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We have the HOTS for Janlynn!

As the craft and DIY movement experiences a resurgence, people are going back to some crafts that they may not have done since they were a child like crochet, embroidery and stitching. One company that is really listening to their customers during this time is the Janlynn Corporation. Our editor in chief, Sarah Moore, sat down with Andy Goetsch to discuss how Janlynn reached out to understand their customer’s needs.

1. Andy, what’s your role at Janlynn?
I wear many hats here at Janlynn, including CFO and head of Business Development. My heart, however, is always focused on creating the most desirable location online for crafters to enjoy … Janlynn.com. Although we have been on the net for 10 years, we have only just begun building Janlynn.com as the place where crafters join the conversation about crafting activities with us.

2. I’ve been reading a lot about Janlynn’s HOTS program all over the web. What exactly is this program, and how did you come up with its name?
Since our focus is on providing a fantastic website and fantastic products for crafters to enjoy … we naturally reached out to crafters through surveys and discussions to get their wants, needs, wishes and desires. We began with Cross Stitch — HOTS stands for “Heart Of The Stitcher”. We learned that more than 60% of the stitching community prefers to purchase charts separately and then choose brand-name components to stitch with and on. We not only produced a new line of HOTS charts from our best kit designs, we decided to carry the top 50 cross stitch charts sold on the net from a variety of companies.

We also learned about the brand-name components stitchers like to use. So we now custom cut-to-order the top selling Zweigart linen and aida fabrics at the best price in the market … AND … carry the full line of DMC 6-strand embroidery floss at 39 cents per skein. As I often say now – “If you’re a stitcher … Janlynn has the HOTS for you!”

3. Wow, your research sounds right on! How many HOTS charts do you carry?
We have 20 HOTS charts, today … this will grow with time.

4. I noticed on your website the “Get it My Way” page. Can consumers really customize their own kit?
Well… The world used to just desire customization … and today they demand it! So, we listened to our stitchers and made it so they can order our designs and customize their components. They can order the kit with high-quality American-made materials … or get the chart and choose from the recipe of DMC floss they need and select from up to 4 Zweigart fabrics perfect to stitch the design with. Not only do they see the full design recipe on the GET IT MY WAY page, they can adjust the quantities and materials exactly to their needs. Here is a sample of the MY WAY page for Nancy Cole’s gorgeous design Collecting Shells.

(Click image to enlarge)

5. It seems like Janlynn really understands the stitchers! What’s next for Janlynn?
We have a number of projects in the works to expand the products we carry on our site, and to start giving our crafters what they are looking for … a crafting community with contests!

Currently we are running our first ever Dolly Mamas™ Contest– $1000 goes to the grand prizewinner for the best Dolly Mama™ statement that will be used for our next Dolly Mama Kit. Everyone has their own funny statements they have invented about life … if you love the Dolly Mamas™ like our Stampers and Stitchers do … be sure to enter the contest for your chance to win!

Additionally, we are sponsoring the Heart of Cross Stitch facebook group, which now has over 500 members. We provide them graphics support as well as financial support for their contests.

6. And you mentioned you had a little treat for our Craft Critique readers?
For taking the time to visit Janlynn.com and test drive our new HOTS program, I would like to give your readers a 15% off coupon that will apply to any purchase related to HOTS (Janlynn Charts, Zweigart Fabrics, and DMC Floss). Please tell your readers to use the Coupon Code: HOTS100209 between October 2nd and October 9th when ordering to receive the discount. I hope they will enjoy this Sarah!

Thanks so much to Janlynn and Andy Goetsch for sharing the news about this fantastic program and offering such quality and variety to stitchers! We are really excited about what we are seeing from Janlynn!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Strands Book Review and Giveaway

Reported by Francie Horton


Were you a “Project Runway” fanatic? Never miss an episode of “The Fashion Show”? It used to be that DIY fashion was only for college kids on a budget. Not anymore! Now you’ll find some of the most unlikely people are designing and making their clothing and accessories. And now there is an unusual technique book to help with that. It’s called Strands: Creating Unexpected Fabrics and Fashionable Projects by Jacqueline Myers-Cho.

I’ve known Jacqueline for several years, so when she asked if I’d like to review her book I jumped at the chance. She has beautiful work and is an amazing person to boot. Northlight Publishing even sent me an extra copy to give to one lucky reader. At the end of the article you’ll see how you can enter to win it.

The book, which even has its own Facebook page, contains several interesting techniques for working with existing fabrics and creating your own fabrics. It also shows you how to create embellishments and textures that you can use on garments you already have. Part Two of the book has projects made from the fabrics and techniques that were taught in the first part of the book. These projects are sorted into four categories: clothes, jewelry, accessories, and outerwear.

I’ve chosen a few of my favorite things to share. The first is called Paper Fabric. It’s made using a combination of tissue paper, thread, and gel medium. I was so inspired by this I made a journal with this technique. I used Jacqueline’s “Cut-Thread” variation that she mentions further in the book.



The next technique is called Give-n-Take. It’s inspired by the slashing of the Elizabethan outergarments. One of the projects made with this method is the Peekaboo Skirt. I *love* this skirt. Jacqueline used a darker fabric in the slashes for contrast but I can imagine using a sheer lace or tulle or even nothing at all.



And then the last project I want to show is a dress using her Scribble stitching. This is just embroidery that looks like a child’s drawing. So why not use a child’s drawing?! What a cute keepsake and how warm and fuzzy a child would feel every time Mom wears the “special” dress.

So, let’s wrap it up. Is this book for you? Maybe. It’s well-written and beautifully photographed. But it’s definitely not your typical sewing book. It’s edgy, unusual, and different. If you like to take risks, I’d say go for it. Otherwise, you might want to take a look at it in the bookstore first.

Pros:

  • Not the same thing we’ve seen in every other sewing book – different and unusual.
  • Uses unexpected materials like packing tape and tissue paper to make fabrics.
  • Promotes reusing, recycling, reducing waste.

Cons:

  • Not for everybody – some people will be put off by its non-traditional approach.
  • A few of the projects feel repetitive.
  • Not all the created fabrics will be appropriate to use with all projects due to a lack of sturdiness.

So, what do you think? Are you clamoring for the chance to get your mitts on this book? Leave us a comment on THIS POST, and we’ll pick a winner for a copy of Strands on Saturday, August 22, 2009. One comment per person… THANKS!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Lion Brand Pom Pom Makers

Pom poms are so cute! I know that you can buy them by the bag at craft stores, but it is way more fun to make them yourself and use up your yarn stash. I was browsing around the craft store looking for a tool to review for you, dear readers, and I found this Set of Three Pom Pom Makers by Lion Brand. Only $3 and I have a coupon? Perfect! I want to see how this pom pom maker compares with the sublime perfection of the Clover Brand Pom Pom Makers I reviewed recently for Craft Critique.


Cool! It stores flat! This is already an advantage over the bulky Clover brand tool. The Lion Brand Pom Pom Maker reminds me of the old-fashioned handmade cardboard template technique, except that this tool is made out of flexible, durable plastic. There are two matching halves and there is a little wedge cut out. This wedge will guide your scissors later in the pom pom making process. The package has directions right on the back. Once you know how to make pom poms, it’s like riding a bike and you probably will never forget, so the brave and confident can discard the instructions.

Honestly, it was not immediately evident to me how this thing makes three sizes of pom poms, but then I realized that the whole thing pops apart. Neato! Another storage advantage!

Let’s start with the larger yellow size. Pop out the inside templates and put the two halves together with the wedge cutout to the inside. You’ll need to cut off a length of yarn to thread through the tool. Since I don’t know how much yarn to use, this could be wasteful. With my Clover tool, I could work right from my ball of yarn instead of cutting off lengths. I used multiple strings because that seems to be the way it is pictured in the instructions.
All wound up! I found that springy yarns work better than slick ones. This is an inexpensive acrylic yarn.


The next step is scary. You have to carefully cut around between the two circles using the cut out wedge as a guide. If you aren’t careful, all your pieces will fall out and you have to start over. Tie it up with the template still in place.
Yipes! It’s pretty shaggy, but a little haircut will take care of that. Hmm.. it is considerably smaller than the template. This is the largest pom pom, but it is only 1 3/4 inches across.

On this even smaller pink and orange one, 1 1/4 inches, I had a very hard time tying the string really tight so there is a gap in the center.


Finally, how about the itty-bitty blue template? I had to thread my yarn on a needle to wind up this one. Yipes! This thing is less than and inch! I can do it. The pom pom I made with this size was about an inch in diameter.

Here is what happens when you can’t tie the string tight enough. The whole thing comes apart and you have to discard it. Alas.

Pros:
  • Space-saving flat design is easily stored in a crafter’s crowded supply drawer.
  • Inexpensive for a set of three sizes.
  • It’s nifty how the colorful sizes snap together for storage.
  • It occurs to me that you can probably make larger pom poms if you use two or three of the sizes snapped together.
Cons:
  • There is no way to know how big the pom poms you make will be. The sizes aren’t even marked on the packaging.
  • Awkward and fiddley in your hand. Binding up the pom pom is a delicate operation.
  • Makes only smallish pom poms.
  • You have to cut off a length of yarn to thread around the tool instead of just wrapping it.
  • Shaggy poms will need a haircut.
  • *sigh* I want to use my other pom pom tool instead of this one.
After struggling with a few pom poms using this Lion Brand tool, I found myself longing to break out my other tool. When I used the Clover Brand Pom Pom Maker, I probably made about 20 fun, large poms before quitting. Interestingly, I think Lion Brand knows that some crafters might prefer the other tool and they offer the Clover product at their yarn website. I think maybe this one is for traditionalists.
I don’t recommend this tool for serious pom pom enthusiasts. I highly recommend the pricier Clover Pom Pom Makers, but if you are determined and looking online, you can buy this Set of Three Lion Brand Pom Pom Makers directly from Lion Brand, Amazon, or JoAnns.
Gosh, pom poms are fun. I like to use them with my gift wrapping. What do you use yours for?