The ‘Nicole’s Corner’ Category...
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!
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 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 17, 2014
Hey Everyone! It’s been one jam-packed summer so far! If you haven’t heard yet, we moved our operations to Schenectady, NY. I’m crazy excited about our new space! It’s in the the Stockade Historic District, a neighborhood that’s been around for over 300 years. It’s full of window boxes, quaint old buildings, so much character and I’m in love! Squeakers and I make the mile and half bike ride to work which is helping me recover from a long winter and I’m happy to report that I can fit into my jeggings again!
Darn Good Yarn’s shipping operations are up and running here now (thanks to our fabulous new team member, Joie) and by the end of the summer, we will open our first brick and mortar store! I’m so thankful to be a home grown in Maine business. I still have family and a home there and will run my consulting business from there, but I chose NY for Darn Good Yarn because I’ve wanted to find more balance in my work and family life since Mike changed jobs.
And I went right back to Maine last weekend to be a Breakout Leader for the Sustain Maine Entrepreneurial Conference. I got spiffed up with a new haircut and color and was on my way to the beautiful Chebeaugue Island. Did you catch the picture of my view? That’s what the amazing Ann Marie Almeida and I woke up to every morning in our shared house. She is a Senior Director at BRAC, an organization dedicated to building opportunities for the world’s poor and the #1 NGO in the world, and if that wasn’t enough, she also works to inspire women to make changes in their local community through Leadership for Local Change.
The organizers filled the conference with so many inspiring individuals. Eric Hopkins, is a super talented artist who got the wheels in my head churning with his speech and I hope to share more of ideas here. The energy when entrepreneurs get together, share ideas, and make things happen truly motivates! And that’s what we did in my Breakout session…motivate through strategizing about using out-of-the-box solutions for branding, content management, and building small e-commerce businesses on bootstrap budgets so you can make your business work for you. I was lucky to have Deb Buxton from North East Forest Products, Jim Van Fleet from Mainely Tubs, Emily Nelson from Nelson Treehouse and Supply, and Christine Williams from Crockett’s Cove along for the ride.
Oh, and I can’t forget the delicious food from Jen at Shady Grove Farm, Kitchen and Events. She does farm to table catering and it’s simply fabulous! And, of course, at the end of the day, I sat down with a glass of wine to chat up some great business ideas with Chris Rector, the Regional Representative for Senator Angus King. What a day! So many great people with great ideas and I’m looking forward to sharing more details here. I’m happy I could be there to support the growing businesses in Maine and make connections that will bring more purpose to our mission here at Darn Good Yarn.
Back in Schenectady, we’re working on projects to spruce up the outside and inside of our new space. Our building had been empty for five years, so we have a long to-do list and we are transforming this place! Joie, Mike, and I (ok, mostly Joie) have been cleaning up, planting, and pruning our grounds here. There’s magic in the air around here, or at least it seemed like it, after we found free flowers to plant in our beds and had a visit from our very own landscaping fairy! One day, Mike pruned our gorgeous shade cedars (can’t wait to yarn bomb them!) and left the pile of branches in parking lot. When we arrived at the shop the next day, the pile was gone. Come to find out, the landscaping fairy was our neighbor, Terry, and I love that he’s making us feel right at home! Indoors, we are hoping to fill the entire store with re-purposed furniture. Joie and I took a trip to the local thrift store and we found some pieces with great potential. Now onto sanding, painting, and putting that Darn Good Yarn touch on them. How many chairs do you think we will need for the knitting space we are carving out? Better too many than too few, right? So many plans and so much happening! We love being here in Schenectady and I can’t wait to get the store open and get feedback from the community so we can tailor our classes and offerings to their needs. If you are in the Schenectady area, be on the lookout for the plans for our grand opening and be thinking about the perfect local yarn store because we want to hear your ideas!
I’ve always been a big dreamer and I’ve loved seeing my dreams come to life this summer because it means that we are doing more good, empowering more women in India and Nepal, and bringing your creative ideas to life!
October 29, 2013
Recently Nicole Snow, owner extraordinaire of Darn Good Yarn, had a chat with Denise Buzzelli, the Executive Director of the Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce. Piscataquis county, according to Google, is the least populous county in Maine. You can totally invite the Director of the Chamber of Commerce over to your house for a chat if you live there. You especially can if you’ve been working together to help local small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs! In this video, Nicole discusses how awesome it is to have community support, the need for diversification of industry, and some courses she will be teaching at the Chamber of Commerce. These classes may be going online, so keep an eye out! You can also subscribe to the Darn Good Yarn YouTube channel here.
May 30, 2013
June 14, 2012
Good morning lovelies!
This week’s guest blogger should have been last weeks guest blogger, but I dropped the ball so here we are back on track! I think you will love this guest blogger. Shannon is a fashion designer and brings some cool variety to Darn Good Yarn. Shannon, thank you so much for being a part of the Darn Good Yarn Guest Blogger Project!
Greetings! My name is Shannon N. Hunter and I am a local fashion designer in Seattle, WA. I draped my first evening gown in 5th grade, have been unofficially studying fashion since high school and am now attending school while designing clothing and accessories, writing and knitting on the side. I own and operate High Maintenance Productions http://www.highmaintenanceproductions where I freelance as a wardrobe stylist for film and individuals and plan events. I also sell vintage clothing and accessories on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/fancyterrible
My clothing company is named Fancy Terrible Clothing http://www.fancyterribleclothing.com and my blog can be found at http://shannonnhunter.wordpress.com
10 Fun Facts About Me:
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a dancer on Solid Gold. I took lessons and everything. It didn’t work out.
I was raised by my Army Colonel Grandfather (Hooah!). As an Officer’s Wife, my Grandmother was obligated to entertain her husband’s colleagues with lavish dinners and cocktail parties. It was through this that I learned the Art of Manners & Proper Etiquette when I was a wee one. We threw lots of elegant parties. I still throw grand parties to this day. Go big or go home, in my opinion.
I flew to France by myself when I was 12 and stayed with friends of the family for 3 weeks. My grandparents then joined me and we travelled Europe for two months. I have also travelled around the U.S. during three separate road trips, all before I was 14.
My Dad is a biker. Everyone in my family has owned a motorcycle (including my Grandparents) and I grew up riding on the back. I would love to have my own but I know myself enough to know I would have “too much fun” and wreck. I’ve decided I want race snowmobiles instead. It’s safer that way!
Even though I’ve been in Seattle for almost 20 years, I still consider myself from California and am barefoot as much as possible, even in the winter. (Inside always, of course, never outside. Ew.)
I love pugs! Someday, I want an army of white pugs with one black one named “Darth”.
I have a shoe problem. (I had over 50 pairs in high school alone…call me Imelda!) And a jewelry addiction. I’m a sucker for anything shiny and would rather have costume jewelry over diamonds any day (especially if it’s vintage). And too many fashion magazines. (As in several boxes worth…but in my defense I do sort through them to make tear sheets for reference material in my work).
The Vampire Writing Queen, Anne Rice, once told me she loved my sense of style! (I was wearing a white lace dress, black tights and black bra with my Great-Grandmother’s huge silver and amethyst iron cross pendant with Doc Martins in a sea of people wearing black. Oh, and I had platinum hair. I might have stood out a bit.)
I organized and produced my first fashion show by myself at the tender age of 19. I say “by myself” because I had zero assistants. No one showed up to help and I lost 5 models the day of the show. I never gave up (I couldn’t, the event had been airing on the biggest radio station in San Diego all week!), and only one person ended up in the hospital. True story.
At one time, I owned an Internet Cafe & Vintage Clothing Boutique where I sold clothing I had been collecting since high school as well as consignment items. It was featured in the local paper and I continue to sell items online to this day.
The Teach: Be Happy! Or, How To Knit With Intention
When I first considered knitting as a hobby, I knew absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t know a single thing about the various types of yarn, metal vs. wooden needles and their different gauges, or what a purl was besides a pretty bauble from the ocean. I bought the least expensive yarn I could find in a color I liked, grabbed some needles and then left them in a closet for three years.
A few months ago, I started learning to knit with a friend of mine, who has been knitting for over 5 years. I became enamored with her beautiful lace work and she took my (horrid) skein of burgundy acrylic yarn and taught me to cast on (rather awkwardly since I was all thumbs). I had finally begun to knit my first scarf. I was on my way! After a few inches and many holes later, I realized I loathed the feel of the yarn and that the scarf was looking more like a baby blanket than a scarf. (The yarn was too thick, I had cast on too many stitches and was using the wrong needle gauge!)
I kept knitting anyway because it was the same stitch over and over and I clearly needed the practice. As I knit, I found my mind wandering because I wasn’t having to think about what I was doing. Throughout the day, I would put the knitting down to go do something and return to it in a different mood. It was then that I realized I actually needed to pay attention when I knit. I kept dropping stitches because I wasn’t watching and checking my work.
As my day unfolded, my mind wandered through happy thoughts, and I knit well. When irritating thoughts intruded, I became sloppy. If I really let my mind go to a place of anger, I would get stabby with the needles and jab myself or unravel a few stitches accidentally. Who knew? What a waste of time!
I began to wonder about handmade items and what people thought while making them. It may sound silly, but I really didn’t like the idea of knitting a scarf that my husband would be wearing around his neck that was infused with negative thoughts or feelings. It seemed wrong, somehow, like my negativity would be strangling him! Not a good image to have when seeing him in the scarf each day. Now, I am not a person who believes in full on woo woo, but I was starting to understand the concept of knitting with intention. I realized that at least to me, it is a very important part of my process when working on any of my projects.
If you are creating something by hand and love what you do, good thoughts and juju will be infused into the item. Your positive energy will flow and it will show in your work. If you are in a negative frame of mind, you will inadvertently be putting negative energy into whatever it is you’re working on and your art may suffer for it. Try to keep your customer in mind and stay in a happy, zen-like state of mind while working. This will keep you focused and as you constantly check your work, you will see the profits of paying attention, of being present. You will then see the profits in your bank account because you are producing quality work which is ideal.
To end my story, I completed a square foot of fabric and tied it off to give to a pet shelter as a kitty blanket. I couldn’t even bring myself to donate it to the thrift store! I thought “Why would anyone pay money for that?” I could have easily completed the scarf anyway and given it to a person in need of something warm but it was so full of odd energy, awkward revelations and holes that I didn’t want to have it out there in the world for human eyes to see. I was mortified and humbled. And slightly amused.
The next day, I started over with a new skein of yarn-this time a blend of alpaca and acrylic as it was the best I could find nearest to my home. I cast on half as many stitches and used a smaller gauge. Things went much more smoothly after that and now my husband is the proud owner of my first real scarf. It’s color-blocked forest green and dark amethyst and we’ve dubbed it The Joker. (He’s a huge Batman fan, and, well, my first knitting project clearly started off as a joke.
The moral of the story is simply this: Don’t knit while angry. There is a reason why there are knitting jokes about needles being stabby. Be mindful of your thoughts and it will show in your work. Happy Crafting!
May 30, 2012
Hi Nicky … Question – - what is the difference between your “At The Bahamas” and your “Around the World” … ? I prefer the “softer” silk yarn … I got a perfect ball in my last order but of course can’t remember the name of it … Also … the Multicolored Tibet Jewels Strip Ribbon – - how is that different from the other recycled sari yarn balls? Thanx a bunch … Have a great week – Marilyn
So I wrote her a killer answer and I was like…hmm.. I bet some of you out there have a similar question… So Darn Good Yarners, here’s your official Nicole-certified answer!
Hi Marilyn! I hope you’re having fun:) So here are the differences:
At the Bahamas: this is the softest of the three–you’re going to get some solid runs of colors mixed in with patterns but it’s the thinnest as far as density goes for the silk which makes it ideal for clothing and scarves (things that will be close to your skin)–it’s my personal fave from the three because the coloring
Around the World is a denser more sturdy silk–the bahamas sometimes has really thin pieces in it which can rip and you’ll have to knot back together, the Around the World will rarely have that problem and it’s usually double stitched. This ribbon is perfect for bags that require a lot of structure ( I just published a pattern for this last week and it uses three skeins) It would also be great for mats that aren’t in high traffic areas or crocheted bowls
The Tibet Jewels is a lot lot the Around the World as far as density is concerned but it has a lot more royal colors and pieces of metallic and brocade pieces in it. You can do scarves in this but on large needles (personally I like at least a 19 for this as there can be stiffer bits in and you need the large needles to “release” that in the stitch.
So, my dears, what questions can I answer for you?
May 23, 2012
Creating a non-toxic lifestyle has been an ongoing process for me and is still a work in progress. I am amazed at the rate things are changing and the new discoveries and technologies that appear each day. When I first created Groovy Green Livin my intention was to create a space for sharing tips on healthy eating, living a green and clean lifestyle, and forming a community of like-minded eco peeps. I’m very grateful that it’s blossomed into so much more.
Over the years the most common question I receive is “Where do I begin?” There’s a lot of green information out there. As we go through our daily lives we are confronted with information overload, pressuring us to buy specific brands –the media, our friends, family-everyone has an opinion. How do we sort through it all? How can we be sure we are making good choices for ourselves and our families?
I always suggest starting with small, simple changes. Here are my top three:
- Start to phase out plastics in your home-especially those that come in contact with food. Plastic and food just don’t belong together. There are so many toxic chemicals in plastic that can leach into your food. The production of plastic is hurting our environment. Plastic ends up in our water ways and landfills, killing wildlife and not decomposing.
- Make the switch to reusable bags. The next time you visit the supermarket bring along reusable bags. Leave them in the front seat of your car so you remember them. For those visits to the mall or pharmacy carry a smaller version in your bag or backpack.
- Leave your shoes at the door. Our country has an obsession with the “perfect lawn” requiring applications of synthetic pesticides that are not only killing weeds and other naturally occurring plants, but are harmful to you and the environment. All of those toxins march right into your living space when you wear your shoes from outdoors into your home. We have declared our home a “shoe free” zone. All shoes come off in the garage and they stay there until the next time we venture out. We try to remind our friends and family to honor our request for a shoeless house and we are grateful that everyone is very respectful. The best solution: we stop using pesticides on our lawns.
There are so many different ways to be green. What would you add to the list?
[Photo used under Creative Commons from D. Sharon Pruitt/Flickr]
March 12, 2012
Here are 10 fun facts about me and Darn Good Yarn:
1- Darn Good Yarn saved 6,000 pounds of waste from going into landfills last year and turned it into fantastic yarn!
2- My favorite book is Atlas Shrugged
3- Darn Good Yarn just sponsored two daughters of one of the spinners who makes “Darn Good Yarn” to go to school this semester!
4- I’ve moved my house and my business 10 times in 5 years
5- I’m from NJ originally, now I’m in Maine!
6- I love wearing bright colored lipstick
7- My favorite movie(s) are Kill Bill 1&2
8- I’m a lazy knitter–Sure I can make the complicated but I like things simple that fit into my schedule
9- My favorite meal I like to cook is roasted duck with roasted brussel sprouts
10- I am in love with my business–I never feel like I’m working and it always warms my heart when I see the projects that people make with my yarn
Happy Monday Loveys!