Monday, February 28, 2011

Great contest for fiber lovers!

If you've ever thought of designing a pattern using handspun or wirespun yarn, you'll want to enter the Namaste Farms Design Contest. We'll be giving Natalie of Namaste Farms several Yarnmarket Gift Certificates to give away to the winners.

First prize is a $200 Gift Certificate! Imagine all the yarn you could buy with that!

For more details about this contest, visit the Namaste Farms Design Contest page on Facebook.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jennifer and the Peeps

Last night Alex brought me home some Peeps. They looked to him like the sort of thing I'd like. Marshmallow coated in sugar. How can you go wrong with a combination like that?

As I wolfed them down, I told him that the Peeps actually made me sad because a friend of mine played tricks with Peeps. She was a co-worker who had a sense of humor that was so incredibly brilliant that she could have me keeled over and peeing my pants with just two well-chosen words and the right facial expression. From the moment we met, I loved her. She's gone now. But every time I see a Peeps, I think of her.

Jennifer Burnham was introduced to me by her boss, Nancy, when we worked at Sterling Commerce (aka The Worst Company in the Whole Wide World, now a division of IBM). Jen had worked there previously and was returning to the company for some reason no one could understand...except that maybe she was suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome.

When Nancy introduced us, she smiled and said, "You two are going to love each other."

At that point, Jen looked at me earnestly and asked, "Wanna see my boobs?"

It was love at first sight. I've never met a woman who could make me laugh the way she did...and at that time I worked with a lot of women who made me laugh. Nancy, the company's web mistress, had a brilliantly dry wit and would say the most wonderfully outrageous things while looking perfectly serene. Sharon, our PR lady, had big innocent blue eyes that would absolutely gleam when she'd say something completely warped and unexpected. Our boss, Val, was an absolute riot who each morning when she arrived would say to us, "Okay...where's the plate of poop you're going to dump on me?" We'd happily comply by telling her what the enemy (mostly a woman we referred to as The Devil) had done to us in the past 12 hours. But as funny as all these women were, no one was quite like Jen.

One year, when the Peeps came out, she played tricks with them all over our department. Poor Sharon screamed when she walked into a bathroom and saw yellow and pink things floating in the toilet. (She didn't know they were water-logged Peeps.)

Jen hid Peeps everywhere. She created little scenes using Peeps and props. For about a week, Jen kept us entertained as she did unconscionable things to her Peeps.

When Jen died of cancer a few years later, I asked the florist to please make a floral arrangement that included Peeps. A little perplexed, she complied. And everyone who attended the funeral saw that great big arrangement decorated with Peeps and they thought of Jen and her tricks. It made them laugh.

I like to think that Jen's in heaven now, watching us go through our daily charades and making outrageous comments. Maybe she's floating on a cloud of marshmallow, playing a harp while she sings hymns -- peppering them with curses that would embarrass a sailor. That's the sort of thing she'd do to keep the other angels laughing.

Everyone in the world should meet a person like Jen. Someone who'll make you laugh by pointing out the absurdity of life, and keeping you entertained simply by being. Someone who doesn't care for pretension and superficiality. Someone who is really, really real.

Someone who, if she saw me looking sad right now, would slap me upside the head and demand, "What are you so mopey for? I'm the one who's dead!"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Here's a way to help the people of New Zealand

We know we can't do much, but we've come up with this idea.

Yarnmarket will give ALL our profits from the sale of Stephanie’s Freeform Bag Kit to the Red Cross New Zealand. We’ve already discounted these and put them on our sale site, BargainYARNS. Now, they’re not only a great deal, buying one will help the folks in NZ.

We met Stephanie, the creator of these kits, at her little shop just outside of Queenstown, NZ and we liked her products so much we brought them to the USA.

Having visited New Zealand, we’re terribly sad about the earthquake and its impact on all the good people there and we've been trying to find a way to help. We hope you'll buy a bag so we can send the profits to the Red Cross.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm crabby today. Please tell the telemarketers and spammers to leave me alone.

Maybe it's the time of year...or maybe it's the time of man...

I dunno. I'm just feeling grumpy and grouchy and irritable and icky. I've been inundated with phone calls, spam and notes from sales people who have a new technique they surely must call, "Rude and Presumptuous Selling."

Have you been getting the same types of sales calls and emails I've been getting? Without even consulting you, they set up a time for you to meet! I can't believe this. I got an email from a web company today who shall remain nameless except that I might accidentally refer to them as "My Buys" or "MB" for short.

I had a presentation with MB a while back and decided I didn't need their services right now. So they sent me emails setting up another appointment. "We'll call you on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. and if that's not a good time for you, let us know when we should call." Ummm...thanks, but I'm busy. I'll call you if I want to speak to you again. If ever. Okay?

Not long afterwards I got another letter, "You missed our last appointment so we'll be calling you tomorrow at 10:00 a.m." No. Please...I already told you I don't want another appointment.

Do they go away? NO! They persisted.

"We have some new features to show you so we'll call you on Thursday at 2:00." NO!!! I don't have time. I don't want another presentation. I've tried to be nice as I've asked you to please not set up appointments with me. But you've started to really bug me. So go away! Shoo! Scat! Scram! Get lost!

After several attempts at politely asking them to not phone and write me constantly, I've decided that the next time I get my appointment notice I'm going to tell them that they can't make it because Dr. Edgin at Mt. Carmel East Hospital has them scheduled for a colonoscopy at that time.

Think they'll get the hint?

To make matters worse, I'm also getting stupid emails from people who say I've been selected for a donation by a Saudi Prince or some such thing...and a good friend in England was mugged and needs several thousand dollars or the hotel won't let her leave...and other emails that say nothing at all but have links that must surely lead me to places I don't want to be.

Am I a bad person for signing the senders' email addresses up for some interesting literature I thought they might enjoy?

With all the unwanted and unsolicited calls and letters I get, I guess I shouldn't complain too much. Yesterday a lady showed up at our office unannounced to meet with Alex. He was in a meeting with a yarn vendor, and she burst right in to try to sell him a new gas service. When he said he was in a meeting, she told him that it was okay. She'd come back later because she had an appointment set up with him in the afternoon at 2:30. He told her he had no such appointment. She said that someone else she spoke to at the company had scheduled it for her.

She should have asked one of us:
We wouldn't set up a meeting on Alex's behalf in a million years.

Needless to say, he didn't buy her new gas service.

And we both marvel at these new selling techniques and whether or not they ever work.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sacre bleu! The French have a different word for everything!

When I'm not peddling yarn or cleaning the house or stripping wallpaper off walls or visiting monasteries, I'm very busy studying French. (To the French, j'etudie.)

I don't do this because I regret not paying attention during the six years I studied French at school in Canada. Or because I've read that old people like me should learn a new language to prevent our brains from atrophying. I do this because I hope someday to live in the village of Loches.

Loches is a lovely little place in the Loire Valley. It has a town square, buildings from the 1600s, and a pretty little river running through it. It's my dream town because it's quiet and quaint and I understand there's an opening for a new Village Idiot.

I dream of moving to that town and taking my place in history amongst a very long and illustrious line of village one town slut named Agnes Sorel. The people of Loches sort of like Agnes La Slut because she lured the King (Charles VII the Randy) there to father her children...and then the town confectioners got to create a candy named after her and sell it to the tourists.

I'm sure they do a lot of other interesting things in Loches (besides you-know-what) but I don't know what they are. If they'd make a candy to commemorate it, maybe I'd learn about it and let you know. But until then, I'm going to assume that Number One on their List of Things To Do is...well, keep the King happy.

Yes, I want to move there to be the Village Idiot, eat candy, and parle francais quand je visitera des magasins et j'achetera des fromages et des legumes. (I'd really like to buy candy, but I don't remember how to say "candy" in French so I'll have to buy beans...and steal the candy.)

Of course, it's never going to happen because the way my retirement savings look I'll be working steadily until:
a. Bernie Madoff gets out of jail and gives us all our money back;
b. France breaks off of Europe and floats to Newfoundland where it crashes into the rocky shores, becomes lodged there, joins North America and I can drive there on a long weekend.

No, I didn't forget about Spain or Portugal. In the upcoming Continental Shift, Portugal will break off of Spain, get caught in the Gulfstream and head up toward Ireland where it will settle in near the Cliffs of Mohr. Then, in an unexpected move, Spain will jettison France so it can hightail it down to the equatorial regions to enjoy the sunshine. No one is quite sure about poor little Andorra who everyone seems to forget. But France, at the encouragement of the Quebecois, will scuttle across the sea toward Celine Dion and André-Philippe Gagnon...who hasn't been seen since the 1980s.

Well, I'd better get back to peddling my yarn...while I practice my francais and curse those French for having a different word for just about everything except "crepe" and "guillotine."

If all the hamlets in England didn't already have their own village idiot, my life would be a whole lot easier.

The newest addition of Knitch Magazine is now live!

Jenny and Jan sent out this morning's alert to let our shoppers know we've just launched the winter "addition" of Knitch Magazine. We call it an "addition" because the autumn articles and yarn and book reviews all remain live...but we've added some new features, reviews and FREE patterns for winter. We'll continue to add more over the next couple of weeks.

This addition has an interview with Linda Krag of Denise Needles, Laura Bryant of Prism, and Kara Gott Warner of Creative Knitting Magazine. I'm sure you'll enjoy about these ladies who contribute so much to the knitting industry.

We've also got an interview with Maggie Jackson of MaggiKnits and designer, Cathy Carron who we first presented in the autumn.

I have a question for our readers: Are there any improvements you'd like us to make to the magazine? Any changes you'd like to see? We put a lot of work into creating Knitch Magazine and we want to be sure that you're happy with our fashion magazine for knitters.

If you have any ideas to help improve it, we'd love to know what they are.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our newsletter went out this morning with a FREE Pattern from Jan...and I'm back from the monastery.

This morning, Jan sent out our Yarnmarket newsletter and I thought I'd share with you a link so you can see it. Of course, if you're a subscriber this is old news so you'll want to skip ahead a few paragraphs.

Within the newsletter, Jan introduced a new free pattern for an Easy Flicker Open-Weave Scarf she designed herself using Berroco Flicker yarn.

Jan also introduced a new bag you'll want to know about. Designed by a master carpenter, the Nantucket Diddy Bagg is a 5-in-1 tool and& needle organizer that you can unzip, reverse or even use flat in a variety of shapes and different types of bags. You can use it as a tote with the pockets on the inside OR a tote with the pockets on the outside OR a knapsack OR a backpack OR even an open tool rack/roll-up! This is a really clever item that is as pretty as it is functional.

There are a lot of other terrific ideas you'll want to read about in our monthly newsletter so be sure to subscribe to it.

Now...for those of you who wonder, "What's it like to spend a weekend at a monastery?" I have the answer.


Very, very quiet.

On Thursday evening, Alex and I visited St. Meinrad to hear the monks sing. Boy, what a beautiful place! The grounds are really pretty and the buildings are works of art. We enjoyed hearing the monks perform...and I was happy to pat the monks' cat. They have a nice, fat pussycat who lives there and who rushes up to guests for some ear skritches and catty pats. One morning, before services, we saw one of the younger monks outside with the cat. Wish I'd caught of shot of that. They were both dressed in black and white.

As we were leaving, we caught stuck in the elevator. It was an Otis. I made a note of the brand name so I can avoid Otis in the future, but I'm pretty sure they've got the elevator market cornered. The monks really laughed when they finally got us out, and I complained bitterly that I expected a nice reception when we were released like those South American guys got when they came up from the mine.

After that horrifying (okay...funny) experience we went to visit my friend Brother John at Abbey of Gethsemani. He's a great guy and I enjoy talking with him about modern culture and what's going on outside the monastery walls. This serves two purposes: it enables me to vent a bit about girls who won't wear their underpants (like Paris who just turned 30!) and it reconfirms his decision to be a monk.

Alex brought Brother John some nice Canadian ale and a big hunk of cheese. If I were going to give a monk a gift, I'd give him cocoa and homemade marshmallows. But I didn't bring any, and Brother John hinted that he'd really like some, so this weekend I'll be making homemade marshmallows to pack up and send to the monastery.

For Valentine's Day neither Alex nor I had time to buy a card. After 30 years of marriage he'd darned well better love me. And if he doesn't, well...too bad for him. He's stuck with me anyway. (He might not like my stupid sense of humor, but he sincerely appreciates that once each week his drawer magically refills with clean underwear.)

I hope you had a romantic Valentine's Day weekend. I know the monks and I really enjoyed it! And Alex was nice to come along.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Prism Stuff is the kind of Stuff you'll love!

When I first started knitting a few years ago, I was thrilled to discover Prism Stuff yarns. If you haven't ever seen them, you don't know what you've been missing!

Yarn and color expert, Laura Bryant, created skeins that are made from several different yarns all tied together. You might have strands of mohair, then ribbon, then glittery metallic, then fluffy eyelash. And what makes them most fun is that even with a plain, old garter stitch, the yarn is so magnificently beautiful that you create a virtual masterpiece -- quickly and easily.

I had fun making myself lots of Prism Stuff scarves -- using Neat Stuff, Cool Stuff, Wild Stuff -- any old Stuff I could get my hands on! My friends loved them so much that I was soon knitting Stuff scarves for anyone who asked. The photo, above, is one of my Stuff scarves. No, that's not me wearing it. That young lady is my body double...what I might have looked like if my Mom had had better taste in men...and had waited another 30 years to produce me.

The yarns are a little pricey but, believe me, they're worth it! One full skein for about $92 will create a very long, gorgeous scarf that everyone will notice. Even your husband!

I think that what excites me most about knitting with the Stuff yarns is that every change in yarn brings a wonderful surprise. I can't wait to see what each different yarn is going to look like. This makes me finish the pieces in record time...because I can't put my project down when there's an entirely new fiber coming up to enjoy.

If you're a beginner knitter, or just one who loves variety, I think you'll be as fond of these yarns as I am. I've knit with almost every color and type of Stuff yarn and I have to tell you that each one is an absolute joy to work with...and I cannot believe how many strangers will actually stop me on the street to say, "Where did you get that gorgeous scarf!"

If you're looking for something quick to add a little drama to your wardrobe, you can't go wrong with any little piece made of Prism Stuff.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Missing: One UPS Guy.

Tonight around 6:15 Alex walked into my office and said, "You might as well go home. I'm waiting for Marlon to arrive."

Marlon is our wonderful UPS guy. Dressed in brown, he comes to our door promptly each night at 6:00. As quick as he can, he loads his truck with packages lovingly filled by YarnMartians...and then he's off in a flash. We're always so happy to see Marlon as he tosses hundreds of boxes into his van -- because he's helping us send our customers their yarns as quickly as we possibly can. And that's important to us. (That's the "fast" part of our slogan: Yarmarket. Fabulous fashions. Fast. And friendly.)

After years of depending on Marlon, we know it's unusual for him to be late. Very unusual.

After a while, Alex grew concerned, and decided to phone UPS to find out if Marlon were okay. Well, imagine his surprise when they told him, "We're not picking up today."

Our roads were clear, traffic was moving, everything looked normal to we had no idea they wouldn't be picking up.

"Your representative was supposed to call you," someone on the phone told Alex.

Aha! One of those office guys at UPS was supposed to tell us Marlon wouldn't be coming. But he didn't. And now we had hundreds of packages that we worried were not getting out.

While Alex was still on the phone with UPS, I called the Fedex office just about a mile down the road.

"Are you having pick-ups today?" I asked the young man who answered.

"We certainly are," he said happily.

"Did you know that UPS isn't working?"

"Yes! What a bunch of cry-babies," he responded.

"If I bring you my packages, can you send them?" I asked.

"With a smile," he assured me.

A few minutes later, Alex and I appeared at the FedEx office on Brice Road with some very important packages that absolutely, positively had to get there. We were delighted with the service we received. So delighted that we'll probably use them again...and again...and again...and again.

We're really happy that Marlon is okay and that our packages got out and will be delivered on time.

But I've got to tell you...if I were that UPS guy who was supposed to call us, I think I'd call in sick tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How many French bunnies does it take to make a frilly scarf?

Jean-Christophe of Anny Blatt USA sent me these fantastic photos of little French bunnies. These are the specially bred bunnies whose soft, luxurious fur is used to create the Anny Blatt Absolu yarn.

We've been inundated with orders for this yarn. I think that once one person saw it and felt it, word got out around the world!

I can tell you that I've never felt anything like it...and the first thing I did was grab a couple of balls to create a scarf so we could photograph it for you. It sure didn't take long to create because I used only a garter stitch throughout, and then I made a ruffle at each end. The yarn was so soft and pretty that it really demanded a special finishing touch.

Once the scarf was completed, Stefanie and Michele decided it needed a special photograph so they hired a model and set up a shoot. Stef did the hair and make-up and Michele is our wonderful photographer...who also does a zillion other jobs here at Yarnmarket.

I think I'll use this photograph in a lot of our ads because they did such a beautiful job on it. Don't you think so?

If you haven't yet read about Absolu yarn, you might want to have a look at it. It's so rare that each ball includes a Certificate of Authenticity! It's unbelievably soft and light.'ve just got to touch it once to be convinced that you MUST have it!

And the winner is...

The winner of our Spotlight on Needles contest is Brooke Yoshino of California. Brooke wins a gift package worth over $150 that includes a Denise Interchangeable Needle set, Crystal Palace needles, Lantern Moon needles and a della Q needle case.

Congratulations to Brooke! And many thanks to all of you who entered the contest. We'll have another one in our upcoming February Spotlight.