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Thought Ewe all should know…..

November 5, 2010

After 6 years working for Chris Harding here at Sheep to Shore, I have bought the business from her. It is a wonderful opportunity for me and I am very excited for what is to come. I will miss working with her and Shop Girl (Hank the famous ball winder). I wish them well on the next chapter of their lives. I’m sure it will be fun. As for me I will be at Sheep to Shore coming up with fun and exciting things to make and do. Hope you will come visit when you are on Nantucket.
Cheers,
Sheila

A true sheep to shore!

April 29, 2010

Happy Daffy!

April 26, 2010

This weekend was Nantucket’s annual Daffodil Festival. We were blessed with PERFECT weather on Saturday. The whole island was decked out in daffodils! Here are some pics below. You can see more of our photos here.

Daffy for Daffies

Decked Out

Narcissus

Nantucketers Go Scalloping

Aplenty

And in honor of all things SPRING, we just couldn’t resist this wonderful video of a sweet little (confused) lamb!

Knitting is a Privilege!

April 8, 2010

Love this Mo Rocca segment on CBS. Especially the closing line. Thanks to John Schwanbeck and Penny Scheerer for telling us about it!

My Happiest Day of the Year

March 7, 2010

Saturday, March 13 will be my happiest day of this year.  It’s the day–or, rather the night–on which we set our clocks ahead one hour (“Spring Forward”) to ready ourselves for Daylight Savings Time.  Now, I realize that this is not everyone’s absolute favorite day of the year.  Many will claim that to be Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, or even New Year’s Day.  But this is my absolute favorite one–always has been, probably always will be.  Partly because it’s dependable (Even in the long, dark days of winter, we know it’s coming.), but it’s always a bit of a surprise.  No one really knows from one year to the next when this clocks-changing day will occur.  And although for a while the mornings are dark, well yes, that’s an inconvenience we live with.  But the added sunlight on the other end of the day all but makes up for that.  For me.  Maybe it presents additional opportunities to soak up that important Vitamin D that’s getting more and more attention.  Maybe it’s because the days really are getting longer, although the shift is so gradual that we are aware of this only over time.  Maybe it’s THE happiest day because in some way it makes me a better knitter, but I don’t think so.

I am really trying to figure out how this time switch connects to knitting because everything in my life seems to connect to knitting.  Actually, I don’t think it really helps my knitting very much.  It makes me want to be outdoors more–in my garden and on more walks and bike rides.  It makes me dream of warm, sunset filled evenings on the beach, a cookout underway, a blue or a striper on the line–the good life of Nantucket.  And yes, that dream includes wearing a much loved cotton or linen blend handknit fisherman sweater over a tee shirt and shorts.  And it includes a nearby basket of knitting, fairly simple so distractions don’t screw things up.  No, I didn’t get far from knitting, after all.  I was simply led to summer knitting!  Dreaming of shawls, linen confections, little cotton lace sweaters, cozy cotton blankets.  Yes.  It’s pretty good, that summertime knitting.

And while summer knitting is not central to why this is my happiest day of the year, it’s not all bad!  So if you’re reading this, please consider  making Saturday, March 13 your happiest day of the year.  And while you’re doing that, think about your summer knitting projects and what might be lurking out there for you in Daylight Savings Time Knitting Land!

WINTER WOOLIES GO ROGUE IN CALIFORNIA

February 2, 2010

True nuff–January and February are the two best months of the year for knitting.   The weather is absolutely perfect for cozy, inside activities that require warm ingredients.  Think hot cocoa.  Think homemade soups and bread.  Think about being tucked in alongside a toasty livingroom fire, as natural fiber yarn strands through your fingers, onto needles, and out as fabric.  That’s about as perfect as knitting can get.  But there’s more:  Knitting in deep winter–post holidays–can finally be for ourselves.  Temporarily gone is the pressure of gifts;  it is time to make something for oneself.   And there’s the added motivation–we need it NOW!

Recently, I whined about wanting–and needing–some lovely mittens for myself.   Yes.  Whined.  Early a.m. walks with Dory left me with icy hands for the rest of the day.  And face it, the best solution for icy hands are  stranded, 2-color mittens, where one’s fingers are cuddled together enjoying the warm bundling of four layers of wool yarn (two strands on the top layer, two strands on the bottom)!

Last year I started plenty of mittens projects for myself, but nothing clicked.  My focus wasn’t there, another project claimed greater importance, the gauge was off, the colors not quite right, the pattern less than perfect.  This year, I vowed, had to be different.

When the realization came that I was headed to Long Beach for the winter yarn market, I decided the time had come for my mittens. The long, uninterrupted stretches of time on the cross-continental flights, as well as the inspiring projects at the yarn market, represented a delicious knitting opportunity.  (And, may I interrupt here and add that that over two weeks of glorious knitting time are coming up with Olympics!)

The pattern I’d been eyeing for over a year was the Daina mittens (The pattern is a freebie on http://www.ravelry.com).  It uses three colors, but only two at any one time, so that seemed reasonable enough.  What to do for yarn, though?  Koigu, as much as I do love Koigu, was not the right gauge.  But then I glommed onto Madelinetosh Sock Yarn –100% merino wool, 500% soft, 1,000% gorgeous. The fine gauge suited the pattern perfectly.  The softness was glorious.  The colors took my breath away.  I was ready!

On the 5 hour flight west to California, on the 5 hour flight east to Massachusetts, and in my hotel room early mornings, I chugged and chugged around on my needles with those 3 colors of Madelinetosh Sock Yarn  The mittens were finished on Sunday, and now I walk early mornings with festive, toasty hands. The best part of it? The mittens are all mine!

KEEPER DAINA MITTENS

But I almost forgot to mention how I betrayed my cold-weather knitting in Long Beach-

That legendary California sunshine must have got into my head, for with only the slightest wisp of betrayal I shifted from my love of woolly, winter knitting, negating all that I have said above about my mittens.  At the TNNA yarn market, I found myself ordering “Fixation”, a cotton/elastic yarn from Cascade and asking that it be shipped immediately. (It’s HERE!)

FIXATION BALL

“Fixation” is a funky, inexpensive cotton yarn that contains 1.7% elastic.  Customers have asked for it for kids’ socks.  And Cascade’s booth displayed a darling little pullover in spring green (a free pattern on their website– www.cascadeyarn.com) that sold me on it. And if you enjoy surfing Ravelry, check out the assorted projects (ahem!) for this yarn.  (Does “Tuxedo Speedo” pique your interest?)

Cascade's Free Pattern for "Fixation"

Having lovingly completed my winter mittens,  and with the fun, springy yarn having arrived at 14 Sparks Ave., Nantucket,  I am knitting that little pullover in goldfinch-yellow “Fixation” and thinking Daffodil Weekend all along the way.

FIXATION PULLOVER IN THE WORKS

It puts a bounce in my step all by itself,  for it stretches just a wee bit as you knit.  It’s FUN, the colors are terrific, and I guarantee that it will make you happy!

Yes, the days are cold, but the sun is bright, the birds are singing and spring is beckoning–way, way off in the distance.  Whether I knit for lingering winter (and immediate) needs or for the delights of spring and summer, January and February are STILL my favorite months for knitting!

A Report from the TNNA Yarnmarket!

January 18, 2010

Long Beach Harbor

I’ve just returned from the TNNA yarnmarket in California! And, what exactly is the TNNA yarnmarket?  Here you go:

The National Needle Arts Association (TNNA) sponsors two major knitting yarn markets each year—one in January and one in June.   The June market is always in Columbus, Ohio, and the January market is held in California.  And let me tell you, “having” to go to southern California in January is really a chore for which just about anyone would sign up.

The market hosts the major knitting yarn and crochet vendors across the globe.  The teachers for the many dozen classes are nationally recognized experts in knitting and crochet.  In recent years the organization has offered business classes as well, since knitting stores are evolving into serious operations!

What did I see?  What did I love?

–I see, every year that I go, a younger, hipper group.  Knitting and crochet are loved by the under 40 set!  The under 30 set!  College kids!  Teens and kids! 

–I saw fewer summer garments, which I believe is a reflection of two conditions.  First of all, the economic realities dictated that many yarn distributors simply didn’t have the resources to develop new summer yarns or to design and knit up new summer fashions.  Also, shop owners have been telling them for years that many knitters do not knit summer garments.  Instead, summer knitting seems to be going toward linen fibers for housewares (think valences, placemats, table runners) and accessories (market bags) and dozens of lace yarns (who can resist a lighter-than-air wool shawl?)

–I also saw that hand dyers/painters of yarns are getting much better at it.  Their color changes are smoother, gentler, less blotchy; their colors are less muddy.  Hand painted yarns are a much more sophisticated group than they used to be.  And dyers are trending toward the “tonal” hand dyes, rather than those of major color shifts.  That’s good news for all of us.  It will be far less difficult for any of us to imagine how a particular colorway will knit up, for the colors are going to be more related.

So what did I love?  I loved seeing subtle “bling”—delicate seed pearls laced in silk mohair, strands of glitter threaded through silk mohair, sequins and pearls laced into silk.  All of these provided a feeling of gossamer lightness—perfect for summer shawls and wraps, necessary accessories for Nantucket evenings.  And one needn’t use such twinkle throughout a project—it can be interspersed evenly at the two ends of a shawl, or randomly—but sparsely—throughout.  So the glam is still there, but it isn’t a full-frontal attack.   It seems the “industry” has learned a thing or two about degree in this recession.  Not a bad lesson, after all.

I loved seeing that linens have been made softer by blending with other fibers, making them more user-friendly.  It was great to be able to order more machine-washable “painted” wools.  They are all coming your way soon.  And I loved seeing some of the newest yarns coming from Asia—yarns wrapped with embroidered ribbons with crocheted flowers and beads sewn in.  Think wacky Daffodil Weekend hats or scarves (remember, this is Nantucket spring, after all…) I am excited by the onslaught of new buttons for kids!

Finally, I loved touching base with old friends—folks with whom I chat throughout the year as I place orders.  However, at trade shows we match voice with face and cement friendships that have begun as strong business relationships.  Richard and Taiu from Koigu, Joyce and Helene from Knit One Crochet Too, Laura from Schaefer Yarns, Serena from Moving Mud, Tracy from Tilli Tomas, Christine from Christine’s Needlepoint, Nadine from Be Sweet, Claudia from Claudia’s Handpaints, and Jessica Oas from Westminster Fibers…all hard-working people who endeavor to bring to us all the very finest in knitting fibers and tools.  It’s a great industry to be part of and they make me proud.

MY CLASSES

I started off taking a terrific class in knitting lace with beads.  Laura Nelkin of Nelkin Designs and Schaefer Yarns taught the class; she is an excellent teacher. Laura’s focus was on teaching us how to teach lace knitting, so that was very, very helpful.

I was, without question, the class dunce.  Before I go any further, let me say that I have knitted several lace objects—about 5 complicated lace shawls, a lace sweater or three—I know my way around a lace pattern. But I was more beaten up by my cross-country trek and really had trouble “reading my knitting” in the dark yarn that was supplied with our little kits. Nevertheless, it was a completely positive experience!  It taught me how humbling it can be to be lost when every one around you is chugging merrily along in their knitting. It also reinforced for me my high levels of distractibility, particularly when trying to focus on a knitting chart.  I hope I can remember these things when I teach!

I took a class in “how to plan a shop retreat” which I enrolled in as one enrolls in root canal treatment.  It was very well taught, but it will be a while before I engage in this level of planning!

My third class was taught by Jared Flood of “Brooklyn Tweed” blog fame.  I could be Jared’s mom, and would be proud to be, too, for he is a delightful young man.  He was meant to teach us his “Beaumont Tam” (see Ravelry), a beautiful two-color knitting project done in Fresco from Classic Elite Yarns.

(I did order Fresco—it’ll be coming soon!) However, a snafu meant we had the wrong gauge yarn to do the project, so he gamely modified his class and we practiced knitting with two colors using all methods he could think of.  I will stick to my color-in-each-hand method, thank you, but I gamely tried them all!

I learned needle felting for 3-dimensional objects in a class Saturday a.m.  It was idiot’s delight. (No, that’s supposed to be a cat!) I sat next to a woman in the middle of divorce proceedings who kept stabbing her barbed felting needle into the roving and talking about her husband…er, former husband.  It was a bit disconcerting, but we laughed.

And finally, on Sunday morning I took a class with Cat Bordhi about how to write patterns.  A terrifically organized class, it was full of useful information that I hope will trickle down to benefit you all!

A group luncheon with a guest speaker forced us to re-think our shop’s lighting and displays.  There were door-prizes, fashion shows, silent auctions, yarn samplings, new product displays, and events that resembled Filene’s Basement on sale days, but I’ve already gone on too long.

The schedule was tight!  I intentionally took part in all the classes and activities I could, so there was little time for outdoor activities.   (A few photos give a taste of southern California’s exceptional climate.)  I can’t wait ‘til next year!

All the best,

Chris

California Sunset

Birds of Paradise

California Poppies