Friday, July 30, 2010

Crystal Palace Cotton Twirl is a new classic!

If you're like me, you love the feel of cotton. There's something about crisp cotton sheets...a starched white shirt...comfortable cotton socks. Enormous cotton "Grandma" underpants. They just feel good. I'm one of those people who watches the TV commercials for cotton and says, "Yeah...cotton. The fabric of my life."

When I saw -- and felt -- the new Crystal Palace Cotton Twirl I was in seventh heaven. It's cotton with 10% elastic...which I think makes a great combination. Durable. And holds its shape. It has a distinctive texture that provides good stitch definition. Cotton Twirl comes in both solids and prints.

I'm glad to see that yarn reviewer, Barbara Rottman, agrees with me on this one. She gave Crystal Palace Cotton Twirl great marks in her recent review in Knitch Magazine. Barbara suggests you use in for baby wear, summery tops, and comfy scarves.

A ball of this yarn starts at just $4.75 for the solid in a 50 gram ball. If you're looking for cotton that has great elasticity be sure to give this one a try.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Birth Announcement!

This afternoon my Mom sent me an email with the subject line: Birth Announcement! Imagine my surprise when it wasn't a cousin or niece who'd had a baby...but a turkey.

This photo accompanied the announcement in which my Mom stated that she and my step-father, Ralph, were very proud of the newest addition to their family. Yes...Ladybird the turkey has given birth to another two babies. This is in addition to the teenage turkeys she already has. (Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the babies.)

This evening she followed up with a note saying, "We also have a baby rabbit who lies out on the lawn chewing on clover. I think he's hot because he like to lie anywhere I've been using the hose. He's not growing very quickly but he seems to be quite comfortable living in the garden. There was a bigger one that came up the sidewalk to the patio this morning. I think it's because there are no cats and dogs here that they've sort of moved into the yard. We also have 6 Alvins hanging around and Pearl and Earl and Oprah and Stedman and McGuinty, the red squirrel and her baby."'s the line-up.

Alvins -- Chipmunks
Pearl and Earl and Oprah and Stedmen -- Squirrels
McGuinty -- Red Squirrel named after the Liberal Premier of Ontario

My Mom forgot to mention Harvey and Lenore, her Ravens, and Rosemary Raccooney and her babies.

No, my Mother does not live in a zoo. But she seems to attract a zoo wherever she goes. I'm jealous. All I've got is a herd of deer who are eating my hostas, several Alvins who are enjoying my impatiens, a garden of groundhogs who love begonias, and a squirrel that comes right up to the window to pluck a leaf off of one of my potato vines and then munch on it right in front of my eyes.

I figure any squirrel that would do that is probably hungry and deserves to eat my deck plants.

I wish I had a cat.

And the winners are...

The delightful Lynda Lagodney...and a knitter who is not mad at me for sending her a blank email, Jolene Roosekrans.

Yes, we've got two winners who will each receive an autographed copy of Nicky Epstein's Enchanting Collection. I figured that I'd better make up for the email glitch by awarding a second prize.

Many thanks to all of you who participated. I'll be holding another giveaway very keep reading the blog for details.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hurry! Enter the contest to win an autographed copy of Nicky Epstein's newest book.

You've got only about 7 1/2 hours to enter...and a lot can happen in 7 1/2 hours so you'd better enter right now!

For example, 7 1/2 hours ago I was a perfectly happy middle-aged lady working in a yarn shop. And then my e-mail system went completely insane and started sending emails to people who'd sent e-mails to me about two months ago. Boy, were they ever surprised.

So about 7 hours ago I started writing apologies. I didn't want people to think I sent them blank emails for no good reason. It was for a good reason: I make computer systems melt down.

About 6 hours ago I started working with the email provider to fix the problem. They didn't believe it had happened.

About 5 hours ago, after sending several examples to the email provider, they realized I was telling the truth! They started to take me seriously.

About 4 hours ago I went home for lunch. It wasn't very good, but I ate it anyway. My doctor has put me on a gluten-free diet and do you know what? Gluten is what makes the stuff you eat taste good. It's often a critical part of the composition. Especially in sandwiches. What do you use if you don't have bread? I tried lettuce but it didn't work very well and I had to change my clothes. Oh, what I wouldn't give for just one piece of toast... But I digress.

About 3 hours ago I helped the email provider test the system to figure out what was wrong.

About 2 hours ago they wrote to say that they've escalated the problem. (Translation: They can't figure it out. But now they're admitting it.)

I think it was one hour ago that my cheek turned red and started to hurt again and I realized that the stress of today was making my face break out in shingles. Again.

So, in less than 7 hours I went from being a very happy middle-aged lady working in a yarn shop to a crazed maniac with a bright red face that hurts a lot.

And people wonder why I flee to a monastery several times each year.

Let this be a lesson to you.

Enter the contest to win an autographed copy of Nicky Epstein's newest book, Enchanting Collection, for Aslan Trends right now. Because in seven hours, you could be standing at the door of a monastery screaming, "Let me in!!!!"

And you're not even Catholic.

Oh, yeah...the rules. Send an email to:
Answer the question: What college did Nicky Epstein attend?

You'll find the answer in KnitchMagazine's interview with Nicky.

Today Only! Win an autographed copy of Nicky Epstein's Enchanting Collection

Nicky created this gorgeous Enchanting Collection using Aslan Trends yarns...and she has been kind enough to give us a couple of copies to give away to Yarnmarket fans.

To win the contest, visit KnitchMagazine to read about Nicky and then answer this skill-testing question:

What college did Nicky attend?

Send me an email at this address and you'll be entered into our random drawing. We'll choose one winner from all the correct answers:

Hurry! You've got until midnight ET to enter.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hey! I just won a writing contest at

Boy, oh wake up with a hangover, find out the next door neighbor's dog you're babysitting has chewed your eyeglasses into twisted, gnarly strips of metal and then you go to work where you know you'll never get ahead of the curve.

The next thing you know, you're checking your personal email (on company time) and you see one from

Because you know how funny their emails are, you open it up so you'll get a chuckle out of whatever depressing -- but bitterly witty -- message they've sent.

Imagine your surprise when you realize you've won their contest!

Yes, a couple of weeks ago I submitted my suggestion for a poster with a photograph of a fish within a fish. When I read all the entries, I didn't think I had a hope in hell of even making it to the finalists. I mean, is funny stuff.

Well, I was absolutely shocked to see that I'd won. And now I've got to spend my entire $750 prize buying up my posters.

So to all of you on my Christmas gift's a little preview of what you're getting this December.

Be sure to visit because their stuff is really good. I wrote about the T-shirt I bought from them in an earlier posting.

And, my poster?

Here's the blog item about the contest.

Monday, July 19, 2010

FREE Prize-Winning TKGA Pattern -- Stefan's Dinosaur

This absolutely magnificent pattern was the winner of our 2008 TKGA/Yarnmarket Knitting Design Contest. We received a lot of truly wonderful designs, but this one took our breath away. You've really got to see it and feel it to appreciate the intricate patterns and superb craftsmanship.

Pat McDermott created Stefan's Dinosaur several years ago, and it has withstood dozens of washings (in the machine!) and several years of use. Still, it looks as good as the day it was completed. The pattern uses Tahki Cotton Classic, which is renowned for its spectacular color palette. As you can see, Pat used a lot of stunning colors to create her dinosaurs in a teal jungle background.

Although Pat won the contest almost a year ago, we have only introduced the pattern in the past few days through KnitchMagazine and Yarnmarket. That's because Pat had a lot of family obligations over the past year which prevented her from completing the pattern for us to test. We all know how that goes! One minute everything's going along swimmingly and you find out you've just won a $1000 Gift Certificate for Yarnmarket and the next minute you're so inundated with obligations that...well...knitting's the last thing on your mind!

Well, to the rescue came the brilliant and talented Jennifer Penney, a local knitter who loves a challenge. Armed with Pat's charts and notes -- and the sweater -- Jennifer meticulously recreated the piece to ensure that every stitch was perfect. Jennifer worked tirelessly on what proved to be long, if not very rewarding, process. It was only once we had Jennifer and Pat's assurance that the pattern was exactly the way they thought it ought to be could we post it online for our knitters.

Now, it's available to you for free!

I'd like to thank Pat and Jennifer for all their work to recreate the pattern so we could offer it to Yarnmarket shoppers. We really appreciate your extraordinary efforts and awe-inspiring creativity. I was so delighted with this piece that I showed it to Diane Friedman and Stacy Charles when they visited us a few weeks ago. They were impressed to see what had been so imaginatively created with their Cotton Classic yarn. (Oh, yes...I know what you're thinking. It takes 16 skeins. The sweater Pat sent to us was 10 years old and that yarn held up like new!)

Oh...I'd really like to thank those of you who wrote notes to me to say you were interested in the pattern, and that you couldn't wait to get your hands on it. Well, here it is. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Peacock envy.

Vinny Pinto has pea chicks and a hen and Natalie Redding (of Namaste Farms) has these beautiful birds. Am I wrong, or are peacocks the latest rage? If they're the latest rage, I want to be in on it. (You should be very thankful that I have so far not participated in the following rages: tattoos, Botox, piercings, and implants.)

I want my own peacock. I wonder if our home-owners association considers peacocks household pets or livestock?

Friday, July 16, 2010

KnitchMagazine summer "addition" is now online!

This issue of Knitch Magazine, the online fashion magazine for knitters, features interesting interviews with some of the industry's best-known and most-loved people! Read about industry influencers like Nicky Epstein, Debbie Macomber, Phyllis Howe, Carol Anderson of Cottage Creations, and Penny Sitler of The Knitting Guild Association.

We've also added lots of terrific new yarn reviews for you to see, and reviews of new books you'll want to add to your library.

This issue we're also delighted to present Gilda's Club of Westchester, NY -- a wonderful group of people who are helping to knit lives back together. Read how Gilda Radner inspired this volunteer organization dedicated to helping individuals with cancer. It's a story that will touch your heart.

Be sure to visit Knitch Magazine online to read our interviews, catch up on the latest fashions, download free patterns and get honest reviews of new books, patterns and tools.

Knotty Knitters for Autism

Jan brought to my attention a great little calendar that was created for fund-raising: the Knotty Knitters. It features nude photos of the ladies, draped in knitted goods, and was created to help them raise money for autism.

What a fun idea!

I'd like to do something similar to raise funds for Torre Argentina in Rome, the cat sanctuary in the middle of the city.

If people don't send money, I'll post naked photographs of myself online. And there won't be any tastefully draped knitted goods.

Alex has informed me that he can't afford the legal fees. At minimum, I'd be guilty of indecency and extortion...and likely I'd be charged with several violations of the Geneva Convention.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Learn about Shannon Okey and the Cooperative Press

Better known as Knitgrrl, Shannon Okey is a wonderfully creative designer and author who has joined with others to join a cooperative publishing company. It's a great idea because it gives them better control over their publications -- many of which you'll want to add to your library.

Shannon's newest book, Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design, is a brilliant idea and I'd recommend it for any knitter who'd like to have her designs published. (This includes all you TKGA Members who enter our annual $1000 Design Contest!) Be sure to keep an eye out for it.

Watch this latest episode of Let's Knit2Gether and see what Shannon's been working on lately. I loved the shawl that had both felted and non-felted Cascade yarns in the same colors. What a clever effect!

Be sure to watch to the end of the video so you'll see how you can win some of CAT's own stash of Cherry Tree Hill Suri Laceweight yarn.

Something real. Something good. I hope you'll share it with friends.

This post has nothing to do with knitting. It has to do with a young guy in England who is doing reality television programs that aren't your customary sordid, sickening, degrading and vile displays of narcissism and hedonism. Instead, they're positive and they're uplifting. I figure we all need something positive and uplifting right now, so I thought I'd draw your attention to this series.

The Choir is airing on BBC America and it's a terrific show about Gareth Malone, a young choir master, who has gone into schools to create choirs. The show follows some of the kids and their challenges, but is primarily about Gareth's struggles to create a choir while introducing the kids to classical music. I've seen Episode 1 and have DVR'd Episode 2 which aired last night. (Well, I think I DVR'd it!) Even cynical old Alex is enjoying the program, so it doesn't just appeal to soft-hearted wimps like me who get choked up by Hallmark commercials.

Gareth not only created choirs with rag tag teenagers at schools, he's also gone into the small town of South Oxhey to create a choral group. His web site has clips of performances that I'm sure you'll enjoy.

Be sure to look at the town choir's video because it's terrific. Gareth has them singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelulah" which is one of the most beautiful and haunting songs written in the last century. Click on the video "Unsung Town, Episode 2."

I hope you enjoy it...and I hope you watch The Choir on BBC. Maybe if enough people tune into programs that aren't filthy, degrading or violent, the TV producers in North America will start producing something decent for us to enjoy.

Yeah...right. And I'm going to sprout colorful plumage and fly around Yarnmarket all day.

PS to Gareth -- Can you do some Gabrielli for me? I really love Gabrielli.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Win a year's subscription to Knit 'n Style Magazine

Have you seen the latest issue of Knit 'n Style. Not only does the October issue have lots of terrific patterns for you to make, they've even got one using our own Caledon Hills yarn. It's a pretty Chanel-inspired jacket created by Drew Emborsky. I love the color Drew selected for his design; it's one that flatters every complexion.

Because we think this issue of Knit 'n Style has so many fantastic patterns for you to try, we're going to give away a free one-year subscription (that's six issues) to one of our Shear Bagatelle readers. Just post a comment telling us which is your favorite pattern in the October issue -- and why -- and we'll have the editor, Penelope Taylor, select a winner from all the entries we receive by August 1.

Isn't that easy? So pick up a copy and have a look because we know you're going to find lots of designs you'll love. If you're already a subscriber to Knit 'n Style you could win another year of your subscription absolutely free. And if you're not a subscriber, you'll appreciate receiving your very own copy every other month.

You've got until August 1st to tell us what you like!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday, Monday...

Well, it's only Monday and I'm already exhausted. We've been working away on our newest issue of Knitch Magazine (which will be out later this week) and we've just started creating another issue of Spotlight.

I've taken a break and have been poring over the latest issue of Knit 'n Style. The October issue is fantastic, and we're delighted there's a new pattern for Caledon Hills by the fantastic Drew Emborsky. Stefanie will create a project on Yarnmarket so you can buy the magazine, yarn and tools in one easy click.

When I popped over to Facebook to send Drew a note, I couldn't help but chuckle at these shots of pea chicks that were posted by Vinny Pinto, the fellow who has held Katrinka -- of Fabulous Felines fame -- in his arms for five minutes without being clawed to death. Vinny is the proud owner and photographer of a Mama Peacock and her five babies. Can you imagine having your very own peacock?!

I asked him if I could share these photos with you because it's not every day you get to see a mama and her baby peacocks. My own mother, who has wild turkey babies in her yard, is a little bit envious of Vinny and the Peacocks.

Do you think I ought to try to get my Mom a peacock for his birthday in November? Do peacocks make nice gifts? And, more importantly, can they survive a Canadian winter?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yarnmarket features Jojoland -- new yarns and patterns from a new yarn company!

Have you seen today's Yarnmarket newsletter? It's packed with great summer ideas that Jan recommends. One of her selections, the Rhythm Winter Wrap is already getting a buzz on Ravelry. This is a gorgeous garment that you won't be able to resist. It's made with the colorful wool yarn, Jojoland Rhythm, that is marled with a tweedy effect.

Jan's done a great job pulling together sensational summer ideas that you'll want to add to your if you're not getting your copy of the Yarnmarket Newsletter be sure to sign up for it on our web site.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The winner of the Spotlight Lantern Moon Contest is...

Lynne W. of Costa Mesa, California.

Lynne is receiving a prize package that includes a Lantern Moon Tote bag, sheep welcome mat, 2 skeins of the glorious Gelato ribbon yarn, a repair hook, Sox Sticks, straight needles, a sheep tape measure and a note book. The value of the prize is over $150.

Be sure to sign up for Yarnmarket newsletters so you can enter our next contest!

Congratulations, Lynne!

Are you going to TKGA's Event in New Hampshire this weekend?

If so, be sure to say hi to Jan who'll be there for the announcement of the TKGA/Yarnmarket Knitting Design Contest winners. The finalists will be on display and then Jan and Penny Sitler will be announcing the winners and presenting them with their gift certificates. Grand Prize is a $1000 Gift Certificate from Yarnmarket.

Be sure to visit the TKGA site to get all the details about this event because if you're anywhere near Manchester, NH on July 9 - 10 you'll want to attend.

Also, if you're not familiar with TKGA or how Penny Sitler, Executive Director of TKGA, works so hard to support knitters be sure to read our new KnitchMagazine article we just posted today.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Watch Ysolda Teague in the newest online video from Let's Knit2Gether

She's one of the shining stars of knitting design and is known for her unique, creative patterns. Watch CAT interview the lively and lovely Ysolda Teague in the newest Let's Knit2Gether video.

Learn about Ysolda's motivations, her past...and how she really hated knitting when she first learned the craft! She almost became a writer or a film producer, so we should all be very thankful that she chose to design instead!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Alex and I returned from Italy last night and I'm catching up on a gazillion emails. Make that two gazillion. You'd be amazed at how many nice girls in Russia write to tell me that they want to be my wife.

Because today is Canada Day I thought I ought to check on what's going on up in the Great White North. The G20 have left Toronto and the city's getting back to normal. My Mom has 6 baby turkeys, 4 baby raccoons and 2 baby red-headed woodpeckers in her yard now. And YarnHarlot is working on a really terrific lace project.

As I was reading YarnHarlot's blog I saw that she's doing a lot to support Medicins sans Frontier through her Tricoteuses sans Frontieres (Knitters Without Borders) program. Please take a look at it because I know a lot of you already donate to MSF and it would be helpful if you let YarnHarlot know how much you've donated so she can add it to her tally.

A few minutes ago Jan dropped by to say, "Welcome back" and to let me know how KnitchMagazine is coming along. Our summer issue will be out very soon.

And she also mentioned we've had some queries about the Stefan's Dinosaur sweater that was the winner in last year's Yarnmarket/TKGA design contest. The pattern is almost ready to be posted.

As some of you know, the winner of the contest was unable to complete the entire pattern after submitting it for the contest. You know how it is...stuff happens that you've got to deal with and you go into "Have-To-Do" mode rather than "Want-To-Do." She sent us what she could, and we commissioned the brilliant and talented Jennifer Penney to complete the pattern for us. Now, that was a challenge! But after a VERY considerable amount of effort, Jennifer is now finalizing the charts and it looks like we'll be posting the pattern very soon. Hurray! I'll let everyone know when it's up.

So...KnitchMagazine is on the way, the Dinosaur sweater pattern is almost complete, and I'm sure that in a month or two -- if I work very hard -- I'll be caught up with all my emails!