Thursday, August 04, 2005

Yarn Market, Part 2

Where were we? Oh, yes. Yarn market.

After the fashion show Friday night, we knew we needed a good night's sleep. Sleeping well is hard at market. Your brain swims with possibilities. You close your eyes and see skeins of yarn. You keep sorting through ideas and decisions. You just can't fall asleep. Our minds were swimming, and ironically, we found that the only way we could settle down and sleep was to swim in the hotel pool before bed. We vow never go to market without our bathing suits again.

Remember, before market we made a list of our needs--and we were determined to find it all. Here's our list:
  • DK weight, merino superwash baby yarn
  • New sock yarns
  • Organic cotton yarn
  • Some new patterns
  • Wide ribbon yarn
  • Replenish our Manos Del Uruguay yarn
  • More felting yarns
  • Alpaca. People have been begging. (Until market we hadn't found any that we loved, so we hadn't ordered it in to the shop. Our rule is never order anything that we are lukewarm about. It never works.)
  • Get the scoop on Sally Melville's new book on color
  • Buttons
  • Whatever else was new and interesting

And so we set out. Saturday was just for looking. We ordered almost nothing. The market floor is huge, so we wanted to sort through everything before making commitments. We did the same last year, and it worked so well that we kept our system.

Remember, our sales reps for Berroco and JCA/Crystal Palace had stopped by the week before market and spent the entire day with us. This freed up time at market for finding other new products. We ordered from Berroco, JCA, Knit One, Crochet Too, Crystal Palace, and two new companies before we even went to market.

What's new from Berroco? We have Foliage, Crystal FX, Hip Hop, Runway, Suede Tricolor, and several new colors of Tosca. These are available now!

We replenished a few of our JCA yarns, such as Blizzard. Flirtation by JCA is a new, wonderfully nubbly yarn. JCA's yarns will arrive in September/October.

Douceur et Soie, from Knit One, Crochet Too, is a beautiful lace-weight mohair for scarves and shawls. We are also getting coordinating colors of a yarn called 18 Karat, so that you can make your shawl sparkle if you wish! K1C2 yarns should arrive early September.

Our Crystal Palace has also arrived. Along with Musique and Squiggle, we now carry Splash...

Nubbles, Little Flowers, Party Ribbon, Stardust, and Fizz. We are designing a shrug made from coordinating colors of all of these.

In addition, we opened relationships with two new vendors, which we are very excited about. Both are smaller companies specializing in hand-dyed yarns. Steadfast Fibers offers hand-dyed, worsted-weight mohair and coordinating hand-dyed wools. The colors are clear, but not bright, soft, but not gooey pastels. They are solid, but with the slightest gradation of value for depth. Steadfast Fiber's palette reminded us of sherbet ice cream and candy. They should arrive in September. Ellyn Cooper's yarn provides a richer palette of colors based on intense jewel-tones. These yarns reminded us of Saris in their color mixes and metallic additions. They'll come in October.

That allowed us to spend more time with new companies at market to work on our checklist.


1. DK weight, superwash, merino baby wool in good colors. This was the hardest yarn of all to find. It took two full days of looking to find one that met our all our needs. You can easily find this yarn fingering weight, but not DK. We won't tell you all the companies we looked at, how much acrylic we saw, how much nonmerino, how much fingering weight, how many bad colors. We finally found our answer at Aurora Yarns, a yarn called Biberon.

It is gorgeous. (We were so relieved to find this yarn that the Aurora sales rep offered us a celebratory glass of chardonnay. Kim happily imbibed.)

In addition, we replenished our supply of Allsorts, another superwash DK merino from S. R. Kertzer. It is the perfect baby yarn for boys, coming in darker primary colors (red, blue, green, and purple).

People often think that wool means scratchy, but they do not realize how many different types of wool there are. Merino is much softer than any acrylic. Babies don't itch when wearing merino. Acrylic is made from plastic. Enough said.

2. New sock yarns. Found. We replenished our supply of Bearfoot from Mountain Colors, and ordered a few of their new colors. It should be here sometime in September. (We already have a good stock of it, but it is our most beautiful sock yarn and goes quickly.) We also found a lot of good sock yarns at Skacel. The most interesting one is a wide striping one called Missoni. We have a pattern for a baby sweater made from it. By the way, if you do want fingering weight baby yarn, sock yarn works great. It is superwash and, with the nylon added, very tough and able to withstand anything a baby can dish out.

3. Organic cotton. This one was another difficult search, but Cottage Industry won us over. It is extremely soft, the colors (all of them coming naturally from the cotton) are soft and beautiful, and it looks even better after a few washings. It's hard to believe that plain cotton can be that exciting, but we could hardly stop talking about it all weekend. In some ways, it was our favorite yarn.

4. New patterns. We found some new sweater designs, mainly from Chris Bylsma and Fiber Trends. (Fiber Trends also offered a new, felted pink flamingo pattern. Cynthia won't be able to resist making this one.)

5. Luscious wide ribbon. We know how you love Cherry Tree Hill, so we were thrilled to see their new ribbon, Glitter Sachet. Glitter Sachet is similar to regular Sachet, but with a glorious sheen that is perfect for evening wear. Very pretty. Look for it in September, along with new colors of Oceania, one of our best selling hand-dyes.

6. Manos Del Uruaguay. We replenished it with a huge order. Amazingly, it is already getting low again and we will need to order more soon. Manos is one of our most popular yarns, and for good reason. The texture and colors are like no other yarn. Plus, it felts like a dream.

7. Yarns for felting. Skacel has great offerings this year. Loft has been one of our standard wools, but the new colors are irresistible. Purses made from felted Loft were delicious. Loft is a merino wool (see speech about Merino under "baby yarn") so it is a comfortable yarn to carry around as a bag. And Musique felts!

We were surprised by this, because of the partially acrylic content of this yarn, but our sales rep assured us it was true. Farfalla, from Skacel, comes in bright, neon-like colors, very, very soft, with little nubbles, making it the perfect accent yarn for any felted project, Himalaya wool/silk felts amazingly well. Look for new colors in early October.

8. Alpaca. Alpaca is not really a wool; it comes from the fleece of alpaca animals. Alpacas are beautiful, sweet creatures, with fleece as soft as cashmere. Our general pickiness is to your benefit--we shopped hard to find the perfect alpaca. We chose a baby alpaca from a company that began only in January 2005, Catalina Fibers. It comes in both natural and dyed colors, and it all felts--even the white. We have never felt a softer alpaca. Cynthia couldn't stop petting it. Delivery date is set for September 5.

9. Sally's new book. Sally Melville's new color book is a follow-up to her first two books in the incredibly popular Knitting Experience series. We got the scoop and saw the garments from the book. Sally has done it again. You will love intarsia. You will love Fair Isle. Sally makes it easy to learn, and she creates classic designs. Thank you, Sally.

The book is slated for publication in November ... but we are hoping that it might possibly be ready for a debut at Stitches East. We'll see. We have a case ordered. If you want to reserve your copy, please let us know. We also ordered several new books from XRX, the most exciting of which is a new scarf book with the coolest scarves! That one's sitting on our counter now!

10. Buttons. We found some beautiful new buttons from several companies. We now have a wide selection of buttons, ranging from funky, fun buttons, to artistic fused glass to the classics.

We are very, very picky about buttons, and it has taken us two years of slow looking to find buttons that we liked enough to carry. We're now pleased with our full selection.

11. New and interesting. There is so much at a market that it is impossible to describe. We looked at thousands of yarns from scores of companies, but just like everyone else, we have only so much space, time, and money. People often ask us how we choose. It's not that hard for us, because we are both decisive people, and we have roughly the same taste (but opposite color palettes). We know what will be a consistent look for our shop, and we know what we like. We finally came down to these new ones: Mango Moon Recycled Rayon, and Sarong. Another new one, Mountain Colors Twizzle, is perfect for people who want a sport/dk weight merino--it's a tweed with a hand-dyed kick.

In nonyarn excitement, we found these knitting necklace kits from MagKnit:

The clasp is a magnet, designed like fine jewelry, and you knit a simple stockinette pattern in any yarn you want. Then you add the yarn to the clasp, and it turns into a gorgeous necklace. Kim and Cynthia are trying to figure out what yarns they are using. Right now, Cynthia is leaning toward Sinsation. Kim is thinking about Daria Multi. We have the MagKnits in the shop now.

What colors did we select for all our yarns? To tell you the truth ... we don't remember. Remember how we said it's like Christmas when we get yarn? That's because it's so long between ordering and receiving, that half the time you can't remember what you're getting. Rest assured that Kim has chosen warm colors for you, and Cynthia has chosen cool colors.

We'll surprise you--and probably ourselves. Merry Christmas!

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