Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Peru and Things...

Wow, yesterday was a crazy day! Kyle is moving into a new classroom so he had to get to work extra early, leaving me the rare opportunity to take Henry to school on my way to my meeting in Charlotte. I love dropping him off because I get to check in with his teachers and see the kids. Last year I drove him every day, so I miss that constant contact with the people he spends his days with. Luckily I checked his cubby, and found a notice that we were supposed to attend a magnet school informational meeting at 6pm last night. All elementary schools in Asheville are magnets (well, there are a few charters, too) so you have too look at their specialties and apply to the school you want your kid to go to. It's like applying to college. Streeeeeeeess!

Anyway, I hopped in the car and drove on down to Charlotte, where my Peruvian contact has his US headquarters. The sample that they knit up for me in Peruvian wool is absolutely amazing! It is super soft and the knitting is impeccable. Sooooo... we struck a deal and I put in my very first order!!! It is a test order so it is relatively small- 6 pairs of each "classic" design in each size for a total of 54 pairs. He is going to Peru on Friday and hopes to get the ball rolling then and get back to me with a time line, so I should have some information for all of my waiting list peeps fairly soon. WooHoo! One of my dear local customers convinced me to go to the fiber arts festival where I met my contact, so Suzannah- I'll have to take you out for a celebratory drink soon!

The knitting cooperative I'll be working with consists of 5 groups of women (group size is from 16-27 women) in different villages across Peru. Each group has its own specialty, so I won't be working with ALL the groups, but they are a part of the same co-op that is certified by the Fair Trade Federation. The women meet once a week to touch base and make sure everything they are doing is consistent and they are on point. After that they are free to work from home, but a lot of the time they choose to meet in groups and knit together. I think it makes it easier for them to watch the children when they are all together. Knitting allows these women to be heads of their households.

My Peruvian contact had sooooo many gorgeous pictures of the women knitting, but I liked that one. I might ask for another one that has kids in it. There were photos of a different group that had a ton of wee ones. They carry the babies on their backs wrapped in these really bright woven blankets and I even saw a few pictures of moms nursing and knitting at the same time. They all wear these hats perched on top of their heads that are modified versions of the bowler hats the British wore when they came to Peru to put a railroad through the country. They use them to spot family and community members while working in the flat, vast fields. The man I am working with also does photography so he had folders and folders of amazing pictures on his computer.

They specialize in baby alpaca, but they got Peruvian wool for me. Since they have a lot of farmers with alpaca he had a lot of alpaca pictures, too. I should have gotten one with the landscape in the background, but I thought this little guy was too cute.

I asked if they had access to any organic yarn because I'm interested in starting a line of organics. They said that the farmers can't afford to spray any of the fields where the animals graze so the yarn should be considered organic, but they can't afford to get certified as organic either. It is almost a ridiculous idea to them.

They do mittens and gloves and socks for kids, all reversible and done in a crazy gorgeous fair isle in bright colors and traditional designs. They are interested in developing a line of coordinating accessories for me, so I'll be working on that this year, too.

I'm not sure when my first shipment will come in and it is a relatively small order (54 pairs) but after that it should start going like clockwork. I am hoping to be able to get a good jump start on the waiting list before April because I just found out I will have a feature in April's issue of Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine. WooHoo! It has been kind of frustrating to be getting great press and high demand and not be able to actually take advantage of it and make any money because I can only knit so fast, so this could be the beginning of me actually being able to carry my weight in this family through the business. I know that people think I make a ton because of the few high auctions and the popularity but that hasn't been the case, so it will be nice to finally be able to contribute a meaningful salary in the near future. This has been over a year in the making so it is really exciting to see a payoff finally in sight. I am paying a much higher price per item than I would if they were factory made so I don't think I'll be able to do wholesale still, but as long as I have help meeting demand I'll be happy. And someday I might be able to go to Peru!!!

After my meeting I drove the 2.5 hours back to Asheville and swung by to pick up Henry from school on my way home. I had time to scarf dinner down and then off again to the most boring informational meeting of all time. I am hoping that the open houses we are going to next week will be more helpful because that meeting was like watching 5 infomercials about each school. There were so many buzz words and whatnot that I didn't feel like I got any sense of what any of the schools were actually like. Honestly, I feel like choosing a learning track for my 4.5 year old is crazy. There is an "Arts and Humanities" school, a "Human Diversity and Ecology" school (we're leaning that way actually), a "Math, Science and Technology" school, a "Core Knowledge" school and an "Experiencial Learning" school. I have no clue which one Henry would like better. He loves science and technology, but the kids there use PDAs and have computerized gym and that seems way extreme to me. I also like the Foxfire based experiencial learning model, but they seemed so over the top hippy dippy that it turned me off. The Human Diversity and Ecology one seems the most grounded, plus they have a robotics program and are a NASA school which Henry will love. Ugh. It's like information overload.

In the midst of all this craziness I did manage to finish Michelle's navy blue monster booties. I love the color combination she chose, it is so rich.

On the car ride home from Charlotte I had my iPod on shuffle and a song I consider "a perfect song" came on. As I listened to it I thought about other songs I love and I thought it might be fun if I started a little daily "perfect song" list. So, to kick it off today...

Angel in the Snow by Elliot Smith. If I did that right you should be able to click that and listen to it, and download it if you want to. There is something about Elliot Smith that just stops me in my tracks and makes me really sit and listen. He was what Kyle would call one of my "kicked puppy boys", alluding to the fact that I am inexplicably drawn to damaged boys dead set on doing themselves in (what does that say about him?). Crushingly, Elliot Smith succeeded in 2003.

If you guys have any songs you think are perfect and want to give me a heads up about, I'd love it. Folks have told me they are having trouble leaving comments, so if Blogger gives you any guff just shoot me an email.


Susannah said...

Yeah Amy! so glad things went so well for you yesterday! And we will definitely have to have a drink to celebrate- I would love it! good luck with choosing a school for Henry, it is some darn confusing, frustrating stuff- I cannot wait to deal with it! Have an awesome day! Susannah

liz said...

yay amy!!
awesomeness all around!!

can't wait to hear more!
see you soon-

graphics said...

YAY!!! Or should I say FINALLY!!!! I am so insanely happy for you....lets go out and get a drink to celebrate ;)


Quilt Baby said...

Uhhh, that last comment was from me - I guess A was onmy computer :)

MamaHoldYou said...

YAY congrats!

and now you NEED a line of Monster Mittens!!!