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

Mom Loves You

Annie’s mom, Mabel Anna Williams Modesitt, & unnamed goat, c 1946.

You know that, though.

Moms have bad days, and good days, and days that are indescribably complex.  Most of my days fall in that last category.

But the through-line of motherhood is love.

It surrounds everything a mom does, even if she doesn’t realize it.  It inhabits every waking moment and most of the sleeping ones.

Some of us are born with a terrific mom, some of us “adopt” one (or several) along the way.

Some of us are fortunate enough to BE moms (either physically or emotionally) to a child, a friend, a furry creature, or even a movement.

Hockey Gothic!

I’m a mom to two amazing kids, but I also feel that I mother (albeit for a brief time) students in my classes, the young women who work for me, sometimes my husband and even my business partner (and she mothers me, too, when I need it!)

One of the happiest, most positive changes in our American society in the past 25 years is the degree to which men are happy to embrace the more “maternal” sides of their natures, some men make the best “mothers” I know.

Two Cool Kids

We demonstrate our love in myriad ways.  Recently I’ve reflected that the amount of time I’ve spent driving kids around is probably one of the better metrics of my mom-ness; this lifestyle would have been a mystery to my grandmother (born 1889).

I wonder if my not-yet-even-imagined granddaughter will someday return to a method of mothering that doesn’t involve hundreds of hours sitting in a car surrounded by children.

In the past few years I’ve been using baking to demonstrate my love to my kids (video: max eats cake); they’re away from home at college, I miss them, and baking is something physical I can do with an end product I can send to them.

Gerry, Andy, Elaine, Gayle Jasper

This week I’ll have both kids home — Andy semi-permanently after college graduation (video: Andy Graduates!) — and I’m SO looking forward to it.

Speaking of the graduation, it was such a lovely event, and so wonderful to be able to have Gerry’s mom, Elaine, come out for the event along with Gayle (Gerry’s sister)  Elaine is a force of nature, in the quietest way.  At 91 she moves better and goes farther than many folks my own age.

One of Kathleens kids, Max

Our home is small, we will be ‘on top of each other’ for a while until we work out the daily dance that 4 adults, 3 cats & a dog must engage in to avoid bad feelings.

There WILL be some bad feelings, and tense words, but that comes with the territory of parenting and living with other folks.

But my kids will both be home for Mother’s Day, and that is a joyful thing.

This Mother’s Day we will also be all working together at Shepherd’s Harvest, a great Minnesota Fiber Show and one of our favorite events of the year!

Kathleen and I LOVE Shepherd’s Harvest, even if we usually end up freezing our butts off one of the mornings, it’s just part of the ritual!

So if you’re in Minnesota, and you’re looking for a fun-yet-usual activity for Mom, or just looking for a great gift (there are SO MANY OPTIONS at Shepherd’s Harvest!) please come by our booth and say, “HI!” and visit with us!

Kathleen*, Layla, Annie Becca.
*The pretty one!

Kathleen’s not allowed to bring her cats, or she’d have her own “kids” with her!  However, if you use the secret code, “Kathleen is the pretty one” you can get 20% off of your entire booth purchase at Shepherd’s Harvest!

For those of you unable to visit this great festival, you can shop here at our website, and use the code, “PrettyKathleen” for 20% off of your order until midnight on Sunday!

Back On The Road!

Knitting With Wire,June 8, 9am, Estes Park, CO

Spring means many things to many folks.

In Texas and Kansas, it means tornadoes and tulips.  In Minnesota, it means snowfall generally reduced to 3″/day instead of the Winter average of 8″/day.


For Kathleen and me, Spring means the start of our BUSY-AS-HELL season.  We are busy.  And we love it!

In the past 4+ years, ModeKnit Yarn has grown steadily, and the number of shows we do each year grows as well!  We’re doing some brand new (to us!) shows this year, and returning to some of our favorite stomping grounds, too.

Estes Park

The most important show to mention right up front is the Estes Park Wool Market in Estes Park, CO June 7-10.  Not only will we be at the market selling all kinds of beautiful yarns, patterns and kits, but I will be teaching on Thurs & Friday (my classes are filling up, sign up soon if you don’t want to be disappointed!)

Charted Entrelac, June 8 1:30 Estes Park, CO

Some of my classes at Estes Park are already sold out, but two of my most FUN classes still have openings; Knitting With Wire and Charted Entrelac.

Both of these are excellent for ALL skill levels, and will introduce you to techniques that transcend the subject matter and can be incorporated into your every day knitting!

If you’ll be in Colorado or missed out on my classes at Yarn Fest, this will be a GREAT chance to take a class and enhance your knitting skills!

Mid Plains Fiber Fair

This weekend, May 5-6, Kathleen is in York, Nebraska for the Mid-Plains Fiber Fair.  It’s our first time at this show, and I’m sad not to be there, but thrilled that Karen (our erstwhile booth helper and cheerleader) will be traveling and working along with Kathleen!

I’ll be in Richmond, IN for the graduation of number one child, Andy Brooklyn Landy from Earlham College.  Amazing.  (I’ll write more about this later, but just thinking that the tiny, red haired baby I brought home from Beth Israel Hospital to Brooklyn is now old enough to have a college degree is overwhelming.  Happy tears.)

Shepherd’s Harvest

May 12-13 we’re in our backyard, back in Minnesota for Shepherd’s Harvest!  This yearly event is one of our favorite fiber shows, and never fails to bring the fun and fiber for the whole family!  Come and visit us in Booth B, and leave room for Kettle Corn!

We’ll have some beautiful new colorways to show off, and it’s always fun to take mom out to look at the sheep and goats on Mother’s Day!

Late Spring

Immediately after Shepherd’s Harvest we load up the trailer and head back on the road for fiber shows in Kentucky and Ohio!  More about those next week, but we’re working on adding a trunk show at 614 Studio in Columbus, OH in the week between the Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival and the Great Lakes Fiber Show.

Stay tuned, or sign up for our newsletter to keep up
on all of the details of our fiber travels!