Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Scarf Madness

I finished the first crochet scarf, and I've moved onto the 2nd scarf in the Macalester College colors. It's slow going for two reasons: not enough time to work on it and the rows are super long! But it looks like I'll have lots of time to work on it in the next few days, because another winter storm is on its way into the Twin Cities. Apparently, we're supposed to get between 15" and 20" of the fluffy white stuff starting now (yes, it's snowing outside) - and all of this after the foot we got over the weekend. Glad I shoveled the walk this morning! If you recall, I was crocheting the scarf in preparation for the Alumni Board meeting at Macalester this weekend, but guess what ... it's been cancelled because of the weather... But I think I'll still try to finish it soon so I can move on to something else (maybe the Sunrise Circle Jacket again).

By the way, I have an update on my struggles with the Lion Brand Olivia's Shrug that I tried to make out of Berocco Pronto back in January. Lion Brand apparently surfs the blogs like the rest of us, because Jackie Smyth from Lion Brand called me at the store on Tuesday (Monday?) all worried about the fact that I had such problems with the pattern. Although, I still don't get how the pattern as written can work, she seemed to think that it was more of a beginning crocheter's problem rather than the pattern's problem because they've had two crocheters make the pattern as a test since my blog entry! In addition, she's ordered the original shrug from their archives so she can check it against the pattern. She thought that possibly the difficulty with the pattern could have been the heavier nature of Pronto (although I was getting gauge), and offered to send me free the yarn called for in the pattern so I could try it with that. I'd say Lion Brand doesn't want any bad publicity out on the net... But I also feel like this is a company who cares what people think about them and how their customers feel about their products, be it yarn or patterns. That's good customer service in my book... I told Jackie that I would be willing to try completing the shrug again, although I'm not taking them up on their offer of some of their yarn, simply because I wanted to find a pattern to make out of yarn I own. I'll keep everyone posted.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Snow and Felt

It was a strange weather weekend here. All week long the forecasters were predicting a big winter storm starting Friday and lasting through Sunday with 12" or more of snow. Friday came and went with nary a flake (or even a rain drop really). But the wind really picked up. I had planned on staying at home all day Saturday because of the weather, but since it wasn't so bag in the morning, I ventured out to 3 Kittens - on icy, slick roads. I guess it had rained some on Friday night. My first clue should have been the ice encrusted windshield! Anyway, I made it to the store without any problems and put in a few hours of work, during which time the snow started in earnest. Here's a photo I took on Sunday morning - you'll notice it was still snowing!!

I was able to spend quite a lot of time knitting this weekend. I finished knitting and felting the Fiber Trends squirrel and a funky chicken from Sandesgarn's Toving Tema 11.

I'm not completely happy with either of them - although I'm sure they'll both look better with eyes and other embellishments. The squirrel's tail actually grew in the felting. It's knit with one strand of Lite Lopi and one of Naturally's Temptation. I'm hoping that once I stuff the squirrel with regular batting (he's currently stuffed with plastic bags while he's drying), and I sew up the tail & attach it a bit more up his back that it will look better. The chicken is just goofy - in a cute kind of way - but the pattern called for stuffing it with batting before felting (along with a small baggie of dried beans to weigh down the bottom). I didn't know how much batting to put in, and now that it's felted, I can't move the batting around, so there are some spots that don't have enough batting. Plus the beans migrated up a bit. I may do another one in a different color and leave an opening in the bottom so I can stuff it afterward.

Now it's on to a crocheted scarf in the Macalester College colors. I had to chain 449 stitches last night! Egads! How do you keep track of so many chains. Maybe locking stitch markers every 50 stitches...

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I'm having way to much fun setting up the new POS (Point of Sale) system at 3 Kittens! I've got it up and running in the back office with the help of my computer guy and customer support from Attitude Positive - I even did a test sale to make sure everything is working correctly. Now, I have to concentrate on getting all of the UPC codes inputted (for those things that have barcodes already on them) and assigning barcodes to everything else - a daunting task to say the least. I just want to get a substantial number of items in, then we can launch the POS system in the store - I think sometime in March. Today, I figured out how to use the hand-held scanner to receive inventory at the store, then upload the info directly into Peachtree. What a time-saver!... Can you tell I'm excited!

Anyway, I haven't worked on the crochet scarf much. I was planning on finishing it up last night while the family watched "Lost" but my son wanted to go to an AA meeting and instead of coming home while he was at the meeting, I went to the store and scanned in some more barcodes for stuff on the notions wall. Here's a photo of it in progress (with my Lantern bag and my cat Artemus - isn't she beautiful?).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spend A Little More, Laura

O.K., so I've been spending a little too much dinero at 3 Kittens lately. I've had some computer issues - for instance, our "geek" was there today setting up the POS system so I can get it up and running and tested before we start using it for real - and that just gives me way too much time to browse and buy, buy, buy. This morning I had a meeting for Macalester College's Alumni Board - specifically, the Student Support Services Committee of which I am co-chair - in prep for our full board meeting next week, and I had a flash of inspiration to make a scarf in the school colors (orange & blue), so while the guy was working on the computers, I picked out a lovely skein of Kureyon (sorry, no photos - my DH has my photo card today) and then some beautiful Lang Mille Colori, both with lots of orange and some blue. In addition, I've been looking for a smallish (but not too small) tote to carry around a project. I have a large tote that I carry everything in, but I was rather embarrassed to go to a meeting at school last week and carry in my zip-lock baggie with my Sunrise Circle Jacket piece because I didn't want to lug the big tote in. On Thursday I tried out a lovely satiny tote from Lantern Moon, but alas it was too small. Then on Saturday, I picked out a Tilli Tomas drawstring silk bag on which you are supposed to knit a cover & some Fiesta La Boheme for the cover- but I just don't feel like knitting a cover. So, today, I bought a cute little square Lantern Moon "lantern" tote with a drawstring closure on top and a handle - perfect. The Tilli Tomas and La Boheme will go back tomorrow. I'm not sure about the Kureyon, but I have started a crocheted scarf in the Mille Colori - and I love it. I'll put a photo on the blog tomorrow.

Does anyone else have any great ideas for a small tote? Sheryl Lange has designed a smaller version of the Kaliedoscope Tote, but she hasn't gotten us the pattern for it yet. I think that would be a great small project bag.

Friday, February 16, 2007

POS Touchdown

The POS system arrived at my home yesterday. I spent about an hour setting it up at home, but I still haven't gotten the whole system up and running. I've found that this company, Attitude Positive, isn't very good at documentation. There was no info on setting up the system and no password listed anywhere. I was able to go online and find installation guides and other guides, but I haven't had time to contact the technical support people to figure out what my temporary password is. Shouldn't that have come with the software and hardware or via an email? SIGH!

In the last three days, I've driven over 350 miles. Between work and AA/NA meetings for my son and picking up the kids from three different schools (none of which have bus service) and picking up my son's friends, I haven't had any time to knit - except for the meeting yesterday for parents of students who will be moving up to high school next year. That was almost a whole hour of working on the sleeve of my Sunrise Circle Jacket! I'm getting closer. Tonight I hope to work on the Fiber Trends felted squirrel.

Tomorrow morning, we have another crochet class for our employees. We're making the Ella Scarf, so we can be ahead of the classes our teacher will be offering to the public.I'm just taking scraps of yarn, because I don't think I really need another scarf. Plus I have lots of other crochet projects to do...

mzmouse - Thanks for visiting my blog and my store! I'm glad you enjoyed the changes we've made at 3 Kittens. I'm sorry I wasn't there so I could have met you in person. Generally I only work during the week 8:15 am - 2:45 pm. Occasionally, I am there on a weekend day, but usually not for very long. Too many other responsibilities - although I would love to be there more often! If you're ever there during those hours, ask for me - I'd love to meet you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bad Mood

I'm in a rotten mood. I've snapped at my DH (on Valentine's Day no less) and my kids, and I've been eating everything in sight - my coping mechanism...

Anyway, no knitting news to report today (although I did knit maybe 15 rows on the Sunrise Circle Jacket while waiting at the chiropractor for my son to be adjusted). So, I thought I'd show some photos of the shop.

In clockwise order from top left:

  • Ainsley, Cathy and Janine - three of our wonderful employees
  • Employee Sharon K's wonderful log cabin afghan (pattern from Cottage Creations)
  • One section of our worsted area
  • The sign behind our check-out counter that says, "Your husband just called and said it's o.k. to buy anything you want"
  • A lampion from Lantern Moon
  • A needle and tote rack with our felting room in the background
  • Center - a photo of the outside front of the store

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

He's Home!

My son, Christian, returned home from Hazelden today. He's been in and out of chemical dependency treatment for the past year (really, he was only home for about 8 weeks in that whole time). I'm excited to have him home - and nervous. But I think he's in a good place right now mentally and emotionally. He'll be going back to Sobriety High School tomorrow and working with a counselor from Addiction Intervention Resources for the next year. It's an exciting time for us. One of the first things that he wanted to do when he got home was play his own guitar (there were guitars at Hazelden, just not his own).

No work for me today... sigh! But the computer - which did have a virus - is back at the store, so I'll jump right back in tomorrow.

I started work on the Fiber Trends squirrel last night with Lite-Lopi and Needful Yarns Temptation for the tail.

I also swatched some SWTC Bamboo for a crocheted short sleeve sweater. But earlier I swatched some Louisa Harding Grace Silk and Wool for a long sleeved tunic from Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. I should do the tunic, because if I get it done in time, I can take it to Tucson in March when we go down there for Spring Break. Here are the swatches:

The swatch on the right is too small, so maybe what I should do is swatch it up with a larger hook and see which one I like the feel of working with better...

Monday, February 12, 2007

What a Day!!!!

So in starts like this - I walk into 3 Kittens this morning and look at the thermostat to see whether I should turn it up. It's set at 70 deg (Ugh - why can't people turn it down when they leave at night?). I get some coffee from the coffee shop down the way, then came back and take my coat off.

"Brrr! It's really chilly. I thought I checked that thermostat!"

So, I go check it again - and, lo and behold, the thermostat or the furnace or whatever isn't working! It's 10 deg outside (or less - I didn't really pay attention this a.m.), and there's no heat in part of the store!!! SIGH! So, I call my partner Julie, who has apparently already been dealing with this issue over the weekend, and she says she'll take care of it. (Thank you, Julie!)

I go to my computer to get going on my work. Turn on the screen, wiggle the mouse around - nothing! So I turn the computer off and try turning it on again. And I get THE BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. That's right, no computer, kaput, zero, nada! I call our geek guy, and he says it's been really busy already this morning - something over the internet - and he'll be over in 3-4 hours!
Luckily, the heating system was repaired by noon (the poor furnace needed a new motor) and the computer guy from Uptech Partners arrived much earlier than expected (although he had to take my computer away until at least tomorrow). Plus, I got to spend some time knitting a swatch out of Karabella Breeze (60% silk, 40% cashmere) and help out in the very quiet store. And, I brought work home for this evening.

In the meantime, I did finish the left front of my Sunrise Circle jacket.

That sleeve looks really wide. I hope it's o.k. I've started on the right front, but since I didn't have all that much to do at the store today, I ended up bringing yarn home... My 9-year-old son has been begging me for a Fiber Trends Squirrel so I brought home Lite Lopi and Needful Yarns Temptation for that. And, he also wants some Felted Clog Slippers (also Fiber Trends) and that yarn found it's way in my bag too (this time Ella Rae Classic). Luckily neither of those projects will take very long.

I'm contemplating hosting a Knit Along for our store patrons sometime this Spring. Either the Einstein Jacket or maybe Sam the Ram. I wonder if we'll get any interest?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Other Things

Well, I didn't finish the left front of the Sunrise Circle Jacket in time to get a photo for this post - but I only have one row to go! Then I have to decide how to deal with the hem. I'll probably pull out my copy of The Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt and see what she recommends. She'll probably have some nifty way of doing it other than the traditional bind off and sew down method. If you haven't had a chance to look at this book before I highly recommend it. It is long out of print, and says it is one of the top 10 most requested books. You can currently get it at Amazon for just under $250 - used! I wouldn't sell my copy for that though - it's much too valuable to me. You might be able to get it from your local library though to look at.

I did finish the Spring Fever Glovelette last night.

I don't love the colors, although they are somewhat spring-like, and the Dolce Mohair does stripe beautifully. I will block it tonight along with a couple of swatches I made for the store.

O.K., onto "Other Things." I've been really struggling lately with my food issues and weight. I know - I did just complete a marathon, but frankly I was appalled with the photos of me running when I saw them. I looked gigantic! I know that if I lost 30-40 lbs I'd be able to complete the next marathon much faster. But, I just can't seem to get going on any kind of weight loss plan right now. I signed up for Weight Watchers online a few weeks ago, which is how I lost weight the last time I tried. And, while I know the program works, I just can't seem to stick to it right now. I also tried giving up sugar - but it only lasted 4 days, then I caved. SIGH! I want to lose weight, but I need somebody to motivate me - I need a weight loss buddy. Any takers?... The other thing that's getting to me is I really don't feel like exercising right now. I did run a couple of miles this morning, and I hope to be able to run a couple of more times this week and go to at least one karate class. But, 3 Kittens calls to me. I'd much rather be there right now than taking time to exercise. I know that's a huge trap waiting to ensnare me - and my foot's already part way in the rope. Exercise gives me balance and calms me. Work, while really enjoyable (God, I love going in every day!), is very stressful, and I need to eat well and exercise in order to combat that stress... So right here and right now, I'm committing to running 3 times this week and attending karate once. Plus, I will follow Weight Watchers religiously this week. One week's not so hard - then I can reassess.

I've had my say. I've made my vow. I'm sticking to it!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I've Come Unravelled

The Berroco Pronto shrug is now unravelled. I can't face starting it again right away, though, so it will sit for a day or two. In the meantime, I'm just about finished knitting the left front of my Sunrise Circle jacket. Yippee! I've only been knitting on it since last May or so. O.K., so I've completed lots of other things since then, but it's frustrating to be moving along so slowly on this. Of course, it's not a mindless-knitting project, and I have been enamored of crochet lately... I also have a sample I'm crocheting for the shop from the most recent issue of Crochet Today magazine. I'm making one of the Spring Fever Glovelettes (not a pair, because we really only need one for the store) out of Mondial's Dolce Mohair (60% kid mohair, 40% acrylic). I should be able to finish up with it tonight and post a photo tomorrow.

We had a great staff meeting at the store this morning. I let everyone know that I had ordered the POS system and that we hope to have it up and ready to go in March sometime. In addition, we talked about all of the great classes we have coming up (visit the 3 Kittens Classes page for more info and photos of the projects) and the wonderful needlepoint trunk show we have right now (Once in a Blue Moon canvasses). During the meeting which my partner Cis was leading, I was able to finish knitting a swatch of Dale Stork for the shop - on sizes 0, 1 & 2 needles - EEK!

I'm having so much fun making things lately - I love the energy and creativity that I get from the store - the fibers, the projects, the patterns, customer and staff ideas, etc. I'm being much more productive with my fiber arts than I have been in years. And I love it!

Working on Blog

O.K., sorry to do this, but I want to add some photo-links to the side bar of my blog, and apparently in order to do that, I need to post them within the body of my blog first so I can grab the html code. So here goes:

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Disaster of the Shrug

Here's a photo of the Olivia's Shrug from the Lion Brand website, made out of Berroco Pronto. O.K., so either I didn't read the pattern right (although I've looked at it & re-read it a million times) or the pattern is written badly. As you can see the back is very long and the front is nothing but the collar. Nowhere in the pattern does it have you make anything more than the collar - as a matter of fact, the directions for the "Front/Collar" are only 5 rows long for the Medium size. It's so disappointing! However, it really didn't take long to do, so what I think I'm going to do is rip it out and make the back only as long as the front, and I'll make the sleeves longer (their mid-forearm length now). Plus, I'll make it in the Large size, because it's too small for me (my daughter is modelling it -under duress - in the photo). Then I'll have a true shrug - although not the one pictured at Lion Brand's site. Can't decide if I should notify them of the goofiness of their pattern. We'll see...
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Thursday, February 08, 2007


I'm ordering the new POS system from AccuPos today for 3 Kittens. I can't tell you how excited this makes me! Finally, an electronic system that makes life easier for customers, employees and me. Of course, I'm sure there will be some glitches that will have to be worked out, but I'm so thrilled. I've been spending time lately inputting all of the UPC codes from our notions, so the system will be able to scan items for sale. I still have to assign SKUs and barcodes to some items that don't come already coded, but I think I'll get that going in the next couple of days.

I hope to post later today photos of my shrug (disaster!) and the left front of my Sunrise Circle jacket (success!). I just don't have them on my camera right now...

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Here are a couple of photos of my koala - or, I should say, my daughter's koala.

He's still unstuffed and has no eyes. You can see in the 2nd photo how the mohair didn't felt as I expected. One of my partners at 3 Kittens Needle Arts, Cis, came into the store this morning with a couple of felting disasters, and I had to commiserate with her because neither of us followed our own advise: 1) always test swatch with yarn you haven't felted with before, and 2) check your item(s) often during the felting process so you don't over-felt. She had a hat that was itty-bitty - even for her small head -- and a teensy moebius bowl from Cat Bordhi's 2nd Treasury of Magical Knitting. The moebius bowl was cute and usable anyway, but I don't know what she's going to do with the hat!

Yesterday, I ended up ripping out the WHOLE bloody shrug from my previous post. I realized that the sleeves were way to short, and the number of shell stitches that I had in the back was one too few. I had known that before and thought I could get away with it, but I decided to redo it all since I was ripping out the sleeves anyway. I'm almost back to where I was when I ripped. Thank goodness for bulky yarn and the speed of crochet!

I'm thinking about joining a blog ring or two. Anyone have any experience with those to help me decide which to join? Thanks!