Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Celebrate the Moment

I had one of those moments today - no it wasn't a "blonde" moment, though, at one time in my life I was blonde and yes, I can identify with those silences:) No, it was one of those, "OK, what's happening here" moments. As I was walking to my local Second Cup, (I shop Canadian.) I noticed 3 or 4 teenaged boys charging across the street. They were decently dressed and clearly on a mission.

I got my coffee, bagel and a few empty boxes (my coffee shop keeps boxes for me to reuse) and was headed back to the office, when I noticed several hundred high school students in pairs calmly walking down the street. It must have been all the upper grades of the local high school on a field trip.

Then I saw the ones who had run ahead and were behind now, trying to catch up. They had actually made a bee-line to a little bulk food store, across the street, that probably has the largest selection of candy on the continent!! I smiled. For all their sophistication, they still enjoyed the little things in life.

It made me think of the lovely candy colours of Clover products. Even if we can't or shouldn't indulge in a lot of sweet things, we can still enjoy our Clover craft accessories. Their colours, shapes and function add an extra dimension to the enjoyment of our work, just like the candy was going to add a little sweetness to a school outing.

Enhance the moment with Clover!!

BTW the kids looked great and were very well behaved - we're in good hands:)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Anti spam.....

There was a time when Spam was something you had for lunch, or dinner. It came in a can which could be opened with a 'key" and it tasted not that bad, if you added some HP sauce, a deep fried chip or two and what ever else you could put on a plate and call it a meal!!

I remember having lots of it every Tuesday for lunch, when I taught in various schools in Britain. For some reason, Tuesday was deemed Spam day. Those who loved it ate platefuls. Those who hated it booked off sick!!

Fast forward 40 years or so. Spam is now the subject of some vicious legislation bent on stopping our e-mail boxes from overflowing with unsolicited solicitations. The best comment I have seen so far on the issue is a column by Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail. Ms Wente succinctly outlines how the government, has taken on the role of defending those who don't understand that there is software out there to protect them from Spam - raw, fried and/or deep fried in batter. These hapless people, with hotmail or gmail accounts no doubt, have asked the government to protect them, from the great unknown.

Hence, the government, who has nothing better to do and has always viewed themselves as some sort of hero when it suits them, has, as a result, enacted legislation, which is the equivalent of taking an elephant gun to kill a mosquito. They have passed the most confusing, most unintelligible piece of gobbledegook, that bears very little relevance to the "problem" in question. Small businesses depend on email to contact their customers, 99% of their customers welcome these broadcasts. Prohibit this form of marketing and you shoot the little guy, ignoring the elephant that's in the room.

OK, they can pat themselves on the back because they have eliminated 2% of all unsolicited e-mail and probably wiped out or seriously crippled a large percentage of small (read micro) Canadian businesses. BRAVO!! This anti-spam legislation, however,  has done nothing to stop the 98% of spam from other countries. It will not stop solicitations from spam bankers asking for your credit card information, or spam lawyers saying you have a huge inheritance somewhere in Africa, or spam whatever, asking for, selling or promoting anything they can lay their hands on.

Will you even notice, if you don't receive any e-mail broadcasts from Canadian owned businesses? Will your inbox be less full? Highly unlikely. However, the government elephant gunners will be there just waiting for some unsuspecting soul who mis-read or mis-interpreted the legislation. All they need is to catch someone at it, fine them a million dollars and then they will have justified their existence. The spam will not stop, the little guy will pay and the big guy, as always, will be laughing all the way to the bank.

How to win - buy shares in the company that owns the brand Spam. They're getting a lot of free advertising!!

Have a spam-free day!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Christmas in July!!!

Looking for a magnet to draw people into your shop for an "occasion?" Christmas in July is always a favourite. Not only does it get knitters thinking of knitted gifts they can make, it also gives you a chance to suggest gifts to them early enough for people to knit (or crochet) them in time for the gift giving season.

Here are some thoughts:

1. Create a large greeting card with your list of Fall classes. Perhaps offer a discount or a freebee (gift) for those who sign up by July 25.

2. Offer a gift to anyone who shows up over the weekend and buys $_____ dollars worth of goods. I have wonderful stash organizers. They are 9"x12"x 3" clear plastic zippered bags which hold a substantial amount of yarn. They normally wholesale for $1.10, however, if you quote this post with your order, they are yours for $1.00. Wrap them up like Christmas crackers and give them as a gift. Have a number on hand for those who want to buy more at $2.00 retail to separate sock yarn from worsted or organize yarn with patterns into projects etc.

Teddy Bear mitts sized child to adult from Infiknit

3. Have Christmas cookies and spiced drinks available to create a party atmosphere. Hang out your Christmas stockings and/or check out the Christmas stocking list on our website.

4. Have a free class on needle felting with cookie cutters for tree ornaments. Small gingerbread molds in tan roving come to mind.

5. Mitten trees, charity tie ins, crocheted snowflakes (we have the fine hooks), anything beaded, decorative (pom-poms) etc could be part of the mix as well.

Please let us know what works for you. Have great day!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Counting on the Counters....

Often we are asked by stores to source products for them. Our latest catch is a nifty yardage counter. It's a small 2" x 2.5" gadget that clamps to a table top. You insert the yarn through a slot, secure the yarn in the slot by lifting a lever and then pull the yarn to be measured through the slot in a downward motion. It's that easy.

However, it is advisable to measure a few yards of yarn and then go back and re-measure the length with a standard tape measure or yard stick. You will then be able to adjust for the stretchiness or "give" that the yarn you are measuring has. Once you have this ratio, you can measure all the yarn you need and then adjust the final total by the "stretch ratio" obtained earlier.

It's a great way to use up bits of yarn in a stash or to insure that you have enough yarn for a project.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

For all the right reasons...

My youngest dropped out of second year university to "think." I know you're probably saying, "What, I thought that you went to university to think!!" Anyway he was in a course he wasn't thrilled about and given that his motto in life is, "Nothing too difficult," now, that's not, "Nothing's too difficult," it is as you read it. Once when my friend, Julia, asked him what he wanted to do in life, he answered, "I don't know, but nothing too difficult."

After a few stints as a dish washer in a restaurant, he landed a job in fashion sales at a prestigious store in Toronto, Sporting Life. He is, after just a few months on the job, one of their top 5 sales people. He loves it!! I know, I need to hire him. If he can sell in a day $10,000.00 worth of goose down coats, I wonder what he can do with Chibis :)

Anyway, his favourite sales line is usually in answer to the question, "Why should I buy this?" And if the customer doesn't ask that question, my son usually asks it for them, as in, "Here's why you should buy this coat." Because he wants to give this great answer, "For all the right reasons." Then he explains the benefits of the garment.

Awesome circular stitch holder for top-down knitting!!

So why should you carry Clover accessories? For all the right reasons -

1. It is a premium brand. It's well respected and the first in quality and innovation!! All the others are copy cats!!

2. It's the quality of the tools that make the journey FUN. Yes you can use scraps of yarn for stitch markers, but why would you, when it's so much nicer to use colourful stitch markers that don't get in the way.

3. You need to protect your work and your tools with stitch holders and point protectors, not just elastic bands.

4. You need to work as a professional to become a professional and therefore you need quality stitch counters, not just scraps of paper. You need to use professional sewing and darning needles, superb crochet hooks and knitting needles, state of the art felting tools, pom-pom makers, French knitters etc.

Convince your customers that these are the must haves to make the journey - "Not too difficult."

Have an awesome day!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The return of the Sock Monkey

I've come across a number of articles lately on sock monkeys. I know that they are adorable, however, they have taken on a life of their own, as designers push the medium to the extreme!! Here is a dress made of sock monkeys.

And another take on it from Rebecca Yaker.

Finally there is the more artistic side on display at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatchewan.

Here artist, Trace Nelson, has created a huge collection of weird and wonderful monkeys, some with three heads, for your enjoyment. They are wonderful - just click on the Mendel link to see more.

As an aside, please note the pom poms on this big guy. I have said before that pom poms are an art form and Clover has the most artistic pom pom makers this side of Saskatoon :) Check them out on our site, by keying pom pom into the search engine at http://www.infiknit.com

Friday, February 21, 2014

What does it take to win "gold?"

....maybe just an empty net and a flukey missed shot. How many times have you succeeded in spite of the odds and how many times have you missed a wide open opportunity?

These moments happened in Olympic proportions yesterday to the Canadian woman's hockey team. Down 2-1 against the US, with seconds remaining in the game, they pulled their goalie. At the face off, the US got possession of the puck, lined up a shot, on an empty net, and then missed. The Canadian team recovered the puck and went on to score the tying goal!! The person, who fired the shot that missed, will take that moment to her grave!! I wonder how it will affect her life?

Alternatively, Canadians may begin to believe in divine intervention. For the last four or five minutes of the game, Canada paused - people stopped work, traffic thinned and anyone, who could, glued themselves to TV screens across the country to watch a cliff hanger of a game that ended against all odds.

I am reminded of another spectacular game, also in Russia, a long time ago. Canada paused then too. Those who could, watched; those who couldn't, just listened. In my case it was over the PA system, during the last period of the school day. All of us, along with the rest of Canada, held our breath, as Paul Henderson scored the winning goal against Russia.

Believe in miracles.

Have an awesome day!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dryads and the Meaning of Life - a repost from another earlier blog :)

OK, I think that it's time to move to a higher plane. I know that getting out of parking spots, fixing wiper blades for rear windows, buying Cranberry scones etc... is the stuff of life; but, every once in a while we need to be catapulted out of the mundane, however, comfortable that may be and look at knitting and life at a higher level!

I know, I can hear you...Oh no...not academia again.  Well no, it's not really that high brow intellectual stuff, not from me anyway; but it is still about raising knitting and maybe ourselves above that sort of plastic canvas stuff. For example, we can shop at Value Village and Walmart as long as we know what a Dryad is!

Now, I know that you are not going to have a conversation in the checkout line about Dryads and Hamadryads (these are dryads with a degree) but maybe you might just want to disappear into a Greek myth or two when you need to tell your mind that this is just what your body has to do (shop here) and that really your mind doesn't need anything except Mozart, whose birthday is today, Jan 27 - a little night music please - and maybe the odd Dryad. Because, if we could just live with what we love in our minds, well we might go naked and that wouldn't work because the police would pick us up and send us home.

So we compensate. We clothe the body and feed the soul.

Dryad from Sivia Harding
I have chosen Dryad, because it was a term that I had never heard before until I uploaded a pattern by Sivia Harding and another by Woolly Wormhead, both called "Dryad."  Dryads are tree nymphs - most specifically "oak tree" nymphs. They are those shy elusive creatures that inhabit oak trees. I have always just referred to these "lesser" immortals from Greek mythology as nymphs whether they were from the water, air, earth etc...

Well, slap my wrists, because the more you assign names to things, the more you enrich your vocabulary and your life. So not only do we have nymphs, we also have "wood" nymphs or Dryads. In fact, I guess, that the ancient Greeks really knew how to enrich their lives because, not only did they have nymphs for oak trees, they had - nymphs for Ash trees called Meliai, for Apple - Empimeliad and for Walnut - Caryatids and many more I'm sure.

Tree scarf inhabiting a Dryad
Cultures tend to be very specific about the things that mean a lot to them. The Inuit, for example, have something like 20 synonyms for snow. This I can understand. When you are surrounded by snow for 10 or 11 months of the year, you would develop a vocabulary to enrich your life by finding those minute differences in your surroundings.

I guess that the ancient Greeks were surrounded by spirits, nymphs, capricious gods, demi-gods, titans, and other rather superior human beings. I have a feeling that I might have missed something by being born somewhere in the 20th century.

Knitters too are a culture unto themselves, not unlike the ancient Greeks. Non-knitters will apply the term knitting to anything from crochet to latch hook rugs, whereas, we knitters are very specific about the terms we use to define what we do, the tools we use, the yarns, stitches, cast-ons, offs, etc...etc... In some mystic way, though we might not be the Dryads of knitting, we can understand the spirits that inhabit our work. We enrich our life by naming the infinitesimal aspects of our art and we raise our work to the sublime by assigning it titles from a culture obsessed with the divine!

I have just realized that if I research the names of all the Dryads and the names of all the other nymph species - water, air etc.  I would have an amazing cache of ideas for lace scarves, shawls and stoles - yes, immortality means eternity!!


Saturday, February 1, 2014


I was reading in the business section of the Globe and Mail this morning an article about Arlene Dickinson of Dragon's Den. The article covered her rise from "unemployed" housewife to owner of Venture Communications. According to the article, her struggle was monumental, but she made it, along with caring for four children. Did you know that she has five grandchildren? She also has compassion and a strong understanding of mentorship. This is why she has created the site YouInc.com, for entrepreneurs struggling to survive the pressures of building a business.

According to the article, Arlene's site offers tips, professional advice, feature stories and a blog from Ms. Dickinson herself. Here's the link - YouInc.com. I found it easier to create an account by logging in via their FaceBook icon. I tried originally to set up an account with my Infiknit email and password, but got caught in a loop.

Once logged in, I found lots of articles on communicating, blogging, etc. There where platforms to ask questions - and presumably get answers. You could create groups, or join groups and so on. It was almost the business equivalent of Ravelry. In this respect, it also offers a place to move away from the knitting community, to get a broader view or just a different view of business and life - entertwined as they so often are!

I am always in favour of the vacation that some artists take, when they decide to work in a different medium for a while, before coming back to their preferred. It is not only energizing, it also brings a whole different perspective to what might be a very narrow niche.

The picture? A tribute to people who work with their hands and are on their feet a lot in the business of knitting!!

Have a great day!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Just Bob, Bob, Bobbin' along!!!

With EZ-Bobs that is. Infiknit has had these amazing little gadgets since the beginning. Well, not since the beginning of time, because that would mean that we should have an E-Z Bob-day and it would also mean that the world was created in 8 days not seven (or was that 7 days not 6). Anyway, do the Math, an extra day would only mean that every calendar, ever, is/was wrong and we still wouldn't really get a day off.

No, at one point, to make life easier, so you might have the illusion of a day off, Bryson Distributing, created E-Z Bobs. These are little (well some are big) plastic spools that fold over on themselves, after you have wound a quantity of yarn onto them, to seal the yarn in.

They are very useful for intarsia knitting or for stranded colour work. However, they especially shine, if you do bead work and pre-bead your yarn. Even though there are some of us who use other gadgets to pop a bead on a stitch, as we go, there are dyed in the wool pre-beaders!! Lynette Meek - Vogue Knitting designer, manager of Mad About Ewe Fine Yarns and knitter extraordinaire - is one and Jackie Erickson Schweitzer, of Heartstrings is another. Please note that I print and distribute patterns for both of these designers!!

Anyway, back to the Bobs. They come in three sizes - small (10 bobs to a pkg), medium (8 bobs to a pkg) and large (4 bobs to a pkg). The prices you see are retail. So, if you do the math again, you will see that they are really a great deal, to get the illusion of a day off, that is!!

Please post any other uses for EZ Bobs.

Have an EZ day!!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pom-pom and Circumstance....

I love pom-poms. I have said before that they are the razzle dazzle of life or at least one of the razzle dazzles. I was thinking the other day about the origin of the word, pom-pom. At first I thought of Pomp and Circumstance, you know magnificent splendour. Certainly costumes trimmed in an array of luscious pom-poms suggest a grand entrance, something worthy of a Sarah Bernhardt.

Yes, I know that you can make snowmen and cute little caterpillars by stringing together a few colourful pom-poms and these creations have their place. But to think of pom-poms as just small craft projects, is to take away their splendour. They are ornaments in the most opulent sense of the word. They should be used with gay abandon!! OK, we do put them on hats and add them tastefully to mittens, however, I love to see them strung along the border of a shawl or added to knitted blankets and afghans, for a start. They can also fancy up socks, finish a sweater or two and create accents for gorgeous home decor items. Pom-poms, for example, make wonderful wreaths for all seasons, excellent table decorations and adorn cushions to die for!

Heart Shaped Pom-pom maker from Clover

The word pom-pom is actually French, as was Sarah Bernhardt. It means a fluffy ornament of feathers or other light material worn in the hair. Something this sophisticated needs a proper pom-pom maker. I know that you can use bits of cardboard or forks to make them, but these props can be awkward and much of the joy of making something is in the quality of the tools used.

Few of us would use a dull kitchen knife to chop onions. So why not use a first class pom-pom maker to add a little razzle dazzle to your life. I love the fact that I distribute, from Clover, 5 of the very best pom-pom makers in the world. As Henkel is to knives, so Clover is to craft tools. We have 4 regular pom-pom makers, from extra small to extra large and a heart shaped pom-pom maker. Check them out on the site www.infiknit.com by keying "pom-pom maker" into the search engine there.

Have an opulent day!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What's New At Infiknit...

.....A few things -

1. First you may have noticed that there is another new blog link on the home page. I have finally decided to separate my "life" blog from my "business" blog. This is not really as grand as separating "Church from State" but it may make my posts a little more focused and relevant for Infiknit. The posts of my crazy life as Carol Tomany will still be there, however, you will be redirected from Divineknits-Infiknit.com to Lifeiswhathappens.ca. Just as an aside, I had hoped to book the URL Lifeiswhathappens.com, however, although it was available, Go-Daddy had decided to create an auction for it and the opening bid was $67.50.

I now know how much my life is worth!!  I opted for the $9.99US price of the .ca domain registration rather than the inflated .com. Why, with the Canadian exchange rate my life, in Canada, is actually worth $10.19. In the US, it's only worth $9.99. Does that mean that life is more valuable in Canada? Maybe, we'll see, as I continue to post on Life Is What Happens!!

The phrase is not new. I actually read it for the first time years ago on a package of E-Z Bobs (more on these later) from Bryson Distributing. It is an original quote from Anon A. Ms. :) which goes like this:

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

So in order to spare busy shop owners the frenzied chaos of my personal life. I have created a blog with a calm exterior - Infiknitnews.com - to create the illusion that we are in control here at Infiknit and we do have some amazing products and some amazing customers - YOU !!

2. I also plan at one point to move my "Queen Anne's Lace Knittng" blog over as a link from Infiknit, but I have to do some massaging on that one, so it could be a while. I will also have to speak to my alter-ego - Anne Corcoran (middle name & maiden name) to see if she would mind being linked to her crazed other half!!

Anyway, that's the news. I will be adding links to our FB page, as well as Twitter account and links that allow you to follow the blog etc. However, given that it has taken me most of the morning to get this far, I now have to do some real work and get a few orders out!!

Have a great day!!