Saturday, May 31, 2014

As The Wheels Turn~

Tucked away at the end of a strip mall and  the bustle of  Greenwood, Indiana is Starstruck Cat Studio, a haven for fiber artists.  It's located on Meridian Park Lane, behind the Kroger store on Highway 135 (to those of us out-of-towners).

If you knit, crochet, weave or hook rugs you will find all the supplies you need there.  The knowledgeable staff  will assist you with your purchases and can  advise you on your next project. 
Customers are encouraged to sit and chat together in a cozy corner dedicated for learning and sharing.

I visited Starstruck Cat Studio while on a recent yarn crawl, Roving Indiana.  I immediately noticed a wonderful selection of notions, needles, books and bags.  (They had me at hello.)
So when Susan, the owner phoned me to request I bring a trunk show to help celebrate their 4th Birthday this weekend, I jumped at the chance.  After all, a yarn shop seems my natural habitat and who could resist hanging out with fellow fiber artists for a couple of days? 

After dodging potholes, a couple of traffic delays and more than a few impatient Friday afternoon drivers, I arrived at the shop with a trunk full of yarn, patterns and baskets of shop models.
I was greeted by Heather, the store manager (and a great asset to the studio, I might add) who helped me settle in. The next few hours were spent talking with customers who eagerly shared my enthusiasm as they tried on the models I brought and chose Alpaca With A Twist's Baby Twist, Socrates, Fino and Surino yarns for their next project.  A few decided to join our next online KAL which begins in a couple of days.  (Contact cathi@alpacawithatwist.com for more information)
Others just couldn't resist the beautiful colors or luxurious feel that is un-mistakable  alpaca. 

Even better, a tempting discount for all purchases if you buy a project bag (at a discount, of course).  It's a gift to the loyal customers who make Starstruck Cat Studio such a nice little corner of the world!

So it is with eager anticipation I look forward to spending today with new friends and folks who are as passionate of their craft as the staff of Starstruck Cat Studio...and no, I did not see a cat sleeping in a basket of yarn, on a sunny window ledge or anywhere else in the shop.  Makes me wonder how they got the name...


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Surprise!! A new KAL and Spring!

There are two kinds of people, those who love a surprise and those who abhor them.

For the fan of surprises, a mystery knit a long is a great adventure.  Those folks quickly sign up and wait impatiently for the first set of instructions to hit their inbox.

While still others think "Heck, no way!" and "What if I don't like it?" or "What if I can't do it?"

It's been a long winter here in central Indiana and having a little mystique might just get us through  the next few weeks. To celebrate the arrival of spring 2014
Alpaca with a Twist is hosting a Mystery KAL.  It is a fast knit, it's fun and best of all, it's free!

All you need to do to join us is send your email address to cathi@alpacawithatwist.com by March 20.  Your first set of instructions will arrive on the 21st, along with a few of my favorite knitting tips.

If your heart is pounding and you are now skimming this post...go ahead and sign up....You won't be sorry.

If you are beginning to chew your fingernails and are trying to justify why NOT to sign up, let me encourage you to join us.  If you can knit and purl you can do this and will enjoy not only the finished product, but I suspect will look forward to each new post. 
Our last KAL was so much fun and everyone loved their sweater.  (A hint now)   This is NOT a sweater and we don't have to worry about gauge or size, and that is exactly why I chose it.   You can do this, yes you can!

All you will need is a jumbo hank of AWAT Baby Twist yarn, a size 10  32" circular needle and a couple of stitch markers.  But don't forget!  Contact me: cathi@alpacawithatwist.com and just leave your name and email address. 

Looking forward to meeting some new folks along the way!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Come On! Let's Knit!

The  2014 Winter Olympics will soon be a memory, the days are getting longer and we are all longing for warm, sunny days. 

Why is it?  February is the shortest month of the year, yet it seems March will NEVER get here! The weatherman insists we have more winter weather to endure, after all it is four weeks until Spring officially is here ~ But I have some great news for my winter weary friends and fiber artists.  We at Alpaca With A  Twist are planning our second online KAL and you will want to watch for our announcement next week...It's our celebration of the arrival of March Madness, (Hoosiers know what I'm talking about), the first day of Spring, daylight savings time and spring break!  There is no charge to knit along with us.  As before, you only need to sign up and your pattern will arrive to your inbox with some tips and quips. 

The project is perfect for the time of year and such a great knit.  Here's a hint ~ only one ~
Better browse around for your favorite spring color of Baby Twist, because you will want to begin with us on March the 21. 

Alerts on Facebook and Ravelry will help our KAL community stay connected and questions will be answered in timely, personal manner via email.

So grab a friend or two and join us on a new knit adventure.  You will  be glad you did!
Questions?  Email me at cathi@alpacawithatwist.com

Have you liked us on facebook?  Please do for updates and breaking news!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It's A New Year!

You never know what the next five minutes will bring, let alone a whole year ahead, so why all the celebration and good wishes?  It's that age old desire to start fresh, have a clean slate, and sometimes we just need  a "do over".
So it's January 1, 2014 and once again we get a "do over".  Whether you choose to make brand new resolutions, new goals or seek out new opportunities do it with gusto and include a friend or two and just make it fun.  To enjoy what we do can make or break our resolve. 

That got me thinking about why fiber artists do what we do...frankly, most of us enjoy the creative outlet and the satisfaction a project gives us.  Some of us enjoy the process as much as the finished product, some treasure the end product more than the process.  Neither way of thinking is wrong, it's part of our personality. 

That brings me to my main question.  Is your yarn stash taking over your closet/your life?  Do you feel guilty seeing all that fiber in wait?   Stuff bogs me down.  Clutter makes me grumpy.  You have heard it said, "one man's trash is another man's treasure", so with that in mind I often take  inventory and find a home for those balls of yarn that I have grown weary of, or can't seem to find a project to my liking.

In 2008 our town was flooded and pretty much everything that was stored in our basement was lost.
That incident has changed my thinking.  At a time when so many had lost so much it was easy to give whatever "extras" we had, be it food, furniture or resources and energy.  I instantly lost any inclination to save things for later.  If someone else could use it, or enjoy it, "It" was out of my house.  And know what?  The freedom from stuff was a gift from that whole episode in my personal history.  No, I am not wishing a natural disaster  for anyone, but perhaps this will encourage you to take a new look at some of your old stuff and bless another with it. 

Back to the yarn stash ~ Our pattern called Use It Up might encourage you to dive into your closets, bags and drawers to find materials to knit a few of these scarves and purge the stuff you no longer want. 

It's our gift to you along with best wishes for a joyful New Year!

Use It Up Scarf  by Alisa Winsauer
Measurements:  approximately 44" by 3.5"
Materials:  4 different balls of Baby Twist by Alpaca with a Twist (DK weight):  Colors A and C will  be on one side, Colors B and D on the other side.
US size 6 (4mm) long circular needle (to provide enough room for all the stitches)
Gauge:  5.5 sts  = 1" in stockinette
Instructions:  In Color A, cast on 230 sts loosely - use either a larger needle or cable cast on, or both.

Row 1, 3 and 5:  Knit all stitches
Row 2 and 4:      Purl all stitches
Change to color B and repeat rows 1-5.
Change to color C and repeat rows 1-5
Change to color D and repeat rows 1-5
Repeat these 4 stripes of color stockinette 2 more times.
 
You should get 3 repeats of each color.  With the last color bind off loosely - use a size larger needle.
 
Work in tails and gently wash your scarf.  Lay the scarf "flat", you will want to shape the ridges so they remain crisp, and let the scarf dry.  Enjoy.
 
***Use it Up Scarf can be knitted with any yarn, but take into consideration the correct needle size and weight of yarn will determine the size of your finished project ~plan accordingly.
If substituting yarn: 440 yards***
 
 





Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Big Reveal~

It is hard to believe it is time to begin the very first KAL from Alpaca With A Twist!
We have been working hard to iron out all the details and finally it's time to let you know what we
have in store for you.

Lovely in Lace, from our pattern collection created by Christina Wall  is lovely using our best selling yarn.  Baby Twist is  a DK weight, 100% Baby Alpaca fiber.  There are currently 49 colors to choose from. 

The pattern was orginally written for Temptation, a worsted weight silk and alpaca blend.  It is a loose fitting, A-line cardigan featuring a lace and cable edging.  It is knitted from the top down (no seaming!) and has a 3/4 inch sleeve. 

Several shop owners have requested the pattern be adapted using Baby Twist, so we got to work to see how that might go.   The body of the sweater is knitted using garter stitch, and  since I don't need any more bulk around my mid-section,  I decided to knit some swatches to see what I wanted my sweater to look like.  I wanted a loose and drapey piece and I am more than pleased with my result.

So it begins...If you would like to sign up send an email to  cathi@alpacawithatwist.com and I will send you all the information you need.  There is no cost to join and your pattern will be sent to you at no charge. 
Online help will be available throughout the KAL.

I enjoyed knitting this sweater.  The lace and cable edge kept me interested enough not to get bored, but with the garter stitch body it became my "mindless knitting" project.
So consider this our invitation to you and contact me if you want to KAL.
Happy Knitting and Happy Fall!
~Cathi

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On the road again...

The wheels on the car go round and round Indiana...from Shipshewana to Morgantown  to Shelbyville, hosting trunk shows and planning and plotting knit retreats!

A trip to Shipshewana has been on my "bucket list" for years and I am happy to report it was all I hoped it would be...and perhaps even more.  Tucked away in Northern Indiana is a village full of history, passion, wonderful food, friendly folks and a wonderful yarn shop, D'Vine Gallery.

Chris, Peggy and Nancy were gracious hosts and my two days there were so pleasant that  I am hoping to get back again when travels take me in that direction.
D'Vine Gallery is an interesting place.  It's tucked around the corner of the main street, but it was obvious to me that it has become a destination stop for travelers.  Filled with pottery, herbs, beads and buttons and of course, yarn...and lots of it.

As we visited I noticed that many of the same projects that had once been so popular in my former shop are still quite popular with knitters.  The Wingspan Shawl, The Hitchhiker, The "potato chip" scarf were all favorites among the travelers in and out of the shop. 
It makes sense, all are easy knits and something that is simple to master while in the car.
There were plenty of husbands milling around too.  A few of them admitted to knitting, one guy told me he crocheted... but one thing was evident, those guys appreciated a chair and a corner to relax while their companions scoured the shelves and baskets brimming with yarn.

It was a perfect way to spend the 4th of July holiday and even my husband found the town a great little get away and kept busy while I worked.

Next stop for me and my baskets of yarn, patterns and shop models was Sheep Street Fibers located in Morgantown/Martinsville Indiana.  The shop sits on 20 acres of land located along the scenic highway 252 at the borders of Martinsville and Morgantown.

Nancy, Pat and Tim did a great job of getting the word out that Alpaca With A Twist would be there. The place was packed both days of my visit. They too were more than gracious and allowed me to visit with their customers and show off the fibers we chose for their trunk show.

Sheep Street is an interesting place ~ and there is plenty to see during your visit.  Pet some sheep, watch spinners and weavers, adore baskets and baskets of roving and kettle dyed fibers which have been hand spun right there in the shop. 
Along with the notions, patterns, books and fibers you would expect to find in such a place, you will see a whole corner filled with spinning wheels and looms. 

This shop too. appears to be a destination place for fiber artists to visit.  Entire families packed the shop last weekend.  They were greeted heartily by both man and beasts ~guests are encouraged to check out the livestock in the pasture and then welcomed back inside for demonstrations throughout the shop.

Regulars drifted in and out filling the place with stories and laughter.  It's casual atmosphere makes you want to kick your shoes off and stay awhile. 

A knitting retreat is being planned for early 2014 and I would guess this will become an event that will be repeated year after year. 
Pat takes care of the Sheep Street Facebook page and he has mastered keeping the humor coming day after day with his postings of cartoons and quips.
Tim is a great designer and teacher and Nancy holds things together and does a great job keeping things running smoothly. What a team!

Brick and mortar shops are each unique.  The vision of the  owner creates the space.  Support of  customers keep the doors open and as long as there are knitters there will be a need for such a place.  As great as it is that we now have U Tube videos for support and even on line classes to subscribe to, it is the day to day hands on help that will keep customers perfecting their craft and exploring new projects. 
I have been so grateful for the opportunity to meet so many fine folks!  Now let's see...what's next?  Oh, the places we will go!












Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Just for the Fun of It!

This spring I bought The Knitter's Life List (author Gwen Steege) for myself and a friend.  The book has been out for a couple of years and it always intrigued me.  I just never took the time to buy it, let alone read it.  The book is full of tips and techniques, styles and traditions, suggested yarn fibers to try, famous knitting personalities and 1001 inspirations for every knitter.  So if you need a summer read, this one will keep you up until dark (and that's saying something here in Indiana)!

Summer knitting often involves smaller projects that can be toted about in our beach bags, suitcases and handbags.  Like you I have done more than my share of knitting socks, scarves and hats to amuse myself on long car drives and air flights. 
There's something empowering, I think, to be  working on my Christmas gift giving list during the summer months.  (Let's be honest here.  I never am finished with my ever growing list until the final hours.  It's a goal, that's all.) 

Knitted toys are perfect knits for the warmer months and there are so many wonderful patterns and unusual ideas that one can hardly imagine what to pick up first. 
I think they have become so widely popular due to the number of clever designers and wonderful creations they have shared. 
Even though they might be small in size, quite often there are a variety of techniques in knitting them and that keeps one interested.
Not only can you brush up on your knit skills, you will be creating a little masterpiece to share with a child who will love the fiber thin and threadbare.  What better compliment to each of us!

You might knit a super hero or a beautiful doll.  You might design a monster (and you all know there's a great little contest going on for that).  You might knit animals for a baby shower gift or even finger puppets.  One thing is for sure, bet you won't knit just one because every child in your life will be standing in line for their own little creation. 

So what does all this have to do with The Knitter's Life List?  Actually knitting Just for the Fun of It is one chapter in the book and I concur, sometimes you do things just because it's fun and it makes someone smile.  So how is your monster coming along, anyway?

*Follow Alpaca With A Twist on Facebook for updates about the contest and remember Big Baby is available at your LYS!  Good luck!