Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday is the only day the store is closed, and as much as one would think we would welcome it, I always feel a little paranoid. Maybe I should run in and see if I remembered to turn the heat down, see if there are any knitters wandering around, lost, looking for a yarn fix, see if UPS get the point. So I am forcing myself to stay put and actually work on some projects. This has me thinking about setting goals, planning the next project, and for some reason, trends.

If you have lots of projects in mind, and weaving projects really fall into this category, how do you stay ahead of the trends? Is that important? I have a lot of yarn in my stash that is from the 1970's. LOTS of Manos, believe it or not, and some Lopi, both of which have changed in quality dramatically, but you should see the colors! I must have purchased the Manos with the Partridge Family in mind.

I think there must be a big difference between trends and trendy. Thank God and my partner, Myra, that we don't have a lot of 'trendy' yarn in our store. We got some, but just enough for the customers who asked for it. I wondered what it must be like for some great stores who have a ton of it. So I went to some their websites last night and got a surprise. One of the stores still specializes in it. It must mean that their customers like it and want more. This just amazes me, because it means that everything that the sales representatives and magazines are telling us doesn't apply to that store and it's customers. Are their any demographers out there?

My son is big on demographics and his theory is that you can forget everything you thought you knew about them and create the market you want. You provide the interest and motivation to capture the interest of your customer. If you like it, they will buy it. And then you have the internet, which upsets the balance. What we like on the east coast is completely different than what is liked on the west coast, or so I've heard.

I wonder what other's are doing with their eyelash ribbon fake fur acrylic $15 a skein yarns? Surely not another scarf? I like Chris Bylsma's Crayon Jacket as a way to use several interesting yarns together. Maybe I'll do that project next!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Weekends at Woolbearers are usually hectic, always interesting, and include a host of interesting knitters and weavers who come from all over the state to visit. This weekend was no exception. Yesterday Daryl Lancaster came from Lincoln Park to teach Seams and Finishing Techniques for Handweavers. She is a nationally known designer and popular teacher among the guilds. But my new weaving students heard of her for the first time this past month and were definitely in awe by the end of the workshop. Her garments are constructed of handwoven fabric, but that is the only common link they have with weaving. She guides you in thinking out of the box when planning a piece.

I have woven fabric for clothing with the intention of cutting into it as little as possible, using narrowly woven textiles to drape across the body with just a small amount of sewing. Daryl does just the opposite. The fabric is treated with interfacings and stabilizers so that it can be cut and pieced and trimmed. She uses techniques that utilize the tiniest piece of fabric. One of the students had a piece of silk she wove in another workshop that wasn't larger than 4" X 10", and Daryl suggested some ways it can be used by added commercial fabrics that compliment it to make a vest. Fabulous ideas and inspiration from a wonderful teacher right in our little urban studio made us proud to have been able to offer her workshop.

Today we had two more classes, one taught by a young woman, Susan Saladini, who comes from Woodbridge about once a month to teach some wonderful knitted technique, and Maureen Oberle, who lives a little closer. I wish I had been a fly on the wall in Maureen's classroom; I heard laughter the entire time class was in session. The ladies are a joy to have in the store.

In addition to the two days of workshops, Myra had a class each day herself. Wonderful Wallaby, probably the most popular and well attended class we have had, and today was the first day of The Felted Tapestry Capelet Knit Along, Nicky Epstein's beautiful fair isle cape of Jamieson's Simply Shetland.

A short, tense visit by our landlady and a little cold rain was the only dark spot. And today we saw some of our favorite customers and met several new gals as well. We just got Fleece Artist Hand Dyed Sock Kits on Friday and saw most of it go out the door this weekend.

I got a little, tiny bit of knitting done on the Sunrise Circle Sweater from Interweave in Jo Sharp; my goal is to finish it this week. Hold me to it.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Starting to blog feels a little strange to me. Why do I think I have anything to say about knitting that anyone would want to read? I'm not an experienced knitter; my partner, Myra, has been knitting for forty years, and much of what I know is from her generous teaching. The rest I made up as I go along. I've been told I bind off like no way anyone has seen. Yarn requirements and gauge are still a challenge. I avoid trying patterns that have abbreviations of longer than four letters. No pair of socks from my hand are the same size. Yet. I want to perfect what I do with needles and yarn. I rip all the time.

And I love knitters. There are no generalizations I can make about knitters, except they like yarn. Yarn and fiber, especially wool, gives me goose bumps. As a weaver, I obsessively bought yarn until there was no room for me to weave with it. My weaving studio housed an impressive range of coned yarns, much of it now stored in Woolbearers studio, ready for our students to weave with.

I learned to love yarn in skeins and balls when we opened Woolbearers, in 2004. We use a color wheel to arrange the yarn in the cubbies Myra's husband built for us.

Knitting needles are for more than knitting; they are for collecting, too. When I first met my business partner, my knitting accomplishments amounted to two scarves and a couch throw, but I had more than 100 pair of needles. The old white plastic, bakelite and wooden needles are a thrill to use. Until we opened the store, I had never heard of Addi Turbo; now I lust after them. How lucky am I to own a knitting store and be able to use whatever my heart desires to knit with, meet wonderful women, and occasionally men, who knit.

Woolbearers has a yahoo group called twisted woolbearers. On it a young woman posted a list of her unfinished projects and they amount to over 70. I have four or five in progress right now and feel nervous about not getting them done. They are an Adrienne Vittidini designed fitted sweater from Vogue Very Easy Knits that I'm doing in Woolbearers hand dyed bulky cotton, the Sunset Circle sweater in the latest Interweave Knits in Jo Sharp Aran Tweed, a fair isle papoose that will be felted of hand dyed, some lace gloves from a Simply Shetland book and several pair of socks. The socks date about a year old. Not good.

So that is it for now. I'm taking the knitting bag to the gym tomorrow so while I'm waiting for a class to start, I can accomplish something. I wonder how many ladies will ask what I'm knitting?