Thursday, December 15, 2005

New: Two from Crystal Palace

We just put on the shelf two new (for us) yarns from Crystal Palace: Cotton Chenille and Party Ribbon. We love mixing ribbon with mohair for quick & elegant scarves & shawls, and Party is one of the most beautiful ribbons I've seen. We have it in solids and multis. The Cotton Chenille has been requested by several customers as the ideal "wash cloth" yarn. Yep, you too can knit a wash cloth! We have twelve colors in stock. Stop in and check them out!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Class Schedule Online

I just posted the new class schedule for Jan/Feb 2006. The link to the class schedule is on the Marin Fiber Arts home page here. I hope I didn't make any typos with the dates. Please let me know if you spot anything that doesn't make sense.

Class Schedule Is Here

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sale Yarns

We now have a 'sale table' near the rear of the store, filled with fun yarns ideal for making last-minute holiday gifts. Yarns such as Malizia, Flurry, Carioca, Fabulash, and others are discounted 20% off the regular price.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Yarn Spotlight: Linea Rossa

Recently I had the opportunity to tour the warehouse of Unicorn Books & Crafts, a major distributor of knitting & craft books (which happens to be located a mere 15 miles from my home). Unicorn also happens to be the exclusive U.S. distributor of Lana Grossa yarns. Since I was not previously familiar with Lana Grossa, I was excited about the prospect of learning about a "new" yarn company.

Apparently Lana Grossa is a major German yarn company which has only been available in the U.S. for approximately three years. They offer a wide range of yarns running from basics to foo-foo novelties. Lana Grossa also publishes a large number of pattern books per year, including a Kids issue and a Men's issue.

Lana Grossa this fall introduced a new line of yarns called 'Linea Rossa'. It's a premium line of three luxury yarns consisting of all natural fibers. Extra-fine Merino wool is used as the base fiber, which they blend with silk, baby alpaca, and cashmere to yield three splendid yarns.

I have added each of these yarns to the inventory in beautiful shades such as chocolate brown, baby blue, natural, wine, hot pink, and a rich deep aqua. In upcoming posts I will be writing more about each yarn as I swatch them up.

You can read a little more about Linea Rossa here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Things are going well...

Just a quick note 'cuz I haven't posted in a long while. Things are going well. The Marin Independent Journal (the local newspaper) printed a great little article about the store several weeks ago, ostensibly to publicize the Knit For Her Cure event that we held on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. The article ran on the front page (bottom) of the Home & Garden section. The phone started ringing at 9:50 am the day that the article ran. 'Where are you located? What are your hours? Etc." The previous trickle of new customers turned into a steady stream once the article ran, and it has yet to let up! Sure, we've had a slow day here and there (like last Thursday during our first big rain storm of the season), but in general sales are getting better and better as time goes on. Many, many people are very interested in classes; I am almost finished planning the class schedule for Jan/Feb. It will feature beginning knitting, crochet, socks, lace, finishing techniques, and a 'my first sweater (vest)' class taught by the lovely and talented Barbara B.

Tomorrow I'll try to take pictures of the store... quite a bit of yarn has come in during the past few weeks.

From here on in I plan on talking a lot about the yarns we have and the projects we are working on.

More to come...

Monday, November 14, 2005

We Have Grand Opened!

Yesterday was a wonderful day... many, many people came out to support us at our Grand Opening Celebration. It was our best day so far for sales, and just as importantly, we received very positive feedback on the store.

Gail provided all the refreshments, including amazing homemade brownies. Meredith provided some of her felted bags as door prizes and store samples, while Joy provided moral support and was indispensable in helping customers (Joy moonlighted at another yarn store for a short time).

And of course there was Barbara B., my left arm and right leg, whirring about helping customers and ringing up sales. Yay team!

Without further delay, here are some pics...


Barbara models her newly completed vest made out of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted (hand dyed yarn). She is teaching a class on how to make this vest.



Intrepid Graphic Designer Meredith Snaps a Pic

Meredith winds yarn as Alan, Gail's boyfriend, looks on with interest. I think.

Kristine: "Hey, that looks like fun! Can I try?".
Meredith: "No, get your own winder. Someday this will all be MINE."

Finally here are some shots of the store. Nice, huh? I'm pleased.

Lots of Shoppers

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Grand Opening & Classes

Our Grand Opening celebration is on Sunday November 13th from 12 - 4 pm.

In preparation for the celebration, yesterday we received the trunk show from Muench/GGH. I was expecting perhaps half a dozen garments from the good folks up at Muench in Petaluma. Instead we got a bonanza. Kirsten Muench, the owner, called to inform me that her father, Mr. Muench, would be personally delivering TWENTY sweaters featuring GGH and Muench yarns! Yay!

The very sweet Mr. Muench hand-delivered two big boxes containing a treasure trove of goodies, including: a slinky sweater made out of Touch Me, several garments made out of Goa, Samoa, Aspen, and Davos (GGH's bread-and-butter yarns), two sweaters made out of heavenly Soft Kid, and an amazing dress made out of cuddly-soft Amelie. We now need to figure out how to display them all - and we haven't even gotten the trunk shows from Lorna's Laces and Blue Sky Alpacas yet! I hope they arrive in time for the Grand Opening.

Muench also generously provided us with door prizes in the form of yarn. I aim to whip up a handful of fabulous scarf kits to give away during the event.

We have also finalized our class schedule. I don't have it in front of me (I'm writing this from home), but (from memory) we are offering the following classes: Crash Course in Knitting (1 session), Crash Course in Crocheting (1 session), Beginner's Knitting (4 sessions), Holiday Scarves (1 session), My First Sweater (4 sessions - create a stylish yet simple vest in Lorna's Laces hand dyed Shepherd Worsted wool), and Kids Knitting (1 session for ages 8-12). The 4-session classes start in about two weeks. Space is available in all classes. Class size will be kept small to ensure individual attention.

For information about any of these events, call the store at 415.459.4600.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Knit Night is Tonight

Everyone is invited to join in on our Knit Night every Thursday evening from 7 - 9 pm. There is no charge. Bring yourself and your project(s). Get to know other knitters, talk about knitterly stuff, or just show and tell. It's very relaxed, informal, and unstructured. You're also welcome to bring a snack or beverage. Poppycock and Sparkling Cider seem to be the refreshments of choice. Hope to see you here!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Day One: Yay!

We survived "Day One - Open For Business" with flying colors. Literally, there was color flying all over the store. Colors of yarn, that is.

We opened on schedule at 10:00 am and I stuck around until about 7 pm - it was hard to leave! I guess I was running on adrenalin because I did not feel tired. i had to force myself to go home.

We had quite a few people stop in to say hello, and about five people actually bought yarn. It was a good day for an unadvertised soft opening day! Thank you to everyone who stopped in! Come back often! New things will be coming in steadily over the next weeks and months. Also, please let us know if you would like to see us carry something in particular. I want to know what YOU want. I've already gotten one vote for Koigu.

We worked dilligently all day long shelving yarn. Almost all the GGH is on the shelf and boy does it look pretty. Still need to find a place for Muench's Tessin and Touch Me.

Crystal Palace is starting to get stickered and shelved. Kid Merino, Kid Merino Print, and Musique are on the shelf (and looking gorgeous). Still working on Fizz, Fizz Stardust and Squiggle.

Got some new knitting needles in: Clover Bamboo Flex needles. Sort of a cross between Straight and Circular needles. I use them almost exclusively for 15 years. Never seen them in stores in California, but I got 'em. Check them out when you stop by! You might like 'em.

The new Rebecca Baby & Kids book, hot of the presses, arrived today. It's SUPER CUTE! I have most of the yarns featured in the book.

I'm also restocked on sock needles (5" double points, sizes 2 and 3).

Let's see, what else found a home today: Broadway and Portrait by Artful Yarns.

We don't have enough shelf space for all the yarn! Need to make another IKEA run I'm afraid. Sigh.

Oh! I forgot to post the store's new phone number! 415-459-4600. If you want to stop by in the evening but can't get to the store by 6 pm, just call the store and I'll stick around. Until we determine the official hours of operation, the store hours will be rather 'flexible.'

Too sleepy to type more... thanks again for a great opening day!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Open For Business: Tuesday, October 25th, 10 am

Marin Fiber Arts will be open for business starting tomorrow, Tuesday, October 25th from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm.

Directions To Store:

Take 101 to Central San Rafael Exit. If heading north, turn Left onto 4th Street. If heading south, turn Right onto Fourth Street.

We are in the big courtyard that contains Cold Stone Creamery, on Fourth Street between Lootens & A Streets in downtown San Rafael. There is plentiful metered street parking and public parking lots. We do not yet have a sign on the building, but there's a sign in the window. We are in the back of the courtyard - not completely visible from Fourth Street. Look for the water fountain. Please stop by and say 'Hi'.

Please bear in mind that we are still setting up; we aim to be finished by Sunday November 13th, which is the day of our Grand Opening.

Most (but not all) yarn is on display.

The following brands will be immediately available:

Nature's Palette
Goddess Yarns (almost all yarns in most colors)
Jo Sharp (all 'Silk Road' yarns in all colors)
Blue Sky Alpacas (all yarns in many colors)
Frog Tree Alpacas (bulky & fingering in assorted colors)
Lorna's Laces (Lion & Lamb, Shepherd Worsted, Shepherd Bulky, Shepherd Sock, & Helen's Lace in 8 colorways)
Rowan (Big Wool, Big Wool Tuft, Big Wool Fusion, Chunky Print, Biggy Print)
Adrienne Vittadini (Trina and Paloma in many colors)
Cascade (220, Sierra, Indulgence, Pima Tencel, etc., plus many novelties)

Yarns partially on the shelf:
Muench/GGH (Aspen, Davos, Goa, Samoa, Bali, Soft Kid, Nevada, Savanna, Amelie, Esprit, Tajmahal, Tessin, Touch Me)

Yarns in the house but not on the shelf yet:
Crystal Palace (Kid Merino, Kid Merino Print, Fizz, Squiggle)
Artful Yarns (Palace, Broadway)

Straight and Circular Needles by Clover (bamboo), Brittany (birch), Susan Bates, & Bryspun. Sock needles. Yet to be shelved: Crochet Hooks & miscellaneous notions (stich holders, markers, scissors, etc.)

Still on the way:
Lana Grossa Self Patterning Sock Yarns

Books & patterns: not stickered yet. I have _all_ Fiber Trends patterns, plus Oat Couture, Knitting Pure & Simple, Mari, Penny Straker, Lorna's Laces, Blue Sky Alpacas, Goddess, and Nature's Palette. Pattern Books by Jo Sharp, Rowan (chunky yarns only), Vittadini, & Rebecca (GGH).

I have yet to place my book order. I will have a modest selection at first.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I am on Sabbatical until Tuesday

By the time 4 pm rolled around on Friday, my left eyelid was fused shut. It wouldn't open. My speech was starting to slur. Walking became shuffling. Getting up from a sitting position required herculean effort.

I. Was. Tired.

Therefore I am officially on sabbatical until Tuesday. No yarn store. No work. All I'm gonna do is sit, eat, cook, watch the sunrise and sunset, maybe hike a little, maybe knit a little. Read. Hang out at cafes and bookstores. Watch some TV. Chill.

See you all on Tuesday!

Final Peek (Part III)

In our travels around Bay Area stores, Barbara and I stumbled upon a humble little metal bowl that is brilliant. It has a simple, pure, yet beautiful shape. It has become our symbol - our mascot, if you will.


A Peek at the Final Week, Part II

Barbara demonstrates Knitting As Yoga


Cash Wrap

The back wall, separating the sales floor from the back room, is made of paper. Designed a high-end design firm out of Vancouver, B.C., this marvel is a portable, foldable wall that's 6.5 feet high and up to 20ish feet long. Eventually it will be lit from behind, making it glow with a soft light that will fill the back of the store.

A Peek at the Final Week, Part I


More Cascade

OK, I have a lot of Cascade

Unpacking Jo Sharp

Lorna's Laces

We Did It

Barbara and I achieved our goal of being ready to open by end of day Friday. We will be open for business starting this coming Tuesday, October 25th, at about 10:00 am. We are nowhere near finished setting up, but we are 'set up' enough to do business. Most of the yarn is on the shelf; most of the needles are on the shelf. Cash register is up and running. Floor is swept. Furniture is in place.

What is not yet ready: patterns (not yet priced). Books (no inventory yet). Miscellaneous notions (stitch markers, row counters, etc. - not yet priced). Crystal Palace yarns (kid merino, kid merino print, fizz, & squiggle - not yet priced). Lana Grossa self-patterning sock yarn (no inventory yet). All of this will fall into place during the next few weeks.

As far as hours go, we will be in a transitional phase during the next few weeks until the grand opening, meaning we will be open 10 am - 6 pm Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday. In other words, hours will be a bit limited. During this time we will continue setting up and refining our procedures. This is called the 'soft opening'. I'm sure there will be kinks and glitches the first week or two. Once we have our Grand Opening (Sunday, November 13th), we will move into our standard hours which have yet to be finalized. Most likely we will be closed Mondays.

A huge thank-you to all the painters (Meredith, Joy, Barbara K, Sue, Angela, Carol & her husband Jerry (hope I got your name correct!), and Kristine. Thank you to Gail for schlepping with the SUV and assembling furniture. Thanks to the knit night folks (Sue & Carter, Adrienne and Angela) for stickering yarn. And of course an whopping thank-you to Barbara B. for being my right hand and left leg.

Next post: wads of pictures from the past week.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

We Passed Final Inspection

yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"We did not pass inspection..."

Those are words I have been dreading. Those are words I heard today. I was at IKEA with Barbara picking up various things for the store. While eating lunch, I got The Call from the property manager. The sidewalk outside the store passed with flying colors. The Inspector, however, found something else wrong that he apparently did not notice before. The concrete floor _inside_ the door is too low compared to the door threshold. It does not pass ADA requirements. Fortunately the property manager was on the ball. She got someone out within a couple of hours to trowel in some cement to create a 'ramp' leading from the threshold down to the floor. The 'ramp' is about 3 feet in length. Looks pretty good (except I'm gonna have to stain it eventually). The Inspector is coming back tomorrow morning to hopefully give the green light.

Barbara and I finished hanging the slatwall and finished assembling the cash wrap furniture. I began installing the POS hardware (computer, cash drawer, recpt printer, etc). I hope to have everything working tomorrow. Need to download a driver for the recpt printer.

Barbara continued shelving yarn. Mmmmmmmmm it looks goood. Still got a ways to go.

Did I mention that Barbara is fantastic? Somehow the universe knew exactly what kind of employee/right arm/left leg person I needed and delivered her to me on a silver platter. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cascade 220

The Wall of 220

The sidewalk is DONE!

News Flash!

The sidewalk fixin' was completed today, a day early! Here is a view of the guys fixin' the sidewalk:

The final inspection happens tomorrow. Cross your fingers!

Almost all yarn is on the shelf - much of it still in plastic bags. I put out all the Lorna's Laces earlier this evening, while Barbara worked doggedly on making the Cascade yarns pretty. We got color happening! Pictures will be up shortly.

I decided to organize the store according to yarn manufacturer - that way I can display (for example) all the Blue Sky Alpacas yarn, patterns, samples, and swatches together in one area of the store. I currently have areas set aside for: GGH/Muench, Goddess, Blue Sky Alpacas, Lorna's Laces, Rowan, Cascade, Hand Jive, Vittadini, Crystal Palace, and Jo Sharp. The Cascade area is large and divided by type: basics, 'novelty' basics, and then pure novelties (eyelash, ribbons, etc). Cascade 220 gets a whole shelf by itself. Hopefully people will find it easy to shop. If not, we can always change things around.

At this point I hope to be open for business on Tuesday of next week (a week from today), with the grand opening celebration on November 13th. I will make the dates official tomorrow after the final inspection.

We still have a lot to do: finish assembling the furniture for the cash wrap area, put together the POS system, finish hanging the slatwall (to display needles & tools), and of course finish shelving & pricing yarn. Oh yah, then we have to price the patterns. Tomorrow we hope to pay Unicorn Books & Crafts a visit to select a small starting book inventory and pick up some Lana Grossa self-patterning sock yarn. We also have to make a quick trip to IKEA for a few more tables and a shelf.

Whew. Almost there.

Me with Yarn

Here I am posing with some Bollicini yarn...

...and here I am again posing with Nature's Palette by Hand Jive Knits, the First Yarn order I ever received and appropriately, the first yarn we put on the shelf. Me be silly.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Weekly roundup

So, what happened this week? Lots of stickering. Continued working on the computer system. Bought a Mac Mini the other day - the last missing piece of the POS (Point Of Sale) system. I still don't have the wireless network up and running, but so far so good. I had some trouble getting barcodes to print with the new computer, but got that worked out. Whew. At least the inventory system is up and running on the new machine.

Phone system and DSL is all fine and dandy.

We started putting yarn on the shelves today! I will upload pictures later this weekend. Very exciting times.

Last night was the first Knit Night at the store! Yay. Angela, Sue, and Adrienne arrived promptly and we drank much wine and ate much Poppycock. We discovered that the lighting needs some work. Certain colors turn wretched in the existing lighting - a gold sock turned pukey green. Eeek! No worries, I think I'll have the problem licked once I implement my low-budget lighting scheme. Gonna work on that this weekend. I'll be spending LOTS of time at IKEA!

Received my Crystal Palace shipment. Yarns included: Kid Merino, Kid Merino Print, Squiggle, Fizz, Fizz Stardust, and Musique.

I got a little frustrated with one of the yarn companies (who shall remain nameless): I was trying to 'receive' a shipment into my inventory system but found it almost impossible to do because all they enclosed with the yarn was a packing list which did not list prices. Argh! So far, only one company has it down right: Muench. Here is what they do right:

1. Offer a wide range of both basic yarns and novelty yarns.
2. Many of their yarns come in a vast array of colors.
3. Very few of their yarns are scratchy - most are extremely soft.
4. Offer a yarn line (GGH) with great pattern support (Rebecca Magazine).
5. Price list is clear and easy to understand.
6. They ship quickly and backorders are filled in a timely fashion.
7. UPS notifications are emailed immediately after a shipment goes out - you KNOW when something is coming and can track it.
8. Customer service is prompt and very helpful.

In other words, I have no complaints about Muench. After today's annoyances with the packing slip, I decided to make a phone call to release my frustrations. Barbara who was sitting _right there_ thought I was going to complain to the Nameles Company about the missing prices. Instead (and to her delight) I called Muench to thank them for doing everything right.

Much to my surprise owner Kirsten Muench answered the phone! We had a wonnnnderful talk about everything. She promised to loan me sample garments for the grand opening, posters, and maybe even door prizes. She also promised to visit me - after all, their offices are fifteen minutes away in Petaluma.

This week I also received my order of Knit For Her Cure kits, which are provided by Muench Yarns. I am _so_ exited. The kits contain yarn and patterns for scarves, hats and blankets. They are beautiful!! I hope to have a Knit For Her Cure charity event sometime in November to benefit gynecological cancer research. You can read about Knit For Her Cure here. I'll write more about the event later and my plans firm up.


Here are two pictures Barbara took of me taking a lunch break the other day. Notice the new rug on the floor - gotta love Crate & Barrel.

I'm pictured working on a sock using two strands of Crystal Palace Kid Merino. The pattern is free on their website. Check it out: sock pattern

Here is a view from the back of the store. Lots of yarn waiting to be stickered and lots of empty shelves.

Depth of Space

Here is a picture Barbara (my new employee) took at the beginning of the week after much of the furniture assembly was complete.

Barbara's comment:

"gives a sense of the depth of the enterprising young man and his space."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"On a very positive note, today was Yarn Moving Day."

On a very positive note, today was Yarn Moving Day. All the little balls of yarn in my living room hopped into boxes, settling in for the short ride down the freeway to their new home. My dear friend Gail provided the use of her SUV for transportation purposes. I believe it took three trips to move almost all yarn to the store. A few small boxes remain. I stayed behind at the ranch while Gail shuttled boxes back and forth in the Isuzu Trooper. Barbara stayed at the store to watch over things and help Gail unload. The task of packing up yarn and carrying boxes down the flight of stairs to my carport was up to me, and it was an extremely exhausting and strenuous task. Some of those yarn boxes were quite heavy; near the end _all_ of them felt heavy. The sun was quite hot as well, so I really worked up a sweat. It took us about two hours to get everything done. After the final unloading, Gail and I had a yummy buffet lunch at a terrific Indian restaurant down the street from the store - Lotus of India.

Tomorrow is the first Knit Night at the store. Anyone and everyone who is available from 7-9 pm tomorrow night is welcome to stop by and get a sneak peak at what's unfolding. And, if you look a little idle, be careful cuz I'll give you stickers to slap on yarn. Heh.

Location: 1026 Court Street (next to Barney's Gourmet Burgers in the courtyard), San Rafael.

"Let us pray."

Phone guy came out and connected the wires/installed phone jack, giving me access to the phone line I paid so dearly for. The technician was _amazed_ that I had to pay for the wiring/conduit - he'd never heard of requiring a tenant to pay for basic phone wiring.

Unfortunately he did not connect the fax line - both jacks are hooked up to the phone line. The fax line is also the DSL line. arrrrrgh. someone is coming out tomorrow to fix the problem.

I was all ready to officially announce opening day (and the grand opening party) when I find out today that there is another delay. Sigh. The tiles on the ground in front of my doorway are at too steep an angle to comply with the American Disabilities Act. For literally weeks now contractors have been visiting the tiles in front of my door. They look at them. They discuss them. They argue about them. And then they scratch their heads and go away. This has been happening once a day for the last week or so. Apparently it is not an easy fix.

Today I find out that a date has been set for the repair (um, I've heard that line before). Monday. Completion expected next Wednesday. Final building inspection scheduled for next Thursday. Which means the earliest I can open for business is next Friday. Ok. I am now super smart about these things. I am realistically expecting to open the following week. Let's hope for Monday, October 24th, shall we? Let us pray.

Monday, October 10, 2005

"Why am I surrounded by lameness?!?"

Sorry for the delay in new posts. I've been SOOO tired with all that's going on I haven't had the mental energy to compose witty entries (cough).

A lot has happened since the last post. Stained the floor. Majority of fixtures/furniture have been purchased and assembled. Some of the yarn has been transferred to the store. Here are a bunch of pictures from recent events.

The Floor

Here is the stained concrete floor. The color is called 'Terra Cotta'. Did it myself - two coats. Not bad, eh? Here's another shot:

The Floor Again

Here's a really cool shot of all the yarn (um, about 800 pounds by now) in my living room. Well, it won't be there for much longer!

The Yarn

Here's a moody shot of Angela, one of my faithful customers/Knit Night attendees. Been with me since the very beginning. Doesn't she look Angelic with that light shining behind her? Get it - Angela is Angelic? Cough.


Finally, here's a badly lit shot of the gang at the very last Knight Night in my Living Room (last Thursday). That's Angela and Sue with me in between. Sue has the honor of being 1) My first customer 2) my first repeat customer and 3) my first customer paying with plastic.

The Gang

Barbara (my new employee) and I were busy all last week assembling IKEA furniture after I hired a guy off of to deliver the many shelves and tables from the IKEA store in Emeryville to the space in San Rafael. My good friend Gail helped out one day last week by donating the services of her SUV to get additional stuff from IKEA and by assembling furniture. The furniture assembly continued today.

I've known all along that I would have to pay to get the phone line(s) installed in the space... phone is always the tenant's responsibility (as opposed to electricity). The phone guy (from SBC) came on Friday to install the phone line. After some discussion with the property manager, he left without doing much of anything. Turns out that I have to hire someone (and foot the bill) to install conduit for the phone wiring that goes from the junction box to my space. SBC does not install conduit. Um, why didn't someone tell me this WEEKS ago?! Why tell me on the day the phone guy comes out? I've discussed the phone situation with the property manager many times and NEVER did she mention anything about conduit. ARGH!

Today I called an electrician who had availability this afternoon. He came out about an hour after I first called and quoted me for the job. I'm soooo naive, still. I'm secretly hoping it's under $500. It's just some stupid pipe that has to be screwed to the wall, right? No. It's a 4-6 hour job. $1464. Ouchhhhhhh. Sigh sigh sigh. But he can do it right away. Ok. Let's do it and get it done. I can't let this hinder my opening. So now it's done.

Only one thing, though. The phone guy from SBC said that he tagged the lines at the box so that the electrician could connect the wires, install the jack, and I'd be ready to go. No additional visit from SBC needed. The electrician, however, could not figure out which wires were mine. No tags to be found. Doh! Why am I surrounded by lameness?!? So tomorrow I have to call the phone guy to come back and do what he said he'd do last week. Yes, I'm sure there will be another bill to pay.

I sure hope I sell some yarn after I open. I sure am spending a lot of money right now.

Friday, September 30, 2005

I stained the floor.

This evening I stained the floor.

I couldn't wait any longer. Too many delays. Too much angst. Enough is enough! So the floor isn't spotless like it was before the construction workers got inside. I didn't care any more! I needed to make progress! I got there at 6 pm... no chance of an HVAC repair person stomping on wet stain. It took me an hour to apply the first coat. Tomorrow morning I will apply a second coat and we shall see what happens. Too tired to write more... tomorrow I will have pictures and more details on How To Stain a Concrete Floor.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Yarn Store Gets Painted a Color

Last Sunday, September 25th, eight hardy souls and myself painted a yarn store.

Here is our story...

Once there was an empty retail Space in downtown San Rafael, CA. It was empty and lonely for several years after it was built. No one wanted to lease the Space and make it happy.

Then came Warren with a dream: to open a fabulous yarn store that everyone would want to visit. Warren met the Space and immediately a friendship was formed. "Space, I'll make you happy! You'll never be lonely - you'll always be filled with happy fiber people!" The Space was excited.

Many people came and went over a period of six weeks - electricians, construction workers, HVAC repairmen... they all worked hard to fix the Space so it could be occupied.

When all the construction people were done (well, mostly done), Warren arrived on a Sunday morning with eight friends, 5 gallons of tinted primer and five gallons of Benjamin Moore paint in the color of 'Clamshell' (note: this is not Beige).

First the Space had to be prepped - all the corners had to be taped. This is what the Space looked like when we arrived on Sunday morning (Warren had taped the night before):

First Meredith and Joy arrived and with Warren began cutting-in and priming the walls.

After a couple of hours it was time to apply the paint. Other friends started arriving, some of whom had NEVER painted a room before. On such person was Kristine:

Kristine did a very good job (as did everyone else).

After the painting was finished, it was decided that one coat as enough. Those who were left sat down to eat some delicious Pizza (the flavor was called 'Peace in the Middle East' - hummus, veggies, and feta cheese). Here are Kristine, Sue, and Angela (left to right) smiling with full tummies. Sue and Angela are confessed yarn junkies - can you see it in their eyes?

After five hours of hard work, the Space was painted. Doesn't it look nice?

Space was very happy, and so was Warren.

The end... for now. G'nite!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Blue Sticky Tape

Spent the morning prepping a little for the big painting party on Sunday. Used a lot of blue painter's tape, going up and down the ladder, taping the ceiling where it meets the walls.

Apparently no one worked at all on Friday: the space was exactly as I left it on Thursday. Sprinkler head still drips, two electrical outlets missing. I am honestly amazed at how the construction industry works (or should I say leisurely works). Apparently deadlines are meaningless. Glad I don't work in that industry... I would be constantly firing everyone.

As luck would have it, the contractors left behind a ladder, so I will happily use that for painting tomorrow.

Looks like my painting team will consist of 6 people plus myself - some in the morning only, some in the afternoon, and at least one all day. I will have two teams of people, each assigned one of long walls. One person will cut in while the other(s) follows behind with the roller. The primer is tinted to the color of the paint, so I just *might* be able to get by with one coat primer + 1 coat paint, plus a little touch up here and there. We'll see.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Yes, on Thursday...

After spending the better part of Thursday stressed about delays, I called up the property manager and basically invited myself over to pick up the keys. She said 'sure!'

So I have the keys. The contractors have a few loose ends to tie up: a sprinkler head leaks, the electricians need to finish wiring two electrical outlets in the ceiling, and they need to install the EXIT signs. I'm told someone will also clean up the floor, because it's filthy-dirty from all the construction. I need a clean floor in order to stain & seal. I've been assured all this work will be completed by end-of-day Friday.

It feels pretty incredible to finally be standing in my space, all by myself, with the keys. I can come and go as I please. Yay. Now the hard work begins...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

No, not on Thursday...

My goodness. This has been an extreme lesson in patience. I am not getting the keys on Thursday. The contractors still have work to do. I'm now supposed to get keys on Friday. I hope I hope! I have a painting party planned for Sunday! If anyone wants to join in to help paint this Sunday, September 25th, please email me... use the contact page on my website here.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I get the keys on Thursday...

Thursday September 22 will be a big day... the day I get the keys to the space for the store! This is very exciting.

I'm busy trying to coordinate helping hands for cleaning the floor and painting the walls. If anyone would like to help out and has time this week or during the weekend, please email me. So far Sunday is shaping up to be the big work day.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

"I am now bald..."

I've been spending the last day or so poking and prodding my POS (Point of Sale) system to work correctly. Yesterday I finally rec'd a cable that was missing from the POS bundle I purchased about two months ago (and finally started putting together last week). It's a cable that connects the bar code scanner to the computer. It's a cool little gun-like device that goes 'bleep!' when it reads a bar code. Hooked it up yesterday and it works. No fuss required.

Unfortunately, I could not get the scanner to read all the price labels I've been printing for the past several weeks! I've gotten as far as labeling most of the knitting needles and a tiny bit of the yarn. I spent all evening yesterday trying different settings, reading and re-reading the scanner's manual, tweaking, poking, and prodding, to no avail. The scanner can read bar codes printed on other things (like books and grocery items) but not the bar codes I print. Grr. After much hair-pulling (I am now bald), I determined that this scanner cannot read very small bar codes. I'm using price stickers that are 1" x 1" square. In order to fit, the POS software shrinks the bar code down quite a bit, and this scanner doesn't like it. If, however, I keep my item numbers to no longer than 6 characters, the scanner works just fine. But wouldn't you know, most of my item numbers are in the form of XXX-NNN (ie. SEVEN characters long). Ugh. So now as I print price labels, I must change the item number by removing the hyphen. It's not a lot of work but it's still annoying.

Today I put that all behind me and have been happily printing price stickers and stickering GGH yarn. I've also been TESTING each batch of stickers to make sure the scanner can read them. It's not a huge loss if the scanner cannot read a sticker; the item number can be manually entered into the computer. Manual entry will be necessary for ringing up the batch of knitting needles already stickered; I am NOT restickering those needles!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Nature's Palette Part Two

At tonight's Knit Night, both people bought some Nature's Palette fingering weight yarn for socks. Both Sue and Angela showed up - there would have been more if it weren't for a terrible, terrible rush hour commute due to some sort of fire on the Bay Bridge. Apparently the the fire snarled traffic all over the Bay area. We still had a great time talking about our favorite subjects - yarn, knitting, yarn stores, patterns, etc.

You can read more about Nature's Palette in my previous blog posts here and here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hand Jive Knits - Nature's Palette

There is a great review of Nature's Palette yarn on This is a fingering-weight yarn dyed using all natural dyes; the process creates amazing shades of color. The yarn is ideal for socks, gloves & shawls, but you can certainly double & triple it up for more substantial projects. Read the thorough review here. I will be stocking this yarn in all colors - in fact the yarn is currently in my living room.

Oh, by the way, for those of you thinking about obtaining yarn during one of the upcoming Knit nights... I am now able to accept credit cards! Yay. One more task done!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

OMG - Opening day is getting near!!!!

On Friday I received word that work is expected to be done on the space by the third week of September. Tentative date for me to take possession is September 19th!

If this holds true, I may very well be able to open by the first week of October!


I meet with the property manager on Wednesday (haven't met her yet) to get further details.

Meanwhile, I am making progress on the webstore. I'm hoping to go live within another week. I'm currently in the process of getting the credit card authorization functionality operational. Concurrent to that is visual tweaking (finalizing a color scheme, etc), finishing the photography, and getting all the product descriptions uploaded.

For the website launch, I plan on offering the following yarns: GGH, Lorna's Laces, Jo Sharp, and Hand Jive Knits (fingering weight naturally dyed sock yarn). Maybe knitting needles. I will gradually add yarn lines as they are photographed. Such a time-consuming process!

Next week will be a busy one. And don't forget, knit knight on Thursday!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Another Great Knit Knight...

Sorry for the tardy post. Last Thursday's knit knight was another success. Adrienne (the newbie), Angela and Sue spent the evening fondling yarn and talkin about knitting stuff. I helped Adrienne pick out some yarn for a hat (pattern snagged from using white and dark green Davos (from GGH) and some Brittany birch needles. She needs to look 'period' when she knits cuz she works at the Renaissance fair. Adrienne also fell in love with GGH's Esprit in a dusty blue color. Esprit is really cool... so soft and loveable. I'm working on something with it _right_now_ for the store. Actually I have several projects I need to photograph and upload here but I'm too tired to do it now.

Angela is working on another fabulous felted bag, this time in the correct size rather than the really large size she brought in last week.

Sue brought in something I find frustrating. A baby hat (work in progress) worked up in Lorna's Laces' Angel (angora/lambswool). She downloaded a free pattern from the Jimmy Beans Wool website for a really cute baby hat that takes one ball of Angel (50 yds). Problem is she ran out of yarn a little more than halfway through. I just so happened to have a skein of the same yarn, so I tried. Same thing - ran out of yarn. What gives? Moral of the story: never trust free patterns!! Or any pattern for that matter. Harumph.

BTW, for those of you reading this who live in the area... _anyone_ is free to join in on the fun every Thursday night from 7-9 pm at my place for knit knight. Email me for details if interested.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Goa Sweater

It's about time I showed some recently finished knitting. Here we have a neck-down seamless raglan pullover made with GGH's Goa (50% cotton/50% microfiber acrylic). This represents my first time knitting a neck-down sweater and my first time knitting with Goa.

I want to design a class that helps scarf knitters transition to something a bit more complicated, namely a sweater. This type of sweater might be a good vehicle because a) there are no seams to sew and b) you try on the sweater as you go, so you know it's going to fit!

My first attempt came out quite well. My only problem was one of boredom. I intended this to be a stockinette stitch sweater; since I was learning a new technique, I didn't want a complicated stitch pattern. By the time I got past the armholes and the body & sleeves were on their separate needles, the sweater became a no-brainer and I got bored with stockinette. That's when I introduced two different stitch patterns: a cable and a slip-stitch rib. This type of sweater is traditionally designed with cables & such on the yoke (ie. upper half) and the lower half in stockinette. Mine is upside down. Oh well, I still like it - and it fits great!

The yarn is wonderful. GGH's Goa has quite a bit of elasticity (not as much as pure wool but much more than pure cotton), is next-to-the-skin soft and knits up quickly (3.5 st/inch). This yarn actually comes in three weights - 3.5 st/inch (Goa), 4.5 st/inch (Samoa), 5.5 st/inch (Bali) - and in a huge range of colors. I initially ordered only Goa because I was unsure of this yarn, having never seen it before. After making an entire sweater with it, I'm sold on the yarn and will be ordering it in all other weights. In addition to adult applications, these yarns work great as baby yarns because - get this - they're machine washable!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Happy Dance. Happy Dance.

This just in! The permit was issued yesterday, and permission was given this morning to 'close the walls' with sheetrock. Jumping with joy! Hopefully things can speed ahead after the long holiday weekend. Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"I'll take three of those..."

Tonight was the very first (and very successful) Marin Stitch N Bitch hosted by Marin Fiber Arts - in it's temporary location, my living room. It was fun!

Angela, Nicky, Sue, and Linda arrived (almost at the same time), 7 pm. Upon arrival, Angela stole the show with her fab felted bag - a Nicki Epstein pattern from last year's fall Vogue (if memory serves). It has really cute knitted roses.

Sue I had met a few weeks earlier when she stopped by my home to purchase some skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Bittersweet for a scarf. Sue brought her scarf partially completed - beautiful and so soft! I love this yarn: a super-soft 100% wool, hand-dyed, and superwash to boot. The price is actually extremely reasonable when you factor all that in - $17 per 100g/225 yard skein. That's equivalent to a 50g skein for $8.50. Not bad for a hand-dyed superwash supersoft wool if you ask me. I'm seriously considering stocking a range of solid colors as well.

I enjoyed getting to know Nicky and Linda as well... everyone was actually super nice and excited to be here. Linda showed off her really cool curly-q fringe for a scarf and Nicky had a fabulous slubby cotton yarn made by Blue Heron.

I had fun showing off all my yarn, especially the Goddess Yarns, which very few people have seen in person. Up until now most bay area knitters could only see Goddess Yarns on their website. I will be stocking the full range when I open - I have most of the range in my living room as I type. Goddess makes an extensive range of basic, hard-working yarns in a wonderful, sophisticated color palette: merino wool, cotton, wool/cotton, wool/alpaca, 100% baby alpaca, etc.

Lion & Lamb 'Irving Park'

Two people ended up buying this evening: Linda went home with a little bit of Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb (50% wool/50% silk) in 'Irving park' to make's clapotis, and three skeins of GGH's Savanna went home with Nicki. Savanna is a wonderful & unusual heathery wool & alpaca blend that looks a little odd in the ball but knits up beautifully. Fortunately I had a large swatch demonstrating how the yarn looks with various stitch patterns; this yarn needs to be knitted up to appreciate its beauty. I was VERY happy to sell some of this yarn (for a scarf). I'm anxious to knit myself something with it.

Everyone left by 9pm after much talk about yarn, how we all started knitting (Nicky just learned this past 4th of July!), and most importantly, we critiqued other local yarn shops. I truly want my shop to be a place where knitters _enjoy_ shopping; unfortunately, most local knit shops miss this point entirely. I learned quite a bit about how knitters (other than myself) feel about the existing Marin shops. I will do my best to learn from other's mistakes and by listening close to my clientele.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

"I'm still hoping I can open before October 1st."

Stopped by the space today. Not much has changed since the weekend. Hmm, wonder if they've run into a snag. Or maybe I'm just impatient. I'm still hoping I can open before October 1st.

Here's a new photo for the webstore. This is Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb (50% wool, 50% silk) in 'Watercolor' (one of my favorite colorways).
This is pretty-darned accurate colorwise. Luscious.

A very good friend of mine from Northern Michigan (Teri) is a watercolor artist (and a doll artist). I just today received a packet of her brand-new endeavor: professionally printed note cards containing reproductions of her original watercolor paintings. I'm gonna sell them in my shop as impulse items near the cash register. Not knitting themed (they are paintings of flower gardens), they nonetheless are beeeeautiful. Gotta support up-and-coming artists (especially if they're friends). Sometime soon I'll try to scan in one of the cards to post here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bookkeeping Blues plus some bitchin stitchin...

I thought I had my inventory system under control. I've been using a piece of software called ShopKeeper, which does Point of Sale and Inventory Management. For the past several months I've been dutifully typing in every inventory item I've bought. Last week I realized that I had been doing part of it all wrong. Since then I've been slaving away at the computer fixing the problems. Luckily I don't have to re-type everything. I just need to add the missing pieces: creating purchase orders and converting them into vendor invoices. This process actually updates the quantities and prices correctly so that things show up on hand, on order, or back ordered correctly. Phew!

Tomorrow morning I'm meeting with a bookkeeper who is also a knitter. We're going to go over my books to make sure everything is in order before the doors of the store open.

On a brighter note, I've successfully connected with a sizeable group of active knitters up here in the North Bay. They have a yahoo discussion group and are organized into subgroups: one that meets in Napa and one in Santa Rosa. The Marin subgroup currently does not have a meeting place... well, they will once my store opens! As a prelude/preview, I've invited everyone over to my home this coming Thursday at 7 pm for a special Stitch'N Bitch session. I'm looking forward to meeting people who will hopefully become my future clientele; we'll be surrounded by boxes and piles of yarn... what fun!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It may happen sooner, it may happen later.

The good news is that construction continues. The bad news is the city still doesn't have its act together; I've learned that construction continues without an official city permit. Until that permit is issued, the city will not be able to perform an inspection of the wiring, etc. Without this inspection, drywall cannot be hung. The city expects to be reviewing the plans by the end of next week. As the contractor put it, "it may happen sooner, it may happen later."

What this all means is that the guys can only go so far in their work before the city requires an inspection. If the city is not ready to inspect when the guys are ready, we end up waiting longer. I hope that doesn't happen.

I'm looking into utilizing a variety of halogen IKEA lighting gizmos in order to brighten up the space since track lighting is out of the picture for the time being. I will also be putting rugs down on the floors (possibly jute) in order to soften the harsh and cold concrete.

I will shortly be adding some baby-ish yarns to my inventory. I don't plan on carrying 100% acrylic pastel "baby yarns" per se, but I will be getting some great fingering, sport, & heavy sport weight yarns in both cheery and sophisticated colors that are machine washable - merino wools and cotton/acrylic microfiber blends.

Oooh, I just got an email from UPS that Muench Yarns shipped two boxes (50 pounds) of yarn! Should be here tomorrow. I have a boatload of GGH yarns (and Muench's Touch Me) on backorder. I wonder what's in the boxes? I'm hoping for Soft Kid and Tajmahal. I currently only have 4 colors of each yarn. Mmmm, Tajmahal. If you haven't seen/felt this yarn you're gonna love it. Merino wool with a touch of silk and a hint of cashmere. Fingering weight, so perfect for very special socks and baby things. I'm gonna bite the bullet and make myself a vest out of it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

"A pretty yarn store is merely pretty..."

Construction continues... as of a few days ago, they were starting work on the electrical system, and a bunch of metal straps hung from the ceiling (my guess is to either hold up the HVAC conduits or the framework for the suspended ceiling).

In the past few weeks I've been 'checking out' other new yarn stores in the area. One thing that strikes me about almost all new shops is the amount of money people are spending on interiors! Custom built-in cabinetry, wood floors, high-end furniture, the works.

After thinking long and hard about my finances, I've decided to be very stingy on the interior of my store. I'm going with what the landlord is providing at no cost: basic electrical, sheetrock, suspended ceiling, standard fluorescent lights, and concrete floor. I will be staining & sealing the floor myself, as well as painting the walls. I will do my best to make it as warm and inviting as possible by spending the least amount of money possible. Hopefully by carefully choosing a color scheme for the walls and floor, combined with jute rugs and shelving/tables/chairs/fixtures from IKEA, I can come up with a good space. As time goes by, I can upgrade the lighting and a few other things.

What am I gaining from my stinginess? More yarn! A 'pretty' yarn store is merely pretty, while a great yarn store should be loaded with yarns, patterns, and NEEDLES! I promise everyone: I will not be stingy with knitting needles and notions! I currently have in my living room: Clover bamboo straights and circulars, Bryspun straights and circulars, Susan Bates Quicksilver straights and circulars, Brittany 5" double points (for all you sock knitters out there), and the Susan Bates colored plastic needles. Before I open I will be adding Bryspun 5" double points and 7" bamboo double points. As soon as I can afford it, I will add Addi Turbos and eventually Crystal Palace and Lantern Moon needles.

Meanwhile, soon I hope to upload pictures of two new sweaters: one is a new design of my own creation worked up in Cascade's silky soft Pima Tencel, and the other is a neck-down seamless pullover in GGH's Goa (a terrific bulky machine-washable cotton/microfiber acrylic blend).

Sunday, August 14, 2005

More construction progress...

My good friend and yarn buddy Meredith and I stopped by the store today to check on the progress. They've started constructing the wall which will eventually separate my space from the one next door. A bunch of metal beams extend from ceiling to floor. How exciting!! It's finally taking shape.

The REAL purpose of Meredith's visit was to dive into all the yarn in my living room. Meredith is a terrific graphic designer, and is working closely with me to craft a brand image for the store, which includes designing the logo, business cards, store signage, and website. We spent all afternoon pawing through all the boxes of yarn, ooh and ahhing over everything I've purchased so far: GGH, Muench, Vittadini, Jo Sharp, Artful Yarns, Blue Sky Alpacas, Lorna's Laces, and Hand Jive Knits. We had great fun... but it was quite exhausting.

Due to the tardiness of the construction project, I've decided to move full-speed ahead on putting together an online store, as I mentioned previously. I've installed an open source shopping cart that's written in PHP and MYSQL. What does this mean to the non-techies out there? The cost is nil and I am fluent at PHP and MYSQL programming, so it will be fairly easy for me to tweak the software in order to create an excellent shopping experience. I hope to have it up and running by Labor Day. Among other things, I am busy at work taking photographs of every color of every yarn currently in stock, such as this luscious skein of Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran.