Black Dog

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

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Day 1--Mission: New Stuff

Partial mission accomplished.....due to lots of visiting and hanging out and talking with friends, other shop owners, designers, sales reps, yarn company representatives, and....some seriously fun luminaries! No, we've not found the folks from Ravelry yet (they're giving away Bob pins and pins with their logo on them), but that's mainly because we went head down into some serious buying on a few new lines and a couple old friends.....

First off, we had breakfast with the folks from Tahki-Stacy Charles (and lots of other shop owners), catching up on their new lines (which we had seen already, thanks to our great rep) and interacting with folks from two major publishers in the knitting/crocheting world--Interweave Press and Vogue Knitting. Oh, and by the way.....I sat next to Eunny Jang, new editor of Interweave Press, and just down the table from Kim Werker, editor of Interweave Crochet. HOLY SH!T, I sat next to Eunny! That was terribly fun, and I did the teenage girl/gushing thing about her designs and her work with IK. Yup, I turned 12, right there......but it was cool!

We met a brand-new-to-us yarn line today, and fell in love. Meet our latest acquisition--Berger de France yarns. Several customers threatened us if we didn't source this pattern. We found the display, met with their North American distributor (out of Montreal), and ordered away. We picked up several of their yarn qualities--some for spring/summer and some for fall/winter.

We then wandered around for quite awhile, bumping into people and not really being overly focused. Blame it on the time change, blame it on having too many people to say HI to, blame it on a number of circumstances.....but I did snag a ball of one of the new colors of Fortissima Mexico Country (and quickly afterwards started a new sock, from an iKnitiative design). I like the yarn, and we have a few other things that Im interested in looking at from them (including a new hand-painted sock yarn from Zitron the folks behind Trekking).

We met with Needful Yarns, also, and purchased some cute summer stuff, along with a couple new things for cooler-weather knititng. They have some nice new lines and there's some fun patterns coming, too! Also on deck was a late lunch enjoying the company of Cheryl Schaefer (Schaefer Yarns), who made me laugh so hard I nearly peed. We staggered around some more, found the Mountain Colors Booth, and ordered a ridiculous amount of Mountain Goat and supporting patterns for a function later this spring (and more Bearfoot to be delivered almost immediately).

It's so nice to put faces with voices on the phone, so it was fun to meet Veronica from Dream in Color, Cat Bordhi in person (and we're going to finalize details on her visit shortly), Norah Gaughn, and so many others. There were other booth visits, other fun orders (KnitWhits stuff will be in shortly), and lookies at other fun new product. And then it was time for drinks in the hotel lobby, watching everyone go by. We had a great visit with Meg from a yarn shop in Huntsville, AL, along with our friends Gina and Karen from Notions Marketing (right across the state in Grand Rapids), and a couple shop owners from out this way. Matt snapped several pictures (with express permission from the booth owners) that we'll share here, when we get back, including some fun shots from the latter part of the day.

Tomorrow brings an early morning appointment with Takako from Habu (before the trade show floor officially opens), along with MANY stops at various vendors that we didn't manage to see today. There's alot to do and only a short time to accomplish it in, but just wait until you see the fun things coming over the next several months! More soon.....PROMISE!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Safe and Sound

Well, after a LONG day of traveling, we made it to Long Beach. Suffice to say, I don't think we'll take that route again. Left Lansing at 7 a.m. for Cincy. Left Cincy 45 minutes after landing (prayed luggage made the transfer) for a 3.5 hour flight to Phoenix. Spent 4 hours on a layover in Phoenix, got on a plane headed to Long Beach, taxied out onto the runway, turned around (bad door seal) and went back to our gate. Fixed door and tightened some screws in the plane (HUH???) and after over an hour on the plane and no forward progress, took off for Long Beach. Landed in Long Beach just over an hour later.

Let me just say this....the Long Beach airport is ADORABLE! The terminal looks rather Art Deco/WPA in style and only five airlines serve the airport. The baggage claim is outside (seriously!) under a stand of palm trees, right next to an entire block-long planting of bird-of-paradise plants. STUNNING to walk by on the way to the cab.

The hotel is fine, the fashion show tonight was its usual hoot (and had a surprising number of older garments from previous seasons, and TONS of animal hair items--at a SPRING/SUMMER show???), and we reconnected with MANY friends already (and met a sweet lady from Oregon who dyes and sells cashmere---Matt and she hit it off immediately, cashmere whore that he is!) and we're going to visit her booth early on Friday.

Dinner at the Long Beach Cafe was fab---it's a very small place just around the corner from our hotel and has one of the most extensive menus I've ever seen. Portions are like ungodly large (I could only eat about 40% of my carne asada burrito), and prices are rather fair, on top of very attentive service. My kinda place!

Tomorrow starts off with a breakfast for certain retailers, sponsored by Tahki-Stacy Charles and then it's buying MADNESS after that. We saw the brand-new yarn from Lorna's Laces, which is a STUNNING hand-dyed 100% organic wool yarn that's uber squishy (merino, perchance?) and very beautiful. And tehre's also three new colourways in Lorna's--all of which have been ordered in Shepherd Sock. There's five new AMAZING shades of Alpaca Silk from Blue Sky (very sherbety, spring shades) as well as a dk version of their Organic Cotton and Dyed Cotton, and it's NICE! And as for one of Laurie's request, the hand-dyed cashmere lady and the Peace ??? lady are good friends and were to share a booth, but the Peace ?? lady had a family emergency pop up yesterday.

This post is pictureless because despite our having taken some great pictures along the way, the laptop got kinda "fried" by the security screening in Lansing and isn't working quite right. We cannot get to the PhotoShop program to manipulate images. URGH!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Little Lost Lamb Returns

Between a non-working laptop (that's still not configured like it was prior to the issues of December...) and this little thing called a "Holiday Season", I've had my ass kicked when it comes to time. Toss in a few other tasks and self-imposed deadline (for an obligation I shouldn't have taken on, but I'm glad I did), and you have a couple more weeks of silence from me. And yes, I'm sorry about that. But here we go!

This is what has been so stinkin' adorable in these parts these days,

and if you haven't heard yet, he's staying (and his official name is Busby). The beagle and Tate are getting along well, and Tate's been exhibiting alpha dog/big (bully) brother characteristics now and then. Tate will run and push Busby down in the snow, he'll nip at Buzz's ears and be aggressively playful. Interesting for a dog that was essentially pushed around by Connor for several years and has been very submissive the entire time we've had him. It's not dangerous stuff, it's just odd to see this side of the Tater.

Matt and I are headed to the semi-annual trade show sponsored by TNNA (The National Needlearts Association--covering all forms of needlework/stitchery) early on Thursday (7 a.m. flight out of Lansing....eek). To some, it may look like paradise come to earth, as there's an entire convention center packed with yarns, books, people, and equipment for every form of creative expression you can think of. But reality is more like we have three/four days of decision making, buying, walking a trade show floor (ouch), socializing with friends (new and old--one of the best parts of going), and so much more. It's exhausting, but it's very worth the time, effort, and expense to go, as there's so much creativity and energy to tap into and ideas to bring back to our shop that it's a wonderful part of what we do as shop owners! I'm sure we'll both post from Long Beach while we're there (Thursday through Sunday of this week). No pictures may be snapped from the floor, but I can always file written reports! (grin)

Of course, I've got to have things to knit on while we're gone. There will be plane knitting (simple, mindless) and there will be room knitting (no clue yet), and there will be "walking the trade show floor" knitting (socks!). So with that in mind, I started a new toe-up sock (I have a history of sock knitting on the floor, and people remember me from year to year and comment..."OH, you're at it again!"). Here's the one in progress

made from Rio de la Plata merino sock that I've been wanting to work up since it arrived early last year. These are for me (HOORAY!) and I'm in complete lust with the fabric--both in knitted feel/hand and in color. I have started another sock that might go with

out of Dream in Color Smooshy in Spring Tickle, using their Sweet Dreams Socks pattern. We have several shades of Smooshy in stock, along with a nice supply of Classy (worsted) in the 100s and 400s (new colors!), and of course we stock all of their patterns to go with! This sock is lacey, so I'll need to follow a chart or memorize it quickly (usually not too hard for me to do, as I recognize patterns easily). Progress shots forthcoming, for sure!

One of our local customer/friends was in over the weekend preceding New Year's Eve and inspired me. She picked up two new Habu projects, both of which I have been wanting to knit up as shop models (they wouldn't look good on me..I swear....LOL). So of course, I had to emulate her excellent taste, with a switcheroo on color

That's their shosonshei linen paper yarn and their silk/stainless steel--two amazing fibers that are quite different than your typical worsted-weight wool yarns. I'm holding them together, as per the pattern, to create Kit 27a, Shippo Tail Jacket. Here's my progress, all knitted on New Year's Eve at a fun gathering of friends

This may be my plane knitting, as if I can get to the waistband, I have several inches of stockinette on my docket, which would be perfect for dozing and knitting and layovers and dozing and knitting (did I mention layovers? we fly from Lansing to Cincinnati to Phoenix to Long Beach going out, and reverse that but through Salt Lake City on the way back....??????? yup, I booked it myself....shaking head).

Other projects going with are this newly-started easy-to-follow design from K1CToo

called the "Charlie Vest" made with ther self-striping cotton called Ty-Dye. Our shelf stock arrives in a couple weeks, so I wanted to have a model done by the time it arrives. Considering this is about two days of progress (with lots of work in the middle), it should be done soon--maybe by when we return!

Another project off my needles and nearly assembled (by the expert finisher, Matt is a special project for the US distributor of Colinette Yarns. It's a reinterpretation of an older Colinette pattern, but in new yarns (that knit at a different gauge). I made the sample up so it could be displayed at the upcoming trade show (see above), but I want a second shot at this one before I commit the pattern to paper, to improve a couple areas. Here it is unassembled

and here's a close-up of the back

it's obviously a mitered design, using Isis and Giotto and a nice improvement, in my opinion (hooray to Christy for selecting good yarns!). Between a lack of time and a little help from a beagle friend (he was instrumental in a spill of pink beverage all over the first back of the sweater), it's been a constant worry for me that this wouldn't be done in time for market this week. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, thanks to Matt.

Ok, that's enough for now. I've got plenty more to share, but that's on deck for tomorrow (Tuesday), including yet another new project I've started and some other photos of fun new yarns that have graced the shop recently.