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April 2008 Newsletter!

In this issue:

  • Using Crochet without Crocheting
  • Kit of the Month: Crochet Hook Sets
  • Limited Edition Shepherd Sock May Color: Coming May 1st!
  • Turning Scarves into Throws: Scarf 6
  • Go Green!
  • We have a blog! (And help on how to use it)
  • Suss Brushed Alpaca - $3.99 a hank!

Click on any highlighted text to view the item in our online store!

Using Crochet without Crocheting

I am not what you would call 'a good knitter.' When I took my first knitting lesson, I was a perfectionist: at work (software engineer), at play (rugby) and at home (the apartment was rearranged on a daily basis). And knitting was no different: I'd knit, rip out, knit, rip out... and then repeat until the yarn was frayed. Ugh. Somewhere along the way, I discovered that I didn't have the time to be perfect anymore. So, in typical fashion for me, I went to the other extreme: now when I make mistakes I don't fix them (no one will EVER see the armpit of my sweater)... and if I'm 1 or 2 stitches off, I just execute a few K2TOGS. It drives Sandy crazy, but has made my [knitting] life a lot less stressful.

Non-perfectionism notwithstanding, the saddest part about being a mediocre knitter is that I'm an even worse crocheter. I don't know what it is about crocheting that is so difficult for me. I think that is has to do with the abstractness of it. To give you a little history, I spent the last semester of college in Houston, TX - interning with a Federal Law Enforcement Agency (the story from how I got from there to software to yarn will come another time). The secretary of the Agency quickly took me under her wing (we were the only females for miles) and patiently taught me to crochet during the lunch hour. And I use "patiently" liberally: I just didn't get it. It took me WEEKS before I could get a granny square to actually be square. But once I got the hang of it, I couldn't be stopped - I must have crocheted 30 blankets over the next couple of years. I was definitely addicted. In fact, the blanket below is one I made for my grandmother many years ago. My grandpa said that she used it every day before she passed on. He recently gave it back to me so that I would have something tangible to remember her by (ah, but what I wouldn't give for a device that could hook up to my brain and print out my memories). Ok, I'm rambling. Sorry.

Step 1

As usual, why am I telling you this? Because somehow I lost those crochet abilities after learning to knit. I've tried, but every square turns out to be a trapezoid ... or a hexagon. So, in the spirit of not banging my head against the wall, I've decided that I will reserve crocheting for putting borders on knitted items. And I couldn't be happier. I LOVE knitting up a tank top and then crocheting a contrasting color around the neckline, armholes, and bottom. Or - crocheting a border around a baby blanket (I'm planning to do that with the pink/brown one I'm working on right now...). And now I'll show you how to do the same!

Step 1

Step 1: Insert your crochet hook through the hole right underneath the little "V" (it's a stitch that has been bound off). Using the hook, grab the yarn that you want to crochet with (the red yarn in this example). (Note: If you're not working on an edge that is as clean (the sides, for example), just insert the hook through part of the edge - and try to consistent in terms of where along the edge you are crocheting.)

Step 2

Step 2: Pull the red yarn through and keep it on the crochet hook (basically, you just used your crochet hook to reach through and capture the red yarn...)

Step 3

Step 3: Using the same technique as in Step 1, insert your needle into the next stitch to the left... and grab the red yarn again. Once you pull that through, you'll have 2 stitches/loops on your crochet hook.

Step 3
Step 4

Step 4: Now, use the hook to grab a bit of the red yarn. Pull that red yarn through the 2 loops on the hook (not too tightly). You'll be left with 1 red loop on the hook.

Step 4

Now that you have 1 loop on the hook, keep repeating Steps 3 and 4 until you've worked your way to the end of the swatch. Since this is a square (I can knit a square!), there are corners. You'll want to treat each corner as if it were 2 stitches... In other words, you're going to crochet into the corner twice (as opposed to just crocheting once into each stitch above). That way, the border won't buckle around the corners. Once you get all of the way around the swatch, you can finish it by repeating Step 3, but inserting your crochet hook through the first red stitch you made. Instead of leaving it on the needle (for a total of 2 stitches), pull that stitch through the one that was on the needle... cut your yarn and pull the cut end through that last stitch. Voila!

Step 1

You can see the entire Using Crochet without Crocheting article on our website. The pictures are larger on the website so you can really see what is going on!

Kit of the Month

Every month we feature a new yarn + pattern combination at a special kit-of-the-month discount...

Now that you're all pumped up from reading the article, we've discounted our favorite crochet hook kits as an incentive to try crocheting (or to use it more often). The Ultimate kit comes with every size hook we have, nestled inside one of our favorite Lantern Moon Silk Needle Cases. (Wanna know a secret? I use my silk needle case for storing lipliner and many possibilities!!)

By adding this kit to your arsenal, you're pretty much guaranteed to always have the hook you need. And even if you don't want or need one of these sets, you might want to consider picking one up as a future gift. From what we've heard, the price point is perfect for Mother's Day, Birthdays, and other gift-giving holidays... (I've tried to convince doug that July 4th is a gift-giving holiday, but he's not buying it).

Bamboo Gift Set
The Bamboo Set (5 hooks)

Save $10!! (Now $41.68)
The Ultimate Bamboo Set (9 hooks)

Save $16!! (Now $64.08)

Limited Edition Color - Arriving May 1st

The May Lorna's Laces Limited Edition color will be available on May 1st (we'll send a reminder email)! And make sure to look for the ad below in this summer's Interweave Knits magazine. :)

Can't remember what the previous colors looked like? No fear!! We've put together a summary of the Lorna's Laces Limited Edition Colors for reminiscing. :)

Turning Scarves into Throws : Month 6

The Free Pattern for Month 6 of our 'scarves to throws' journey is finished! The scarf is knit in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Cedar.

If you're just starting, you can find the Month 5 free pattern, the Month 4 free pattern, the Month 3 free pattern, the Month 2 free pattern, and the Month 1 free pattern (as well as an explanation for what we're doing).

April is Earth Month

Knit Green!

While flipping through channels the other night, I sort of got sucked into a documentary about the human impact (aka 'footprint') on the planet, and I got to's time to talk about knitting green! The documentary can be summed up in a few words--we need to reduce our impact on the planet, and fast. Personally, I've got a soft spot for polar bears, coral reefs, and forest creatures; but whatever your motivation is I hope you'll be inspired to make your next project green!

The number of green yarns available this season is nothing short of amazing. Organic yarns are, of course, organically grown; but green knitting goes far beyond organic!

  • Ultra-sustainable bamboo grows quickly and so requires less land for production

  • Soy, crab, and corn fibers are byproducts of the food industry (they make yummy yarns, too!)

  • Recycled yarns, are well, recycled from new textile waste.

  • Color-grown cottons and wools aren't dyed, they're actually grown in the color of the yarn!

Here are some of our favorite green projects, but be sure to check out our Go Green Corner for more ideas!

Cabled Strap Tank
Cabled Strap Tank

Swirly Girl Socks
Swirly Girl Socks

Soy/crab blend!
Green Line Worsted Pillow Posies
Crocheted Pillow Posies

Organic wool!
Chevron Trim Top
Chevron Trim Top

Recycled cotton!
Baby Beanie Hat Baby Beanie Hat
Color-grown cotton!

FYI: Vogue Knitting is conducting a Live Chat with Yarn Editor Tanis Gray on April 30th. in the spirit of their most recent issue (the Green Issue), the chat will be centered on organic yarns. If Green is your thing, you'll want to check it out!

And here's the link to the Vogue International Green Issue.

Tech Talk :: Getting the Most out of a Blog

Jimmy's Blog

We've set up a blog. (Note that when i say "we", i really mean "me"... but that's just for now - this will soon become a team effort.)

At first i resisted, but have gradually warmed up to the idea of blogging (as you can tell from my rambling). Since i've never really read anyone else's blog I'm not sure if mine (ours) is any 'good' or not. I'll let you be the judge. And i'm not really sure what i should be writing about... after a bit of deliberation, i finally realized that the only think i can write about is what i know: yarn, my dogs, my husband, and my life. Yep, that's about it. Plus, i'm having fun posting photos of the guys (Buddy and Wiley) in their everyday life...running, jumping, sleeping, and getting into trouble (e.g., Wiley and the Ab Fab Kit).

Enough rambling - if you want to read about me (and 'we'), you can go to the blog. What i wanted to share with you now are a few blogging lessons that i've learned over the past few days. Let me set the stage:

I read Inc. magazine regularly. I was reading the new issue last week and noticed that they publish a few interesting blogs on their website."Great!", i thought... "this will be the perfect opportunity for me to get familiar with the whole blogging concept." So, i went to the Inc site - found the blogs they had referenced - and started reading. The blogs were helpful. I learned a few things - and would like to read them on a regular basis. Problem was, the posts were all spaced about a month apart. As much as I enjoyed reading these tidbits of wisdom, there is no way that I'll remember to monitor their website for new posts. Can't I get an email every time there is a new post? Or some sort of signal? I saw the "subscribe to: Posts (Atom)" link at the bottom of each page, but when I clicked on it, it just added their site to my internet explorer as a favorite (sortof). Bottom line: I still have to remember to go look and see if there is a new post. At this point, I know I must be missing something. There has to be a way for the blog to let ME know when it has been updated. Enter my other, smarter half - Doug.

The same links are shown below if you would like to add Jimmy Beans Wool Blog to your favorite homepage or feed service.

Subscribe to RSS:
Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Subscribe Via My MSN

He reminded me that most search engines (google, yahoo, msn, etc.) have customizable homepages. The idea is that you make (for example) your homepage - the first page that pops up when you open a browser. You can then set up the page so that it only shows you things/news that you are interested in (e.g., new recipes, horoscopes, E! news). And many blogs now (but not all) have links on them (the left photo above) that allow you to 'add' their blog to your homepage. Once you've done that, every time your homepage is opened, it will go to that blog and see if anything new has been posted. Voila! The news is coming to you.. I didn't realize it, but Doug added those little RSS tags to our website a few months ago. If you click on the Jimmy Beans Wool RSS Feeds page, you'll be able to get product reviews, press releases, and other news delivered straight to your homepage...!!

Another option if you do not customize your own homepage on msn, google, yahoo, etc. You can click on the Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) at the bottom of the Jimmy Beans Wool Blog. Then it will show you the feed in your browser. Just click the "Subscribe to this Feed" link near the top and it will be added in your browser to be viewable whenever you like. Meaning, now if you use Firefox as a browser (or Internet Explorer, or whatever), link to the feed will show up under your blogs. In Internet Explorer 7, if you click the Star you can either see your favorites, blogs, or history. After subscribing to the blog, you will see the Jimmy Beans Wool Blog under your "feeds" category. In Firefox you can choose where you would like the feed to show up. When you get to the subscribe page you can choose the category and click the "subscribe now" button. Now it is added like a favorite in your browser. This makes it easy to go look at your favorite blogs whenever you like!

Now i do realize that i'm a little slow on the uptake - and that most of you already have this figured out... but i've talked to a number of you who didn't realize it could work this way... and that's why i thought you might be interested in my humbling experience :)

Super Sale :: Suss Brushed Alpaca

Suss Brushed Alpaca

I was on the phone the other day with one of my favorite knitters Suss Cousins when she mentioned that she had an overstock of her luxurious Brushed Alpaca. Like many of you, my mouth instantly starts to salivate when i hear the word "overstock" or "discontinued" - as i know that means that we (you and me) are about to get a great deal! Don't get me wrong, i spend most of my money on regularly priced yarns (for the store and for myself), but it's always nice to get a break! If you've knit with Suss' yarns before, you know that you won't be disappointed. And, at less than $4 a hank, you simply can't afford not to order a couple of hanks!

Suss Brushed Alpaca is $3.99 per ball (normally $9) and comes in 6 colors. Try it for one of these projects (can you believe the prices??!!):

Easy Cap Hat

From $3.99!!!
Cozy Scarf

Only $27.93
Crocheted Salem
Ribbed Edge Vest

From $27.93
Crocheted Striped Scarf

Only $23.94

What We're Working On

Even if i'm not working at the computer, my fingers are still going... they're just knitting instead. Same with the wonderful girls in the store! Below is a sampling of what we've gotten accomplished lately (on the knitting front, that is).

Modular Blanket
Modular Baby Blanket For Aimee

I'm knitting this blanket for a pregnant friend of mine. She's having a girl and is decorating the room in pink and brown. The pink and brown in Berroco Pure Merino was perfect! After trying a few different patterns (and getting bored), i saw this book on the shelf and decided to try Modular knitting! The finished blanket will be about 32"x32".

Ashley's Felted Bag

We've had the Felt Me sitting on the shelves for a few months and have simply been too lazy to knit with it. Ashley finally stepped up to the plate and selected a cute little purse pattern from the 101 Designer Wonders book...didn't it turn out well??

Ab Fab Kit
Ab Fab Wedding Gift

When my best friend from grade school called to tell me she was getting married, i was ecstatic! The wedding is on May 3rd. And of course, i just realized on April 10th that May is coming up - and that i need to buy her a gift (i am in the wedding, after all). Hmmm... I've always wanted to finish one of the Absolutely Fabulous Kit, so here's my chance! We just have to keep our fingers crossed that Wiley doesn't get into the yarn before i do!

Jeanne's Naturlin Crocheted Salem Throw

Once the Naturlin came in, it took Jeanne about 5 minutes before diving in and pulling out the yarn for this project. it's only been about 2 weeks and she's almost done (and it looks perfect). If it were me, these circle would look more like eggs!

Join Us for Our Daily Walk!

Recently I (Jeanne) have been ill and have realized that part of the problem is that I am so addicted to knitting that I won't get up and exercise. Laura (aka Jimmy) has given us the go ahead to start walking around lunch time and we will take turns on who stays in the shop. So, with that in mind I would like to put a call out to any and all of you who would like to join us on this daily walk. You can just show up and we are going to plan on walking everyday right around 1:00. We will meet at the shop. Now I do know that some of you work and only have a lunch hour free, so for now this is a tentative plan and we can adjust things as we go. I am also going to suggest that you bring your knitting and we can walk together and knit too! Let's support each other in our efforts to get healthy, so we can live and knit for a very long time! You can call or email for more information.

Happy Knitting to all and I hope to see you here at the shop soon! Jeanne

Thanks for reading and Happy Knitting!

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Contact Us

Jimmy Beans Wool
4850 Joule St. Ste A1
Reno, NV 89502

Toll Free in U.S. and Canada (877)529-5648
Phone (775)827-9276