Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Welcome to the new blog

Hi there! Pull up a chair, make yourself at home. Can we get you some tea? This is our new blog home, and we hope you like it just as much as the old blog home. We imported most of the old posts (the important ones, anyway) but sadly none of the comments could come along for the ride. Please don't let that stop you from being chatty over here, though! We love the chatty!

There are many reasons for the change, and while we don't want to bore you with details, the Readers Digest Condensed Version is that the other one was never meant to be a permanent home. We're settling in pretty well over here, though, and hope that you like the changes that are in process!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sale Items

We have a lot on sale this week--

Some random "widows and orphans" can be seen here.

Trendsetter Dolcino and Fatigues have been marked down to $2/ball.

And all of our remaining Great Adirondack yarns have been marked to 25% off!

The Hanks Question of the Week

Leaving aside big tools like a swift and ballwinder, do you have any small tools that you just can't live without...? Tapestry needle? Row counter? Little tape measure that looks like a sheep...?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Five: Five fibers that can be confusing

As I walk around the shop, touching yarns and squeezing skeins, I find labels that tell me that our yarns of made of many different products. There is wool, silk, cotton, linen, and others. I know what these yarn ingredients are, as they’ve been used to make thread as long as people have been making thread. But some of the newer products confuse me. What is Tencel? And Soysilk? I’ve heard of Rayon, but where does it come from? Lorena and I decided it was time to do a little bit of investigating. We’d like to be able to tell our customers what they are buying! So after warming up the Google-fu, I bring you today’s Friday Five – Five Fibers About Which I am Curious:

Rayon, also known as Viscose, is a manufactured regenerated cellulose (Often wood pulp) fiber. This means that it is neither completely synthetic, nor completely natural. The original plant material is dissolved in caustic soda and is then taken through a series of chemical reactions until the product can be extruded through small holes (Just like a Fun Factory!) producing filaments. This process is termed ‘wet-spinning’. The filaments are then spun or elongated to make yarns like Blue Heron’s Beaded Rayon yarn.

Tencel is the brand name of a sub-category of Rayon called Lyocell. Tencel is made in the same way Rayon is, and both are considered relatively eco-friendly. Both Lyocell and Rayon are soft, flexible fibers which can add a lovely sheen to wool or cotton when blended together. If you’ve seen the lovely sock yarns of Mind’s Eye, you know what I mean!

We all know what bamboo is, but how is it processed into yarn? It probably won’t surprise you to find that it’s pretty much the same process as making Rayon! The bamboo fibers get mushed up and dissolved into caustic soda, are taken through the same series of chemical reactions, and squished out through the tiny holes of the extruder. The resulting fiber is then spun into yarn like Plymouth’s Royal Bamboo.

There is also a mechanical process that can be used to process bamboo where natural enzymes are used to turn the bamboo fibers to mush. The fibers are then combed and spun into yarn. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of using this method, it isn’t utilized nearly as often as the chemical process.

Soysilk is a trademarked name of Southwest Trading Company. Soysilk is the fiber resulting from the wet-spinning process of the residue of soybeans leftover from tofu processing. Soysilk is an environmentally friendly product as, like bamboo fiber, it is a renewable, biodegradable resource. Henry Ford was an early proponent of the production of soy fibers. He had a soy suit! If you live in Florida with us, you’ll find soysilk a joy to wear. It is a soft, smooth, breathable fiber. When mixed with wool, like in Karaoke yarn, it is feltable!

If you’ve read the label of Vickie Howell’s Craft yarn, you’ve seen that is it made of 65% Cotton and 35% Milk Fiber. Milk Fiber? What the heck is that? It’s pretty much what it sounds like. The fat and water are removed from milk, then the resulting liquid is polymerized. And then do you know what happens? Guess. Just guess for me. Ok, I’ll tell you: It’s wet-spun! You’re shocked, I can tell. =)

So with the exception of linen and hemp (The usable fibers from the flax and hemp plants are removed from the plant and spun fairly traditionally.) most vegetable material today is processed into yarn using the wet-spinning method. And there you have it. Chances are if you are asked how a certain fiber is processed, you can say, ‘It’s wet spun!’ and will sound like an authority on the subject!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Calling the lace knitters...

We have a luscious new lace in (seriously, someone tried to buy all of the purple before we even had it checked in this morning)--

Silky Alpaca Lace
Silky Alpaca Lace is a beautiful blend of fibers, spun into a gossamer yarn that knits into amazing lightweight pieces. Take your favorite lace pattern and using Silky Alpaca Lace, make yourself something that is a masterpieces.
The alpaca gives the yarn warmth, softness and a wonderful halo; the silk adds sheen and additional softness.
70% alpaca, 30% silk
8 1/2 sts/inch on #2
460 yards/50 grams

New Gilda kits!

If you haven't tried this easy (and addictive) scarf pattern, take a look at the new Gilda kits that we put together... including a colorway for a Gator fan!

(Because it's great to be a Florida Gator!)

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Hanks Question of the Week

Project bags! What do you use? I'm crazy with the bags; I have a Bagsmith project bag, two giant green Lion Brand project bags, oodles of smaller canvas bags that I use for various projects... what do you use? Do you have a specific bag, or bunches of bags, or even a wicker basket or something...?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Finally, the Spinning Group!

Starting February, we’ll finally be starting up the spinning group we’ve been talking about. Yay!

The spinning group (name ideas, anyone?) will be meeting twice a month; the first Monday of the month from 11 AM - 1 PM, and the third Thursday of the month from 5 PM - 7 PM.

So, the schedule for the next couple months will be as follows:
Monday February 4, 2008; 11 AM - 1 PM
Thursday February 21, 2008; 5 PM - 7 PM
Monday March 3, 2008; 11 AM - 1 PM
Thursday March 20, 2008; 5 PM - 7 PM
Monday April 7, 2008; 11 AM - 1 PM
Thursday April 17, 2008; 5 PM - 7 PM

Please feel free to come in, bring your wheel or drop spindle and your fiber (or even your hand carders and fleece, depending on at what stage you’re starting your spinning), and spin to your hearts content! We’ll provide the chairs, the coffee or tea, and I’m sure some munchies will make an appearance (and, ahem, a disappearance...).

Friday Five: Five books we’ll be carrying in the shop

We’ve been holding off on ordering books for the shop… not because we don’t love books, but because, honestly, we fear that a lot of people will come in, look at the books, and then go home and order them cheaper from Amazon.

But at the same time, there are books that we recommend to people all. The. Time. So why not just get a few copies of those books, eh? That’s what we did. We actually ordered six books, but as this is the “Friday Five” the sixth book shall remain a mystery until it arrives. <>

Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch
Our favorite book for sock knitters, new and old! This has everything from a basic tutorial to “hey, I have this yarn, what should I make” computations. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve recommended this book to someone who has come in and said “I’m ready to knit some socks, but I don’t know where to start”. At the same time, some of the patterns are so complicated that even *I* haven’t tried them yet.

More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch
The follow-up to the first one. More stitch patterns, and also some great bind-off and cast-on techniques. Set up a little differently than the first one, but it’s definitely a must-add to my library.

Stitch ‘N Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller
Does this book really need an introduction?!

Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller
We’ve heard nothing but good about this book, from both experienced crocheters, and people who’ve been itching to pick it up for the first time but worried they wouldn’t be able to understand it.

Knitting from the Top by Barbara G. Walker
There’s the expected (pullover, cardigan), about how to knit from the top down rather than the bottom up. But then there’s also the unexpected; hat, skirt, even a pair of pants. This book has been on my “buy me” list for a while, as I love pullovers but hate knitting from the bottom up (the usual fear of running out of yarn, combined with the “I don’t like short sweaters” thing).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Let's talk about some stuff


Hahaha! I slay me! Get it? Prism "Stuff" yarns? Let's talk about some "Stuff"? Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. Please try the veal.

No, but seriously. We're slowly working on building up our base of the "Stuff" yarns; Cool Stuff, Light Stuff, Neat Stuff, and Wild Stuff. While we don't have everything, we have twice as much as we had a few weeks ago-- and we order a little more every week. This week I want to especially point out two new colors, Gelato (Light Stuff) and Freesia (Cool Stuff). We didn't order a lot - just testing the waters - but can easily get more if a color strikes your fancy and you want more than what we have right now.

I really want to thank the customers who are loyal Prism lovers; I've had many a back-and-forth, wonderful email discussion with a couple of you and I very much appreciate your insight, advice, and most of all, the time you take out of your day to talk with us!

Please keep letting us know what you like in the Prism line; we've only been special ordering once a week for two or three weeks now but the results have been fantastic. Thanks, y'all!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Holly Birch Fibers

In addition to my handspun, we are also now carrying Ginger's handspun, Holly Birch Fibers. These are also one-shots, so if you see something you like you'd best snatch it up!

The Hanks Question of the Week

The question this week is primarily for the crocheters.

Sometimes, we get asked two questions in the shop that I don't really know how to answer... "where is your crochet yarn?" and "do you have your crochet patterns separate?". The reason I'm not sure how to answer those is because all of our patterns are grouped together; and unless you're looking for very fine crochet thread (which, sadly, we don't have right now anyway), what yarn is there to separate...?

So I put the question to you, as I could never get much beyond the HDC (let alone figure out "front post" from "back post")... when you go to a yarn shop, what do you want? Do you want crochet patterns put into the books along with the knitting patterns, so that [for example] all of the shawl patterns are together... all of the baby blanket patterns are together...? Or is it easier to have a book of only crochet patterns so that you don't have to sift through everything...? What makes you happiest when you go into a store heavily weighted towards knitters (besides us telling you that we love crocheters, because hey, it's all fiber!)?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Upcoming class list

Here’s a list of some of our upcoming classes; more information is available at the shop!

All classes limited to five people
Classes fill up quickly; please reserve your space early by paying in advance

Crochet Your First Hat
February 9 and 16, 2008 2 PM - 5PM (Saturdays)
$50 | Materials Included

Introduction to Knitting (Part One; the Knit Stitch, Increasing, Decreasing)
Feb 16, 23, Mar 1, and Mar 8 10:30 AM-1:30 PM (Saturdays)
$100 | Materials Included

Sock Knitting using Double Pointed Needles
Feb 23, March 1, 8, and 15, 2008 2 PM - 5PM (Saturdays)
$100 | Materials Included

Amigurumi Bunny
March 6, 13, and 20, 2008 6 PM – 8 PM (Thursdays)
$75 | Materials Included

Introduction to Lace Knitting
March 15, 22, 29, and April 5, 2008 10:30 AM-1:30 PM (Saturdays)
$100 | Materials Included

Introduction to Needle Felting
March 22 and 29 2008 2 PM - 5PM (Saturdays)
$50 | Materials Included

Sock Knitting using the Magic Loop Method
April 12 and 19 2008 2 PM - 5PM (Saturdays)
$65 | Materials Included

My First Hat
(Learn to use Circular and Double-pointed Needles)
April 12 and 19 2008 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM (Saturdays)
$65 | Materials Included

Coming later in the Spring:
Introduction to Entrelac Knitting
More Crochet Classes
More Introduction to Knitting Classes
Another Slumber Party

Individual classes/lessons available by request (prices may vary)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Five: Five patterns on Knitty that we love

Welcome to a new blog feature-- five random things on Friday. It will always be on Friday, and there will always be five things; but while they will always have a common theme within the five things, overall they will be entirely random from week to week.

Hot Tamale:
This rockabilly inspired skirt is hot hot hot: guaranteed to make you the belle of the bowling alley. Customize with embroidery, optional drawstring or elastic waistband, a sassy lining or no lining at all.
Sharon loves her some Jodi Green... I will leave the telling of Sharon's trials and tribulations with this skirt to her, though.

Reluctant to commit to the permanence of a knuckle tattoo, but yearning to express yourself? Here is your solution. Embroider the eight-letter text that says you onto these quick-to-knit fingerless gloves and the world will know just what you stand for. Knit your Knucks from the knuckles down -- a fast knit on size four needles. Working down allows you to split the yarn into two balls and knit until the balls run out -- achieve extra-long matched-length gloves with no anxiety. Choose between a ribbed cuff with a sewn cast-off and a textured cuff with a crab stitch edging. Included are simple tutorials for both. Learn something new, yo.
I can not even tell you how many times I've made this pattern! Sadly I have never done the embroidery, as I can not embroider my way out of a paper bag. But I love this easy-to-modify pattern, and it's awesome for one-skien projects (or even half-a-skein)!

I would like to say that I knit these socks because I was inspired by falling leaves, the angles of tree branches as they part from mighty oaks in a V-shape, or allude to poetry and art. But let's face it: the true driving force behind these socks was ADDICTION. There was no other way to get them off my back than to knit them.
I may be one of two sock knitters in the free world who has not made this pattern (though I was gifted some!). Sharon has made them and agrees that the pattern is highly addictive, making you want to work on nothing else.

Last winter in the midst of a snowstorm in NYC, I found myself on a bar crawl. Despite the weather, we were determined to stick it out. Each time we changed location, we all put on multiple layers to brave the cold. Every time we arrived at a new place, we all started peeling layers off so we'd look a bit less like snowmen. As we layered up preparing for another trek, my friend and I started discussing one of the garments she was wearing. It was a lightweight sweater with no armhole seams and a square neckline. The garment construction stuck in my mind. During a stash-diminishing exercise, I started playing with creating a chunky, stripey ribbed interpretation. This sweater is literally made from two tubes, one for the body, and one for the shrug-like sleeves. The rib makes the body nice and fitted, and really warm. However, the square neckline makes this a cute sweater to wear on a cold night out. The sleeves are stockinette, and very slightly belled. It can be tried on as you go, and easily adjusted to fit the way you want. It's a fast knit, and there is no seaming!
Tubey may be the Monkey of the pullover world. I've made it. Kelly's made it. Ouida's made it. Betharoopie's made it. Anyone else? I'm even planning on making another. I can guarantee from seeing it on myself and all my friends that this pattern is flattering on just about every single body type out there (if you know what I mean, ladies).

One of the latest additions to my video game fanatic husband's collection was a Metroid game, starring a futuristic orange-armored warrior heroine named Samus Aran. I immediately thought of this in a knitting context and wondered what sort of Aran sweater Samus might wear when she's not saving the world from evil. Instead of a traditional up and down cable pattern, these cables are worked separately to make them sideways. The patterned band was adapted from the Saxon Braid in Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge. The body of the cardigan is worked back and forth in one piece to allow an uninterrupted cable across the bottom of the sweater. Both charted and written instructions are included for the cable pattern. An applied i-cord edging finishes the rough edges for a more modern feel.
Say-muss. Shay-muss. However you say it, it's beautiful! Both Sharon and Kelly have made this (Kelly's not quite done with hers yet) and it is a fantastic first-cardigan project.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Classic Elite yarns

The first two of four new yarns (new for us, that is) that we'll be carrying from Classic Elite have come in; they are still in boxes but we are getting everything checked in and these should be on the shelves and on the website by the end of the day on Friday (barring any emergencies and/or alien abductions). Meanwhile, here's a sneak peek:


Alpaca Sox
Treat your feet to exquisite fibers in fabulous colors. The luxurious combination of fibers in Alpaca Sox gives you the resource to create one-of-a-kind socks. From dressy to special everyday, you now have another alternative for hand knit socks. Wrap your feet up in warmth this season!

Description: 60% Alpaca, 20% Merino Wool, 20% Nylon
Handling: handwash cold, dry flat
Gauge: 8 sts/inch on US #2 (2.75 mm) needles
Skein Weight: 100 grams
Skein Yardage: 450


Renaissance is a 100% wool with a very soft hand and a simple twist. It is great to knit, and looks beautiful in cables, openwork stitches and textures.

Product Information
Description: 100% Wool
Handling: handwash cold, dry flat
Gauge: 4.5 sts/inch on #8 needles or 5 sts/inch on #7 needles
Skein Weight: 50 grams
Skein Yardage: 110

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Hanks Question of the Week

Swaps! How do you feel about them? Have you ever taken part in one? (You don't have to actually name it if it was a horrible experience that you get the shakes just thinking about.) Do you more prefer swaps that are one month/one package, or three month/three package? Do you prefer to send yarn, or to send a finished object?

Friday, January 4, 2008

January is for Karen Knit-along

We've been talking about this over on Ravelry (if you're on The Rav and haven't found us, Hanks has a group here) and we'd like to do a Knit-along for January is for Karen.

We have copies of the pattern in the store, and while the page is under construction, for right now you can download a PDF of the pattern here.

We'd love for you to comment here, if you want to knit along with us! Tell us what yarn you plan to use, and if you plan on doing any mods!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

January is for Karen

In 2008, we’re going to be featuring a new - free - scarf pattern every month. The patterns will be available in the shop, and hopefully for download on the site. Here is the January scarf, titled January is for Karen.

Edited to add: you can download a free PDF of the pattern here.

January is for Karen

Yarn: one skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in "Jay Pond”
Needles: Size 8 straights
Pattern: January is for Karen, available now in the shop