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Year End Wrap-Up 2020

We survived 2020! It was a challenging year and we never could have made it through without our hard-working, amazing staff who went through pivot after pivot with us, and of course all of our wonderful customers who have supported us through it all. Our local community has learned how to use our website and pick out their yarn and fabric online while our store has mostly been closed for in-store shopping for almost 9 months now! What a year. Here is our yearly report in this most unprecedented of years.

The storefront of Fancy Tiger Crafts. with a few customers outside standing 6 feet apart and wearing masks, waiting to pick up orders. An employees stands behind a makeshift counter at the door. A window mural says "Please wear a mask".

2020 started off strong with many amazing retreats planned, classes happening and regular crafty community events. Amber and Jaime even went to LA to purchase fabric the first weekend of March! Little did we know what was in store. On March 16th, we made the difficult decision to close our shop for in-store shopping and thus began our year of pivots. What started as postponing classes for 1 - 2 months, quickly escalated to all in-person classes and events being cancelled for the remainder of the year.

Once we closed the shop to the public, we came up with new protocols for curbside pick up and worked hard to get all of our inventory online! Our two large sewing classrooms quickly turned into two shipping stations to help expedite the increased number of online orders and maintain social distancing with our staff. Our sales floor quickly turned into a warehouse of sorts, as all our yarn was reorganized for ease of pulling orders. To keep our community safe, many of our employees began working from home. We’ve kept a lean team here at the shop to do shipping and curbside, but we couldn’t have done it all without support from the folks working from home, ordering and receiving inventory remotely, communicating with customers via social media and email, and troubleshooting issues with our website.

Three images, from left to right: Towers of bagged yarn filed on shelves, which has turned our beautiful shop into a warehouse; a pile of packages fill the second photo; Alex sits at a computer in what used to be a classroom, she is at a shipping station making piles of packages to send out.

The pandemic’s quick end to in-person socializing meant that our 14 year, weekly tradition of Tuesday Night Craft Night at the shop came to an abrupt end in March. Because we needed to craft together, our Open Craft Night has been meeting on Zoom a couple of times a month since March. This summer we were able to meet with our craft nighters outside, distanced in the park and it was so great to see people in real life again briefly while the weather cooperated!

A laptop computer is open and show a Craft Night zoom session in progress, with 14 folks hanging out, crafting and chatting.

As the landscape of socializing changed, and we all learned about social distancing, designer Dawn Landix approached us to work together to release a pattern as a gift to our knitting community. Her sock pattern, Apart Together, was published as a free pattern on our site, and was our first knitalong of the year. We are so grateful to her for designing this pattern to give us a little joy as the world around us came crashing down.

Two images, on the left a hand holds a pair of cables ankle socks. On the right an image looking down at two feet wearing the Apart Together cabled ankle socks.

Pretty quickly schools closed and families navigated a sudden lack of childcare options. We realized there was a need for activities for kids at home. Christina, who has been teaching here for 13 years, started releasing Kids Crafternoon videos on our Instagram TV and YouTube channels every Friday afternoon. From knitting, to sewing, to embroidery and felting, she shared tons of fun and simple projects for kids of all ages over the summer.

Three images, from left: A screenshot of a vido for making fortune cookies from felt, a photo of Christina holding up a child's skirt, a screenshot of a tutorial for knitting a bunny softie.

To support our craft community from afar, Rae, one of our knitting superstars, began filming knitting tutorials from home to share via our Instagram TV and Youtube channels. Her calming videos helped us all hone our knitting skills—one of the meditative crafts that many folks were drawn to while isolating. Rae also hosted several knit-alongs throughout the year, leading the Apart Together knitalong, as well as working with designer Francoise Danoy of Aroha Knits to host a knit-along for her Pōhutukawa Shawl. Weekly Friday night Zoom-based events created community with folks from all over the country.

A tiled image of screenshots from 15 different knitting tutorials.

Everyone we know started making masks and there was a need for mask tutorials, so we published a mask pattern, as well as released a video tutorial to help folks get going with mask-making. The need was so great, we couldn’t keep elastic, interfacing, or bias tape in stock so got creative with jersey ties and making our own bias tape for our masks. We worked with a local industrial designer who started manufacturing aluminum nose pieces and sold over 36,000 of them! We learned a lot about droplets. The community of crafty folks who took on the challenge of making tens of thousands of masks when there was a shortage of them is such an inspiration! The surge in mask sewing not only led to a shortage of elastic and interfacing, but also a shortage of sewing machines. We quickly sold out of sewing machines and waited months for machines to be available from manufacturers again,. Drop-offs of sewing machines for repairs—machines that had been hidden away in closets—became more frequent. We love that! We are extremely thankful for everyone who has been making masks and wearing masks since March! 

A closely cropped photo of Amber against a white background, she is wearing a fabric mask in an abstract green print and her hair is in a top-knot.

This year kept us so busy, Amber and Jaime barely had time to sew anything all year (except masks, of course!) Once fall hit, they decided to treat themselves with an October Coat-Along, spending the month sewing epic jackets. Amber made a beautiful blue melton wool Hoodie Parka from The Assembly Line patterns and Jaime made the Thayer Jacket from Grainline in a vibrant brick red complete with fuzzy cotton/hemp fleece lining.

Amber and Jaime stand together outside against a weathered barnwood wall. Jaime wears her vibrant red Thayer Jacket with cream fleece lining showing at the collar. Amber wears her blue wool Hoodie Parka with a hand knit grey hat.

2020 also saw the revamp of our own line of yarn, Heirloom Romney. A new mill and new palette of colors resulted in a softer hand and wider range of hues for our favorite yarn. We republished our popular free Chevron Throw pattern with an additional blanket size and curated three new palettes of blanket kits.

Two images: On the left a detail shot of a pile of yarn in hues of pale mint, mustard, and cotton candy pink. On the right, a large blanket knit in a striking chevron pattern hangs in the doorway of a wooden framed structure.

In addition we released a plethora of new patterns and kits for the holiday times. We created a Party Bow Pet Collar pattern and Kit for our dear four-legged friends, so they could look and feel their best for the holidays. We welcomed two new punch needle kits, Pivot and Sway, as well as new colorways of our longtime bestsellers Peaks and Orbs.

Images of a pet collar and punch needle kits

Our newest free hat knitting pattern, Bristlecone, arrived with the release of our annual Holiday Lookbook, and we can’t get enough of this sweet pattern in sizes for the whole family! It’s knit up in Birch Hollow Fibers Phillis DK, which is officially now one of our favorite yarns in the shop.

Four hand knit hats lay in a row on a dark wood background. They are made in a variety of sizes from newborn to adult, and a variety of hues of speckled, hand-dyed yarn. Each one is topped with a soft, alpaca fur pompom in a coordinating or contrasting color: a large hat in fiery orange with deep navy speckles is topped with a dark navy pompom; a small pink and grey hat is topped with a pale pink pompom; a sage green hat is topped with an olive green pompom; a tiny newborn hat in speckles of beige and turquoise is topped with a vibrant turquoise pompom.

Whew! That was a lot, and like you all, we’re exhausted. Thank you so much for all your support though it all. We are currently taking a much needed break and will be back on January 7th, 2021 with some amazing news and exciting updates. Stay tuned!

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