Back on track – Virtual Road Trip 8th Stop: The Woolery!

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Oh my, we’ve been off our road trip track for a while! We’ll hop back on in KY this week, visiting our friends at The Woolery. You can find them online or at 315 St. Clair in Frankfort, KY.

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FF&WY: Why/when/how did your shop come to be?

TW: The Woolery was established in upstate NY in 1981, selling sheep and angora rabbits as well as spinning and weaving supplies; we relocated to North Carolina briefly, and found our eventual (final) home here in the beautiful Bluegrass State of Kentucky!

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FF&WY: What makes your shop unique?

TW: Our customer service team definitely sets us apart from a lot of retailers. We have customers who know our staff on a first name basis, and even ask for them by name on the phone with specific questions. It is not uncommon for a staff member to receive thank you cards or gifts from appreciative customers year-round! We also have a wonderful, large showroom, with dozens of wheels and looms set up for customers to ‘try before they buy’ or learn to troubleshoot on. We get a lot of random requests and queries, as well: one gentleman in Scotland, an archaeologist, needed a historically accurate spindle to display with some beautiful medieval spindle whorls he had uncovered, and came to us for help finding one.

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FF&WY: What do you love about your town? If an out of town guest came to visit, where would you take them?

TW: Frankfort is a delightful place to visit! Buffalo Trace Distillery is right here, just a mile or so away, and is a premiere destination for very fine bourbon, as well as boasting beautiful grounds and offering hourly free distillery tours. We also have both the new and old state capitol buildings (some would say our capitol building is the prettiest in the country), the Kentucky History Center, Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory (try the bourbon balls), and the Kentucky River which flows right through the middle of our downtown! Frankfort Cemetery hosts numerous Kentucky governors in respite, as well as famed explorer Daniel Boone, and has a breathtaking overlook of the river valley. It’s a truly beautiful, historic little town.

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FF&WY: Fiber Emergency!

TW: We got a frantic call late one afternoon from a production studio that needed flax tow shipped overnight to Canada for a new movie being filmed.  We had it in stock, and arranged for the international, overnight delivery.  Several months later, Academy Award winning The Revenant was released in theaters…with our flax tow used as a prop! We sent two spinning wheels once to a penguin rescue reserve in the Falkland Islands, to be used at the B&B for demonstrations on how to spin the famous Falkland sheep wool!

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FF&WY: What is your favorite yarn brand?

TW: Our Bluegrass Mills 6/2 cotton comes in so many great, rich colors and is such a versatile fiber, I’d say that’s the latest addiction. It weaves beautifully!

 Many thanks to the kind folks at The Woolery for spending some time with us today. Please join us next week when we stop at Nomad Yarns in Plainfield, IN!

 

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“Do you carry yarn, or just this stuff?”

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nstitches-square-96aNatural Stitches is where our fifth pin has dropped at 6401 Penn Ave. in Pittsburgh, PA! We thank them so much for sharing in our virtual LYS road trip. 🙂

FF&WY: Why/when/how did your shop come to be?

NS: Our shop opened in November of 2007, after seeing a need in the Pittsburgh area for a full-service yarn store.

FF&WY: What makes your shop unique?

NS: Natural Stitches is unique because of the amazing team of knitters, crocheters and spinners who work here!  We have a thoughtful and fun staff who truly enjoy helping customers — whether it’s finding the perfect yarn for their project or learning a new technique.

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FF&WY: What do you love about your town? If a visitor came from out of town, which places near you would you suggest that they visit?

NS: What’s NOT to love about Pittsburgh?  We have fantastic museums, great sports teams, an amusement park, a beautiful zoo, the National Aviary, and more bridges than any other city in the world.  (Really!  Look it up!

FF&WY: Do you have regular social meet-ups, like a knit night or KALs? Does someone bring the best cookies ever and want to share their recipe?

NS: We have knit nights on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, but we always say that anytime the doors are open, we love to have visitors!  This year, we are having a series of knit-alongs called our Shawl Adventure, where each shawl that we knit will teach a new skill.  And manager Yvonne makes killer brownies but refuses to give out her recipe.  😉

FF&WY: What’s your best “Yarn Emergency” story?

Recently we had a customer who had dropped some stitches come to the shop. Her mom (who resides in California) had taught her to knit over the holiday break.  Customer called mom and said “I’ve made a mistake, help.”  Mom said “Find a yarn store, walk in and beg for forgiveness.”

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FF&WY: What are the most popular patterns/yarn bases/colors among your customers right now?

NS: Currently, the First Point of Libra shawl from Laura Aylor is one of our most popular patterns. Not only do we have a knit-along centered around this shawl, but it makes use of the ever-popular gradient kits from Frabjous!  I think since we announced the KAL I’ve had to reorder twice, and our normally well-stocked shelves are still a little bare, because we sell at least a kit a day for this!

FF&WY: What is your favorite yarn brand (yes, this is a trick question)? 🙂

NS: Well, just since you’re asking, we’d have to say Frabjous Fibers.  Of course we carry yarns from the big boys (Cascade, Berroco, Rowan, Universal) but our small hand-dyers and independent companies like Frabjous, Yarn Hollow, Baah and Reywa are very near and dear to our hearts. 

FF&WY: Also, we love hilarious, heartbreaking or hilarious AND heartbreaking knitting stories. Entertain us!

NS:. One of the funniest stories involves someone whose bamboo needles got too close to the flame when she was cooking dinner. Our customer came in, head hung in shame, with a burned needle tip. A load of laughter followed when she told the story. We are also often asked if we sell odd items such as: “Mexican Things” (we have no idea what kind of “things”), Mason jars, puppies (no, we’re not kidding), diamonds, and our favorite was “Do you carry yarn, or just this stuff?”

HA! Well, we’re pretty sure Natural Stitches has plenty of yarn, so if you’re in Pittsburgh, check them out and get your knit on!

 

 

Pulling in at Main Street Yarn!

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Today, we’ve landed in Rebersburg, PA, at Main Street Yarn, located at 121 E Main St.

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FF & WY: Why/when/how did your shop come to be?

MSY: Main Street Yarn will be celebrating its 3rd anniversary on April 11. We are partnered with my husband’s shop, Forefathers Books Shop, in a former brick bank building in Rebersburg, PA, which is a very small town in Centre County — definitely a destination stop. Keith and I have kept the integrity of the building from the high pressed tin ceiling and gorgeous bank vault in the book shop area to the crash bar bank door which is the entry from the parking lot to Main Street Yarn. We looked for several years for an appropriate location that would be large enough for both shops and sturdy enough to hold over 30,000 hardback books. We work together in the business, although Keith is there much more than I, because I continue to work fulltime for U.S. Senator Bob Casey in a regional office in Bellefonte, PA. Keith or one of his staff handles yarn shop business when I am not available. Over the years there have been a few texts or quick telephone calls to clarify something. Fortunately, I have very understanding customers.
I learned to knit at age 4 and stopped at age 6! I picked it up again in college in the early ’70s but moved to counted cross stitch for 20 years. During a break in University employment I went to work in a local yarn shop and loved it. I learned so much — including how to knit socks, which are my knitting passion. I haven’t stopped knitting and the rest, as they say, is history.
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Kim and Charlie
FF&WY: What makes your shop unique?
MSY: My portion of the building was renovated with white walls and natural ceiling lighting to show off the colors of the yarn. I try to keep the atmosphere homey from the electric fireplace to coffee and snacks which are always available on Saturdays. I am an avid fan of hand-dyed yarns and I estimate at least 60% of my inventory is hand-dyed fingering weight yarns with a bit of DK and Worsted tossed in for variety. Some of my customers favorite dyers are Frabjous Fibers and Wonderland Yarns (mini skein sets are growing in popularity); KnitMona; Unplanned Peacock; Meadowcroft; Nooch Fibers; and Wandering Wool. The latter was the first hand-dyed in the shop and it will always be a staple (along with Wonderland Yarns, of course!)
Getting known is difficult in a rural area, so I started setting up at local/regional fiber shows. I love meeting new people, “selling” my yarns, and building a customer base. Each is a different venue and often different people, but I’ve never had a bad time at a fiber show! My newsletter is  gaining readership as is the Facebook page. If someone wants to sign up for the newsletter go to the website and register. Also, for those who are on the internet but do not have a personal Facebook page, my shop page scrolls in the middle of the website, so you can keep up with the latest.
This year I hope to do 5 shows and the first is tomorrow — For The Love of Fiber in Bellefonte, PA. It is hosted by the Centre County Knitting Guild and is a very nice event. I have some new items for shoppers and lots of mini-skein sets. I will be displaying WIP samples to provide ideas and insight into how to work with a mini-skein set. I recently wrote a post on my blog Sock-Crazy and several shops have shared it.
I will again be doing a Knit in Public event this summer and hope to see growth from last year. We have lots of fun and as always, there are door prizes.
FF&WY: Do you have regular social meet-ups, like a knit night or KALs?
MSY: The Penns Valley Area Knitters, a group I formed 10 years ago, meets in the shop two Saturdays a month. It is a very casual group and not a dues collecting organization. We share projects, offer help to each other, and snack. I always make sure there are goodies for everyone. They can range from cookies and punch in warmer weather to dip and crackers along with soup in the winter. I have my first KAL planned but can’t reveal quite yet (however it does involve yarn from your company!) We strongly believe in charity knitting and annually donate at least 100 hats, scarfs, mitts, mittens, lap robes, etc. to the local community outreach center. They are distributed with the Christmas food baskets and are so appreciate. It warms our hearts knowing we are helping others ward off cold temperatures.
FF&WY: What are the most popular patterns/yarn bases/colors among your customers right now?
MSY: The majority of my customers are sock and shawl knitters so fingering weight yarns are a large percentage of my inventory. Superwash merino with a nylon additive and great yardage makes them smile each time they look at a new indie dyer product. Many are also hat and cowl knitters and like more commercial yarns for those projects, although the multi-color worsted weight yarn I recently purchased from Frabjous Fibers and Wonderland Yarns is very popular.  I carry a nice selection of commercial yarns from Berroco, Plymouth and Universal yarn companies. These are good, solid basics which everyone needs at some point in their knitting.
I continue to knit shop models which help people with ideas. I have learned that creativity needs a little push sometimes and I am trying to help people with color combination and pattern choices.
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FF&WY: What is your favorite yarn brand (yes, this is a trick question)? 🙂 
MSY: Personally, I’m hooked on your Mini Skein Packs in Cheshire Cat fingering. I also really like yarns from KnitMona and Wandering Wool.
Thank you so much, Kim!
Next stop, as we knit on down the road is: Natural Stitches in Pittsburg, PA.

Next Stop: SuzyB Knits!

We’ll be spending the next few Fridays in PA, where we’ve had a great response to our request for stories and photos from our retailers.

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Pin #3 on our map is SuzyB Knits at 52 Clarion St. in Smicksburg, PA. Thank you so much, Susan, for taking the time to share your story!

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FF&WY: Why/when/how did your shop come to be?

SBK: Why SuzyB Knits: my grandmother and aunts always called me Suzy, even though my given name was Susan. Why the B? Well, my middle name begins with B, but, as many who have come to know me understand, I love a little “BLING” in everything so the “B” is truly for the “BLING!” And, the Knits, of course….it is “nuttin’ but knit” in my world.

The shop was born after the local yarn shop that I worked at closed. And, well, see, my husband and I had purchased this house across the street from that shop in 2004 so that I could have an easy commute to work. What a life: get up and walk across the street to the greatest job in a yarn shop! When my employment ended there the decision was made (with a lot of encouragement from my mom, Nancy) to continue doing what I love to do. “Everyone should be able to live their passion to its fullest.” So, with my mother’s encouragement, SuzyB Knits became a reality in 2007. Our beginning was quite humble: a tent in the yard during the towns’ festival weekends selling my handspun and hand dyed yarns and hand knit items, and teaching knitting on the front porch. But Nancy, my mom, believed in me and encouraged me to convert a room in the house into a shop so that I could be open regular hours. It became a reality that I could never have imagined without my mom’s encouragement. In November of 2009 we were in full swing and celebrated with the Smicksburg Christmas Open House. It was a huge success. This was truly a successful event because my mom was there to see the dream unfold and my business dreams take flight. Sadly, my mom passed away in December of 2009 of pancreatic cancer. She is a main part of my inspiration, and knowing that she was here to witness the launch of this dream carries me through every day.

FF&WY: What makes your shop unique?

SBK: SuzyB Knits began with my own handspun and hand dyed yarn, but I believe in supporting small cottage industries and companies that support a cause so I stock a variety of hand dyed yarns from various dye artists. My inventory is not the basic stock of yarn. As I said, I love bling., so you will find and abundance of sparkle, bling and novelty in my shop. What would life be without some sparkle to illuminate those dreary days? Oh, and I must not forget my all time favorite employee who greets everyone with a smile! (see below)

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FF&WY: What do you love about your town? If a visitor came from out of town, which places near you would you suggest that they visit?

SBK: Smicksburg is a world apart and somewhat “off the grid,” so you won’t find a bar of cell phone service here. However, it makes for the perfect retreat to get away from the fast pace. It is an old order Amish community so if you are fascinated with the Amish, here is the place to see them as they were before they became caught up in modern living. We are a small town, but are truly blessed with two wonderful restaurants to dine at. There are two great pottery shops and a variety of other shops in town. It is quiet and a wonderful place to spend the day just knitting on the porch at SuzyB Knits.

FF&WY: Do you have regular social meet-ups, like a knit night or KALs? Does someone bring the best cookies ever and want to share their recipe?

SBK: We have a knit day which is 1 pm to 6pm+ on Saturdays or Sundays. It is determined by what day suits best for that given week. Newbies are always welcome, but it is advised to call in advance to be sure of which day. We occasionally do a pot luck. Even though we are “off the grid,” we have managed to get pizza delivery which is always on the menu.

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FF&WY: What are the most popular patterns/yarn bases/colors among your customers right now?

SBK: Right now everyone seems to be working on the “Rings Around Cowl” out of the Cheshire Cat fingering Mini Skein Packs.

FF&WY: What is your favorite yarn brand (yes, this is a trick question)? 🙂

SBK: I have developed a true love for Wonderland Yarns Unicorn and Cheshire Cat, but I am also kinda partial to Mango Moon, Be Sweet, and Dale Garn (since I’ve designed a few patterns for them), and I also love Mountain Colors and Great Adirondack. Oops, I can’t leave out SuzyB Knits handspun! 🙂

You can visit SuzyB Knits at 52 Clarion St. in Smicksburg, PA, or give a ring at 814-257-8326 to check in about the next knit night.

Again, thank you, Susan, for sharing your story with us. We’re sure your mother is proudly watching over you as you live your fiber dream!

Pin #4 will drop on Main Street Yarn in Rebersburg, PA!

The “Perfect and Best” Road Trip

Greetings, Frabjous Friends!

We’re coming back into this blog space with adventure in our hearts! It’s not possible for us to really get on the road and travel through all 50 states (because, yes, we’ll include HI and AK, too!) to visit every one of our amazing retail partners, but we’ll follow this brilliant map as best we can, to bring you stories, photos, and projects from all over the country.

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Check out this itinerary for the perfect road trip, brought to you by Discovery News and a sophisticated algorithm to determine the best start-anywhere trip, complete with a list of the best landmarks to check out while you’re there.

Of course, we think the best landmarks are yarn shops! So, we’ll take the trip from home, featuring and interviewing our friends in each state as we go, starting right here in Vermont!

Stay tuned for our own detailed itinerary, with the shops we’ll be visiting along the way.

In the meantime, we have a limited edition colorway from now until June 30th, to celebrate the excitement of primary season. Get your needles into some Caucus-race today!

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Ready to rock…what are you spinning?

Spinzilla 2015 is ON!

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Stephanie and are starting with stash from Frabjous Fibers, of course. Ends and scraps and oddments. I’m hoping it pushes me past my self-imposed color boundaries and comfort zones. I’m not really into brights, but here’s my pile:

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Our team members have also started posting photos of fibers ready to roll. This is Amy’s gorgeously well-ordered Three Feet of Sheep in the limited Autumn Leaves colorway on BFL-Silk:

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And I love this peaceful scene of fiber in wait next to a beautiful wheel…

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And Haley even stayed up until after midnight so she could start counting yardage at 12:01. I have to admit I conked out just before I could start counting my own yardage. Oh, well! Cheers to you, Haley!

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Any other teams out there working on challenges during Spinzilla week?

Tomorrow, our challenge is to spin a new-to-us fiber type. Maybe some yak has been lurking about in the stash for a long time, just waiting until the perfect moment to try it out. That moment is now! Er…tomorrow, actually!

Happy spinning, everyone!

TNNA Wrap-Up, and…the Winner!

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So, maybe we needed a little recoup time.

Hi there!

Resurfacing, we find that we owe you a giveaway winner, some peeks at newly revealed product, photos from the show, and update on Tutorial Tuesdays!, and, um…probably other things I can’t remember right now.

Firstly, we went to Ohio! A colorful time was had. We reconnected with fabulous longtime customers and we met some lovely new folks, too. We shared an enormous selection of brand new colorways on our Wonderland Yarns bases, adorable new felt, and other forms of fiber joy.

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This is what we looked like either immediately before or after (I can’t even remember) the feeding frenzy that was the Sample It! event, which immediately followed our all-day booth set-up. Holy cow. You guys. That was craaaaaazy.

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We managed a tiny bit of playtime and wandering, found some BIG needles, and someone (*cough cough* Melody *cough*) might have turned me green with envy when she acquired one of these.

The most important thing to tell you is this: we’re filled with gratitude for everyone who came to visit our wonderland at the end of the row. We love you!

It was an exciting, exhausting whirlwind, but we’re glad to be home and back to the dyepots. We’ve got orders to fill!

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We released 11 new colorways in our Mini Skein Packs at the show, btw. I might be picking a favorite here.

Also, alllll the new yarn:

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The neutral need is satisfied! Huzzah!

I’m pretty sure, though, that what you really want to know is who takes the prize from our previous post, so here you go: it’s Jamie!

Jamie asked a question about how to separate your fiber for spinning equal amounts to ply. We’ll definitely be discussing this on Tutorial Tuesdays! If all goes well, we’ll be posting our first video on Tuesday, June 16th! Stay tuned!

Happy Friday!

Good Things

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Yep, so Michelle over at Rose Tree Fiber Shop was our winner in the guess-our-new-fiber game. Check out their Facebook page to see her progress with spinning it up!

Thank you, everyone, for playing. Our new fiber, Lucky Baaahboo (60% superwash merino, 30% bamboo, 10% nylon…yay, socks!), will be available wide and far very soon! We love it, and we hope you will, too.

In other news, Melody kicked my hind end and finished her shawl on time. I, however, did not.

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I’ll admit that I’m suffering from toomanyprojectsitis, and it’s a debilitating condition.

We’ll do some glamour shots of Melody in her beautiful Iris Waves and post them here!

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New fiber types aren’t the only fiber new-ness happening, as we get prepared for TNNA, btw. We’ll start sharing some teasers over the next several weeks of new colorways and products in both fiber and our Wonderland Yarns. It’s going to be a great show.

Our Megan created a gorgeous advertisement to announce our booth numbers. I’m kind of obsessed with it. Check it out:

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So, there you have our first official announcement of our booth numbers: 1151, 1153, 1250, and 1252. Come visit us in your tea-party best!

Let the KnitAlongAgainstAlong Begin!

Oh, it’s begun.

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The above is Melody’s pick, which reminds me of iris and crocus. Sprriiiiing!!!

Below, is a possibly-new-for-fall-color that I begged for. No name yet, but Too Much Pepper gradient is tagging along for the waves. I’m getting all Queen Bee on this thing.

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Just a few rows at a time…

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Join us! http://www.ravelry.com/groups/wonderland-yarns

Play Time

So, there was this one day, in between all the snowy ones, when I was handed a pan of yarn and told to “go for it.”

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After I went for it, Melody did, too, and she knit up this hat in about 2 seconds flat with one skein of our TweedleDeeDum bulky.

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We all kinda feel this way about it.

-shannon