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.

locks-collage02

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

 

6:30 am @ the farmpark

One great thing about Woolfest is that it is held at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. Yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but it’s also an eyeful! We were able to camp onsite for the weekend, which was great. First, it cuts way down on expenses. Second, you are right there — no driving needed. Third, this park is beautiful, especially at 6:30 in the morning.

@ the farmpark

The negative: the restroom was rather far from the camping area, so you had to plan your trips. Or be willing to either pee in the field or run for it! We stayed for two nights and each morning I woke up exactly at 6:30 and headed up to the restroom. I can’t tell you how beautiful, serene, majestic, and quiet it was. I tried to take pictures on Sunday, but they probably don’t do justice to the rising sun.

focus

Playing with depth of field has to be one of my favorite things about taking photos. And ever since I found out how to use that super-macro function on the camera, I rarely use anything else. During Friday’s photo shoot I took two pictures of the same thing, one focusing on the yarn in the background and one focusing on the yarn at the foreground. I can’t decide which is easier to look at.

Which of these do you find more pleasing to the eye?

rays of light

rays of light

photo overload!

Today’s weather forecast is cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

Not really. Mostly it’s just an overcast day with occasional wind and rain. (Like right now is lots of wind and rain!) Generally I would be disappointed by the dreary weather, but it is actually perfect for taking photos! And since I have several totes of new fiber waiting in the wings, I thought I’d just go for it. Except I filled up my camera already at 243 photos and I’m still not done. I will share some of those a little later, but now I’ve got to get back to picture taking.

friday’s question

I’ve been feeling mopey and nostalgic lately, which has driven me to browse through my Flickr photostream. I like to look back to the beginning, seeing how far I’ve come since establishing the account in late 2006.  It’s pretty obvious that I had no idea how to use a camera when I began six years ago.

My first photo, a knitting project, was posted on October 29, 2006. The colors are washed out, it’s out of focus,  and yes, those are my legs. Overall it’s pretty dreadful. Even though it’s a WIP, there is no way to tell what the project is supposed to be.

April's Hat in Progress
"April's Hat in Progress"

Also on that day I posted this image of some very early handspun yarn. I remember being very proud of that skein. But the image is not flattering. Apparently I had not discovered how to focus yet. And you don’t really see much of the yarn itself.

Fresh Grass
"Fresh Grass"

Here is another washed out gem. I must have been trying to work with natural light, but eventually went ahead and used the flash on this one. Overall it just looks sloppy and flat. I had hung the yarn on a speaker, probably thinking it would be artsy, but instead you are distracted by that weird grey thing in the corner.

Yaht Club
"Yacht Club"

You can also see that I hadn’t decided on cropping the photos to a specified size. I remember being annoyed that the pictures on the page weren’t lining up, so I eventually settled on cropping everything to 10 x 8. I prefer it when things match.

Question: What are the earliest images of your craft that were posted online? Did you start off knowing how to use a camera? What techniques have you improved upon since getting started? Include links to your photos if  you like.

friday’s question

Yesterday I discovered a new spot for taking photos. It’s on the same side of the house — the south side — but the window is a little farther down. It all started with my cat wanting to sit by the window, but not wanting to sit or stand on the crates. I put her basket by the window and she finally sat in it, but she would stretch all the way across the crate to reach the basket. Later in the day I took a leaf out of the dining room table. While I was looking for a place to stash it, I realized it fit perfectly across the top of the crates. Now the cat can get to her basket and her fur won’t fall through the holes onto my yarn. But then I wanted to take a few quick photos while I was in the wool room, so I cleared a spot by the window. At first I thought the wood would be junky looking, but I think it works. And the light isn’t bad there either. Of course, it all hinges on getting it at the perfect time of day and hoping the sun is out. But I was pretty excited to find a new photo spot! I’ll have to experiment and see how the hour effects the light.

sassy cuffs with buttons  sassy cuffs

The one on the left was taken in the new spot and the one on the right is at the previous spot. Which do you like better?

Question: What is your photo taking process? Do you have a special spot you go to for pictures? Do you always try to use natural light? Do you adjust the pictures on the computer afterwards or do adjustments with the camera?

colors in the camera

Why is it that some colors photograph beautifully without any assistance from me or my editing software; but other colors ALWAYS look pitiful and washed out? Blues and greens have a tendency not to stand up to the camera. Does that have something to do with the light? In contrast, reds and oranges are so bright, sometimes they’re unbearable to look at. I just took pictures of a few new yarns for tomorrow’s shop update. There was a nice variety of color. The pink and orange skeins came out great, but the blue-green skein is just blah.

Here are two of the pictures I took today. These have not be altered on the computer. However, I did make adjustments in the camera including increasing the contrast and saturation. Changing the latter seemed to help boost the colors significantly. If I hadn’t done that, these would be awful – like the Falklands top I added last week.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time knows that I am constantly struggling with my camera. Getting satisfactory photos has been elusive. At times I will be thrilled with what I see, and other times I just want to give up entirely. I don’t know what I’m missing. Right now I’m using light bulbs because there are no good natural lights spots in this apartment. Sometimes they come out good, other times not so much. I’ve found that using the supermacro setting always gives me good pictures, but there are just occasions when that is not an option.

you need more fiber!

Something new at my Etsy Shop? Could it be possible?

After a month and a half of stagnation, I am finally offering new items. Each Wednesday I will add 4 listings – at least two will be dyed fiber plus yarn or locks. And for the new year, I’ve added a few new breeds of wool including Columbia roving, Romney top, and Superfine Falklands top.

I think I’ve finally solved the problem of absent lighting. Now I’m working with two 150 watt bulbs and one 300 watt bulb. With the correct fixtures, they easily clip on to anything, so I don’t have to leave them set up all the time. It will still take me a while to get the hang of it, but I’m pleased with the results for now. I can see a difference between photos taken with natural light and those taken under lightbulbs. I like them both, they’re just different.

candy land

“Candy Land”
100% Romney top
4 ounces

christmas knitting and experiments

This year I’ve decided to knit my Christmas gifts. Yes, I suppose after 3 years of knitting it’s a bit shameful that I haven’t already been doing this. I have no excuse. Why now? Because I’m poor and I have a sizable yarn stash. I think it makes sense. Thus far I’ve decided what to make for my mom and my sister. April – the sister – lives in Florida and will be getting a bag, this one, in fact.

Mom lives in Ohio and will wear just about anything I make for her while telling everyone she meets that HER DAUGHTER made it (she’s my PR representative). For her I will make the Handspun Scarf (ravelry/nonravelry) by Monica Gomi. I printed the pattern quite some time ago and when I came across it yesterday while cleaning the Fiber Den, I thought it would be appropriate. For the scarf I will be using my handspun Strings of Jade, which ended up 220 yards – I think that’s my most yet out of 4 ounces. It could have been a little more even, but it’s acceptable. I’m excited to see the subtle color changes as I knit.

strings of jade

As for the experimenting, this two photos are the outcome of a lighting set-up that I tried this morning. Again, cleaning the room yesterday turned out to be a major boon. Some new space was made available that works well as a small photo-taking corner. I had a 300 watt bulb that really made a difference over the 60 W bulb. I’m pleased with the results. I knew that with winter quickly approaching, hours of good sunlight would become scarce. Cheers. Problem solved.

And the yarn is called Rhinos at the Disco. It’s my Columbia locks, handdyed and drumcarded. I also added a bit of Firestar while carding – also an experiment, actually. I spun it thick and then, then plied it with button thread and seed beads.

rhinos at the disco

grey undertones complete

Here is the Grey Undertones South African Fine spun up.  As I mentioned before, I decided to navajo-ply it to keep the colors intact.  Tuesday morning I managed to get the entire bobbin done in about 30 minutes.  I had to finish it before going to school because I didn’t know what state it would be in when I got home.  Navajo-plying is a technique that I find somewhat stressful.  The looping action makes it difficult to go back and fix weird spots.  Also it seems that any thick places are accentuated rather than hidden.  Overall I’m happy with the finished product.  It’s 3 ounces and guess what – 60 yards! 

These pictures were taken last night right before I washed the yarn.  I think I’m only going to use the super-macro function from now on since those seem to be the best looking pictures.  I’ve rigged up a little photo-shoot area in my fiber room that consists of a sheet draped over a chair + a huge lamp clipped overhead + the supermacro function. I don’t need natural light, which is good since lately I never get to be home during daylight hours.

grey undertones [spun]

Can you see how inconsistant I am? In the photo below, there’s that really nice looking strand of green in the middle right above that really lumpy green strand.  Obviously I still need to practice.

grey undertones [spun]

Christabel just informed me that she nominated me for an award! Thanks so much, sweetie. You are the best. 😀