(Printed in "The Record", Stockton CA, April 8, 1995)
PROFILE/ FRUGAL KNITTING HAUS
OWNER: Ruth Braatz
MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 7093, Appleton, WI 54912-7093, PHONE: (920) 954-1240 (For Customer Service), Monday thru Friday.
FOUNDED: July, 1989
MAIN PRODUCT OR SERVICE: Original mail-order, knitting patterns using leftover yarn, as well as knitting needles and some yarns, because so many knitting shops have gone out of business and it's hard to find them anymore.
WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS UNIQUE?: So many of my patterns are made out of leftover yarn and cost very little to make.
HOW DID YOUR GET INTO THIS BUSINESS?: I started knitting when I was 9 or 10 years old, and after I made a Barbie doll skirt with some mismatched needles and leftover yarn from my mother, I just couldn't quit. Then when I married, I was on a very tight budget, and I made sweaters for the children using leftover yarn from my mother. After the children got bigger, I started knitting little things like potholders for gifts. I thought about selling my things at craft fairs, but no one wants to pay you the money you've got into it. I wanted to work at home, so I started advertising by mail order.
WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?: I advertise in Vogue, McCall's and other magazines, and I buy names and addresses of people who order knitting patterns. When I get an order, I keep the person's name on my mailing list for at least a year. I've published three books on how to use up leftover yarn.
That's how I got started. Some people think leftover yarn is only about an ounce or two, but it can be several pounds. It varies, especially if you buy a different brand than the pattern calls for. Then you need something to do with it.
WHAT KIND OF PATTERNS DO YOU OFFER?: Mittens, flower pots and knitted sleeves that go over the (cylindrical) pringles potato chip containers are very popular. I make a large candy cane decoration for Christmas, and with a knitted bow on top, and an Uncle Sam caricature with the knitted legs and body in one piece, and the hat and feet separate. I have a few patterns for kleenex and toiletpaper holders using cotton yarn, and people really like my baby sweater made with one ball of yarn, for someone on a supertight budget.
HOW'S BUSINESS?: Busy. I've lived in seven states, so I have a lot of experience with what people want. Also, when someone sends in an order, I send them back photographs of different free patterns and a coupon good for a number of patterns depending on the size of the order. I have well over 100 free patterns in addition to the ones I sell.