Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Learn all about Qiviut -- the cashmere of the north!

This episode of Let's Knit2Gether features CAT's trip to Alaska and her visit to a qiviut shop in Anchorage, Alaska. What a terrifically informational video! I loved learning about how the fibers are gathered, sent away to be spun, and then knitted into beautiful, soft garments by local knitters. I could tell by the way CAT handled the items in the store that she loves qiviut as much as I do. (I used to comment that I'd like to be strapped naked to the underbelly of a muskox. Then someone told me that it would feel scratchy...and not at all like the soft, sensational yarn.)

Did you know that it takes five years for the entire process from muskox to yarn? Did you know that qiviut doesn't have lanolin (one of the reasons why it's soft)? And did you know that we have a winner for our "Inspiration" contest?

Be sure to check out the newest edition of Let's Knit2Gether to find out!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Win an autographed copy of Deborah Newton's Cable Collection

Deborah Newton has a reputation for creating dramatic patterns with fine tailoring. Her most recent book, Cable Collection, offers patterns for 19 beautiful garments -- from classic pullovers to soft and pretty hoodies. It includes patterns using yarns from Berroco and other fabulous brands.

We're giving away one autographed copy of this book. To win, just send an email to Promotions@yarnmarket.com telling us how many cable needles are in the Lantern Moon Cable Needle set at Yarnmarket.com
Entries must be received by December 31st at midnight. We'll do a random drawing on January 2 and the winner will receive this fabulous book!

Guest Reviewer -- Emily Howe reviews the Yarnmarket project, Veggie Patch Blanket

I found this project when looking for gift ideas for a friend about to have their first baby. I thought this blanket was adorable and couldn't resist making it. I loved that I could order everything together to make the blanket. This was my first project using the yarn recommended by the pattern. Most of my knitting has been done with acrylic yarns from big box craft stores before this (I know I am missing out). And this yarn is made out of corn!!! How cool is that!

The first thing I noticed when I got this supplies in the mail is the yarn is wound in skeins. Once I mastered the technique of winding skeins into balls, things went very smoothly. I put the loop of yarn around a bed pillow to keep it from tangling. It saved a lot of time, especially because my boyfriend got sick of holding the yarn when I was only a quarter done.

The Corntastic Veggie Patch blanket is made by knitting squares and then sewing the squares together. There are 25 squares split among 4 colors. The squares were split up: 7 blue squares and 6 of the other three colors. Because the most I had to do in one color was 7 squares it kept me from getting too bored before the project was finished. Each square only took a couple hours to finish. The yarn was easy to work with, and the amount given in the project kit was just about perfect. I had less than half a skein left of all the square colors and one full skein of the green left, but I think I conserved green while sewing the squares together to avoid balling the final skein :), so I was glad to have the extras. The only complaint I had when working with the yarn was the strands separated at times. I just had to be careful to get all the thread strands around the needle in each stitch and it was fine. I have had the same problem when using 100% cotton and 100% bamboo yarn.

When the blanket was finished it looked amazing. The yarn is machine washable and the blanket held up to the first wash wonderfully. Always a plus when making something for a baby. My friends have told me many times that this was their daughter's favorite blanket. She didn't like blankets that felt hot after being under them for a while and would throw off blankets all the time. The yarn in the veggie patch blanket remained cool to the touch while keeping her warm underneath it. This is the only blanket she didn't throw off.

I would recommend purchasing a project kit and I have already picked out my next project kit to order :).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

View a Gallery of Fabulous Felines

Jenny literally worked her tail off today to create a web page with all the photos of our winning pussycats. Thanks, Jenny!

If you'd like to view the gallery of winners (that includes the mysterious and sought-after Katrinka) just click here!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Meet our Fabulous Felines

We received hundreds of pussycat photos from all over the world and I've got to say that there are some fabulous felines out there. Not only were the photographs absolutely gorgeous, some of the stories we received about the cats were truly heart-warming. So often, people expressed their deep affection for their cats, and they feel certain that their cats love them, too. Several times, I teared up as I read the stories.

We received photos from people who cared for a single cat whose health issues require constant attention...and from people who have as many as 23 strays they have welcomed into their home. Cats came to us from Norway, Germany, Wales, England, Canada and throughout the United States. One cat was a yachting pussycat, lounging on the deck of his owners' boat. Another well-traveled cat has crossed the country a couple of times...under his owner's airplane seat.

A particularly lovable cat who can tell when his owner is coming home has been asked to take part in the research study by Rupert Sheldrake. Others are simply stars in their own home.

I can't tell you how wonderful it's been over the past few weeks to open email after email featuring the adorable face of a pussycat.

Judging has been very difficult. We have only seven yarns to start off with and we will be adding many more throughout 2010.

As you can imagine, we wanted all the cats to win! Each one was so lovable in its own unique way that we wish we could have 300 yarns.

Because the choices were so difficult, we ended up selecting solely on color match and have decided that we'll select ADDITIONAL winners based on beauty, personality, and contribution.

Contribution? Sure! When we read what some of these cats are giving back to their owners -- in love and affection -- we thought they deserved their own yarn. So if your cat isn't named below, it might be among those who were selected for an upcoming Fabulous Felines yarn that will be hand-dyed specifically to match it. I'll be announcing their names as we continue to add new colors.

So now...for our very first colors for the Fabulous Felines yarn, I am delighted to announce THE WINNERS!

I will create one blog entry for each of our winning pussycats.

Remember...there are going to be many more yarns and many more pussycats to follow. The first release of Fabulous Felines yarns is now available at Yarnmarket! The winners will each receive one free ball of their pussycat's yarn.

Many thanks to each of you who were kind enough to send in your photographs. And I can't thank you enough for the stories you wrote about your cats. They really touched my heart.

Rajah...he's a mean drunk and he sticks his tongue out at all of us.

With all his bad qualities, Rajah's owner still insists he's very sweet. This 13-year old Maine Coon/Siamese mix has the pretty blue eyes of the Siamese, and the luxurious Maine Coon cat fur tinged with just a touch of orange.

Rajah came to his owners as a Rescue pussycat. That's one thing we saw over and over again in our Fabulous Feline entries -- so many kind-hearted people have opened up their homes to pussycats in dire need of help. I cannot tell you how many times I was brought to tears as I read the stories of how people were taking in cats that were abandoned and who would otherwise have led very tragic lives. I believe there's a special place in heaven for people who save animals. I really do.

In addition to being homeless when he was just a little kitty, Rajah suffers from epilepsy and has some brain damage and damage to his optic nerve.

Despite this, the sweet giant learns new things, and enjoys the other five cats he lives with. Among the things he's learned is how to be a HUGE Mooch. He'll pretend he's going to have a seizure to get more Treats!

He loves Catnip, but his owners have to be careful when they supply him with his kitty narcotics because he's a mean drunk. When he has catnip, he runs to any other cat in the house, gets RIGHT in their face, and starts bopping them on top of the head with his (declawed) paw. To say the other cat is surprised at this unwarranted violence is, according to his owner, an understatement.

Yarnmarket is proud to announce that Rajah, the con artist and violent drunk, is a Fabulous Feline.

Meet the mysterious Katrinka

This very poised pussycat is a Blue Lynx Mitted Ragdoll. Isn't she beautiful? We don't know very much about Katrinka right now...but I'll be sure to tell you more about her as soon as I hear from her owner.

I think Katrinka avoids publicity, but seeing as how she's been selected as a Yarnmarket Fabulous Feline, she might be coerced into telling us a little bit more about herself.

Say hello to Sage...the Fabulous Feline who will fake death for food.

She should be shutting her eyes and hoping not to be recognized. This is Sage, an absolutely stunning four-year-old Blue Mackerel Tabby Maine Coon who's just dying to eat her crunchies.

Sage was adopted from a feline rescue organization after she escaped her original owners during their move. Her favorite pastimes include eating, getting petted, eating, meeting dogs, eating, and supervising all her owner's chores, especially making dinner.

Sage also does tricks. She can sit, lay down, sit up, and play dead. She's always sunny and happy unless she's hiding in terror from her arch-enemy, the vacuum. She has two adopted feline sisters she follows around the house and likes to emulate.

Sage scared her owner pretty badly once, right in the first few months after she was adopted. It was about 3 in the morning when her owner awoke to terrible howling. She went out into the kitchen, and found Sage laying on the floor upside-down howling like she was in serious pain.

Her owner panicked, and went to get a towel, thinking she would have to wrap her up and rush her to the emergency vet. When she returned, the cat was still howling. She leaned over to wrap her in the towel when Sage hopped up, ran over to her (nearly empty) dry food bowl, and patted it with a paw, looking expectantly for a refill.

Now, if she can see any part of the bottom of her dry food bowl, she runs to her owner and cries loudly. A quick shake the bowl so it covers the bottom makes Sage happy again. As you can imagine, her owner tries to keep the bowl full, so Sage has only had to fake her death a few times since then.

Aren't cats cute the way they try to give you a heart attack for their own fiendish pleasure? (Just to prove who's boss.) Hannibal once flopped death-like on the floor of my closet one Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. I picked him up and he flopped back down, collapsing in a heap. Several times I tried to get him to stand, and several times he keeled over. I was panic-stricken. I got Alex out of bed and we drove like maniacs to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic 26 miles away. (I know precisely how far away it is. Yes, we made that gut-wrenching trip many, many times...always late at night.)

Three hours and three hundred dollars later, the emergency room vet announced, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with your cat." Hannibal simply didn't feel like standing up.

Sage, you're the kind of cat we'd love to spank! And we congratulate you on being selected as a Yarnmarket Fabulous Feline!

Here's fearless Fred...the sea-faring pussycat.

This fabulous puss is Fred, a thirteen year old, 16 pound kitty who spends part of his time in Canada and part of his time in Florida and the Bahamas. Yes, it's a cat's life, isn't it?

His owners are full-time RV'ers who insist that cats make excellent sailors. They tell us that Fred and his sister, Barnee, circumnavigated North America. To those of us who have lived the terror of taking their pussycat 4 blocks to a veterinarian, these are very unusual cats. In the six minutes it used to take to get my Hannibal from our house to the vet, he could pee his pants twice and auto-eject 80% of his fur from his body onto my clothing. So I'm in awe of anyone who could train two cats to enjoy non-stop car rides and boating -- and be just as happy in the tropics as he is in a Canadian snow storm.

We, at Yarnmarket, are proud to introduce Fred as one of our first Fabulous Felines.

Meet Valentino...the cat with the golden eyes.

When we saw this pussycat's face, we fell in love. Who wouldn't? After a lot of deliberation, we decided that the yarn intended for ginger cats was actually more gold than ginger...and that gold perfectly matched Valentino's eyes. So a new category was created and we're proud to present Valentino's Eyes.

Valentino is a doll faced Chinchilla Persian. He's two years old who shares his house with a family that includes a dog, and an ever growing collection of knitted goods.

He and the dog get along great, and the two of them follow their owner around the house. Because they're together most of the time, Valentino can't understand why the dog can go outdoors, while he's imprisoned.

When Valentino is done plotting kitty world domination for the day, he loves to watch the world go by from his beloved window. Then he heads to his room (which used belong to his owner who is now merely a lodger) for a nibble and rest on his favorite knitted throw.

You can tell that Valentino leads a hard life. He's another Fabulous Feline at Yarnmarket, giving his name to our new yarn, Valentino's Eyes.

Introducing Fidgesaurus Rex - The Fabulous Feline Who Tells Time

The couple who own Fidgesaurus Rex love chocolate. They claim that this beautiful Chocolate British Burmese is 70% cacao while his sister, Button Willow is milk chocolate.

Fidget is a smart, clock-watching cat who likes to keep a precise schedule. He insists on getting up at exactly 6:30 every morning. Or, more correctly, he likes his owner to get up at 6:30 every morning.

Because she's a school teacher, she normally sets her alarm for that time when classes are in. But on weekends and during the summer, she'd much prefer to get a little more shut-eye. But Fidgesaurus Rex will not allow it.

Because he knows the alarm summons his owner from her slumber, he has learned a way to simulate the alarm. He jumps on the writing desk that is next to the bed, and uses his paw to flick a brass drawer pull. The resulting noise is a clanging sound that is a very effective alarm. If his owner wants to "snooze" the alarm, she has to reach over and pet him. If she stops, the clanging starts again.

Once she's awake he presents her with his "Zombie Mouse" to throw from the bed into the next room. He flies off the bed, goes to "kill" the mouse, and returns the carcass to her for another round of fetch.

Somehow her husband sleeps through all of this. (Men can do that!) Button Willow, Fidget's sister, is annoyed by the morning activity, so she burrows under the covers, and stays put until breakfast is served. After breakfast Fidget chases Button through the house for a bit of exercise. Then, by mid-morning, they are one big swirl of chocolate, napping peacefully, entwined in each others arms.

Yarnmarket is delighted to name a Fabulous Feline yarn after the lovely and talented Fidgesaurus Rex.

Meet Reggae, the Abyssinian with Cattitude

Reggae is celebrating his 12 birthday his January. His owner tells us, "The time I have left with him is on the shorter side of long, so to have him remembered in a yarn color would be so fantastic!" Reggae is a handsome ruddy brown with tan -- a color unique to Abyssinians.

His full name is "Clarion's Reggae Thunder" but he's called "Reggae" for short. He chose to live with his owner (because we all know that cats choose us, not the other way around) after she had lost her domestic short hair, Jasmine.

She says she'd never had a purebred before, and wanted an Aby because they are so gorgeous. Like many cat owners, she went "just to look" at some kittens. When she picked up this little boy kitten, he licked her nose and purred like mad and she was the proud owner of Reggae.

Even though he's getting up in years, Reggae still plays fetch with sparkly balls and loves his catnip mice. When he was a kitten he stole a few of the beanie babies his owner had, so they became his.

Reggae growls like a dog when someone knocks on the door, and is very protective. He's an indoor cat, except on occasions when he's allowed to go outside with an escort. Then, he loves patrolling the perimeter of his backyard, or napping in the sun.

He's an excellent mouser who ensures the basement is kept 100% mouse-free. He prefers to be the only cat in the household so he can have all the attention.

Congratulations, Reggae. You're a Fabulous Feline!

Baby Blue...A Canadian kitty who isn't afraid of heights.

I've been told that Baby was found in a park in Toronto where she had been abandoned or lost by her owner. The lady who found her couldn't keep her, and so she ended up with my Dad. He wasn't looking for a cat at the time, but you know how cats are. They find you, weasel their way into your heart, and then you spend the rest of your life serving its every desire. That's how it was with Baby.

Before she knew it she was living on the 21st floor of a high-rise apartment in Etobicoke. Now, she dines on food that is zapped for precisely 15 seconds in the microwave so it is the perfect temperature. She spends her days lounging wherever she desires, helping my father read his newspapers and type on the computer. And whenever she wants, she plays fetch with my father -- because she knows he needs the exercise.

One of her greatest amusements is watching the pigeons that land on her balcony. Convinced that they've come for dinner -- hers -- she freezes, then chatters that funny little cat chat she emits when she gets excited. The pigeons, knowing they're safe outside, ignore her while she sits, paralyzed, in prime pussycat attack position.

One day, when the balcony door was accidentally left open, Baby decided she'd go after those delicious looking pigeons. Before she could be stopped, she'd leapt through the door and standing on the edge of a balcony railing...21 storeys from the ground. My father was mortified. My brother, who happened to be visiting at the time, moved quickly to the balcony to grab Baby before she had a chance to fall. Oh, if only she knew how close she was to flying with those birds!

I've got to admit that this is a case of sheer nepotism. Baby was chosen because she belongs to my father.

Just don't be surprised when my step-father's cat, oddly enough also named "Baby," appears as a Fabulous Feline in the color of snow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December's Bulletin has arrived!

Today's Yarnmarket Bulletin features some fantastic new yarns you'll want to learn about -- like Buffalo Gold's Lux Lace, Artyarns Mohair Splash, and Flying from Filatura di Crosa. We've also added lots of new shades to our Manos del Uruguay collection, Knit One Crochet Two's Crock-O-Dye and Ty-Dy and several Tahki fibers -- Donegal Tweed, Montana, Savoy, Torino Bulky and Tweedy Alpaca. Check out Jan's latest Bulletin for great gift ideas...and don't forget that Yarnmarket gift certificates are always the perfect color and just the right size!

While Jan's been busy with her Bulletin, I've been receiving, filing, and maintaining spreadsheets for hundreds of pussycats! Our Casting Call for Cats ends tonight at midnight...and then we'll have to select the winners whose names will be used for our upcoming launch of Fabulous Felines yarns.

I don't know how we're going to choose winners when every pussycat we see makes us
fall in love with it. You wouldn't believe some of the stories we've received. They're really touching. Some of them almost make me cry!

We're hoping to share all the photos after we've declared the winners. Keep an eye out for them. Some lucky pussycats will soon be immortalized in yarn!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Have you gotten your free knitting patterns from KnitchMagazine?

The winter issue of KnitchMagazine has been released and we're seeing a LOT of downloads for our Asymmetrical Pullover with Pocket. This gorgeous garment was developed specifically for Abbey Collection -- the yarn that was inspired by a monk, interpreted by Iris Schreier. Yarnmarket donates $1 to the monk's monastery for each ball of Abbey Collection yarn we sell.

A lot of KnitchMagazine readers are also enjoying the interviews with Linda Pratt of Westminster, Noro designer Cornelia Hamilton, Knitgrrl Shannon Okey, and industry guru Karin Strom.

Our yarn and book reviews are as popular as ever, too. Readers love how Barbara Rottman puts the yarns through their paces before she gives her opinion.

If you haven't yet subscribed to KnitchMagazine, be sure to do so. You'll receive an Alert whenever we add new stories to the issue.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Please use your yarn remnants to help bring comfort to grieving parents.

I received a very touching letter about an effort to create blankets for parents who have lost a child. The project is called The Schuyler Blanket Project, and it's being spearheaded by a woman who recently lost her first child.

She is looking for volunteers to help create blankets for other grieving parents.

If you are willing to help knit squares that will be sewn together to create a blanket, your kindness will be rewarded with the knowledge that you are helping comfort parents who are enduring one of the greatest losses imaginable.

Please visit the Schuyler blog for additional details about what is needed.

And the winner of the Abbey Collection yarn is...

Mike and Erica!

Please send your contact info to me at deborah@yarnmarket.com and we'll get your Abbey Collection yarn out to you right away!

Thanks to all who entered our contest with Let's Knit2Gether. We love to have contests...so please visit us on Ravelry, Twitter, and Facebook or sign up to our newsletters to learn more about our promotions.

And, most importantly, keep watching CAT's wonderful Let's Knit2Gether videos. Yarnmarket is very proud to be sponsoring them!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Eek! It's Steek! Watch the newest Let's Knit2Gether Video.

I don't think I've ever seen a knitting video with so much drama! CAT shows us how to steek, and do you know what? It's not as terrible as I imagined...though I do think the scotch she drank afterwards was a great idea.

Watch as CAT gives simple, step-by-step instructions on how to steek with confidence. And don't forget to enter CAT's contest for a winner in the Abbey Yarn giveaway. We'll announce the name of the lucky knitter on December 7th.

Good luck with your knitting show at the library, CAT!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Yarns, New Newsletter and New issue of KnitchMagazine!

I don't think we could be any busier than we are right now. We've got lots of customers coming into the showroom every day to see our beautiful yarns, we're in the middle of launching our fantastic new Abbey Collection and we're having our contest for the launch of Fabulous Felines. We're also being visited every day by those wonderful yarn reps who bring us lots of new products to add to our shelves.

We've already got more than 70 manufacturers at Yarnmarket, and 700 yarns, and it looks like we're adding A LOT MORE this season. What fun! And what madness!

Jan sent out a newsletter the other day with lots of terrific ideas for the holiday season. If you haven't seen it, be sure to sign up to our newsletters at Yarnmarket.com so you'll always be among the first to know what's new at the yarn shop. She also sent me a quick note to say she just added the following yarns to our site:
Crystal Palace Lofty Wool
Anny Blatt Cosy
Tahki Presto

Jenny has done another magnificent job on KnitchMagazine...and the new Winter "Addition" is ready to go! If you want a sneak preview, it's live. But I've still got to send a note out to let all our subscribers know about it.

We were delighted to interview Cornelia Hamilton for this issue, and also to present a review of the new book about Noro. No Noro fan will want to miss this issue because it gives terrific insights into what has made the company -- and the yarn -- respected throughout the world.

This issue also features an interview with Linda Pratt, who is one of the driving forces behind Westminster Fibers. Linda travels the world seeking inspiration for the lines they represent: Rowan, Nashua, Gedifra, Regia and Anchor needle crafts. The article for KnitchMagazine has inspired me to try that gorgeous Samina yarn by Gedifra. I featured it in one a few of our ads, and if you haven't seen it, you absolutely must take a look. Linda explains how it's made and what makes it different from other fibers.

For a real peek behind the scenes, we interviewed the Karin Strom, editor of the industry magazine, "Yarn Market News" which is published by Soho -- the folks who also bring us Vogue Knitting Magazine. Karin really knows this business, and she offers some great advice on what to expect from your yarn shop.

There is so much more in KnitchMagazine that I urge you to take a look at it...and to subscribe so you'll receive alerts whenever Jenny makes updates.

Tomorrow we'll be closed from about noon until two in the afternoon while we have our annual YarnMartian Feast of Appreciation. I'd tell you what goes on there, but then they'd exile me to the netherlands of our warehouses to prohibit me from revealing any more company secrets. All I can say is that last year's Feast required two paddy wagons and a fire hose to break up the celebrations!

I hope that you're as busy as we are, and that you're enjoying the Holiday Season. I'll be back with more news about all our activities as soon as I get a chance to slow down a bit!