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Crazy for Ewe

Translating the trends

Translating the trends
I’ve said many times that the difference between craft store yarn and yarn store yarn is that yarn store yarn is part of the fashion industry.  The colors and textures of yarn store yarn are all driven by what shows up on the runways in Paris, Milan, London, and New York.  Careful research and an innate ability to spot correlating themes among the shows than guides designers on shapes, silhouettes, textures, and other trends.  There’s also a requirement to look at street trends and influences that bubble up and influence what we want to wear.  Continue reading

Who isn't excited by a big new project

Who isn't excited by a big new project
Who hasn’t been excited by the prospect of a huge new knitting project?  For Christmas in 1985, about 2 years after I started knitting, my mother gave me a copy of Kaffe Fassett’s first book, Glorious Knits.  She happened upon the book when the Washington Post ran a tiny article about the book, and the Textile Museum exhibit featuring his garments.  I had knit plenty of sweaters at that point, but never done stranded knitting or worked from a chart.  Color had always been just too scary.  But Kaffe’s concept was so intriguing, and his manner so encouraging, that I decided to try combining colors and yarns.  I knit a few messy bits and then dove right into a big and Continue reading

The average size?

During the middle of the last century, the Air Force had a problem.  It’s planes were crashing.  A lot.  They looked first at mechanical issues and then at pilot behavior.  Then they looked at pilots themselves.  Turns out that pilots were significantly bigger and taller than pilots were in the early days.  But the cockpits had never been modified or redesigned.  The Air Force began a huge study of its pilots.  They measured the arms, legs, back, chest, etc, of every single pilot.  Crunching this data gave them what they determined were the average measurements for pilot – the measurements around which they would redesign all the cockpits.  One bright data analyst said, “Hold one,” and ran a check of this wonderful new average against individual pilots’ measurements.  And guess what he found. Continue reading

Don't go to Europe before you go to Boston

Don't go to Europe before you go to Boston
“They didn’t come, Mom,“ Elizabeth managed to choke out, “they never came,” barely contained tears in her voice.” Almost 500 miles away, she’s waiting for the car I had hired to take her from the Boston airport to her rented apartment outside the city.  A car that didn’t come.  Not only had I paid them weeks in advance, I had trusted them with my firstborn’s safe passage through a strange city.  They took my money and left my sweet child all alone with no car and no friends. While Elizabeth was very  mature, having found and secured a prestigious internship after just one year of college, she was barely 18, and very much a small-town Continue reading

Snopes for knitters

Snopes for knitters

Or the top ten lies knitters tell themselves

  1. I’ll just use the needle size the designer recommends – it’ll be fine. The truth is that the designer only tells you what size he or she, or other knitters used to get the gauge in that pattern with that yarn.  You may knit very differently than the designer or the test knitters, so you always have to swatch. 
  2. My swatch is too big -- I’ll just fix that when I block it. There are a lot of ways you can manipulate your fabric when you block it, but making it smaller is not one of them. Bigger, yes. Smaller? No.continue
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Big words and short rows

Big words and short rows

My father, God rest his soul, was not a fan of big words.  Although he was a linguist and had an expansive vocabulary, he believed that communication should be clear and direct.  My maternal grandmother, however, did not.  One fidgety afternoon as the chair seat itched my sweaty little legs, I reached for a fourth golden butterscotch. “No more candy, Ellen,” Daddy said, “Sugar rots your teeth.” Grandma’s face looked like she’d bitten a lemon. “Rot is such a vulgar word,” she announced.

Laughing, he quickly rephrased, “No more candy, Ellen. Sugar has a deleterious more

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Five unexpected reasons to swatch

Five unexpected reasons to swatch

At the shop, I say “You’ll have to swatch it and see,“ at least fifty times a day.  That guidance is always met with a groan or at least a heavy sigh.  Knitters hate to swatch.  I get it.  We want get started NOW, because the project is going to take a while, and swatching feels like a waste of precious knitting time. 

Casting on a big project without swatching is like marrying someone we met at the bar last night.  It might work out great, but maybe not, and it could be a while before we figure out that it was a horrible mistake.  By then, we’ve already invested so much time and energy that we’re tempted to just soldier on and hope it gets better and turns out okay. It doesn’t.  As painful as it is, just cut your losses and head to the frog pond – Rip it, rip it, rip it. 

Love it or hate it, swatching is important, and here are five things more

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Where you belong

Where you belong

Before Covid, I used to go to quite a few networking events – you know, graying men in blue suits drinking cheap red wine from plastic tumblers. They’re all in a group laughing about something.  All the big important businesses and all the big important people, with all the important titles.  Eventually one of them notice the blond woman in the sweater looking at her wine glass and wishing she hadn’t come.  It goes like this:

“So, what do you do, young lady?” he asks. 

“I own a yarn store, Crazy for Ewe, in downtown Leonardtown,” I tell him. 

If this were a cartoon strip, you would see the thought bubble above his head fill with

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The time to do it is before you're ready

The time to do it is before you're ready
Our son Colton is going off to college this fall, good Lord willing, but I worry that he isn’t ready. The piles of clothes he steps over on his way to his unmade bed each night, evidence of his lack of laundry skills, and a host of other things that make me think he should mature another year.  I was railing on about this the other morning to my husband, Bill, man of few words, who listened and calmly sipped his coffee “I don’t know if he can even get up on his own to make it to class!” I ranted.  When I finished presenting the evidence of Co Continue reading

Why Rowan?

Why Rowan?

People start knitting for all different reasons. I started when I was in college because I always loved sweaters, and I wanted to make my own. Sure, I loved having it as a creative outlet since I had run out of places to put my needlepoint, and yes, it was enormously helpful to knit while I put off all the papers I had to write. There’s a word for that, by the way - Procrastiknitting.

Since I came to knitting from that sweater-making route, I’ve always considered knitting a fashion-oriented hobby.  Lots of my sorority sisters were knitting cute little tops and vests and more.  So I was shocked, perhaps naively, so, when I found that knitting has a reputation as a hobby for old ladies, and that handknit garments are frumpy and unattractive. I was crushed, outraged even.  Ever since, I've been on a personal crusade to show the world how beautiful and fashionable hand knitting is. And I love it when I have partners in that effort. One of my favorite is Rowan Yarns.

I’ve been featuring quite a bit of Rowan lately. They really blew me away with their Mode line last fall, and I've been all in ever since. After our Rowan yarn tasting Saturday, Rowan Brand Manager. David McLeod, and I stayed on the line to chat a bit, and I asked him what he thought set Rowan apart.  He said that it's because Rowan has always been designer lead. What that means for to me is that instead of having a bunch of business executives come up with a yarn and choose a color palette they think will have broad appeal and sell well, Rowan starts their whole process with a team of talented designer. The designs come first.  

Designers and their stylistic vision guide the development of the yarns and the palette.  They’re not creating patterns to promote a yarn, but rather bringing the vision of a fashion collection to the table that the entire team works to realized with yarns.  The primary focus is the knitter and how she can re-create the stylish aesthetic presented in their collection and make it her own.  A I said in the tasting, the Rowan line is cohesive--their offerings make sense.  Nothing is random or out of place because they're all designed by talented and experienced professionals who share our goal of creating beautiful garments we can knit ourselves..Additionally, these designers understand that a hand knit wardrobe needs to be built on pieces that both look modern but also stand the test of time.  Pieces that last and we're proud to wear

We spend a lot of time creating our handknits garments, and  there’s no reason in the world did they shouldn’t be stylish and smart. Thank you, Rowan, for supporting fashionable knitters everywhere. 

If you would like to see the Rowan Trunk Show in person, we still have it in the shop for a few more days. If you can't make it in person, take a look at the video presentations here and here on Facebook Live.

I look forward to seeing you soon -- you are always welcome here

~Ellen

Back to 23 June 2020 Newsletter

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