Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stitches South - April 2009

I went to the newly established Stitches South in Atlanta last weekend. For the first year of a show, it was well attended and well supported. No one said how many folks were there, but at registration there was a big fat list of classes which had not filled up. But, not so, with those that I took ... Tradition- a series of old-fashioned decorative stitches, taught by Candace Eisner Strick. (You might know her Merging Colors kits and patterns, which we are going to carry on the new website.) That was fun -- knitting swatches of fancy patterns --and, not so fancy as to be out of the reach of the average knitter, but challenging all the same. Somehow I invented a knit stitch during one exercise! I think, though, that it was double knitting ... where one side is one color and the other side is another color? (It was supposed to be striped ribbing but it was beautiful!)

The other class was with Laura Bryant of Prism Yarns. It was called Fake Short Rows, but we asked her to rename it because the end-result fabric is so lovely that it shouldn't have an ugly word like 'fake' attached to it. Very powerful stitch, and her samples were really lovely. I scoured the Market floor and finally bought some Italian (yea!) yarn and some special glass knitting needles (must haves!) and started my own filagree shoulder shawl. Somehow, though, it is not progressing to be quite as lovely as the samples we did under Laura Bryant's nose. I will have to rip and start over again, I guess, and maybe be less adventurous in my design. This one, by the way, could make an average garment into something spectacular!

The Market floor was a little disappointing in that there were not many vendors. Or, perhaps a better way to say it is that there was an adequate number of vendors, but not that shockingly huge display of must-haves at every corner, one vendor better than the next, etc. There just were not that many of them there, and I totally understand and want to make that clear. It was, after all, the first year of the show, and it had to have been hard to make the decision to attend both a new show and a show that would draw on financial resources in these strange economic times. But, I must say, that most vendors seemed to be busy most of the time.

There were a few, as always, who seemed not to be very welcoming to customers, and it really makes you wonder why they made the effort to come to the show, unload all their stuff, fill the booth, and then sit and read or knit and not pay attention to the crowd. Next weekend is the weekend for Maryland Sheep & Wool, one of the largest fiber shows on the East Coast, and several vendors from the west were going to drive up to MD and set up this week, making the most of the two shows being schedules so closely together. The folks who had the glass needles, for instance, (Michael and Sheila Ernst from Oregon) were going up to Maryland. I invited them to stop in Virginia if they had the time, but they haven't called me yet. I'd love to show them my Laura Bryant Fake Short Row capelet on their stunning glass needles.

I made some good contacts for the new website: Kim Dolce, a knitwear designer. Boy, I do love her sense of style. Casual yet elegant. You can see her designs on her website: ... We'll carry her patterns on Uptown Stitches. Also, looked closely at the Hiya-Hiya Needles. You know what I'm referring to ... the very lightweight ones from China. I ordered complete sets of both the smaller and the larger ones, but they are out of stock for a while. I am thinking of carrying those two kits only, plus the replaceable cables, but want to work with them a bit before deciding. And talked to the man with the American Buffalo yarn. That is sort of iffy at this point. It is wonderfully soft, but on the pricey side, and I am not sure if my customer base will take it to heart!

My next post will be about three new sock yarns we are adding to the Wool2Dye4 lineup. One is so much like an old one I used to carry, which I got from a distributor, but which never came in looking like the previous batch. Now, I've got my own finger in the pie, and a little control over the milling process and we have come up with a really wonderful Superwash Merino in a firmly twisted 2-Ply. But, more on that later.

By the way, if you want samples of the three new sock yarns, eMail me with your request (and address!) ...


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

W2D4 Merino DK - Superwash ... a change

I admit to a goof. It was in choosing a new size skein for one yarn, the Merino DK in Superwash. Last month we went from the universally accepted skein size of 100 grams in the DK-SW to a 175 gr skein, or -- if you think in ounces -- from a 3.8 oz to a 6 oz skein. I did take advice from customers in both camps, and decided to try the large skein. Reasons were good: knitters of heavy socks couldn't get a pair out of 100 grams (231 yds) so they had to buy two skeins; baby garment knitters couldn't get quite enough yarn to make a full garment; dyers for sweaters and large garments worried that dyeing many small skeins were hard to match in one dye lot.
All good thoughts, right? HOWEVER, the typical measurement of 100-grams is the expected weight in our industry, from the local yarn shop to the booth of the fiber artist at the fiber festival.
To fix this, we are going back to the 100-gr skein. As of yesterday, the larger 175-gr skeins of Merino DK-SW were discounted 15% on the website to all customer types, and we have ordered the 100-gr skeins to be returned to permanent stock.
Below is a schedule of upcoming Merino shipments expected in the next two months ...
Mid-April: Platinum Sock on 100-gr skeins. Ultra Merino 3Ply on skeins and cones. Merino Worsted on skeins.
End of April/Early May: ... Platinum Sock and Ultra Merino 3Ply on skeins and cones. Merino DK-Superwash on cones.
Mid-to-Late May: Platinum Sock and Ultra Merino 3Ply on skeins and cones. Merino DK-SW on 100-gr skeins
................We have a new sock yarn coming up on trial: 100% superwash BFL in a nice 4-ply yarn at 1984 yards/lb (436 yards per 100-gr skeins). This could be a nice fresh yarn for your lineup. Our customers keep telling me and telling me that when they set out Bluefaced Leicester yarns at their booths, the BFL is the first to go! I see it myself, so I am very happy to bring in this great new yarn.
This yarn just has such wonderful sheen to it that gives it immediate impact, and of course, the long staple makes it a strong yarn.The typical American sock knitter goes into yarn shops and buys sock yarn with nylon in the blend. Of course there are major opinions on both sides of the story, but I think we can satisfy all doubters with a good strong BFL superwash yarn with a good twist.
If you would like a sample of the new trial BFL sock, please eMail me. What shall we call it? I woke up in the night and thought, 'BFL Socking.' Is this the new name?
I am boosting stock of the major sock yarns in the next months to accommodate upcoming fiber festivals. If you have specific needs, please eMail me and tell me about them so that I can work on having enough of your yarn available.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Uptown Sweater

The lovely sweater design from designer Shawn Glidden has finally been named. Since it is the first design for Uptown Stitches, and she hit the nail on the head in the comfy yet elegant design, it shall henceforth be known as The Uptown Sweater! Thank you, Shawn. and, thank you, Kraemer Yarns, for that terrific Belfast yarn. The combination of linen, cotton and that touch of silk make for a fabric that you just want to cover your body.

Yesterday I packed it up, along with the Summit Hill sweater knit in Elizabeth Zimmerman's Adult Ladies Sweater (aka February Sweater from Knitter's Almanac, but in adult size), and a shawl knit from Laura Schickli's Luxury Lace. Then we shipped them to a photographer friend in New York -- Rick Stockwell -- is going to shoot pictures for the pattern and website against an urban background. Urban backgrounds are hard to come by in my little corner of Virginia! AND he is an artist at work, so I know already that the pictures will be interesting and engaging. (Check out his website ... He is using a professional model, Lesley Collis, who is an actress and a beautiful woman.

I will post these wonderful pictures as soon as they are in!