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Crazy for Ewe

Inspired by Nature

Inspired by Nature

Life is full of beautiful moments, from the exciting new experiences to special times spent with loved ones.  But what makes those times special?  Certainly, the emotions involved are a big chunk of it, but I believe it's more than that.  I think it's the rarity of an experience that makes it special.  The thrill stands out against the everydayness of our lives.  It is when we don't see someone we love for a long time that the time spent together is all the sweeter.  It's the contrast of the ordinary against the spectacular that highlights the beauty of our day -- of our lives.  We especially treasure those events all the more because they are rare. 

I've been thinking a lot about Noro lately, and wondering why I like it so much, and why it inspires such strong opinions - both positive and negative - in others. Noro detractors often point to that random "ugly" color that they'd like to just cut out of the skein.  When you take that color out, though, the yarn loses much of its beauty and interest.  Noro yarns are inspired by nature - their colors are drawn from the palette of the environment which, like life, has brilliant and dull in equal measure. The dull makes us appreciate the bright even more.  The rich brown earth sets off your beautiful garden.  A black sandy beach makes the the Caribbean Sea that much more dazzling. That contrast is what Noro colors are about, and why I love them so much.  Here are some photos to show you what I mean. I'm sure you can think of hundreds more. If you do, please share it with me.  I look forward to seeing you at the Noro Trunk Show Sunday - 12-4

 

The sea
Silk Garden 08 and Sea Turtle
Spring Flowers
Silk Garden 87 and spring flowers
Autumn
84 all
the power of a volcano!
341 and the volcano
an azalea garden
355 all
a glorious sunset
357 all
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We are all connected

We are all connected

We are all connected

We had a lovely evening with Michele Franey last week at Mindful Knitting. Before we started with the knitting, we had a mindfulness exercise in which we took our time to appreciate a piece of fresh fruit. We experienced it slowly and with all our senses, taking a moment to look at its colors and to think about its history -- the entire process of its growing and being tended, harvested and transported to us. It was a really different and beautiful way to approach something we so often take for granted. The exercise created a grateful acknowledgement of everyone involved in bringing the fruit to the table. After the exercise, everyone commented on how very connected they felt to the wider world, and how they find that knitting does much the same.

Knitters seek other knitters. We find connectedness through our craft. We find the common thread that unites us despite differences in age, race, politics, and other factors that can so often be divisive. Through our knitting we are one, and we are part of the larger universal effort that supports our craft. We are linked together in ways that we may not even know. Connectedness is empowering, whether it's the strength and happiness of our knitting community, or the shared vulnerability to threats like breast cancer. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. To put it into perspective, on an average day, two or three of the women who come through our doors has had, or will have, breast cancer. I don't mean to be a purveyor of gloom, but I do want to make clear the frightening statistics, because there's only one way to fight: Awareness. Every woman needs to know the importance of regular screening, and every woman needs access to it. Sadly, many women in our community still don't know about the importance of a regular mammogram, and others simply cannot afford them.

This month, Crazy for Ewe, and other businesses around the town, are raising money to support MedStar St. Mary's Breast Cancer Outreach and Awareness efforts that provides free breast exams and mammograms to uninsured and underinsured women throughout Southern Maryland.

There are lots of ways you can help. Knit a heart for the Crazy for Ewe entry in Uplifting Designs. Come First Friday and vote generously on your favorite bra. Come to First Friday and purchase Awareness Cowl, our Pink Friday project and pattern.  We're donating $10 from every kit to MedStar.  While you're here, enjoy a glass of wine - we'll be donating $2 for every glass at First Friday and at all of our evening classes all month. You can also support the other businesses in town that are donating a portion of their First Friday proceeds to the cause. 

We can't prevent breast cancer, but we can support early detection for every woman in our community.

I look forward to seeing you at First Friday, in the shop, and around the table.  You are always welcome here.

~Ellen

Back to 3 October 2017 Newsletter

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Noshes with Noro - Noro Event 2017

Noshes with Noro - Noro Event 2017

I'm super excited this year because the folks who distribute Noro in the US have a new staff member, Gina, whose job is coordinating trunk shows.  You know that I am all about trunk shows - there's nothing that quite compares with having the actual garment to see and touch and try on.  Although they invest in good photography, no picture can really do justice to the colors and textures that are Noro.  You'll have a chance to see the largest Noro Trunk show ever with dozens of their most beautiful samples from the Knit Noro Accessorie books, Noro Lace, the Silk Garden Anniversary book, and more. 

We've been working with Gina for months and months on which garments we want, which are available, and when.   We have quite a list from the wildly popular Noro Magazines too!  Plus, after 13 years of carrying and loving Noro, Ginni, Mary, and I probably have at least as many Noro garments in our wardrobe!

 Have a Noro sweater you're proud of? Bring it along and get 10% off your purchase at the trunk show. 

Light refreshments will served, and wine will be available for purchase.

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Fallfest 2017

Fallfest 2017

 

Welcome Sweater Weather!  Fall fest is a celebration of comfy scarves, snuggly sweaters, and fabulous fall fibers - it's pumpkin spice and everything nice!  Think Spring Fling, only cozier!  The big news is that Crazy for Ewe is one of the very first shops to host the brand new Shibui Fall/Winter 2017 trunk show.  

Shibui Fall 2017

This collection really knocked me out - every thing in it is a wardrobe must-have!  We ordered every single yarn featured, including their new fiber, Birch.  Birch is a single-ply Extra Fine Merino that pairs beautifully with Cima, Lunar, Pebble, Silk Cloud, and more.  On its own, it's a heavy fingering/light sport weight.  Mixed with other fibers it's a nice dk - with Maai, it makes a gorgeous lightweight worsted fabric.  The garments above are just a few of the designs you'll see at Fallfest - come take a look at the entire line - and the samples Ginni, Jenny, Mary, and I are making to have in the shop all season.  

We also have beautiful new accessories from Lantern Moon in rich new colors, and a new crop of yarn bowls fresh out of the kiln. 

This is a great opportunity to try out the new fibers from Berroco, Mirasol, Shibui, and Willow Tree Yarns - we have sweater quanitities of everything in stock with yarn tastings every hour.  See a blocking demo with our new Cocoknits Blocking Set, and have a look at the brand new Cocoknits Sweater Care Kit.    

We'll have pumpkin spice refreshments and door prizes all day long.  Don't miss the fun!

Saturday, September 23rd - from 10-5

Also, be sure to stop by Home Elements next door for a taste of his new biscotti and flavored pecans (praline is my favorite!) 

It's going to be a fabulous day! 

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Project and jewelry and music, oh my!

Project and jewelry and music, oh my!

It's First Friday this week, and we a wonderful event planned for you.  First is the gorgeous new project, Nobadeer, a generous shawl worked in Findley DK.  A perfect marriage of silk and merino in  a palette of soft spring tones, Findley DK is exactly what you need to remind yourself that spring is right around the corner.  Nobadeer is available as a generous shawl as well as a smaller scarf.  Come see the sample and get started on your own.

Also on First Friday, I'm excited to welcome Arina MacFarland, a representative for Chloe & Isabel, a line of beautiful hypoallergenic jewelry at First Friday. 

Designed by a New York team the line includes chic statement pieces, as well as smaller, more delicate necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.  There are very fashion forward pieces as well as elegant classics that make any outfit look stylish and modern. 

In honor of Youth Art Month, the Southern Maryland Youth Orchestra and Choir will be performing at  various venues around town during the evening.  I'm thrilled to have their largest group, Ambassador Program Singers showcasing their talents in a wide range of ensemble and solo songs from your favorite musicals, including: Les MisMatildaAnnieSouth Pacific, The Sound of Music, The Wiz, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, and much more! 

This is going to be one of most fun First Fridays ever - you do not want to miss it.  This week from 5 to 8 pm.  See you there!

I look forward to seeing you at First Friday if not before.  You are always welcome here.

Back to 28 February 2017 Newsletter

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Chickens go in...

Chickens go in...

Chicken Run.  One of the silliest movies I've ever seen.  Set in Scotland, or the North of England, it's about a chicken farm run by the dimwitted Mr. Tweedy and his cold and greedy wife, Mrs. Tweedy, who's unhappy with the profits from the chicken business.  So she decides to buy a pie machine to increase revenues.  "Chickens go in; pies come out," she says with evil glee.  If you haven't seen the movie, at least check out this 30 second clip.     Very funny 

I'm sure you are wondering what this movie and its terrifying pie machine has to do with knitting.  I will tell you.  As I said last week, it's sweater season.  It's the season when knitters begin their quest for the holy grail of sweater patterns - the one that fits perfectly, flatters our individual shape, and suits our particular style.  Oh yes, and it must also be written for the gauge of the yarn we just fell in love with...

If only there were a way to get such a pattern.   If only there were a pattern machine where measurements go in; patterns come out.  What kind of patterns?  Sweater patterns of course!   We do have that!  But unlike Mrs. Tweedy's menacing machine, we're using the computer and Amy Herzog's wonderful program, Custom Fit. 

There's so much angst in sweater knitting, isn't there?  We think, what if I spend all that time (and money) on a sweater and it doesn't fit?  All knitters share that fear.  I get it.  I've had the bad sweater experience more than once, which is why I've spent the last 12 years designing and teaching Fit and Finish classes in the shop.  These classes taught students how to adjust existing patterns to accommodate their measurement and/or their gauge so the pattern would fit.  We held these quarterly and it was pretty much life changing for our knitters.  Finally you can make a sweater that fits you.  Making the changes was tedious and fiddly, but if you wanted your sweater to fit, that's what you had to do, right?  And we did.  But now we don't have to.  Amy Herzog's Custom Fit Program does all the calculations for you so you can spend time knitting instead of figuring and worrying.  Because we knit to relax and have fun.  If you need an arithmetic challenge, work a sudoku.  If you want to knit a gorgeous sweater that fits, come to Sweaterfest, get measured, get your yarn, and get started on the best fitting sweater you've ever knit.

Reserve your measurement appointment today

Still not sure?  Read more about Sweaterfest and Custom Fit

I look forward to seeing you at Sweaterfest - the shelves are exploding with beautiful new yarns just right for sweaters.  You are always welcome here.  ~Ellen

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5 things I learned at the Shibui Mix Party

5 things I learned at the Shibui Mix Party

The Shibui Mix Party last night was lots of fun.  We had two full tables of knitters mixing and swatching, and I thing everyone had a great time and learned a lot.

Here are 5 things I learned

  1. Everything is better carried with a strand of Silk Cloud - it bumps up the gauge, creates a lovely halo, and protects more delicate fibers. 
  2. Maai looks great at almost any gauge - it's native gauge is 22 stitches/4 inches, but a customer swatched in on a US size 10 for a gauge of about 13 stitches/4 inches, and it's amazing.  Still bouncy, but super light and lofty.
  3. Linen + Rain would make a perfect grass skirt - an expensive one, but if that's your thing.  Point is that balance is key to blending fibers.  Pairing a crisp yarn with a soft yarn is better than two crisp yarns together.
  4. Staccato is fantastic - just the right amount of silk for luster, and a huge color range.  We just ordered every color.  Every. Single. One. 
  5. Heritage chocolate nonpareils make the perfect snack for swatching.  I recommend the dark chocolate variety.  For the antioxidants, you know.  

We also tried on the garments from the current Shibui Trunk Show.  The standout projects were Etch, a smart short-sleeved top in Linen and Cima, and Tier, a lightweight scarf worked with 2 skeins of Twig - pattern is free with the yarn.  If you haven't seen this trunk show, stop by First Friday and have a look.  Really nice stuff.  

Here are a few photos from the party.  

 

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Cleaning up pretty good

Cleaning up pretty good

We had a lovely evening last Thursday at the Shibui Trunk Show opening reception.  With such special garments, we wanted the shop to look equally special.  Duffy made two dramatic Ikebana arrangements, there was wine and sushi -- standing room only.

Duffy's ikebana for the Shibui Trunk Show Opening Reception

It really did look very elegant in the shop, and I think everyone had a great time.  On an average day it's a little messy - there are projects on the table and knitting bags on the floor.  The tools of our trade are out and in use as we teach and swatch and fix and block in the process of helping you knit beautiful things.  I like this environment, but every now and then it's nice to tuck away the tools and focus instead on the beautiful end products.  You know, be a little glam like Thursday night. One customer that evening came into the shop and said, "Wow - you clean up pretty good."

When we knit a sweater, it's kind of the same.  You pull out this curled up strip of fabric that's been wadded up in your knitting bag.  It doesn't look very special. Non-knitters look at your work in progress and politely ask what your are making.  They seem interested, but honestly, most of them are silently thanking God your project is not intended for them.  What do they know anyway?

We shouldn't be too hard on them, though.  It's not easy to envision the end state of beauty we're working towards.  You have to look past the stitches scrunched up on the needles, the curling fabric, and the strings hanging off everywhere.  It's hard enough for a knitter, and darn near impossible for a non-knitter.  Thank heavens for patterns with a beautiful photo of the finished item.  We hold up the folded and crumpled pattern and say, "This. I am making this," thus reassuring our dubious neighbor (and possibly ourselves) that the wad of fabric emerging from our bag can, and in fact will, be something lovely.

Sometimes even with a picture, it's hard to imagine that your project is going to turn out.  Especially if it's lace, like the Noro Mirai Crescent Shawl, which needs a good hard blocking to look its best.  Or if you're playing with colors and stripes, in the Balmy KAL.  Any time there are aspects of your own creativity that have yet to play out, it's scary.  But it's going to turn out.  It is.  Please don't decide too soon that you hate it.  Yes, there's an element of faith involved. It's like life.  You do your best, and you make what seems like the right decision.  Then you just have to trust in your choices   and give your project a chance to become the beautiful thing you envision.  When the stitches are bound off, the fabric blocked, and the ends woven in, your project will clean up more than pretty good - it will be fabulous. 

I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table.  You are always welcome here.  ~Ellen

Back to 9 August 2016 Newsletter

 

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Fall's first blush

Fall's first blush

Berroco Yarns has a lovely line up for fall 2016.  We liked them in April when our rep, Mark, had only swatches, sample skeins, and color cards.  We liked the garments in the photographs.  At TNNA, however, we had a chance to see the yarns and the garments in person - SO nice.

You can tell a lot about a yarn from a swatch, and about a design from the photo, but there's nothing like seeing the actual garments.  In the Berroco booth we petted the yarn and tried on the garments.  Doesn't Mary look great in the Essex capelet!  

We really liked this garment.  It's easy to wear, flattering, and right on trend.  Worked in a Cotolana, a blend of equal parts cotton and wool, it's perfect for summer and will take you nicely into fall.  

Berroco Cotolana

 

Berroco Cotolana swatch

Another fiber we loved is Ginkgo, a luxe blend of 52% silk and 48% wool. For this yarn, rather than the fibers being combed together prior to spinning, they are spun separately and plied gently so each fiber type is visible in the finished yarn.  The silk and wool take the dye differently, giving you a beautifully subtle monochromatic marled effect. 

 Berroco Ginkgo

Sound nice?  It is! They are both great yarns that work up beautifully. You'll have the chance to touch and and try on the garments we loved at TNNA.  Come see what all the fuss is about at the Berroco Cotolana and Ginkgo trunk show.  We'll have the yarns and dozens of knitted sweaters and accessories in these beautiful fibers in the shop starting July 8th.

Want an even more special experience with these fibers? Join us for a special yarn-tasting and show opening event Thursday evening, July 7th from 5:30-7.  Enjoy light refreshments, the best selection of yarns, and other surprises!  The event is free, but space is limited, so please RSVP to claim your spot

I look forward to seeing you at the yarn tasting and the trunk show - or just in the shop and around the table.  You are always welcome here.

Ellen

Back to 22 June 2016 Newsletter

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Needle in a Haystack

Needle in a Haystack

Today, as I write this, my father would have been 98 years old.  He was brilliant, finishing his PhD in Linguistics before he was 22.  As a young Naval officer during WWII, he used his skills to break German and Japanese codes.  I miss him every day, although he could make me crazy.  He was thrifty to a fault.  No, I'll just say it plain.  He was cheap.  His cheap shoes hurt his feet.  His cheap tires were a hazard to all, and his cheap wine, well, I think you know where that goes.  My darling husband is also very careful with his money, but unlike my father, he is a fanatic about buying quality things that last and save money in the long run.  He's imparted this philosophy to the kids so strongly that when considering their options, they often ask, "WWDB - What would Dad buy?" 

My husband is not a knitter, but if he were, he would absolutely buy a set of interchangeable needles.  They are a big investment up front, but given the fact that they save you 300% over the course of your knitting, he'd be an enthusiastic supporter.  I love interchangeable needles.  As far as I'm concerned, they're the greatest invention since the circular needle itself, and every knitter should have a set.  Just having them puts your mind at ease when you start a project.  Do you have the right needles?  Yes.  Need to go up or down a size?  You're covered.  Need varying lengths for one project?  You got it.

There are dozens of interchangeable sets out there -- we carry at least 9 different sets at the shop.  There are lots of factors to consider -- the tips, the material, the mechanism, the cables, the join, and more.  The only way to really know what you like is to try them out.  Which is exactly why we're having a needle expo next week.  We'll have all the sets out and available for you to see and touch and use.  Bring some yarn and have a relaxing afternoon deciding which is your favorite.  You can buy them that day, or like many knitters, you can put them on your wish list and let Santa get them for you.  Either way, a nice set of interchangeables is a good investment you'll always be glad you made. 

I look forward to seeing you at the needle expo, or in the shop and around the table.  You are always welcome here.

~Ellen

p.s.  Don't forget the Entrelac class starts this Saturday - a fun knit and a great project!

Back to the 19 November 2015 newsletter

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