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Crazy for Ewe

Five reasons to love linen

Five reasons to love linen
Reed is the smooth, suave linen fiber that's totally changed my mind about knitting with linen.  When Shibui introduced this yarn, I kept touching it and thinking; Wow, this is linen?  Really?  It's so smooth - so soft -- so silky.  How can this be?  The answer is in the construction.  Rather than being a traditional plied yarn, Reed is a fine chainette that creates suppleness and loft in a fiber that lacks both.  This fingering weight yarn that takes advantage of linen's crispness but tempers it into a lovely smooth fiber that has totally seduced me.  Reed, you are my kind of fiber... Continue reading

Stanza Cowl this Sunday

Stanza Cowl this Sunday

Stanza Cowl Shibui Drift

And by this Sunday, I mean tomorrow. We're doing the Stanza Cowl in new Shibui Drift.  This is a simple pattern with the sole purpose of showing of a spectacular fiber.  Drift is a spectacular fiber.  A luxurious heavy worsted weight blend of merino and cashmere, Drift has a velvety hand and a cozy plumpness that's heaven to knit.  Everything about this fiber is ultra luxe.  It's like heavy cream - rich and decadent.  

The colors are clear and saturated - I love this red. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but it's a bright true red - like a good lipstick --perfect for a winter.

Shibui Drift The other colors are pretty great too, and of course the cream, my favorite, is always elegant. 

Drift is the perfect fiber to put right next to your skin, so you'll love knitting it, and you'll just love having it around your neck - so cozy and beautiful.  It's a super quick knit too, so if there's anyone deserving on your holiday gift list, knitting Stanza in Drift would be a treat for yourself and them!  

Join us tomorrow at 1 p.m. to get started.  

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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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Sweet and spicy, soft and crisp

Sweet and spicy, soft and crisp

My son brought home a bag of Utz Red Hot potato chips the other day.  They were amazing.  Spicy, yes, but not so spicy that I couldn't have eaten the whole bag.  I wondered what it was about them that was so addictive.  Most spicy things you can only eat a little bit, but this was another story.  Looking at the ingredients I saw that after potatoes, the next ingredient was "dextrose" a form of sugar.  Plain old sugar was on the list soon after - even before the spices. 

It makes sense, really, the sugar and spice have a way of balancing each other so that the effect is neither sweet nor too spicy. 

Lots of our other favorite foods use a similar balancing of flavors for a combination that's better than either one alone.  Maple ham, Chocolate covered pretzels,  Gin and tonic, Pad thai, and salted caramel ice cream are just a few.  I'm sure you can think of lots more!  Hungry yet?

Fibers for handknitting are created in much the same way.  Wool and silk are lovely together, as are wool and alpaca, alpaca and linen, cotton and wool, silk and alpaca.  Their inherently different characteristics strengthen and balance one another for a fiber that's greater than the sum of its parts.  Fiber manufacturers, and hand spinners have fun creating new blends, I'm sure.  As hand knitters we can play with fibers and textures too.  Carrying two strands of a yarn gives you a heavier fiber, obviously, but you can also play with two altogether different fibers.  Many of you have carried a laceweight mohair with wool to give your fabric a soft halo.  That's just the tip of the iceberg. 

Shibui is all about the mixing.  If you look at some of their fibers, you'll think, wow, those are some skinny yarns, but then you realize that they're meant to be carried together with other fibers in the same colorway.  It's a great concept, and it works because Shibui offers you all of its yarns in all of its colors so you have endless possibilities to mix and play. 

It's exciting to see how different the fabric made of Linen and Cima looks from the fabric made with Maai and Cima.  Or Cima and Silk Cloud.  There are no wrong choices - it's just a matter of what you like.  Shibui's chic patterns are designed to highlight different fiber combinations get you started thinking about working their fibers together, but it's only the beginning.  You can create a fabric you like and design your own wrap or sweater.  You can make your own fabric and put it into a Custom Fit sweater design that uses your gauge and your measurements.  The sky is the limit, but it starts by playing with the yarns. 

We have a few spaces left in our Shibui Mix Party event next Tuesday, August 30 from.  Carol Cama, our Shibui rep, will be on hand to guide you through the process.  It's going to be a fun evening! Come by the shop and get registered, or click here to sign up

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

Back to 23 August 2016 Newsletter

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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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With a Trace

With a Trace

I can't believe TNNA was only about a month ago.  So much has happened, and it's all good stuff.  One of our prime mission objectives was to take the plunge into the fabulous world of Shibui, which we did.  As I said in the last newsletter, I've spent a fair amount of time in the past kind of drooling over this line. It's such a beautiful aesthetic, with its clean lines and luxurious fibers, and now that we've committed, I couldn't be happier.  Shibui is about forever sweaters.  There is a very modern edge to their designs, but they remain timeless and elegant.  Everyone who has seen the trunk show has commented on this aspect.

Mary and Ginni and I each fell for a different design from the fall line - Mary is in love with Truss, a flattering turtleneck tunic,

Shibui Truss

and Ginni picked Inscribe, an easy-fitting v-neck pullover.

I was all about Trace, this beautiful oversized pullover with ribbed trim at the sides and hem.  Of course, this model is tiny tiny tiny, so there's a lot more ease in the garment on her than there will be on me, but I'm super excited about it anyway.

The original yarn for this design was a baby alpaca that has since been discontinued, and they've reworked the pattern for Maai.  the original yarn was nice, but to be truthful, I'm really glad for the change. While Maai is also primarily baby alpaca, it's spun to have lots more bounce than the original yarn.  That spin also makes Maai much lighter and easier to wear.  It's a joy to knit, and my Addi Turbos glide through the stitches with no problem at all.  

I've been working on Trace for a little over a month now, and am on the home stretch.  I can honestly say that I'm even more in love with it than when I started.  Although it's a large sweater, and I'm making the second size, it's going really fast.   Just one last sleeve to knit.

Saturday I gave it a good steam blocking which flattened out the edges and accentuate the softness of the Maai against the crispness of the Pebble/Cima trim.  Everything about this sweater is just lovely, and I can hardly wait to wear it.  I may just turn the air conditioning down to 65 degrees or so, just so I can.  Who could blame me?  

The Shibui Trunk Show is here through the August 13th.  Stop in and see it.  

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Shibui Opening Night Reception

Shibui Opening Night Reception

The big news this week is the Shibui Trunk Show and opening night reception.

I have long loved the yarns and designs from Shibui Knits, and I am thrilled to introduce this line to you at Crazy for Ewe.  Shibui Knits are "a seamless blend of beauty and craft". Modern. Timeless. Chic.  If Eileen Fisher designed for the hand-knitting market, her line might look like what Shellie Anderson has done at Shibui.  The garments are clean and elegant with subtle details that introduce texture and elevate the simple to the sublime. They have this wonderful concept of mixing very fine gauge yarns to create a unique fabric that brings textural interest to a monochromatic garment. 

The Shibui palette is refined and wearable.  Their garments are intended to be staples in your wardrobe now and in years to come.  A Shibui sweater is an investment piece because you will love it forever, and it will make you feel beautiful and confident whenever you wear it. 

I mentioned that I had loved Shibui Knits for a long time, and you're probably wondering, If it's so wonderful, why the hesitation?  To be honest, the first time I saw Shibui at TNNA, I was a little intimidated.  The booth was carefully branded from images to font.  It was all very crisp and modern.  The fibers luxurious. The garments elegant.  There was a tiny insecure part of me that whispered, "This line might not be for you."  I always went away thinking, "If only".  And then this past year I said, "If only what? What am I waiting for?  I can't be the only woman in Southern Maryland who would love these garments. In fact, I know that there are lots of women here who would welcome the opportunity to knit with these yarns and would love wearing these sweaters."  Ginni and Mary and I talked about it, and we made it a priority to bring them in this year.  I think you will be very glad we did.

Please join us for the Opening Night Reception, this Thursday, August 4th at 5:30.  

Click here to Rsvp for the reception

We look forward to seeing you at the Shibui Reception - you are always welcome here.  ~Ellen

Back to 2 August 2016 Newsletter

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