Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Living Social Deal Of The Day!

Greetings Fiber Enthusiasts!

We are currently offering a "Deal Of The Day" through Living Social, and you can find it here:  http://www.livingsocial.com/cities/994-philadelphia-northern-suburbs/deals/261264-crocheting-or-knitting-class-and-10-for-supplies

This offer entitles you to a 2 hour lesson/class with one of our knitting/crochet experts.  This is a private, one-on-one session, and is scheduled at your convenience during our regular shop hours.  You will also receive $10 towards supplies!   Please note that your voucher cannot be used for group classes.

Grab this deal before it's gone!

Happy Knit & Crochet!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

DIY Purse Handles

I recently finished crocheting a bag that was in need of some handles.   The only handles I could find were rather cheap and junky looking, and I didn’t want to purchase anything online – sight unseen.  I remembered seeing a blurb online somewhere about using plastic tubing – what a great idea!  However, there were no directions, just “Hey, you can use plastic tubing for purse handles!”.  So I put my thinking cap on and figured it out!

First of all, the plastic tubing is a great because you can thread some of your project yarn into it to get a perfectly matched set of handles.  You can actually thread anything through it as long as it fits:  leather cord, a string of beads – the sky’s the limit!   It’s also rather soft, so it makes a nice padded handle.  And lastly, you can make it any length you want – I’m rather finicky about the length of my purse straps:  I like a length whereas I can hoist my bag onto my shoulder using only one arm (meaning the strap needs to be at least as long as my wrist to my elbow).  I don’t understand why all commercially made bags these days have such short straps!  I hate that!     

Here’s what you’ll need:
                Vinyl tubing – I found mine in the plumbing department at Lowe’s (a mere $4 bucks for a whole 20 foot roll – that’s a lot of purse handles!)  I used clear vinyl size 3/8 inch x ¼ inch.

                Book Rings -  Found at Staples, or any office supply store.  I used the silver, but couldn’t resist getting the brightly colored ones too!

                A piece of wire longer than your handle will be – I’m not sure what gauge my wire is, but it needs to be stiff enough to feed through the tube, but flexible enough to bend.

                All purpose scissors & an Awl with a sharp point

I measured the handles on an existing bag, and cut my tubing to this measurement.  My tubing was relatively easy to cut with my regular scissors, but if it were any thicker, I probably would have had to break out the power tools!   Then my husband used the Awl to poke 2 holes in the end of each tube approximately ¼ inch from the cut end.  He knows enough to not let me use sharp pointy tools – hahaha!   I suppose you could also use a drill to do the holes, but again, I should be kept away from power tools.  ;-)

The real challenge was how to feed my yarn through the tube.  You can’t just poke it in there.  My dear husband was the real genius on this one!  I love that I can simply tell him what I want to do, and he finds a way!  Anyhoo, he gave me a long piece of flexible wire with one end bent into a tiny hook.  I fed that baby through the tubing, wrapped my yarn around the hook, and pulled it right through the tube - Voila! I literally squealed with delight (I know, I’m easily amused!)!   Be sure to complete this step before attaching rings.

We then opened up the book rings and put them through to holes – this required much pushing and wiggling since the holes weren’t very big.  Close the book rings and position them where you want – I worked the open & close part so that it was inside of the tubing, leaving the hinge part to be covered by the tabs I crotched onto the bag.  Simply fold the tabs over to encase the ring and sew into place.

And there you have it – a customized set of purse handles!  Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hits and Misses (Otherwise known as Successes and Failures)

We’ve all made items that we’re  proud of, and let’s be honest,  it feels really pretty darn good to get complements on our handiwork.   Whenever I’m complemented, I smile and say “thank you”.  However, I’m laughing inside thinking to myself; “if they only knew of  all the other things I’ve made that didn’t turn out so good”.  Trust me, for every successful piece I’ve made, I could show you an entire drawer  full of failures!  Over the years, I learned a lot of little tricks on how to turn some failures into successes  - you know, making Lemonade out of Lemons!   For example, if my sweater came out a little too small, I can block the heck out of it to (hopefully) get it another inch or so bigger.  If my sweater came out a little too big, I can sew a few running stitches in the right places and make invisible gathers.  Same method for too long sleeves.  There’s all sorts of things you can do to MAKE it work!

However, recently, I made a fatal mistake.  Right now, it seems insurmountable, but maybe after the sting of failure wears off, I’ll come up with something! 

Last week, I finished knitting the Garden View Shawlette in the prettiest pale blue cotton.  This was one of the most  fun  knits I have done in a long time, and my mistake was not done in the knitting, but in the finishing process. 

The only blocking method I’m comfortable with is soaking my items in the sink with water and a little wool wash (or hair conditioner).  I usually let it soak for 10 minutes or more, squeeze out as much water by hand as I can without wringing it, then roll it up in a towel to get more moisture out of it.  I lay dry towels on the floor (I have a large 3rd floor room in my house that doesn’t get much use, so this is the perfect place for me!), then I lay out my item and push and pull it into the shape it’s supposed to be, and leave it like that until it’s dry (usually a few days).   

When it came time to start blocking my Garden View Shawlette, I realized that I had another item (a placemat) that needed to be blocked as well.  Since “thrifty” is my middle name, I figured “why not just do these 2 pieces together!”.  Well, I checked on my shawl and placemat last night, and much to my horror, there were spots on my shawl! See them below (you look, I’m still too traumatized!) 

 I screamed – I yelled – I even threw in a few swear words for good measure!  Nothing changed the fact that my shawl is basically ruined.  I’m not 100% sure, but I think the placemat might had bled a little during the soaking and left the offending spots on the shawl.   !  I didn’t notice it when I was laying it out to dry but  I can’t think of any other explanation!  As far as I know, no one in the household has been on the 3rd floor in days, so I can’t imagine anything happening while it was there.    It HAD to have been from the placement, and perhaps we should change my middle name now to “bonehead”!   
P.S.  Here's the stupid placemat:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Off Topic and Completely Unrelated to Knit or Crochet

I’m not really a morning person.  It’s not that I’m grouchy (I’m actually quite happy in the AM), it just takes me a while to wake up and get going.  So much so that my husband has dubbed me a Turtle.  The really funny thing is that our dog is the same way!  He LOVES to go back to bed after my husband takes him out in the morning. 

I don’t like having a clock on my bedside table because I cannot resist checking the time if (when!) I wake up in the middle of the night.  I find that knowing what time it is messes with my mind.  For instance, if I take a peek and it’s midnight, I’m thinking “UHG!  It’s only midnight – why did I wake up so early?!".  Or if it’s 5:30 I’m thinking “Rats, I only have an hour left!".  Therefore,  I’ve been using the Alarm feature on my cell phone.  Since viewing the time on the cell phone would require me to press a few buttons to “wake” it up, I can easily resist checking the time in the middle of the night.   I can also pick from a number of jaunty little tunes to roust me at the appropriate time in the morning.    This worked brilliantly until yesterday when I overslept because my cell phone failed to emit any sound whatsoever at the appointed time.    Apparently my smart phone isn’t so smart after all!  Maybe the speaker went bad, I really don’t know, but now I can’t trust the blasted thing!

Last night I unearthed an old alarm clock that I inherited from my Dad.  It’s this fancy schmancy contraption from Hammer Shlemmer that has a number of quirky features.  You can pour these “Aroma Beads” into the top (I have several different scents including “Stress Relief”, “Energy” & “Calming Lavender”) and when the internal light comes on, it apparently warms these tiny wax beads releasing their scent.  It also has 6 different “soothing” sounds that you can choose to either wake up with or go to sleep to.  These include “Ocean Waves”(it’s the sound of distant waves gently coming to shore), “Zen Melody” (a twangy instrumental sound you would expect to find in a Japanese restaurant), “Gentle Rain” (the pitter patter of rain with an occasional soft distant rumble of thunder), “Morning Birds” (self explanatory), and 2 others I can’t remember right now.    There are also a handful of different  combinations you can use for the alarm. From their little pictographs, they looked like “Buzzer only”, “Light with Sound” , “Scent with Light”, etc.  I didn’t  really pay close attention to these and picked the one all the way on the left which looked like “The Works”.      I did wake up a few times last night (and of course could absolutely not resist the dreaded “time check” – Uhg!  It was 12:24!)  

I awoke this morning to the gentle sound of “Morning Birds” and light (but alas no scent of “Calming Lavender” – oh well).  It was really pleasant!  I looked at the time, and much to my horror it was only 6:15!  What gives?  I know I set that thing at 6:30!   So I did what I do every morning and hit the “Snooze” button.   A few minutes later (10 minutes maybe), again with the birds and the light.  I’m thinking “okay, I can deal with this”, and I hit the snooze again (I typically do this for about a half hour!  Remember, I’m the Turtle!).  The next thing I know, I hear this horrendously loud ear splitting screeching sound that caused me AND the dog to literally vault out of the bed.  “OMG!  WHAT’S THAT??!!” I’m thinking while I fumble with every button on that damn clock to get it to stop.  I look over at the dog, and he’s glaring accusingly at the alarm clock (thinking the exact same things as I, no doubt!).  In hindsight, it was quite comical and I wish you could have seen us  (well maybe not me in my jammies with my hair looking like it just came out of the blender!), but the expression on my dog's face!  You can't make this stuff up!    Funny aside, It was nevertheless thoroughly traumatizing to both of us, and I can tell you that I NEVER want to hear that sound again!

I realize here that the alarm clock did its job (oh, I got out of bed – that’s for sure!), but did it have to be so obnoxious about it?!  I mean, come on, I would have eventually got up!  I don’t know how anyone could face their day with a smile after such a rude awakening!   I’m convinced that some inanimate objects have minds of their own.  This alarm clock sure takes its job seriously!  After I hit the snooze button a few times, I can just picture that alarm clock saying to itself “I’ll show her!  We tried this the easy way, now it’s time to bring out the big guns!”   It’s like the one-cup coffee maker I have at the shop.  I swear sometimes that thing hates me!  I never know if I’m going to get a full cup or not.  Believe me, you do not want to get between me and my coffee!  The Turtle NEEDS her coffee.

Any-hoo,  me thinks I’ll try one of those other alarm settings tomorrow morning, and hopefully there is a combo I can live with.  If not, I’ll have to buy a new one – it was truly that awful!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Seasons Greetings Dear Fiber Enthusiasts!

 Wishing you a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends and Yarny Goodness – From your Juniper Place Yarns Family 

Please note that the shop will be closed on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.   Our normal weekly hours are in effect otherwise.  Regular hours are listed below.  Don’t forget that January is the official “Selfish Stitchers Month”! 

Sunday & Monday:  Closed
Tuesday:  10 – 5
Wednesday:  12 – 8
Thursday:  10-5
Friday:  10 – 4
Saturday:  10 – 5

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Conquering Our Fears And Trying New Things

From an early age, my father always encouraged me to try new things.  I vividly remember the time he tried to get me to taste blue cheese salad dressing.  It went something like this:  My father said “Do you want to try some?”   “EWE! NO WAY! was my reply (anyone with kids knows the exact tone that was used here!)  He said, “Try it, it will put hair on your chest.” (this was his standard answer over the years every time he tried to convince me to try something – not just food either!).  “Very funny, Dad!”   After much harassing, I finally tried that icky looking blue cheese dressing, and guess what happened?  No,  it did NOT put hair on my chest (thankfully!), the world did not tilt on its axis (again, thankfully!), and I actually liked it!  In fact, I LOVED it, and still do to this day!

At the shop, I always encourage my customers to try thing they may perceive as “too hard”.  I really dislike those pattern ratings of “Beginner/Easy, Intermediate, & Experienced.”   Most knitters I’ve talked to consider themselves beginners (even ones who have been knitting for years!).  I think most people are much better than they think there are.  All they need is some encouragement.  Beth is fond of telling her beginner knitters that she can teach them the basics, and then they will spend the rest of their lives learning the rest.   It’s so true and that’s just what our parents did for us as children – They taught us the “basics”, and we spend the rest of our lives learning the rest!  The key here is to not be afraid to try new things.

Recently I decided it was time to pony up and conquer a few of my own knitting fears – well, not exactly fears – lets just call them “strong aversions”!   Carrie was knitting a hat and I really liked it and want to make one too.  The problem was that the entire thing was done in ribbing (1 x1 no less!) and that double pointed needles would eventually need to be used.  There they were, my 2 biggest “Strong aversions” staring me in the face!  Over the years, I have steadfastly avoided any knitting project that required ribbing and/or double pointed needles.  It was time to follow my own advice and just TRY it – what’s the worst that could happen?

First of all, I had the pre-conceived notion that constantly moving the yarn back and forth – as required in order to knit any kind of ribbing – would surely be enough to drive me to the brink of insanity and commit Hari Kari with a knitting needle!   However, I really wanted to make this hat, so I figured I would give it a go.  Guess what happened?   There was no screaming, and no yelling,  and Holy Cats, I actually LIKED it!!  It was very rhythmic, and all that back and forth didn’t bother me a bit!   Huh, how bout that!

Before long, it was time for the dreaded double pointed needles.  I truly thought there was no way I had the coordination to handle these – all those points poking out everywhere!  And what about the needles not in use?  Won’t my stitches fall off the other end?  This is very scary stuff!   Well, I put on my big girl panties and JUST DID IT!  Yeah, it was awkward as all get out, but I knew what needed to be done, and I just tucked those extra needle points wherever I could to get them out of my way, and of course, no stitches fell off the other end either.  I can’t say I loved it,  but at least I know I can do it whenever the need should arise. 

So this one’s for you, Dad!  Thanks for teaching me the “basics”!   I believe there is no limit to what we can achieve as long as we are not afraid to try new things!  Next up for me – 2 Handed Fair Isle Knitting!

P.S.  Here's the hat: