Sexy Monkey

Sexy Monkey

And even more fan photos this week!  This time from a local friend, Sarah Pickering, who is one of a rare breed of Canadians living in Cambodia.  We lot have to stick together, eh?  And only Canadians will understand just how cool, and sexy, these photos...
Pig on a Loom

Pig on a Loom

Next up in our series fantastic fan photography from around the world, we have the story of a little piggy that went to the UK.  This little piggy pig snuck into a shipment of Goel fabric we sent to our friend Ingrid, of Lilou Colours, and has been having a wild time since he got...
Fan Photos from Amsterdam

Fan Photos from Amsterdam

We love getting photos of our little critters in their new lives.  The following are taken by our friends in Amsterdam around the time of the World Cup (hence the flags).  FYI:  Yumi is our amazing designer, marketing guru, and all round adviser.  She makes us as cool as we are. Aletta and Yumi with Francis. Francis gets a ride with Papa Greg. Yumi and Francis in Lomo-motion. Francis...
The Youngest Knitter

The Youngest Knitter

Yesterday, my friend Colin came into CK with his daugher, Ravi.  Ravi is 6 years old and visited the CK workshop with her dad the day before.  They decided to come again cause I had missed meeting them and she was keen to see the knitty action and, of course, to see the toys again. Ravi was really curious about knitting and how’s it done.  I decided to try to teach her how to crochet a simple chain. I figured that since I had managed somehow to do one at the age of 6, then she would be able to do it also.  I showed her the way to hold the hook with her right hand and how to wind the yarn on her left finger and hold the piece.  After many tries, she just could not coordinate so many things at one time.  For us adults with fully developed coordination skills,  it’s simple twist here, pull through here and away you go.  For little ones, it’s a bit too much. I suddenly remembered that when I was working on my chain, way back when, that my mother was not pleased with the way I was doing it.  I had obviously found the technique too difficult (as Ravi had) and found some simpler way to do it.  I looked at the small chain I had been working on in order to show to Ravi how to do it and tried to work it out as my 6-year old self did.  And I got it!  Instead of holding the yarn taut and wound over my left finger, I let it...
YARN!!!

YARN!!!

As you may remember from previous posts, that finding yarn has been a real issue for us. I actually started the search weeks before we were due to run out of our current yarn supply and it’s a good thing I did. Only yesterday did that epic search come to an end! For weeks I had been searching the Internet, calling people in Thailand and China, traveling to BKK, writing emails and slumping over the computer clicking through 100’s of factories on sites like Alibaba, Fibre-to-Fashion and Made-in-China. I understand why ‘sourcing’ is a department all to itself in big companies and why some people hold onto supplier information like it’s an FBI file. Once that connection is made and supplier and the need-to-be-supplied find each other, the drama ends. I finally found what I knew had to exist out there somewhere and that is a yarn deler that is able to supply at close to factory wholesale prices without the demand of factory minimum orders. The contact at the shop in Shanghai sent us a box of sample yarn (the yarns were all free, we just paid for the shipping) and colour cards for all the yarns. Opening the box yesterday afternoon, the culmination of weeks of frustrating work, was like Christmas! It was full of variety, all in the fibers we needed, neatly organized and just perfect! The knitters are downstairs right now, knititng up samples with the new yars and we’ll know by the end of the day which to order. Best of all, once we place our order and transfer the funds, the yarn will...
Angels and Angles

Angels and Angles

I remember being in an Eastern European literature class and my favourite university professor asking us if we believed in ‘engines’.  I was so confused and looked around the class to see if anyone else was.  They all looked comfortable agreeing or disagreeing with the questions.  I just couldn’t understand how anyone could NOT believe in engines.  I mean, they make everything work! Eventually, I realized he was asking about Angels… This memory has been popping up the past few days as we’ve been trailing a new pattern:  an angel (or engine).   A few days ago I found the wonderful pattern website, Knitables.  It is a lovely collection of animal patterns which you can purchase individually or in sets (there is a safari set, a bear set, a summer garden set) and the wonderful thing is that a portion of the price goes to two charities, the Marie Curie Hospice, Penath and Bobath Children’s Therapy Center in Wales.  I contacted Sarah Gasson, the designer to ask if she would allow us to use her Christmas patterns for a set of tree ornaments and lucky for us, she was delighted! So the next few weeks will see a flurry of training and buying yarn in Christmas colours. We tried the angel and the first attempt was, well, scary.  We didn’t have the right yarn colours and I didn’t print a photo for the knitters to look at during assembly.  The result:  a rather evil looking angel. Attempt number 2 was much, much...
More knitters join the team

More knitters join the team

Since a few months after we began working at Toul Sambo, other community members who did not join the training have been asking if we will do more training and hire more knitters.  We haven’t been in a position to do so but informed them that once we expand and increase our sales, we will look to recruit more knitters.  Two women from an adjacent community, however, took initiative and learned how to knit on their own.  One woman learned from Sok Mae and Touth Chayron (if you were a sponsor of one of these knitters, you can be doubly proud now :)).  Every time one of our staff have gone to visit they community they have come out for the meeting and asked if there was anything they could do.  A few times, no one wanted to knit a certain animal, so they did.  And they showed they were willing and committed, finishing everything well and quickly. We also had some problems at Toul Sambo because many of the knitters did not want to mattress stitch their completed products.  Not our two new knitters! So last week I realized that we needed more people working on the large Magnificient Magnetic Monkey and asked the two new ladies if they wanted to come in for a day of paid training.  They did and I was amazed!  They are incredible knitters!  They are as fast as Rofi (and she’s fast) and they pick up new skills pronto.  We also trained Navy and Poan on the monkeys as well and now have tripled the monkey work...
Learning Cables and Arans

Learning Cables and Arans

A few weeks back my wonderful and talented seestor in Canada, sent us a copy of the Harmony Guides Cables and Arans book. We’d been slowly working our way through the Lace and Eyelets book and after teaching a simple cable, it seemed the knitters were keen for more. So I put in a request with seestor and she kindly donated the book to CK.   So after a few days of pouring through the book, we started learning new techniques such as Twist 2 back or front, Cable 4 or 5, and so on.  We’ve got a lot more to learn (including Teacher Me), but we’ll get it.  As always, the knitters are fast to pick up anything...
Magnificient Magnetic Monkeys

Magnificient Magnetic Monkeys

Our wonderful friend and supporter, Veronica Sherman of Happily Made in Cambodia has recently spurred us into a new product direction.   A few months back, she took dozens of our finger puppets back to Australia for some sales she organized to promote fairly made, Cambodian products including her own line of clothes.  The finger puppets sold well and Veronica fell in love with one of the animals in particular, the monkey. Veronica not only works tirelessly to bring employment opportunities to poor women in her community in Kampot, but she is also a bottomless pit of wild, wonderful ideas.   One of her latest is to use our monkeys for a series of simple roll up bags made from recycled or cut off fabrics.  She commissioned us to make a monkey with a closed body, legs and longer arms containing magnets.  The arms will wrap around the bags and grasp them.  After a couple iterations, we finalized the new Magnetized and Magnificent Monkey! Below is a photo of the first gang hanging out at the office before their departure for Kampot.  The final product will be the first of hopefully more, called Two Birds, because by purchasing a bag with attached MMM, you are supporting two projects. For those of you who knit and want to make this pattern yourself, we say ‘go for it’.  The pattern is available from the wonderful Etsy store of Raynor Gellately here.  Each animal comes with three patterns for the body, two for the legs, all with clear instructions and photos.  We only changed the arms by making them longer, adding a stitch for...