Who would’ve thought that socks would look so cute with coordinating toes and heels? Angela, creator of Duets from A Swell Yarn Shop. I know that lots and lots of you have had fun with her great color combinations and unique colorways – not only for socks, but mittens, gloves, and even striping sweaters, which is what someone this week said they were using their Duets for. (I can’t wait to see that one.) I know you’ll have fun learning more about Angela and her business today. (And I will give you a full Fiber Festival report on Wednesday – we had a great time!)
Loopy: Hi Angela! Thanks for taking time to be in the Limelight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Angela: Hi Loopy! My Grandma taught me when I was 8 years old. I didn’t do much with it then, but my mom was quite the knitter while I was in my pre-teens and I joined in and made some pretty good garments…then came the teen years and the needles were cast aside. In my twenties came my little doggy who shivered constantly. He was in desperate need of a sweater, so I picked up the needles to make him a sweater and I have been knitting constantly ever since! He happens to have quite the extensive wardrobe now, I might add! So technically I have been knitting for 25 years, but that’s give or take a few years!
Loopy: We know just how that “give and take a few years” works. That happened to us, too. What is your favorite item to knit?
Angela: Once I discovered socks weren’t nearly as difficult as the pattern made them sound, I always have a pair of socks on the needles (if not two or three)! Outside of that, I do love my cardigans! Chunky ones, fitted ones, vintage ones, and on and on.
Loopy: Socks – no surprise there since you make such enticing sock yarn combinations. I don’t know how you choose which ones to keep! What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Angela: Shortly after picking up the needles to knit a doggy sweater, I decided to knit a vintage eyelet cardigan. Looking back, I am amazed that I took that on, knitted the entire thing as fast as I did, and didn’t even realize the skill level that I should have had to even attempt it. Goes to show, if you just take a project on step by step, you can do anything!
Loopy: That’s a great story and should encourage a lot of people. How did you go from knitting to dyeing?
Angela: I was knitting with my Stitch n Bitch Group and as the conversation rolled it came up that it would be great if you could get a sock yarn with a different heel and toe yarn all in one. The idea stayed with me for the next 2 years hoping that someone would come up with such a yarn, but no one ever did. I loved the idea so much that I decided to give it a shot! It started off as just a few skeins for friends, then selling out at crafts shows, then yarn shops asking to carry the yarns. I guess lots of other sock knitters wanted coordinating heel and toe yarns for their socks as much as I do
Loopy: It really is a fun look for socks. How do you come up with your colorways, and do you have a favorite?
Angela: My colorways, as everyone knows, change constantly. This is because I dye the yarn based on what I am inspired by at that moment. It can be anything from a flower I see, to a piece of fabric, to a commercial on TV. The colorways can start with just a name or theme or a favorite color of the day. I never know what color I will be dyeing that day. I have been asked to repeat several favorite colorways and I will give it a whirl, but I have found that if I am not inspired to work with those colors, the batch is a flop. It still amazes me how much inspiration plays a part in creating a good colorway. My absolute favorite colorway will always be Hip Chick…pink, lime green, natural and chocolate brown. All 4 of my all time favorite colors right there in my favorite pair of Duet Socks!
Loopy: We know that you like to constantly change colorways. In fact, we probably have taken more photos of your yarn than any other dyer, since it’s always new and usually limited edition! What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Angela: One of my favorite parts of the job is the commute. I used to commute a total of 2 hours a day in traffic. The walk to my yarn work area each morning is all of 30 seconds and I appreciate that every single day. My VERY favorite part of my job is the amazing customers!!! From the Duet Knitters to the Yarn Shops, they are the nicest people you could ever hope to work with. My e-mail box is full of suggestions, compliments, general conversation and great people. To everyone out there, you are the BEST!!! My not so favorite part is that I have to wear pretty scrungy clothes to dye yarn, so I look pretty cruddy during the day. I even scared the UPS guy when he first started delivering the base yarn because I opened the door with latex gloves on, ratty clothes and no make-up…he about jumped out of his shoes at the sight of me! Thankfully he’s now used to it now.
Loopy: At least you have a good excuse for looking that way when he arrives. You didn’t say, “I’m dyeing”, right? Because you know how that sounds… Tell us about your family.
Angela: My family is my hubby who has hand made all the machinery that makes it possible to get the yarn out in the quantities that I do. Without his skills and creations, no yarn shops would be able to carry the yarn. Then there are all my critters (my babies) which include my doggies, kitties and angora bunnies. They are my very enthusiastic and supportive co-workers. They create the unexpected and much needed breaks I take throughout the day!
Loopy: Uh oh. You have angora bunnies? The Loopy Lady is now on an angora bunny kick. Better not tell her. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Angela: My mother-in-law has jumped on the knitting wagon and grabbed on with both reins. She LOVES the Duet Yarns! She had no interest in knitting because she thought wool was just too scratchy. I told her that yarns have come a long way and to just try a pair of socks with my Duet Sock Yarn….now she stops by just to see if I have any oops yarn she can get her hands on. She is a Duet Yarn Junky now!
Loopy: Lucky for her that she has an “in” with the dyer! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Angela: This list could go on forever! I spin, sew, and crochet. I design the patterns for the Lucky Lurker Club. I am part of two fabulous knitting groups. I make candles, soap, lotions, and natural household products. I bake doggy biscuits galore. I garden, compost, and create natural and organic foods. I walk. I play Texas Hold ‘em. I spoil all my critters like there is no tomorrow. And on the weekends, my hubby and I sneak off and go camping as much as possible.
Loopy: Well obviously the better question might’ve been “What don’t you do?” That’s quite a list! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Angela: The perfect day off is on the white sandy beach of Mexico with a Mango Daquiri and my knitting!
Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
Angela: While knitting and yarn are a major passion in my life, my PURPOSE in life is to do everything I can to help stop puppymills. So many people don’t even realize where the puppies in petstores or on-line sellers come from. They are from puppymills, which means tiny cages in which the dogs live in filth their entire life, doing nothing but making more puppies. They never get to see the outside or even touch grass or feel what it’s like to be petted. They are abused, neglected, starved and tortured. The only thing that can stop puppymills is to simply never ever purchase an animal from a petstore or on-line seller. These sources will insist that they are not from puppymills, but don’t believe them! Adopt from a shelter or visit the breeder’s home. If everyone simply stopped purchasing from petstores or on-line sellers, there would be no puppymills – it’s as simple as that. I encourage you to do your own research and find out more about puppymills too. Please consider giving a critter a second chance at life … adopt from your local shelter!
As promised, here are the questions you all have been asking and emailing lately. And because a list of Q&A is just boring, I have added in “detail” photos taken here at Loopy. See if you can figure out what each one is (before you read the comments or the P.S. at the bottom, where I’ll put the answers!)
- Yes, we have the Noro Silk Garden Sock here. We’re photoing it this week and it will go up next week. We have so many bags of it that I doubt we will ever have to re-order it again, but you’re welcome to prove me wrong.
– Yes, we have several hundred skeins of Cherry Tree Hill’s special Possum Sock coming in. We’re getting it in exclusive colors so it’s taking a little longer to dye, but we hope to have it in the next week or two. (Warmer than Alpaca, softer than cashmere, rarer than either one. You need some.)
- Yes, we will be getting the Harry Potter Opal yarns in as soon as they are ready to ship them out. (Yes, we heard about the disastrous flooding, yes that does affect how much of our original order we’ll be able to get, but yes, we already have more on order for the second shipment.)
– Yes, we have more new indie dyers already working on orders for us, yes we have more regular yarn companies that we’ll be adding in over the next several months, No, we are not going to be adding in any more bags or totes, FPS. (That’s a bald-faced lie. We all know that I have bag issues and am always on the lookout for other interesting ones. But with the new space, I have room for lots, right? And I did sort of order more bags today when one of my reps stopped by. ahem.)
Now for the questions that weren’t as easy as yes/no:
- What wheels will we carry? To begin with, Schacht, Louet, and Ashford. At least that’s the plan. The Schacht wheels should be arriving soon.
- When will we have more sweatshirts in other sizes? We have a new style and color for you and we’ll show you a photo when they all come in. We love the sweatshirt jackets that we bought the first time, but thought it’d be more fun to get a new style and color whenever we need to re-order. (Personally, we think a whole Loopy Ewe wardrobe is a fine idea.)
– Can you get other fabrics in the Lawre’s Laine bags? We have more on order.
– When will you have more Dream in Color Smooshy/Classy/Baby in? We have standing orders with them every month, so we get re-stocks of it often. So the answer to that question is always “soon”. In fact, more Smooshy went up yesterday afternoon. Did you see?
- When will you have more of the Loopy Legends in? Angelina (Zen String) is the dyer of that line for us and she has had a busy summer of moving. She promised that we were next up on her list as soon as she has a dye area again. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that it won’t be much longer. (And it’s about time to add 12 more Legends to the line – that’s exciting!)
– When will you have ________ in again? (The blank is usually filled in with one indie dyer or another.) We have standing orders in with most of our wonderful indie dyers, which means that they’re usually working on something for us. We keep quite a few here at TLE so that in any given week, we have one or two or several indie selections to update and offer to you. Most can only do orders for us every 4-10 weeks in the quantities that we order (it depends on the dyer), so we have enough different lines to be able to rotate. I can pretty well guarantee that you’ll never find ALL of our indie lines stocked at the same time. They’re all on different schedules and we like it that way. (Because you know, if they were all IN at the same time, they’d probably end up all being OUT at the same time, too.)
- “What’s going to be in the Second Anniversary Kit??” Well fun stuff, of course! We have a special colorway that Jana at Hand Maiden dyed up for us on the Casbah yarn base, along with a pattern that Debbie O’Neill designed to go with that very color, and then we added three other things to the kit as well. The kit is called “Loopified”, because when we’re doing orders each day and we come to one that has a new Loopy Groupie, we say “Loopify them – woohoo!” It seemed like a fitting name to celebrate our Second Anniversary. We’ll share a photo of our “Loopified” kit as soon as we get the last two items in. We’re hoping to have this kit up sometime the first week in August.
And that’s the way things stand at the moment. If you have another question that I didn’t answer, just email. Also, several of you keep emailing and asking why I don’t put myself in the Limelight. That seems a little strange to me, but if you have questions that you’d like to submit for that, I can try to do that sometime. Email me any questions and if there are enough things that you want to know, we’ll work on it. (I mean LOOPY will work on it, of course. Loopy does the interviewing.) Email is: sheri AT theloopyewe DOT com I promise to forward them right on over to Loopy.
I’m heading up to the Chicago area today for a weekend with my friend Janice. We’ll be at the Midwest Fiber Festival on Saturday, in case any of you will be there as well. We’d love to see you! (Note – no email capabilities until I get back into the office on Monday, so I’ll catch up with emails then.)
(Speaking of details – could you guess what was in each close-up photo? Here are the answers:
1. Loopy’s Eye
2. The heart brad on our needle inventory cards.
3. The machine that spits out all of your shipping labels.
4. Part of the “h” in our “The Loopy Ewe” letters on the wall.
5. A section of the over-sized sock blocker that the Spring Flingers all signed.
6. This one was just a test to make sure you were paying attention….
It seems like our space is shrinking. This place seemed so big when we first moved into Loopy Central. I thought we’d have plenty of room to grow for a long time into the future. Somewhere along the line, someone kept adding in more stock and a few more products here and there, and all of a sudden, the walls are shrinking. Or something. Here are a few of the boxes that have arrived so far this week. The UPS gal hasn’t been here today yet, and when she comes, I don’t know where she is going to put anything. We need to unpack these and make room, don’t you think? (Or someone needs to stop ordering things.) And here’s what our front entry room looks like at the moment. Not nearly as nice and cute as when the boxes aren’t there. These are fun boxes, though, and they won’t be around for very long. They contain something that will be going into our Second Anniversary Celebration Kit – woohoo! More about that in a couple of weeks, when we hit August 1st. But back to the space problem – we have a solution. We’re knocking down some walls and expanding things around here. Didn’t you wonder where 240 different colorways of Cascade 220 would end up? We have a whole wall planned around it. We’re able to get the space next to us and once it’s all done, you’ll never know a wall was knocked down – or so they tell me. I’ll have to get a picture of Joe, the guy who does all of the work in this building. He knocked down all of the walls that sub-divided Loopy Central before we moved in, and I have great confidence that he’ll make the addition look just as great. Target date for the new addition is August 15th, and we’ll keep you posted. We have so many fun things planned! (Note – UPS just left – 8 more boxes plus a box marked “perishable” and “haut chocolat” and “open immediately”. Like they needed to tell us that? Inside we found the most exotic sounding chocolate bars I have ever seen. Check them out. Our sweet friend Capi sent them to us – thank you, Capi!! As soon as this blog is posted, we’re having a chocolate tasting. That Bacon Chocolate bar will be first, because I can’t even imagine it. And then we’ll unpack all of the cases of yarn that have piled up this week…)
It has been a busy week already. The Wollmeise went up at 9 pm on Monday night and sold out in 5 minutes again. (4.8 minutes, for those of you who like precise numbers, and we had over 300 skeins of it this time.) I have no explanation for such craziness, (well I do – it’s beautiful yarn) and I know it’s frustrating for those who would like to get their hands on a skein of it. Remember to check Claudia’s site on Fridays, as that is when she does her updating a few times a month. (Not every Friday – just some Fridays.) She is working so hard to get as much done as she possibly can and she’s already working on another order for us. We’ll keep getting it, and we have a few changes in the works for the next Wollmeise update. The Barista colorway sold out first and Knitting Daughter thinks that is pretty great since Claudia did that one up in her honor! We will definitely have it again. Here is the photo of it if you didn’t get to see it.
We also put a lot of new things up last night and you need to check them out, if you haven’t already! We added in Hazel Knits (a new indie dyer for us), Noro Silk Garden Worsted, Fleece Artist Merino (some gorgeous semi-solids this time), Perchance to Knit, Spindle City, Indie Dyer, Opal Hundertwasser, Lorna’s Laces (more Franklin’s Panopticon, and we will also have it in the roving as soon as we can get that photo-ed), Spritely Goods Sidhe, Trekking, Jade Sapphire Silk/Cashmere, S.R.Kertzer On Your Toes Bamboo (wool free, SO soft), new colors from Colinette Jitterbug, Jade Sapphire Cashmere Scarf Kits (you will not believe how wonderful that cashmere feels), and Beanie Baggies.
I’ve been getting some “are you going to be getting this?” kinds of emails, so I thought I had better address them on the blog. I’ll answer all of those on Friday. (Some of the “are you getting this?” answers are in all of the boxes that have come in this week.) It will kind of update you on what we have coming in and a few things that we have planned. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a picture of Loopy taking a snooze. He found a delightfully comfortable bed, but I’m not sure that Gracie appreciates it at all …..
Today, for the first time, Loopy shares the Limelight with another animal. Of course it’s a special animal, to be able to be featured in the Limelight. If you’re on Ravelry, you know Bob. Bob pretty much runs things over there. I think he lets Casey and Jess believe that they are connected to it, but we all know that Bob is the Brains behind it all. That, and he’s also the mucker-upper when things go awry. (Have’t you seen his image come up on your screen in times of trouble?) In this photo he’s modeling his first sweater. We like that it’s red. Good choice.
Loopy: Hi Bob! Finally I get to interview one of my own kind. Sort of. Thanks for being in the Limelight today. First question – what did your people do before they started Ravelry? Did they sit home and play with you all day, or did they have jobs where they went off to work?
Bob: Hi Loopy. When I was a puppy, Casey had a web development job. He left on the noisy scooter early in the morning and then when he was home he was working on Ravelry at night and didn’t have much time to play with me. Before I came, Jessica was working as a study abroad advisor and then quit that to go to school and take care of me. We went to the DOGPARK every day!! (I know when Jess and Casey are talking about the D-O-G-P-A-R-K even when they spell it out, because I am a super smart dog.)
Loopy: Well yes – you have to be smart to be the Brains behind Ravelry. No wonder you can spell, too. Were you in on the conversations when they first started talking about Ravelry? (Seriously, Bob – you can tell us. Who had the idea in the first place, and how long did they sit around discussing it before they had the beta-testing ready?)
Bob: Jess has a bit of a temper on her sometimes – she says bad words. It is usually when she has that tickle-string and the pointy-things, and sometimes when she is on the computer trying to find things to make with the tickle-things. I think before I was born, she couldn’t pet me when she got upset and couldn’t find things, so she would complain to Casey instead. He tried to find a way to make her happy when she couldn’t find the tickle-string information and decided to make a website all about it. I think a site about rawhides and DOGPARKS would have been better. Jessica keeps all the tickle-string in a basket on the floor. She says I can’t touch it, but she lets me smell it all I want. I especially like the string that smells like bunnies. I wish she had one that smelled like squirrels – that would be the best.
Loopy: I think a site about clover and PASTURES would be lovely, myself. And I have to say that I’m sort of glad you don’t prefer yarns that smell like sheep. But that’s just me. Are there things that make your people really frustrated with this job? (You know, like when you get into the system and mess things up?)
Bob: I think the things that are challenging change all the time. They haven’t done anything like Ravelry before so they are learning a lot as they go. Mostly they are all just very excited about Ravelry, and they always say things like, “Hey! I have an idea!” and also “so much to do!”
Loopy: I guess when you hear those two phrases, it probably means no DOGPARK for awhile, huh? What is your favorite feature on Ravelry? (Personally, we like the little icons that pop up when you type in certain words, but we REALLY think that you need a Loopy Sheep to pop up when someone types in “The Loopy Ewe”.)
Bob: I like all the people who start groups about me. Did you know there is a group for a Ravelry award named for me? And there are people who think I would make a good American President! There are also people who are Ravelry cheerleaders who also took my name. It makes me feel almost as good as when I get a good earscratching. I also like to look at the dog groups with all of the pictures – although I wish Casey would make it so I could smell them.
Loopy: I’d vote for you for President, Bob. You might be just what we need. I’m hoping that you get more time with your people now that Mary-Heather is helping out. How did she end up working at Ravelry?
Bob: Mary-Heather had been helping Jess and Casey for a long time on Ravelry – they have said how happy they are to have her working with them. It was very lucky they were able to make enough money to hire someone and MH was just leaving her job and she was exactly what they were looking for. It has been very nice – she helps them a lot.
Loopy: What do your people like to do in their spare time that has nothing to do with Ravelry or knitting? (Besides catering to you, of course.)
Bob: They like to take me in the car and go outside of the city. It is fun because then I can run and play fetch on really big lawns. They also read books a lot – more than they used to – so that is good. Sometimes they bring me into the city with them on the Vespa and we all like that very much. I have a special sling so can sit on Jessica’s lap on the scooter. I like to sniff the air and look at the smiling kids in cars. And Mary-Heather told me she likes to watch old movies with her sweetie and cook things.
Loopy: Wow – your Vespa rides sound fun! Maybe I’ll come visit so that I can get a Vespa ride, too. Speaking of traveling, sometimes we see Jess and Casey at different festivals and markets. Who takes care of you when they’re gone?
Bob: I go to stay with Aunt Erica and Uncle Kyle when they go away with their suitcases. It is very fun because I get to go to work with Kyle and his office has elevators. I like to run in the elevators and go exploring. The bell is just so exciting! They also play with me a lot and throw my toy for me over and over and over.
Loopy: You’re lucky to have good back-up people. They sound like a nice choice. Do you like cats? We have some cat-lovers who want to know.
Bob: I like to play with cats but they don’t like me very much, I don’t think. I especially like it when cats have big swishy tails!
Loopy: Hmmm – we might need to make sure to keep you away from Gracie and Zoe if you ever come visit. Where do you think Ravelry will be five years from now, and how will this affect you? (We’re thinking a customized doghouse would be in order.)
Bob: Wow, 5 years is a long time on the internet, even in dog years! Hopefully my people will have an office by a DOGPARK where we can go during the day!
Loopy: I’m sure you can work out a deal like that! Can you share any fun Rav Stats with us?
Bob: There are 19 Ravelers named Bob, including me. There are also lots of people with pets named Bob – Bob the cat, the other Bob the cat, Bob the bunny, Bob the swiminator (he’s a fish), and Bob the potted plant. The Boston Terrier group was the first group on Ravelry. Did you know that the Loopy Groupies was the 57th group on Ravelry? (Now there are over 6500 groups.) Also, congratulations to the Loopy Groupies – your 100,000th post was on July 3rd!
Loopy: 100,000th post? That’s a heck of a lot of talking out there in Loopy Groupie land! Anything else you’d like to add?
Bob: Most people don’t know that I am more than a mascot (although, clearly you do, Loopy.) I make sure that Casey is getting things right. Here is a photo of me supervising. Also, thank you to everyone who has sent me cards and dog treats and virtual scratchies. Being Ravelry’s mascot is hard work, but it is worth it.
Loopy: You’re so right. People have no idea how hard it is to be a mascot. That’s another reason I like you so much, Bob. You understand.