Categories
handmade gifts Knitting

Yarn scraps for the baby birds!

Put your yarn scraps to great use by knitting or crocheting a nest for orphaned baby birds.

The Carolina Waterfowl Rescue Group has put out a request for all us fiber artists to pull out our yarn scraps and put them to good use.   A new bird’s nest for orphaned baby birds.   Here are the knitting and crochet patterns:

Knitted Artificial Bird Nest

Directions:
On size 5 dpn’s cast on 54 stitches using 2 or 3 strands of yarn so the nests are tightly knit and will stand up in a bowl shape on their own! (divide sts up into 18 sts/needle). Work in knit (stockingette is automatic on dpn’s) stitch for approximately 3 inches. Begin decreasing for the crown as follows:
Next row: *K 7, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Next row: *K 6, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Next row: *K 5, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Nest row: *K 4, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Next row: *K 3, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Next row: *K 2, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Next row: *K 1, k 2 tog* repeat to end
Clip off yarn leaving a tail of about 6 inches.
Using yarn needle, slide yarn needle under all stitches on needles, and draw tight to close up the end. Knot

Make sure the nest can stand up in a bowl shape on its own!

Here is the one I was able to make in a few hours one night.

 

CROCHETED Artificial Bird Nest

Several yards of Worsted weight yarn.  Hold 2 or 3 strands together for a TIGHT stitch!

Size H hook

Starting ring:  Crochet 3 chains using 2 or even 3 strands of yarn held together, and slip stitch last chain to first chain to make a loop or ring.

Round 1: Chain 2 (this counts as your first “stitch), work between 10 – 15 single crochets into th ring (depending on what thickness yarn you are using).  Slip stitch the last single crochet to the top stitch in the chain 2 that started this round.
Round 2: Chain 2. Single crochet into each of the next two stitches, then do 2 single crochet’s into the next stitch, single crochet into the next two stitches, then 2 single crochet’s in the the next stitch. And on and on around the circle. Slip stitch your last single crochet into the top of the chain 2 that started this round.
Round 3, 4, 5, 6, and on: Repeat Round 2 over and over, until your circle is at least 3” big. You can make your nest with a bottom as small as 3” big, up to maybe 6” big.

Once you have made the bottom of the nest from 3” to 6” big, from all rounds thereafter, crochet ONE single crochet into each stitch. You will see your “sides” begin to form. Crochet until the sides are about 2 – 3” high. Bind off and weave in loose ends

Mail them to:

CWR
Po box 1484
Indian trail NC 28079

If you would like to read more about rescue nests, click here.

Happy Stitching!

Categories
Knitting

Felicia Lonigro & the welcoming feeling at Pick Up Every Stitch

What makes Pick Up Every Stitch in Mount Kisco, NY so welcoming?

Felicia Lonigro at Pick Up Every Stitch

It starts with the owner!  Felicia Lonigro comes from the garment center in NYC where she managed amazing clothing brands.  Knowing how the garment industry functioned gave Felicia a strong foundation for opening Pick Up Every Stitch, a delicious yarn shop in the heart of Mount Kisco, New York.  She finds that smaller yarn farms and indie dyers can really expand beyond their website sales through shops like Felicia’s independent yarn shop where her customers can not get enough of her curated offerings for all their fiber projects!

Yarn is a product we fiber artists love to touch and a personal recommendation from our local yarn shop owner or the knitting/crochet group at the table in the back of the store is a great way to discover new products or get confirmation of something we see on Instagram, Ravelry or Pinterest.

It all started at Bloomingdales

Felicia has been an entrepreneur since her days working the floor at Bloomingdales during college.  She was attending Briarcliff College and working student hours at the local Bloomingdales.   Briarcliff College got purchased by Pace and as Felicia was evaluating a different college option, she was invited into the executive training program for Bloomingdales by the store manager.   This is when Felicia realized the best school for her was on the job and so she left the traditional college path for the hands-on executive training Bloomingdales was well known for.   “It was a life-changing position and from there I was invited to work at the Garment Center on great brands like Carol Little for Saint Tropez and Ellen Tracy.  I just loved it and from there I found a partner and we opened our own independent show room representing young contemporary and high-end designers.”  Felicia loved the intimacy of the relationships with the designers and the independent clothing shops she sold to.  “You knew everyone and how their sales are flowing, unlike the bureaucracy of the larger organizations.”  You now see this same intimate relationship flowing between yarn options and knitters coming through Felicia’s shop door in Mount Kisco.

Becoming addicted to knitting

How did you go from the garment industry to becoming a knitting addict?

By the late 90’s, the clothing industry had changed, and “I completely shifted gears and took time out for me. I decided to pick up knitting and started hanging out quite a bit at the local yarn shop in Katona.  They were looking for somebody to work in the store and I knew I would be there anyway so why not work there.  I started working Thursday afternoons and that was my entry into the yarn shop business.”

Your first knitting project?

“My first knitting project was a black bag that my grandmother taught me to knit.  It had a hot pink lining!” From her youth, Felicia would pick up her needles every now and then, but nothing major until she decided to close her business in New York.  “I decided I wanted to learn the right way to knit and finish my garment so that it did not look homemade, but beautifully handmade. So, I started taking classes. I took whatever classes I could and I went on a knitting retreat to Chatham.”

The birth of Pick Up Every Stitch

When the Katona yarn shop closed, Felicia knew she had to open a shop of her own and immediately started looking for spaces to open a new shop.  “There just had to be a local yarn shop option instead of having to go all the way into New York City.  If you went t

Jacko Day running into the shop!

hat far to look for yarn, you felt obligated to buy something.   I wanted a place for folks to just come hang and knit.”   And that is exactly the atmosphere of Pick Up Every Stitch.  Come shop when you need something, otherwise, come hang and enjoy the friendship of other crochet and knitting companions.  There are two tables in the shop and they are always buzzing with laughter and chatter with women and men that come often as well as newbies like me that just showed up one day because my friend Jacko said “we had to go!”

Felicia decided to create and build the yarn shop as a solopreneur.  While she enjoyed having a partner in New York, she is enjoying running the shop completely through her own vision.  When she sees something on social media or in a magazine, she researches it and then reaches out to the company directly.

 

She attributes the key to success running a yarn shop is knowing who the customer is that you are catering to.  Know the taste of the area you are serving.   The NYC woman is different from the Westchester woman from the Long Island woman.   The shop needs to cater to their specific taste in color choices and styles.   “Make sure you are doing this because you love the customer.   It is not about you and if you feel like it is more about you and getting your knitting supplies for wholesale, then you are in it for the wrong reason.” advices Felicia.

Being a solopreneur is very liberating and challenging at the same time she admits.  Her favorite part of her shop?   The people. At this point in the interview, this dynamic, New York City toughened, garment professional gets teary eyed and has to pause.  “Everyone has been so unbelievable.  Everybody wants you to succeed and everybody wants to be part of this success.  I just love Saturday afternoons here. Whenever you come in, you will see this table full of people that stopped by after the gym just hanging out for the rest of the day, knitting and socializing.   I just feel so happy that I can provide this.”  And as we are in the middle of the interview, one of Felicia’s patrons is leaving the shop.  She comments to me as she opens the door to leave, “Felicia is so awesome! She has made a shop that is so warm and so loving! She is just the best.  And everyone knows it.”

From 7 to 91 and everyone in between

New people discover Pick Up Every Stich all the time and are quickly adopted into the back-table discussions.   The youngest fiber artist to date was a seven-year-old.  One of Felicia’s teachers is actually a school teacher and is exceptional with their younger fiber artists.   And the great part of fiber art is the breadth of ages that can participate and excel.  Felicia’s oldest patron is currently a 91-years-old.   There are also men and boys in the shop often.  “Roger just left the shop, he comes in during the winter and is here almost every day during the cold season.  Then we miss him in the summertime because he’s on the golf course.  Little boys are really fun too.  One little boy came in because he was learning to knit at school.  He wanted to see “a Knitting shop” and went crazy over all the colors when he walked in.”

What is hot right now in the shop

Two yarns in particular stand out.   Sandpiper Yarns by Sue Nagel and La Fee Fil.   Both are handmade.   Sue’s work is especially dear because she only makes three skeins that are the same at any one time.  So, if you see something you like, you have to pick it up right then and there.   The colors she puts together are so stunning and make each project an exceptional original.    La Fee Fil knits up so beautifully and uniquely as well given the way they hand dye the yarn.  The colors flow quite nicely

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The secret to success at Pick Up Every Stitch

So, what is the Felecia’s secret to creating such a yummy culture and spot for us to discover yarn and fiber friends?

First and foremost, Felicia continually said how grateful she is for each and every day that folks come visit her in her shop.   She takes the approach that Pick Up Every Stitch is an extension of her home, so she wants to be inviting.   Felicia believes customer service is key regardless of having pointed needles in her hands…  She has put together a knowledgeable staff who can expertly guide customers to the right yarns and tools for any project needs.   And I can say first hand, she made sure I never felt invisible, but instead welcomed and several projects heavier when I left the store.

Categories
Farm Fresh Yarn Knitting

Farm to Needle Retreat at Mulberry Hill Farm and Allenberry Inn & Spa

We are thrilled to be hosting our first farm to needle retreat this April 5th -7th in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania.

Overview

 

Our hosts are Coleen and Sean Lacey at their farm, Mulberry Hill.   The Lacey’s are giving us access to their farm to have a hands on experience cleaning wool that has been freshly sheared from their flock of sheep, known as The Girls – Maggie, Norah, Ellie, Annie, Olivia, Oakley, Noelle, and Harvard.  Plus a spinning and hand dyeing lesson.  And did I mention that Sean is making his famous corned beef hash for our farm breakfast on Saturday!

We will also be knitting a pillow with their own Distilfink Yarn dyed in the color of your choice!  We have 6 pillow patterns to choose from.   When you register for the retreat you select the pattern and your color.

We will be staying at the lovely Allenberry Inn and Spa.  Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, the timeless and idyllic setting of Yellow Breeches Creek has attracted visitors and outdoorsmen for generations, including the relatives of American Folk Legend, Davy Crockett.  In 1786, the Crockett family chose this serene corner of Boiling Springs, PA to build a family home and barn that is still in use today.   For our retreat we will be staying in our own cottage and dining in The Barn, their farm to table gourmet restaurant.   Our time there will give you space to knit, hike a part of the Appalachian trail or just relax at the spa after our “farm chores” Saturday morning.

Itinerary

Friday, April 5

2:30   Arrive and check in

3:00 – 5:00  Presentation from Mulberry Farm owners, Sean and Coleen Lacey

5:30 – 7:00   Cocktails and Knitting project introduction

7:00  Private Dinner at the Barn

Saturday, April 6

8:00am  Farm Breakfast at Mulberry Hill Farm

9:00 – 12:00  Farm tour, hands on wool cleaning, spinning demonstration and hand dyeing

1:00  Lunch back at Allenberry

2:00  Open afternoon – knitting, walk part of the Appalachian trail, spa appointments

6:00  Cocktails and knitting

7:00  Private dinner

Sunday, April 7

Leisurely breakfast at Allenberry and depart by 11:00am

$800/person  8 people maximum.   Includes lodging, meals, knitting project, farm tour and hands on demonstration.  Assumes single occupancy per room.  Double occupancy by request.

To reserve your place at the retreat email rebecca@pinkimperfection.com today!

Deadline to register is Monday, March 25th.

Mulberry Hill Farm

Mulberry Hill Farm started its existence as the Hilltop Motel.  Built in the late 1950’s a six room motel was constructed on Route 11, and was run for many years by the Nell family.  The motel ceased operation in the 1970’s when the construction of Route 81 diverted customer traffic.  Here is the Hilltop Motel from a postcard photo.   Today, Mulberry Hill Farm is currently home to three purebred Romney’s, four Romney/Border Leicester crosses, and one Corriedale cross.  We coat our sheep to ensure the highest quality fleece in our roving and yarns.  Sheep names:  Maggie, Norah, Ellie, Annie, Olivia, Oakley, Noelle, and Harvard.

Allenberry Inn & Spa

Allenberry has a long history of delighting guests with live entertainment and warm hospitality.   The 1929 owners of Allenberry Farm remodeled the original barn for summer entertaining. When the estate was sold to the Heinze family in 1944, Charles A.B Heinze knew the place was too special to be kept from the public and the Allenberry Resort was born. In 1949, The Allenberry Playhouse opened its doors and the resort became a center of relaxation, hospitality and entertainment.  Locals, as well as guests from New York, Washington, DC and Philadelphia, came to take in dinner and a show in the quaint, pastoral setting. Famous faces at Allenberry include a young John Travolta who joined the summer stock program in 1971 and Shirley Jones who played a special one-week engagement in 1994 to sold-out crowds.

Today, the tradition of good times and relaxation continues. Allenberry Resort has been masterfully renovated, maintaining its history and charm, while offering updated accommodations and luxurious amenities. The 57-acre resort is connected by foot, bike, and cart paths allowing visitors to leave their cars and their busy world behind.

Categories
Knitting

Sarah Solomon, the Practical Creative Knitter

Sarah Solomon, the Practical Creative Knitter

Designer and Teacher for the love of animals and the yarn they produce!

Sarah Solomon is a much sought-after knit wear designer and teacher across the U.S.  that I was lucky to interview for our Pink Imperfection community.  She shares with us how she became addicted to knitting and grew closer to her Mom, Philippa Solomon, through their knitting class at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City.

 

From England to New York City. Where it all began.

Sarah’s mom, Philippa, started knitting at age 4 in England where she grew up and was taught by her father.  They had a lodger in their home who Sarah explained was instrumental in her mom’s knitting education.  Auntie Janet, as she was known, was knitting a sweater for her fiancé and allowed Philippa to knit on the sweater.  This expedited Philippa’s focus to become extremely good with her knitting at an early age because she wanted it to look as nice as Auntie Janet’s stitches!  Philippa suspects that Auntie Janet might have taken out her work at night but being given something so important to knit on sparked a serious passion for knitting.   Growing up in England in the 50’s with no central heating, keeping warm and wearing wool to do so was a natural part of most people’s lives.  British women knit everything from sweaters to socks to underwear, partly for pleasure but partly to actually keep warm.  There was a very practical slant to the knitting of that time.

 

By the time Sarah was born, her mom was no longer knitting as much, but at that period was focused on quilting.  The presence of fabric and a sewing machine led Sarah to sewing first and she became quite serious about it, but she had a long history of back problems and the sewing was killing her back.  So, Sarah went in search for a new hobby for her hands that was creative but not literally back–breaking.   Sarah looked to her mom to teach her knitting, Philippa had knitted for so long, she could not explain it to Sarah with words and Sarah could not learn simply from watching.  A friend convinced Sarah to take a knitting class at FIT (offered by continuing Ed) in the wearable arts department.  Six weekly sessions with a wonderful teacher that has since retired, and Sarah was hooked immediately after the first class.   “I loved making fabric with my hands vs. making things from fabric.   Actually forming the stitches was mesmerizing.   I loved the variety of textures you could achieve and started exploring stitch patterns right away.”  Thus, began Sarah’s love for reading pattern and stitch books.

 

From here Sarah convinced her mom to join her in taking the second level knitting class at FIT. The weekly class got Philippa back into knitting and began a new era of mother and daughter knitting together.

From Practical to Personal Joy

 “When I first started knitting, I only wanted to knit sweaters.  My first project was a sweater – even though all the voices around me said, “ DON’T start with a sweater!”  And my mom’s help was the only way I got through it—I found pattern instructions so foreign and I needed her to explain practically everything to me.

Because Sarah already sewed clothes, she immediately started creating her own patterns.   “I found patterns confusing and at the time I didn’t see the kinds of garments that spoke to me.  I had strong ideas about what I wanted, so I thought it might actually be easier to start making simple sweaters my own way.  My mom showed me how to look at sweaters in my closet, literally counting up stitches and looking to see where there were increases and decreases.”  From here Sarah’s designing knitwear was born.

“Teaching is how I learned to read other’s patterns instead of just designing.”

Sarah got a crash course in how to read patterns when she started working at Knitty City!  “That was my crash course because I learned in real time through helping customers that came in.”  Plus, the owner allowed Sarah to borrow books from the store collection and she made it a point to be learning new things all the time.   “If someone asked to learn something, I would say sure, go home and teach myself.    This was also the first time I was around other real live knitters.   Before I worked there my Mom was the only knitter I ever spent time with.  Seeing what others was interested in was my curriculum.”

Teaching vs Designing? 

Sarah claims she loves them both equally now and sees them as complementary to one another.  “Designing is very solitary and it’s a lot of problem solving.  There are endless decisions to make.  It’s hardly ever just about making something pretty.”  This harkens back to her Mom’s influence of being useful first and practicality was a big part of the family philosophy.  She enjoys talking knitting patterns with her brother who is a computer engineer.  “We both appreciate that building something, whatever it is, relies on a good underlying structure.”

However, Sarah loves teaching as well.  “It allows me to interact with other humans and I like people. Like designing, it’s problem solving but of a completely different kind.  You’re finding the best way to explain things to people, often many different ways of explaining, since one way rarely works for everyone.  Ever since I had the experience as a beginner of not being able to get the explanation I needed from my Mom, I’ve been thinking about how I would explain knitting to others.  I’m evangelical about knitting and really enjoy sharing this whole new world with other people.  I love seeing others getting hooked on knitting because it allows people from all walks of life and at any age, to access their own creativity.”    Sarah has seen first-hand how knitting is accessible for all to become really good at it.  As she explains, “there are not that many things in life where you can learn at any stage of your life and actually get good without giving up everything around you.”

Given Sarah’s background and the influence of her mom, she is looking forward to designing her ideal beginner class which would get students started inventing their own projects as soon as possible. Sarah’s passion is to teach from the beginning how to be more self-sufficient, giving knitters control from the first cast on.

Sarah’s Fashion Sense and Love of Animals

She has always loved making clothes, but with an emphasis on creating timeless classics.  The practicality of knitting that was central in Philippa’s youth is something that has had an enormous influence on Sarah’s own knitting.  In addition, she comes from a family  “who bought few things of a good quality and made them last.”  Her philosophy with designing knitting patterns it to incorporate the value of mindfulness that making with knitting brings to each creation.   “What I like about knitting is that it requires me to slow down and choose something that I really want.  That is going to be with me for a long time.   This emphasis on longevity really connects me with knitters of the past.  Handmade clothes last a very long time and I love the idea that if you took care of your knitted goods, you could actually pass them down.”

This also translates into the fibers that Sarah uses in her designs.   Fiber innovation has exploded in recent decades and knitters have an overwhelming number of choices of what to work with.  Sarah is a self-reported yarn–first person and natural fibers are her focus.  “I have always loved animals and getting to touch them.  So, I think this is why I love touching yarn so much.  I see it as touching all the sheep, alpacas, goats….”

This has led Sarah to work with amazing fiber companies large and small that are dedicated to humane care of the animals, value their fibers and give back to the artisan communities.     Companies that Sarah is actively working with today include mYak, Cashmere People and Manos del Uruguay.   Sarah met Puala of mYak at Vogue Knitting Live a few years ago.  “I couldn’t leave her booth without touching all the yarn.  It was just so unique.   The same thing happened with Casey at Cashmere People.  When a yarn is processed in such a way that I still sense the animal it came from, that’s what draws me in.” Sarah will be teaching a sock workshop using Cashgora from Cashmere People sponsored by Pink Imperfection and hosted at the Greenwich Historical Society on Sunday, February 10th.  You can reserve your spot here!

Sarah met Manos del Uraguay at TNNA.  They are a nonprofit that helps rural Uraguay women find sustainable work using their artisan skills.  Fibers are shipped to the rural areas so women don’t have to leave their villages.   Sarah created a sweater collection for them released this past Fall and she will be doing a presentation about the collection and the history of the company in February at Knitty City.   (February 7th – 6:30).  The entire collection plus Sarah’s previous samples for Manos will be there to try on and see up close.

Sarah believes that whenever possible we should use the best quality materials for our knitting projects and celebrate brands that try to insure that everyone in the chain of production has the best life possible.

Why knitting should survive in today’s world?   

The marriage of practical and beautiful, where we are creating everyday things that are useful.  “I love to joke with my brothers – when there is a complete apocalypse, what are you going to bring to the table – I can start making folks clothes.”   It is an important skill even though we knit for pleasure.    We are reconnecting with our ancestors as well.   And adding your own creative energy to make it uniquely yours.   Knitting is a wonderful combination of basic function and opening our personal creativity.   “Quite lovely and unique compared to many daily activities in our lives.” Plus as Sarah observed, “Knitting took over my life because it is portable, and I can sneak it in all day long!”  

What’s Next?

Couldn’t talk about all of them quite yet, but expect more designing and teaching.  She also wants to get back to her blog as well, https://intothewool.wordpress.com/

Given Sarah’s passion for sweater knitting, she is currently developing a sweater knitting workshop in the short class format – clever ways to learn all the skills you need to make a sweater but can learn them in one 3-hour class.    Of course if you have taken a class from Sarah, you will probably agree with me, it is ok if it takes a full day hanging with Sarah!

In her personal time Sarah also enjoys hand spinning and she’s reached the stage where, as a teacher, she’d like to bridge the gap between spinning yarn and knitting, helping spinner’s figure out what to do with their hand spun or how to spin for particular knitting goals.

Sarah Solomon lives with her husband in the north Bronx with no animals for the moment.   But they joke about getting a sheep – they just need to figure out how to turn the fire escape into pasture.  You can follow Sarah on Instagram @intothewool

My favorite quote from this interview really summed up my own love of Knitting, “I like the slowness of the knitting.  It helps you distill what is really important.”

Happy Stitching!

Categories
Needlepoint

Stitch by Stitch is how it will all get done! 

An interview with needlepoint studio, Stitch by Stitch Co-founder, Betty Scanlan.

On November 1, 2018 I had the great pleasure of interviewing, Betty Scanlon at Stitch by Stitch, a needlepoint gallery in Larchmont, New York.  Her story is fun, passionate and all things needlepoint!

Betty grew up in Larchmont and now lives in New Rochelle, New York.  “I have been needlepointing my whole life. I literally don’t think I have ever taken a break since I was 8!  And now I’m the co -owner of Stitch by Stitch with Madalena Bruno.   I’ve been here 14 years this January and it’s just a passion that has turned into a business and it’s fabulous!  We love stitching everything from belts to pillows, shoes and anything else we can think of.”

“For me, I have loved needlepoint my whole life and have probably made over 30 stockings and 100 belts!  I love how people love what I do.  I can’t get enough.  My son is getting married and needlepointed eight wallets for the groomsmen! They turned out so great, that the Bride now wants me to make ones for the bridesmaids!  So we turn everything we can into Needlepoint.”

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Does everyone in your family Needlepoint or just you?  Yes!  I have three sisters and we all needlepoint to some degree.  I just needlepoint more than the rest of them.  Sometimes I shamed them all into needlepointing something from time to time.   My sister Karen probably does more than any of the other two but they all have finished pieces in their homes.

How did you start Stitch by Stitch?  And where did you get the name of your shop?

There was a needlepoint shop in Larchmont for 30 years before us, but we wanted a fresh start.  So we purchased her inventory, chose a new location and gave the shop a completely new name. The name, Stich by Stitch?   My mother taught me how to needlepoint when I was a little girl at the age of 8 and she said to me a thousand times,  “you will be finished Betty stitch by stitch”, and I never forgot it.  My mother reminded me of this we when we getting the store set up and I strong-armed Madalena for this to be our name.

How did you and Madalena meet and decide to open Stitch by Stitch?  Madalena and I met through a church group.  We sat on a committee together and I was the one that would be needlepointing in meetings and she asked, “what are you doing?” So I taught her how to needlepoint.   Then we both worked part time at the first needlepoint shop here in Larchmont. Madalena had always done all kinds of other crafts but never needlepoint before meeting Betty.

How did you transition from needlepointing in committee meetings to working in the needlepoint shop?  The past Needlepoint shop owner asked me one day if I could help her because I just knew so much about needlepoint, so I started coming in after I dropped my children off at school.

You mention that this is your passion, not just a hobby?  What does that mean and how does that impact how your run this business?

Some folks open needlepoint shops so that they can get their Needlepoint and fibers at cost.  We are passionate to share our love of needlepoint with anyone and everyone we can.  If you want to try something new or saw something you want us to order, we will find it for you.   I think we had six lines of thread when we opened and now, I don’t think I can count the number.  We are running out of space.

Sometimes Needlepoint shops can feel snooty and not all that welcoming.  That is not true when you walk in here.  What are you guys doing that makes it so welcoming?

I think the first thing we did when we literally opened (through the generosity of our parents) was furnish the front of the store with a community table, a chandelier and a china cabinet so you felt like you had just walked into someone’s home.  People just love coming in here and feeling welcome.  You can needlepoint at the front table anytime, no charge.   The back table is reserved for classes and private lessons. IMG_2215

We also have a ton of groups.   Huge Saturday contingent, four women drive all the way here from Long Island every week!  We also have studio time where for $20 you have access to at least one of our two teachers for a two hour session for help on your project.  Anywhere from 1 to 7 people to be at the table, but it typically there are 6 people.  We started with Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning and then we went Noon and Thursday morning and Saturday mornings.  Very popular!

 

We offer classes from nationally known teachers.  Next year we are planning on three.   In December we have Laura Taylor coming.  She will doing beading and ribbon techniques for two full days.  In January, Marina will be teaching a little Four seasons canvas where each window pane shows a different season of the tree outside. Maryellen is starting a beach scene, probably in January.  Next summer we will do a cute pumpkin patch.   Some classes are a few hours and some are over multiple days.   Tony Minieri will be back next fall.    Participants send us their canvas.  We mailed them to Tony.  He designs a personal stitch guide for each canvas and returns it with a thread list.   When the class comes together, Tony will stand in front of everyone and shares what he recommends for each person’s canvas plus helps each person individually.   He is fabulous.

What else do you do that creates such a warm community of needlepointers?

One of my favorites is we spotlight a “Stitcher-of-the-month” where our clients will bring in a few pieces they have done and we display it here behind the counter.   They are famous for the month and it is typically very inspirational for others.  Often their family will come in and be so proud of all the fine work their wife/mom have done.  We have amazing customers in the sense that everybody shares everything!

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We actually have this gallery throughout the store where our clients loan us their work sometimes directly from the framer! Our clients will tell us that more people will see their work if it is hanging in our store than if it is hanging in their home and they love to share.  Makes it fun and expands all our examples of inspiration!  Like that Grinch pillow – I’m not even sure why I did it, but once it was finished and up on that shelf, we sold 10 of them!  When people come into the shop and see everything finished they get inspired way beyond unfinished canvases alone hanging on the wall or in stacks in a basket.  Two very popular pieces are the American flag and the Broadway show collaboration.   Our customer Susan worked with one of our teachers, Marina, who selected the stitches and this turned out amazing!  It was on display at a convention and now other stores across the country call us for the stitch guide.

With all this amazing diversity of options, why do you think Needlepoint is not growing at the same pace as Knitting or Crochet?

The expense of it. You can walk into a knitting store and get a ball or two of yarn for really cheap.  However, when you walk in here you might find a beginners kit for as little as $25. Everything you need, but it can look very juvenile. Not only do you have to pay for the canvas and thread, but then you still have to get it finished.

Why is needlepoint so much more expensive than other fiber art?  Needlepoint canvases are literally hand painted so you know exactly where to stitch each color.   You can get stamped canvases but then it isn’t clear where to stitch.  It is just much more enjoyable to stitch something that is hand painted.  Hand-painted canvases are designed by actual artists that are bringing these canvases to life.

The diversity of designs in your needlepoint gallery is so broad. How do you know what your clients are going to want here in Larchmont?

We go to two trade shows a year.  One is in Dallas.   Cash and Carry run by the companies that actually own the needlepoint canvases.  It is held in the Embassy Suites where you literally walk into their hotel room set up as the front of their shop.  It is like the ultimate Needlepoint Mall!  It is a very personal way to do business vs a huge trade show.  The second is usually in southern California like San Diego.  This can be very overwhelming because it is also with Knitting.  Thousands of vendors, so it is it’s a lot and you’re not getting the same personal attention like you do in Dallas.

We also do trunk shows all year long.  This is where you can see everything in a designers line, not just the few canvases we purchased at a show.   The canvases are loan from designers  with the shop for limited time, anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks and we offer a 20% discount.  And you can buy the canvas right then, you don’t have to wait for it to be painted.

Do you have customer’s ask you to find certain things when you go to Dallas or California?

Yes, we take an entire wish list with us.  Susan, who does all our social media, also posts on Pinterest boards each night when we are in Dallas.  After visiting vendors during the day, we spend the night back in the room pricing canvases, reading all of our emails and prepping to going back to all the vendors the next day to purchase everything that Susan has posted and our customers commented on.  We probably come home with a third of our suitcase filled with canvases that are already sold before we leave the show!

How has social media changed your business over the past 14 years?

I will say that social media is a mixed blessing.  There’s no more excitement the way it used to be.  You would go to the show in California and never brought anything home right away, except that one time when we bullied that one lady.  We weren’t even able to take pictures.  You put in your order and ask for it to be split shipped.  Half in six weeks and the other half at a later day.  So then, the UPS man pulls in and we would say, “Santa had arrived!”   Everyone would hover over us opening the boxes to see what had come in, because we didn’t know what would be in the first half vs. second half of the split shipment.

In addition to the explosion of stitches, there are also so many more thread choices now.  How is this changing what needlepointers are making?

I equate Needlepoint to comfort food and especially after 9/11 folks were staying home more, doing needlepoint on the sofa at night.  The more they were sewing they started incorporating stitches we learned from cruel as children.  And we have these wonderful teachers who teach depth perspective and shading.  It’s such fun… We just completed a class with world renowned teacher, Tony Minieri.  You look at the detail he gave each student for their individual projects.  Its ever growing what people are doing on their canvases.  It has to be or needlepoint is going to die.

Not many people are satisfied to use the basket weave stitch alone anymore.  Plus there are so many new thread choices! We have women that are in their 60s and 70s now getting into trying new stitches and always yearning to learn something new.   The breadth of new fibers alone is expansive.  You can now use velvet, patent leather, metallics, sparkly beads and fuzzy fake fur.

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One of our gals, is 89 and has been needlepointing with us since the old store. She came in one day  and we moved her from the front table to the back of the store with the teachers and she has transformed her skills.  We have customers take needlepoint to all kinds of levels.  One favorite is how a client needlepointed nine three-dimensional birds and had them finished in a real antique bird cage!  three demensional needlepoint birdsWe were all blown away.   Another client needlepointed a giant toy chest for her twins. Or check out this Christmas tree where every single angel is the same pattern, but the stitch choice and yarns are all different so no two angels looks the same!

You also mentioned finishing.  How has that changed?

We do have amazing finishers.  They do very unusual things and are gifted in their own medium as well.  These trays are all hand painted and set the needlepoint out to really stand out in an unusual going way beyond a simple, knife edge pillow.  People just need to have their eyes opened to all the new ways needlepoint can be finished such as three dimensional boxes and animals.  Christmas star tree toppers.  Handbags that mimic Channel bags.

 

Flag with grand dogThe other thing that sets Betty’s shop apart is the amount of personalization they give their customers.  One client wanted to participate in an American Flag project, but she was 90 years old and  she just couldn’t do 247 stitches, so Betty and her crew designed a flag canvas around their clients favorite 13 stitches plus added her grand-dog Otter who was rescued from the first bombing of the twin towers.  She made it for her grandson, and it is on loan here until he wants it back.

 

keep calm and drink proseccoThey are always thinking about new ideas.  This January they will be doing a Prosecco and cheese night.  Everyone will learn three new stitches to sew on this cute canvas.  Just a fun girls night out.

 

Ready to start needlepointing or take your needlework to the next level?  Every Saturday morning at 10:00 they offer free introduction to Needlepoint for 30 minutes.  Just call ahead so Betty has a teacher ready for you.  “ We always encourage folks to start small and then come back.  When you come in with a finished project we ring the bell, Yay!  Another project finished.  The most important thing is to make something you love and will enjoy looking at it for a bit of time.  Needlepoint takes time.  So enjoy it!”

 

 

 

 

Categories
Farm Fresh Yarn

Outlander comes to the Colonies!

Outlander inspired knitting/crochet kit with Thistle Pin

From sheep farmed locally in Pennsylvania, we are proud to bring you a limited number of kits for you to enjoy making your favorite Outlander cowl, fingerless gloves, or shawl.   Each skein is 200 yards of 100% American Farmed wool (light worsted weight).

Plus we have collaborated with Trilogie Jewelry Designer, Janet Cadsawan.  She had designed this stunning Thistle and Sword pin to adorn your cowl, shawl or sweater.  It just makes your Outlander inspired look complete!

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Thistle & Sword pin

 

Kit is $50.00 and includes 1 skein of 200 yards, light worsted/DK Weight wool yarn plus the thistle pin cast in brass.  All materials have been farmed, spun, designed and manufactured in one or more of our founding colonies here in America.

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Categories
handmade gifts Knitting

Knitologie the first book for every knitter!

Knitologie  by Lucy Main Tweet

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A fabulous book for first time knitters or knitters that are looking for a book full of lovely gift ideas and great alphabet to add in any project you are working on.   This is a great reference book as well as a place to keep notes on projects.

I have made several pillows, mittens, scarves and blankets with different bits and pieces from several sections of this book!  A must have for any knitter’s library.  It is also just lovely to look through and read as a maker.   Ms. Tweet has a beautiful aesthetic throughout.

I found this difficult to find anywhere but Amazon, so here is the link!