another event behind me

Being at Handmade Arcade was not as terrifying as I had anticipated. You see, I tend to build things up in my mind. I run through all the possibilities of failure and then I can’t get past assuming one of those things is bound to happen. Even though experience has taught me that it’s never as bad as I think it will be, I can’t stop my mind from going down that path. So, prepare for the worst, hope for the worst. Oh, it’s hope for the best, that’s right.

Did you know it was also my birthday on Saturday? It may have been the most unremarkable birthday I’ve had in a long time. I insisted on telling people throughout the day that it was my birthday, just so someone knew. That’s what you get for surrounding yourself with strangers on your “day”.

Again, I have pictures, but they are trapped in Rich’s phone and by the time I get them they will no longer be relevant. Maybe I need to break down and get a smarty-pants phone myself.

It was a successful event. I’m so used to long minutes dragging by where no one is even in the room let alone looking at my items, that having a constant stream of people was staggering. They were interested! They were weird! They were buying! It was a good feeling, selling to people who weren’t just trying to do me a favor. They bought stuff because they actually wanted it. How nice.

December’s newsletter is being sent to your inboxes as we speak,
or click here if you can’t wait that long:
http://eepurl.com/sNkrX

made in ohio festival

Heading to my first craft show of the year tomorrow!

The Made in Ohio festival features Ohio artisans, local restaurants and all that Hale Farm has to offer!  Our vendors include jewelry artists, potters, carvers, glass artists, soap and lotions makers, quilters and a variety of unique crafters.

The $5 admission fee includes admission to the craft festival as well as the grounds and buildings at Hale Farm.

Saturday, September 1, 2012 10 am to 5 pm

Hale Farm & Village
2686 Oak Hill Road
Bath, Ohio 44210

Explore the arts and history at the same time!

and yet another (box)

I am going full blast on ordering things!

Last week I decided to buy a set of wood folding shelves. They are a style I’ve seen around at shows for a long time, even in SCA merchant booths, but I could never find them. Every time I typed “folding wood shelf” into Google I’d get something that was more of a bookshelf than anything else and only about 3 feet high. About a year ago I bought two of those type and one immediately became integrated into the house (now full of CDs and videos). The other has been used as an endcap and filled with bags of locks. I don’t dislike it, but I wanted something that was tall enough to stand on its own and didn’t require squatting to reach the bottom.

table set-up  Great Lakes Fiber Show

 I ended up finding the long sought after shelves at Woodland Marketing. It was recommended by someone on Ravelry (same place I heard about Got Print!). I browsed through the different heights and widths, and decided to go with the 5′ x 4′. I thought it would be a manageable size for me, and I can use the 4 foot shelves I already have to add more space. I think these will go well with my crates in color and style.

Can’t wait to fill them up!

Did I mention they were marked 40% off?

2011 Revisited

While everyone else out there in media-land is doing year end countdowns, recaps, reviews, and best-of lists, I thought I’d try that myself. So, what happened this year? I can’t remember off the top of my head, so it’s a good thing I’ve got Flickr to help jog my memory. I’ve gone through all my photos for the year and selected one or two of the most meaningful for each month (so, lots of pictures to follow). How was your year?

JANUARY

blocked shawl
My first shawl. Knit from handspun/dyed BFL. I use this almost every day at work.
birthday cake!
The most amazing birthday cake I have ever put together. It was for Rich.

FEBRUARY

table set-up
Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival.

MARCH

Olive
Olive, our little black cat.
weaving with roving
This is Rambouillet that I hate spinning, so I wove a giant rug.

APRIL

Table set-up
A Knitter's Fantasy, Youngstown, OH.
April & Dad
April & Jeremy's wedding in For Lauderdale, FL.

MAY

new mitts on new hand
The new hand model with Vertical Veins mitts.
Great Lakes Fiber Show
Great Lakes Fiber Show, Wooster, OH.

JUNE

matched set
A matched set knit from Cosy-dyed Falkland.

JULY

wool room
Organizing the wool room.

AUGUST

front gate & sheetwall
Gryphon's Rest camp at Pennsic XL.

SEPTEMBER

helios
Helios, handdyed Corriedale roving.

OCTOBER

me & my table
Fall Festival at the Apple Castle, New Castle, PA.
spinning
Showing off the Wristler.

NOVEMBER

booth at Indie Knit & Spin
Indie Knit & Spin, Pittsburgh, PA.

DECEMBER

gwenerin logo
New logo designed by Erin Flynn.
craft sale booth
SAA Fine Art & Craft Sale, Youngstown, OH.

learning and growing

We had another successful weekend at the SAA Fine Art & Craft Sale this year. I can’t believe it’s the sixth time I’ve had a table there! It truly is the place where it all started; back when I was just 20 and had only been knitting about 2 years. I may have started small, but I have learned so much since that first event.

  • Don’t bring knick knacks for your display if you aren’t willing to sell them – or be prepared to tell everyone that your sheep aren’t for sale. And make sure they aren’t breakable.
  • Always have plenty of change. Especially $1 bills.
  • Bring everything you have, even if you don’t think anyone will buy it. Someone probably will.
  • Each year is different. What didn’t move last year is suddenly what everyone is looking for now.
  • Just smile and nod when someone says something insulting.
  • Some people will totally get what you are doing and love it. Some people will say something rude within earshot, but not actually to you. And some people will walk by without even looking.
  • When completing a transaction, take your time and do things right. If you get all flustered and weird, you’ll make a mistake or forget something.
  • People don’t like you to make their decision for them. If you have two pairs of mitts left on the table, no one will buy them. But if you had those two plus 10 more, those first two will sell because the customer has a choice. So don’t expect to sell much when you only have three pairs of mittens left the second day.
  • Be helpful, but not too helpful. Customers need to be left alone to think.
  •  If you ignore people, they will ignore you. If you say hello and smile, they feel obligated to come over and look.
  • People actually do buy handspun yarn. Just not at fiber festivals.
  • Don’t take things too personal.
  • Don’t change what you are doing to suit one person because the next person will come along and say the opposite.
  • Someone will always ask you for the one thing you don’t have.
  • Have your prices set beforehand, otherwise you’ll get flummoxed and say the wrong thing (and you can’t go back once you’ve told them a price – “I’m sorry. I told you it was $10, but it’s actually $35.” Goodbye, sale!
  • Regardless of the signs and tags, they will still ask you how much it costs.
  • Try to stay positive throughout the event. Grumpiness will radiate from you and if the customers sense it, they will avoid you.
  • Not every event you sell at will be the right place for you and your goods. It’s ok to say, “That didn’t work and I’m not going back. But now I know.”

And now, let’s revisit some of those years gone by.

December 2006. Called “The Squirrel’s Nest”. Nothing on that table was for sale. ???Craft Sale Table
December 2007. Called “The Zesty Lemon”. A more serious attempt.craft show display
December 2008. Productive year; set up alone.
craft sale table!
December 2009. L-shaped. Introduced teapots, but somewhat sparse.
table display

long weekend

Whoa! That holiday weekend came rushing in and made a mess of things, it seems. I forgot about Friday’s Question because I was out trying to find pants on sale for Rich and little baskets for stitch markers. The rest of the weekend was wrapped up in organizing the garage and other things I can’t remember. I managed to get one last pair of mittens knit up on Thursday, several decorative buttons sewn on to other pairs, and a set of sign stands made.

It’s the sign stands that I am most excited about. I’m sure you’ve seen those place card holders that have a big decorative weight on the bottom and a metal clip at the top. I wanted something like that, except not with a birthday cake, or a fleur-de-lis, or bear holding a balloon. After I explained to Rich what I had in mind (but had no idea how to make it), he explained to me how easy it would be to put something like that together. We needed a few wooden wheels, a bag of little springy clothespins, and some dowel rod. He has a dowel rod collection, so we found rod that fit into the wheels. Then he notched a spot on top of the rod for the clip, glued it in place and bam! Sign stands. I wrapped the rod with yarn to cover the join at the top and to make it more decorative. I’ve got six stands in three different heights (8, 10, and 12 inches). Now my signs won’t have to be wedged here or there or tacked in place with weak and inefficient tape. And when I change my mind (and the sign), I can just take it out of the clip and put in a new one!

It’s great to have a handy AND smart husband! What a combination.

Stay tuned tonight for photos.

on the road

In case you are trying to find me and my fibers, I’ve added an easily accessible tab to the menu above listing all of the festivals I plan on attending over the next few months. This list should be the most accurate schedule and I will do my best to keep it so. If you have any questions regarding any of these events, pop over to the “Contact” tab and send me a message.

It’s always a pleasure to meet customers, fans, and other fiber-lovers! So, please don’t hesitate to come up and say “Hi”. Just make sure you tell me how you know me. ahahahaa. Your next opportunity is the Holiday Fine Art & Craft Sale at the McDonough Museum in Youngstown, OH (Dec. 3 & 4). I’ll be there with my yarn, mitts, teapots, and various odds and ends.

peachy green mitts
Peachy green mitts. Corriedale, alpaca, Falkland.

learning experiences

The great thing about setting up at shows and festivals is getting to meet people. Whether you are sharing information or making sales, it’s just great to interact with customers face to face.  The other great thing about shows is that you can really learn from your customers and get ideas for the next project.

I learned a few things at the Apple Castle this weekend.  First, I need more stock (but I already knew that).  People don’t like you to make the decision for them, and if you only have one or two of something, they won’t buy it.  They like to pick from a variety of colors and patterns.  Second, I need to offer more alpaca.  There are a lot of farms in this area and people know about them.  They know they are soft and cute and they want to wear it.  I have plenty of alpaca fiber at home, but I just haven’t spent the time to spin it.  Third, I learned how to accept credit cards using the Square.  I was so excited by the whole thing I got a little flustered, but overall it was a great experience.  I’m glad to be able to add that to my business, since I’ve noticed that younger people don’t tend to carry checks, but they do use plastic.  Fourth, I finally realized how a newsletter could be useful.  I just thought that my blog was sufficient, but a newsletter delivers the information directly to the customer.  If I have a coupon or new product I want them to know about right away, I can’t expect them to find it on my blog; I need to bring it to them.  Fifth, I need to be better organized and take my time.  And finally, I could probably talk less.  I suppose it was a good weekend for learning things.  This was also the first time I did a craft show outside of the McDonough.  I passed out a lot of fliers for Indie Knit & Spin and found out a lot of folks there are from Pittsburgh.  And I had a general schedule of upcoming shows I’ll be attending, so I distributed those also.

I suppose, in all, this was a successful outing.  As Rich said, it isn’t solely about money.  You need to find out what your customers are interested in, discover ways to improve your business, and just get out there to remember why you are doing this!

Thanks everyone who stopped by to visit.  And welcome to my blog!