Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cutie Pie!

Ah, this brings back memories of my college days at the University of Connecticut where I spent more time visiting the barns (it's an agricultural school among other things) than in the library.  Spring was the best time with all the lambies being born.  In the evening, the babies would be all tucked in with clean hay and soft glow lights in their pens surrounded by their siblings with mom planted securely in the middle of them all.  It was a quiet and most peaceful nursery.  My roommate made such fun of me.  Where's Suze, people would ask.  She's down talking to the sheep.  Ha Ha.  One night I absolutely insisted that she join me on my evening rounds.  I wanted her to understand and bless her heart, she did.  She was entranced and finely understood the pleasure of being in a hay-strewn barn at dusk with well-cared for animals breathing lightly on full stomachs, nodding off to sleep. There's just something about that.  
University of Connecticut's Agi Center

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blue Sky's Done It Again!

I don't know how Blue Sky does it.  Twice a year they come out with new colors, new patterns and oftentimes new yarn.  Their marketing and packaging are extraordinary.  They just added 3 colors to Extra, a luxury yarn we debuted at last year's yarn crawl. They are: Canyon, Mist, and Ocean.  When I sprung these yarn samples from the muslin bag, I gasped and said ....ohhhhhh! You will too when you see them!  We'll have them in for our San Diego Yarn Crawl which starts September 17-20.  It's a Don't Miss!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Knitter's Approach to Summer

From Debbie Stoller, the author of Stitch N' Bitch, who knows what Summer is all about!  We've got some beautiful Worsted Cotton by Blue Sky Alpaca that makes the most beautiful baby blankets. It's organic, incredibly soft, and has a worsted weight gauge (rather unusual for cotton) so it works up faster than most.  Check out the their incredible color palette which has grown more beautiful with the years!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jilly Mini Skein Bundles Are On Their Way!

Jilly (which we debuted at last year's San Diego Yarn Crawl) is an amazing super wash merino lace weight yarn by Dream in Color.  Dream in Color has put together two bundles of six Jilly mini skeins; one in a cool colorway and one in warm.  One bundle makes Arcoiris, the pattern shown here designed specifically to showcase Jilly's dreamy colors and soft texture.  Our shipment left the warehouse last week and I'll be waiting in the window for the UPS delivery hoping for its arrival.  Can't wait to get my hands on it!  You know I will let you know!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nothing on Your Needles? Cast on this Perfect Summer Project!

Notched Hem Tank Top by The Purl Bee is a free pattern that is all the style with the side panel inserts and equally long front and back pieces. This was knit in Habu's Knitted Linen which is exquisite and at $14.10 a ball, with 14 balls needed for the medium size, it should be!  For a more cost effective solution, knit this in Plymouth Yarn's Linen Concerto, a drapey rayon linen blend finished with a touch of cotton. Linen Concerto has a bit of a sheen and with an interesting twist of fibers that adds texture.  And unlike indigo, it is colorfast and won't dye your hands or needles blue.  Best of all, it's just a little more than half the cost of Habu's Knitted Linen.  So don't just sit there, knit something!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Not Just Knitting

This here dresser top is a New York Roundabout design made from judipatuti's delectable fabrics! It's a quilting process called paper piecing and it was a challenge for this newbie to learn!  We took a class at Rosie's in La Mesa but it wasn't until I got home to a quieter environment with no distractions that I was able to finally figure out how to do this!  Plenty of ripping out, I can tell you.  But by the end of the project I had it down.  And now I am working on a flying geese quilt which involves smaller pieces.  I am using one of judipatuti's charm packs of coordinated fat quarters which makes a beginning quilter's life so much easier!  If you haven't seen Judy's 2015 summer collection yet, you must come visit us!  It is so inspiring!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Why May Day?

Happy May 1st!  As I was sitting here contemplating the new month, I wondered how Mayday became the universal distress call that it is.  Bottom line?  It's from the french word for "help me".  And here's the detailed explanation!


This is an excerpt from our new book: The Wise Book of Whys, available in: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audiobook
distressToday I found out why those aboard planes and ships use the word “Mayday” to indicate they are in extreme distress.
In 1923, a senior radio officer, Frederick Stanley Mockford, in Croydon Airport in London, England was asked to think of one word that would be easy to understand for all pilots and ground staff in the event of an emergency.
The problem had arisen as voice radio communication slowly became more common, so an equivalent to the Morse code SOS distress signal was needed.  Obviously a word like “help” wasn’t a good choice for English speakers because it could be used in normal conversations where no one was in distress.
At the time Mockford was considering the request, much of the traffic he was dealing with was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris, France. With both the French and English languages in mind, he came up with the somewhat unique word “Mayday”, the anglicized spelling of the French pronunciation of the word “m’aider” which means “help me”.
Four years later, in 1927, the International Radiotelegraph Convention of Washington made “Mayday” the official voice distress call used only to communicate the most serious level of distress, such as with life-threatening emergencies.
When using Mayday in a distress call, it is traditional to repeat it three times in a row, “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday”. This is to make sure it is easily distinguishable from a message about a Mayday call and from any similar sounding phrases in noisy conditions.
In situations where a vessel requires assistance, not from grave and imminent danger, a distress call of “pan-pan” can be used instead. Essentially, it means you need aid, but you don’t need support personnel to necessarily drop what they’re doing right that instant and come help you, as with a Mayday.
Like Mayday, pan-pan is the anglicized spelling of a French word, in this case “panne”, which means “broken/failure/breakdown”.  Also, as with Mayday, one should state it three consecutive times: “pan-pan pan-pan pan-pan”, followed by which station(s) you are addressing and your last known location, nature of your emergency, etc.
If there is no reply to a Mayday or pan-pan call by the Coast Guard or other emergency agency, and a couple minutes have passed since the last one, some other radio source, such as another ship or plane that received the call, should transmit their own Mayday call, but on behalf of the ship or plane that first made the call, repeating the pertinent information they heard when they received the Mayday message.
If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:
Bonus Facts:
  • Making false declaration of “Mayday” in the United States can get you up to six years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
  • Contrary to popular vernacular, you would never actually say “over and out” in an official radio communication.  Why? Because “over” means you’re done talking and are expecting a reply.  “Out” means you are both done talking and are finished with the communication, not expecting a reply from anyone.
  • During the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, even though four planes crashed, only one was able to make a Mayday call. Flight 93 crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and made two Mayday calls to Air Traffic Control in Cleveland. The first call was at 09:28:17. Captain Jason Dahl can be heard shouting, “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” over sounds of violence. The second Mayday call came at 09:28:50 when someone in the cockpit shouted, “Mayday! Get out of here! Get out of here!”. No one knows exactly when Flight 93 came under the control of the highjackers but by 09:31:57, highjacker Ziad Jarrah was making announcements to the plane’s passengers and inadvertently to Air Traffic Control in Cleveland.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Into Every Knitting Life a Little Math Must Fall!

Amy Herzog, creator of Custom Fit, has just come out with a knit app tool box that helps calculate gauge, button hole spacing, armhole shaping, etc.!  It's brand new so there are no ratings yet.  It's $4.99 on iTunes. May be worth a try!  And don't you love the title of this post which I found on the app page?! It's so true!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Best Friend Thelma

Knitting Thelma has been an exercise in patience!  For all the time I spend on her, she should be my best friend.  Don't get me wrong. I love this pattern because it's the ultimate summer knitting project.  You can do it blind-folded on the beach since it's all garter stitch and there's no shaping.  And I love Mixer.  It's a fun, fun yarn to knit with.   However, I'm going to tell you right up front that it is a time-consuming knit.  I think that's because of the variation in textures.  Even in garter stitch, it's hard to get any momentum going.

Now, before I owned a yarn shop, this would have been a perfect project for me.  But I'm not a leisure knitter anymore. I'm always cranking out samples and one season ahead in terms of projects.  So if I spend more than a few nights on a project, it seems as if it's taking me forever to knit.  It looks like I started this April 5th!  Being the fast knitter that I am, over 3 weeks is an eternity for me.  But the end is in sight  and I totally believe that this design is going to be well worth the time.  And by god, I am going to finish this before I launch into the Fall projects I've been dying to knit!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

DIY Window Treatment

Dare I say I almost like Pinterest better than Ravelry? I'm always poking around there looking for trends in knitwear and Fall 2015 designs.  And while I'm at it, I stumble on some other very cool things like this window pelmet box.  A 20 minute job and all you need is a foam core board, fabric, batting, duck tape and a stapler.  A regular old stapler.  I had this beautiful judipatuti fabric left over from a quilting project.  Turns out it was exactly the size I needed for my kitchen window.  I love how tailored this look is.  It's neat.  No frills, no gathers, no curtain rod.  It's just so pleasing and it's amazing what a difference it makes to soften up the kitchen.  So if you've got 20 minutes and the inclination, think about giving your window(s) a new outfit for Spring.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tomato Sighting!!!

Oh my.  I've got some! The rain has brought fruit to bear and I am beside myself with joy.  I try not to count my chickens before they hatch but I have 5 tomato plants and 4 of them already have tomatoes and plenty of flowers.  I want very much to can tomato sauce this year and make tomato jam. Last year I didn't pick the best tomato varieties but this year, I think I've nailed it. Fingers crossed and thanks to the rain gods.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Dark Dive on a Rainy Day

I'm a very poor sport about rain.  Yes, I know we need it desperately.  I just wish it didn't happen during the day. Yesterday, it was cozy though snuggled in bed with 10 good books and my dog Purl at my feet but I was restless. Ya know, I just want to put a flannel shirt on and comfy old jeans and sit in a dark dive bar in the afternoon.  Is that weird of me?  Whatever.  So we went to Filippe's in Little Italy where it is always dark inside and kitchy Chianti bottles hang from the ceiling with names handwritten on their straw jackets. Oh the table clothes are red and white check and the walls are panelled circa 1958.  They serve full carafes of cheap Chianti for under $12.  We call it grape juice since it doesn't pack much of a punch or taste like much.  And my dear husband, indulged me.  We ate anti pasta and meatball sandwiches with melted provolone on sub rolls. And it was the perfect thing to do.  I came home heartened and sat and knitted for hours thinking...the rain isn't that bad after all.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blue Sky Worsted Cotton is back!

Blue Sky Worsted Cotton is an organic worsted weight cotton that is softer than baby cheeks.  It's machine washable and the color palette is outstanding!  We're starting to beef up our supply since this yarn makes the best summer binkies.  We have a free garter stitch pattern with an eyelet border for beginning knitters who want to knit their first baby blanket.  You can do it!!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

House of Belonging

As I was cleaning off my desk this morning, I came across this beloved poem by David Whyte, perhaps my all time favorite.  I am so fond of it that years ago, I printed it on this Pillow of Sei Shonagon, that I knit in Eurofax.  These words also appear on the header in my blog.  Perhaps I've shared it with you before but it is worth repeating.  The pillow still sits on an antique rocking chair in my living room.  And it's one of the things I'd grab if I had to vacate my house quickly taking only my favorite things with me. It puts everything in perspective.  
House of Belonging
by David Whyte

I woke this morning in the gold light
turning this way and that
thinking for one moment
it was a day like any other.

But the veil had gone from my darkened heart.
I thought it must have been the quiet candlelight
that filled my room.

It must have been the first easy rhythm
with which I breathed myself to sleep.
It must have been the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness of the night.

And I thought this is the good day 
you could meet your love.  
This is the black day someone close to you could die.

This is the day you realize how easily
the thread is broken between this world
and the next 
and I found myself sitting up
in the quiet pathway of the night.

The tawny close grained cedar
burning around me like fire
and all the angels of this housely heaven
ascending through the first roof of light
this sun has made.

This is the bright home in which I live.
This is where I ask my friend to come.
This is where I want to love all the things it
has taken me so long to learn to love.

This is the temple of my adult aloneness
and I belong to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Underappreciated Garter Stitch

I'm not afraid to say it.  I love garter stitch.  Yep, that simple 'knit every row" stitch where we all start out.  We all know it's lays flat (versus stockinette), it's reversible, and so easy you can knit it in the dark.  This picture is a photo of Berroco's Mixer which is a fusion of different fibers.  Some are like thin silk ribbons, some are like cotton fun! And the pattern is Thelma, an over sized tee with drop shoulders.  Easy, easy, easy.  A perfect knit for the Spring.  Knitting is rather slow with this highly textured yarn but an absolute pleasure.  It causes me to slow down and really enjoy the steady rhythm of it all. If you're up for a drapey, shimmery (but not too) knit, check out Thelma.  Looks like this design would flatter all body types.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jenome Sewing Machine Missing from the Grove

We don't know whether it was during the busy Spring Walkabout or when but Judipatuti's Janome sewing machine that she teaches students to sew with has gone missing. It hurts, ya know?  The foot pedal and electric chord were not with the machine so whoever took it won't even be able to use it.  While I doubt whoever took it reads my blog (!) I can't help but put out a plea for it's return.  We want it back.  No questions asked.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cherry Blossoms in Paris

Paris in Spring
Oh can you imagine the sweet fragrance of this evening in Paris? This photo brought back a a lovely memory for me. My sister lived in D.C. for many years and during my Spring visits, we would drive through Kenwood, a stately old neighborhood with brick houses and grand lawns. The cherry trees lining the streets formed a canopy.  When a slight breeze caught the blossoms, it snowed pink flowers.  The lawns and streets were blanketed in these fragile blossoms and it was absolutely magical. Although I have never seen the cherry blossoms in Paris, there is always tomorrow.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Haggens Has Arrived in North Park!

Overall, living in the 'hood is awesome but we have been a little deprived in the grocery store department. Sprouts has been "meh" lately with the fruit and veggie spoil rate pretty darn high.  So DH and I have been searching for convenient nearby solutions.  (God, I hope this isn't too boring!  When I start writing about recipes, shoot me.).  A customer told me that Food Bowl (right by our house) is a good place for fresh produce. WHAT?!# Alrighty, then.  So we tried it this weekend and actually had the pleasant surprise of being able to identify what we were eating with our eyes closed. Imagine that!

And then today we were driving down University and noticed that the old Albertson is now a Haggens.  Huh? So we pulled over and I went in to check out the goods. I am excited to report that it is beautiful. Really! Lots of organic veggies and fruits and a big selection.  I love bitter salad makings and they actually have radicchio (not easy to find).  And aisles and aisles of stuff.  They carry Bread & Cie and Sallie Rose breads (my personal favorite is the Chiabatta).  A darn good cheese selection.  Prepared foods that were actually tempting.  So run, don't walk if you're tired of the Von's shuffle and if Sprouts has let you down.  Here's to the neighborhood moving on up!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fickle with Color

So yesterday, I'm on my knees over the Spring color combo of lime green and pale grey.  This morning?  I'm on to Pantone's Marsala which is pictured here.  When I saw this picture on Pinterest I literally gasped out loud.  I LOVE THIS COLOR SO MUCH IT HURTS!  And it's not just the color, check out the textures! I've been monitoring Fall fashions to stay on top of color and knitwear trends and that's how I discovered this. Wine is this year's Fall color.  Deep.  Rich.  Sexy, no?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring green!

One of the best things about owning the Grove is that I get to bring in anything that suits my these awesome felted laptop cases, wallets, and eye glass cases.  Cut-outs were all the rage at the L.A. Gift Show. Aside from this collection, our clothing vendor has brought in leather-like purses with cut-outs in crayon colors.  As mild as our change of seasons is in Southern California I still feel them and am grateful it is Spring and that bright colors are popping up everywhere!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Get ready, get set, GROW!

Whew!  They're in!  A beefsteak, an heirloom pineapple and an isis. They may not look it but these containers are enormous. The middle one took almost 2 huge bags of potting soil to fill. We're not messing around here!

e thank you for the worm casings and minerals!!!  With your advice and help, this crop will be the absolute best!
Sis, thank you for helping me rearrange the deck and for doing so much of the hard work on the record-breaking hottest day of the year!  

And Krista, thank you for carefully selecting these plants for me.

It takes a village and I want enough tomatoes to feed one!

Thursday, March 12, 2015


What you see here is my ball winder mounted (sounds kind of kinky, no?) on a motor.  Yes!  A motor!  So all those 600 yard skeins of lace weight yarn are wound without any arm action.  We just push a button now.  One of the best things about the motor is it allows me to multi-task.  So I can wait on customers while the yarn is winding.  And look at the pretty cake of yarn it makes!  Awesome!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It's Just An Hour

Why does springing ahead one hour mess us up so badly?  Feeling off for two days I was wondering what on earth was going on with me. And then I remembered Day Light Savings time (DLS) kicked in during the wee hours Sunday morning. I'm pretty sure that's the culprit.  That one measly hour.

Then I came across an article (actually quite a few) regarding the increase in heart attacks, work-related injuries, and car accidents on the monday following the DLS switcheroo. There are folks campaigning to do away with DLS based on such increases.  Man oh man, I'm all for it!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Is this crocheted wreath dorky?

I can't tell whether this crocheted wreath is dorky or not.  I suppose it doesn't matter because I like it!   I'm tempted to make one out of Cleo which has an awesome range of colors.  I have lots of colors because I recently stocked up for the summer.  I can't think of a better way to show off Cleo's rainbow than to make one of these.

I can crank out crocheted flowers like nobody's business.  Sadly enough my crochet skills may be limited to flowers.  My beautiful blanket that started with such optimism is all but abandoned because I cannot, simply cannot, get the sides straight.  I'm losing stitches and it's looking more like a skirt than ever.  My crochet teacher is in the Desert this weekend and I await her return.  I am sooooo tempted to rip out the whole thing and start again but experience tells me to wait for the teacher.  And so I shall.  Meanwhile, I think I'll lift my confidence by cranking out a rosette or two.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Creative Lettering: A Trend

Last year, I started getting interested in hand lettering.  I bought a couple of books on the subject, graph paper, colored pencils, fine tip markers, all kinds of fun stuff.  And I practice with the intent of doing signs for different categories of yarns at the "LACE", DK, HAND-DYED, etc.  And now, it seems like everywhere I look I see hand lettering.  And I realize this is the beginning of a trend.  This occurred to me while I was standing on line at Starbucks waiting for my breakfast sandwich (good lord, don't ever get one of these especially the Gruyere and bacon because you too will be addicted). And their signs give the impression that someone has written them by hand.  Funny how we think we're onto something unique and special to us and then find out that the idea has bubbled up from a collective unconscious. Not to get all Jungian, but do you know what I mean?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

We've Got Fish!!!

South Park Brewing and Fish Company opens tonight next to Hamilton's!!!  

Oh man, what a good day in the neighborhood this is!!!  My excitement knows no bounds.  When I read about this place, I had this dreadful feeling that I couldn't be trusted, that I would overdue it, that before long I would OD on it. It's exactly what we need in South Park!!! Casual, good fish - much of it locally sourced (hopefully, not from the TJ river).  And, it's in walking distance from where we live.  And, it's dog friendly on the patio.  LIFE could not be better today!  Throw some light rain and knitting into the picture and BAM, it's an over-the-top Saturday.  Enjoy it!

Friday, February 27, 2015

I saw Angela Landsbury at the Biltmore!

When we opened the Grove in 2003, knitters were just beginning to come out of the closet.  My generation was career oriented and Martha Stewart had yet to make an impact on all of us making it okay to celebrate home and hearth.

Around that time, I attended one of my first gift shows in L.A. and stayed at the Biltmore Hotel.  Of course they were filming there.  It's L.A. after all and perhaps one of the most frequently used sets for a hotel lobby scene is at the Biltmore.  The bright lights attracted my attention.  I stood on the balcony and looked down over the lobby and there was Angela Landsbury, amidst all the hustle and bustle,  sitting in a comfortable armchair quietly knitting.  WHATTTTTT???  When it was time for her to say her lines, she graciously said - are you ready for me?  When they said yes, she got up, carefully laid her knitting down on her chair and proceeded to act.  Wow.

I could not believe anyone was knitting in public especially someone famous and while she worked no less!  Unbelievable!!!!  Jessica Fletcher...right there knitting away.  I can't tell you how emancipating this was for me.  When I think back to this time period, I marvel at how much knitting has become an acceptable part of all our lives today, done openly, with friends.  It is valued and that wasn't the case when I was growing up.  That touches me down deep.  So let's enjoy our freedom to do what we love anywhere, any place.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

We KNOW what we should do, so let's do it!!!

I like figuring out where the hell I am in a pattern just as much as the next guy.  So I don't usually assist a customer with an unfinished project, especially with a yarn I don't know or carry.  But I did schedule a private lesson with a customer and since the pattern required some study, I agreed to take it home, straighten it out and get the customer started on her way again.  After all, this hat (to be felted) was almost done.  So two hours later, I got it back on track.  And as I struggled to figure out this unusual structure, the following thoughts ran thought my head:

1.  Always print the pattern.  Do not rely on an on-line view.
2.  Keep the damn pattern with the project.  Pin it to it if you have to.
3.  I don't care if you're putting your project down to respond to a text with every intention of returning to it.  Mark where you stopped and where you are to start again.  Literally, I mark my patterns like this:  START HERE.
4.  Don't put it in the closet.  That is the kiss of death.  Out-of-sight, out-of-mind.  Now we all know to do these things, right?  But do we?  Not so much. Promise me you will try, though, OK?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's Time.

I do feel bad for Boston where I spent my 20's.  I read this morning that they are reaching 100" of snow so far this winter.  Ay-yi-yi!  So I feel a little guilty as I look out onto my sunshine-filled deck and spot the tomato plants Krista bought me this weekend at Walter Anderson's.  Yep.  They've got a ton of varieties for sale.  Already.  And why not?  At this point, it's pretty clear that we are not going to have a winter and I am itching to get these tomatoes planted.  I actually asked my doc if my addiction to tomatoes indicates a vitamin deficiency.  Not that she's aware of.  Oh, I see.  It's my soul that needs them, not my body.  Whatever, I can't wait to have some home-grown ones!  I've got a beefsteak, an early girl, and a pineapple heirloom.  3 plants should be enough to feed friends and family.  My desires are so nominal these days.  All I want right now is to have enough tomatoes to make tomato jam as gifts.  And I put a curse on all tomato worms.  I will not, I repeat, I will not share my fruit with them!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Learning New Things

So here I was bragging to you about being top in my crochet class, graduating with honors, etc.  I write this now so that you know this ... each and every one of us encounters stumbling blocks when learning something new.  It doesn't mean: stop.  It doesn't mean:  I'm no good at this.  It doesn't mean anything other than you need to correct something.

How, you might ask, did my blanket turn into a tutu?  I can't answer that other than to say, I missed a couple of stitches at the end of the row.  When I noticed my error, I was rows and rows beyond it.  So I figured, I'll just sew a vertical zig zag stitch in line with those rows of single crochet and cut off that saddle bag.  Make it nice and straight and then crochet a border around it.  Not sure if that's going to work but rather then rip out the whole blanket, I think it's worth a try.

You may also wonder why I didn't stop at the waistband (i.e., where the stripes start)  and consult with my teacher, Janice.  Because I am obsessive when I learn something new and I simply could not stop myself.   MY HANDS WOULD NOT STOP.  They would not listen to reason.

My path from here on out is clear.  I need to sit by Jan's side and have her double check my end stitches so I stay on the straight and narrow.  Her generosity knows no bounds when it comes to time and patience.  I am determined to make her proud some day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

RIP Grover, Welcome Blue Boy!

Grover, my very special birthday present and mascot to Yarns at the Grove lived almost 4 years, which is a good, long life for a Betta. Aw, he was so elegant and beautiful.  Almost iridescent in color. Grover made his transition (ahem) a few days ago.  Although I was pretty sure Grover had breathed his last, he has played dead a couple of times before...often after a bowl change.  This time was different though.  My husband was tasked with the job of disposing of the body.  When he was on his way to the bathroom, I asked him to make triple sure that Grover was truly dead this time.  I heard the toilet flush and he said - he is now. (Not the most sensitive man in the world.)

The first thing I did the next morning was to look in Grover's bowl with his food on hand to feed him. I didn't realize that second to coffee, he was my first thought every morning.  So, I decided it was best to bring a new Grove mascot on board as quickly as possible.  And here he is:  Blue Boy.  A male Veiltail.  We christened him with a glass of champagne at Brabant before I brought him home and set him up in his new digs.  He adapted immediately and appears to be very happy.  He is gorgeous and healthy and has a voracious appetite.  Long live Blue Boy!!!

Monday, February 16, 2015

There are knitters and then there are KNITTERS!

One of the best things a knitter can hear is that someone close to them is having a baby.  Every stitch that goes into that inevitable baby blanket is a wish for health and goodness.  Lining baby blankets with one of judipatuti's flannel fabrics is the ultimate.

I just discovered this Pinterest tutorial about the best stitch to use when attaching fabric to a hand-knitted piece.  How could I not have known about TechKnitter all these years?  Her tips and finishing techniques are downright humbling.  Her profile says: 30 years of tricks want out of my mind and into yours.  It's always learning the tricks that is the hardest part of knitting and rarely are they written.  They're the kind of things that are passed down between knitters sitting side-by-side.  So sit beside TechKnitter on line and peruse her blog that imparts a knitter's secret wisdom.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Now THAT'S Service!

You probably know about Ewe Ewe Yarns (and if you don't, you really should) and that Heather (pictured) now has a new yarn called Ewe So Sporty.  The color ways are identical to those of Worsted Wooly as are the labels.  Both make squishy, beautiful baby blankets (among other things) and the colors are just perfect for such a use.  A couple of weeks ago an out-of-town customer bought the Vanilla and Sky Blue in Wooly Worsted.  She was thrilled with her purchase and couldn't wait to start knitting.

Well, don't you know she showed up in the shop with a gorgeous half knit baby blanket to exchange several balls of Ewe So Sporty for the Wooly Worsted she was using. (How the heck did that happen?  They are shelved on opposite walls from each other.)   ARGH and we didn't have enough on our shelves to replace them!  She was leaving town that afternoon, with her husband driving.  They were on their way to San Francisco.  Good lord, and she'd have nothing to knit during that long ride.  I couldn't bear that thought!

So I called Heather and explained this unfortunate, intolerable situation and asked her if my customer could stop by her house and pick them up.  Of course Heather thought I was kidding.  No really, they're going right by you on the 5.  It took awhile for her to get that I was serious and out of extraordinary kindness, she eventually agreed to meet my customer at a Starbucks right off the freeway.  DO YOU BELIEVE THAT SERVICE!?$@!#@  My customer was absolutely thrilled.    (Now don't anybody else ask Heather to do that because that was crazy ballsy of me and she won't do that kind of thing for just anyone, and now I am indebted to her for life,).  Heather, you're the absolute goods!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Me? Crochet?

I am a die-hard knitter. When customers tell me they can't decide whether they want to knit or crochet, I immediately say - oh, you definitely want to knit. And our crochet instructor, Jan, (one of my first customers when we opened our doors in 2003) tolerates my disdain (yes, I will go so far as to say "disdain"). We have for years bantered back and forth about the "C" word.  So don't ask me how this happened, but I saw a crocheted blanket on  Ravelry and said - I don't hate everything crocheted...I actually saw a blanket I liked. "Show me", she said, with a smirk.  Well, I couldn't for the life of me find the damn pattern.  So I went through pages and pages and picked out the few blankets I liked (not sure which one originally appealed to me).  And I showed her my selections.  She picked out the one she thought would be a good beginner project which was the Country Fresh Blanket by Patons.  She said - you can do this.  What?  And to prove to her that I am open minded and only half kidding about the "C" word, I said - alrighty then.  We both picked out yarn (I chose Kenzie) and we started our respective blankets on Sunday.  And this is what I've done so far with Jan's extraordinary patience.  I have, however, taken a lot of razzing over the past week.  Jo asked me if I wanted an awl since I had trouble getting my hook in a particular stitch.  Very funny.  I accused Jan of switching on me.  I swear one time she showed me to put the yarn over the hook and another time, under it.  She laughed and laughed and said there's only one way to do it right.  Oye.  She has, however, been very impressed with my diligence and yesterday, she graded my pattern.  Apparently, I'm doing quite well and am the top one in my class, destined to graduate with honors.  Now if you excuse me, I have a color-change coming up and get to use the dark blue!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Anzula Trunk Show: March 18, 2015, 3-6 p.m.

Yep, they're coming again!  Anzula's hitting the road and heading south.  They're bringing gobs of their gorgeous yarns for you to hand pick.  We took this photo at last year's trunk show.  Do you believe it?  Don't you want to just swan dive into the middle of all that beauty, texture, and color?

So mark your calendars.  Call your friends...make it an afternoon/happy hour celebration in the 'hood!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Kimera Baby Leggings

Oh hell, will you look at that cute baby and those precious little leggings!  OUCH!!!  Kimera is a new Egyptian cotton yarn from Plymouth.  We got five different colors in this week and they look like boxes of intricately painted Easter eggs. Scrumptious.  I started the leggings pattern the day the yarn arrived and it is such a fun knit.  So fun, in fact, that I am not speeding through it.  I am taking my time and really enjoying making every stitch. When I make shop samples, I make the smallest size available.  In this case, I'm knitting size 0-3 months.  So these leggings will be off the needles in no time and available for viewing and fondling next week.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

There Are Standards, Ya Know?

This has got to be the handiest, dandiest thing in the yarn world yet hardly anyone I know knows about it.  The Craft Yarn Council has a PDF that you can download which contains standard abbreviations, standards for yarn weights, body and head measurements, etc.!  So, you know I'm in love with that Eileen Fisher top I posted a couple of days ago.  To get the sizing correctly, I refer to the Yarn Council's standards ... the Women's section that has measurements for different size women and it even has a chart that defines how much ease a particular sweater style contains.  It's all so brilliant, I can't stand it!  So take a look at this chock-full-of-information PDF and expand your knitting horizons.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Eileen Fisher Style

Saturday, my girls and I had a lovely sushi lunch at Blue Smoke in Fashion Valley (YUM) followed by a brief trip to Bloomingdales.  There was an Eileen Fisher sale going on and this lovely, simple knit top was marked down from $200 something to $70 something. Such a simple design.  Knit sideways in a stretchy tape yarn, it is just a square with a neckline.  The two sides aren't sewn but tacked about 1" into the fabric.   It seems easy enough to knit but the design isn't the challenge. It's the fiber.  Geeze, Eileen Fisher has the most awesome fabrics and fibers. They're so beautiful they hurt.  So when time allows, I will be experimenting with the yarns my reps have given me and the new yarns I've recently ordered, looking for something similar.  What an awesome summer top this could be, paired with a cami and a long shirt that peeks out below the hem of the sweater.  That's SO Eileen Fisher and we LOVE her!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why Walkabouts at the Grove Are the BEST!!!

For 12 years, The San Diego Mandolin Orchestra has delighted our customers with Christmas music during the December Walkabouts.  We love them.  It doesn't feel like Christmas until they play and once they do, their magic is infectious.  This year, we had a special visitor who increased the joy and folly of the evening (and no, it wasn't Santa). Leigh graciously captured him on video and posted his performance here. YOU MUST WATCH THIS! (Ya gotta love the 'hood!).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

For Women Only

You may remember our spectacular San Diego Capelet designed for the 2013 San Diego Yarn Crawl.  Modeled by Judipatuti's gorgeous granddaughter, Blakely, it made waves!  Judy and I were a titch envious and so we decided it was time to make a woman's version for larger, more magnificent women (speaking for myself of course).  So we chose a new Kenzie/Luxe Mohair color combo of Boysenberry and Hot Pink which is dazzling.  Judy knit this beautiful sample, which is warmer and longer than the first.  Now I don't want to call this Grandma's version of Blakely's capelet, but it kind of is.  In a good way, though.  If Judy's damn cat*, Babies, hadn't gotten so close to the sample, I would have slept in it last night.  LOVE IT!!!

*Nothing personal against Babies but I'm highly allergic to cats.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Ah, blessed relief!  The retail holiday season has come to an end.  It is time to rest and welcome the new year.  My desk is heaped with "I'll figure out where that goes later" piles.  And one of them is this bag full of Spring yarns my Cascade and Berroco reps have given me to play with. Of course this is the "fun" pile on my desk and the one to get my immediate attention. Now, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, but it is a titch difficult to narrow things down.  When I was new to the business, I used to say - you can't have too much yarn.  And one of my yarn reps said to me,  "Oh, yes.  You can!"  After 12 years in the biz, I finally understand that.  But again, I'm not complaining.

So how do I do it?  The first cut I make, is to remove any yarn made of cold weather fibers.  I put them in a bag labeled "possible Fall".  And then I separate the rest of the yarn by gauge.  I look at my shelves and figure out where the holes are.  Do I need fine, sport weight, etc.? Is the hole in my inventory one I need to fill?  For example, my customers don't go for typical baby yarns.  So even though that's a gap, it can be filled with Blue Sky's organic cotton, Plymouth's Cleo, or Berroco's Comfort DK.  

If the gauge is the same as my existing stock, then I look at price points.  I look at the color palettes.  And then I knit with the new yarn.  Is the hand better than what I have? Are the colors better?  Are there more colors than my existing line?  Is it a better deal?  And then I make my selection bringing in at least 6 colors in any new yarn.  I don't go too deep initially.  I wait to see if the yarn appeals to my customers and if it does, then I can go hog wild.

Now this selection process is done in the quiet of my home office.  Rationally, thoughtfully, and carefully.  But really?  Who are we kidding?  Most of my selections are made by impulse when my reps visit me in my shop.  When I hold a yarn for the first time and yell, "I MUST HAVE!" I usually go with that. Sometimes it turns out that only I must have and I know I've made a mistake. It's all a gamble.

If you have any desire for a yarn I don't carry, now would be the time to tell me!  I will seriously consider bringing in whatever you want cuz we're all in this together. 

Meanwhile, I am heaping blessings upon you for the New Year!