I find myself at the end of the spring show season already. This year I traveled to Pittsburgh, PA in March for Indie Knit & Spin. With new organizers and a new venue, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, it ended up being a pretty good day. Next I popped up to Ann Arbor, MI for Fiber Expo. I always love going to this show mostly because Ann Arbor is a really nifty town. We go to Zingerman’s Bakehouse for breakfast both days and usually end up at the Deli for dinner on Saturday. I think I’ll just have to plan a visit for fun some time since it’s only about 3.5 hours away. The show itself went pretty well considering we had an ice storm Saturday night! Also in April I went to Salem, OH for Knitter’s Delight, a smaller event that has taken the place of Knitter’s Fantasy. Traffic was rather slow and most shoppers weren’t interested in fiber. I rounded out the tour with one of my favorite events, the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster, OH. I realized that this was my ninth year as a vendor! How can that be?
It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve been building this business for almost 10 years. Overall it’s progressed very slowly. Some people start their businesses and shoot right to the top. Everyone just faints at the sight of them. Not for me. My graph has a very mild incline. With a few dips along the way. I have some devoted customers, but in general I’m not on anyone’s mind. I can’t quite say what keeps me going. I’ve devoted myself to this and gosh darn-it, I’m sticking to it. Whether you like it or not.
Many years ago – I’m thinking about 10, maybe more – I got it in my head that I needed a new spinning wheel. I already had an older Ashford Traditional that I bought used, but I felt that I was ready to move on to something else. It came down to two wheels: the Kromski Sonata or the Schacht Ladybug. Why these two wheels? I can’t say now what attracted me to them. They were in my price range, easy to take on the road, and charming. In the end I bought the Sonata, but the reason wasn’t profound. It came down to me doing the thing that I always do. Making a decision based on the path of least resistance. When I was car shopping, I bought the first one I found because I wanted to stop car shopping even though I hated the color. I bought the Sonata because my local yarn shop was a Kromski dealer. She had one in stock, so I spun on it, and then I took it home.
Fast forward to last year. Schacht comes into my life with full force. I have the Cricket, the Flip, the Matchless, and of course, the Ladybug at my fingertips. I’ve been using the Ladybug for the bulk of my spinning and I LUUUUURV IT. I find it difficult to describe the differences between it and the Sonata. It just runs so smooth and works just right. What would be different now if I had found this wheel 10 years ago? Buying that Sonata sent me down a Kromski path. I bought the Harp too. Now I’ve completely switched to Schacht. My Sonata is gone. My Harp is gone.
These tools have been replaced with a Ladybug and Flip. I like how solid they feel, how effortlessly they work. The wood is so smooth; the lines are simple and clean; all the parts have a purpose. It appeals to my design tastes and practicality.
Starting in February I have decided to offer knitting classes twice a month. So often people stop in and want to learn how to knit, but I haven’t had anything on the schedule. I’ve been leaving it up to you – the customer – to pick the date and time. It seems like this can be overwhelming for some people, so I’ll be conducting an experiment over the next two months. There are two scheduled beginner knitting classes on the schedule now. One is on Saturday and one is on Thursday. You can sign up for them at anytime. As always though, if those don’t work for you, you are always welcome to contact me and schedule a private lesson.
Maybe you have a small group of friends interested in a private spinning, knitting, or needle felting class? I can do that too! Just let me know what topic you have in mind and we can make it happen!
You may or may not have noticed something new here at gwenerin.com. I hired someone to help me bring some much needed changes to the blog and expand it beyond to celebrate the expansion of the business. I discovered that things had changed a great deal since I started my blog in 2007 – THAT’S 10 YEARS. Everything is so complicated now! The update was long process as I tended to forget about my assignments for months at a time, neglecting to send the necessary information to my very patient designer. But here we are. I’ve continued to dabble and tweak, but I think I’m getting used to the new system. It’s similar but just different enough to throw me off now and then.
The biggest difference is the addition of an integrated online shop. Right now I just have the classes available for purchase, but eventually I plan to add other things as well. Please check out the EVENTS tab to find out what I’m hosting at the studio and what shows I’ll be attending. Feel free to send me an email if you have any problems maneuvering.
Here I am, sliding out the back of the fall fiber season. In September I was looking across the weeks and it felt as though it would drive me mad. One weekend on, one weekend off, one weekend on, one weekend off, two weekends in a row. I’ve never had that many events so close together! But, here I am with just one more fiber show on the schedule. I made it through without having a break down. In fact, it was nearly as terrible as I’d imagined it to be. For years I was too timid, too afraid to load up my schedule. I didn’t think I could handle it, but apparently I can.
So, after Indie Knit & Spin in November, what’s next? I’ll be switching into finished goods mode – knitting, weaving, felting. This year I applied for three events, one in Akron, two in Cleveland. I figured I might get accepted to one, instead I was accepted to all of them! You’ll find me this holiday season (every weekend in December leading up to Christmas) at Lake Affect Studios on December 2; 78th Street Studios on December 9 + 10; and Last Call at Goodyear Hall on December 17. I’m working really hard to keep calm!
Are you a scarf knitter? Ready to move on? Shawls are a great way to move into more complex knitting. Designer Megi Burcl has designed two shawl patterns that use a combination of handspun and commercial yarns. You will receive a copy of each pattern at either class, so you can come to both or choose depending on your skill level.
Each class is $15 per person. You may bring your own supplies or purchase them at the shop at a 10% discount. You will need about 300 yards each for both shawls. Samples were knit using about 100 yd aran weight handspun and one skein of Brown Sheep Co. Lamb’s Pride (190 yd).
To reserve a spot, you can let me know via email (email@example.com). I also have events set up on Facebook – Part 1 and Part 2.
Part 1: Phos
March 4 from 2-4 pm
Skills: Knit & purl. Circular needle. Reading a pattern.
Yarn: Approx 300 yards total. 100 yd handspun, 200 yd commercial.
Needle: US 10.5-11, depending on gauge.
Part 2: Lux March 18 from 2-4 pm Intermediate
Skills: Knit & purl. Directional increases and using stitch markers. Circular needle. Reading a pattern.
Yarn: Approx 300 yards total. 100 yd handspun, 200 yd commercial.
Needle: US 10.5-11, depending on gauge.
So many exciting things happening in the life of my business! The biggest new adventure is that I have moved my workspace out of the house and into a little shop in Hubbard on Main Street. I am calling it a “Fiber Arts Studio+Shop” because the back half is set up for dyeing and carding while the front section is set up for shopping. There is a sitting area for uninterested companions and anyone who wishes to sit and stitch a while. My hours are Wednesdays from 10 am to 7 pm, but you can call to schedule an appointment as well. And most days I’ll have the shop open when I’m in there working.
To celebrate this expansion I will also be getting a website makeover, but for now I’m posting here to share the news! My goal is to reawaken the online shop, but life needs to settle down a bit first.
Today is my first official day OPEN and I still have so much to do! The last shipment of new stock just arrived yesterday afternoon and I haven’t had a chance to put it all out yet. I just wanted to share here where I’ve been since it obviously has been here.
New year, new adventure, new opportunities! Hope to see you soon.
It’s been about a year since the Majacraft Aura entered my life. I picked up the box from the post office on a Thursday and rushed home to put it together. That weekend I was heading to Pittsburgh, so I didn’t have a chance to spend a lot of time with it. My first experiences weren’t great – I thought I’d put it together wrong. But, after a significant amount of panicking and reading posts on the Majacraft Ravelry forum, eventually things started to make sense. Since then I’ve focused primarily on two-ply, singles, and corespinning since that is my comfort zone. I feel like there are still so many more things to do with it, but I’m not sure how to get more information. However, it’s better knowing there is more to learn rather than feeling like I’ve already done everything there is to do.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to The Woolery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Even though I have been buying from them for years, I never stepped into their store. It was beautiful! Not as big as I would have thought, but the staff was very helpful and pulled out all sorts of things for me to see. I had wanted to get some gadgets for my Aura such as a smaller whorl or possibly the overdrive head. I ended up with the lace flyer kit, which contains the whorl, flyer, and two fat core bobbins. Also, I picked up some cotton and cashmere for blending, linen yarn, hemp fiber, a fox/wool bend, and a Nancy’s Knit Knacks Lazy Kate. Oh yes, and two yards of gorgeous wool fabric.
The night we got home, after unpacking, I tried out the new lace flyer. Taking off the standard whorl/flyer and switching to the lace whorl/flyer was very easy. Once everything was attached and adjusted, I spun a little bit of wool. And whoa! I couldn’t believe how fast it went! The yarn was the thinnest I’ve ever spun on a wheel. You really have to back off on the tension and the treadling isn’t quite as effortless as when you use the standard Aura flyer/whorl, but it was still pleasant and successful. After that initial test run I spun a few other experimental things before settling on some black alpaca. I put the drive band on the highest whorl and went from there. Of course it’s not perfect, but I still feel pretty happy with it. Right now I am waiting for an Akerworks Majacraft Baby Bobbin to arrive before plying these together. I discovered that plying onto my jumbo bobbins with the low whorl presents challenges, so I took the opportunity to finally get an Akerworks bobbin. More to come!
One of my goals for this year is to refine my inventory. I want to focus on items that are directly related to creating unique projects with fiber. That includes the material itself in different forms (combed top, roving, batts, locks, yarn, etc.) and tools necessary to help the process along.
Eucalan, spindles, knitting notions, felting needles. These are all items that enhance the experience of working with natural fibers. This spring I am very excited to add a new product to the line up: Greener Shades Heavy Metal-Free Acid Dyes from Still River Mill. I have been using these dyes myself for about five years, and while I am not an expert, I am happy to share them with you now!
What will you find at my booth?
All nine colors, 1/2 ounce jar
Citric acid, 8 ounce bag
Color card with basic instructions
Printed or digital copy of World of Color, full instructions and color samples
Primaries starter kit, includes citric acid, color card, and six 1/2 oz jars Available starting in April at the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo