Shop Small

If you haven’t figured it out yet, America’s Knitting is all about the yarn shop!  From coast to coast, up north, down south, Hawaii & Alaska!

I love yarn shops, the little quaint ones in old buildings with old floors, the classy ones with upscale brands, the ones that have locally hand dyed yarns, and everything in between.  I’ve said it before, that yarn shops are like a flavor of ice cream…what’s your pleasure, no two are alike.  You can have 13 shops in a major city, and they will all be different.  WHY?  Because they are all owned and operated by different people.  It’s the human being factor.  We are all special, unique and have something different that we bring to the table.

You’ve heard the phrase, it’s a small world — well, our little corner of the world, the United States, is 1.927% of earth’s total surface area and 6.598% of earth’s land area….so they say??  We have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday coming around again, this time of the year.  Why have they come up with these special days?  To give us reasons to shop and spend money, or to try and focus on meaning, behind our spending?

In the spirit of Shopping Small, this Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to also say shop USA!  The economy is like our stitches, continuous and connected.  When one company succeeds, it can employ more people, and there town or city succeeds.  When that town or city succeeds, the whole state succeeds.  When one state succeeds, it becomes a model to other states….and so it goes.

I had the opportunity to meet Victor Schmidt of Kraemer Yarns, located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania!  Like every knitter, I immediately go to yarn….”I have a yarn called Nazareth”.  In chatting with him, he tells me that this company dates back to 1887!  Now, he has my attention — WHAT?  Kraemer Textiles has been custom spinning yarn for many types of industries for over 100 years.  The company began their hand knitting line in 2005.  Yep, they spin 20,000 pounds of yarn every week.  That is enough yarn to circumnavigate the globe.

Kraemer Textiles is now on their fourth generation since 1887 — isn’t that amazing!  I love stories like this.  The Schmidt family purchased Kraemer in 1907.  The textile manufacturers specialized in yarn for the apparel and the home furnishing industries.  The company watched the market, going to overseas companies as time went by.

Enter a knitting resurgence — the Schmidts developed a line of colorful wool and acrylic-cotton blend yarns, giving them fun local names like Mauch Chunky, Naturally Nazareth, Little Lehigh and Tatamy Tweed.  Kraemer knitting yarns are now sold in over 300 yarn shops across the country, giving the company’s craft specialty part of the business, at 10 percent.

The company creates fiber for the carpet industry, apparel industry, and also produces yarns for lots of indy dyers in our great nation.  They are looking to grow their hand knitting part of the business, and I hope they succeed.  This is a great story.  This business, Kraemer Yarns, is very easy for shops to work with because there is NO minimum order for brick and mortar stores, but at the same time, they give volume discounts on large orders, and shipping is free to anywhere in the 48 contiguous United States.  This sounds to me like they WANT your business to succeed.  They also participate in SHOPATRON.  So, how this works is, you can go to their business, and purchase what you want online, and it get’s filled by a shop carrying what you need.  So you get what you want and need, they sell their yarn to the public and the yarn shop gets the sale.  WIN/WIN~

On Small Business Saturday, let’s support small business, and family businesses like the Schmidt’s, Kraemer Yarns.  Let’s be conscience of this all the time, every day.  These businesses pay taxes and employ people, and when we support them, they in turn support our towns, city, states, and country.  It’s challenging to run a small business, to pay the overhead involved, and to be open for you.  The local yarn shops are at the heart of our knitting community.  Their establishment is where we meet our knitterly friends, and learn new things.

Kraemer Yarns is open to the public in Nazareth Pennsylvania for tours, they also have a company store that is open seven days a week on site, and they teach knitting.  Victor Schmidt, pleasure to know you, and blessings onto your business, Kraemer Yarns.  Here’s to another 100 years, and another 300 yarn shops selling your yarns!

Yarn Crawl…do you crawl?

They are pretty much nation wide now!  I love the concept of an organized event, created towards a fun outing for all the enjoy!  Knitters plan and plot out their course, and sometimes even take a husband, a non-knitting friend, or pups for company.  Most do I think, crawl in groups…but there are even some loners out to crawl.  It could take a day or a weekend, for all this fun to take place.  I say knitters, but these shops also create a free crochet pattern for crawlers as well.

The premise is that the shops come together with meetings all year long to come up with a theme, a set of rules, free patterns, and some prizes to make it super fun!  We have a couple of these crawls in my region of western Washington state.  I’ve done the crawl over in Seattle one time.  The crawl in the south sound I do every year….so far.  The crawl in Seattle is too big for me.  If someone wanted to drag me, I could be persuaded, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Sometimes, life’s circumstances veer knitters off course.  Knitters almost always come back, and this is always a great outing.  Visit all the shops, check it out, see what’s happening.  The first thing you do is print out your passport. There will always be something in one of the shops that really speaks to you.  Each shop has a project and free pattern.  They typically have a yarn that goes with the project that they are offering at a discount, and then decorations and other items that coincide with their theme.  Each shop has snacks to offer the crawler.  Then, there are daily prizes and something for the finishers.

Because it takes all day, or in some cases all weekend, you have to have coffee out or lunch.  It’s Fun!  I think knitters know how to have fun….from KAL’s, to joining yarn clubs, to going to events, to going on yarn crawls.  Personally, I love all things that include and support the yarn shops, that’s my favorite.  This weekend is KnitFit in Ballard, Washington.  I’m not taking any classes, but I will be going to just check it out and go to the market.  Out of 28 vendors, only 1 is a yarn shop.  So, does a sale from an indy business take away from the business of a LYS?