Its time to make some changes. I’m slowly moving content and patterns from my website to this blog and to Ravelry. I’m focusing on wholesale yarn sales and getting back to more weaving explorations. So, this will be the place to watch in the future.
Archive for the ‘doing business’ Category
Trunk Show! Saturday, Feb 25, 6:30-9pm
Uncommon Threads, 293 State St., Los Altos, 94022
(Just 15 minutes from Stitches West, lots of free parking) 10% off all Handwerks yarns this evening
Join us for a great evening enjoying hand dyed yarns, silk, cashmere blends, superwash merino, sock yarns, lace, refreshments and more with local dyer Laura Schickli of Handwerks! Enter to win a gift basket and meet designer Jocelyn Blair with her patterns and many gorgeous samples.
No reservation necessary, just come and join the fun!
TNNA has been an amazing exhausting whirlwind experience. This is the second TNNA I’ve been to and I keep learning new things about the yarn industry. It’s so interesting to see the new trends (think sparkle, ruffles, cotton blends and the 1970’s) as well as meet young designers and other indie dyers. I’ve picked up some new ideas for rigid heddle weaving and knitting classes and ways to improve my business. I’m really excited about teaching weaving and hopI’ll be able to inspire a few fellow knitters to expand their repretoire . I’ve crafted with yarn most of my life, and now working in the business has given me a new perspective. I’m still sorting out how I fit in and what my goals are. In the meantime it’s fun to be with liked minded people and imagine the possibilities.
With 2012 right around the corner and plans for the One Skein Club in the works I thought it would be fun to get to know the designer behind the patterns. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jocelyn Blair, a prolific knitter and designer, over the past couple of years. Here in her own words:
Did you like crafts as a kid? What was your favorite toy?
Yes! I loved the gadgets. I learned to tat with shuttles. I adored my little plastic sewing machine. I made tons of potholders using those loops and I had a Barbie knitting machine (maybe that’s why I like sock machines so much).
How did you get started as a designer?
Well it was mostly an accident, but I suppose it really was a natural transition from knitting other designs. I was always intrigued at how things came together. I have quite a collection of stitch pattern books and always want to try some stitch patterns out on socks. Socks are the most satisfying things to try out stitch patterns. I love knitting socks!
Do you do other crafts/arts besides knitting?
I can sew, my Mom was a seamstress so I learned that first. I’ve made some quilts and I’ve done embroidery, I still have a sampler to complete from when I first got married! I learned to spin and weave after I learned to knit. And then there’s the sock and flatbed machines.
Are you ever surprised at what you are doing now?
I’m always surprise at what I’m doing! Especially when I actually finish a project!
Do you have a favorite pattern/design? Why is it your favorite? What is your favorite item to design?
The last one, which was Mesquite Flat, but it’s always the most recent. My most favorite item to design would probably be socks, but a close second is triangle shawlettes – I want to do more of those!!!
What is your approach to design? What comes first: pattern stitch, idea of an item,…?
A theme. I find you have to limit your stimulus. Kinda like having a big box of crayons, if you have too many options it’s harder to settle on something. For the club I usually wait until I know the yarn, the color and the destination. For the 2012 club I’ll have to decide the item first and that’s going to depend a lot on the yarn itself.
What is your biggest challenge?
Once I have the item then I try to find a pattern stitch – that’s the hardest part I think. For socks it’s a matter of working the stitch into the sock. The same is true for non-sock patterns as well. But some things will be more important than others . Repeatability is very important for socks both in row count and stitch count. For cowls, scarves and shawls you have to figure in the shape and which way the pattern will repeat.
What is next for you and your work?
Handwerks 2012 One Skein Yarn Travel Club!
Do you have any advice for new designers?
Go for it. You’ll be amazed at what you can come up with. It really helps you become a better knitter and observer of all things.
Where can we find more of your designs and hear about what you do?
Ravelry is the best place to find all my designs. My RavID is “fiberdev” you can also get to my blog from my profile.
I just finished dyeing 100% cashmere yarn for the fall yesterday as the stock market was falling. How ironic to be handling such a luxurious and valuable fiber as the economy takes a downturn. It almost seemed inappropriate to have so much luxury in my hands. But then I thought of the comfort small things can bring to us in times of upset or worry. Each small skein is so soft, soothing and lovely to hold. It connects me to the remote places in the world where goats produce the fine soft undercoat that makes up this irresistibly luxurious yarn and the small mill in the UK that spun this unique long-staple cashmere into such a high quality sleek yarn. Comfort in holding it, knitting it and supporting the people (and animals!) along the way that created it. Timeless. Cashmere gems. Black Pearl, Amethyst, Jade, Sapphire, Teal Tourmaline.
Lately, I’ve been getting more requests from customers for an additional skein to match a yarn that they purchased previously from me or from one of my retail vendors. This has happened to me too. I completely understand this dilemma; you buy one skein that you love with no intended purpose, later you decide what you want to knit only to find that you really needed 2 skeins! Then comes the mad search for another skein with the same dyelot and the worry that the skeins won’t match and your projected will be ruined forever!
Up until now I have not been putting dyelots on my yarns. I generally dye in small batches of 5-10 skeins per colorway. However, as my business has grown I am doing more lots of 10 and some lots of 20 of my most popular colorways. I’m keeping more dyed yarns in stock, at the ready, to send out on a moments notice. This is all good!
So, I’ve decided to start writing “dye date lots” or “dye lots” on my labels. They will be in a “monthdayyear” format. I hope it will help with
identifying and locating similar skeins. (I don’t want anyone to confuse the date with an “expiration date”, luckily I have found my yarns never “expire”!)
The dye techniques I use create variations between skeins even in the same pan, so the dye date is not a guarantee that the skeins are identical, just that they came out of the same batch. It has never been my goal to mass produce large numbers of identical skeins. I instead love the subtle nuances of each skein as it comes out of the dye bath. Overall, my colorways are consistent as I create my own color formulas and dye to the same formula each time I dye a new batch of yarn. I keep careful records of my process so that I can recreate the look of the original batch. Some of the yarns with multiple colors can have more variation between skeins as they depend on the movement of the dyes in the water to create tertiary tones. As always, if you know you will need more than one skein for a project ahead of time it is best to let me know when you order and I will do my best to send out similar skeins.
Thank you to all my wonderful customers for helping me come to this decision. I love the feedback and I truly appreciate your business.
I’m forever reorganizing and tweaking what I do. I started Spring Cleaning, that lead to going through closets, the garage, the attic, selling off unused equipment, rearranging the studio furniture and rethinking what I do and how much time I really have to do…… or finish that project… and then do I even want to finish that?
I find it refreshing and exhausting at the same time to “go through stuff”. So once I finished looking at and sorting all the personal yarns and projects I decided to do the same with the “business” stuff. I’m tidying up my website, consolidating some categories and putting some yarns that I’m no longer going to carry on clearance.
Cranking out socks on my csm is going on the back burner for a while and I’ve got both looms warped and ready for weaving. I have plans for some new knitting projects and yarn colorways. A little shifting of priorities and focus is a nice way to move in to Spring.
Winter garden ready for harvest:
Here it my Fall Newsletter in case you missed the announcements – I love having all the news listed together –
What’s New for Fall 2010:
Handwerks Classic Dk was recently featured in the Fall 2010 issue of Twist Collective (http://twistcollective.com/2010/fall/magazinepage_049.php). Designer Faina Goberstein used Handwerks Classic Dk in Tropical Seas in her gorgeous Crown of Leaves hat.
Independent designer, Hunter Hammersen , released “Gramercy”, a lovely lacey sock, in Handwerks Sock Plus 8 (formerly Sport Sock) in London Fog on http://www.violentlydomestic.com/
The new”Knitting Knee-Highs: Sock Styles from Classic to Contemporary”, by Barb Brown, from Krause Publications is now available for pre-orders on Amazon.com. Brown’s book features several Handwerks yarns in sure to be favorite sock patterns.
Sock Plus 8, formerly “Sport Sock” is coming in new larger 400 yard/120 gram skeins, the perfect size for one pair of socks. With the new larger skeins, will be a newly expanded color line.
Silky Sock is on its way to being a favorite staple for many Handwerks customers. New colors in this versatile 50/50 silk/merino yarn will be coming this fall.
Handwerks is available for Trunk Shows and Custom Orders.
My new favorite book is The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design and I am not even specifically a knitwear designer! I just got this book earlier this week and I’m more than half way through it. I’ve picked up so many tips about doing business, social media, contracts and advertising I can’t wait to finish reading the rest. After the second chapter I got up and joined twitter as Handwerksyarn (just have to think of interesting things to tweet now!).
Sometimes a book just hits the spot and this one is doing it for me. I’d recommend it to anyone doing any sort of business in the textile/yarn/knitting world. It has great information and is an accessable fun read.