Monday, April 30, 2007
As many of you know, we sold out the event. Yup, 375 spots filled in a heart beat. So, out of pure FEAR that we would end up with a riot on our hands, we cancelled the Clarion Hotel (they are not happy with us. . . . .) and we are now booked at the Calvin Theater in downtown Northampton. It is a beautiful, beautiful theater with a seating capacity of 1000ish. Hah! See if you can fill that! So, registration is back open - we still need you to register so we have a headcount. No change in time - the Harlot goes on at 6:00pm! (Note - do not panic that our "private event" is not listed yet.)
With the move to the larger (read more expensive) location and the fact that we had to break our contract with the Clarion (read - we had to pay a penalty) we will not be serving food. It goes against every event planning bone in my body, but it has to be. More people and no food seemed better than leaving people out, just so a mere 375 of us could enjoy Stephanie AND munchies. . . .I know you will all understand. So please, plan accordingly. There are lots of places in Northampton to dine from fast food, to casual, to ethnic to fancy. If you don't have time before the event to eat, you should feel confident that you will have time afterwards - we will be moving the book signing line at the store along as fast as possible, but it will take time to get through everyone, so feel free to take a 1/2 hour to stop and grab a bite.
Also, this event is FREE, but we are hoping to help out a local charity. We often do this with our free events. We are partnering with the Northampton Survival Center and their Kid's Summer Food Program. The program provides meals for school age children in 16 area towns that normally received subsidized breakfasts and lunches at school. During the summer there is no school for these kids and thus, little or no food. The link to the items they need is here and we are asking to bring what you can. If the budget is tight and a jar of peanut butter and bottle of jellly is all you can do, that's great. If you can bring more, we (and the kids) would be deeply appreciative.
More info to come regarding parking and other fun things!
Sunday, April 29, 2007
So, the day after the SWTC event at the store, we launched full force into meeting with our sales reps to see/buy Fall '07 yarns. It is and exciting and grueling process. This past week has been much of the same. The new yarns, patterns and marketing programs are looking great for Fall.
We've recorded two great podcasts - one interviewing Amy Singer, founder of Knitty.com and author of the recently released No Sheep For You. We LOVE her new book. It is incredibly well written and is loaded with lots of great information and informative tips. This past week, we had the pleasure to talk with Trisha Malcolm, former editor of Vogue Knitting. Coming up this week is Linda of Blue Sky Alpacas, one of our favorite yarn brands. Be sure to tune in!
Besides the craziness at work, life at home has been rather frenzied as well. The boys are both playing baseball, separate teams, separate schedules :) Jackson is playing spring hockey as well and has informed us that he wants to play lacrosse next year. I said "sure" as long as you can afford to hire a driver! He didn't quite know what to make of that. Oh, and there was a piano recital in the midst of all of this too.
We did have a couple of curve balls thrown at us this week (no pun intended). Steve landed in the ER on Thursday after three days of intense headaches (he is not a headache person at all). Fearing the worst, the CAT Scan found a severe sinus infection. I was beyond relieved. Three days in bed, some heavy duty antibiotics and painkillers and he's just about back to his old self. I am grateful - I have maybe 36-48 hours of "nursing" in me and I was definitely stretched to the limit this go around :) We were suppose to be in Boston this weekend to celebrate our 12th Anniversary. It's where we met, where we were married and was "home" for quite a number of years. It's still one of my favorite places. We'll hopefully be able to reschedule the escape and celebration for sometime soon.
I have promised pictures of the knitalong sweaters that Pixie and I are working on and here they are:
The top picture is my sweater. I am about two-thirds of the way through the first sleeve. I'm using Di.Ve Autunno, which is distributed by Cascade. If I haven't mentioned it lately, I LOVE THIS YARN! It is so, so, so soft. Even Jonathan, Mr. Its-Too-Spikey-Yarn-Critic gave it his "non-spikey" seal of approval. Maybe we should create a little logo for him and we can attach it to the super soft yarns that pass his tough standards. Anyway, I am not doing any arm decreases, partially from laziness and partially because I think with my yarn choice, it will have a nice drape when done. I am still toying with a small black edging or ruffle in something like Kidsilk Haze at the cuffs and hem. . . .we'll see. (NOTE: Camera is not behaving. Will retake this photo at the store for better color. . . .ugh).
Pixie is using Valley Yarns Amherst, which is pretty darn soft in it's own right. She is also going to do an edging, although I think a bit more aggressively than I plan and is going to use Misti Alpaca Hand Dyed. Not sure of the color way, but it looks AWESOME with the Amherst. (NOTE: The picture I took of Pixie's sweater is "corrupt". I will retake on Tuesday when she is in - she emailed me earlier to tell me that she has already added the border and it looks great. Stay Tuned!!!)
We will wrap up the sweater this week, although I won't be done with the knitting. I think we'll kick off another knitalong, probably a small project that will be finished up without Pixie. She is jetting off to France for the month of June, during which time I will have some special guests filling in. Once Pixie is back, we'll kick-off another knitalong. Any suggestions? I am considering the Baby Surprise Jacket and/or a log cabin blanket (I'm doing one with or without you all!). Please leave your thoughts in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Not hurt feelings if your suggestion isn't used this time.
I am also still plugging away at a project for the next catalog which needs to be completed soon! Several garments have arrived from our knitters over the past few days and they look amazing.
Speaking of NEW - we have a new Valley Yarn that just arrived. It hasn't even been put up on the web yet. It is NORTHAMPTON! Thirty gorgeous colors of 100% wool, the softest wool you can have without being a merino. There are 22 solids and 8 heathers. Yup, Steve let me get some heathers! This yarn is classic worsted weight, felts like a dream and will retail for $4.99, discountable! Oh, almost forgot, it has 240 yards on a 100gm pull skein. I will update the link as soon as it is on the website. In addition to buying all of the brands for fall, Steve and I are also working hard to bring additional new yarns in for Valley Yarns as well. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
Don't forget the WEBS Tent Sale! It's happening Saturday & Sunday, May 19th & 20th, rain or shine. Saturday will also feature our annual Fleece Market. We have 9 or 10 local shepards signed up and they will be selling their fleeces, yarns, etc. I know we have a llama coming and hopefully a few other animals will make an appearance as well.
Regarding The Yarn Harlot - we will be signing a contract for a new venue in the next day or two, so we are re-opening registration starting tomorrow. We can now fit upwards of 1,000 people, so folks, let's fill that space and represent!!!
Also, keep your eyes peeled in the store and on the website. In addition to the amazing yarns we are featuring in our Anniversary Sale, we will be marking down a huge list of yarns starting tomorrow. These are great yarns that either (a) have lived out their life and it's time to move on or (b) you guys just didn't like them as much as we thought you would. These yarns will be marked down 30% this week, 35% next week and 40% the following week and in the tent sale. Best selection will be early or you can take your chances and try to score bigger savings later on. No further discount on any of these yarns.
Tomorrow we are off to NENA - the New England Needle Arts tradeshow. It's a funny regional show that is held less than an hour from WEBS. It only happens once per year, rather than 2x like TNNA. Many of the major vendors come and although we've bought most of our fall yarns, we still like to go to see everyone, see some smaller vendors and just get out for the day.
Whew, I think that's it. I think I am officially caught up!
P.S. This is why I love where I live. The view from my deck tonight. This picture doesn't even do it justice.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Not to sound like a broken record, but I have to say the weather here in our neck of the woods is not helping anything. It's remained colder than average and just plain yucky. Plus, we had several days of Nor'easter hysteria leading into this weekend, including one "official" blurb that described the potential storm as "epic" and "100 year". . . . it's just plain disgusting. I feel awful for those folks who are flooded (more to follow on that topic). It's particularly discouraging because today in Massachusetts it is Patriot's Day. We are the only state that celebrates this holiday and it really only applies to the Boston Metro area. It has always been one of my favorite holidays, especially when I lived in the Boston area. It was a "bonus" day off. The Red Sox always play an 11 a.m. home game, the Boston Marathon is run and ends not far from Fenway, so you can potentially go to the game and then zip over to Boylston Street for the finish of the Marathon. The city always has a great vibe on this day and I miss it. But historically, it's usually nice weather - often the first really nice day of the spring. I've sat in the bleachers of Fenway many times underestimating the sunshine and ending up a bit crispy. Not today. I was glad to be hunkered down in my office by my trusty space heater.
We recorded a great podcast/show last week, interviewing Daphne Marinopoulos from The Fibre Company. It's available here to download/listen. This week's show will feature an interview with Amy Singer of Knitty.com and the new book No Sheep for You. We'll also be continuing work on our Deep Breath Top Down Sweater. We left no time for poor Pixie last week. We promise to have more time this week to talk about the sleeves. I am only two rows away from being ready to start the sleeves myself. I have been knitting like a fiend to catch up. Love my yarn, Autunno from Di.Ve/Cascade. My newest problem involves my needles. So, I"m nearly ready for the sleeves and need smaller circs. I am using Rosewood Colonials, which I love, love, love. I was at the store yesterday (way more on that to come) and went over to grab myself a pair of 16". There I stood, staring at the needle wall. Our HUGE, VAST, needle wall - the needle wall with nearly every knitting needle known to mankind (well, not quite, but you get the idea). Guess what we DON'T carry. BINGO! Rosewood Colonial 16" circs. I think, no biggie, I'll call Terry and Jim at Colonial and have them send me a pair. I did just that today and Jim was thrilled to send me the needles, but there is one problem. Their UPS depot is flooded (see - that weather is getting in my way again). So, with only two rounds to go, I will have to wait until at least Wednesday for my smaller needles to come. Yes, there are tricks around this, but having never knit a top down sweater before, I don't want to mess it up. It's coming out lovely so far. So wait I will. It's not like I don't have other projects to work on. . . . .
Which brings me to my next item. Two Words. Log Cabin.
I am a regular reader of January One's blog (and got to even meet her at Stitches East) and for those of you who also read her, you know she has been knitting mitred squares from the Mason Dixon book for awhile now. She is admittedly out of control. Although some folks have expressed getting bored with her continued mitre-ing, I for one have been fascinated. To a fault. While at the store for our event yesterday (more on that, just stay with me) I knit on my top down and perused the Mason Dixon book, which I probably haven't looked at since it first arrived. At about this time Dena arrives for the event with a project for our next catalog. A log cabin baby blanket using one of our yarns. It's incredible. I love it. I have to knit it. Then I'm back to my own knitting and flipping through M/D and come to their section on log cabin. I begin to get really, really twitchy. Poor Melissa was sitting next to me and I think she found it incredibly funny. I was babbling about log cabin. I'm off looking at colors, telling everyone my plan. Then Leslie Ann sees me. She asks what I'm up to. I tell her. That's when my future project was set in stone. She too is working on a log cabin blanket for a class she is teaching for us this summer. IT IS CROCHETED. Now, I am in need of oxygen. I am now completely obsessed with log cabin design. I have to finish the topdown sweater and then a catalog project but then - stand back!!! I cannot be held accountable for my actions. I saw the crocheted log cabin today - it's amazing.
Okay, breath. . . . . . really, I'm breathing. . . .
So yesterday, we had our Bootcamp for Socks event sponsored by Southwest Trading Company. This is what my drive to the store looked like:
I called Steve who was supervising the boys and their respective playdates. I said "Nobody is going to come, it's terrible out." His reply? "We just had two more people register 10 minutes ago. . . . " Once again, he was right. We had about 50 people trek to the store for the festivities. We had a learn to knit sock area, Melissa was our resident Sock Doc:
Who was even sporting her own Tofutsies Socks:
Now that's a "Team" player" You may see the pattern available in the future (crossing fingers and toes!). .. .
We gave out prizes, free samples of Tofutsies and samples of foot cream from a local woman:
Despite the weather, fun was had by all. This is what Northampton looked like as we were opening:
And a HUGE THANK YOU and HUGS to our amazing store staff that ignored the ugly weather and came in for the event (we are so lucky - we truly have the best of the best):
Look, even Steve made a guest appearance:
Told you I'd get you in the shirt one way or another Honey!
Our Anniversary Sale continues and the entire staff has been working incredibly hard. We're about 4 days out on shipping - not bad. I'll have some much anticipated shots in my next post.
I'll be posting more about the Yarn Harlot event in the next day or two. Lots to update everyone about.
P.S. Last but not least, last week we had a customer in who travels 52 weeks per year and knits along the way. The reason for the travelling? She has a national champion Coon Cat. She was in the store and brought him and his siblings in to visit. We are HUGE animal folks so were thrilled to meet this beauty:
This cat was suppose to be in Europe, but some glitch with the paperwork kept him stateside.
Just another day at WEBS. I didn't get pictures of the hula-hoopers that were in a few weeks ago. . .. thought it might be a bit over the top :)
Monday, April 9, 2007
So the Bunny came, but was nearly caught in the act. Had the candy and treasures for the boys' baskets in the back of the car and Jackson spied them and asked about it. I covered up quickly and changed the subject. At bedtime on Saturday night, he was sad and I asked what was wrong. He said "I want to ask about the Easter stuff in the car, but I don't want to know the answer". I was heartbroken for him and angry at myself for being careless. My kids are big believers - until now. I think I covered my tracks well enough and in referencing Santa, it was obvious that his belief in him remains unwavering. I know some people think all of this lying to our children is bad, but to me, it's one of the few magical parts of life that remain. I intend to protect that innocence as long as I can.
My KAL Top Down Sweater is progressing. After getting my stitches twisted (I know, how silly of me) I am on my way and really liking my new yarn choice. I doubt very much that I will be at the first sleeve by the time we record this week, but that's okay. I do need to check my row gauge and see if I need to adjust the measurements for this next section.
My Berkshire Bulky project for the next catalog is also moving along, which is a good thing. That has a serious deadline. I've also got a project in either Southwick or maybe Longmeadow that is starting to formulate in my head. We'll see where that leads. . . . .
Starting next week, Steve and I will be meeting with all of our yarn reps to start buying yarn for Fall '07. The reps know we like to see the new yarns as soon as they come out of their sales meetings so that we have plenty of time to make selections for our catalogs, etc. I love seeing the new yarns. The process is intense and grueling especially when we have reps coming in everyday, but it's also very exciting. I"ll try to give you some sneak peeks at what is to come for next season.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
We recorded this week's radio show/podcast today. We interviewed Linda Pratt from Westminster Fibers (Rowan, et. al.) and she did a great job. Stay tuned for Saturday to hear the show. In the knitalong, I had a disaster. I decided that Silk Garden and I are simply not meant to be. It was a tough decision, I know how beloved this yarn is and I wanted to love it too. I did love my color, but the yarn and I, well, we were not compatible, so I ended the relationship. We are going separate ways. We are officially "broken up".
This happened literally an hour before we went into record. I had to find a quick date to get things rolling, as I am already behind on the top down sweater. I walked around the store looking at yarns that were 4 sts = 1". I felt like I didn't have many choices - is that not ridiculous??? I knew I didn't want a solid yarn, I know myself well enough to know I would get bored and never finish. I looked at several options (oh, Classic Elite Stormy how I wanted to to invite you to be my date for the knitalong, but, well, I think too much of you to not make a serious committment. Another time, another project. I promise). I wandered, the staff offered suggestions, I wandered, I pondered. I was nearly out of time. I decided upon a Cascade yarn, under the Di Ve label called Autunno. A lovely 100% merino wool, that is several strands of different colors, plied together that gradually change colors.
Steve and I bolted out to lunch and over pizza slices, I worked up my swatch. We got to the station and I worked another couple of rows while we waited to tape. We did our first segment and then as Pixie did her "thing", I continued to knit and chime in. I had enough done at the end of the taping to give it a gauge check. Spot. On.
I love the yarn, I love my Colonial Rosewood Circulars that I am using. All is well with the world. I did make a color change once I got back to the store and had a bit more time to consider the options. I swatched using color #14627 and have decided on #48162. The best part is that this yarn is the right gauge, but rather than using a #8, I'm on a #10.5, which will help me with "catch up".
We received in a new model garment today from one of our faboo knitters and I took the opportunity to photograph a couple of other faves that have recently shown up.
First up is this sassy sleeveless v-neck. Isn't it darling?
It's knit with none other than Saucy Sport! It's in Reynolds booklet #82425 and requires 4-9 skeins depending on size.
Next up is this scarf - Marion's Scarf to be exact. Marion works in the store part-time and is an incredible knitter. She often takes Kirsten's design concepts (which there are many of) and brings them to life (hey, even the fastest knitter on the planet needs help every now and again. Seriously, I don't care who holds the "official" title, I'd take Kirsten in a face-off without blinking an eye).
I love this scarf! It is knit using one skein of Misti Alpaca Lace. Better yet, we're offering the pattern for free! Here are the instructions:
Cast on 38 sts using #4 needles R1: p5, *k1, yo, sl 1, k1, psso, k1, yo, sl 1, k1, psso, p5 repeat from * R2: k5, *p6, k5 repeat from * R3: p5, *k2, yo, sl 1, k1, psso, k2, p6 repeat from * R4: k5, *p6, k5 repeat from * R5: p5, *k2, yo, sl1, k1, psso, k1, p5 repeat from * R6: k5, *p6, k5 repeat from * Bind off loosely, block lightly
Finished size is approximately 3" x 52"
I do love the Misti Lace, but I'm also thinking the Jade Sapphire 2-ply cashmere or Art Yarns Regal Silk would look stunning in this pattern as well. Or even the Malabrigo Lace. . . .
Last is the newest arrival, hot off the needles is this lovely summer top knit in Nashua June.
I don't think the mannequin does it justice. It looks incredible on. We had the medium size knit, which the pattern says takes 6 skeins (same as the small) but our knitter actually needed a 7th skein to finish. This pattern can be found in Nashua booklet Occassion.
Oh, I lied, there is one more show and tell. This is Erin's top down sweater using Brooks Farms' Rialto:
You know I am in a deep love affair with their yarns. I have Rialto in my stash. Enough for a top down sweater. I want to get through this first one before I dip into the "good stuff". I love the color and the feel of the finished fabric is to die for. Plus Erin looks awesome in it!
No post tomorrow as I am off to CT to see a band, at a museum, with a friend. I am driving. That is basically what I know. We're doing a bit of a "Thelma and Louise" kind of escape for a few hours.
P.S. The pattern won't format properly, so if anyone is interested, just email me at email@example.com and I'll gladly email it to you in a readable format.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
What was interesting about today, is we had a grad student from Simmons College in Boston come to the store to interview us about the history of Webs. It is for a project she is doing for a class. What's is intriguing is that (a) she came to talk about our history while we're just kicking off our 33rd year in business and (b) Simmons is my mother-in-law's alma mater. Rather serendipitous if you ask me.
It was nice to have the opportunity to talk about WEBS, the history, where we've been and a sneak peek at where we are going. We spoke briefly about our history on the last podcast and I suggested to Steve that we take a few minutes each week to give a "history moment" over the next few shows. Sort of a "did you know" kind of thing. Last week wasn't framed that way, but we talked about how Barbara founded WEBS in the basement of the family's home and was focused exclusively on teaching weaving and renting looms. She even had a partner in the beginning. So each week we will share some of our history and I'll do the same here on the blog.
The sale itself has started off incredibly. I do have to share one funny story. I posted the sale on Knitters Review and as many of you know, that opportunity doesn't exist on Knitty (which is fine - no criticism). Sure enough, one of the Knittyheads posted that the sale was on and after a few posts, someone asked "What is WEBS and what is this sale about?". Whenever I read/hear a comment like that, part of me cringes thinking "I stink at my job" and the other part of me gets very motivated thinking of the opportunity to reach out to even more knitters. I'm currently riding the "opportunity" wave. . . . . .
I will be posting some fun pictures from the sale in the next day or two. Our warehouse chief Nick had the place looking just stunning yesterday morning. All of the sale yarns were stocked - not a ball or bag out of place. It was truly breathtaking. He even came to my office and ASKED that I take a picture of everything, before the craziness began. Now that's pride and he should feel that way. We are more ready for everyone to shop until you drop than ever before.
We celebrated Passover last night with Steve's parents. It was probably one of the nicest Passovers we've had, now that the kids are older, can read and follow along. Plus, they are full of questions and random musings.
Our Yarn Harlot event is filling fast and gaining steam. I am thrilled to announce that we will use this amazing opportunity to help the Northampton Survival Center's Summer Kid's Food Program. This organization reaches out to 16 communities in our valley and provides food to children in grades K-12 that normally receive subsidized meals through the schools. Well, during the summer school is out, but these kids still need to eat. The NSC provides breakfasts and lunches and is completely dependent on food and monetary donations. Let's REPRESENT and make sure that not one child supported by this program has to go hungry this summer. I will be posting the list of foods needed on our website shortly and I've emailed the info to Jayme-the-wonder-publicist as well. I'm sure she/Stephanie will get it posted to her blog as soon as they have a chance to breathe! This is our chance to show the world what knitters can accomplish. I know all of you coming will make statement - loud and clear. The kids in our valley need us to.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
All in all it has been a productive weekend. Lots of laundry/house chores, some knitting and other "work".
On the knitting front, I have three projects that I am under deadline to finish. Two are for the next catalog and the other is the knitalong sweater for the podcast. I have to try to stay a week or so ahead of all of you!
For one of the catalog projects, I did this swatch:
Which turned into this:
I compared my before and after measurements and based on the ultimate size I want, calculated the number of stitches to cast on and number of rows to knit. I did a second swatch to test a possible edging, which is in the washer as I type.
I started the other catalog project while on vacation, but I am not happy with it and need to rethink it. This is not good news as my deadline is approaching.
As for the top-down sweater, I think I have overcome my issues with Silk Garden. I love the color - I am hooked. I will therefore overlook the "untwisted" sections and the sections with "stuff/fluff" attached to the yarn as best I can and just move forward. I guess I am now officially a Noro groupie.
Once the little blue swatch is out of the washer and blocked to dry, I will get moving on the sweater. (Notice, no mention of getting those show notes typed up. . . . . way too busy knitting.)
I have to say, for the small blue swatch, I put a single crochet edging on it and you know what? I REALLY miss crocheting! I have been focused primarily on knitted projects these past few months, other than the Brooks Farm Scarf I made and I am starved for crochet. I need to get through these projects and then I'm going to crochet something - anything!
Well, I guess I've procastinated enough. I do want to add one last photo - one of my favorites from our vacation:
It was a day Steve was off to golf on his own and the boys and I went to Clearwater Beach. I love how Jonathan is quite content to have his picture taken, but Jackson's face reads "Am I done yet? I am waaay to cool for this. . . . . "
P.S. Don't forget, our 33rd Anniversary Sale starts tomorrow! This link will bring you there in the morning :)