Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Keep the Fleece: Sheep to Scarf Fundraiser 2009

Whoohoo! Back for the 2nd time this week.

I finally feel like I am becoming human again - between the insanity of opening the store and the onslaught of Stitches, things felt a bit too chaotic for my liking. When I am in the middle of the insanity, I know that one day things will calm down again, that I will even miss the chaos a bit, but I still have a hard time staying balanced in those moments of extreme stress. So, now, I am happy. Happy that Stitches is over, happy that I am back to blogging, I really missed it. Happy that soon, I will be uploading new colors and products to the website. We have a lot of stuff in the store that has not made it to the website. And, happy to simply hang out with my dog and knit. Now, if I had my druthers, in a month or so, when the weather warms a bit, I would love to rent a house on the coast, knit, spin, cook, and hike. Ah - sounds so dreamy. Could I pull it off? Maybe. We'll see.

So I am going to make an announcement - you are gonna love this - we are mere sentences away from an entire diatribe of how I am going to rest a bit more - ease into things - but I LOVE creating - so what to do! What I am about to announce is the essence of life - it's what makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning, so here it is...

Keep the Fleece: Sheep to Scarf 2009

As some of you may be aware, The United Nations has declared 2009 as the The International Year of Natural Fibres. Now, for most of us, I would say that every year is the year of natural fibers - but think this is a great opportunity to get together, represent, and raise some money supporting the production and use of natural fibers.

So, while I was at Stitches West, I had the opportunity to meet Linda Cortwright, editor and founder of Wild Fibers magazine. In honor of this year, she has created an organization called Keep the Fleece.

The goal is to raise $250,000 for Heifer International. Heifer International will then use this money to buy fiber producing animals for people in need - so that they will have a form of income.

At Keep the Fleece, they are challenging us to get together and to create a scarf 9” wide. For every row knit, they are asking for $1 per row donation. That means that a scarf 9x60” long would equate roughly to a $600 donation. Once the scarf is complete, we send it to Keep the Fleece and it will become part of a traveling exhibition - the first stop will be Rhinebeck. There is also talk of it going to the White House and beyond to provide a visual representation of those that support natural fibers - and those of us which participate in crafts which use such.

I love a good challenge. And this being Verb’s year of service, I thought it would be fun to participate. I am still working out the details but know this much -

I propose we do a sheep to scarf event on Saturday, April 25th from 10am to 6pm. This event will take place at the Verb store in Berkeley. Now, the folks over at Keep the Fleece only ask us to knit a scarf - but all of us at Verb - employees and customers alike - seem to come from an over achieving background - so I thought that it would be fun to incorporate spinning. My idea is that we would have a team of spinners and a team of knitters - that we could spend the day spinning and knitting - finish the scarf(ves) and hang them in the Verb store for a month or so before sending them off to Keep the Fleece.

So, here’s the next challenge, I am wondering if we could do more than 1 scarf. I would love to do 2 maybe even 3 scarves.

Scarf 1: handspun, handknit wool & exotics
Scarf 2: handspun, handknit fiber from local farms
Scarf 3: handspun, handknit cellulose - crazy, I know, but how cool would it be!!

Potentially this could mean that we would need 60-80+ people to show up, donate, and work.

Here is my request, if you would like to participate, and I hope you do - I am asking each participant to reserve there space in this event by registering on the Verb website. The cost to participate starts at $30. There is a sliding scale, if you would like to donate more, please go ahead and do so. This amount covers your registration, your fiber, and your donation as well as yummy snacks and drinks on the day of the event. Participating will also give you a chance to meet new friends who share your love for fiber. Also, if this amount of money seems to large for you, how about getting pledges from your friends and family?

Also, if you would like to participate in the design of the scarves, please let me know. I think that before the event, it would be fun for a group of us to come together and get the designs down on paper before the event takes place. Perhaps the designers could act as team captains.

I've also received some questions about folks who can't make it the day of the event but would like to donate money to the event. That's great and we'll happily accept your pledges. Dependent upon the amount of money we receive from these donors, we may be able to sponsor folks who would like to participate in the event but can't afford to and/or use the money to cover those that are donating $30 v. $40.

For the record, I believe in full disclosure. Regarding the cost of materials (fiber), for this event I am contributing spinning fiber at cost, therefore, a small portion of the donation will be going to the fiber materials. That said, already a few generous folks have offered to contribute money to cover materials, therefore, we can pay forward some donations 100% instead of 95%. Regarding disbursement of fiber, my plan is to estimate the amount of fiber necessary to spin and knit a 9x60 scarf, I will then divide that amount of fiber amongst the team. If we have left over fiber at the end of the day, it's yours.

We intend to document the lead up to this event, as well as the day of the event, including everyone who contributes to the event - those present as well as those who donate.

Here are some fibery photos to entice you.

I am really excited about this (I think Marcel is too, but he is such a diva, he has to play it cool)- I think this could be a ton of fun. I hope you are excited too!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Get Stitchy With it! Stitches West 2009

There is a part of my brain that is exhausted - and all it can say is "Thank God it's over" and then there's the other part of my brain. The part that gets me into all sorts of trouble - and that part can't wait to do it again. Who will win?

Beyond all of the arguments, Stitches West was once again an amazing experience. Don't get me wrong, love all of the yarn. But love the people I meet more. In my world, Suze Orman says "People first, then yarn, then things."

Here are a few photos of the days leading up to the event.

A moment of labeling mania.This is our new 100% BFL yarn, DK weight. It's funny how my brain understands making yarn. We get very excited when the yarn comes out of the dyepot and figure that it is now finished. Wrong! So very wrong! Only halfway to being done. There is washing, drying, re-skeining, labeling, pricing, and then inventory. I am learning, the hard way, that yarn coming out of the dyepot 3 days before a show needs more than 3 days to accomplish the above list of tasks.

Designing the booth layout with my architect friend Tiffany. So, then the yarn and the fiber are labeled but it doesn't end here in show land. Now, it's time to design display units, choose materials, build them, and decide how they will live in a 10x10 space. Seriously, Adrienne and I almost got divorced over these units. Truly. Verb almost went up for sale. First $10 takes all. In the end, the units were built, stained, and held yarn, all in a few day's work. Tiffany's way of seeing space is amazing. She worked it. The weather co-operated and we had sunny skies long enough to set things up and take them down.

Adrienne and I met Michael at the studio Thursday morning, loaded our van and his car, and embarked on our adventure to Stitches. Honestly, I was so exhausted that I was finding it difficult to be nervous. It's about a 30 minute drive down to Santa Clara from Berkeley. As we were getting on 237 from 880, we heard a sound, a thumpy bumpy sound, the car slowing, Adrienne pulled it over to the side of the road. Our tire was flat. I burst out laughing! What else to do? Michael came to the rescue. He has AAA. Thank god! They came within 3 minutes, changed our tire, and we were on our way.

This is what we created when we arrived to Stitches.

Open for business! Through the doors of Stitches, all sorts of insanely awesome, creative, sweet people grace the halls of Stitches. Some highlights - but not limited to - include:

CAT Bordhi! So fun, and super sweet. Loves Thai Iced Tea. Photo courtesy of Michael Wade.

I also had the chance to chat a bit with Rosemary of Designs by Romi. She is my friend on Twitter so it was great to see her in real life. Love her, love her work, almost finished with Waves of Grain. Met the peeps at Blue Moon, they are PUMPED about Sock Summit. Very cute.

Towards the end of Saturday, I got this sudden urge to purchase yarn. Crazy, right? My criteria: yarn that I had absolutely nothing to do with creating, worsted to bulky, instant gratification, it could even be a bit trashy if necessary. I cruised the market, poking my head into many a booth looking for my new love. And there it was: Toots Le Blanc bulky Jacob/Alpaca in this beautiful creamy color with just a hint of warm pink. I had been to the Asciano booth earlier looking at spindles and headed back that way - although, not to purchase a spindle - with the intent to buy a gorgeous pair of hand turned, rosewood needles. Both purchases so simple yet so luscious. It was exactly the treat I was looking for. Satisfied, I returned to the Hilton, sat on an overstuffed couch in the lobby, knit, and drank a vodka with soda.

Later that night, we made our way to a cocktail party atBobbin's Nest in Santa Clara. It was my first time to the store. It's adorable. I highly recommend a visit and everyone there was so nice. Bobbin's Nest was the first store I've been to in the South Bay. I feel a shop hop coming...

Well, if you were at Stitches, I hope that you had a great time. Everyone else, I hope you are well. Spring is coming and I am so excited. Walks with my dog very high on the list of wonderful things to do.