Friday, March 30, 2007

Boston Knitters - You Too Can Represent!

Some of you may have heard our podcast interview a couple of weeks back with Peta Bailey, founder of Yarn Safaris. Yarn Safaris is based in metro Boston and organzies bus trips to fiber related events, yarn stores, etc. They made their maiden voyage to WEBS this past Saturday and I think our staff had as much fun as they did.

Well, due to customer demand, Yarn Safaris is offering a trip back to WEBS for The Yarn Harlot's appearance. Just think, catch the bus with other knitters and Harlot lovers, cruise out to beautiful Northampton, enjoy some time at the store, attend Stephanie's talk, come back to WEBS for the booksigning and shopping and then, just relax and let the Yarn Safari bus get you back home to the Boston area.

This is your chance to REPRESENT Boston knitters! I am a native Bostonian, so please don't disappoint! Get complete information about the trip by clicking here or on the Yarn Safaris link above. I hope to see many of you out here on May 30th!


P.S. For those of you making your way here on your own, be it from Boston or elsewhere, I am working on discounted hotel arrangements. More info should be available next week.

UPDATE/NOTE: For those of you coming via Yarn Safaris - your registration for the bus trip is your ticket to the event. You DO NOT NEED TO REGISTER WITH US. We have spots set aside for Yarn Safaris. Please do not double register - that would take a spot away from someone else!!! THANKS!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Projects

How is it already Wednesday night? Because, that really means it's already Thursday. . . .time is moving much too quickly. This week has been crazy! Today alone was a series of meetings, recording this week's radio show/podcast, an interview with Yarn Market News (an industry publication), evaluating some incredible new yarns to add to our own Valley Yarns line. . . . it was a good day, but non-stop. Have I ever told you I love my job??? I do.

I read Yarn Harlot's blog when I got home. . . . that's what I do, I sit with the kids while they are doing homework/practicing piano, etc., and catch up on my blog reading, while overseeing what they are doing, helping them and encouraging as needed. She commented that she's leaving tomorrow for 7 days and struggling to decide which project(s) to take along. I had to giggle a bit. I faced this same challenge in packing for our Florida trip, when I went to Stitches West last month and TNNA in January. Now I have to admit, I tend to overpack. I'm a combination of "what if. . . there's rain, it's cold, it's warm, it snows, there's a tsunami, hurricane, earthquake", you get the idea. Admittedly, I also like my "stuff" with me. I cannot plan meals a week in advance, nor can I decide what I am going to "feel" like wearing. This tendency transcends to my knitting.

For vacation, I took our next radio/podcast knitalong project which has not been behaving for me, a project for our next catalog and scarf that is part of my "projects that were started and need to be completed before I start any new projects" New Year's initiative (please, no giggling). In total, I took those three projects, seven skeins of yarn and all of the necessary accessories. I had enough knitting to last me, well, much more than 9 days, even if I spent all 9 doing nothing but knitting. I had yarn in my carry-on bag and the "extra" packed in my suitcase. I am not a fast knitter, nor am I as dedicated as most of you are. I took all wool, wool blends, alpaca, etc. . . to Florida. I know, my intelligence is overwhelming you right now. Knitting Silk Garden, by the pool, with 2 inches of sunscreen on me, two wet boys and an umbrella drink was not necessarily the smartest decision I've ever made.

So, I pose the question. . . how/what do you pack your knitting when you are travelling? How do you decide? How are you sure you have enough, both quantity and interest? I am curious. . .. . .


Monday, March 26, 2007

Back to Life, Back to Reality

That was what today was and that song has been in my head since I woke up this morning. It was a pretty good day actually. It's not like we had completely disconnected while away - that is just not possible for Steve and I, right or wrong, it's just not. If I had stayed off of email for the entire 9 days away, I would have had at least 1,000 emails to sift through and that is with no real spam to speak of. We also spent part of yesterday and last night easing ourselves back in a little bit further. There are so many great things going on at the store and with the business itself - it's a bit overwhelming, but exciting at the same time.

I still owe you all some major catching up, so let's see how far I can get today. I think I actually need to pull out my calendar and go back to the first part of the month. Although I operate with a fair amount of technology in my life, the one thing I cannot convert to is a PDA/electronic calendar. I need the real deal. I need to see the entire month laid out in front of me. I don't have any sophisticated color coding system for business vs. family stuff, but I just need to see it all. If anything should happen to this calendar, I would have to curl up in the fetal position on the side of the road and whimper. I have misplaced it a couple of times, even left it at home (safely, but accidently) and have been distraught all day. It's kind of like forgetting to wear a watch (if you normally wear one). I have a more dramatic comparison, but I think it would show too much of my neurotic side, so I'll spare you all.

Okay, now I see, my last post before yesterday was on 3/2. That was the day the boys got out of school for Spring Break - three weeks of no school. That was the start of the biggest band-aided childcare set-up you have ever seen. It all worked out, but in hindsight, it's a miracle.

As the term wrapped up, we had a multitude of events at our boys' school, including Jonathan's debut in Hansel and Gretel as a Gingerbread boy (that's him on the right).

Jackson had the 2nd grade Author's Tea that same day, just several hours and another round trip drive later.

Steve and I were also prepping to be away, getting as much work done as possible. To add to the chaos, we had agreed just a few short weeks ago (literally, three weeks, tops) to host an event with Kate Jacobs, author of The Friday Night Knitting Club on the 12th at noon. I was thrilled that Kate was able to fit us into her whirlwind schedule, but I was worried sick that nobody would come. Noon. On a Monday. In March. My sole goal was to not be embarrassed. Events like this are like planning a party - will people come? What if they don't? What if this New York Times, best-selling author treks all the way from New Hampshire to come to WEBS and we have three people show up? Again, think fetal position and whimpering. But as usual, our beloved customers did not fail us.

In fact, the day was one of the most insane non-holiday Mondays we've had in awhile. It was wild! We had a couple of groups in shopping. We had some serious weavers in shopping as well.

And most importantly, we had a great event! Kate is an absolutely wonderfully, engaging speaker. She spoke about the book, read a bit and answered a bevy of questions.
Then she graciously signed books for everyone and chatted with them one on one. There wasn't a book left in the place when she was done.

Everyone enjoyed some yummy lunch and great couple of hours together. I truly love our customers.

Thanks for a great day Kate!

From there it was onto coloring Steve's hair, a full staff meeting, a fall '07 buy meeting, recording two radio shows/podcasts and meeting with the owner of one of our largest suppliers to preview some possible new additions to their line. Some other details to wrap and then, it was time to pack. . . . . You will never see pictures of what we lugged to Florida. I try to be the sophisticated traveller, but with kids, there's always the "what if" factor. Steve will laugh when he reads this - me blaming my overpacking on the kids. I will not admit how many pairs of shoes/sandals I brought for myself. Never! I'm just trying to do my part to save the airlines from bankruptcy by paying for my extra-heavy bags.

Meanwhile, we had spring yarn coming in almost daily before, during and after our trip. Please, just check out the New section of the website to see what has come in. New closeouts too! I received an email from our store manager Karen while away asking if there were any yarns she could discontinue to make room for the new yarns that were still coming!

So, I think that brings me current to the trip. I'll share a few highlights and fun pictures with you all tomorrow and then we'll be even.

Oh and I"ll update you on my knitting as well. That's as schizophrenic as the rest of my life.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Do Blondes Have More Fun? Steve?

Okay, so as promised am I beginning to catch the blog up on the zillions of things that have been happening. First off, after I posted last night I went to check out any new comments. That's when I noticed I had not posted since March 2nd!!! I am so sorry! Where in the world did the month of March go to??

As I write this blog, I am listening to my friend Guido's podcast He went to NYC to represent at the Harlot event on Thursday and his latest episode is all about the day. Further comments on that day (which I missed because we were in Florida) in a later post. I told you there was a lot to catch up on.

So, the question has been posed, "Do blondes have more fun". For those of you who read regularly, you know that we had a challenge put out for Stitches West. We always have a sales goal when we go to shows, but this year, we also had our "stretch" goal or "there's no way we could do X" number. The deal was, that if we reached the "No Way" goal, Steve would dye his hair blonde. Now for those of you who know Steve, he has VERY dark hair, so this was something that was going to be pretty dramatic.

Needless to say, we fell, just a tad short of our "No Way", but we came SO CLOSE!! So, we came to a compromise - Steve would get highlights. Now, I'm not one to fight mother nature at every possible turn, but I know my limits and always seek professional assistance. I have never used an at-home hair coloring/highlighting kit.

We had the kit as soon as we got home from the show, but we only had about three weeks at home between West and vacation - life was crazy. Just before we left we had a staff meeting and decided the night before that Steve had to take the plunge. I think everyone had pretty much given up that he would actually let me do anything to his hair.

Now I have to say, the name of the kit was so ridiculous. It was a kit specificially FOR MEN:

I have a hard time believing that a "woman's" kit would have instructions "before you move a muscle". Maybe I'm wrong, but seems unlikely.

Ready to go:

It was a pretty funny scene at our house. Kids in bed, me coloring Steve's hair and grilling dinner out on the deck at the same time. He was a great sport, even when the grill ran out of gas (no worries, we always have a back up tank). I can take the empty tank off, but I cannot, for the life of me, reattach the full tank, so there was Steve, highlight goop in his hair, no shirt on (he did put on a coat) on the deck attaching the tank to the grill for me. He refused to let me photograph that moment, but I do have some photos to share.

Here's Steve "in process".

By the time he was "done", Steve was "done" for the night. Here he is the following morning, post Staff Meeting:

Yes, he turned more copper-ish than blonde, but after 30 minutes, even I was starting to get a little nervous. He did get a hair cut just before we left for Florida and the gal who cuts his hair had a minor meltdown when she saw his hair. She put in a bit of toner to calm it down, but the wonderful Florida sunshine has enhance the highlights once again.

So, kudos to Steve for being a trooper, many thanks to our staff at WEST for working so hard to almost hit the "No Way" number and most importantly THANK YOU to our faboo West Coast customers.

I'm sorry this post took so long, I know many of you have been waiting and had lost faith, but I promise to be back on my blogging game from here on out!


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Vacation is Over!

Hi Everyone!

Sorry that I have not updated the blog. We've been in Florida with the boys for a little R&R for the last 9 days. Prior to that, I desperately tried to post, but I had about 3 months worth of work/life things to complete before we left. Steve and I did our best job ever of leaving work behind on this trip. That's not to say we've been out of touch and not doing some business, but it really was kept to a minimum for once.

I have so many pictures and stories and updates to give, but I first must get through the 10 tons of laundry awaiting me. My plan is to not overwhelm you, but start where I left off and catch you all up on as much as I can as fast as I can including Steve going blonde, events, new yarns, happenings and life.

Our trip was awesome and very much needed. I was feeling very tired and overwhelmed with everything and now I am ready to tackle it all. Now if only the weather here in New England would cooperate so I can keep my tan going. . . . given we're expecting 1-3 inches of snow tonight, it's not looking good.

More tomorrow.


Friday, March 2, 2007

Guess Who's Coming to WEBS?

Wednesday, May 30th
6:00pm @ The Clarion Hotel Ballroom
then back to WEBS for a book signing & more Harlot-y fun!!

Mark your calendars NOW!
Request the day off NOW!
Call your friends and relations!

More details to follow. . . . .

I am so excited I can barely stand it!!!! This will be THE coolest event of the year - DO NOT MISS IT!


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Wild, Wild, West

Stitches West was definitely wild! Getting there and back was - frustrating. My trip out turned into a 22 hour odyssey, while Steve and Nick spent a lovely evening together in Minneapolis on the way home. Did you know when you have to stay overnight due to missing the last connection of the night, your luggage doesn't get to go with you?

But everything in between was awesome. We had so much fun seeing all of our fabulous West Coast customers and meeting so many new ones. Now, I am sure you are all anxiously awaiting a few pictures, right? I mean, that's part of the fun of reading blogs - seeing pictures of bloggers knitting, travels, tradeshows, etc. Yeah, well, that's what you'd be seeing right about now, except for one tiny little problem. No, no, I did not forget my camera, but I DID forget the memory chip. Left it here in my picture printer. Yup, I was about as thrilled as all of you are right now. So unfortunately, there will be no photos of our amazing booth or the line that stretched the length of it and around the corner on Saturday. No shots of some of the really cool projects that we saw or the fabulous people we saw. Nope, nothing.

But there will be a lovely picture of Steve in a day or two with a slighly new look :) Stay tuned and thank you West Coast shoppers!

The one picture I am so unhappy I couldn't take was that of the Blue Moon booth on Sunday. It was practically empty - there was barely a skein of yarn left. Cirilia and Sarah were shopping in their booth on Saturday just before the show opened and were nearly trampled when the doors opened and throngs of knitters stampeded to the Blue Moon booth. I am in awe of the power of the sock. . . . especially Socks that Rock. Simply amazing.

We had a faboo dinner with Jonelle, Joe and Kat from SWTC on Saturday night. I even scored a copy of Jonelle's new book - Purls Forever. It's part pattern book, part story book. Jonelle talks about her family and their passion for knitting and crocheting, as well as each other. The patterns are based on heirloom pieces passed down in Jonelle's family for generations and have been recreated in SWTC yarns. If you are a fan of SWTC, you will love this book, if you aren't already, you will be!
A quick apology to everyone who listens to the podcast. We were given the wrong disk last week. It has been fixed and the latest show featuring my interview with Ann Hood is now available to download. This week, we are talking to Betsy Perry, V.P. of Sales & Marketing for Classic Elite Yarns. Thanks to everyone who came by the booth and complimented us on the podcast. We were a bit overwhelmed by how many people are actually listening to the show and reading this blog!

Even though I don't have pictures from the show, I DO have pictures of some of the goodies I brought back. My first stop was of course, the Brooks Farm booth. Love, love, love them. I picked up three skeins of Riata in this lovely colorway. I am going to use it for a 2nd top down sweater (guess I need to get that first one going).

Next, I scored this cool bag. All handmade. I love it. the lining has a drawstring closure, comparable to the Lantern Moon drawstring boxes. This covers and protects the contents of the bag. I just love the colors. Picked one up for Linda our customer service manager in bright oranges and pinks.

Then it was onto the California Cashmere Company booth. It was a small little booth that instantly blocked out the insanity of the show floor. They had relaxing music playing, a nice oriental rug on the floor and the most beautiful, domestic cashmere yarn, finished garments and kits. All were packaged beautifully. I indulged myself with two skeins of the 4-ply in black. Kirsten and Mary in Customer Service each got a skein of the 2-ply, which should be enough for a scarf.

All of these folks work hard getting us ready for the show, so I always like to try to bring home a few thank you gifts for them. The picture doesn't do the yarn justice. Just trust me when I say it is incredible!

I do have a one more funny story to add, that builds on my last post. One of the other vendors who we are friendly with called today. He said that as he was going through security at the San Jose airport, he was stopped and questioned about the large amount of cash he was carrying. He explained that he was a consumer tradeshow and the security people (and now San Jose police) asked what kind of show? He said a knitting show. They said "WHAT??????" and then proceeded to interrogate him further and run a check to see if he had any outstanding warrants - unbelievable.

Lastly, in all of my airport and airplane time, I was able to finish knitting another Vermont Felted Bag, but this time in solids. I still need to knit the handles and sew the bag together and then felt it, but the major work is done. I am quite pleased with the colors and can't wait to see how it looks once it is felted. I had quite a few people ask me what I was making and most were very perplexed by the concept of felting.

I've cast-on for the next Ready, Set, Knit! knitalong which is going to be a top-down sweater. I've never knit a top-down sweater, but I am fairly confident in the pattern. I'm using Noro Silk Garden in this beautiful colorway.

I just need to get a good head start since I am not the fastest knitter on the planet. Plus my reward will not only be a new sweater for myself, but I will then allow myself to knit the new cashmere!

Off to Jackson's "Author's Tea"!


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