a new way to shop

At the Shop

I have found a new home! Today I went to The Shop on Liberty Street in Hubbard, Ohio and set up a display of my items. This means you can now purchase my fibers on your own time, as long as you don’t mind coming to Hubbard. So far I have silk scarves, spindles, Eucalan, combed top, batts, and felting packs. As the summer progresses I will continue to add items.

Not only do I have this retail display, but in the back I will have a workspace for dyeing and storage for my bulkier wool. I can’t wait to get this stuff out of my house! Especially since I just ordered three more bumps (bump = approx 22 lbs). Of course the hope is that having this space will increase productivity (wasn’t that my new year’s resolution in February?), but I’m sure it will take some time to adjust.

Having this great spot will open the door to many neat things such as classes and demos, pop-up shops, and consultations. My plan is to be in the shop at least one day a week either for dyeing or spinning. However, I live just down the street, so if you are coming and want to see something specific, call ahead! I will bring additional items for your perusal. If you are having problems with your spindle or wheel, let me know! And did I mention there is also a coffee counter at the back?

20 West Liberty Street
Hubbard, Ohio 44425

Hours:
Tue-Fri, 8 am to 5 pm
Sat, 10 am to 4 pm

 

change is in the air!

new wheel

After a great deal of deliberation and anxiety, I decided it was time to order my new wheel. At first I thought I needed to sell off everything else I had in order to justify the purchase. However, after thinking about how many times I wished I had a second wheel to spin a different type of yarn while I was in the middle of a project, I realized that keeping the Kromski wasn’t foolish.

As far as which wheel I chose, that will remain a surprise. If you can tell from the image above, good for you! Keep it to yourself for now. When the box arrives in 2-4 weeks, all will be revealed!

The process of deciding to invest in a new wheel opened up my mind. I have been feeling disappointed in my spinning abilities lately. I look at yarn from a few years ago and it looks better than that which is being spun currently. Could it be that my skills have not only plateaued, but degraded? After 10 years I should feel like I am progressing, but that is not the case. It was easy to blame my struggles on the equipment. But if I get this new wheel and nothing changes, then what?! That is when I decided it was time for a refresher course. As I spend the next few weeks waiting for my new wheel to appear on the doorstep, I will read my spinning books as if I have never seen the words before. It is time to refocus. I have always neglected the mechanics, but this is a great time to hone in on ways to improve. I want to be prepared for the challenge of the new wheel, but I also want to improve my usage of the Kromski. I think The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin is a great place to start!

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

rainbow of shetland

I’ve been sitting on this yarn for at least two years. No wait, I got the fiber on our first visit to Rhinebeck in 2008. Good heavens!

It was all spun using my drop spindle. Initially I thought it would be perfect for a shawl. However, at the time I had never made one and perhaps felt intimidated or that I wouldn’t wear it? Now I’ve made two, so I think I can handle it (and I know I like triangle over half-circle). There should be around 6 ounces all together, though I’m not sure on the yardage. I went through my Ravelry queue to see what patterns I had saved the last time I got shawl fever. I came across the Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief. It has three sections, so I thought that would work well. Now I just need to get it on the ball winder! And then cast on, of course. It’s time to do some stash busting!

Three shades of #Shetland. #handspun #wool #yarn

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!

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

something new from something old

Remember these little cuties? I’ve been carrying them around for nearly a year, but sadly not many people have been willing to take them home.

“What do you do with them?” They would ask me.
“Uh… buttons? Jewelry? Stuff? Get creative!” I’d reply.

felted balls

But I should know better by now. It’s not enough to have the supplies there. You need to help people figure out what to do with them either by providing patterns or examples. So I have finally started making SOMETHING with my “wee felt balls”. Here are my latest creations!

bracelets

It’s exciting to be trying something totally different. Not knitting. Not spinning. Not weaving. Jewelry making! I’ve gone to several craft stores and stocked up on beads, findings, everything. Just playing and experimenting. I started with bracelets, but really I could just about make anything. We’ll see where this goes.

bracelets

bracelets

packing it up

Just a few days till we board our time machine and head back into the 12th century (or something like that). I’ve been packing up various items such as clothes, shoes, towels, toiletries, bedding, food. I am responsible for everything “in the house”. Rich takes care of the big stuff that lives in the garage.

totes

Before I can pack the stuff that needs to go, I have to unpack what remained from last year. Some thoughts that run through my mind as I pack: what is this? Do we need this? Did I wear this last year? Will I wear it for the first time in 7 years if I bring it? We’ve never used this. Where did this come from? No wonder this box is so heavy, it’s full of metal spear tips. It’s hard to pack light since we take a lot of the camp’s gear, like the shower and water system. This year we have a beautiful new shower floor and fixtures. I’m sure it will be disgusting in mere days (hard water deposits).

Now that all the obvious things are packed, I have to address the most difficult portion: projects. Over the years (9 of them) I go back and forth between bringing lots to do and bringing very little to do. It gets hot there and sometimes all you really want to do is lay around and fall asleep, not have wool in your lap. Other times you’re busy visiting camps and wandering through the merchants. Or perhaps you spend your days in the class tents. But this year my Pennsic friend isn’t coming and there are not any classes I want to go to. So it looks like I need to bring something to do or spend my days lounging. Of course, we are having a few visitors throughout the week that may appreciate a companion, so I’ll probably spend some time with them.

But what do I want to work on? If this is truly a vacation, then spinning and knitting could be considered work, however, I have a few shows coming up. I really need to get some knitting done and I wouldn’t mind using my drop spindle. Perhaps I will bring some yarn and if I feel so inclined, I will feebly cast on and then promptly ignore it. Also, I’ve been reading the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind and I will likely spend all day on that. And then there’s the lazy part. Too lazy to pack the stuff and too lazy to use it when I get there…

It’s a mess, but it should keep me occupied. So far I’ve got two unfinished knitting projects; two spindles, one with stuff already going; odd balls of yarn for cuffs; and fiber to spin. I’ll probably bring it all home untouched.

going to Pennsic

friday’s question 06/22

This week has been a hot one. It’s been in the nineties, which I would say is fairly unusual for June in this part of Ohio. Apparently it’s going to be one of those summers. Usually I like to have the windows open to enjoy the breeze and my neighbor’s yapping dog. However, we have air conditioning, and even though I am generally unenthusiastic about fake air, we’ve needed it this week. After turning the house into a little sauna on Monday with two crockpots going and a few burners on the stove, I knew something would have to change. Plus I was hearing even higher temps for the rest of the week. So, I decided to close the windows and turn on the A/C. Even though it is now 15-20 degrees cooler in the house, it still feels warm and I am so sluggish. Also, I feel trapped in here. All week I’ve just been wandering from one thing to the next, not really feeling like doing anything. I think I know why businesses keep their offices so cold. When you are already cold, you keep moving to warm up. But when you are warm, you just want to lie down for a nap. Or at least I do.

I know I’ve got stuff to do to get ready for the show this weekend, but it’s been a challenge to get motivated. In the past summer has been a serious slow-down for me. The heat does not inspire you to turn on the stove for dyeing or sit with a pile of wool on your lap. I need to find some splashy activities to do outside. Suggestions?

Question: How does the weather affect you? Do you change your activities based on the season? Do you find that heat drains your enthusiasm? What do you do in the summer?

friday’s question

Earlier this week I mentioned two unfinished pairs of socks that have been floating around in my mind since 2008. Apparently they are affecting me so strongly that I have been unable to knit any socks since then. I’ve knit hats and mittens and scarves and tea cozies and shawls. But no socks. I think there is a roadblock in my mind that is saying I need to wrap those projects up before I can embark on something similar. Or perhaps the fact that I failed on two counts makes me feel like I just can’t knit socks successfully, which is dumb since I’ve made four complete pairs in the past. So, I’ve decided to frog my mom’s sock (I didn’t get that far anyway). Someday I will use that yarn and start again with a different pattern. As for the cabled sock that was to be mine? It is very unlikely that I could make its mate to match at this point, so it will just remain as it is: one lone sock.

I don’t want these two pairs of socks to continually prevent me from making new socks. They will no longer hold me down. Onward!

Question: How do “UFOs” – unfinished objects – affect you? Do you feel obligated to finish one project before starting another? Do you have many projects going at once? What’s the oldest unfinished project you have still lingering?