Black Dog

Just a little outpost on the web for me to ramble, post pix, share ideas, and be a part of the crowd.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Schedulin' 'Em Like Trains

We're on another bender, folks.............we met with a rep from 9 a.m. today until about 3 p.m. (minus some time for sammiches and a little customer service here and there). And lo and behold........there's another one arriving any minute now. Thank the powers that be that she was held up in traffic around Indy, or they woulda both been here together.............but they're friends and know eachother and carry non-competing lines, so it would have been fine.

This morning, we worked over lines from Lana Gatto, Needful Yarns, Filtes King, Bartlett Yarns, Color Me (a hand-dyed line I had never heard of???!?!?!), and so much more. Tonight is our never-before-met-but-good-buddy rep that handles Cascade Yarns, Meunch (yes, we're ordering their magazine Rebecca that y'all have asked about), and oh so much more............gotta run, she just showed up!

YARN ORGY!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

We Win, Sorta.......

We're open, and we have 90 days to

  • Find a competent commercial real estate agent

  • Have them show us appropriate properties

  • Negotiate on said appropriate property

  • Secure said appropriate property

  • Prepare said appropriate property for a yarn shop

  • Move into the new property

    Not ideal, but.............better than closing the doors right now. Something tells me that it will be a challenge to get that all done in such a short time. But for now, it's party at ground zero...............and yarn for everyone!

  • Buying Yarn Takes It Out of You

    While it may seem like a dream date to some, lemme tell you that meeting with a representative from a yarn company (or more typically, someone who carries several lines from several producers) is hard work--not physically (more than just enduring a day at a table), but mentally. How much to buy? Which specific lines? What colors? When to have it delivered? How does that overlap what is already on the shelves? Does it fill gaps in stock? Is the price point something that will be embraced (not just "is it too expensive" but also "will it be perceived as quality even at that lower price")? What pattern support should we invest in? And one of our problems......WHERE TO PUT IT!?!?! We're now buying yarns and setting up delivery dates for June and August, as we figure we'll be in new digs by June--but we did ask for some things to be delivered now, as opposed to later. As you can probably imagine, meeting with someone is tiring--and while we TOTALLY ENJOYED the time spent with this fantastic woman yesterday (who arrived at 9 a.m. and.......poor thing......left just before 8 p.m.), we both felt like we had been hit by a truck afterwards. And me, who's pretty much the purse strings around here, I've begun worrying about cash flow and making sure things continue to be paid for in a timely manner. ARGH!!!!!!!! But oh, the beauty of what we saw.........and the volume (I didn't realize she carried so many lines!!!!!) We looked at and ordered things from Diateiku (OH MY GAWD......incredible stuff), Anny Blatt, Bouton D'or, Alchemy Yarns (such beauty........I mean BEAUTY), Blue Herron (fab hand-dyes in some amazing fibers), and Garnstudio (didn't even know she had it!). And we looked at two other lines that we'll review in a few weeks, when she's back in the area.

    One bonus for me when we meet with a rep is the time I get to spend knitting while they go through their binders of goodies, we make decisions, and they write up orders. Truthfully, it's the highest concentration of time I get to work on something, and I made some decent progress yesterday. Remember the sweater from Sunday's pictures?

    Well, it grew a little yesterday and now looks like this

    All done! And I've cast on for the first of the two front pieces, so this project is coming along nicely! (and I need another rep visit to make more progress.......). Oh wait....we have an appointment on Friday morning with the rep from Needful Yarns and Plassard Yarns, (we just received this new book of patterns and some of this yarn, both of which are new for summer). There's some knitting time! And we meet with another rep on Friday evening/Saturday morning who handles Cascade, Meunch, Great Adirondack, Soy Silk, and a host of pattern companies and accessory suppliers. ARGH! So many choices......

    Thanks for the kind comments about Sunday's post and for your suggestions for my big Koigu Wool Designs project. One clarification--it won't be something for me, necessarily. It will serve as a shop model in most cases (though the Carousel would be something I'd wear, in a heartbeat). While I feel that the Magique Cloak would be something amazing to behold and a challenging knit, I don't see myself wearing it (nor being mysterious, as JoJo suggests.......). No matter which garment (or garments) get knitted, they'll all be fun (I also wanna make that Kersti ribbed project like Sharlene did from "The Purl Stitch").

    Now, for the fun part of today's (smaller) post.......our neighbor Dana (who you've seen here, with a sweater on her butt and in other shots) has been a sweetheart since we moved in last year. She greeted us the first night, came over the next day with a welcome card (that featured a hand-wound ball of yarn and knitting needles that was VERY touching), and confessed to being a crocheter and NOT a knitter (faithful readers may remember the crocheted pumpkin collection she made for us last fall that I featured one day). Well, she's a mostly-self-taught knitter now, who's knocked out a couple projects, dived right in head first, and is nearing completion of her first sweater for herself. She's knitting "Up, Down, And All Around" from Simply Knit 2, but in a very Dana colourway. You'll see the FO here, don't worry! But for now, how's about a shot of her project from last month for herself......she said she wouldn't make herself a scarf, because she doesn't like them. But she wanted something to do with the Misti Baby Alpaca Chunky, a supersoft yarn that's overly behold

    First, you'll want to take note of her eyewear.....which she calls her "Sweet Potato Queen Sunglasses". VERY NICE. Now, around her neck you'll notice a loopy cowl, one of the projects from Stitch N Bitch. Since the book instructions call for a aran-weight yarn, we did some math to sub for a bulky-weight yarn and that's the result. You can tell she likes it based on the smile,'s very practical

    Fashionable around the neck, but warm up and over the head. And quite comfy, she says....

    Even though it goes over her head, it doesn't muss her hair (and she wears her hair styled). Way to go, Dana!

    Now, back to my knitting.......I've been playing with some of the new cottons of late, trying to figure out what to do with them and how they'll look in a spring/summer garment. Here's a couple swatches, as an experiment prior to my working up some sort of pattern for a shell with a cap sleeve or short sleeve that will probably be good for a range of gauges. Here's the first one, using Classic Elite Sand

    The soft, terry-like fabric that you see here is quite wonderful, and we have this yarn in a number of fun color choices. Something tells me this would be VERY soft and VERY comfy. Personally, I'm completely enamoured with this swatch

    That's Katia Spray, a 100% cotton tape that looks like tie-dyed shoelaces and knits up FAST and really soft. I think this is gonna be a fun and quick project. One more swatch.....

    That's a brand-new yarn from Schachenmayr called Toy, a cotton/acrylic blend with a really fun chained construction. This is probably my favorite new yarn for spring--check out the fiber strand

    And to relieve stress this evening, we'll be knitting up a storm at the zoning hearing at 6:30 p.m. EST, in Columbus City Hall. Folks, this is an important hearing--while it appears, on paper, that we're asking for this property parcel to be rezoned (and that's not what we want any longer), all we want is a "stay of execution" and the opportunity to stay open to the public at our current location for the next few months, while we search out a new, much larger, appropriately-zoned home for ThreadBear, the retail experience. The one thing that keeps Matt and I awake at night of late is the fact that there is a chance that after this meeting tonight we'll be completely shut down for business. Period. End of operations at 703 Hutchins. Yeah, that's kinda sobering to us. The fax we received at 4:30 p.m. on FRIDAY was rather negative about our impact on the neighborhood (increased traffic, additional trash and odors---what the ???), so there's always a chance that we won't be granted permission to continue business here. And securing a new location is not a walk in the park. So maybe you can understand why Matt's been a bit preoccupied lately and I've had some slack to pick up (on top of what I already do) for the past 4-6 weeks. Wish us luck, think positive thoughts, and if you're in the area and feel so inclined, we're soliciting support at the meeting in person tonight. More soon, in addition to an update on the results.......

    Sunday, February 22, 2004

    Behind Every Successful Man.......

    Is a strong woman (at least one) ....... trust me, I know. I'm proof that that old adage is gospel.

    Many regular readers know that I've been greatly influenced by a number of strong and successful women over the entire course of my life. My mother and both of my grandmothers are definite role models for me--their devotion to family, their amazing work ethic, and their firm embrace of life influence me every single day. Much as I resisted in my youth, my mother and her philosophy of "tough love" definitely shaped me in a very positive manner (she was always forced to be "the heavy" and the one who had to say no, while dad was permissive and into handouts as a replacement for love)--that's why mom and I fought so much while I was growing up, but oh how I appreciate what she did (and had to endure from me), as I turned out alright. And both of my grandmothers worked themselves to the nub to provide for their families (working outside the home AND running a household). In college, it was no different--my major adviser was an amazingly talented educator and strong role model, as were my other professors in my subject area. They, along with others in my graduate work, were thanked profusely in my dissertation, in the acknowledgements section, because they were so instrumental in my development.

    I have always found myself in a female-dominated environment--my area of expertise in undergrad and grad school is business teacher education. That area has always been a traditional "woman's subject", as well as what we're doing now. As male knitters, we have always gotten strange looks when walking into a new shop (as well as questions about what we needed to pick up for our wives...bwahahah). Even when I taught high school or at the university level or worked in an office setting, my immediate (and beyond) supervisors have almost exclusively been women. And as men who run a yarn shop, we tend to stand out in a crowd. But we're still surrounded by and supported by amazingly strong women.

    Case in point...............

    Meet (left to right) Taiu, Kersti, and Maie Landra--the amazing women behind Koigu Wool Designs. Taiu sent this picture (and others you'll see shortly) to me this weekend, and I opened it this morning and made an audible wow because it's such a wonderful picture of three beautiful, strong women. In addition to being of our favorite suppliers of inarguably the most amazing yarn we carry (and we have a TON of yarn here......), I feel a bit of a connection beyond buyer/seller with these folks. The family is Estonian, which is a Baltic state, just like my ancestral homeland of Lithuania. While the Estonians are more like Scandic folks, there are still similarities--in culture, in work ethic, and in the importance of family. And conversations that I have with Taiu have brought us closer, because we share stories of trying to control our respective businesses as they grow and flourish (and run amuck a little bit) as well as share different parts of our non-business lives (is there such a thing? most of the time, that's a big no! GRIN). The Landra family are very thoughtful folks.....I had sent them a skein of yarn to examine for a couple different reasons, and Maie knitted it up as a part of that experience. My intention was for them to keep the yarn (I sent it as a courtesy, and as a thank you for their wonderful treatment of ThreadBear, but there was a surprise in my set of three boxes on Friday

    The sweet, handwritten note on the scarf says "Happy Valentine", in Maie's handwriting.....I'm awestruck--I not only have a gift from her, but I own something that she hand-knit herself! And it's absolutely incredible

    This is one of those things I'll cherish forever. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Taiu and I had a fantastic conversation last night for about 90 minutes, talking "shop", talking life, and talking sh*t.......and it was a wonderful end to a great day. Check out the beautiful scenery (and the infamous "yarn tree" featured in Handpaint Country, where they hang dyed yarn to dry in warmer weather)

    See how they're able to create such beauty? They're surrounded by it! Beautiful yarn by beautiful people..................and beautiful designs....This is Taiu, in a sweater I covet (she's going to assemble a kit just for me and send it in the next shipment--YES! I adore this garment).

    That's the sweater known as Carousel. Lovely. And here she is again, this time in the Magique Cloak

    You've seen her mother and daughter in the picture above, so let's show you a picture of one of their master dyers, Richard, hard at work in his precious Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt

    and this is Richard in the pool at the trade show in California two weeks ago, with a fresh highlight in his hair (dye job by who else? TAIU...yarn's just sheep hair, so she's qualified....). Some of the reports back from the trade show are that Richard was "belle of the ball" out in Long Beach, and some of us attribute it to his new 'do (and others to his derrier, but it's all heresay).

    To Richard's defense, he's a very talented fiber artist, skilled in dyeing and in textiles of all sorts......he shared this picture (and many others) with us last fall,

    He sent a series of photographs of his exhibit at a gallery in Toronto, and his work is just stunning! I'm just chompin' at the bit to pay them a visit outside Toronto this summer. And Taiu and I are cooking up plans for the big trade show in June (and maybe something else, a couple months later....don't ask, I won't tell...I'm mean like that). I'll post pictures of the latest shipment once it's been checked in (sometime later tonight that will happen, so probably Monday or Tuesday for photos), but in the mean time, I need your help!

    I'm about to embark on a major Koigu project, and here's the options

    Top Row--Magique Cloak and Jazz sweater

    Bottom Row--Toreador Jacket, Wildflower Cardi (uses Rumba), and Carousel

    I almost want to disqualify Carousel, as I know I'm getting a custom-color-selected kit from Taiu in a few weeks. I'm really drawn to Jazz and Wildflower, but Magique is so stunning (I'd love to see one in person--or any of these garments...I wonder if they'd do a trunk show for us??). I'm also about to do a Charlotte's Web shawl, but that's not a major project, from what I understand. Suggestions in my comments or in the sidebar/tagboard are much appreciated!

    As a reward, here's a sneak preview of some of the new stuff from Koigu in the boxes this past Friday. We received two new shades of Rumba, their brushed mohair, and both are just stunning.........

    Wowzers..........were I to do a Wildflower, I'd be drawn to do it in one of these two colourways. And how's about a shot of something completely new (to us) from Koigu.....

    That's their yarn called Loop, and it's (obviously) a loopy mohair (look at the way it takes the dye!) and comes in 50-yard (45m) hanks for a mere $9.90 ($11 retail, less our standard 10%). Taiu tells me there's a design coming soon for a vest that uses four hanks of this stuff, and I think it would make some awesome accent on a garment or something fun knitted by itself, but I'm not sure what. I'm still awestruck with the beauty of the yarn....see

    We did get a little bit of a surprise late in the week--all colors of Squiggle from Crystal Palace are now on hand. Here's the ones that arrived on Friday

    They are (top row, L to R)--Picnic, Cool Jazz, Black & White
    (middle row, L to R)--Seven Seas, Shell, Redwood
    (bottom row, L to R)--Code Pink, Circus, Firecracker

    I couldn't resist and had to make a Squiggle/Fizz Pointed Scarf with Circus Squiggle and Orange Fizz

    Wickedly colorful, I'm sure this stuff will be moving quickly--good thing I ordered three bags of each to start!

    I did start something else this week--Monday to be exact, when the new Classic Elite yarns arrived. It comes from this book

    called "Weekend House Party" and is the center sweater, but in a different colourway

    It calls for their new yarn "Bubbles", which is a cotton/acrylic blend that works up at the bulky gauge, so the knitting goes quickly. Bubbles has a fun palette

    My sweater model uses Orange Fizz and Cherry Coke, and the other colors seen above are (next to the orange) Gulfstream), L to R on the center row are White Water, Mountain Dew, and Ocean Spray, and on the bottom is Blue Bubbles (next to the red). I've not had much knitting time this week, so what you see is probably three hours of work, total. Told ya it was a quick knit!

    It's after 5, the shop is officially closed, and lest you think it was a rare occurrence, Connor was captured yet again on her throne, guarding some Lamb's Pride worsted in her favorite shades of red

    Tate wonders when dinner will be

    so that afterwards he can be caught in his favorite place in the shop

    And with that, I'm finished for the day. Look for a couple more posts early in the week, for sure. I have some pictures ready and others in mind, and there's always a few skeins of Koigu yarns to share with you. The order looks like a good bit of VERY random Painter's Palette (no more than 6-10 of any one colourway, and about 400 skeins), a good bit of Kersti in solids (we now have the necessary yarns to do the chul'lo hat from the cover of Vogue Knitting International a couple issues ago), and a bit of Kersti in multis (just a couple lots). Several of you have mentioned wanting to know what's on hand so as to make the same sweater as Sharlene, and we have good stock in Kersti, but there's more coming in the near future, according to a little bird.

    Matt's wanting to go eat dinner (we had no b-fast and lunch was overlooked at the expense of helping folks pick yarns and the like), so it's time for a decent meal. Be well, hurry back soon, thank a strong woman in your life for the wonderful things she's done for you, and stick to your knitting!