spring show wrap-up

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.

so many updates!

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.

avoidance

WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY do I always think I’ll remember which fleece is which?! And why don’t I label them better?!

It’s tax season again, or at least approaching tax season. And this is the time when I review my inventory and see what’s what and where and so on. I’m opening bags and boxes, wondering, what is this and where did it come from? I buy fleeces from the same places each year and my taste is fairly consistent, so just looking at a bag full of curly locks isn’t going to help me figure out which sheep donated it. At this moment I am avoiding my next task by writing this blog post. I need to lay everything out to determine the following:

who has been washed
who has been washed and dyed
who has been sold
who is still sitting in purgatory waiting for attention

I’m quite sure that everything in my life is related in some way to avoidance. I clean the stove top when I am avoiding something. I write a blog post when I am avoiding digging through fleeces. I check Facebook (for the 1000th time that day) when I am avoiding number things in Quickbooks. At least I got the dishes washed already! Because I was avoiding the fleeces. Maybe I’ll go clean out my car.

another fresh start

I love that every new year we can just pretend like last year wasn’t a thing.

“I’m going to make a change! I mean it this year.”
“Let’s just start fresh.”
“A new calendar!  New possibilities!”
“I didn’t follow my resolutions last year, but I will this time!”
“Here’s to new beginnings!”

And then by February it’s all forgotten again. So consider this my little song and dance to celebrate our agreed upon starting over point. I will pretend that I will start blogging regularly! I will state that this year will be different and I will do my data entry monthly (rather than yearly). I will chose a grand knitting project that will be just for me and then I’ll never get started on it.

This sounds like a lot of excuses. But really I just know myself well enough that I accept my failings as a human. I’m a big talker, but not much of a doer.

One thing I did do already this year was to reorganize my dresser. Apparently there is a book circulating that addresses clutter and how to get rid of it. I didn’t read or even pick up the book, but I saw a snippet about it on a news show. They mentioned something about folding your clothes so that you can see every article in the drawer. It sounded like an interesting concept, but I worried that my clothes wouldn’t fit in the drawer once I refolded them. So I began slowly with the pants drawer. Everything still fits! The next week I moved onto a shirt drawer. Still fits! And I could see everything at once! It was really quite exciting. I ended up doing all the drawers and was pleased to discover that everything went back into its drawer and the new folding technique utilized the space better. Since I got this dresser six years ago, I have never been able to arrange my clothes in a way that used all the space. It annoyed me. But now all the space has been filled and I can see each sad, dull garment I own all at once. My personal color scheme is quite dreary. The one thing that I found odd about this is that your clothes are now standing up and when you take an item out, or the drawer isn’t full, the garment on the end sags. I feel like I need book ends just to keep everything in its place. Ah well, still a successful endeavor!

dresser drawers

I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot, feeling bad that I have neglected it, wondering why I continually avoid posting. Here is what I have determined.

1) Nobody blogs anymore. Nobody reads blogs anymore. If I am going to continue with this, I should do it because I want to document things, not because I am trying to entertain someone.

2) It’s so time consuming! You need a topic and photos and stuff and blah and I just don’t want to. But on the other hand, there are times when I really want to express myself in something longer than a Facebook post. I don’t know why I find it so much more of a burden to pop over to WordPress and type up a little post. I suppose I figure it out to be more polished and professional. Must it?

3) What do I have to say? That hasn’t already been said. I feel like my life is on repeat, so how do I present my activities in a new way? To me it’s the same thing again and again. Yep, I went to work. And again today. And again. And again. I don’t know how to make it fresh and relevant to the topic of “fiber”. I’m sewing modern clothes! I want to talk about that.

So, with that being said… what’s next?

perpetual change

To say that businesses are always changing is obvious, and mine is no different. Since I started selling online in 2008, I have tried lots of different things, added new products, expanded, subtracted, failed, gained. All of it. Right now things are going well. I have a solid circuit of shows for the year, and I have my goods in several shops in the area. But the one place that has always fallen down is the online shop. I know there are so many people who have turned their online business into a hugely successful enterprise, but that isn’t and has never been me! Some time ago I switched from Etsy to Storenvy. Now I am eliminating the online portion all together. I feel that there are so many other popular dyers out there that it’s pointless for me to try to compete. People expect you to have an online store because it’s 2015 and who doesn’t sell online?! But when it comes down to it, they have no intention of buying anything from me. They just want to know that it’s there in case they want something sometime in the far distant future. I’m done playing around with it. I’m done feeling frustrated. I’m done putting in the work and getting nothing from it. I’m done giving people options just so they can ignore me. I have so many other things to do that this doesn’t even matter anymore.

If you want to buy my products, you can get them from the following places or find me at any of the 10-12 fiber, craft, and trunk shows I do each year.

Dryer Balls
Body Goodies
Liberty, OH

Hand-dyed combed top
The Artful Yarn
Chagrin Falls, OH

Hand-dyed silk scarves
Savvy Chic Boutique
Columbiana, OH

Hand-dyed fiber, yarn, & silks
The Shop on Liberty Street
Hubbard, OH

temptations + upgrade

Majacraft Suzie

When I first started exploring spinning wheels (back in 2005) I found myself at a wee little shop in Wadsworth, OH. She carried Majacraft wheels and I got to try one. Even though I had very very little experience, I could tell it was a kick ass piece of machinery. But Majacraft are some of the highest priced wheels out there – easily $1000 in today’s market. And as a college student, I did not have the job or sugar daddy to buy it for me. That’s how I ended up with my Ashford Traditional. It was a used wheel and only cost $250. Much more manageable. A few years later and with a bit more money saved, I upgraded to the Kromski Sonata. I was ready for a new wheel and that one was there. I liked that it folded up and had an old fashioned style. Plus it was around $500 (they’ve gone up in price too!). Since then I’ve gotten the jumbo and lace flyers. It’s the wheel I use every day, but I find myself struggling with it. I can’t quite pinpoint the problem, so it’s hard to know how to solve it. But lately I’ve been rethinking a Majacraft wheel. Partly because how can you not want a new wheel?! But also for an upgrade.

When I have issues with equipment, I often think that getting something better will solve all my problems. But it’s me. Someone who is really talented can make awesome stuff regardless of the tools. Buying a new drumcarder did make my batts larger and cleaner, but I’m still the one who selects the fibers. In the end they are still the same boring batts they always were, they’re just blended better. I feel the same with the wheel – even if I were to get a new wheel with more options, I’m still the one who is working the thing. If I don’t know what I’m doing, it won’t matter what sort of equipment I have.

And there is also the cost. The Suzie Pro (pictured above) is around $995 at the Woolery right now. They also have the Overdrive head available for a mere $383. So many options. Perhaps too many. I would feel obligated to sell my Kromski. Do I really need four wheels clogging my house? Selling it would only cover half the cost of the new wheel! Do I even care enough about this to invest so much? I need to find a place where I can try one again. I see a road trip in my future. It would be kind of cool to finally be able to get that wheel I wanted when I first started but couldn’t afford. To be continued.

here we go again

Not posting so regularly these past few months. It isn’t because I don’t have things on my mind, it’s more that I feel like it doesn’t matter. This blog was very important to me when I started it, but anymore it seems like I just say the same thing over and over:

Look at this yarn.
I’m still knitting.
Went to a show.
Dyeing again.

And there’s that the entire year! So why do I need to keep reiterating it? How can I make this blog something relevant again? Maybe I should stop thinking about the ripples (or lack there of) and just post whatever I want… maybe I don’t want to post. It is rather time consuming. I don’t even know how to write anymore. Good grief.

Anyway…

I see a lot of people using words as inspiration for their year rather than setting rigid “resolutions”. I suppose it gives them more flexibility and it’s a way to make multiple changes in many areas. I’ve never really done anything inspired by the new year other than getting a new date book. However, after meeting with my accountant yesterday, I had a few thoughts.

1) I need to stop spending money on unnecessary things. She suggested I work on a budget, which would be a good idea not only for my business, but my home expenses. Rich always says that you should enjoy life, otherwise what’s the point (i.e. spend!). But that doesn’t mean I can’t cut out a few things — like those fun trips to Pat Catans every month or so.

2) If this is truly full-time, I need to be making more money. In order to sell more, I need to make more. Also, I need to stop spending so much time on stupid things like Facebook, labeling, data entry, and other boring behind the scenes things. Yet again, I can also integrate this into my daily life. I want to do more sewing and more baking and more weaving and cultivate my own damn hobby again.

3) I have literally NO FOLLOW-THROUGH. This is something I realized at the end of the year and it may be the reason I have accomplished so little in my life. I feel like I am just skimming across the top and never really getting in there. I have all these ideas and plans in my head, I’ll even SAY I’m going to do something, and then I never do it. Do you know how many blog posts I plan to write, but don’t? Projects I want to do? Things I want to make? Places I want to go? It’s really quite pitiful.

4) I need to be more proactive. I allow myself to get complacent and hope that people will come to me. Guess what? They don’t! If you don’t ask about something, you will never know. I am the worst at networking. It probably goes along with that lazy thing in #3. Also, I hate feeling like I am pushing myself on people. I just figure if they want to do something with me, they will ask. I guess I have to figure out how to get more from people without being obnoxious. Ugh.

To sum it up, here are my inspirational phrases/goals for 2015:

Reduce expenses
Increase productivity
Be more engaging

Sure, it’s not artsy or soulful, but most things I do are rather practical and square, so too bad.
Look! I put in on a picture. Now it’s legitimate!

2015words

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!

book

a tribute to Gladys

new car!

On Friday I said goodbye to a good friend: my 1993 Buick Century. I bought this car right after graduating from college. It had about 60,000 miles on it and not a spot of rust. For about 6 years she did almost everything I asked of her. As far as I can remember, she never abandoned me. The muffler was a constant problem though. In fact, I remember sitting in the muffler repair shop knitting the garter for my wedding in 2009. She got me to my first job after college and every one since. When I started traveling to shows, I crammed as much fiber in there as possible. It was hard to believe how much stuff I could get in there, but those old cars had BIG trunks!

In the end I knew time was running short. Things were going wrong, leaks were appearing, the transmission lines were rotting… but the car was still running, so it was hard to say goodbye. I’ll always think on you fondly, Gladys!

mosaica14a02201cb8a9ad3fa549b563b0ff61d3d6bc37

Of course I’d been pondering her replacement for some time. I knew it needed to have more storage, or at least be easier to load. Plus I wanted something that could tow. I had been looking at various SUVs, though in the end I found a Victory Red 2008 Chevy HHR. It was a lot newer and fancier than I had hoped to find, so I am pleased. Now it is time to make new memories with Ruth!

This is coming home with me tomorrow. #newcar #hhr #Chevy #booya