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.

Well of Course We Know How to Barbeque!

It’s summer!  What a great time of year! Nothing but great, really, really warm fun, right?

There is nothing like laying on a beach, or in a hammock, or in a swimming  pool,  taking in that great summer fun. ( Plus, lots of sweating, sunburn, mosquitos, and poison ivy.)  How great is that!!

And what about picnics? Nothing like an old time family picnic to get the summer started. And what would a real family gathering be without the thing that says summer the most?

Why, of course we are talking about a barbecue!  And who doesn’t know all about barbecuing?  (Well, actually, we don’t. We actually have never barbecued.  But, hey, that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t. We are certain that we could barbecue if there was some sort of a barbecue emergency. How hard could it be?  We already know the basics)

We already know all of this:

There are various foods that one must procure for a barbecue.  We are just skipping this food supplying part.  We imagine some sort of hunting takes place. So, let’s say that the food is at the barbecue already. All prepared and what not.

The barbecue is some sort of container where the fire lives. Sometimes people poke the food with sticks. Sometimes people put a stick right through the food and then they spin the food. There is also a flippy thing that is used to turn the food over. So, we figured out that the idea is to keep the food in constant motion. Either poke it, spin it, or flip it. Just keep the food moving, and you can’t go wrong.  See? We’ve got this.

It is also pretty important to wear some sort of a hat. Like a chef’s hat, but more festive. It usually has something written on it. An apron is worn as well. Again, writing on it seems to be the thing to do. We have decided this is to identify one as a cook to the other cooks.

We would like to note that there is also some involvement with tiny black bricks. We have heard that these bricks are used before the fire comes. We have surmised that these bricks are used to build something before you have to start moving the food. We are guessing it keeps the cook occupied. We thought of many things that can be built with these bricks. A tiny house? Maybe a chair? How about a cool pyramid? We have decided that we would build the pyramid.

(You know who probably knows how to barbecue really well? That awesome guy, Thor. There is no need to have writing on his apron because everyone knows Thor. He really looks good in his barbecue outfit below, right? Plus, he knows all about fire. He is that cool.)

Cool Barbecuing Thor.

So, as you can see, we have figured out enough about barbecuing to do it if need be. We do, however, know a lot more about knitting. Speaking of knitting, we have just returned from our convention this month, and can’t wait to get all the stuff we ordered. Some of it is already at our store. But, we will be getting a steady stream of new things for the next few months. ( New Loopy Mango, new Habu, new Shibui, new Madeline Tosh, new gorgeous accessories from Jul, Cocoknits, Chica, and new Knit Collage. Just to name a few things. We will keep you posted as these things arrive. They will be on Twitter and Facebook)

In the meantime, we are having a party!

It is a “Let’s Go Crazy Party” in honor of Prince!  It will be on Sunday, July 17th, between 1:00 and 3:00. There will be purple sangria, Prince music, and everything in the store that is purple will be on sale!  We will be making an awesome shawl by Stephen West, called Rising Dawn. (Named after his mother, so sweet!).  It takes only two skeins of Madeline Tosh Twist. The event is free. Come and have fun and start your shawl. It is a really fun shawl to make, and, if you have never made a Stephen West shawl, this is a perfect first one.


Rising Dawn Shawl by Stephen West

Our store will be open on Saturday, July 2nd, and closed Sunday, July 3rd. We will be supporting someone who is barbecuing that day. Now that we know how to barbecue, we want to congratulate this unsung hero we call the cook.

Plus, we want to see what he builds with his tiny bricks.

See you soon, and have a wonderful July the 4th!!

Diane and Christin

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

Step Out Of The Box!

At the store, I hear the same thing a lot of the time. “I am a new knitter. I only know how to make simple things like scarves.” On more than one occasion, I have been told that only socks have been made. This one baffles me. If a knitter can make a sock, he or she is basically good to go to make anything else I can think of. Just because it is small, doesn’t mean it doesn’t require skill and technique to make a good sock. To me, socks are like cookies. Some cookies require more baking skills and technique than a full course meal. Learning to work with double pointed needles or the magic loop is a lot to learn and master. Socks can be a truly gratifying project to make. In my mind, nothing beats a pair of handmade socks for a gift. They are little works of art. And, if the person receiving them has a brain in their head, they have to appreciate the work, skill, and sincerity that was put into them. I am working on a future blog just about socks. There is a lot more to say about them. I am also almost finished designing a bag for the sock maker—the Sox Box. It is another version of the cone bag designed for Habu cones. Below you will find two different versions of the cone bag.

Continue Reading Step Out Of The Box!

Why You Should Start Your Projects For Winter Right Now (Yes, Right Now)

While it has started to become just a tad warm out there, and you probably don’t feel like knitting with wool, hear me out.  You normally don’t start your sweaters, coats, and blankets until it starts to get a bit cooler, right?  Well, those are pretty big projects.  They take a lot of time, especially if you like working with small gauge. My thinking is, why not start those puppies now so you have them by the time it cools down again? How awesome would it be when October rolled around, and you had a toasty cardigan made of, say, baby alpaca, merino wool, or cashmere all blocked and ready to go? Pretty darn awesome, that’s how much. Continue Reading Why You Should Start Your Projects For Winter Right Now (Yes, Right Now)