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










Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring, Glorious Spring.....

Hello there.
It's Spring.  Thank God.
Winter was rough.  Spring has been rough too.  But I'm here, and I'm moving forward!

We just had our grand daughter for the weekend.  She's amazing, smart, beautiful and I love that child more than life itself.  She's something!



Isn't she cool, with her sunglasses on?  She's making bows for Minnie Mouse on her Leap Pad.  Smarty pants!  I hated taking her back home. I  tell ya, if I could keep this kid, I would!  Of course, I had to take a nap every day when she took one.  I'd never get anything done, because she keeps me hopping!  So far, a weekend is all I seem to be able to handle, but I'm sure I'd get used to her being here.  :-)



Meanwhile, last weekend, we opened a little store....right here in my house!  I had received an email from a shop that I used to go to, and they were closing.  They had grid wall for really cheap, and I JUMPED on the chance to get them.  Of course, I spent almost $200 getting the feet and more hooks for 6 new grid wall panels, but hey, the panels were cheap!  LOL
Here is a photo.  This is before it's all set up, which in fact, I'm still working on.

So here it is.  Not finished yet, and by the time I do finish it, I will have to take it all down for the Powhatan Festival of Fiber.  I've already had one customer come in and she loved it - so easy to shop for what she wanted.  We weren't digging through plastic bins to find what she needed.  She actually bought more because she could see what she wanted!  Win win!  After the festival, the shop will be open for business to everyone.  It's not my "dream" shop, but it's my dream come true.  I have wanted a shop for a long time.  Until I can afford a separate building, whether that be here on the farm, or an actual retail spot, this will make me happy.  :-D


Speaking of the Powhatan Festival of Fiber, that's coming up on April 26th.  Powhatan is a small community near Richmond, VA.  Last year was the first year for this festival, and it was fantastic weather, and a fantastic turnout.  Everyone from organizers to vendors were elated with the turnout.  Come join us if you can.

Previously, I had posted that I had become a dealer for Spinolution.  I decided that I didn't like the stress of being a dealer for a company like that, so I have relinquished my dealership.  I like dealing with the fiber, and making my own spindles, much more.  So I'll be sticking to that for now.

I've been experimenting with new yarns, and have made a really crazy coiled yarn. I'll have to set it and take pics.  It's CRAZY!

Well, that's about it for now. I have a LOT of work to do, and only 19 days to do it.  So I'd better get busy. I'll try to post updates here more often.  Even the Journey to the Golden Fleece is going to have to take a back seat.  I have to spend the next 19 days preparing for the fiber festival, then I have to recuperate from the festival, then I have to do inventory to see what's left, set up the shop inside the house again, update my ETSY store (which will be on vacation for 2 weeks prior to the festival) and open it back up again, and hopefully, I'll have to place another order with Ashland Bay for more fiber (because I'm hoping I sell everything at the festival!!!).
 Take care!
Martha

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Heart....

While I'm enjoying the Journey to the Golden Fleece (see that post here), it has made me think, and thinking is what I do a LOT of.  I took a test this morning (on FB so who knows the reilability of it) about right brain/left brain.  It said I use both sides equally.  Well, that explains a lot....it's why I hold these arguements inside my head over absolutely EVERYTHING!  I'm such a mess some days that I get in my own way, and then I can't create anything because I can't decide what to do, or I think that if I want to do that, then I would be using something that I should be selling (a supply), and then I would lose money because I used it....and what if what I use it for doesn't sell?  Boy, do I get complicated. 

All that to say, I've come to realize, I don't use my heart, I use my head.....WAY too much!

I'm going to work on changing that.  It's not bad to use you head a lot, but when it gets in the way of DOING, then yeah, it's something I need to get out of.  Get out of my head.  Get into my heart.  That's what I'm going to do. 

My heart actually stopped back in 2007.  Luckily, by the time it stopped, we were already at the hospital.  I don't remember anything happening once I'd died.  No white light.  No angels.  No Satan.  No anything.  Just darkness.  Blackness.  Then back to life and light and the living. 

A lot has happened to me since then, including the fact that I never really coped with having a heart attack that killed me.  I've never really dealt with the fact I had it, or the fact that I died.

I have, however, had this NEED to do everything I want to do.  My poor loving hubby has been SO good to me.  He really changed.  I think it scared him beyond belief, and I believe he hasn't dealt with that either....

We just kept going, moving through life, trying to make the best of things, but always being cautious.

I hate being cautious.

I gave up horseback riding and gave up my horse because I was tired of being nervous every time I got on my horse, and I was tired of hitting the ground.

I did find fiber, finally.  Yeah, not the kind you eat.  The kind you play with.  Wool, in particular.  I NEVER thought I'd ever have anything to do with wool!  LOL

Now, one of my favorite yarns is in a photograph in my header on my blog.

I love playing with the fiber.  Dyeing the fiber; blending the fiber; adding shiny stuff to the fiber; making the fiber everything from lumpy bumpy, to traditional looking yarn.  

I bought a small loom because I have this NEED to make some wall hangings.  I haven't done it yet though.....I keep holding back, wondering if it will come out how I see it in my brain.

Yeah, there's the brain getting in the way again.

I colored in my Journey coloring book.  Yep, we get to color.  It's FUN.  The first page is a sail boat, that is taking us on our journey - sailing away, or sailing to?  Hmm, that just occurred to me.....

Anyway, then I colored the Mod 1 shield.  I was really into it with my pencils, then I noticed a few colored markers in my box....so used some of those too.  I like it but I chose weird color combos.  Don't know why and I'm not going to over-think it.  But, I did notice, more after I was done, that there is a small heart, dead center of the shield.  Yep, there's that heart.  Reminding me, once again, that I need to follow my heart...........

I tend to live in the future.  I refuse to live in my past.  It wasn't all bad, but it wasn't the greatest either.  I forget to LIVE in the NOW.  I forget to LOVE what I'm doing NOW.  I'm always thinking about what else I can do, even while I'm creating.  Funny thing is, when I'm spinning, I hardly do that.  I pretty much Zen out.  That's something that doesn't happen when doing any other craft.  I could literally spin all day, every day - well, except that the arthritis in my thumb joints don't really let me......

The Journey has already taught me that I'm not paying attention to NOW, and I'm not following my heart.

Oh, I so wonder, where else this Journey will take me.

I'm off to gather the things I will make my first yarn out of.  Then, I will let it keep me company in the house, around me, whatever I'm doing, for a few days.  I will contemplate as I have been doing for the last week, and I will start spinning next week at some point.

Meanwhile, I'm off to take care of some things around here and leave in about an hour for my massage, which I'm SO looking forward to..........

Take the time to enjoy what you are doing, right NOW.  Live in today. Love what you do.  Be who you are!

Take care,
Martha

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What's Happening!

A lot has been going on around here - mostly in my head.  Hahahaha.  There's ALWAYS a lot going on in there!
I previously said that I'd joined a group called The Journey To the Golden Fleece*.  It's a journey that is created for fiber folk, that want to explore their journey into the fibery goodness of their lives.   I haven't been into fiber for that long.  It has been interesting this far, and I'm excited to be involved, and continue on.

At first,  I was a bit nervous, and not really sure I wanted to delve into this.  I'd realized, from watching and reading what those that had gone before me in the first offering of this course (for lack of a better term), and many of them seemed to have gone into their pasts - their personal pasts, emotional pasts, not just their creative pasts.  If there is one thing I'm sure of, it's that I never want to go into my past.  Been there, done that, don't have any desire to return to it, and don't need to.  What's done is done!  Going back, would only cause me pain and depression, and I try not to do anything that brings either of those two feelings into my life!

We received our Mod 1 on Friday.  I was excited, but I soon got a glazed over look on my face when reading.  I was SURE I'd done the wrong thing, getting involved in this.  From Friday to Tuesday (today), I was sure that I would struggle with this.....

This morning I got up, and I was in a good mood.  I decided I would be working on some inventory this morning, then I would move on to re-reading my Mod 1 of the Journey*.   I did just that - I worked on (and accomplished) quite a bit of the inventory, and then I picked up my Journey* booklet and started re-reading.  It all started to make sense and fall into place!  I would make this about my creative journey, not about my personal life journey - after all, they ARE two separate things to me.  My creative journey is happy, and my personal journey has it's ups and downs. 

I've come to realize that even though I'm exceptionally happy with my creative journey, and where I am right now working with wool and spinning and dyeing, I am not where I envision myself.....  Right now, I'm basically a retailer - I buy items at wholesale, and I sell them retail.  That is somewhat a fun part of what I do and want to do, as I do like retail and I LOVE helping others accomplish what they want to do.  For example, someone found me on ETSY and asked if I minded a local pickup.  Heck No!  I don't mind that at all!   She and I are about 15 miles from each other.  Out here in the country, that's spittin distance!  LOL.  She makes soap, and is starting to make felted soap, so she's looking for specific colors.  I can help with that!

On the other hand, I really want to find that artist side of me.  I want to spin more, weave more, make wall hangings, make art.  I have much inspiration in my life.  My own photography makes me happy - and I photograph the things I love.....like this: 

Leo, the cat.
It was 54 degrees the day after a bad storm, see the snow in the background?  My cat is beautiful.  He's a terror though.  He terrorizes the 2 small dogs we have.  He is not a cuddler unless it's totally on HIS terms.  He is, a C.A.T.  True sense of the word.  He was born feral and I adopted him from the veterinary clinic I worked for.  He's 12 now.  So hard to believe......

Anyway, there are many other photos I love.  I dream of them being transferred into my interpretation of wall hangings.....I just need to get out of my head, and get moving with my heart and hands!

This journey is going to be amazing for me, I feel, and I'm excited to continue on.

Stay tuned....oh, and I don't have my wheel yet - I think it's getting shipped on Friday.  I hope it doesn't take another entire week to get here.

Take care,
Martha

*Journey To The Golden Fleece