The ‘General’ Category...
November 18, 2014
Darn Good Yarn is pleased to announce that we will be partnering with author Debbie Fowler to sell her book, Fragrance in the Desert, that raises awareness of human trafficking issues. Debbie shared a bit about herself, her book, and how she came to find Darn Good Yarn. Enjoy!
Hi! I’m Debbie Fowler.
Because I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, I am writing here today to share what has profoundly changed my life. And you may very well wonder what this has to do with fiber, felting, and knitting.
I like all things artsy, crafty, and messy. My bookshelves will tell you that I want to try it all. I paint with water color and acrylics and finger paint when the grandkids come. I know how to crochet, but knitting is still frightening. There are books on how to write books and make books. The drawers in my desk are full of pencils and markers, stencils and stickers. Art journaling is fun with crazy collage stuff found in the back yard and using magic markers, colored pencils, gel pens etc. I sew. There are shelves of fabric (the stash) and baskets of yarn and embroidery projects. My oldest daughter told me several years ago upon surveying the conglomerate of stuff in my craft room that I should focus. My comment to her was that wouldn’t be any fun and besides, “You kids are out on your own. I can do what I want now!” I had the best laugh just the other day when she told me her craft room looks like it has ADHD. Now she gets it!
I live in the country, Galway, NY, on a little over an acre about a 20 minute drive to something going in any direction. We like it. My husband is an artist of sorts too….his canvas is the yard. It is wonderful! We have gardens in the front yard and in the back, he is building a pond and there is a fire pit and lots of room for our dog, Milo, to run. This is where I live, this is where I retreat and feel my home is a refuge to the outside world. It would be so easy to get lost in that world and stay there; however, the passion that accompanied that profound event has a life of its own.
At the end of 2009 I joined my husband for a two year work assignment in the Middle East. We moved to Kuwait. Wondering what I was going to do while he worked, I, thankfully, learned of the KTAA. The Kuwait Textile Arts Association is a non-profit multinational organization which aims to bring together individuals interested in textiles and the fiber arts including appliqué, embroidery, knotting carpets, quilting, silk painting and weaving. Members include a number of talented decorative artists who hold classes throughout the year. To me this was the jackpot. They like and do things I like and there are new things I can learn. I was invited to the quilt group meeting. Although I sew, I wasn’t a quilter. I am proud to say that I am now.
Through this group I learned of a shelter that provided food, housing and protection for abused runaway maids. At that time there were 24 women of all ages from Nepal and 2 from Ghana. I spent two days a week with these women.
This was my culture shock. Having been awakened to the truths of human trafficking and personally touched by the dear ones who have suffered from this crime, I was profoundly changed. I made a vow to “my girls” that I will not only do something for their sake, but for their sisters, friends, and children to continue to combat the fight of human trafficking. Thus, I wrote “Fragrance in the Desert”.
My first introduction to Darn Good Yarn came from one of their customers while I was visiting family in Rochester, NY. Sue stopped in at my sister’s home. In sharing her love for fiber arts, she revealed this new product regarding recycled saris. The mention of saris had my attention. Very quickly we found that many of our interests overlap and we soon found a common thread. When she explained they came from Nepal and India, I was beside myself. I shared the topic of my book and of the women from Nepal. She excitedly told me of DGY and their mission. And when I found out they were so close in Schenectady, I knew there must be a reason this had come to my attention.
Usually when a connection is made like this, I get chills…I wasn’t disappointed! (something is unfolding) I read through the web site and blog posts of DGY and was delighted to learn of the business resolve to not only provide quality product, but give dignity to the women of Nepal and India the opportunity to become autonomous and self reliant. The next chills producing discovery was when reading the bio of Jessica, one of the staff members. She shares of when reading Half the Sky by Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WaDunn in 2011 that her worldview changed and she wants to do something more. Another “coincidence” ? I read that book in 2011 as I was flying back to the US after living in Kuwait for two years.
There may be many reasons for this unfolding to have occurred. I believe, today, it’s to stand together, women helping women, supporting one another and passionately together we will make a difference.
“One person cannot save the world
and solve all its problems. But many people living in service
to their highest calling will collectively lift the world and create light where it is most needed.
–Christine Mason Miller
In the midst of the horrors I discovered the sweetness of innocents who provided fragrance in the desert. My eyes have been opened and I am changed forever.
Proceeds in the sales will be donated to Maiti Nepal, an organization that is providing education, prevention, protection, healing to the women in Nepal who have suffered of this exploitation, and other like organizations working together to end modern day slavery!
I am thrilled to learn of others like Darn Good Yarn that share the same passion!
You can contact Debbie via
October 17, 2014
Hey Everyone! This morning Nicole was a contestant on Dream Big America! It’s a radio show contest highlighting entrepreneurs in the US that have big ideas. Nicole gave a fabulous two minute pitch about the concept behind Darn Good Yarn and shared our story. You can listen to the whole show or just Nicole’s pitch HERE.
And now, we need your vote! Voting started this morning at 9 am ET with the start of the show and will go until next Thursday, October 23 at 5 pm. If Darn Good Yarn wins this weeks contest, we will advance to the monthly finals where we will compete with the weekly winners from this month. You can vote right HERE on the main page of Dream Big America.
September 4, 2014
We’ve told you already that Darn Good Yarn is going to be at Stitches East, but maybe you’re thinking, “What is Stitches East?” Or, maybe you know what it is but you’re wondering what there is to do there. Well, we’re so excited that we’re going, especially because it will be Darn Good Yarn’s first public vending event, but also because it’s going to be so much fun! And it will make it even more fun to have our fans there so we hope you can make plans to join us! We hope you can make it to the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut from October 9-12, 2014.
So what is Stitches East all about? It’s an expo event, meaning the public is invited (this is not a trade show), and it has a few components. First is the Stitches Market, where there will be several yarn vendors selling, ongoing free demonstrations, daily door prizes, and free knitting and crocheting lessons! And this is where you can find all of the Darn Good Yarn girls and all of the fabulous Darn Good Yarns…we can’t wait to meet as many of you in person as possible!
Second are the classes. From seams to cables, weaving to spinning, if you’ve been wanting to learn a certain fiber technique, this is the place to do it! Take a look here for the full list…there are so many to choose from, but some are already sold out, so hurry and make a selection!
Along with the Stitches Market and classes, there will also be special events including luncheons, fashion shows, dinners, and special presentations and talks!
And if the regular event isn’t enough, stay an extra day for Stitches ETC where there will be more classes and workshops!
Want to find out more or connect with others that are headed to Stitches East? You can find them at these social media outlets:
August 30, 2014
About twice a year Darn Good Yarn clears out all of the odd ball yarn to make room for incoming collections!!! What this means is HUGE savings for you, from 60% to 75% off!!! This will be a mystery pack, so for $20, you get 4 skeins of Darn Good Yarn. That’s crazy right???!!!! For these discounted price, we are offering true Mystery Packs and you get what you get!!!! Four delightfully surprising skeins mailed right to you…everyone likes crafty surprises right?!!
In other Darn Good Yarn News, the DGY team is going to be at STITCHES East October 9-12th in Hartford, CT!!! As you know, DGY is a virtual store and this will be our first big public vending event!!! So, if you have been wanting to meet the Darn Good Yarn team or see all of our amazing yarns in person, now is your chance!!!! And we can’t wait to meet you too!!!
Have a great weekend!
August 29, 2014
Nicole and Mike have had a great time exploring the new official Darn Good Yarn city of Schenectady, New York and have found lots of things to love about it….restaurants with scrumptious food, service businesses that are top notch, and areas of the city that a just beautiful to be in and walk around. If you’re in the area or can come for a visit, here they are in no particular order.
5) Persian Bite
Delicious Iranian Food at great prices! Everything here is amazing, from the sizzling kebobs to the flavorful wraps to the chewy and warm Persian flatbread. You can get a wrap that comes with salad and bread for under $5! Love it! When Nicole needs a break from sourcing your favorite yarns and great place for some lunch with Mike, she heads over to the Persian Bite.
A girl’s got to look good, but a girl’s also got to stay on a budget. How does Nicole do both at the same time? The Paul Mitchell School in Schenectady! Great prices on all the services you need to keep up your look…haircuts and great styling to go with it, color and highlights, manis and pedis, waxing…you name it, they do it and they do it well. Even with Nicole’s hard to cut curly hair, she doesn’t come out looking like Rachel from Friends (Remember that hair cut? It was a good one, but not anymore!), she comes out looking fresh and fabulous!
3) Home Depot
Moving into a new place always comes with a few unexpected home repairs. So, then move into two places (the store too) and add a few more repairs. And add onto that a store opening (still working on it…slow, but steady) and you’re going to need the best hardware and home repair store around with a top of the line staff that knows the store in and out and can help you find what you need so you don’t waste your time walking down every aisle. Enter Home Depot of Schenectady, NY!!! They are the best with the friendliest and most helpful staff around! No matter how obscure the item, they can find it for you and they do it with a smile!
Mike’s Hot Dogs takes you back to the good old days with its counter seating where you can enjoy your hot dog while you watch the grill sizzle with more. It’s been around for over 50 years and these are definitely the best dogs in Schenectady and possibly the best hot dogs in New York! And Mike’s Hot Dogs doesn’t just do dogs. They are up at 5 am ready to serve you a breakfast of french toast, omelets, and bacon. And for lunch can have that delicious dog, a juicy hamburger, or a cup of the soup of the day. And it’s all melt in your mouth, mmmm, mmmm, good!
Of course it was going to make the list! How could we not mention it? Full of the best yarn around and good vibes to go along with it. Our warehouse is stocked up with all of our goodies…Silk Sari Ribbon Yarn, Nicole is loving the new space in the Stockade Historic District, is proud to be a member of the Schenectady Chamber of Commerce, and can’t wait to connect with more of you!
August 27, 2014
Jeanie Mossa of Planet Calamari remembers drawing on the wall with jumbo Crayola crayons when she was about 4 years old. The vision in her head was clear, but the result turned out to be just a jumble of crayon marks…definitely not a happy moment for her parents. She says, “I guess that’s the difference between being an artist and doing art: one you are, one you have to learn.” She credits her Italian grandmother with teaching her to sew, crochet, embroider, and create and give her skills that blessed her as a future artist.
In addition to her art and creations, Jeanie publishes an e-zine, Bohemian Soul, a fusion of art and healing for people and their pets. You can sign up to receive it right in your own inbox on the Planet Calamari site. Darn Good Yarn’s own Nicole Snow was the featured interview in the last issue! Jeanie is also working on a book that started as a children’s book and has transformed into a book of illustrations and affirmations to heal the child with in all of us.
Jeanie’s inspiration comes from a myriad of places. It comes in happy moments when she is dancing in the kitchen, playing the banjo, or watching a fun movie. It can come in the shower or while eating Mexican food. She lives close to Washington, D.C. and it comes through her visits to the Smithsonian Art Museum, the United States Botanical Gardens, and the National Museum of the American Indian. It also comes through the nature preserve that is close to her home where she takes a walk with her husband every Sunday. She loves strolling among the trees and flowers, seeing stunning blue heron, hawks, geese, dragonflies, and an occasional deer.
On those walks, when she sees a stick or branch, Jeanie’s mind races trying to think of what it could be. If her brain comes up with an image, she picks it up and takes it home to work with it. Usually the image and the finished product look nothing alike, but she finds that if she stays in the flow, she can make her muse happy. If her muse seems to have run off to Paris, she says her secret fall back method is to watch marathon Ugly Betty reruns. Jeanie says, “Her bubbly personality, colorful ill-matched clothing and caterpillar eyebrows sing to me, and some of my more whimsical pieces have been created thanks to her! I think of Betty Suarez as my substitute muse.” Once she has a process going, she likes to experiment with different mediums: things like clay, paint, found objects, wire, and glass, anything that can be molded.
With those mediums, Jeanie creates number of amazing items including vibrant jewelry, whimsical mixed media art, and enchanting Nature Spirit Beings. Nature Spirit Beings are a special creation of Jeanie’s. She says they are, “tiny shamans, medicine women, and mystical deities inspired by tree sprites, fairies, ancient Goddesses and fairytales.” She has enjoyed making odd and delightful creatures, stuffed animals, and sculptures since childhood and when the National Museum of the American Indian had an exhibit last year, Much More than a Doll, she was amazed by the detail, color and symbolism. Around the same time, she experienced a health crisis that eventually required surgery and she made a Nature Spirit Being for herself as a way to deal with what was happening to her. Each doll has an intention. Her first doll was bravery and since then she has sewn a small note with a message or prayer inside, very similar to the Latin American Worry Doll. As she takes daily walks, she comes home with a pile of sticks and is always for searching for items to upcycle for her creations. She is currently working on creating online classes, videos, and live workshops that will teach others how to make Nature Spirit Beings and will include aspects of healing along with instructions on how to make the dolls.
Jeanie is in love with Darn Good Yarn‘s sari ribbon! She is worried that she may need a twelve-step program soon to deal with her addiction. She found Darn Good Yarn when looking for earthy alternatives for jewelry to hang her paper clay pendants. She had ordered some silk ribbon from a different source and was unhappy with the quality, so she went searching again and found Darn Good Yarn. When she called to inquire about DGY’s silk ribbons and a real person answered the phone and guided her through our products, she was hooked! She also loves buying from Darn Good Yarn because of their dedication to Fair Trade. Her favorite product is the At the Bahamas Sari Silk Ribbon with its vibrant purple, magenta, and blue hues. She has been known to use sari silk ribbon for all sorts of things from wrapping packages, to crocheting scarves, to decorating a set of crutches and the big black boot that came along with it when she fractured her ankle.
And we can’t forget to mention Jeanie’s crocheting pup, Quan Yin Kali Wu. She’s a rescue dog from the Tennessee floods in 2010. She also goes by just Wu or Quan Yin and Jeanie had this to say about the meaning of her name: “Quan Yin is best known as the Chinese Deity of Compassion. Wu is the last name of the martial arts teacher that informally adopted my husband into his family. And she picked up the middle name Kali, the Hindu Goddess of destruction, after she devoured (literally) an expensive Frida Kahlo book I had checked out from the library.” Despite her appetite for books (she’s destroyed others as well), she is just about the perfect dog and the Pawsitive Relations Director of Planet Calamari, as well as Four Paws Acupuncture, Jeanie’s acupuncture veterinary clinic that she ran when she lived in Salem, MA. Jeanie no longer treats patients, but she write books and articles, and teach a distance learning class on holistic medicine to acupuncturists and
veterinarians. Oh, and we can forget to add that Jeanie’s two black cats who would feel left out if we didn’t mention them, Nubi Wan Kenobi and Luna Miso Poosie.
Thank you Jeanie for sharing your art and process with us! We are ecstatic to have you as part of the Darn Good Yarn family and can’t wait to see what else you create.
Find Jeanie in all of these places:
August 22, 2014
Hi all! I’ve been waiting for this week…the official Darn Good Yarn husband is home! Mike normally travels to different locations for work and is gone during the week, but he’s home now, at least for a few days, and it has made me grateful for the technology that allows me to work at home so I can spend more time with him. I’ve been enjoying Mike’s company and being able to be here will all of you too…definitely the best of both worlds. Maybe you didn’t know this, but the majority of Darn Good Yarn’s team works from remote locations. Joie and I are the only ones that are here in Schenectady. Everyone else works from as close as Maine and North Carolina to as far away as Australia! How do we do it? Let me tell you about a few of the technologies that allow our business to be a global entity.
Darn Good Yarn could not have existed in the way that it does, even ten years ago. With the development of cloud based solutions, anyone of our team members can login to apps, documents, calendars, social media sites, our ecommerce solution along with customer service apps, and just about anything else we need to run the business. It’s pretty fantastic, don’t you think? Let me tell you about a few of the specific solutions that we use.
Darn Good Yarn is a big fan of all things Google. We keep our schedules synced up on Google Calendar. Our Google Drive account is full of documents and spreadsheets that we each can create and share and then edit from home as we modify ideas and data. We use Google for our e-mail. We have meetings via Google Hangout and we connect with you on Google Plus! If you’re looking for a good solution to provide e-mail for your business, keep all of your documents in one place and have an amazing array of tools available to you with one login and password, Google will do it for you!
Shopify is our ecommerce solution of choice! We run our store (retail and wholesale) through them and they make it easy, quick, and convenient to organize our products and see our sales data at a glance. I can add multiple users to our Shopify account which makes it simple for our remote employees to login and see what’s going on too. There’s even a Shopify mobile app, so you can keep track of things on the go. And within Shopify are apps that help us serve customers better. Robin, is a customer service solution that brings all of our customer conversations into one place so we can stay on top of their questions and needs. And one more…Retention Grid helps us keep track of our customer base as a whole and lets us know how to serve each customer best and how to retain them. All of these can be accessed from anywhere in the world where there is internet access! It makes keeping balance between family and work life so much easier to achieve.
And how does this look in real life? It’s back to school time and our team members, Maggie and Jessica both have children that are headed back to the classroom. Maggie, our Vice President, works from her home office in North Carolina and occasionally needs to comes to visit us at DGY headquarters. Working from home allows her to be there when Ember, her daughter, gets home from school and be flexible in her schedule so she can maintain a balance between career and family life. Another team member, Jessica has never even been to DGY headquarters (yet!). After an interview on Google Hangout, she was hired and keeps her eye on our social media outlets all from home, with her two boys in the background. Dora is in Canada, Karleigh in Australia, Tia in Maine, and the list goes on. We all stay connected through these technology solutions and we can all do almost everything that we have to do at any computer. This model also allows us to hire employees from anywhere! I think it’s a pretty spectacular way to run a business!
What works for Darn Good Yarn might not be the exact right solution for your business, but I hope you realize that the same creative nature that helps you craft your goods and bring that craft to others is the same tool that you need to use to grow your business. Brainstorm and think of solutions that will work for you and imagine what you can make your business when think beyond the simple model of create and sell. Think big and allow those ideas to flow. Maybe it’s technology solutions that you need or maybe you need to think about adding multiple streams of revenue so you can keep your business afloat when one is running a little dry…whatever it is, keep your be open to possibilities and channel your creativity to come up with solutions that will work for you!
August 20, 2014
Have you seen all of the super amazing new items that we have? Darn Good Yarn just got in a huge shipment full of all of the things that you already know you love and several new things that you’re going to love! Let me introduce you to five of them…
Isn’t this so fabulous and fun? This thick and thin wool yarn is created in Nepal and varies between worsted and chunky weight yarn. The wool is brought in from New Zealand, spun in Nepal into this amazing yarn, and then wool felt balls are sewn into it. This is going to make the perfect accessories…cowls, scarfs, perhaps a pair of mittens, poncho, or wrap. It comes in four brilliant colors…turquoise, black, purple and white. Which one are you going to get? Or are you like me and you think you’re going to need one of each (at least)?
2) Laptop Cases
These stunning laptop cases are going to fly off the shelves…make sure to get one because they are a limited edition item! They are handmade by a new co-op group we are working with in Nepal. The group has been experimenting with fusing wool and sari pieces for this case – a super thick felt was handmade and combined with vintage sari silk pieces. The flap closure also has two snaps and hand-felted embellishments on the flap. They’re going to make the perfect holiday gift for that artsy, creative person in your life…oh, that’s you? OK, get one for yourself, too!
These baby shoes are the best of both worlds…so fun and vibrant, but with a soft sole, so they are perfect for that new walker! They are made with wet felting technique that uses only soap and hot water and they have a leather sole for durability. They come in two styles – Felted Flower, and simply Felted, and both are going to be perfect for the upcoming cold weather. Give these with a hand knit sweater or soft knit toy and everyone will be oohing and aahing over your perfect baby gift!
This is the same reclaimed silk sari ribbon that you’ve always loved, you can just get it in a pack of five now! Let one of our color combinations inspire you…Naturescape with its golden, charcoal, and sage hues, Niagara Nights that will bring to mind a beautiful night sky and rushing water with its teals and periwinkle, Winey Goodness that will make you want to sit down and sip a glass while you knit away, and Jewel Tones with its sea foam, rose, and violet hues. What would you make with all of this luxurious silk yarn?
Have you tried any of our hemp yarn yet? If not, now is a great time! We just got it in an amazing array of new colors…rusted red wagon, sweet teal, french sunflower, morning coffee, rustic orange, black of night, shaded dark green, and yummy purple. Is that enough for you? Perfect for washcloths, bag handles, market bags, outdoor seat cushions, or tablecloths! Hemp is a wonderful renewable resource and this, or something made from it, would be the perfect gift for the vegan crafter in your life.
We’re so excited to bring you these fantastic brand-new products from the women’s co-ops in India and Nepal! We love what we do here at Darn Good Yarn and most of all we love that you are helping us do it!
August 15, 2014
Hello! If you haven’t heard, I’ve been super sick with whatever the latest hack up your lung cold, cough and flu that has been going around and even though my body didn’t let me keep up with all of the things I had planned for last week, I didn’t let it keep me from being productive! I’ve said before that when the unexpected comes, it’s time to be flexible and go with the flow. Downtime is the perfect time to put a new project on your needles, and then think, get perspective, come up with new ideas, and make sure that you are staying true to your vision. When you have a chance (or are forced to) to step away from the daily grind, it’s easier to remember the big picture and think about whether all of the day-to-day is helping to achieve it. So, let me share just a few of the thoughts and ideas I had while recovering…
-New patterns…on day one of being under the weather, I took some Black Yickity Yak Wool, Reclaimed Suede Ribbon, and Recycled Rainbow Silk Yarn and came up with the Black Magic Woman Shawl. I’m looking forward to wearing this more and more as the weather turns cool with the upcoming fall! It’s going to be great for putting around my shoulders or tying around my waist with some leggings and t-shirt. I also made a wine bottle gift bag with our At the Bahamas Sari Silk Ribbon Yarn. This is going to give you a great way to present that bottle of wine to your host with the upcoming holiday party season. Better yet, make one for the host, but make sure to make one for yourself too! This looks amazing just sitting on the table. I’ll have the pattern out ASAP, so watch for it!
-New products…we just got in a huge shipment of product and there are so many new items on the site and so many more to come. Did you catch all the fun and vibrant colors of banana yarn? That’s just a piece of it! Thank you to all who are participating in our naming contests on our Facebook page! We love your ideas and wish we could use them all…but if you didn’t win, keep your eyes peeled for more because we still have lots of fresh products to bring you. We just got a fresh batch of sari skirts too! They won’t last long, so if you’ve been waiting to get one, now is the time. Between the new products and my next share, I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting at the computer.
-A book…yep, that’s right! I’m writing a book. Can you believe it? Sometime I can’t, but every time I get a second, it’s on my mind. And every time I get a minute or two, I sit down and try to get my ideas out. It’s going to be all me, all small business, and all to help you know all the secrets of how Darn Good Yarn became what it is and how I work to keep it going and growing…consider it my own personal consultation session with you!
-StitchesEast…if you’ve been reading the blog, you know that we’re going to be at Stitches East! We cannot wait to be part of the fun in Hartford, CN from October 9-12 and we’re making plans for a space that’s going to feel like home. We’re hoping you’ll feel as comfortable there as you do in your own living room. Please come see us, sit and chat, and knit or crochet a little or a lot. We’ll bring the yarn and needles, you just bring you! I can’t wait to see you there!
-Oh, and let me share one more thing with you! This week, we had a special visitor to our Schenectady, NY space. Linda, one of our fabulous Darn Good Yarn wholesalers, came to pick up a ton of yarn to take to the New York State Fair! Be sure to check her out in Syracuse, NY from August 21 to September 1 in the Wool Center across from the sheep barn. She says she’ll have all of Darn Good Yarn’s fibers that “grow on four legs.” Here’s wishing Linda a fabulous time at the fair - thanks for taking Darn Good Yarn to the people of New York!
So, sure, I wish that nasty virus had passed me by, but even though it didn’t, the upside is that my ideas bucket is full and I’m feeling more grounded in my vision of what I want Darn Good Yarn to be. And now with all that time to think and plan, it’s time to get back to the doing! Hope you all have a wonderful week!
August 11, 2014
About 15 years ago, Patricia bought a doll from a local crafter as a gift for her mother and the crafter let her pick the hair and eye color. She thought it might be fun to make one herself, so she found a local class from doll artist, Billie Rooker. She used doll making as a therapeutic outlet during her years as a high school math teacher and likes to joke that even if the students were out of control, the dolls would sit still! After making porcelain dolls for several years, she found an online class for soft dolls and made a doll that she describes as “gosh-awful” with a “nosed that looked like a mashed potato and hands that looked like Shrek.” Ready to give up, she found a class from doll artist Judy Skeel that was close to home and came away from that class with a doll that had a beautiful face and a perfect nose!