Sunday, September 19, 2010

The New Store.

Ok, I said it. I typed it. It's officially announced. On my blog. I am building a new shop. If you get the Verbivore, or you just received the new Spin-Off, or you a regular at our current shop, then you probably know this already, though to make this real to me, I needed to blog about it.

I must admit. I can be a realist. Some may call it pessimism. Though, in my defense, I'm not sure this would all be happening without my realist outlook and a huge helping of blind faith and optimism. So, when it became a question of announcing the new shop, I kept waiting for the right time. A time when the project would not slip through my fingers as I announced it. Was it when we signed the lease? Very exciting, but not really the time. Was it after the fire inspector walked through (and my heart nearly stopped beating)? Nooooo. How about when we submitted our plans to the City of Oakland? No, not really then either. Well then, how about when we received our building permits? Nope.

So, what finally changed my mind? We've hired a contractor (good lord!) and are about to start jack hammering trenches into the floor for our plumbing and bashing through the sheet rock to pull electrical wires! Woot! Ironically, with the act of demolishing, and the advent of construction, I finally feel that this project is mine and that we are truly going to have a new shop. Very Kali-esque, no?

Starting now, in this post, I am going to give myself permission to fall completely in love with my new space, throwing my fear of abandonment out the window, wax poetic, and tell you all about it. Well, maybe not all about it, I want there to be a few surprises.

The Love Story between Kristine and 6328 San Pablo

I first visited my building in December of 2008 (about 1 week before opening my current shop). I'd been driving past on my way to work and back every day since April 2008. I finally got the courage to call the broker and ask to see it. At that time, both the corner space and my space were vacant. I thought that if I liked either space, it was going to be the corner space. I could envision how magical those corner windows would look full of yarn. Plus, I love the side of that building along Alcatraz and imagined designing a poster based upon the old Italian movie posters except with yarn as the theme hanging there. Except in reality it would probably get tagged within 24 hours. Anyway... I met the broker and looked at both spaces. The corner space, meh. Then, I opened the door to 6328 and saw this: And died. I love exposed beam ceilings. Love!

And, then my stomach grew 1000 tiny knots. Because with that huge beautiful, exposed beam ceiling, there was 1700 sq feet to fill with stock and to pay rent.

No way. Completely over my head. I went back to the studio, exclaiming my love for the space though knowing it was absolutely not the right time. Plus, we were about to open my little shop and really loved the faux store front that we had just built.

Time went on. Every day, I continued to drive past the space. Waiting for the day that it would be rented, the broker's sign removed, and for my heart to skip a beat. Then, the corner space was rented. I was very excited to learn what would open, knowing that it would have a huge impact on whether I would still want 6328. Actual Cafe opened. I was thrilled. Nearly the first day that the cafe opened, Adrienne and I were in there checking it out and meeting the owner, Sal. Actual Cafe promotes community. They serve a large array of beverages, everything from coffee to beer. And they serve food. Perfect for my customers! Aright another 10 points for 6328 San Pablo.

Time kept marching on. In December of 2009, we rented our 3rd space at Activspace. I knew it was only a matter of time before we needed to move or drastically shift my business plan to doing something very different. One idea was to take Verb completely wholesale with a few shows thrown in. We would move to a warehouse where our location wouldn't matter, where rent would be very cheap, possibly share our space with another business. Set-up a truly industrial dye studio.

The other idea was to continue with our current business model, a much trickier scenario. We would need to find a space which would house a retail space, a workshop space, a space to hold classes, a space that would have decent rent, and a place for my customers to park. Wow! That's quite a list of desires.

I started looking seriously at new spaces. After looking for a few months, and admittedly falling for a few, well one in particular (sorry 6328!), I realized that 6328 was, as far as I could see, bearing any major pitfalls, that 6328 was the space for me. 6328 has enough space to house our 3 required spaces. It's on a major thorough fare. There is free parking in front of the shop and throughout the neighborhood.

I contacted the broker and started the negotiations. Now, I'd like to state an aside. From seeing my space way back when to when I decided that I would take the plunge, knowing that I would have a bit of construction to undertake, which I knew NOTHING about, I had a tremendous amount of help and advice from my architect / designer friends S, T, and D (XXOO love, big huge love!!). Ok, back to the story, long time, lease, blah, blah, blah, lease getting stuck on desks, lawyers (another huge piece of love cake served to Karen) holidays, 4th of July, me = no patience. Done! Finally signed!

While that song was playing in the background, Sarah and I were working out the floor plan. Fine tuning where the walls would be built, where the check-out would be located, what kind of lighting we will have, and most importantly where the yarn and the fiber and the FABRIC would be located, and how it will be housed. This is a task that we are still working to complete. Once we finalize our design, we hand it off to Adrienne. She prices it out, purchases the materials, and starts building. We already have one of our new displays in the shop.

Then, very important task, the purchase of new stock for the shop! We wrote to Sanguine Gryphon asking for a wholesale account. Fulling thinking there was no way. Low and behold, they said yes! This is just one example of positive experiences we've had while ordering from new yarn companies. Everyone has been great. I continued through my long list of lovely, companies with beautiful yarn, fiber and fabric. And then, there is always the reminder, that I have a budget. Damn! There's the reality again poking its nose!

Our list of yarns so far include:

A Verb for Keeping Warm
Annie Blatt
Bodega Pastures (grown locally)
Bouton d'Or
Classic Elite
Fibre Co.
Madeline Tosh
Pigeonroof Studios
Sanguine Gryphon
Sweet Georgia
Shaggy Bear Farm (grown in OR)

I have worked to round out the shop so that we will have each gauge covered. We will have everything from lace to super bulky. Given time, we will continue to build or selection. Also, we will be happy to order yarns for you from any of the above companies. If there are any companies you are dying to see yarn from, please let us know. Most of the above yarns can be found in our shop currently, I invite you to come by!

I am very excited to be offering fabric. Right now, being that this post is epic, I am going to do a full, new post all about fabric in the next week or so.

I am so excited to share the new store with you. I can not wait to see all of the planning that we have done come to life. I will continue to post the new products received. Soon I will have more information on when we will open and when our grand opening party will take place.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Pro-Verbial 2010-11: Rosemary Hill

Profile #4: Rosemary Hill
Wearing her own design, Merope, in garter stitch.
Oh my goodness. Romi. She is one of those people. The kind of person that inspires awe. She is constantly designing the most beautiful projects, everything from the most delicate of shawls to hearty, worsted weight sweaters...with a touch of lace. She even knits with metal as you may know from her book Elements of Style. One of Romi's most current projects is a challenge posed to herself, to design and self-publish 7 Small Shawls between May and the end of 2010. To see, her progress visit her blog. Pretty amazing!

Romi lives in one of my hands down favorite places in the world, Sonoma County, California. I can see the reflection of Sonoma County and its wild, Northern California nature in her pieces. Ice Queen reminds me of the froth on a Pacific wave's crest. Muir alludes to Romi's love for the California Bay Tree. And who wouldn't want to wear Leyfi to the coast on a breezy Autumn day? Romi's pieces are wearable and beautiful.

Well, let's get to it!

When did it first occur to you that you wanted to design knitting patterns?
I guess it was about the time when I realized that I have a compulsive urge to change any and every pattern I knit!

This question could be a little bit like asking who is your favorite child, but really, which of your designs is your favorite and why?
That's a really difficult one! There are several, actually. Of my shawls: I love to look at Fiori di Sole and I love to wear my garter stitch version of Trieste. Of my sweaters: Leyfi without a doubt. I almost couldn't part with it! I can imagine wearing it every day during winter. It's lacy, green, soft, warm and flattering.

What drives you to design? What makes it an integral part of your life?
For me, I think that question is kind of like asking "what drives you to sleep or eat?" ;) I'm always thinking about designs. Before I designed knitwear, it was graphic design and illustration I thought about. When I let my mind wander, it just comes up with designs.

What is your favorite part of the designing process?
Taking the concept and turning it into a garment: the stitch engineering stage, if you will.

You have all the time in the world and have every skill set what would you design?I don't know that I would do anything different. Since I design things that I think people will like knitting, I really try to stay away from esoteric or super fiddly and crazy difficult. I get my enjoyment out of seeing others enjoy the knitting and wearing of my designs, and I don't think a super long and difficult knit would be very enjoyable to most people.

Why have you chosen yarn as your medium v. woven fabric, clay, etc. ?
I've always loved yarn! I have worked with woven fabric and clay and many other media, but I love the feel of yarn and the way knitted fabric behaves. I also absolutely love the knitting community. I think that probably has a lot to do with it!

You were given a time machine, not in the form of a hot tub, but a time machine nonetheless; where back in time would you travel?
Wow. That's a really difficult one. There are so many time periods I would love to see and so many people with whom I would love to talk! I guess, though, if I had to choose one, it would be the conversations and sessions that led to the US Constitution (Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia). What a group of amazingly brilliant minds together in one place! Extraordinary.

When I’m designing I can’t live without: Music.

My favorite tool to assist in designing is: Exercise! It frees my mind.

What has been your greatest knitting challenge so far? And here’s the big question, did you actually complete the project?
Hmmmmmm. That's a difficult one. I have a habit of biting off way more than I can chew. I think that honor would have to fall on the Tina Shawl from Fiddlesticks. It was my very first shawl and I chose way over my head with the thought that I really wanted to knit something I loved rather than something that was easy. I must have ripped out the center portion about 15 times. And yes, I did finish it. By the time I finished it, I was able to read my lace knitting and correct errors by laddering back. They call it "Baptism by Fire." ;)

Where do you hope your designs will lead you?
To continue a life that I enjoy immensely.

What or who has been your major influence in your designs?
Everything I see has an influence. It all sort of swirls around in my mind.

What do you think defines your designs?
This is an interesting question, because it's always difficult to view yourself or your designs as others do. I have never really noticed that I have a particular "look," but people tell me that I do. I don't really see it, myself, so I have stopped trying! I can tell you what I am thinking while designing though. I try to design aesthetically pleasing pieces that I think will be flattering on many different people. I always ask myself if I would feel comfortable wearing it myself, and whether it would look good. Where would I wear it? Could I wear it to a business meeting? Out to dinner? For every day? It's fairly simple to design a piece that looks good on a model in a styled photograph, but for it to look good on real bodies in real life? That takes more planning.

If you could be anywhere in the world knitting, you would be in: The Galapagos - but I don't think I'd be knitting!

Do you spin? Have you knit any of your designs in handspun?
Yes! In fact, I designed and knit Bitterroot from in Verb's silk/camel that I spun into lace weight. It was a very cool process and the fiber was incredible!

What intrigued you to work with AVFKW yarns - and/or to be a designer for the Pro-Verbial Yarn Club?
I love everything about your incredible colors, and I think you're terrific! It was a total no-brainer that I'd want to be involved with your first (yarn) club!

For the Pro-Verbial Yarn Club, you were given a selection of yarn to choose from, why did you choose the yarn that you did?
It sounded luxurious and wonderful. I also wanted to use something a little heavier than a lace weight.

Can you give us a lil’ hint as to what you will be designing for the Pro-Verbial Yarn Club? (motifs, stitch patterns, etc)
Not quite as of yet! I'm waiting for the muse to visit.

We cannot wait for the muse to visit and to see what Romi will create for the Pro-Verbial!

Sign-ups for the Pro-Verbial 2010-11 are almost closed. We have only a couple spots left. if you would like to sign-up or learn more about the Pro-Verbial, please click here.

Thanks to everyone who is reading this post! And thank you Romi for your great interview!