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The Good News Is.....

...we were really busy at the store today! The bad news is, we were really busy at the store today. Being busy was really good (for me!). Unfortunately for my dedicated blog readers, it meant I didn't have time to get any photos of stuff that came in recently. But I can at least tell you: we have gotten some really cool buttons from a couple of companies we ordered from at TNNA. Here are pictures of some buttons we got from Renaissance:
Fishbowlbuttons_1
Fish bowls. I love them. They are much cuter in person than in this picture. We also got these:
Newbuttons
Who doesn't need sushi buttons???

We got Knit Stix, needles with inches marked on them so you can also use them to measure with. Haven't you wished you had inches marked on your needles so you could check, using your free needle (the one with no stitches on it) if you have finally gotten that @!%#& two inches of K 1, P 1 ribbing done YET? I have. The best thing about them is that Helen Jost, who invented these needles, grew up right here in Camden and graduated from Camden High School! She is a very cool lady and it was a pleasure to meet her at TNNA in Indianapolis. We also got Tuffy and Durasport yarn from Canada, nylon-enriched wool loveliness for making warm and long-wearing wonderful socks for winter. There are new colors of Velvet Touch and Suede and Foliage, all long-time fave yarns at Unique One. We also recently got the newest Heartstrings patterns.

I also was too busy to finish my "Dream" summer cardigan or to photograph my shrug that I just finished knitting. It's already been a good model for the store, garnering attention and causing people to purchase yarn and the Spring Vogue Knitting issue it is made from. Which I find a little surprising, because I didn't think it would be a particularly interesting model; however, it has really unusual, interesting shaping and we've had some pretty hard-core tourist knitters in lately, and it's like there's some invisible thing in the air: they hone right in on this little shrug, and start trying to figure out how it is knit, because its shaping is really kind of magical and difficult to figure out. It's a curious thing. And it makes people want to knit it, because it is a curious thing. Iris Schreier (the designer) is quite a clever girl and I admire the way she thinks. I'll get pictures soon, promise!

Since I didn't do the above stuff, I also didn't yet start my Vivian Hoxbro kit, but I will, soon. Really.


A Look of Fear....

Okay, this is actually a post about the fact that I can't think of anything to say, and therefore create a blog post. Things have been pretty busy at the store (Yay!). A few new items which we ordered at TNNA have arrived; I will take the camera to work with me tomorrow to get photos & write about them.

I finished the shrug/wrap/shawl thingie I began knitting on the knitting cruise, so I'll get pictures of that, too. I'm now zooming along on a marvelous little short-sleeved cardigan from a fun new yarn we got called "Dream" -- I only have the short sleeves and the button bands left to knit. If I finish that tonight, I will photograph that, too. And after that, I just might have to jump into the Vivian Hoxbro kit I took home to knit last summer. Hey, it has only taken me a year to roll the yarn into balls and knit the gauge swatch! And I don't even want to mention the dozen or so other projects I've got on the go which benefit the store in almost no way, as they aren't really viable samples because in the time it's taken me to knit them, the yarn and/or the pattern have gotten discontinued. Ooops.

All this knitting, all this fiber stuff I surround myself with, is necessary. I need it because I must avoid this:
Micheline_presle948
See the look of fear in her face? The utter terror, mingled with shame and desperation? Notice the lack of knitting in her empty hands???? Oh, the humanity.....


(heh heh, thanks to Agence Eureka for the cool retro picture!)


Geeky Fun: The Jig Is Up

For a number of years, I have been wanting to make this one sweater, Lucy Neatby's "Cables After Whisky". It just seemed really cool, and long-time Yarndemon readers will remember that I have always had kind of a crush on random-number stuff in knitting. Finally, on the knitting cruise last week, I had the perfect opportunity to start it: I had time to knit; I had a huge bag of the perfect-gauge yarn in the perfect color; I had a bottle of very good whisky; and I had a friend who used to knit and drink Scotch with me back when we were younger. I decided to cast on for this sweater one evening on the knitting cruise.

'Cables After Whisky' operates on a simple principle: you knit an oversized, simple-shape sweater and randomly twist cables all over it. It looks like you knit an aran sweater after drinking a bottle of whisky. However, there is a subtle plan: basically, you work a cabled row with several rows of stockinette stitch in between. The cables sort of line up -- sort of. So it isn't totally random. But Lucy Neatby is clever; the teensy bit of organization makes the overall effect much more pleasing and less "bunchy". The fabric drapes better this way.

So the thing is, I started the first cable twist row. What you do on this row is, you randomly choose a number between 0 and 9. Depending on what number you choose, you twist a cable towards the back, twist a cable towards the front, knit the stitches plain, or choose another number (the equivalent of "roll again!" in a board game). I'm not too good at just thinking of random numbers, so I and my little group of scotch drinkers thought it would be fun if I just yelled out "Pick a number!" and they'd take turns shouting out numbers and I'd work across the row. And, that was fun for about 60 stitches. Then it was kind of lame. We couldn't have a conversation during that row, because the number of stitches each twist is worked over is relatively small, so people had to keep giving me numbers frequently. So I put it away for the night, halfway across the row. We finished the bottle of Scotch.

Next day, I decided to use the two pages of random numbers that came with the pattern -- a very good help! But you know how lazy I am. I had to keep looking at the page, finding my place, then translating what the number meant. For example, if it is "4", that means twist the cable to the front. It was still pretty slow, finding the number and figuring out what it meant. Plus, we were sailing, and the wind threatened to blow my random numbers overboard. So I put it away, but I knew what I needed to do to make these cable rows all sweetness and light.

My husband is a carpenter, and when he needs to do a repetitive task, he often makes a "jig", a tool or contraption that helps hold stuff in a certain way to make the work easier. I needed to make a knitting "jig" to spit out what to do on that cable row, something that I could just click on and it would say "Cable Back", "Cable Front", "Knit 4" or "Click Again!".

I am too lazy and stupid to learn how to program in C++ or Java (Although I did try to teach myself to program in Java a few years ago -- I needed a teacher who knew how to do it already, unfortunately; I was teaching myself, so my teacher was kind of an idiot about stuff). So I rely on Runtime Revolution's "Media" to create software when I need it, because it uses the same hypertext language I used to program in HyperCard, back when HyperCard existed. I made a little "stack" (that's what the programs are called, "stacks"; I could explain why but do you really care? I thought not) which solved all my problems. Now, when I get to the cable row, I set my laptop next to me, and all I have to do is click the mouse button, and the computer tells me to cable front or back, or knit on, or click again. Problem solved! Here's a screenshot of what it looks like -- it's VERY SIMPLE:
Cablejigscreenshot_2

This Media software is really super. You can use it on any computer platform, including Linux, and it only costs about $50. You can use it to do tons of stuff, from creating demos, displays, adventure games, and simple software. It's very easy to use. For example, in my little jig for Cables After Whisky, I have one "card" with a "field" and a "button". The card is just the background that everything sits on. The field is a box which will display text. The button is the thing you click on to make stuff happen; I made the button large and invisible, so you just click wherever you want, no hunting for little buttons is required. The button has a "script" which you write, and the script is what tells the button what to do. Here is the script I wrote for my jig (do not be afraid, it is not as scary as it looks):

on mouseUp

put random(10) into it
if it = 1 then
put empty into field 1
wait 4
put "B" into field 1
end if


if it = 2 then

put empty into field 1

wait 4

put "B" into field 1

end if


if it = 3 then

put empty into field 1

wait 4

put "F" into field 1

end if

if it = 4 then
put empty into field 1
wait 4
put "F" into field 1
end if

if it = 5 then
put empty into field 1
wait 4
put "Click Again" into field 1
end if

if it = 6 then
put empty into field 1
wait 4
put "Click Again" into field 1
end if

if it = 7 then
put empty into field 1
wait 4
put "Knit 4" into field 1
end if

if it = 8 then
put empty into field 1
wait 4
put "Knit 4" into field 1
end if

if it = 9 then
put empty into field 1
wait 4
put "Knit 4" into field 1
end if

if it = 10 then
put empty into field 1
wait 4
put "Knit 4" into field 1
end if

end mouseUp

Notice how all the words are in English? no funny characters? no jargon? It's very simple. The oddest term is "mouseUp" -- that just means "click" -- as in, when the mouse button is released and goes back *up*. There is also "put random(10) into it". That just says to the computer, pick a number at random between 1 and 10, and then take the number you picked and put it in a holder called "it". Clever, eh? It's much quicker to say "put random(10) into it". The rest of the script is all "if the number you picked is such-and-such, then put what I'm supposed to do with the next few stitches into the field so I can read it and knit it, assuming I have not drunk too much whiskey!" The part that says "put empty into field 1" & "wait 4" tells it to blank the screen and then wait a second before putting the new thing in the box; that kind of makes it blink when I click. That way, if there are several of the same direction in a row, I'll know it isn't just stuck, that it really is choosing again.

Computer programming. It's not so hard, with Media. And there are tons of tutorials to teach you how to use it, too, built into the program, and more are downloadable from the RunRev website. Ya gots to love technology!

Anyone can run the program if they have the RunRev Media Player. If anyone out there wants to knit Cables After Whisky and wants to get a copy of my cable-row jig, just email me and I'll point you to where you can download the jig and the Media Player on yarndemon.com .

Now if there were only a way to write a Media stack that would open the door for the cats when they meooooow......


The First Ever Isaac Evans June Knitting Cruise!

Knitandsail

Where to begin.... to say that the knitting cruise was wonderful, or great, or fun, or anything you like, could never sum it up. Just imagine the most fun three days in the whole world. That would pretty much do it, except it was more fun than that!

For one thing, we not only had perfect weather, it was the first beautiful, sunny stretch of days we've had all together like that since about April. Believe me, we enjoyed it thoroughly! And not only was it sunny and warm, but there was a good stiff breeze most of the time, all weekend long, so we had wonderful sailing as well! It was actually hard for people to knit, because there was so much else to enjoy, too: lovely sunshine, beautiful scenery, wildlife spottings, unbelievably delicious (and constant!) food; great company -- this was a thoroughly enjoyable group of interesting, friendly, wonderful passengers. I just had the best time. I will be re-living this knitting cruise for many days, in my mind.

And I get to go back in September and do it again! Yahoooo!

We set off on Thursday, and had excellent sailing all day. There were really interesting people to talk to on board, including a professional juggler, Steve; Mie, his wife, who is from Japan; Helen and Rachel, who just finished up the Appalachian Trail recently and who are already planning their next trip, to Antarctica; Dossie, a dear friend of mine for many years who came all the way from Montana for the cruise; Kim and Kari, excellent sailors and wonderful writers, artists, and musicians; and Sally and Ann and Cindy, well-loved Unique One customers! It was a great group.

Thursday night we had a lobster bake on Wreck Island -- a wonderful place for a lobster bake, because there are many large rocks to sit on and one large, flat rock that makes the perfect table; a river otter joined us for dinner and provided entertainment.

Friday was another gorgeous day and we had excellent sailing all day long. I greatly enjoyed looking at everyone's knitting and helping them out with knitting questions here and there. Kim learned to knit socks on two circular needles; Ann learned how to knit a short-row heel on a sock; Mie began knitting a scarf (and she's a great knitter -- had the scarf pretty much done by the end of the cruise, and such beautiful, even knitting, too!). Sally was knitting a really pretty cabled scarf out of Blue Sky Alpaca's Organic Cotton -- it felt lovely. There were many projects on the go. Everyone brought more than one thing to work on, you know how knitters are! We just had a great time knitting and talking and eating and sailing and letting the wind blow through our hair. We anchored in Bartlett Cove and enjoyed a magnificent sunset. Scotch was opened and consumed (in moderation, of course); conversation flowed and riddles were asked. Each night of the cruise, Kari played beautifully on her Native American flutes. It was such beautiful, haunting music!

Saturday we were all very sad to have to head back to Rockland, but we did, despite seriously considering hijacking the boat. But, Brenda had a hair appointment at 11:30, so we had to go back. Dang. There is already a plan to make the June cruise a four-day-er next year. It was so much fun!

I put pictures of the cruise in a Picture Trail album (click here to see the pictures). I didn't use the TypePad photo album feature because it is just way tooo screwed up. The Picture Trail site offers much more control over the photo album. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

And finally, here's a riddle that Capt. Brenda asked us -- and it took me 15 hours and a bit 'o Scotch to figure out the answer, too:

What is greater than God,
More evil than Satan?
Poor people have it,
Rich people need it.
If you eat it, you will die!


Do you know the answer?

Sunset


Gone Sailing

I'll be boarding the Isaac Evans in a couple of hours for the three-day knitting cruise! I hope we have good weather, but actually, as long as everyone brought plenty of knitting, I guess it doesn't really matter. It will be fun no matter what!

Unlike the Indy trip, I won't have any internet access for the duration, so this is the last post until at least Saturday evening and most likely, Sunday sometime. I will, however, take lots of pictures and I'll post them as soon as I can after I get back!


TNNA Show June 2006 Day 5

Most of this post is actually a re-cap of what we ordered at the show yesterday. So let's just jump right in:


  • First of all, I didn't order anything from Louet, but I did check out their very cute new spinning wheel called "Victoria". Here's what their brochure says about it: When folded, it is the smallest wheel on the market; it is light -- only 6.5 lbs.; it has an optional backpack/carry-on bag you can put it in; it has high ratio wheels, available with an optional high speed head; scotch tension brake system; available in oak or beech. This wheel will be available in November 2006. I measured the wheel they had on display; it is 20" high and the wheel is 11.5" in diameter. I don't think it takes regular Louet bobbins; they looked smaller to me.
  • We ordered some new buttons from Dill -- some nice big polymer buttons in paisley shapes and earthy colors, perfect for bags or that cardigan that needs just one big button; black buttons with skull & crossbones on them; bright colored shell buttons; a chipmunk button; a sheep button we didn't already have, and tons more.
  • We visited Renaissance Buttons and Victoria ordered a bunch. We got translucent fishbowls housing one fish, available in several colors; tiny, cute bunny heads; daisies; sushi buttons; pin-up girl buttons, and another sheep button we didn't already have.
  • We stopped by the Alchemy Yarn booth, waved hello to Gina and Austin (who were quite busy taking orders with other customers), and we ordered a few things to fill in what we already carry. We recently got some new things from them before the show.
  • Because I took Iris Schreier's class, I was able to pick up a free copy of her book Modular Knits at her booth and get her to autograph it. We had to order some Artyarn Supermerino 8 anyway, so we headed over and got the book. Iris was really busy, running around helping other customers; I hated to bother her for an autograph. But I did want to place an order. A wonderful, friendly woman came up to us and said, "Can I help you?" It was Annie Modesitt! She was helping out at the Artyarns booth. We laughed and talked for a while; I had only talked to her on the phone before, and it was nice to talk to her in person. Turns out, she's been in Unique One before, and she loves the shop. I'm so glad! I like Annie. She got Iris to autograph the book for me, I placed a yarn order, and I got Annie to write a note in Iris' book, too, heh heh. We'll have to get her to come teach at Unique One sometime.
  • We meant to stop by the Swedish Yarn booth and talk to Hanne Falkenberg, but she was always pretty busy everytime we walked by, and then we forgot. Ooops.
  • I was happy to find Fiber Fantasy had a booth at the show, so I was finally able to order the blocking wires that are so great for blocking shawls, as well as pretty much anything else. I have wanted to carry these for years. I also ordered knitter's design graph paper (big sheets, helpful hints for designing) and..... wait for it....... yarn that glows in the dark! Yes! It feels kind of horrible and isn't too fun to work with -- picture knitting with pink insulation -- but oh my lovelies, it glows in the dark! You'd never knit a whole garment or anything with this stuff, but think of the fun embellishments you can create. A black pirate hat with glow-in-the-dark skull and crossbones knit into it or duplicate-stitched on. The possibilities are endless!
  • Finally, we went to the booth with the other needles that light up, and I am happy to report that after beating Victoria in a hand-wrestling contest, I placed an order for size 8 and size 10.5 11-inch needles, size 15 9-inch needles, and sizes H, K and L crochet hooks. The sizes available in both needles and hooks was limited, as were the needle lengths. I also am having them send wholesale info on OTHER light-up tools that I think you're gonna love -- but I'll save that big secret for your amusement in a few months! And the best bit: their products are made in the USA! Wisconsin, I think.
  • Some of you may remember an amazing little device called the Weavette Loom -- basically it is a small wooden frame with steel pegs nailed into it all the way around. It looks like the plastic frames you used to weave loop potholders on at summer camp. Only, the Weavettes are for real weaving! I want to carry these in the shop because I think they are really cool. Since each square can be woven with only a few yards of yarn, it would be a super way to use up those odds and ends of yarn we all accumulate. Also, these little looms are truly portable: the smallest frame is only 2 x 2"! So, I ordered something they call a 'retailer's introductory kit' -- basically, so I can teach myself how to use the frames before I buy any to sell. Then, I'll offer a class in how to weave with these little frames, and hopefully be able to round out my customers' fiber skills a little with tiny weaving.
  • I was pleased to find Briggs & Little had a booth, and since they're practically our neighbor, hailing from Harvey, New Brunswick -- just across Maine's border -- I stopped to say 'Hi' and had a nice chat with John Little, a charming man. Before I knew it I had ordered both Tuffy and Durasport yarns. Customers (Hi Fran!) have actually been asking for these for a long time. Tuffy is like Maine wool, but with nylon in it, making it wonderful for heavy boot socks. They're very warm and they do not wear out, because of the nylon. Durasport is a single ply, light weight version of Tuffy, so now you can make warm wool socks that are nylon reinforced, but in a light weight. I love that these yarns are from Canada.
  • This show was full of surprises. On the new products display table, I noted a new product I just HAD to have -- straight knitting needles with a ruler marked on them. So, you can measure how many inches you've knit using your free needle after you finish a row. It's really a stroke of genius, in my opinion. We found the booth to order these from and lo and behold, the lady who invented the needles grew up in Camden, lived on Chestnut Street, graduated from Camden High School years ago. She's an amazing wonderful lady, a pilot and an inventor, retired (as retired as she'll ever be, I'd say) and living in Florida now, if I remember right. She's someone I'd like to sit down and talk to for a couple of days. I told her someone should write an article about her, and she said, oh yes; several people have done that -- and reeled off a variety of magazines who have featured her in articles. Anyway, we ordered the needles, which were available in sizes 5 through 9 in a 14-inch length. Each size is a different color: lavender, golden yellow, crimson mist, turquoise powder, and magenta.
  • We stopped by and said hi to Tina at the KnitWhits booth -- she has some great new kits for socks that I love! We ordered them, of course. We also got the crocheted flower scarf kit in a couple of new colors as well.
  • Ashland Sky is the company that has the translucent needle cases and notion bags that everyone's been talking about. We opened an account with them, and in August will be getting circular needle cases, straight needle cases, double-pointed needle cases, short double-pointed needle cases (also great for crochet hooks), and the zippered "gadget sack" for notions. These bags are trimmed in a variety of colors, and the plastic feels good in your hands. It's grippable.
  • Now, some of the best news of the day: remember how wild I was about the Namaste cylindrical bag, with the needle holders around the outside of the bag? leather? turquoise? highly desirable? I was agonizing about how I could possibly sell such a high-end item to my customers. In truth, I really just wanted one for myself. It seemed like every other yarn shop lady around me was carrying one, and I couldn't believe they were all selling them, because of the high cost. I figured they must sell for around $200. Well, it turns out that the leather must be faux leather, because when we got to the Namaste booth, I found that these highly-desirable bags are totally affordable. The'll retail for only slightly more than our Ellington Cargo Tote bags sell for now, around $80. The style I like is called the Vintage bag, and I ordered it in summer colors of pink, turquoise and a rusty orange. I can special order it in black and tan; actually, if these sell well, I'll order those colors for fall. Victoria picked out the Executive and the Messenger, the latter of which she especially loved. It's a corduroy messenger bag with a fabulous, fun lining. It is a rather casual bag. The Executive is leather-like, a little more dressy or professional. All these bags make great knitting bags, but they are also just great all-around bags.
  • We went to the iKnitiative booth, as I mentioned earlier, and ordered The Whirlwind Scarf pattern and found out that Natalie lived in Portland for a while. We also ordered a variety of her other patterns, for things like sweaters, bags, scarves, gloves and a shawl. There was one really great kids' sweater called the Monster Sweater. All of these patterns are both attractive and very clever.
  • Several customers have been asking for organic and/or natural yarns. Up til now, the only organic yarn we had was Eko-Bomull, which has recently been discontinued. We figured we'd better get on the stick and find some alternatives. Therefore, we came to the show looking for organic yarn. As you know, one of the things that is important to me at Unique One is that I want to sell, at least as much as possible, things that are Maine-made, New England-made, made in the USA, made in Canada, or things that reflect traditions of handcraft or quality, or things which, through their sale, benefit women's groups or help promote handcrafts of a culture, all in that order. (There ya go, my store philosophy summed up in one long, rambling sentence!) So when we ran across the Vermont Organic Fiber Company selling organic wool, it was a dream come true. This good, basic wool yarn will retail for about $12 per skein; it is 198 yards in 100 grams, and has a suggested gauge of 4.5 sts per inch on a size 8 to 10 needle, depending on how you knit. It is Certified Organic Merino from Australia, processed in accordance with the Organic Trade Association's Fiber Processing standards. We ordered it in all 13 colors, with wonderful names like evergreen, willow, sky, mulberry, saffron, and chocolate. I can't wait to knit with this yarn!
  • In the same vein, we got another surprise: on our way out the door we decided to make one last stop at the InfiKnit booth, distributors of Fiddlesticks Knitting patterns, Zephyr yarn, Country Silk yarn, and other products. The company hails from Toronto, Ontario. We thought we'd just stop by quickly to see if there were any new Fiddlesticks Knitting lace patterns. Manning the booth were Carol Tomany and Dorothy Siemens! I was delighted to meet Dorothy, because I truly think she is a knitting genius. A genius, I tell you. She and her designs are unbelievable. Anyway, we got sidetracked from looking at patterns because..... they had a whole line of organic cotton yarn called EcoKnit! I couldn't believe it. We had looked at the organic cotton yarn that Blue Sky Alpacas offers, but turned it down because a) lots of people carry it already; b) it was a little more expensive than I wanted; c) it was so soft it looked like it might be kind of pilly; and d) their booth was so busy we couldn't get anyone to talk to us. So when we found an even better organic cotton that is being sold by people with whom we already have an account, and whom we consider to be not only geniuses but also our friends, we of course ordered the whole line! This is a really great cotton, organic or not: it is soft, but not pilly-soft; it's strong; the cotton actually GROWS in the colors of the yarn: they are all quite light, earthy colors -- natural off-white; light sagey-green; a darker sagey-green; tan; and beige (lighter tan). I love this yarn, and it is very affordable; I think it will retail for less than $6.00 per skein (depends on shipping costs). Victoria remembers that it is 100 meters in a 50-gram skein, and a DK weight, but you could probably get a worsted gauge out of it pretty easily. And get this, this is the bestest-best bit: Dorothy Siemens has designed 5 patterns specifically for this yarn, including sweaters and at least one shawl!! This yarn, being cotton, will shrink if machine-washed and thrown right into the dryer, so brilliant Dorothy designed the garments around the shrinkage factor! Therefore, you knit the sweater with the organic yarn it calls for, then wash it and tumble dry it, and it comes out all pre-shrunk and lovely. I especially love this part, because that's how we make the cotton sweaters for Unique One. We knit them a little on the large side and then preshrink them before we put them out for sale. That way, people who buy our cotton sweaters can just throw them in the washer & dryer. But I digress: this organic cotton is wonderful and it is another yarn I can't wait to work with. Dear customers, I think you'll love it.
  • Finally, one of my favorite things I found at the show this year: 100% camel yarn from Nomadic Trader Yarn Company. I love this yarn. It was available in three options: handspun yarn, each skein labeled with the name of the Mongolian herder who spun it on the drop spindle; handspun yarn dyed in a variety of colors by a lady here in the U.S.; and commercially spun yarn. I ordered handspun camel-colored yarn labeled with the name of the Mongolian herder who spun it on a drop spindle (of course) and I also ordered some of the camel yarn commercially spun in lace weight. It's a wonderful yarn, but that's not the whole reason I ordered it. I had to have it, you see. Had to. My husband owned a camel when he lived in West Africa -- her name was Aphrodite. Of course, she wasn't a Bactrian camel, like the camels who provided the fiber for the camel yarn I ordered, but just the same.... it was camel and I had to have it.

    An interesting thing happened while I was in the Nomadic Traders booth. A lady was talking to the Nomadic Traders lady about camel yarn that was being held for her for a certain project: it was Myrna Stahman! We got talking, and it turns out she's doing something with Linda Cortwright! So of course I had to tell her how Linda is one of my favorite people in the whole world, and we talked for a while about how great Linda is.

So that's it, for what we ordered. I started writing this in the hotel this morning, and now we're sitting in Indianapolis' airport waiting for our flight. We had a great breakfast at Le Peep, a breakfast place around the corner from the hotel (of course we find it the morning we leave), and then we wandered around the capitol building and Monument Circle one last time, taking pictures. I have had such a great time in Indianapolis. It is a beautiful, interesting, fun city and I wish the TNNA show were held here every summer!

We got our limo ride to the airport, and I tried to take a photo of it with my camera phone. If it comes out, I will put a picture of it in another blog post later.

[Later]


We are now at the airport in Cincinnati, and I am able to post this blog entry & some pictures. Here are pictures I took this morning:

Dancers_1

Indycapital1


Capitol2


Blockbuilding


Monumentfront


Midmonument


Uppermonument


Monumenttop


Monumentleaving


Libertycannon


Monumentback


Injuredsoldier


Sailormonument


Happybear


Buffalo


Indylampost


Prettybuilding



TNNA Show June 2006 Day 4

You know how it is on Christmas or your birthday, after you've opened all your presents and you're running through them all in your mind, remembering one you forgot? And you say, "Ooooh, cool, I forgot about that one, it is so cool! I can't believe I got that!"

That's how I am feeling about the stuff we ordered at the show. We ordered so many really, really cool things! I can't wait for it all to come so I can share it with you! Some things will be arriving right away, some things will be coming in the fall, and some things will be coming whenever the manufacturers are able to produce them. I am VERY excited about everything we got, to the point of being just giggly over some of it, GIGGLY, I tell you. Wait, just wait til you see what I got. I feel like Santa Claus, because I know what's coming & you don't! Unfortunately, unlike Santa, I won't be able to give it to you for free, but maybe you know someone who'd like to play Santa in your life? 'Cuz baby, some of these things will be gifts to die for.

We just spent three of the most enjoyable hours of my life having "supper" with Susan Pine & her charming, witty husband, Ted at Palomino's, a great restaurant near the convention center. We had so much fun! There was a bottle of Francis Coppola wine involved. There may also have been potatoes with gorgonzola; crab & artichoke dip; coffee and chocolate tiramisu. I do believe I saw a creme brulee float by at one point, as well. Susan and I found we have a close bond involving my very small (pop. ~400) home town -- she used to work at the school there. I had no idea! So we shared fond memories of Portage and its elementary school. It was a great night!

I am really tired, so I am probably going to anger some people when I say, I am not going to post tonight about all that we looked at at the show today. There was so much! I am so tired! I want to sleep, and save my extensive -- and detailed -- post about all the really wonderful, unbelievable stuff I saw and ordered for the store, until I have had a little rest. That way I'll be able to post without being tired down to my bones as I am now, and I can give you a little better sense of the real enthusiasm I have about these things. Tomorrow morning I have a few hours before the LIMO picks us up (promise I will try to get pictures of it) to take us to the airport. I will also try to get a few more photos of Indianapolis before I go, as well. You will not believe some of the things we saw and heard at the show!

I will also tell you about this morning's classes -- Victoria took a beaded knitting class with Judy Pascale, and I took Multidirectional Knitting with Iris Schreier.

But I will say one little thing to Jean: we did order that Whirlwind Scarf pattern you liked from iKnitiative! (Along with some other cool patterns -- the lady who "is" iKnitiative is Natalie Wilson, and she lived in Portland, Maine for 10 years and is quite familiar with Unique One, having visited us many times! She is now located in Michigan.

So, sorry, that's all for tonight. I have to go to bed now.


Things That Light Up

This is just a quick post while Victoria is in the shower.

I discovered a booth yesterday that sells a different kind of needles that light up. The kind we have on order are very, very cool -- brightly colored plastic with tips that light up, and actually, the light is pretty bright.

BUT there is another company that makes needles that are clear plastic the full length, so the light shoots down the whole needle, making the whole needle light up! They are SO COOL! They are also double the price of the other light up needles. I suspect that may be because the second booth is a very small company (just one guy) who hand crafts each needle. (I could be wrong about that; will check it out later.) The brightly-colored light-up needles are made overseas -- I know because a woman called the store & left the message that the needles are "on the boat" and should be at Unique One soon.

But I saved the best part of the second light-up needle company for the last: they make light-up crochet hooks, too!!!! I actually held one in my hand. (Drooling)

Let me kid you not, these novelty needles and hooks are pricey. They'll probably retail for around $40 dollars. There are some people who may be in the shower right now who think those needles and hooks might be a little too pricey for Unique One. But there are other people who drooled when she held them, who know that for some people, nothing is too much to pay for fiber tools that glow in the dark!!!!!!!!

That's all for now -- will post more later.


TNNA Show June 2006 Day 3

Today is the first day of the actual Needlearts Market. It's pretty exciting! We got up at 5:30 as usual, got ready for the day, and headed out. I thought it was around 7:00, but it was only 6:30! So we walked around Monument Circle -- very lovely¬° I wish we had time to go up to the top of the monument to see the view. We grabbed coffee and yogurt at Starbucks and went to the convention center, where we are now waiting for our classes to start. I'm taking a class on creativity with Sally Melville. Victoria is taking a business class with Chris Bylsma and Jan Stahl.

I'm looking forward to the show, looking forward to seeing all the new stuff!

[Later]

I had a great class with Sally Melville, probably the best class I've ever had. It was all about creativity, and I could talk for hours just on that. But I won't, because you want to hear about the show! Her class has given me material to talk about for many, many future blog posts. You can expect to hear me ramble on and on about it for many posts to come.

Victoria's business class was good; she didn't learn anything revolutionary. It was fun to hear from other shop keepers about what they do in their shops, and compare notes.

Finally we got to enter the Needlearts Market. We separated and spent some time walking through the show, taking notes and collecting materials. Then we met up again and had lunch (at Don Shula's steak house in the Westin; I had an excxellent Asian shrimp wrap) and then went to Starbucks to have coffee and plan our attack.

We had a loooooooong list of booths marked down to visit. We divided the big list into three smaller lists: booths we definitely wanted to go back to and place an order from at the show; booths we wanted to get back to and either get more information or just say hi; and booths we didn't need to get back to and could place orders from after we got home, because we are already familiar with their product lines.

So off we went. By this time, it was already 2:00 p.m. and the show closes at 6. We got to quite a few places though, placed some orders, and got to look at some incredibly cool stuff! Here's a list of products we either ordered or looked at so far -- if you have a favorite item in this list, please comment below. If we only looked at it and didn't order it, your comment would be one more vote in favor of the product and might sway me!

  • Unicorn Books had a lot in their booth. You would not believe how many fiber arts books there are in the world, until you see them all in one place.
  • We stopped by Harrisville's booth and looked at all the Vivian Hoxbro kits, including the new ones we saw in the fashion show. That Vivian, she is one clever girl!
  • Knit One Crochet Too had six lovely new shades of their Paintbox yarn and some new patterns, including the pattern for the cool cardigan we saw in the fashion show. They also have a yummy 100% cashmere that knits up as a DK weight. For cashmere, it was very reasonably priced. I love K1C2 because they are a Maine company.
  • We took a spin through the Bryson booth and looked at new patterns from Dovetail Designs, talked to Annie of Oat Couture fame, looked at a couple of great new Vermont Fiber Designs patterns and some beautiful Fiber Trends shawls, and looked at some new notions and needles. We actually got our hands on the new light-up needles and let me tell you, they are nice. Very nice. Fun to play with!
  • We breezed through the JHB button booth and checked out their new buttons. They have a beautiful line of buttons made out of polished rocks. Very pretty!
  • Winterset Designs is a Vermont company that makes very clever, rugged, attractive fold-up containers for knitting and sewing. Basically, it's a canvas basket that sits in/on a wooden frame. The frame is made from pine and birch from Maine; the canvas part is removable for washing. There's a smaller, desktop model and a larger floor model. I love them.
  • Della Q bags showed some really cute bags for fall -- they'd make a great holiday gift! They are really super knitting bags in gorgeous colors. The bags are handmade in Vietnam, of silk, I believe.
  • We stopped by another Maine company, Portland's own Fibre Company. We needed to replenish our stock of Khroma, and order more copies of the hat & sock pattern I designed for them. They have a really beautiful yarn called "Organik". It is made from organic wool, with a little mohair and silk. The yarn is spun in New Zealand and kettle dyed at the Fibre Company in Maine. It is absolutely gorgeous and feels heavenly, and you should see the colors.
  • A new company, the Yarn Place of Sunnyvale, California, had some unbelievably beautiful gently-multicolored laceweight merino yarn, 2400 yards per 100 gram ball, very reasonably priced. The way the colors blend together reminded me of Noro or the Dancing Fiber/Diakeito yarns that we now carry. One of the prettiest lace weight yarns I've seen in a long time, and quite different from any other lace weight yarn I've seen anywhere else. It's not solid-colored, and not hand-painted or hand-dyed or variegated. It's just different and extra pretty.

That's as far as we got today. We have got a pile 'o shopping to do tomorrow! But we'll hit the floor at a dead run at 10 tomorrow and since we've done all our pre-planning and organization, we'll be able to get right to work! Our classes tomorrow morning: I am taking modular knitting with Iris Schreier and Victoria is taking a beaded knitting class with Judy Pascale.

We were pretty tired after the show so we found the best pizza place in Indianapolis (they have a sign on their wall to prove it): Giorgio's Pizza. Giorgio opened the place in 1990; he came from Italy. Let me tell you, he makes a very good pizza! We liked it quite a bit, as you can tell:

Giorgiospizza


TNNA Show June 2006 Day 2 (More)

Victoria said about her sock class with Cat Bordhi, that she learned new ways to knit socks. Also, after the class, she is now warming to the idea of knitting socks on 2 circular needles. Victoria was even able to teach Cat Bordhi a new technique, about joining stitches into a round. That was pretty cool! Here is a picture of a sock she knit in Cat's class:


Catbsock

Victoria's afternoon class was "Celtic Cables" with Melissa Leapman. She learned to do her first cable that required using 2 cable needles. The cables covered in the class were motif cables as opposed to panels of cables, as in traditional arans. In these motif cables, it is tricky to increase or decrease many stitches and have it stay looking good. Melissa's upcoming book, "Cables Untangled" will feature the techniques covered in the class. Victoria also learned a lot about reading charts for cable patterns, in important skill! Here are some pictures of cables she knit:

Mlcables
The cable on the left required 2 cable needles to knit; the cable on the right was Victoria's first attempt at learning the new techniques she picked up in the class.

My afternoon class was "The Zen of Spinning" with Joan Sheridan Hoover, an excellent teacher. Not only did I get to spin some lovely Icelandic roving for 3 hours, I also picked up some pointers on how to teach spinning, and learned quite a bit about how to spin, too! Here's what I accomplished in the class:

Spinningclass

After our classes were done, we went back to the hotel and changed, and went back for the Galleria reception & exhibit. Some people we saw, after I talked briefly to an Elvis impersonator, included Judi Pascale and Candace Eisner Stricke; Hanne Falkenberg; Rick Mondragon; Stacy Charles; Helen Rush; and Susan Pine of Goose Pond, whose beautiful jewelry and ornaments we now sell at Unique One. The Elvis impersonator was fun to talk to. He was aware of the knitted Elvis wig knitting pattern available online, but he had not yet knitted one himself. If I had had my camera, I would have taken a picture because I am pretty sure some of you out there do not believe I had this conversation. I mean really, who would pass up a chance to converse with an Elvis impersonator in full regalia?!

The fashion show was pretty good. I noticed a lot of jackets and cardigans were shown, lots and lots of them. Not much lace and only a couple of shawls, which I thought was kind of surprising. I noticed a slight increase in cables/textured stitches, very little felting, and more skirts and dresses than I would have expected. Still no major showing of crochet, although it was definitely present. Ruffles were also noticeably in attendance as trim on several of the jackets and cardigans. Leslye Solomon had a couple of designs that I liked a lot, because of their elegant and unusual design incorporating vertical patterns and a scallop-shaped bottom edge. Knit One, Crochet Too had my favorite & most memorable design, a short, boxy jacket that used their Paintbox yarn to create vertical stripes of color. It was really cute, looked fun to knit, and it hung well. I wanted to knit it. Lantern Moon showed a really cute new bag called "Gidget", a bag with a pleated black taffeta silk bottom, appliques, velvet handles & tie closure, which I will make a point of seeing at the show. M. Ann Young & Brown Sheep Company showed a bolero-style cardigan knit in Lamb's Pride Worsted that I liked a lot, and will keep a lookout for it at the show too. Plymouth showed a pullover designed by Gryphon Perkins that was really unusual and unique -- most of the body consisted of knitted strips that were actually woven together. Pretty cool! Westminster Fibers showed a gorgeous ball gown knit in Rowan Kid Silk Haze that would cost about a thousand dollars to make (I may be exaggerating, but not by much I bet); it was utterly beautiful, though. And the show-stealer, easily, was a very sexy knit negligee designed by Yarn Cocktails; it was quite the stunner.

And then Victoria and I had supper and went to bed. Big day tomorrow! I'll keep you posted.


TNNA Show June 2006 Day 2

I took a class about teaching classes from Margaret Fisher, and it was well-worth my time. She's a great teacher, well organized and clear. I learned a lot, especially about hiring teachers, writing contracts, learning what's expected both from the yarn shop owner's polnt ofview and from the teacher's point of view.

Victoria took a sock class from Cat Bordhi. She liked it quite a bit and had a very cute, very clever little sock she knit in class to show for it.

My class got out an hour earlier than hers did, so I took the opportunity to look at the New Products display. Here are some things that caught my eye:


  • Ashland Sky has needle cases and zippered notion bags that are translucent so you can see what's in them. The bag trim comes in different colors. We've already had customers asking about these bags, having seen them in a mailorder catalog. I'll be looking for these products in the show, because I know my customers are already interested in them.
  • Southwest Trading Company has a yarn made from corn.
  • Nancy's Knitknacks has a new heavy duty ballwinder.
  • Namaste (of glass knitting needles) is offering a needle case/tote bag that is very cool (as in, I want one!). It's a cylinder, about a foot tall, with slots all around the outside to hold various types of needles, and it has a carrying strap. There may be pockets inside; I couldn't get close enough to tell. Think circular rigger's bag. It's very stylish and attractive and it appears to be made of turquoise leather. I'm sure it must be expensive. I wonder: what would it take to get you, my customers, to buy a high-end item like that? I'll find out more information about that bag, at any rate. Before I even saw it on display, I saw a lady in my class carrying one, and it was love at first sight. I meant to ask her about it after the class, but didn't get the chance. I was glad to see it on the new products dislay table.
  • Alchemy Yarns had a clever display, as usual. It looked like they had some kind of new crochet kit. It was crowded around their display, so I couldn't get a good look. Victoria said she saw Alchemy is now selling fiber for spinning, too; I'll check into it.
  • I saw some square knitting needles; can't remember the company's name right now, but it might have been Kollage.
  • Bryson Distributlng has new knitting noddies (also called knitting spools, knitting dolls , or French knitters; we made them with four nails and a wooden spool when I was a kid). These new ones are made of colorful translucent plastic, so they kind of look like they are made of gummy candy. Bryson also has new yarn needles made from this fun new plastic. I want one.
  • Louet is showing a new, small wheel, very portable. It's called ''Victoria". It looks like it's about 18 inches high, with about a 10"-diameter wheel; double treadle. I didn't notice if it folds up. You can be sure I will check this wheel out at the Louet booth. (And no, Peggy and Sharon, I will NOT be buying one for me!). Louet also had drop spindle kits and hand-dyeing kits.
  • Circular Solution showed a new knitting bag -- it is circular, divided into sections and has a little loop handle that comes up from the center. It's cute.

Here are a few pictures I took around Indianapolis, on our walk to and from the Convention Center.

Einsteinbagels
This is where we had breakfast this morning. I highly recommend it!


Indychurch
If anyone familiar with Indianapolis knows the name of this church, please let me know. It's pretty. The chimes sound nice.


Rcadome
Here's a picture for the sports fans -- the RCA Dome.

Artsgarden
The Indianapolis Artsgarden -- very pretty.

Circlecentremall
This picture is for Deb: The Circle Centre Mall! Over 300 stores & restaurants full of spending fun. We had lunch at a Chick Fil A (sp? I don't know how to spell it). I bought T-shirt at Eddie Bauer. We sure know how to have fun!


Monumentcircle
Monument Circle -- very impressive.

Lookwhowefound
Look who we found just outside the hotel -- Susan Pine of Goose Pond! It was nice to see another NETA babe here.

Have to run -- off to the Galleria & Fashion Show! Will post more later, especially about our afternoon classes as well as about the Galleria & what we saw at the fashion show!


TNNA Show June 2006 Day 1

I'm in Indianapolis. I did manage to pick Victoria up on time, a little after 3:30 a.m., and we went to the Bangor Airport to catch a flight to Cincinnati. Here's a pic of Victoria knitting at BGR:
Victoriabgr
The picture isn't very good because I took it with my cell phone.


We flew to Cincinnatti and waited a little while for the next flight. I called to arrange a shuttle from the airport in Indianapolis to the hotel; the hotel had recommended "Carey Limo". So I called them and set everything up. The price was very reasonable. I expected it to be like Midcoast Limo, where a guy in a van shows up and takes you where you want to go.

But no.

It was a real, live LIMO. Looooong, black; bar (sans alcohol, but there was water); sexy glowing lights; seating for five. Larger than some apartments I've lived in. And it came with a handsome man in a suit who treated us like princesses and smiled suavely. It was great!

We checked in at the hotel and we have a great room. We are on the 18th floor. Here are some views from our window:
18thfloor
The little specks are people. This view reminds me of a Sims game.

18thfloorview
This is the view straight out from the window.

We were tired upon arrival, but we went directly to the Convention Center a short walk away and registered for the show and picked up our badge holders and show information. The Indy convention center is easy to find your way around in. Then we went back to the hotel and took a nap.

Tnnapin2006
At every TNNA show, participants get a little collectible pin that reflects that show's location or theme; this is the pin for this Indianapolis show. Cute, no? Race car stuff is everywhere here.


Badgeholder2006
Here's a picture of my badgeholder with the Indy pin on it. I am now official.

We had a great supper at the bar/grille here in the restaurant, and now it is time for bed, even though it is only quarter of seven o'clock. We are both so tired we can hardly stand it. Actually, I think Victoria is already asleep. We both want to be well-rested so we can enjoy tomorrow thoroughly!

More blog posts to come tomorrow, but probably late at night, unless we make it back to the hotel room around lunch.


Getting Ready

Today I'm doing laundry & packing to go to Indianapolis. Victoria and I will be at the TNNA (The National Needlework Association) Needlearts Market at the convention center in Indianapolis, flying home on the 12th. I'm picking her up a little after 3:30 A.M. tomorrow for a flight outta Bangor, then to Cincinnati, and finally arriving in Indianapolis around lunchtime. We'll have that afternoon and evening to schmooze with yarn industry people, or possibly take a nap.

Friday morning we're signed up for classes all day. I can't remember what Victoria is taking, but here's my Friday rundown:

Morning: Teacher's Workshop, with Margaret Fisher; in which I will learn how to be a good teacher and run classes in my shop. That would be, if I had any space in which to run classes in my shop, heh heh. But seriously, I'm hoping it will help me in organizing and/or teaching classes at events like our Unique One Knitting Weekend in March (in which, by the way, there are only about 4 spaces left, so if you wanted to attend, please call soon). I know I may already know a good bit of what Margaret Fisher will say in this class, having been a teacher and having been teaching knitting for a number of years, but the minute I think I know everything is the same minute in which I discover I know nothing. We can always learn new things, especially about things we think we know all about. I'm looking forward to this class.

Afternoon: The Zen of Spinning, by Joan Sheridan Hoover. This is a learn-to-spin class. Yes, I know I already know how to spin. (What can I say? The Friday class offerings held little for me as far as new experiences go). However, the class will also discuss the different types of wool and how to process them, of which I know little. I'll also learn how spinning benefits knitters, which is the part I am looking forward to the most. It's good to see TNNA embracing spinning as a fiber art; for so many years they have only acknowleged needlework and knitting, with a hesitant nod to crochet, so one reason I wanted to sign up for this class was to support the inclusion of spinning in the TNNA class curriculum. A cynical person would think I only signed up for the spinning class so I would get to spin guilt-free for three hours. I hope the instructor doesn't mind if I bring my own spindle and fiber. :)

In the evening there is the Needle Arts Galleria, which is basically a reception (last year, in Ohio, they had a chocolate fountain....) with exhibits from various yarn companies and designers, so you can drink, eat, mingle and meet with the exhibitors. This only goes on for an hour -- the last class ends at 5, and the Galleria is from 6 to 7, so we may miss some of it if we have to walk back to our hotel, change, and walk back.

Supper will be late on Friday, as the Galleria is followed by the Fashion Show from 7 to 8. This is actually pretty fun. We'll get to see the top new knitwear designs from leading designers, from the magazines, and from the yarn companies. They'll only be showing what they feel is the best of their work, so we'll get to see "in the flesh", so to speak, those new patterns you'll be wild to knit (you wild knitter, you!). The fashion show is a good place to spot trends in knitting and crochet for the upcoming fall.

I'm planning to blog everything that I can, so some days I may put up more than one post. I'll keep you all informed about what I am seeing and hearing! All the best yarn gossip is at the yarn show!

Finally, here's a map of Indianapolis (I'm putting it here on the blog so I'll be able to find it later!):
Indimapweb



If a tree falls....

Oddly enough, one of the giant maple trees on the Camden Public Library's lawn fell over in the high winds this afternoon, around 2:30 pm, blocking Route 1 and smashing two cars parked across the street from the library. Luckily, no one was hurt. And also oddly enough, I happened to be in the library at the time, which is kind of holy-cow-weird, because I only visit the Camden Public Library maybe twice a year. Usually my library visits are far less eventful. Here's a link on Village Soup (the local news website), if you want to read the whole story.


Librarytree