Wednesday, June 16, 2010


My blog mojo is back!

Much to my surprise, Adrienne Martini, the author of my new favorite book, Sweater Quest, responded to the last Knitwits blog post. She commented, " I can't wait to see how your own "Quests" progress..." She also sent me a message on Facebook. If I had read Sweater Quest on a Kindle or iPad, I would really feel technologically with it.

Blog, Facebook, Kindle and iStuff-phone,pad,pod and tunes?
Ten years ago, these words and concepts would be too confusing for my techno-challenged brain to grasp. Yet today, they are readily available and I'm keeping up with IT. What's next?

With all of these technology advancements at our fingertips, why do we continue to practice the ancient art of hand knitting? According to Adrienne, it is these very resources that have saved knitting by connecting knitters to other knitters and the wealth of information that they are willing and able to share.

We can have internet "friends" (like Adrienne) that we may not have met yet but share conversation, common interests and connections. We know their vitals-marriage status, hometown, interests, favorite songs, blah,blah,blah and we can follow their lives and current knitting activities 24/7 through blogs, Facebook and Ravelry.

We continue to knit because we enjoy the pleasure of creating something with our very own hands and a few simple supplies. We enjoy transforming strands of yarn into something tangible and totally different and we enjoy sharing our creations with others that can appreciate the effort. Like Adrienne, we enjoy the process.

Technology has opened many doors to the knitting world and transformed knitting from a solitary activity to a collective one. We now use knitting terms like Tink, Frog, Clapotis and Mr. Greenjeans in our everyday knitspeak. The endless possibilities of yarns, patterns and ideas that are shared on Ravelry cause my head to spin and wish my hands could knit faster.

My treasured MacBook and the internet may connect me to the world of knitting, but there is a deeper, more meaningful bond that occurs within the walls of your local yarn shop. While technology has made knitting exciting, there is no substitute for a LYS --they nourish the knitter's soul. LYS is knitter-shorthand for local yarn shop or local yarn store. It's good karma to support local businesses.

In the age of the Internet, it's difficult for your LYS to make a compete on price and selection, so when you're planning a project and don't have a particular yarn in mind, check your LYS. The sensory experience alone is well worth it. There is something special about touching, feeling and smelling the yarn. Seeing shelves full of endless possibilities of color, texture and fibers and rooms overflowing with knickknacks, notions, samples--now that's exciting. The feeling of "Being a kid in a candy store" can not be recreated while on the computer.

Another big thing that local yarn shops offer that isn't as easy to provide on the Internet is a sense of community. LYSes connect knitters and the community by participating in charity events and doing all the teaching, helping and handholding that many knitters require.

While the internet is full of possibility and potential, Knitwits is a live community. The experience is sensory and personal. There is no substitute. I love my Ravelry, Google and Facebook "friends" but Knitwits is true love! As Sue says, "There is nothing better that being able to give a friend a true hug. :-) is great, but we love to see real smiles and feel real hugs."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Knit, Vote, Read

I recently finished (that's right, I finished something) reading two very interesting books. The first book was The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and the second one was Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini. Reading these two books in tandem, gave me great pleasure and plenty to think about.

The Tipping Point was a book that I have wanted to read for a long time. When a passenger left his copy of the book in a seat back pocket, I saw it as a sign that it was meant for me to read it. So, I did. In a nut shell, Gladwell describes the key factors that can make an idea "tip". By "tip" he means spreading an idea or message through the population in a sweeping and contagious manner.

Sweater Quest was a recommendation from Jill. It has been described as the Julie and Julia of knitting. As I read it, I felt like I could have written it. It was about a knitter (from Pittsburgh-my hometown) who attempts to knit an Alice Starmore Fair Isle Sweater just for the challenge of knitting it. It is a wonderful and fascinating read, that is so much more than just the adventures of knitting an authentic Alice Starmore Mary Tudor sweater. The importance of a "knitting community", the advancement of the internet in connecting and educating knitters and the key components that make knitting a popular past time are discussed.

While reading both books, I kept asking myself (and anyone else who would listen), "Does Knitwits have the ability to "tip" something? Is Knitwits the "knitting community" that Sweater Quest refers to? Can our Knitwits Community "tip" something and if so, what is it?"

The answers to the above questions my friends, is YES!
The day after we sent last week's e-mail, we peeked at the statistics that we get from Mad Mimi, our e-mail marketing service. Of the 655 e-mails sent, over a third of you had read the email. Of those readers, 40 of you had clicked the link to vote for Sue's Pepsi Project. And as a result...we watched the Narcolepsy Project jump from 57 in popularity to a ranking of 46 today. I don't think this is a coincidence.

We have gotten phone calls and replies to the e-mail telling us that the email has been forwarded to friends and family. The momentum is building and our request for votes seems to be working. If we all vote everyday and we ask at least one person each day to do the same...we can keep the Narcolepsy message moving up the leader board and I think we can "tip" Narcolepsy into the top spot by the end of the month.

We have ordered a bunch of copies of Sweater Quest for the shop. They should be available sometime next week. If you want a copy, let us know and we'll set one aside. Sue and I found a Fair Isle Scarf in the Fall Rowan Magazine that could be our "Quest" Knit a Long project for the Fall.

Knit, Vote, Read

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dr. George H. Haney

Every once in a blue moon, we are fortunate enough to cross paths with someone that we know will change our lives. This is how I felt upon meeting Janet. We had an instant connection. We grew ever closer and I got to know more about her, her history and her family. It was months after meeting Janet that I met her husband George, a man that I had heard so much about. He was everything that I had imagined and so much more.

George Haney was a skilled dermatologist, avid fisherman and collector of friends. His love for life, wisdom, kindness and easy laugh made him one of the most influential men in my life and the life of many others. He lead by example of honor, grace, giving and teaching.

When Janet showed George a cocktail napkin with "open yarn shop" scrawled on it. George gave her the thumbs up and Knitwits was her birthday present that year. It turns out that it was a present for all who enter the Knitwit's door. His love for life, thirst for knowledge, kindness and pursuit of friends lives within the walls of Knitwits.

George died two years ago after a long battle of prostate cancer. I think of him and miss him everyday.

Today would have been George's 60th birthday. Whenever Janet and I have unanswered questions eating at our brains, we ask ourselves, "What would George do?" When Janet asked, "What should we do for George's Birthday?" George answered "Have a Big SALE for my Birthday and invite all of your friends!" I'm glad it wasn't "Go Fishing" although it looks like a beautiful day for that.

Raise your knitting needles for George this weekend to thank him for Knitwits and come by the shop to reap the rewards of a good birthday celebration sale. To George!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Even if I didn't knit, I think I would still be a big fan of the little shop we call Knitwits. Knitwits has Super Powers.

On Tuesday, I had a doctors appointment to have a mammogram and ultrasound for a small lump I found in my left breast. Of course, the small lump had disappeared over the weekend and the test results showed nothing except that I have extremely dense and teeny-tiny breasts. I felt a tremendous sense of relief and good fortune and headed straight to the shop.

Janet and "Not Steve" were the only people who knew about my disappearing lump. I didn't even tell my mother (and still haven't). When I met Jill in the parking lot and blurted out the news of my favorable breast results, she became the third person to know. It was at that moment that I realized just how magical Knitwits is. It is not only the lovely yarns and tempting notions that keeps our customers coming back, it is the extraordinary collection of people that give Knitwits its soul.

Janet has become a best friend to myself and many others. She possesses an amazing way of looking at life with its many peaks and valleys. She has a way of connecting with people that few possess. When Janet had the idea of opening Knitwits, it was the spirit of friendship, sharing, caring and encouragement that appealed to her...the knitting part was secondary.

Jill amazes me in so many ways. Her development into the "Sock Guru" is just one of the many amazing traits. This year, her son, Brian, will graduate from Beechwood, and he will graduate with the honors of being Prom King, the lead in the school musical, valedictorian, and state debate champion extraordinaire.

I could continue to list the cast of characters and their ''amazing-ness" but I think you all know what I mean. I could try to list the customers (who by good fortune have also become friends) but the list is too long and ever growing. The true spirit of friendship, caring and character exists within the walls of Knitwits and the encouragement of creativity and love of knitting is just a common trait amongst us.

When one of us is celebrating or suffering, we share in the experience. We may deal with it by knitting more or less, but if you share the experience with us, our caring thoughts are with you. Yesterday, we got word at the shop that Sue Stoy is in the hospital and that Rita Arthur's husband was very ill. Our thoughts are prayers are with you and please know that if you need or want anything, we're a phone call or e-mail away.

Knitwits is a magical place where secrets can be revealed, triumphs and failures can be shared and caring is always present. Knitwits is a place that encourages growth, friendship, caring and support...... and like yarn, you can never have too much and you can always find it at Knitwits. May the Forces of Knitwits be with you all!