Category Archives: Knitting

Are you a Softee?

FeelGrate
In light of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, we thought we would focus on the people who truly embrace this day out of the year.  If you are, indeed, a Valentine’s Day fan, we salute you.  You most likely are what we, with great affection, refer to as a Softee.

Let’s take a little quiz to access whether you are one of these alleged Softee people.  Here is the quiz:

1.  Do you secretly have an extensive collection of romance novels with muscled torsos on the cover?

 

 

2.  Does your heart race (just a little) when you hear a love song from your past on the radio?

Naomi Cambell tearfully smiling

3.  Do you watch old movies with Cary Grant or Clarke Gable in them? (And let’s not forget Steve McQueen.)

Cary Grant saying you cant handle this

4.  Do you tear up watching sappy commercials on TV?

man crying

5.  Do you defend Twilight as a quality film?

Joey from Friends shrugging

We could go on here, but we believe the point has been made.  If you answered “yes” to all or most of the above questions, you are a Softee.  And, what’s wrong with that? Nothing at all!

We realize it sometimes isn’t so cool to be a Softee. In this cold, cynical world, it is easy to be scoffed at if you feel the need to drop to your knees upon encountering a puppy or see baby ducks at the park.  There can actually be eye rolling  or even gagging when you show this side of yourself to others.  But, who cares?  You are a dreamer.  A visionary in a cold, hard, jaded world. We are with you.

In light of this comparison we are making, let us explore when Valentine’s Day is expressed by some of these cynics.  Here are a few examples of when Valentine’s Day can go horribly wrong:

Valentines_Row1Valentines_Row2bad valentines

We believe our point has been made.  Left to their own devices, the Non-Softees just make a muck of things.  So keep your chin up.  Know that you are making the world better by believing that vampires sparkle in the sunlight.

(Do you know who is a bit of a Softee as well? That awesome guy, Thor.  He is a sucker for Valentine’s Day.)

Thor with a heart

Awesome Thor Valentine

Wool You be my Valentine?

Why, lookey here.  We’ve got ourselves a Valentine for knitters!  So, let’s talk about knitting.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we thought we would do something special.  On that day, everything red is 10% off in the store! There you go, Softees.

After Valentine’s Day, our store will be closed from Sunday, February 19th through Wednesday, February 22nd. Don’t worry! We’ll be back Thursday, February 23rd with all your favorite yarns, patterns, and knitting goods.

Stop by this magical month, and see the new things coming in!  We are here to help you put a project together, or help you with an existing one. We also like walks on the beach, writing poetry, finding ourselves, braiding each other’s hair…okay, now we’re just messing with you 😉

From these two Softees to another, Happy Valentine’s Day!

See you soon!

Diane and Christin

little boy aiming a gun at your heart valentine

Yikes.

 

Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas is just around the corner! If you’re looking for a gift for the knitters in your family, how about one (or more) of the knitting products from Chica? They have amazing products that make a knitter’s life so much easier, like a needles and notions case, or a project bag that not only holds your knitting project but feeds the yarn to you perfectly! 

Project bags and needle and notions cases

We are bringing back our Web Only Sale of two great Schacht products for the holidays too! 10% OFF on the Schacht 18″ Cricket Loom and their Ladybug Spinning Wheel. Order these in time for the holidays! You can order now on our website. 

Loom and spinning wheel

If you think your loved one would like a gift experience, you could buy them a lesson from our store. We offer lessons in knitting, crochet, and weaving. You can purchase a lesson gift certificate and your loved one can choose instruction on just about anything he or she wishes to learn. If you can’t think of the perfect gift, we also have gift cards! We have a lot of stuff in our store, it is all pretty wonderful, and we always have more coming in! Doesn’t that make you just smile? ( We’re smiling pretty much all of the time just thinking about that. We just love seeing that UPS guy.)

We’re happy to help you pick out the perfect gift. Stop by soon!

Diane and Christin

An Honest Thanksgiving?

One of the major themes in the recent presidential election was honesty. In light of the emphasis placed on this issue, we got to thinking. Honesty should not only be a political theme. It should ingrain itself into one’s personal life as well. There is nothing wrong with living an honest, wholesome lifestyle. And what better time to start this new honesty thing, but on Thanksgiving Day? Let it be an opportunity for one to cleanse oneself of the lies and deception we have readily shared with our friends and relatives. What do we mean by this? We think you know. It’s the little things we have omitted in an effort to maintain harmony and peace with our loved ones. But, for one day out of the year, let’s try this honesty thing. Let’s come clean, and tell people what is honest and true. Here are some suggestions:

Tell your Aunt Sally that, yes, you have heard the story about Mickey Rooney winking at her. Take time to tell your cousin Bertha that her baby closely resemble Gerald Ford (it’s a girl). How about your Uncle Stanley? It’s time he faces the truth: anyone with two eyes can see that he is wearing a hair piece. Instead of smiling through Aunt Irene’s “famous” pumpkin pie, tell her she should make something different. Or perhaps stay out of the kitchen altogether. And don’t forget about Uncle Hank. You can finally give him a piece of your mind about hogging the candied yams.

Well, maybe honesty isn’t always the best policy. Sure, you could tell all of your relatives what you really think of them this Thanksgiving and break all of their little hearts with your truthiness (Stephen Colbert invented this word.) But, what’s the point? Let’s face it. The truth can be tough to hear. And you don’t want to slaughter people in the name of honesty. You are one of the sweetest people on the planet. You’re like the good witch, Glinda.

Glinda the Good Witch

Let Aunt Sally tell her Mickey Rooney Story. Your only real job here is to act surprised again. She is 93. Pour yourself a scotch and gasp when she gets to the winking part.

Tell your cousin Bertha that you see her granddaughter in the political arena in the future. (After all, it doesn’t hurt to already resemble a past president.) Maybe she will be our first woman in the oval office.

Politely ask Uncle Hank to pass the candied yams. You’ve been dealing with Thanksgiving politics for years. You know how to handle a food hog.

As for Uncle Stanley, there is only one thing to do for him. Knit him a great hat. Who knows? Maybe he will become a hat guy. No need for a toupee under a hat, right?

And speaking of knitting, we have the perfect hat for your Uncle Stanley. Loopy Mango has come out with a great hat kit. The merino is super soft, and the hat only takes a few hours to make (around three). Great for Uncle Stanley and it looks good on women too. Here it is below: This kit comes with the needles, the pattern and the yarn (and this cool box). The kit is priced at $39.00.

Woman in a gray, knit cap

You are welcome, Uncle Stanley.

We are also getting an unspeakable amount of Madeline Tosh arriving next week. Just in time for the holidays. Could anything be better?

But for now, our store is adjusting it’s hours for the holiday. Tuesday, November 22nd, we will close at 4:00pm. We will be open all day on the 23rd, but closed Thanksgiving Day to celebrate with our families. We will return to normal hours on November 25th. Yay!

Have a great Thanksgiving. Smile and hug everyone a lot. There is nothing wrong with being a Glinda. And, remember: on this one particular day, alcohol is your friend. And that’s the truth.

Pumpkin pie

Sigh.

See you soon!
Diane and Christin

Three Little Words: Back to School

Indeed. Back to school. It’s quite a “hi tech” activity these days. One simply goes online, prints out the new list of school supplies, and heads to Target. Or, they can be assisted by their new best friend in the whole world: Amazon. Just check off those items on the list, and they show up at your door all set and ready to go to school this year.

But, we decided to really go back to school. All the way back to when their were no “fancy gadgets.” Back to when the closest thing to Facebook was a photo album. A playlist was who you were meeting after school on your soft ball team. A tablet was a pill you took when you were sick. Yep. These kids today have it too soft. They didn’t play on monkey bars that were metal pipes set in concrete. They didn’t slide down a rusty slide that burnt your butt and dumped you on (of course) concrete. They didn’t wish for a short monogrammed last name like Stone or Smith, so that it didn’t disappear into each of your armpits of your gym suit. And ever really look at your pictures when you were at school? Oh yeah, that’s what your hair looked like before blow dryers.

But, there were some perks. Like actual food in the cafeteria. And let’s not forget, back in the day, you were encouraged to eat all of the food groups. Skinny was a bad thing. Marilyn Monroe was curvy. And when you got home from school, you watched Band Stand. You learned the latest dance. You twisted, and you played 45’s on a hifi. You actually learned math, and practiced good penmanship. There was no texting. No Twitter. No Instagram. There was Ed Sullivan, Gun Smoke, and Bonanza. (And later the real Star Trek).

Nothing beat new school supplies either. The list was short. New pencils (in their new pencil case), an eraser, a ruler, a scissors, some paste, a loose leaf notebook, and those cool black and white composition books (that are retro now). You had actual school books. You went to the library. You had a set of encyclopedias that contained all the knowledge of the world. You did reports and dioramas. You actually copied and pasted by hand. Downloading was stuffing feathers into a pillow.

(You know who went to school back then? That awesome guy Thor. He probably was the star quarterback in his school.)

We learned how to cook, sew, and looky what we have here…we learned how to knit!

And, speaking of knitting, we should mention what is coming into our store this month.

Our newest order of Anzula Cricket is arriving this week. It is gorgeous yarn of merino and cashmere in beautiful colors. New Loopy Mango cotton, that makes a fantastic baby blanket or throw. Really fast and easy.

We are featuring this month Toft CrochetedAnimals. Here are just two of them. There are dinosaurs, a pink flamingo, a sloth, a bat, and lots of others. If you crochet, these are really fun!

They are on our website to order at: http://www.knittingtoknowewe.com/toft-amigurumi-kits/

And, boy, are we weaving! Our weaving teacher, Sara Armstrong, created a shawl version of the Unicorn Tail Scarf with Madeline Tosh Merino Light and Shibui Silk Cloud.

unnamed (6)You can make a scarf just like this using a Cricket Loom. We sell these wonderful looms on our website at: http://www.knittingtoknowewe.com/weaving-and-spinning/ and in our store.

Get started weaving with a class with Sara by calling our store at 215.598.9276 or writing to us on our website. We will get right back to you to set up your class. Weaving with Sara is awesome. It’s a great new thing to do this Fall.

We are getting new things in all the time. Check out our new shawl pins by Jul. Here are just some of the beautiful pins to use with the new shawl you can make this fall.

You can order any and all of them on our website at:
http://www.knittingtoknowewe.com/accessories/shawl-pins/

So, as you stroll through the Back To School aisles in your local Target store, watching everyone check off their list of school supplies, smile. You know what a warrior you were when you were getting your school supplies. You survived with only three channels on the TV. You had a transistor radio and a princess phone. You knew what real milkshakes tasted like. You ate hot food on a tray at the school cafeteria. You wrote letters and put stamps on the envelope. And you went to the movies to see Star Wars for the first time. And almost everything you owned is now for sale again at Urban Outfitters. Yes, you were a warrior all right. And you were cool.

Stuff You Never Have to Do Again

We all have stuff we absolutely can’t get out of doing. Lots of things, like paying taxes, going to the dentist, walking the dog, colonoscopies, and maintaining good hair. And, after all, we are pretty responsible people, aren’t we? We’re tough. We do what has to be done.

And we do it 24/7.

But we realized that there is this other list. The list that has stuff to do on it that nobody is putting a gun to your head to do. Stuff you just think you have to do anyway. But, good news! You don’t have to do anything on this list. You just didn’t think it through. No gun here. No devastation if you do not do any of these things.  We have comprised a list of just a few examples of things that never have to be done again.

Here goes:

  1. Assembling anything made by IKEA.
  2. Ordering broiled flounder anywhere.
  3. Vacuuming out your car yourself.
  4. Sharing your dessert with anyone. (Come on. First sweet  treat in three months. That is why they give you a fork  instead of a spoon. Makes a great weapon.) You know who never has a problem with someone trying to share his dessert? That awesome guy, Thor. They probably give him their desserts to share. He is that awesome
  5. We can really help with number 8. We are getting new Habu in this week. We just got in more beautiful Shibui, and we are on our way to the convention this weekend to buy more great stuff for you!  So, the store will be closed Saturday and Sunday, June 11th and 12th, so we can check out what is new and fabulous, and then bring it home.Planting bulbs with that weird, round, hole making thingy. (Hard work. The squirrels eat most of them. And big deal. They last like a week.
  6. Wearing pointed-toed, spike heeled ouchy shoes. You think you look great, but nobody looks good when they are dealing with that much pain.
  7. Volunteering to make that casserole with the string beans again this Thanksgiving. Stay quiet during the meal planning. Let somebody else go looking for cream of mushroom soup and those onions that come in a can. (Let’s face it. It’s a very strange casserole.)
  8. And how about this? Continuing to work on that sweater you have been knitting for, like eleven years now, thinking that you have to finish it because it is a reflection on your character and good name if you do not. Big news; nobody cares at this point. The sweater is probably out of style by now, and you don’t even wear that color anymore. Plus, you are not enjoying knitting it. Geez. Just come in and pick out something new and gorgeous and exciting to make.

 

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, June 18th, at 10:00 a.m., by the Newtown Business Association, welcoming us to Newtown! We are excited to be part of Newtown, and appreciate this warm welcome. In honor of this special occasion, there will be a nice surprise at our store that day. Watch for more details to come.

Feel free to add as many items to the list as you wish. Nothing beats listing things you never have to do.  Well, almost nothing beats it. ( Maybe that store that has the little blue box beats it, or finding out Johnny Depp has had a crush on you since he was fifteen, and wants to take you too Paris for the weekend, beats it.  But that is definitely it.)

See you soon!
Diane and Christin

The Health Benefits of Knitting

knitting health benefitsAsk anyone who knits, and they’ll tell you that knitting makes them feel better. It turns out that there’s science to back up that feeling.

Writing on the New York Times’ Well blog last month, Jane E. Brody discussed some of the health benefits of knitting.

For example, there was the Craft Yarn Council’s “Stitch Away Stress” campaign, which argued that the repetitive action associated with needlework can lead to the sort of relaxed state you’d find in someone meditating or doing yoga.

“Once you get beyond the initial learning curve, knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol,” Brody writes. “But unlike meditation, craft activities result in tangible and often useful products that can enhance self-esteem. I keep photos of my singular accomplishments on my cellphone to boost my spirits when needed.”

Brody also discusses other ways knitting makes people feel better:

  • A survey by British wellness coach Betsan Corkhill found that 54 percent of respondents who were clinically depressed said they felt happy when knitting. (Brody doesn’t say this, but other reporting we’ve seen on the link between knitting and alleviating depression notes that it may have to do with the fact that the repetitive act of knitting releases serotonin, a natural anti-depressing.)
  • Another study by Corkhill looked at the effects of knitting on chronic pain on 60 knitters who reported the act allowed them to redirect their focus, making them less aware of their pain.
  • Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that knitting may help to reduce decline in brain function later in life. The study, which involved 1,321 people between 70 and 89, found that those who enjoyed crafts like knitting or crocheting had less of a chance of developing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss.
  • Karen Zila Hayes, a life coach in Toronto, uses knitting as a therapy to help people give up smoking, (“Knit to Quit”) and to help people cope with health crises (“Knit to Heal”), such as a cancer diagnosis or a family member’s illness.
  • Knitting has been shown to help people with the eating disorder anorexia. A study at the University of British Columbia in 2009 found that nearly three quarters of the 38 women surveyed said knitting lessened their fears and kept them from dwelling on the disorder.

After reading Brody’s NY Times piece, we got curious about other health benefits associated with knitting. It turns out there’s been a number of studies on the topic:

  • In a study sponsored by the American Home Sewing & Craft Association, Dr. Robert Reiner of the New York University Medical Center’s psychiatry department found that sewing helped his subjects relax.
  • Knitting doesn’t just help improve memory function in old age. A 2011 study in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences showed that knitting – and cutting back on TV viewing — during middle age decreased the odds of developing cognitive impairment and memory loss later in life by 30 to 50 percent.
  • Knitting keeps us connected and improves our self-esteem. Completing a project makes us feel better. Making something that we can give to other people makes us feel better. Anytime we’re involved in a creative process, we want to bond with others who do what we do, which reduces loneliness and isolation. And getting positive feedback from those people makes us feel better.
  • Knitting strengthens our coordination and dexterity. These are skills we pick up early on, but the act of manipulating needles around yarn keeps them sharp.
  • Knitting can help us sleep. A study by Professor Herbert Benson of the Mind/Body Medical Institute found that 100 percent of insomnia patients found their sleep improved after knitting. Ninety percent were able to give up their medication.

Knitting is fun, it’s relaxing, and it brings people together. If you’re looking to be part of a knitting community in Bucks County, look no further than Knitting to Know Ewe. In addition to selling yarn, needles and other supplies, we hold a variety of classes to help you feel like a knitting all-star.

The Value Of Trying Things That Scare You (Err, Knitting-Wise, Anyway)

knitting projects

photo by Purl Bee

With every project I start, I try to choose a pattern that involves a skill I’ve never tried before. A weird new increase, an exotic cast on—something like that.

I don’t always get it right immediately, and sometimes I rip it out a bunch of times and have to step away and have a cup of tea or glass of wine before gathering the emotional strength to cast on and try again. When it finally does click in my brain and I persevere, I feel so much prouder of myself than if I had just done another project in my comfort zone.

Recently, I tried two-color brioche for a hat pattern. I had done brioche stitch, but not with two different colors. I decided this was something that had to be in my arsenal of knitting knowledge.

I failed miserably the first few times I tried it, because it is a bit of a pain to get started if everything isn’t set up just right. But I was not dissuaded! I ripped it out and started it as many times as it took. The feelings of accomplishment I felt when I finally got it to look like it was supposed to were worth the feelings of frustration and annoyance that came before it. It looked so cool! I was proud of myself for not giving up.

If you’re one of those knitters who thinks they can only handle making stockinette stitch rectangles after knitting for something like five or 20 years, I suggest you wander a bit out of your comfort zone and try a project that teaches you a new skill.

It might be challenging at first, but it’ll be good for your brain and your self-esteem, and we’re always here to give you tech support and emotional support if you don’t get it right away. I promise you it will be worth the effort and the angst when you’re done!

On the Aesthetics of Luxury Yarn

luxury yarn

Jade Sapphire 8-ply Mongolian Cashmere

I wanted to keep this simple. I have written many times about using luxury yarn in projects in a number of my blogs posts. But this time, I wanted to talk simply about the aesthetic experience.

Yarn itself is a wondrous thing. It comes always from a source of life. Whether it be animal or plant or both, it once was part of a living thing. Sheared, cut and spun, it is transformed into another form of itself. A form that is pliable enough to manipulate into so many different forms that are unique, useful and wonderful. From garments or blankets to soothe and keep you warm, to rugs, bags, and even wall hangings.

When I hold a skein of Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere in my hand, the beauty of it is unmistakable. It is so soft and vibrant. I always think about the animal in Mongolia that was sheared, and what his world looks like. Has he been pampered and fed only the best of food to create his beautiful coat? How far has that coat traveled (and to where?) to be cleaned and spun into a wondrous skein of yarn? What did it look like and feel like before color was added to it?

I am currently making a scarf from Jade Sapphire, and I have enjoyed the project from the minute I casted on my first stitch. Although I use and enjoy circular needles (Addi Turbos being my favorite), there is nothing more satisfying to me than using a pair of gorgeous Lantern Moon Needles to work with wonderful yarn. In my opinion, they were meant for each other. The needle, being handmade out of palm wood, rosewood or ebony (my favorite) feels as luxurious as the yarn with which I am working. They remind me of a violin. The wood polished and smooth, and just slippery enough. Together with my cashmere, they complete the experience.

Continue Reading On the Aesthetics of Luxury Yarn

Knitted Holiday Gifts You’ll Actually Finish in Time

knitted holiday gifts

Let’s be real here. You may have grand plans for all your holiday gifts: sweaters, blankets, etc. You might finish one of those things sometime in February, if you’re very disciplined.

Instead of living with the all-too-familiar shame of owing people knitted gifts long past the holiday season, why not make everyone on your list a more manageable project you can make many, many of?

Take these Audrey mitts, for example (upper-left). They use only one skein of Jade Sapphire 8-ply cashmere. They take about an afternoon to whip up. You have plenty of time to make a whole bunch of them.

Continue Reading Knitted Holiday Gifts You’ll Actually Finish in Time

Needle Felting for Fall

Fall is upon us! It’s time to start working on the big, cozy sweaters and blankets that will help you get through the winter. In the meantime, though, you need some small projects to keep things fresh. Have you tried needle felting? It’s super fun. You take a big chunk of wool roving, and you stab it repeatedly with a very sharp needle. Doesn’t that sound incredibly satisfying? Considering that it’s fall, now would be the perfect time to make wee little pumpkins and witches and ghosties and decorate your house with them!

Knitting Yarn
You can even get a head start on holiday presents with our new Artfelt kits, which include stunning scarves, coffee cozies, and iPad covers. If you’d like to learn how to make any of these things, give us a call or send us an email and book a personalized lesson! You’ll be ready for fall in no time!

Knitting Yarn

Happy Knitting (and felting)!
Christin and Diane