TNNA Show January 2007 Day 1

Victoria and I are off to the TNNA show in San Diego! Right now I am sitting in the Bangor Airport ... we have a couple hours to wait for our flight. It sure is exciting to sit in the Bangor Airport for two hours.... I can write this post, but I can't actually post it until we get to Boston around 2 pm, because I can't figure out how to get the BIA internet access to work. :(

We will be flying out of Boston around 4:15 and getting into San Diego around 7:30 pm. We are staying at the Bristol in San Diego... they tell me it's nice. :) Then tomorrow we will register for the show in the morning and play hookey the rest of the day. Instead of taking classes, we decided to go have a little fun. If it isn't raining (it never rains in California, the song says...) we plan to go to the San Diego Zoo. If it is raining... we will go to all the yarn shops we can find in San Diego and then go over to Coronado island to have a drink at the Del. My husband used to drive a taxi in San Diego, and he wants me to go over the Coronado Bridge at least once while we are there. We'll see, honey! heh heh. I will take pictures, regardless of what we do. I packed the camera in my checked bag so I can't take any now... but it's the Bangor Airport. The only thing worth seeing here is, of course, the Unique One display kiosk. :)

Friday night is the Galleria reception with vendor displays, meet & greet the names, awards, yadda yadda CASH BAR :) followed by the fashion show. The fashion show is always fun, either because it is actually worth looking at, or because the fashions are so awful that you can laugh at them. Some fashion shows, I like everything I see... some, I can't imagine what all the designers were drinking (but I want some of it). When we went to Indianapolis in June, the fashion show was of the latter variety.

Saturday is a class in the morning... I am taking a class on how to make a felted tapestry-crochet bowl. Then we'll go to the show for the rest of the day and look over the New Items table for the 5th time, and see the Great Wall 'O Yarn. This will all be followed by a tasty dinner (man I am so looking forward to getting a good salad.. I have to tell you, fresh produce in CA in January is a rare treat... it hasn't been trucked across a continent before you get it... and I am hoping for fresh pineapple jetted in from Hawaii that very morning...). Then a nice long hot shower, a little blog posting (for you, my faithful readers!) and thence to bed, to sleep, perchance to dreammmmmm....

Sunday morning Victoria is taking a class from 8 to 11 while I wander about. Then we will be at the show madly rushing to finish everything up. Sunday night we will undoubtedly go celebrate somehow, somewhere... we might be able to hook up with some friends and have dinner together. Then to bed... we have to get up early on Monday. Our flight home leaves San Diego at around 9 a.m., and we will get back to Bangor around 8 or 9 p.m. I should be home by 11 p.m. on Monday. :D

This is pretty boring so I will stop writing now... but watch this spot for far more interesting developments, including camel nuzzling (at the zoo) and new, exciting, wonderful yarn news (at the show)! We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog reading.......

Okay, we made it to Boston so I am posting this courtesy of Logan Airport wifi. We just had a great lunch (well, Pizza Hut pizza, but we were hungry). Now I am posting this and planning to settle into a nice long stint of listening to some blues on my iPod and working on my Pi Shawl (Elizabeth Zimmerman, I love you!) while Victoria industriously works on designing a sweater using O-Wool. She planned to knit a FiberTrends pattern that she brought with her, but the gauge did not work out and she only brought the needle sizes that the pattern recommended. So we decided she should just design her own sweater pattern and then it will be a Unique One original. :D The beauty of designing your own sweater is that the gauge is always right, no matter what... you just go with whatever it is. :)

See y'all after we get to San Diego! Have a great day!

Let Me Tell You How I Felt

Going to Kyrgyzstan? I found this really cool walk-through of how they make felt in Kyrgyzstan... it's set up as a series of pictures from each day of the felting process. Each day has many, many pictures.

I love the colors and the process.. take some time and enjoy this great resource! This is one of the most amazing and interesting fiber finds I have discovered on the internet in a long time.


The Fiber Studio, Henniker, New Hampshire

Yesterday I had such a great time... my mother-in-law and I traveled over to Henniker, NH where I visited Pam Grob at The Fiber Studio. What a wonderful place!!! If you have never been there, you MUST go... go right NOW especially, because the Fiber Studio is part of the Wool Arts Tour which is going on this very weekend!!!

The Fiber Studio has it all... yarns, lots of yarns for hand knitting, machine knitting and weaving; spinning supplies, including wheels and fiber; weaving supplies; buttons; books and patterns; beads; gifts..... so much.... I loved it!! I had to buy some wonderful hand-dyed sock yarn (ironically from Maine) and some extra beautiful hand-dyed tencel yarn. Pam also has a wonderful space for classes, which I am very envious of. As a matter of fact, I picked up a copy of her newsletter and I am thinking about going back in November to take a class. What a great trip that would be... a NH bed & breakfast and a couple days of fun fiber learning at the Fiber Studio. Yum!!

The reason I went over there was to buy a Toyota knitting machine for sweater production. I did buy it and it is wonderful! But let me tell you, while I was in the barn picking up the knitting machine, I saw a wondrous thing... Pam has, for sale, possibly the most magnificent loom I have ever seen. For one thing it is huge, a 60 inch loom with 12 harnesses and about a billion treadles. For another thing, it is gorgeous, solid walnut, and with graceful, clean lines that reminded me of Scandinavian furniture design. And for a third thing, it is a really good deal: I believe Pam said the loom was $3000, and let me tell you, after seeing it, I think it is well worth the price. Just as a piece of beautiful furniture, this hand-crafted wonder is worth at least that much. I barely even weave, and I want it, just to look at! I mean, jeez, as a comparison....the cheapest Golding spinning wheel costs $4,250.... and this loom is HUGE. The loom is every bit as lovingly hand-crafted as any spinning wheel, too. If I had any place to put it, I would buy it myself. That's it... I need a barn.

Our trip through New Hampshire was beautiful... the leaves were gorgeous colors and the sun was shining. If you get a chance to go out today or tomorrow on the Wool Tour, make sure you visit the Fiber Studio in Henniker, NH! It's a wonderful place. :)

The First Ever Isaac Evans June Knitting Cruise!


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?


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.


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:


















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!


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:


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:


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:

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:


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 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:
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:
The little specks are people. This view reminds me of a Sims game.

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.

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.

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!):

There's Still Room!

I have a couple of events coming up soon that still have openings:

First, we have our next Unique One Knitting Weekend, April 21, 22, & 23. You can click here to find out all the juicy details. :) If it is even half as fun as the March Knitting Weekend was, it will be a very memorable event! The Lord Camden Inn is gorgeous with its brand-spankin'-new floor that they laid down in the lobby last week, and I have a great big pile of wonderful doorprizes donated by my favorite yarn companies: yarn! kits! books! very cool stuff!

Second, there's a knitting cruise coming up in June that still has quite a few spots open. Which, I really can't understand. Maine? June? sailing? knitting? lobster bake? I honestly can't believe the fact that this cruise isn't already packed full. I am looking forward to it like you would not believe. It's going to be so much fun!! Even though this isn't technically MY event -- it is offered through the schooner Isaac Evans in Rockland, Maine; please contact them to make your reservation -- I really hope the cruise fills up so Brenda will keep offering two knitting events per year. Selfish, of me, I know, but there you are. Please do call me at Unique One if you have any questions about the knitting aspect of the cruise: 1-888-691-8358.

Captknitjpg(This image of Captain Brenda knitting on the knitting cruise is totally lifted from the Isaac Evans website -- go look at all the other pretty pictures there! And yes, Captain Brenda did knit her own hat.)

Gettin' nowhere fast...

Yesterday was a wasted day for me. You know, best-laid plans..... I had appointments at 8:30 am in Camden and 2 pm in Rockland, figured I'd spend the 5-ish hours in between at The Second Read cafe in Rockland, because they've got wifi and I could work on Unique One's new ColdFusion-based on-line store, which is being furiously put together behind the scenes. But their wifi access wasn't working, there were server problems. I typed up a pattern which I'll be handing out on the knitting cruise in September, but then I still had a couple hours to fill, not enough time to go home & come back.

But, I happened to have the camera with me, and it was such a pretty day. I thought, I put up pictures of Camden in the dead of winter; why not a few pictures from a nice summer's day? So I took a few pictures of Camden and it turned into a virtual trip through Unique One as well. Check it out in the Photo Album section, it's called "Summer: Camden/Unique One". So Conny! Hi! You can sort of be here and in Camden at the same time! :)

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. :)

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....

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...


Real Travel

Happy Memorial Day, everybody!

I'm headed to northern Maine today to attend my niece's committal service. Coming back on Wednesday, so probably no new post til at least Thursday. I'm taking my knitting. I have the back of Santa Fe half done, and I'd love to be able to move onto the sleeves by the weekend.

Then, my trip to Ohio for TNNA's Fall Yarn Show (it's not in the Fall; they show the new Fall yarns) is coming up fast -- Kristin & I are flying outta Bangor on June 9 for that. But I'll be bringing my laptop so maybe can blog the show. I don't think I'll be allowed to take pictures, but we'll see. The show is not open to the general public; it's for yarn shops, designers, people who sell yarn. You have to jump through hoops to get a show badge and get into the place. But it is fun, and very valuable in that you get to see all the newest, not even released yet products, and you can network with yarn shop people from all over the country. I've gotten a lot of good feedback and ideas at TNNA shows.

But I'll miss Fiber Frolic!

Virtual Travel

Every now and then, I go on a virtual traveling expedition. I looked ahead at my schedule for this summer, and I already feel tired! (But excited; summer on Maine's coast is always like one big carnival, from about now to Labor Day and beyond.) So I am thinking ahead to what would be fun to do in October, after things slow down enough to let me get away for a little fun.

In reality, I know I would never be able to really find the time or the money to go on this fantasy trip. But it's fun to dream....

I'd start on October 1 & 2, with the Wool Festival at Taos. I loved New Mexico when I was there earlier this year (even though I was sick as a dog, New Mexico was still gorgeous!), and the Taos region is known for art of all kinds. The wool festival would be a great way for me to be completely immersed in wool and exotic fibers for a couple of days. How lovely...

Then I'd skip down to Albuquerque for the 2005 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta -- it starts on September 30, but since I'd be at the Taos Wool Festival October 1 and 2, I'd join the balloon festival already underway on October 3 through 6. This fiesta has nothing to do with fiber, but I've always loved hot air balloons (must be a throw back to my early love of the Wizard of Oz), so one of my lifetime ambitions is to get to Albuquerque for this fiesta sometime. The fiesta actually lasts through October 9, but I'd leave on October 6 and fly back east to ......

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia for the Celtic Colours International Festival, October 7 through 15. I don't believe I have a drop of Irish or Scottish blood in me (well, maybe a little Scottish, since there were Herricks in my ancestry), but I've always loved Celtic music. Probably, because I grew up in far northern Maine, and Canadian television formed my earlier memories way more than American television did. My childhood tv friends were The Friendly Giant, Miss Ann, Mr. Dress-up and Suzanne (? I think that was her name; she taught French on tv). Later there was The Beachcombers. Ahh.. Anyway, the Maritimes and their Celtic culture takes me back to my beginnings, and I'd love to get up to Cape Breton (a fabulous place to visit any time, because it is gorgeous) and listen to some hot fiddle music, some plaintive bagpipes, and some blood-stirring drums.

Then, back home to knit and spin and design and chat with lovely customers and help people with their knitting. It's a good life. And it's been a fun virtual trip. :)

New Mexico


Went to New Mexico, had a great time except for getting really sick the second day I was there and staying quite ill the rest of the week. Thought I would die.

But I didn't, and made it home alive from my "vacation" after all. I think I'll quit taking them.

Excellent Mexican food in New Mexico, by the way.

Didn't find any wool/fiber/spinning/knitting shops. Well, there was one little place called "La Placitas Spinning - Weaving" in Lincoln, but it was closed. I guess the fiber shops are mostly in the northern part of the state.

You can see some photos from my trip here.

Isaac Evans Knitting Cruise 2004

I made it back home after four days of knitting and sailing -- What a great, great cruise this was! I say it every year, but it seems true every year too: this was the best knitting cruise ever! We had a great time. Wednesday was foggy and there were some swells to get through, but the knitters persevered and made progress on their work. A beginning knitter finished her first hat in just a few hours, which was pretty exciting (for her and me, anyway). We anchored near Stimson Island in the Little Thoroughfare (just off the Fox Island Thoroughfare) in Penobscot Bay and had a great lobster feast, with hot dogs & burgers for the non-crustacean eaters; there were the tastiest mussels I ever had and roasted corn, all followed by s'mores of course.

Thursday was rainy, but I love to sail in the rain. I was joined on deck by our own Anne from Vermont (Hi Anne!) and we weathered the storm quite well; the rest of the knitters made more progress on their knitting down in the galley or in the midships area below. It's a "Knitting Cruise" -- Anne and I figured we were doing the cruising part, and everyone else was doing the knitting part. :) Peggy worked diligently on a really pretty blue variegated yarn that she is using to create a Silver Creek pattern pullover. We anchored in Pulpit Harbor, one of Maine's most well protected harbors, to weather out the blow from the remnants of Hurricane Frances. There was a beautiful osprey in the huge nest at the entrance to that harbor.

We left Pulpit Harbor in sunshine on Friday morning and had an excellent day of sailing! As you can imagine, it was windy and we were able to go really fast. It was quite exciting. It's really fun watching the waves break over the bow and hearing the wind whistling and laughing in the sails. It was great. Since it wasn't raining, we were all able to enjoy the sailing while we worked on our projects. We even had a little impromptu race with another windjammer (I think it was the Lewis R. French) which was quite exciting. The French won the race to Gilkey's Harbor, but that just allowed Brenda to breeze past them, tack, and then make a dashing entrance back into the harbor, dropping the jib & foresails and the anchor all at once. Then there was a great evening sing-along and performance of a special windjammer song by the crew.

Saturday was bright and sunny and we enjoyed a totally blow-out brunch by a magical being named Eileen (currently disguised as cook on the Evans) and we knit our way slowly back to Rockland and the end of the cruise. I did dig out my spindle and spun some of Linda Diak's fab fiber in a lovely turquoise color, appropriate for cruising on Penobscot Bay. It was all so much fun.

Throughout the cruise there was unbelievably fabulous food, much sharing and learning, a great deal of laughter and bonding. And a LOT of knitting! And door prizes, many, many door prizes (are they "porthole prizes" on a boat?)..... actually, I think everyone won one. As a matter of fact, I do believe there were prizes left over. Maybe they'll make their way to Helen's Treasure Chest. :)

If you want to check out the Isaac Evans, their website is . You can call them toll free at 1-877-238-1325. Next year's schedule isn't finalized yet, but it's pretty safe to say the knitting cruise will be during the week after Labor Day next year.

You can visit my online photo album called: "Isaac Evans Knitting Cruise 2004":