Steve and I are readying to head to California for TNNA's Spring Buying Market. We've already worked with our major vendors, seen their spring lines and placed our orders. There are many smaller vendors, both for yarn and accessories that don't necessarily have a sales rep or maybe are just now ready with new products.
The big trend for Spring '08 is organic, eco-friendly yarns. Just from our major suppliers alone, we saw many, many different organic cottons, some dyed naturally, some using the natural colors of the cotton itself. There were more bamboo and soy blends, which we had started to see last year. There's even a yarn coming out with jade fiber as a component! Need to see it and understand the process of getting the jade into the yarn before I can decide how I feel about it.
Blue Sky Alpacas has been offering an Organic Cotton for several seasons. To say they were ahead of the curve would be an understatement. They have several options in "natural" colorations and then a rainbow of colors that have been dyed commercially. We hear that their handspun organic cotton will be available in colors - we can't wait to see it at the show!
One of the first new arrivals of the season is Ecologico from Schachenmayr. It is 100% Untreated Virgin Wool. The labels are made from recyclable paper and the balls are packaged in recyclable brown paper bags as well - no plastic bags! The yarn itself is quite nice and comes in 5 colors and knits at 4 sts = 1" on a #8 or #9. Each ball has 58 yards and retails for $6.95. Here are three of them, the rest you can see on the web:
What I find interesting is the fact that the green "movement" is becoming more and more about the way we live. I like to think that we all do our part, in whatever way we can. What works for one person or one family, may not necessarily be something that the next person or family can incorporate into their lives at this time.
Our boys' school is doing a year-long study about the environment and during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, they do what is called "mini-term" which is when the entire school focuses on one topic and most of the academics are geared toward that topic. Jackson and Jonathan are now extremely aware of different types of energy - I had to go and change out all of the light bulbs in our house to the energy efficient ones, it was my compromise with Jackson as he stood in our kitchen freaking out because I told him we couldn't get solar panels. If they see me throwing something out that should be in the recycle bin, they let me know so in no uncertain terms. I think this is all great, except when I've accidentally discarded a recyclable item into the trash and they find it. To them, it's a hostile act against our planet and all humanity, for me, it's simply an honest mistake and "Yes honey, I will dig that yogurt container out from under all of the icky trash, rinse it and put it into the recycling". The mantra in our house is "Check it before you chuck it". Check what it is, can it be recycled and if so, rinse it out and then chuck it into the bin".
Getting back to yarn, just as last year was focused on "knitting from stash" for many folks, this year appears to be the year of "going green". As I said before, what works for one person may not be right for the next. There's already a group on Ravelry devoted to purchasing only eco-friendly, locally grown yarns this year. They are also committed to knitting from their stash before buying yarn. Some are opting to not use corn or soy based yarns, others are open to shopping at their LYS but only if they are owned by women or if they are buying products that support women's cooperatives, etc.
Now, don't misunderstand, I think this is all wonderful. I too am looking forward to the sheep & wool festivals that will be happening in the months to come. The pure uniqueness of the yarns just tickle me to no end, along with the incredible craftmanship. Some of the new organics we've purchased for the shop are on my list of must-haves too and project ideas are already swirling.
At the same time, there are some great yarns coming out that are not "green" but are still wonderful in their own right. Many of our old favorites are still around with new colors and pattern support.
It's going to be fun season - spring is always interesting, especially here in the Northeast where we often go from winter to summer overnight. Keep an eye in the store and on the website. The parade of new products should be starting in the next few days! I can hardly wait!
I'll try to update from California. Our laptop and my camera are not the best of friends so it may be pictureless posts until we're back.
One final note, the wonderful Sandy asked about the "charity" project that I am working on. Sandy is one of our local customers and one of the most giving, philanthropic folks I know and knits non-stop for many organizations. I have to correct myself and will edit that blog post as well. My project is for a "promotion" and not a charity, per se. I stand very much corrected and didn't even realize the faux pas until Sandy asked about helping out (see what I mean about her!). We are working to knit 100 scarves (might turn out to be less, we'll see) to be given away at a UMass hockey game. We often attend the games with the boys and during each game, the alumni association gives away two fleece scarves. Well, we thought they should be giving away hand knit scarves instead and that's exactly what they are going to do.