Winter Market!

I had so much fun at the Last Minute Market in December, I decided to join the Artists of the Rust Belt for their Winter Market! It’s taking place this Sunday, February 9 from 1 pm to 7 pm at the B&O Station (530 Mahoning Ave, Youngstown, OH 44502).

With no gift shopping to distract you this time, just buy something special for yourself ! Or, if needed, pick up a unique item for Valentine’s Day (rather than “some dumb little thing“). In addition to having a few new knitted items and yarn, I’ll also be bringing more fiber (batts and locks). Should be a good time!

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the last hurrah

Since I already have the photos ready for the January reopening of the Etsy shop, I decided to go ahead and do it. I know it was scheduled for Monday, but I am meeting with my accountant, and I had the time today, so here it is! My plan to create a de-stashing shop still stands, however I do not currently have any items to list there. In a few weeks when I have been able to rebuild my inventory, I will reevaluate the situation. For now, please feel free to browse the shop!

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ramblings of progress

Yesterday morning I was feeling rather squashed. What to do with that darn Etsy shop? Make it seasonal? Establish separate inventory? Close it entirely? After sharing that post, I went out to lunch with my dad. I basically spent the entire time talking about my situation (FYI – I often have to talk out loud in order to think). I realized that I needed to differentiate the two businesses somehow: my online business vs. my traveling business. They are already quite separate, so maybe I should capitalize on it.

That’s when I came up with the idea of using the online shop as place for de-stashing.Usually my process goes like this:

  1. Dye fibers to sell.
  2. Spin fibers that don’t sell after 6 months.
  3. Sell yarn.
  4. Knit with yarn that doesn’t sell.

However, instead of using those older fibers myself, what if I placed them in a “sale bin”? That would be my online shop! I could also list things like the grab bags when I have them available. And maybe I would list a few other resale items that I couldn’t sell on Etsy, like Eucalan or notions. Ironically, I just cleared out all my old stock and knit it up for holiday craft shows. So, it might not happen right away. This also means that I won’t have those lingering items to use myself, so instead I’ll just dye a pound or two extra for my use. That will also help freshen up the colors of the yarn and knitwear, since they will be intentional and not left-overs.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. It was good to hear from fellow merchants and customers alike. It’s easy to lose perspective. We all need support from the community from time to time. Without each other, none of us could do this. I’m still thinking about closing the Etsy shop and reopening in a new location. For a long time I was afraid to do this. I would lose the following I had developed there over the years and the help from Etsy reaching customers. But honestly, it isn’t happening there. Nothing is happening there. I want to reinvent this aspect of my business and I feel like creating a new space might be the way to do it. I’ve been developing a shop at Storenvy and it’s fun! In fact, I can work on my listings while the shop is closed! WHAT?! Yes, someone decided that shop owners should be able to see their listings even when the shop is closed. Hm.

Stay tuned as I work through this new adventure!

new banner!

when things aren’t working

Oh, that darn Etsy Shop. It taunts me. Haunts me. Makes me feel inadequate, guilty, and annoyed. It’s always there, lurking over my shoulder. I’ve struggled with it since January 4, 2008. Six dreadful years and a meager 222 sales to show for it. I’ll admit, it was a good way to get started. I didn’t have to maintain a massive inventory. Just update a few at a time as things were made.

Then I started going to events. Again, I started small, but now with 8-10 activities throughout the year, it has become incredibly difficult to maintain an online presence. Just when I get something photographed and listed, I take it to a show, sell it, and have to remove it from the shop. It may only cost 20 cents per listing, but that can add up. I’ve considered keeping separate inventories: the majority for live events and a smaller group for online only. But after all this time, I just haven’t been able to make it work. Why leave a box of fiber home when I know I could sell it at the show?

I don’t know if I should just give up all together. Online sales have never been successful for me. For some reason I have developed a following that isn’t so Internet focused. They aren’t posting selfies with my yarn, or gabbing about their latest project on Ravelry, or buying loads of fiber from my shop. When I stand there in front of my booth, I sell. When I sit at home staring at the computer, nothing happens. Sure, it’s easy to get lost in the overwhelming avalanche of fiber that is now available online. I understand there are many things to choose from, and obviously mine just doesn’t shine through.

  • Is it time to close up shop?
  • How can I reconfigure things to make them work for me?
  • Would it really matter if I just didn’t do online sales anymore?

I was planning to reopen next Monday. But I have to take all new photos of my products, another aspect of this that I hate. Yesterday we finally had some sun, so I got out my camera, lugged the boxes of fiber into the living room, and sat down to work. Camera battery dead! I put in the charged battery. The camera won’t come on. PS. This camera is at least 15 years old. Refusing to be defeated, I used my phone camera. The pictures look great on the phone, but terrible on my computer. No color! Next stop is PicMonkey, a free photo editing website. I fixed all the pictures there and now they look reasonably accurate. But, ooooh, I hate this nonsense.

This first collage shows the pictures unedited.

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The second collage shows the photos enhanced. And I did add a filter over the whole thing to give it more oomph. The “normal” edited photos are available for view on Flickr.

locks-collage

 

eight years in the making

Sorry, but I’ve got to do a quick walk down memory lane! I realized today that this is the eighth year I’ve participated in a holiday arts & crafts sale. It all began in 2006 with my mom’s table cloth, five pairs of mitts, and a few balls of yarn that were just there for show. Isn’t this the saddest and cutest thing you’ve ever seen? It’s really quite terrible. But I’ve learned since then!

Craft Sale Table

This weekend I participated with the Artists of the Rust Belt at their Last Minute Market. I tried something a bit different with my setup and was very pleased with the result. It seemed to work fine, since most of this is gone now. So, I think it’s safe to say things have improved a bit?

holiday sale

the final push

For some reason I couldn’t resist jumping on board one last show this year. Why not? I’ve already surpassed my own expectations. First I booked two weekends in a row, then three. Why not add another craft show? Just go for it, right?

I’m going to be in Youngstown again, but at a location never before experienced. I went to the B&O Station once when I was a little kid and all I remember is that it was an expensive restaurant at which we didn’t stay to eat. Now it’s a fancy hall where they have wedding receptions and, apparently, craft shows.

lastminmarket
The B&O Station
530 Mahoning Ave, Youngstown, OH 44502
December 21 & 22, 2013

12 pm to 7 pm
12 pm to 5 pm

I am working on a few new items for this weekend. Even though it should be low priority, I couldn’t stop myself from spinning. There will be 11 new skeins of yarn. And so far I have six pairs of mitts done with the intention of doing two or three more this week. Also, I’ve been fooling around with crochet more. I got one clutch done (another in the works) and a button-up neckwarmer. It’s fun! It’s new! I was getting bored!

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in the news

This past weekend I was at the Holiday Open House & Sale hosted by the Artists of the Mahoning Commons at the Ward Bakery Building in Youngstown, OH. That’s a mouthful, eh? Two different local news outlets came and wrote articles about us. The first was from a TV station. Their article was short, but they included a photo. I ended up in the picture! At least my underwear wasn’t sticking out the back of my pants.


The second article was written by a reporter from a newspaper, The Vindicator. It didn’t have any photos, but it was much longer. He talked to me for quite a while and he was very nice. I feel a bit sorry for him though, having to listen to me ramble on and on about drumcarding and sheep breeds and yarn. A few details in the article are a bit inaccurate, but when you are trying to write about something totally foreign in a small amount of time and you are piecing together my descriptions of how things work, I think you are allowed a bit of wiggle room. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the newspaper before, at least not for this sort of thing.

If you missed out on the show last weekend, you will have another opportunity to shop the weekend following Thanksgiving. The hours are 12 to 5 pm both days. Support Small Business Saturday!

turning straw into gold

Or at the very least, turning white fiber into colorful fiber. It feels like I’ve been spinning more in the past three weeks than I have all year. Totaled up, I got 10 new skeins done. Some have already found new homes, but I’m going to keep at it this week because I’m not quite done yet.

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This past weekend I went to Pittsburgh for Indie Knit & Spin and it was a fantastic day. When the right people are there, ready to shop, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, it just doesn’t get any better. I sold the Country Craftsman spinning wheel, so now my living room is a bit more spacious (just in time for Christmas!). The totes and bags I just filled with fiber are already empty again, so I see plenty of dyeing in my future, although that can wait until January!

Indie Knit & Spin
Even though I am done for the year with fiber festivals, I have one more event to attend. I am participating in a local art/craft show this weekend. Many of the other vendors are friends from my days in college, so it will be nice to be “back home” this holiday season. For this event I will need primarily finished goods, but I’m going to bring yarn and a bit of fiber to help fill in the space. I’ve been trying to get as much knitting done as possible, but I always wait until the last minute. And where I should have 50 pairs of fingerless mitts done, I only have 12. My goal is 15, so this week I will be doing a lot of frantic knitting, some felting, a bit of carding, and some spinning.

amccard
After all the hubbub dies down, I swear I’m going to start crocheting more. I bought those two books from Knit Picks and I just haven’t had the time to really sit down and work with them. My December and January are clear right now, so I’m looking forward to taking a breather, washing my fleeces, conducting some experiments, and learning a few new things. Sadly, when you are in production mode, you don’t always have the time to explore. But if you don’t, then your work can get dull. It’s a delicate balance.

decisions as a dyer

As a regular reader of this blog would know, I enjoy taking trips down memory lane now and then. Having a Flickr account since October 2006 (hey – seven years this month!) gives me the chance to compare earlier work to my current work. I can see how much I’ve improved — or stagnated. I can see how much more — or less — productive I am now. Either way, it’s good to remind myself of my progress.

Today I am taking a look back at my early dyeing experiences. I am sure that I had started dyeing earlier than what is available via Flickr, but I hadn’t started documenting things yet. The first photo I have of dyed locks is this one from November 6, 2006. It was Lincoln wool. I had run them through the carder and decided it looked like a potential wig… so it went on my head!

Lincoln Beehive
The next two photos are from the following spring. The first from March 9, 2007 is combed top, just a domestic wool blend. When I first got into dyeing, I would buy a pound of domestic (super cheap!) and dye 2 ounces at a time to make it last longer. Now I am buying 22 pounds at a time. What a difference.  Those colors say lanaset to me, so at that point I was already getting past the Kool-aid/Wiltons phase and into wool dyes.

nugget of joy
This photo is from March 11, 2007. It’s the wool roving I received from a fiber processing mill that lost my original fleece. To this day I am not entirely sure what the breed was, but I think I still have some of it lying around. It wasn’t the greatest stuff, but it gave me a lot of experience dyeing.

Narniana

Where was I going with this?

I think it’s safe to say I should be out of my “experimental” phase by now. Sure, it’s fun to try new things now and then. Different techniques, fibers, dyes, etc. One doesn’t want to get bored. However, I have been avoiding something that almost every dyer I know can do: repeated colors. I have always claimed that I take an “unscientific approach” and I don’t record any recipes. It ruins the artistic flow. And that is true, but also I am using it as an excuse to remain casual and detached, a way to avoid being purposeful. On one hand, having repeatable colors would make my life easier in many ways. On the other hand, it could be boring.

Why not do… BOTH!? Someone (Rich first and then my dad) suggested that I have two separate collections: those that are predictable, repeatable colors, and those that are special little moments in time that will never be seen again. I’m sure many dyers take this approach, but it makes a lot of sense. I can still have the fun of “come what may”, but those shoppers who want a sweater’s worth in one color can get it. We’ll see if I can pull it off!

This week is going to be full of dyeing. With Indie Knit & Spin coming up quick and a successful event behind me, I have a serious amount of restocking to do. Planned for this week:

  • Grey Romney roving
  • White Border Leicester/Coopworth roving
  • White Cotswold locks
  • White Border Leicester/Corriedale locks
  • White Falkland top
  • White Blue-faced Leicester top
  • White Colonial wool top

Have things gotten out of hand? #wool #fleece # fiber #stash

another successful event

And just like that, it’s over! Thank you to everyone who attended and helped with the Autumn Fiber Festival on Saturday. It was a rainy day, but the building was full of shoppers. Hooray! And a special thanks to all of you who helped me with my “studio clean-up project” by purchasing any items from the destash table. Having a larger space than usual — 10×12 rather than 10×10 — allows for that extra table, so I think it will become a regular feature. Everyone needs to go through their stash now and then to give it a good scrubbing!

10x10 Booth

Getting to the event on Saturday was a little nutty. Unfortunately I left my house 15 minutes later than I planned and then found out the event was 15 minutes farther away than I thought. That meant we arrived half an hour later than I expected. I only had one hour to unload and set up. It was crazy, but a few other people helped my dad bring in boxes while I started laying things out. In the end we got it done. I used a different configuration than I have in the past. It might not have had the best flow, but it worked well enough.

It was great visiting with so many friends this weekend and talking to several returning customers. Some even brought projects to share! It is so exciting to see what people do with the fibers I dye. I get them started, but you make them into something special. Do you spin them? Felt them? Knit them? Crochet them? Keep bringing your projects to shows – I couldn’t be happier to see them.

customer project

customer project