Chuck Wilmesher grew up in St Louis, got his MMR moved to Los Angeles after graduate school and worked with Mattel, specifically in marketing toys for boys. He worked with a movie marketing research company. While there he met a fellow who offered to teach him to knit in 2007. He fell in love in fiber! He says about that time he wondered what he wanted to do when he grew up. He attended a men’s knitting retreat in the Pacific Northwest, met Karin Skacel and kept in touch with her, he later asked if she needed a yarn rep. She didn’t but they kept communicating until he moved to Seattle and started with the company. He is the Director of Product Research and Development, working with the mills that produce product for Skacel and has been with Skacel for four years.
Skacel began with Karin Skacel’s parents. Ingrid brought the Addi Needles to the US from Germany, and really, until then, circular needles had basically been unheard of. Skacel has also offered their own yarn lines, including a wool-free yarn HiKoo, Chuck works to promote the several kinds of yarns in Skacel’s brands as well as the Schoppel Wolle, Zitron, Schulana, Austermann, and Schoeller+Stahl. Because of changes in the industry, it has been increasingly harder to market yarns from other companies, so he really has his work cut out for him, but yet there is fun stuff too like when they get a new baby alpaca from Peru…
Pattern support is important with new yarns so they work with designers in-house and outside of the company. They have a magalog (magazine/catalog) which has been a great marketing tool to Local Yarn Stores and yarn buyers. Artfelt is a product that Mr. Schoppel created after his kids had an felting project in school. The uses for Artfelt have been a wide variety of things, the most recent magalog featured an article that shared felting for the head! Karin has been teaching classes at various events, such as the upcoming TNNA and Vogue Knitting Live.
Fiber Factor came about as inspiration of the Fashion Design contests on television. It has to be a bit different though, in that a knitting design generally can’t be completed in a day. It started two years ago, and once the competitors were selected, challenges whittled them down to four finalists and the winner, Lauren Riker has made appearances on many different programs. Also, the other contestants led Knit-a-Longs (KALs) through Fiber Factor and with Skacel sponsorship. Skacel and it’s production crew learned a lot and are applying that to a Fiber Factor II coming up very soon! Chuck says they are going to have the designers create and tech edit their own patterns, which will be posted in Ravelry to be purchased right away, which will give the contestants some feedback and compensation for their work right up front, whether they win the challenges or not. That may sound intimidating, but it’s a huge learning experience for contestants who may be inexperienced. The contestants will be announced March 13, Josh Bennett will continue to coach the contestants and new content will post EVERY Friday at 4 in the afternoon (I am assuming this is Pacific Coast time, as Skacel is based in Seattle). They are making every effort to make this accessible to mobile devices, so there is a lot of tech stuff being addressed. Here is the link in YouTube to subscribe!
Another new thing that was shared from Skacel is new Addi Flipstix! These are new double pointed needles (you’ll find them bright and cheerfully colored) that have two different kinds of points on EACH needle! One end is Lace Point and the other is the popular Addi Turbo point! How cool is that, you’ll always have the right point for your project and less needles to tote around. Sizes range from size 0 to 11 in 6″ or 8″ lengths.
Congratulations on your first podcast appearance, Chuck, you did an awesome job! We’re so happy your first time was with us!
In case you missed it today’s visit with Chuck was archived in Blogtalk: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/yarnthing/2015/01/06/skacel-collection-chuck-wilmesher and is also available in iTunes.