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:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Journey to The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

A few months ago, my best yarny gal pals and I decided we needed to go and see the Crocheted Coral Reef exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History before it was gone.  For those of you unfamiliar with this exhibit/project, you can find more information about it here:
Being our group’s unofficial “leader”, I threw myself into planning all the details of our pilgrimage.  After researching all of our transportation options, we opted for public transit.  Amtrak reservations were made and all train schedules were coordinated – Septa, Amtrak, Metro.   I even made up these goofy little itineraries for us all.  The plan was take the first Septa train of the morning (6:45am!) from the nearby Colmar station into Philadelphia where we would have plenty of time to transfer to the Amtrak train to Washington, DC (9:33am).   We made our carpool plans to meet at the Colmar Station for the first leg of our adventure  – Beth would pick up Becky, Carrie would drive herself, and Lee would pick me up at 6:00am.  See?  It was all meticulously planned out!  Yes, well, you know what they say about “the best laid plans”……………Here’s how the morning of our departure ACTUALLY went down:
I was awakened out of a dead sleep abruptly when my husband said “I think our doorbell is ringing!”  I sleepily asked what time it was and he replied “It’s 6 o’clock!!”   I launched myself out of bed with a shout  - (I will not subject you, dear readers, to the extremely un-ladylike expletive that spontaneously flew out of my mouth at the same moment!) -  and ran to the door.  Of course I found my friend Lee all bright eyed and bushy tailed - ready to drive us to the station – “You’ll have to go without me!” I practically sobbed!  Lee had her thinking cap on that morning and suggested maybe I could catch the later Septa train since we had some extra time between train connections.  I tearfully sent her on her way and turned to my husband, whose job it was to set the alarm.  He quickly redeemed himself by offering to drive me all the way to the Amtrak train station in Philly!   So I ran around like a maniac getting ready while he poured coffee down my throat – we hopped in the car and he drove like the wind!  I arrived at the station a mere 5 minutes before the girls.  I can’t tell you the huge sigh of relief I heaved when I spotted my girls.  It was just like in the movies:  We ran towards each other with arms stretched wide and there were hugs all around – We were reunited, and all was again right with the world!  I begged them to fire me as their leader, but they wouldn’t hear of it.  Luckily, the rest of our trek went off without a hitch and we arrived safely at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. 
We made a beeline to the exhibit, and there it was in all its wooly splendor!  The Community Reef and the surrounding exhibits contained a magnificent riot of all different types of corals in a rainbow of colors, jellyfish, sea urchins, and starfish – all lovingly depicted in yarn!  It was a party for my eyes.  The “bleached” reefs were done in all shades of whites and there was even one done entirely from vintage doilies.  The “toxic” reef was both beautiful and disturbing, in that it was made from trash, including VHS tape, bottle caps and plastic bags.  The beaded corals in another reef were spectacular!

Even though I had absolutely no hand in the creation of the exhibit, I found myself feeling so proud of how my beloved crochet was being represented here to thousands (if not millions!) of people.  I believe that crochet is STILL trying to recover it’s good name from the granny square debacle of the 1970’s, and whoever first came up with idea of granny square pants surely deserves to be keelhauled, in my humble opinion! 

As I stood before the Community Reef in awe, I was truly humbled by its beauty and creativity.  Later, I was jolted by the realization that I already  possess all of the skills needed to produce similar works of art.  Anyone with basic knit or crochet skills can do it – all it takes is a little inspiration.  This is why I learned how to knit and crochet in the first place:    To make beautiful things!  What I love about this kind of art is that there are no patterns or rules we must follow – you simply let your hook/needles and yarn take you wherever they want to go.  Oh, the possibilities are endless, and I know I wasn’t the only one who was itching to get home to my yarn and hook!  
The other take-away from this journey for me was how wonderful it was to be in the company of these women whom I am proud to call my friends.  As we were exploring the rest of the museum, I was struck by how compatible we are.  Although we are all so different in ages, backgrounds, and personalities, somehow we mesh together perfectly.  Carrie said we were brought together by yarn.  It’s true……………. Our friendship was “knitted” together by yarny goodness!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Stuff Of Legends

First and foremost, let me categorically state that I did NOT make this vest.  All due credit for this magnificent work of art goes to my friend Cheryl.  While the color work alone is impressive,  what makes this piece truly awe-inspiring (in my humble opinion)  is the technique used in its construction:  Steeking.  This vest was knit circularly in one piece and then cut to create the V-neck and armholes.  Yes, you heard me correctly folks, SHE CUT HER KNITTING – WITH SISSORS!    Yikes!  We will talk more about this in a moment.
I first met Cheryl last year, shortly after the shop opened.  She was a regular attendee of our social stitching periods.  I remember first seeing her work on this piece, and I asked the question that everyone else did;  “What are you making?  A bag?”.  It sure looked like a bag since it was basically a large tube, and because of the stunning color work – it  would have made a really fantastic bag.  However, Cheryl stated that it was to be a vest and that she had been working on it for many years.  I thought about this silently for a moment and came to the conclusion that she must be working the vest in the round up to the armholes, and then she would divide her work for each front half and the back.  Apparently, I’m not as smart as I thought I was because Cheryl proceeded to describe the little known technique of “steeking”.  I had never heard of it, and most knitter’s I have spoken to may have heard murmurings of this mysterious  process, but never knew anyone who has actually done it.   You can find a great description of it here:
Looking back on that day, when Cheryl announced she would eventually subject all of that beautiful color work (that took her years to complete!) to her scissors, every chin in the room hit the floor!  I could almost see all of those “thought bubbles” (you know, from cartoons) above everyone’s heads:  “Cuckoo, Cuckoo” , “Crazy Lady Alert!”, “Whaddaya NUTS?”!   We were all atwitter about this scary proposition, and someone told me that the legendary Elizabeth Zimmerman had commented on this technique in one of her books.  Allegedly she stated that after performing the steek (doing the actual cutting) the person should lay down in a darkened quiet room – presumably to contemplate the implications and ramifications of  committing this heinous crime upon your knitting!   
A month or so ago, Cheryl told us that she was getting close in her pattern and it would soon be time to make the cuts.  I practically begged her to let me sell tickets to this event, but alas she choose to do the dirty deed recently at home in her own quiet way.   Whether or not there were any mind altering substances involved while she steeled herself to actually do it, she won’t say!
Obviously this technique is not for the faint of heart, and it requires much courage and faith.  Now before you go running off to hack up your knitting, you should know that there are special stitches and procedures that must be put in place in preparation of steeking.  Please at least do some preliminary research and practice with waste yarn first! 
In closing, I salute Cheryl for her tenacity and bravery and for serving as a wonderful inspiration to us mere mortals.  I want to be just like her when I grow up!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Angel is Heavenly

Last night Beth debuted her completed Angel Mohair Shawl made for her upcoming class (later this month).  When she pulled that baby out of her project bag we all literally GASPED in delight! Then, we  lined up and anxiously awaited our turn to get our hands on this delicious confection!  I’m laughing now just thinking about it – we all had the same exact involuntary reaction:  We said “OOOHHHH” when we saw it, and then “AAAHHH” when we touched it and wrapped it around ourselves!  Ha-Ha!
I’ve never been a fan of mohair (merely looking at was enough to make me itchy all over!), but all that changed the moment I touched Angel, Debbie Bliss’ newest yarn.  Super Kid Mohair blended with Silk = YUM!  I tried the shawl on this morning, and it’s almost magical – Light as a feather while snuggly warm at the same time!  I love the juxtaposition!  It felt like I was wearing a delicate hug given by…………well, “Angel” wings. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Birthday to Us!

On February 19, 2011 we celebrated our one year anniversary.   Oh boy, did we celebrate and I am just now starting to feel recovered!  Haha!  Thankfully “my girls” (Beth & Becky) were here to lend a hand, and I think it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all.  I suspect there were many happy knitters and crocheters walking around this week and for that I’m glad!  I wonder how many shoppers went home that day and rolled around in all their yarn! Come on, I know the thought has at least crossed your minds – Go for it!
I wanted to thank everyone for making our first year so memorable, and with your continued support, I promise you many more years of yarny goodness!
                Happy Knit & Crochet!    Nina

Friday, February 11, 2011

Congratulations Beth!

Our very own Beth Knox can now add Master Crocheter to her already impressive list of credentials!  Recently, Beth earned her Master’s Certificate in Advanced Crochet Techniques by the Crochet Guild Of America (CGOA) and she has joined the ranks of elite professional level crocheters such as Lily Chin, Doris Chan and Drew Emborsky (aka The Crochet Dude) – to name a few!  We are so proud of her and pleased that she calls Juniper Place Yarns “home”.  What this means for you, dear friends, is that when you take a crochet class at the shop, you can rest assured knowing that you are being taught by a Master Crocheter!  Our girl definitely knows her way around a crochet hook!
Kudos to Beth for your achievement!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First Afghan - Progress!

After much ado and getting all psyched up,  I finally started my very first afghan a few weeks ago, and I am really enjoying it.  Making it in strips is so much more digestible for me!  Each "round" of the strip is different, so i don't get bored doing the same thing each round.  You can't really tell in the pictures below, but my colors are a super light blue and dark teal.  I'm also using a "join as you go" method to avoid having the sew the strips together.  I'm committed to try to get at least one strip done every week, and I have 4 done already - YAY!   I'm already planning my next one ;-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kindle Kozy

My husband and I got each other Kindles for Christmas and we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them!  Being the complete geek that I am, the first thing I thought of was to make a cover for it.  I browsed the patterns on Ravelry but didn't really like what I was finding, so I set about designing my own.  I used a bulky weight cotton for maximum thickness and softness to protect my wonderful new toy.  Here's the pattern:

Kindle Kozy

By Nina Haldeman for Juniper Place Yarns

1 skein Tabali by Ester Bitran (Bulky weight cotton)
Size I hook
1 large button

Piece measures approximately 4.5 inches wide, but WILL STRETCH to fit! 


13 foundation sc
Row 1:  Ch3, 2 dc in first sc, skip 2, sc in next, skip 2, 4 dc in next.  skip 2, sc in next, skip 2 and end with 3dc in last sc. Turn
Row 2:  Ch1, sc in first st, *skip 2 dc, 4dc in sc, skip 2dc, sc IN SPACE BETWEEN the 2nd and 3rd dc of the group, skip 2 dc, 4dc in sc, skip 2dc, sc in top of turning ch. Turn
Row 3:  Ch3, 2 dc in first sc, *skip 2dc, sc IN SPACE BETWEEN the 2nd and 3rd dc of the group. skip 2 dc*,  4dc in sc, repeat from * to * once and end with 3dc in last sc.  Turn

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until piece measures 18 inches long,  ending with a Row 2.

Last Row (Button Hole row):  Ch1, sc into next 4 sts, ch3, skip 3 stitches (you should be skipping the 1dc, 1sc & 1dc in center of row), sc in last 4 sts.  Fasten off.

Finishing:  Fold beginning row edge up to form a 6.5 inch pocket, leaving the top edge Whipstitch side seams.  Sew button on.