Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What's happening at the store?

I remember when I opened the store that I promised that I wouldn't make the blog into a marketing tool for the store. I think that I've held true to that promise. Until today's post. Because today I have to tell you what a wonderful guy my honey is.

You see, he was at the store for the two weeks that I was recovering from my appendectomy. While there, he decided that there were some changes that needed to be made. For instance, see these baskets?
There are 14 of them. Previously, they held all the non-bamboo knitting needles, crochet hooks and circular needles that I owned. It was a mess. When someone came in looking for a specific size, one had to dig through the baskets to find the needles. If I had them. Which I didn't always, because keeping track of what I had was difficult.

In addition, I had one of those twirley-magazine display racks. It had 48 slots for books, and assumed that all books would be approximately 8.5 x 10.5 inches. In a perfect world, this would work. However, in the real world in which I live, only some of the books were the proper size. And I had more than 64 different titles.

So Doug decided that I needed a better way to display my magazines and needles. He scratched his head, sketched, scratched some more, measured, and sketched. He came up with a great idea, and he built it. This is what my pattern books look like today:

He even made allowances for the booklets which aren't 8.5 x 10.5 inches! Isn't he wonderful? I especially LOVE the way he utilized every last bit of space to make the needle display. Now my customers can select their pattern, and pick up the necessary needles without taking more than a step or two.
We discovered that I had lots of needles. Lots and lots of needles. So he built another needle display for me!
I do believe that he must be the greatest and most supportive honey in the world. (If yours is better, don't tell me. I want to continue to live in my fantasy world!)

I was interested in playing around with some more felting ideas, and using some Noro as well as the Nature Wool. So I tried this idea on for size--a mitred square with a cabled handle running around the exterior of the squares. The colours are just wonderful. The Nature Wool really brings out the jewel tones in the Noro.

The big question is what will happen when I felt it. Will everything shrink uniformly? (In my fantasy world, yes!) Will the bag lose its shape? Will the washing machine die? Stay tuned for the answers to these and other questions.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I keep remembering stuff

I know that I wrote about the wonderful weekend I spent visiting my brothers and sisters. But there were so many activities, so many people to see, that I didn't tell everything about the weekend. And I keep remembering things that I wanted to say.

For instance, on Friday evening my husband and I joined my youngest brother and wife and attended a concert at the State Theater in Kalamazoo, MI. My brother told me that the theatre was worth the price of admission. He was right. (Fortunately, we enjoyed the show as well!) The theatre was built back in vaudeville times, and has been lovingly restored to its period splendor. The ornate plaster, the lights, the roomy seats. And just to top it all off--when the lights go down, the "stars" in the ceiling light up. Truly, if you have the opportunity to visit this venue, I would strongly recommend it.

Accompanying the wonderful blues music was a veritable feast of "cajun cooking." There is a gentleman who comes to provide food for concertgoers. His prices may be cut-rate but the taste is out of this world. Doug had beans and rice, which was tasty although not my favorite. Then he tried the seafood linguine, which was yummy. I polished off a piece of BBQ chicken that was to die for. I even licked my fingers, in public, all the way to the second knuckle.

On Saturday night, we were invited to a Battle Creek Knights basketball game. Turns out that my brother is the head IT guy for the team, which position comes with season tickets. My elder brother and his wife scored 4 tickets, and shared them with Doug and I. Just to round out the evening, my third brother also came. The first half of the game was OK in that the home team was out-scoring the visiting team. At half-time, however, the visitors got a royal arse-chewing from the coach. They came out just smoking. That 16-point lead the Knights had disappeared in a heartbeat. The fourth quarter was a nail-biter. The Knights finally won in the last 5 seconds or so. It was an exciting game--even if I don't watch much basketball and didn't know anyone on the team!

Sunday was spent relaxing and visiting, which was greatly enjoyed by all. Well, I know Doug and I enjoyed it. I hope the brothers and sisters did!

In knitting news, I finished a store display.
I started this sweater just after Christmas, knitting with Paton's Chunky Shetland from the Creative Knitting shown. The pattern itself is rather simple if you can count to 15. I kept forgetting which number came after 12, so had a difficult time with the knitting. Then when assembling the sweater, I discovered that the sleeves were MILES longer than the body. This in and of itself is not unusual because one's arms are generally longer than the waistband of the sweater. And the sweater really is a bit on the short side. (At least that's how it appears in the magazine.) However, 10 inches was excessive in my humble opinion. In a fit of pique, I threw the sweater in the project bin, closed the magazine and started something new.

Months later, I decided that the time was right to finish off this bad boy. The problem with having a hissy fit and closing the magazine is that you now don't know which magazine the pattern was in. And I look at a lot of magazines and patterns every week. Do you know it took me a good two weeks just to find the pattern again?!

Anyway, I did persevere and finish the sweater. If you ever make this sweater, I cannot caution you enough about being careful with the measurements. The zig-zag effect makes measurement interesting. The sleeves are still about 2 inches too long, and this was AFTER adding approximately 7 inches to the length of the body. Maybe this type of pattern shrinks when no one is looking?

In home knitting, I am so very pleased to show this wonderful little knit:
This beauty comes from Paton's Around the Seasons (#548). I used 15 balls of royal blue Zara and 1.5 balls of light blue Zara. (I did have to make allowances for the fact that Zara is a DK and the pattern was written for worsted, but that was just a matter of changing needle sizes.) The fair isle was a breeze considering there were only two colours and I had been taught the best way to perform the maneuver. (Thank you very much Irene and Cathy!) The stitch definition that Zara provides is just phenomenal.

The best part of finishing the sweater? I had a mere 48 inches left of the blue yarn. Yes, you did read that correctly. 48 inches. There may have been enough to knit one more row of the neck-band ribbing, but I didn't want to take any chances. It was enough to cast off and say "I'm done!"

My daughter (who is 16) is known to claim that she "wants to marry" whatever it is that she has seen and she really, really likes.

I'd marry Zara quite happily.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Happy Easter

In the absence of my wonderful daughter, my husband and I were able to travel this past weekend. Finally!

My sister delivered a wonderful baby boy in the first week of November. 5 months ago. We saw the original hospital pictures. Then nothing. Now, I understand that life gets pretty busy when you have a baby. But -- five months with no pictures? What kind of mean trick was my sister playing on me?

We spent the weekend visiting with my brothers, sisters and father. On Saturday, I was privileged to meet Sam. Remember how important it was to not wake the sleeping baby? With her first baby, my sister was foolish enough to frequently wake the sleeping baby. Didn't bother Emery at all. She'd visit with all and sundry, smile a bit, and go back to sleep. She learned to sleep all night at an early age. She napped very well.

So now my sis is paying the piper. Little Sam finds sleep to be something which must be avoided At. All. Costs. During the night, during the day, doesn't matter. Sleep is to be avoided. Sis states that if she'd had him first, he'd be an only child.

My opinion? He's a keeper, and cute as all get out. But then, I'm prejudiced.

Today I'm going to talk about my sister's knitting. Remember--she's sleep-deprived and the mother of two small children. She fears that her brainpower is diminishing. She set herself a challenge: two socks, one needle. One inside the other.
Note that she didn't even use two different colours. She found the inspiration on Knitty, and is working diligently. Personally, I'm in awe. THIS girl has knitting mojo all over the place.

Her husband, on the other hand ... well, let's just say that he gave her another challenge:

If socks can be knit one inside the other, why can't sweaters be done the same way?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bon voyage, mon cher!

Departure day finally arrived as of Wednesday, April 4. Yes, I know that was almost a week ago. I've been busy.

Carrie had been warned to travel light. In fact, the school advised the students to pack everything into a suitcase of a size that the kids could haul up three flights of stairs. Carrie took this advice to heart, and packed as instructed. As we walked into the school, with her carrying everything, she even commented that perhaps she had packed too heavily. What do you think?

Yes, this is everything that she needs for a 10-day trip to Europe. When she saw what the other kids were bringing, she was amazed. They were even more amazed at how little she was bringing.

I haven't heard a peep from her, which I am interpreting as good news. I've checked out the trip blog, didn't see her photo, but have followed the tour's progress across England and France. What an amazing opportunity for these kids! I can't wait to hear all about it when she gets back.
I couldn't post last Wednesday evening because Doug and I had to go to T.O. to view his daughter's artwork. It was opening night at some gallery (location forgotten, unfortunately), and she had work displayed. It was really cool, and I hope to be able to post some photos of her next gallery debut. (I think the big day for th next dispay is the 19th or 20th of April.)

In knitting news, I finished a sweater for a friend. The friend's daughter was having a baby, and the baby gifts had progressed without incident. The sweater for the big brother, however, was a totally different story. She slaved and laboured for four months over the silly thing, and finally got most of the back completed. Since the baby had already arrived, she asked if I could help her with it. I did.
This is Sirdar Toddler Aran, and the design is from a discontinued Sirdar booklet. Probably a good thing as I found several errors in the pattern instructions. In any event, I did finish the sweater. The cables on the front were really cool:
The photo doesn't really do them justice, nor does it show the colour well. It is supposed to be a sage green.

We spent Easter weekend visiting family in Michigan. Some time this week (depending on how busy I am in the daughter's absence) I hope to post photos of the trip--including the challenge my sister set for herself.

Happy knitting!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fools Day -- no joke!

I really don't know where the time goes. I know. I say this same phrase every week. And every week, I REALLY mean it.

For example, my lovely daughter leaves for her big trip to England, France and Belgium in three days. THREE DAYS!! Wasn't it just yesterday that we went to that meeting where the trip was announced and we had 15 months to prepare? No? Wasn't it just yesterday that ... well, I'm sure you understand. And it's really tough for an over-protective mom to let her darling daughter venture so far from home, without my eagle eyes keeping watch over her. Plus she's told me--she can't wait to see all "those French guys!" Is it any wonder that I have difficulties sleeping?!?

In other news, Doug and I have gone back to the pool and started swimming. Tomorrow is my official last visit to the surgeon, but it's been 6 and a half weeks since surgery. She promised me I'd be close to or at 100% at the four week mark. So it didn't seem unreasonable to venture back to the pool. The week of my appendectomy, I was swimming 11 laps at the pool. Tonight I did 8. Not too shabby when you consider that I haven't been getting much exercise of late. Mountain bike season is coming , and I do so want to be ready.

In knitting news, I have been working diligently on the Zara sweater for myself. The body is finished. And the first sleeve--The colour-work was finished and everything! Rather than use double-pointed needles, I tried to work the sleeve using Clover bamboo circulars and magic loop. Unfortunately, there was no cooperation from the needles. I have resorted to doing the sleeve on two circulars, which seems to be working well. The reason? I seem to be all thumbs and no fingers when using needles other than circulars. I get tired of bending over and retrieving needles all the time. I have only 1/2 inch before I slip this sleeve onto the holders and start the second sleeve. Possibly even tonight.

If time slips away from me yet again, Happy Easter!