Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Armless Coat Pattern for Cold Bronx Zoo Snake on the Lam in NYC

We had a request from a "Guy in NY" who urgently needed a pattern for an Armless Coat. We're no fools. We know who you are!

Okay, here it is. And, yes, we can knit it up for you seeing as how you've got no arms.

Armless Coat Pattern

3 skeins Caledon Hills Chunky Yarn
Circular Knitting Needles, Size 10

Cast on 30 stitches
Knit until 8 feet long
Cast off.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Yarnmarket is on Animal Planet!

Isn't this the neatest thing? Our Fabulous Felines yarns have been mentioned on Animal Planet's blog. We're really excited that they liked our yarns enough that they wrote about it.

We've been doing a lot of work behind the scenes on this line of yarns, with Iris Schreier of Artyarns, helping us develop the perfect pussycat colorways. We're looking very hard at a nice, white yarn so we can introduce tuxedo cat colors and the ubiquitous shading that inspires that ever-popular name feline moniker, Boots.

Read about us on Animal Planet's blog...and don't forget to enter your own pussycat by sending a photo and name to: Pussycats@yarnmarket.com

Friday, March 25, 2011

Here's a Plush Passenger!

We often receive funny stories from friends of Yarnmarket. This one really made me laugh. It originated with a Colonel Preast:

During Operation Desert Storm, I was a legislative affairs officer for Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf. Often I was required to transport gifts, sent to him from patriotic Americans, from Washington, D.C., to his home base in Florida. On one trip I "escorted" a four-foot teddy bear dressed in fatigues with a name tag reading "Bear," General Schwarzkopf's nickname. As I boarded the plane, I explained my mission to the flight attendant and asked if she could store the bear in first class. She was honored to do so, and I disappeared into the coach section.

Then, just before takeoff, an announcement came over the intercom: "Colonel Preast, would you please come up to first class? We have an extra seat here for you to sit next to your teddy bear."

This story was passed along to us by Linda Willard, who also sent us this photo of Booker T. Bear, a relative of the bear in the story. Linda cares for Booker at Penn-Griffin School for the Arts in High Point, NC.

When I asked about his eye patch, she told me, "Several years ago some boys from the neighborhood broke into the school. They trashed the cafeteria and the media center where Booker spends most of his time. One of the guys thought that Booker would make a nice gift for his girl friend, so he Bear-napped Booker. The parents of the young lady saw the news report about the break in and Booker's bear-napping. They called the police and said that they thought they might have Booker. Booker was rescued and even got to ride back to school in a police car. He was very excited!"

Linda hopes that Booker and his "adventures" will be a children's book sometime this year. She says the bear-napping is the only adventure in the book that is real. What fun!

Cherry Tree Hill BLOWOUT!!!

Did you know that Yarnmarket's sale site, BargainYARNS, has lots of fantastic Cherry Tree Hill yarns at super duper savings? Yup, we're clearing out everything we can to make room for new BargainYARNS inventory. So hurry and get your fabulous Cherry Tree Hill savings right now!

We've got lots of Alpaca Bulky for 20% off , Cotton Boucle is 38% off , and Harmony which is a fabulous kid mohair, wool, silk and nylon blend is now 35% off! You get 200 yards for $10.38.

Sock lovers will appreciate our big savings on Cherry Tree Hill Supersock yarns. We have DK, Potluck and Solids at up to 30% off!

There are lots more to choose from -- Alpine Lace at 20% off, Cashcott at 33% off, Cherry Tree Hill Cherub at 20% off, and Roxbury at a whopping 43% off!

These are just some of the great Cherry Tree Hill values you'll find online at BargainYARNS.com.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sex in the Snow. Socks on your needles.

Okay, for those of you who don't know about it, Sex in the Snow is not a porn flick. It's a best-selling book about demographics and psychographics, and was written by a researcher who studied Canadians (that's the snow part) and what makes them tick (that's where the sex comes in).

Canadians are, to put it mildly, research hogs. Where else on the planet would books like Sex in the Snow, Pig and the Python and Boom, Bust and Echo be national best-sellers? Where else would you have a government department dedicated solely to statistics? And where else would you find a life-long knitter who has put together a collection of really great knee-high sock patterns and lots of information on how to create them?

Knitting Knee-Highs by Barb Brown, is a collection of 20 terrific knee-high patterns that range from delicate lacework to intricate colorwork patterns. Some of them conjure up dreamy images of Victorian femininity while others are thick, warm, colorful stockings that reminiscent of Viking battles.

I think my favorite pair are the Bonnie Birds Knee-Highs which Barb says were inspired by a design her Ukrainian grandmother had embroidered for her when she was a child. The knee-highs pattern is in pretty shades of blue on a white background -- but if her grandmother was anything like our Baba, I'd imagine the original was in brilliant shades of orange and red.

In addition to the knee-high instructions, the book includes information and directions that are superb. Barb has taken great care to offer helpful advice to those who are embarking on their very first knee-high pattern.

I did a little bit of research about Barb and discovered that she lives in Alberta, Canada. If you haven't been there, you ought to plan a visit to Banff at least once in your life because the scenery is breath-taking. And if you're a skiier...well, take a look at this shot of Barb. I'll bet it was taken in June. (Okay, I'm just kidding. It's warm in Alberta in June. But, I swear, it actually snowed in Calgary on June 6, 2009 and here's the shot to prove it.)

If you want to knit some really interesting and beautiful knee-highs, I really think you'll like this book. I'm going to select one or two patterns to create for Christmas presents. Yes...I do start thinking about Christmas in March. By August I'm having panic attacks if I haven't started wrapping gifts. This is not because I'm such a generous spirit that I can't wait to give people gifts. It's because I'm a reformed, guilt-riddled procrastinator who only recently returned a library book after keeping it 30 years past its due date. (Yes...I paid the fine. Fortunately, it maxed out at $10 but I gave them $20 to cover inflation.)

Whether you're looking for some interesting patterns for yourself, or you want start your Christmas knitting now, I think Knitting Knee-Highs is a great place to start.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yarnmarket and Namaste Farms made the LA Times!

Isn't this wonderful? Adam Tschorn wrote about our fund raising efforts for the Japanese Red Cross on the LA Times blog.

Please post your bid on our Yarnmarket Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Let's help the Japanese Red Cross

Natalie Redding of Namaste Farms has been kind enough to donate a skein of her Hello Kitty yarn, and we're going to donate four skeins of complementary Noro Retro yarn. We're going to put these fine quality yarns together to create a "Japanese Red Cross Kit"

We'll post the Japanese Red Cross Kit on Yarnmarket's Facebook page and ask people to bid on it. The regular value is $109.25. We'll accept bids (just put your bid in a comment) for the next few days (until Midnight on Sunday). The highest bidder will receive the yarn and we'll donate the money to the Japanese Red Cross.

Please visit our Yarnmarket Facebook page to participate!

Woohoo! Goodbye everyone! I'm retiring!

When I lost my 401K in the Internet Bubble I was miffed. And when I lost what little I'd regained over the years in the Banking Bubble, I wasn't happy at all. As a matter of fact, I was totally bummed out. Sure, I had a few ounces of gold I'd tucked away in the 70s when it as worth $1000 an ounce. And now, 40 years later it's sky-rocketed up to...oh...about $1400. On the surface it looks like a 40% increase over the past forty years, but if you account for inflation I've lost maybe half my investment. I guess I shouldn't whine. Based on the market activity of the past decade, losing half is almost like breaking even.

Little did I know that hanging on the wall of my house, neatly displayed in an old printer's type drawer, was my future on the beach with Renaldo.

Yes, my friends, I've hit the motherlode. I have a stash of Wade figurines that were given out for free in boxes of Red Rose Tea in Canada. Oh, you jest...but get this: they're actually worth something now.

Alex, who is not known for his stock trading acumen, told me to throw out those dusty little bits of china that have spent the last 20 years on the wall of a room I recently redecorated. But because I'm a packrat AND a cheapskate, I decided to find out if the goofy little things are worth anything.

I'll be darned...I'm rich!

Every one of those little figurines has a value of $16.00. Sure, you can buy them on sale on the Red Rose site for a mere $9.95...but their REAL value is 16 bucks apiece. Canadian dollars, I'll bet. And today the Canadian dollar is worth $1.015. That's almost two cents more than the US dollar! Heaves to mergatroid, I'm a gazillionaire.

I've got:
2 Hickory Dickory Dock
2 Cat and the Fiddle
2 House that Jack Built
2 Pied Piper
2 Jacks of Jack and Jill
2 Jills of Jack and Jill
1 Baa Baa Black Sheep
1 Doctor Foster
1 Little Red Riding Hood
2 Little Boy Blue
1 Little Bo Peep
1 Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe
1 Kid with Candle who ran through the town (Sorry...I forget...)
1 Three Bears
1 Little Miss Muffett
1 Little Jack Horner

That's 23 in total. That's $368! Canadian dollars! That's $373.52 in cold, hard (but getting softer) US cash. Well, it'll be cash if anyone wants to buy it from me.

Sure, Alex scoffs at my new found retirement fund. But I look at it this way: Let's say I paid an extra penny for my tea when I bought it (to pay for my FREE Wade Figurine). That's a 23 cent investment that's now worth $373.52. That's sixteen times my investment!

So, as soon my phone rings and there's some person on the other end who's willing to exchange their money for my figurines, I'm outta here.

Remember ladies and gents, when the economy is tanking and you can't trust the dollar anymore, invest in Red Rose Tea Wade figurines. They'll not only double or triple in value, if you wait long enough you could earn SIXTEEN TIMES your investment. And imagine the pride you'll have when you exchange your Little Jack Horner for the dream house you've always wanted. And your Puss 'n Boots becomes a brand new Ferrari. Sell your Baa Baa Black Sheep and you could admire what remains of your set when it hangs on the wall of your luxury villa in Tuscany! Invest now. Operators are standing by!

NOTE COLLECTOR'S OF THESE TIMELESS TREASURES: I've also got a girl with a pig and one that looks like a blue duck. I couldn't find them on the Red Rose Tea site. Maybe they're rare, priceless, much sought-after Wade figurines.

New Yarns in today's Yarnmarket Bulletin

As most of you know, Jan sends out a quick bulletin each month to let our knitters know what new yarns and patterns we've added. I'm happy to report that the bulletin is now out! If you don't receive it in your email, you can read it here.

We've got some great yarn additions from Rowan, Karabella, and Crystal Palace and we've added several colors in yarns by Aslan Trends, Classic Elite, Berroco and Crystal Palace.

From Rowan we have Panama and Savannah (shown above).

From Karabella we have Margrite and Margrite Bulky.

Crystal Palace brings us Sausalito.

And we'll also added the Liberty Wool colorways. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletters or read them online so you can learn all about these wonderful new yarns, their features and patterns.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A word about Japan...

Our hearts go out to all our friends in Japan, and to their families throughout the world. Alex and I are very concerned about Yuki, a former Yarnmarket employee who now lives there.

We are trying to think of what we can do to help those whose lives have been so sadly affected by this catastrophic event, and we're currently waiting to see what help is needed by organizations like Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.

We urge everyone to help in whatever way they can once we know what is needed to get the people of Japan through this terrible time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Farewell to Discovery

It was February 1962. I was six years old and the world was still full of wonder and mystery. Armed with imagination and audacity, I believed there was nothing I couldn't do...once I got a little taller.

It was on that day, as I lay on the floor with a newspaper in front of me, that I decided, "I'm going to be an astronaut!"

How could I want to do anything else? There on the front page of the Toronto Star was the black and white photo of the world's newest hero: John Glenn. The caption said he zipped into his spacesuit. It's funny. It always stuck with me: his spacesuit had a zipper.

We all know that John Glenn's flight was such a success that many other brave and curious men followed in his orbit. In those days it was unimaginable that anyone but the Russians would want to send a woman into space. But, still I dreamed that one day, too, I'd watch the earth from my rocket, light on one side, dark on the other, turning, turning, turning...

As the years flew by, and I grew not much taller, I kept my dream, always looking forward to the day that I'd zip into my very own space suit and helmet. The helmet had a little scratchy patch in it, I learned, in case my nose got itchy. The food in my capsule wouldn't be very good, but I drank Tang and ate Space Food Sticks because I wanted to get used to astronaut food.

I watched in fascination as the Gemini and Apollo crews took flight and ventured to places no man had ever been. I turned away in despair when venturers lost their lives in a tragic launch pad fire. I leapt with joy after a seemingly endless silence when the Apollo 13 capsule successfully re-entered our atmosphere. I sat breathless, glued to the TV set as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon.

Those brave, marvelous travelers were my nobility. The scientists who put them into space in tiny metal capsules were my gods. Everyone who had anything to do with the space program was a hero to be worshipped for their genius, imagination and dedication. Sure, Paul McCartney was the cutest Beatle. But no common day heart throb could hold a candle to Alan Shepherd or Virgil Grissom.

When I was in high school, I decided I'd finally take the plunge and filled out an air force recruitment coupon from an American teen magazine. Several weeks later I received my response: they couldn't send applications outside the United States. I'd have to come to America to apply. And, to make matters worse, the experimental space course I took in high school convinced me that my skills in math weren't quite up to the job. It was difficult to calculate the Doppler effect to determine a red or blue shift!

Discouraged at the time, I set aside my dreams and turned my attention elsewhere. But I knew in my heart that of all the dreams I'd never achieve, this one would be the best. I wanted so much to feel the power of lift off, to float in my metal can, to see the stars up close. To be somewhere quiet and big and filled with hope for the future.

It was in the early 80s that my dream was resurrected, however briefly. An ad in Canadian newspapers read, "Astronaut Wanted." They'd made a deal with NASA. They wanted a Canadian to go up! How could I not apply?

While I had no qualifications and no hope whatsoever of being selected, I worked hard on my application. It was a five page poem that spoke about how much I wanted to leave the earth. And because they wanted someone who would be good with PR, I even included a T-shirt that screamed: Deborah Knight for Shuttle Flight!

As you'd expect, I received a rejection. But I was proud that no matter what job I was ever rejected for in the future, I could smile and say, "I've been rejected for better positions than this!"

A little while later I received a different letter, a very nice one from the head of Canada's Research Council. It said that of the 4000 applications they received, none expressed a greater desire to go into space than mine. Isn't that something? They felt the desire I'd kept bottled up from the time I was six years old.

I got my 15 minutes of fame and everyone got a laugh out of it. (When I realized I was never going to space, I took up the role of town fool.)

It was probably that same year that Alex and I were visiting Florida when an upcoming shuttle flight was announced. We were staying right across from the launch pad at the time, at a Howard Johnson's motel overlooking what I still call Cape Canaveral. Within minutes we were on the phone to my parents, my brothers, and the front desk, booking four rooms so our entire family could come back in a few weeks to see the lift off.

I can't quite describe what it's like. The sound of the engines is so deep and rumbling that you feel your innards shaking. There's simply nothing else like it. My Mom, my Step-Father, my brother John and his girlfriend Sam, my brother Alan and his wife Donna, and Alex and I stood on balconies overlooking the launch, eyes wide and faces lit up as we watched what looked like a slow, rumbling, labored ascent from the ground. It was the Challenger we watched. If it had been the catastrophic lift-off I'm sure I'd still be in therapy.

A few years later, Alex and I were on a business trip in California when we heard something interesting on the news. The shuttle landing in Florida might be cancelled due to weather; it might have to land at Edwards. It took all of three minutes for us to change our plans and start making our way to the air force base. It was several hours from where we were, and it wasn't even confirmed the shuttle would land there, but it was an opportunity we just couldn't miss.

When we pulled up in our rented car, we saw deserted bleachers near a runway. Were we in the right place? We didn't know. But from speakers along the bleachers we heard what we thought must be ground control. We sat for what seemed like hours...waiting to see what happened. The voice informed us the shuttle was over Madagascar. The decision had been made. It would be landing in California. It would be landing in front of our eyes!

Not too long afterward people started arriving at the stands. The announcement had come so late, they probably worked at the base. No one else would have had enough warning...except the two Canadian loons who thought they'd take the chance.

Together we listened...and listened...and watched the sky. Finally, someone shouted, "There it is!" and pointed up to to the west. Silent, awestruck we watched it. A dot coming straight down...fast...far away. And eventually the dot changed its angle. The shuttle was on its way.

A speechless crowd held its breath. The only sound to be heard was a tinny voice through the speakers -- updates from Ground Control -- as a silent metal bird raced along the runway before us, parachutes flying out to break its breakneck speed. And that was it. Men who had risked their lives to go where the slightest mistake would mean their demise, had quietly, neatly landed. They were home on earth. And we, observers of the brave, felt triumph that we had been there to greet them.

So many things have happened to the space program since the optimistic goals of 1962. We have explored worlds that have awed us since man first looked up to the sky. We have enjoyed the convenience of inventions that have kept our brave astronauts alive. We have marveled at discoveries that have brought us closer to the truth.

And today, as the Discovery dropped to earth, landing safely and silently on a runway I pause to think of the future. I wonder what does it hold? For us...for the space program...for our dreams?

In my lifetime, we have celebrated all the joys and mourned the necessary tragedies that come with a vision as grand as leaving our safe, tiny spaceship Earth.

We have developed technology beyond our wildest 1960s "space-age" visions. We have launched manless explorations that will no doubt bring us knowledge. We have compiled more intellectual resources than at any other time in our history.

But somehow I feel we've lost something. We've lost our sense of wonder. We've lost our enthusiasm for the future. We've lost the challenges we created, the obstacles we overcame and impossible dreams we shared.

Farewell Discovery. You served us beyond your time.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dear Illiterate People at Victoria's Secret's Ad Agency...

I know that you're just a tad obsessed with boobs and soft-core porn, but could you please spend a few minutes studying grammar? Your TV commercials should not say, "There's 5 more ways..."

They should say, "There are 5 more ways..."

I'll give you a pass on the rule that anything under the number ten should be spelled out in full because I think that you rarely count over two.

"One boob. Two boobs. That's it. All done. Why continue counting?"

Could it be a Red Shouldered Hawk?

My Mom says it doesn't look like an owl to her. She thinks it might be a hawk. The Only Nikki (from Ravelry) and my Mom have both mentioned Red-Shouldered Hawk so I checked a site Nikki sent me to and I think they're right.

Here are more shots of the Mystery Bird.

One thing I know is that it's not a turkey vulture because they're big and ugly and when they stare me in the eye I see their big, hideous red heads. They won't be arriving until later next week when they're on their way back to Hinckley, Ohio. I wish I were kidding about this. The swallows return to Capistrano. The vultures return to Hinckley.

What is this bird?

Alex and I think it's an owl...but what do I know? I grew up in the city and all I can tell you is the difference between asphalt and cement.

This is the first time I've ever taken a video, uploaded it to my computer, edited it and posted it online...so I'm sorry about the quality. I had my first video seminar at the Apple store yesterday so I'm still learning.

Today's Lesson in Economics

Natalie (Namaste Farms) and I have been exchanging emails about how companies have to work together to support one another, keep people employed and help the economy grow. That reminded me of a kid's story that has a very good lesson. Considering everything that's going on in the world right now, I thought you might enjoy this little reminder of how things are supposed to work.

The Little Red Hen

Once upon a time, a little red hen lived in a small cottage. She worked hard to keep her family fed. One day, when the little red hen was out walk- ing with her friends, the goose, the cat, and the pig, she found a few grains of wheat.
“Who will help me plant this wheat?” asked the little red hen.
“Not I,” said the goose, “I’d rather swim in the pond.” “Not I,” said the cat, “I’d rather sleep on the hay.”
“Not I,” said the pig, “I’d rather lie in the mud.”
“Then I’ll do it myself,” said the little red hen. And she did.

Time went by and the wheat grew, but so did the weeds.
“Who will help me pull the weeds?” asked the little red hen.
“Not I,” said the goose, “I’d rather swim in the pond.”
“Not I,” said the cat, “I’d rather sleep on the hay.”
“Not I,” said the pig, “I’d rather lie in the mud.”
“Then I’ll do it myself”, said the little red hen. And she did. All summer the wheat grew taller and taller. It turned from brown to golden amber. And, at last, it was time to harvest the wheat.

“Who will help me harvest the wheat?” asked the little red hen.
“Not I,” said the goose, “I’d rather swim in the pond.”
“Not I,” said the cat, “I’d rather sleep on the hay.”
“Not I,” said the pig, “I’d rather lie in the mud.”
“Then I’ll do it myself,” said the little red hen. And she did.

At last, the wheat was harvested and put into a large sack, ready to be taken to the mill to be ground into flour. “Who will help me take the wheat to the mill?” asked the little red hen.
“Not I,” said the goose, “I’d rather swim in the pond.”
“Not I,” said the cat, “I’d rather sleep on the hay.”
“Not I,” said the pig, “I’d rather lie in the mud.” “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the little red hen. And she did.

The next day came and the little red hen was hungry. “Who will help me bake this flour into bread?” asked the little red hen.
“Not I,” said the goose, “I’d rather swim in the pond.”
“Not I,” said the cat, “I’d rather sleep on the hay.”
“Not I,” said the pig, “I’d rather lie in the mud.”
“Then I’ll do it myself,” said the little red hen. And she did.

At last, the bread was baked and the little red hen called to her friends once more. “Who will help me eat this bread?” asked the little red hen.
“I will,” said the goose.
“I will,” said the cat.
“I will,” said the pig.
“Oh, no you won’t!” said the little red hen.

“I found the wheat, I planted it, I weeded it, and when it was time to harvest it, I did that too. I took it to the mill to be ground into flour and at last, I baked it into bread.

“Now,” said the little red hen, “I’m going to eat it with my family.” And she did.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Classic design. Beautiful construction. Like Birgitte in Copenhagen, you'll want to knit a Karabella original.

Some designers create good quality garments. Others develop masterpieces. Berta Karapetyan of Karabella is the latter. Her patterns are works of art...and mathematical precision.

A knitter who proved her skill by working with some of the top fashion houses in New York -- like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein -- Berta created her own pattern company and then expanded into yarns that she insisted be of the highest quality for her creations. If you want to learn more about her, be sure to read our new Spotlight on Karabella. She has an interesting story you'll enjoy.

If you've never made a Karabella pattern, you'll be interested to see that what you knit up is as gorgeous as the magazine shot. Just take a look at what this Danish knitter created with Berta's pattern from her popular book, Runway Knits.

Birgitte Zeuner is a Master of Science and Engineering in Biotechnology and now PhD student at the Technical University of Denmark. It's little wonder that this knitter would be attracted to styles by Berta: both have a mathematics background and an appreciation for patterns and form.

Birgitte says that when she looked through the Runway Knits book, the Roman Candle sweater became her instant favorite; she adored the intricate stitch pattern that covered the entire body of the garment. It's not a feature that's often found in patterns.

While she expected the project to be time-consuming because of all the cables, she said it went very quickly. She was pleased that the fit of the set-in sleeves around the shoulders was very good and nicely incorporated into the complex basket weave pattern which she didn't find very difficult.

Although she knit it a couple of years ago, Birgitte says that the sweater still looks terrific, and she gets a lot of compliments each time she wears it. If you'd like to know more about Birgitte, an engineer who is also a pattern designer, visit her blog. I always find it fascinating to learn about knitters throughout the world and to see what projects they're working on.

The winner of our Prism Spotlight Contest is...

Victoria Johansson of North Carolina. Victoria correctly answered that Laura Bryant's first area when she started repping for yarn companies was upstate New York.

Victoria wins three skeins of Prism Symphony and two skeins of Neat Stuff. She has already selected her colors and is happily awaiting the yarns and a copy of Interweave Knits Autumn 2010 that included the pattern for this pretty Sea and Sky shrug.

Be sure to enter our next Spotlight contest. We'll be sending out a new issue next week. It's jam-packed with wonderful yarns and patterns and a great opportunity to win a prize package from Yarnmarket.