Adorable Diaper Cover In Action

Helloooooo!! Linette here, new Kelbourne Woolens office assitant/wife/mom/chicken keeper/knitter/photographer/crossfitter. (Interview by Kate coming soon!)

Besides the bonus of working with 3 smart and funny ladies here at KW, I also have access to some of the most gorgeous yarns available to knitters. I am also a photographer, and last week had a baby session, so I grabbed a skein of The Fibre Co. Terra and the Darling Diaper Cover pattern and went to work! 

Terra is a great substitute for the yarn the pattern was originally written for, Organik. As a bonus, I had 100g instead of 50g, which left me plenty of yarn to make another diaper cover or a pair of cute booties or hat. I have a few friends who are expecting little loves soon so either or all would make a great gift, hmmmm, maybe I'll put them all on a cute stuffed animal and gift that? What handmade items do you give to expecting mothers? 

Special thanks to my precious baby model, Martin B, and his loving parents, Lauren and Greg! Congratulations on your sweet little babe, he was a pleasure to work with! 

*disclaimer- I did not block the diaper cover. Gasp!


Buying Yarn for a Crowd

Inventory management.

It's an art, a science, a field you can even get a doctorate in. But, on a smaller scale, how can we know what to buy for our customers when we're not sure which way the wind blows? What will be the next hot thing? What if something we think is great proves to be a bust? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you're working out your fall season buying to ensure you don't get stuck with too much yarn that you can't sell. 

It's important to remember who you're buying for: you're not buying for yourself, you're buying for your community. Keep in mind who they are, and what they want to knit when you're working on your fall buying plan. Ask yourself, "How many people are going to knit a sweater this fall? How many people will knit a sweater in this yarn? How many people will knit a sweater in this yarn, in this color?" Keep yourself grounded, and don't get too carried away. Keep this in mind as you plan, and try to follow these 5 guidelines.

1. Keep a reserve fund. 
I know, I know. When the money is stretched so thin, as it is in the spring and summer, thinking about saving is next to impossible. But being sure to work a bit of padding into your fall budget for a rainy day is crucial. What if one of your best selling companies surprises you with a mid-season new yarn release? Won't you be pleased you're sitting on a nice little bit of money you set aside in the winter/spring?

2. Learn to say, "NO."
If you're not sure the investment will pay off, say no. Maybe you'll be wrong, but good thing you have that reserve fund so you can order it later. When you're sitting with a rep, or walking the show floor at TNNA, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying new things. If you get a call in the future that something is ready to ship and you don't remember what it is...unfortunately you probably don't need it. (And you definitely need to be more organized!) And, while that is too bad for someone like me who depends on selling you yarn, I would rather you make smart buying decisions so that you can continue to buy my yarn instead of overbuying things you aren't invested in and then won't sell well. 

3. Be realistic with your knitting time.
If you find yourself continually saying, "We'll make a sample," when you are deciding whether or not a yarn you want to bring in will sell, you may end up drowning in yarn on August 1st with 15 knitting projects to complete in the next few weeks. Your staple yarns don't need new samples each season, but new yarns do. Ask the distributor if they have sample quantities in advance and save your sample knitting time for those yarns so you can have the garment finished when the yarn arrives. Pick yarns to knit samples in that would otherwise require the knitter to take a leap of faith. If it's a gimmick yarn (or a yarn that needs to be knit up to be understood by the consumer) that you're trying for one season, knit a sample and get the yarn out the door as quickly as possible. Don't knit unrealistic shop samples, either. While you may want to knit something like this, not many of your customer's will, and those who do don't need to see a sample first. Keep it simple, and stick to things that are approachable and also beautiful.

4. Tell your customers what to buy.
Samples sell yarn, we all know that. But so does herd mentality, and I mean that in the nicest way. We're social creatures, and we like to do things together. Finding a pattern that is appealing to a wide audience, and featuring that sample for a knit along, or as a sale on the yarn and pattern when purchased together, a promotion, or a class is a great way to move a lot of yarn out the door. Some great examples of patterns that have taken off for our customers are the Basalt Wrap in Road to China Light, the Churchmouse Easy Folded Poncho in Acadia, and the Arctic Circle Cowl in Tundra. Things these patterns have in common is that they are easy and fashionable knits that require little effort to make and wear. They are also wearable and lovely on a variety of ages, shapes, and sizes so they are easy to make with a group of friends. Pick a few go-to patterns that use yarn you have in stock, and when customers come in looking for ideas, you'll know where to point them. I used to work at a yarn shop with a woman, who now owns a beautiful shop here in Philly, who picked a different yarn to sell every day. When customers came in, that yarn would be the first thing she would show people. It worked! Some people need direction, and they want your advice. You are the expert, after all. 

5. Don't reorder just because you sold out. 
In the world of successful inventory management, if you sell all of it, don't just rush to reorder it. You may want to consider it a success and move on, especially if it's a yarn that is a specialty or seasonal yarn and not a staple yarn. If you sold all of the natural color of Cumbria, maybe you want to reorder that. Cumbria is a great worsted wool staple yarn. But if it's January 25th, and you've sold all of the purple Tundra - a bulky wool, alpaca, silk blend that is decidedly a seasonal yarn in a color that isn't a "staple" - maybe wait to reorder that until the next fall/winter season. Look at the big picture, and don't saddle yourself with inventory you can't move before the season is over. If the season ends, and you still have seasonal inventory put it on sale. Even if you sell it for 50% off, it's a wash. If it sits in storage, it's money you already spent and won't get back. 

These five little "rules" are mere suggestions, and every shop is different. But the key elements are important: Save your money. It's okay to say no. Don't take on too much. Be a leader. Think before you spend. Remember, every ball of yarn on the shelf is debt, or potential money, depending on how you want to look at it. Now, go sell some yarn! - CK

Looking for more Business Sense posts? Check out the full series here!

Crochet Summer 2016: Notes from a Novice

I can't believe it's already Crochet Summer! Last summer I worked on the 214ss-04 Sora Motif Sweater from Pierrot Yarns. I was a beginner then, and truth be told, I'm still a beginner because I never finished it!  

In fact, it's still sitting in my office on the shelf above my computer reminding me daily of its unfinished status. Too many other things have caught my attention. (You know how that goes!)

So call me crazy, but instead of finishing the Sora Motif Sweater, I'm just going to go big and take a stab at a much more complicated shawl pattern from Lisa Naskrent, the Water Lily Shawl from Interweave Crochet Spring 2016 designed using The Fibre Co. Road to China Lace.

Follow along with my progress with my contribution to Crochet Summer, Notes From a Novice, as I'll show my successes and failures in trying to crochet this gorgeous shawl.  

Are you participating in Crochet Summer? Challenge yourself with something totally new or pick an old crochet fave and share your progress using the hashtag #crochetsummer2016. - MK

Crochet Summer Archives

As we embark on our third year of Crochet Summer, I thought it would be nice to share some highlights of 2014 and 2015 with you!

- 2015 Round Up
- 2014 Round Up

- Urchin Stripe Cowl by guest contributor Cal Patch
- Crochet/Sewn Top
- Crocheting in Rows
- Bobble Stitch Plant Coasters
- Crochet T-shirt Neckline by guest contributor Cal Patch
- Summer Dawn Cowl

- Miriam Felton and Amy O'Neill Houck Interview
- Color Stories: Shell Pink
- Back to School Pattern Inspiration 
- Kim Werker Interview
- Ashley Elle Designer Inspiration

Enjoy! - KGO

Interweave Crochet Summer 2016 / Juniper Top by Dora Ohrenstein

We are so pleased to have our yarn featured in Interweave Crochet this month! Check out the lovely Juniper Top by Dora Ohrenstein. This warm-weather cardigan is knit up in Canopy Fingering in Purple Passion. 

To quote from the magazine: This cropped lacy jacket is worked top down in one piece. The yoke begins with simple chains connected by alternating short and tall stitches for a wavy look that flows nicely into the undulating leafy pattern stitch of the body. This quick Juniper Top is the perfect topper for summer evenings. We couldn't agree more!

We are looking forward to #crochetsummer again and this would be a perfect project to make! Interweave Crochet hits the newsstands on June 14th! Show us your summer projects with the hashtags #kelbournewoolens and #madewiththefibreco. -MLK

See you at TNNA!

We've been super busy the past week as we prepare for the upcoming TNNA show in Washington, DC! TNNA is a industry-only trade show that happens twice a year, and it's our opportunity to show our retailers what we have available for them for the upcoming season. We will be in Booth 578, and if you're at the show be sure to drop in and say, "Hello!"

There is a lot of work to be done leading up to the TNNA, but we wouldn't miss it for the world. Going is so fun, and we can't wait to see all of our yarn-y friends. It's where collaborations are born, information is shared, new friends are made, old friends revisited, and new products come to life. 

The offices and warehouse have been suffering varying degrees of messiness as we put together yarn tastings for Sample It (I'm calling it 'a yarn party in a box'), pack lots of our NEW yarn for shops to purchase to knit samples for the upcoming season, and make sure we have all new color cards made (among a million other things).

TNNA prep is a magical time of year, though, and it gives us an opportunity to ensure that we really have everything ready for our shops as we gear up for the fall season.

Many of you have already seen some sneak peeks of our new fall yarn, and it is scrumptious. We've been sending it out to designers and magazines, and there are some fantastic patterns headed your way this fall season. We'll be officially unveiling it to the public at the beginning of August, but we will have sample quantities available to retailers at TNNA. 

We have designed a nine piece collection for the new yarn, and all the garments will be on display at the show. One of them will also be making an appearance in the Yarn Group Fashion Show

We are also thrilled to have a NEW collection from designer Lori Versaci which will be on display in our booth, #578. She posted a few sneak peeks as well on her Instagram page, and we'll have all the garments in person in the booth. We couldn't be more pleased. Look for Lori's collection to be released in early Fall. 

We hope to see many of you there. For those of you who can't be there be sure to follow the hashtags #tnnashow and #tnna on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to join in the fun!