Jessica: Welcome to YarnCraft, episode number 1. It’s October 16th 2007. We are thrilled that you are tuning in. This is our very first podcast at Lion Brand Yarn, and we will be coming to you twice a month, so to find out when we have a podcast up and running, check out our blog at YarnCraft.LionBrand.com . We encourage you to subscribe either through iTunes or another podcatcher of your choice. And if you don’t know how to subscribe, check out our blog and click on the “How to Subscribe” page.So you maybe wondering who’s talking in my ears. Well, I’m Jessica Abo, and I am going to be hosting the first series of the Yarncraft podcast. Now I happen to be a beginner knitter ,but I come from a family of knitters. My grandmother grew up in Europe and her father was a tailor. She was a Holocaust survivor, who is no longer here, but I still have little pieces of her. And I am sitting next to this amazing pink dress she made me when I was little, and it has pleats and it has this great floral design and it’s just so cute, and I am still trying to get my stitches to be even. I know I have a long way to go, but I have this to inspire me by her me to keep going.
I have to admit that being that I am new to the knitting community, I’ve had the best time going on “Stash and Burn,” “Lime and Violet,” and “Ready Set Knit,” and getting the sense of how close and passionate this community is, so I am very excited to hear your stories and I look forward to making a little dress myself one day.
First we have Ilana Rabinowitz, and she is going tell us a little bit about how the podcast idea came to be at Lion Brand and what the team hopes to accomplish. Ilana, do you want to tell us a little bit about what you do and how long you have been here?
Ilana: Okay, Jessica. First I just want to say that this little pink dress is absolutely incredible it looks like it was knitted with so much love and details and you must have this wonderful connection with your grandmother because of it. So I am vice president of marketing here at Lion Brand, and I have been here over 11 years. Part of what I do is consumer marketing. It’s what I started out doing, and my very favorite part of my job at Lion Brand is working on the website and connecting with people through the Internet. I get involved in lot of other things such as product development and advertising and the Lion Brand catalog that you will get.
The website is very special because it’s always been a way that we can talk to and listen to our customers. We get about 10 to 12 thousand emails every month and we have a group of people who answer them, most of them within a day or two, and we hear a lot from customers about what they are interested in, what they are concerned about and when we started listening to the podcasts, we realized that this is the whole other dimension and we can hear people’s voices and they can hear our voice.
We’d like you to get to know Lion Brand a little bit better — we have a wonderful group of people. It’s probably a much smaller company than a lot of people think. Many people think that we are a big company because we are into lot of major chains, but it’s actually only a couple of dozen people in the offices. We’re a tight-knit community ourselves many people who are listening may know that Lion Brand is a family business and brand that’s been around since 1878. It’s owned by the Blumenthal family and the fourth generation of Blumenthals is now running the company
Jessica: Now when it comes to the podcast how long ago did you talk about doing a podcast and what made you want to add a podcast to the company?
Ilana: About a year or so ago we actually did a video podcast, and it was an instructional podcast about using one of our yarns called Ruffles, because it took a special technique we wanted to show people. We thought that it was a great way of doing it. The podcast has is developed more of a conversation, we want to talk to people who use our product and we want to hear from them and so we decided that the audio podcast at least for now is something we wanted to explore, we’d like you to visit with us to our offices, we’d like our design team to take you into the meeting, hear how we develop our design ideas, we’d like to take you to our knit outs where we visit our conferences and get a little bit closer through our podcast in through your voice and our voices.
Jessica : And do you want to tell us little bit about the name YarnCraft and where the word came from?
Ilana: YarnCraft encompasses more than knitting and crocheting because we know that there are knitters and there are crocheters and people who use spool knitters, people who use glue to glue yarn to make book covers and to make scrapbooks that have yarn in them, to tie yarn and to create gift wrapping and we didn’t want to leave anybody out, so we thought that YarnCraft really encompasses everything and I think part of what we are doing here by reaching out to the community and hopefully having this conversation is we want to be as inclusive as possible.
Jessica: And what are some of your goals?
Ilana: I think, with the podcast, we are going to be open to whatever happens. We will probably plan a few podcasts around a couple of themes but once we hear what you are most interested in what you respond to, what you react to. We’ll know a little bit better how you decide what the ideas about podcasts are, so we want you to help us decide what the podcast is and we are looking forward to hearing from you and we would like to hear your feedback.
Jessica: Thank you, Ilana. We should mention we are coming to you from the 15th street Design Center in Manhattan, so if you hear construction going on and the garbage trucks going by, that’s just the way we are bringing a little New York City to you.
Jessica: And now we are going to introduce you to two other members of Lion Brand team, Zontee Hou and Liz Shaw. Zontee, how are you?
Zontee Hou: Good, thanks. How are you?
Jessica: I am great. So welcome to our first podcast, can you tell us a little bit about what you do here?
Zontee: Sure. I have been here at Lion Brand for about 5 months, in the marketing department, and I am the editor of the newsletter that goes out each week, as well as overseeing our consumer content. So all those great photos and stories that people send — I look at every single one of them and I post them to the Internet so that they are available for everybody else to see.
Jessica: Now when did you start knitting and crocheting, how did you get started?
Zontee: I started crocheting from the time I was 12 — I was really bad at it at first. My mother taught me, because I come from a long line of knitters and crocheters, and I picked up knitting about when I was 20 in college, because lot of my friends at the time were starting to knit. It was really funny because I brought home my knitting project to my parents house, and my mom said, “Wow, you’re neat, but not as neat as as I am.” So…I have been knitting ever since then. It’s been a good time.
Jessica: That’s so funny. I am trying to learn the virtue of patience, because it is just a matter of keeping my stitches neat, and it is not easy as it looks.
Zontee: Absolutely, it takes a little bit of trial and error and just getting used to your own comfort level and knowing how tight you knit.
Jessica: I’d like to do socks done by New Year, but I told all my friends and family that they should expect long scarves as gifts as it is typical for new knitter to say.
Zontee: I definitely think it’s very true. In my first year, I made scarves for everybody I knew and in the second year I moved on to hats and things. It’s progressed nicely since then.
Jessica: Now over 800,000 people subscribe to Lion Brand’s email newsletter, and 2,000 of you avid knitters and crocheters responded to the survey conducted in September. So Zontee, in terms of the survey what did you find surprising?
Zontee: One of biggest surprises and interesting facts was that 50% of people who responded already read blogs or are listening to podcasts online. And I think that is bigger percentage of them than from most other areas.
Jessica: What is your goal — what did you want to measure in this survey?
Zontee Hou: I think we just wanted a better understanding of our audience: how active they are online, what they are interested in seeing, and finding a little more about the podcasts and the blogs they are already interested in.
Jessica: So being new to this world I was shocked when I learned about the waiting list for Ravelry. Did you find in the survey that there are lot of other people connected to social networking sites connected to yarn and crocheting?
Zontee: Actually, we were really excited to find out that almost a quarter of people who took the survey are already on Ravelry, and are really active and excited. We also found out that lot of people are part of other yarn related communities and we saw the people are part knitting and crochet Yahoo groups. One of the popular site for crochet is Crochetville, which to me is very interesting. And we are just excited that we can be a part of this community, that is so active online.
Jessica: So maybe I should start a group called “Waiting to get into Ravelry.” All of us who are on the list can be on social site together a little while. And now we are going to turn things over to Liz Shaw who is our podcast fan, right?
Liz: Absolutely, I listen to podcasts all the time. I work in the Design Department here at Lion Brand and I have been knitting maybe 5 or 6 years. I went to the Parsons School for Design, to study fashion design which is around the corner from the Lion Brand office. I started knitting as an elective course there and I just absolutely fell in love with yarn once I started doing that. And now, I amazingly enough have my dream job and what I do in yarn development for Lion Brand. So I think about yarn whole day and then I go home I listen to knitting, crochet podcasts all night. So I pretty much think about nothing else.
Jessica: And I hear you are actually recruiting your husband to listen to these podcasts too?
Liz: Oh yeah! He doesn’t knit or crochet at all but we both are both big Lime and Violet fans, so whenever they put up the new episode, we listen together.
Jessica: Do you have any favorite color of yarn or texture?
Liz: Oh, I am a red girl, so I love all the great reds that we have. In terms of favorite yarns I am very much into the trend that’s going on the Internet. People are really into basic yarn, and so I have a 3 way tie between Cotton-Ease which is back — I usually hate knitting with cotton but this is 50-50 blend in Cotton-Ease makes it so much more pleasant to work with — and then I also love the Vanna’s Choice, it has a really good stitch definition, and then Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, which is just so much fun.
Jessica: What advice you have for someone like me who is just getting started?
Liz: Practice, practice and practice. Don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s yarn — you try something, and if it doesn’t work, you try again. If it works, that’s great. I wouldn’t promise to knit scarves for Christmas because sometimes your eyes are bigger than your hands or faster than your hands can knit. When I was first knitting, I really I made myself crazy trying to finish all those Christmas projects. Somehow I couldn’t give them to my friends and family until the middle of January. And I was just making washcloths.
Jessica: That’s hysterical. Maybe if I put some string on a patch, I can just call them really nice ornaments. Right?
Liz: Ornaments are great — little projects are definitely the way to go.
Jessica: So what does it mean to you to have a podcast here at Lion Brand?
Liz: I am so excited, because at first, right as soon as I started knitting, I was lucky to find the online blog community. That’s another piece of advice I have for new knitters and crocheters is to get online. There are some great resources in terms of techniques and inspiration for people. They have the most amazing and beautiful photos and that really encourages me to stretch my limit of what I can do. And so, the first podcast I ever heard was Cast-On by Brenda Dane, and she calls it a weekly knitting magazine for your ears, and it was like a revelation for me, because finally I could listen something about yarn and knitting, while actually doing it also.
I never managed to figure out the trick of how to surf the web and knit at the same time. And so it was like I had to choose if I had to look at blogs or work on my projects. With podcasting you can do both, and I think that’s amazing.
Jessica: And I think the point you make about pictures is so important, because when I learned a few months ago how to knit, it was unfathomable to me that I would actually have something that I could actually wear, because it seemed like it was taking me awhile to get things going, but when I saw the dress my grandmother made me, it was amazing. It has pleats in it, it has buttons sewn on it, there are floral designs. It is amazing what you can create with just two hands.
Liz: Absolutely! As soon as I walked into the room I saw that dress on the table it just kind of took my breath away. It’s spectacular. And all over the word you would see amazing things that people are pouring themselves into and making such beauty. Also it’s so beautiful how much people share with each other and it’s just a very supportive place. It’s just wonderful.
Jessica: Now are you on Ravelry?
Liz: I am on Ravelry. I love it. It’s wonderful. Did we mention that I have a geeky bent? And so the organizing features of Ravelry are just right up my alley, and also I have blogs of a lot of groups for the other podcasts like Craftlit and Lime and Violet and Sticks & String, and also I am not the part of the group but there are a lot of Lion Brand fans and they talk about our yarn and patterns, and there’s a special group just the fans of Cotton-Ease. So if you’re a Lion Brand fan, and you get on Ravelry, check those out!
Jessica: Liz, I know you listen to podcast, and you love your job in Yarn development, but what about blogs. Do you read blogs as well?
Liz: I don’t have as much time as I would like to. But I do follow them as much as possible. I was not surprised to see that the Yarn Harlot was one of the most cited blog by our listeners. My mother-in-law is a big weaver and she doesn’t knit or crochet much, but we use the same kind of yarn. And we both read the Yarn Harlot. When we talk to each other, we say “Oh did you see the one where she got stuck on that sweater? I could so identify”, et cetera — it’s one of my favorites.
Jessica: Any other podcasts favorite you want to tell us?
Liz: I can give my top 5. As such it would be impossible to chose as I see so many. Lime & Violet is hilarious, Cast-On has such great, such philosophical information about the culture of knit and crochet. That’s amazing and then Stash & Burn, Sticks and String, It’s a Purl Man, and CraftLit.
Jessica: Oh, these are great. I listen to them myself. I am always amazed at how entertaining they are, because when you talk to people about doing a podcast on knitting and crochet they think you are just talking about the stitches.
Liz: Oh, exactly. People always say to me, “There’s a podcast about yarn, knitting and crochet?” And I say, “It’s not so much describing how you do it, but talking about the whole lifestyle of doing it.” Like it has for me, when it seeps into your entire life, it’s great to have entertainment to go on with it.
Jessica: And the community.
Jessica: Zontee, what were your subscribers’ favorite podcasts and blogs?
Zontee: Actually, it’s very interesting. A lot of people had very similar answers to Liz. Lime and Violet, Cast-On, Sticks & Strings, and Stash and Burn are among the favorite podcasts. It was great to see as they are the most entertaining ones that are available online. And for blogs we saw that Yarn Harlot was definitely our number one. A lot of people liked Crazy Aunt Purl, Mason Dixon Knitting, Crocheting with Dee, and Crochet Dude.
Jessica: Thank you to Zontee and Liz for joining us, and thank you all for tuning in.
We want to remind you that you can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or your podcatcher of choice. And if you subscribe to podcast, whenever we update, it comes straight to you. You can also learn how to subscribe at yarncraft.lionbrand.com, and you can check out the blog to get more updates. We will be on twice a month and next time, we will be talking about inspiration. What inspires you to knit or crochet? We want to hear your story.
And while I have a beautiful picture to keep me going, I want to know about your experiences. So let us know. You can call us at 206.350.3957 — that’s our comment line. You can comment on the blog or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and your thoughts may be a part of our next show, so stay tuned!
Check out the links, patterns, and more mentioned in this episode by visiting its episode guide.