Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A Julia Yarn Tale

I knew this day would eventually come. 

 It is very sad for me to share with you all that my beautiful, colorful, soft, shiny, drapy yarn Julia, named after my sweet daughter, has been discontinued by the manufacturer Westminster Fibers. Spun out of 25% Mohair, 25% Alpaca, and 50% Wool, this yarn was my creation - my choice for knitting and designing for the past seven or eight years (I don't even know!). The color line has been full of beautiful rich colors that duplicate how I live my life. Shades from the handmade, historic and world textiles I have collected over my adult lifetime and colors from glorious Mother Nature and my garden have been my inspiration and muse for each and every color I have introduced. 

I was lucky to be able to use Julia exclusively in my two latest books - Color by Kristin and Kristin Knits. For me, that was a very big deal. Most publishers want you to mix up the yarn sources but I was able to use my yarn exclusively. That's why the books look so cohesive - because the colors are all mine and tell a story.

Yesterday I was at Webs in Northampton - where all good yarns go to fade away. I was speaking with the dynamic Kathy Elkins (co-owner, wife to Steve and Mom to two fine boys) and she was commiserating with me over the loss of my yarn. She did pay me and my yarn a huge compliment. What Kathy said was that when someone purchased my Julia, they were buying a package - a lifestyle - a vision for what life with knitting should be in Kristin's world. That was very kind of her and it made me think about what I have been doing for the past seven years while I have been toiling away trying to support my yarn, my color range, my designs, my vision. I was thinking so hard I got on the wrong ramp to 91 and headed south of home - only to be a half hour late in getting home to meet Julia at the bus. Oops!

It's an unspoken rule of the yarn biz - almost all yarns eventually fade away. Yarn companies come and go at an astounding rate. It's not an easy business to succeed in and most of the people in it are doing it for their passion for knitting, crochet, and creating. Noone is getting rich at this folks so just erase that fantasy from your mind. It is a business like every other business full of sku's, bank loans, profit and loss statements, taxes, inventory, trade shows, sales representatives, advertising costs, computers, and so much more. It really takes a lot to get a yarn to market and on that shelf of your local yarn store. I don't think most knitters think about that, nor should they. It's just that it is very complicated and not easy at all. If a yarn company sticks around, they have to change their product mix very quickly and keep turning their inventory. I know all the ins and outs of the yarn biz (I was the VP and Creative Director at Classic Elite Yarns for 16 years). I went into my Julia with my eyes wide open and with lots of experience in my business career. I was not surprised when I got the news that Westminster would not be supporting my yarn anymore and that the Nashua line would be discontinued. Sad yes but inevitable in this day in age. The folks at Nashua/Westminster/Coats and Clark have been incredibly kind and supportive to me for many years and for that I thank them from the very bottom of my heart. They are moving their company forward in other ways and my little Julia yarn just doesn't fit in anymore.

What I will miss is the colors and my ability to bring in a beautiful new shade to my knitwear design - like an artist mixing up a new paint color for their canvas. It's been a great opportunity for me - bringing my vision to the LYS world. We had a long run with it and has been a good ride. But now it is time for me to move on to other pursuits. I can't wait to see what I morph myself into next. Life is a process - a pile of papers and layers, one building upon the one just below it. 

Moral of the story is this my friends - If you find a yarn you like and fall in love with it when it is on your needles - buy a lot of it when it is available because it may disappear very quickly. Sales are the only way to drive the success or failure of a yarn - yarn can't just look pretty on a yarn store shelf - it has to move to the cash register. Otherwise it will end up at Webs where all good yarns go to fade away.

Webs has got a good stock of colors of Julia right now. Here is the link to the close-out. (I was weeping inside when I wrote this last sentence.) It is priced at $3.99 per ball (which was the wholesale price). If you have always wanted to try it, here's your opportunity. If you just want to knit a whole bunch of the multi-color projects from one of my books, I suggest you order 1 or 2 balls of every color and it will keep you busy at least for this winter. 

Life goes on..... My two books are still in print and as far as I know, will remain in print. They are available as always on my shop page (signed if you want). I still intend to continue designing and knitting with my Julia as I have lots of stock in my knitting stash. You just won't be able to get the same colors or fiber quality when you are knitting my designs. The Julia is a worsted weight yarn and there are many yarns available in similar weights.

I thank all of you for your kind words of support and encouragement that you so often share with me. I know how busy you all are and the fact that you take a moment out of your day to read my thoughts and stories is very special. Have a great day everyone. Farewell Julia the yarn - not the daughter!


Unknown said...

Kristin, I'm so so sorry to hear that your Julia yarn is discontinued. Honestly, I haven't had the chance to try it for myself but have always wanted to. My yarn experience is very limited being a new knitter. I have your book "Color by Kristin" and absolutely love it! There're quite a few projects I'd like to knit.

Is there anyway you can find another company to support Julia yarn?

Bonnie said...

I'm sorry to hear this. The only real knitting class I ever took was learning to do colorwork with both hands using patterns from your Kristin Knits book. I've used Julia for more than one project, and the colors and quality are fantastic. Thanks for all your work on developing this wonderful yarn. I'm sorry to see it go.

L said...

Kristin, I'm so sad to see this yarn go, too! I loved using it for my Mix and Match Motif Blanket in Little Crochet. I knew I wanted a worsted yarn with great, modern color selection and your yarn was IT! I'll hold tight to the leftover bobs I still have. I can't wait to see what is next for you, there is always something around the corner.

Little NutMeg Productions said...

Oh how sad!! I am definitely going to get some to knit the cuffed mittens and socks before it disappears forever. And maybe one of the best friends sweaters for my daughter. I have been meaning to comment and say that my 5 year old takes your COlor book to bed with her to look at the pictures at night. She can't read by herself yet but the designs are so beautiful she can't keep her eyes off them, a serious compliment no?

Claudia Horner said...

I am hearing some endings for you in these recent blog posts, even as summer has ended and fall is developing. I am sorry for the changes and sadness that come with change, but grateful for the tip about Julia being available at Webs. I just ordered enough yummy colors to finally try the colorwork mittens and socks in your book Color by Kristin. Can't wait for the yarn to come and will think of you as I knit! A new chapter will open for you.

ellen said...

This saddens me too! I have loved your Julia yarn. Your colors are simply the best.
Doors close, but new ones open and I look forward to what lies in store for you. It is always, always a joy for me to visit your blog. Thank you for all that you so generously and beautifully share with your readers.
You are an inspiration to many, Kristin.
(p.s. I followed the link and soon will be getting a nice stash of Julia. Thanks.)

Kamin said...

Hey Kristin
I love Julia yarn and when my BIG bag arrives from WEBS I will hear you talking about color, and remember all I learned from you and think of you, Julia and Mark each time I knit. I can hardly wait to see what path you decide go down. You will have loyal followers cheering you on and supporting your efforts. You are so talented in many areas. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to knit with Julia and your designs. They are fabulous. Thanks so much!

Suzanne said...


I am so sorry to read this. I have always wanted to try a project or two from your books. I will now have to get some so that I can use the yarns that you designed it with.

Willow said...

First of all, I'm sorry to hear this even though you realize that this is just business. It's still sad.
And, second, thanks for linking to the sale. I just hadn't made my order for Julia yarn to knit up Christmas stockings for all my family (using your patterns of course!) So I'll do it right away :)

Anonymous said...

~ oh,dear.
My heart sank when I read the second line of your post. Perhaps a new distributor will step up to meet you & loVely, beautiful Julia yarn !!!
I wish I was in such a position to do so, I would in a moment. The yarn is wonderful & colors so inspiring, always making the Knitting World more
special. I have two of your knitting books & enjoy sharing them with my children knitting students.
I hope a new door opens, maybe a partnership with Quince & Co. ?
Shell ~

Amy said...

Kristin, I'm so sorry to hear this--and after a bad week too! I am sorry to see the whole Nashua line go. It happens that I have always liked Julia yarn and have a fairly insane amount of it stashed but this might be the right opportunity to buy just a bit more!
Keep your chin up and I know you will find new projects and opportunities, as you always have. You're an inspiration!

Manise said...

Oh no Kristin! I am so sorry for the loss of your yarn line. I love your Julia and have a some of it in my stash. Thank you for the heads up and I'll be stocking up for future projects. Hugs.

Lindy and Paul said...

Kristin, I'm going to get your books out right now and order some of that yarn. It must be painful for you to see it discontinued, but as always you have a very inspiring and positive point of view. I sincerely hope that another great opportunity is waiting in the wings for you right now. Thanks so much for sharing.

Elaine said...

This is horible!! When we have found something so wonderful and colorful and touchy-feely and then it's snatched away. Let's all hurry up and order some!

Lee said...

I, too, am sad. It is lovely yarn and really expresses who you are as a designer and how you live. I join with the others to say that I can't wait to see what's next for you. I want to come back and be part of whatever it is. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear this news. I presumed I would always have the luxury of buying your Julia yarn. I have made many projects from your books...sweaters, baby hats, blankets, bags and flowers...and I love working with Julia. Now I guess I will try and stock up for future projects.

Keep up your exciting design work...thank goodness that won't be discontinued!

All the best to you.

Annie said...

Oh, doll face, I love you. I love your color sense, your joy, your philosophy, and YOU - I just love you.

I am sorry, it feels like a good friend has moved very far away. I won't say "passed on", but it's always a sad day when a good yarn has to go to Yarn Heaven.


NancyP said...

Kristen -- welcome to the new chapter in your life! Thank you for sharing the link to your yarn. Thank you for sharing yourself, your family, your life on the farm, and your beautiful designs! Nancy

Sarah said...

Well, this got me to finally buy your Christmas stocking pattern so I could find out what would be the best colors to go buy over at Webs. Hope they have some left. And...I'm sorry the yarn is going away. It is so hard to find good colors.

Robin said...

Oh Kristin, I'm so sorry to hear this! I just stocked up on Julia this weekend to make your christmas stockings. I don't have your books with me at work so I am taking your advice and ordering 2 of every color. Thank you. Robin

Wendie Scott Davis said...

Losing Julia is indeed a pivotal event, I'm sure. But I must confess to finding the silver lining in the news. I have been wanting to do your Southwest-Style Sleeved Wrap since buying your Color (or as we Canucks say "Colour") book - and this is a sign that now is the time!!!
You have to realize that I have spent the last two days trying to come up with a colour plan that is perfect (if that is possible). I even did a plan of yours to work from.
I am now up to 3 possibilities, with more to come. The variations are endless, so at some point, I will just have to go for it.
Thanks for the link and the gentle nudge you gave me to "get on with it".

Bonnie said...

Just ordered almost every color , with sadness. Oh the times they are a changing. Not you though. Keep on Kristin. Everyone needs to stay warm and you have brought beauty into my world !

Carol said...

Sorry to hear about Julia being phased out. I got to work with this yarn when I made your Over The Top Shawl and it was lovely to knit with and the colors are really beautiful! Keep on designing - your Christmas stockings are really fabulous!

annie said...

I love Julia and will have to head over to Webs. Truly beautiful colors, and I love everything I've knit with it.

Thanks for giving it to us! Your color work is gorgeous, and this won't put an end to putting your patterns and inspiration to work. I'm very much looking forward to more great things from you.

Sara said...

Buying your Julia yarn in dribs and drabs over the past few years I've fallen in love with it and with your patterns. I've knit sweaters, socks and stockings, hats, and mittens with it....oh so lovely!
To have to say good-bye to it would break my heart. So I headed to WEBS and placed 2 huge orders. I know that this doesn't help you financially, but I still wanted to let you know that I'm gathering your lovely yarn and keeping it in a loving home until I knit with it in the next few years. I'm a faithful blog reader as well, even though I seldom post a comment. You are a lovely knitter, designer, stitcher, mom and farmer. I wish that I could travel East to meet you at the Farm someday! Take care!

Simmy said...

Hi Kristin,

So sad about your wool! Can you tell me what the green and pink were called that I sent you a photo off please?


Anonymous said...

Very sorry to hear this. I've never been able to get your yarn in the UK, but have often thought how beautiful the colours are. Best wishes to you.

Ashley said...

Oh...this makes me so sad. I have drooled over your yarn for years and I even got to hold some once but I wasn't in a position to buy it that day.

After reading your post, I headed off to Webs and bought enough to make my hubby the 17 foot Dr. Who Scarf and to make me some mittens. It arrived on my doorstep yesterday and the yarn is truly exquisite. I am going to calculate yardage for a sweater and make another order quickly. It's a perfect weight yarn and such a luxury blend and it's easy to use. I hope someone decides to save it!

maureenodoogan said...

unlike other commenters, i haven't drooled over julia for years. i haven't knitted all sorts of beautiful things with it. nope. a friend just sent me a link and i saw it for the first time. and the first day that i saw it was the same day i learned that it's being discontinued.

my first reaction was that the big yarn god in the sky was just being cruel. and then i took a deep breath and trotted out the saying i keep around for times like this:

surely this is the universe opening space for something bigger and better to move in.

although it's hard to imagine better colors…

best to you, kristin.

Susan said...

What disappointing news. I've loved the colors I've used and I was looking forward to using them all. I would like to see another company pick up the Julia yarn. I don't think you can beat this yarn for the beautiful colors. It was such fun to knit with Julia.

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