Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Birth of a Yarn Company, About Five Months In

New: Please see the new tab I created about everything Lotus.This post is part of a series about my exclusive new yarn, developed together with my friend Doris Chan. For more on this series, see this first post.             
I've only now felt like I could imagine blogging again about launching
A behind the scenes example
of a popular pattern, the
Pallas Scarf, redesigned in
Lotus yarn. (I'm updating
the pattern to include this
 new version.)
Lotus yarn! I last blogged about becoming a yarn company months ago. Those were no ordinary months: the big December shopping season followed by a milestone birthday, wedding anniversary, son's birthday, peak tourist season around here...blah blah blah.

Sounds like the usual stuff that can postpone blogging, but doesn't have to, right? It's also been a time of several unfamiliar - if mundane - procedures. 

At first, it didn't even occur to me to blog about them, but there's actually quite a lot going on under the surface!
I'm really happy with the clear
six-ball bags I use for storing 

the Lotus balls, but am
searching for a different source
lower freight charges.

Here's just a partial list of new-to-me procedures that I already rejected as being too unremarkable to blog about:
  • How the Dymo printer I use for shipping has been working out. (It's fabulous! One of those simple things in life that makes me smile every day.)
  • The compact little shipping station I set up in my studio that accommodates a wildly unpredictable range of daily yarn orders from zero to a last-minute flood of them.
  • What "the last minute" really means - during peak tourist season especially...
  • How to store the yarn in a way that keeps it new yet easy to access (and what that means: no risk of squashing, abrasion, dust, you get the idea.)
  • Favorite label printer!
  • The best way to keep track of when we need to order another big batch from the mill.

A small Lotus package.
The self-seal "poly mailers"
I went with seem to be
working out very well, plus,
my mailman is impressed. 
Underneath these humdrum biznessy things is a nervous mixture of worry and excitement! It's just like being a new parent: what if something goes horribly wrong? Any minute I might...discover massive hidden costs I hadn't taken into account. What if everyone stops buying yarn forever? (That's kind of like, "What if my baby is kidnapped, or gets a terrible illness or something?")

I get it now: I'm a new "yarn parent." The first months of any newborn's life are eventful -- with seemingly mundane things (like choosing the best stroller), and I haven't been able to blog about it as often as I expected I would. Typical new parent talk, right? 

I'll never have a first yarn again. Isn't that something! Thanks for reading this and sharing a unique time with me as it unfolds. I'm probably going to enjoy reading this years from now.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Crochet Book Review: Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler

The long-awaited Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler is an important and exciting book. It's not only an essential addition to every crocheter's library, it's a must-read for the non-crocheting artists and art/craft critics who think they already know about crochet as a medium. 
Buy this book at Amazon.com.

An exciting element of this book for me is reading each professional artist's own words: the specifics of why s/he chooses it, and the lived experience of employing it for artistic expression--often over decades. Gwen allows each artist a considered, intimate, introspective space. I've gained insights that are going to enrich my own crocheting experiences. These windows into the artists' process leave me feeling a kinship with them. I will hear their voices now (along with my mother's, who taught me) as I crochet.

Gwen's book is a gift and a valuable reference. We get to see the big picture of how crochet is breaking new ground -- and has been all along

I like to read theoretical and historical material about art world issues, such as "Fine Art" versus "Craft" (etc.) and I usually have to mentally include crochet as I read about the significance of weaving, sculpture, art quilts, etc. Fine Art of Crochet fills in gaps!

Part of the thrill of knowing how to crochet is sensing the incredible potential built into even the most basic crochet stitches. We know that each new crocheter has the tools to create anything and we know what that feels like! I see this look dawn on the faces of students and I hear it in comments like, "With crochet you can just turn and make stitches go anywhere any time." I heard this same idea in some of the reasons why seasoned professional artists also choose crochet as their medium.

An unexpected benefit of reading this book for me is a nuanced sense of the birth of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). Gwen, who founded the CGOA in 1994, was spearheading crochet art exhibits in CGOA's earliest days. I'd heard about these events over the years, but seeing a full recounting of them in the fuller context of this book gives them, and Gwen, the credit due. Yet another reason to celebrate the guild's 20th anniversary this year!

If you like to think about the creative possibilities of crochet, see how crochet has been breaking new ground right under our noses all this time, and want hints to crochet's future, get this book. I found out about classes these crochet artists have been teaching that I didn't know about, and modern crochet art happenings. 
Gwen (right) & Vashti (left) February 2014

Thank you, Gwen! Fine Art of Crochet fills in the sometimes huge gaps in the existing literature about modern developments in art and craft, while serving as a road map for crocheters and others to the ongoing crochet revolution. 
Edited to add: Holy cow, now go check out this image-heavy review. Love it!