18, knit 18, bind off 18, knit 9.
Next round: Knit 9, cast on 40 (over the space where you bound off 18 in the last row), knit 18, cast on 40 (over the space where you bound off 18 in the last row), knit 9. (116 sts) *You could cast on more here if you want longer handles. If you have extra yarn!!
Knit one round. Bind off all stitches.

Actually, you could make this bag big enough to carry laundry or beach stuff in, if you wanted. Just make the base larger (you would knit 12 more rounds plain after Round 12, increase by yarn-overing every other stitch, knit another 24 rounds, then do the increase round again -- that would make it plenty big; you could stop anywhere in between, of course); then knit a much higher body, maybe 24 inches?

Have fun knitting the bag! Go shopping!


Knitting Gone Awry?

David Cole's The Knitting Machine: Twenty-foot knitting needles, plied by 2 excavators, knitting an American flag? A display of knitting needles that might have been army-issue combat equipment in conflicts from the Civil War through the Persian Gulf War? Hmmm, this is a museum display I'd love to see. It's at the MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA starting June 30.

Here's an excerpt about The Knitting Machine from the story I read:
"The Knitting Machine combines the feminized domestic American tradition of knitting with the grandiose gesture of construction usually associated with masculine labor. The Knitting Machine challenges familiar notions of labor and production, while expressing a complex understanding of patriotism."

And an excerpt about the display of hypothetical army-issue knitting needles:
"In Evolution of the Knitting Needle Through Modern Warfare -- which Cole describes as “hypothetical anthropology” -- each set of needles references a specific war in American history. The piece contrasts a basic form of production, knitting, with the progress of technology made through war. It is a study of the relationship between technology and violence."

You can read the entire story here.

I have no idea what "MASS MoCA" stands for, but maybe someone can enlighten me; I certainly couldn't find it anywhere on their website. If anyone in Massachusetts gets to see this installation at MASS MoCA, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

You can also visit David Cole's website for The Knitting Machine, which is where I got this picture of a show poster from when The Knitting Machine was in Providence:


Ahhh. I slept late this morning, and it felt good!

Yesterday I was supposed to spend knitting on the knitting machine, making sweaters for the store. Navy blue pullovers with one little red lobster on the front. Wicked cunnin', and we sell a lot of them.

But instead of knitting, I spent approximately eight hours doing what my husband termed "learning". Which means, I spent eight hours of time and about 2 pounds of yarn, with nothing to show for it. It was all my own fault, too, just couldn't do anything right.

Oddly enough, the single motif sweaters are more difficult to make, because you have to stop every row and wrap the edges of the motif with yarn, so holes don't appear where the two colors meet. And in this particular sweater, you also do underarm shaping at the same time. It's really not that hard, but yesterday I just couldn't do anything right! So today I'm jumping back into it, and I hope I can do a little better. Maybe yesterday I was just overtired, maybe a good night's sleep will have helped. I hope so, because we certainly need the sweaters....

So Lucky

I am so lucky to have a yarn shop. And I am so happy that it is located in one of the prettiest, most interesting places in the world. Camden has its small-town faults; the movie Peyton Place was filmed there, and some people say it wasn't far from the truth. But, it also is a center of activity in the summer, when you can meet people from all over the world in one stroll down the street. In the winter, my "regular" customers (as opposed to "summer" or "irregular" customers) are interesting: they are either native Mainers (rare) or have moved or retired here from somewhere else, from some other life, and they are very interesting people. Each of them has a story to tell.

One of my local customers came in yesterday; a remarkable young woman, she had just spent several months traveling in Italy, Morocco, England, Cambodia and Vietnam. It was fascinating to talk to her. She knits, of course; she said when she was in Morocco she found a woman who had handspun yarn for sale (the woman used the yarn for rug-making, but would sell just the yarn if needed). So my customer bought some. But later, being without needles and wanting to dig into the new yarn, she simply cut some branches off a tree and whittled a pair of needles to make do. She said her friends were pretty impressed, but it just seemed logical to her. No needles? Just make some!

Camden is also a very artistic sort of town. There's art everywhere. Galleries, people painting in the park, people playing musical instruments on the sidewalk. Yesterday after I closed the store and was walking back to my car, I noticed someone had drawn a very large mermaid in colored chalk on the Main Street sidewalk. It was about 15 feet long and was titled "The Big Mermaid". Wish I'd had a camera.

Speaking of art, yesterday as I trod on the Big Mermaid, I was carrying home 6 skeins of Alchemy Yarn's "Alpaca Pure" in the Southern View colorway to knit the Kaleidoscope Wrap from Fiddlesticks knitting. I joined the Summer of Lace group & I'm feeling the need to knit some lace. I do have the edging to finish on the Snowdrift Shawl, which was actually the reason why I joined the S of L in the first place -- I thought it might push me to get that piece done. And hopefully it will; I'd like to finish it off by September's knitting cruise. But meanwhile, maybe I need to prime the pump by knitting some other lace for a while first. And before I even start it, I need to finish two or three other things I am working on so I won't feel too guilty about starting another one.

Like Water, but Chocolate

Yesterday Kristin reminded me of something I forgot, from the TNNA show. At the galleria/reception/fashion show, I saw something I had never seen before. After the fashion show, there were tables set up all over the place with desserts. (Who came up with that idea, I wonder? "Let's get people drunk at the cash bar and then give them lots of sugar, yeah, that'll make 'em buy lots at the show..." Except. There was no way to get drunk at the cash bar, since for $4.75 you got ice, mixer and approximately a Barbie's New Kitchen jigger of alcohol, holding a quarter of an eyedropper's worth of liquid. Next time, I swear, I'm bringing a flask with me....)

Anyway. At the "Dessert Bar" they had a chocolate fountain. It was flowing with gallons of liquid chocolate, and the table had platters of stuff you could dip in the chocolate: strawberries, bananas, cookies, whatever. I didn't try any, but Kristin said it was good. (I know, you're thinking, standing that close to flowing chocolate and you didn't even try it?! I know. But I was too busy trying to find the gin in my drink.)

I live a pretty sheltered life I guess; I had never heard of a chocolate fountain before. Apparently it's all the rage at wedding receptions these days. Joe and I obviously got married years too early. Maybe we should renew our vows: "Honey, I want a chocolate fountain; will you marry me? Again?" heh heh.

Here's a picture of a very similar fountain (I got the picture from The Chocolate Savant -- they sell chocolate fountains. If any of you out there happen to buy one, and invite me over to participate in it, there's something in it for you, if you like yarn.)

Aging -- ya gotta love it

Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to meeee-eeee,
Happy birthday to me.

heh heh

I'm turning 29 again. For the eighteenth time. :)

I can't wait until I'm 50. Women in their fifties are beautiful, and they know so much. And by the time I'm 52, the store will be paid off! But until then, I'll just have to be happy with only being 46, for a year anyway.

Everybody out there with a birthday today -- Happy Birthday! Party at Unique One!

Home Again

Correction -- it is a five hour bus trip from Boston to Bangor.

Heh heh, it was fine, really. Yeah, the bus was cramped and hot and the DVD player didn't work and there was no bathroom, but we enjoyed talking with the people sitting around us. We never would have had any interaction with them at all if we hadn't had to take the bus to Bangor.

Drove from home from Bangor, got back around 10 or so. Slept late this morning; I'm still tired.

I went back to yesterday's blog entry and made some of the company names into links to their web sites, if you want to check them out. I couldn't find the link to Swedish Yarns or Frogtree, so if anyone knows their URL let me know. It's probably printed on their price sheets or something; I have all the massive amounts of literature I picked up from each company at the show, but a) it's still out in the car and b) as I said, it's massive.

Most of the stuff I ordered at TNNA won't be coming into the store until at least mid-July, because it's all so new it is not available yet. I stretched the ship dates out, though, so shipments of new items will start arriving the end of July, and continue into the fall. And we still have new stuff coming that I ordered at TNNA back in January, in California. The last of the orders from that show should be arriving in June and July. New stuff all the time, here at Unique One.

By the way, thanks for reading my blog! Especially to the Helens, my two loyalest fans! Love ya! Helen in NH, I think I got your wave as I crossed over the bridge into Maine yesterday -- I was thinking of you as I zoomed by in the bus. And Helen of Bay Colony Farm, I hope you do get to Camden this summer! (By the way, your felted fabric is gorgeous! I saw the pics on your blog.) And thanks to the MANY readers -- I can tell people are reading because I am getting so many page hits a day. Hope you enjoy it!

So, I'm off to the store to try to catch up on stuff I didn't do there for the last five days. Then home again. At which point I'd like to take a nap, but I will really probably work on the next Unique One newsletter. Or the web site, or knit sweaters for the store, or database entries.......actually, a nap sounds good. :)

Good News and Bad News

Good news: Logan Airport has wifi for $7.95/day.

Bad news. They canceled our flight to Bangor. Who the hell wants to go to Bangor, right? So they're putting us on a BUS to Bangor. So instead of a 45 minute flight, it will be a 4 HOUR RIDE to Bangor. And we can't even leave until 3:30.

All I can say is, it is a good thing I brought my knitting.

If I have time, I'll add active links to stuff in my previous post. We'll see.


Day Two of the TNNA Show (Super-Sized Post)

I’m typing this as I sit here in the Columbus, OH airport, but won’t be able to post it until we get home, unless by some miracle there is internet access in Boston’s airport. Which I doubt, because you can barely get a cup of coffee there, let alone internet access.

Okay, yesterday.... I got up early, about 4:30, which gave me a chance to look over stuff I brought back from the show on Saturday, figure out what I wanted to do. We had classes at 8; Kristin got educated in inventory control. She said it was a good class; she got pointers on keeping track of stuff and learned some basic retail rules-of-thumb. I took that class a couple years ago and found it very helpful, too.

My class was “Tubular Knitting” with Kathleen Power Johnson. It was an excellent class; I did a tubular bind off, a tubular cast on, and learned a way to encase a raw edge in a sort of tube of knitting (as in, when you pick up stitches along the front edge of a cardigan for the button band or for a collar). This last one is good if you have a collar that is going to lay back, like a lapel, where the inside of the sweater is going to be visible. It is much smoother and less noticeable than just picking up the stitches and knitting the collar as usual, because when the collar lays back, you can see that selvedge edge on the “inside” of the sweater. Usually it just looks crappy and you simply say, oh well, what can you do? Now I know how to make it look better.

So then we hit the show floor, about 11. We began in the Plymouth booth. It was really great to see Jennifer Phillips, my sales rep! She is always fun and we had a good time. She showed us a few products and we had a nice chat, catching up and talking about industry trends, and gossip. She’s coming to the store to show me the whole line a little more in-depth in a few days, so we didn’t really focus on placing an order. But things I noticed are a new novelty yarn called Bobboli, a very soft yarn composed of little bobbles. It was unusual, multicolored, shiny, and it felt good. There was a worsted weight yarn called “Suri Merino” (I think), made of alpaca and merino. Nice and soft. Pretty colors. There was “Royal Cashmere”, 100% cashmere. There is a new kind of Eros that knits up in stripes, a new twist on an old favorite. Plymouth has a new afghan book coming out in the fall; it has about 67 beautiful patterns for every kind of afghan/blanket available, and it will retail for around $29.95. The patterns all use Plymouth yarns.

We visited the Frogtree booth and I had a nice chat with Chet. We mostly talked about the sport weight 100% cotton cone yarn I’m always searching for; it’s my holy grail.

We went to the Cestari (the yarn company previously known as Chester Farms) booth and had a long visit with them. They are located in Virginia. We already carry their cotton/wool blend DK weight yarn; I talked about the possibility of getting the same fiber as a roving for spinners. He seemed unaware that there was a market out there for raw fiber for spinners.

Kristin and I both loved the very cute bags at the Della Q booth; they are of several types, but they all would make both great projects bags or purses for everyday use. Della Q might be able to give that Bradley girl a run for her money. The Della Q bags we liked are striped in a nice variety of great colors, with a round, plastic handle, or embroidered with flowers, with a nifty round metal handle. The bags are made in Vietnam.They are really lovely. They’d probably retail for $40 to $45.

We stopped by the Skacel booth and gave Rob a hard time (not really; because he’s a very, very nice young man). They had a clever scarf knit in one of their self-striping sock yarns, which we admired.

Laurel Hill was a company unfamiliar to me. They have some beautiful needles in palmwood and ebony. The palmwood needles have intricate light-colored inlay around the top of the needle, just under the knob. The tips were lovely. They also had really beautiful crochet hooks in palm wood. These guys had no idea there was a market for stuff like drop spindles and spinning wheels -- I told them to go check out a copy of Spin Off magazine in the Interweave Press booth. I’m sure their drop spindles would be a knock-out, if they ever make them.

Knitwhits makes the neatest kits, hats and bags, felted flower pins, and even bikinis; we sell their kits not only because they are wonderful, but also because I think Tina, the designer, is wonderful: very talented, very modest, and very sweet. The newest kits included a set of felted catnip toys, and an outstanding scarf made nearly entirely of crocheted flowers. We loved them! Kristin has been bitten hard by the crochet bug, ever since she learned to crochet on Friday. She goes to sleep thinking about it. She found every single crochet pattern in the show, I think; we went to the bar to unwind after the show and she crocheted through a couple of drinks (well, I knit through a couple drinks, too). And right now she’s busy crocheting yet another flower. I think she’s hooked. (heh heh, get it -- hooked-- heh heh).

We stopped by Swedish Yarns and talked to Per and waved to Elisabeth, who was busy with a customer. Kristin spent quite a while with Hanne Falkenberg, who was helping Kristin try on all her designs. Hanne is very much like her designs: very clever, straightforward, honest and a joy to be around. I am so glad we got to meet her.

At K1C2’s booth we found adorable water bottles adorned with sheep and some cute sheepy sayings which I can’t remember right now. And, we found a yarn I’ve been looking for. It’s a new yarn from K1C2 that will be shipping in the fall, and I think my customers are going to love it. It is a 100% wool worsted weight that experiences a variety of color changes that blend into each other within the skein. It is reminiscent of another yarn by a company well known for its color change yarn, distributed by a company whom I no longer do business with. :) I love ordering from K1C2 because it is not only a Maine company, but it is Helene Rush! One of my favorite designers!! I love her work.

Man oh man, one of the funnest booths we ran across was AnastasiaKnits -- their booth was set up like a bar, and they sell a line of patterns called “Yarn Cocktails” for small accessory items, such as jewelry and scarves. Each design is named for a drink; so there are Mudslide, Sloe Gin Fizz, Cosmopolitan, Scotch and Soda, and so on. The two girls were really cute and fun, and the designs were clever. I never was a fan of knitted jewelry but, I’d really wear their necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Their logo is a martini glass with needles sticking into an olive green ball of yarn, and their motto is something like “Yarn Over, Not Hung Over.”

At lunch we ran over to North Market and had excellent pad thai. The place where we got it also had the biggest selection of Hello Kitty stuff and Japanese gifts, candy, and snacks I’ve ever seen.

Okay, now we’re on the plane, somewhere between Columbus and Boston.

During the day we took the opportunity to play a little game I devised over dinner the night before. Everyone at these conventions and in airports walks around trailing little wheelie carts behind them -- they are ubiquitous. So I came up with the wheelie cart game: you get one point if you spot a black or navy blue wheelie cart (they are the most common by far); you get 5 points if you see a red one; you get 10 points if you spot one that is any other color at all; if you spot one that glows in the dark, you automatically win the game. If you find someone wheeling around a milk crate strapped to wheels and handles, three points are deducted from your score (we did actually see someone wheeling one of these around). Lily Chin’s wheelie was a 10-pointer: it was neon lime green translucent plastic, and it matched her hand-crocheted lime green skirt and top. What can I say, the girl has style!

We stopped by the Bryson Distributing booth and said hi to Bev Galseskas (Fiber Trends), Annie Dempsey (Oat Couture) and Diane Soucy (Knitting Pure & Simple). I told them each how much I and my customers loved their designs. They are all wonderful ladies.

We also stopped by Brown Sheep. They are working so hard to get new spinning equipment installed so they can increase production. They ordered new spinning equipment from France last September, which the French company built and tested to make sure it ran right. Then it was disassembled and packed into three 40-foot containers and shipped to Nebraska. I think that’s where it is now, in transit. The French company is sending a technician to put the equipment back together and make sure it runs right; it will take 6 weeks to re-assemble it. They are going to have to sell a LOT of skeins of yarn to pay for it, I am sure.

There was a booth that was selling a variety of knitting-themed tee shirts, all very cute. They had cute pictures and/or clever sayings and words, like “Knit Happens”, “Got Yarn?” and “Knitphomaniac”. They were kind of expensive, I thought. But they did have fun packaging; the tee shirts had “ball bands” wrapped around the middle of the folded-up tee; the size was given as “gauge” and it said any size needles could be used while wearing the shirt.

We went back to the The Fibre Company’s booth and ordered some luscious yarn that comes in about 15 beautiful rich, earthy colors and feels soft and yummy, because it is made of alpaca and merino. I think. My brain is so fried right now I can’t really truly remember. But I do know it is a DK weight and I was thinking “socks” when I ordered it. But most of all, it is a Maine company and I do so, so love to support Maine companies when I can. We also ordered another yarn from the Fiber Co., a fine-gauge yarn made from an exotic American beast. You’ll be able to read about it in the next Unique One newsletter.

We visited the Ribbon Knits booth -- they make pink scarf kits that raise money to help fund breast cancer research, a very, very worthy cause. Think how many of us, ladies, have succumbed to this killer over the years. We have to fight back. I ordered a few of their new kits, a pink cashmere scarf in a pretty diamond-shaped lace pattern. It is gorgeous, and yes, it costs a lot. It’s cashmere! But remember, the more it costs, the more the sale of it contributes to fight breast cancer.

Let me take a moment to discuss my gauge of the quality of cashmere. There are a lot of cashmere yarns out there, but they are not all of the same quality; some are definitely better than others, and you can’t always tell what is the best one by the price. I employ the “Kristin Meter”. Kristin has this odd behavior (well, don’t tell her I said “odd”; actually it is very useful): when she handles cashmere, it makes her cry. The more she wants to cry, the better the cashmere is. For example, at the NETA SPA, when she touched the hand-dyed cashmere from Gaspereau Valley Fibres in Nova Scotia, she cried right away. At the Alchemy Yarns booth on Saturday, when we touched their cashmere/silk blend (remember? the one I couldn’t let go of?) tears welled right up. So I knew it was all right to order the cashmere scarf kits from Ribbon Knits because it scored very high on the Krist-O-Meter. She’s going to kill me if she reads this.

Kristin went to Lantern Moon’s booth and ordered some sweet little seagrass bags/baskets that have very pretty sage green cloth trim, as well as some silk needle cases.

I ordered a variety of hip ‘n trendy patterns from the Stitch Diva, knit and crocheted flower patterns, a lovely little capelet; a fuffly scarf a couple of hat collections, for both knit and crochet (including the “newsboy” cap style that’s been so popular on the runways and in the glam mags lately).

Then, we were done. Done, done, done. A word that never sounded so sweet. We dropped stuff in our room and went to have a celebratory libation.

The owner of Interlacements and Dark Horse Yarns joined us for a drink; somehow I had overlooked both of his booths at the show. We had a long conversation about marketing and the yarn business. The Interlacements yarns are hand dyed by the owner; and the Dark Horse yarns are a collection of mostly novelty yarns, from Turkey.

Kristin and I then were very pleased to once again join Tricia and Chet from FrogTree, and we were extremely lucky and pleased to meet Jim, their son. He is such a nice person, as are his parents. He spends about half his time at home with his family in California and half of his time in Mexico, where he runs a non-profit service/education organization called CommLinks. What a great family. We spent quite a bit of time with them, because they are so nice and so interesting, and I got to meet the man from South America who might be able to help me pursue that cotton yarn holy grail I’ve been after. He was in a hurry between meetings, so I didn’t get to chat with him, but he is very pleasant.

Kristin and I managed to finally get to bed after midnight. It was a long day. As a whole, the TNNA show was overwhelming and overstimulating. But not only did we get to see so much great new STUFF, we also got to make some personal connections to the real people behind all the patterns and designs and books that we all love to kniit and admire. We got to see the real faces of the people who are Brown Sheep Company, Plymouth Yarns, Alchemy Yarns, FrogTree. Even though it might seem to the customer that all this yarn and all these books and patterns magically appear on their LYS’ shelves, remember, behind it all are real people who care passionately about knitting, crocheting, and fiber in general. I am always impressed by the dedication, the kindness and helpfulness of the companies I choose to do business with. As the lady at the Crystal Palace booth said, it’s like one big family, and she’s right. If I don’t feel some kind of friendliness or personal connection with a particular company or designer or author, I generally don’t do business with them. But one of the benefits of this business practice is, I am always happy with whom I do business, and I get a lot of hugs as I go through the show!

The plane is making it’s final approach and I am done my post; perfect timing. My brain is pretty fried. But we’ll be home soon and back into the daily routine. Hope everyone had a great time at the Fiber Frolic, if you were in Maine over the weekend! I really regretted not being there. It’s something I look forward to so much each year, and it’s such a bummer I didn’t get to go. Oh well, maybe next year....


Sorry no post from yesterday -- I got up at 4:30 a.m. and didn't get back to bed until early this morning. And in between, lots of talking, lots of walking, and general sensory overload. But I have a lot to say, and as soon as I get my act together I'll post it all. Promise.

And One More Thing

Forgot to mention last night, we stopped by the Harrisville booth and saw talked to Vivian Hoxbro for a minute. She was funny, she said she had counted it up and realized she had spent 218 days of the last year in the United States, and she wasn't sure her husband liked that. :) I guess that's what happens when you're a knitting celebrity.

Crystal Palace had a cool tee shirt on display in their booth, but it wasn't for sale. It was a spoof of a rock concert T-shirt; on the front it had "Crystal Palace" in a stylized logo reminiscent of rock bands like Aerosmith, and on the back instead of a list of cities and dates of concerts, it had a list of all their yarns and each one's yardage. Very cool. We of course wanted to order some; they were not to be had. I told them they should make them available through CafePress, which they had never heard of despite the fact that most of the CP people are at least ten years younger than I am and should have at least my level of internet savvy, it would seem. :) They said they'd look into it.

We saw a beautiful lace shawl in the Lorna's Laces booth. It was knit up in their new "Glenwood" colorway, which gave it a slightly Southwestern feel. I had to look at it for a while to figure out if it was knitted or woven. It is knitted; triangular in shape. I think the woven look was partly because of the colors and how they played on the eyes, more than the knitting stitch employed. The pattern wasn't available yet but will be soon. I am glad I saw the shawl in person because it was quite impressive.

Today we have a class in the morning and then the show for the rest of the day. I have to go see Plymouth, Tahki/Stacy Charles and Frogtree first thing in the morning because I promised I would; then, on to the rest of the show. And finally, the big decisions in the afternoon -- all the stuff we looked at and decided we'd figure out if we wanted to order it later, we need to either order or not. If you order at the show you can often get some type of show discount, although most companies are pretty good and will let you get home, think on it, and if you place your order within X days after the show they'll still give you a discount.

Day One of TNNA show

Kristin and I toddled off to our classes. Kristin's class was about business basics. I thought it was with Ted Schofield, but it was with Cynthia Ellner, and Kristin really liked it. My class was "Stash Is Not a Dirty Word" with Chris Bylsma. It was great; I learned two different fun methods of using up stash yearn in a very unique and creative way. One was a way to create "stash fabric", a stockinette fabric made up entirely of approximately foot long pieces of yarn, and one was the "diva stitch" which creates a fringed fabric, great for edgings and pillows, using pieces of yarn approximately 4 inches long. Between this class and Kristin's "Beyond Creative Knitting" class and my dice-knitting class, we could do a stash-buster workshop if Unique One offers a knitting workshop at one of the local bed and breakfast establishments in the fall.

The show actually started today at 10 a.m. Today we got through a little more than half of the exhibits. Not every exhibit is relevant to Unique One's market: 40% of the show is yarn; 29% is needlepoint; 11% is a combination of knitting and needlework; 9% is accessories; 7% is counted thread; and 4% is publications.

There was a lot of yarn. This year the emphasis was far less on novelty "scarf" yarns. We saw a lot more luxury fibers. Lots of alpaca, lots lots lots. Lots of cashmere, lots of silk. There was one whole exhibit of musk ox (Windy Valley Musk Ox). There was even buffalo, from Maine's own The Fibre Company, of Portland. Lots more emphasis on color. I bought a new (for me, not new in general) yarn from Dancing Fibers, a Diakeito yarn called Diamuseefine, purely because it looks just like my handspun that I make from my hand-dyed roving. (There, now I don't have to dye or spin anymore. Like I have time, anyway.)

Another thing we noticed, very different from previous yarn shows is that there are many, many new kinds of needles about to hit the market. Needleholics, brace yourselves! Whether you want exotic, ethnic, or carved wooden needles; plastic needles in basic white, white with color-coded-by-size tips; clear acrylic, or to-die-for brite, BRITE day-glo colors; glass needles that you can actually use to knit with because they are not only works of art, but drop-dead gorgeous too; stainless steel; needles that look like bone (but are probably plastic; we'll check 'em out tomorrow) with entire pictures etched into them with black ink; whatever you have ever dreamed of in a needle, it's on the market. And you know I'm a needleholic too. So you know it is just a matter of deciding which ones to order, not whether to order. I even got a sample of the coolest plastic lime-green with yellow tips and knobs, size 10.5 single points from Crystal Palace and I'm trying them out right now with a new yarn from Alchemy Yarns which also happens to be nearly the same shade of bright lime green. I like these needles berry berry much. They feel good in my hands; they're slightly flexible; they are utterly smooth; they are light, and above all they are lime green. They are "Daisy" needles and they come in sizes 9 through elephant-leg thickness. Very cool.

And lemme tell ya. The Namaste glass needles. Oh. Oh Oh Oh. Yup. So pretty. Different types of beautiful glass knobs, buttons, and cones are available to be the knob on the end of the needle. And these glass needles are much more durable than you'd think. The nicest people in the world sell them. I tried out a pair of needles, thinking I'd be safe because I would see immediately that glass needles would be much too heavy to knit comfortably with. I tried a pair of 10's, and they weren't too heavy. They were just right. Actually they were excellent. Knitting with these babies was like, if you test drove a Jaguar. A fully-equipped Jaquar with extra buttery soft leather upholstry and a foot massager built into the gas pedal and a Swedish masseuse built into the back seat. They were nice. And........ and in the bigger sizes, because they knew that glass needles in size 17 and 19 would really be too heavy, the larger needles are actually glass tubes! Clever. These needles are all made by one guy in, I think, California. I believe that after this show, he's going to be pretty busy.

Colonial Needles showed us some short double pointed needles in ebony that I had a really really hard time putting down once I had them in my hand. I would have ordered them on the spot, but they weren't available yet; Colonial Needles were just showing the prototype to people at the show to see what kind of response they got. Ooooh, I wanted them so bad. They also have some gorgeous circular needles in rosewood, with an excellent, very smooth join and a luscious black plastic cord that doesn't coil. Very desirable. Pricey. But once you hold them in your hands, you want them.

New products from Clover: a cute little green row counter that operates kind of like the Katcha-Katcha counter, except it locks to prevent the number advancing unintentionally in your knitting bag. Point protectors and needle holders that look like they are antique brass -- very pretty and very clever. A really neat plastic needle holder that has a built-in little box on the end to hold small accessories like ring markers and pins.

Lots of buttons everywhere. Dill had Laurel Burch enamel buttons shaped like zoo animals. Very cute. We saw hand enameled buttons and glass buttons and pottery buttons.

We stopped by Alchemy Yarns and hugged Gina and Austin. We just love them. When you're in their booth, you feel like you're actually breathing color, like it is going right through your nose and eyes straight into your brain, and you are floating. Then, you touch the yarn and have an out-of-body experience because it feels so good. We ordered some of their "Monarch" yarn, a silk and cashmere blend -- yeah, it costs a lot. But I dare you to pick it up and then be able to put it back down again. It's darn near impossible. I stood there for the longest time, a purple skein in my hand, unable to walk away because the skein was attached to the wall, and I was unable to let go of it and walk away. My brain said, "Okay, drop the yarn," but my hand couldn't seem to process that information. Luckily Gina came over to save me, and as soon as I said, "Right, I'm going to order this yarn," my hand released it. I also got some of "Sanctuary", their new sock weight blend, about a sport weight, 30% silk/70% wool which is also nearly as difficult to let go of once you pick it up. I always learn something when I stop by Alchemy; I never realized how natural their whole dyeing process is. They mordant their fibers with vitamin C; they use natural, non-toxic dyes. So if you knit a baby hat out of Alchemy Yarn, it's okay if the baby chews on it.

We got some new yarns from Dale of Norway and Crystal Palace which I'll tell you about in the next Unique One newsletter; some new blanket and hat kits, the sale of which benefits cancer research; new books from Unicorn, including a great new countertop display of At Knits End; and some sheep-shaped pins, earrings and ornaments made in Scotland.

Time for bed; another full day is ahead of us tomorrow!

About Last Night

Last night we went to the reception, awards ceremony and the fashion show. There was live music, a three-piece jazz ensemble. There was a mime. The reception was fine. Several companies had displays up and we enjoyed seeing some of their new products. There is a Knitting Experience Book Three coming out from Sally Melville; the first one was The Knit Stitch, the second one was The Purl Stitch, and the third book is Color. It looks interesting. Bryson distributing has a very cute little girl's coat, trimmed with furry yarn. And a neat shoulder bag pattern. There were lots of new yarns from a variety of vendors. We stopped by Frogtree Alpaca and I got to see the cardigan I liked, in real life. It's made of their merino and it is so soft.

The awards ceremony was mercifully short. About 35 people got awards of various kinds, there was clapping, people smiled. No long speeches.

The fashion show is always interesting. Trends I noticed this year: western/cowboy style; empire waists; and the focus was definitely more on color than on knitted texture -- texture was far more dependent on the texture of the yarn than on cables or stitch patterns, generally. Which is not to say there weren't a few beautiful cable knits. I took notes. Let's see.... here are a few I commented on.

-- an elegant evening dress knit in Plymouth's 24K that glittered and shined and looked fabulous;

-- an impressive Anny Blatt design cardigan overloaded with color and yarn texture that looked like it just walked off a Paris runway

--two excellent new designs in Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted that got a good response from the crowd. One was a beautiful vest by M. Ann Young, and the other was a jacket by Sidna Farley that was Bohus-like in the yoke, on the cuffs and at the bottom.

-- a big, soft, giant-collared coat designed by Pierrot in Lion Brand's Wool-Ease and Thick 'n Quick

-- Hanne Falkenberg's newest design, Mermaid, a lovely jacket that flares slightly from the waist and has a beautiful fold-back lapel; we saw two of them, one in shades of tan/brown and one in gorgeous lilac/blue. The crowd had a huge, warm response to this.

-- two designs from Helene Rush, both very clever. A jacket that has hidden pockets, very pretty, and a Coco jacket. Very cute.

-- a Wren Ross design in Himalaya Rayon 4-ply, very sweet.

--a Trudy Vanstralen design called Celsey in Louet Sales' Tristan yarn. This got a big response. It is truly a work of art. Lacey, lots of different colors, ruffles; nothing most of my customers would ever knit or wear, but a treat for the eyes nonetheless.

-- another Trudy Vanstralen design for Louet, a cape that looked like just an ordinary black cape until the model turned around: there was a large, brightly colored oval centered on the back made from strips of stockinette that were knit and then woven together. It was stunning. Lots of clapping.

After the fashion show we mingled for a while. Kristin and I stopped to say hi to Elisabeth at Swedish Yarns and we got to meet Hanne Falkenberg in person! I never met a genius before, and now my life is complete. Hanne and Elisabeth were both wearing Mermaids, Hanne in a coral, pink and red version and Elisabeth in a gray/black version. Both were stunning. Hanne is so wonderful, so clever, and very modest. Meeting her is something I will always remember.

We are in a rush, off to breakfast, and then a class -- Kristin's is a business class on inventory management with Ted, and mine is something about stash control (!) with Chris Byslma who by the way had a gorgeous garment in the fashion show knit from Cascade 220 and Diasantafe (which my Santa Fe is knit from).

More from Columbus -- Long post

So Kristin and I had a hurried bagel & coffee at JavaCity. I think Kristin is a little horrified by the prices here. When you go to a show like this, everything within walking distance costs about three times the normal price; therefore, 2 bagels + 2 coffees = $12.00 at JavaCity, within the Convention Center. And you have to cut, toast, and cream-cheese the bagel yourself. And you have to walk five miles to get there, even though it is in the Convention Center. (I may be exaggerating the five miles; however we decided we need to figure commuting time into our schedule just to get from the hotel to the show -- and the hotel is attached to the convention center.)

I went to the POS class with specific information I wanted to learn; Ted was good and I learned what I came for before the first break. So at the break I left.

At the TNNA shows they have this thing called The Great Wall of Yarn (Yes, that is really what it's called) and yarn companies display individual skeins of all the yarns they are showing at the show. As you can imagine, it is a rather large display. For each skein displayed, there is also a skein of the same yarn that is cut up in pieces, with tape dispensers available. People can take pieces of yarn and tape them into the conveniently provided Great Wall of Yarn booklet on the page for that particular yarn company and yarn. The booklet is already printed with the pertinent information for each yarn, like company contact information, fiber content, skein put-up (i.e., 50-gram skeins, 100-gram skeins), and yardage. All you have to do is stick a piece of yarn by its description. No little notes needed. Very handy. In this year's Great Wall O' Yarn book, there are about 40 companies listed, and each one has I would say, an average of 7 skeins. Some have 14, some have 2 or 3.

People "shop" the GWO'Y in different ways. Some go through and just look at the yarns and don't take any pieces. Some feel them all, and just take pieces of yarns they might want to pursue when the show opens. Some find new companies or companies new to them, and take pieces of all of that particular company's yarns. And then some people are like me.

I go through the entire wall of yarn and take a small piece of every single skein displayed, even the yarns I know I will NEVER EVER buy, even yarns I have sold for ten years and could tell you what color number it is with my eyes shut. It takes a really long time to do this. You have to fit it in around other things. You have to sneak out to the wall and work at it at odd times, when nobody, or few people, are there. By leaving my class early today, I was able to approach the wall when most rule-following people were in their classes. HA! The yarns are arranged A to Z; I got as far as Prism Yarns before others left their classes early too, and there were too many people there to easily continue.

The reason I take a piece of everything? Having all of the yarns displayed together like that, in one book, gives me a complete "dictionary" of the season's yarns. As in any vocabulary, there are words you're very familiar with (which would be the yarns I carry & know well) and words that are unfamiliar and new (like yarns from small, new Asian companies). By being able to examine them all in one place, I get a bigger picture of where the yarns "fit" in the whole vocabulary. I can look at a company's entire offering for the season on one page; I can thumb through and look at the variety of 1/2-inch-wide glittery handpainted ribbon yarns and compare them to each other and to what I already carry in that category (which, by the way, is NONE). And I can take the book back to the shop in Maine and each of my employees can look through all the different yarns, so when a lady from Atlanta comes in and says "I want some Aspen from Manetto Hill Yarnery; do you have it?" -- Becky can take a look and say, "Oh, I'm sorry, we don't have that particular yarn; but we do have Plush from Berocco, which is very similar. Let me show you!" even though Becky has never been to Columbus in her life (as far as I know). And the Atlanta lady can shop and be happy. And the whole point of knitting is to be happy, right?

Another big display at any TNNA yarn show is the "New Products" display. This is a large display area where exhibitors can choose to create a special display of only the brand-spankingest-newest stuff available on the planet. It takes a day or two for all the participating exhibitors to get their display out there, so I usually start cruising through it early, and keep going back to it regularly to see what has been added. By the time the show opens, there are hundreds of new products. Each time I go through the display I make little notes of the items I may want to either pursue or avoid like the plague.

I bet you want to know what I've seen on the new products tables so far, don't you? Okay, I'll tell you. No pictures, though. Don't think I am allowed to take any. And I didn't bring a camera anyway.

So far here are some things I have noticed; I'll let you decide which are things I love and which are things Kristin and I will loudly make fun of at the bar tonight:

--Tilli Tomas Denim Vests, with 100% silk yarn handknitted sleeves sewn in. (to attract the scarf knitters to simple projects that result in a highly fashionable finished garment)

--beaded stitch markers with knitting or animal charms

--Della Bags: Utterly cute. Striped.

--Alchemy Yarn is showcasing 4 or 5 new yarns, including a cashmere/silk blend and a sock-weight yarn. They always have the best, most artistic, wonderful-for-the-eyes display.

--Dancing Fibers has new purse kits

--Cats & Cobwebs has GORGEOUS shawl pins.

That's it for now. I have to knit my homework for my "Tubular Knitting" class on Sunday. I'll sneak out more info when I have it! Tonight we are attending the Fashion Show (yarn companies showcase new yarns/new patterns/new trends by having garments in the show; I always pick up good tidbits here), followed by a reception. At the reception, participating companies have a display and chatty representatives there to schmooze. There is music and hot food and a cash bar. The whole thing is just one big schmooze, but it is fun, and it's one of the times when you might be able to "just run into" some names, like Lily Chin or Melanie Falick or Stacy Charles, and strike up a meaningless yet interesting conversation. Me? I'm just in it for the food and the cash bar. But this year they're making us dress up, and I have to wear heels for the first time since I quit teaching. I can't believe, I spend the entire decade of the '80s parading around in front of junior high students, wearing slides with two and a half inch heels. What can I say? It was disco. Everyone was wearing stupid shoes and tight jeans. Back then, I could actually walk in them (both the shoes and the jeans). Today, not so much. Luckily I only have to wear the heels for a couple of hours tonight. And, there are chairs, thank God. And after a couple of drinks, I will just take the damn shoes off and walk around barefoot anyway. :)

Made It to Columbus

We made it to Columbus. Yay! The Hyatt is beautiful. We are on the 11th floor and have a great view of a giant red neon sign that says "Wonder Bread".

Yesterday evening we registered -- an enormous feat in itself. We went to the Convention Center but couldn't find the registration table for TNNA. Went back to the hotel; the sign said registration was "in the convention center." Everyone we aked, said the registration was "in the convention center." We walked, I swear to ever-lovin' God, five miles looking for the registration table. Finally found it just as they were closing, but they let us register really fast. Later, I discovered that the Greater Columbus Convention Center is 1.7 MILLION square feet in size. Do you think they coulda been a little more specific when explaining where things are?

Sorry, that made me crabby. But in my own defense I will say, I was starving, having not had a true meal all day. And we were late, as registration closed at 6 and at 5:57 we were still running around a Really Huge Yet Strangely Empty building. And we had an apppointment to keep at 6:30 and didn't want to be late for that.....

Anyway. We met with the really lovely people of Frogtree Alpaca. They are just about the nicest people in the world, I think. Not only are they nice people, they also do not take any salary from their business; Frogtree Alpaca is entirely non-profit. They gave us a preview of some new patterns for their yarns, and there is one cardigan that I think is going to be a hit! We talked about what new colors of their merino wool I would like to see. They also sell some fab buttons that I will get a closer look at when the show opens tomorrow. In addition to yarns and buttons, they also sell sweaters and clothing from Bolivia and Peru. We talked about how reasonable their prices were for all their products, and they pointed out that if they keep the prices low, they'll tend to be able to take orders for three of something instead of only one, and that gives more work & more money to the Bolivians/Peruvians. And that is what it is all about for them, making the world a better place for these women by giving them opportunities to make a living with their hands. It's a wonderful thing. Buy Frogtree Alpaca, everyone! It makes the world a better place and empowers women!

Finally we had dinner at a cafe in the hotel. It was very nice. Kristin's seafood was a work of art. My cobb salad was okay. The wine was excellent. I had a Cabernet Sauvignon Verdemonte Alto de Casablanca from Chile, fruity with a hint of exotic spices. Yum.

Then we pretty much went back to the hotel room and crashed.

Now it is nearly time to take off & find breakfast. We are bathed and clothed and ready. Today is no show, just classes. Kristin's class is from 8 to 5; it is "Beyond Creative Knitting" with Valentina Devine and it sounds like it's gonna be fun. My class is something about point of sale systems, with Ted Schofield. Ted offers excellent business classes for yarn retailers and I hope to gain from it. My class is only 8 to 11 or so, so I have the afternoon off. I might go to the Short North Market and hang out for a while. Catch ya later.

On Our Way to Columbus

I picked Kristin up and we headed north. Bangor has such a cute little airport. Normally we would have engaged in people-watching at the terminal, but since there were only about 5 people in the whole place, we chose to sit facing the runway & watch planes land and take off. But there weren't any of those either. Um, did I mention it's a really small airport? So, we boarded a tiny little plane and took off.

Right now, Kristin and I are sitting in Gate B12 in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky. We have one short hop from here to Columbus, and we'll get to the hotel before 5 pm. So far, all is well. On the flight from Bangor, I knit on a shawl. It's the pie-section shawl printed on the inside label of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace; the color I'm knitting is called "Bittersweet" and it is a bright combination of hot pink, orange, fuschia and red. Yep, they'll see me coming when I wear this baby. It's reallly pretty, though. And very soft. Promise I'll post pictures as soon as I get home. I'm already almost two-thirds of the way through. Maybe I'll be done by the time I get home? That would be cool.

So now I've have my traditional frozen yogurt (chocolate) that I always get when I'm at the Cincinnati airport. And now I'm thinking, hot cooked food involving french fries might be next. Eat dessert first! You never know what the future holds....

I'm really looking forward to the yarn show. It's always so much fun seeing all the new STUFF the yarn companies are coming out with. I'm getting all tingly just thinking about it. I'll let you know what we run into! More later...


Santa Fe Complete

Santa Fe is done, and she's quite lovely, if I must say so myself. She feels great, fits perfectly, and I will be very happy to wear her to the yarn show on Saturday, where I can show the very nice Texas people of Dancing Fibers how beautiful their Diasantafe yarn is when knit up. There was nothing I didn't like about this yarn, as far as working with it. The biggest problem with this yarn is the price: $16.95 per ball. And it took 9 balls to make a short sleeved summer top. All I can say is, I'm just glad it was worth it. The sweater feels like wearing water; it drapes like silk; and it was very fun to knit with, mostly because I enjoyed watching the colors drift through my fingers as I went along.


Santa Fe in all her glory.

Neck detail.

Button detail.

Set-in sleeve detail.

Summer Is Here

Yesterday was the first day that really felt like summer. As in, I was trying to figure out why I felt so uncomfortable when I first woke up -- then I realized it was because I was too hot! Haven't felt uncomfortably warm in a long time. Guess it is finally time to put the flannel pajamas away.

I went outside (the light was better there) and took pictures of Santa Fe in pieces this morning, and was nearly carried away by the billions of mosquitoes that had suddenly manifested in our yard. Evil beings. We hates them. I become instantly fond of bats this time every year.

I hope to get Santa Fe finished tomorrow. It is definitely warm enough now to wear a short sleeved sweater! And then after that, I'll show you the pretty thing I've been working on since I finished knitting the pieces of Santa Fe.


Life Goes On

Okay. Back from Aroostook. Erin's committal was very sad. Very, very sad. But it's behind us now and if we can manage to get through the trial in one piece, that will be good.

I did get a lot more knitting done on Santa Fe than I thought I would; I only have about 15 more rows on the sleeve cap on the last sleeve. I'll take pictures of her in her twisted, adolescent stage before I join her together and knit on a collar. One reason I finished early was that I opted for short sleeves instead of long sleeves. The drapey, summery weight of the fabric that I'm getting is perfect for warm weather, so long sleeves would be a bit pointless. I'm planning to wear SF to the yarn show in Ohio next week. Yikes! How did this creep up on me so fast??? Seems like just yesterday I made reservations to fly and to stay at the hotel, but it was really January. June seemed like it was so far away then.... but now here we are, and it's nearly time to go!

The nice weather has brought lots of people to Camden, so things are getting busy, which is making me giddy with relief and excitement. There is always a moment (or, a month) in the tourist business when you worry, what if the tourists don't come back this year and I can't pay for all this stuff I bought to sell??? Hopefully I will never really have to answer that question.

We'll be publishing the summer Unique One newsletter after Kristin and I return from the yarn show. Apparently "newsletter" implies that there will be "news", so the news will be what we saw at the show. And hopefully what we bought. Which could really depend on how rich I feel by next Friday, heh heh. I also have to figure out what kind of pattern to dream up for inclusion in the next newsletter, so I'm open to suggestions as to what folks might like to see. It's the summer issue, so... some summery thing I suppose. Bikini? Nah. Too many engineering skills required to design it. Beach bag? Maybe. Beer can cosy? It's been done, I think, on Knitty or somewhere. Hmm, I'll think on it.