The ‘General’ Category...
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!
August 5, 2014
I’ve been sick this week and I spent my recovery time creating this fantabulous shawl for you that you can get as a kit right HERE.
If you’ve hung out with Darn Good Yarn for any amount of time, you know that I love easy projects that don’t require too much planning because Darn Good Yarn’s fabulous fibers and yarns speak for themselves. I made this super cute shawl with outrageously lush fringe and pulled it together as a kit for you. This would look cute worn as a typical shawl (around the shoulders) or with traditional back worn in front and then wrapped around your neck. You could also pin and tie it around leggings for a whimsical look perfect for an afternoon music festival in the park.
So, this super simple pattern looks like this:
Grab your size 19 circulars (my cord was about 2 feet)
Then loosely cast on 25 with your yak wool. For each row after, k1, ktf&b, then knit until you have two stitches left on your row, ktf&b, k1
Work both hanks of yak up until you have a small handful of the yarn left and bind off.
Weave in any ends.
Now, the fun part. Make some fringe from the suede and silk. The pictured shawl shows 3 feet lengths because I wanted it to have some cool drama but you should play around until you find what you love. This kit will come with all the yarn you need (2 hanks of black yak wool from Nepal, Reclaimed Suede Ribbon, and Nighttime Rainbow Recycled Silk Yarn)
July 31, 2014
Phew! Time to sit down and take a break. It’s been one jam packed week! And I mean that in a good way. Maggie rolled into town on Friday and we have been going at full blast ever since with meetings, planning, photos, and more meetings. It’s been a week for making connections. I’ve learned that it pays to reach out to those around you, even if you’re not sure if anything will come of it, even if you think that person is “bigger” than you, and especially if you think it’s out of your comfort zone. Reaching out to those that can help you and those that you can help is an essential part of making your dreams happen.
That’s what happened with Mikey of the The Crochet Crowd and me. Mikey and I have been internet friends since 2008 when we were both just beginning to make steps towards our dreams. A few weeks ago, Mikey told me he wanted to stop by our new space because he was going to be close by in Manchester, NY for a show. After six years of being friends online, we were finally going to meet. And on Monday, it happened! Mikey and Diva Dan stopped by and we had a fantastic, whirlwind, fun and laugh filled time together. We only left the shop to go get dinner (everyone else got Shepherd’s Pie and I had a salad – I’ve got an image to uphold, you know!), and the rest of the time we sat surrounded by all of the fabulous yarns and shared potato chips and wine. You know how you meet some people and you just click? That’s how it was. Mikey even contemplated crocheting something out of my hair…perhaps a new trend? Well, probably not, but it was fun! We tried to make our time together last as long as possible by staying up late and I sighed as they left, but Mikey and Dan left with armfuls of yarn and I can’t wait to see what they make with it!
Another big announcement I’m so excited to make is that we are going to be at Stitches East! Of course I said, “YES!” when we got invited to come by CEO Benjamin Levisay. I loved our time together when he interviewed me for the Fiber Hooligan podcast and one of the things we talked about was how we had never met each other before. Now, I am sure we will get to meet and I’m ecstatic that Darn Good Yarn is going to be part of this event. If you’re in the area, or if you can travel to make it, Stitches East will be held in Hartford, Connecticut from October 9-12. I would love, love, love to meet as many of you as possible there!
And one more story, just to keep it real here. I always love when Maggie comes to town and we work around the clock when she is here, making the most of every moment we have together and taking advantage of that synergy. So, on Tuesday, after a long weekend and our late night with Mikey and Diva Dan, I packed my bag for a day in the office. Maggie took one look at it and said, “So, I see it’s going to be a real day.” Yep, she was referring to the box of wine I had packed, my adult Juicy Juice, if you will, slipped right in there next to my notebook. I know me and I know a glass of wine is just what I’m going to want at the end of the day, so I prepare! Embracing your own quirkiness and those things that make you unique is essential to success. So many things want to change us, mold us and conform us, but Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke truth when he said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
July 29, 2014
Darn Good Yarn and Nicole have been up to some big things this summer…here’s a re-cap in case you missed anything!
*As a 2013 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest Winner, Nicole attended the US Chamber of Commerce’s America’s Small Business Summit. Not only did she hear an inspiring speech by Colin Powell, but she was part of the teaching as well and helped lead a breakout session on Small Business Insider Tips with the other winners from the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest, Danny Catullo of Catullo Prime Meats and Ari Hoffman of Gobie H2O.
*Nicole also attended the IRCE, the Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition, in Chicago and gave an insightful interview with Daniel Burstein of MarketingSherpa Media Center about starting a small e-commerce business. She gives her best advice and tells how she grew Darn Good Yarn by 2900% on a totally self-funded budget.
*Another great interview with Nicole happened on The Shut Up Show with Berni Xiong. Nicole chats with Berni and shares the story of Darn Good Yarn, how she finds courage in the face of fear, and how to build purpose and connection in your business. If you haven’t watched yet, you are missing out!
*And just a teaser here…Nicole took a trip to Toronto to get the ball rolling on something huge! I can’t wait to tell you what she is up to!
July 24, 2014
Hey there everyone! I’m back in New York this week and ready to rock this remodeling out with Joie – we are two chicas on a mission to use our girl power and spruce up this space! I am a firm believer that every girl needs to know how to use a rachet strap because when you are at Lowe’s gathering supplies and you’re not quite sure how they are all going to fit in your Honda Element, a rachet strap always saves the day! And that’s exactly where Joie and I found ourselves this week. The scruffy contractors rolled their eyes at us, but after shuffling a few boxes of yarn around, everything was in and we were on our way and ready to get to work.
But, when we got back to the store, we noticed the toilets were making a funny noise. I made the mistake of flushing when I went to check it but it only made things worse…the water started to rise and we didn’t have plunger on hand to help. Yikes! Time for an emergency trip back to Lowe’s for two plungers and snake! And then the real craziness ensued. After snaking and simple plunging didn’t solve the problem, Joie and I each armed ourselves with a plunger and made our way to the two different bathrooms. We thought that synchronized plunging might provide enough power to clear the backup. I yelled down the hall to Joie to start and then we counted and plunged together…one, two, three, four, five, nothing, six, seven, eight, still not working, nine, ten, and all the way to twenty-five. And in the end, all we got out of it was laughs and we had to call the plumber. One thousand dollars later, the tree branches that were blocking our pipes are now cleared. Situations like these confirm that the emergency fund is a necessity, not a luxury.
After a day spent on plumbing issues, we made our way to work with the intention of making good use of the remodeling supplies we’d picked up the day before. As I pedaled up to the parking lot, an incredibly large piece of our maple tree stopped me in the parking lot. The thunderstorm from the night before had broken it off, and I had to change my plans so we could lop this monster of a tree branch (it was as big as a small tree) and get the parking lot cleared. So, Joie, Terry (our landscaping fairy, remember him?) and I (good thing this Jersey girl spent some time in Maine so she would know how to properly lop a tree) made quick work of it and we were back to business.
Even with couple of unexpected setbacks this week, we are making progress. A few weeks ago when Joie was out walking Squeakers, she found a free pegboard on the street. She called me to come pick it up (and yes, if you’re wondering, I did have to use those ratchet straps again) and this week, Joie painted it and made it into a fabulous display our kits. The painting of the office continues and we are saying our goodbyes to the eighties wallpaper. And I’ve been doing lots of picture taking and description writing – there are oodles new products going up this week that I can’t wait for you to see.
And one more thing…I’m excited that something we’ve had in the works for a bit is ready to go. We have new custom and one-of-a-kind drawstring sari silk pouches made just for us that use to pack any order over $30! And orders over $87 get the larger size! These sacks are so fabulous and soft, I want them all for me! Really, I got them for all of you, so I will share and I can’t wait for you to get one!
Those unexpected things always come up, but I take them on with an open mind, flexibility, being able to draw on the emergency fund when needed, and good friends (and landscaping fairies) to help!
July 21, 2014
Have you been wanting to get a sari skirt, but thought you might end up in tangles trying to tie it? Well, worry no more! Nicole shows you how to tie your sari skirt in several ways (as a dress, as a shawl, as a skirt, and a few more…these are SO versatile) in this fantastic video.
These sari skirts are one of a kind so just make sure to tell us what colors you want and don’t want when you order and our shipping staff will fill your request!