Spud says (the blog)

April 4, 2013

Interview with Yarnover Truck

Here I am, back in California for the third subject in our shop interview series! Usually, I like more variety in terms of locations, but I simply could not pass up the timely opportunity to write about this most unusual shop, which has just held its grand opening and may be traveling (you read that right: traveling!) to a town near you.

Yarnover Truck Logo

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Readers who are similar in age to me may remember the Bookmobile from our youth, which drove around local neighborhoods, lending books to children. I found many favorite paperbacks as a preteen scouring the Bookmobile’s shelves. Some years later, this idea seemed to have been applied to restaurants, and food trucks began to spring up all over, especially in downtown areas. I worked in Downtown Minneapolis a couple years ago, and at lunch time during the warmer months there were lines nearly a block long to buy food from some of these trucks! Well, buckle your seatbelt, because two intrepid women have taken this idea another step further, creating Yarnover Truck:

Yarnover Truck is your local yarn store on wheels, implementing the food truck business model and applying it to a mobile yarn store. The truck will make appearances at a variety of local events … throughout Southern California. Our goal is not only to sell yarn, but to increase awareness and provide needlearts education, with a focus on knitting and crocheting.

Curious? Me, too. Let’s put the pedal to the metal, and speed on over as quickly as we can so Maridee and Barbra can tell us how this incredible idea came to fruition!

Wait, wait, though. First we should get in the mood… how about Venice Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Southern California (I can see why!)?

Venice Beach

Photo © http://www.scottyphotos.com

Ahhhhhh… Okay, now we’re ready for adventure!

Neighbor Jillian: *knocks on Yarnover Truck door, then steps back a bit* Helloooooo?? Neighbor Jillian here to interview you for the Spud & Chloë blog!

The door pops open, and out come Maridee and Barbra, both waving at me to come on in!

Maridee and Barbra

Maridee is on the left, Barbra is on the right! Photo © Yarnover Truck

Neighbor Jillian: *mouth agape* Ladies, this is so fantastic! Gosh, I can hardly wait to talk to you about all of this. Let’s start at the beginning with your knitting histories.

Maridee: My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 12 years old. My first project was a set of granny square Christmas stockings that were black and pink instead of red and green! (I was a bit of a rebel, even at age 12.) Then, several years ago, I picked up the craft again and then discovered Ravelry. Oh, the joys of digital pattern downloads!! Through Ravelry I found a knit/crochet group that met near my home and that is how I met Barbra. Since joining the group, I have also learned to knit with their help and have been asked to show some of my coworkers how to do it.

Yarnover Truck Exterior

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Barbra: I taught myself to knit 11 years ago. Knitting had always been around while I was growing up, as my grandmother was an avid knitter. Although my grandmother is no longer with us, I am sure she is watching to make sure I don’t drop too many stitches. :)

Neighbor Jillian: Now we know how you met! And, while your story is all over your website and Ravelry group, I’m hoping you can go into more detail about how all this came about or perhaps share any other neat inside details?

Maridee: The idea came about because I was thinking about opening a yarn store. I had come up with a great name for the shop if I could find a spot in Hollywood to have it: Yarn Over Hollywood! I thought it would be great to decorate the shop using many of the photos of actresses knitting while on set. I mentioned my idea to Barbra because I knew she was already working with many LYS’s in our area, helping them with their social media. Barbra mentioned to her knitting group at work that I was looking into opening a store and one of them suggested we use a truck. Well, Barbra then went searching on Google to explore other mobile retail trucks and sent me a very long email, and later that day we went to a little truck event to see one of the local retail trucks. That night, we became business partners and decided Yarn Over Hollywood would become Yarnover Truck. (We decided to make “yarn over” into one word because it looked better in our logo design!)

Yarnover Truck Interior

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Neighbor Jillian: Well, I just got chills because that is such a cool story of how your partnership developed. Now that you knew you were going to have a truck, where did you find one to turn into Yarnover Truck and how did the renovations go?

Barbra: We found our truck on Craig’s List! She was a former Little Debbie delivery truck, and before that transported uniform laundry. We were very lucky in getting the truck renovated, as one of my brothers works in construction and did all the renovations for us! My other brother (they are twins) designed our logo and truck wrap. We like keeping it all in the family.

Neighbor Jillian: That is so cool. I would imagine the truck itself is like family now, too. Does she have a name?

Maridee: We LOVE that she was a Little Debbie delivery truck, and have eaten way too many Swiss Rolls in celebration, so we named her Debbie in honor of her past life!

Neighbor Jillian: So cute! Tell me about the launch party!

Barbra: The launch party was held in a park near where we both live, just behind the studio where “The Tonight Show” used to be filmed in Burbank, California. We sold tickets initially through our Indiegogo Campaign for those who wanted to be the “first” to see and shop in the truck. Then, once that campaign ended, we continued to sell tickets and in the end sold close to 100 of them! We had many of our friends and supporters there, plus people we had never met come and cheer us on. Everyone loved the truck and we received many compliments on her design and inventory of great yarns that we chose to sell!

Yarnover Truck Launch Party

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Maridee: The afternoon was a resounding success and many people spent several hours with us in the park knitting and crocheting with new and old friends. We had a great gift bag for all who came, fun drawings throughout the afternoon, and light food and drinks—including Little Debbie snacks in honor of our truck! There are a bunch of photos from the event up on our Facebook page and more continue to get posted as the days pass. We keep getting messages from people who came and just had a wonderful time. It was a great way for us to launch our business!

Neighbor Jillian: It sounds like a fun time was had by all, especially these ladies, who got Yarnover Makeovers!

Yarnover Makeovers

Photo © Yarnover Truck

More Yarnover Makeovers

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Neighbor Jillian: We’ve covered how Yarnover Truck came to be, but what exactly is inside it? Obviously, it carries yarn, including our very own Spud & Chloë, but do you sell knitting needles and other implements so that if someone wants to buy yarn but didn’t bring items to start working right away you have them covered?

Barbra: Yes, we carry knitting needles and crochet hooks. Even though space is limited and we are not carrying a very big variety, if someone does fall in love with a wonderful yarn and wants to start a project immediately, we have the tools to help them do just that! We also believe that at some of the larger community events and festivals, we will have people coming to the truck who have never knitted or crocheted anything before. We will be their first exposure to these wonderful crafts and we want to help them get started right away and hopefully fall in love with it like we both have!

Decisions, Decisions

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Neighbor Jillian: Excellent! It sounds like you ladies have thought of everything. How did you decide to bring Spud & Chloë onboard as part of your stock?

Maridee: We have both used Spud & Chloe for several projects and really fell in love with the yarn. For me, I have to admit that, as a crocheter, yarn that is fine intimidates me a bit, but Spud & Chloë Fine has become one of my favorites! I love that the pieces I have made are easy to care for. That is very important to me!

Neighbor Jillian: Spud & Chloë Fine is one of my favorites also! :) Earlier you touched a bit on going to larger community events and festivals, and I noticed you have put a handy calendar up on your site so shoppers know where to find you! Can you talk more about your plans for where people can find Yarnover Truck in the coming months?


Photo © Yarnover Truck

Maridee: We had created a list of events we felt we should check out when we were writing up our business plan, but since our launch and article in the Los Angeles Times, many people have reached out to us with suggestions for places to visit and events to attend. We are going through that very LONG list right now and will be mapping out our plans for the next several months.

Neighbor Jillian: I know that you have stated that you plan to go up and down the coast of Southern California, but is there any chance you would take Yarnover Truck on the road for a true roadtrip? Saaaaaaaaay, to Minnesota, which is the location of Spud & Chloë World Headquarters? :D

Barbra: Maridee is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota so you are not the first to ask this question!! We have requests to bring the truck all over the country. While nothing is set yet, we might consider a road trip or two—we just need to work out the logistics (and hope that the price of gas stays where it is or gets lower!).

Neighbor Jillian: So, we know where Debbie will go, but now the question is… who gets to drive??

Maridee: We both drive Debbie, and the other follows in their car filled with back-up stock and supplies. There is only so much we can fit on Debbie :)

Always a Line

Photo © Yarnover Truck

Neighbor Jillian: It is a bit of a yarn caravan while you are on the road! I know you ladies are so busy and I am so grateful for all the time you spent with me today. I’ll let you go, but first I have a fun question to close with: If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

Barbra: I would be any of the companions from Doctor Who—I am a big Doctor Who nerd! :)

Maridee: I would like to be Elizabeth Bennet. I have always loved Jane Austen, and I think Elizabeth is a very interesting character with lots of layers.

Neighbor Jillian: Great answers! Thank you so much for your time ladies, we appreciate it! We here at Spud & Chloë are so excited about your venture and wish you the very best as you set out.

As the sun sets, I exit Yarnover Truck and come back to reality. Leaving California behind, I daydream of yarn and beaches…

Santa Monica Beach

Photo © http://www.pbase.com

Follow Yarnover Truck (figuratively, not literally!) by going to their website, liking their Facebook page, finding them on Twitter, signing up for their mailing list, or joining their group on Ravelry!

If you own or visit a local yarn shop that is doing fun activities with Spud & Chloë yarns, let us know by emailing info@spudandchloe.com. We are always looking for more stores to interview!

March 28, 2013

Learn to Knit Socks? Check!

Recently,  I asked Colleen Powley, our resident Sock Master (as I call her), to teach me how to knit socks. I really, REALLY wanted to make socks, but, alas! I found sock knitting intimidating. When I found out that Colleen had done several sock patterns for Spud & Chloë, I asked her to teach me. I knew I could do it with her tutelage! (And I did!)

To start, I made a lone baby sock for practice using Colleen’s Lots O’ Socks pattern and Fine in Lizard #7812 (which I discovered is a totally adorbs color for baby socks, as is Bumble Bee #7811!). After bravely and adeptly conquering the baby sock, I was ready to try a pair of grown-up socks! Using Popsicle Socks as a guide and trusty Fine as my yarn again, I made some sporty-looking socks for me in Sidewalk #7822 and Glow Worm #7801. However, though they started out as Popsicle Socks… they didn’t exactly end up as Popsicle Socks, as you can see.

Glow Gray Sock

Glow Worm and Sidewalk Sock

Things changed when I accidentally made the cuff too long (I got into a groove with the rib pattern and forgot to stop!), so I had to make some decisions about where to end the cuff and how to work in the colors. First, I decided to make the cuff three times as long, striping Sidewalk and Glow Worm as I went, trying to make it look like it had been my plan all along to make the cuff that prominent. Given the totally different look the sock had after these changes, I then decided to use only little accents of Glow Worm with a Sidewalk base instead of striping them both repeatedly throughout the remainder of the sock. The result is that I used the Popsicle Socks pattern as a guideline for how to make each part of the sock, but chose totally different methods for coloring and the cuff—a “mistake” turned design element!

These socks were a lesson in improvisation and in trusting myself and my instincts, which is something every yarn crafter, much like any chef, musician, artist, or other creative person, must do at times. Instead of getting discouraged with my early mistakes on only my second attempt at socks, I decided to make this into an opportunity to work outside the box and make a pair of spiffy socks by winging it! Now I am a bit obsessed with socks, stashing masses of sock yarn that I probably will never use in a lifetime, with plans to fill both my and my husband’s sock drawers with only homemade socks. (I am sure that will totally happen, but it’s good to have goals…)

Glow Gray Socks

Blocked and finished!

Anyway, the point of all this is to encourage you, dear readers, to just go for it if you want to make a pair of socks but find them intimidating. (Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it!) To help, I thought I might break things down a bit as a little introduction. As with anything, once we understand it, it is far less scary. What I’ve learned is that, though there are lots of parts to a sock, they all serve a purpose. Once I understood how all these parts fit together and that the shaping of top-down socks is just a bunch of decreasing, socks started to “make sense.” They are like Frankenstein’s monster, except you can put them together without lightning or reanimation of any kind. :) (Whew!)

Ready? Let’s go!

Anatomy of a Sock

Anatomy of a Sock

This is what happens when you make a sock from the top-down (I have not made toe-up socks yet!), and most sock instructions will be laid out in this order with these general concepts applied:

1. The cuff, generally done in a rib pattern for half an inch to an inch or so (but not always, as exemplified by my Glow Gray socks), helps to keep the wearer’s sock from slumping like a deflated balloon while it’s being worn.

2. The leg bit spans the space between the cuff and the top of the foot, the length of which depends on the style of sock and how long the wearer’s calf is.

3. The heel flap is just that—a flap that spans the heel from top to bottom. It is done across only half the round, leaving the other half to languish in wait until Step 5.

4. The heel turn is a decrease (commonly done using short rows) that creates a “cup” so that your heel has somewhere to sit.

5. The gusset kind of has two parts: a) pick up the stitches from the sides of the heel flap, then connect them to the languishing half from Step 3, rejoining in the round as you go and then b) perform a series of decreases to get back to the original number of cast-on stitches.

6. Then it’s time to create the foot (also sometimes called the instep), which spans the area to the top of the toe.

7. Finally, perform another set of decreases to create the bit for your toes to sit in.

Sing along with the Spud & Chloë Gang!
(to the tune of Dem Dry Bones)

Can’t see the video, click here


The Cuff holds up the Leg bit.

The Leg bit spans to the Heel Flap.

The Heel Flap ends with the Heel Turn.

The Heel Turn decreases to make a little cup.

The Gusset joins the Leg to the Heel Turn.

The Foot is worked to the Toe bit.

The Toe bit decreases to the bind off.

And that’s the recipe for socks!

Once you understand that recipe, you can feel comfortable following any of the magnificent sock patterns out there, such as these other Spud & Chloë patterns, all by Colleen Powley (a.k.a. the Sock Master): Cable Cable Cable Socks, Sassy Stockings, and Two-for-One Socks. And, don’t forget our free sock patterns from right here on Spud says (the blog!): Ribbed Socks for KidsRibbed Socks for Bigger Feet, and Jelly Bean Baby Socks. Or, simply let your imagination guide you!

For more information on learning to knit socks, “Getting Started Knitting Socks” by Ann Budd is a great book that Colleen recommended to me!

March 22, 2013

Snow Day!

Go Team! Transformed into a Jayne Hat

Recently, the weather was so snowy and blustery one day that I stayed home from work for safety reasons. A Snow Day! Whoo! I haven’t had one of those in years, so it seemed only appropriate to enjoy this special day the way my younger self would have indulged: p.j. pants, watching a Firefly marathon, and knitting Jayne Hats.

For this project, I did a bunch of research to decide which Sweater colors were most accurate. Deciding between Firecracker and Barn was difficult, but ultimately I felt confident that Firecracker was spot-on for the look I was going for. Then, I cast on for Go Team!

I made a few simple modifications and altered the look of this hat dramatically, adding a floppy pompom and not weaving in the end on the earflaps for extra realism. (See the notes area below for more specific details on my modifications.) I would proudly wear this anywhere Browncoats unite, in true Jayne fashion!

The Details

Pattern: Go Team!
Designer: Susan B. Anderson
Size: 16-18 (18-20, 20-22)”
Needles: Size 11 (8mm) 16″ circular needle, or size needed to obtain gauge
• Size 11 (8mm) double pointed needles, or size needed to obtain gauge
• Size J (6mm) hook (I did not work the edging for my version)
Yarn: Spud & Chloë Sweater, shown in Firecracker #7509, Firefly #7505, and Life Jacket #7528
This pattern can be found in the Spud & Chloë Pattern Store

Notes: I cast on with Life Jacket and worked for about 4″ (in the adult size), or about half the total height of the hat. Then, I switched to Firefly to finish the hat. I worked the earflaps in Firecracker and added a pompom to the original hat, while omitting the crochet edging. All in all, a very successful Jayne Hat reproduction.

March 20, 2013

Go Big or Go Home

If you cannot see the video, please click here.

In Canada every February 7th, people celebrate National Sweater Day. The purpose of this holiday is to wear warmer clothing (sweaters) and turn down the heat in your home, saving energy and doing your part to help the environment.

The people of Turkey, also wanting to celebrate this holiday and make people aware of climate change, got the attention of citizens in a really, REALLY big way!

Measuring in at 154 feet long and 59 feet wide, they produced the world’s largest sweater in a month with the help of 90,000 people! Hand knit sweaters, a fashion statement and good for the environment!

March 15, 2013

Gauge: One Stitch per Foot?!?!

UNRAVEL. Knitwear in Fashion – Phat Knits from MoMuAntwerp on Vimeo.

Three thoughts:

1. That’s one way to turn knitting into a workout!

2. I wish I had some of that “yarn”!

3. Don’t drop a stitch!

What are your thoughts? Was anyone lucky enough to see this installation in person?