Monthly Archives: November 2009

Northampton Wools

Working at Northampton Wools is like being a kid in a candy store. I walk around in a daze of yarn-induced ecstasy, touching everything within my reach and losing myself in the swirl of color that surrounds me. I have been known to leave the shop at the end of a work day owing them money, and most days come home with only a portion of my earnings, but with gorgeous wools in my bag. Like today, for instance. I left with only $14, but also three skeins of divine Mulberry Merino in three stunning colors. This is a 52% Mulberry Silk, 48% Merino blend that is incredibly soft and has a lovely silky sheen.
Any ideas for what I should make with it? It’s only three hundred yards, so I was thinking a complex scarf pattern incorporating all three colors would be interesting. Send me any ideas you have!


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Lesson Learned

Tip to all: When sort of making up a pattern as you go/pulling stuff from other patterns WRITE WHAT YOU’RE DOING DOWN AS YOU GO!!! I can’t for the life of me remember what I did, and deciphering the one or two notes I made is proving to be impossible. Solution: Make them again and keep track as I go this time. It will actually be good, as there is one thing about this first pair that I really dislike. The thumb hole is too close to the open pattern, and so when they are on your hands the pattern pulls towards the thumb. I think I will add a few stitches to the thumb hole side, which should rectify the problem. I may have to keep this pair instead of selling them/giving them away, because the pulling actually is pretty bad (oh darn!). However, making another pair will have to wait until after Christmas, because I have oodles of Christmas knitting to do! There are (hopefully) four lucky people who will be getting handknit gifts this year, and more if I can manage it. My dilemma at the moment is physically getting to the yarn store – hopefully I’ll get there before going home for Thanksgiving this Friday! I am so excited to see my family, home friends, and pets, it’s ridiculous. But anyway, until I get a chance to get to the yarn store, I’m working on my second large lace shawl project. I can’t remember if I posted a picture of it yet or not, but just in case, here it is:
I am roughly halfway through with it (partway through the wavy part between the petals), although it is hard to tell because each row gets longer and longer. At the moment it is taking me a half hour to knit one row, and I have about 540 stitches on the needle. It is a lot of fun to knit, but is one of those patterns where focus is necessary, so working on it while watching a movie or talking to people is out of the question. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s off the needles!

Knit on,

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I have FINALLY finished the fingertipless mitts that I have been working on for what feels like forever! The pattern is an adaptation of two other patterns that I have used before, and I will try to figure out how to write it up and post it at some point. There are some things I am not too pleased with about it, and I will be tweaking the pattern the next time around. Hope you like them!


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Knit for Those in Need Update

So I went to the Center for Service and Civic Engagement at the school and pitched my idea for Knit for Those in Need, and the woman I was talking to seemed very enthusiastic. She assured me that money was not an issue, that I just needed to work out a budget and we could go from there. Things were going along swimmingly, I was on top of the world, I was soaring. And then she mentioned a woman I may want to get in contact with, a professor from our school who is doing the exact same thing. WTF? It couldn’t have been mentioned earlier that another person was already doing almost my exact idea, and already had things up and moving and whatnot? Gah! Needless to say, I was crushed, especially when I emailed this person offering to help out and telling her I had some ideas that might be useful to her cause, and never got a reply back. Lovely.

On the positive side, her program is only running until next week (or maybe this week?) and then it’s over. Her plan was to get a certain number of knitted garments by a certain date, whether they were handmade, store-bought, or purchased later with donated money. This is slightly different from what I had in mind. This is because when people use their own yarn/buy their own knitted products to donate, they often inadvertently get materials/products of inferior quality. It’s very exciting when you learn to knit and discover that they have gigantic balls of yarn at Walmart for only $3 each! I know, I went through the same thing. Unfortunately, over time you learn that the reason this stuff is only $3 is because it’s crap. It’s acrylic, it’s cheap, and it won’t keep someone warm. When knitting for charity, and homeless shelters in particular, it’s important to keep in mind that what you are making is going to be someone’s source of warmth over the next four or five months, and that they may be exposed to the severe elements for some or all of that time. Once cheap acrylic yarns get wet they become 100% useless on the warm front. Just like when writing a paper it’s important to know your audience, so too when knitting is it important to keep your receiving party in mind.

Also, I checked the website of our local homeless shelter, COTS, and they are desperately in need of blankets more than hats, mittens, and scarves. So I thought it would be a cool idea to hold a workshop or two where beginning knitters can learn by making 12″x12″ squares, which can then be sewn together into blankets! I found this great yarn at our local yarn shop (Kaleidoscope Yarns) called Cascade Eco Wool, which I mentioned in a previous post. It is warm, durable, eco-friendly, and reasonably priced. Each skein can make 2 scarves, or a scarf and a hat, etc., which means that buying one ball would be enough for at least two people.

Right now I am feeling very stuck with this project, as I am feeling in the rest of my knitting life as well. I know what I want to have happen, but I don’t know how to make the next step, or if I should, or anything. Plus finals are coming up all too soon!

I will keep everyone posted as this progresses, but in the meantime please feel free to send me knitted items to donate!

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Knitting Rut

For the last few months I have been in what I like to call a knitting rut. This is where I may be knitting what feels like constantly, but I never have the satisfaction of seeing a finished product. This generally happens when:
1. I take on very large projects, and
2. When I start many different projects, and then feel the need to bounce around among them.

I am currently working on a large, complex lace shawl that feels as though it will never be done, and am now beginning not only my Christmas knitting (of which there is a lot), but also working on Knit for Those in Need (updates on this later) and those fingertipless mitts which for some reason still are not finished. I am also working on spinning some dog fur, which was taking precedence as it is being done for money, until tonight when my spinning wheel metaphorically shit the bed. Sigh. This is the second time this has happened; I think a very important nut/bolt may be stripped, and I am very worried that it may cost me large amounts of money (that I don’t have) to repair. Looks like I know what I’ll be asking for for Christmas this year.

So, this slump is getting very frustrating, and I am hoping to remedy the situation soon. I think the trick is to pick one project and stick with it until it is done – fingertipless mitts, here I come! 🙂

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LIFO, FIFO, and the World of Financial Accounting

I am about to attempt the impossible here, people. We are about to make history here together, so get ready. Strap on your safety belts, get yourselves in crash position, and prepare to be amazed. Right here, right now, I am going to attempt to explain Financial Accounting principles to you. I know it’s frightening. I know it’s intimidating. But we are going to get through this together, I promise.

There are three main types of accounting systems that retail businesses use when calculating their income: LIFO, FIFO, and Weighted Average. I wasn’t paying super close attention when my professor was talking about weighted average because I was having a computer malfunction at the time, so we’re just going to stick with LIFO and FIFO for now.

FIFO: First In, First Out
Now, as I go through this explanation, there are two basic business ideas that we have to keep in mind:
1. prices tend to go up as time goes on. As a business buying things wholesale, you can expect that over time the price of buying your inventory will increase.
2. In order to calculate your income as a merchandising business, you must record how much you made in sales, and then subtract your Cost of Goods Sold (how much it cost to buy your inventory), and your operating expenses.
So, the First in, First out system means that the first inventory you buy is the first inventory you try and sell. This means that you are selling your cheapest inventory first, and keeping your most expensive inventory, which keeps your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) relatively low. With a low COGS, you don’t have very much to subtract from your Sales, which makes your income appear high.

LIFO: Last In, First Out
In this system, the most recent inventory you purchase (in other words, the inventory that cost you the most to buy) is the first inventory you choose to sell. By doing this, you make it appear that it is costing a lot to buy your inventory, which you then subtract from your sales, and this makes your income appear very low.

So which system do you think is better? I’ll give you a hint: the LIFO system is illegal in most countries outside the US. Why? Because the LIFO system makes your income appear to be low, which means there is less for the business to pay income taxes on, when in reality the business didn’t pay any more for its inventory in one system than the other. Here’s an example:

Let’s say my company made $5,ooo in sales this year. For my inventory I bought 100 skeins of yarn at $10 each = $1000. The next time I purchased that same yarn, the price had gone up and I bought 200 skeins for $11 each = $2200. And the third time I bought the yarn I got 100 skeins at $12 a skein. If I then sell 200 skeins, I have to decide which skeins to record as a sale. Using the FIFO system, I would first record the $10 skeins, then the $11 ones, and so on and so forth. Using the LIFO system I would first record the $12 skeins, then the $11, etc. So, let’s see what this does to the income statement:
Sales $5000 $5000
COGS -$2650 -$2850
Operating Expenses -$1000 -$1000
Income $1350 $1150

As you can see, although we made the same amount in sales, and incurred the same amount in operating expenses, by choosing to express the most expensive inventory as sold first, we made our income seem smaller than it really is, thereby lowering the amount we have to spend in taxes.

Needless to say, many people regard the LIFO system as a cheap trick to cheat the system, and as we speak Obama is working on a way to make the LIFO system illegal in the US. This is very clever on his part, as the government will gain more money in tax revenue, but they won’t actually be “raising taxes.” Cool, huh?

Ok, I’m sorry if this was super confusing, I tried to make it simple, though I don’t know if I succeeded. I just think it’s really interesting! So, this is the reason I haven’t posted in so long, because I have been trying to figure out a way to explain this and it took me forever. I’ll try to start posting more regularly.

(P.S. Thank you to Professor Mona, the most amazing accounting professor ever, for supplying the example. I actually simplified it a little, but that’s the general idea.)

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