Category Archives: stranded colorwork

But what about Matt?

Ok, ok. So what am I doing now?

Well, I’m currently officially unemployed, but as a dear friend and fellow entrepreneur commented to me recently, entrepreneurs are never unemployed. Thankfully, I’ve found that to be true.

I’m working on a major “saw-sharpening” project that will hopefully pay off in a marketable skill in the near future, and as it comes along, I’ll be excited to share it with you. Yes, it’s knitting-related, and yes, it’s a logical fit. But I’m a beginner, and I—like the vast majority of the people I’ve worked with over the years—don’t care to share my fumbling first steps with the world. Yet. At some point if I’m very, very lucky, it will be something I can share entirely, and oh, that would be fun for a whole huge lot of people. But I’ll stop teasing.

Something I am at liberty to share is a by-product of recently downsizing to more affordable accommodations. I’ve had to unpack, resort, and reevaluate all of my stash and unfinished projects.

Now, if you’re the kind of knitter that I was prior to opening a yarn shop, you probably have at least a room dedicated to your stash and projects. You’ve likely got stitch markers in every upholstered piece of furniture in your home and possibly some in your pet’s bed. It happens. You have a kit that’s literally within an arm’s length at least most of the day every day. Now imagine that same person had access to one of the largest inventories of independent-market yarns in the country for a few years.

When you’ve regained consciousness after the aneurism that thought caused, let’s just say that I was conservative. My collection was limited largely to yarns that I truly loved and were one-of-a-kind opportunities (frequently as products were being discontinued) and projects that I either taught as a class or had planned for either classes or my own patterns. Luckily for me, I suppose, I’m also notoriously non-project-monogamous, so I have a lot of projects on the needles. Some will most assuredly be finished, and some most assuredly will never be. But that also means I have yet more yarn to incorporate into stash.

In the coming days, I’ll share some of the treasures that I’ve unearthed and that I’m going to be using in projects moving forward. But since I haven’t yet gotten much of anything in enough semblance of order to want flash photography involved, I’ll just offer yet another tease.

For one thing, any visitors to my home in the last year or so would know about the three-and-a-half foot tall Collins glass of various shades of Koigu KPPPM that I kept at the corner of the kitchen and living room. I’m a collector. What can I say? I love that yarn, and I absolutely love their dyeing. I’ve been an addict for years, and I expect there are quite a few folks out there still sporting Charlotte’s Web Shawls for which I put together colorways in the early days of ThreadBear. My God, we must have been shipping those things a dozen a day at the height of the craze if not more. I definitely recall many afternoons standing in the post office with tub upon tub of small double-fist-sized envelopes going to every corner of the globe (except Antarctica—I suppose if you haven’t knit it before you get there, you’re kind of screwed).

There’s a similarly tall blown glass vase full of various shades of Mission Falls 1824 Wool. I’ve always loved that original Mags Kandis palette, and of course, this is old enough product to have seen her tenure. In any case, I’ve got a project in mind for that whole vase, and it’s going to be amazing.

There’s a bag of multiple shades of Jamieson’s Spindrift and Jamieson & Smith 2-Ply Jumper Weight in appropriate shades for an old Alice Starmore Fair Isle pattern that I’ve wanted to knit since before the shop ever got rolling. I’ve got the pattern around here somewhere, but that will also have to be unearthed.

I’ve got sweater quantities of Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool (my favorite all-purpose worsted-weight wool on the U. S. market until it no longer was), Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino and Alpaca Silk, Classic Elite Bazic, and even a fine-gauge red cashmere that I’m still deciding on a final use for. I’ve blown the dust off The High Helen Sweater, my decadent and damned-near-unearthly Pyramid Sweater, and my Colour-Your-Own Philosopher’s Wool sweater.

And sock yarn? Sweet Jesus, I’ve got sock yarn. It doesn’t hurt that I worked as a sales rep for some of the fastest-selling sock yarns (at the time) in the country for several years, but I already had an extensive collection. And that doesn’t even count the Koigu, and yes, if you want a truly luxurious experience, make yourself a pair of Koigu socks. No, they don’t have an iota of nylon in them, and they’ll wear through like butter if you stomp around in them. But they’re like sex on your feet while you’re sitting on the sofa or really getting dressed. Seriously.

But enough for now. I’ll have the camera up and running before much longer. And I’ll have to toss in some gratuitously cute dog pics for those of you who know my penchant. I may have lost my own beloved mutt, but my roommate is the proud papa of four—count ‘em, four—adult Chihuahuas.  Life is never boring.

A visit from the Bourgeois… -es

Ann & Eugene Bourgeois are coming in this evening for a workshop, and Rob and I are looking forward to having a nice dinner with them at Taste of Thai, a wonderful local restaurant. The Bourgeois… -es are always a delight to have around, and I, for one, and really grateful to have the time to actually relax with them a bit. Frequently, they’ve been in Lansing when Rob and I have been so utterly swamped that even during the times when we were supposed to be relaxing, we really weren’t.

Of course, tonight is also my typical Wednesday night in that the ThreadBear newsletter will also need to go out, but someone (them, I suspect) was smart enough to suggest dinner before their workshop. We’ll be off to dinner, come back, they’ll teach while we get our work done, and at the end of the evening, we’re not scrambling—hungry—to figure out who is still open. And which, of those is actually going to be good food for everyone? Much smarter. Sounds like Ann to me. I like her.

I like Eugene, too. He’s a genuinely nice guy who also happens to be very bright, funny, and conversationally astute. He alone can keep the table entertained for hours. Hmmph. Maybe having dinner beforehand wasn’t the best choice. It does, however, make the most sense for them. I feel fortunate to have guests here; it’s just that I’m greedy enough to want to get my work done and spend more time talking with all of the fun and interesting who come through Lansing.

Coat progress
I’m six rows or less from the top of sleeve one, and I can actually see the finish line. I want to install one sleeve immediately to make sure that it fits, so you may get to see that as early as tomorrow.

Sock progress
Nowhere. I’ve not picked it up since the last pic here.

Morgan progress
Ditto.

Other knitting
I did swatch with Classic Elite Cotton Bam Boo a couple of weeks ago, and I’d been carrying the swatch around on my addi Click needles in my bag since. Today, I showed three staff members to Magic Loop. I had no idea they didn’t know prior, or I’d have show them then. Anyway, the swatch and different needles are now on the Cotton Bam Boo shelf for anyone interested in trying out the yarn or Magic Loop technique.

Other projects
I got a call from my mom this afternoon, and I’m to show her photos of my new living room furniture arrangement and pick out three new projects for her. The photos are taken (oh, I’ll show you, too, if you promise not to make fun of my lived-in—by dog and bear—living room), and the projects include:

  • her second time around on Fetching from Knitty. Her first go-round was using Needful Extra Stampato, but she had help on her thumbs. She was here for me to do the first, but she shipped the second one to me to do. This time, I intend to walk her through the process here,
  • the Shape-It Scarf from Sally Melville’s The Knit Stitch, and
  • a cabled scarf.

These shouldn’t be too challenging for her, but usually, she’s here in Lansing visiting when she starts new projects. Since ThreadBear’s a fifteen hour drive from her home in LaGrange, Georgia, we thought this way might be more cost effective.

Not MY work, per se…

Things have been a bit chaotic on this end, but I’m very pleased that one of the projects that was recently chosen for Knitting Olympics was ThreadyBear. Kirsti of Kirsti Knits finished hers for a gold! Congrats, Kirsti!

Kirsti's ThreadyBear
Kirsti’s ThreadyBear

Much love, folks.
-Matt.

Getting there

I don’t have a huge amount of time, but I did want to update everyone on the progress on ThreadyBear.

The local class started Monday, and of course, I’m well ahead of the class, but I’ve also put them on a time table to catch up with me very quickly. It’s so much fun to be teaching this class again, and I’m very excited to have the first shipment of Spindrift in stock.


Jamieson’s Spindrift

Yes, that means kits will be forthcoming. Yes, that means I have to finish writing up the tutorial preceding the actual knitting instructions (this is, after all, a beginning Fair Isle project). And yes, there are still about four million other things that I also have to keep up with in the meantime, but man, I love this stuff.

As for the class, though, I’ve got five, and one sent me a photo today of her progress to date. She’s already hit the first mile marker: the underarm steek cast-on.


Laurie’s ThreadyBear just after the underarm steek cast-on.

As for my own, I’ve cut my neck steek and finished the neck ribbing, cut open the first of the arm steeks, and started down the first arm.


Matt’s ThreadyBear a quarter of the way down one arm.


Matt’s ThreadyBear neck and arm detail.

Class won’t meet again until the Monday after the Fourth (that would make it the eleventh, yes), So I’m hoping everyone will be able to make it at least as far as Laurie has. Good job, kiddo! You’re officially teacher’s pet. 😉

Oh, and before I forget… the absolutely fabulous Colinette Absolutely Fabulous Throw Kits are on special for the Fourth of July Weekend for 10% off suggested retail. They’re one of the items we aren’t able to discount on a day-to-day basis, so this is a special treat for anyone interested in one of these monsters. They’re gorgeous knit up, and I’m working on one that I haven’t pictured yet in mitered square diamonds. I’ll post as pic if I’m able to before the weekend.


Colinette Absolutely Fabulous Throw Kits.

Much love, folks.
-Matt.

threadybear triumphant

threadybear triumphant

Hallelujah!

Friends and neighbors, go tell it on the mountain. The last session of my Intro to Fair Isle class was tonight, and my students and my pattern came through with flying colors. Of the original seven, six of my intrepid students remained for the second class, and all of the six finished the class. Over the five sessions of the class, a few missed one class or another, but tonight, I had five of the six, and I know the sixth is sure to do well. She’s a regular customer, and she always does a great job at her projects.

Want to see their work?

This is the beginning of the Nova Scotia colorway that our friend Pat is working on. She did get a late start because of a trip that she had to take in the middle of the class, but she’s done a spectacular job in her short time of working on the project. She was able to take into account the late instruction in corrugated ribbing, so I absolutely had to show it off for her.

This is the Thistle colorway that our friend Monica is making. We all had quite a delight watching her steek her first armhole. She’s done a great job.

And this is the Marigold colorway that our friend Melissa is knitting. I would love to go into great detail about how spectacular each of these are, but frankly, they’ve all already heard it from me. I’ll leave to you further congratulations for them.

As for the rest of life, I actually got a decent lead on a property for the new shop this afternoon. It’s the first one I’ve seen, really, but I’m hoping it won’t be the last. I’ve got to say, though, it’s a huge relief to have at least one property under my belt. Now, we just have the zoning hearing on the current property to deal with next week. Wish me luck!

Much love, folks.
-Matt.

caution: threadybear testing underway

caution: threadybear testing underway

It’s really happening, folks!

I started my ThreadyBear test garment over the weekend, I got the last of the yarn out to my test knitters yesterday, and the class that got the whole thing going met for the first time last night. Woohoo!

I’ve been amazed at the number of folks who have joined the Yahoo! group to participate, and I’m really excited to get testing out of the way and get the kits out to everyone who’d like to try one of these little guys out.

Oh, quickly for those of you who weren’t there for the germination of this idea, ThreadyBear is a teddy bear sweater in Fair Isle that I’ve developed to offer knitters who have been intimidated to take on the emotional and financial investment of a full-sized project a smaller, less expensive, and hopefully easier beginning project. The yarn for the entire project, if purchased as a kit from ThreadBear, should be under $25 (we haven’t calculated exact yarn usage yet– that’s why we’re test-knitting).

Anyway, I’m very excited about having my own started, and I’m finalizing the pattern during the testing process, so it should be ready for public consumption in a week or so.

About sixteen hours ensue…

Um… Ok. I was in the middle of my blog post when I stepped away to shower and get ready to open this morning. Since then, we’ve had yet another phenomenally busy day on Hutchins with both your orders and our tremendous local business. Fortunately, we have a couple of people helping out now that are really making life somewhat bearable. Seriously, I love what we’re doing, but it’s been so busy that it was really getting to be too much of a good thing.

Anyway, as I started to tell you this morning, the ThreadyBear test kits have left the building and are on their way to my test-knitters: Wendy of Wendyknits and Teresa of One More Row and Another Latte. Wendy is getting the largest of the sweaters (since she’s da’monstah and will likely complete this miniature project in fifteen minutes or less) in the Spice colorway, Teresa’s doing the smallest of the sweaters in the Winter Wheat colorway (though she’s doing the smallest only because she was concerned about keeping up… as if), and somehow I suspect in last place will be me fitfully completing the medium sweater in an original colorway just because Spice and Winter Wheat were the only two full colorways I had in stock.

I did get a little bit done on a sleeve cuff over the weekend, but I suppose I could rip it and do a real colorway, now. Why? Oh, didn’t I tell you? The Jamieson’s 2-ply Spindrift for ThreadyBear came in.

I’ve spent every moment that I’ve had not devoted to clients or legal crud today getting that checked in and verifying that I have the yarn for each colorway. There were backorders, so I’m scrambling to make substitutions where I can to complete as many colorways as possible before the test-knitting is done.

Please, know that if you have a color consultation on hold with me right now that I’ve gone through the lot of them tonight and that I am trying to get back with everyone as quickly as possible. There is most definitely a backlog, and I can only apologize. As always, every client’s business is exceptionally important to us, and we devote whatever time is necessary to each customer to get their needs served. If that means that the person in line behind them has to wait a bit longer, please understand that you will get the same attention when your turn comes.

Fortunately, though, we do have a new toy!

Office geek porn!! Woohoo!

If you’ve ever been a slave to having to run to the post office as a part of your job, you know how orgasmic it is to finally have a postage meter. Rob and I have looked at each other at least four-to-five times a day for the last week and said, "that thing is amazing, isn’t it?!?" We may not have load of excess time, but we have more time to get done the myriad things that there are to be done each day. I didn’t realize how time-consuming our post office trips had been, but the difference is amazing.

Ok. It’s late, and I’m off to bed.

Good night, everybody. Be well, love deeply, and know that whether you see it or not, you are deeply loved.

Much love,
Matt.