Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm livid!

Like an awful lot of people who live in Chicago, we live in a condo. It's a three story, three family building made from red brick. Three-flats are probably the single most common type of building in these parts. It's a pretty average neighborhood, not the fanciest 'hood by any stretch, but it's established and I generally feel pretty darn safe there.

So when I woke up this morning to find this:

and this:

in the entryway, I was not a happy camper.

I was taking the dog for her morning walk and the poor thing must have thought I was having a seizure. I was swearing and sputtering and generally behaving in a highly unladylike fashion. If half of what I said about the villains is true, you can safely assume that their parents weren't married to one another and/or that they have engaged in inappropriate relations with their mothers.

I am finally breathing normally again. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Knitting Needle Bracelets

We are not always on the ball when it comes to unpacking the crate when it returns from TNNA. We get the important stuff like yarn and models out right away, but sometimes office supplies and its ilk can wait quite awhile before we get to it.

Imagine my delight when I found these last week nestled in amongst the paper clips and rubber bands. Aren't they great?! I'm a sucker for anything vintage and anything to do with knitting. These fit the bill on both counts so I count them as a triple win. My good friend Tonni gave them to me right off her arm when I complimented her on them. She told me they are from Australia so I gave a quick peek at Etsy today and found them there.

I can't really wear them when I'm dyeing yarn because they get tangled, but they're great for out about town. I was at a cocktail party Friday night where I didn't really know very many people and they turned out to be a nice ice breaker.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Felt Exhibit

I could really use a little trip. Lately I've felt an overwhelming desire for a real vacation. I'm not talking about a long weekend. Or going to visit family. I need a leave-the-computer-at-work-get-out-of-town-for-long-enough-to-really-mean-it kind of trip. The best part is that I have enough airline/hotel miles to go almost anywhere for virtually nothing right now. Yay! I love me the airline miles.

But I think I'm going to have to put that off for awhile. We're busy enough here at Lorna's Laces (thank goodness) that I don't want to leave. Maybe I'll feel good enough to plan things in a few weeks.

In the meantime, I ran across information about an exhibit at The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in NYC that's opening early next month. Cooper-Hewitt is an arm of the Smithsonian located on the Upper East Side. It's housed in the Andrew Carnegie Mansion.

The exhibit looks pretty interesting. Maybe not as interesting as Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting that I saw at the Museum of Art and Design a couple of years ago, but still. It might be worth looking into a weekend trip. It's right next to the Met and I've only spent about a nanosecond in the Met and could certainly get happily lost there for days.

I might even be able to talk to a couple of shops in the area about doing something with them. Or would that be too much of a busman's holiday? Perhaps I should just wait and take the real trip that I need?

I wish the decision fairy would wave her magic wand and let me know what to do.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Shameless Promotion

My husband is an incredibly talented artist. I love his pen and ink work and pencil drawings the best but he does some great painting too. He put a few things up on Etsy the other day and I thought you all might like this one as much as I do. I'm a sucker for pin-up art. Add some yarn to the equation and it's all over as far as I'm concerned.

He's happy to take commissions if you have something in mind. He likes talking to people about what they envision and rendering it onto paper.

He just finished a "character drawing" for a client that plays Dungeons and Dragons. The client described his character and then Michael did a pen and ink of it. I know I'm biased, but it was really good. I had to giggle a little listening to this man gushing over how well Michael had brought "Monster", his half orc, to life. He even put it on his Iphone and desktop at work. Gotta love it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


This is Amanda's rendition of the Heart pattern designed by Kristin Ledgett in the current issue of knitty.com. The original is done is a fingering weight yarn, but Amanda switched things up to make hers really big. It's knit from our Shepherd Bulky in Red Rover. Derek is a lucky guy.

Friday, February 13, 2009

From Our Point of View

There's been lots of talk lately about how designers should be compensated for their work. The discussion is long overdue and I'm delighted to see it happening.

It got me thinking about our relationship with designers. We work with many different designers and I think (hope!) that they would agree that Lorna's Laces is a good company to work with. That we are fair and reasonable.

Certainly compensation is a significant piece of the equation when it comes to figuring out if a business relationship makes sense. But there are many other factors that come into play when two entities decide whether to work together or not.

I've decided to give you all a peek behind the curtain here. How I think and make decisions about who we work with. What makes our life easier. Much of this is directed to newer designers but it applies to everyone and I think it deserves a place at the table.

I realize that designers have many different clients. They can sell directly to the consumer. They work with yarn companies, traditional magazines, online magazines and book publishers. My perspective is fairly narrow and a certain amount of it boils down to Sales 101....so here it is for whatever it's worth.

First and foremost, before you embark on a design career, do some research and make sure it is really something you want to do. Loving to knit/crochet doesn't mean that this is the right industry for you to work in. Do you really want to make your hobby your job? It might suck all the fun out of one of the joys in your life. I will say it again. Do you really want to make it your J.O.B.?

Talk to other designers. Find out what the work really entails. But, be prepared before you reach out to them.

If you decide this is the right place for you, do some more research before you start making contacts. You are asking them for their time and you need to respect that. Arm yourself with specific information. They'll will be more likely to want to help if you demonstrate real knowledge about them. It is far better to say "I first started admiring you work when I saw the X sweater in Y magazine. I particularly like the construction you used for the sleeves" rather than "I think your stuff is really cool". Show interest and knowledge and you'll get better results. Maybe even a mentor.

Before you can sell your designs, you'll need to put together a portfolio. Sketches and swatches and such. You don't need to be the next Rembrandt, but you should be able to give a potential client a good indication of what your design sensibility is and what the specific design they may buy will look like. You'll need two versions. One that you can send via email and a hard copy to take with you to meetings and shows. Make sure they both look good and reflect you and your style.

When the time comes to present your designs to a potential customer, remember that it's important to be professional. If you're going to do it in person, make an appointment, be on time, dress appropriately. I know these things may sound trite, but I once had a designer show up twenty minutes late, wearing dirty jeans and smelling like last night's beer. Can you guess how many of her designs we bought?

Don't forget that your time is valuable too. If you are going to a show, try and make appointments ahead of time there too. I hate when designers come by the booth and I'm not able to talk to them because I am with a client. If they have an appointment I make the time for them.

When you get to the meeting, ask questions. Find out what they are looking for and what holes you can fill in their catalog. Try and demonstrate how you can make their life easier. You don't want to present all your sock designs if they are looking for afghans. Tailor you presentation to make it shine for todays needs. If socks are your best work, I'm not saying you should forget about them, I'm just saying you should highlight the designs that will meet immediate needs and strut your sock stuff on a smaller scale for now. You are looking to develop a relationship, you'll have time later to show off the socks.

You should have a goal for every meeting/phone call/email. This is a sales call after all. Know what you want to accomplish and how you are going to do that. Your goal might be as simple as introducing yourself and asking if you can send some samples along. It might be asking someone to buy a design. Please don't come to me and say you have done some design work, show me the sock you are knitting and expect me to take the lead in the conversation or offer to buy it. You don't always have to close a sale but you should move me along toward whatever the goal you've established for the meeting.

Anticipate questions. How will you deliver the pattern? How much time will you need to finish the project? Who will be making the model? How much do you charge? What terms do you expect in regard to rights and payment? These aren't easy questions but you shouldn't shy away from them. Don't forget this is business you need to be able to articulate what you expect out of the arrangement.

You should establish the price for your work. Please don't ask me how much I pay. Certainly a well established designer can command a higher fee than someone breaking into the industry, but it isn't my role to tell you what that is. You should respect your own work enough to put a dollar amount on it. It may turn out that we can't afford you, but that is our affair, not yours. There may be room to negotiate as well, but you need to begin that process with the knowledge of what you need to make an agreement worthwhile. Any good negotiation leaves both parties satisfied with the outcome. Simply getting published or making a sale shouldn't be your first priority if you're in this for the long haul.

Now you've sold the design. You've made a deal that both you and the buyer are happy with. Congratulations! The last thing I have to say on this today is be sure and deliver what you promised. Repeat business is what is going to make you a success.

I have some other thoughts...but this is all for now.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


My husband has always doubted the concept of a knitting/yarn emergency. Now there is proof!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Few Random Thoughts

1) Lorna's Laces joined Facebook recently. We are lonely and need more friends. Come friend us.

2) Our Twitter photo is yarn, not people. I wonder which is better.

3) I bit the bullet and bought new mukluks last week.

4) The sun is shining and it's going to be 66 degrees today. I am responsible for the dramatic increase in temperature, see #3.

5) Soup is good.

6) I am now learning to enjoy hot tea.

7) Today is Lorna's Laces 6th anniversary in Chicago! I planned to post an updated picture of the whole gang but Amanda's out sick. I think it's nice to be able to see who my yarn comes from and I thought you would too. As soon as we're all together, I'll take a new one and put it up.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Abundance

People were very productive over the weekend.

Stef came in with this darling little Super Mario Mushroom that Emily designed. It's made from a bunch of Shepherd Sock.

Sam is wearing her latest FO. It's a Zephyr Style pattern knit from our Green Line Worsted in Chagrin. I noticed that it has the same reverse stockinette striping pattern in the sleeves as Emily's shrug did last week. The ones on the shrug are a little wider, but they are fundamentally the same idea. Coincidence or trend??

It has great little buttons too. Some say Paris and others London. I couldn't for the life of me get a close up of them. My camera is smarter than I am today.

Next up are Caitlin's color work mittens. Wow!!

The pattern here is cobbled together from a bunch of different things she's seen around. Numbers from one place, animals from another, palms from yet another etc. Regardless, these make me feel like quite an underachiever.

Speaking of which:

This is Simplest Sweater for Every Baby. I made this over the weekend while I sat in front of the TV trying to get over whatever bug I caught last week. I know it's not fancy, but when I'm not feeling well, mindless garter stitch can be just the thing. And I finished something which gave me a sense of accomplishment. After three days on the couch, I really needed that.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday blahs

I've had a tough time getting going today and there's no good reason for it. I was in bed plenty early last night, slept well, took a short run this morning, the sun is shining...it's all good But I just feel like I've been dragging around all day. I hate days like this. Tomorrow will be better.

Here's a quick shot of Emily wearing her finished shrug. It's one of Stefanie Japel's creations.

Emily has two or three shrugs that really look great on her. It's not usually a go-to shape for me, but I'm wondering if I should reconsider.

I finished up most of the knitting on a really simple baby cardigan out of Shepherd Sport over the weekend. I need to find a button and do something with the placket and collar. I'll probably just do a little crochet thing.

I want to get another baby project on the needles. I'm trying to decide between Shepherd or Green Line. My practical side says Shepherd because it's super wash and will make the new mother's life easier. Then there's another voice that tells me that I should go with the Green Line since it's organic. What do you think??