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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 :)

Get Cozy with Darn Good Yarn

December 13, 2013

Darn Good Yarn has hit Hollywood.  That’s right, the crafters you know and love now have famous fingers.  Their knitting needles and crochet hooks shall be bronzed for prosperity.  Ok, not that last one, because then they would be difficult to use.  But some fun and silly cozies made by Darn Good Yarners have been featured in a nation-wide commercial!  Check it out:

As you may know, Darn Good Yarn won a FedEx Small Business Grant at the beginning of this year.  Watch a super cute video about it here, and read even more about it here.  When they wanted to make this fun commercial all about cozies, the FedEx folks came right to Darn Good Yarn.  Nicole rounded up her troops, had us all crafting madly, and made it out to LA all in about 1 week!  But who made what, you ask?  Let’s see:

Joie, one of the owners of Foxcroft Agway, a store near where Nicole lives in Maine, made 2 of the granny squares on the refrigerator cozy, and also helped out on the Christmas tree cozy.

We love our Cozies!

I (Marissa, your faithful DGY blogger) made the other 6 granny squares on the fridge, and also made the toaster cozy.  Nicole (our crafty leader) made the dog cozy, worked on the Christmas tree cozy, and helped put everything together on the set.

 

Tail cozy!

(The separate little tail cozy on the dog may be my favorite!)

Olga -- yarn-bomber extraordinaire and faithful Darn Good Yarn fan, check out her fabulous work here -- helped on the Christmas tree as well (that was the largest project!) and also made a cozy for a bush right outside the window.  It’s hiding right here:

Sue, Nicole’s wonderfully crafty Mother-in-Law, made the commercial’s crowning glory that is the kid cozy.

Also helping out finish the giant Christmas tree cozy were Wendy and Cathy -- local friends of Nicole’s who helped her out -- as well as Jackie, a fellow dedicated Darn Good Yarner, and Beth, a friend of Nicole’s from California.  I’m sure we have all tried not to let this overwhelming fame go to our heads.  ;)

If you have a silly cozy or other fun project, especially made using Darn Good Yarn, I’d love to see it!  Email me at marissa@darngoodyarn.com.

Happy warm and cozy holidays and happy crafting!

Marissa

Darn Good Yarn is on Flickr!

November 21, 2013

Have you ever needed to show off Darn Good Yarn products to generate yarn-envy in your friends, neighbors, or yarn store owners that you know?  Well, Natasha, Darn Good Yarn’s glamour yarn photographer, has given you a great way to show off Darn Good Yarn to everyone.  Our very own Flickr account!

Get up close and personal with our Silk Bubbles Yarn -

Or show off the different colorways of Silk Cloud:

All of these and more are available on our Flickr page.  Just click here to check them out!

Share them with everyone!

Marissa :)

Help Darn Good Yarn Take Over the World!

November 13, 2013

As you (hopefully) know, Darn Good Yarn was founded with the idea of not just bringing you amazing and fabulous fiber, but also helping people along the way.  Darn Good Yarn currently helps families of India and Nepal earn a living wage by producing the gorgeous yarns and other products we provide.  But why stop there?  Let’s help families everywhere!

Darn Good Yarn is all about supporting micro-enterprises -- small business ventures that have a big impact on families.  Earning a living wage from these kind of businesses can allow men and women the financial stability to send their kids to school and help their communities.   And Darn Good Yarn owner Nicole’s vision of supporting these families this way is shared by other people around the world.

Jorge del Carpio is doing much the same work with the Aymara llama herders in Chile.  He has created Royal Llama Yarn, which supports a dwindling llama population and the people who work with them.  And to top it all off, they have discovered a way to process the llama fiber in a way which makes it deliciously soft and great to work with!  Find out all about Royal Llama and how they work here.

Some of the people (and llamas!) DGY wants to visit!

Here’s where you come in.  Nicole, Maggie and Natasha -- the core Darn Good Yarn Girls -- want to go to Chile to meet Jorge, the Aymara people, the llamas, simply everyone and everything involved in the operation.  After that, we can start bringing this wonderful fiber to you!  Llama fiber that is still wonderfully warm, great for knitting, crocheting, or spinning -- but isn’t itchy at all!  How can you miss out on that?

In order to make this visit and join in with this great company, we need your help.  We need the funds to make the visit!  We are running it just like a Kickstarter campaign, if you are familiar with those.  There is a great reward for you regardless of how much you donate!  And the more you can give, the bigger the reward.  Nicole will give you the low-down:

Read even more about Royal Llama and donate what you can here.

So go ahead, donate a dollar.  How about 5?  Whatever you can.  Tell your friends!  Tell people at your local yarn store!  Tell random people you meet at the grocery store!  Go nuts! :)

Remember, visit our Chile project page here to donate.

Thanks for all your help and your support of Darn Good Yarn!

Marissa, Darn Good Blogger :)

Expand your Business, Love your Local Chamber of Commerce!

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.

-Marissa :)

 

South Frontenac Fibers Interviews Darn Good Yarn!

May 20, 2013

Teira from South Frontenac Fibers asked me for an interview. She’s got the post up on her blog, so go take a look! Teira is a knitter and spinner, and has dogs and chickens. She posts on her blog frequently, and there’s a lot of great stuff to read there too. One of her goals this year is to create some patterns. Woot! I know I’m looking forward to a sock pattern, even though I’ve only made one pair (those were made special for the Darn Good Husband)!

I had so much fun answering her questions, and even made two video responses. Haha, I’m glad you got a good laugh, Teira. :D

Here is the video:

Thank you so much for doing this feature on your blog, Teira.

xoxo,

Nicole Snow, President of Darn Good Yarn

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Meet and Greet!: Che Sweetland from Meadowfly Farms – Darn Good Yarn

May 3, 2013

Hello! I gotta tell you about Che. She’s a sweet young woman who is love with DGY just as much as the rest of us. But here’s the cool part. Not only does she live in Maine, she’s also going to be providing us with some AWESOME soaps! Feeling a goat milk soap lather on your body is just heavenly.

Meadowfly Farm Goat Milk Soap

And the goats themselves are super cute! The does are milked daily, so this is really a hands-on small business. Che, we’re happy to have your soaps available on the DGY website!

Meadowfly Farm Goat Milk Soap

She’s got a lot of great soap fragrances available, and most of her soaps are all-natural. Head over to her blog  for the low down on Che!

xoxo,

Nicole Snow, President of Darn Good Yarn

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