Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Fair Isle Challenge is On!

I’ve been challenged to a Fair Isle Duel!

Jessica is the culprit. The conversation included something like, “I don’t see you doing any fair isle.”

My DH once told me I wouldn’t be able to run the rototiller. I tore up the yard. He probably knew he’d get out of it by telling me this.

And so it begins.

I’ve got a fair isle started. The front has been finished for a year. And how many has Jan made in that time? Too many to be mortal.

So here is the challenge:

Finish some Fair Isle by the end of February and you can enter the drawing to win a fabulous prize! Your entry can be a new project or one that has been stashed. An entire sweater, a hat, a pair of mittens or anything else as long as it contains some Fair Isle work.

Maybe you’ve not yet attempted this technique and need a push to get started. We can teach you! For Free!

Some Rules and Information:

  • The majority of the yarn for the project needs to have been purchased at Linden Hills Yarn. We don’t say all here because we know damn well we don’t have everything!
  • The masterminds got together and decided finishing is extreme. Therefore, we will have weigh-ins which will determine your chances of winning. You will be asked to bring the knitted portion of your Fair Isle project to the shop (finished or not) to be weighed. The more you have finished, the more chances you will have to win. No, your funky lead needles will not be included in the total weight. Weigh-ins will take place February 23, 2009 - March 7, 2009 during normal business hours.
  • So far, the prizes include a fifty dollar gift certificate.
Special Fair Isle Challenge gathering dates and times to be announced shortly.

A long awaited update. And lead into The Fair Isle Challenge.

Fall and early winter is by far the busiest season in the yarn shop. Let me point out the obvious reasons why. First, there is that cold weather making layering, knit garments and throws essential to one's safe and comfortable existence. Second, we are in the retail business and they call it "black" Friday for a reason.

But, for those of us addicted to the craft, knitting is not seasonal but necessary. We knit whether the temperature outside is -14F or 104F. We knit outside in the Adirondack Chairs pausing only to slap at a mosquito or glance at the opening flower-bud's progress. We knit inside next to the space heater (or roaring fireplace) covered head to toe in last season's accomplishments. Some of the smarter knitters begin the winter garments in summer and the summer garments in winter so they are actually finished by the intended season. Others opt for the larger needle sizes and chunkier yarns aimed at beginning and finishing a project within the current season. Then, there are the projects begun in one year with full knowledge that it will be the next or even several years before completion. All knitting and all good as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Tooling Around

HiyaHiya circular sock needles are a try before you buy item. Jan likes using them. Me? Not so much. We have a sock set up for test knitting in the store. Only 9 inches long from tip to tip, these come in both metal and bamboo.

We have also added to our inventory HiyaHiya's straight double point bamboo needles in small sock sizes.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Do the Math

Designing knits sometimes requires it. For me, that means nearly always. Being able to understand this arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry also comes in quite handy when helping customers decipher directions. Especially when they've been poorly translated from another language to knitspeak.

The pattern calls for "dec for sleeve shaping 1 st alt on every 2nd and 4th row 13 times."

There are 3 ways this has been interpreted -
  1. Decrease on rows 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26
  2. Decrease on rows 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, 30, 34, 38, 42, 46, 50
  3. Decrease on rows 2, 6, 8, 12, 14, 18, 20, 24, 26, 30, 32, 36, 38
Lets say for the purposes of the example we have a gauge of 5 sts and 7 rows per inch.

The decrease of 13 stitches = 2.6 inches
One can see from the final row number for the decreases that the height of the piece for each option is different.

26 rows = 3.7 inches
50 rows = 7.1 inches
38 rows = 5.4 inches

This also affects the slope and the length of the line of the armhole. These directions were actually for a tank top with a higher neckline. I'm guessing that the third option is the correct one. The neckline in the picture looks too high for option one. The armhole for a tank needs to be higher than a sleeved garment in order to cover up the bra. This eliminates option two for me since there are further directions for straps that would make this armhole way too large an opening. Option three seems just right.

That is enough of this. I'll not bore you with further details on the geometry and trigonometry one could involve. Instead, let's have RECESS!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Value of a Shop Sample

The white cardigan pictured here is a sample garment (we didn't knit it) from Gedifra made from Top Soft. This is the third season I've been raving about this yarn that feels like butter and knits up quickly with a US 8 or 9 needle. It is now flying off the shelf!

Book 081 has a picture of this design which does not do it justice. Rather than the standard side shaping for the feminine figure, this garment has shaping incorporated throughout the body by varying the with of the ribs from bottom to top. This allows the fabric to drape gracefully over the hips giving a pleasing appearance to everyone that has tried it on for size. I'm suggesting a buttonhole and a focal button be incorporated into the cable at the neckline. Here are some additional views of this lovely garment.

Our customers are always welcome to try any of the garments in the store. All they simply need to do is ask.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Let the games begin!

Some of our KnowItAllDivas have chosen an official yarn for the Linden Hills Yarn Shop. I suggested a knit-along. Kathleen selected an arbitrary date to end the "contest" and this whole thing has snowballed!

Austrian painter, sculptor and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser created his painting "Die StraBe zum Sozialismus" in 1982. He "rejected the straight line and embraced bold color, organic forms and humans in harmony with nature." He loved experiencing the heightened colors found during rainy days and often painted in the buff.

ZwergerGarn is a German yarn company which produces a spectacular line of sock weight yarns by the name of Opal. The rainforest, insects, birds and Hundertwasser's paintings have been used as inspiration for their colorways over the years. We've had the Hundertwasser 1 sock series in the store for a while and are excited to report that Hundertwasser 2 will be available this fall.

The labels on these products are a mix of German and English text. All it took was for one of our brilliant customers to point out that the name of this particular colorway of yarn is translated as "The Road to Socialism" (and she of course used it to make something for her uber-conservative niece) in order for Jan to start selling it like capitalism might end tomorrow. I believe it was the Saturday morning KIADs that adopted it as the "Official" yarn of the store. Then serendipitously, although not suprisingly, Claudia was over at her mother's place and noticed on her shelf a small book about Hundertwasser and his paintings which she brought into the store.

I'm always up for a promotion and decided we should have a knit-along using this sock yarn. However, we will not bring down the hammer and sickle requiring the participants to make socks. Make whatever you want using your yarn. Hats, sweaters, comrade cozies. Just bring your finished project into the shop before the ending ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics and in addition to a brotherly pat on the back, you will be eligible to put your name in a drawing to win more Opal yarn!

M. already finished one sock.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hat Phactory Sighting

So I'm at REI trying on new hiking shoes. I look over to the wall of footwear and spot a beautiful head of red hair. On top of this hair is a great gifted project made by P., a.k.a Hat Phactory, which I modeled for this photo. How cool is that?

Friday, April 11, 2008


Jan and I decided to have a Spring SALE. I decided we needed a big SALE sign. After three stops looking to purchase a sign that said merely SALE, I did what any Missouri Mule would do and made it myself. If you come by the shop to marvel at my "artwork" you might notice the sign tagged Old School Products by cmrieffer. One should really have a ventilated area when applying that much Sharpie. My father would be proud of my sign crafting ability ;)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What's in a steek? or You're cutting my sweater!

For those of you not in the know, a steek is a group of extra stitches made when knitting a garment in the round for which the sole purpose is to provide a selvage edge around a cut opening.

Pictured here (click for more) is one of my many side jobs. We provide this service for a fee to our customers at Linden Hills Yarn. Sometimes the customer only needs the machine reinforcing stitches. In this instance, the whole process was desired. This involves machine stitching around the armhole, seaming the shoulder, seaming the armhole and covering the steek selvage with the binding which was knit as part of the top of the sleeve. This customer did an outstanding job on her traditional Norwegian pullover. Thus making my job easier and minimizing her cost for this service.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Yarn at the Shop

New stock is always fun. There is the challenge of figuring out where to put it. Looking at the new designs and imagining which customer will look fabulous in which garment. Sometimes we just know who will go gaga over what. Similar to knowing who in your book club will like which book.

I've photographed the new yarns from Misti International and Berroco.

The Little Leaf scarf from Classic Elite is knit out of Soft Linen. Sadly, we only have one color available at the present time. More should arrive any day. This yarn has a great feel.

This is not a joke!

Mother nature provided us with mounds of the beautiful but heavy & hard to shovel white stuff as an April Fools "gift."

In other news, I love my newly finished sweater!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The 10 Fingers Scarf

L. created this wonderful scarf from my 10 Fingers pattern and some Malabrigo Worsted in the Mariposa colorway. She took a great looking photo. I hope she pops in the shop to show it off soon.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Frogging for the Cause

L was running out of Malabrigo Gruesa for her cute shawl and only had a couple rows to go. Her father brought her by to purchase more of the yarn. Sadly, we didn't have any more on the shelf.

I spotted some of the same colorway which had been knit into a swatch for the shop. The swatch was happily frogged for the cause. L will have enough to finish up her shawl which she designed herself.

I must say that this is truly the perfect color for her. This young knitter just glows. I hope we see more of her and her creations in the future.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Vintage button show and sale a huge success!

This event was fantastic! We adore Becky, and having her in the shop was a real treat. The turnout was wonderful and to paraphrase C. D., there was a rather large cool people per hour factor. Thank you to everyone who stopped in to say hello. I even got to meet some fellow Ravelers.

Look for this event to happen again in the fall. Just in time to pick buttons for your winter garments and gifts.

Here's a link to some additional photos of the event.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sleeves for a quadrapus.

I'm making this pullover out of Laseta (like butter). The first sleeve made my arm look enormous. The newly designed second sleeve was too tight. The third sleeve is just about right. So I'm planning to start the fouth sleeve today. It should match sleeve three. Size 11 needles rock.

March brings new yarn to the shop.

I went to the shop to do some cleaning before the start of our big button sale this weekend. While I was there, the lovely new pattern booklets from Classic Elite and Berrocco arrived.
Some new colors of Summerset and a few packages of the new CottonBamboo yarn came as well. Perhaps the remainder of our order will show up prior to Friday. Tomorrow I'll take some pictures of the new stock.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sales Rep Visit and Hat Pattern Update

Jan, Kathleen and I ordered fantastic new yans from Classic Elite yesterday. Pam Allen formerly of Interweave Knits is their new design director and has taken this company in a fabulous new direction in my humble opinion. The designs are fresh and the photography and pattern layout top notch. Look for good things this spring.

Berroco has a couple good looking new yarns (Lumina and Seduce) we are adding and we've decided to expand our color range in the Bonsai bamboo blend. There will also be more pattern support for Bonsai as well as the new yarns.

Personnally, I'm heading out of my grey phase and into dark teal blue phase with a little lavender and dark coral thrown into the mix. And you know I always favor a good green and orange.

Jan is knitting socks like mad due to the nature of the current political season. More Mountain Colors sock yarn coming.

In addition, I sold a hat pattern to the guys at Simly Shetland for their upcoming fall publication. It is done out of their new Lambswool Cashmere blend yarn. Now if I can just not lose the sample hat prior to the photo shoot.

Knit Out Adventure at MOA

Wow! The crowds, the lines, the celebs were all great.

Steven, Cis and I rocked the TNNA & Stitch n Pitch booth. We had lots of items for people to touch and feel.

I handed out 300 pretty postcards on Saturday to promote our Vintage Button Show and Sale scheduled for March 7 & 8, 2008. That was all the cards I had, so I printed 300 flyers of the card to hand out on Sunday. 250 more of the full color cards are being printed and should be here early next week.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Out of Town

I'll be way up north at Bearskin Lodge near Grand Marais defying winter with my DH and a bunch of DFs until February 14. Yeah!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Becky and the Button Event

DH and I finished putting together a postcard to distribute for the Biggest Vintage Button Event This Side of the Lake. It looks fabulous and so far we haven't noticed any typos. It's printing today and should be available Thursday.

New Opal sock yarn shipment at the shop.

I'm working today so I'll have to take some photos to add to the site. They are offering their yarn in solid colors but, Jan and I both think we'll pass. The spacedyed self-patterning is so much more fun! They've also sent a pattern book containing some darling mittens and gloves.

Friday, February 1, 2008

My life and the screen.

The video for Linden Hills Yarn made possible by Dale aired for the first time on Cable Access Channel six last night. Where did we put that 20 inch tele?

And I've been spending much of my time this week updating the aforementioned website, flickr, blog, ravelry . . . Can't I just knit?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

In the beginning . . .

I've finally been anointed by the ravelry gods.