I find myself at the end of the spring show season already. This year I traveled to Pittsburgh, PA in March for Indie Knit & Spin. With new organizers and a new venue, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, it ended up being a pretty good day. Next I popped up to Ann Arbor, MI for Fiber Expo. I always love going to this show mostly because Ann Arbor is a really nifty town. We go to Zingerman’s Bakehouse for breakfast both days and usually end up at the Deli for dinner on Saturday. I think I’ll just have to plan a visit for fun some time since it’s only about 3.5 hours away. The show itself went pretty well considering we had an ice storm Saturday night! Also in April I went to Salem, OH for Knitter’s Delight, a smaller event that has taken the place of Knitter’s Fantasy. Traffic was rather slow and most shoppers weren’t interested in fiber. I rounded out the tour with one of my favorite events, the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster, OH. I realized that this was my ninth year as a vendor! How can that be?
It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve been building this business for almost 10 years. Overall it’s progressed very slowly. Some people start their businesses and shoot right to the top. Everyone just faints at the sight of them. Not for me. My graph has a very mild incline. With a few dips along the way. I have some devoted customers, but in general I’m not on anyone’s mind. I can’t quite say what keeps me going. I’ve devoted myself to this and gosh darn-it, I’m sticking to it. Whether you like it or not.
I’m super excited about this weekend for a lot of reasons.
1) It’s the Summer Festival of the Arts at YSU. Which is awesome all by itself, but I’m going to be vending there for the first time! I’ve been going to this event for years. First just because it was a fun family activity. Then I started working on campus, so I would work that weekend and get to enjoy the food. And for a few years our SCA group did a demo. Now I get to really be a part of it by having my own little tent!
2) I’m doing the show with a friend of mine I’ve mentioned before: Amber. She’s an awesome crocheter, but her main thing is beekeeping and urban farming. She makes lovely lotions, perfumes, and lip balms with the various things she grows. Our products together are going to look awesome! I just can’t wait to see it. Planning out the booth with her yesterday made me so happy. Check out Wick & Fifth.
3) New display! I’ve been wanting to display my knitwear in a different way, but I just wasn’t sure how. Laying the stuff flat on the table is so dreary. I really love tiny clothespins and I thought hanging the items up would make them more visible, but I would need a sturdy line on which to hang. What would I attach the line to? It can’t be something that would fall over under the weight. Since I’ll have a tent frame, I’m going to attach the line to the legs at the back. I won’t have to bring anything extra and there is no risk of it fall in on itself. Success! I hope.
4) Along with the knit items on the clothesline, I’m going to hang photos I’ve taken during the spinning, knitting, and dyeing process. Many people at craft shows don’t understand what makes these items special; they don’t know what “handspun” means. I’m hoping that seeing the photos will either explain things to them or at least encourage them to ask questions. Plus it will look awesome!
The only thing that is crushing my spirit is the weather forecast. It’s supposed to be nice on Friday, which is good since we’re setting up that day. But there is a 40% chance of rain for both Saturday and Sunday. WHY?? It’s never rained any other year I’ve gone. Why this year? Oh, now it says no rain Saturday, but a higher chance on Sunday. Maybe by the weekend there will be no chance? All I can do is forge ahead and bring my sidewalls.
I was so jazzed when I found out that Walgreens will print square photos directly from Instagram! I went through my year’s worth of pictures and selected ones that represented my work in progress. In an hour I went to pick them up. How cool is that? I threw in a few pictures of Olive, my cat, just because I don’t have any printed photos of her. I’ll intersperse these among the knits. I cannot wait to see this! Even if no one else cares, I’m going to enjoy it. So there.
This weekend I am heading to WOOSTER! Yes, it’s time again for the Great Lakes Fiber Show, one of my favorites. It looks like the weather for this weekend is going to be superb. Last year it was cold! And the year before I could barely function in the heat. I think this time around we’ll get it just right.
I don’t have anything wildly innovative and new for this event. I’ve got some dyed roving in a new breed, Romney/Border Leicester, plus locks, freshly carded batts, and a larger selection of Companion Colors. In addition to the fiber, I will have two sets of wool combs from Valkyrie. One is the larger Viking comb and the other is a smaller, finer set. And my new logo buttons will be available! These were made locally by a friend and fellow small business person. I am going to pick them up today, in fact. If you want one, it’s just $1 or free with $30 purchase.
Since the month of June is surprisingly vacant, I suppose I feel the need to continue to add in other events. In that spirit of panic, I just added something else to my schedule at the last minute: Festival on Phelps in Youngstown. It’s a community event/benefit headed up by some friends, so I thought it would be a good thing in which to participate. It’s next Saturday, and the night before I am doing a fiber workshop at Greyland Gallery. You could make a weekend out of it! Oh, it’s going to be another busy one. That’s the job though, right?
Despite the weather, I had a nice time at the Winter Market last weekend held at the B&O Station in Youngstown. I’ve been purposely building up my home base and it seems to be working! Along those lines, I will be setting up this weekend at the Good Life Fest at the Calvin Center, just down the street. In addition to what you see below, I’m going to bring more of the “yarn show” inventory, such as spindles, Eucalan, etc.
Remember that lovely, natural, spindle-spun Shetland I blogged about a few weeks ago? I finally got around to knitting it! I started it last Sunday while I was at the Winter Market. All afternoon I would knit a bit, count, and realize I had messed up. It’s actually a very easy pattern, but I was distracted by shoppers and the constant picking up and putting down of it. Once I had the opportunity to focus a bit, I made a lot of progress and now it’s almost done!
I am super excited about the new GE logo tote bags that arrived last week! I’ve wanted to have a nice thank-you gift for my big spenders, plus I have to admit a bit of envy when I see shoppers carrying around logo bags for other businesses. After shopping around a bit, I ended up having these done by VistaPrint since I could get all the colors instead of just one. They are $10 each, but if you spend $75 or more, you will get one for free! They are not available for purchase in my Etsy shop because I’m not sure if I am “allowed” to sell them there or not. Do they even have rules anymore? However, if you really want one and will not be at any of my shows, please send me an email and I will get one out to you!
Speaking of Etsy, if you feel the desire to make a purchase in my shop this month, use the coupon code YarnSchool to get free shipping. I decided it was time for some continuing education (and inspiration), so I signed up to attend Yarn School in Harveyville, KS at the end of April. I was worried that it might be just beginner stuff, but then I was reading on the Ravelry group about how many people go back again and again. It can’t be too dull/easy/basic then, right? I’m excited to get out of my corner of Ohio and see a new state! I’ll be flying out there alone, which is an adventure all on its own. And I’ll have to be friendly all weekend. I think that is scarier than flying! I tend to get weird and distant in situations like that (roommates, group lunches, chatty classes, socializing with strangers). Let’s just hope I can keep my mouth shut and learn something new!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
This weekend I am doing something I have never done before! It is the first time I am attending two events back to back. Last weekend I was in Chautauqua, NY for the Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference. This weekend I am heading to Ashland, OH for the Autumn Fiber Festival.
I am excited about this event. I get a 10×12 foot space, so I have a little extra room. Last year I had a destash table. I intend to do the same this weekend. Books, yarn, fiber, and a few pieces of equipment all at “let’s get this out of here” prices. I hope I can unload these things (hint-hint). It would be nice to have a little bit of extra space in my wool room.
OCTOBER 19, 2013
10 am to 5 pm
ASHLAND COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS
2042 Claremont Avenue
So… what’s been happening lately? I had to go through my inventory. After Woolfest, I knew that I’d have a lot of purchasing to do before the fall festival season started. The most important item I needed to restock was my fiber. I’ve only got a few bags of dyed locks left and not many batts. But the starting place for that is the raw fiber itself. I put in an order with Ashland Bay and ended up with three 22 pound bumps. One is Falkland, one is Blue-faced Leicester, and the other is their “Colonial” which is a Corriedale-type wool. The last I planned on using primarily for batt base wool. I started dyeing some of it this week.
Oddly enough, just after I received the combed top from Ashland Bay, I also got word from the two processing mills where I had fleeces. First Ohio Valley Natural Fibers sent me an invoice. Two days later I got a call from Zeilinger’s that I had two fleeces ready for shipment from them. OVNF sent theirs Priority, so it showed up yesterday.
I’ve also got a new event on the schedule for next month. After being invited for several years and never having that weekend available, I am finally participating in the Grey to Green Festival at Wick Park in Youngstown, Ohio. If you are in the area on September 21, come by for a visit.