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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Heart-Healthy Inspiration from Olympic Athletes

With 20 Team USA medals and counting, we can't help but to be inspired by the Olympic athletes! We're shamelessly keeping ourselves updated hourly- we tried avoiding any internet spoilers at first, but we can't fight it any longer. With all the coverage we're learning more and more about our favorite athletes that we didn't know before.

Dana Vollmer
Take Dana Vollmer, a star swimmer for Team USA, for instance. At 15 Dana was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, a cardiac electrical disorder. At any point Dana's heart could sporadically speed up causing a vast array of scary heart issues. In 2003 Dana competed in the USA National Championships in Indianapolis. Her mother was anxiously sitting in the stands with a defibrillator between in her legs in case anything went wrong while Dana swam.

In 2000, during Dana's first U.S. Olympic trials (she was the youngest to compete!) she began experiencing dizziness. Like most, she attributed this to dehydration or low-blood sugar. Dana's parents took her to see a cardiologist just to make sure. Finding out that Dana had Long QT Syndrome was worrisome; she suddenly had to think about her life without swimming. The Vollmer family was shocked to hear this diagnosis.

"Swimming at an elite level, you'd think she would have the healthiest heart in the world," Cathy (Dana's mom) said.  We tend to think the same thing. Luckily, Dana was diagnosed early- many people don't know they have Long QT Syndrome until they go into cardiac arrest.
As is true with many heart-related illnesses, symptoms can be easily discounted. It's crucial to pay attention to what your body tells you.

Now, nine years later, Dana is 24 and swimming as strong as ever! London 2012 is Dana's second Olympics and she's been cleared of any heart condition that might have gotten in the way of her dream. Her dedication to swimming is absolutely inspiring!

For the full article from Jaimie Dalessio, visit everyday health

P.S. Have you seen our London 2012 colorway? Jimmy Beans Wool partnered with Lorna's Laces for a special Limited Edition color to celebrate the 2012 Olympics and the efforts of Team USA! We will be dropping the price of Shepherd Sock, Shepherd Worsted and Honor for the next two weeks as Team USA brings home Olympic medals! Here are the details:

- For every gold medal the U.S. wins, we'll drop the price per hank by $.05
- For every silver medal, we'll drop the price $.03
- For every bronze medal, we'll drop the price a penny

"London 2012" will ship as soon as the Olympics come to a close, so we can keep track of price drops. So far the price has dropped $.69!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Steps - Challenge Accepted!

Teams are made, captains are picked and team names are set- let the Steps Challenge begin! This friendly competition has all of our beans counting steps on a daily basis and making it a point to walk as much as they can in a day. Our heart pedometers are being put to good use!

We're only on our first week, but the competition is heating up. The rules are simple enough:

1. Get a pedometer (any will do!)
2. All steps must be tracked and cannot be estimated
3. You can count any step, inside or outside of work (this is where the Jimmy Beans Wool runners rack up their steps!)

We'd love to have all of YOU participate with us. Maybe you already have a pedometer, but if not we have adorable heart shaped ones that we sell (all our girls are wearing one!). Once you have a pedometer, start walking! Share your steps with us here or on our Facebook and at the end of every week we will declare a winner walking for heart health!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What are you doing August 6th?

We hope you'll be joining us for a Knit Red KAL! Pick up your needles and Cashmere Fleur de Lys (or any worsted weight Stitch Red yarn, Terry is using Berroco Vintage) to furiously knit with us as we begin this Stitch Red inspired KAL.We couldn't think of a better way to start sticking it to heart disease one stitch at a time!

The pattern we've chosen is not only one of our favorites, but you have given it the highest number of favorites on Ravelry: Diane Soucy's A-Line Hoodie! The two-button closure and draw-string hood make this classic design more modern for women on the go. It's the perfect flow-y sweater to slip into on cold afternoons. When we received our Knit Red trunk show at the beginning of June, Casey slipped into this cozy knit and wouldn't take it off! It quickly became a shop favorite, not to mention it has over 515 likes on Ravelry!

It was a tough choice; we had to choose from Ysolda's Slip Stitch Beret, Martin Storey's Lace Heart Cardi and Kit Hutchin's Reversible Wristers. In the end Diane's simple, yet sophisticated top down design won because we could see so many knitters falling in love with the design just as we did! 

This won't be your typical KAL, in fact, we have Diane Soucy in our store preparing to film some helpful videos about her A-Line Hoodie design! We are so thrilled to be working with Diane on instructional videos on how to do various parts of top down sweaters.

Be sure to stay tuned for KAL details! We will be posting right here and on our Jimmy Beans Wool blog as well.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

High Stress Job Raises Women's Risk of Heart Disease

We had a feeling stress played a part in heart attacks, but we didn't fully believe it. Last night we stumbled upon a couple of articles from ABC News and msnbc's blog outlining just what we had suspected: stress does take a toll on our hearts. We were stunned by this statistic:

"U.S. women who rated their job strain as high were 67 percent more likely to have a heart attack, and 38 percent more likely to experience a stroke or high blood pressure, compared with women who said their job strain was low."

The high levels of stress talked about in this recent study (published yesterday by PLoS One) are levels that exceed what our body can handle or properly manage. I do want to add this in, any level of stress, whether it be manageable or not, still affects our tickers. So, don't discount any level of stress!

How does high stress contribute to heart related problems? Our blood pressure increases (one of the most common risk factors), a build-up of plaque in arteries and insulin resistance. People who are under stress tend to drink or smoke excessively and have been known to have poor eating habits. All of these factors contribute to heart disease related problems and all increase when we deal with an abnormal amount of stress.

The key to managing stress? Everyone finds a different way to relax and de-stress. As avid, one might say obsessive, knitters we find that stress leaves our fingertips with knits and purls. Yoga, running and kickboxing are also great stress relievers. What's one way YOU de-stress?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Heart Healthy Spotlight: High Blood Cholesterol

Today's Heart-Healthy Spotlight is all about High Blood Cholesterol, the second most common risk factor of heart disease. For a long time it wasn't known that a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol could lead to clogged arteries and heart attack, but now that we have more cutting edge technology and the resources to combat heart disease we know that these factors play a huge role in our heart health. The study that brought this knowledge to the public began in 1984 with the Framingham Heart Study, which helped to identify the primary risk factors of heart disease.

Ysolda Teague, a widely known knitwear designer and Knit Red contributor, has seen the affects of high cholesterol firsthand.Ysolda grew up in Scotland, home to one of the highest rates of heart disease in Europe (much to our surprise). The heavy drinking, smoking, and diet of fried foods took its toll on several members of Ysolda's family- some have had to undergo bypass surgery.

It's important not to forget that some people have a pre-disposition to high cholesterol levels. In which case it's important to have blood work done just to make sure your numbers are low. While managing our diet, weight and physical activity is in our control, we cannot control how cholesterol increases with age and if it's hereditary. What do you do to combat high cholesterol? There are treatment plans with medications, but most importantly be conscientious of what goes into your body and making sure to keep your body physically active- walking counts!

Do YOU have any tips for keeping your diet and exercise in check?

Friday, July 13, 2012

How do you know your heart is unhealthy? 6 Surprising Signs...

More than 80 million people have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease, and approximately 900,000 people die from it each year

The scary part (and not Freddy and Jason scary) is that many signs and symptoms of heart disease are easily ignorable, and are often times discounted. One thing I learned in talking to women at the Western Quilt & Sew Expo at the end of June was this: many women shrug off the small things in favor of caring for others. While it's great that women as a whole are so nurturing (as are men!), we need to make sure to pay attention to our bodies- they will tell us when something is off. So, here are a few of the most surprising signs of an unhealthy heart (courtesy of Melanie Haiken of caring.com).

1. Snoring, sleep apnea, other breathing problems

Restricted breathing is linked with all kinds of cardiovascular disease. If your husband, or wife, keeps you up with consistent snoring, it's possible the heart is working too hard to keep oxygen flowing while resting. If you're like my mom, she's been sleeping through my dad's snoring for 30 years and he was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. Sleep apnea is another common sleep related disorder that can lead to heart disease related problems down the line. Those with sleep apnea were found to have three times the normal risk of having a heart attack within five years.

2. Sore, swollen, or bleeding gums

In February Jimmy Beans Wool held our first Stitch Red Knit Night and hosted Dr. Ocean (a local dentist) who spoke to over 30 men and women about the connection between oral hygiene and heart health. He even touched on the signs of periodontal disease: sore, swollen, or bleeding gums. The gums will inflame and pull away from the teeth when exposed to bacteria. So, how does this have anything to do with heart disease? Experts believe that poor circulation due to heart disease could be an underlying cause of periodontal disease. The prevalence of this disease is underestimated by 50%! I will be one of the first to attest to not being a #1 fan of dentist appointments, but avoiding them could lead to a whole slew of other health issues that can be avoided or treated.

3. Puffy or swollen legs or feet

If you notice your feet swelling enough to make your shoes tight or to leave sock imprints on your calves, this could be a sign of fluid retention (edema). It might seem harmless but edema can be a sign of coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure and other forms of heart disease. Fluids are retained by the body when the heart doesn't pump strongly enough and blood doesn't carry waste from the tissues.

Areas to watch: feet, ankles, fingers, hands, and legs are usually the first to swell because they are the furthest from the heart and receive the poorest circulation.

4. Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia

When your heart is beating too fast, pounding too hard, or skipping beats (and not in that playful, butterflies in the stomach sort of way) it's a signal that something in the cardiovascular system is out of whack. CAD is the most common cause of  irregular heartbeat, it's also the same thing that leads the way for sudden death in men and women because it can cause stroke or heart attack.

5. Shortness of breath

This is an early sign that something is off. Shortness of breath with exercise, exertion, and stress could be a sign of cardiovascular disease or lung trouble- it's hard to know which until a visit to the doctor. Here's a scary fact (it certainly startled me):

"In a landmark study by the National Institutes of Heath (NIH) published in: Circulation: Journal of American Heart Institute, 95 percent of women who'd had heart attacks reported experiencing unusual symptoms in the weeks and months before the attack, and 40 percent reported shortness of breath."

The moral of the story? Don't discount shortness of breath!

6. Constriction or aching in the chest or shoulder

We've all heard the tell tale sign of a heart attack- pain in the right side or the chest. So this last sign shouldn't be too much of a surprise. The most common sign of CAD is angina (a type of chest pain). This isn't the same pain felt during a heart attack, it's a deep ache or constriction or weight on the chest. Often times this pain will worsen with the inhale of breath. Angina can easily be missed because it feels different to everyone and can be mistaken for heartburn, indigestion or a pulled muscle.

To learn more, check out this fantastic article on the "7 Surprising Signs of an Unhealthy Heart" and, as always, The Heart Truth is a wonderful resource for tips on how to prevent and control the risks of heart disease. What are YOU doing to "stick it to heart disease"?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Healthy Heart Spotlight: High Blood Pressure

We learn something new everyday as we work on the Stitch Red campaign - it's as eye opening for us as we hope it is to all of you! Our partners in this effort, The Heart Truth, have made it their mission to spread awareness among women and we've joined them to do the same! To keep spreading awareness, we thought it would be helpful to go over some of the details of the most prominent risk factors of heart disease. Today marks the first of a series of Heart Healthy Spotlights and it's all about High Blood Pressure.

High Blood Pressure is the most prevalent risk factor of heart disease. In fact, it affects 1 in 3 American Adults. If we look at the ladies (and men) of Jimmy Beans Wool as a sample of American adults, about 13 of us could suffer from high blood pressure - that's huge! Coincidentally, Stitch Red began when Laura and her husband, Doug, found out that he had high blood pressure. As two active, thirty-somethings this was a huge shock. We thought heart disease only affected older men and women from 55-60. Boy were we wrong!

I think high blood pressure is part of what gives heart disease the reputation of being a "silent killer." The condition typically has no symptoms, so it's easy for someone, like Doug, to go on with his active life thinking nothing is wrong. The scary part is that a person can live with high blood pressure for years and during that time the condition is damaging the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other vital parts of the body. It's crucial to know your blood pressure numbers. If you're blood pressure is normal, you can continue to work at keeping it at that level. If your blood pressure is high, your doctor can get you set up with a treatment plan to start sticking it to high blood pressure (and more serious risks).

To keep our high blood pressure in check, we run, walk, participate in Cross Fit and kickboxing classes! We also try to keep our ice cream treats to a minimum, but with the heat in the 100s these days sometimes we could use something cold! What do YOU do to keep your heart happy?

If you're interested in learning more about preventing and controlling high blood pressure, The Heart Truth has a fantastic reference you can look through here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What's making our hearts race...

Keep your eyes out for this fabric too!
...another Stitch Red book adventure! In case you didn't see our June Stitch Red newsletter (you can subscribe here), we have some very exciting news to announce! Following the tremendous success of Knit Red- we've sold over 3,000 copies total!- we wanted to find a way to bring Stitch Red to the wonderful world of fabric- which we now carry. So, without further ado, it is our pleasure to announce our second Stitch Red book: Sew Red!

Much like Knit Red, Sew Red is a compilation of 28 red, eye-catching sewing designs that will inspire the long-time sewer to try new things and the knitter to try a different craft! If you haven't seen Knit Red, click here for a preview.

Tula Pink fabric you can expect to see in Sew Red!
Sew Red will be published in February 2013, just in time for American Heart Month! With a forward by Deborah Norville who also wrote the forward for Knit Red, and heart-healthy tips and stories from Amy Butler, Denyse Schmidt, Ty Pennington (from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and HGTV's hit "Trading Spaces"), Tula Pink, Ellen March, and so many more! From quilts to table runners and placemats with a twist, to dresses, Sew Red provides plenty of patterns for any level of sewer!

Everything has been sent into the publisher, so we don't have any pictures just yet. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A No Bull Review of Knit Red from Go Knit In Your Hat

In all our nightly blog surfing- we're shamelessly blog hungry!- we stumbled upon a wonderful review of Knit Red from Go Knit in Your Hat (AKA Carol, you might know of her from her "Candy Girl" tank in Koigu 3 or the writer behind the history of circular needles in Vogue Knitting). Her blog isn't just about knitting and crocheting, she even has a few sewing projects queued up for those of us learning to sew (which just so happens to be quite a few of us)! Let's just say, this blog is the perfect mix of all our favorite crafts! Witty, frank, and oh-so crafty, Go Knit In Your Hat is definitely a blog you want to add to your blog roll- just another crafter bringing words to the art!

We're a "no bull" sort of group here at Jimmy Beans Wool and we love that Go Knit In Your Hat laid it all out there in her Knit Red review. If you've been a little skeptical about Knit Red, hemming and hawing over the benefits of buying yet another pattern book, this post will surely sway you to add just one more design book to your collection (there is never such a thing as too many books)! Reading her post was like browsing the book selection at Barnes and Noble- without sifting through the decorated book covers looking for names that stick out among all the well-known designers. Just as we would leaf through the glossy pages of a potential winner, Carol does a digital flip through of Knit Red, bringing to light all the designs that caught her eye- and that might catch yours, too! Knitter's are very diverse in the designs they like; some like simple, yet classic knits for more regular wear, some like beads and cables and lace (oh my!), while others like embellished pieces that stand out among the rest. Well, Knit Red has it all! We truly enjoyed perusing Knit Red (a book we've looked through many a time!) with Carol's fresh eyes. If you're wondering just what you can find inside this wonderful book, Go Knit In Your Hat includes a breakdown of all 31 patterns (don't forget the mini-red dress)- perfect for those who like to see the numbers! If you've been hung up on any reservations (which we hope you're not!), this blog post will clear the air and bring you a wonderful preview of a delectable book.

We especially love how she brought attention to the personal designer stories that accompany each design. These profiles are the heart and soul of this book, they remind us just how many lives have been touched by heart disease. Our main goal- aside from providing you with a pretty book of patterns from the industries shining stars- was to bring awareness to the needle-arts community through stories, heart-healthy recipes and tips (all of which you'll find throughout Knit Red). After reading Go Knit In Your Hat's blog post, we feel confident that we've done just that!

We encourage everyone to share their Stitch Red stories because we feel that starting a conversation is one of the best ways to spark change and bring awareness. That said, I strongly encourage YOU to visit this blog post and read Carol's Stitch Red story. She has seen the effects of this silent killer firsthand with many members of her family, so she's proud to recommend Knit Red! P.S., all copies we sell are signed by Laura Zander herself! 

What caught YOUR eye from Knit Red?