Friday, October 31, 2008

Apple Yarns

I dropped by Apple Yarns this week to see how my yarn looked. I have to confess to a little thrill at seeing my own yarn occupying its very own cubby in a real, honest-to-goodness store. Especially a store that is my favorite yarn store in town. Okay, it was a big thrill.

It seems to be well-received so far. The store owner and I have big plans for the next installment of Huckleberry Knits yarn--I've managed to get a hold of some locally popular base yarn for my colorways. I see a huge box of deliciously squishy yarn coming to my doorstep in my near future.

In the meantime, I'll need to work on the hardest bit of all--coming up with a name for the new yarn line. I'm transitioning all my yarn lines to have Pacific Northwest names, except for my Flying Cloud yarn, which is just too aptly named to change.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

in memory of Colleen

Colleen Kueter (cgkueter on Ravelry), a dyer and knitter that I like and admire, has lost her battle with cancer. She has left behind a 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. The wonderful women at Tiny Lady Cooperative are hosting a benefit for her, beginning today. Per Colleen’s wishes, all proceeds will go to her children’s college fund.

Please help us let Colleen’s family know how much love and support she inspired:

Please bid if anything catches your fancy, buy raffle tickets, make an outright donation, and help to spread the word.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

fiber show wrap-up and my first wholesale order

It's a milestone weekend for Huckleberry Knits--my first fiber show and my first wholesale order delivery.

The fiber show went well. There is very little overhead with this show--no lodging or meals, no booth to set up, and no need to acquire a credit card merchant account, as the guild handles all the transactions. So I'm happy with my net. I also have a better idea of what to bring next year. I think that shoppers at this particular show are more interested in finished items, so I'll try to bring some knits next time. I saw a bunch of people that I knew, none of them knitters, spinners, or weavers, so I should have a way to tap into that audience.

Also, I think I'll put some marketing copy on my labels to help describe the yarns. I think that's a skill that I can bring over from writing online listings to selling in real-world venues.

Here's my first wholesale order: eight pounds of soft squishy yarn.

I like how my first wholesale order turned out. I was a little nervous about the timing because I had to wait for my base yarns to come in and I wanted to finish the order before leaving town. The weather is now cold and rainy, so I thought yarn drying time would be really slow. Then it occurred to me that I could put a drying rack right above the heating vent in my bedroom. Voila! Dry yarn in 24-36 hours.

fiber show #1

This morning I dropped off my boxful of yarns (and one lonely braid of BFL roving) at the Whatcom Weavers fiber show.

I dropped by after the show opened tonight. The guild members in charge of setup did a fantastic job--nice flow through the tables, attractive grouping of items, lovely decorations. It was especially impressive because they didn't know all of the items they'd be getting until 11 a.m.

The cookie table was conveniently set up near my yarns, so kiddo and I sat and observed the shoppers browsing them. Up until now, my sales have been all online, so I was very curious to see which yarns attracted people, and what they did while deciding whether or not to purchase. In the 10 or 15 minutes we were there, we saw quite a few people rub one particular yarn type and point it out to their friends, though apparently that wasn't quite enough to close the deal right then.

I watched one woman methodically go through one basket of my yarn. She fingered one skein, put it back, went to my next basket. She immediately chose one skein, then went back to the other basket and picked up the one she'd originally looked at and added it to her shopping basket. It's an interesting exercise, trying to figure out what goes through people's minds when they're making purchasing decisions.

Another woman couldn't decide between two of my skeins. They were very different in both weights and color, so that surprised me a bit.

I work the floor tomorrow, so I'm hoping to snap a photo of my display table before it's open to the general public. I tried to get a picture tonight, but there were so many people--much more than either of the last two years, when I went as a customer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I have a yarn problem.

I'm selling yarn at this fiber show this weekend:

I originally planned to dye about 50 skeins for the show. After seeing the horrified reactions of the show organizers when I told them, I decided to scale back. Apparently no one else brings nearly that much to sell. My philosophy is more along the lines of "if you don't bring it, you can't sell it," but okay, I didn't want to be the person that all the other guild members whispered about.

So I decided that I was only going to bring the stuff that hadn't sold through my online store (worsted and bulky sell very well because my main market is the soaker/longies crowd, sock and sport do not) or that I had otherwise accumulated, like yarn that needed a bit of touch-up dyeing that I'd never gotten around to doing. No special dyeing for the show. I figured I'd still have about a dozen to bring, while clearing out some space in my cedar chest.

Tonight, while my lovely husband reskeined yarn for my wholesale order, I pulled out everything that I wanted to bring so I could tag it. I still managed to find more than 30 skeins. Where did it all come from? I don't even remember dyeing some of this yarn, which I find to be a little scary--instead of sleepwalking, am I sleepdyeing?

There's quite a bit of sock and sport weight yarn, as I expected. There were a few that didn't photograph well, so I had just put them in the trunk for some future day when I have a better camera or mad photography skillz. But I was surprised to find several skeins of worsted yarn that I'd simply forgotten to sell in my store. It was sort of embarrassing, actually, that they'd gotten buried in the trunk. Too much yarn!

I still need to finish tagging the yarn with both my own tags and ones for the guild. I'll snap a photo tomorrow.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

my ideal swift

I am in the midst of working on a wholesale order and prepping for a local fiber show this weekend. So my swift and I have been spending a lot of quality time together. (WHEN is my electric skein winder going to get here?)

So I've had ample time to reflect on what features my ideal swift would have:

1) A flexible yet durable method of allowing the swift to adjust to different sizes. With my wooden umbrella swift, the slats are attached to one another with little strings. The slats get tangled together and won’t always open, so I have to shake or pull them apart. And the strings seem to break a lot. It’s on long-term loan from a friend, so I don’t really know how old it is or how much abuse the strings have taken over the years. Maybe these are just OEM strings, in which case I can forgive them.

2) Ball bearings or some other rotational mechanism that would get rid of the wood-on-wood squeaking. I HATE IT. I do a fair amount of winding at midnight or later, and I'm always half-expecting the squeaking to wake up my three-year-old.

3) A deeper and wider table clamp, so I'd be able to attach it to my coffee table and watch a movie while I'm winding. Right now I'm limited to using the swift at my kitchen table. I did discover that I could clamp it to my kitchen counter and watch YouTube videos and other clips on the computer. But my TV screen is a lot bigger than my monitor, and is easier on the eyes.

4) A guide that keeps the loose end of the skein from flapping around. It sometimes/often gets wound up in the rotating part of the swift, causing it to abruptly stop. It’s just an annoyance with heavier yarns, but it breaks sock yarns.

5) Pre-marked circumferences on the central shaft. I.e., put the revolving part at this line, and you’ve got a 2-yard skein; put it at this line and it’s a 2.5-yard skein. If this were my swift, I would just use a marker to indicate the various circumferences. I use masking tape because it's not, but that gets bunched up and eventually wears off.

6) A steadier way to keep the swift at a certain circumference. With this swift, the circumference gradually decreases because the part that rotates around the central shaft doesn’t stay tight. On occasion, it has loosened to the point where the yarn falls off into an untidy heap.

And while we're at it, my fantasy swift would also end world hunger and bring peace and goodwill to all. Hey, it's my fantasy, I get to assign super powers as I like.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Desert Turquoise set

A couple of weeks ago, I finished a set in my Desert Turquoise colorway but forgot to post photos here. I enjoy knitting with my own yarn because I am always curious to see how a colorway turns out. This particular set was for the second knitting customer I ever had, way back in 2005 before I had even considered opening a business. Her enthusiasm for my knitting really helped me to make that leap.

The yarn is aran/light bulky Gaia organic merino, one of my favorites.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

ghost pumpkin hat

I enjoy coming up with new patterns, though most of the time I am too busy with knitting pants to try out anything new. But when Erika asked me to come up with a hat that looked like a ghost pumpkin, to match a pumpkin set that we were working on, I eked out a little bit of time.

This is knitted from natural aran Blue-Faced Leicester. I dyed a little bit of brown yarn for the stem and the vine embellishment. I really like how it turned out, if I may say so.