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December 2007
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February 2008

On the Needles

Okay, as promised.... knitting.

I haven't finished much since my last knitting post. I finished a blue version of these socks, and they are very warm and comfy, too. As a matter of fact, they are already in the laundry, because I have worn them so much.

Around the end of December, I started a shawl with the impossibly fine handspun lace weight yarn that is a marvel to look at, and it is hard to imagine anyone ever being able to spin yarn like that. I chose the Fiber Trends Shoalwater Shawl:


The pattern is written for 4 different weights of yarn, so you can knit it with pretty much anything. It is pictured in a beautiful hand-dyed sport weight, but I of course am knitting it in lace weight off white. So, you have to imagine it looking rather fine and foamy. I am 25% done with it... I was wondering if the yardage on the yarn label was right, because it is a triangular shawl and I am halfway through the 4 pattern repeats that the shawl calls for, but I have only used up one of the 4 balls of yarn that the pattern calls for. So I called up my old math teacher colleague (Hi Barb! if you read my blog) and after a bit of figuring she determined that, in fact, it is correct that in a triangle, half the number of rows would really use up only a quarter the yarn. So that is right.

One thing about handspun laceweight yarn, as opposed to commercial laceweight yarn, will make this an interesting project upon completion. You know how usually, blocked lace items look very crisp and precise? Well... due to the thick and thin characteristic of handspun lace weight yarn (yes, even in the minuteness of this incredibly fine 2-ply yarn, there is diameter variation), the finished product will have a more "textured" look than regular lace yarn would achieve. Also, this rippley lace stitch pattern isn't terribly precise or geometric, so I think that coincidentally goes along very well with the textured look the handspun yarn will impart. I think I did a smart thing in choosing that particular pattern for this yarn, and I wasn't even trying! Woot!

I thought I took some pictures of my shawl but they are nowhere to be found... I will get pictures in a bit.

You remember that I am doing two projects at a time? Originally it was so that I would have one 'challenging' project and one 'mindless' project on the needles at any given time. Now that the lace shawl is well underway, it has moved into the 'mindless' knitting category, since I know the pattern well enough not to have to think about it overly much. Therefore I started a new and very exciting project!

I couple of weeks ago two customers came in, and got very excited about the Hanne Falkenberg "Ballerina" jacket that I have on display in the store. Some of you may remember me wearing it at the NETA Knit & Spin last year. Although I love wearing it, I always have felt a little disappointed that I didn't actually knit the one I have on display; I hired my dear friend Alison to knit it for me. I have always secretly wanted to knit a Ballerina for myself. So as you can imagine, with my two customers so excited to get their Ballerina's going, it didn't take much to persuade myself to order an extra kit and knit one along with them! I am so excited and so happy to finally be knitting this fabulous design. I never knew how much I wanted to knit it until I actually started.

So the three of us are knitting this Ballerina together, which is fun! One of the customers lives nearby, in Rockland; the other, who was just visiting at the time of the purchase, lives in California! I got to thinking, I bet I have other customers who have purchased a Ballerina kit from me, or another shop, but who have either never started knitting it or who started it but put it aside for some reason. Because let me tell you, I have sold a number of the kits, but I have yet to see anyone waltzing in, proudly wearing it.... or even sending me a picture of it finished. Where are you all? Dig out those Ballerina kits, girls, and let's knit them together! It will be fun! If you want to knit your Ballerina along with me, email me: yarndemon (at) gmail dot com, and I can set up some kind of email group or something. If nothing else, you'll have me to call on or email to ask questions, and I will have your email so I can regularly touch base with you and prod you as best I can, to finish your project! And then we can all have a gallery of finished Ballerina jackets when we are done... maybe go out to dinner together, wearing them. Here's what my Ballerina will look like when it is done (it is colorway 16):


I am loving knitting this jacket so much! Yes, it is on little needles (it calls for 3.0 mm, but I needed 3.25 mm to get the right gauge). Yes, the pattern is a little wordy... but it is also packed with helpful information and if you just follow it as it is written, it actually is right! I love the geometric progression of the knitting... watching the progress both mathematically and in color progression is a fascinating thing. Because the Ballerina is done in a series of short rows, with regular increases thrown in to make the hem curve gracefully back, every ridge you knit advances you closer to a checkpoint, at which you do something different and have a chance to make sure you have the right number of stitches. It is very logical and beautiful to watch it unfold. Also, this all makes me want to keep working on it, as progress -- even a little -- is obvious to see and the goal is always a little closer. I have worked on it for a little over a week and already I have the front right done, and I am about a quarter of the way along the sleeve. It is beautiful! It is my new favorite thing. Here are pictures, with comments.



These two pictures give you an overall idea of the shape that I have knit so far. I started at the right front and have already taken off the stitches for what in a 'normal' jacket construction would be the side seam. The working needle is the one I am doing the length of the sleeve with.



I love how the sleeve is contructed.... very clever. The whole garment is an amazing construction of short rows. It is magical. In fact, I love it so much that it was the inspiration for my upcoming Knitting Weekend class on short rows that I will be teaching.



Look at this amazing shaping... it is magic, isn't it? Isn't it? Aren't you as fascinated with it as I am? Well... maybe you are not. But *I* think it is treeeeemendously cooooool.


This is a close up of my provisional cast on. I cast on first with contrasting (stash) wool, then knit a row of fine cotton, and then started the garment itself. That way the row I pick up later to do the finishing band around the front and the neck will be at the proper tension. Clever, no? Heh... that's the way the pattern is written; I can't take credit for it. And although the red and yellow look great with the dark olive green, it is just waste yarn that will be removed later.

This next little tip, however, is of my own creation, and it might be a help -- one comment I have heard from people knitting the Ballerina is, how do I keep track of the short rows and the shaping? The thing about the Ballerina is that, right at first, you have pretty much three things going on simultaneously and it might be overwhelming to keep track of. One is the little "mock" i-cord edging for the bottom of the jacket that you knit as you go along. Trust me on this one, after you have knit about 10 ridges (or less), it will just click and you will get it. From that point on it will be obvious what to do when you get to the edge. The second thing to keep track of is to know where to turn, on each ridge, to make the short row shaping. That too is easy, since it is a regular number, and the gap marking the previous turn is blindingly obvious to see. The third thing, though, is not obvious to see and might result in a need to keep track -- and the accompanying possibility of not keeping track, and therefore getting a wrong stitch count later. In the jacket, you increase every so many ridges -- the number of ridges changes as you work through the jacket -- and you need to keep track of not only *when* to increase but also *how many times* you have already increased. You could make a chart of some sort on paper, and tick it off as you work. That is fine, but I am usually pretty good at forgetting to make the tick marks, or losing the paper entirely. I chose a quicker, easy to spot, impossible to lose method: coilless pins. Pin one of those babies on every ridge you increased on, and count from there. You can easily see how many ridges you have knit since the last increase, and therefore how many ridges you need to knit before doing the next increase ridge (and marking it). You can also see how many increases you have already made, by counting the pins. And if you forget to put the pin on, just count up from the last pin you remembered, put the new pin on, and keep going. Coilless pins are a wonderful thing, for knitting. Here is a picture to illustrate:


So that's my knitting, so far. I am very happy and excited with both of my projects, and I will keep you posted on my progress! Email me if you want to join in on a mega Ballerina knitting adventure (my email link is in the margin somewhere, and in the text above).

Happy knitting :)

Is It Summer Yet?

(...wiping cookie crumbs off my face....)

Hi! I am eating one-third of the most luscious peanut butter cookie I have had in a long time. It’s from French & Brawn market, across the intersection from Unique One. The reason I am eating only one-third of it is because it is about the size of a dinner plate; I will get the rest later, I assure you! Mmmmm it is crunchy on the outside and a bit chewy on the inside, full of peanut-buttery goodness, and indeed -- whole peanuts are interspersed throughout. It is sweet without being too sweet; buttery without being greasy. In a word, it is perfect. Despite the time stated in my post, it is actually 10:30 a.m. and I have just finished vaccuuming the store, went to the bank and post office, did the paperwork from yesterday, and tidied up the office a little. There have been no customers in yet today. So before I jump into more rigorous activities of opening mail, assigning opened mail to various folders, ordering things, taking care of stuff on my to-do list, folding sweaters, steaming new wool sweaters to be put out, and knitting special order sweaters, I figured I would take a few minutes to *gasp* write yet another blog post. :)

In fact, I could stop right here and say, there, I posted! But I won’t. : )

I can tell you about the clothing trade show I went to last week. Every January I have to go to the New England Apparel Club clothing show in Marlboro, Massachusetts, so I can order summer clothing to sell here at Unique One when all the summer tourists arrive (summer tourists! I love you!!). It is a little weird to shed winter boots and wool coat and scarf and hat and mittens to wander around looking at bikinis and tank tops and shorts and straw hats... bit of a shock to the system. But oddly, entertaining. It didn’t help that there was a fierce snowstorm in the middle of my stay (I stayed 2 nights; the snow was in the day in the middle, thank goodness!). Let’s see what I ordered:

First of all I did order a bunch of sweaters -- it is a sweater shop, after all -- I ordered some great sweaters from Alps, a wonderful Massachusetts company; actually I ordered a TON of them and they will start arriving the earliest, after April 1. I love to order from Alps because nearly all their products are made in the USA. Some items are not, but I think those items are worth it. I’m really looking forward to the Alps order because there are several cardigans in there that I want myself! New this year (for me) are cotton turtlenecks, made in the USA, I believe.They will retail for about $20 each. I found people asking for basic turtlenecks a lot last year; this year I will have them.

I also ordered more of the Icelandic Designs sweaters. These sweaters are gorgeous and expensive, and popular. They are so beautifully embroidered. Unfortunately, despite their geographicc name, the Icelandic company’s goods are made in China, primarily, and believe me, I hear about it. Yet I am willing to carry these beautiful garments because of their quality and unique appeal. They are well made and there really is nothing like them. They will start arriving in the late summer. Most of them retail for between $150 and $200.

I found a fabulous new line of sweaters called Mermaid, and they are made in Fall River, Massachusetts! I just love selling New England products. I got 3 cotton blend items... a cool ribbed boatneck pullover, knit side to side; a lovely, simple cardigan with 3 buttons at the top; and a shawl collared cardigan. I always have to be careful, when ordering sweaters, not to order items that are too similar to what we make for sale here at Unique One. Last year we got asked a lot for cotton cardigans, and I only really make one style, a simple boxy style. Luckily I found these from Mermaid. I also got 3 wool blends.... I got a cute boxy shaped wool boucle cardigan, a long shawl collared tunic in a lovely, light, drapey wool/mohair/nylon blend, and a dress!!! Yes, a knitted dress.... simple, warm, elegant. It is beautiful.

Okay... I really did buy some summer clothes, too. I got some utterly amazing skirts from Sandy Starkman. They are expensive (the Sandy Starkman line is also sold through Nieman Marcus; you might see them in the Nieman Marcus catalog). They are long, nearly ankle length, with a pointy-fluttery handkerchief unfinished hem, multi-layered, and completely romantic. I also got a Sandy Starkman sundress, which I ordered for the incredible cobalt blue it came in as much as anything, and two jaw-droppingly beautiful jackets. One has a great deal of cutwork, creating a lacy, open effect for decoration in the yoke and back; the other is nature-inspired, a beige linen type of jacket with beautiful embroidery and beads (wooden and otherwise) sewn on it. I hope customers love them as much as I do because they are tremendously expensive but OMG are they gorgeous!!!

I got three different sets of clothing from the Produce Company, cute capris and short sleeve tops and skirts, very very summery. Colors range from beige/cream to indigo, white and fuschia, to light green and dusty blue. Produce clothing is so cute, and it is made in the USA!~

Heh heh.... I ordered adorable cashmere baby socks in 3 different styles.... polka dot ones in turquoise, lilac, olive and gray; striped ones in lime, coral, baby pink , and baby blue, and argyle -- yes! cashmere argyle baby socks! -- in pink, blue, olive, cocoa, teal, denim and fuschia. These baby socks are just too cute, you could die from the cuteness.

I also picked up a couple skirts from a new-to-me company called Salaam, and they are in Vermont! Again, love of the New England product.... these are the cutest skirts. I only got two styles, “Flappy”, a short, straight style, and another no-string drawstring style, longer and more flowing. Both are coming in very cool prints, some quite 1960’s mod, and some more 1930’s mod, heh heh. I love them not only because of the New Englandness but also because they will look totally killer with my cotton Unique One sweaters.

I got two lines of clothes from Click; two lines of clothes from CMC (Color Me Cotton), and three lines from Cut Loose. All are clothes made in the USA. There are a variety of wonderful skirts, cropped pants, vests, short sleeve tops, both pullover and buttoned, jackets, and dresses coming.... the designs this year seemed especially good looking! I ordered a variety of colors, including lime, poppy, serene (a light blue), barley, black, bouquet (pink!), white, indigo, flax, red, tropicana (bright blue, I think), and spring green. I can’t wait for bright colors to start filling the store! But it will be a while... most of my summer clothing won’t ship til at least June 1. If I could afford it I would have it come sooner! But I have to have it arrive so that when the bill comes due, the summer tourists will hopefully be spending the money to pay for all the stuff!

I had fun at the clothing trade show.... now you know what I was doing there!

I’ll do a more knitting-related blog post soon, I promise! Unique One is so much more than a knitting store, I get sidetracked sometimes, heh heh. I *am* knitting up a storm, however, and I will tell you all about it soon!

Happy knitting & dreaming of summer clothing :)

Victoria, and Two New Books


Let’s see... what’s new here....

For one thing, Victoria, whom many of you know as my dear friend and the yarn shop manager here at Unique One, has moved on to a far better position at Maine Sport, another fabulous Camden/Rockport store which you must visit if you get to the area. Victoria has more of an office job there, which will be a fun change for her! She is still running my knitting group that meets here at Unique One on Thursday nights, so I will still get to see her regularly! (You can read about my weekly evening knitting adventures that are open to the public HERE.) I wish Victoria great luck and much success in her new job! I know she reads my blog, so if any of YOU would like to wish her well, please do so in the comments :)

Today is a pretty quiet day at Unique One.... I did get a couple new books to share with you, though. I am on an auto-ship program from Martingale books, so they send me a couple copies of whatever new fiber book comes out. Let me tell you what came today :)

The first one is “A to Z of Crochet: The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner to Advanced Crocheter”, Sue Gardner, editor. I am always wary of how-to books for anything that says that they are good for anyone, beginner to advanced. Especially when it is only 160 pages. But I took a look anyway. I consider myself a pretty intermediate crocheter; I get the idea of how to do a lot of stuff, but I don’t actually crochet that much. It makes sense to me though.

I actually like this hardcover book. For one thing, it is spiral bound, so it lies flat, a very important feature for a how-to book. It is divided into logical sections, too... the first section (35 pages) is general information about yarn and the basics of how to crochet, how to do basic stitches, how to increase and decrease... the photographs are *very* clear, the written directions are good, there are sidebars/inserts of Hints that are actually very helpful, and sprinkled throughout are darling little images from the 1920’s or so that are very pretty. The pages have a very eye-catching look, without being flashy, trendy, or cluttered. The first section is pretty much for beginners. The second section, 27 pages, is a series of different crochet stitches ... this part is interesting to more advanced crocheters as well as beginners. In this section the stitches are shown step by step via pictures as well as in written directions. The third section (55 pages) is more stitches and techniques, and these are more advanced. It includes stuff like crocheting with beads, entrelac crochet, Irish crochet, and tubular crochet. I have never even heard of most of the stuff in this section, which just makes me want to have the book even more. Again, all is explained via great photos and written directions. The fourth section is called Added Touches (27) pages, and has good-to-know stuff like buttonholes, edgings, corkscrews, and flowers. Some of this was familiar to me, and some not. Again, pictures and words, very good. The last section is called, appropriately, Finishing (16 pages) and has things like more edgings (less decorative, more for finishing), blocking, and various seaming techniques. Pictures & words, good. And finally, there is a very helpful index! I think it is a great book, and even though it is $28.95, it is a wonderful reference for most crocheters or crochet-wannabe-ers. I have two in stock, stop by or call if you’re interested!

The second book that came today is probably gonna be gone out the door by the time you even read this... it is called Kitty Knits: Projects for Cats and Their People, by Donna Druchunas, whose name should be familiar to avid knitters..... she has contributed articles to nearly every knitting magazine known to man and is also a great knitting designer! I am pleased to find her name on this book.

This lovely 80-page paperback is organized into three sections of projects: Projects for Cats (cats, of course, comes first!) -- 7 projects, including catnip mice and other toys, and beds.... ; Projects for People -- 8 lovely garments: sweaters, slippers, hats, scarves, socks, all with cat motifs of different sorts knit into them. Some have multi-color motifs, some are lace or textured stitches that are cat-related... all are beautiful (my favorite to look at are the Felted Furry Kitty-Cat Slippers, just adorable and funny; and the last section is Projects for the Home, five fun projects, including a bag and a pillow and a lovely baby blanket. The book ends with Techniques, Abbreviations, Resources, and About the Author. This book will appeal to cat lovers not only for the great projects they can knit, but because it is jam-packed with fabulous cat photos! I love to look at cats. However, there are many shots of one kitty model who looks disturbingly like my Evil Kitty Nora, a.k.a. Jungle Girl, a.k.a. The Bad Cat. But I was able to move beyond that and love this book anyway, and I do actually love Nora. Most of the time :)

I have two of the Kitty Knits books in stock right at the moment but who knows how long they will last... at only $19.95, this book is bound to be gone quickly.

Okay, back to work. I have to clean the office a little and I am supposed to be knitting a sweater, too. No rest for the wicked!

Are You Ready?


So many of you have been asking about the upcoming March Knitting Weekends at Unique One (thank you for being so interested!) that it finally got me to actually update that section of my store website. You can click HERE to read all about it!

Everything is pretty much the same as it has been the last two years: wonderful opening reception (wine, cheese, chocolate, goodie bag); classes (Knitting Weekend #1 is Rudy Amann, How to Spin on a Hand Spindle; and me, Shaping with Short Rows; Knitting Weekend #2 is Mary Jane Mucklestone, Design a Fair Isle Tam; and me again, short rows.); a wonderful luncheon; gathering to knit and talk together on Saturday night .... I am toying with the idea of setting up a knitting machine at the Inn and doing a demonstration of how such a contraption works. When people see me knitting sweaters on the machine at the store, they are always fascinated. The biggest comment I get is "I have never actally seen one of those in operation before!" I think people *know* of a lot of people who own knitting machines, but they haven't ever seen anyone actually successfully use one before.

Anyway... back to the Knitting Weekend schedule. On Sunday morning Linda Cortright of Wild Fibers Magazine will fill us in on her fantastic fiber adventures around the world.... believe me, Linda is one of the most interesting people I have ever met! I could listen to her talk for days and days..... love ya, Linda :)

So...... I am taking reservations anytime, of course. The best thing to do is to call the store and sign up, and then call the Lord Camden Inn to make reservations. Although I personally feel the Inn is the most wonderful place to stay, there are many other lodging opportunities in and around Camden, if you feel you would like to stay elsewhere :) The Lord Camden Inn is offering a special rate of $200 for one person for two nights, which includes a fabulous breakfast; or, you can pay $300 for two people for two nights (same fab breakfast), which would be a good deal since you would each pay $150 if you split it, saving you $50. :)

The fee for the knitting part of the weekend is $125 payable to Unique One. You can pay a $50 deposit when you sign up, and pay the rest when you arrive. This fee covers my cost for the food and materials for the weekend, plus a little profit (well I *am* in business, after all). If you want to stay somewhere other than the Lord Camden Inn, you would arrange that and then just pay Unique One the fee for the knitting weekend. Perhaps you have friends or family in Camden? Hmmmm?

I urge you to get your reservations in soon, because I have decided to limit the weekend participants to 30 people per weekend instead of 40, and also because.... I am famous! And the cause of it might just create a rush to get in on the knitting weekends in March:

Do you read Cooking Light magazine? Well if you do, or if you pick it up in line at the grocery store, look on page 76 of the January/February 2008 issue, you will find a short article about the knitting cruises on the Isaac H. Evans that I participate in twice a year. There is a picture of me and I am quoted, talking about how fun the knitting cruises are! It's pretty cool... and that little blurb is responsible for the fact that the 2008 Knitting Cruises on the Isaac Evans are already FULL! Woohoo! And... people are on a waiting list for 2009! And....... Capt. Brenda Walker and I have even talked about a *third* knitting cruise each year! That last part is really tentative, so don't get all excited, but the fact that we're both even thinking about it is pretty amazing. I mean geez, neither of us would have ever thought that knitting and sailing would be so tremendously popular, but the word is out! Knitting and sailing totally rocks! Sailing knitters are adventurous and fun and they let the melted butter at the lobster bake fall where it may, baby!

Therefore, if you're thinking about signing up for the March Knitting Weekends, you might want to do it soon, because it won't take long for those Cooking Light readers to Google Unique One, and find the updated info about the knitting weekends... and filling them up. I can only hope :)

More posts soon... I have so many new things to tell you.... take care & happy knitting!