Thursday, November 29, 2007

Backordered BFL -- Due Dec 7th

Happy to announce that the Blue Faced Leicester will be back in stock in all categories at the end of next week, around Dec. 7th. We expect arrival of...

BFL Ultra! on one-pound Cones (there are plenty of skeins in stock, too)
BFL Roving
BFL Superwash Roving
BFL Bulky on kilo cones

Introducing... New Formulation of Wool2Dye4 SuperSock

I just received notice that the new Wool2Dye4 SuperSock has passed through customs, and should be in the studio by Dec. 7th. This is an entirely new formulation of our signature sock yarn, and I think it will be well received.
It is so hard to decide on a yarn which bears the name of my company and to count on each shipment to be the very same as the previous one. We had some problems with the former yarn; sometimes it came in with such a tight twist that it took lots of work to ease it into a workable sock yarn. I remember one morning when I was browsing the Internet blogs to see what nice things people had written about Wool2Dye4 lately. There was my former signature sock yarn pictured in a spaghetti bowl! The caption said something like 'this is Wool2Dye4 spaghetti yarn.' Everything stood still for a brief second in life as the shock sank in! Horrible, horrible feeling.
This yarn, though, is not ever going to appear in anyone's spaghetti dish, unless they are doing some sort of interesting knitted food art. (Actually, that sounds like a neat idea!)
Wool2Dye4 SuperSock has a new look, feel and act. This is a fingering yarn with spring and bounce to it, a yarn which feels lively when it passes through your fingers. The three plies make for a nice and round yarn, so important for pattern work and the details of cables. The new formulation takes dye evenly and beautifully, too. Here are the details:
New Wool2Dye4 SuperSock ... 3-Ply superwash merino, 2,175 yds/lb prox. Put up: 8 oz skeins of 1,085 yds prox. Cost $18/skein.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Knitting Community: Ravelry

Have you heard about yet? If not, navigate on over to the link and take a look at this new online knitting community. Great background work and programming! These folks are putting together an upscale site where we can all take a part in a knitting and crochet community. Lots of opportunity to post pictures, exchange patterns, learn about yarns, trends and popularities of yarns and patterns, discussion forums (Oh, dear. What is the actual plural of this Latin word? Fori?) ... a very exciting internet spot to visit any time of the day.
There is a waiting list to sign up because they are testing it. I believe that more than 4,000 have signed up in the past few weeks, and that the waiting list may have that many names! I signed up when one of my customers told me about it, and Wool2Dye4, Inc. is planning to advertise there.
Check it out:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Queen Elizabeth's Hand-Knit Socks

Today is the 50th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. On this morning's news, there was a piece on the unique gifts they received 50 years ago, and the three mentioned were ... knitted hats, knitted tea cosies, and hand-knit socks!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Overdue Introduction to Chrissy, my Assistant

I am ashamed to be late in introducing a new permanent member of the Wool2Dye4 studio, Chrissy, who has been working for at least a month. She eased herself into the workings around here so easily that it seems that she has always been working with me. Oh, no! I do remember the search. It took more than six months to find the right person, no joke.
Chrissy is the right person, for sure, and has taken over the job of putting together the new websites. I know, I know I've been promising new websites forever. Now, with Chrissy at the keyboard, we are making real progress and are ahead of the webmaster and waiting for the next assignment so we can be up and running in the new format soon. She has a way of just doing what needs to be done, and I truly appreciate some extra time I can spend on implementing a portion of my new business plan.
Just yesterday I wrote to a new customer about planning and how important it is especially to the new business owner. Opening an internet business is relatively easy, compared to opening a bricks-and-mortar store, and sometimes because it seems easy, we skip over some of the basic, old-fashioned planning.
Chrissy has taken over much of the responsibility for the daily business at hand, allowing me to work with the manufacturers and develop new yarns, work on budget and pricing guidelines, refine the wholesale marketing strategy, implement a new advertising campaign. I like to get down to the basics sometimes and work from the most simple operation to the most complex, looking at each step to see how it can be improved, how my message can better be projected, how to achieve my business goals. I have always said that the first purpose of having a successful business should be to improve the quality of the owner's life. Having the right people work with you is one of the keys to creating a successful business.
So, I welcome Chrissy to Wool2Dye4. Even though it is a late introduction, it is absolutely heartfelt!

Australian YARN magazine to close

I was sorry to read that YARN magazine, the Australian magazine for knitting and more, is going to cease publication very shortly. What a wonderful magazine this is, and what a shame that we will not have this record of the exuberant Australian fiber artists scampering across the pages of this quarterly magazine. They always seem so full of spirit and energy, and I looked forward to pictures of the gatherings and wacky promotional ideas. One, for instance, was themed on knitting beanies and there were just hundreds of beanies from all over the countryside. Articles on how Australian knitters are frustrated with their yarn choices, too, gave insight into the the worldwide wool market, and they always seem like such hospitable hosts to the authors and teachers who travelled there for workshop presentations. The pictures were of rooms teaming with knitters of both sexes, all ages. She truly did a wonderful job of celebrating her country's knitters.

Owner and editor Barbara Coddington has offered the publication for sale, but, as she says in her letter included in the November issue, no buyer has been willing to take on the project. This is a true loss to magazine publishing in the fiber arts market. Barbara grew her magazine into a glossy publication with thoughtful articles by her Australian colleagues, well known authors and teachers in the field, and with the marketing support of major yarn manufacturers serving that part of the world. What an accomplishment! Congratulations on a wonderful job, and thank you, Barbara, for your committment.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Knit Lit and Fiber Fables

Recently two friends have suggested some new reading for me, and I want to pass them on with my recommendations. Both are novels which are set at fiber festivals! Both feature a murder, a fiber fanatic unravels the mystery, and both conveniently have boyfriends who are policemen! Both are a good read.
Mary Kruger's Knit Fast, Die Young, a Knitting Mystery is good reading and subtly introduces knitting info as background information. This one was lent me to and I see on the cover that there was a previous one, also featuring the same wool shop owner as sleuth, called Died in the Wool.
The other one is by Susan Wittig Albert, called Indigo Dying. This is one of several mysteries which feature a plant in the title, as the main character is an herb shop owner who, conveniently, also holds a law degree. Yes, her boyfriend is also a law enforcement officer. Good storyline with an interesting mystery. For some reason, the info included about dyeing seemed almost to sound like a research paper, not very conversational or introduced occasionally. But, this will not stop me from reading this author's other books.
Other titles come to mind: Debbie Macomber's Shop of Blossom Street and followup novel, A Good Yarn. Of course there is Monica Ferris and her series of the needlework/yarn shop owner sleuth who's love interest is, yes, a policeman.
I am sure that not all fiber related mysteries have a lawman in the background waiting to rescue the delicate fiber artist from her musings and adventures. Lots of the female sleuths, actually, have a strong male lawman as a love interest whether they run a yarn shop, a cookie shop, or herb shop.
Fun reading, all.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Reskeining mill skeins for resale

From time to time, customers ask me about how to get two equal skeins from one of the 8-oz skeins they purchase from me. My advice is this: if you are reselling yarn in 4 oz skeins, please do not start with 8 oz skeins. Start off with one pound (or larger) cones. The reason for this is that at this end of the market -- what is known as the 'gray goods market' -- our yarns are not weighed and measured with accuracy. The accuracy comes in the final stages of the finished dyed goods. For instance, the large yarn manufacturers process thousands of yards of each weight at one time. They are spun, then dyed, then measured out into salable units which we find in local yarn shops wrapped up neatly with a label on them announcing weight, among other specifications.

At this end of the market, the measurements and weights are not nearly as exact. In recent years, since the hand dyed yarns have gained popularity, smaller dyers are discovering that an 8 oz skein may not weigh exactly eight ounces. I try to sprinkle my descriptions with the words 'approximate' and 'prox' throughout, so that people get the idea that the weights and measures will fluctuate. You can count on that.

Here's a good example of the last batch of BFL Ultra!, my wonderful sock weight in Blue Faced Leicester superwash. The skeins are weighing in at 7.6 to 7.8 ounces. The one pound cones, though, are weighing in from 1.2 to 1.6 pounds. Next batch may come in at different base weights. At this end of the market, it is not an exact science. I must tell you that I have never once received a complaint from a customer that they received up to half a pound of rare yarn for free! Not once. BUT I have heard from people who are beginning to dye in small amounts, and they think that they can buy 8 oz skeins and divide them in half to resell.

My plea is this: if you are going to skein up smaller measurements for resale, please buy yarn in cones.

All of this said, I will note that I am gradually gaining control over details such as weight and measurement, as I move closer and closer to the source of my yarns. I am having more yarns manufactured by a mill which is known for being consistent in its weights and measurements. Even though the weights will be more consistent in the future, though, my advice still stands to resellers:
The Golden Rule of Measurement: If you are reselling yarns in small quantities, start with one-pound minimum cones. Don't try to split small skeins into smaller measurements. We are at the gray goods end of the market where measurements and weights are approximate.
My suggestion: sell sock yarns by yardage. Most sock knitters examine labels to see if there are close to 400 yards in a ball of commercial sock yarn. That seems to be the benchmark to knit up a pair of socks, so be a little generous and make your skeins into 425 or even 450 yards. This measurement may increase your sales because you will be giving the customer what they want...the number of yards needed to knit a pair of socks. Giving the customer what they really want is how we do business.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Studio Assistant Caitlin's First DyePot!

Here is the happy face of Caitlin, our parttime college studio assistant, holding up her first roving dye experiment. She is self-taught and an enthusiastic spindle spinner. Beautiful job, Caitlin!

Caitlin will be with us until May 08 when she graduates Randolph College (formerly Randolph Macon Woman's College).

New Patterns in Stock

NEW PATTERN from Second Nature Design. Karen Alfke has just sent us her two new latest patterns... Unpattern Vest (using her famous "Top Down" techinque) and her CableDown Pullover. This picture shows my version of her CableDown Pullover in Almerino. We still have some Almerino left in nice pastel colors. (Almerino=Alpaca + Merino, 50/50)

See GALLERY picture.