Posts Tagged ‘Annie Modesitt’

Guest Blogger – Carol Sulcoski

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
Share Button

When I posted a couple of weeks back about the loss of our friend Jamie, I was touched by the outpouring of lovely comments and emails from so many of you.  Thank you for keeping us and more importantly our friends in your thoughts.  I will be forever grateful to all of you.

One person who emailed me was the lovely Carol Sulcoski – you know, faboo designer, rockstar author and creator of Black Bunny Fibers.  She asked what she could do – offered to write a blog post for me.  I readily agreed.  During our exchanges she mentioned her dad was undergoing some tests.  I wished her well, thanked her for helping me out and went about doing what I could to help Sarah, JP and Peyton.  What I didn’t know was that Carol was dealing with a crisis of her own – her father was diagnosed with end-stage pancreatic cancer and died last week.

I am so grateful for her support and so sorry for her loss.  I only hope I can find a way to help her, the way she has helped me.  Here is Carol’s post:

I’m honored to be guest-blogging for Kathy today, and I know that everyone is thinking about her and her family, and wishing them peace this holiday season.

Every December, when a new year  is right around the corner, I start to think about the year that is coming to a close.  I read all the articles with titles like “2009: A Look Back” and “The Year In Review,” and somewhere along the line it became a tradition with me to do a retrospective look at the knitting world, too.  So without further ado, I present “2009:  A Knitter’s Look Back.”

The economy.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think back over the past twelve months is the profound impact of the American and global economic recession.  The struggling economy was a topic on everyone’s mind, and it had tangible impact on  the knitting world.  It seems to me that people became much more mindful about their fiber pursuits:  purchasing less, yes, but also reshaping their attitudes.  Knitters and crocheters  went back and fell in love with their stashes.  They seemed to delay purchasing items, waiting for sales or saving up for special events and fiber festivals.

It seems to me, too, that the economy pushed a lot of folks into fiber-related commerce. Etsy and Ravelry made it easy to sell handdyed yarn or fiber, handcrafted items like stitch markers and knitting bags, and knitting patterns, and people faced with cuts in their pay or hours, or who were laid off, began trying to leverage their passion for fiber into a means of generating some income.  It seemed as though the number of vendors selling fiber-related items, whether stitch markers, handsewn project bags or yarn and wool, went through the roof.  My suspicion is that, as the economy starts to improve (we hope), the sheer number of vendors will start to decrease.

2010 will likely be a tight financial year for many of us, and we’ll no doubt see some signs of budget-tightening in the fiber world. Expect to see fewer new yarns, more discontinued colors and yarns, and a renewed focus on the workhorse yarns, staples like Cascade220 and perennial favorites like Noro and Malabrigo.  We may see more emphasis on small-gauge projects and more intricate styles of knitting, like colorwork and lace, given that these projects take longer and thus provide knitters with more hours of knitting relative to the cost.  We may also see a focus on one-skein projects, providing a relatively inexpensive way for knitters to treat themselves to a new project to try a new yarn.

The continued growth of the PDF and self-publishing.
Pattern sales became as easy as point and click once the internet facilitated the use of the PDF document.  While there is still a sizeable contingent of knitters and crocheters who want hard copies of their patterns, the growth in PDF patterns continued throughout 2009, aided by sites like Patternfish and Ravelry, as more designs, old and new, were put on the market in digital form.  Websites like Patternfish continued to add to impressive collections – including archived designs  from venerable pattern companies like Classic Elite – and major magazines  and yarn companies began offering their own PDF delivery, or expanded their existing offerings.  One interesting  sidelight of this is the effect on knitting designers.  PDF publishing rights took center stage in negotiating contracts, and many designers started insisting that they have the option of retaining future publishing rights, instead of signing away all publication rights forever.

Another interesting development that I’ve just noticed:  offering magazine subscriptions in either traditional print or digital formats.  European magazine Verena offers subscribers a choice of digital delivery or traditional print, as does Yarn Forward, a UK-based magazine.  We’ll have to see if any of the big American magazines follow suit in 2010.

Self-publishing pattern collections (as opposed to individual, single patterns) has also continued to  grow. We saw some excellent, high quality offerings from designers who decided to forgo the traditional publishing companies in order to retain more control over the end product and receive a higher rate of return for their work.  Risky, yes, because the designer has to pay for the production and printing process herself, but if the book or booklet is successful, the designer doesn’t have  to share the profits with anyone.  Top quality offerings we saw from the self-publishing world include Janel Laidman’s The Enchanted Sole; Chrissy Gardiner’s Toe-Up!; and Grace Anna Farrow’s The Fine Line.

Comings and goings
As always, during the past year we made new friends and lost some old ones.  I was particularly said to see Knotions, a great on-line knitting magazine, cease publication at the end of the year.  Knotions’ motto was “Knit smarter,” and contained lots of technical information as well as free patterns.  However, the patterns will remain archived for the foreseeable future.  Several  other of the new e-zines also discontinued publication, including Metapostmodern Knitting (on hiatus; not clear if it will be permanent or return) and Black Purl.  Is the on-line knitting magazine model is harder to sustain than we thought, is it a function of the struggling economy or some combination of both? In a slight twist (or do I mean “slightly twisted”?), parody site Regretsy burst forth in late 2009, showcasing handcrafted items of dubious distinction taken from Etsy, and combining them with trenchant captions.

When it comes to yarn companies, although Westminster Fibers apparently is folding its RYC label into Rowan,  selling under one name in the future, and while the large conglomerate Coats got rid of its Moda Dea brand,  I’m not aware of any other yarn companies or major brands going out of business.  On the other hand, an exciting addition to the field is St-Denis Yarns, a company headed by fabulous designer Véronik Avery.  Avery’s first yarn offering, released this past fall, was Nordique, a vintage-feeling wool that is categorized as a sportweight,but is versatile enough to be knit at many gauges.  Nordique’s palette begs for stranded knitting, and Avery’s first St-Denis magazine received rave reviews.  Look for a second yarn and another pattern magazine this spring.

Another brilliant 2009 debut was the Spud and Chloe line, from Blue Sky.  Spud and Chloe took an interesting approach, giving us three basic yarns: fingering-weight wool Fine, wool-cotton worsted-weight Sweater, and thick wool Outer. Pattern support is strong, and everything about the Spud and Chloe line is stylish and appealing, including the patterns’ paper envelopes reminiscent of sewing patterns.   This is another new line that I expect exciting things from.

When it comes to people, Shannon Okey left the helm of Yarn Forward, lovely Tanis Gray left Vogue/Soho Publishing; and Véronik Avery left JCA/Reynolds; Cathy Payson joined JCA/Reynolds; Michael “Tricky Tricot” DelVecchio joined Universal Yarns; WEBS’ own Cirilia Rose joined Berroco and produced a lovely collection of teen/tweener designs for girls, as well as several other designs for Berroco’s strong fall collection.  Jared “Brooklyn Tweed” Flood released  his first collection, “Made in Brooklyn,” in conjunction with Classic Elite – and a knockout collection it was.

Knitting Get-togethers
If you didn’t hear about the first Sock Summit, a gathering of sock-knitters that took place this past summer in Portland, Oregon, you must live under a rock.  The Sock Summit brought together an amazing assortment of the sock-knitterati, providing classes, networking opportunities and a large vendor’s market.

2009 also saw an expansion in the number of knitting-themed travel options, as  all sorts of workshops, cruises and retreats were planned for locations like Tuscany, southern France, Morocco, the Carribbean and many other locations in the US and elsewhere.   We’ll see if this trend continues given the current economic climate.

Last but not least, knitting publishing remained strong, producing perhaps fewer titles overall, but lots of high-quality and mouth-watering choices for the book-loving knitter.  In addition to the self-published titles mentioned earlier, sock knitters got  to enjoy Cookie A’s  Sock Innovations; blogger Wendy Johnson’s  Socks From The Toe Up;  and my own Knitting Socks in Handpainted Yarns.  Three books with eastern themes were released:  Haiku Knits, by Tanya Alpert, Japanese-Inspired Knits, by Mariane Isager, and Knitted Socks East & West, by Judy Sumner.

Some other top-notch titles released this past year:
•    Clara Parkes’ The Knitter’s  Book of Wool;

•    Color by Kristin, by Kristin Nicholas;

•    Green Mountain Spinnery’s 99 Yarns and Counting;

•    French Girl Knits, by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes;

•    Classic Knits, and Inca Knits, also by the very talented Mariane Isager (what a fabulous trifecta of titles for one designer in a single year!); and

•    Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren.

Alice Starmore fans were thrilled to see her seminal Book of Fair Isle Knitting finally republished and updated; and crochet fans rejoiced when they saw the spectacular Crochet In Color, by Kathy Merrick.  Spinners got to enjoy an updated All-New Homespun Handknit; Amy King’s Spin Control; and Respect the Spindle, by Abby Franquemont, among others.

It was an eventful year in the fiber world, and you’d best buckle your seatbelts, for who knows what a new year and a new decade will bring…

Carol Sulcoski


Thanks so much Carol!  It has been such a strange December.  So much sadness in the air.  The Yarn Harlot has something going on with her family, Annie Modesitt has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and our lovely town of Northampton has been rocked by a string of 11 fires this past Saturday night that destroyed several homes and cars and killed two people.

I normally love this time of year, but I cannot get my tree down fast enough, get the decorations packed away and move on.  That’s not to say that 2009 hasn’t been a lovely year for us overall or that the past decade hasn’t been equally wonderful.  I just hope that whatever is misaligned in the universe gets itself straightened out.

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog, listening to our podcast and for shopping with us.  I also want to say a big “thanks” to our team who have kept things moving along these past couple of weeks (and all year long for that matter) and have allowed us the time and space to be with our friends.

I hope you all have a very Happy New Year.


Events Past, Present, Future

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
Share Button

Hi Everyone

To say we have a lot going on in October would be a MAJOR understatement.  It’s only October 7th and we’ve already been busy and we have three events still to come this week alone!

Before we get into what we have upcoming, a couple of belated thank yous.  First to the fabulous Amy Singer who was at the shop just two short weeks ago.  For those who made it to her “No Sheep for You” presentation, it was a great evening. 

I only had time to make a quick introduction and snap a couple of pictures before I had to speed up to the boys’ school for Back to School night.   As I left the classroom, it was already full of laughter.  Her class the next day was a hit and then – she was gone.

Last week we hosted author and designer Mary Beth Temple.  She was in the shop on Thursday night to sign copies of her latest book Hooked 4 Life and offered a free class on Friday that she’s in the process of refining. 

This past Sunday was our annual Knit for the Cure event.  We once again partnered with the Cancer Connection and this year we knit chemo caps.  Thanks to everyone who came and participated.

I told you it’s been busy!

Tomorrow, October 8th, we are tickled to welcome Ysolda Teague to WEBS.  She’ll be in the shop from 6-7:30pm signing copies of her book (which we’ll have for sale), selling some of her single patterns and most importantly, displaying many of her garments.  Should be a fun time so be sure to drop by!

This weekend is Columbus Day weekend.  The hockey schedule shifts into full game mode and we are also participating in two major events here in our valley. 

The first is in partnership with Yankee Candle.  If you listened to last week’s podcast, you already know what’s going on.  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarf will be a the Yankee Candle Flagship Store  in South Deerfield, MA over the weekend.  Each Day from 12-4pm folks visiting Yankee Candle will have the chance to knit a row on the scarf to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  We are donating the needles and yarns to the cause and are truly thrilled to be partnering with such a great company.  For more details, visit the Yankee Candle site

In addition to the Yankee Candle event, we are also going to be participating in the Paradise City Arts Festival.  For those of you not familiar with Paradise City, it is a high-end, juried craft show.  The artists who participate are truly gifted.  Several of our customers participate in the fall show and it’s always great to see them.  This year, we’ll be doing a variety of demos and participatory activities geared towards kids.  Here’s our schedule:

Sat 12-1pm Spinning Demo with Ashley
Sat 1-2pm Wet Felting with Gail (aka The Kangaroo Dyer)

Sun 12-1pm Kool-Aid Dyeing with Gail (aka The Kangaroo Dyer)
Sun 1-2pm Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom with Leslie Ann

Mon 11:3o-1pm Beading with Janet

If  you’re planning to be in the area this weekend, I highly encourage you to check out both of these events and of course swing by the store to say hi and to check out a GREAT trunk show from Filatura Di Crosa.  We have 10 or so amazing garments that will be in the shop for the next couple of weeks.

Also coming up later this month:

10/17 Bus Trip to Rhinebeck – my last update showed only 7 or 8 seats left!

10/19 & 20 Annie Modesitt will be at WEBS.  She’s teaching a class and although we haven’t scheduled a formal booksigning, I’m sure if you are loitering about with her book in hand, she’ll be happy to add a little signature!

10/20ish We’ll be receiving a Trunk Show from Judy’s Colors.  It’s really time to get inspired for holiday and her stocking kits are just the thing to get us rolling!

10/23-25 Stiches East in Hartford.  Did you listen to the podcast a couple of weeks ago?  Did you hear our big announcemnt? 

 We are partnering with the amazing Tina Newton of Blue Moon Fiber Arts and will be carrying a wide array of her yarns, including the Socks that Rock family in our booth at Stitches East and after the show, back at the shop

It’s so beautiful and exciting I can barely stand it.  Tina is one of those amazing women that I just wish lived closer so I could just be around her more often.  We are incredibly honored to be carrying her yarns.

We will not be carrying any BMFA on our website and it will not be discountable.

November is pretty jam-packed as well and we kick things off on November 7th with the lovely Clara Parkes.  She’s teaching a class and will be signing copies of  her NEW book The Big Book of Wool

She’s also our guest on this week’s podcast so be sure to tune in!

There’s more, but I think that’s enough for now!  What events are you most excited about?  Anyone we haven’t had at the shop that you are hoping to see on the schedule?


A Knitter in Need

Friday, June 29th, 2007
Share Button

Just a quick post, no pictures, but a VERY important topic.

Annie Modesitt, author and designer extraordinaire needs our help. Her husband Gerry has been diagnosed with Multiple Myleoma. This is a very aggressive form of cancer. Annie and her family moved only a few months ago to Minnesota, so they are going through this incredibly difficult and scary time without any family nearby. Annie and Gerry have two adorable young kids who we’ve all seen modeling some of her designs.

She is selling one of her patterns and all of the monies raised will be used to help offset the costs of travel and such for Gerry’s treatments. She is asking a minimum of $4.50, but is hoping we can all step up and help out.

I have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Annie. She is larger than life, incredibly funny and full of life. She is the primary income for her family, but right now, knitting, teaching and travelling are just not possible.

Please go to her website and read her post and if at all possible, please consider making a donation.

And be sure to hug your family extra tight tonight.