Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Well, this was one heck of a year, wasn't it? In the US, we survived the longest election campaign in the history of the universe. We watched a bunch of rich guys take their private jets to Washington to beg for our hard-earned tax dollars. And we watched the stock market tank because our banks were irresponsible in their lending practices.

To make matters worse, we're told that this is just the beginning of the Big Credit Crunch. it wasn't the best year ever. But let's be thankful for all the good things that happened.

We elected a man who sincerely hopes to bring positive changes to our country. The American automotive companies are now -- finally -- going to respond to what the market actually wants and needs. And the banks are going to be more cautious with our money.

That's all good.

At Yarnmarket, we saw a lot of good things happen, too. We added a couple of new YarnMartians to our staff. Jenny, our Web Mistress, is doing great work for us online. And Emily is helping us fulfill orders to knitters throughout the world.

We added oodles of new yarns to our inventory from over 70 manufacturers, we expanded the products we carry on our sale site, BargainYARNS, and we launched, our online fashion magazine. We also helped a lot of yarn shops test new products or fulfill orders through YarnMerchant.

Pat, Michele, Susan and Stefanie completed our Showroom and it's absolutely gorgeous. Every day we have visitors stop by to look at our 700 brands of yarn (yes, 700!)and to shop from the thousands of bins in our warehouse.

Jan helped Alex select the new yarns we've added and wrote her popular newsletter and bulletin twice each month. Research we did on her publications showed that our customers really appreciate the information she provides about yarns, patterns, fashions and charities.

Josh created our BargainYARNS newsletter and introduced The Bargain of the Week. That's when he takes a popular yarn from Yarnmarket and puts it on sale at BargainYARNS for just one week.

Our pickers and packers -- Amy, Alma, Julie and Lisa -- were very busy in 2008 because we're getting many more orders than last year. Lori and the other Lori ensured we got our new merchandise from boxes in the back to bins on the shelves as quickly as we possibly could. And Tina and Brenda saw that every single order was handed over to Marlin each evening when he arrived.

On the customer side, Lynn, Sharon, Susie and Jill ensured that every one of our Yarnmarket shoppers received the best service we could possibly provide. Pat, Josh, Stefanie and Susan were always delighted to help out whenever they could.

Over at Yarndex, Sharon, Susie, Pat and Susan also did a heck of a job keeping the online yarn directory current with over 4500 yarns. (We're always so happy when we visit sites like Ravelry and see how much knitters depend on the information from Yarndex.)

So we've been pretty darned busy. And that's all very positive.

On the personal side, I'm very happy to be working with my husband, Alex -- the man who, when recently asked if he loves me as much when I'm fat responded, "Yes. But it has to cover a larger area, so it doesn't seem like it's as much."

Boy, I laughed so hard I almost choked. For 27 years he's kept me entertained with his very dry, twisted wit. (The kids are sometimes shocked that I don't haul off and belt him. I guess they don't understand.)

Before the year ends, I'd like to thank everyone at Yarnmarket for all their efforts throughout the year, all our manufacturers and their representatives who are so wonderful to work with, our beloved Marlin the UPS guy, and -- mostly -- all the shoppers who have entrusted us with their orders. We really appreciate that you have chosen Yarnmarket to be your online store, and we hope that we've provided you with the top quality service we promise.

I'd also like to give thanks to Dr. Shields of Cross Creek Veterinary Clinic here in Pickerington, Ohio because he provides such wonderful care to many YarnMartian's pets. This year he comforted Alex and me as our cat, Hannibal, needed to be put to sleep. (I still cry when I think about Hannibal.) He also tended to Scarface, the stray who needed medical attention. And he's now taking good care of Gatsby, Michele's pussycat. I think Dr. Shields is someone to be admired. He does the work he loves and he does it well. He is less concerned about money than he is about the welfare of his patients. And he is very quietly kind, caring and sincere.

Maybe in 2009, we'll learn to celebrate nice guys like Dr. Shields rather than larcenous business people, dishonest politicians, airhead heiresses, reality TV stars, and others who deserve our contempt rather than fame.

That will be my wish for 2009. I wish that all you nice guys out there get the recognition and rewards you deserve. It's been a long time coming.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thank you, Frank Mahovlich!

Last week I wrote about our wonderful 27th Anniversary. Alex had gone all out -- giving me a Frank Mahovlich puck, Maple Leaf shirt, cake and card. Well, yesterday I was utterly astounded to receive an official anniversary greeting from THE Frank Mahovlich!

Isn't that something? Now a Senator in the Canadian government, Frank Mahovlich took the time to send us a very nice letter and an autographed photo of himself in his Maple Leafs uniform when he was Number 27.

What a thoughtful, unexpected surprise!

You know...I really don't want expensive gifts like gold and diamonds. Anyone with a credit card could buy me that. I am so much happier with my NHL hockey puck and sweater...and now this thoughtful gift from the man who inspired the celebration.

Thanks, Frank. You were one of the all-time greats on the ice, and you're one heck o f a nice guy, too. I hope our goofy idea catches on and that other Canadians decide to celebrate their 27th Anniversary in your honor.

Yarnmarket December Bulletin has arrived!

It's here! We've just released our newest bulletin, jam-packed with information about new yarns, patterns and other ideas for the holiday season.

In this issue, Jan is featuring new yarns from Berroco, Louisa Harding, Cherry Tree Hill, Regia & Aslan Trends plus new colors from Sirdar & South West. Also, she's offering some quick & easy gifts for your friends & relatives. Remember, there are only 9 days until Christmas!

As always, Jan is also presenting new projects to give your winter wardrobe a fashionable boost, and she's including information about terrific new books, patterns & magazines to inspire you.

Here's one of the free patterns Jan has included in this week's bulletin. It's made with our own Caledon Hills yarn.

We hope you enjoy our quick overview of what we've added to the store over the past two weeks. Be sure to subscribe to the Yarnmarket Bulletin so you'll get up-to-date information about our new yarns, projects and patterns.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Win a $1000 Gift Certificate in our Pattern Design Contest

We’re elated to announce the launch of a Pattern Design Contest in collaboration with TKGA.

This contest features six different categories, and three prizes will be awarded to the best designs in each one. The Grand Prize of a $1000 Yarnmarket Gift Certificate will be awarded to the overall best design.

The categories are:
* Women's Fashion Classic
* Women's Fashion Forward
* Men's Wear
* Children's Fashion
* Baby's Fashion (6-12 month size)
* Accessories (hats, scarves, purses, etc.)

First prize in each category is a $300 gift certificate. $200 and $100 gift certificates will be awarded to second and third place winners.

Entries must be received by the TKGA by March 11, 2009. We are accepting photographs for the initial judging. Winners will be announced at the TKGA National Conference/Knit & Crochet Show in Portland, Oregon from May 14-17.

For more information about this contest, please click here.

You need to join the TKGA to be eligible to win. It's a great organization for knitters worldwide, and you get Cast On magazine as part of the benefits. (You can join after you submit your pattern, but you've got to be a member once you're selected as a finalist.)

What's really great about this contest is that you can enter using a photograph. Once we select the semi-finalists, we'll ask you to send the garment. Then, after it's been presented at the TKGA National Conference/Knit & Crochet Show in Portland, Oregon, we'll send it back to you.

Another good thing about this contest is that we will not request ownership of everything that's entered. (Some contests do this.) We're going to award prizes to the winners, and we'll keep their patterns. But we do ask that we get "first rights of refusal" on patterns that don't win. In other words, you might not win the contest, but we may want to be able to buy your pattern from you because we like it enough to want to produce it.

Please let all your knitting friends know that they’ve got the opportunity to win one of NINETEEN prizes in the Yarnmarket/TKGA Knitting Pattern Contest!

Snow Leopard Trust needs your support

At Christmas time, we get a lot of thank you cards from groups that we and our knitters have helped support. Today we received this lovely card from our very good friends at Snow Leopard Trust.

In case you haven't heard of them, Snow Leopard Trust is a non-profit group that helps protect the endangered species in Mongolia, China, India, Pakistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. Their work is helping to ensure that we don't lose these beautiful cats. Not only do they actively care for and monitor the snow leopards, they also help improve the local economies of their habitat by helping the locals earn money through yarn manufacturer rather than hunting. That yarn is beautiful hand spun camel that you can purchase at Yarnmarket.

If you're considering a charity for your end-of-the-year contribution, please consider Snow Leopard Trust.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bargains galore at BargainYARNS!

If you're trying to save money this holiday season (and who isn't?), be sure to check out BargainYARNS, our sale site. We've just received an enormous shipment of Imperfect books. These books have very minor damage for the most part, and are available at terrific discounts.

We sent out a BargainYARNS Alert yesterday to let our shoppers know that we've just added dozens of new books, so you won't want to waste any time buying the ones you want. They're literally flying out the doors. This makes Josh very happy.

I'm happy to report that BargainYARNS is also featuring several gorgeous Cherry Tree Hill yarns at discount prices, including Baby Loop Mohair, Glitter Alpaca, Silk and Merino Bulky, and Supersock Potluck.

We've also got some great Della Q and Lantern Moon bags and needle holders. These would make ideal Christmas gifts...for knitters you love and for yourself!

BargainYARNS features fabulous savings on good quality yarns and accessories. If you sign up for the BargainYARNS Alert, you'll receive a monthly alert telling you about what's new and on sale.

Busy time at Yarnmarket

Boy, this is a busy time of year. Not only have Alex and I been traveling (to NY where we visited a great yarn store, String on 82nd Avenue and Lexington) but we've also been celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary. Because the 27th isn't considered particularly monumental, we decided to make it a bit more interesting.

So from now on, the 27th Wedding Anniversary is to be officially known as "The Mahovlich."

For those of you who didn't grow up in Toronto in the 1960s, Frank Mahovlich was one of the top players on the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had the most goals per season a couple of years in a row and helped the Leafs win the Stanley Cup. He was one heck of a hockey player, and thinking about him brings back such great memories of Hockey Night in Canada and enjoying the games from the Blue seats behind the goal when I was ten years old. Those really were the good old days. My brothers and I could travel safely by ourselves on the TTC to see the hockey games, and then return home when they were over around 10:00 p.m. without anyone worrying about us.

My older brother, John, used to love Mahovlich. (I confess...I had a weak spot for Eddie Shack.)

Anyway, Alex and I declared this our Mahovlich Anniversary, and he went all out for it. First, I received a card that Alex had Susan design for the occasion. It had a nice photo of Frank in his hockey uniform, circa 1964. Then flowers were delivered to my office bearing the message, "Happy Frank Mahovlich."

Now, I figured this was really something. Alex had outdone himself. But that was only the beginning. That evening, after dinner, he presented me with a cake that had the number 27 in candles, and the inscription, "Happy Mahovlich." Embedded in the cake was an official NHL hockey puck signed by -- you guessed it -- Frank Mahovlich.

Then, when I thought it was over, Alex presented me with a gift. As I opened it, I asked, "What is it? A Maple Leaf hockey sweater?" Well, much to my delight, Alex had found a pink and white Maple Leaf shirt, and had a local fellow print "Happy Mahovlich" over the big "27" on the back.

Can you believe it?

It's stuff like this that reminds my why I married Alex 27 years ago. He's the sweetest guy in the world. And I know that if I were hit by a truck, there'd be line-ups of women wanting him. (Nice, funny guy who's considerate, creative and owns a yarn store. Yup. He's a hottie!)

Thanks, Alex, for making our 27th so memorable. You're my sweetypie!

(Oh...I knitted a cashmere scarf for him. He said he knew I was up to something, and was relieved that it wasn't socks.)

Also...thanks to Frank Mahovlich, who is now a Senator in Canada. Frank, it's probably been 40 years since we last saw you and you still have a place in our hearts. Thanks for making hockey what it was in the 60s. It was the greatest game on earth.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rare...and beautiful Orenburg lace yarn.

If you want something that's truly unique...and very difficult to find, take a look at this gorgeous Orenburg lace yarn. We've just received some of the most glorious colors you can imagine.

This amazing superfine "Orenburg Lace" yarn from Cherry Tree Hill is handspun in the Ukraine and then hand-dyed by Cherry Tree Hill. Because the spinning process is so labor intensive, this 80% mohair/20% silk fiber is in very limited supply worldwide and we might never again receive another shipment. Be the first in your knitting group to knit up a superb lace shawl or scarf as fine & delicate as created by Russian women throughout the centuries.