Thursday, October 30, 2014

Decisions, Life and Business

I know I've been kind of quiet.  A lot has been going on, but it's mostly in my head.....and really, you don't want to know what all of it is.
Now, though, we have some answers, and it makes the other decisions, seem clearer in a way.
It's Autumn, and I love this time of year.  I love just about the entire year, except when it's 99 degrees with 100% humidity.  Summer, deep, hot, humid summer, is not my fav, ever.

We have been considering selling the farm, and moving a bit closer to the grand kids/daughter/son-in-law.  We found out today, there is NO way in hell we'll be able to afford to move - unless there is a huge uplift in the real estate market, or we win the lottery, or we spend many more years here.  Therefore, it has made the decisions about what I want to do WITH the farm, clearer.

Part of it involves making living here, easier and nicer.  Like, not freezing [in the house] when the temps are below 70 degrees.  Like, having a few trees in the front of the house cut down, so we can stop feeling like we live in a deep, dark forest and the house will never let light in again.  It's AMAZING how open the front yard looks now!!!! It was a GREAT decision!!!!!!!!

I also want to have a nice, large shed put on the property.  It will serve as my shop to sell my fiber out of, and to give spinning lessons in, and to have friends over for spin days.  It will have electric, but not water.  I'm not sure what we'll do about a bathroom yet.  It won't be far from the house, so people could come in here.  But I'm going to work something out, eventually, so that doesn't have to happen.  I don't know if it'll be an outhouse, or a composting toilet.  We'll see.  The shed will also have ac and heat, as I can't live without either, most days of the year!

We will be making inside improvements also.  I want to paint the bedroom, repaint the bathroom, and possibly, at some point, we'll work on the kitchen which has been my least favorite place in this house since we moved in............

I've also decided that I want to start weaving again.  I gave it up for awhile.  I sold the looms I had.  I now own a 15" Cricket loom, and I've only used it once.  I have tons of ideas, but haven't put any of them into effect yet.............

We did, however, take a road trip to PA, to The Mannings.  It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful ride.  Sunny.  Beautiful colors.  Mountains.  Horses.  Sheep.  Cows.  Churches.  Flags.  Bridges.   Oh, and fiber and fiber tools, of course - once we arrived AT The Mannings!  :-D





It's hard to believe, but all of these photos except the black horse one, were taken from a moving vehicle....sometimes going 65 or 70 mph!

I bought some beautiful Tencel while at The Mannings.  I went to look for black wool on cones.  None available.  :(  I know now, though, what I would want, what I don't want, if I find it online.

I have also ordered the stand and a variable dent reed for my 15" Cricket loom.  There will be NO excuses for not using it, or my hand spun yarn, once it gets here. Smiling.......that makes me happy!

Well, that's about it for now.  I will be back soon.

Oh, and there's a sale going on in the Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/spinningmywheelfiber  - 20% off when using the code 20OFFOCTOBER  It's only good through Oct 31, which is tomorrow.  So hurry off and take a look!

As always,
Take care.
Martha





Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It's a Sale!!!!

If you're a spinner, you might be interested in this. I'm holding a sale in my ETSY shop - 10% off your purchase over $10.
Just enter the code 10OFFOCTOBER and you can receive your 10% off !

Etsy shop is located HERE

Items in the shop include Teeswater long locks
 

Dyed and undyed.

Spindles













And lots of fiber:

Thanks for looking and go find something fun to buy!

Martha


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's Almost Here......

The Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival is only a few days away. I'm so nervous.  I shouldn't be - I've done a whole TWO festivals, and they both turned out well.  This is a new venue for me though, and it's a long drive, and we have to drive up on Friday for setup, then we have to drive up VERY early Saturday morning to be there to put the product up, drive home Saturday night, drive back Sunday morning, then when it ends on Sunday afternoon, pack everything back up, and drive home.  I'm hoping there isn't much left on Sunday afternoon to pack up!  :-)

It makes me nervous to leave my stuff overnight. I haven't done that before.  But it's something I'm going to have to do.

The weather has been great the last few days....much cooler, Fall-like.  Guess what?  It's going to be 83 on Saturday, and 86 on Sunday.  UGH.  NOT the best weather for selling wool.  I'm just praying that the things I have to sell, are the ones people will be looking for!

I'll have many beautiful colors of Ashland Bay Merino.



I'll have lots of pretty, hand made spindles.


I will have dyed and undyed Teeswater long (6-9") locks;


This is the first time I'll have a tent that has 3 sides up.  I have done 2 festivals where the tent is open on two sides, and closed on two sides because it's butted up against 2 other tents.  From what I remember from attending the upcoming festival as a customer, I don't think the tents are butted up against each other at all.  Which is really nice.  I like the idea of being spread out.

The inside of the tent will be a new layout also.  I bought some cubes to use for some of the product, and the cubes will sit on a table against one wall. Then I will have 2 walls for the grid wall setup.  I don't like going in cold on setup, but hey, I'm good at flying by the seat of my pants!

I'm glad we're going up Friday for setup though.  That will help me be at ease about where we are, and all I have to do Saturday morning, is put product up, and that will be easy enough.

So, now all I have to do is trust that people are going to attend, and be ready to purchase!  We shall see......




Friday, September 12, 2014

September!

Wow, how the heck did it get to be September already???  This summer was extremely mild compared to most summers here in this part of VA.  It was a welcome change - then September rolled in, and it was awful!  It's been a lot like August normally is but wasn't.   Humid, hot, and rainy.  Crazy!  Today, however, is a beautiful 72 degrees (F) and breezy, and the sun comes in and out of the clouds, with lower humidity - perfect September weather!

I have the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival www.Shenandoahvalleyfiberfestival.com coming up on the 27th and 28th.  It's fast approaching!  I feel sort of ready.  I've been busy dyeing fiber, and working on spindles.  Here are some of the things I'll be offering.
Extra Long Teeswater Locks on the left, beginner spindle kit on the right.
A wide variety of shapes and weights, drop spindles, hand made.
Another hand made, bottom whorl drop spindle.
Yarn, Teeswater fleece and long locks, hand spun
Merino/Tencel 50/50 hand spun 3 ply yarn
Just one of the hand dyed combed top available.

I have a wide variety of stuff going, and since this is my first year, I'm very nervous for two things:
1.  Will I have enough product?
2.  Will I sell anything?

It's nerve-wracking for sure, but I'm just trying to go day-to-day, and have faith that all will be well. The weather is another issue I'm worrying about, but can't.  Every year we've gone up there, it's beautiful weather.  So I'm just going to count on the fact that it will be beautiful.

Which reminds me, I have to call the dog sitter!  Yikes.  We just can't leave the pups for the entire day without being able to go outside to potty and have some human time.  So we pay this really wonderful dog sitter to come mid-day, and take the pups out for us.  Makes us feel better.

I hope if you are in the area, and you're interested in knitting, crochet, spinning, or felting, you'll stop by the tent and give us a hello!










Thursday, August 28, 2014

Acceptance....

Spinning My Wheel Fibers has been accepted into the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, taking place on September 27th and 28th, 2014.
I'm very excited!  It's our first, two day festival. I'm nervous that I won't hold up during the 2 days.  A one-day festival does me in....but I'm challenging myself to work on making it!

There was a very interesting conversation going on, on Facebook this morning.  A person asked [in one of the fiber groups], if there was a different festival at which she should sell her one-of-a-kind hand-made goods.  She doesn't sell spinning supplies, but she sells hand-crafted items, such as buttons, and birdhouses, and shawl pins.  She has not done well at the fiber festivals....
A couple of people are actually marketing people, and they told her that she should be doing juried craft shows, not fiber festivals, as fiber festivals are basically for those that do things themselves, and they are looking for the tools/fibers/dyes/etc that they can use in their own art.  Knitters and crocheters look for yarn.  Spinners look for spinning supplies or fiber they want to try but don't have access to.  Felters are looking for fiber to use in their art.

It was an interesting, well-timed, and hit-home type of post for me, as I struggle constantly with the "am I doing the right thing" issue.  Selling fiber that I buy wholesale, and sell retail, isn't the artistic side of me.  Selling the spindles I make, that has a better feel for me, because I am being artistic AND selling to spinners.  Believe me, if I had the correct tools, I'd probably be trying to figure out how to make more tools for spinners to use!  Alas, one more thing to add to the wish list.  Ha ha.  Hubby would have a cow if I told him I'm now getting into wood working (and/or metal smithing)!!!

I actually enjoy ordering and selling the fiber.  Most of what I get is commercially dyed Merino, and it comes in SUCH a wide variety of colors.  When I set up my booth, it's like a box of crayons!

See?  The colors are fun and amazing.










My spindles are just as colorful....here is just a small sampling of what they look like:

I love color.  You wouldn't know it to look at my home.....because I share it with a very traditional guy, and over the years, I just didn't spruce it up much.  I've had thoughts of changing that.....

Sorry, back to the subject at hand.

Because I've had the struggle of whether to do the artistic side, or do the retail side, has been on my brain for so long, I felt as if it was an either one or the other situation - and guess what?  It's NOT.

I can be creative, but I have to find the right shows and venues for that creative stuff that I make and enjoy sharing.  When it comes to selling to spinners and fiber customers, I can do the fiber festivals!  Win/Win!

I just need a better plan of how to make that work, sign up for festivals (other than fiber festivals) for that time of year when people are looking for warm things to wear, or hang on the wall, or use (towels, etc).  I need to work on everything, not just one aspect, because I believe that will have a better outcome.  There is no reason I have to give up being an artist, because I also enjoy the retail side of selling supplies!

Life can be very confusing for someone who lacks confidence.  It doesn't help that my partner is strong in his beliefs and that I have to struggle to stand up for what I believe in (not because of him, but because of my own weakness).  I just have to believe in myself, and not worry about what anyone else thinks!

One day at a time.........................

Take care.
Martha










Thursday, August 14, 2014

Oh, Hello There...

Um, yeah, no excuses.  I don't even know if I have followers anymore.  I don't pay attention.  I don't even pay attention to whether I'm ahead or behind in the scores on Words With Friends.  I don't care, I play because it's a challenge.

Business has been.......interesting this year.  Some really great months, and some that stink!

I have found out I'm in at Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, held the last weekend in September.  It's held in the mountains in Berryville.  Here's a link if you're interested in taking a beautiful drive and spending a day in the mountains in the Fall.  If you like to knit, or crochet, or spin, or weave, come on down.

I'm excited, and nervous.  It's a 2 day festival, which we haven't done before.  It's going to be exhausting. I'm afraid I won't have enough on hand, and then, I'm afraid no one will buy anything!  It's going to be a huge experiment, and that's how I'm looking at it.  I'm going to try not to freak about it being 2 days.  We will have to get a dog sitter, to take care of the dogs in the middle of the day, both days.  We will also have to leave them 2 days in a row, which I haven't done before.  I justify it by saying, if I worked a full time job, out of the house, I'd have to leave the dogs 5 days a week!  But I don't, and they aren't used to being left that long for 2 days.  We'll be home at night, so no worries about that.  We have the horses, the dogs and the cat to worry about and feed and take out, etc.

I've been dyeing fiber and spinning yarn.  I've been washing fleece, and I ordered a lot of long locks that I have plans on dyeing.  I have been blending, making batts, for sale and for spinning. I can't wait to have it all on display, along with the commercially dyed Merino that comes in beautiful colors.

So I hope to see you there!  Come on by and say hello.

Take care,
Martha



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Powhatan's Festival of Fiber, Journey to the Golden Fleece, and More!

Hello.  I've been on shutdown mode for awhile, and I apologize.  Not a good way to keep followers.

I was working very hard to be prepared for Powhatan's Festival of Fiber.  It was very stressful for me, as I was hoping I'd have some sales.  Yes, I did all right last year, but there were going to be more vendors there this year, and a couple of very well-known ones to boot.  I was very stressed about the entire thing.....but I needn't be.  We had the BEST customers come in, and I got many compliments on the way the tent looked and the setup.  A lot of people told me they were very excited to see the fiber in 4 ounce braids.  It was extremely organized, especially with all my new grid walls.
From the front.  Yeah, my sign is missing.  It dawned on me after I took the pics, that I had forgotten to put my sign up!  Duh.

From the side.  The way the tents are organized, they are in a quad.  So I had 2 sides open, and a person on each of the closed sides. The grid walls fit perfectly!
Some close ups:  Dream catchers and hand spun yarn, with commercially dyed fiber in the background.
 My hand made spindles.  Sold a few of these.  Taught a couple of people some tricks and tips.  It was fun!
 These are the add-ins I sell.  Some Milk fiber - yes, it's made from the protein of the milk; some batts that I made; and some other stuff.

It was a beautiful day, except for some wind gusts.  That made things.....interesting!  lol

The ETSY shop is being updated, slowly but surely.  I had to place an order to restock after the fiber festival, and then, I had a big sale on ETSY, and had to reorder!  Not a bad problem to have!!!!!  :-)

There have been a lot of things going on in the house too.  Two weeks ago, we had a very hard rain storm, and we ended up with water in the basement!  We have lived in this house over 9 years now, and this is the first time we had water seep into the basement.  The good news is, I found it immediately.  And, our basement isn't finished.  Concrete floor.  The other good news is, we had most of our stuff in plastic bins.  I don't think anything important got wet.  I'm not a fan, nor ever have been, of cardboard boxes.  I'm glad of that!  We store a LOT of stuff in the basement, including my fiber, but nothing got ruined, thank goodness!  We also have a wet-vac so we were able to vacuum up the water.  We went out the next day and got a dehumidifier.  It didn't work right, returned it, and got another one, and it's working fine.  I really like how dry the basement feels now.  My fiber dries extra quickly too!  Win win win.

On the same note as the water seepage, is the fact of WHY it was seeping in.....so dear hubby called a couple of people.  They said it could be the runoff from the gutters.  We had our siding guy come out, and put a larger gutter on the front, and add larger downspouts.  They also made the gutters slant from the center out, and that should help with the runoff.  Geesh.

Meanwhile, we had another hard rain (no seepage even before the gutters were fixed, thank goodness) and we noticed that part of the water that was in the driveway wasn't drying up.  Dear hubby went out with our little tractor, and he was leveling out the driveway because we thought the water was just hanging out in the ruts.  Nope, that wasn't the problem.  The well is near that part of the driveway, and there was water seeping up through the ground.  What the heck!!!!!  We called a well repair company, and they came out the next morning.  They were great - they dug by hand, and found there was cement down there (they don't put cement down there anymore, they use a more flexible product) and they found that the connector to the well from the pipe, was corroded.  There was a hole in it!  Blah.  Luckily it was an easy fix.  So we had the well guys and the gutter guys here at the same time.  Talk about stimulus overload!

Today, we are having the hot water heater replaced.  Ours was from 1991.  A bit old.  So many repair people (including the gutter guy and the well guys and they plumber we had here a few months ago) told us that we shouldn't let it go that long.....eventually, it would rust out and we'd end up with a leak.  After hearing so many people say that, we decided it would be wise to be safer rather than sorry!  So the new water heater went in today.  I hope it works well.  I always worry that after the workmen leave, something will go wrong......and leaks we don't want!

Tomorrow, I have a dental appointment, because I have some sensitivity issues...not fun.

Next week, we have our Master Bathroom shower replaced.  Not the entire bathroom as Bath Fitters doesn't do that.  But the shower is as old as the water heater was - 1991.  Awful.  We have hard water, so we have a lot of mineral deposits and the caulk just doesn't work anymore.  That will feel really good, to have a new, walk-in shower!

So, on to the Journey to the Golden Fleece........I haven't done mod II yet, have you?  I just haven't had the time, or energy, to put into it.  But, I'm getting ready to prepare my fiber, and start spinning.  The good news is, I just got a new e-spinner, which can handle the speed I like to spin at, and the bulkiness of the fun art yarns I want to get better at doing, and it can still handle fine, thin yarns.  It's very exciting!   Mod III is out, but I want to get Mod II done, even though we're supposed to keep up.

Well, that's about it for me.  I want to get this posted.  When I get some yarns done on my new e-spinner, I'll post them here!
Take care and be good to yourself.

Martha