Freia and the Knitwhit

A Blog about a Dog with some Knitting thrown in here and there

It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This! August 31, 2008

Filed under: Knitting,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 10:52 am

Somebody pinch me.

I just got back from what I think was my best trade show/business trip yet. From start to finish everything was good. Very strange and has made me happy but a little nervous!

The trip was to Stitches Midwest in Schaumburg, IL. I thought the show would be about as busy as the TKGA show last fall in Oakland, so it was a little hard to justify the expense, but I fell in love with the hotel (or rather the pictures of the hotel online) – and that is truly the one and only thing that sold me on giving the show a try.

I had originally planned on bringing my friend Brigitte with me from CA, but when Dana learned of the show she really wanted to go, and ultimately, for me to fly her to Chicago from Cleveland was quite a bit less expensive than flying a friend out from CA. So, that was the first change that worked in my favor. I took full advantage of Southwest Airlines no bag fees policy and brought two huge heavy suitcases filled with last-minute kits, made with yarn that finally came in to the studio after a 2 month wait.. (This was in addition to the 500 lbs of freight that I had shipped to the convention center earlier in the month)

To save the $150 r/t cab fare from Midway airport I figured I may aswell just rent a car for the same price, which I did. This allowed us a lot more freedom and time. We got a little Hyundai that I named Pepe as I would barely touch the gas pedal and Pepe was hopping into action. A very fast little tin can, but Pepe got us there (and back) just fine.

I was aware that looking at hotel pictures is often like looking at house pictures online, somehow when you arrive the rooms are smaller, darker, dingier. This was not to be the case. This hotel is beautiful! This time I was also going to make a better effort of actually using the workout clothes that I bring with me on every trip.

Once in our room, we got room service as it was too late to find a restaurant. Dana got a Turkey Club and I got an asparagus salad that was really very good – and I don’t particularly like asparagus either, it just sounded healthy and that’s what I was craving – you gotta eat right when you know the hours ahead will be long and hard.

The following morning I got up and went for a swim – this is only the 3rd time I’ve tried swimming in the five years since my back injury. All my previous attempts ended in sharp pains, but this time I thought I would see if I could push through it. The pool was beautiful, a 25M lap pool, the perfect temperature, and it was empty – my favorite kind! I swum 40 lengths that morning, which I learned later was just under 2/3 of a mile – not bad for not having swum in years. And.. drum roll … no pain! I felt great! (Big Smile!).

Went back to the room, tried to rouse Dana (not a morning person) took a shower and went to the trade show floor.. Hmm.. looks like.. is it? Yes, I think it is.. I ordered one booth, but wait, they’ve uh.. given me two? Yup, they gave me two.. I even did the right thing and double checked with the organizers and yup, due to the change in floor layout, I now had two booths. Wow, cool.. but now how the heck was I going to fill them? I mean, I know there are worse problems to have, but it meant rethinking it all.

Dana rolled in a bit later and we did a great job of setting it all up together. This time, since we had the additional space we decided to set up a “cashier” area. I don’t normally like this at a show as I like to walk around and help customers during a show. The temptation is there when you have a table to sit behind it, which just isn’t as customer friendly, but I figured since this show was slower, maybe it would be worth a shot, as a slow show is the perfect place to try out new (to me) ideas.

We had it all set up well in time to take a real break and get a nice lunch. We ate this time at the hotel restaurant, Sam & Harry’s, not cheap, but good. I got the Cream of Spinach soup to start – comfort food – and followed that with.. um.. don’t remember, something good.

The show floor was to open from 5-8pm that night for a preview to students. From the start we were fairly busy, busier than I expected and we sold a lot of patterns, not so many kits. It was fun to meet the customers, watch them all smile and coo over the “Flore” Hat – my not-so-secret weapon that draws customers to my booth!

That night I was very surprised to learn that we had sold almost as much (only $7 difference) as we had at the preview night from the Stitches West show – traditionally the busiest show of all. Wow, if that was the case, and that trend continued, I would be in deep trouble as I hadn’t brought as much stuff as I’d had at Stitches West, but, I suppose again,  there are worse problems to have.

The following morning I was again up at the crack of dawn, excited to try my swim once more. This pool is so lovely, it is actually treated with Salt as opposed to buckets of Chlorine, so my skin never got dried out, and if you accidentally got a mouthful it didn’t taste quite so chemically as a regular pool. I could feel it in my arm muscles (I have muscles there still?) this time, but I did my laps, and they were definately easier. Of course, I’m still slow as mud, but who cares – I’m swimming again!

I developed another new addiction (in addition to swimming)  while in Schaumburg. The hotel had a little coffee bar, and I thought since I was being so good with swimming, I shouldn’t ruin it with a pastry, so I would stop in and get a yoghurt parfait – yoghurt, fresh berries and granola – sooo  good! That little cafe was cute, very modern, and full of knitters! I wore my Raffaela cardigan a lot and got a lot of ooh’s and aah’s and “hey, let me see what you’re wearing” compliments as I would make my way to work. Nice little ego boost never hurt!

Friday was another busy day, a full day this time, from 10-6. We sold so many patterns again, and not as many kits (as Stitches West) which gave me a slight concern – was I going to have to take this all back to CA with me? Not what I had planned. But then again, the volume was good, once again almost as good as Stitches West, and I figured that with the shaky economy customers probably were looking to spend a little less and use up some existing stash, so patterns made sense. Dinner that night was at the Cheesecake Factory, I had some decent fish tacos but the key thing, I brought a slab of chocolate raspberry cheesecake back to the hotel – can’t go wrong with that. Finished the night with paperwork and the Olympics..

A bit more about the hotel before I forget. Our bathroom – the ceiling height mirror had an embedded (behind the mirror) TV – You turn on the light in the bathroom and the TV comes on! I’m not a huge TV fan, but how cool is that?? Then after showering, there are strips on the mirror  that are treated with anti-fog so you don’t have to wipe the mirror down to get rid of the steam – more coolness.. and the beds? oooh, soo comfortable! Plus the rooms came with a little fridge and microwave too. And did I say clean? This place – the whole place – is spotless. And the staff are professional, courteous and helpful, and genuinely nice.

Saturday was more selling, this time we sold more kits, as we did on Sunday too, so in the end I had pretty much the right mix. We didn’t run out of Flore and Ripley Patterns until Sunday, which was good, of course, I would have rather not run out at all, but who knew?

Sunday was definately quieter, as expected, but we met our impromptu bumped up goals, and I got three new wholesale accounts who were kind enough to shop from the items that I had left, ensuring that I didn’t have to carry so much back with me – as it turned out I was able to fit everything into one suitcase on the way home – and I think my freight home was pared down to about 2-300 lbs.. not bad – go home with 2-300 lbs less than I came with!

What was most interesting for me is that though there was only Dana and I in the booth the whole time, because of the different layout we were able to handle the high volume quite easily. This bodes well for Stitches West next year. With this new set-up I think Stitches West will be a lot more customer friendly, easier to shop and not quite as exhausting or chaotic for all involved. At Stitches West I pretty much had 3 people on duty, sometimes 4 at all times and it was madness. I think, though 3 is good for that level of show, with this new set up it will all run a lot smoother. Which is good for me as that last show in Santa Clara just about killed me – and I was sort of dreading it, now I’m excited to try this new set up and see the improvement.

The one thing I did forget to bring to Illinois was my camera – so, sorry, no booth pictures this time. But I’m pretty sure I will be back in Schaumburg next year as in the end we did almost double in sales from what I was expecting, and that hotel – I have to go back, I must.. !!

So.. what are the hotels like in Baltimore? Am I going to do Stitches East? I’d said that I wouldn’t, but now I’m tempted…

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Saying Goodbye – Dana The Intern – Week 8 August 12, 2008

Filed under: Dana The Intern,Knitting,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 10:45 am

The most exciting 2 months of my life are coming to an end today, as I make my way back to Cleveland, Ohio this weekend.  I am leaving with a lifetime of memories, mostly good and some bad.  I have learned more about myself in these past months than I ever have before.  The one aspect of myself I thought I would have figured out by now is what I will be doing with my life when my internship is over.  At this point I have no idea, and it is very frightening!  I have met so many amazing people out here, who have made great career choices, and I know I want that to be me too someday.

This week Tina and I have been tying up loose ends in the studio.  We recapped all the projects I did to make sure they were complete.  We finished cleaning the studio, and made a Goodwill donation and scheduled a Salvation Army pickup.  We discussed more details about Stitches Midwest in Chicago, and I tried to help Tina pack boxes of merchandise to send to the show.  I always feel so badly for her when she is frantically trying to figure out what to take!  To this day I still do not know what to take to the shows.  You have no way of knowing if the merchandise you take might not be what people wanted, and the merchandise you do not even think to take is what could have sold.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to figure this out please let us know.

On Monday Tina and I went to a knitting group at her friend Bridget’s house.  I never knew these existed until this summer.  It is a lot of fun, because everyone sits around and knits and catches up on their day to day experiences.  If you are needing ideas on how to do certain knitting techniques there are people there as well to help you out.  I am going to join one back home if any exist.

On Thursday Tina and I met up with another designer, Maggie Pace of Pick Up Sticks, so I could see another aspect of the knitting industry.  I had a great time getting to know her, and taking a tour of her studio.  Her latest addition to her studio is an industrial yarn winder, which she says cuts a week’s worth of work into one day.  It has made her life much easier and I can see why when I saw the machine operating.  It was a great opportunity for me to meet another great designer who works hard and has a fabulous product!

My final restaurant recommendation for the blog would have to be Chevy’s.  Aaron took me there with some friends for my birthday, and we had a great a time.  Tina came as well, which was great because she got to meet some of Aaron’s friends.  We toasted to turning 27 with margaritas and ate some great Mexican food.  The Chevy’s in Emeryville sits right on the water and you get a great view of the Bay while you eat.

For my last paragraph I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for taking the time to read my weekly blogs.  I hope everyone has enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.  Aaron has also been great to me the whole time I have been here.  He spent many days and nights driving me everywhere I needed to go, he made me feel welcome from the moment I arrived and included me always in plans with his friends.  Thank you Aaron, you’re the best.  I have to thank my family for supporting me through all my years of school.  They never doubted my abilities to achieve my goals, and without them I would never be able to call myself a college graduate!  Thank you for being an amazing family!  Lastly I want to thank Tina for taking the time to mentor me and take me under her wing and teach me the in’s and out’s of running a business.  She also spent much time teaching me to knit, making sure I was well fed, and listening to all my issues I encountered with my drunken roommate.  I have made another great friend, and have learned so much from her these past two months.

 

A world out of balance August 7, 2008

Freia lost her best friend today, and I lost a good friend too, and his owners’ hearts are breaking tonight.
 
Rufus was in the back seat of a car that was hit by a rotten juvenile in a stolen car. Rufus was thrown from the car in the accident and ran 3 blocks away to the back bathroom of a warehouse where he died of internal injuries, probably scared and sadly alone.
This is so wrong.

 
Rufus was certainly one of the best dogs I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Gentle, curious, shy, affectionate, big and bumbling.

He met Freia when they were both wobbly puppies, with Freia his surrogate big sister, teaching him good habits and bad (mainly bad). He didn’t have a mean bone in his body and adored his owner so much that your heart melted to see them together. Rufus was smaller than Freia when they first met, but within a few months grew into a very tall dog, unsure of where his legs were a lot of the time.

He was king of the sucker punch, catching his playmates unaware from behind, who would then chase after him – just his plan all along. Rufus made me want to get a Ridgeback companion for Freia full time, but I also knew that no dog would be quite like him. The combination of good genes and nothing but tender loving care from his owner made him into a truly special dog. He settled into my heart and I will carry him with me forever.

 

Seeing through the clutter – Dana The Intern – Week 7 August 5, 2008

Filed under: Dana The Intern,Knitting,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 10:02 pm

I finally recouped from the Seattle trip, and this week was the week for reorganization.  Tina and I finished making the shelves to store her yarn and it was time for it to all come together.   

I separated all her yarn into categories by company. All the yarn is in one area by her work table, so she does not have to go far to get what she needs.  Everything is visible to where she can tell right away when she is out of a certain color; therefore she can place an order immediately.  There is now a shipping area where all her boxes, stuffing, and tape are together.  Now there is no more shifting things around, in order to find the right size box to send an order out.  Tina also has a section of shelves where all her left over yarn is.  That yarn consists mostly of discontinued colors, and she keeps miscellaneous accessories in there.  When we were all done I decided that she had too much scrap yarn that she needed to get rid of.  It was taking up to much work space, and she would never know it was gone.  It was like pulling teeth for “Little Miss Pack Rat”, but I got her to donate the scraps of yarn to a local middle school teacher.  She is going to use the yarn for teaching her students to knit.  What a great idea bringing young knitters into the world!

I ended up making reservations at the Extended Stay Hotel in Emeryville, so I would have a place to stay the last week of my internship.  What an ordeal it was trying to check into that place.  I decided to stay there, because of the reasonable rate, however I definitely got what I am paying for.  They over booked all of the non-smoking rooms, so when I checked the only room available was smoking.  I was exhausted from packing and moving all my things that I did not argue I just smiled and said okay.  When I entered the room the horrible smell hit me like a ton of bricks!  There was cigarette burns all over the bedspread, and the room felt dirty.  I could not stay there!  Aaron agreed the room was disgusting, so he let me crash on his couch that night.  I do not know what I would have done had he not let me stay there.  So we loaded up all my belongings in his car, unloaded them at his house, and then the next morning packed the car again and unloaded it all at Tina’s.  That afternoon Tina took me back to the hotel with all my stuff and we made sure that I would be placed in a non-smoking room.  Needless to say the room was non-smoking, but it still had a musty foul scent to it.  I am looking forward to being in my own place, and not having to live out of a suit case for a while!

This past weekend Aaron’s sister Jenny and her boyfriend Marc came for a visit from LA, and we spent some time at the wineries in Napa.  That is my favorite place to go, and I had not been there this summer.  We had a blast at this winery called Luna’s.  The guy pouring our wine was hilarious, and he does his job well, because we left there with a few bottles of wine in hand!  He was so nice that Jenny and I could not leave without taking a picture with him.  I think he enjoyed our company for the short while we there.  Napa Valley is my place of recommendation this week.  Anyone that has not been there needs to go see the beautiful wineries, and taste the excellent wine.  I have been to several wineries and the best ones to experience are right here in Northern California.

It has been a great being able to share my stories on this blog.  Next week will be my last one, and I am sad to say I will be making my journey back home to the Midwest.  My time at the Knitwhits studio and the Bay area has been a great experience.  I have been able to make lasting friendships with great people, and have a mind full of spectacular memories.  I hope that other PiPN interns take this opportunity and make the most of it.