Monthly Archives: October 2009

Confession

It’s time to come clean with you guys: there’s a lot of stuff about knitting that I don’t know. Like, a lot. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe because I’m so awesome. But it’s true. And I want to learn it all. Here is a list (that I will probably be adding to later as i think of things) that I do not know how to do/have never attempted that I need to do before being allowed to open my own shop:

1. Mittens or gloves. How have I never knit mittens? I’m sure I can do this, but I probably should just to make sure.
2. Fair Isle. Always wanted to, never have
3. A sweater with a hood and/or button holes.
4. Complex shaping.
5. Designed my own pattern. I REALLY want to do this. I even know what yarn I’m going to use.

There are a ton more things, but it’s time for bed now. Lots of work to do tomorrow! 🙂

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Random Ideas

This blog has many purposes, most of them selfish:
– To keep my friends informed about my dreams and goals.
– To inflate my ego by making me think people other than my six followers give a crap about
what I’m saying.
– To inflate my ego by making me think that my six followers (amazing people that you are)
give a crap about what I’m saying.
But it’s also a place for me to keep all of my ideas organized in one place. It’s my public diary where all of my dreams and crazy, stupid thoughts are kept for all the world (who wants to) to see. So I thank you for not laughing.

When I get an idea in my head (like opening a yarn shop, for instance), it consumes most of my time and energy until either 1. it becomes a reality, 2. I get tired of it. Therefore, over the last week and a half or so, my brain has been working overtime with plans, ideas, and dreams, a lot of which I neglected to write down and have subsequently forgotten. So, every now and again I am going to put up a Random Ideas post that will have some idea(s) I’ve had about the shop. These ideas could be a sentence or six paragraphs, brilliant or completely crazy. But they will all be in one place where Karen and I can sift through them later.

*Side note to Karen: Feel free to add in, disagree, comment, argue, tell me to shut up, or engage in any way you see fit! *

So here are some of the ideas I wrote down tonight, most of which were inspired by a seminar I went to on success in entrepreneurial enterprises featuring the man who started Lake Champlain Chocolates:

1. Creating a sense of community is huge, and one thing LCC does is use local people for as much as possible. This includes the photography for their catalog, the marketing, etc. To this end, I think it would be great to have a section of our store dedicated solely to local and/or small, independently-owned people and shops. For instance, our own spinning could be there, roving and yarn from the alpaca farm my friend Jordan works at could be there, the divine blue-faced leicester top roving from that farm we went to in Stratton, Karen, and my friend Patience’s sheep’s wool could both be there. In other words, something other than Misti Alpaca, or Cascade Yarns, or Rowan, and all the well-known brands. Let’s discover the next big thing, and help out other small businesses like ourselves!

2. Connect emotionally with the customers. One thing the guy tonight said that I thought was very interesting was that he spent a very long time picking out the colors, fabric, texture, wording, and style of the sign with his company’s name on it. He said that all of this things have an unconscious affect on the emotional reaction the customer has, and it’s important to make sure it’s the one that you want. In my opinion this should be applied to EVERYTHING. The colors in the store, where things are arranged, the type of wood used on the floors – every last detail should be consciously decided upon to have make the correct impression.

3. Sustainability. Figure out a way to help ourselves out by: going green, buying local, fair trade. Make sure our sources are reliable/have the same standards as we do.

4. Location. This is something Karen and I have talked about, briefly, but I sometimes worry about. One (really awesome) idea Karen had was to use the space that will be opening up for retail purposes in the old nursing home in Montgomery. That space could become available before I leave school, which would put A LOT of stress on Karen, as I would have to be helping from afar.
Some pros to this location would be that
1. we could both live at home and have a very easy commute.
2. It would be a great place to start out – small, surrounded by other retail stores that would help us draw in customers.
3. It’s right on a main road – through Montgomery, it’s true, but still…
4. We have our knitting group right in Montgomery that I’m sure would be willing to give us their business if our prices were right, and I’m sure there are people in the hilltowns who would love to support locals.

Some cons would be that
1. Who goes through Montgomery? (no offense Karen).
2. What if we never grow from that location and I live with my parents forever? (as much as I absolutely love them. But, really, who wants to be that person?).
3. it may be difficult to get financial backing when we’re located in such an unpopulated area.

My dream would be to stay in Burlington, or somewhere in Vermont, and to live someplace new that I can make my own instead of going back to the hilltowns. I just never saw myself living there forever, as much as I love it. But I know it would kill Karen to leave her family, who are all in the Westfield-Montgomery area, and I don’t think I could do that to her. So, that is definitely a conversation we are going to have to have.

Ok, so this post has become much longer than I ever intended for it to be, and I apologize for that. I’ll put up a nice picture of my old angora rabbit, Tara, to make it up to you. How about that? And, as always, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about any and all of the goings-on around the blog – especially you, Karen!

P.S. My friend from home, Amy, requested that I put up a knitting tutorial on the blog, so look for that to be coming soon!

P.P.S. Another random idea – music is important. One thing I can’t stand in some yarn stores is when there’s just one or two customers walking around and the person at the register sitting and watching, and it’s super quiet and awkward, and the customers almost feel like they are taking too long to look and should be wrapping things up because it’s so quiet and weird. Music fixes this nicely.

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Random Fact

Here is a random business tip I learned today in my Business Law class:

When engaging in a commercial transaction (such as buying a building in which to put your yarn store, let’s say), the seller is under no legal obligation to tell you if anything is wrong or unsafe with the building. Therefore, you must ask a lot of questions, and one in particular. “Is there anything that you know about this place that I should know?” Now they will have lied if they say nothing is wrong with the place, which is different then just choosing not to disclose. Now, if something goes wrong, you may be able to sue them for fraud.

I love law class. 🙂

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Knit for Those in Need Update

Today was a very exciting day for the Knit for Those in Need program! I spoke with a director from the college’s Center for Service and Civic Engagement, and she was very enthusiastic about helping us! She said they love it when students come forward with ideas, and she thought they would be able to help us buy supplies and give us support within the school. I will probably be teaching a knitting class or two to give people who don’t yet know how to knit the chance to participate, or to show people with basic skills how to move forward from scarves to hats and mittens. I probably shouldn’t mention this for the first time on the blog, but I was also thinking maybe Karen could take a little vacation up to see me and help teach a Saturday afternoon class (you know, if she wants to… :)).

So I have a meeting with them next week, and hopefully we can go from there.

And if anyone wants to get involved or has any ideas please let me know!

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Knit for Those in Need

The event I put up in the sidebar did not leave a lot of space to explain the project my roommate Liz and I are working on right now, so I thought I would post about it as well!

Living in Burlington, winters become frighteningly cold, frighteningly fast, and anyone walking around downtown can see that we have our fair share of people in need of warm clothing as the temperature starts to drop. To address this problem, Liz and I thought it would be a great idea to combine two things we love – helping people and knitting! To this end, yesterday we went to our local yarn shop, Kaleidoscope Yarns (an AMAZING store, by the way), and picked up a skein each of Cascade Yarns Ecological Wool to get our project going. This is a bulky-weight yarn made of 100% undyed Peruvian Highland Wool; It is soft and warm, and very reasonably priced at $15 for roughly 437 yards. We are both working on simple garter stitch scarves right now, and we welcome anyone who would like to join us!

Our long-term goal is to get a group of people working on this project with us, and, depending on the response we get, try and team up with COTS, our local homeless shelter, Kaleidoscope Yarns, and our school. According to the COTS website, they are urgently in need of blankets for twin- or double- beds, for anyone who is feeling ambitious :). For now Liz and I will simply be walking around Burlington handing out our wearables, and we will take it from there. Our vision for the future involves the yarn and needles being paid for by the school (we’re poor! lol), and an organized group meeting to teach classes on knitting techniques, enjoy each others’ company, and knit for charity together. For now, though, we are just starting small and seeing where it takes us!

If you are interested in helping out:
We are looking for warmth over fashion – no acrylic yarns please! 🙂
Feel free to make anything you would like, in any size you would like – all donations are appreciated!
If you do not want to spend the money on postage to send your knitting to us, feel free to do the same thing in your own area! (Please make sure you are being safe if you choose the walk-around-and-distribute route over the donate-to-local-shelter route).
Level of knitting skill does not matter. Garments need to be functional, not perfect. 🙂
If you do decide to mail your knitting to us, please just put a note in your package specifying that what you are sending is for Knit for Those in Need.

Thanks for your help, and keep knitting! 🙂

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Filed under charity, Knit for Those in Need, knitting, projects

The Stuff

These are some pictures of some of my work – both completed and in-process.

This is a hat that I made for one of my best friends, Ian. He picked out the red Peruvian wool, and the black is some stuff I had lying around that I decided to add some stripes with. It’s always fun getting two different yarns of different weights to work in the same pattern! 🙂 I actually ended up making this hat twice, because the first time I vastly miscalculated the size of Ian’s head. No offense Ian.


This is my WONDERFUL roommate/best friend Liz wearing the “Weasley” sweater I made for her over the summer. This was so much fun to make, from beginning to end. Karen and I spent ages at a Webs tent sale finding just the right yarn in just the right color, and after that it knit up in about three weeks! The hardest parts were finding the yarn and adjusting the pattern for the bulky yarn we settled on, but other than that it was a breeze. This pattern came from the book Charmed Knits: Projects for Fans of Harry Potter, by Alison Hansel. That book is a godsend!


I had been dying to make a scarf with a leaf pattern for some time, but I was waiting until I found yarn that was the perfect shade of green. I finally found it for three dollars a ball with only two balls left in the backroom at Webs! The pattern comes from knittingpatterncentral.com, a great source for free knitting patterns.

This was my first serious foray into lace knitting, and I turned into a bit of a fanatic. For the month and a half it took me to knit this shawl, my day almost literally went: go to work, knit during lunch break, come home, knit until bed. I think there was some food thrown in there too, every now and again. This was bliss to create. The pattern came from a book that has become a staple of my knitting library: Victorian Lace Knitting Today, by Jane Sowerby. This incredible book is worth every penny, with beautiful pictures, helpful instructions, and tons of historical information about knitting in a time when patterns were only just becoming mass produced. I HIGHLY recommend this book, and am in fact working on another shawl from it at the moment. (I estimate I have roughly 40-50 hours of work left on it, which becomes difficult during the school year :(). And thanks to my friend Brooke for being the beautiful model on both this shawl and the leafy scarf above! 🙂

This is some yarn that I have spun. The silver is unknown fiber (I suspect merino top, but it was so long ago now that I don’t remember), the green is merino and wool, and the white is Great Pyrenees dog fur. My friend (and Karen’s sister-in-law) Judy works at a Pyrenees rescue shelter and owns several of them herself. A few years ago Judy helped organize a fair about Pyrenees and rescuing them in particular, and Karen and I went to support her and do a spinning demonstration to show how the fur of this amazing dog is a wonderful, warm, beautiful fiber to work with. And they shed like crazy, so it works out perfectly!

This yarn was so much fun to spin! (Although I had a spinning wheel malfunction when I was 2/3 of the way done which reduced me to a hysterical mess for about an hour. Ahh, nothing like fiber to put you in your place).

These fingertip-less mitts are a work in progress right now, and are partially of my own design. The design down the center is a modified version of a lace bookmark pattern that came in a knitting Day-to-Day calendar that I bought a few years ago. I changed a few things around and combined it with a basic pattern for fingertip-less mitts that I got from an unknown source (Karen, probably), and viola! The white is paper that I put in them to show what they will look like when they are done. They are knit in Noro silk, but I am going to line them with some white and fluffy angora that Karen spun up for me – she’s the best!

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Filed under knitting, portfolio, spinning, yarn

The Dream

Most people probably don’t know that I became a business major so that I can start my own yarn shop when I graduate, but that is indeed my plan. With all of the classes I am taking and all that I am learning, my dreams are becoming closer and closer to reality, and I like to think that I am only 3 years away from realizing this goal. My amazing friend Karen and I have been talking about starting our own store for years now, and tonight my noggin is working full force on ideas for this amazing place that we will own and make awesome. Hopefully this blog will be a place to expand my thoughts and ideas, get feedback, and talk about all things fiber! 🙂

When I close my eyes, I see a picture of the store in my mind. I know where the doors are placed, and what they look like. I know what kind of wood it has. I see squashy armchairs surrounding a coffee table that has knitting magazines and a bowl full of needles and spare yarn for customers to fool around on and figure things out. This table and chairs ensemble is in front of a stone fireplace (whether or not it will be a working fireplace remains to be seen). When you walk in the door, the cash register is to the left, the yarn is up and to the right, and the whole place has an open, sunny, light feel. In the back there is a door leading to an office, another to a bathroom, and stairs leading up to the small apartment that I will occupy. Out front there is a porch with a rocking chair or two on it, and baskets full of our sale yarn, while in the back there are french-style doors leading to a small grassy, out-door area with a bench where customers can relax and knit outside. This is where we could grow our dye plants. We could also have some of Karen’s bunnies out there in outdoor hutches (or inside on rainy days), and customers could feed and pet them. We could sell the babies from the shop as well.

Karen and I would both teach classes, of course, probably with me teaching the basics and Karen teaching advanced techniques (she’s a way more advanced knitter and spinner than I am). We have also been kicking around an idea for a Breast Cancer Knitting Retreat, where women who are battling/have battled breast cancer can come for a relaxed weekend of knitting, spinning, group/individual therapy, and general wellness with other women who know what you’ve been through. There are many reasons why this is a great idea, but two of my favorites are: 1. knitting is a great past time for anyone who will be spending a lot of their time either waiting in doctor’s offices/hospital rooms, or resting at home incapable of much activity, because it gives you something repetitive to do to take your mind off things and keep your hands busy, and you have wonderful, beautiful things to show for it at the end. 2. the motions necessary for using a drop spindle require you to stretch out your arm and chest, which could be good exercise for someone who has had reconstructive surgery in that area (note: we should probably do more research on this to make sure it is helpful instead of harmful before we advertise it as such). This program is something that really excites me and I think would be very rewarding and wonderful to set up.

Other ideas:

Knit for the homeless – this is something my roommate and I are planning on starting this winter. The two of us are simply going to knit plain scarves, hats, mittens, etc. and then walk around in downtown Burlington and distribute to those in need. Depending on how it goes, I may want to look into starting something on campus where we get involved with COTS or something, but we’ll start small.

Selling local yarn – in addition to selling commercial yarn and our own yarn, I think we should have as large a supply of local input as possible. Everything from dye plants/dyes to handmade shawl pins to yarn to roving from local animals. Make our shop a place where the community can support us and we can support them!

Customer Input – Allow customers to fill out a survey telling us what products they would like us to sell. If they have a favorite yarn, needle, or notion that they would like us to provide for them, they can let us know and we’ll do our best. I have also been thinking about how cool it would be to give our phone numbers to our regular customers (such as the knitting group if we end up starting out in Montgomery), and if the inspiration hits them or they really need something at a time when we’re not open they could call us and we could open the shop for an emergency session.

So many ideas are swirling around in my head, but that’s enough for the first post. Please feel free to comment with any ideas or thoughts you have!

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Filed under goals, knitting, yarn store