Keeping the Community Together: Crafters Unite!

91fc3c7db372acc3944a9bb98e9237d4I helped out at Yarn Rhapsody on the first day of close out sales.  The shop was busy, and I would like to thank everyone that came in to support Claudia as she works through the closing process.  A great deal of yarn left yesterday but there is a great deal of amazing yarn left.  The shop reopens Tuesday at noon.  Hint, not so subtle, hint.  Really, it all has to go!

I spoke to quite a few people yesterday and heard it voiced several times; where are we going to knit and crochet now?  There was always an open and available table at the shop for people to come in and work on projects.  Unfortunately,  when the shop goes, that table goes too.  There where a lot of good times and discussions at that table.

I’m going to do the best I can to keep ,and if possible build, the crafting community that started at Yarn Rhapsody alive, but it’s not an easy task.  It’s something we, the collective we, the lonely knitters/crocheters we, have to fight to keep. Let’s be honest, we’ve lost the yarn shop, the folks I spoke with yesterday just  realized how much we’ve taken things for granted and that sense of community can easily crumble with the shop closure.

A very active hunt for class locations began last night for what I hope mid-May class dates.  I had been putting out feelers, but didn’t want to hunt too hard until the shop had officially announced its closing.  I’m looking for quiet, well-lit locations that can host no more than 10 people at a time for 4-5 hours two Saturdays a  month.  If you are in the Hall County area and have a public location (or contacts at these locations) that can fit this bill, please give me a shout.

Knitalong/crochetalong locations have been solidified and once schedules are confirmed a few of these events will be ready to roll again early May.  The shorter times, and less structured nature of these events made finding host locations a lot easier.  Just keep an eye out on this blog and the facebook page for those announcements.

Now, for the stuff that doesn’t require a fee to attend…

There is a yarn craft group in it’s infancy that meets on the second Sunday of every month (except this month – long story) from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.  That would be Woolly Wonders, it is wide open to any fiber crafter, and changes locations every month for a little interest and to keep from stressing out one location.  It’s not a huge group now, but it’s growing bit by bit.  The next meeting is May 6th (not the second Sunday but the first – no one wants to compete with Mother’s Day) at Downtown Drafts on the Gainesville Square.  The June event will be announced once a location is decided on.

There is another crafting group in the works…more details on that later.  Summer tends to be a little busy at work, and before this group gets announced I would like to have a co-organizer confirmed for the times I can’t be there.

World Wide Knit in Public Day is Saturday, June 9th this year.  I’ve reached out to the city of Gainesville to see if an event can be hosted on the square, like Yarn Rhapsody had set up last year. There was a pretty good turn-out.  If the city approves this request, I would like a little help from the locals to organize prizes for a raffle.  This introvert isn’t great at approaching local businesses for sponsorship or prizes.  If this city does not approve the request for the square that day, a backup location is being worked up.

All in all, there will be places and events that us crafty types can get together and work on our common interests together.  Update: Claudia has announced that she’ll still be an active contributor to the crafting community by offering themed knitalongs, finishing services and get help sessions.

If you see an yarn themed event or group meet up, or are interested in starting one of your own, give me a shout with the details. I’ll help spread the word.

A Yarn Addict Without a Dealer: What’s Next?

It’s been officially announced.  Yarn Rhapsody, the home away from home, the place where I’ve met people who have become family and close friends, and the host site for my classes and knitalongs is closing.

I walked into Yarn Rhapsody early in 2015, and bought two skeins of deep purple Malabrigo sock weight.  I was on the verge of a knitting binge of epic proportions and finding a yarn shop in my own backyard was a blessing in more ways than one. When I needed a sense of community the most it was there.  It sounds cheesy but this little store on Dawsonville Highway changed my life.

Over the years watching others create beautiful projects one stitch at a time encouraged me to challenge myself with harder and harder projects.  It was Claudia (the owner) who encouraged me to begin teaching.  Without her, this ongoing project of mine would not exist.

It’s been heartbreaking to see customers fall away as shop hours became unpredictable last summer/ fall while Claudia was going through cancer treatment.  Even though she’s regained her health, the customer base didn’t come back despite efforts to pull people back in. Small business can not afford to lose momentum.

I’m deeply concerned for my friend (and German big sister), she’s loosing her livelihood and her dream job.  She’s a survivor in more ways than one, isn’t the type to wallow in self pity, and she’ll land on her feet and continue to move forward to her next chapter, but this type of transition is never easy for anyone.  So please, wish her well, and help her with her biggest request as the store wraps up its last days, empty it.  She would like to close the doors on the last day with nothing left to pack up.

I’m horrible at eulogizing Yarn Rhapsody, but this is a bitter loss, a blow to the local crafting community, the small business community, and Claudia.

Despite the resurgence of knitting and crocheting, local yarn stores are struggling.  Like most brick and mortar stores they battle online retailers that offer the same products for a buck or two cheaper with free delivery.  There’s also competition heating up between yarn stores and commercial chain craft stores, with the resurgence of yarnwork these retailers are slowly getting better yarns on their shelves at better prices, Red Heart even has a 100% merino wool line now. Everyone knows Red Heart, especially their super saver line with it’s scratchy plastic feel, known for decades for their 100% acrylic yarns.  How many millions of  blankets have been made out of it though? Are these yarns the quality you would see at most local yarn shops? No.  They certainly are tempting for some project types though, like the quick gift for the questionably knit worthy friend or family member, or for those that are ready to start knitting/crocheting larger and more difficult projects but are worried about the financial commitment.   All of this sends yarn stores a little further down the specialty store rabbit hole when lines like Encore Worsted and Cascade 220 have competitors readily available at Michael’s and JoAnn’s.

So what happens with Coffee and Wool now? Simply put, things are evolving.

First, let me make clear, that Claudia and I have discussed a lot of what I’m about to type out, even now, I have no intention on stepping on her toes.  She’s been a knitting mentor and a very good friend for several years now, if she decides she wants to teach and offer other project based services after the shop closes, I have no intention of doing anything to aggressively compete with her.  We have similar abilities, know what our individual strengths are, and have somewhat different teaching styles.  I can still see us working together on quite a few levels to make sure the educational/project help/repair needs of the local knitting/crochet community are still met after the dust settles and Claudia lands on her feet again.

Of course little of the blog side will change.  I’ll write posts, and share what information I can about the crafts we commonly love.  I’m still in search of people, places, and products that make yarnwork more interesting.

Locations for classes and craftalongs will change.  There may not be one single location in the end, and I won’t offer as many options per month.  I’m hoping to have the location issues worked out by mid-month and begin offering classes and craftalongs again beginning in May.

There will not be the convenience of a yarn store at the fingertips, so there will be need to be  better pre-planning and communication with students and participants to make sure every one has what they need before sessions begin. Options for a reservation/booking system and pre-payment are being researched. The duration of individual sessions and the number of sessions for each class/knitalong will likely change.  The current plan is longer sessions of 2-3 hours each with 1-2 meetings per class instead of one hour sessions. Craftalongs will more than likely remain at one hour each for a designated number of sessions.

I am working on creating a dedicated space in my home to serve some of the needs that the shop used to fill.  This will be space for finishing and repair services, that I intend to keep as pet free as possible.  It has always been a concern of mine when bringing home a client’s project to keep my cats (and their fluff) as far away as possible, both for the protection of project and reducing allergens.  Living in an historic small home, this is an interesting challenge but one well under way with some planning and rearranging.

I will continue to work with my private students and will happily take on more.  Individual classes will be offered at my home from time to time, a local coffee-house (the most likely option), or if the student is comfortable with the idea, I can travel to their home.  Unfortunately, my home isn’t well suited for group sessions, but I can work with a single student easily.

I am currently not interested in being a shop teacher at a single location again like I was with Yarn Rhapsody, at least not right now.  I have greater interest in possibly traveling for a half or full day group class with focus on a single project type or technique.  I am beginning to develop these type of classes and hope to roll them out late summer or early fall, more likely winter.

I would like to seriously begin designing more.  In fact, there’s a design project looming for a close friend that will be hilarious and adorable at the same time.

There it is, change is inevitable and rolling with the punches is necessary.  At a minimum I would love to stay in contact with the amazing people I have met through the shop since walking in the doors for the first time in 2015, and those that have waltzed through the shop doors since then.  The yarn craft community in northeast Georgia is special.

For those that aren’t local to northeast Georgia, its too late to save this local yarn store in Gainesville, but please, shop at your own local yarn stores for your crafting needs whenever possible.  These  business are ran by a lot of love and fairly small profit margins, no one is going to get rich selling yarn, but they are invaluable resources to the crafting community.  Too many of them have shuttered their doors over the years and we’re loosing another great one.

Shop small, shop local.

Woolly Wonders!

img_0069I’ve wanted to get a new knitting group going for a little while.  A couple of the ones I had participated in over the past few years either fizzled, evolved into other things, or real life kicked all of our asses at once and have been on a very long hiatus.

Between work, knitting shenanigans, slowly enacting my plan for world domination, and strong introvert tendencies, social commitments can be difficult at times.  I think everyone is in the same boat paddling for time, so setting up a groups that meets the second Sunday of every month sounded like a good plan.  To toss in a bit more fun, why not move the knit up location every time? The group wouldn’t stress one location consistently.  That also allows us group folk to support more than one local business.  I’m also a huge fan of crafting in public, when it feels like most of the world is staring at a smart phone, stitching away in public seems like an act of social deviance.  We can all use a bit of that in our lives.

After creating one of those infamous event things on Facebook I crossed my fingers and hoped a few people would show up to Mocha Moe’s in Flowery Branch.  One person came somewhat by force because I kidnapped her.  That’s not entirely true but a funny visual.  Three more people came!  Is that a huge knitting group, no, but it’s a damn good start.  Deborah, Kelly, Lia, DeAna, and myself had a good afternoon filled with knitting, coffee, and a few laughs.

We’re doing this again on March 11th at 1:00pm – 3:00pm at Left Nut Brewery in Gainesville, GA.  Keep an eye out for one of those event things, with the set up at the brewery I’m going to need a head count so I can beg them to reserve us one of the bench tables a few days in advance.

If you’re in Northeast Georgia feel free to drop on by.  Woolly Wonders (that name may change eventually) is meant to be open to anyone who enjoys any fiber craft; knitting, crochet, needlepoint, or anything else requiring fiber to make, with a welcoming spirit.  I hope for a diverse group of women and men, of all ages, walks of life, and skill levels.

We have very few rules.  Please leave the political debate at home, it has destroyed too many crafting groups over the years, and treat others respectfully.

There is no obligation to come every month.  There’s no rigid structure here, simply come and spend some time working with some crafty people.

All of us will have one thing in common, our love of fiber craft, everything else can be built on from there.

February Class Schedule

It’s that odd time of year for us crafty types.  Winter isn’t quite over, Spring hasn’t sprung either.  So what is there to do?  Time to find some projects that aren’t too heavy, aren’t too light, and some other goodies in between.

All classes will be at Yarn Rhapsody on Dawnsonville Highway, Gainesville, GA.  Please register for classes by contacting the shop or myself at least 48 hours before the beginning of the first session.  All yarn should be purchased from Yarn Rhapsody, stash yarn can be used for an additional fee.

First, we’ll get into some beginning level classes.  These are for the new knitters and crocheters looking to create their first projects.

Crochet 101 – Granny Squares – Mini Class
Bring your G or H sized hook and pick out your favorite colorway of worsted weight yarn.  In 1.5 hours you will be well on your way to creating your first granny squares.  These simple squares are the foundation for many an afghan, bag, or stuffed animal.
Available Sessions: (Pick One) February 10, 24 and March 10 – 3pm-4:30pm
Skill Level: Rookie
Price: $30
Click here to reserve your spot online: Seating is limited.

Knitting 101 – Leafy Dishcloths – Mini Class
Using the wide selection of cotton yarns at Yarn Rhapsody we will make leaf-shaped dish cloths to put those freshly learned knit and purl stitches to use. Sessions are 1.5 hours long.
Available Sessions: (Pick One) February 17, March 3, March 17 – Noon-1:30pm
Skill Level: Rookie
Price: $30
Click here to reserve your spot online: Seating is limited.

Toe Up Socks – Knitting Class
Did you miss out on the Wednesday sock classes?  It’s time to offer up a sock knitting opportunity on Saturdays. Bring a set of size 1, 1.5, or 2 double pointed needles, and pick your favorite sock yarn, we’ll be kntting up a pair of toe up socks, with a basic heel flap.
Recommended Yarns: Regia Design Line or Marisol Khusku
Dates: February 10, 24 and March 10 – 10:30am – 11:30am
Skill Level:
Apprentice
Price: $60
Click here to reserve your spot online.

GrisGris de Lin Cowl – Knitalong
This lace cowl is a wonderful addition to any wardrobe and can be worn well into spring and only needs about 200 yards of fingering weight yarn  and size 4 circular needles with a 16-24″ cable.
Recommended Yarn: Louisa Harding Amitola
Dates: February 10, 24 and March 10 – Noon – 1:00pm
Skill Level:
Apprentice
Price: $30
Click here to reserve your spot online.

BonBonBonBon – Knitalong
Easter is right around the corner on April 1st!  If you’re looking for a unique basket buddy you can knit up your own bunny in either DK or worsted weight yarn using only one skein.  For DK size 3 double pointed needles are recommended, size 5 for worsted weight.
Recommended Yarns: Liberty Wool or Knitcol
Dates: February 10, 24 and March 10 – 1:30pm-2:30pm
Skill Level:
Apprentice/Virtuoso
Price: $30
Click here to reserve your spot online.


SlippersBurgeoning Slippers – Knitalong
It won’t be quite warm enough to run around the house barefoot for a little while yet, but it’s going to quickly get to warm for those heavy-duty house shoes.  These beautiful slippers will do the job, knitted up in about 300 yards of DK weight with size 2 needles.
Recommended Yarns: Criative DK or Plymouth Select
Dates: February 17, March 3 and 17 –
10:30am-11:30am
Skill Level: Apprentice/Virtuoso
Price: $30
Click here to reserve your spot online.

Processed with VSCO with s2 presetFrench Market Bag – Crochetalong
This amazing bag will be perfect for use when the spring markets begin to open or that first trip to the beach. This bag uses about 560 yards of worsted cotton with a size G hook.
Recommended Yarns: Lisa Harding Marmo or Butterfly mercerized Cotton
Dates: February 17, March 3 and 17 – 2pm-3pm
Skill Level:
Apprentice
Price: $30
Click here to reserve your spot online.

Bring Your Own Project Night – Knitalong
If you have a project that you need a wee bit of help with, or a section of it has you stumped this knitalong is the solution. Bring any project you like and work within a knitalong style environment and get a helping hand when you hit that rough spot here or there.
Available in sing sessions, blocks of 3 sessions or 6
Session Dates: March 7, 14, 21, 28, April 4 and 11 – 6pm-7pm

Skill Level: Any
Price: $10 per single, $30 for 3 sessions, $60 for 6 sessions.
Click here to reserve your spot online.

 

2018 – Changes for Coffee & Wool

Coffee & Wool is about to have its first birthday, and I’m sitting here thinking that jeez this year has gone by quickly. In this past year, I’ve knitted more than I’ve ever knitted, started teaching classes and in general have learned more about the fiber arts. In case you haven’t noticed I love it. Also in this past year I’ve been encouraged by like-minded friends to do more and over the past few weeks I’ve started to come up with a game plan to turn this little hobby page into something greater.

That’s where 2018 comes in.

I’ve heard it said a few times that the fiber arts community is dying, that its practitioners are aging, and fewer people are interested in learning how to knit, crochet, weave, or manipulate fiber in general. That is simply untrue, the fiber arts community is strong, albeit a little quiet. Beginning in 2018, I want the voice I provide to the fiber arts community to go from a 2 to a 10. There will be more informative posts, more tutorials, and eventually video (someone has to get over her camera fear first).

No matter what, I’m turning up the volume, but I’m going to ask for your help. I’m asking for your patronage. Small monthly donations can go a long way towards helping me promote this page, purchase supplies, and travel to fiber festivals and fiber producing farms for content. If you would like to help me expand Coffee and Wool please visit my Patreon Page. As Coffee and Wool grows not only will you be supporting a fiber artist and the community you’ll get exclusive content and updates in the future.

August Classes, KALs & CALs

Planning for August totally snuck up on me.  The full-time gig is deep into its summer busy spell and I’m honestly not sure what day it is most of the time without calendar apps throwing alerts at me daily.  When I’m not working, I’m still working by knitting up or crocheting projects. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  Right?  I’m trying something new for participants.  In the past we’ve done three sessions (for most things) in three consecutive weeks.  This month, we’re going to try three sessions on alternating weeks, giving students five weeks to finish a project instead of three.  Everyone is busy and some of the projects we tackle are intimidating on such a short timeline.

There’s a mixed bag of projects coming up.  Winter is coming.  (Ha! Successful Game of Thrones Reference) The holidays are coming too, it’s time to get to work on those gifts and some of these projects may make a great one for the knit-worthy people in your life.  All classes, KALs & CALs will be at Yarn Rhapsody in Gainesville, GA.  Please sign up at least 48 hours before classes/KALs/CALs begin, by phone at 770-563-3130, or in person.  A link to register through PayPal will be posted here as soon as it becomes available.  This will guarantee your spot.  Space is limited.  Yarn and patterns for each offering must be purchased at Yarn Rhapsody.

By popular demand I’m leading a knitalong for Building with Lace by Michelle “Knit Purl” Hunter.  This is Michelle’s third publication featuring patterns that build skills along the way.  By the end of this KAL you’ll have an amazing lace shawl featuring nine different lace patterns.  It’s a sizable and beautiful piece of work.  This KAL has a couple of options.  You have a choice of how many sessions you would like to attend, the full KAL is 18 sessions for $80, or you’re welcome to attend 9 for $45. You will be required to purchase the book for this KAL.

Session Dates: August 12, 19, 26 – September 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30 – October 4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 25

Saturday Session Times:Noon – 1pm Wednesday Session Times: 6pm – 7pm

Skill Level: Adventurous Beginner (really, this can be your first lace knitting these books are designed to be fully educational)

Are you looking for a unique crochet shawl? Well, here you go.  Hotel of Bees is an interesting and subtly complex piece that will keep you on your toes.  Featuring overlay, open, and filet crochet techniques with a modern twist this isn’t your grandmother’s shawl.  (No I’m not trying to insult the grandmothers out there.  I know a lot of them and they are great people).  Because of the complexity of pattern this one is a class offering.

Class Cost: $60

Session Dates: August 5, 19 – September 2 from 1:30pm – 2:30pm

Skill Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Fall in Georgia is one of those odd in between times where a heavy shawl is way to warm but something lightweight is perfect.  Reverse Psychology is perfect for fall and early winter here in the south.  It begins on the bias and has a wonderful abstract shape with several partial bind offs.   The pattern features beadwork but can easily be done without.

KAL Cost: $30

Session Dates: August 5, 19 – September 2 from 3pm-4pm

Skill Level: Intermediate

Gainesville seems to be just as obsessed with elephants as it is chickens.  For you out-of-towners that don’t get that joke, Gainesville, GA is considered the chicken capital of the world.  We don’t have a town Christmas tree lighting event, we have a giant light up chicken.  Anyway….I digress.  Loxodonta & Elephas the African Flower Elephants can be your next stuffed animal friends.  Crocheted and then joined in multiple pieces these guys can be made using any yarn weight creating tiny elephants to giant ones.  The color possiblities are endless here.

Class Cost: $60

Session Dates: August 12, 26 – September 9 from 1pm-2pm

Skill Level: Intermediate

And bringing up the back of the line, because slow and steady wins the race, there’s Sheldon the Turtle.  This is a cute one for the little ones, or for us big ones that just like having a stuffy here and there.  Sheldon has a removable shell, so if you’re so inclined you can make different colors and patterns for any occasion.

KAL Cost: $30

Session Dates: August 12, 26 – September 9 from 2:30pm – 3:30pm

Skill Level: Intermediate

There it is, an action packed offerings schedule!  Keep in mind, if you don’t feel like you are ready for a group class I do offer individualized instruction for $40 per 1 hour session.  I hope to see you all in class…or KAL….or CAL in August.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Knitting on the Road

planeI’m escaping Georgia tonight for some shenanigans with friends this weekend.  Being the fanatical knitter that I am, there is always at least a pair of socks on needles in my purse and there is always a project bag tossed in my luggage for downtime on trips.

I’ve been asked at nearly every gate waiting for boarding about the legalities of traveling with knitting needles, so it’s time for a quick primer on air travel with projects.  My experience here is limited to domestic air travel, other rules may apply to international flights.

Are knitting needles and crochet hooks allowed in your carry-on bag?
The simple answer is yes.  But when is the simple answer ever the complete one?  All it takes is one misinformed TSA agent or a flight attendant to think your needles look intimidating and you’ve got a problem on your hands.  As much as some of us love our nice, pointy, metal ChiaoGoos or Addis you may want to leave those home.  Kick over to wood or plastic, and circular needles would probably be preferred over straight.  Besides using straights in a tightly packed airplane may be uncomfortable for you and the passengers seated next to you.

How about scissors?
This is another yes, but, answer.  Blades must be shorter than 4-inches, and the type that fold up onto themselves are recommended.  Those nifty thread cutting pendants, or anything that looks like it may have a razor style blade are a no-go.

Regular needles, you know the ones you finish projects with?
Ummmm this one is a bit gray.  I’ve flown with finishing needles with rounded points, but I’ve heard more than one person complain that theirs was taken.  So, you may want to leave those at home.

So what do I do if TSA tries to confiscate my needles or hooks?
The most important part of traveling with craft projects is to be prepared, just in case.  Carry a copy of the TSA policies related to your particular project, there are some agents that may not be clear on the guidelines, but screeners can confiscate any items they feel are unsafe despite of the guidelines.  You can find some help with this information on the What Can I Bring section of the TSA website.

If you think an item may be pushing a guideline, put it in your checked bag, or have a self-addressed, pre-paid mailer to ship your item to your destination or back home, and don’t risk flying with expensive or sentimental items.

Always be polite, and informed if questioned.  From personal experience here, I’ve only been questioned about my knitting once, and after showing the screener the policy from the TSA site all was well.

Now that the technicalities are out of the way, now what?

Bring something small with you, socks, scarves, and other items of similar size are perfect on adventures.  Just think about projects that don’t require grand gestures to manuver when flipping over to do the next row, since space is limited, and your row-mate may not want to be covered with a half finished afghan.  Simple projects are best for a couple of reasons.  Patterns that require you to reference printed patterns may become fiddly in a limited space, also it helps if your project is simple enough to be able to stop quickly (God-forbid mid-row but it happens) and is easily memorized.

Other things to consider…
Yarn:  try to have yarn caked or rolled into center pull balls so you can leave your yarn in a project bag while you work.  Having a ball fall to the floor and roll halfway down the plane isn’t as funny as it sounds. Trust me.

Needle Holders: Travel isn’t alwasy the safest things for needles, find a way to protect  your needles when they aren’t in use.

Project Bags:  I’ve always had great luck with project bags that have carry handles built in.  You can loop the bag around your arm and have the yarn feed from it while you work.  No worries about anything falling in the floor there.

Knitting in airports and on the plane is an excellent way to pass the time and maybe spark the interest of your fellow passengers, so enjoy it!