Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Watch Natalie straddle a goat and take off its clothes. This is how Namaste Farms yarns are created.

Well, I've seen a lot of stuff in my life. The Beatles perform at Maple Leaf Gardens. The Queen waving at us during her birthday procession in London. The Pope riding down Avenue Road in Toronto. Double rainbows over the New Zealand dessert. An eerily silent space shuttle landing right in front of us at Edwards Air Force Base. And Alex Nikifortchuk wearing a suit at a ballet performance.

But I've never seen anything like this.

In her newest videos, Natalie shows us how she gets the beautiful fibers from her angora goats. I have to tell you, I was on the edge of my seat watching as she used her clippers around all the tender areas. In the end, Natalie had a very happy goat who was better dressed for the warm California weather. And she had oodles of fiber to spin into new Namaste Farms yarns for Yarnmarket shoppers.

I've got to admit that a few things really struck me in this video. First of all, a 120-pound woman handling a great, big goat...and doing it gently but firmly. Secondly, the gorgeous fleece as it accumulated on the floor. And then, Natalie's muscles. I'm starting to think I need a work vacation at Namaste Farms so I can get into shape.

If you haven't seen Natalie's other videos, be sure to make time for them. You'll learn a lot about how she raises such superior quality animals that produce her fabulous yarns.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

See Debbie Bliss up close and personal in CAT's newest edition of Let's Knit2Gether

In Part One of the interview we learn how Debbie Bliss got started in the fashion industry, how yarns influence her designs, and what she wants to achieve with her them.

This is a fascinating look at one of the industry's icons. You'll enjoy learning about this famous designer whose many books are appreciated by knitters throughout the world, and whose yarns are very popular with Yarnmarket knitters.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Knit appreciated globally!

The other day I was working away in my office when a lady dropped in to shop for yarn. We struck up a conversation as I rung up her order and it turned out that she's the Director of Global Knit, a local charity organization that helps people throughout the world. As I learned more about her group, I thought I should pass the information along to our readers.

Heather Brown is hoping to warm the world one stitch at a time. She's a former Peace Corps volunteer who speaks several languages, loves to travel and learn about other culture, and who enjoys volunteering for worthwhile causes. She decided to combine her passions and set up a group that almost acts as a clearing house -- getting the appropriate donated knitted goods to the places they'll best be used. For example, she created kits with facecloths, towels and soap for the people of Haiti. She sends woolen clothes to Afghanistan and Bulgaria. And she also gives clothing, blankets and other items to the local shelters.

Heather has a fairly extensive network, but she could always use more help. If you have any knitted goods that you aren't going to be using or giving away as gifts, please consider sending them to Heather. I know she'll appreciate any help she can get -- whether it's yarn, knitted goods, or money to help pay to ship them to where they're most needed.

You can learn more about her and her needs at the Global Knit web site.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Commit an Act of Random Knitting...and you could win a prize!

Stef and Michele snuck out of the office this morning and took a little trip to the thriving megalopolis of Pickerington, Ohio. After paying the toll fees, showing their passports and answering questions posed by the guards at the Security Checkpoints, they made their way to the heart of the city where they -- gasp -- broke several civil statutes.

We are now harboring criminals. And, like many criminals, they are unrepentant. They even took photographs of the destruction they wrought in the Capital of Fairfield County. we're not the Capital of Fairfield County. Lancaster beat us out on that one.

But we ARE the Capital of Violet Township!

Send me your photos of Guerilla knitting and next Friday I'll choose one winner to receive a skein of Natalie's wonderful Namaste Farms Lily Pad yarn. I think the skein has about 30 yards in it...enough to make a gorgeous trim on something pretty for winter.

I'll let you know when the police arrive. And if there's anyone who's got to be strip-searched, I sure do hope it's Alex.

Monday, September 20, 2010

This explains it all! know how men always ask why women go to the bathroom in groups? Well, I've been doing a little research for a write up about our newest Namaste Yarns and I found this little item about alpacas in Wikipedia:


To help alpacas control their internal parasites they have a communal dung pile, where they do not graze. Generally, males have much tidier, and fewer dung piles than females who tend to stand in a line and all go at once. One female approaches the dung pile and begins to urinate and/or defecate, and the rest of the herd often follows.

Because of their preference for using a dung pile, some alpacas have been successfully house-trained.

Do you see how obvious it is? Through some cosmic anomaly that has occurred (maybe a Teilhardian event of some sort) modern women have become attuned to the morphogenetic field for alpaca bathroom behavior! One goes, we all gotta go.

Somehow I don't think this is the morphic resonance Rupert Sheldrake was attempting to explain in his newest edition of "A New Science of Life"

Mark your calendar! Penelope Taylor of Knit 'n Style will be on this Wednesday.

Our good friend Penelope Taylor has been invited to appear on this Wednesday and I can't wait to be online to hear what she has to say.

If you don't know Penelope, she's the creative force behind Knit 'n Style, and has been making some terrific updates to the publication. I was thrilled when I received my most recent issue -- December 2010 -- because it's got such a beautifully clean layout, and I think the different shots of each pattern to highlight all the features are brilliant.

If you want to participate in what should be a very interesting program, be sure to log onto this Wednesday, September 23. The program starts at 3:00 but Penelope's segment likely won't begin until 4:30 or thereabouts.

I listened to the program yesterday and it was terrific. Penelope was interviewed by Mark Lipinski right after he finished speaking with a psychic who was also very interesting. I learned a lot about the model on the cover of the latest issue of Knit 'n Style and enjoyed learning more about the publication from the talented editor, Penelope Taylor. I hadn't listened to this online network previously, and this was a great introduction to it.

Hope to hear more from you, Penelope and Mark!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Have you seen the TKGA Fashion Show?

I finally found time to sit back, relax and enjoy the TKGA Fashion show from their big 25th Anniversary event in Manchester, NH this summer. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather! Who should appear on the video but our own Jan Gratz.

Now, I've known Jan for about six years. It never occurred to me that behind that no-nonsense knitting expert and human Yarndex there was lurking a fashion model. I couldn't believe it when Jan appeared on the runway strutting her stuff! Well, she was actually strutting other people's stuff because she was modeling garments created by TKGA members.

Highlights of the show for me were the presentation of winners of the TKGA Design Contest. Jan brought out some of the designs that were selected by judges Penny Sitler, Iris Schreier of Artyarns, and Jan herself.

You'll want to watch for Kathleen Eldredge's Award-Winning design for a Double-Knit Pullover. This pattern for a boy's or girl's sweater was selected from all the entries this year to receive the Grand Prize $1000 Yarnmarket Gift Certificate. It's available for free on our site.

If you're not yet a TKGA member you really ought to check out all the benefits. It's a terrific organization and membership includes a subscription to their magazine, Cast On. It doesn't cost a lot, either!

Have fun watching the videos. And post a comment for Jan. That fact that she didn't even mention her modeling career to me means that she might be wanting to keep it a secret. And we don't want to let her think she got away with it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Great "Smelly Yarn" Debacle

Okay...some of you have heard or read about a certain yarn having a funny smell to it. If you know the one I'm referring to, great. If you don't, it doesn't matter now because it turns out to be an isolated incident.

And that's my point.

Every once in a while a manufacturer might have a production issue. Or a problem that occurs during shipping. Or there's been a mistake with storage once it gets to a distributor. Usually, these issues are discovered and resolved immediately.

We had a similar incident once when we opened up bags of yarn and they had a funny smell. Funny's not quite the right word. Horrible is more like it.

It turns out that they were produced and packed under very humid conditions, so they hadn't dried properly. Well, you should have seen our place! Everywhere you looked we had skeins hanging up to dry. In a couple of days, all was well and the yarns were perfect.

In this recent case, a certain color seemed to have a smell. But this was not in the United States, and the yarn had a different distributor than what we have here.

Still, when we learned of the concern, we ran out into our warehouse and started sniffing. We opened bags and bags and were snorting wool. (Hint: It doesn't get you high.)

We found one bag that we thought smelled like the plastic it was in, so we laid it our for a few hours and it was just fine. But that's about it.

Soooo...if you're concerned about this brand of yarn smelling funny, it doesn't. We've got some of the best sniffers around and they assured me it was perfect.

I do have to let you know that there are some yarns that have an absolutely delightful smell. I'm sitting in my office right now inhaling the gorgeous Aveda fragrance that Natalie uses for her Namaste Farms yarns.


See CAT at the NY Stitch 'n Pitch...and watch a world's record being made.

In this episode of Let's Knit2Gether, CAT attends the annual Stitch 'n Pitch in New York where we see crocheters go for the world's record. It looks like they did it! They wanted to have the most people ever crocheting simultaneously.

Take a look at this video and see an event that you might want to participate in next year.

When CAT mentioned she had to get a lot of approvals from Major League Baseball before posting this episode I couldn't help but chuckle. She says it took her a very long time to get through all the red tape.

My son-in-law, Mike, is an Executive Producer for MLB. Do you think that maybe -- just maybe -- he's going to be getting a call from me? (Mike, you might not want to answer your phone for a few days. But I still love you.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Life is Bliss! Read Yarnmarket's Spotlight. Enter our contest. And you could win a Debbie Bliss prize package worth over $150.

While Alex and I were up in Canada marrying off our youngest daughter, Deidre, to Matthew Grantham, Jenny was hard at work on our Spotlight. This morning she sent it out for everyone to read.

This month we feature Debbie Bliss. Her yarns are fantastic and her patterns for this winter are so gorgeous that I'm having trouble deciding which ones to make.

Be sure to read the Yarnmarket Spotlight on Debbie Bliss. And be sure to enter our contest. You'll have the chance to win a Debbie Bliss prize package worth over $150~

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Congratulations to the 25 winners of the Cowl Girls book by Cathy Carron

Our good friends at Vogue Knitting have selected 25 winners of the Cowl Girls book by Cathy Carron. They'll be shipping the books this week so if your name is on this list, keep an eye on your mailbox for a wonderful delivery.

The winners are:
Barbara Moff
Colleen Rettig
Jean Hochard
Denelda Harmon
Stephanie Varnadore
Elaine Boston
Natasha Zugehoer
Kacia Premo
Jenni Reiz
Nye Blades
Lisa Cooke
Vikki Day
Felicia Rivera
Susan Brinkman
Denise Clapham
Becki Greetan
Mary Hughson Brown
Lesley Silverman
Celeste Mauro
Emily Winkle
Linda Minnick
Linda Saul
Lisa Lambeth
Margarita Rubiano
Mary Even

Many thanks to those of you who participated in this giveaway. We were thrilled to partner with Vogue Knitting to offer this contest exclusively to friends of Yarnmarket.

Debbie Bliss is sheer heaven!

Stef and Jan have been toiling tirelessly today to get all the new yarns, books, patterns and projects online in time for tomorrow's newsletter. (Try saying that quickly three times...toiling tirelessly today.)

Among my favorites this season is the new Debbie Bliss book, Glen. If you haven't seen this new collection of patterns, I have to tell you that it's gorgeous. And the photography in the new Glen book makes my cold Canadian blood run faster! The winter scenes are hauntingly beautiful landscapes of ice and snow. They make you want to rush right out to get yarn so you can knit up a cozy sweater.

The Glen yarn is a terrific addition to the Debbie Bliss line, and we've got oodles of it here at Yarnmarket. This is a tweedy blend of fine alpaca, Merino wool and acrylic that has that traditional look we're going to be seeing more of this autumn.

Be sure to read tomorrow's issue of the Yarnmarket newsletter. It's going to be jam-packed with fabulous fashions from the friendly folks at Yarnmarket!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dinner with an old pal

Tonight I broke away from the office early to have dinner with a former boss of mine. Well, she's not just an old boss, she's also a friend. We worked together for a few years at The Worst Company in the Whole Wide World, Inc. (a division of AT&T). Together we endured 14 VPs in 7 years, which means our bosses had an average corporate lifespan of 6 months. When you consider that it takes 6 months to fire someone, our former bosses must have been put on Performance Improvement Plans the day they joined the organization. I suspect they were told to introduce themselves to their new staff, get settled, and then head over to HR for a "little chat."

I'm happy to say that since we were there things have settled down a bit and our old colleagues are now celebrating that as of last week they're officially working for The Worst Company in the Whole Wide World, Inc. (a division of IBM).

We're both curious to see what IBM does with the place. Let it remain autonomous? Assimilate it? Do exactly what AT&T did? (Use it as a storage facility for people at HQ that they can't fire but don't want to have hanging around the place messing things up.) Okay...I'm kidding. Maybe.

Anyway, we had a great time catching up on industry news, talking about what our old colleauges are doing, and wondering where the Devil now works. The Devil was our nemesis. If you ever met The Devil, you'd say, "Hey, I'll be darned! She really IS The Devil! Whoever would have thought The Devil works in Columbus, Ohio?!"

Once, Alex and I were at the airport. I was knitting feverishly when I looked up and there she was. The Devil! She was clicking along the hallway in her Devil shoes, intent on getting to her gate quickly to get on her Devil airplane.

I looked up and whispered to Alex, "That's The Devil."

"Hmmm...she doesn't look like The Devil," he told me.

"Oh, I know...but she's The Devil, all right."

He said, "She's got a good figure for The Devil." Well, of course she has. It's part of the Devil lure. If The Devil looked like The Devil, everyone would say, "Stay away! That's The Devil!"

I remember the moment I learned that The Devil was forced to "make more time for her family" which we all know is a euphemism for "has decided to pursue other interests." I was having lunch with two guys from our ad agency. One guy had pledged allegiance to The Devil while the other had chosen The Path of Righteousness. Guess which guy turned a whiter shade of pale because he knew he'd soon be tripping the light fandango himself?


My friend and I didn't think Her Satanic Majesty would stay in Columbus because The Devil should be in a far bigger and more important city. Like Tuktoyuktuk. Or Trois Rivieres. Or Washington. But, no. She remains here in Central Ohio. Just goes to show that you never really know what motivates the Heart of Darkness.

For a couple of hours we talked about our good times at The Worst Company in the Whole Wide World, Inc. (a division of IBM), what our old friends are doing now, how much weight we plan to lose one of these days, what are kids are doing that we have to pretend we think is terrific, and how we'll be able to retire in 30 years if our retirement savings keep accruing at the same rate they've done in the past 30 years.

We agreed we'd have to see each other more often...and buy stretchier pants.

On my way home I heard an interesting commercial on the radio. "Americans need to get out of debt. It's important for the health of our country. If you have more than $10,000 in credit card debt, we can help you reduce it in half. Call us now. You must have more than $10,000 in credit card debt to qualify."

Well, when I heard that I got so excited I almost drove off the road and into the sign that says the construction zone -- that isn't there -- has been brought to us by TARP. (I think all the TARP money was used to make TARP signs. But I digress into macro-economics when this is clearly a blog posting about micro-economics.)

Just think about that radio message...if you owe $10,000 in credit card debt, some guys out there are going to cut it in half for you. For nothing. No strings attached. That's fantastic!!!

First thing tomorrow morning I'm going to call their 800 number to see if I can pre-qualify for this program. And if I do, I'm going out to rack up more than $10,000 in debt so I can pay back only 1/2 of it. That way, I'll be stimulating the heck out of the local economy AND I'll get a whole bunch of neat stuff I can't afford right now because I'm living within my means.

I tell you, this new Economics is the greatest thing since Anti-Gravity Underpants. Which, I might add, I'm going to invest in with the five grand FREE MONEY I'm getting on my credit card.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Special Preview! Namaste Farms yarns are now available at Yarnmarket!

After weeks of planning and preparation, I'm absolutely thrilled to announce that we've just made available our exclusive selection of the exquisite Namaste Farms yarns. Crafted of the finest wool and kid mohair, these skeins are for those who appreciate original, hand-dyed yarns you'd expect to see at an artist's fair.

We're launching the new line with three different collections: Ohm is a delicious combination of soft kid mohair with a silk core. The jewel colors are rich and vibrant -- perfect for your autumn wardrobe.

Charmed is a fantasy fusion of fiber and beads ranging from positively Goth to delightfully playful. The juxtaposition of skulls on pretty pink Pygora is madly unique!

Our Free Spirit Collection has a variety of fiber combinations that Natalie has created in very limited editions -- we have just one available for each of these gorgeous creations.

You can preview Natalie Redding's creations now before we announce them to all our customers. They're available in small quantities so you'll want to shop soon to buy these extraordinary yarns from a true artist.