Pause to reflect

No two weeks in a small business look the same. This week, I was focused on making structural preparations to hire someone to care for the shop during a few short absences this year. (The first comes at the end of this month, when I’ll be attending The National Needlework Association Winter Market in Portland. More on this soon.)

And in most weeks, I think to myself that I should be more engaged with social media. It’s a complicated landscape, affected by powerful commercial and political forces that leave me feeling uneasy much of the time, AND, as a card-carrying introvert, it can feel exhausting. But it’s also a place where communities engage, and where real conversation happens.

In the last week, Instagram, in particular, has been a forum for conversations about how black, indigenous, and people of color feel marginalized in the fiber world. As a shop owner, this Instagram highlight from Sukrita, a spinning teacher in Sydney, broke my heart. My sadness, though, is not important. Finding a way forward is important.

I had begun to write about something else entirely for this week’s newsletter. It didn’t feel right. I am going to link to some of the voices in this conversation, instead. I hope you’ll join me in listening to what they have to say.

(Often, you’ll find extended thoughts pinned as highlights, below the Instagram profile information, and above the dynamic feed. On a mobile device, you can tap and hold on a screen if it is advancing too quickly to read.)

(And: this conversation is happening primarily on Instagram, but if that is a platform you don’t interact with, this blog post from Atia, and this one from Heather Zoppetti speak to some of the same issues.)

Grace Anna Farrow is @astitchtowear

Sukrita is @sukrita

Korina is @thecolormustard

Tina Tse is @tina.say.knits

Ocean Rose is @ocean_bythesea

Jeanette Sloan is @jeanettesloan

Lorna Hamilton-Brown is @lhamiltonbrown

Heidi Wang is @booksandcables

Atia is @thebrightblooms

(For context: the blog post that catalyzed these conversations can be found here, along with the author’s apology and acknowledgement of how her words hurt other people.)

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Ann
Swatch, swatch, and swatch some more

One suggestion for our Winter Sweater KAL (see below) is Marie Greene’s January Gansey. This design is knit from the bottom up, combining stockinette stitch with cables, and is appropriate for women or men sized 32”-52”. Just one of the traditional details is the underarm gusset, seen above, which allows for ease and just plain looks great.

The pattern, available through Ravelry (including as an in-store download), will include a series of workshop features—weekly emails with tips, tricks, and tutorials, plus access to a private Facebook group Marie has created specifically for this knitalong.

The pattern also accommodates three different gauges, achievable with sport or DK weight yarn. I’m tentatively planning to use HiKoo Kenzie, but think that Elemental Affects Cormo Sport could be another good option. With a couple of time-sensitive projects nearly or newly complete, I’m looking forward to some swatching (we’re looking for a dense fabric here), and will report back.


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Ann
2018 in the rear view mirror

One suggestion for our Winter Sweater KAL (see below) is Marie Greene’s January Gansey. This design is knit from the bottom up, combining stockinette stitch with cables, and is appropriate for women or men sized 32”-52”. Just one of the traditional details is the underarm gusset, seen above, which allows for ease and just plain looks great.

The pattern, available through Ravelry (including as an in-store download), will include a series of workshop features—weekly emails with tips, tricks, and tutorials, plus access to a private Facebook group Marie has created specifically for this knitalong.

The pattern also accommodates three different gauges, achievable with sport or DK weight yarn. I’m tentatively planning to use HiKoo Kenzie, but think that Elemental Affects Cormo Sport could be another good option. With a couple of time-sensitive projects nearly or newly complete, I’m looking forward to some swatching (we’re looking for a dense fabric here), and will report back.


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Ann
Happy Boxing Day!

One suggestion for our Winter Sweater KAL (see below) is Marie Greene’s January Gansey. This design is knit from the bottom up, combining stockinette stitch with cables, and is appropriate for women or men sized 32”-52”. Just one of the traditional details is the underarm gusset, seen above, which allows for ease and just plain looks great.

The pattern, available through Ravelry (including as an in-store download), will include a series of workshop features—weekly emails with tips, tricks, and tutorials, plus access to a private Facebook group Marie has created specifically for this knitalong.

The pattern also accommodates three different gauges, achievable with sport or DK weight yarn. I’m tentatively planning to use HiKoo Kenzie, but think that Elemental Affects Cormo Sport could be another good option. With a couple of time-sensitive projects nearly or newly complete, I’m looking forward to some swatching (we’re looking for a dense fabric here), and will report back.


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Ann
Wrap it up

Whether you’re giving knit or crochet items, or other gifts, here are a couple of options for reusable and useful “wrapping.” (Baggu Bags are also a terrific stocking stuffer for anyone, crafty or not.)

I also started a Pinterest board for gift wrapping ideas, many of which involve yarn, pom poms, or tassels!)

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Ann
Have a cuppa

There are specific kits (and we have some—for the Alaska Hat, the Silk 3 Ways scarf, the Incan Spice Fairisle Hat, the Adventura Shawl, and the 21 Color Slouch Hat), but you can also make your own “kit of possibility”—a skein of luscious yak/merino/silk fingering weight yarn paired with a pretty shawl stick; a variety of useful notions (stitch markers, cable needles, fix it tool, needle gauge, point protectors, tapestry needles, and a project bag); a skein of stripey sock yarn, a set of dpns, tiny stitch markers, and a Needle Nook; a skein of hand-dyed worsted, size 8 16” circular needles and double points, and a faux fur pom. Pop them in a Yarn Folk mug for a fun presentation—this time of year the thick ceramic keeps your beverage and your hands warmer, longer—all the better during prime stitching weather!

As always, every $10 you spend earns you a chance to win one of two event-wide gift baskets, with prizes from all participating downtown merchants.

This is always a fun event—hope to see you here!

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Ann
Girls night out this Thursday, December 6!

Join us at Yarn Folk for refreshments (including fresh fudge from Mac-A-Bee’s), an in-store raffle, $5 boost on $25 gift certificates (redeemable on a future visit), and while quantities last, get a free printed pattern for the Arteixo Cowl when you purchase a skein of Malabrigo Rasta.

As always, every $10 you spend earns you a chance to win one of two event-wide gift baskets, with prizes from all participating downtown merchants.

This is always a fun event—hope to see you here!

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Ann
Indie Gift-A-Long through November 29!

We’re in the midst of the annual Indie Gift-A-Long! Until November 29th, participating indie designers are discounting select patterns by 25% with the promo code giftalong2018. You’ll need to join the Indie Design Gift-A-Long group on Ravelry, then you can find the list of participating designers here.

Additionally, there are knitalong and crochetalong opportunities that continue until December 31st. Rules for participation can be found in the relevant discussion threads in the group, but there are often prizes!

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Ann
Happy Thanksgiving! And see you on Plaid Friday!

A few scheduling changes next week—normal hours Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday, but Yarn Folk will close a couple of hours early on Wednesday, will be closed on Thanksgiving, and will open an hour early on Plaid Friday.

Don’t forget that Thursday, December 6, is Holiday Girls Night Out—join downtown merchants for treats, specials, raffles, and more. Once again, the Ellensburg Downtown Association is sponsoring free bus transportation from Yakima. Call the EDA at (509) 962-6246 to reserve your place on the bus.

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Ann
Save the date(s)!

More details will follow, but here are a few of the events you can look forward to at Yarn Folk during the rest of the year:

We’ll be closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd, but will be back for Plaid Friday and Moments to Remember on Friday, November 23rd. Downtown Ellensburg welcomes you with special offers to reward you for shopping local, and shopping small!

On Small Business Saturday, November 24th, we will again be participating in Plymouth Yarn’s Local Yarn Shop promotion, which has been simplified this year—spend $50, and get $10 off your purchase. (Offer is limited to first 20 participating customers.)

Thursday, December 6, is Holiday Girls Night Out—join downtown merchants for treats, specials, raffles, and more. Once again, the Ellensburg Downtown Association is sponsoring free bus transportation from Yakima. Call the EDA at (509) 962-6246 to reserve your place on the bus.

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Ann
10,000 New Knitters

On Saturday, November 10, Yarn Folk will join with Skacel Knitting and other local yarn shops in encouraging the efforts of 10,000 New Knitters!

What we are providing: a limited number of kits containing a 50g ball of Sueno Worsted, a pair of size 8 knitting needles, and a pattern for simple handwarmers at no charge.

What we are asking: that anyone who takes one of these kits teaches a newbie, on Saturday, November 10th, if at all possible. And please post photos online with the hashtags #10000NewKnitters and #yarnfolk. If you are a newbie yourself, you can still pick up a kit—there is video support at 10000NewKnitters.com.

At Yarn Folk, we’ll have ten kits available on a first-come, first-served basis, limit one per customer. Saturday hours are 10am-5pm. Join us in sharing your love of knitting with someone who wants to learn. And if the official day doesn’t work for you, remember that beginning knitting is offered on a drop-in basis at Yarn Folk every Tuesday, 5-7pm—$10 per session, plus materials!

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Ann
It's the little things!

I was already pretty pleased with the Berroco Ultra Wool as Yarn Folk’s new superwash wool basic. And you’ve liked it, too—I’ve already sent in a restocking order. But here, I introduce you to an amazing feature of this yarn, one I only discovered last Thursday. What is it, you say? Well, do you see that strand coming out of the center of the ball? It is actually the center of the skein. No rooting around for the innermost bits, and ending up with a blob of yarn barf. This is just such a pleasant and unexpected surprise! Sometimes it really is the little things!

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Ann
Update on Cascade Clearance

Just a quick update on the status of the Cascade 220 clearance: stock is drastically reduced from where this project started, but a range of colors remain. What does this mean for you? It’s easier to get the additional 5% discount when you buy the remainder of a dye lot, because there are fewer balls/skeins left in each color! It’s 25% off until it’s gone; 30% if you buy what remains in the lot. Right now, it is still on the wall, and easiest to see, but that space will be needed later this week! Limited to stock on hand, and all sales on sale yarn are final.

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Ann
Let's Make a Deal

I am so excited about my next project! Boden Girl will be such a fun sample for the Berroco Ultra Wool, which is a wonderful washable choice for kids and adults alike. The pattern is available in an adult version, too, which could be a fantastic way to combine a variegated yarn (like Malabrigo Rios) with solids.

Now, the “let’s make a deal” portion of this endeavor…I have TWO sweaters in progress, so how much do I need to get done before I start a new project?? This is a way I often entice myself to make progress on my projects: I need to finish a sleeve on this thing before I can move on to the next step of that thing. Having only one project on the needles isn’t really a viable option for me—I need to have something in progress for nearly any type of knitting opportunity: first thing in the morning, when my mind is clear; during social times when lots of conversation is happening and it’s a little harder to keep track of something complicated; late in the evening, when I might fall asleep mid-row….

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Ann
Fall Colors

There’s no right or wrong time to love—or use—a color, but autumn certainly does bring to mind the warm earthy hues of the world transforming right before our eyes, doesn’t it? I love looking a a big mix of these colors; it’s the fiber-y equivalent of raking up a big pile of turning leaves, and diving right in!

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Ann
Let’s talk about colorwork.

We’ve been seeing lots of stranded colorwork in the crop of fall knitting designs, and this week, Tin Can Knits updated the Strange Brew colorwork sweater “recipe” to accommodate three different gauges, in twenty-five sizes (newborn through men’s 4XL), and either top-down or bottom-up construction.

The sweater recipe is available as a standalone Ravelry In-Store pattern for $10, or is part of the Strange Brew e-book, launched this week. The e-book is $22, and contains the original “recipe” pattern, plus eight additional sweater patterns, and several hats and cowls. (It’s a heck of a value.)

I’ve decided to plan for a colorwork sweater knitalong after the new year, but to prepare, I’ll be hosting a Strange Brew swatchalong on the first four Fridays in November. (The last Friday will be, as usual, Project Circle.) Using the FREE Anthology pattern from Tin Can Knits, we’ll design and knit colorwork hats or cowls. Just like the Strange Brew recipe, Anthology offers a wide variety of sizes, and three gauge options. Held in the knitalong format, there will be no charge to participate beyond purchase of materials.

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Ann
Hello Autumn, I just want to hug you.

The official start to Autumn was at 6:54 on Saturday evening, though it’s been present in the air for at least a couple of weeks already!

What are your favorite parts of fall? I love the fresh crops of apples, soup for dinner, a cup of hot chai in the evening, knitting, and most especially the planning of new projects. Zweig, Cathedral Grove, and Optics are all in progress, but Fernet Branca has captivated me, and I’m thinking about new winter accessories (hat, mittens, cowl). Though with new samples demanding to be knit up, that project may take a back seat, as last year’s hat and mittens are perfectly serviceable. Perhaps I should just knit the matching cowl?

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Ann
And the winner is...

…not the sweater I’m casting on! More on that in a moment. As you can see, the overwhelming winner was Thea Colman’s gorgeous Chocolate Stout. (Of interest is that this winner and the winner of the last poll along these lines were both in the final position on the ballot…hmmm.) While Chocolate Stout is going into my queue, of these three contenders, it’s Cathedral Grove (technically the loser) that I am going to knit first.

There are two main reasons for this—both related to the yarn I plan to use. Jaggerspun Mousam Falls is a superwash aran weight, and the gauge of 20 stitches over four inches for the Chocolate Stout is just denser than I want with this yarn. In addition, the yarn is substantial enough (in a good way) that I think I will prefer the mix of cables with stockinette that Cathedral Grove is built around. And I also think this might be an occasion where a shawl collar, as with both Chocolate Stout and meander, would add just a bit more bulk and weight than I want for this sweater.

I’ve been busy knitting Zweig (see below), but yarn is would and cast on for Cathedral Grove is imminent!

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Ann
Cascade Sale continues!

The sale on Cascade 220 and Cascade 220 Superwash continues, and as you can see progress has been made on freeing up space for new yarns. Thank you for your help! (Note: there will surely be a few days of "please excuse the mess" when new stock begins to arrive, as some things that used to be on shelves will be on the wall, and vice versa, and fitting the jigsaw pieces together will be its own special challenge.)

While the neutrals are in much shorter supply, there are a number of brights available. Cascade 220 Superwash is a good choice for blankets--consider Bounce , Fly Away, or Vivid from Tin Can Knits. It's also works well for kid sweaters--the size 18 month Silverfox and the 2 year old Lancelot both used just two balls. 

For the regular (handwashable) 220, consider a DK or worsted weight shawl. 600-800 yards at this this weight makes a generously-sized shawl, so think 3-4 skeins. As the temperatures drop at night, having something cozy and wool to wrap your shoulders in starts to seem like a fine idea! I’ve assembled a Ravelry bundle of pattern options here. Another option if the color you like isn't available in a sweater quantity is DK or worsted weight vests--have a look at a few designs I thought would be interesting here.

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Ann
Hello to Darnie, Sale on Cascade

Stocking a retail specialty store presents an ongoing series of related--and always interesting-- challenges. Beyond guessing which colors and fibers you all will be excited by, there are lots of other factors to consider, many of which are less exciting but still extremely relevant to making a shop run smoothly. What are a vendor's minimum order requirements, how many skeins are in a bag, and where are they shipping from? How secure is the supply chain? What kinds of yarns are designers using for their patterns? (This one is always changing, and unpredictable!) Where do I have gaps, either in color or yarn weight, or type of fiber? I could go on, but you get the idea.

At times, it becomes necessary to make larger changes, and these are a challenge to execute smoothly. Please know that I'm undertaking this transition with a lot of forethought, and if you're not immediately thrilled about the change, it's my sincere hope that in time, you will be.

Going forward, I will be stocking Berroco's Ultra Wool as my primary, solid colored superwash wool. I have swatched it, and tested how well it can be both machine washed and dried. It is soft, pleasant to knit with, and reasonably priced. The entire production process happens in Peru, including the superwash processing. With the potential for tariffs affecting yarn from China on the horizon, this was a significant consideration. 

In the realm of untreated wools, I will be adding Plymouth Galway, focusing on the solid colors in the extensive palette. For some of the more beautiful heathered colors around, I will be adding all 21 colors of Blue Sky Alpacas Woolstok. 

In anticipation of these changes (which will begin taking place mid-late September), Cascade Yarns are 25% through the month of September, with an additional 5% discount extended if you purchase all remaining skeins in a dyelot. This offer is limited to stock on hand, and there are no returns on sale merchandise.

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Ann