Black Dog

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

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ahhhhhhhhh, Back Home Again

We left Long Beach around 10 a.m. PST and it was in the low 70s and sunny. A two-hour flight to Salt Lake City dropped us into 31F degree weather. Two hours of layover went quickly, and a three-plus-hour flight into Cincy welcomed us to 30F and very light snow. Unfortunately, we had just about 20 minutes to change terminals and find our plane (and beg for a minute to hit the men's room.....too much Diet Coke!), and we were off for Lansing. We hit the runway in Lansing around 10:15 tonight and were greeted at baggage claim by the lovely Marcia, who swept us back home in mere minutes (seriously--the shop is five minutes south of the airport and our home is five minutes east of the airport). Most fitting (for me, anyway) was that it was about 28F and snowing pretty hard, with a sharp northwest wind. Ah, wool weather! The LYS owner's best friend!

We pulled into the drive, came inside, and found Tate cautiously approaching the door, head down and sniffing. He realized it was us and started to make the most adorable--yet pitiful--whining sound as he greeted both Matt and I with big, sloppy kisses. He is at my side right now, as I type this, curled up in a ball at my feet. Too stinkin' adorable!

I'm off to go sit on the couch and unwind for a little bit. The trip was a MAJOR success on so many levels

  • we found some incredible new merchandise for the shop as well as stocked up on some of our regular goodies that you already love

  • we renewed many friendships, the majority of which we only get to work on a couple times a year at this specific trade show

  • we made MANY important new contacts and friendships with some of the most dynamic, amazing people that are involved in every level of this phenomenal industry, from media publishers to sales reps to yarn distributors to other shop owners to talented designers to gifted teachers

  • I learned that some of the most amazing people are addicted to our weekly e-mail newsletter.....I'm simply FLOORED (and humbled) at the readership, from our awesome customer base to editors of magazines to some of the BIG names in the world of fiber arts and we picked up some new readers, too (I nearly wet myself when Pam Allen of Interweave fame, currently creative director at Classic Elite Yarns, said she had heard of the newsletter and HAD to receive it!)

  • we discovered that so many of the "names" in this industry are people.....just all of us. Many of them are just as inappropriate as Matt and I are (especially afer a few margaritas, but sometimes just at a breakfast meeting), and some have very funny drag names (either made-up with "the formula" or their actual stage names...)

  • and we now know that we will never again skip out on the spring/summer show (this was our first California show, after going to the June show for several years now)

    The yarns and related products we saw were beautiful, the weather was gorgeous, but the most important part of this industry has to be the people--from the editors of big-named mazagines to the folks that market the goodies we sell to the wonderful shop owners across the country, we get to call all of these people colleague, and of that I couldn't be more happy! (unless I was curled up right now on the couch with Tater.....which I'm gonna go do now).

    Cheers to everyone reading out there, and stay tuned for many wonderful pictures!

  • Sunday, January 13, 2008

    Day 3--The Feel Good Day

    Wow, what a phenomenal day today ended up being. We tried to hook up with the incomparable Meg (from Yarn Expressions) for breakfast, but we couldn't reach her by phone (her room is down the hall from ours, oddly enough). So we went down for breakfast again, and there she was. So she sidled up to our table and we talked shop a little, talked sh@t a little, and had a nice entre into the day.

    The third day is always a short day--10 am until 3 pm (instead of 6), so we knew we were starting the day "behind", even though it was a bonus day of sorts. We got inside and headed to Mango Moon, now a Michigan-based distributor (out of beautiful Owosso, just east of Lansing). Then it was off to the races---we hit several of our regular vendors in succession, including Alchemy Yarns, Lantern Moon, and Interweave. We did some looping around and spoke for a good bit with our friends at Cascade Yarns, mostly about some upcoming promotions and a few ideas we have involving their yarns (which they were most receptive to hearing!!!). The conversation with them was a wonderful stop in the middle of a day--we laughed a good bit, we shared tons of good news about our shop and they about their new product lines, their upcoming (in development) lines, and some promotional ideas they're working with and how we can partner up with them on some of the forthcoming marketing (we also talked about a trip to Seattle to see them and the good folks at Skacel, most likely in March or April. JCA was in the mix, too, as a quick preview to their spring/summer collection. I picked up a few of the skeins of new yarns from Rio de la Plata (the hand-dyed worsted is a marl, with each ply being a different shade, kinda like the sock yarn we love so well). There was so much more....we got alot done today, finally (on the short day, too???!?!?!?). Matt ordered a ton of new bags and organization stuff, we visited with the folks at K1CToo about a trunk show and a knit-along they're sponsoring (and we're going to participate in), so it was a good visit with them.

    Other goodies/events scheduled include several trunk shows (Zitron Unikat garments, Blue Sky stuff, a couple different books, socks and legs from CookieA, and some I can't imagine or remember). And we'll be announcing a couple new visiting instructor things as soon as all details are all ironed out with the good folks we spoke with. What a wonderful, beneficial, busy trip it has been!

    Tonight brings an evening of slow-paced relaxation, most likely dinner with Meg again (we're making her tag along with us.....), and dinner out somewhere. We're also to speak with and possibly meet the folks from Garnstudio regarding our purchasing yarns directly from Norway. We'll see what all actually transpires, especially if we make the mistake to lay down and nap a little bit.

    Dork moment of the day--walking into the Convention Center this morning and heading into the underground parking lot to catch an elevator and seeing Jess and Casey on the sidewalk above us and yelling "I FINALLY FOUND YOU" in an effort to stop them to get a Ravelry pin. They were passing them out all weekend long, but we NEVER saw them until the last minute, basically.

    Thanks to everyone who helped care for the shop, the dogs (especially the Tater), and for us while we were gone and also coming and going. And just wait until you see what we've got up our sleeves for the coming months. I've revealed only a partial list of what's new, what's coming, and what to expect. I'm off to go work on a sock (from a ball of yarn I picked up from Skacel on Friday, and the sock is nearing the home stretch). Wooo-hooooo!!!

    Day 2--Mad Dash Day

    It all started so innocently--Matt and I enjoying breakfast before going in for our private (pre-show) appointment with Takako from Habu Textiles, but then we were accosted over scrambled eggs and hash browns by another diner, also from Michigan. Lots of chatter and laughing, and we were back on track. Fun diversion, as she's a knitter who owns a needlework shop.

    Habu was fun--we ordered a couple new yarns for open stock, but the main focus this time around was on kits. Matt and Takako worked on colourways and we have a nice order placed for a wide range of kits--some of them BRAND NEW and offered first at this show. Those should be great to get in, hopefully soon. The remainder of the day was to be focused on getting accomplished a long list in a short amount of time (well, eight hours). We walked the ENTIRE trade show floor to make sure we didn't miss anyone, and we found some new exhibitors WAAAAAAAAAAAY on the opposite side of the venue, located out past row after row after row of needlework (mostly needlepoint). Her patterns were VERY much worth the walk and we'll have them in stock shortly (lots of fun, solid-color sock designs as well as some fun wearables). From there it is mostly a blur,including orders from several of our favorite vendors, several trips to some of the newer-to-us stuff we carry, and a select few vendors who are BRAND NEW to us (including Schacht weaving and spinning supplies.....yup, we took the plunge today and expect several different Schacht wheels (Ladybug, Matchless and more), some new drop spindles, and even a couple looms to include into our product mix. Matt's totally geeked about the purchase--I'm just kinda shell shocked, given what we just spent.

    We took the big plunge today (again) and ordered deep and wide in yarns from ShiBui Knits, merchandise we wanted last trade show but let pass by. Also in the mix today were a couple new sock yarns (that you will absolutely adore, including some we may get to bring back with us), a variety of goodies from Neighborhood Fiber Company (and our good buddy Karida). She's doing a few new yarns (that we ordered) as well as some NUMMY merino/silk spinning fiber (80/20 and lovely), so that and the regular silk singles. Mmmmmmmmmmm

    Other goodies included the new shades from Lorna's Laces in several yarns, as well as both weights of their new Green Line yarns (100% organic merino wool, dyed in quite sophisticated solids). Blue Sky Alpacas didn't disappoint--the new Skinny Cotton has been ordered for immediate delivery, as well as the five new (STUNNING) shades of Alpaca Silk and lots of fun patterns. Tons of other goodies were ordered (including more Moving Mud closures and tons of their buttons...YUM).

    I nabbed a few sample skeins here and there and out of one I nearly have a sock completed (the Fortissima Mexico Country, in a new shade). I showed off my Rio de la Plata sock quite a bit (it's ready for waste yarn for a heel) and we got a nice sample skein of their new marled hand-dyed wool (it's LOVELY). A few more giggles, lots of neck hugs to and from some of our favorite people, and we were run out of the trade show floor 20 minutes after closing time at 6. A group meeting entailed which was interesting, and we went back to the hotel to meet up with the wonderful Meg from Yarn Expressions in Alabama to head out for dinner (AMAZING Thai food and sushi, all in the same place). Then back to the hotel lobby to knit and carry on with others for a little bit. Perfect day!

    Biggest dork moment of the day (meaning me fawning over people like a teen girl at a WHAM! concert)--easily the 45 minutes to an hour spent with Pam Allen, former editor of Interweave Knits and now the creative director at Classic Elite Yarns (as well as Betsy and Andi from CEY joining us). Pam was very much interested in listening to the shop owner (both of us) who is working with customers on a daily basis. We provided strong feedback about their pattern collections (specifically the plus-sized pattern book by Jillian Moreno), yarn types, ball sizes and put ups, and about yarns not currently found (by them or in general). Best of all, I got to see prototypes of yarns that are at the mills being produced--OH YEAH! nice stuff!!! Pam is nothing if not charming and engaging and just lain wonderful to interact with! Second dork moment (again, me fawing over someone)--meeting Larry/Knit Dad today and laughing about something oddly funny at the Namaste booth (Larry....wanna pet a beagle?).

    We were slated to leave on Sunday morning around 10 a.m. and get back to Lansing around 10 p.m., but it appears we're staying another day. Shhhh, don't tell Sabrina, Janeen, or Delaine--I have to call and tell them first thing in the morning that we won't be back until Monday night (same travel schedule). There's just so much left undone at the end of tonight that we felt it necessary to stay the additional day (even if it is only from 10 until 3 p.m.).

    Trust me, you're gonna LOVE what we're finding this year. we've taken TONS of pictures (all with the express PERMISSION of the various vendors), so we'll have plenty to report back about when we return. Matt ordered three different sets of bags/needle holders from vendors I didn't even visit today (I let him deal with bag vendors, given my lack of enthusiasm for the product; I don't mind having them, I just know that we need them in the shop) and I took care of a couple other things that fall under my purview. There's an upcoming promotion and design contest for socks and sock yarn starting in February and we'll be a "Sock Hot Spot" for several of the major sock yarn vendors (Colinette, Skacel, Mountain Colors, and Southwest Trading so far) and details will be released soon on what all this means. For now, suffice to say that we got TONS of sock yarn ordered and ready for you.

    Gotta run!!!!!