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.