Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

For the record, I didn't take the wonderful photo of the fireworks.  A friend from Provincetown took it a few years back. She is a an amazing photographer.

The holiday, being in the middle of the week, doesn't give us much time to party, visit or relax but it is still wonderful that we celebrate on the actual holiday and not at the convenience of making it a Monday holiday for a three day weekend for some. Having two family members that share our nation's day of independence is pretty neat.  My brother in law thought as a child he was REALLY special because everyone celebrated. with fireworks even!

There was no work on my Windley this weekend.  So my goal was shot with holes but it is okay!  We had a surprise visit to the store and our home by my sister and her significant other from Maryland!  Imagine getting a call at 8 am call from ypour sister, listening to dogs barking-  WAIT - my sister doesn't have dogs... OMG!   Those are our dogs barking!  She was at the entrance gate to our farm.  They stayed for Sunday and Monday then left late last night to fly home. 

For those who have family close by, you are blessed.  We also had a surprise visit from Evie, who was in our cooperative of local artisans  years ago then moved to Philidephilia to be closer to her husband's job.  She and her husband decided to take a spur of the moment trip to New England.  We are blessed to have made some really wonderful friends through our cooperative and store.

Being an independent yarn store, we will be closed tomorrow only, opening again on Thursday. We hope to visit with family, pet our animals and say a silent t"hank you" to the men and women who fight for us every day for the independent our forefathers fought so hard to achieve. Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Progressing along

It is hard to believe it is June 30.  Many have taken this coming week off to celebrate 4th of July which falls in the middle of the week.  Our store will be closed for the 4th but open Tuesday and then again bussiness as usal Thursday through Saturday.  It is a fun time of the year, helping people pick out projects for their upcoming trips, whether a day trip on a vacation of a few days.  We are thrilled when some come in looking for that perfect hand crafted item to take to a friend or a hostess.

Last night was our hand spinning gathering.  It was nice to see what people were working on.  We also played "guess what fiber this is" with Suzanne and Tracey.  Thanks to all the ladies who ventured out.

I am progressing along nicely with Windley.  Yesterday was the first day I have not progressed at least my 4 inches a day goal, but I am ahead of schedule so I can't complain.  My new goal is to have it completed by this coming Monday evening.  With the store closed both Sunday and Monday, except for skirting a few more fleeces, and dyeing more yarn from the farm, I should meet my goal.

The piece of new equipment for stitches you see my Lago yarn on in the photo is called a Yarn Buddy (double).  We used to have one of our artisan's husband make them for us and they were called syarn peed turners.  After your yarn is wound into a ball, you place the skein on the spindle.  The buddy has ball bearings underneath and so it will turn smoothly as you knit.  These are terrific for traveling also because the two pieces do not come apart.  I am knitting both sides of the front neckline at the same time so I need two balls- thus a double yarn buddy!.  We are thrilled to be one of the first brick and mortar stores to be carrying George's Yarn buddies.  He has made our first shipment in many different types of woods.  You are welcome to order an exotic wood yarn buddy also.  He has many in stock.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Daily Routines

Today is a gorgeous day in Natick, MA and surrounding communitues.  Many of us who work at Iron Horse have a very quick commute to work;  I am one of them.  Today, I took the route to work that takes me past a beauitful pond that has a breeding pair of swans.  This year I have watched the pair produce four cygnets (baby swans).  For a few days I didn't see any of them swimming around.  That concerned me because the pond has snapping turtles who take the young as well as fox that will also take them.  Yesterday and today I have seen the pair and two of the babies.  There is something about the calmness of seening them glide across the pond as I am waiting in a long line of stop and go traffic to take a right at the stop light. It has become my rountine lately to look for them every morning and pleased when they are spotted.

I stop at a favorite coffee shop and they now know my preference of drink and how I like it.  It has become a routine. It is also my routine that every time a new person steps through the door of our store to greet  and welcome them.  It doesn't matter if it is the first time they are here or the 100th time.  We learn your name and your preferences to yarn, needles, patterns, hand crafted gifts and more.  It is our routine to make you feel special.

Stayed tune for prgress on Windley tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Setting Goals

Life always has challenges for us.  We also create our own challenges.  Many times it is just setting goals for ourselves to achieve what we want. Summer time is a hard time to be creative for many stitchers, hand spinners of yarn and weavers because we are also creative in other ways and with great weather, vacations, gardening and children sometimes under foot it is hard to get everything done.

Two weekends ago I set a goal for myself. Being the owner of Iron Horse doesn't allow me much time to stitch for myself.  We have a great family vacation planned for the end of July and I really wanted to make some neat clothes to take to the hot climate of Florida.  I wanted to make Windley, a great pattern from Berroco out of one of their new yarns, Lago.  Lago is made of viscose and linen so I knwo it will be a cool garment and travel well.

As I casted on last Monday evening, my goal was to knit 4 inches a day until completed.  Every day I am measuring my progress.  I am thrilled to say at the moment Ihave surpassed my goal and have the back totally done and working on the front, which has a pleated end near the bust line so there are almost twice as many stitches on the front as the back.  If I keep this up, I hope to have it done in another week!  I will keep you posted. My color of choice is above and I am using one of Allie Loehlin's great yarn bowl to tame my yarn ball while knitting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Having fun!

For those who shop in small independently owned stores, whether it is a quilt shop, hardware store or yarn store, each has it's own personality and that is what makes you want to support them.

It is the same with each class or workshop we teach.  Each group becomes a support group, encouraging each other through the rough spots of their projects, encouraging each other to finish and when they slam a goal, the enthusiasm is overwhelming.  Many times if they are not already friends when they start, they are friends at the end of 6 weeks.  It is also a support group helping each other through life's challenges.  We are blessed that people feel they can come in here and are comfortable enough to share their lives with us.

Last night was the last meeting for our Tuesday night 6 week class.  Many will come back for our 4 week class running and some will go their own way for the summer. Many in our Tuesday group decided they wanted to make mittens.  They were not just any mittens either, they were Yarn Harlot's Cloisonne mittens, a pattern she sells through Ravelry and her own website.  Many of these women are beginner knitters but they were up for the challenge.  Patterns were purchased, needles were picked from the store and we gathered stash yarn, some from the store, some from each other and even more special some from "Nana" Hannah's stash who is no longer with us.

Not only did they learn how to make a mitten, they learned how to change colors AND they learned the magic loop technique.  Helene was not here to celebrate the finishing of mittens but we kept in touch texting while she was on her vacation.

As a mentor to this wonderful group, I am so proud of you!  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help with your knitting journey.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The "Art" in yarn

Last night at the store Ashley Martineau taught her fancy plying techniques, how to ply "rope", seashells, boobles and coils.   It is amazing what each participant made from just two bobbins of single plies.  A little samples of their finished products are above. Ideas of what people can make with this very creative yarn were flying throughout the store.  She will be offering her great classes again in August!

The June hand painted fingering weight yarn project is done!   You are looking at the wrong- private side. Sorry the photo isn't that great but it is off the blocking board and in the store as I type.  This is the scalloped shawl from the Malabrigo 3 book. I am very pleased with the gradient look of using the semi solid  towards the end of the scarf. The lace part is actually the semi - solid in blue.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Work in Progress

It seems anyone who works with their hands have "works" in progress.  Gardeners always have one more bulb to plant or weed to pull.  Painters have one more brush stroke to apply.  Knitters and crochets have one more stitch to bind off.

Above is my work in progress.  The three skeins of yarn are from our June hand dyed-hand painted fingering yarn of the month club. the work in progress is a beautiful shawl from Malabrigo 3 book.  It is using the hand painted skein as well as the tonal blue from our June club.  It is almost done!  The June club is closed but there will be a new group for July that one can choose from.

Also selected to go with the shawl is a beautiful hand crafted bracelet from one of our local artists.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Colors mimick nature

Mother nature is truly amazing!  While working in the garden early this morning, I was in awe of the bright, cheerful colors of the flowers and greens.   Nature doesn't have colors that clash within the garden. There are all kinds of shades and hues. Nothing is forced.  Nature also inpsires the dyeing of yarns.

It is fun to hand painted or kettle dye yarns from our farm.  The photos are from our garden this morning and the yarn is our merino/cashmere blend in a fingering weight The yellow green is hand painted and the purple is an ombre.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What looks cool

It is a rainy day in Natick today.  We like to think that Iron Horse can brighten your day with hand crafted gifts from local artists as well as all the wonderful yarns, books, patterns and more.

We are fortunate to carry many different wonderful yarns from leading yarn companies as well as hand spun from local artists and from our farm in Sherborn. At the moment, we have Berroco's Lago garment trunk show in house as well as their Big Kids/Little kids trunk show. 

Every once and a while a hand designed, knitted piece just catches the eye of eveyone tht walks in.  The above photo is of "Windley".  It is made with Lago yarn.  Windley is the perfect name for this top.  It is light, breezy and will fit a variety of women, petite to large, young to elder.  It reminds us of cool breezy days at the beach. The yarn colors are beautiful from bold and bright to soft and pastel.  We are getting a new shipment of yarn in tomorrow along with more pattern books.  The hands are twitching to start this piece!

We have Noro Iro and Noro Kureyon sock yarns at a huge discount this week until supplies are gone.  The company has decided to no longer make these beautiful yarns.  Darn!  Just when we have some great models in the store in each yarn.

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Knitters are like fragile fragrant flowers

This is a picture of my magnolia bush that my daughter gave me for Mother's Day this year.  It is one of my favorite flowers with its heady sweet fragrance.  It is also one of the hardest plants to keep growing and blooming.  Many times it will just drop its buds and leaves and die.  Why?  I have found through the years of being given this wonderful plant and trying everything, that what it needs most is love and a little TLC with some patience..  It needs bright light, space with no drafts, encouragement with water and fertilizer and humidity with heat.  This is the first time I have received one with just buds and given it all the above ingredients and it is now rewards us with beautiful white flowers and fragrance throughout our home.

So how does this pertain to knitters and crocheters?  They are like the magnolia, at times fragile with their projects, needing encouragement, TLC and patience. Everyone learns differently.  Many have high expectations of themselves and some times us.  But with time, patience, TLC and encouragement we are rewarded with someone completing their project in class, wearing it proudly or giving it as a gift with a smile on their face. 

It has all been worth it!

Monday, June 11, 2012

What do you do when you have a day off from the store (Iron Horse)?

There really is not a day "off" when you own and run a farm.  Today started with feeding and watering  animals.  It is also a time to physically appraise the health and well bearing of the animals. Next came working in our vegetable and flower gardens.  The weeds are faster than our pease, lettuce and radishes! The plan today is  winding some hand dyed and painted wool yarn that was dyed yesterday and into new skeins for the store.    With the yarn of the month club just starting again, this keeps the dye pots happy and full.                                                                                                                     
 Friday a shipment of roving came back from one of the three processing mills we use so some time has been spent winding the roving into balls.  We are fussy where our raw fiber goes because we want to be sure we receive our own fiber back.  After the processor ships back to us, we personally wind the roving into 4 ounce balls.  Occasionally, we will also place some of this roving into our needle felting sample packets.These "balls" are all 4 ounce balls from locally bred, rasied and sheared in Sherborn, MA.  This fiber happens to come from a friend's flock of Corriedale sheep in a rich natural white- cream color.  Some of this has already been reserved for two stores in California.  So boxing up and shipment is on the agenda today. The rest will go tonight to Iron Horse and be placed in the cubbies for hand spinners and needle felt makers.

Tonight is our monthly "Stitch Night" from 6:30-8:30 PM. It will be fun to see what everyone is working on and hear about their plans for the summer.  It is one of the  most pleasant times in the store.  All are welcome.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Knitting in Public

This week is World World Knitting in Public week.  It started off yesterday and runs through next Saturday.  We thought this was the perfect time to re-create ourselves and try to get our blog up and running again.  We are most fortunate to have Martha working in our store who blogs often and has offered to help!

It is funny to have a week to celebrate knitting in public when many of us who do portable hand work often have that project bag stuffed in our handbags, as an extra tote "just in case" there are a few moments between our daily rush to get a few stitches done. Please, no knitting and driving.  Only knit if you are the passenger.

The weather is great, we want to be outside more, why not knit in public?  Take it to the park, the kid's games, a cook out, the doctor and dentist office.  Think of portable projects like socks, gloves, mittens and baby projects.  We can fill your head with ideas.  Just drop into the store, Tuesday throught Saturday.

We have knitting "in public" in our store, the second Monday night of each month (it is this Monday everyone!) from 6:30 to 8:30 PM as well as every Thursday morning 10 AM to 12 noon. Both sessions are complimentary.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stitch Night!

Once a month, usually the second Monday night of the month, we open the door wide to welcome all stitchers in crochet and knit to sit around the table, using us what one is working on, show of finished projects and encourage you to continue on. Last night was no exception!

Pam had two of her knitted characters with her, a great Santa and a wizard who was was standing patiently watching over us when all of a sudden his hat would just pop off his head and drop to the table. This happened a couple of times. We deemed him magical!

Barbara showed off her gorgeous cowl made with Iron Horse Farm's hand dyed Merino/cashmere/nylon fingering weight yarn out of the 60 Quick Knits Project book by Cascade Yarns. Jessica was wearing one of her creations as well as another sweater completed in hand.

The sock yarn swap happened again on the floor for those knitting the miter sock blanket and the Beekeeper's quilt afghan.

Overall there was a lot of good cheer, great stitching and wonderful company. Til next month!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's Thursday!

Another Thursday has passed. Thursday mornings are a great time in the store. It is a complimentary meet time for stitchers. Whether you crochet, knit, are a beginner or advance, it doesn't matter when all come together for the love of fiber.

We are all enablers! We ooh and ahh over everyone's projects. Someone usually has a great new pattern or book for us to wet our appetite and have to purchase for the store.

Our latest "craze" is Frog Tree's Origami pullover sweater made out of delicious sport alpaca. It is a beginner sweater of two rectangles of a K1, P2 ribbing! Mindless knitting. We have actually decided to make this our KAL starting January 20, Friday from one to five. We will continue this casual meeting of hands and needles (yes, crocheters, we have the crochet version also)until most sweaters are being worn by their creators. Stop in for the whole four hours or just a few.

The leaves of the table have been tucked back into their storage space, the stitchers have left for their lives outside the store and all are inspired and ready to tackle the world!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What should it be - Long or Short?

When looking at the list of projects one wants to create, the debate becomes does one pick a short or long project?

If you are a producer, whether it is a detailed project or not, you will finish it from beginning to end with little distractions. Then, if you are like me, I am a productionist who has many projects on the needles or hooks at the same time.

So again, long or short? For long the project will be an afghan designed by Lion Brand called the Slipped Stitch Afghan that will be made out of Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride yarn. Mr. UPS should deliver the yarn in the colors wanted this week.

For the short, it will come out of the new Knit Noro Accessories book. We already carry the book and all the Noro yarn in this book. So for the moment, the short wins over the long.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 - New Year's resolution

As we head into 2012, many reflect on things that they should have, could have done, thus many of us make resoultions to only break them a few weeks or months later. Let's change that!
Our store in Natick embraced the holiday season with the shelves loaded with hand crafted items from favorite artisans and a few new ones in the local area. We have been well received by the community in Natick. We ahve been in the center of Natick over two years since moving from our small sotre on our farm. Knitters and crochet artisans are still finding us which s wonderful! New weavers and hand spinners are realizing those dreams of being a artisan of years ago by weaving and spinning beautiful yarns are right at their finger tips with workshops and classes we offer.
The decision was made to keep the store closed today to give everyone a much deserved break from the holiday hub bub... It was a busy day at the farm, dyeing our Merino, Cashmere, nylon fingering yarn as well as dyeing new roving colors. The fun part is coming up with different color combinations and that watching them appear as we hand paint or kettle dye.
The farm will be represented at the Farm Wool Days at Russell's Garden Center, http://www.russellsgardencenter.com/wayland_winter_mkt.html in Wayland, Saturday, January 21, 2012 10 am to 2 pm. We are excited about this venture! We have not done any shows in 4 years and this is so close for us to attend. We have to thank Peggy Mallet for insisting we needed to participate. We will have roving, yarn, both natural color and hand dyed, wool felting sample kits and more!
What is one of my New Year's resolutions? To write more on our blog!