Thursday, July 30, 2009

A pox on all you chickens!

One of two of you may have noticed I've been absent for the past few days from my usual haunts on the Internet. I've been other places...mostly on Google and WebMD.

I'm telling you this because someday the information might be of use to you.

Here's what I've learned since last Wednesday:

1. If you're Googling the word "shingles," it's probably too late;
2. If you're Googling the phrase "shingles face," it's probably too late and you have my heartfelt sympathy;
3. Those chicken pox you had as a kid may revisit you in the most ghastly way imaginable;
4. A full frontal assault on a virus can, in some cases, be effective.

Here's what happened.

I woke up last Wednesday with what could best be described as a bright red racing stripe down the right side of my face. I figured I'd slept on it funny, threw some makeup over it, and went to work. It was tender to the touch, but I didn't think much of it.

The next morning, the racing stripe was a glorious brilliant red and it really hurt when I touched it. I figured I'd better call Dr. Martin (the doctor whose scale throws me into a fit of depression every time I step onto it), but decided that a picture is worth a thousand words so I stopped by his office on my way to Yarnmarket.

The receptionist took one look at me, and decided that she'd be able to fit me in to see the doctor fairly quickly.

When Dr. Martin examined my racing stripe, he said the word I hadn't to that point considered: shingles.

Shingles?! Agghhh! I know shingles, and I know I don't want them. I know someone who had them over a year ago and who is still in constant pain. So, I was grateful when Dr. Martin decided we'd attack it with heavy doses of Valtrex and Prednisone...even though he wasn't entirely optimistic.

I rushed to the drug store, then went home to devour my pills and learn more about the illness. I visited every web site I could find -- even the loony ones. And I decided I'd do everything everyone has ever claimed would work against these dreaded, hideous shingles. Because if I didn't ward them off before they really blossomed, I'd be laid up for four to six weeks.

Once I'd prepared a list of concoctions that might work, I got into my car and raced to the local health food/nutriceutical store. There I stocked up on Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc, L-Lysine, Rutin, Malic Acid and Colloidal Silver. The Rutin and Malic Acid weren't really related to shingles, but I tossed 'em in just for good measure.

I spent the next few days semi-conscious...and when I was conscious I had an ice pack on my face and I was devouring pills.

And do you know what? It worked! At first the rash started to spread. Then, surely enough, it got lighter and lighter and lighter until it went away. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to have fought off this clucking chicken pox virus. Dr. Martin is amazed, and my husband is relieved that I don't have to go into hiding for the remainder of the summer.

He's also very grateful that the Prednisone made me hyper-active for a few days, and I spent several hours sorting and filing all our electronics equipment. We now have boxes and boxes of stuff -- neatly stacked and labeled, "Television wires," "Stereo wires," "Ethernet wires," "Cables," "iPod Accessories," "Camera Accessories," etc.

It's kind of funny. I was wired, so I sorted wires! Gotta love that Prednisone.

I'm telling you all of this because I think everyone should know that a red spot that hurts (I can't even call a rash because it was just a discoloration), and is confined to one side of your body, should not be ignored. Shingles is a painful and long-lasting illness, and it seems to be cropping up quite a bit lately. I know four other people who've had it, and only one of them got to a doctor quickly enough to fend it off.

So please...if you've had chicken pox as a kid, and you develop a painful red spot, get thee immediately to a doctor! Do not even stop to Google "shingles."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Learn about sock yarns with our Just My Type newsletter

Jan has just released her newest issue of our Just My Type newsletter. Each month, she features a different yarn -- teaching about it, offering advice, and featuring lots of great patterns.

This month's issue is all about rocking sock yarns. In it, you'll learn about the history of socks, find out about some great new sock yarns, and get links to projects and patterns available on

If you don't already subscribe to the newsletter, be sure to sign up for it at But, in the meantime, you can read this issue in KnitchMagazine.

By the way, we're working diligently on the Autumn issue of KnitchMagazine, so it's a good idea to subscribe now to our alert. That way you'll be among the first to know when the new issue is released.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Facebook Quiz: What kind of yarn are you?

What are you? Vicuna? Cashmerino? Silk? Hemp? If you've ever wondered what kind of yarn you'd be -- if you were a yarn -- you'll want to complete our Yarnmarket yarn quiz on Facebook. Have fun with it...and be sure to pass it along to all your knitting friends.

New Berroco Yarns and Patterns at Yarnmarket

We've just gotten in another autumn shipment of the most gorgeous yarns from Berroco and I'm in seventh heaven. These are really terrific yarns in colors you'll love for fall.

Building on the excitement of their original Comfort yarn, Berroco has just added Berroco Comfort Heather. This worsted-weight version of the original yarn is completely interchangeable in all Comfort & Comfort Colors patterns. Comfort Heather is a velvety soft 50/50 blend of super fine nylon & super fine acrylic.

Another interchangeable yarn is Pure Merino Chine. This multi-hued version is more than just a variegated alternative: strands of complementary solids have been spun side by side for a sophisticated, subtle marled effect. The end result is a supersoft, machine washable, 100% extrafine Italian merino ideal for women, men, children and even babies. It can be used for patterns for Pure Merino Heather and Pure Merino Nuance.

I think the best news right now is that we've got Norah Gaughan's latest new books in stock! These include Berroco: Norah Gaughan Number 5 and Berroco: Norah Gaughan Men. You'll want to have a look at what Norah has designed for this autumn. It's going to be tough choosing which ones you'll want to create.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wacky Baby Knits patterns are wacky fun!

Maybe it's just me...but I'm not really crazy about the typical baby knitwear that's so sweet and precious it gives you a sugar buzz. I dressed my grand-daughter like a Holstein and I'd laugh so hard every time I looked at her that I'd almost bust a gut. The photo of me with my Cow-girl still makes me grin like a fool. I love it even if Madison does occasionally refer to me as her "amazing, insane Grandma."

When the new book, Wacky Baby Knits, arrived I fell in love with the quirky collection of projects that range from the off-the-wall to the truly bizarre. I mean, how many Moms and Grandmas can resist a biker outfit with wings?

If you'd like to knit something unique and unusual for a baby you know and love, check out the funtastic patterns with themes like:
• Elvis, mohawk, and cupcake hats
• Monster booties
• Furry bear feet with matching mittens
• Robot suit and hat've gotta love this stuff. It's just not your usual cutesie pie baby wear. It's baby wear that'll make you laugh...even while you're wiping drool and cleaning up poop!

Summer in YarnmarketVille and Canada

Boy! As if we aren't busy enough adding all the new autumn inventory and getting ready for the fall rush! Alex and I are having a crazy, busy summer that's filled with visits, travel, and so much to do!

First, our grand-daughter Madison arrived in the thriving megalopolis of Pickerington, OH for her annual visit to YarnMartian Central. Once again, she worked with Lynn, Lisa and Brenda to fill orders. Madi considers her Yarnmarket workday the highlight of her summer. I hope she feels that way in five or six years from now because I'd love to put her to work for more than a day and pay her with cookies.

Brenda was tickled pink to have Madi shadow her for a few hours. Brenda loves little girls so much that I may have to make Madi her un-official grand-daughter so she can fuss over her throughout the year, instead of just one day. (Note to You-Know-Who: Your Mom's biological clock is ticking and she isn't going to stop nagging us and sighing wistfully at baby patterns until she becomes a Grandma.)

When Madi's visit was over, we drove her back home to Canada so she could travel to New Brunswick to cheat on us with her other grandparents. (Remember, Madi, I'm the Grandma who taught you how to sew dresses, make home-made marshmallows and caramels, and who introduced you to the lost art of ironing!)

Alex and I learned a couple of things when we were up in Canada last week:
1. Kingsway Fish & Chips really does make the best fish & chips in the world
2. President's Choice products ought to be available in the States because they're really terrific
3. Canadians really do swear more than any other people on the planet (you should hear me!)
4. Tim Horton's is the center of the world for most Canadians. All travel directions are based on where the Tim Horton's restaurants are. "You go up the street past the Tim Horton's. Turn right and go three miles. Make a left turn at the Tim Horton's and then continue past three more Tim Horton's until you get to the Fitness Centre. Oh, they have a Tim Horton's at the Centre, so you can have a coffee and doughnut after you exercise."

I'm old. I remember when Tim Horton was a hockey player, not a cup of coffee.

One unusual thing I did when I was up in Canada this time was re-connect with some old friends I hadn't seen in over 30 years...and 30 pounds. Thanks to the Internet, we made contact, and I was really delighted to see them again.

First, I visited with my old friends Eloise Hetner and Roberta Lum. I met Eloise when she was 13 years old, and I admired her because she was so amazingly grounded. She knew then that she wanted to become a school teacher when she grew up, and I'll be darned, that's exactly what she did! Whenever Eloise set her mind to something, she achieved it. Boy, I wish I were more like her. (If you ever want sound, rational, well-thought out advice on any issue, send me a note and I'll give you Eloise's email address.)

Eloise and her husband, Raz, made a delicious dinner at their new home. Roberta, who I idolized in high school because she was so smart, joined us, too. When we were young, Roberta seemed to me to know everything. Not only could she do math like nobody's business, she also knew that you put vinegar into rinse water when you're hand-washing silk. That's the sort of thing a girl remembers all her life. Thanks, Roberta. I can't tell you how many times I've used your advice.

As turns out, a lot of other people are now heeding Roberta's good advice, too! She started CAD Micro Solutions over 25 years ago. I just knew that Roberta would do something amazing. Check out her 25th Anniversary video on YouTube. Congratulations, my friend. You deserve every bit of your success!

Seeing Raz, Eloise's husband, was a real bonus for me. I hadn't seen Raz since I was at St. Basil the Great College in Toronto. This was originally an all-boys high school that was run by the Basilian fathers, and I was among the first girls to attend it. I figured the only way I'd get find a boyfriend was to stack the deck in my favor. At St. Basil's there were about 20 boys to each girl. And, do you know what? I STILL didn't get a date! And that's even though I was one of the school's first cheerleaders! Yes, I used to cheer for Raz when he played on the football team...and the guy I had a crush on back then -- who was Raz's best friend -- didn't even notice me. Truth was, I wasn't a very good cheerleader, and I couldn't maintain the tradition of dating the quarterback because, unfortunately, he was my brother.

Eloise and Roberta wanted to hear all about my move to the States, and how I ended up at Yarnmarket. But, mostly, I know they were wondering, "How the heck did she get so...umm...big?"

I was pushing 105 pounds when last they saw me. Now I' I'm on a diet. When I saw that they'd both kept their nice tiny little figures after all these years, I was so ashamed of myself that I had to eat two Tim Horton's doughnuts just to make me feel better.

A couple of days after visiting my high school friends, I drove 2 1/2 hours to meet my best friend from grade school. Now, that was really something! Patsy and I used to get into all sorts of trouble -- trouble for which her mother always blamed me. We were both goofy little kids who were always thinking up something crazy to do. Most of it I can't comment about online because the Statute of Limitations hasn't run out yet.

Patsy is now living near the town of Minden, Ontario, where she and her boyfriend are transforming a very old house into a work of art. It really is breathtaking! She's been collecting antiques and memorabilia for years now, and her house is like a little museum that takes you back to a much nicer, quieter time. Patsy is a heck of a craftsperson and a gardener and I can't wait to see what she does with her house over the next year. Maybe Canadian Living magazine will do a feature on it someday.

The visits with my old friends have brought back a flood of cherished memories and I wonder why it took me so long to re-connect. If there's someone in your past that you want to see again, I urge you to do it now. Don't wait...because you never know when you might get the chance.

If they're like my friends, they'll welcome your return -- and then wait until you leave before they burst out laughing because you moved to another country and when you returned, you were Super-Sized -- just like a Tim Horton's Iced Cappucino.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Louet Euroflax is now at Yarnmarket

Jan has added another terrific Louet yarn and some great new patterns...just in time for your July 4th weekend shopping!

For centuries, flax has been the fiber of choice for warmer-weather garments because it's light and breathable. Louet's Euroflax Sport yarn is spun in Belgium from 100% linen flax so it will actually soften and become more durable with machine washing and wear. Best of all, items knitted or crocheted from Euroflax Sport will continue to look like new in years to come. They're great for travel because you can just roll them up and toss them into a suitcase without worrying about wrinkles.

Our price for 100 grams of Louet Euroflax is just $23.80.

And the Berroco just keeps on comin'!

Jan sent a note this morning to let me know that she's just made Berroco Sundae and Berroco Blackstone Tweed available on

Blackstone Tweed is a nubby, rustic tweed that has just enough mohair and angora mixed with the wool to add softness and loft. It's terrific for autumn cardigans, sweaters and jackets. This yarn is crafted in Italy (magnifico!) of 65% wool, 25% superkid mohair and 10% angora. It comes in 12 colors and is $9.35 for a 50 gram ball.

Another scrumptious addition that's great for your quick-to-create projects is Berroco's super chunky Sundae yarn. Another Italian import, this beautifully crafted 50% wool and 50% acrylic yarn has pretty tone-on-tone hues all in the same single ply. If you like heathered shades, you'll want to choose this one for knitted or crocheted jackets, sweaters, hats, scarves or other super bulky garments and accessories. It's available in 10 colors for just $8.85 for a 100 gram ball.

We're really thrilled with the new Berrocco fibers and colors for the upcoming fashion season and we're certain our knitters are going to love them, too.

Be sure to check out the next edition of KnitchMagazine when we review some of these great new yarns. If you subscribe now, you'll receive an e-mail alert when the new issue is released.

Emily's Stich 'n Pitch Scarf

A couple of weeks ago, when the TNNA was being held in Columbus, we were asked to provide a nice red scarf for the Columbus Clippers mascot. The mascot was going to wear it during the Stitch 'n Pitch Event being held at our local baseball stadium.

Well, the request had come pretty late in the game, so I wasn't sure we could actually do it. But Emily came to the rescue.

Armed with a couple of skeins of bright red Caledon Hills yarn, she knitted feverishly to have an enormous scarf completed in time for the big event. Not only that, she even found time to enhance the scarf with some pretty gold buttons.

In this shot, you can see Emily at the stadium with two mascots, a crowd of ladies armed with knitting needles, and her very, very long scarf that was a big hit with the Clipper crowd.

Many thanks to Emily for all her work! (If you want Emily's autograph, order some yarn. She's one of our wonderful pickers and packers who signs, "Thank you" on every order she completes.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oh, Canada! Yarnmarket welcomes Louet with Gems Sport Weight

We're celebrating Canada Day by adding to our expansive inventory Louet's Gems in sport weight. Beauty, eh?

We like to add Canadian products like Gems to our site as often as we can -- because it makes my Canadian Mom happy -- and because we know that these are high quality wool products that can stand up to to cold, cold, oh so very cold (brrrrrrr) Canadian winters.

Louet's Gems is one of the softest, most versatile DK-weight yarns we've seen in a long time, and it's perfect for soft socks, cuddly baby outfits and warm yet lightweight sweaters.

This versatile yarn has a tight twist to reduce pilling and to increase elasticity, and it's machine washable, too. Available at Yarnmarket in 24 gorgeous solid colors, the color shown is a pretty teal that would make a terrifically trendy tuque.

Beautifully crafted in South Africa of 100% merino wool it's only $12.80 per 100 gram hanks.

I really do recommend this DK weight yarn to anyone knitting autumn and winter garments for the family. When you see all the pretty colors we have in stock, you'll understand why. (Just think of all the lovely tuques you'll be able to make!)

Fall Fashion Flash! New Berroco Yarns In-Stock for Fast Delivery

I don't know about you, but it's the autumn yarns that really make me want to fire up the old knitting needles and get to work. This autumn is particularly fabulous because the colors are so rich and irresistible, and the new fibers we're seeing are truly magnificent. Berroco has brought us some new yarns that we know are going to be big hits with Yarnmarket knitters. You might want to order yours early so you can be among the first to show them off!

First of all, Berroco has created a modern classic, Vintage, a blend of 40% wool and 50% acrylic and 10% nylon. It's a great combination that's sturdy and soft - perfect for your next cold weather project. This gorgeous, worsted weight wool-blend creation is crafted in Peru and is available at Yarnmarket in 32 modern colors for only $5.85 for a 100 gram ball.

Here's another one you're going to want to try when you crave a silk-like sheen without breaking the bank. We have Lustra available in 16 colors at Yarnmarket for only $8.85. This single-ply 50% wool/50% Tencel blend has a luxurious hand & softness for worsted-weight, fall/winter projects. Looks like the Berroco team is enamoured of South American yarns because this is another one that's beautifully crafted in Peru.

The new Berroco patterns and yarns are going to be hugely popular this season. I've got my eye on some Lustra Triomphe Teal that I am dying to wear when we visit Paris for the upcoming Premiere Vision show. C'est tres magnifique!

Who is this guy? Hey, it's Trace Adkins! (Whoever he is.)

I was just looking for a file when I discovered this photograph stored on our YarnMartian World Headquarters computer network. Now, I know the very happy pretty lady is Lynn, our magnificent Queen of Customer Service (Hail, Lynn, Queen of Customer Service!). But I haven't got a clue who that guy is.

I know he's someone famous...and he's someone Lynn likes very, very much...and he's a country singer. But if he slapped me in the face with a live halibut, I still wouldn't know who the heck he is. That's how much I know about country music.

Now, if this guy were someone like David Bowie, I'd recognize him immediately. I'd say, "Hey! What the heck is Lynn doing with MY guy?!" and then she'd have some 'splainin' to do.

Or maybe if this guy were with The Killers, Snow Patrol, or The Fray I'd say, "Hey, I think I've seen you somewhere before. Can you sing something for me?"

But, I'm afraid that whoever this really famous, talented guy is...well, I'm the one person in the world he'd want to have on his jury. (Not that he's done anything illegal. But if he did, I'd be the perfect jury candidate because I have no preconceptions except that maybe he's a nice guy because Lynn probably wouldn't like a rat.)

The first person who sends me an email to tell me who this guy is will get a $25 Yarnmarket Gift Certificate.

And, no,'re disqualified. YarnMartians can't enter our own contests.

YarnMartian UPDATE -- I received a letter last night from Allison Haas in Alaska. She said this guy's name is Trace Adkins. I'm not sure I believe her, but what the heck? I'll send her the Gift Certificate anyway. But warning to Allison: If this turns out to be Billy Bob Becker, the guy who fixes mufflers at the local garage, I want my $25 back.