Know what that means to me? No, not April Fool. It means my shop newsletter is due again. Argh! Whenever I think the days and weeks are dragging, I think about my newsletter, and somehow time magically speeds up and the new month is upon me! I struggle every four weeks to put together a newsletter that’s ‘newsy,’ fun, informational, and inspirational for my 500+ loyal readers (well, maybe they don’t all read ’em). I look for fun clip art, information on classes, events and workshops, along with little quotes and helpful hints that will make reading it at least a little bit worthwhile. But it’s tough. Sometimes there’s nothing new going on so that there’s nothing to put in! Sometimes there’s so much going on that I forget to put stuff in! But I have to say, I do get some lovely feedback from some of my readers; enough to make me keep doing them. At least for now.
Did you know that yarn has seasonal lines twice a year every year? And that every year yarn companies come up with ‘new and improved’ fibers to tempt the yarnaholics who own yarn shops into trying and buying their new yarns? Somewhere in the wee area in the back of my mind I must have known this when I began my search for yarns to carry in my shop all those years ago. But I have to say I really wasn’t aware of the scope of fibers out there and the creativity of people who come up with some of the most beautifully soft, yummy, breathtaking yarns ever to be found in the world!
Balance that with a budget, and welcome to my world.
Which leads me to Cathy, who made a visit to the shop yesterday. Now, Cathy’s one of the best yarn reps around, because she knows. Having owned her own yarn shop, she knows what it’s like to be me. She’s been on the receiving end of a table full of yarn coming from suitcases packed with yarn and stacked up around the table. She understands the pressure of wanting it all and having to try (and I use that term with anxiety) to stay within some kind of budget. After all, shops carry more than one brand of yarn, and they all have yarn reps! So the best thing about Cathy is there is absolutely, no pressure from her end. None. In fact, she’s more the opposite, sometimes suggesting that a particular yarn I’m leaning towards might not even be appropriate for my little shop in this particular area.
And so, of course, I try and stay focused on the upcoming season of spring and summer and zero in on what might interest my customers without breaking the bank. I go through binder after binder filled with yarn samples and color cards, and if she notices a pause, or perhaps a quick intake of breath, out comes the yarn and a knitted up swatch for me to feel. I open up the fold-out card of colors and lean back in my chair and look at her shaking my head. How do I possibly decide? With close to a hundred colors of this particular yarn, how do I narrow it down to 10? This is where the angst comes in. And this is where Cathy comes in. With her prior shop knowledge and her knowledge of my shop, she will direct me to what she thinks would be the best colors to carry, help me match yarn with patterns, and then quickly and painlessly close the book and remove it — and the yarn — from my sight.
Now that’s a good rep.
Well, I’ve taken the next step. Looky, looky what I’ve gone and done:
And if you look real close, you’ll see two full ‘bobbins’ and a peachy ball of spun wool sitting atop the spindle. I’m such a newbie at this, but we have a very fun group of spinners that come in every third Thursday that I knew I had to be a part of it all. I learned this is a “Baynes” wheel from New Zealand; I bought it used. I know it’s from the 1960’s, it’s a ‘castle’ style, and I love the look of it. It also makes a little “clickity-clackity” noise while I’m treadling. And I do treadle madly. (In fact, I was treadling so madly last fall at my cottage this thing almost landed in the deep end of the lake.) I still have a lot to learn. But honestly, sometimes I feel compelled to spin; it’s the only word I can use to describe the feeling. Now if anyone says anything about ‘spinning your wheels’ I say, “YES! YES! YES!”
I’m making something, but I’m not sure it’s progress. I did finish the blue socks and have since worn them enough that I’d show you a picture of them, but they’re in the wash. If I had more time, I’d do that hand-washing thing, but there ya go.
So this little hat went to my son’s friend Dan’s new baby niece. It’s made with angora and wool, and if it wouldn’t look too queer on me, I’d make one for me.
So now I’ve started another pair of socks, a Scrawl , and another hat like the one above only in an adult size. Yeah; I have odd friends.
I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna post all my UFO’s here along with pics. I know ya’ll think owning a yarn shop has to be the best place in the world to knit. That’s what I thought, too. And in a way that’s true. I mean, I have access to all the yarn I want and patterns galore. But I’m finding, instead, that it’s absolutely the best place in the world to start knitting.
Here. Enjoy them one at a time…
EwwKay. Let’s see if I can remember how this goes. In May I considered eCommerce (not happening!) because May apparently is not a huge yarn-shop kinda month. Go figure. People seemed more concerned with getting used to the fact that their kids would be home 24/7 and bored within days, their yards might need mowing, and pretty flowers often don’t happen by themselves. I’ll admit things were getting a little panicky here in my head since I’d just been open a couple months and bills were due and stuff like that. So while it was all great fun to practically live at my new little shop, things were slow enough that I wondered if I’d soon be amongst the
home shopless. June arrived in all its glory heat, and all the beautiful wool I’d ordered wasn’t really foremost in the minds of many knitters. (Though felted-bag knitters are wooly diehards, and a little 90+ heat never stops them.)
Now it’s July. Who knew July would be a great knitting month? Who knew that $3.39 a gallon was an acceptable price to pay for people to come up north and visit? Who knew that A/C can draw knitters to the shop like YO’s to lace?
I’ve discovered, and hope to remember, that July is a really good month for Gaylord. We have 4th of July; we have festsivals; we have great golfing and swiming and camping. But I also hope to remember that we now have yarn reps coming to show me the new fall lines. (Yes; there are seasonal ‘lines’ to yarn.) I’m still catching my breath and excited about the summer stuff when suddenly I’m inundated with color choices for wools and patterns for this fall and winter. What the world?
So I’ve ordered the fall stuff. I look forward again to all my little Santas who deliver to my shop, even though I know I’ve held deliveries out through September. I can’t wait for this stuff to come in. I can’t knit fast enough or often enough. But during this first year open, I’m clueless as to what sells when and why. I don’t know one day to the next how it’s going to go. This year will at least give me projections for next year. (Next year!) I’ll have fewer excuses next year, although I retain my right to the short-term-memory-loss thing. I’m having a blast. I’m meeting the best, most generous, thoughtful and interesting people I’ve ever known. I go home with pounding feet to knit a bit. And I look forward each day to whatever it’ll bring, because ya just never know.
I’ve had a couple out-of-state folks ask me about selling online. I’ve only been open for close to three months, but April and May are not exactly high knitting season. Seems like a big STEP, one that will take some prep work getting all my inventory online. Plus figuring out the whole shipping thing. But e-Commerce seems to be taking off, doesn’t it? I, myself, do a lot of shopping online. Big fan of it. But what about being on this end of it? Wish I could just stick my toe in the water and test it on a smaller scale…
I know. I know. Where have I been. That is a very legitimate question; one that I should know the answer to. To be short and to the point, I’ve been at the shop. If I’m not actually at the shop, I’m either going to the shop, leaving the shop, or thinking about the shop.
Now ask me what I’ve knit lately. That is a very legitimate question, too. I remember when I first thought about opening a yarn shop. A friend (who also owns a shop) warned me that if I was getting into owning a shop with the idea that I would be able to knit to my heart’s content, I should reconsider. I laughingly agreed that I would most likely be too busy, but inside I knew it would be different for me. Why? I love knitting. I love yarn. I love the gadgets and the needles and the textures and the patterns. I knew I could never let a day go by without picking up my needles and at least getting a few stitches on. Never!
At what age do we finally stop believing that “It’ll be different for me”? I had a recent conversation with a girlfriend regarding the tough lessons kids have to go through instead of learning from someone else’s mistakes. “Why do they think they’re different?” I asked.
So here I am, taking a break at 10:00 p.m., to tell you why I haven’t been here. I am ashamedly admitting to anyone who happens by that she was right. And while she would never come right out and say, “I told you so,” I’m doing it for her. She told me so.