Archive for August, 2009

Since being back on my home turf I’ve been hitting the phones pretty hard. I went on a call to Montoya Fiber Studio in Evanston today. Cathy was already a well stocked shop in terms of SWTC products. I am happy to report that I will be holding a fashion event there on Oct 8. It should be a spectacular night for it because the shopping district there is having a “Retail Therapy” night with all sorts of other events. Everyone who can show up, should show up!

It was a good week for booking fashion events. I also (finally) booked an event during Stitches Midwest. I will be at Gifted Purl in West Dundee! In fact, SWTC’s general manager, Kat will be there as well so you can check two SWTCGirlz off your must-see checklist. We are that cool, you know.
It looks like I will be on the road again the week of 9/14-9/18. If you are in or around the Twin Cities and would like to meet with me on the 14 or 15th please leave a note in the comments! If you are in or around Madison, Wi and want to meet on the 16, 17 or 18, again, leave a note in the comments.

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I am back on home soil now. When I last posted I had just pulled off the road somewhere near St. Paul, MN. After hitting the hay (hard!) I woke up to start fresh in a new city. First thing I did was get an oil change on the car (it was flashing and dinging at me back in La Crosse so I figured I better not push it). After that I began systematically visiting every yarn shop in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. To begin with, there are A LOT!! and on top of that, they are all HUGE by my puny, cramped, Chicago standards. I visited 11 shops while I was there. I even made 2 sales. It was not enough to cover the expenses of my trip, but I knew this was an introduction tour, so I would not be pulling in big bucks. So, special kudos to the ladies at Borealis Yarns

And The Fiber Studio!
My day in the Twin Cities was certainly more pleasant than I was anticipating after the night before. The weather was dreary but the people were so kind and warm! I even stayed a night longer than I anticipated and left early Friday morning.
I spent all day Friday on the road. I made a stop in Eau Claire, WI to visit Dixie at Yellow Dog Knitting. We had a nice chat and it was so nice to see her store. After that I had quite a time tracking down Fiber Garden in Black River Falls. My GPS took me off the highway, then off paved roads, and then dumped me at this:
“You Have Arrived at Your Destination.” I think not.
Then the bridge back onto the interstate was out, so I spent a good 30 miles circling the highway, looking for a way back on. Then I stopped for gas and saw this:
I am not amused. I found my way back to the interstate and decided to forgo future stops. I will be out there again soon, no worries. I knew I was on the road too long when, upon arriving in IL, just 10 minutes from DC’s house, I made a wrong turn while trying to be clever. I ended up in Libertyville. What a clod… I finally figured it out and thank goodness.
So, the Final Stats on this trip
Total # of Shops Visited: 29
# of shops found to be Out of Business:8
# of sales: 2
# of miles put on Lola: 1053.2

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Before I say anything else, this is Officer Mark and he is Awesome!
After my only sales pitch of the day, yesterday, the yarn shop owner was walking me to my car, helping me carry some yarn. We put it in the trunk and began discussing routes to St. Paul… I was so focused on the conversation that when I went to close the trunk I didn’t notice that my keys were in there. SO Yes, I locked my keys in my car in front of a client. After trying a few tricks I had up my sleeve, I called non-emergency police. They sent officer Mark who deftly pried open the door, hit the unlock button, and retrieved my keys and saved the day! Yay for Officer Mark!
Now on to the rest of the day. Back in Madison I visited Lakeside Fibers, a combination coffee house and yarn shop. What a simple but brilliant partnership. This shop really is right on a beautiful lake so you can buy everything you need for a new project, order a coffee drink, and then sit out on their back porch overlooking the lake. Wow!
I also visited the Knitting Tree in Madison, who has a fantastic selection of alpaca and noro yarns. Certainly worth a visit if you are ever in Madison.
From Madison I worked my way out to the suburbs. Muriel over at ‘Tis the Season Christmas and yarn shop was kind enough to take a look at my full collection of yarns. She was also kind enough to walk me to the car, see “Officer Mark” story above.
In Verona, I visited what might be one of my top 3 favorite yarn shops, The Sow’s Ear. It is another combination yarn shop/coffee house. This one just felt so welcoming and had such a phenomenally well edited selection. I had half a mind to rent an apartment right there and ask for a job. I probably should have… the rest of the day was less fun.
I was stunned at how quickly I moved from moderately sized suburbs to true outright rural-ness. Mind you, I am a city girl. I can cope with bad neighborhoods, traffic, pot holes, jay walkers, confusing tangles of city streets. Being in the middle of nowhere terrifies me. All I can think about is “if something happened, nobody would know how to find me. Even if they did, I am so many miles from a hospital…” and those thoughts are really bothering me. Plus the weather was looking less than promising.
When I finally got my foot in the door at “Gone Knitting” in Richland Center, The shop owner turned on The Weather Channel for me. Sure enough, tornado watches and red swirls all the way across my route. Not good news. I decided to venture forth through Viroqua and on to La Crosse. I should have stayed in La Crosse!
I listened to local radio for most of the route to keep an eye on the weather. In La Crosse I decided to skip the rest of the shops on my route and just go straight to St. Paul for the night. I crossed the Mississippi (which I always forget is SO SO SO BIG) once, made a wrong turn, crossed it again, and then crossed back again. I was getting tired of driving. Once firmly on the Minnesota side, the weather really started to trouble me. For one thing, I am not comfortable driving around geography of any kind. This highway wound and turned around rocky hills and cliffs. There was construction funneling the highway down to a single lane with a rocky drop-off on either side. No shoulder, no wiggle room. That is when my radio went crazy with “tornado alert, get under ground” warnings. Then suddenly I was driving through total White-Out Conditions. Truly white knuckle driving ensued. Once out of the storm I saw the whole storm system from behind. It was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Bright blue sky ahead and then charcoal grey wall of storm behind me….I just learned that 12 tornadoes hit my route from that system.
Final trial of the day was my ignorance of just how much nothing was in between St. Paul and La Crosse. I started feeling pretty lonely and scared. I stayed on the phone as much as possible, but about 10 miles out of St. Paul I finally pulled into a Microtel for the night. I was grateful to be off the road.

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Cold Call Cruising

First off, My apologies for my lack of internet presence since the move. At Gma’s house I have been leeching Wi-Fi from the neighbors and it has been spotty at best.

That being said, I am currently on a Cold-Call marathon from Chicago to St. Paul by way of I-94. Yesterday I found that the 4 out of 8 shops I tracked down yesterday no longer exist. The other 4 shops I did find, I found after they closed yesterday (but now I know where they are, so not all bad). So, for those of you keeping track at home, Yarn House in Elm Grove, Prairie Junction in Sun Prairie, Off the Beaten Path in Monona, and Knitch in Delafield are all still open to turn your dollars into fiber-y gold! I got to see lots of lovely country here in Wisconsin and visit some beautiful small towns. I put 180 miles on the car yesterday and finally stopped for the night in Madison, WI.
First Stop was in Racine, where I found that both shops I was looking for are nowhere to be found. I did also find this shop, so for what it’s worth:
From there I moved on to Milwaukee where I have already visited Knitting Knook and Fiberwood studio. This time I was searching for Knitwit. I found Sparrow in it’s place; a hip little recycled fashions storefront with jewlery, clothing, purses, and even a few craft supplies. I wish I had the time and $$ to pick up a little something from here.
Then I moved on to Yarn House in Elm Grove. It was an adorable little throw-back yarn shop with antique furniture and plants on a wrap-around front porch. I was dissapointed to miss their shop hours and look forward to a return trip.
While searching Delafield for The Knitting Ark, I found only a seemingly vacant building. I inquired around and was directed to a gem of a shop that was not on my list; Knitche, only 2 blocks away! I can’t wait to go there again when they are open. The whole town was so quaint.
When I turned off the interstate onto the two-lane road that lead me to Sun Prairie I was stunned. Miles of rolling corn fields and red barns, just before sunset… it was a lovely drive. I could not drive safely and take a decent photograph, however, so you will just have to trust me. I pulled into town to find the Prairie Junction Yarn Shop (closed), and some other interesting spots for my next visit.
Today I am visiting shops from Madison to the Minnesota border. Stay tuned for more photos and (fingers crossed) and stories from INSIDE yarn shops.

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For what was originally intended to be a knitting blog, I have not been talking much about knitting. That being said, I have been working away on the AMAIZing Hug Wrap from SouthWest Trading Co. I’m making it to contribute to my fashion event! I’m making it in AMAIZing, of course. It is a fabulous yarn made entirely of corn (hence the name, get it?). The yarn is completely machine washable and dryable, making it ideal for baby garments or any other project where ease of care is important. The pattern itself would make an EXCELLENT knit night project because is mostly stockinette with a garter border. I can knit away while making phone calls, chatting with my knit friends, watching TV, etc. There is a cute little key-hole tie in the front, adding a pleasant puzzle to make the project more engaging. Photos to follow, I’m working at Sister Arts all week and forgot my camera today.

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After much packing and sorting and arranging and then much more lifting and carrying and negotiating and straining and rearranging and nailbiting, I have completed my move from my condo downtown to my grandmother’s house in the north suburbs.

It took me 3 days and nearly all of my sanity (more due to arguing with condo management than actual moving issues). I also went back after most of the moving was completed to fix the place up for my renter. I now have a modern circuit breaker instead of running the entire place on a single 15 amp fuse (that means not having to turn off the TV to run the microwave, or turning off everything to run the AC). I also had brand new carpet installed and painted over all my fun accent walls. Here’s the house looking rather quirk-less and empty.

I have set up my bedroom to my liking at grandma’s house. I still have a lot of unpacking and rearranging to do before she returns from Ireland this week. I hope she is ok with it, but I have bun-proofed my room such that my girls can run around freely in there when I’m home. Even safer than my condo was for them. I let them run loose a lot this weekend because it was there Very First Birthday!! Happy Birthday Scarf and Sweater! DC and I bought them lots of new toys and fawned over them quite a lot. I even made them a special treat, banana slices and pellets (Yum?)

Here they are exploring our new room.

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Sunday (no) Bunday

So it is Sunday, but I have no bunnies today! I have boarded them at Darling Christopher’s while I move. They get crazed when I so much as move a kitchen chair. It would simply be too hard on them to see me pushing around all these boxes and furniture. I let them have one last run around the living room and then I moved them out for good. They put up quite a fight about leaving, I think they almost knew what was going on. I know they are in good hands with DC, probably getting too many raisins, but that’s ok. I can’t wait to get them all settled in at Grandma’s. My mom is coming over tomorrow to help me with a final packing up. So for now, only 2 more nights in my own home.

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