All I Want for Christmas...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

While I knit on my Chamonix sweater, I got all googly thinking about how lucky I am. But I would be lying if I said there weren't things in life I'd like, that would make life easier. And no, money isn't one of them.

1. A dishwasher. it's funny how this keeps coming up in our lives and in my blog! Dishes pile up so quick, and then lay around til they get washed. Neither one of us is lazy so that isn't for very long, but wouldn't it be nice to have something else do them for you? If nothing else the dishes are out of sight and the sink is clean. (clean sinks and counters, along with a made bed and vacuumed floor, relax me.)

2. A working vacuum. See above, our vacuum just spews dust. Since I like a clean carpet, I have been using a handvac to clean it. I know, I am insane. But I can't stand gross carpet, and our carpet is white (or used to be, anyway.)

3. A big gift certificate to Plum Good Foods a Nashville-based grcery delivery business that only carries organic, fair-trade, etc. etc. Even the meat and eggs they carry are free range. The prices are not thtat far above what we normally pay for most things, but the $8 delivery charge just stings. I know our friend and neighbor KlaraTyson gets it, so I am wondering if we can split the cost and order together!

4. A gym membership. I thought I'd get one locally, but $70 is just out of my price range. Now that Mark's going regularly I am wishing I could too, if only to take yoga and swim. This one makes me saddest.

As the leaves begin to bud and the ground thaws, my mind turns to our lease, which expires in May. We have to stay close to school, and very well may stay in this apartment. But I would dearly love a) dishwasher, b) second bedroom/studio, and c) more kitchen counter space.

Also, wood floors. No more of this carpet shit. it is too hard to clean and nobody seems to pick a decent color, like say, TAN or BLUE. Instead, we get light grey and BROWN-ORANGE. Ewww!

I think I will clean the apartment (to make myself feel better) and do my yoga dvd (to feel less gross).

More than one toe in the water...

Monday, January 30, 2006

I placed my first order today for yarns to knit the winter collection 2006. After weeks of deliberation, I decided this series would lean towards the soft, organic, and natural. Pale without being baby, with a predominance of violets and cream. What I ordered:

Louisa Harding Kimono Angora
Louisa Harding Kashmir
Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk
Rowan 4ply Soft

Obviously my bank account is hurting right now, but since it'll be sent out again to be sold I don't feel *too* much panic. :) I already have some designs in my head and plan to spend the afternoon doing some drawings. I wish the yarn was here now though, rather than having to wait. Well, you never get what you really want, and I needed a chance to finish my Chamonix sweater anyway. (I am through the body and nearly done with sleeve 1, in case you're wondering.)

I also have the Karabella Magritte from my SP... which I love. I am really thinking about doing a collection out of cashmere yarn, but it'll have to wait til I have the extra money to afford it. I don't want to do low-quality stuff just to have "cashmere" on the label; better to sit on my hands til I can use the real thing.

Wanna hear something nice?

Mark had to write some haiku for an assignment, and to show him how it works, I wrote him a haiku. He then wrote one for me, and I thought I'd put it up. :)

You are squishy and smell nice
Your hands are delicate
You make me feel happy and warm

What girl's heart isn't melted by that?

(I've begun working on some designs to send to the shop in Auckland. If I stay on it I should have some finished by the end of this week. Rock! :)

Jack's Aran Cardigan

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

man, I am happy right now. I have been really good about knitting (and spinning) out of my stash as of late. I did decide that it was ok to buy books and needles right now, since those things can help me knit up yarn that's been languishing, waiting for the right pattern. I have been wanting two books though, Men in Knits and Knitter's Stash. The Knitter's Stash has a pattern for the Euroflax Sheila has ordered that's lovely, as well as a sweater that I love. But Men in Knits, I wanted it sight unseen for this project which I want to make for my dad. But I just could not justify the cost, especially since I just ordered Sewing for Dummies from Along comes the Interweave "Hurt Book" sale, which had not one, but BOTH books I wanted for under $25 total, rather than the $50 that I would've paid. How could I say no to that? I ordered both, and now I have to be good til I've saved the money to buy the yarn to make said cardigan for my dad's birthday (on March 9!). I won't be using Knitpicks, by the way, but something from Threaded Bliss. I like Knitpicks and all, but I also like being able to return leftover yarn without hassle, supporting my LYS (and my job), and since it's so involved I want to make sure this sweater lasts!

I'm not sure what yarn to use though, so I may wait til after inventory and see what new stuff has come in before making any final decisions.

I took my first spinning class last night, and I LOVE IT. And, I hate to sound snobby, but I'm good at it. Even my meagre experience with David's wheel seemed to prepare me for it. Call me weird, but I like the spindle better. Is it slower? Yes. But it's also portable, and the slower speed allows much more control for this beginning spinner. I liked doing it so much that I spun three hanks of yarn before bed, over 100 yards total. The one I'm most proud of is spun up from a deep violet and blue merino/tencel mix that I bought many moons ago when I had David's wheel. It's drying right now but I'll get a shot of it tonight.

Hope you're all doing well!

If I ran a yarn store....

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I'm taking a break from knitting the second sock to post about something that's been bothering me lately. Knitters are such a friendly bunch, why is it that so many people have negative experiences in yarn shops? I don't mean that a shop is nasty, dirty, or unstocked... but the majority of complaints are about rudeness. It's something I've noticed more recently myself, and the trend is disturbing. We can't really complain about knitting "dying down" as a trend when we scare customers out of our shops or make them feel unwelcome. Especially now that so many knitters have blogs or forums, and post their experiences which affect whether or not people ever even make that first trip in. I thought of some things that could be improved, both from what I've observed and what others have said. Post your experiences in the comments too, and maybe some shop owners out there will read this and see room for improvement in their own stores! :) (my ulterior motive should be obvious - the happier customers, the more shops that stay open!)

1. Do not talk about customers or other employees in front of customers. Or really, negatively at all. It is normal to dislike someone. However, it is so rude and unprofessional to talk about it in front of a customer. If nothing else, they will walk away wondering if they will be talked about as well.This also includes bad mouthing other shops! It's one thing to say, "I'm sorry, but we are out of that needle and we tend to have the largest selection of needles in this area." It is TOTALLY another to say "They are so snotty, I don't know anyone who's had a good experience there!" Concern yourself with your own business. If the other store is snotty, well, their customers will come to you instead and you will not have to open your mouth at all.

2. Do not make the shop environment negative! I have seen this so much it's not even funny. When you are sick, stay home. If you need a hug, a smoke, a good cry or a glass of wine to stay civil, go get it and come back. Do not greet customers by saying "Hey, how are you? Oh, well, (insert long list of everything that has ever been wrong in your life)." They are not here to be your therapist, they are here to buy yarn or get help!

3. Treat every person who comes through the door as a potential customer. Whether they buy $100 worth of yarn a week, or sit and knit on their acrylic baby blanket from Michael's, they are here for a reason. Maybe it's the pleasant environment, the camraderie, to take a class, or just to look at yarn. If they wanted to stay home and knit and be ignored, they would. Greet them, give them advice or encouragement when they need it, and they'll repay you by being a good word-of-mouth advertiser if not a purchasing customer. Eventually they will need some stitch markers, or needles, or a knitting bag, so don't assume because they don't knit with your yarn, they don't want one of these other things!

4. Don't treat customers as if they will steal something if you turn your back. We customers can feel when we are being "watched" and it's insulting. Keeping an eye on your merchandise is part of the many jobs that owners must do, but how often do people steal? For most shops, the answer is "not often enough to alienate other customers with poor behavior." You may lose one $50 garment that you knitted yourself, but you lose many dollars in business when you are rude to customers or make comments like "we have that knitted up somewhere, assuming someone hasn't STOLEN it." (Yes, I have heard it.)

5. Do not charge people for help! Before you think I am insane, read the full paragraph. When someone buys yarn from you, they are paying more because they want a brick-and-mortar store to come back to when they are stuck. If you do not have the staff to help all the time (and most people don't) then the best answer is not "take a class," but "I'm sorry, but we're swamped today and I can't give you the attention you deserve. If you'd like to come back, you can call ahead on X day, we're usually slow enough on that day to help you for a few minutes." The key here is to be polite and honest, but not imply that the customer is a burden or annoying you. If I am made to feel this way, I "burden" some other shop with my money next time! If someone needs extended help, such as starting a big project or is a total beginner, then suggest a private lesson. Emphasize that this is for the customer's benefit, providing them with one-on-one help and attention. Do not make it sound like you are just out to raid their pocketbook for their precious yarn money. :)

All this being said, I have been in very many good yarn shops. I hope this list helps somebody make their customers even happier, growing their business, and making it a good pit stop for me and others while on vacation! :)

Whoa... it's been a while.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Truth be told, I've been back a week. I had a great time, but I am tired of people I don't know asking about my trip and wanting to see photos and being kind of, well, pushy so out of resentment I'm going to skip the trip talk for now.

What's concerning me now is this: small apartment + girl trying to start new business + yarn +boyfriend = not much room for an office.

The obvious answer is to get a bigger apartment. And we will, but not til at least May. And even then, it won't be a huge jump or anything. (I am not-so-secretly hoping we will find a 2-bedroom with dishwasher. HAHA, good luck!) We can't afford to buy a bunch of new stuff (see: yarn) and Mark doesn't have time to rearrange the whole apartment with me, so it's just me. Which can be good. But right now it's just frustrating. Here are some of the main issues:

1. There is no "room" for an office of any kind, much less a studio. I have two desks, one of which is not really useful for this kind of stuff but it has sentimental value. I have a feeling this desk will go to Salvation Army, but only when Mark is there, holding my hand while I sob. *grin*

2. The desk must go in the bedroom. It just can't be any other way that I can see, without majorly moving some furniture. That also leaves Mark the living room to surf the net and read. (I will miss the couch though. We have become knitting buddies, me and the couch.) However, I have a sturdy sit-up pillow and a feathertop mattress so I can knit on this when the feeling moves me.

3. Our bedroom is cramped, to say the least. It doesn't help that it has three doors leading into it and two big windows. I need wallspace to put in shelves, but the only fully open wall is where the bed is. (or right next to the bed. Also nixed.) mark has a desk too, but I'm not moving it as that motha' weighs about 1000 pounds.

4. I have a lot of ugly plastic storage containers, and two pretty FANGST organizers from IKEA. There are no ceiling hooks in the bedroom, so Mark will have to install one for me if I want them next to the desk. He will not be keen on this idea, I don't think. (Neither am I. The ceiling looks rickety, and the FANGST holds a motherlode of yarn).

Clearly, a few things will have to happen. FANGST will hang in the closet, which will be next to the desk, or remaining in the living room where it currently resides. The bed will have to move against one wall or the other, to prevent me from going insane planning around it. Beds are for love and sleepytimes, not for the tearing out of hair or crying or throwing things in a fuss. So let's just move it!

All of the art supplies overflowing will go into the containers emptied by yarn going into the FANGST. Poor Mark; I will catalog them lovingly to give them some chance of being found again.

.... now to work...!

Oh. The vacuum cleaner only spews dust. Isn't that just sad? :\ I'll post before and afters if I get it finished today, kids!