Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wollmeise Spring Sale - Knit Wits on location.

Today I took another lady from the Knit Wits (all were invited only one took the plunge) to the Spring Wollmeise sale in Pfaffenhofen Germany. It has been scheduled in my iPhone for months now. I see American knitters online wondering how to get ahold of some Wollmeise and since we live just over an hour away it would be a tragedy to miss the opportunity to attend a Wollmeise sale while living in Germany. Patty and I arrived just after 10am and as usual - parking was difficult downtown Pfaffenhofen. We finally decided to use the Norma parking lot and that worked well since the church annex is just across the street and a block down.

We entered the sales room before it got too crowded, I pointed Patty in the right direction and we split-up to immerse ourselves in Wollmeise color. The sale is made up of hanks with slight faults. The quality control at Wollmeise is so high that the "faulty" hanks have only minor issues all of which are listed (in german) and consist of a faulty color batch or a hank with knots in it. Each type of yarn (pure/blend/lace/twin/dk etc) is separated and the colors are overwhelming. It is a bit dark inside so some ladies will organize and examine their color choices by the window before settling and heading to the kasse (register)

It was wonderful. I had heard (through a Ravelry group discussion) that there were a ton of lace "multis" but I couldn't figure out what that meant. It means variegated yarn. And she was right. Not very many solid lace colors this year but plenty of hanks with multi colored variegation. I noticed a beautiful shawl on the counter and was told that they have it on display so customers can get an idea of how beautiful the "multis" are. I have a feeling they had been asked about the lack of solid lace colors. But hey - it is a sale. You can't expect to get everything you want.

I did though. I went to the sale hoping for a nice chartreuse yellow. I found something very close to what I wanted. Perhaps a touch further towards green than I would have liked but very nice. I spotted a blue and a nice grey/brown to go with it and then this strange variegated yarn caught my eye. It is called Aspentree and I got one hank of Pure/100g. I'm very excited to see how it works up.

I did have to leave behind a few friends. I am a budget girl so I had to leave my group of blends behind but I set them out together and I have faith that some other knitter saw them and took them home together.

We made our purchases and I was impressed by the paper bag they gave us. Even the paper bag is awesome. It has german knitting terms translated into English. I loved it and I think I should frame it. I know, I'm a geek.

Patty was ready to leave but I convinced her to stay for coffee and cake in the next room. I looked for open seats at an already occupied table because half of the fun of the Wollmeise sale is meeting new friends in the coffee and cake room. It didn't disappoint. We chatted (their English was better than our Deutsch) and discovered these wonderful yarn ball unwinders. The website listed on the bottom said: www.wollabroller.com.

When I checked it - I "think" the site said it was sold out or currently out of production but the ladies we talked to said they had JUST gotten theirs that week. They looked so neat but I wonder how convenient they are to travel with or take to a swim meet etc. I think I'll stick with my center-pull balls and project bag.

We also noticed an abundance of Martina Behm shawls either on the ladies or on their needles. Patty was soon convinced to start a shawl project and headed back in to get another dose of yarn. After we packed up and really were on the way out we spotted a man waiting in the hall. I thought it was hilarious because I saw the same thing at the fall sale. Poor guy. I wonder how long he waited? It was more pathetic than a fella waiting at the shopping mall for his wife. In a way I guess he was.

We couldn't leave town without a trip over to see the Brick & Mortar store. It closes during sale days so we peeked in the windows and decided o schedule another trip back once we saw all the cool displays (and a coffee machine) inside. My favorite was the sock peacock. Maybe I should call it a "peasock."

You know you are in a knitting-town when you walk downtown and find a statue that has recently been yarn-bombed. That was very fitting.

We finished off the day at Ban Thai restaurant just off the Autobahn. We tried the red curry and coconut milk soup which came with rice and split a platter of sushi. The meal was amazing and didn't break the bank. I think it was less than 22 Euros for both of us. I would definitely drive the 15 minutes off the Autobahn to go back. Who am I kidding - If I exit the Autobahn anywhere near Pfaffenhofen it will be Wollmeise that I'm heading for (and Ban Thai after.)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Travel Maps to the Rescue

Craft Fair Season is upon us. Well it is the right season for SOME crafters. For knitting - I have found that the spring is never my friend. It is warming up, the sun is shining and most ladies are excited about pulling out their skirts and flip-flops. They are NOT excited about picking up a shawl or scarf for next fall.

I already expect lower sales in the Spring and I still enjoy a chance to display my items and hear, "Oh you make such lovely things." Even if those kudos don't translate into dollars. It is my time to exhibit my designs and work.

Last year the items most requested were: boot cuffs and cowls. At my last craft fair (in the fall) I quickly sold-out of my entrelac cowls and had requests for boot cuffs so I got to work and made more but (of course) the spring craft fairs are just not as conducive to wooly knits.

Thankfully - my visitors seemed to like my cross stitch travel maps. I have long wanted some kind of record of my travels. Being a military family we have covered most of the US and now that we are stationed in Germany we are quickly covering most of Europe too. I thought it would be great to have a map that we could fill-in over time and show off our travels. I have seen large travel maps with pins to track your locations but 1) they are very expensive and 2) they aren't as customizable. 

I searched and searched online for a pattern to use but couldn't find one. So I made one. And I figured if I want one then maybe others would want one too. I made my pattern, tested it for myself and invited a group of ladies over from my husband's unit to test it for me too. They loved it but a few of them didn't finish. They got hung-up with the initial black outline of all the countries. 

I had to make it easier. If the initial outlines were giving them problems - could we just skip that step? I printed the pattern straight on the fabric and VOILA! problem solved. Now they can just fill it in using whatever color scheme they want. 

But what if they don't know how to get colored thread or don't want to pay $2/color to fill-in their map? Why should they have to pay $3 for 10 needles when they will only use one? So I purchased a variety of colors and made a sample pack of colors with enough to cover 1-2 countries/states per color. I included a needle and figured I had better include some basic directions in each pattern. 

I thought about offering a little class for anyone that wanted it and then I had one of those brilliant shower ideas: wait a minute - I have an iPhone - why not just make a little video tutorial? So now each pattern has a link to a video tutorial to get them started and talk them through some of the snags they might hit. 

While showing-off my new design to family and friends, my cousin demanded a North America Version. Why should us overseas military spouses have all the fun? So I kindly obliged and developed a North America Version with my home province of Manitoba featured prominently. Rugby North Dakota might be the geographical center of North America but Elkhorn Manitoba is the center of my map!

I'm so excited to see their finished products. I colored in my examples using a variety of colors but I'd really like to see someone do a monochromatic color scheme. Dark red is where we lived, medium red is where we have visited and light red is where we just drove through or stopped at an airport?? Blue is where he has been, Red is where she has been and purple is where they have been together? The possibilities are exciting. I included my contact information with each pattern because I want to see and share all the finished results. 

I still have the original cross stitch patterns with Aida cloth and those are available as a kit as well and surprisingly they are doing just as well as the pre-printed fabric option. 

Hopefully these maps will help alleviate my boredom at Spring craft sales as well as offer my military friends around the world (and my bossy cousin) a chance to track their travels.