Slowing Down to Gear Up!

Kathleen & Annie On The Road

When Kathleen and I are on the road, we’re ON THE ROAD.  For the first few years we travelled, I liked to pretend that I’d actually get work done, taking my computer and knit projects with me wherever we went.

It became pretty obvious, though, that time on road meant ROAD TIME, and although I’d squeeze out the odd new design, or blog post, the energy required to be present in classes and in the booth meant that our non-show hours were usually just recharging our batteries.

The unknown knitter!

This isn’t a bad thing, although at first I thought it was.  Learning to accept that I have limited time and energy forces me to focus more intently on exactly WHAT is the most important thing for me to do.  These past two weeks, the most important thing I needed to do was REST.

Physically I was shattered – perhaps a bit mentally, too – and as I told Gerry this morning, “Sitting and resting is the hardest work I’ve ever done!”

Kathleen, Layla, Annie, Becca.

Tomorrow I go back into the dye studio, although my assistant will be handling just about EVERY physical aspect of the work.  I’m still a mass of pain, my chest burns with the Costochondritis and walking is still a bit painful from the accompanying sciatica.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to use Layla (my assistant) to help me bridge the place from not being able to do ANYTHING to doing EVERYTHING myself.

Asking for help is hard.  Almost as hard as resting. I have to get better at doing both if I intend to do this rather physical job of yarn dyeing for the long haul!

And – for what it’s worth – I HAVE been working on a new design idea or two during my self-imposed sitting time.  Idle hands, and all that.  And if I continue to recover as I have been, I’m hoping to be back on my bike sometime this week, just for a mile or so, just to get my muscles used to the feeling of riding.

And I REALLY need some of that riding joy right about now!

Our next show isn’t until August 17, so I have plenty of time to move slowly.  It’s the wonderful Michigan Fiber Festival, one of our favorites and it’s in Allegan, MI.  Please do come by and say, “Hi!” if you’re in the area — you won’t regret it, it’s a LOVELY show!

Learning Curve

ModeKnit Yarn is in it’s 5th year, which kind of blows Kathleen and me away.  And every day we learn new things.

The Slippy Cowl, Our First Pattern!

We started this with $2,000 and an agreement on who would do what (which was pretty fluid, but for the most part I do the dyeing, and Kathleen does all of the less-sexy-but-more-important stuff like insurance, taxes, booking us into fiber shows, etc.)

Kathleen is also the booth maven.

It’s her world, I just hang out and tell bad jokes.

When we first started it took us 4+ hours to set up our booth, and almost as long to take it down.

Our First Year At Yarn Over in Minneapolis

So much blood, sweat, tears and toil…

Now we can get the booth up in 2+ hours (depending on helpers…) and our breakdown time runs from 1-2 hours (depending on how difficult it is to get to our trailer from the show floor.)

We’ve recently streamlined our yarn display, now we use pants hangers so we can display an entire range of colors on one hanger, and make it easier for folks to pull out yarn and compare it with other colors (or carry it to the doorway to see it in daylight, etc.) 

New Yarn Display at Shepherd’s Harvest, 2018

As a side benefit, it also REALLY cuts down on our setup and breakdown time, and allows us to organize our yarn by color much easier.

For a few years now we’ve displayed our yarn in long, un-twisted skeins, but now we’ve been able to cut out a great deal of grid wall and those metal arms!

Layla & Her Beautiful FLOW

All of this has taken time, and we’ve had ‘bright ideas’ that were anything BUT bright when we actually implemented them.

But that’s how we learn!

Another learning curve was making our FLOW yarn.  It’s a pretty labor-intensive product, it takes time to knit the fabric, dye the fabric, then UNKNIT the fabric into balls so the color change is visible from the top of the ball.

When I think of my first experiments in trying to create a slow-color change gradient yarn, I could both laugh and cry.

WORKING Machine!

Now we have a pretty streamlined method, and the best part is we’ve been able to teach our employees (Becca, Layla, sometimes Andy) how to create relatively consistent colorways, which has always been our goal.

But in the time since we started, I’ve become an expert at taking apart and repairing Silver Reed 150 knitting machines, and have discovered resources for some of those pesky, easy-to-break parts.  The things we learn…

Broken Machine…

I’ve also become a dab hand at taking apart and cleaning our electric ball winder and swift.  Because I love the glamour.

We’re still growing, we’re still working on breaking that ‘more going back into the biz than in our pockets’ threshold, but we’re both very lucky that we love what we do, and love spending time together and meeting so many lovely fiber folks at the various festivals where we vend.

2015 Our First 5×8 Trailer

One thing we’ve learned THIS year is that we are NOT superwomen.  This Spring Kathleen seemed to go from one cold to another, with sinus infections along the way.

When bronchitis reared it’s ugly head last week, we made an executive decision to opt out of one of our favorite fairs, The Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Fest, and stayed home so that BOTH of us could rest.

2018 Our NEW 5×10 Trailer!

It was perhaps the best decision we made all year, and taught us what we both already knew; you can’t run on empty and expect to go very far!

We hope to see you at one of the shows we WILL be able to attend, just coming up in the next weeks are The Great Lakes Fiber Show; Estes Park Wool Market; Iowa Sheep & Wool Fest and Houston Fiber Fest.

So, yeah, I guess it IS good that we took this week “off”!

And now, for your visual enjoyment, here’s some of what Layla and I worked up this week.!

FLOW Yarn Drying, May 2018

It’s Time for our Winter Sale!

Our annual winter sale is HAPPENING NOW!

Use code winter2018 at checkout to take 20.18% off your total purchase through January 31st!  Everything (except memberships to the Cassini Yarn Club) is on sale.

Have you been hankering for a new jacket? Our Garter Stripe Jacket Kit is now available online!  This cozy jacket is always a hit at fiber shows. Kits are available in a range of sizes starting at just $96.00 ($76.62 during the winter sale if you use code winter2018).

Shown in Lyanna Blue, Gilmarite, Pewter and Hydrangea FLOW.  Create your very own signature jacket by choosing four different colors for your kit; three non-FLOW colors and one FLOW colorway.  The finished garment runs large, so choose one size smaller if you need to.

Brahmin Moth Shawl in Sapphire, Chabazite and Bristol Pool.

What about a new shawl? Our Brahmin Moth Shawl is a fun project. A series of large miters and slip stitches and lots of garter stitch make this an adventurous (and intermediate) knit. For spectacular results chose three colorways; two colorways that you love, and one colorway that ties them together.

 

Slippy Cowl
Kathleen’s Slippy Cowl in ModeLuxe DK

 

Cowl anyone? Our Slippy Cowl will add a pop of color to any dark winter day! Choose two highly contrasting colors of Worsted or DK to achieve  the colorwork effect. The secret is you’re only knitting with one color at a time! If you can knit and purl, you can make this cowl!

 

Spinny Chullo in ModeSock

Do you crochet? Our Spinny Chullo kit is for you! This chullo is an excellent crochet adventure. Written for an intermediate crocheter, an adventurous beginner could work it as well.

Choose two contrasting colors and get started on your hat!

 

Remember, use coupon code winter2018  for 20.18% off now through January 31st!