personal time

I need a hobby. I used to have one when I started this blog in 2007, but it has since become a job. My other hobby, the SCA, requires so much work and causes so much stress that it should be a job. I feel like I have nothing that is just for me any longer. What do I spend my free time doing? Who am I kidding? I have no free time. I don’t want to knit even for myself because I am knitting all the time. So yes, for those of you who are curious, turning it into a business sucks all the fun out of it.

I find myself turning towards sewing. All my SCA clothing is made by me, so why can’t I make normal clothes for every day? I love fabric, but one only needs so many dresses for a “hobby”, so I thought that making modern clothes would be a good direction in which to expand.

I started a feeble Pinterest board to keep track of various patterns and tutorials, but so far I have only attempted a Simplicity that failed miserably. If anyone can mess up an “easy” Simplicity pattern (it was actually designated as “easy”), it would be me. And of course that episode has discouraged me from trying anything else. One of my main problems is my body. It’s short and lumpy and none of the patterns are designed for short people. Yes, of course I know you can adjust and shorten them, but guess what?! That sucks.

For my birthday, which was yesterday, I received The Magic Pattern Book by Amy Barickman. It looks cool, not too complicated. Maybe I will try again with a pattern that isn’t so stressful. But it probably won’t work. And then I’ll end up with a pile of shredded fabric. You can reknit yarn, but fabric isn’t so forgiving!


modern businesswoman

…which I am not.

For years I have been steadfast in my use of carbon copy paper receipts. “Oh, I don’t need a receipt,” the customer would say. “Too bad. I’m already writing it,” I replied. In general I have been fairly resistant to change and technology – I’m a spinner for Pete’s sake! How fuddy-duddy can you get? But every now and then I pop my head out of my hovel and see that there are things out there that could make my life a little bit simpler. Quickbooks for accounting! Sort of helpful, sort of a huge a pain in the ass. Smartphone with Square! Allows me to take charge cards. Excel spreadsheets! Keeps track of my fiber inventory and tallies stuff up. Aaaand that’s where it ends. Until last week. I took the plunge and got myself a TABLET! Impressive, I know. I wanted to try switching from handwritten receipts to keeping track of all my sales through Square. I went to a show over the weekend, so I didn’t have to wait long to give it a test run.

Some cool things:

  • Tax included. I already do this, but now all the math has been done for me. Phew!
  • Time stamp. I can see that I had a sale at 9:20, 9:22, 9:26, 9:30, etc. And my suspicions that the last hour is a bust have been confirmed.
  • Sales totaled. After my big day, I get a report from Square complete with charts (yay!) and numbers letting me know how much I grossed and what items sold the best. I love charts.
  • Less “stuff”. Now I don’t have to have a pen, calculator, notebook, receipt book, cash envelope, change purse… blaaaah…
  • Looks fancy. What says “small businesswoman in the 21st century” more than flipping a snazzy new tablet around in people’s faces?

I wish they had a way for you to make multiple inventory lists. For some events I don’t sell certain things and it would be nice to hide them. There is no hiding of items.

Another funny thing that happened on my way to modernity: I forgot my cash box at home. That included all my change, receipt books, pens, markers, notebook, and Square reader. Yep. When I realized this, I asked some other vendors if they had an extra reader, but no. Then I went hunting online to find a Best Buy or Staples. So far away! THEN I went to Square’s website and found out that they are sold at Rite Aid. WHAT?! After dinner my trusty companion, Amber who rocks, and I headed up the street to the closest Rite Aid and they had it! Plus I got some change. I was saved and it was spectacular. Bonus: now I have two working readers. The day went great. I think using the Square went great. It is always amusing to watch as someone smashes your stylus into the screen and asks why it is so sticky. Or they lay their entire hand on the screen and can’t figure out why the stylus isn’t writing. There is a reason I applied a screen protector.

Also, I didn’t have time to buy a case, so I whipped together a little sleeve before leaving the house on Friday. I took a piece of felt and sewed up the sides (as seen above). Blammo! Other than the awesome Square app, I haven’t figured out why my tablet is better than my smartphone or computer. I still prefer to navigate websites and such on the laptop. And the camera on my phone is FAR superior. However, using the tablet in the kitchen to read recipes has been handy. Hopefully I will discover other reasons to justify its purchase. I just wish I could get my email account to work on it.

And here is the obligatory booth shot from Autumn Fiber Festival in Ashland, OH. I love this event because we get a 10×12 space. And it is just one day of fever-pitch shopping!

Just spending the day at Autumn Fiber Festival. #transientvendor #woolmerchant #booth #Ashland #Ohio

just different enough

Can’t say I have much experience dyeing silk and what few encounters I have had with it have been awkward. Mostly I’ve tried to dye silk noils. The little puff balls sit on top of the water and refuse to take up the dye. I know I ought to soak it first, but I just don’t. Add it to my list of personal failings. So when I decided I wanted to dye silk scarves, I can’t say for sure where the notion came from. Part of it was just that I’ve been seeing so many dyed fabrics lately. Dyed fabric has such a different look than dyed fiber. And I knew I wouldn’t have to buy different dyes. Plus I needed a change.

So I went to Dharma Trading and started looking at their wide variety of dyeables. Oh! But even better! I remembered that my dad had abandoned a box of silk scarves at our house some months ago. He hadn’t thought about them for this long, so why not go ahead and use them? As I opened the packages, I was delighted to find six. There were three small squares and three of varying large sizes. Since I had experience dyeing fabric and protein fibers, I figured I didn’t need to read any directions. Just go for it, right? I tied them up and left them in a pot of acid water to soak. When I was ready to dye them, I squeezed out the excess water, laid the bunched up scarves in a glass baking dish, and squirted the various colors around. Then I baked them for about 30 minutes. When they came out, I rinsed them in water before hanging them to dry. With the sun and breeze yesterday, it took just minutes! I’ll probably give them a proper Eucalan bath later.

I’ll admit, I got distracted. Playing with something new was much more exciting than dyeing yet more roving. I happily abandoned my pots on the stove to admire the scarves as they blew in the breeze. What am I going to do with these? Who cares? Everyone is getting a silk scarf for Christmas.

silk scarves