Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Call for Convention Orders

I am afraid that I am giving short notice to wholesale customers in this Call for Convention Orders. It is, unfortunately, out of necessity as customers are starting to talk about attending Stitches West in February, and needing to get their stock in so they can dye it up and pack for the event.

Last year I managed what I thought was a pretty good campaign to impress on my customers who resell at conventions and fiber festivals, and the whole effort was to get people to plan ahead. It seems, though, that this will be a yearly battle and that I must start anew. Well, is this totally fair? I do have some customers who are much more organized than I am, and who have quietly pushed me to get their yarns to them with a couple of months' padding before their events. And, of course, there are the newbies who are tentative about how it all works and write me many eMails so that they can get in tune with how long a lead time they will need in order to have their yarn in hand with enough time to dye up a thoughtfully prepared color palette.

Then, there are those who just sort of go with the flow and pick up what they need when they need it. This is great and I am all for free spirits, believe me! It does make having enough for everyone a bit of a problem.

Over the spring and summer there was a big, intercontinental pow-wow which went on for about six weeks, all aimed at getting Wool2Dye4 set up as a Standing Order customer at the merino mill. This process probably could have been abbreviated if I had only understood all the elements which go into play for the entire process. It is certainly not as easy as calling up and saying I want this, this, and that, but involves procurement, scheduling, accounting, forecasting, and other steps at the local level. On the worldwide scene, it involves bidding at international fiber market level, and high finance at a level much higher than I can reach.

So I am beginning to appreciate that tooth-pulling process I went through last spring and summer to get to my Standing Order phase in the grand scheme of things. But since supply and demand remain the basis of all economies, I have had to learn that my demand figures in heavily into the supply I can expect. And, the same goes for my customers and me. It is simply not possible to give my customer base what they want and need if they do not let me know with some warning time built in.

Plan Ahead,then, became my mantra all of last year. Now, I wish I had kept it up! Was I worried that my newsletters were getting boring with all the talk about getting in orders early and helping me keep organized, or was I getting bored with writing the same thing over and over again, myself? I think it was the latter. Man! I should take my own advice sometimes.

Background. There is so much work in the background when it comes to participating at any level in these fiber festivals, conventions, and workshops. They are concentrated in spring and fall months, primarily. Here we are just eight weeks away from the first major fiber event, Stitches West in Santa Clara, California over the weekend of February 17-20, 2011. If my newsletter today scared fire into absolutely everyone, then we should just make the deadline, but this will mean some long nights and weekends stirring the dyepot. I just know it. Luckily, the Standing Order will prop up available inventory on the best selling yarns, and the new British yarns have all been spun in one ton amounts, literally. I will wait 24 hours and see just how many dyers have taken my urgent call for orders to heart, cross my fingers, and plow into another busy festival season.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sample knitting from Ushya ... Mirasol's new SuperBulky

Here is a simple wristwarmer done in SuperBulky Ushya. It is one of the yarns which I bought for UptownStitches.com just before deciding to close down that secondary website. ( I continue to call UptownStitches my secondary website, because I have received eMails from folks asking what I will do with all my spare time, now that I am closing this website! They have no idea what a time-monster my main website, Wool2dye4.com, is!)

Here is simple pattern:
Bulky Knit Wrist Warmers
Yarn: Heavy worsted/ Bulky
Gauge: 3 stitches/inch

Cast on 24, join to knit in the round.

Rows 1-10: *K4, P4* around
Rows 11-12: *P4, K4* around
Rows 13-23: *K4, P4* around
Cast off loosely.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Update on the sell-off at UptownStitches.com

Since announcing the '50% off' sale, my life has turned upside down! First, I will say that once I decided to close that secondary website, getting rid of the inventory was first priority. So, instead of starting the sale at, say, 20% off and slowly increasing the discount, I decided not to drag it out, but to get going and sell the inventory quickly.
What I did not consider, though, was that there might be a feeding frenzy in fiber-land, and that's exactly what happened. Pulling and packing many orders -- many for one each of ten different yarns! -- plus keeping current with Wool2Dye4 got to be too much. Since I had moved the dyed yarns, aka Uptown Stitches, to a spare room in my home to give more space in the studio for Wool2Dye4, that meant that I was the one pulling the orders, and bringing them into the studio each day. For the first four or five nights, I was putting in some late hours!
We are going to catch up today and will be current with the orders. Yesterday I reorganized the Uptown Stitches room, and distributed what is left on the shelves so that they can be seen easily.

Here's what we have the most of ...
Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool XL, most of the colors
Elsbeth Lavold Favorite Wool, most of the colors
(cotton yarn) Kraemer's Belfast
(cotton yarn) Kraemer's Saucon
Rooster Aran Almerino, color Gooseberry(sort of dark lime green)
Rooster DK Almerino, color Gooseberry
Rooster Aran Almerino in Custard *

*Now, I know that Custard might not be a very nice name for a color, as lots of people do not like custard. It falls into that category with avocados, where people first describe the texture rather than the taste. Most people like sweets, but not all people like custard. To me, the thought of custard brings to mind the connotation 'eggy!' and that's not a good thing in my culinary consideration. Back to yarn, though, this Custard-named alpaca/merino blend is a nice and rich yellow. It falls into the family of yellows which have a little brown mixed in, to tone down the one color which reflects light. It is actually what I call Italian Yellow. I use that shade to paint all the ceilings in my house! The Italians are always talking about the sun and the sea, and this color on a ceiling is like the sun shining down on you all day long, rain or shine.

Custard. It's a nice color! I've got a lot of that yarn, left, too, and I think it is all because of the name!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Uptown Stitches Sale Starts Today!

Uptown Stitches is my secondary website. I had a brilliant idea that I needed a place to sell the dyed yarns of some of my handdyers, and so I created Uptown Stitches. To drive people to the site, I took on some wellknown brands such as Mini Mochi, Elsbeth Lavold, Kraemer Yarns, Ellie Rae, Mirasol and some of the works of a few handdyers like Handwerks, Knit Witch, Lazy Perry Ranch, Yummy Yarn, Gypsy Knits, Xtreme Spinning, Zen Yarn Garden and a few others.

But it did not take off. My brilliant idea got lost in the magnitude of the internet, and so I have made the business decision to close it down. I think that for such a site to work today, you'd almost have to carry everybody. The sites which are successful have a huge line of dyers or commercial yarn companies on their line up. I just did not want to divert funds from Wool2Dye4, and so have come to the decision to close Uptown Stitches. All ideas are not really brilliant, I suppose.

So, that said, here is the announcement:

50% off all yarns and spinning fibers at www.UptownStitches.com!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Stocking 2DYE4 by Barb Brown, Wild Geese Fibre

©Barb Brown Nov 18, 2010
Gauge: approx. 5 st. and 7 rows per inch (gauge is not critical)
s1wyib –slip one with yarn in back of work

Using long tail cast on, and CC1 cast on 60
Knit 1 row with CC1.
Using MC, join in round, being careful not to twist sts.

Round 1: With MC *K5, s1wyib* rep. bet ** around
Round 2: With MC *p5, s1wyib* rep. bet ** around . (to s1wyib bring yarn bet. needles to back of work, sl1, bring yarn back bet. needles to front of work)

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 twice more (total of 3 repeats) then work round 1 one more time.

Knit 1 round with MC.
Knit 1 round with CC, dec. 4 sts. around to 56 sts.
With CC, work 1 inch of k2, p2 ribbing
Knit 1 round with MC.
Work Graph One , repeating sts. 1 to 28 twice around (st. 29 is worked only after dividing for heel flap)

Continue in pattern until work measures 12 inches or desired length from top of stocking.
Divide for heel:
Break yarn
Place first 29 sts. on hold for instep.
Work heel flap on remaining 27 sts., inc. 1 st. on first row to 28 sts.
(right side facing- CC )
Row 1: s1, knit across
Row 2: s1, purl across
Repeat these 2 rows 8 more times (total of 18 rows)

Turn heel:
Row 1: k18, ssk, k1 turn
Row 2: s1, p9, p2tog, p1, turn
Row 3: s1, k10, ssk, k1, turn
Continue until all sts. have been worked. 18 sts. remain.
Break yarn.

With MC pickup10 sts. down the heel flap, knit across heel sts inc. 1 st., pickup 10 sts. up heel flap. Join in CC, work 29 sts. Graph One on instep. (68 sts. now in round – 29 instep, 39 sole)
Place markers 5 sts. in from each end of sole to mark gusset sts. Slip markers when working.

Round 1: *k1 CC, k1 MC* across, ending k1 CC, work instep sts. maintaining continuity of graph
Round 2: ssk with CC, work CC and MC across sole sts. maintaining stripes to last 2 sts., k2tog. with CC sts. work instep sts. maintaining continuity of graph

Repeat round 1 and 2 until 58 sts. remain in round. (All sts. in gusset within markers dec.)
Work round 2 until sock is 2 inches less than desired final length.
Knit around with CC
Shape toe:

Round 1: With MC, *k1, s1* across sole ending k1. Repeat across instep.

Round 2: with CC, k1, ssk, knit across sole to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1
Repeat across instep

Round 3: with MC, k1, *k1, s1* across sole ending k2. Repeat across instep

Round 4: as round 2

Repeat rounds 1 through 4, keeping stripe as established on round 1, until there are 26 sts. in the round
Graft with CC. Sew in ends, wash and block.
LOOP FOR HANGING: Cast on 40 sts. Knit 1 row. Cast off. Attach to back of stocking.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Incoming! Mid-November 2010

Good news of a restocking due to arrive around the 16th to 18th of November. Here is what is coming in...

  • Angel Lace skeins
  • Angel Select skeins
  • Bamboo TwoStep skeins and cones
  • Butterfly Lace skeins
  • Cash Aran MCN cones
  • Cash DK MCN skeins
  • Cash Sock MCN skeins and cones
  • Crazy Eight skeinsPlatinum Sock skeins
  • Sheila's Aran skeins and cones
  • Sheila's Gold skeins
  • Sheila's Sock skeins and cones
  • Silk Sock 50/50 skeins
  • Surino skeins
  • Tweed Aran skeins
  • W2D4 Merino DK-SW skeins and cones
  • W2D4 Merino Worsted skeins and cones
  • W2D4 Merino Worsted-SW skeins and cones

When we get news that the shipment is about to pass through Customs, we will send out the newsletters to all registered customers. Also, that is when we will send private eMails to customers who have asked us to reserve some of these incoming yarns.

Exciting times! I just love it when the shipments arrive. We have just had more shelves delivered and moved everything around in the shop. That's fun, too because it makes you notice the stock levels even more.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wool Week in London

This week the glitterati celebrate Fashion Week in the major cities around the globe. In London His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales participated by video in a major fashion party thrown by the directors of publishers Conde Nast. He spoke about the importance of choosing real wool and of promoting the industries which are fed by wool. "A couple of years ago I was shocked to discover that it often costs more to shear a sheep than a farmer would be paid for its wool,' he said.

Please read on by following these links to articles and a series of wonderful pictures of sheep being herded in downtown London.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Yarns any day now ...

3 new yarns are coming any time now ...
... Cash Aran MCN
... Tweed Sock
...W2D4 Merino Bulky

Coming within the month, Sheila's Sparkle ...
Here is a sneak peek at this new yarn. Wholesalers! take note. This yarn will have you at the forefront of the latest movement ... sparkle and shine.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fire consumes BFL stocks in UK

I have sent this letter to several BFL customers this morning. Read on ...

Over the past weekenhd, the warehouse in England which housed all our BFL (Bluefaced Leicester) yarns, was burned down. Arson. The fire consumed the remaining kilos of our private yarn, BFL Ultra! which was one of the first yarns I had a hand in designing and a yarn close to my heart. Also consumed were tons of BFL Aran on cones and skeins, one of our best sellers.

The BFL Aran can be replaced, not immediately but over time. It is a time consuming process to buy up the rare BlueFaced Leicester fiber at Market, and then ship it in different directions to be processed by hand, sent to mills and spun and then returned again. We are looking at a recovery period of months.

We have a limited supply of BFL Aran on cones right now.

Luckily, we had contracted for spinning two of our former BFL sock weights at a mill which spins our merino yarns, and the shipment had not been sent at the time of the fire. This means tha we expect to welcome back our old favorites, BFL Platinum and BFl-4 Socking, sometime this fall. Wool2Dye4 may have to share our portion of this shipment, though, with our British friends as they will be starving for white yarns!

If you are on Ravlery, I invite you to join a knitted project I am trying to put together. (If you are a knitter or crochet'er, and have not yet heard about Ravelry, you must join the fun! www.Ravelry.com to join) Something in the order of a knitted homage for our BFL supplier, who comes over to work with me a couple of times a year. (Wool2Dye4 is the US distributor for HW Hammand & Co. / Bluefaced.com.) We are thinking of garlands, knitted garlands. If you would like to join that effort, we will welcome your contributions. The group is called: Friends of Wool2Dye4.

We will be sending out more information as we learn more about the production schedules in the future by newsletter, and on Ravelry and the blog. Thank you for your past support of our BFL distribution. We hope to get up to speed by the springtime once again with this line. In the meantime, our merino and other fiber blends will continue to be offered in our regular lineup, as they are not housed in England.

Best wishes,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Busy While We Wait ...

... for delivery of yarn. Here are 100 receipt packets ready and waiting. These feature samples of W2D4 Merino DK-SW, the yarn we have most stock of.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

French Press Cozy

Here is one simple knit ... a tube from my antique circular sock machine with ends seamed together then turned so the seams are on the inside. It keeps my morning coffee a bit warmer for just a while longer!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Fall Re-Stockings

The best laid plans of mice and men all go awry, don't they. In the past few weeks we have been juggling the schedules of five incoming re-stocking shipments, due between now and the end of October. Very exciting stuff, as we have been slowing selling out of many yarns and were eyeing the calendar nervously.

Today, though, the good news came that a two ton shipment has started the journey to the studio. This is actually Shipment #2, and Shipment #1 somehow got switched out of position. All the folks I have notified about yarns in the first shipment will be disappointed by one week, but it is still pretty good darned news that the bigger shipment is arriving first to be followed, in two weeks, by a bigger and bigger shipment. Ahhhh! Lovely, lovely yarn! These are the most exciting days of Wool2Dye4, when the incoming shipments are just about here. The letters and eMails are flying. This translates to lists and notes on my computer and now taped to a false wall I had built behind me so that I can jump up and make old-fashioned hand written notes to myself. People ask me all the time how I keep up with all the individual requests and the answer is that I have electronic as well as hand written notes, and sometimes we do make a mistake. But we don't want to talk about that here!

Below is the list in incoming yarns coming probably around September 8th or 9th. There is one new yarn on the list: Dove Sock, something that we are trying out and may only offer this once, depending on the reception. At the most, it will be added to Wool2Dye4's permanent lineup, and at the least, it will be around for this one period only. Those who pick it up will have a wonderful alpaca/silk yarn for holiday knitting! Lovely and soft in sock weight, with around 410 yards per 100 gram skein.

Also returning to the lineup is Tencel/Merino, which some people call 'the poor man's silk!' It has a limited crowd of admirers, but very devoted they are.

I am going to organize the list by weight.

  • Sock Yarns
    Platinum Sock skeins & cones
    Sheila's Sock skeins & cones
    Cash Sock skeins & cones
    Sheila's Gold skeins
    Angel Delight Fingering skeins
    Silk Sock 50/50 skeins (limited quantity. Please eMail me to reserve)
    Dove Sock skeins *
    *new this fall, Dove Sock is 80/20 blend of baby alpaca/silk. 50 kilos coming only.

    Cash DK MCN skeins & cones
    Silk DK 50/50 skeins & cones
    W2D4 Merino DK-SW skeins & cones
    Tencel/Merino skeins (returns after a vacation... welcome back!)
    Ultra Merino 3Ply skeins
    Crazy Eight skeins
    W2D4 Merino Worsted skeins & cones

    Aran & Bulky
    Sheila's Aran skeins

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Lace added to the 'Select' line (875 yds/100gr)

We have lately begun to develop a line of laces which are slightly heavier than the usual laces. That is to say, our regular laces usually carry about 1300+ yards in a skein of 100 grams. The new line runs at 875 yds/100 gr skein, so about one third heavier. Still lace weight, certainly, but just a bit more substantial.

Here is a picture of the newest in the line, and it's a little surprise ... superwash merino lace!

Ultra Select Lace

Sheila's Gold ... dyed and ready for knitting!

Have you tried Sheila's Gold yet?
80/20 blend of our springy superwasy merino with nylon

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Used Knitting Books

Gently used, that is. We've posted some of my personal knitting books on the Wool2Dye4 website. Time to clear out a few shelves here and there to make room. Make room for what? Another obsession and literature to support it, I suppose. For the moment, though, I am thinking of what the shelf might look like with less stuff on it, so I have brought some of my own books into the shop and Sarah listed them on the website.
These are all in excellent condition, a few may have marks on a pattern, but I am not the type of person to underline or highlight passages in my books. And, the price is at 50% of the cover price, so a good deal if it is a title you are looking for.
Go to www.Wool2Dye4.com and click on the category 'Odds'n'Ends' to see a list of the books currently listed. We will continue to add titles as the list dwindles. Dwindingly and adding. Hmmmm. I like that word 'dwindling' and don't often get a chance to use it in coversation.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Superwash vs Non-Superwash top

................... Two views of an experiment in correcting a labelling error.

The blue mini-skeins were each spun from what was labelled either Superwash or
Non-Superwash in the BFL Top. The results show clearly that we labelled the bins wrong!

Cannot tell you how I felt to receive two letters over the weekend from customers who swore that they did not get the spinning fiber they ordered. One expected superwash BFL; the other ordered non-superwash BFL. Both told stories with the same bottom line: it either felted, or didn't. And, we all know that superwash is not supposed to felt unless submitted to extreme condition.

That's what I tried to do with the experiment in dyeing first a 2-ply yarn and then a hank of roving. The yarn was dunked into almost boiling water for an initial soak, and lifted out by the choke ties and unceremoniously dipped several times more in the soaking bath. Then, they were tossed into a dyepot which was a little too hot and again subjected to the dipping technique, with a few swats of a long handled plastic spoon added for effect. The skein on the left held up from the first bit of abuse; the plies maintained their identification, and there was no spreading out of fiber as in the right hand side hank. The hank on the left side absorbed more color than the one on the right. Conclusion: Left side is Superwash, though not labelled as such, and right side is non-superwash, though, again, not labelled as such. Shame, shame.

The top reacted in the same way, but fpr one noticeable difference which was in the color of the top when it first hit the soaking bath before being dyed. The one of the left kept the white-white color, and the one of the right immediately darkened. The yellowish cast. which was more prominent on the right hand side raw fiber, is a clue that BFL might be superwash.

After much worse abuse applied to the top including stirring about in the hot dye bath, a series of swift thwacks to the bulk, and general agitation -- which we all know is one of the two necessary environmental requirements to make felt, the other being heat -- the theory formed from the skein experiment was supported by evidence of thick felting in one skein. Again, this fiber had been originally labelled as superwash, but it obviously was not superwash.

So, there we have evidence of the results of passing out one fiber to unsuspecting customers who just want to dye up some nice BFL top and are, instead, subjected to a rude experience.

I'm sorry.

Actually, we did a quick experiment in the shop and immediately saw the true non-superwash begin to cling together when first wet, and the color to deepen to the yellowish tone. This is true of superwash yarns and fibers. The chemical process does darken the fiber itself. The other immediate clue was the superwash fiber absorbed more color. It is darker than the non-superwash, regular fiber, and this is always true of superwash. The superwash process strips away the tiny scales which line each shaft of fiber, exposing the core to the dye. Instead of the dead scales disapating the color, the core of superwash fiber is exposed to the dyes without any shielding from the scales.

OK, all's fixed now. The bins are labelled correctly, and we are making it right with the few customers who purchased this confused lot in the past seven weeks. Again, my apologies for the mix-up!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Lace, Anyone?

How about a slightly different laceweight for this summer? By different, I mean slightly heavier than our typical Angel Lace and Butterfly Lace, which are fine yarns. With only one third more fiber, lace becomes something that is accessible and realistic for more knitters to handle. Instead of 1300 yards in a skein of one hundred grams, how about 825 yards in the same sized skeins? Suddenly it is just a bit more attractive to knitters who may have hesitated to knit with laceweights, yet loved the look and very subtle artiness of lace.

At least that is what my wholesale customers are telling me, and we are going to give it a good try. Our UK supplier has offered us 100 kilos each of Angel Select and Butterfly Select for the summer months. At the end of that time we will begin to hold regular stock of them both, and add them permanently to our line.

The new weights will be called the Select line, to distinuguish them from the very much thinner Lace line. So, we begin with two: Angel Select ... 70/20/10 blend of baby alpaca, silk and cashmere. The same blend as Angel Lace, Angel Delight Fingering, and Angel Sock Sport. And Butterfly Select, the blend of Butterfly Lace ... 80/20 superfine merino with silk ... yet slightly thicker.

We will list the new weight on the website in a week or so. Until then, please let me know if you think this weight will suit you and your customers. Thank you!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trade Show Weekend

TNNA (The National Needlework Association) held the annual Summer show this past weekend in Columbus OH, and Sarah and I were there. It was a weekend of introduction of a new Wool2Dye4 line intended for yarn shop owners, and marked the official beginning of a new distributor relationship with Knitcellaneous. Sarah took two classes while there, one of the wonderful side benefits of the TNNA shows .. classes with the glitterati of the needlework world. I worked the booth with Knitcellaneous owners Deb and Bill, and with the owners of two British boutique yarn companies who also introduced new lines with Knitcellaneous. Both FyberSpates and Rooster Yarn joined me in the expansion of Knitcellaneous's offerings.

Many shop owners and knitters already know Knitcellaneous as the manufacturer and distributor of those cute little mini sockblocker key rings, wooden shawl pins, and the dog tags printed with instructions for the Kitchener Stitch. So, now, they are expanding and becoming the exclusive distributor of these two British yarns, upper end yarns which are really gorgeous. I am talking about luscious blends of alpaca and superfine merino Rooster yarns, and the luxurious silk/superfine merino in Scrumptious by FyberSpates. Really, really nice stuff!

We are excited about being the other entry in the new lineup. Even more so after a weekend of working with Deb and Bill, Andy of Rooster Yarns and Jeni of FyberSpates. All of us have the same work ethic and soon were hopping up to talk about each other's lines, just pitching in and making it work. How invigorating to work with people like this and to have fun doing it. Must tell you that many shop owners were spotted actually petting Scrumptious. And their eyes popped appreciably open when they were handed a ball of Rooster and gave it the all familiar yarn lover's squeeze.

Wool2Dye4's new line is a trio of simple kits called Try It/Dye It. Each kit contains a pattern, 12 packets of Kool Aid drink mix, gloves, instructions, and a skein of the yarn appropriate to the pattern. I designed three simple projects which any advanced beginning knitter can knit without being bored. We've got a neck warmer which employs a 4-stitch reversible pattern and folds into a mobius for a nice drape around the neck. Also a set a wrist warmers which uses the faggotting and slip-stitch combination. The third is my basic sock pattern using a one-piece/shortrow heel. At the booth we laid out knitted samples of each project and some handdyed skeins. For every order to a yarn shop, we will also include a party planning guide on how to throw a good Try It/Dye It dye party.

Friday's early orders looked good, and we look forward to receiving the orders placed on Sunday, the typical day when shop owners place their show orders after walking the vendor floor and attending a majorly mobbed Sample It event ... where we did really well, by the way!

So much fun to be associated with these upbeat folks who love their businesses as much as I do. I do like the idea of slowly introducing more people to dyeing wool and think that our Try It/Dye It kits will be a comfortable way to let more people try their hand at dyeing. This is the beginning of a new venture for Wool2Dye4, and TNNA was a terrific way to start.

Picture: Jeni Brown of FyberSpates stands at our booth. If you look very hard on the far left of the table there are three of my kits propped up against the backdrop. Those are the Try It/ Dye It kits!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Trade Show this weekend ... TNNA

TNNA is a trade show which is held in four locations around the country, and the nearest to me is the summer show in Columbus Ohio. It is primarily aimed at owners of local yarn shops and it is the place where they go to see what is coming out next season, to discover new lines and products, and to get a taste of general trends and forecasts. PLUS this is a place where some of the very top designers and teachers and authors are brought together for top notch classes. Shop owners are often tied to the premises, so TNNA has created a really well organized event to include education, networking, shopping ... all of the best business connections rolled into one week.

Wool2Dye4 is going as an adjunct to another company, Knitcellaneous. We are introducing a line of kits which Knitcellaneous will carry for us. There are 3 kits, each with a skein of yarn, 12 packets of Kool Aid (yes...), dye instructions, and a pattern. The kits are intended to be sold by the local yarn shops to attendees to the Try It/Dye It workshops. Workshop attendees may choose from the sock pattern, or wrist warmers or neck warmer.

So, we will be hanging around the Knitcellaneous booth for a few days. And, Sarah, my most able Assistant, is giving two presentations on Friday on how to throw a dye party.

I will be trolling the vendor floor, looking for familiar faces and a few new ones as well. Hope to meet the Ravelry folks, for example, and one of my dyers for UptownStitches.com is attending. We actually met a couple of years ago at a convention for owners of those pesky antique circular sock machines. She is multitalented, this gal! Handwerks, her company name.

Can't wait. I need a little break, and seeing friends and learning about what is happening for the buying public is valuable news for me as my customers are a step closer to the end user than I am. This type of meeting broadens my perspective of the market, and I make business decisions based on what I can pick up from every source available to me. Plus, there will be lots of yarn fondling going on, meets and eats with some good friends, and a welcome change of pace. I can feel the shoulders start to loosen up a bit as I think of it!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Knits Well With Others ...

Joining groups is always a double edged sword for me. Usually I am enthusiastic and am attracted by the advertised purpose of the group. Somehow it's happened that my anticipation is greater than the realization of purpose, and while I may participate in projects, as invited, eventually I wander away. That said, I might still pay dues to the organization, especially if they are struggling to maintain membership minimum rosters. I do this with the Handweavers' Guild, and did not drift away from them because of the projects or people, but for an entirely different reason. In fact, that is probably the best and most focussed group I ever joined, and I met wonderful friends there. No, I drifted away because one morning I woke up and realized with simple clarity that I am not a weaver. I put my loom up for sale and made a new friend from the lady who purchased it, by the way, and started to visit the guild less frequently. For one thing, they meet about an hour and a half away from my current home, so that made it difficult, and for another, they are so focussed that I would be out of my element at the hands on meetings.

Already I drive up to that area, which is where I grew up in Central Virginia, and knit with a small group of knitters and one quilter. We meet on the first Saturday of the month. Sometimes when we have to skip a month, the next month's gathering is all the better for it. That's what happened this month.

It may have been two months since we met, come to think of it. Not quite sure, but I do know that the ride up to my home to the place where the mountain views are the very ones that feed my heart and soul, and a lovely and happy relaxed mantle gently spread across my shoulders as I neared home. I say 'home' but our meeting place is in a new little coffee shop in a new big development. It's the spot where that movie about a man who built an ark and sailed right into the halls of Congress, remember that movie a couple of years ago? That's just where the coffee shop is. The mountains form the perfect vista out the window where I have unabashedly claimed a permanent seat at the end of the table, and all I have to do is glance up and there they are.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shopping time!

We have posted the amounts of incoming inventory on the site now, and also posted private and pre-orders. So, everything is available for purchase now.

Today the tracking report on the re=stocking order shows that the shipment is physically only a two hour drive away from me as I type. Very exciting, but oh, so far, too! Today it is scheduled to go through Customs where they open random boxes in hopes of finding something illegal. I always laugh to think what the Customs officials think of all that white yarn!

If all goes according to my plans ... and why would I say such a thing! ... then the shipment will arrive at the studio door tomorrow, and we will begin to ship on Friday. If it arrives on Friday, though, we will start shipping on Monday.

Thanks, all, for your patience. The wait is part of the process!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More stock ...

... at the end of the week! Glad to find that our next shipment will actually arrive by the end of the week. With UPS taking the shipment from the mill to my door, on a couple of continents, we have had a few learning episodes. Long story made short, though, is that while there was one fairly substantial glitch in the process which cost us 8 days of waiting, UPS does learn from their mistakes! They have assigned a person to my orders, and even provided me their name! Now, that is a gutsy move on their part, if you ask me.

This time, we are bringing in much larger numbers than before, and have broken delivery into two parts. In another two weeks there will be more, more, more!

Here is what is expected at the end of this week ... skeins, all, except as noted:
Bamboo Two-Step, Butterfly Lace, Cash Sock, Cash DK, Platinum Sock, Sheila's Gold, Sheila's Sock, Silk Sock 50/50, Silk DK 50/50 Tweed (on cones) and W2D4 Merino DK-SW.

Two of these yarns are coming smaller quantities than half of what I ordered, if this makes sense. Platinum Sock and W2D4 Merino DK-SW are just appearing in minimal numbers this week, but arrive in force in two weeks' time, I am happy to report.

The delays and errors that happen along the way are a part of ordering the manufacture of a product from a foreign country where your influence is minimal, and in the day-to-day operations, non-existent. For the most part, my customers have learned to wait a bit, but there are those who continue to try to exact a committed date which can be held as gospel truth. Such things just don't happen in the international manufacturing, shipping, business. Then, there are those who have looked at the site and have not seen the new stock, and figure that they must have missed the shipment entirely! I do not know why they suddenly think I have stopped communicating, or jumped to the conclusion that they missed the re-stocking shipment. Too, I don't know why they didn't write to me two weeks ago to ask about it instead of jumping to conclusions. And, I've never really understood how radio waves work, so there are the mysteries of business and commerce all wrapped up neatly!

Hold on and stay tuned! More yarn is on the way!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The next shipment has moved ...

... but then stalled, so we are doing a little waiting on this one at the early stages. The reason this is important is that I am trying out a new shipper. Well, 'new' in the sense that they have not yet taken over the entire shipment from South America to Virginia yet. We do have to give them the benefit of the doubt, though. The responsibilities for each segment of the trip lie with a different office, and the reason we look forward to a successful trip this time, is because we hope that communication within one company will lessen the chances of things which could go wrong and will.

We shall see! I am rooting for their success. After all, what can I do about it at this point, but wait?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our World is Getting Smaller ...

Something to think about ..
Recent volcanic activity in Iceland has affected trans-Atlantic flights, and will probably have an impact on the delivery schedules of our British yarns.

In the past we have been lucky to take advatage of our British Wool supplier's overnight FedEx delivery by air. Now, we may see some periods of low stock on the Bluefaced leicester yarns, Lux SuperChunky, and Falkland Buily yarns, as well as the British spinning fibers.

Please do be aware that if any of these yarns goes into an Out-of-Stock situation, it is probably due to delayed air travel across the north Atlantic. We ask for your patience and understanding through the next few months.
Sheila Trunzo Mahone
Posted: April 21, 2010

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The new Customs Broker is Magic Man!

Amazing! The new Customs Broker called today to say he'd put together the documents, found my bond, and was searching for the best way to deliver to me ... maybe tomorrow! Such different customer service, I assure you, from the Big Guys. I can never remember a telephone call from them in the entire time they moved my shipments.

I am a happy woman! Now, just have to stop a moment and consider working hard in this early flash of humid Virginia heat. Hmmm. We can do it!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Wait is On for a Change ...

... in shippers. There is a part of me which feels like I have been a prisoner in the land of international importers. For some reason, I have stuck with the same importer/broker for the past four years, even though they torture me with lack of communication, overcharging, and agents who do not speak English as a First Language. Not that I have prejudices in this area, believe me, because at one time, I had a successful textbook distributorship selling books in English as a Second Language in California. But I digress ...

I want to complain, and rarely do it in public; however, today is the day for maybe just a little rant, nothing major at all because people have actually been calling me and helping me. I just want my yarn, that's all. Here I sit, awaiting the largest re-stocking order we have yet to receive, and I know that my wool is just a two-hour drive from here yet can do nothing to grab it up. Even so, I am not unhappy with the importer because we are trying out a new shipper and so far, they have been 1000 times more communicative than the one who held me prisoner in the past for far too long. Could I have escaped, I now dare to ask myself? Hmmmm....

They are so nice! They call me with concern over the missing paperwork (not their fault!), and they have guided me along the way to secure a new broker for this shipper. That guy is so nice, too, and he's Italian! ... by way of New Jersey, but then I am Italian by way of Pennsylvania and Virginia, so we are even there. I have never had such wonderful customer service in the import activities as I've had with these people.

Still, I do not have my shipment and have been watching the developments on three continents, as others in the food chain push and prod to get the right papers into the right hands. But, I can forgive them because, well, they are all so darned nice! and, I am going through a sort of new classroom in importing. I think I got complacent over the past four years in knowing the order of what paperwork was expected at which point. It got to the point, though, that no one bothered to notify me when the shipment would arrive, and I was left guessing most of the time. Try to imagine what I is like keeping my customer base informed when I, myself, am not in complete control of the info!

Now, will my customers be equally forgiving to me? Cannot answer that one, but I will admit that I have given myself a little pad of time in discussing the arrival date of this order. The begging is only now beginning to trickle in, nothing major yet. Hope they will all have the spring spirit and think I am just as nice as I think these new import folk are, too! How I wish there were no begging at all, and I had all the yarn at hand when anyone wanted anything. One of these days ... That is my goal!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Knitting Bags from Haiti

Knowing how we all want to help fellow crafters and artists in Haiti, I want to suggest this site might be a good place to start. This site sells handmade burlap bags, made by a co-op of Haitian women. It is overseen by a group of American volunteers who have put together a list of products which are made by hand by Haitian women. The volunteers are a faith-based group who have created a program designed to educate women about health and nutrition for families.

If you are interested, please follow this link:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Restocking today at Wool2Dye4

Today we received another big shipment, and again it was bigger than any previous shipment. Seems that every months I say that, and every month I mean that! This is what we are currently processing -- labelling, breaking down into smaller packs, putting onto the shelves and into the bins.
  • Cash Sock skeins and cones
  • Sheila's Aran cones
  • Sheila's Sock skeins and cones
  • Silk Sock 50/50 skeins
  • W2D4 Merino Worsted-SW skeins and cones
  • W2D4 Merino DK-SW skeins and cones
  • Private orders for springtime clubs and events

Another stock order is due in just a few short weeks, perhaps end-of-the-month or early April. That order will bring two new yarns: Cash DK (our MCN yarn in DK weight), and Silk DK 50/50. Both DK yarns will have the typical yardage of our Merino DK-SW yarn and will be priced as their companion Cash Sock and Silk Sock 50/50.

The shipment will bring:
  • Angel Lace Skeins
  • Angel Sock Sport skeins
  • Bamboo TwoStep Skeins
  • Cash Sock skeins and cones
  • Cash DK (new)
  • Platinum Sock skeins and cones
  • Sheila's Aran skeins
  • Sheila's Sock skeins and cones
  • Silk Sock 50/50 skeins
  • Silk DK 50/50 (new)
  • Surino
  • Ultra Merino 3-Ply skeins and cones
  • W2D4 Merino Worsted skeins and cones
  • W2D4 Merino Worsted-SW skeins and cones
  • W2D4 Merino DK-SW skeins cones

Surino, by the way, is one of the yarns we bring in a few times during the year, and is a lovely luxury yarn. It is 50/50 blend of Suri Alpaca with superfine Merino. Very nice.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Good news on the new price structure

Looking at the new pricelist, I see that several yarns will not be going up in price. These are the yarns which will not have a price increase on May 1, 2010...
  • Cash Sock
  • Cash DK
  • Angel Lace
  • Angel Sport Sock
  • Angel Delight Fingering
  • Butterfly Lace
  • Surino
  • Bamboo TwoStep

The new pricelist will sent to wholesale customers by eMail within the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

After four years, we must raise prices just a little...

We just heard last night that our spinner has scheduled a price increase on the cost of fibers, something that they had expected to do last year at this time, but kindly held off doing. We all knew that the economy was about to take a turn, and decided to absorb increases in all the costs associated with getting the yarns through the steps of the process and through foreign countries.

What Wool2Dye4 will do is hold off raising our prices until after the arrival of the end-of-April order, so we ask our loyal customers to consider their own inventory and schedules of upcoming events ... festivals, conventions, vendor opportunities, clubs, restocking your wholesalers, etc.

All yarn prices did not go up, and the new prices will go into effect May 1, 2010. We have not raised prices in four years, and while I am sorry to do it now, I must say that I have absorbed increased costs at my end including shipper's prices, gasoline surcharges, and other operating expenses. The price increase will take effect in May of this year, 2010. Current pricing structure will hold through the following three orders:
1. Early March (due end of this week or early next week)
2. Late March/Early April (already ordered, but you may still request pre-orders for 10 kilos or more)
3. Late April (not yet ordered!) I will issue a Call for Pre-Orders when we send out the newsletter in the next day or so. This will be the last opportunity to receive current pricing on our yarns and after the arrival of the Late April order, the new pricing structure will go into effect.

Now is definitely the time to adopt the Plan Ahead campaign!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Noro Sock Yarns - Sekku and Silk Garden Sock

From time to time I mention my second website, Uptown Stitches, which is a site where our Wool2Dye4 yarns are sold as handdyes. We have several guest dye artists... FyberSpates, Knit Witch, Handwerks, Lazy Perry Ranch, Yummee Yarns, and Zen Yarn Garden. We also carry some commercial yarns ... the Almerino Rooster yarns, Kraemer Yarns, Polar Knit.

Today, we added NORO to the UptownStitches.com site! Very exciting stuff! To go with sock yarn theme, we are now carrying Noro's new SEKKU (50% cotton with wool, nylon, mohair) and SILK GARDEN SOCK.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Knitting through the Olympics

Tonight is the opening ceremony of the Olympics. There is a fun little knit-along that we started in the Friends of Wool2Dye4 Group on Ravelry.com. We are offering prizes, too! If you are on Ravelry.com, please check out our two-week knit-along.

We will be casting on a project during the opening ceremony and knitting to completion over the next two weeks and the idea is to have the project finished by the closing ceremonies. Ravelry has official teams, but we were too late to join. Instead, we are offering our own prizes within our group. Everyone who enters on Ravelry will receive a skein of our exclusive quality yarns from Wool2Dye4, and the lucky winner receives a kilo of yarn! Nice prize, huh?

There are still several hours for signing up and searching out your project. The project must use Wool2Dye4 yarn and must be cast on during opening ceremony tonight. If you are interested, hop onto Ravelry.com and join in. Look for the sign-up in the index of topics. (It's near the top of the sheet.)
I am knitting a pair of fingerless gloves, and using handdyed yarn from UptownStitches, the sister site to Wool2Dye4. The yarn is W2D4 Merino DK-Superwash, handdyed by Zen Yarn Gaden in two colors, Midnight Grape and Rosebud. The pattern is Flower Market Gloves, which really has two patterns in one. One pattern uses the Feather and Fan ruffly motif, and the other is a mini-mock cable using a twisted stitch and ribbing. It is designed by Dolce Handknits, and is one of their lovely, feminine designs.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A little bit of wooly history

My sister wrote me the following amusing note today ..

"I was re-reading an excellent book with particularly lively writing, The Discovery of France by Graham Robb, and came across this story. The context was Robb's discussion of how the Catholic church adopted local fairies, magical stones, wells, etc., -- anything that was important to the local people -- in order to convert them to a less-than-strict form of Christian belief (the same phenomenon around the world for all religions that seek to conquer local values).

He recounts the practice of throwing 'balls of wool at a saint behind an iron cage, trying to hit the part of the saint that corresponded to (their own suffering) libm, and the priest ... gatehring up the wool and knitting himself some warm clothese for the winter.'

All of this was quite recent, i.e., 17th or 18th century."

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Wholsale Account information

Several times a day I receive requests for information about opening a wholesale account. I do have two levels of wholesale accounts which are based on quantity. Our wholesale discounts are extended to bona fide businesses who have a tax id number and who can commit to a minimum order of ten pounds. That is the regular wholesale account and the minimum weight of ten pounds applies to each order.

For larger wholesalers, we have the Power Buyer level where the minimum weight per order is one hundred pounds.

I have several times written about how important it is for a bona fide business to get and use a federal tax id number. The EIN (as it is called) does not affect taxes in any way, even if you operate as a sole proprietorship. What it does is two important things: 1) A Federal tax identification number gives you immediate credibility with suppliers. 2) It avoids spreading around your Social Security Number. Please do take the time to visit irs.gov and spend five minutes to get a free Federal tax number, and STOP handing out yoru Social Security number. Very important. Please.

When people write to me, asking if we offer discounts, I send them a general information letter. Today I am going to copy it into this blog entry, and it may answer a few questions. Here we go ...

"The basic requirements to open a wholesale account are:
1. Business Name and Tax ID number (from irs.gov)
2. Minimjm 10 pound total order weight for each order
Bona fide businesses only. No co-op groups.

To qualify for Wool2Dye4, Inc.'s wholesale discount, there is a minimum weight of ten pounds (of yarn and/or spinning fiber) per order on each wholesale order. The ten pounds may be spread among different yarns and fibers, but the total weight must reach ten pounds. We do not work with co-ops or groups sharing the professional discount. The professional discount we extend is intended solely for the use of an individual or corporation, and is not authorized to be shared with others, or used to create a co-op buying group.

Many people start off with a dye business thinking that a tax id number is something they'll get 'later,' but I advise folks to get it early in the business life. Check with an accountant for help in answering this question if you do not currently have a tax identification number.

When you decide to move forward, just register on teh home page of Wool2Dye4.com's website. Be sure to fill in the busienss name and tax id number. These two fields trigger the program to alert me that a business has applied, and then I must approve or decline each application individually. Once approved, I will send you a confirming eMail, and when you log on the next time, you will be taken inside the wholesale area of the website. There are some different presentations of the yarns, and occasionally some different yarns are offered to wholesalers only. Usually, there will be a notice in the headder of the wholesale site when you log on. I also may send an eMail about new yarns to wholesalers.

(I attach a general overview of prices to this note.) Thank you for your interest in our exclusive lineof merino yarns from South America, and in the Bluefaced Leicester yarns which are genuine British Wool yarns. We are always adding new yarns and following trends in the industry. Announcements of new yarns and of stock arrivals are sent out monthly in a newsletter directed to wholesale customers only. Wool2Dye4 is honored to be licensed by the British Wool Marketing Board to sell British Wool, including Bluefaced Leicester, in the States.

I hope you will fit some of our lovely yarns into your new line of handdyes as your own business grows. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

TWEED ... introducing a new yarn

We have a new yarn added to our lineup, TWEED, an Aran/heavy worsted knitting yarn. Since customers have been asking for a heavier yarn we have been slowly adding to this weight class starting with Sheila's Aran, and of course, the popular BFL Aran which has already been in place and is growing in popularity.

TWEED is an interesting yarn because of the visual texture in a naturally occurring variation which happens before your eyes as you dye it up. When dyed, it will have the appearance of a candycane or barbershop pole and this happens because of the blend of superwash with non-superwash fibers. There are four plies, three of which are non-superwash, and one of which is a superwash. They are all from our springy merino, but that one superwash ply will absorb more color from the dyepot and create the candycane look as it twists around the other three plies.

Very pretty, very interesting, and very much fun to knit up. As you knit the fabric, your eye will be teased by the visual texture created on your needles. TWEED is available in skeins of 100 grams with 181 yards.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Record temps in England affect our Wool Diet

I will start off with the punchline ... we just received shipment of the British yarns in question!

Last week I noticed we were running low on two BFL yarns, the Aran and Ultra!, both of which are consistently good sellers with my handdye artists. I looked at the inventory numbers of these two yarns showing on the website, and bumped up the numbers with confidence because we always receive our orders from England in three days, and sometimes in two days.

What I didn't know was that a record cold snap had just hit the United Kingdom and snow and ice had caused the major airports to close down. I was sitting in my pretty new studio working away at the computer, with National Public Radio playing in the background when one of the stories caught my attention. The report was about a record stretch of bad weather, the coldest it's been in 15 years in England, and that there was a shortage of road salt, so traffic all over the country had come to a crawl. Then they reeled off the list of airports which were closed due to icy runways, and it dawned on me that delivery of my little order might be affected by this!

I can 'chat' with my British Wool supplier on SKYPE (the greatest way to have a cyber conversation, if you ask me!), so I told him that I had just heard his weather forecast on my Virginia radio station! He confirmed everything I had heard, and added that they had spread grit on the roads, but it didn't make them much more passable. I'm not sure what 'grit' is, really, but think it might be gravel...

Freight travel must have improved though and the backed-up freight started moving again, yesterday, I think. We just received our FedEx shipment of the BFL Aran, BFL Ultra! and LUX Superchunky. Lovely stuff, this!

Makes you realize that your little corner of the world is in global communication, and that the connections between us are closely interwoven. I am off to post the actual numbers of these wonderful yarns.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Sola ... for two weeks

I am working alone right now, and have two weeks until my new temporary Assistant arrives. Actually, I am enjoying doing every step of the business and find that I am putting out a lot of good work. Well ... I will admit that I made a couple of shipping errors just before Christmas, but as I have said before, 99% of my customers are fantastic, and they have such a gentle way of telling me that we / I made a mistake! Almost as though they, too, are from the South and have mastered the fine art of complaining without making it seem like a complaint. The secret to this fine art is to suggest rather than to tell. So, instead of saying, 'I paid for a cone and you sent me a skein! Send the cone right now, or else!' which the one percent will write, someone who speaks Southern would write, 'I wonder if you came up with an extra cone last week. I think it might be mine because my package contained a skein. This is order # 1111. Could you check this for me, please?'

See? They suggested that there was a problem yet laid it out clearly, and didn't say that I or my staff made an error, but implied that the impersonal package itself was to blame because it contained something different than what was ordered! Brilliant!

But, back to working alone ... my new Assistant will be with me for a temporary and undefined period while she finds an executive position. She is talented and so smart and creative, and very nice to be around. I am starting a folder with some marketing issues for her to address, and am looking forward to handing them over to someone who is not so closely tied to every detail of every decision. Maybe she can whip WebGuy into shape, and get him to delivery the new update for UptownStitches.com for me. I've been waiting for almost two months now, and that is really too long. I am ashamed to admit that I waited for 18 months, several years ago, for him to complete my eCommerce site! But, there it is. The admission of another aspect of being a Southern Woman, and that is that we really do not like to make waves. I know, I know there are movies which suggest the very opposite even in their titles, e.g. Steel Magnolias, but we do reach that point of steeliness after all avenues have been exhausted. Very close to exhausting all pleas, suggestions, requests, and when my new Assistant comes I have decided that this date will be the point when all avenues truely have reached exhaustion point. It will be WebGuy Meets Marketing Woman, Round One!

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 01, 2010

I moved the business ...

... into a great new Studio! Here is a picture ................

End of Year Reckoning

At the end of every year, I make a trip to the office supply store and buy new folders, year-end tax forms and envelopes, and a big file box. It is the one time when I clean out my files, save tax info for the year, and prepare nice new clean files for the coming year. I have come to look forward to this file cleaning, and find that each year I have saved a little less of the paperwork which does not have anything to do with tax preparation, and so that's a little less to toss out.

My accountant likes it, too, that I am getting more and better organized each year! In November I sent a preliminary copy of my finanacial program for a review and it came back clean! Now, the only thing I have left to do is count the inventory and this company's financial paperwork will be complete.

This is also the time when I sit down and quietly look over a handwritten Sales Journal which I have kept all year. It's a simple chart, really nothing more than each month's totals and only one breakout for state sales (as I have to pay state retail sales tax on all sales within Virginia). The year's chart takes up two facing pages of the account journal, which is nothing more than a 12-column bound blank book I bought at the office supply store.

This week I will turn the page to a clean set of facing pages, and note the months across the 12 columns. At the very ottom there are two lines: Month's Sales (total of Virginia and other sales figures) and Cumulative Sales (where each month is added to the previous total, so I can see at a glance the year-to-date sales).

I have been thinking about the one other step involved in turning that page to a clean slate, and that is the forecast figure. It is so hard to predict sales for the coming year when we do not know what might happen in so many areas of our lives. The economy hit lots of folks in the pocketbook this past year, and then there is family and health which can impact a forecast, but all the same, coming up with a good estimate of the coming year's sales is an exercise I go through every single year. Actually, I don't usually do very well with my estimate, and this year was the only time I have ever come in close to the number I picked out of the ethos twelve months ago. In the past, it has been impossible to predict the growth rate of the business, and I underestimated big time every year. This year, though, I came in just a little over the estimate, which was nice. I feel like I have started to see actual trends, even though the business continues to grow, there are basic buying patterns which are starting to come to the surface.

Planning and predicting and getting a handle on all aspects of business is something I want to encourage every single customer to do. Starting with the figures for year 2009, now is a terrific time to commit to paper the costs and income involved in doing business. Many of my customers are work-at-home mothers with family responsibilities over and above the running of their dye business; however, this should not be an excuse to leave the numbers just out of reach. When we are in control of the numbers, we are powerful. We know what to expect, where to make change, how to create profit.

So, today, the first day of January 2010, I challenge anyone who has not yet come to meet their own numbers to start immediately. It does not have to be a big production, but should be an organized approach. You'll need a folder for expense notes and receipts, and a folder for sales information, and a nice clean pad of paper to add it all up. If you have a separate checking account, chances are that most of your expenses and your sales income will be recorded in the register you've established for your business. If you have incorporated the business money into the family money, take some time to go through the entries and note down every deposit which came from yarn sales, and every expense involved in supplies, shipping, inventory. Create a list of income and expenses for each month, and then reorganize it into a neat presentation which will be a model for next year's records.

PayPal is a place where we overlook sales and expenses, so be sure to call up a report for the full year for all sales receipts. Also, create a report for all payments you made out of your PayPal account. Add this payment figure and the balance on hand at year's end in your PayPal account to the year's total sales, to get an accurate figure for the year.

Good luck with this! Make record keeping a monthly habit, and take a look at what your numbers are telling you about your business.

One of the basic lessons of Marketing 101 is: The way to make profit is to cut expenses, and increase sales. Most of us need to do both, of course! This might be a good time to look at the expenses involved in your business, and to see if there are ways to streamline any. Shipping, for instance, can really eat up the cash, and when you consider the cost of packing materials, the figure goes up.

Are you utilizing some free services? Get a USPS.com account and use the free boxes from the postal service. Also, use Click 'n' Ship to get online discount on shipping fees. Too, sign up for Carrier PickUp. I have been signing up for Carrier PickUp one month in advance for a couple of years now. I know, I know that the questions ask how many packages and what is the total weight for each day, but I just fill in a month's worth of 100 pounds, ten packages! And, it works well enough. When you are busy, you need to plan ahead, so sign up for a month of pickups and don't worry about the details in the form.

All the talking heads on TV and radio tell us that 2010 is the year to see a definite turnaround in the economy, and I keep hearing August as a date when things should be normalized. I believe it, and I know that our little tiny end of the economy will prosper because we have remained strong all through the worst of it. Don't forget that when economies suffer, the home becomes more important, and what do we sell if not comfort, hominess. I urge each customer to stay positive, get a handle on your money, become powerful as you use what you have to the best advantage.

Let me know how you get along!