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.


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.



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.


I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very creative when it comes to writing my own patterns. For mittens, I don’t really need a pattern because I’ve made so many pairs that I have an idea of the stitches to cast on and when to increase, but they aren’t very interesting. They are just mittens. So I can’t claim with any amount of pride that “this is MY pattern”.  In fact, I don’t even know what to do to make them unique or special. Your hand goes in, there is a thumb hole, your fingers come out the top. I suppose using a stitch pattern of some sort would add a bit of intrigue, but the basic structure is the same. My brain just doesn’t think outside the box.

But another reason I have difficulty either claiming a pattern as “mine” or even attempting to write my own is because there are so many out there already.

  • How does one determine that a pattern has become theirs?
  • What if you start with a written pattern and make modifications?
  • At what point is it a new pattern?
  • What if two people simultaneously write patterns that are so close they are indistinguishable?
  • Or you start with something like Ann Budd’s basics book to get an idea of the number of stitches to cast on, but from there you just wander off?

These questions stress me out. Whenever I do knit something that doesn’t really follow a pattern, I neither write it down nor share it because it looks so basic and average that I figure someone else must have already written it. I bring this up because someone asked if the Green Circles hat that I made a few weeks ago was an Ann Budd pattern. Well, I cast-on her recommended stitches (actually for a cap, not a tam), but I didn’t follow anything else. In fact, the hat didn’t even turn out how I wanted it. So am I wrong for not saying it is HER pattern? None of her hats look like that – at least to me.

I’d appreciate any thoughtful comments on the subject.

Thank you.


Help. I need some purchasing guidance!

I am looking into buying a Jumbo Flyer. However, I have two wheels.  Do I get the Ashford Traditional flyer or the Kromski Sonata flyer? Several months ago I started pondering this situation, dropped it, and have once again returned to it with the same frustrations as before.

Things to consider:
Cost – which flyer is priced better? which bobbins are better priced?
Value – where will I get the best bang for my buck?
Size – which bobbins hold more fiber? which has a larger orifice? which gives me more options?

My main hang-ups include:
Old Ashford + new parts may equal weirdness
Sonata works better than Ashford
Sonata spins fine yarns better
Could leave jumbo flyer on Ashford

Do you see how I can’t make up my mind?? I’m about to make a chart and do the pros/cons thing, but I have a feeling they’ll end up equal. It’s so irritating. I feel like I’ll end up putting it off so long I’ll be dead or disinterested in spinning before I make up my mind! Erlack.

stuff for you!

Due to this being my 200th post (which, in television series, is a celebrated event), and my 4 year anniversary of learning to knit being in February, in addition to the enjoyment I had from my previous giveaway, I am conducting a second Blog Give-Away! Wee!

The Requirements.

For this giveaway, You, the reader, are required to answer some questions and post them in the blog comments. Then, if you are the winner, you must use your prize and email a photo of it to me within 4 weeks of receiving it in the mail! Also, not required, but greatly appreciated: please tell a friend about this giveaway. Thank you for reading and enjoy.

The Questions.

1. What is your favorite type of yarn to knit with?
What is your favorite thing to knit?
What is your own favorite finished project (include photo link)?
What is the craziest thing you ever seen knitted?
What is something you would never try knitting?

(If you are a crocheter, please insert “crochet” where you see “knit”)

The Prize.

raspberry truffle

140 yards of handspun/handdyed Columbia wool yarn
More photos.

i think i saw some blue sky

I’ve been thinking a lot about niche-finding. How did you come to the place where you are comfortable?  Did you try a variety of things until something really spoke to you?  It’s difficult for me to find that place I belong.  I know it isn’t pattern writing, that’s for sure.  I keep trying different things, but so far I haven’t found my “voice”, my signature look.  It’s pretty obvious that during my most recent dye-days I have been using lanaset exclusively.

Here’s another yarn in muted/mixed colors.  The only problem: I dyed this before I started writing things down, so I don’t know what I did. Plus it was that funky free wool from Indiana that is 1.) a pain to spin and 2.) sitting in my wool room in very large amounts.  What do you do with lots and lots of short-stapled wool?

summer meadow
Summer Meadow 

Last weekend, Saturday to be exact, I finally sent out my application to the Folk School! Have you visited their website yet?  John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. I wrote my little personal statement and got two references.  I even typed mailing labels! I can’t believe I actually sent it. Similarly, I’ve been reviewed by the advisement department at school and it looks like I will be graduating May 17, 2008. Now I just have to get through this final semester and my giant research project that will be sucking up every weekend from now until May. Cheers!

hat on head

Finished Rich’s cap this morning. It came in really handy last night at the Greenwich Meantime New Year’s Eve party as a way to keep me from eating more. Unfortunately and mysteriously, it ended up just a little bit shorter than I was going for. But it still fits. Now that he has TWO hats, he’s not sure which to wear. I told him that one is heavier and for colder weather, and the other, lighter one is for just cool weather. Tonight he wore them both at the same time. I also told him he’s going to end up with a lot more than just two hats if he sticks around!

rich's cap

Today I started another Wormhead’s Rollin’ Beret for a woman at church. The situation amuses me on several levels. First of all, she’s a knitter. She has given my mom several scarves. However, whenever she sees me knitting, she just raves about my extreme competence at being able to knit such things as hats and socks. I always tell her that she could do it too, but she says no. Alright, not everyone wants to get into increases and decreases. The other thing that I find a curiosity and a challenge is her disinterest in wool. When I suggested making it in wool, I could tell she bristled at the idea. After giving it some thought, I decided on Lion Brand, as they have fairly decent acrylics and I’ve successfully used their yarn before. How does a knitter of natural fibers accept – rather than try to impress her own high praise of wool – that there are folks out there who are perfectly happy with acrylic??

still bored at work.

I know what I have to do. I need to go for it. Just jump in and knit! I also need to work harder on getting the correct gauge, especially if I want to do larger things that require a more specific fit.

How does one go about adjusting the gauge to fit the yarn you have? I imagine it requires gauge swatches and mathematical calculations, doesn’t it?

Last night I attempted to do some photography using unnatural light (lightbulbs). They ended up mediocre at best, although I might be able to salvage a few. The primary problem – to my uneducated eye – is that I did not have enough light. So, what type of bulbs should I use when I don’t have natural sunlight to work with? And why does everyone else excel at photography and I do not?

two unrelated topics

A question for dyers: Are there any agreed upon names for the different methods of dyeing?  I read the Twisted Sisters book and they had cold-pour and hot-pour (I think).  The former being the saran wrap and steam method and the latter being the pot of water on the stove method.  So, that’s all well and good, but aren’t there other things out there that people are doing?  What is kettle dyeing? What is dyeing in a crockpot? Why is that different from using a stockpot on the stove? What is putting fiber in a dish without water and baking it in the oven or microwave? How do these compare?  

A knitting anecdote:  This morning before class, I sat in the big lounge where people go to sleep/study/talk about stupid things.  It was pretty full, so I couldn’t sit in a quiet corner away from anyone else.  Instead, I parked in between two girls who both had their cellphones out.  I brought out my knitting and on either side of me, they were typing away text messages. It was an amusing sight, I’m sure.  I was working on my Cosy Train Tam, which is coming along quite nicely. I’ve gotten to the decreases.  Before I left the house, I used the nostepinne to rewind the two separate balls into one ball.  It’s a lot less to carry now, which is why I brought it to school with me.