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Darn Good Yarn and Nicole Snow: Summer Catch-up!

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!

xo Jessica

 

Nicole’s Corner: Darn Good Summer

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!

Love, Nicole

 

 

Unleash your Inner Fiber Artist with Darn Good Yarn

April 9, 2014

I know sometimes it can be tricky to find great uses for some of the more funky and unique Darn Good Yarn products.  But don’t let yourself be intimidated!  It’s a great chance to unleash your inner Fiber Artist!  Let’s take a look at some of the fabulous pieces that our fiber artist friends have made with Darn Good Yarn.

Fiber Artist Tracy Radcliffe's shawl with Darn Good Yarn

Friend of Darn Good Yarn and fabulous fiber artist Tracy Radcliffe achieved gorgeous effects on this shawl using our Reclaimed Sari Ribbon mixed with other fibers.  Tracy’s fiber art career has expanded from her own label, Punk Rock Knits, to becoming a designer of exclusive shawls offered by the clothing company Free People!  She often uses Darn Good Yarn ribbon and other yarns in her work.  Mixing ribbons and other yarns together is a great way to show off a funky and unique yarn without it overwhelming the whole piece.

That doesn’t mean you always have to mix and match!  Fiber artists Kelly from the Vegan Yarn Store, George from 10 Hours or Less, and Lucy from Rosy Toes Designs all create fun and functional fiber art using only Darn Good Yarn!

Fiber Artist Kelly of The Vegan Yarn Store's hemp back scrubber

You can find Kelly’s pattern to make your own back scrubber here.

Fiber Artist Lucy Chapman's Recycled Sari Silk wristlet

You can purchase this great Recycled Sari Silk yarn purse and lots of other great fiber art at Lucy’s site here.

Fiber Artist George Shaheen designed this cowl with Silk Cloud

Want the pattern for this amazing cowl using Silk Cloud yarn?  You can buy it here.

While there are endless ways to be unique and creative with your inner fiber artist knitting and crocheting, make sure not to limit yourself!  Darn Good Yarn is so versatile that it works in many great crafts!

For example, have you ever tried your hand at Rug Hooking?  Jane, proprietress of the River House Rug Hooking studio and fiber artist extraordinaire, uses Reclaimed Sari Ribbon in her rug hooking projects!

Fiber Artist Jane Steele's rug hooking piece made with sari ribbon, Celtic Knot

You can also include that fiber artist mojo into jewelry!  Genea, who makes amazing lampwork glass beads, creates breath-taking mixed media jewelry using Reclaimed Sari Ribbon along with many other components.

Glass artist Genea mixing in some fiber art flair into her piece 'Sacred Om Lotus'

You can buy this necklace and many other amazing pieces from Genea Beads here.

Let’s not forget the traditional fiber art of weaving!  Our friend on Facebook and fiber artist Deb Eaton shared this great piece she made with Recycled Sari Silk yarn.

Fiber artist and weaver Debra Eaton's piece using Recycled Sari Silk

Finally, you can be a fiber artist and your own interior decorator!  Darn Good Yarn works for many fun projects in the home.  Check out Darn Good Yarner and mixed-media fiber artist Pan and her great wall hanging.

Unique wall hanging made of many Darn Good Yarns

In this wall hanging she used Darn Good Yarn’s Reclaimed Sari Ribbon, newspaper yarn, and burlap, along with wire and sea-glass beads.  What a great expression of her inner fiber artist!

You can also be a fiber artist using our great sari ribbon yarns and a glue gun!  Darn Good Yarner Lauren K. wrapped vessels with “Blender” Live Wire sari ribbon yarn (you could also use Soft Spun Reclaimed Sari Ribbon yarn) and created some really stand-out pieces.

Fiber artist Lauren K. wraps vessels with sari ribbon yarn

I hope these ideas have you bursting with creativity and ready to unleash your own inner fiber artist!  Check out our collection of items especially designed for the fiber artist in you here.  Thanks to everyone who shares their fantastic and inspiring work with us!

Happy Crafting,

Marissa :)

Nicole and Darn Good Yarn Attending the Fiber Marketplace

March 30, 2014

Want to meet Nicole and check out all of your favorite yarns and other products from Darn Good Yarn in person?  Will you be in York, Maine this coming Saturday April 5th?  Lucky you!  You’ll have a chance to attend The Fiber Marketplace where Nicole will be one of the many great vendors attending!

This fantastic fiber show will be from 10 -3 on Saturday, April 5th at the York Harbor Inn.  (Get directions here.)  Entry fee will be $5, and many great vendors will be there.  If you live anywhere nearby, make sure to check it out!  Local yarn store “The Yarn Sellar” is hosting the event.  Read all about her here.

We hope to see you there!

Marissa :)

Darn Good Press

March 27, 2014

Darn Good Yarn has had some great mentions in the press recently!  Bangor Metro, a magazine that covers the area where Nicole is currently living, published a lovely Darn Good Yarn article.  Check out the Metro’s website here.

The article covers Nicole’s success and great business growth over the few years that she has been running Darn Good Yarn.  Thanks to the folks over at the Metro!

Another article a few months ago in the Chattanooga Times Free Press features Darn Good Yarn as well!  Olga Klein, a great friend of Darn Good Yarn and fabulous yarn-bomber was featured in the Free Press as she has many of her works in a gallery in Chattanooga.

Olga helped Nicole immensely on site at the FedEx commercial shoot in LA (read all about that here!) and talked all about how they have helped each other out in the article.  It reads:

“She purchases the majority of her yarn from the DarnGoodYarn website, she says. “The owner of the business, Nicole Snow, has helped me in all my yarn-bomb endeavors, and always came through when I had to place a frantic call for more and/or different colors of yarn, texture, etc.,” she says.”

You can read the entire article here.  Many thanks to Olga and the Chattanooga Times Free Press for mentioning us!

Happy Crafting,

Marissa :)

Vintage Crafting Vibes at Vintage Gypsy

March 23, 2014

So you are dreaming up your next crafting project, and you think, “I have the perfect idea!  I just need a vintage string of pearls, some sari ribbon yarn, and 5 alphabet refrigerator magnets!”  Want to visit a unique and funky shop that has all that and lots more?  Head over to Atchison, Kansas and check out Vintage Gypsy.

Christina Jackson opened Vintage Gypsy in November of 2012 after years of dreaming about her own little arty shop.  Described as “A Fabulous mix of Art, Vintage & Whimsy,” Vintage Gypsy carries a little bit of everything.  Supplies for your own quirky and unique mixed media project including great finds like vintage lace, ribbons, buttons, fabrics, ephemera, and even game pieces?  They’ve got that.  Gorgeous handmade pieces by local artists featuring things like found-object jewelry, handmade journals, Mixed Media art and home decor?  They’ve got that.  Their newest addition?  A great selection of Darn Good Yarn!

We are so excited to be included among the found-object funky and the wild whimsy. :)

Christina herself, like so many of us, is a bit of a craft-aholic.  When asked about her favorite craft, she said, “I dabble in just about everything!  Love mixed-media, painting, upcycling whatever I can get my hands on…”  She has stocked her store with tons of great items to up-cycle, re-use, and re-invent.  Need tiny plastic soldiers, an Olive Oyl hand-puppet, or hat pins?

It’s all available at the Vintage Gypsy Etsy shop here.

Despite the shop name, Christina, unfortunately, does not have any mystical Gypsy powers.  Her customers sometimes think otherwise, though.  She told me that one time a customer asked: “If I could please put a “Gypsy spell” on a toddler so that she may keep her shoes on while she’s in the car seat!”  Even though she was unable to solve this most pressing concern, Christina and her eclectic and unique wares will certainly solve all of your mixed media art needs.  Learn more about her shop and all that she offers on the Vintage Gypsy website here.

It’s great to see Darn Good Yarn find so many interesting homes!  Make sure to support Vintage Gypsy and their crafty adventuring by liking them on Facebook.  Click here for their page.

Happy Crafting!

Marissa :)

 

2nd FedEx Small Business Grant Competition Nearing a Close!

March 13, 2014

Remember the FedEx Small Business Grant that Nicole went to Nashville earlier this year to promote?  (If not, check out my blog here!)  She was there because through the support of all of you Darn Good Yarners, we won the Grand Prize last year!  Now this year’s contest is almost over, and the top hundred finalists have been chosen.

Want to check out the top 100?  Click here.

In a fun article about one of the top 100 finalists – the entrepreneurs at Spin Chill (learn more about them here) – FedEx writer Daniela Mencos wrote some lovely things about Darn Good Yarn.  She writes:

“Nicole Snow, founder of Darn Good Yarn, a company dedicated to producing recycled-silk yarn products, won the grant contest in 2013.

Snow said the money enabled her to expand. Before the grant, she was able to provide 250 colors of yarn, and now she has 1,700.

“It’s conscientious capitalism at its finest,” Snow said.

Darn Good Yarn, which is based in Maine, helps women in Nepal and India become financially independent by employing them as yarn spinners. The company created jobs for more than 300 families, she said.

Snow said she had people reach out to her during the contest process who said her company inspired them to start their own business. She said she attributes this to the exposure companies receive through their Facebook pages during the contest voting process.

“People want to see you succeed,” Snow said. “People root for small businesses.” ”

Read the entire article here.

And guess who else is a top 100 finalist?  Our friends over at Fiber Arts Now!  If you have been following us on Facebook, you may remember a contest give-away we did with them a while ago.  It’s a great magazine with lots of fiber inspiration.

Check out all of the awesome inspiration and read about their goals if they win the FedEx grant here.

Thanks to FedEx for saying such nice things!  And thanks, as always, to all of the Darn Good Yarners who support us!  We couldn’t be where we are without you!

Happy Crafting!

Marissa

 

 

 

A Story in Every Skein – Portrait of a Yarn Store

March 6, 2014

Here at Darn Good Yarn we get the opportunity to sell yarn to many great individuals, but we also get the opportunity to wholesale our wares to some truly great and unique yarn stores across the country.  (Interested in setting up a wholesale account?  Click here.)

One such great yarn store?  Purl’s Yarn Emporium in Asheville, North Carolina.

Elizabeth and Rik and their young son moved to Asheville in 2008 without a definite plan in mind.  Elizabeth’s mom owned a yarn store when she was growing up, so she grew up among crafty folks.  She was always an avid sewer, but hadn’t had the time to learn to knit yet.  Being in a new city without a job to immediately go to gave her the time she needed, and she and her son started learning together.

Meanwhile, Rik was a middle school teacher, but wasn’t finding that to be a great fit.  He got bit by the knitting bug as well, and they both found themselves well on their way to that healthy level of knitting obsession that so many of us experience.

They both visited Purl’s and spoke often with the previous owner.  When she wanted to sell in 2010, they decided to go ahead and buy it.

“We can even walk in to work!” Rik enthused.

Elizabeth & Rik with their sock monkey alter-egos

When they took over Purl’s, Liz and Rik both wanted to stock really special yarns.

“We want to have yarn with a story,” Rik explained.  Telling a customer the story of the people behind the yarns, where it came from, who’s hands produced it – it makes it so much more special.  The story and energy gets imbued into the project the yarn is used for, and  makes it much more exciting to work with as well.

“We are very critical about where our yarn comes from.” They told me.  “The term ‘fair-trade’ is not yet well-defined for the textile industry.  We would rather carry ‘family-trade’ or ‘direct-trade’ – we want a personal relationship or a ‘chain of trust’ that connects us with the yarn.”

As a member of the board of 10,000 Villages, Elizabeth learned to think globally – asking important questions about where products come from and who produces them.  She and Rik are both big proponents of “conscious consumerism”.

As they already held all of these beliefs, carrying Darn Good Yarn products was a natural choice.

“The previous owner had carried some recycled silk – and we really liked the transparency of how Darn Good Yarn obtains its materials.”

Darn Good Yarn is in some excellent company among the yarns at Purl’s.

They feature several companies that support micro-enterprises worldwide, just like Darn Good Yarn does.  The other yarns they feature are all American-made, and they are looking to expand their local yarn selection as well.  They eagerly described their continuing talks with local farms about obtaining fleeces for a wool/alpaca/mohair blend they want to produce at their own mill.  They do their own dyeing in-house as well.   Among the locals, however, they are most famous for their fabulous store-window displays.

“The sock-monkeys became iconic.” Liz tells me.  Liz was part of a fun group that sent sock-monkeys across the country to each other, each person adding a fun detail – a little sweater, a knitted hat – to the sock-monkey before they send it along.  She put some of the monkeys in a window display as “Dr. Knit and Professor Purl” and they took off immediately.  Since then, they have had all kinds of sock-monkey fun.

Their most current display?  Dowton – sorry, “Yarnton” Abbey sock-monkeys!

I love these guys!

Overall, they say their “nerdy” windows are the most popular.  Personally, the Doctor Who display they did was my favorite!

When I asked the silly question in my interview, “Knitters and crocheters – enthusiastic hobbyists or insane yarn hoarders?”  They gave it due consideration.  Liz theorized that there are whole ranges of insanity, and that folks’ hidden yarn passions (or insanities) tend to emerge through conversations while yarn-shopping.  If anything, she said that she wanted to get people more engaged.

Purl’s certainly has many ways to do just that.  Along with several different “Sit & Knit” type meetings throughout the week to which all are invited, they also have “Purl Scouts”.  As a “Purl Scout” you pay a basic joining fee, and then you get access to all of their beginner classes for free, and all of the advanced classes at half price!  The most fun of all, you get to collect badges for every new technique you learn!  I love this idea!  I would oh-so-proudly display a sash full of knitting or crocheting badges if I had one.  I may have to start one soon myself.

Elizabeth and Rik are proud that Purl’s is a very welcoming and inclusive store.  They have rainbow flags alongside Doctor Who stickers, they sat with around 150 knitters at a local baseball game, and they encourage everyone of every age and skill set to build up their crafting arsenal little by little.

If you are ever in the Asheville area, come stop by Purl’s.  Marvel at the sock-monkeys.  Stock up on some Darn Good Yarn and other yarns with great causes around the world.  Want to check up on the fun without leaving home?  See pictures of all the great sock-monkey window displays?  Check out their Facebook page here, and make sure to “Like” them for all the great stuff they do!

Many thanks to Elizabeth and Rik for taking the time to sit and talk with me.  I may have to come in and join the Thursday night Sit & Knit!

Happy Crafting,

Marissa :)

Crafting for Charity

February 21, 2014

From chats on Facebook and many inspiring emails, I know lots of you Darn Good Yarners do lots of great crafting for charities of all kinds.  There are so many great places to donate knitted and crocheted items!  It’s great that so many people are inspired to give to great causes.

Here at Darn Good Yarn we are all about supporting people.  Supporting the families in India, Nepal and Chile that make our yarn, and supporting everyone that love and support us in every way that we can!  Now we have a whole new way in which we want to support everybody out there that is crafting for charity.

If you have a charity event that you are crafting for, or items that you are donating for a raffle – anything for a good cause – we’d love to give you a great deal on our fabulous Assorted Chiffon Ribbon.

You can get great discounts on packs of chiffon and make excellent projects that will bring in the money for charity.  Don’t know what to make?  We might have a few ideas… :)

Interested?  Want to get crafting for charity right away?  Just tell us all about it by emailing info@darngoodyarn.com, and we’ll let you in on all the great deals available!

Happy Crafting!

Marissa :)

Darn Good Fashion

February 19, 2014

Kristina Vetter, a design student in Germany, was glancing through Facebook one day and saw an ad for Darn Good Yarn.  Little did she know this would be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  She says, “It was all by coincidence on some ad on Facebook. I wasn’t even looking for it. Isn’t that how all good love stories start?”

All images courtesy of www.christian-bacher.com

 

Kristina knew she wanted to put together a collection around the theme of “Catastrophism”.  She was wrestling with the topic somewhat.

“I only had some silhouettes and a vague idea of the topic of the collection. It´s called ‘Catastrophism’ and I thought it had to be all dark and spooky. As I wanted to incorporate redesigned pieces from the very beginning, starting to work with the fabrics and old clothes and dye them, I realized that it´s not only the generic idea of a dark colour that could carry the message of a world after catastrophe.”

She had discovered Darn Good Yarn a few months earlier, and had become truly inspired by the unique art that imbues every skein.  She found some new directions she could take in her own work.

“The idea blossomed that it was the story that those recycled and redesigned pieces carry that show the brutality, but also the comfort, of the topic. It’s all about making the best out of a new start with the little you have out of a lost world. And there is nostalgia and happiness in this. DGY carries exactly that. It has the same story. The fringes. The unperfect. The getting thinner here, thicker there. The many knots and ties and seams. The changing colours, starting here, stopping there. I love the organic ever changing texture and colour. It feels like it lives. Carrying the history of a past life as a sari or whatever else, assembled to something new. DGY very much inspired the topic and the designs.”

All images courtesy of www.christian-bacher.com

 

Some of the pieces were specifically inspired by certain yarns.  Olga’s yarn, shown to gorgeous effect in this sweater, was one of them.  (We no longer carry this rope-like yarn, sorry!  But at least you can marvel at it’s loveliness here. :) )

All images courtesy of www.christian-bacher.com

 

“Darn Good Yarn inspired certain pieces, such as the sweater out of Olga’s Yarn. I saw that yarn. And I had that sweater in my head and I knew it couldn’t be out of anything else. Unfortunately, I can’t knit. My aunt did all the knitting for me.  It was mainly the accessories that are made out of DGY. But I feel they complete the outfits and make the colours within the clothes in the outfits work together.”

Kristina has since been tentatively learning to knit herself.  All the pieces in the collection were made by her very talented aunt, who has been knitting for 25 years and knit some commercially when she was younger.  Like so many of us, Kristina is a bit of a craft-addict.  Her most recent favorite craft is the Japanese art of fabric dyeing called Shibori.  (You can learn all about it here.)

“I love about any craft I am fortunate enough to lay my eyes on. It’s amazing what people can do. But my favorite craft that I practice myself is Shibori. It is also incorporated in the collection. I love the changing of colours when you dye something yourself. It’s like it’s out of one’s control, but still you try to control it through the binding and folding, and every piece is unique.”

You can see the fun results she achieved with Shibori dyeing especially well in this piece, along with more lovely Darn Good Yarn accessories.

All images courtesy of www.christian-bacher.com

 

When asked if she had any tips for other designers or creators, she was very humble. “I don’t think I’m really someone to give tips about designing as I’m only in the beginning of a long process.”  And aren’t we all?  She did pass on some important things to remember though.

“What is important to me is that I don’t want the things I can’t do interfere with the things I want to do.  …Whenever I have the feeling I HAVE to work with a certain material, or that I really would like to realize a certain product, I will find a way to incorporate it in my work… on the skill level I have. That includes so much trial and error. But that process is so much fun and you can discover so many new looks or ways to use something you weren’t even looking for. Just let nothing ever stop you. If you have that inner drive, try it, learn from what you try and enjoy it.”

Great tips for creating in general, especially with wild and quirky materials like Darn Good Yarn!  I love the mix of starkness and drama, against the comfort and color of the DGY pieces in Kristina’s work.  Truly lovely and inspiring!  For more gorgeous photography, make sure to check out Christian Bacher’s photography here.   What will Darn Good Yarn inspire you to create?  We love when you share!  Feel free to email me at marissa@darngoodyarn.com.

Happy crafting and creating!

Marissa :)