Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Scarf Bombing....!

Keep the scarves coming!   They can be thick, short, long -- whatever.  Just make 'em warm.  We are going to use them for the grand opening of the shop (postponed -- YOU KNOW WHO, the person writing this note, hasn't yet managed to get the button room up and running) and wrap everything in sight with scarves -- and then you-know-who is going to wash and reblock everything and take them to the Detroit Rescue Mission.  I don't believe in yarn bombings where the knit or crochet work is wasted.  So -- keep going!  The pile is getting big.  I even have two hats that we can put on fire plugs!!!!!!!!!!!!   Bring to Artisan Knitworks LLC, 23616 Farmington Road, Farmington MI.  svb 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Brief Note about Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival....

We have now removed several classes (almost all crochet) from the course listing.  Apparently crocheters don't take courses in the Detroit area -- which surprises me, since so many last year wanted us to offer some crochet courses.   But.   KNOW that everything that remains on the list is filling nicely.  If you are a crocheter, RUN, don't walk, to Lily Chin's Crochet Hints and Tips on Friday morning.   This is a once-in-a-lifetime course.   And -- this is a serious warning -- if you mean to register for the festival, don't wait much longer.   The reason:  We have maybe six workshops that are approaching the "full" point.  What an interesting thing -- on the one side, workshops are about to close, and on the other, a half-dozen bite the dust.  I suppose this is to be expected.  And don't forget Laura Bryant's amazing Friday night lecture about color and the fiber arts, the subject of her new book.  It will happen at a catered dinner -- but you can sign up for the lecture only.  Last year, the dinner was a signal event, really exciting!   Parking, of course, is only a half-block from the beautiful glass-and-marble McGregor Center.   See the website at   www.thirdcoastfiber.com     svb

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Knit-A-Long!!!!!

Everyone, we are participating in Mountain Colors very first Knit-A-Long!!!  Here is the project, a darling pair of mitts that will leave you with dramatically enhanced skills in Fair-Isle knitting.  We have the kits in the shop.  The Knit-A-Long begins in a few days (Sept. 21-26) on Ravelry. We will be taking names in the shop for people who want to do a free in-shop Knit-A-Long as well.    svb 



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Marketplace Only!!!

I just learned that you now can register on-line for the Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival marketplace ONLY for five bucks -- on the Third Coast website, and also in the most recent newsletter, if you get it from Artisan Knitworks.   Here's the deal:  We are going to have a drawing -- you are automatically enrolled if you register for the marketplace.  The main prize will be a 50 dollar gift certificate at AK. 

So do it.  But while you're at it, have a look -- a good look -- at the lineup of workshops.  We have Lily Chin on crochet hints and tricks, design, and inspiration.....Laura Bryant and Barry Klein with four each of their legendary classes -- Candace Eisner Strick with her magical blend of expertise and humor -- Judy Pascale, the beading and shaping queen, with four great courses -- on and on.  I have been told on good authority that people who decide not to participate are exhibiting symptoms of senility or, worse, early insanity!!!!!!!!!!



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jill Bigelow Suttell's new book!!!!!!!

Everyone, Jill Bigelow Suttell -- one example among several of the extraordinary talent to be found in Michigan and one of our Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival instructors -- has published a new e-book on Ravelry!!!!!!!!!!!!!    It's called  A Knitter’s Gallery of Mitered Squares – Unique Designs in Color, Texture and Lace.  One of Jill's Third Coast workshops, in fact, focuses on lace modular squares and is WELLLL worth taking.   So look for the book and sign up, if you haven't already.  The festival just keeps getting better.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Damnable Private Labels Again.....

Some years ago, some people who had been in the shop for a lace-knitting event complained that Artisan Knitworks had put "private labels" on yarn -- which, said one woman, indicated that we were fobbing off cut-rate yarn as our own. (!!!!)  Then, I confess through clenched teeth (I was FURIOUS), I carefully explained on Ravelry that the "private labels" were being used to make the skein labels uniform and to provide information required by law.  When you buy a skein of yarn from independent makers, say, at fiber festivals, you don't always have more than a toe-tag -- and you need (to be selling lawfully) to say what the fiber content is, how many yards or ounces, and whether it's imported.   So it was our practice to label everything -- name of maker, amount of yarn, fiber, etc etc.  We were even hand-carding all of our new and vintage buttons on special cards with sewing thread. 

It was too expensive to maintain.  Now, we use little plastic bags and wire to mount buttons on cards.  And the yarn -- well, we still use Artisan Knitworks ivory-colored yarn bands from time to time.

Suddenly, today, we heard the complaint again.  I just don't know why it MATTERS so much to people and, more to the point, why people assume that we must not be doing things for a good reason.  Must be something bad.  This time, the complaint seems to have been that we are depriving indie dyers of the right to use their own, expensively designed labels and using our own.

These people have never run a yarn shop that specializes in indie yarns -- so here is part of the rather complex situation.  I do wish people would ask ME, though.   And I am often made sick at heart by the rather nasty quality of these complaints.  Why not assume the BEST?  We are trying very hard to maintain a tone of optimism, joy, LOVE of fiber.  And this kind of nonsense seriously detracts.

I wonder if people think about how much this kind of irresponsible, fact-free criticism HURTS people, in both emotional and financial terms.  Fiber-lovers are generally good-hearted people, so what gives with this kind of thing?    

But.  Here are the conditions under which I might use an Artisan Knitworks band:

*  Often, yarn bands come off.  That is particularly true when Indie dyers, and some better known companies, use fairly cheap paper, put the bands on loosely, and so on.  The bands rip, or they come off and get lost when customers rough-house the yarn.  So we put on an intact band with all of the information on the original band.  The alternative is to have unidentified yarn. That's why some companies are using alternatives to bands -- e.g., Prism uses wonderful little labels that slip OVER a strand so they almost never come off.  Other companies have taken to using little pamphlets.  And so on -- the minute you use a BAND,  it can get lost.  And if it's put on with just a wee hunk of tape, it almost always comes off.   I sometimes wonder whether there ought to be some kind of packaging seminar so that people could avoid all of the loose bands, and also the infuriating half-bands that are stuck into the center of balls of machine-packaged yarn.  They almost always pop off and get lost.  I wonder if people realize how easy it is to end up with "mystery yarn," which means financial loss, when bands are gone on hand-painted yarn.  

*  Very often, people who only make a few skeins of handspun or hand-dye use only toe-tags.  When I buy the yarn at fiber festivals, I can't sell it that way.  LAW requires that I give fiber content, yards or ounces, and so on -- not to mention the name of the maker and whether imported.  So of course I have to re-label it.  What else would I do???  Name, amount of yarn, fiber, the same information.

* Sometimes, when I buy from a small company, they ask ME whether I want skeins that they will have to ship WITH labels or WITHOUT labels.  Notwithstanding romantic ideas to the contrary about indie dyers' love of their own labels, what they really need to do is to make money.  So if I want to do the labeling, some of them actually are relieved.  LESS COST.  This helps the dyer.  That's a good thing, not a bad thing.  This has never happened with a big company, but it's happened maybe a dozen times with small producers.

* Also sometimes, a dyer will ask me whether I want bands with prices or without.  I say without.  Once not long ago, the dyer had to send me unlabeled yarn because she was OUT of the labels without prices.  This happens most often when a dyer sells mostly at festivals and has a small wholesale trade.  Festival prices are not equivalent to wholesale or retail.  They're in between often.

*  I have been known to ask dyers if I COULD swap their flimsy or hard-to-find labels for ours.  If they say, no, then I leave it.  If they say, sure, then -- well, I re-label.  I always have a good reason for wanting to do this; usually, it's because the label is apt to come off.   But, in the case of early purchases of Ellen Minand's beautiful big hanks, it was because you couldn't SEE her labels.

I hope this beginning explanation helps.  And, next time, folks, please assume GOOD things, and ask me directly.  Let's get rid of ALL toxicity.  Thanks.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

THIRD COAST FESTIVAL -- and you.....!

OK, so now that Artisan Knitworks is in its new home in Farmington, MI, it's time to focus attention on the fabulous Third Coast Fiber Arts Festival, to be held October 18-19 at Wayne State University.   Let me be blunt:   Some of you probably have noticed (who could miss it?) the very bad publicity about Detroit that has flooded the airways and newspaper front pages.  Bankruptcy indeed has happened.   Detroit indeed has some abandoned buildings.   But, sadly, the media has focused on bad stuff -- and not paid any attention to the really wonderful places in Detroit, the great recovery that has occurred over the past while.  As last year, but more pointedly, I am hearing things about how unsafe Detroit is, how difficult it would be to attend a festival in midtown, etc.  

It's important to be respectful.  I don't want to suggest that people shouldn't believe what they believe if they want to.   But I DO know this:   Wayne State University is situated within a BOOMING local economy.  Midtown Detroit is not falling down.  Midtown is an economic success and has been for the past several years.  Wayne State has 32,000 wonderful students and a huge staff.   It also has a large public safety department.  Recently, we learned that we have THE safest campus of any of the public universities in Michigan.   Please read that sentence over again.   The festival takes place in a glass and marble palace designed by the famed architect Yamasaki.

Most important -- even if facts don't about midtown don't do the trick -- I hope that people will consider who is coming.

Barry Klein!  Laura Bryant!  Lily Chin!  Candace Eisner Strick!  Judy Pascale!  Jill Bigelow Suttell!  Sarah Peasley!  and a wide array of local talent.  Costs are almost half of what these people command at other festivals -- we're trying to make things available to people in a city hard-hit by recession.

We have better enrollment than last year in our workshops, which is GOOD.  Four of them (including one of Chin's) are apt to fill completely within the next week.   So, if you want to work with these amazing people, click on our website (www.thirdcoastfiber.com) and make selections.  Parking is a half-block from the McGregor Center, and it's of course guarded (always has been).  If you haven't been to Midtown in the past few years, it's fair to say you will be astonished. 

We are very pleased with enrollments thus far in the workshops.  We still have room  on the above-ground vendor floors for makers and other artisans, so if you know somebody who spins or dyes, etc., put them onto the festival.  We might have missed somebody.