Saturday, December 1, 2007

Kathy Elkins

I love knitting blogs, I love knitters, and I love the holidays. I'm fairly certain that I'm not alone in that love! We as creative yarnies and Blitters (blog reading knitters) find comfort, companionship, inspiration, hope, help and joy in the blogs that we regularly read. How better to celebrate the Holiday Season 2007 than to enjoy 25 days of knitting celebrity interviews, recipes, a knitsy pattern or two, some great gifty things to make and time to gather as knitters and think about what has made our year wonderful (despite difficulties) and what we can do to share a bit of joy! Merry Knitting Contrisstmas!

Join me as I chat a bit with today’s Kick Off for “Knitting Contrisstmas”, the one and only Kathy Elkins, owner of Webs, www.yarn.com. Kathy is well known not only as yarn store owner but as the voice behind her podcast, “Ready, Set, Knit”. I love to listen each week as she and her husband Steve begin each half hour session by ‘romancing the yarn’, what a great way to get a feel for what is out there, much less hear about the great sales? I'm currently lusting after the Kauni Effekt as well as the Noro Kureyon Sock yarn from Webs, well---- aren't we all? Add to that the wonderful Knit-A-Longs and special guests and it is no wonder why so many knitters and crocheters join in to hear the podcast. Recently wrapped up was the Tilted Duster from Norah Gaughan and Kathy and Pixie expertly (and with humor) led listeners through the KAL. Currently, the KAL is a mystery bag. Her blog is warm, funny, personal and enjoyable, to read her words is to feel as if you know her personally. I can tell you for a fact that her sense of humor is quick and she is a generous, kind soul! Thanks Kathy for taking the time to kick off Contrissmas!

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(KC) People today have a mixed bag of thoughts about this time of year, how do you feel about the holidays?

(KE) I love the holidays. I always have. Steve is Jewish and I’m not so we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. It’s a crazy, magical time at our house.

Can you tell me what has been your greatest gift in 2007?

My family is without a doubt my greatest gift. I am lucky to have a really great husband and two good kids. I’m also very lucky to work with some of the best people at WEBS.

Kathy, I can only imagine how incredibly busy you are! With a business to run, a house to take care of and two darling sons to care for, are you a holiday gift knitter?

I usually only manage to get one or two gifts knit. Time is such a commodity for me. I’m still working on a crocheted afghan promised to my mother at least 2 years ago!

That sounds like almost every knitter and crocheter I know! Do you have anything gifty on your needles this year?

This year, the only gift I am working on is for my mother-in-law Barbara (the founder of WEBS). I had the chance to a see new yarn from our friends at Artyarns and ordered two skeins in a gorgeous colorway that are Barbara’s colors. I’ve started it as a crochet project, but I’m not happy with the way it looks so right now I’m considering restarting it as a knitting project. Problem is, Hanukkah is early so I’ve got to get moving.

How do you and your family celebrate the holidays?

It’s always frantic because we are open 7 days a week between Thanksgiving and New Years. For Hanukkah, we celebrate each of the eight nights with the lighting of the menorah, small gifts, etc. One of the nights we’ll get together with Steve’s parents to celebrate with a festive meal and gifts. I particularly love Christmas Eve. The anticipation with the boys is just awesome. We love tracking Santa’s progress on the Santa Radar, the boys and I usually get cookies prepared for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. They always leave a note for Santa and he leaves one back for them. On Christmas Day my family joins us. Jackson and Jonathan are the only “kids” in the family, so truly the day is all about them.

Do you have a favorite holiday recipe you would be willing to share?

I am not much of a baker. Our Christmas Day dinner is kept simple so we can enjoy the day – usually just a nice roast, baked potatoes, veggies and salad.

Do you have any tips for maximizing knitting time during the holidays?

No, but I’d love to get some! (Note from Knitting Contessa: YES, wouldn’t we all!!!)

What things do you do just for yourself in this crazy busy time of the year? Or do you?

I purposely try to find chunks of time just to have to myself whether it’s to catch up on chores or wrap gifts. For example, Steve might take the boys to a movie or something and I’ll stay behind. It gives me a chance to get control of things and it gives Steve the chance for some one-on-one time with the kids.

Chunks of time------ sounds like heaven!

Anything special on your needles that you’re knitting just for yourself?

I’ve got two on-going projects. A top down sweater and the Tilted Duster from our last KAL. I’m also itching to make a pair of wrist warmers.

Both are things I’d love to make as well although the Tilted Duster just isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future Kathy! I do think that some wrist warmers may join my 'hat parade' for some stocking stuffers.

With a very special knitting friend in mind, think of the perfect gift you’d like to give this year. If cost were no object, what would you choose? How about if you were budget minded?

If cost were no object, I’d probably give a Lexie Barnes bag stuffed with lovely cashmere, cashmere blends, silks, etc. along with Lantern Moon straight needles and Colonial Rosewood needles. And a week long trip away with their favorite knitting buddy to do nothing but indulge themselves and their knitting.

If I was concerned about my budget, I would definitely be shopping our closeouts and discontinued yarns for some great deals.

In both instances though, the gift of time is precious and something that has been weighing on me lately. I would offer to take a friend’s kids for an afternoon or run errands, walk the dog, whatever, to give that that person just a couple of hours to themselves to knit, plan a project, organize their stash. . .

See…. I KNEW you were a wonderful person! Although that offer to organize a friend's stash could be a bit dangerous! :)J

Santa is a close personal friend of mine, what would you like him to bring you this year?

Time.

I know for a fact that you are not alone in that Kathy! I just wish that time was something we could actually receive from Mr. Claus (or anyone else)!

You have knitters from all over the world who consider themselves fans of yours; do you have any holiday greetings you’d like me to pass along for you?

Steve and I consider ourselves so lucky. We have the absolute best customers. We know there are many, many places for them to shop for their yarn and we are grateful everytime they choose to shop with us. So, our heartfelt thanks to them and best wishes for the happiest of holidays.

After the last bit of the holidays have been celebrated, as you are relaxing knowing that despite the odds you got it all done----- what will you be doing?

Gearing up for 2008. As soon as holiday is over we launch right into getting the store ready to start receiving new spring yarns and heading to Long Beach, CA for the industry market.

Webs is an enormous success, you’d have to live under a rock not to know about you! I’m quite sure that there are no knitters who have not placed at least one Webs order and come back for more! What has been your secret to success?

You would actually be surprised at how many knitters do not know about us. Some days its frustrating but mostly we see it as a huge opportunity to continue to grow and connect with knitters and crocheters. Steve and I are fortunate that when we took over from his parents, they had built a solid business with a great reputation. We’ve tried to continue to build on that foundation. I don’t know if there’s any secret to what we do, we just try to offer the very best selection of yarns at good prices and provide the very best service both in the store, on-line and over the phone. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what we think, if the customer isn’t happy, then we need to figure out how to make things right for them.

I know I can’t be the only one who wants to know………… how DID you snag yarn.com? That has to be one of the great knitting URL’s on the planet!

Back in the early 90’s, before anyone really even knew what this “internet” thing was, my father-in-law Art was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about the world wide web and how important it was for businesses to secure the urls. He went on-line and tried “Webs” but it was already taken. Then he typed in “Yarn” and as they say, the rest is history.

I understand that it would be impossible to choose a favorite yarn, a favorite vendor or a favorite designer! Can you narrow down a few things that you thing are really extraordinary?????

That would be the same as having to pick which one of my kids I like better!

Any little hints about upcoming knit-a-long’s or special events?

We’re still working on the KAL schedule for next year. I can tell you that we are hoping to introduce a crochet project, some more techniques such as colorwork and of course we’ll continue to partner with our vendors to create unique patterns and experiences.

I can’t wait and I know I’m not alone!

In terms of events, I think we completely exhausted our local customers this past season with so many events. We’ll of course have our annual Super Bowl event in February and we’re thrilled that we’ll have Mary Beth Temple with us to sign her book “Secret Language of Knitters”.

I wish I could hop out for Melissa Morgan-Oakes "2 At A Time Socks" launch party as well, I read her blog, that is going to be a fabulous event----- but so is everything else!

Thanks so much Kathy for your time and Happy Holidays! We’ll see you around the blog and hear you on the podcast!

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Join me tomorrow for Day Two of Knitting Contrisstmas!

On a personal level I'm not running on a lot of sleep these days. One would think that while away in Phoenix for 10 days I would have stocked up on a bit, but sadly that was not the case. I slid out of the studio early yesterday (feeling guilty all the way) and did manage to get a good running jump on holiday decorating. While the house is absolutely trashed and there are still piles of garland everywhere and mounds of ornaments on the dining room table, I'm making progress.

I was exceptionally tired when I sat down for a bit of television watching (and couldn't even tell you what was on the tube) when I reached for some mindless knitting and found that there was none at hand. Instead (and perhaps out of habit) I cat on for another mindless hat. Soothing and gentle is that small round of knit stitches, aaaaahhhhhhh-- and at the end of the bliss there will be another small Christmas gift! I'll take it along today when I wrangle the last lovely bride of the season. Her dress is a spectacular creation from Neiman-Marcus and it sounds as if every detail will be gorgeous. I'm sure that she will pose with my knitting so you can sneak a peek!

December 1st is here, Get Knittin'!

2 comments:

melissaknits said...

I want to be Kathy's Special Knitting Friend.

Oh, and she totally is a wonderful person in real life, although I suspect the fans may have already deduced that!!

Virtuous said...

That was a great interview! Thanks for doing this despire your energy being depleted!

AND thanks for the Melissa Knits link I canNOT wait for her book!!!