Stitches West 2017

Every year, Stitches is held in various parts of the country.  Stitches is a huge knitting event full of classes and a vendor market.  We have one here on the west coast, and someday, I will attend.  In the mean while, Yvonne, a regular contributor attended this years event, and here is what she has to share with us!

During the weekend of February 23rd to the 26th, Stitches West was in Santa Clara, CA and so was I. Luckily I only live about 20 minutes from the convention center where the event is held.
I spent the week before the show going through my Ravelry queue for yarn needs for patterns I wanted to knit. I went through my stash and accessed what I lacked (dk and worsted weight yarn). I followed the Stitches West forum of Vendor Previews to see who was bringing what. I marked my show floor map with which vendors I wanted to go to first to ensure I got a chance to buy their special yarns.
When the doors opened at 5pm on Thursday night for the Market Preview, only attendee’s taking classes are allowed into the Preview. We took a one hour Market Class on Friday on Invisible Joins.  Map in hand I dashed to my first Vendor, Magpie Fibers in the YOTH booth. I was after their DK yarn in the color Woodsmoke, for the show. They had said they were bringing in a limited amount. SCORE!! I got a skein and a contrasting color to make I don’t know what yet! Then it was on to look for a yarn that Mary (America’s Knitting Mary) wanted me to get for a friend. Again, it would be available in a limited amount, so I wanted to make sure I got it. SCORE! When I went back on Friday she was out of that color way.
Friday, we (my friend Carole from Santa Barbara was up for the weekend) headed back to the convention center for a day of walking the floor and shopping for goodies. One of our favorite vendors turned out to be Stunning String Studio from DeKalb, IL. They had lots of samples of their projects with kits that included the yarn, pattern and the number of stitch markers need for the project. I purchased the kit for Interpolate Shawl in green and purple.
We continued to walk the show floor, oooh and awe over all the beautiful yarns, mostly hand dyed and all the lovely samples that showcased specific yarns. I made my way to The Knitting Tree LA (Los Angeles) and discovered Woolfolk Yarns. Oh My Gosh, their merino is as soft as cashmere. I bought two skeins that will be scarf/shawl at some point. We made it to Webs and I found  Madelinetosh dk for one project and Madelinetosh sock for another project. Carole and I combined out purchases and managed to get a 25% discount!! We went home exhausted, thank goodness I started dinner in the crockpot that morning.
Saturday we spent with our husbands going wine tasting and having dinner in San Francisco.
Sunday after church, it was back to Stitches to see if we “needed” anything else. Carole bought another shawl kit from Stunning String Studio and I bought 3 more skeins from Woolfolk to make the 3 Color Cashmere Scarf from Joji Locatelli. We also stayed for the Grand Prize drawing but didn’t win one of the three $400 cash prizes they gave away.
We had a great time and are looking forward to 2018 and doing it again!! If you want to come with us next year, bring an air mattress and sleeping bag and you can crash at my house and we’ll shop till we drop.
Yvonne*

Ewe And I

I am *knot* a monogamous knitter, and I’m *knot* a monogamous shopper!

I love yarn shops — HELLO — that’s why I’m America’s Knitting.  I’m all about the yarn shop.  So, a couple posts back, I visited Loose Ends Fiber Arts.  They had asked when I was coming to Centralia, and I finally went.  Well that’s like a two and half hour drive for me.  My husband kept me company, and we brought our dog Mae.  We started off with coffee, made a pit stop, and had lunch after visiting the yarn shop.  Wes walked the dog while I was shopping in the yarn shop, and taking pictures.

Well, not even half an hour down the road is a town called Chehalis.  There is a yarn shop there too, and it’s called Ewe And I.  How could I drive all that way, and not slide into that store?

It has a super fun back story, and unique too!  So, There are two businesses really inside the store; Ewe And I ‘yarn shop’, and Black Sheep ‘Creamery’!  Meg Gregory with her husband Brad Gregory have a farm, and they have sheep, lots of sheep.  So, with the sheep, they get milk and make cheese.  They also get wool, and make yarn.  It’s a going concern, they’ve won awards and you can find their cheese other places besides the yarn shop!  You HAVE to check out their website to really see it all. 

The yarn shop is very nice, they carry lots of yarn, and brands you know.  Notables that I saw… Rowan, Knitted Wit, Jamiesons, Opal, Brown Sheep and of course their own yarn in the natural shades of the sheep.  I did purchase some Knitted Wit, as I have never owned or knit with that yarn and it felt like a special treat.  The store is what I would call full service, in that, they sell yarn and knit, but they also spin and weave.

The ladies were very nice and told me all about the store.  I encourage you to check out their website and of course, the creamery website too.  They are on Facebook as well, so you can keep up even if you can’t make a visit.  Thanks for showing me around Meg and allowing me to take some pictures … I’ll be back~ **you can click on any photo to see it’s larger version**

…”I’m not going to a yarn shop, and I’m not buying any yarn”…

FAMOUS last words!

My friend Ann was visiting her daughter Molly in San Francisco, California.  Molly is a traveling nurse.  I had never heard of this before, but it’s a thing.  And why not….Molly’s young, not married, no kids.  These are the times of her life, and she finds herself in San Francisco, California.  So of course Mom has to go visit and check up on the daughter.  San Francisco is a fun town with awesome weather.  Lot’s a great restaurants, good chefs, and hello…the wharf!

So, being the enabler that I am, I told her to go to America’s Knitting to see where the nearest yarn shop was.  Ann says, “I’m not going to any yarn shops, and I’m not buying any yarn!”  I’m thinking (okay)!  So, she checks in at the airport, she’s posting pictures daily on social media, and texting kind lovely words about Molly, and pics of her walks and shopping.  Then….BOOM, she’s at ImagiKnit!

Turns out, Molly has a friend that’s a knitter, and knowing that Molly’s Mom knits, she tells Molly that her Mom has to go to ImagiKnit because it’s the best yarn shop.  So, they get address and directions from America’s Knitting and voila they are visiting a yarn shop.

Ann told me that the shop was very interesting, and that they had a lot of yarn.  The folks that worked there were very nice and greeted her when she arrived.  She looked about, and took some pictures for me.  San Francisco has some very old buildings chock full of charm and that is how I would describe this store.  If you click on the photos you can see larger photos, better able to catch details.  The store was busy with shoppers.  Ann noticed brands such as Madeline Tosh, Malabrigo, and Cascade.  She thought the store was unique, but she didn’t make a purchase.  It’s ok to look, seek inspiration, or just be in the company of fiber.  I really appreciate the pictures, because I don’t know when I will get there, but I love yarn shops and hearing all about them.  Thank you Ann for sharing, and thinking of America’s Knitting with your pictures, they are great!

 

* Good Prices *

Hey Everyone — So, last weekend, I took a trip down south (south Washington) to visit a couple of yarn shops.  Teva, at Loose Ends Fiber Arts had been asking me to come and visit her store.  Working full time, working America’s Knitting, knitting and walking my dog keeps me pretty busy, but my husband Wes & I thought we’d take a drive last weekend down south, to check out her store.

Loose Ends is in the town of Centralia, Washington, which is south of Olympia, Washington’s state capital.  We had a dry but chilly day for our drive, but I knit in the car while Wes drove.  We brought Mae with us, and she got a nice little walk in with Wes while I visit the yarn shop.  Loose Ends is located in the original downtown area with parking on the street.  They call the area, the antique district as there are lots of antique shops, for your antiquing pleasure.

When I arrived, the store had a couple of customers, and the owner, Teva, was in.  She quickly greeted me and I introduced myself.  It was a surprise visit, as I didn’t even know I was going to be making the trip when I got up that morning.  I guess I could have called when I was on the way down….but I just thought of that, so it was a surprise.  She was happy to see me and meet me.  She was busy with her customers, a mother/daughter knitting team.  She was winding their purchases, so I just looked around and took pictures.

My first observation was that she carried lots of Cascade Yarns.  That’s not really surprising, as this is a local company to Washington state, and their line of yarns is vast and wide.  But, I also saw Noro, Madeline Tosh, Juniper Moon Farm, Malabrigo and Universal Yarns.  The second thing that I noticed, was that another customer had come in.  The prices were very good.  I know that there is suggested retail on things, but the owner does have some discretion on what they want to charge for things, and what goes on sale, or if they need to charge more for things, depending upon their overhead that has to be covered every month.

I saw, what Teva called the ‘fiber room’.  That is where she keeps the roving, fiber, top…..I’m not a spinner so I don’t know the lingo or what I’m talking about – but she had a room for it.  Also, in the back was a room with a table where she holds knit night and classes.  Before I left, a group of young gals came in to shop as well.  It was a busy Saturday at the store.  

While I was there, I purchased some self striping sock yarn (I’ve never knit with that kind of yarn before, I’m excited), and a Valentine card.  Teva had the cutest cards in store for Valentines Day.  I could tell Teva was a very comfortable, friendly gal that could quickly become your friend.

If you are headed to Centralia to go to Great Wolf Lodge, the outlet stores, or possibly Dicks Brewing…or maybe you’re on your way to Portland, Oregon.  Stop in to Loose Ends Fiber Shop — you have to have lunch anyway.  Teva has really good prices on yarn, and the vintage feel of downtown is so relaxing.  You won’t be sorry!  Loose Ends Fiber Arts is on Facebook and Instagram, so follow her and her store~

**You can click on any of these photos to see the larger version of them**

Annual New Year Report AND Purly Shell

Todays blog post will combine two things; a trip to a yarn shop on Thanksgiving weekend, and our annual LYS report that happens every January!

Diana Cripe is our moderator over in our Ravelry group.  She and her husband took a little camping trip over the Thanksgiving weekend with some friends.  Here is what she had to say…

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we stayed at Cape Disappointment State Park with friends.  When we went to check in, I noticed the gal helping us was wearing what looked like hand knit fingerless gloves.  When I asked if she knit them, she said she had, and that there was a great yarn shop in Ilwaco, just a short distance away.

On the Friday, my friend and I went for a visit.  The store is called Purly Shell, and the owner, Heather, was very nice and let me take photos and ask her some questions.  She is a spinner and has her own handspun in the shop. She has it displayed on the walls hanging in nets, which I thought was quite clever, as Ilwaco is a fishing town.  The Christmas tree has a couple of Wingspan shawls that are draped like garland, also fun and creative.  The business also carries brands that you would recognize as well as her specialty dyes.

I bought a beautiful hand dyed yarn from a Portland area dyer that she had.  The color way I got is called University of Washington but the colors are more subdued than typical UW colors.  I’m anxious to see how it knits up!

Now on to the 2016 LYS report.  Every January I report on the yarn shops.  Startups open, shops close, and shops certainly move around…but here is how the numbers shake out for 2016.  We started 2016 with 1,089 yarn shops and finished 2016 with 1034 shops…that is a deficit of 55 yarn shops.  When I started America’s Knitting in August of 2007 we had 1,445 yarn shops with a decline every year since.  Having a discussion of why the LYS is in decline, takes on many forms — an over saturation of the market? — a decline in the craft? — a tightening economy where folks have less disposable income?  You will have to give this some thought and decide for yourself as to why local yarn shops are on the decline.

One thing I do know, when you support small business of the local yarn shop, you are directly impacting families and communities.  They are open for us daily with their commitment to the craft.  They teach and build community through classes and open knit groups – you meet your friends at the local yarn shop.  With a store front, you can see and touch the yarn, and see how it knits up into samples.  With a local yarn shop you can be inspired!

America’s Knitting is a yarn shop registry with a heart!  We humanize yarn shops, so they can be remembered through stories, pictures and people, not merely data!  I help yarn shops tell their story.  You can have 12 yarn shops in a major city and they are all different, because they are owned by different people with a different story.

If you visit a local yarn shop on your travels, please take a few snaps and email them over with a few lines~

Yarnhouse Studio

Kathie Malcher, one of our roving reporters, traveled to Alabama in October of this year.  Here is what she sent me:

Mary –

I was in Auburn, Alabama the last weekend in October. On Saturday, the 29th, I stopped into the Yarnhouse Studio in Opelika.  It serves Opelika and Auburn.  The owner, Jan, said that it was the only yarn shop for 90 miles.  It is located in beautiful, historic downtown Opelika.  It is owned by 2 sisters and they have over 100 years of combined knitting experience. The day that I visited, Jan was working so I got to meet her.  She is the person in the picture that you see. 
The store looks like it is small when you come to their front door, but, believe me, it is not – the store has 3 large rooms and they dye their own yarn right in the store.  I believe that their hand dyed yarn came in all weights.  There is no other indie dyer in the area.  Yarn lines that they carry are – Cascade, Berroco, Brown Sheep, Baah, Blue Heron, Cestari, Classic Elite, Done Roving, Juniper Moon, Malabrigo, Shibui and others – a great selection of quality yarns.  They cater to knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers and felters.
A delightful shop – great lighting – and friendly people.  Stop by if you are ever in the area.
Thanks,
Kathie
20161029_130504Thank you Kathie — you are always so good to remember America’s Knitting, and help us out with a peek into yarn shops around the country.  I used to live in Montgomery, Alabama when I was a child.  I loved the south, the people are so warm.  You did a great job, and this shop looks right up my alley!  Click on any of these photo to take a closer look. Please support our local yarn shops~ 20161029_130537

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!

Brooklyn Tweed’s Arbor & Charity Knitting at the Churchmouse

Last week Arbor was released by Brooklyn Tweed!  It was everywhere on social media, and I was curious.  Worsted spun construction, what does this mean…I’d never heard of it before.  I had seen the color selection, and in the photos, the yarn looked soft.  Is that possible for something to look soft.  Well anyway, fortunately for me a local yarn shop, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, carries the full Brooklyn Tweed collection — so I decided to take my camera, and drive to Bainbridge Island and check out this yarn for myself.

I love that Jared’s yarn is made in the United States.  It really means a lot to me.  I’ve enjoyed the Shelter, Loft & Quarry.  I have never knit with Plains (yet).  So, dk weight, I wondered if it would have the same construction as the others, but no.  There are 30 colors from which to choose, and it breaks down like this: 50 grams | 145 yards | DK weight

  • 100% Montana & South Dakota-grown Targhee wool
  • Dyed in Saco, Maine. Spun in Springvale, Maine

Here is where the story shifts a bit… while I was there at Churchmouse, there was a large gathering at the table.  These women where very busy.  There was a real cohesiveness about this group; it wasn’t like a class.  They were a happy collective, working together in a focused fashion to an end goal.  There, I’ve described what I saw.  This was the Charity Knitting Group.  Churchmouse has a charity knitting group that meets every third Thursday of every month!  In chatting with Carrie Trapp, Churchmouse employee and group leader, she told me that the group started in 2002, and has become very philanthropic.  They disburse items to probably three different groups at any given time; from men’s and women’s shelters in Seattle, to the street people.  They were busy knitting hats and felted bags, but I believe they knit different things at different times.  They do the knitting, and there are others that help with the disbursement.  In the little felted bags, they even include toiletries.

I was amazed and humbled.  The fruit of their generosity is abundant.  During this time of harvest and thanksgiving, these women are to be applauded!  Thank you to the Churchmouse for sowing the seed of charity.

In closing, I didn’t purchase any Arbor yet — as you all know, it’s the year of the baby for me, and I have a grandson to knit for!  You can click on any of the photos to see a larger version~

 

Sight Unseen

Where to begin…..

This is a busy time for me, and it has been for a while now.  My husband & I are building a new home, in our spare time.  It’s been over a year now, and our money is and has been stretched thin.  LUCKILY, my friends have had my back.

My friends took a trip to Skagit Valley this spring to check out the tulips.  I, had to work, and wasn’t able to go.  To bad too, because they visited Wild Fibers in Mount Vernon, Washington.  The interesting thing is…..I’ve covered this store before.  It seems that whenever somebody visits this shop, they take pictures and tell me all about it.  I, myself, have never been there…..but if people love the store, I will cover it a hundred times…..WHY? because, these stores change, just like any other store with the seasons, staff, and product.

So, if you haven’t been to a yarn shop in a while, go check them out again!  Some day, I am going to get to this shop myself!  All the pictures are courtesy of my friend Ann Poor – thank you Ann for thinking of me….and they loved the store very much!

 

Sin City Knit Shop

One of the shops listed on America’s Knitting yarn shop directory, is Sin City Knit Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada!  The America’s Knitting website is also supported by our Facebook page and our Ravelry group.  Through these various social media outlets (we’re on Twitter too), we meet different people.  Along the way, last April, I met Frances.  She was on a business trip to Las Vegas, Nevada!

Here she is, in front of the store.  I remember that she was tired and a little stressed from her work trip and was anxious to check out the local yarn shops.  I also remember her explaining, needing a little help on her project that she packed for the trip.  Frances was able to get to the yarn shop in her down/off time, they were very kind and helpful, and she was happy.  As it turned out….she needed to rip out the project and start again.  Still feeling a little frazzled from the work schedule, she decided to purchase a new project to work on, and save a recast-on of her project, for after she got home.  She was so happy with her visit to Sin City Knit Shop, she returned for a second visit, before her journey home.

I love so many things about this story — I love that Frances needs her needlework to help her decompress and relieve her stress.  I love that it keeps her company when she has to travel for work.  I loved that there was a nearby yarn shop on her travels and that America’s Knitting was able to help her out.  I love that she was able to venture out and visit a knit shop community.  That’s what yarn shops are – they are company, they are community, they are your support system when you need help.  They are a sanctuary!  Sin City Knit Shop was a treat for Frances during a stressful work week away on business.

Of course, Frances sent me these photos you see, but she also sent me her story; granted, it got deleted in my text messages on my phone, I’M SORRY FRANCES.  If you are out there Frances – thank you for sharing your story and your pictures.  Please comment on this story if I left anything out.

It’s summer and people are traveling…for work, for family obligation, for reunions, for fun and leisure with family, for vacation.  If you are out and about and visiting a yarn shop, please send me some snaps and a few lines.  We are interested in what goes on…..

As always,

Mary*