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 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.