Svenson

My friend Meghan, is beautiful, fearless, smart, fun, and a darn good knitter!!  About this time last year, she set out on the task of knitting her husband a sweater.  The challenge….Brooklyn Tweeds Svenson using Brooklyn Tweeds Arbor in colorway Dorado, purchased at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  Meghan had never done cables before, and a mans sweater is a lot of knitting anyway.  She did a beautiful job, and the fit is perfect, and so is this picture.  Aren’t they all a lovely family?  Yes, she’s Wonder Woman, for real…Meghan even made the girls dresses using fabric from Liberty of London!  You are so inspirational Meghan (((hugs))).

MORE Hats

Yep, my friend Yvonne has the same thing going on with the hats.  She donates her for charity auction!  Here are her latest three…. First – Wavy Legs by Jody Brown!  The yarn that Yvonne used is Madelinetosh Tosh DK.  Yvonne purchased her yarn at WEBS, Northampton, Massachusetts!

… and as my grandson would say ‘gain’ Here’s Wavy Legs 2.  This time with Hula Hut Yarns Aloha DK purchased at Rainy Day Yarns, Gig Harbor, Washington.  What comes to mind with this one is the Aloha yarn — Yvonne goes to Hawaii every year, so it’s rather perfect!

Finally, Swirled Peace by Lisa K. Ross!  The yarn Yvonne used is Cloudborn Fibers Highland Fingering and Crystal Palace Yarns Mini Mochi.  Yarn purchased at The Swift Stitch, Santa Cruz, California!

 

Caps, Caps & more Caps

My friend Lynn has moved to Missouri….BUT, it can get cold in the winter time there.  Lynn knits sweaters, capes, ponchos, socks, hats, cowls, baby blankets…..you name it!  But right now, she’s on a tear for knit caps.  Here are her two latest!  First up…Cote-Nord Cap by Amy Christoffers.  This pattern was originally published in the Interweave knits Winter 2014 magazine.  But, now you can purchase this pattern single directly from Interweave.

Next up is Lynn’s Snow Ghost hat by Aimee Alexander.

Thanks Lynn for sharing your knitting, and have fun wearing those awesome hats this winter.

Here Comes Santa Clause

Is your LYS decorating for Christmas yet?  Well, if not, I’m sure they are planning that.  I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.  BUT, in the knitting world, the art of gift giving has to start early.  Look what Ronda over at Main St. Yarn Shop (Hartford, Wisconsin) made.  I wonder if she will have classes for these fun little guys or if they will decorate her store.  The pattern is Here We Gnome Again, and the pattern is by Sarah Schira.  The yarn that Sarah used is Malabrigo Yarn Sock.  The pattern has instructions for worsted weight yarn too, and can be found on Ravelry.

A Hat, A Shawl & Some Baby Socks

Carmel started out the year knitting fair isle hats, and she’s still doing that, and here it is November now.  She’s even started teaching others fair isle knitting.  Here is her Epistropheid hat by Kate Davies.  I love the way it turned out, and the pom pom is perfection!!

Next up with Sherri, owner of Rainy Day Yarns in Gig Harbor Washington.  Sherri is a knitting machine, all while running a business and taking care of her family.  Here is her Josephina shawl by Amanda Rios in Hula Hut Yarns Luna DK.  This pattern is free on Ravelry.

Finally, I finished two pairs of Lumberjack socks by Tin Can Knits.  Our employee had identical twin girls.  I had always loved this pattern, and thought I’d start small with the baby size and give them a go.  I used Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash.  One was a variegated and a solid.  I did a reverse on the second pair.  It’s wonderful when you can purchase a pattern, and have so many sizes to knit from.  What a value from Tin Can Knits.

 

America’s Knitting….well, so is Canada!!

Whenever I travel anywhere, I always find a yarn shop to visit.  Also, while traveling, I always have my camera.  Well, in September, I went to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  AND, I found a yarn shop, 88 Stitches!

My friend Jana and I were traveling up to Vancouver, BC to attend Knit City.  It’s an annual event held up there in late September.  We always call it our west coast Rhinebeck.  It really is the perfect venue.  It’s just the right size, not small, but not huge.  It’s got tons of celebrities, or as I like to call them ‘Kniteratti’!  There are tons of booths full of yummies, and tons of classes with all the famous people, and an all around good time.

Jana knows me well, and had heard about 88 Stitches on the Grocery Girls podcast.  Last year, we had visited Baad Anna’s, which was located very close to our hotel.  This year it was 88 Stitches in Langley.  Honestly, it was the first thing we did — even before checking into our hotel!

It was a lovely early fall day, we found the shop with the help of some GPS, then parked the car.  When we went inside, the two lovely gals working, were happy to see us and eager to help.  It was clear that they were busy working, putting up new inventory.  We just wanted to look around, touch and feel, and take some pictures.  I was however, looking for a needle.

Leila (I think) was helping me with my needle situation, while Jana was looking around.  Then I started looking around, and found a rad basket and cute notions pouch and tape measure.  I totally get sucked in.  I made my purchase and took my pictures.  They had a wonderful selection of yarns including Sweet Fiber Yarns, Baa Ram Ewe, Berroco, and Lettlopi to name just a few!

As we finished up, we asked Marilyn for a few lunch suggestions before heading on into Vancouver.  She gave us three suggestions, and exceptional directions into Langley proper.  What an amazing town!!  The shops were amazing and the restaurants, and bakeries, and candy shops all looked wonderful.  We ended up at a brewery called Trading Post Brewing.  The place was rustic on the inside with an amazing covered patio out back with blankets and a gas fireplace.  The beer was good and we had fried chicken sandwiches that were dreamy!

Thank you Marilyn for the great directions, thank you Leila for the help with my purchase.  I still love my basket and bag.  I want to visit Langley again soon!

As always, if you want your LYS featured send us some digital pictures and a few lines and we’ll get them up right away.  Click on any photo to see it’s larger form.

 

Fidalgo Artisan Yarn

Back in April, my husband and I went to Orcas Island to visit my Step-Mom for the weekend!  As the name suggests, it’s an island, so you have to take a ferry boat to get there.  The ferry departs from a town called Anacortes!  As it happens, Anacortes has a yarn shop.  The name of the store is Fidalgo Artisan Yarn.

This store is so unique!!!!!  When I arrived Emily was working.  She was busy winding yarn for a customer, but was so welcoming and happy.  Who could not be happy working in a store full of yarn, fiber and clothes.  Yes, clothes….we’ll talk about that in a bit.

The store is easy to find, it’s right downtown.  We parked on the street, and there are all sorts of fun shops all around, and restaurants too.  This store is “FULL” of hand dyed yarn by owner Lori.  The only brand names you will see in this store is needles and notions and patterns.  Everything in this store is crafted by hand, right down to the Spectator Hats – we’ll get there in a moment.

There is so much to take in, you just can’t be in a hurry!  There is alpaca, silk, wool, bamboo, mohair, even camel.  All weights will be found at Fidalgo Artisan Yarn.  The colors are so beautiful, from clean brights, to neutrals, to soft colors.  Owner Lori came in while I was there, so I was able to meet her.  She is pictured below in the turquoise shirt.  She truly has a gift for color and dying yarn.

There are hand crafted wood bowls for yarn that are crafted locally, hand made jewelry, artisan clothing hand made and those fun spectator hats.  I also found fiber for all the spinners out there and some patterns by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  Fidalgo Artisan Yarn is on Instagram, so follow along, and remember they ship!

I had made up my mind prior to walking in that I needed a pair of sock blockers.  I did get my sock blockers, and also some yarn for a shawl.  if you are headed up to the San Juan Islands, get up there early, so you can get into Fidalgo Artisan Yarn and tell them Mary from America’s Knitting sent you in!

*you can click on any photo to see it’s larger form

A Response To Vogue Knitting

I received the latest issue of Vogue Knitting magazine last week, as I am a subscriber.  As I opened it up to take a gander, I came upon the Editors Letter entitled Does Size Really Matter…. so of course I had to read it HAHAHA!

Trisha Malcolm states that Classic Elite Yarns is closing down it’s operation, and ‘the knitting world is in a state of disruption’ right now.  She questions the size of companies; what constitutes an indie business and a big business.  She wants everyone to work together so businesses of all sizes can succeed!

I’ve been knitting since 1986, and have had America’s Knitting since 2007!  As a business woman myself and an entrepreneur, I have watched these changes occur and process all of it continually.  Since 2007, America’s Knitting has been tracking the status of the local yarn shop, and I have numbers that I will share at the end of this blog post.

I was shocked to hear Classic Elite was calling it quits, but really not surprised.  I want to start off by saying up front, there is NO bad guy here….there are simply changes.  I would like to break it down a little bit:

  • All businesses start off small…if they succeed, they grow
  • Magazines provide patterns and offer up advertisements so knitters know what’s new
  • The internet comes alive in our community and Ravelry is born, giving independent designers a fabulous platform for the growth of their creativity (magazines suffer)
  • YouTube videos are available for how to’s and bloggers are our new best friends
  • Amazon sells everything from needles to pom poms, and you can join the indie yarn of the month club
  • Huge venues come to town with every kind of vendor known to man and offer classes with the stars
  • Craftsy selling online classes and kits to be delivered to your doorstep
  • Designers have their own line of yarn selling direct to the masses

Where does the yarn shop fit into the new order of things?  At America’s Knitting we have an affinity for the small business of the local yarn shop.  I would agree with Trisha, there is a disruption going on inside the knitting world, and the changes have been steady with the local yarn shops AND our knitting magazines feeling those changes the most.

Typically speaking, the local yarn shop carries known brands just like Classic Elite Yarns, Cascade Yarns, Berroco, Rowan, Plymouth and the like.  The small batch indie yarns have hit the market in a major way, and along with a steady stream of yarn shop closures, these known brands have suffered.  Some continue to grow and expand their lines, Cascade Yarns is an example of that, others like Rowan have reorganized their business and brand.  Indie, as Trisha calls it, is not just yarn, but the independent designers as well. With the independent designers going solo, the magazines have suffered, and book sales are down.  Knitters don’t really have to buy a magazine or a book, because they can purchase the pattern they want right then on Ravelry.  The strength of ‘indie’ isn’t just yarn — most of the popular ‘have to knit’ patterns have been designed with these ‘indie’ special yarns.

Times they are a changing!  But you know what….fear not!  We are having this conversation and the indie dyers and the indie designers don’t want yarn shops to go anywhere.  They are now doing pop up shops inside of yarn shops, and yarn shops are getting together and having yarn crawls.  The yarn shops are now designing too and some are even dying yarn.  They are partnering with Ravelry to sell you patterns right there in the store, adding these patterns to your Ravelry library and printing them out for you in store.  Designers are showing up to launch new patterns right at the yarn shop where you can meet them.  A fair number of yarn shops have a store front and a strong online presence; I want to see more of that.  We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there.  I’m sure things will work themselves out, because the knitting community is a great group of loving and caring people.

Whether or not Classic Elite Yarns was a big company or a small business is either here nor there, they were a yarn company who’s yarn was purchased at the yarn shop!!  If yarn shops close, our major brands suffer!  Now for the numbers —

2008 1,444 yarn shops in total
2009 1,443 citing after yarn shops close and new ones open, down 1
2010 1,442 citing after yarn shops close and new ones open, down 1
2011  1,441 citing after yarn shops close and new ones open, down 1
2012 1,387 citing after yarn shops close and new ones open, down 54
2013 1,314 citing after yarn shops close and new ones open, down 73
2014 1,177 citing after yarn shops close and new ones open, down 137
2015 1,089 citing after yarn shops close and new ones open, down 88
2016 1,034 citing after yarn shops close and new ones open, down 55
2017 970 citing after yarn shops close and new ones open, down 64

This year isn’t over, but as of today, the US has 984 yarn shops, so it appears we are up by 14 shops.  I do a mailer every year out to all the yarn shops in September (they fly out tomorrow).  If a yarn shop has closed, my mailer gets returned to me and I investigate to make sure that they haven’t moved.  The 984 number will be adjusted during this time.

As for Classic Elite Yarns — I remember them well and fondly.  They were one of the big dogs.  What I remember was the amazing pattern support that went in concert with their lovely yarns, in all the perfect shades of the season.  They were quality, and yes, they will be missed, as are all the yarn shops that have closed their doors!

 

 

Fiber Arts Fine Yarns

When I started America’s Knitting, I wanted all the nations yarn shops all in one place online for everyone’s convenience.  How boring, it wasn’t enough.  I wanted to know all the yarn shops and talk about all the yarn shops.  So I started doing spotlights on yarn shops every chance I got.

Of course I started local…ones I could get out to for a visit – take some pictures!  Well, I live in Washington – NOW WHAT?  Well, I went down to Oregon and visited some shops in Portland and did spotlights, and my girlfriend Dawn took a trip back home to Connecticut, and shared a visit to a yarn shop for me.  Then I started getting contacted by yarn shops themselves and did a few yarn shops…Maine, California, Montana.  Then some of my readers started traveling and sending me photos and a few lines and I posted those spotlights…Arizona, Alaska!

Well my girlfriend Libbie just relocated to Florida for her husbands work.  She visited a yarn shop called Fiber Arts Fine Yarns in Odessa!  I asked her if she could take some pictures for me…and she did.  Here is what she had to say about the store:

The owner was there and was super friendly. They were  showcasing customers finished projects. Good parking. A little coffee shop cafe in the same strip mall as well as a brew pub next door. (Darin appreciates that!). He was able to taste a few local brews and grab a growler while I bought some locally dyed yarn.  That all being said, I haven’t been back. But, I haven’t really been knitting. In a rut.

Libbie needs to meet some knitters and join a knitting group!  I always say, you’ll meet your best friend at the yarn shop.  All that being said, Libbie & Darin are still getting settled in and are building a house.  Libbie needs her knitting mojo back!!  Thank you Libbie for taking the pictures and getting them to me.  I hope you get back to knitting SOON~

Galiano Socks

Tracy from the Grocery Girls has now designed 2 new patterns for socks.  They are both amazing, but here is her first design…Galiano Socks.  These socks were named for a retreat that she and Jody attended in British Columbia’s Galiano Island.  They had a magical time and Tracy designed these socks and named them for her trip and her inspiration.

My friend Jana, knit these up in quick order.  When I first saw the pattern, I passed.  I have SO many projects already started, that I didn’t think that I needed to cast on any cabled socks.  BUT, look at these socks.  In person…I couldn’t pass them up.  My pattern is printed, my needles are out, and my yarn is wound.  I just have to knit these amazing socks.

Jana used Julie Asselin’s Leizu yarn for her Galiano’s, and they are amazing!  Thank you Jana for allowing me to share~