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Getting carried away…

I think I might be getting carried away with Yarn Box. The new season ranges are here but I’m still looking for new suppliers. Today I’ve added the incredibly beautiful Signature Needle Arts DPNs to the website (so they can now be pre-ordered) and I’ve ordered “Scrumptious” by Fyberspates, along with more Addi Lace Circular needles. Tomorrow I’m planning to order yarn from Dream in Color. Next comes Stricken Smitten – a new hand dyed range from my lovely sister-in-law in the USA. (You can find the current range on Etsy.com.)

Hopefully, Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine will be in tomorrow. I can’t wait any longer!

Is it here yet? Debbie Bliss Magazine – Issue 3

I know many Yarn Box customers are eagerly awaiting the new Debbie Bliss Magazine, so am I. I’m just waiting for the magazines to arrive so that I can get packing and cycle around to the post office with as many as I can carry. I was having a look on http://www.debbieblissonline.com to see what Debbie has to say about the magazine and  I’m very tempted by the Union Jack cushion covers…

In the meantime, I’ve made up my mind and have started knitting the Katerina Shawl from the Knitter Issue 4 using Louisa Harding’s Grace Hand Dyed on Kollage’s square circular needles. (I can recommend the needles if you find you hands ache after a week using a mouse at work.)  I’ll post a picture when I’ve finished the border.
— Nicola

Notes from a small ironing board…

I’ve found out that the ironing board doubles up quite nicely as a workstation for the laptop. The Cath Kidston cover works nicely as a mouse mat and I have room to spread documents all around me. Also, it means that I save time on the organising and relocating. I’ve done the Sunday night ironing and now I can settle down with the Araucania  Collection 2009/2010 colour card to keep me company! The Yarn Box range of Araucania yarns will be extending for the Autumn/Winter season with Toconao (Merino), Aysen (Wool/Alpaca/Silk) and Azapa (Merino, Alpaca, Silk/Donegal) joining Ranco on the website. I’ve been flicking through “In The Mood”, one of the Araucania pattern books, and hope to be able to write a review of it this week as there are some patterns well worth considering for when the evenings start to draw in and allow some serious knitting needle time for this of us who usually knit after dark.

This week I’ve been inspired by Let’s Knit magazine (if you look carefully you’ll find a Yarn Box discount code on the adverts pages). There’s a pattern for a cute mobile ‘phone case in the August issue which I thought I could modify for my phone so I grabbed some left over Socks That Rock and a set of DPNS and  ta dah! I have a made-to-fit ‘phone  case which took only two evenings and required me to stitch in two ends thanks to the DPNs and a rather nifty closed cast off. Speaking of which, how many cast-off (or bind-off) techniques are there? I must research that.

On the research front, I’ve been investigating yarn names, substitution and WPI. (What is light worsted? Does US fingering yarn match UK 4ply? Do I really have to swatch???) It’s been fascinating. If you’ve ever wanted to knit a pattern but can’t get your hands on the yarn used, there is hope for finding a suitable alternative. It appears that the spinners of wonderful yarns are the experts so as I have no intention of putting down my knitting to start spinning I’ll just borrow their wisdom. I’ll share it as soon as I’ve gathered it all together.

–Nicola

P.S. Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine Issue 2 is back in stock.

A quiet Thursday evening…

It would appear that Jo not only entrusted me with Yarn Box, she also handed over her love of it. If you read Jo’s blog before you’ll know how much she enjoyed “Yarn Box time” in her day. After the last couple of months I understand why. I could be considered Yarn Box obsessed, and happily so. I’ve taken to researching knitting needles in my lunch breaks much to the amusement of my colleagues! Well, it makes a change from production planning. If you haven’t figured already, Yarn Box is my out of hours “job”, I have two days at home with “Small” (we like to go out for coffe and cake together even though she’s only three!), three days at work and a weekend with the family (and as much yarn as I have energy for.)

It’s all getting quite exciting at the moment. I’ve just placed orders for new yarns and new colourways for September, the release date for the issue 3 of the Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine (Fall/Winter ’09) has been announced, the first batch of Mini Mochi should arrive tomorrow,and Addi Lace circular needles are in stock.  Look out for some reductions on the site over the next few weeks as I need to free up space for new stock.

I’ve been knitting a mini swatch with a sample of Mini Mochi today, I was hoping to take a photo but it keeps rolling up on the needle. It’s lovely to knit with, really light and almost like it’s not there at all. The only downside I’ve found is that I’ve had to pay attention to make sure I don’t split the yarn, often I knit without really looking but it didn’t work with this. It has a nice halo and would make lovely scarves and gloves, or fluffy socks. There are a quite a few free patterns available on Ravelry and wendyknits, I’ll try to add some links soon.

My Cookie A book finally arrived this week after much messing about with online orders. She’s so lucky; imagine being able to knit and talk about knitting all the time. I wonder whether we could get her back to the UK to see those of us who were unable to make it to Socktopus? Maybe we should have a UK Sock Summit and invite our favourite designers. Anyone for knitting socks in Oxfordshire for a weekend? (Let me know!)

I must get a photo of my holiday socks. I’ve reached the ankle and am looking forward to the fun that is the heel turn. The Kollage square circulars (that always makes me smile) have reduced my problems with aching hands and I love the flexible cords, they’re so soft I just push them into a bag and don’t have to worry about kinking (unlike the Addi Turbo cable, if you know what I mean). Our family holiday was great. Mum joined us and we have a really laid back week between the play parks, swimming pools and Mocha Berry Frappucinos! Many thanks to Mum for babysitting so Graham and I could go to see Star Trek.

Live long and prosper!

–Nicola

Knitting socks on my summer holiday

The sun has been shining all weekend and we’re looking forward to a few days away at Center Parcs. I’m looking forward to letting the girls run around outside as much as they like. They’re looking forward to staying in a little house in the woods with Grandma. It’s all starting to sound like Little Red Riding Hood.

I’m hoping to have some time to get on with my socks. I’m currently testing the Kollage circular needles which have recently come into stock by knitting two socks at the same time. My sister-in-law tells me it’s the way to go, but I think I prefer the rhythm of knitting on DPNs. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I have two socks completed at the same time? There’s a certain appeal to the idea! So far, after 30 rows of 2×2 rib on 2.75mm needles I can say that Kollage’s claim that they put less stress on the hands seems to be true. I’ve had none of my usual problems with aching hands from working on fine needles.

When I get home, I’m hoping that my copy of “Sock Innovation” by Cookie A. will have arrived. It appears that  knitters worldwide have gone sock crazy, it took me ages to find a company who had a copy in stock. (Try www.searchpress.com if you’re looking, it was full price but free postage.) I’m planning to join the Ravelry KAL for the book. If you’re looking for sock yarn, I’m expecting Mini Mochi from Crystal Palace to come into stock in June, and there’s always Noro’s sock yarns; Kureyon and Silk Garden Sock.

–Nicola

Lots of yarn, never enough time.

I can’t believe how busy the last few weeks have been. Manos Silk Blend has arrived, in volume, the first shipment from Kollage Yarns is here and lots of goodies from Blue Sky Alpacas (like the incredibly fluffy Brushed Suri).

I’ve had a quiet evening this evening for a treat, watching Ashes to Ashes while casting-off a hat, after a day out and about with “little one” on the back of my Trikidoo (www.trikidoo.com). I’ve pedalled miles in the wind and my legs really know about it! Anyway, back to the tale of the hat…I’ve been postponing the cast-off for the last week because once I’ve stitched the seams I have to be really brave, or crazy, and felt the hat in the washing machine. I’m still trying to get my head around the idea of knitting something in a lovely yarn and then deliberately shrinking it in the machine. I felted my favourite cardigan by mistake when I was 18. It went in the washing machine my size and came out suitable for a ten year old! I’ve been wary ever since. I’m trying to convince myself that the hat is intended to be felted. I’ll post a picture when it’s done – good or bad!

Once that’s done I need to decide on my next project. I’ve admitted that the crochet granny squares blanket is on hold for now. I need about 20 more squares and I’m not quite in the mood so I’ll just keep stitching the other 100+ squares together. I think next is going to be the Katerina Shawl from “The Knitter” but now that all the Manos Silk Blend has arrived I can’t decide which colour to use. I want to make using Kollage Square Circular needles to see if they really do reduce the strain on your hands. Of course the other option is  pair of cute little pedi-sock things I’ve found a pattern for, but again which yarn to choose? (I think Yarn Box needs a couple more sock yarns to choose from.)

As if I don’t have enough things I’d like to knit, I signed up to www.knittingdaily.com on Monday. There are some great free patterns. Added to www.Ravelry.com, www.Knitty.com and www.knittingpatterncentral.com, I  don’t think I shall ever run out of inspiration.

My little girl…

Isn’t time a funny thing? My eldest daughter will be five years old tomorrow. I still remember the night she was born as if it was yesterday. I remember choosing her name and her first clothes. How can she be five so soon? She’s been so excited for the last few days that it’s an absolute joy to be with her. I can’t wait for the morning either. It’s going to be a lovely day.

— Nicola

Is it April already?

I’m wondering where the last week has gone. Last week Yarn Box moved in and now it feels as if it’s always been here. I’m enjoying seeing what everybody is ordering (lots of lovely Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend) and wondering what you’re all knitting. My daughters are fascinated by it all, but don’t want me to send out any of the pink yarn which they claim is theirs! I’m also looking into exciting new ranges for the summer. It’s going to be difficult to choose. I’m off to have a flick through the new issue of The Knitter before I fall asleep and see if there’s anything that makes me want to pick up my needles. I’ll let you know if I find anything!

–Nicola

Yarn Box moves home

What an incredible day! Jo and I have been hard at work today (with much assistance from Jo’s wonderful family). Earlier today it seemed unfeasible that everything would fit into my car but after some creative packing solutions Yarn Box has been packed into boxes and transported around the M25 across the M4 and through the Oxfordshire countryside. Now all I have to do is unpack and find my feet. I’ve already found the Brittany Needles and the Debbie Bliss magazines so I feel we’re off to a good start. I’m hoping that there won’t be too much disruption to Yarn Box, I’m really looking forward to taking over and finding some fantastic new yarns through 2009.

Thank you to Jo and all of her family for making me so welcome and having faith in me to look after Yarn Box.

Thanks too to my wonderful husband for helping me get everything out of the car!

— Nicola

Letting Go…

The house is quiet, all is very still. I have replied to the last email of tonight, time to log off – except it feels very “final” tonight.

 

The past few days have been exceptionally busy for me. The sale of Yarn Box has been brought forward to this weekend. Nicola is super and very accommodating! I can feel she has the energy and passion ready to take on Yarn Box! Sadly, unwell family calls me (and Lewis and Sam) to the other side of the world – Hong Kong. We are departing on very short notice… so the planned sale has been brought forward a whole week.

 

Today was a mad day of stock take, every last needle has been counted for. A crazy exercise which mum, dad, sisters, Lewis, Sam – everyone helped out in. Finally about an hour ago, everything was final. All is ready for the BIG HANDOVER tomorrow. (in 7 mins it will be midnight!). Everyone I have spoken to has told me I am crazy to let go of Yarn Box – but I would rather do it now – doing it properly and finding the right person – then having to rush it all through if I did have to relocate.

 

My father was a business man (now retired and has Lewis as his occupation). I grew up seeing him run many businesses. Yarn Box is my first. I must confess I am very emotionally attached to YB! It started of as a concept, to planning, to design and implementation – it was me, my favourite colours, type font, brands and stock I wanted. It was people around me too! My sisters – Cassie – bringing in Banana Yarns, Lan with the name, me with my favourite colours, Cassie with the logo design, Gebbie with the shade cards, TT with her Ts&Cs, Ernest and his adverts, mummy with her needles, daddy at the post office, Sam with the sellotape and Lewis with the labels… Everyone has made YB what it is today – and with any part or anyone missing it would not have been the same! THANK YOU ALL – everyone who has played a part!

 

Letting go is hard – and everytime someone has asked me this week “Jo – are you sure” I stop and think… can I? must I? Yes – it will be for the better.

 

I have worked very closely with Nicola this week. She is wonderful and super efficient. I can see this being a smooth transition. Though I am away for the next two weeks – Nicola will know how to get hold of me – therefore if any questions arise – we will be able to work them out (though the lead time might be a little longer than the usual). Though from today – I am no longer running Yarn Box – I will always be “hanging around” Nicola and I have agreed that I will be around… I have let go – but I will still always be here too! (does that make sense??)

 

This will be the very last post from me at this blog! Thank you all for your support over the past 18 months. I would very much like to stay in touch with you all – as I feel I have lots of great friends as well as customers – follow me on my personal blog: http://bbjolewis.wordpress.com  here we can still stay in touch. Yarn Box will be my preferred yarn shop for the rest of my life ! Good bye~~