The Ann Arbor Spring Fiber Expo is Coming Up!

Here in Ann Arbor, spring means fresh air, blue skies, and the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo. We can’t wait.

This year it’s taking place Saturday, April 9th and Sunday, April 10th, and will be held at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds.

We’ll be there, with a booth full of happy, colorful fiber, yarn, and patterns. We’ll have yarns in all different weights and colors, including gradient sets in Merino Tencel and Corrie Sock! We’ll also have combed top in BFL, Falkland, Merino/Yak, Superfine Merino, BFL/Silk, Polwarth, and Merino/Tencel.

If you haven’t already done so, take a look at the classes offered at the Expo! They’re taking place in the mornings and afternoons both days, and range in topic from handpainting yarn and roving, to making buttons, to nuno felting.

We can’t wait to see you for a day full of fiber-y fun!

The Ann Arbor Fiber Expo

Saturday, April 9 | 9a – 5p

Sunday, April 10 | 10a – 4p

$4 Admission each day

Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds


Destin Yarn Shop: A Florida Vacation Town’s Knitting Oasis

What started as a seventy-two-square-foot booth in a local mall has grown into a 1500-square-foot yarn mecca that is a top destination for vacationers and locals alike in Miramar Beach, Florida.

Customers love stopping by owner Carol Williams’ homey, happy shop for a good time and an incredible selection of unique yarns. This selection includes Happy Fuzzy Yarn’s Corrie Sock, DK Silk, and Merino Tencel yarns.

Check out our interview with Carol to learn how she decided to open the shop, what her journey has been like, and what her favorite thing about owning a yarn store is.

 

shop pic 2014 3 copyHappy Fuzzy Yarn: What led up to you opening your own yarn store?

Destin Yarn Shop: It was a huge decision for me (Carol). I was about to rejoin the workforce after 30 years of “retirement” as a mother and house renovator. My former career had been as an art director in an advertising agency and I didn’t want to go back to doing that. My sister suggested opening a yarn shop, and she was working at her local store in Buffalo and loved it (we had both been knitting for 50 years). I had never been in retail before, so I started in a 72 square foot booth at an antiques and collectibles mall. Within a year I had enlarged there to 300 square feet and had a small customer base and loved the business. When the mall closed shortly after that, I moved into my first real storefront where I had to learn the accounting and business details of running a shop on my own.


Happy Fuzzy Yarn: 
What other businesses or models did you look to for inspiration in creating the shop?

Destin Yarn Shop:  I did a lot of research on the internet and listened to the requests and suggestions of my customers. I also had help from the owner of Have Ewe Any Wool in Buffalo where my sister worked. She advised me about yarns and inventory when I first started out. Also, I have had the good fortune of dealing with some wonderful yarn reps who guided me on trends and stocking my store with quality products.


Happy Fuzzy Yarn: 
Has the way you think about yarn and fiber arts grown since you opened the store?

Destin Yarn Shop: Most definitely. I made a few mistakes along the way concerning content and how yarns respond to knitting….i.e. drape, blocking, needle choice and color combinations. The variety of fibers has grown tremendously since 2007 and dying processes have evolved into breathtaking new choices. I love this business and take a great deal of joy and enthusiasm with me to work every day!


Happy Fuzzy Yarn: 
What is unique about opening a yarn store in your city as opposed to a different one?

Destin Yarn Shop: My shop is located in a vacation resort area on what has been named the most beautiful beach in the United States. I am about ½ mile from the Gulf of Mexico in Destin, Florida. Almost 95% of my customers are from out of town and are very excited to find a yarn shop here. They are looking for yarns that are new to them and will remind them of their visit to the area. I sell a lot of tropical weight fibers although the warmer offerings do hold their own in the winter months….it does get into the 30’s here. Many of my shoppers come here annually and mention that they can’t wait to see what new ideas I have for them upon their return. Every year I add at least 5 or 6 projects specific to these delightful women. I carry many luxury fibers and, of course, my favorite…bling. Sequins are a special touch here and we add them with abandon to any project we deem deserving of a little extra attention!


Happy Fuzzy Yarn: 
In what ways has your local community welcomed or supported the yarn store that you maybe didn’t expect?

Destin Yarn Shop: When I first opened the shop, a local newspaper did a full-page color article about my store. It also had a photo of my son and his United States Air Force group in Italy wearing the helmetliners my knitters had made for them at Aviano Air Force Base. This was a charity project we supported for the troops in Europe, we provided free yarn, patterns, and shipping to Afghanistan and elsewhere. Being located next to Eglin Air Force Base brings many enlisted men and women to the shop and I also was able to get names and addresses for some of the troops overseas and to actually hand out some of the helmetliners to those on leave who would take them back with them.

shop pic 2014 1 copy
Happy Fuzzy Yarn: 
How has your life changed since you opened the store?

Destin Yarn Shop: I have become independent, more confident, and my days have been filled with laughter, purpose and activity. The shop has provided me with exercise, mental stimulation (including a bit of stress!), new friends, and a greater appreciation for community and small business enterprise. It has made my family proud and provided me with an income that is enough to take care of my basic needs and enjoy an occasional vacation…however, I find it difficult to stay away for too long. The yarn calls me!


Happy Fuzzy Yarn:
What do you envision your store looking like one year from now? How about five years from now?

Destin Yarn Shop: It will probably be much as it is now, just more color and more yarn, yarn, yarn! And a slightly older owner. I find I would not change much there; it is nearly perfect the way it is now. When I bought the store, I gutted it and reworked the interior to make it exactly as I wanted, and the design works well for me.


Happy Fuzzy Yarn: 
What has been the most surprising thing about owning and operating the store?

Destin Yarn Shop: I would say it is the joy I have found going to work every day. It is not work, it is what I love to do best: meet people, make them laugh, share my ideas about design, technique, and color, and watch them leave with a smile on their faces eager to start a new project. What could be better?


Happy Fuzzy Yarn: 
What is one of your favorite things that you get to do on a regular basis because you own a yarn store?

Destin Yarn Shop: I would say it is ordering and buying wholesale, and meeting with yarn reps to see all of the new yarns before they hit the market. I love the reps who bring cash and carry, where I can chose those yarns that have just the right color and feel without waiting for a shipment. Owning the shop means I have the biggest stash in town! How wonderful is that?!!!!


Happy Fuzzy Yarn: 
What is something challenging about owning the store?

Destin Yarn Shop: I am a one woman shop and do all of the ordering, bookkeeping, merchandising, sales, and knitted samples. I used to do the teaching myself as well, but now have a wonderful lady and friend who is at the store most afternoons for individual instruction on a freelance basis.


Happy Fuzzy Yarn: 
If you were to describe your store in one word, what would it be?

Destin Yarn Shop: This is the hardest question you have posed. My first response was “happy”, because I’m always smiling and people come that way and leave that way. However, other words have been used by my customers like “homey” “best” “fabulous” and “astounding”. I am proud to use any of these words to describe my store. I am blessed every day to call it my own.

Destin Yarn Shop

Holiday Plaza, 12273 US-98 #109

Miramar Beach, FL

(850) 650-0006

destinyarn@gmail.com

An interview with the owners of Spun, Ann Arbor’s newest yarn shop

spun1Meet Ann Arbor’s newest yarn shop: Spun! Husband and wife owners Carol and Pete Sickman-Garner opened the Kerrytown shop in December of 2015 with the goal of creating a fiber hub where folks could share “their creativity, their expertise, and their love for making things by hand.”

Spun carries a finely curated collection of yarns, tools, and accessories sourced from Michigan, the US, and abroad. Among the many types of yarn they carry are Happy Fuzzy Yarn’s Corrie Sock, Merino Lace, and Merino Tencel Fingering.

There are also a variety of classes hosted regularly in the shop, ranging from parent and child knitting lessons, to knitting for lefties, to advanced lace knitting, and more. For less structured events, check out their “Ask a Knitter!” and Drop-In knitting sessions.

Of course, you’re welcome to stop by the shop anytime during business hours to sit, knit, and enjoy a warm cup of tea in the company of Spun’s friendly staff and customers.

Find more information on their website, spunannarbor.com

 

Happy Fuzzy Yarn: I’m sure there was a great deal of thought and planning before deciding to open a local yarn store. Can you describe the moment you decided to go for it?

Spun: We started discussing it around January 2015. It seemed like a good time. Of course, although we (Carol and Pete) had relevant experience working retail and Carol is knowledgeable about yarn and knitting, we’ve never done anything like this, so in our initial conversations, neither of us was serious. But we kept talking and realized that if we were going to examine the viability of a yarn store, we’d have to set aside time to do it. Carol took a month away from her freelance editing work and created a business plan. She said, “I think this can work,” and that’s when we really got serious.

spun6spun8

Happy Fuzzy Yarn: What other businesses or models did you look to for inspiration in creating the shop?

Spun: Carol spends a lot of time in yarn shops and has her favoites. She’s got a very clear idea of what she likes about the ones she likes–a friendly atmosphere and a broad selection of good yarn at a wide range of prices. We wanted ours to feel welcoming to knitters and crocheters at every level.

 

Happy Fuzzy Yarn: How has the way you think about yarn and knitting grown since you opened the store?

Spun: Yarn is still beautiful to me (Carol), and I still really like the people who make it and use it. It’s been interesting to become more personally acquainted with all the different people who knit and crochet in Ann Arbor–and more familiar with all their varied reasons for loving their crafts.

 

Happy Fuzzy Yarn: What is unique about opening a yarn store in Ann Arbor as opposed to another city?

Spun: The range and diversity of crafty types here is enormous and always surprising. We couldn’t describe our typical customer, which is what keeps the job interesting.

 

Happy Fuzzy Yarn: You’ve been open for just over two months now. What do you envision Spun looking like one year from now? How about five years from now?

Spun: As well as things are going and as positive as everyone has been, that in five years, we’ll look back and realize how little we knew when we first opened. We just want to continuously improve, and we already see a lot of things that we’ll be able to do better a year from now as we’re gearing up for the holidays in 2016.

 

Happy Fuzzy Yarn: Since opening the store, what has been the most surprising thing about owning and operating it?

Spun: We were warned by many people how relentless the work is when you own your own retail business. And it is never-ending, but it’s also fun and much less stressful than we expected. The nicest surprise by far are the people we’ve gotten to know since we opened in December, including our staff. They are an amazing and talented bunch, funny and smart and a pleasure to work with every day.

Spun

407 N. Fifth Avenue

Ann Arbor, MI 48103

(734) 780-7867

spunannarbor.com

pete@spunannarbor.com / carol@spunannarbor.com

 

 

Knit yourself a Burwick Tam

Burwick Tam by Diane Zangl for Happy Fuzzy YarnBurwick Tam by Diane Zangl for Happy Fuzzy YarnBurwick is a small village and harbor in South Ronaldsay, the southernmost of the Orkney Islands, just off the northern tip of mainland Scotland. It’s also the name of this tam. The lower band of “bars” represent piers in the harbor. The motifs that follow represent the heather that grows near there, first at mid-range, and then in a close up view.

This is our second design by Diane Zangl, and I think it’s going to be just as much of a hit as her Bird’s Eye Shawl. Knit in Happy Fuzzy Yarn Merino Mono in Margaret and Macaw, it will warm your head and your spirits!

Sized to fit most adults

Buy the pattern for $6.50 at Ravelry.

 

 

Have you made anything with your Spinzilla yarn?

You may recall I spun some merino/yak yarn during Spinzilla with the intention of making super warm mittens since my hands get really cold during the winter. I made them, and then it was unseasonably warm for months. The first day of winter felt more like the first day of spring. But when I woke up this morning my phone told me the temperature was 11°F. Ah, now that is merino/yak mitten wearing weather! So I wore them on my morning walk in the woods, taking them off so I could take their photo.

mittens made from Happy Fuzzy Yarn Merino/Yak combed top handspun & Navajo-plied

(I live in Michigan. What do you want?)

I also started my BFL Death and Taxes sweater, and it’s really awesome so far. My plan is to eventually write a pattern for it in DK Merino in multiple sizes, so I don’t want to tell you too much about it yet. Stay tuned!

Have you made anything with your Spinzilla yarn yet?

Don’t forget, January 15 is the last day we’re taking online retail orders.

You can see all the retailers who carry our yarn and/or fiber on our handy store locator map. In the next month or so, we’ll be adding new stores in PA, DE, MD, VA, and CO.

 

Really big news you should read!

2016 is going to be a big year for Happy Fuzzy Yarn. It’s going to be our 10th anniversary. It’s going to be the year we get our 100th store.

And it’s going to be the year we stop selling online.

What?!

It’s true. It’s time.

Our online retail sales are very low, and maintaining the store is very time-consuming. Nearly all of our income comes from wholesale, and some LYS owners will not buy from dyers who sell online, so our income will actually go up if we stop selling online.

We will continue selling retail at shows, but Friday, January 15, 2016 will be the last day for you to order online.

But we want to make sure you can still buy Happy Fuzzy Yarn! Here’s what you can do:

  • Take a look at our store locator map. Are you near one of these stores? Patronize them, keep them in business, buy Happy Fuzzy Yarn there! The more you buy, the sooner they’ll order more!
  • Nowhere near any of these stores? Go to your favorite LYS and tell them you’d really like them to stock Happy Fuzzy Yarn. If you have any Happy Fuzzy Yarn or fiber, or anything you’ve made with our yarn or fiber, show it to the owner so they can see how nice it is! Be sure to let them know we aren’t selling online anymore after 1/15/16. They can contact us at wholesale at happyfuzzyyarn dot com.
  • Nowhere near any yarn stores? Contact your favorite online yarn retailer and tell them you’d really like them to carry Happy Fuzzy Yarn. Tell them they can contact us at wholesale at happyfuzzyyarn dot com and we will send them samples.

We don’t want to abandon you! We want to make it easy for you continue to buy our yarn and fiber. Doing this will allow us to grow, and have our yarn and fiber easier for you to find where you can see it in person and pet it and fondle it!

If you have a gift certificate, please redeem it by January 15, 2016 (if that’s not possible, we’ll work something out, but it will be so much easier if you redeem it by then!).

All clearance items are now at least 75% off.

Our patterns will continue to be available on Ravelry.

My handspun yarn will only be available at shows.

If you have any questions I haven’t answered, please leave a comment!

 

 

Help me help the bunnies!

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and I’m starting to see ads for Black Friday. I want to do something different.

Great Lakes Rabbit SanctuaryA lot of you know I have rabbits. While rabbits are the third most popular pet in the US, they’re also misunderstood, and frequently abused and abandoned. The Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary provides a safe haven for these rabbits.

I adopted Joey from the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary in 2009. He was part of a mass rescue from a hoarder in Nevada who had 800 rabbits. The GLRS took 500 and another sanctuary took 300.

I am going to donate 25% of all online sales from Wednesday, November 25 through Wednesday, December 2 to the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary. SHOP HERE! The more you purchase, the more money goes to help rabbits in need. I hope you’ll help me help the bunnies!

Donate to GLRSIf you don’t need to buy any yarn or fiber or patterns for yourself or as a gift, please consider donating directly to GLRS.

The rabbits and I thank you!

 

 

What I learned spinning 7370 yards during Spinzilla

What I learned spinning 7370 yards during SpinzillaBehold all the yarn I spun during Spinzilla!

Last year I spun 6652 yards, and I was proud of myself, but I realized I could spin a lot more if I prepped my fiber ahead of time. So this year I prepped two pounds of BFL combed top in Death and Taxes for a sweater for myself.

I was done spinning and plying it by Thursday evening.

Lesson 1: Prep a lot more fiber than you think you’re going to need.

Thursday, in fact, was the day I spent the most hours spinning. TEN HOURS. There were several factors that allowed me to keep going for so long, I think. First, I was spinning long draw, which is easy on my hands. Second, I listened to podcasts and watched Periscopes while I was spinning, so I kept my mind occupied, which made the time go faster. Third, in the evening, after I had already spun 6.5 hours that day and was tired and kind of wanted to go to bed, I went to our team spin-in at Carol’s and got my second wind, was entertained by the lively conversation, and spun another 3.5 hours.

Lesson 2: Keep your brain entertained.

Thursday night, after I finished plying the BFL, I began spinning 4oz of merino/yak in Coastal to make myself a pair of mittens. I got about halfway through spinning it before we called it a night.

I slept in Friday since I had stayed up way past my bedtime the night before, but then finished the merino/yak and Navajo plied it. And then I wasn’t sure what to spin next! Carol still had the bins of fiber at her pole barn from the night before, and I had planned on pulling something out of one of the bins to spin.

Lesson 3: Keep all the fiber you’re going to spin in one place.

I texted Carol and rummaged around to find something to spin until she brought the bins over. When I finished that random little 1.5oz skein, I picked out a BFL braid in Galactic Gumshoe to make myself a cowl. I spun about half of it, and then went to bed so I could get up early the next day for the Spinner’s Flock meeting.

The Spinner’s Flock is a guild which meets monthly in Chelsea, MI, and it’s sort of like a giant spin-in with about 100 people, and a business meeting, and vendors, and food. It gave me a chance to spin for three hours and sell a bit of fiber, and then afterward some of us went to a local deli for a 2.5 hour lunch.

Here’s the thing. I am an introvert. After going to a guild meeting and lunch, I am so exhausted that when I get home, all I can do is take a 3 hour nap. And then it’s bedtime.

Lesson 4: Honor thy introversion.

Lesson 5: If your goal is to spin as much as possible, don’t go to a 2.5 hour lunch.

Sunday morning I plied the BFL I had finished spinning at the guild meeting, and then decided the rest of the day was the Day of Singles, mainly so I wouldn’t be stuck at the end with singles that needed to be plied and not enough time to ply them. So I grabbed several braids of the Local Wool Project wool/alpaca combed top, prepped them, and proceeded to spin several skeins of worsted to bulky singles using a short pinch draw (I’m not quite sure what this kind of drafting is called. I pinch the fiber and pull it quickly, but keep it thick. If you know what this is called, please tell me!).

After a few hours, I had several skeins, but my hand hurt.

Lesson 6: Spinning bulky singles goes super fast and is definitely the way to go if the goal is to produce lots of skeins! But thicker yarn obviously means less yardage per skein.

Lesson 7: Long draw is easier on my hand than short pinch draw, therefore I can spin for a lot longer using long draw.

For the last skein, I spun a fingering weight singles with a short draw (regular, not pinchy), which was much easier on my hand. I finished at 11:38pm.

Total yardage spun: 7370.

Next year I will spin even more using the lessons I learned!

 

What We Spun Last Week During Spinzilla

Team Happy Fuzzy Yarn Spinners had a fantastic Spinzilla this year!  Here’s what we made:

 

Now it’s time for an unofficial craft-o-rama to use all this lovely yarn.

We can’t wait for next year’s Spinzilla!

How I prep my fiber PART 2

I sat down today to finish prepping my fiber for Spinzilla, and I realized I totally left out an important step in the video I did last week. D’oh! So here is part 2.

 

Also, note that TODAY is the last day to sign up for a Spinzilla team!

 

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