Saturday, December 28, 2013

Whew! What a month!

This December, 2013, was crazy!  I know, everyone's December is crazy.  Mine was a bit more stressful than usual, because our lovely daughter, gave birth to another beautiful baby girl.  Grand daughter #2 is Sydney Makayla.  She's as beautiful as Grand daughter #1 is, our little Princess Jia Michelle!
The photo above, is of the two girls, each at 2 weeks old.  New baby Sydney on the left, and Jia on the right (who's now 3 years old!).

Both girls have birthdays in December now.  10 days apart. Three years apart.  Wowsers.  Not to mention, Christmas thrown in there! 

As I mentioned previously, I have a new drum carder from Fancy Kitty - their Kitten drum carder.  It's wonderful.  I am preparing to dye up all kinds of goodies to add into batts.  I spent the morning yesterday, mixing dyes.  Someone that is a well-known fiber artist, on FB asked if anyone had any fake cashmere, dyed a certian colorway.  I do have the fake cashmere that I just purchased, but undyed - but, because I had mixed up all the dyes, the ability to run downstairs and dye it up, was immediate!  Therefore, I did.  I wasn't thrilled with the way it was coming out, and I ended up having to take a break to chat with my cousin (we chat on IM every Fri night), and when I went back, I had a new view of the fiber, and was much happier after working on it a bit more.  I cooked it, let it sit overnight, cooked it again this morning, rinsed it, put it in the spin dryer (I LOVE that thing!) and put a fan on it.  It was completely dry 3 hours later.  It's really pretty - and if this person doesn't want it, heck, I'll use it!  Fake cashmere is nylon - a very soft, spinable, nylon - almost silky.  Next to skin soft.  Lovely stuff.  Here's a pic:

The colors requested were black or gray, turquoise, greens and dark blue, and violets.  I have all that in this 3.4 ounce bit of fake cashmere!  The photo seriously does not do it justice!  It's so pretty in person. And did I mention.....soft?

I think I'll make some other fibers in this colorway also....

I haven't really spun much - I really NEED to get back to spinning....I did corespin some fiber but it was only about an ounce, and didn't go very far.  I don't have photos yet.  It was the first batt I made on the drum carder.  Since then, I made another batt, and it is quite a bit larger - over 4 ounces.  I'm really happy with it.  


This batt has blues, greens, yellows, and sparkly stuff.  There is really sparkly stuff (Angelina) in the center.  There are other fibers that are sparkly and soft too, like silk and nylon, and hand dyed.  It's yummy, squishy and so pretty!  Oh, and there is some very small silk pieces cut up in there to make it a bit lumpy art batt.  This batt is for sale in my ETSY shop.

I will be working on a schedule, being more in tune to actual production, whether it will be spinning, making batts, weaving, or dyeing, at the start of January. I have a show in the end of April to be prepared for, and we have 2 10x10 spaces for that one.  I want to be able to fill it and have people have room to walk around and have lots to choose from, to include batts, yarns, dyed and undyed fiber, and finished items.  I'm hoping to double what I made last year at the same show.

That's about all the news from me for now.  I hope your Christmas or other holidays were wonderful and joyful and full of good things, and all your wishes came true.  I also hope that you have a wonderful, safe, and happy New Year on Jan 1st. 

See you in 2014!  Take care.
Martha











Friday, December 20, 2013

Art with Heart

So here I am again, apologizing for not keeping up better with posting.  There's been a LOT going on. 
On December 11th, 2013, we welcomed Grand Daughter #2 into the world.  Little Sydney is adorable, and she's teeny weenie.  No photos as I don't really have any good ones yet.  With GD#1, I got lots of photo ops, but not so much with #2 so far.  I'm hoping Christmas will allow me to get a few. 

I was also in a slump - a creative slump as well as just a general slump.  I'm back now though!  Although, Blogger seems to be giving me some issues, so I am hoping this post does get posted!

I started making dream catchers.  I've always loved dream catchers, and I did make a few that were from kits a few years ago.  When I wondered what to do with some of my art yarn, I decided the yarns would work wonderfully with the dream catchers - since the fiber arts theme is really fulfilling my dreams.  I crocheted the first dream catchers, and they are smaller, and priced in the range of being smaller wall art.  My larger dream catchers are not from spin yarn, but from roving/top that I have on hand, along with feathers and beads and sinew or linen or yarn that I have on hand, for the webs.  I'm really enjoying the creativity it allows me to have, to build each dream catcher differently.  These are each one-of-a-kind.  OOAK as the shortcut that is now widely used.

Here are some of the dream catchers I have available in my ETSY shop. 

Green Dream Catcher




Neutral Dream Catcher
The top one is 10" wide
The bottom one is 14" wide.

I'm not sure how else to photograph them  to make them more appealing. I've tried taking them outside, but the background is too busy.  So here they are, hanging on a white wall - because that's the only color wall I have in my house!  Well, the bathroom wall is turquoise but there isn't enough natural light in there, to take decent photos.  :-)

I just placed a large order with Ashland Bay for a lot of add-ins type of fibers.  I hope to get busy dyeing those after Christmas.

Oh!  More news!  I have a new drum carder, so I'll be working on making batts.  Below is a batt that I made as a sample for me to try.  It is 1.9 ounces, and I've already spun it up.  I was told, however, that I should be able to get 4-5 ounces of fiber on this drum carder, which means, I'll be trying that soon! 

Batt

I'm preparing for the April show in Powhatan, VA.  End of April.  I only had a month to prepare last time, and this time, I'm hoping to be better prepared, and have many more items for sale along with fiber and add-ins, both dyed and undyed.  I'm also going to start working on spinning more yarns!

We went on a drive last weekend to check on the yarns I'd sold to a yarn store.  The drive is beautiful going out there, all mountains and winding roads, and farms and all sorts of abodes.  I love my new camera.  I took lots of photos.  Then this week, I saw this saying posted, and I absolutely fell in love with it.  Using PicMonkey, I used one of my photos and the saying, and made this to put in a frame in my office/studio:


That's about it from me. Short and sweet.  If you're looking for my shop, click HERE
Thanks,
And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in case I don't get back before those holidays happen!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

ETSY shop update

I have a few new things in the ETSY shop here

They are batts, a hat and fingerless gloves I dyed, spun, crocheted, and 2 new blending kits!  I've been busy but need to be busier.  I'm trying really hard to incorporate the things I think will sell, and I keep trying to improve business. It's slow.  Sadly so. 

The batts are from fiber I blended which consists of commercially dyed merino wool, and some hand dyed fiber such as Firestar, Silk. and nylon blending fibers. 

The blending kits are from hand dyed BFL wool, silk, Firestar and Snow Mountain nylon, along with some Leceister Longwool locks and fiber that I bought and dyed myself.  Fun stuff and all very soft.

I went wild with some yarn I spun, trying several different methods of spinning, and absolutely LOVED what I did.  It wasn't a lot of yardage, but enough to crochet a hat and fingerless mitts.  Cute cute cute, even if I do say so myself.

Here are the pics:
Cap and Gloves

Blending kits



 
Batts for Spinning

 
If you know someone who spins, please feel free to share this blog post or my Etsy shop link.

Thanks, and take care.
Martha

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sale!

I'm holding a 10% off sale in my ETSY shop!  Go check it out.  Enter the code 10off and you will get 10% off your purchase.

Yesterday was a day of experimenting.  I had purchased a 2 lb bag of locks/wool from a vendor at the Fall Fiber Festival in Orange in October.  I started going through the bag, picking the locks out.  This is supposed to be Leicester Longwool.  It's not very long staple though.  That's okay, I can spin it.  I planned on using it to dye and also to make dream catchers with.  That's a lotta wool!  It wasn't very expensive and that's why I bought it.  It was already washed too, which is something I'm not good at. Yet.  I plan on getting good at all the steps (well, maybe except the actual shearing of the sheep).

Anyway, back to dyeing.....I wanted to try a method I hadn't tried before, which is in the turkey roaster, I poured about a gallon plus about a third of another gallon of water.  My water has to come from the jugs of water in the basement since we have no running water down there (and we don't have a sink either).  Then I put the woo in to soak, and after about 30 minutes, I put the dry dye on top by sprinkling each color of blue that I have - which is about 6 different blues!  I thought it was going to be really pretty with all different shades of blue.....until I realized there was enough dye in there to dye about a pound of wool!  WAY too much dye.  UGH.  I'm so upset.....

So I put more wool on top, but I don't want ALL the wool to be blue.....

It still didn't clear the water.....still dark dark blue.

So, I took all the wool out, and I put some other fibers in there - some silk, some Firestar, and some Snow Mountain (the last 2 are nylon and soak up the dye like crazy).  The Firestar came out SO pretty - a beautiful shade of teal almost.  Of course, it's not dry yet....because it was suggested to me that I put everything back into the dye pots with water and citric acid, for about 30 minutes (I left it a bit longer) and then turn it off, and leave it sit overnight to cool.  I had to ask for help on FB because I was at my wit's end!  I had tried to rinse the fiber, and it just kept running dark blue...and I was afraid that wool I had used, was going to felt. It might still have, or might still felt, but at least it's not a very expensive experiment.

The other thing is, I should never mix fibers in a dye pot....I can hardly tell the Firestar from the Snow mountain.  And somehow the silk got a bit beat up in there......

Today, I will go and get the wool and fiber out of the pots and rinse it, and we'll see what happens.....

At least it's going to be warmer today - near 60 supposedly.  On Sunday it's supposed to only be in the 30s though.  What crazy weather we are having, not consistent at all. 

Meanwhile, I'm working on some ideas in my brain, and we all know what that means.  hahaha. 

That's my check in for this week.  I hope you're all ready for the upcoming holidays.  I'm not.  Still have to find a couple of things for the grandkid (and grandkid to be).  Daughter is due on Dec 11th with our second grand daughter, and she's more than ready to pop that kid out!  lol  December is going to be quite busy.

Take care.  Do what you love.  Love what you do.
Martha

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Yay!!!

I took a deep breath, walked into the shop called Knit Wits, and asked the owner if she remembered discussing with me a couple of months ago, that she would like to carry my hand spun yarns in her shop.  She said yes, she remembered!  She liked the yarns, and she bought them outright! 

One thing she said was she thought they were priced way too low for hand spun.  That isn't the first time I've heard that.  I think I will have to stop feeling like I'm pricing my yarn too high, and try harder to have faith in my handiwork and KNOW that my yarns ARE worth more!

Some of the yarn I took to Knit Wit Yarn Shop (located in Sperryville, Virginia). Link: http://www.knitwityarnshop.com/



 

I sure hope they sell, so I can get busy making more!

Meanwhile, I have lots of fun ideas for where I'm going with my business.  I've had a couple of good discussions with people about opening a shop. Most people don't advise it, unless you have a LOT of capital to keep it going through the bad times.

I've also had some good discussions about where I want my business to go - the direction I'm headed.  I have a friend I met on FB, and she's been a fiber artist a long time.  She told me the other night that she learned that if she's doing what she loves, it sells. She doesn't worry about what people think or what people say they think she should do.  If it comes from the heart, it will sell.  Well, I can handle that. 
The other person that I've had these discussions with, is Dear Hubby.  He's a very smart man, and he is a salesman.  He has a different point of view on things.  Sometimes, he makes a lot of sense to me.  Other times, he doesn't really "get" what this involves, what kind of people it attracts, and how this business works.  So I take his advice, I process it, and then I make a decision based on what I feel about what he said (and what I've learned, and others in the business I've spoken to).

At this point, I'm reselling fiber - so that basically makes me a retailer.  Selling the fiber is good for making money (when people buy) but, it's not very creative and it's kind of dull, and it doesn't exactly stretch my creative side. 

I'd rather be MAKING things, using my creative side, and selling the yarns I make, and the garments I make, and the other items that give me so much joy in making (like the dream catchers).

So I will be moving my business in a new direction, while still (for awhile at least) providing the fiber for those that want it......we'll see how long I continue to do that. 

Business has been very slow on ETSY.  I don't know why, but I'm working on it.  I update items every few days.  I'm running a 10% off sale right now through the 25th.  Lots of views, no sales. 

I really wish I could afford to either put a decent building on the property, or better yet, open a shop.  Sigh......
 
 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dream Catchers!

Hi!  I've been MIA due to some health issues.  Seems I picked up a cold - the cold from HE&&.  Not fun.  Very contagious.  A virus according to the doctor.  Went to the doctor with a burning throat and coughing, after 5 days.  No strep.  Within the week, I had a severe sinus infection and ear infections.  Back to the doctor and antibiotics for 10 days and ear drops (which I have failed to complete - shame on me).   Then DH got it.  UGH.  He's been coughing for 2 weeks now too. I'm on week 4 and still hacking and coughing and have drainage issues.  Back to the doctor with DH but all they gave him was cough syrup with Codeine.  He took it one night but said it didn't help.  Then I read another thing about Vicks Vapo Rub on the feet.  Slather it on and put on socks and go to bed = no coughing.  What the heck - told DH to try it.  I think it actually worked last night! 

Anyway, still trying to get over the crud, but at least I'm functional now, but I wasn't for 2 TWO weeks!  I literally sat and watched t.v.  I couldn't do anything - between my face (sinuses) hurting and lack of energy and antibiotics wiping me out, I was done before I started.  I am back to DOING and that feels good!

So, on that note, I will tell you (and show you) about the Dream Catchers.  They are now photographed and edited and are looking pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.  I haven't listed them yet on ETSY, but they are on my FB page HERE .  If they don't start selling there, I'll be listing them on ETSY next week.



These are just examples of what I have available.  Don't forget, Christmas is coming SOON!  It's right around the corner.  It's always nice to buy hand made!

I used hand spun wool for these - I did add some commercial yarn on the last one pictured, mixed with hand spun.  There is a bead in each dream catcher, which stands for the spider that weaves the web.  Each one has feathers - some more, some less.  If you see one you like on my FB page, please let me know, and I'll be glad to get it right in the mail to you.  I accept Pay Pal and credit cards (done over the phone!). 

I have my latest hand spun yarn drying.  It's red.  It's very pretty.  I dyed it and spun it myself.  I can't wait to list it. There is a photo of that on my FB page also.

Thanks for checking in with me.  I hope you're ready for the cold weather and upcoming holidays.

Take care,
Martha











Thursday, October 17, 2013

Opportunity Knocking.....

I went for my monthly massage today.  I LOVE my massage therapist. She's amazing, she's a lovely person, she's so knowledgeable about SO many things, and she's passionate about baseball!  She's just the best.
She is located in a building that is about 30 minutes from my home.  The building is old, but it's kept up all right.
As I walk into the building I usually stop to read the bulletin board in the entry-way.  There was a sheet up there with information on it about availability of space for rent in the building.  They offer heat/AC (a must for me - I MUST be cool in summer), high speed internet, and one month free (not sure how long a lease would have to be signed for in order to get that).  To top it off.....the rent is only $250/month!  I mean, seriously? 
I believe in putting things out to the Universe.  The Universe usually answers my requests.....the only one I've had issues with, is winning the lottery!  Go figure.  The other things usually turn out just fine - parking spaces, no traffic around me, little things like that.....
I can't remember when I started wanting to find a craft that I'd love, and not get tired of doing, and to have a shop from which I could sell goods that I make and supplies to make the things like I make.  I mean, I'm 57 years old - and I have been dreaming this at least since I was a kid.....it's been a LIFE-LONG dream for sure.
Up to now, I didn't think there was any way for it to come true.
Of course, my hubby is the income person.  I'm the spend person.....and I don't like it that way.
I've tried to sell my goods on Etsy, and on my own website.  Neither has been successful.
There are 2 other shops in the area, and when I say, in the area, I mean, within 40 miles of where I live (I'm kind of in the middle).  One is North, and she lives on the edge of a mountain, and it's quite tricky getting to her studio.  Her studio isn't really a selling studio, she and her daughter mostly work out of the studio, though if you want lessons or to buy fiber, she is available to sell to you or give you lessons.  The other studio is South of me, also on the side of a mountain - and a tricky driveway to get up.  This studio IS a good studio to go to for lessons and weaving yarns, but she doesn't carry much fiber.....
Both these ladies are older than I am.
Both of them have their studios at their home.
Putting a building up on our property would cost about $13,000.  Maybe more.  That's just for a small building.  I can't really advertise open hours, but I could put a sign out. 
In this building where the space is for rent, I'm not sure I can put a sign up.  I also am not sure how much traffic I'd get.  I don't know what it takes to have a business in that county, either.

On the other hand, if I got a space at the building for rent, I'd have to drive there every day I want to be open....which in winter, could be tricky.  Of course, if the roads are that bad, no one would be out shopping - whether it be at the for rent building, or here at the house.

Oye.  This is a dream for me.....but I fear, only a dream.  It is an idea, growing in my head and heart.

Dear hubby is skeptical, and he worries.  Money going out hand over fist, to run my business, when I'm not making much, isn't a good thing....if only my online business was going better.

Well, I just needed to write this all down because it's in my head, and even though I talked to hubby, bless his heart, it's not something he's going to think is a good idea.............

Well, that's my post for today............
Thanks for listening to my dreams...............

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New colors

I have some new colors in the shop.  Nutmeg and brown.  They go well with the gold and red and burnt orange already in the shop.
If you're interested, take a look HERE. 

I've applied to be a vendor at Shenandoah Fiber Festival in 2014.  The venue is lovely, there is so much to choose from, and we can drive up and back. It'll make for a couple of really long days, but that's okay.  We can do it.  I hope we get accepted.

Don't forget to mark your calendar for April 2014 for the Powhatan Festival of Fiber too.  We're going to be there.

For these 2 festivals, I plan on carrying a lot of add-ins - both ecru for people to dye themselves, and some hand-dyed.  My winter mission will be to get lots of that ordered, and dyed. 

We recently had some improvements done on the house, and one of them was to add electrical outlets in the basement, and a bit more power, so I can run the microwave and/or the slow cookers.  The outside faucet (just outside the basement door) has been replaced which means I can use it for the water source.  I'll have to do a lot of in and out dumping water, but that's okay.  I also recently purchased a new spin dryer, and it works WONDERFULLY!  I'm really glad I invested in it. It will make drying fiber and yarn much quicker and less messy.

I haven't felt too well the last couple of days.  Last week, we had 5 (FIVE) days of rain in a row - steady rain - everything from a mist to downpours, but mostly a steady shower day in and day out.  I think that has affected my allergies, and I have yucky stuff dripping down my throat, it makes me cough, and I feel generally drained.  I'm resting up because I have so many ideas and things I want to get done!

I also have a rigid heddle loom on order, and I will be busy with that, once it gets here.  Fun things coming from that, I hope, with my handspun yarn and bits and bobs.

I have some new things I'm ready to try.  I want to try spinning some boucle' yarn.  I've seen it done on YouTube (where I learn almost everything I do).  I can hardly wait to try it!  I'm also going to work on some more art yarn.  I still need to photograph my dream catchers - they are SO hard to photograph - they are long, so I have to do close-ups separately.  It's hard to see the details in the distance shots.  My new camera, the Nikon D3100 is working well.  We are still getting to know each other.

Fall has arrived, even though 10 days ago, it was 90 degrees over the weekend (before the rains hit).  It's been cool and lovely out since.  I love the cooler weather and usually feel much more energetic (except when the allergies are attacking me).

That's about it for now.  Please visit the shop and buy something!  ;-)
Take care,
Martha

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Updating, decisions, and new stuff!

Hi there!  There was an interesting discussion on FB on one of the fiber groups.  It was about Etsy, their fees, and what might be good/better/best. 
I came to the conclusion that I'm not that big and famous as some of the people that posted.  I'm a beginner seller, and things are going slow.  I have faith that I have the right stuff, it's priced right, and that I can make a go at this. I've been in business less than a year, and although I myself keep forgetting that it's "only" been a year, I gotta give myself a break.

The shipping fees were bothering me on my items.  I hated that I had to put a fee that covered all that is involved in the shipping, to include the labels I use, the ink, printer, tape, plastic bags, boxes or envelopes, gas to get to the post office (about 20 miles away), and the fees incurred with using Etsy when something sells.  There is a LOT that goes into having a small business, that is done both on internet and at shows (when I can get IN to a show).

I decided to charge a flat rate for my items, and that increased the costs, but in the long run I believe it saves the buyer some of the fees of having separate shipping costs for each item.  I'm hoping I'm right.  I upped my prices on some of my fiber by $4.00.  That is to help me cover all the costs involved and still feel like I'm making money. I think I hope that I have kept my prices competitive, covered my costs, and can still make a decent profit. 

It's all in where you are in business and what you can handle.  I tried having my own website and selling from it, but they were nickel and diming me to death on the costs to have an online shop.  It was time consuming and a pain in the butt.  Therefore, the ease of using Etsy was appealing to me, and let's face it, the less time I spend on the computer doing business, the more time I can spend creating and enjoying what I love to do!  Time IS money!  I may get rid of the website in the end, and just have my blog, FB page, and Etsy (and sell in person when I can).

I received an order on Monday night which included some milk protein fiber and a couple of fall colors of fiber.  I'm trying to decide if I want to spin the fiber into yarn, and mix the colors or make a striping yarn, or if I will just put it all up for sale!  The colors are lovely.  I'll get pics soon.  I have to break down the fiber into 4 ounce braids, label them, and list them.  Today will be a good day to do that, as it's sunny out.  On the other hand, the stinkbugs are out in swarms and it's awful!  It's hard to get into the house without being attacked and having to whack about 20 or 30 of them off the door!  In the afternoon, they are all over the windows.  It's quite disgusting! 

I can't remember if I've also mentioned that I have a new camera - a Nikon D3100.  YAY.  I have been watching the dvd.  I keep thinking I need to put it in the player, and lay down with my eyes closed, and hope it comes to me through osmosis!  There is SO much to learn.  I do want to get a micro lens eventually.

I was just popping around on Etsy too, and found they have APPS they suggest using.  I clicked on this one called Foto Fuze and it takes you photos, and you highlight the items, and anything you don't highlight, it turns to white.  Messy backgrounds disappear.  And it's free.  Go here and it should link you to the page.  Quite easy to use and interesting.  I hope it will help me with my photos!

Speaking of which, I need to get busy taking photos of the dream catchers.  Here is one that I did on Foto Fuze. 

I think it turned out pretty cool.  I also was able to brighten my photo on Foto Fuze.  So there ya go. Now to try it with some close ups.....

That's about it from me.  It's lunch time and I'm hungry (no big surprise there....).

Take care of yourself.  Today, do something for you, something you love to do, or just take time to take care of you.
Always,
Martha

Friday, September 27, 2013

Well, hello there!  Yep, it's me. I'm back.  I keep taking these long breaks, and then I realize, I haven't blogged in awhile!  So here I am.

There are some new colors of commercially dyed fiber in the shop here.  I have a beautiful teal color - deep and rich. 
Isn't it gorgeous???!!!!  Its soft, squishy Merino wool.  Great for spinning, felting or blending. 

I also have a beautiful, light lavender. 

Such a soft color, beautiful!

I have ordered some fall colors which will be arriving on Monday.  Yum yum.  Not sure, but I was thinking of making some kits up, with a combination of the fall colors in them.  What do you think?

I also purchased a new camera.  My point-and-shoot Nikon wasn't hacking it anymore, as far as taking good enough photos for my Etsy shop.  I did some research and came across an article someone wrote, about the best camera for low-light shots.  The Nikon D3100 came up.  I did more research and found the camera at Best Buy, in a package deal; the camera base, a basic lens 18-55 mm lens, and another lens 55-200, for $499.  If I bought just the camera and basic lens, it would have been $449.  I spent $50 more, got a $250 lens.  Not a bad deal.  I brought it home and took a few photos after looking at the manual, and I love the camera already.  The photos above were taken outside in the shade on a sunny day.  We have a LOT of oak trees here and it's always shady.... I did adjust the exposure just a tiny bit, but otherwise, I didn't have to mess with the photos a lot, and the colors (on my monitor anyway) are perfect.  I'm SO happy.

I can't wait to take the camera with me and use it while we are out and about the next few weekends.  With fall here, the colors of the leaves will be changing and we'll be going to a few fiber festivals and an apple festival.  I love photography but the main reason for the purchase of this camera, is to get good photos for my online Etsy shop.

Of course, Hubby said, "this means you aren't planning on spending a lot of money at the fiber festivals, right?"  Um, yeah, sure.....

I'm still lusting after 2 pieces of equipment.  One is a real hackle, so I can blend fibers then diz them off.  The other is a drum carder, again to blend fibers to make batts.  I see batts online and I absolutely want to do that..........and spin from them!  I just can't spend the money on ones other people make.....if I were selling more, I would. 

Sales have been a bit slim but I do have an APP for my Etsy shop and when there is a sale, I hear Cha Ching!  It's SO much fun.  I just wish I could hear it more!

We are going to the fiber festival up in Berryville this weekend.  The Shenandoah Fiber Festival. I wanted to vend at it, but with the horses to take care of, and the dogs, and it being a 2 day festival, and it's a bit of a drive (over an hour), it just wasn't feasible this year.  I'm hoping next year, we'll be able to figure out a way to manage going and vending.  It's the staying over night that makes it difficult - horses to feed morning and night, and clean stalls in the morning, not to mention the 2 dogs we can't leave home for 2 days alone.....and they'd not do well with a dog sitter.  They don't do well all day alone for 2 days, even if we were to drive up and back each night and each morning (which would be really tough too).  So tomorrow, when we go up, I'm going to try to find out some information as to how others do it.

I am looking forward to the spring festival in April, at Powhatan.  I'll have to start gearing up for that in January.

I still haven't figured out a good way to take photos of the dream catchers, but I need to, so I can get them up to sell in the shop also.

This weekend, we have our almost-3-year-old grand daughter with us.  I just love this child.....but not much else will get done.
Next weekend is the Fall Fiber Festival at Montpelier.  This is another nice festival, but harder than heck to get into.  I tried, but wasn't accepted this year.  Bummer.  I'm going to submit my application as soon as I can for next year, and see if I can get in.

Then there is the apple festival coming up at Graves Mountain.  That's always fun to go to.  It's the first 3 weeks in October.  Usually great weather, lots of apples, some mountain music, and lots of people watching.  I could sit there all day, soaking it in and taking photos.

In December, we will be welcoming Grand Daughter #2 into the world.  Between now and then, I have a LOT to do - such as a quilt and burp rags to make!  Gotta get busy on that soon.....

Well, that's my update for now.  It's time to go feed the dogs and make dinner. 
Thanks for looking in.

Take it easy.
Martha






Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Orange Street Festival & Learning Experiences

We successfully pulled off vending at the Orange Street Festival on Saturday, Sept 7th, 2013.  We didn't walk away too disappointed, but we didn't really "make" money either.

This entire experience of owning a business is really teaching me a lot about myself, and what I want from it, and what it wants from me; along with learning that it's MY business and I need to stick up for what I want, when vending.  More on that a bit later.

Here is the booth when it was first set up:
Please excuse the somewhat not great photo - I took it with my IPhone, I was rushing, and in the upper left corner is my finger.  I have cropped the photo the best I could.  It's difficult to see everything because of the lack of tent walls (a sore subject, which goes along with the bit above about how it's MY vending experience and I know what I want....now I just have to stick up for myself and stick to my guns when setting up).

Some more photos:
This is one of my new grid walls with the yarns hanging off it.  It worked REALLY well, and I will be purchasing more grid walls.  The company I got these from is in PA, and I received them 2 days after ordering!  This company is amazing. 
You can also see the white floating heads there - we bought some foam core boards, traced around my head and shoulders, and hubby cut them out (because it's hard for me to grip the knife for too long).  These things worked GREAT and I'm very happy with them.  They are a wonderful way to display my hand made goods at eye level and got lots of attention!
You can also see the dream catchers I made out of hand spun yarn, feathers, and some of them have a bit of commercial yarn in them.  I LOVE making these dream catchers. 

More of the hanging cutouts, and how my items are displayed.  Here you can also see the box I displayed my drop spindles in.  I will be re-thinking this display.  I don't like it.  It did get LOTS of attention - but people had no idea what they were (because remember, this was not a fiber festival) and once they knew, they just walked away.  I will figure out a way to hang these on a display.


 This is a shawl I wove last year.  It's a mobius shawl, where I wove the beginning edge into the end edge.  I twisted the fringe, and put it in a special braid effect.  A young lady came along and fell in love with it.  It's easy care because it's acrylic yarn (hey, I made it before I started spinning my own yarn, and everyone LOVED this shawl and I got many nice compliments on it).  I will be making more of these, but they won't be mobius, they will be straight shawls with 2 ends.


Another view of the dream catchers I made. The background makes it difficult to really see.....again if the tent back was up, it would be a better photograph.

The booth space was too expensive for the money I made.  I won't be doing this venue again next year.
The weather was great in the morning, nice and cool, but it got quite warm later in the day, and again, because we didn't have any sides or back on the tent, the sun started beating in - on my wool, yarns, garments, etc.  It made it difficult to stay in the shade under the tent, and in the afternoon, we had to keep moving items around, and trying to figure out how to keep ourselves and the items in the shade.

The next venue, at this point in time, that I'm signed up to do, is Powhatan in April of 2014.  I'm excited to do it, we're signed up for 2 booth spaces, and we'll be able to spread out.  I'm planning on making more woven shawls, and I will have a lot more of the undyed fiber I carried this year, and a lot more of the commercially dyed fiber.

Don't forget to go visit my Etsy store HERE
I will be updating the store soon as I had stocked up for the street festival, and I need to list those items in the shop.

Take care,
Martha







Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What I've been up to...

I've been keeping quite busy.  I did get accepted into the Orange Street Festival which will take place on September 7th, 2013, in Orange, Virginia.  It's a beautiful, quaint, little town.  There will be lots of vendors and lots of food.  I'm putting in my order for perfect weather...I'm hoping Mother Nature is listening and complies. Here is the link to the festival if you need directions or more information.

I've been busy making a few things that I think might sell - at least, I'm hoping they do.  Although, I don't have a huge stock of them, in case they don't sell.  I crocheted from cotton, some bows on hair clips.  All colors of them - no photos yet (sorry).  I have also made some really cute dream catchers (also no photos yet - geesh, I'm bad).  I will try to get photos of those up soon. 

I also opened an Etsy shop - and OMG it's SO much easier than my website shop was.  I have totally changed over my website to just an info type site.  There is a blog page but it's a lot more work to get into than this one.  My Etsy shop is HERE.  Funny enough, I can't fit the "s" on the end of Spinning My Wheel Fibers for the shop so if you go looking for it, it's without the "s".  But the link should get you there.  I hope!  If not, let me know.

I'm excited about the street festival on one hand, on the other, I'm worried I'll make no money.  If that happens, I won't do it again, and consider it a learning experience.

I also applied for the 2014 Powhatan Festival of Fiber, which I attended this year (2013) in April, and did well at.  It was my first time as a vendor, and I was really happy.  I got accepted for 2014 (and was the first one that applied and got accepted). 

At some point, I'm hoping to be able to get into the Fall Fiber Festival in Montpelier VA, which takes place the first weekend in October.  If I can't then possibly we'll apply for Shenandoah Fiber Festival next Fall (which is the weekend before FFF - last weekend in September).  That is further away, and is a 2 day festival, so it's a lot more difficult because we have the 2 dogs and the horses that need caring for.  Since we do these things as a couple, it's more difficult to make sure the animals are taken care of.  We'll see....things change, ya know?

I did attend Spin Quest last weekend, in Front Royal, VA.  That was nice, as I went with 2 friends, but I probably won't do it again in the future.  I have to say, I was a bit disappointed because I thought it was going to involve more demos and teaching, but we were pretty much left to our own devices in the morning (which started quite late - 10:30, then lunch was at 12).  The people were wonderful, the atmosphere was nice, the room was good.  The toilet paper ran out early afternoon, so that could have been better.  There were some nice vendors there, but I try not to spend too much since I'm a vendor myself but I also like to support the ones that I like. 

Even with the disappointment of it not being quite what I expected, I did learn how to core spin fabric strips onto a core.  That was fun. I also got to renew/remember my love of spinning fun yarns.  I had a grab bag of yarn, and then we grabbed a bag of add-ins, which for me consisted of some fun eyelash yarn, some stretchy lace (which I ended up not using) and some feathers.  I spun the fiber into yarn, then plied with the eyelash yarn (till I ran out, then I just used some black thread I had in my bag).  When I plied, I stuck the feathers in.  One of them has fallen out and I really expect others to fall out. LOL.  I did my best.  We had to spin the yarn to look like a photograph we were given.  Here is mine:

Sorry for the light reflection.  I took this with my IPhone and people were around me and it came out a bit blurry.  But I had fun making this yarn!  It's not washable so it can't be something wearable, but I am hoping to use it for making more dream catchers.

A couple of more photos of the work of others:





Well, this is taking forever, so I'm going to close for now.  It's time to feed the dogs, and make dinner for us humans.
I haven't been productive today at all - I had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in awhile, and afterward, went to our Lazy Kate's spinning group, which was pretty small today.  When I got home I got on the computer.  BAD.  It's been raining all day too, which makes me feel even less productive.  I'm running out of time to do stuff for the street festival....so I need to work my butt off for the next week!

I will try really hard not to be so long between posts.  Take care!  Live for today!

Martha


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hello there

I've been MIA again. I was feeling stuck.  I feel stuck in my business when no one orders, and I'm not working on anything new.
I started spinning for TDF, but then I slacked off some.  More guilt than usual because I feel I'm not living up to a commitment I made.
However, I decided I needed to figure some things out, so I got online, found a local street festival in Orange, VA that is happening Sept 7th.  I applied.  They cashed my check.  I guess that means I'm in?  That made me feel like I needed to start preparing.  I hmmmd and hawed about whether I should start creating "fair" kind of stuff, as opposed to selling the supplies for spinning, and some hand spun yarns, and some hand made garments/items.  I decided I need to build my brand.  I've been watching a lot of shows that talk about branding your business.  Key words like that catch me now that I'm trying to grow my business. 
Therefore, I decided to stick with what I feel MY brand is - supplying supplies to people who want to spin.
For awhile, I've wanted to make some tools that I feel are really useful to spinners that deal with fiber, but can't afford to have the big tools, such as a drum carder (costing $550 and up, new), and people who might want to try spinning, but don't know if they'll take to it (yes, that actually does happen, as unbelievable as that may be), but can't afford a spinning wheel right away.  I made myself a blending board.  It's ugly but does the job.  I used carding cloth for mine, but I can now get blending board cloth, which has deeper tines, and isn't so sharp.  Since I want to make a good product, I opted to spend the extra money on the blending board cloth.  I also ordered 4 cutting boards on Amazon.  Four different boards, so I can see what I like, what works best, and then in the future, I can order that board (hopefully!).  I only ordered enough cloth to cover 3 boards.  That's okay.  I want to see if they actually sell first anyway.
I also asked a couple of friends about what they would do.  They suggested I make these drop spindles, and I said, well, someone else does those.   One of my friends, E, said, what this other lady sells, was my idea, and she just copied it and ran with it.  The other lady didn't even ask E if she minded.  E said, I'd be happy if YOU made them (meaning me).  So I ran with it!  :-)  I bought the supplies and put a few together.  Here is a photo.  Mind you, these are NOT finished yet, and I only tested them to see if they actually worked:

I spun some merino on them and OMG, I can spin finer than I can on my wheel.  I'm not much of a spindle person - you can't get as much on them and they tend to cause me to get tennis elbow.  These, I might figure out how to keep spinning on!  :-)

I painted a couple.  I wasn't thrilled with them.  I also stained one, then fell in love!  I will sand and restain then probably put a finish of some sort on them to make them smooth and shiny.  I LOVE them.  I do need to be more careful - between glue and stain, the fumes downstairs were a bit strong. LOL

I will post the photos of the finished products soon. 

The blending board supplies will be here some time this week, and I will work on those when they arrive.

I need to organize a bit downstairs.  We started reorganizing and I lost interest, because I was at a standstill.
Then a couple of people bought some fiber, and I got reenergized again. :-D

I also signed up for the Powhatan's Festival of Fiber, the festival I did this past April and did pretty well at.  We signed up for 2 spaces for 2014, and hopefully we'll have great weather,  just like last year!

I also asked my 2 friends if they'd want to go in with me on my tent at the street festival and said, if they brought in money and helped pay for the space, then I would be glad to let them sell their products and make some money too.  One of them, E, the same lady that let me take her idea of the spindles and run with it, her hubby makes something called a paddle spindle.  It's noisy, but interesting, and she's going to have him make some, then she will demo them at the festival in Sept.  If she does well, she can take do the same next April as far as I'm concerned.  She will also help me with demonstrating to customers how to use the spindles.

I will be dyeing more fiber soon also.  It's difficult as I've been banished to the basement.  The positive is that there is a lot more space down there.  The negative is there is no water supply, well, except for the outside faucet.  I'll see how difficult it is to work with.  I need to get more fiber dyed, especially now that I have more colors to play with and more space to do it in.  While I'm waiting for the fiber to set in the steam, I can be working on more spindles and blending boards!

That's about it for now.  My timer for dinner went off, so it's time to go finish that up.  I hope to be back soon with more product updates!

Take care and Carpe' Diem!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dreamer

I've always been a dreamer.  I know that no matter what or who is involved in my dreams, some have actually come true in the past.  I have many dreams.  I'm someone who did not do well in school. I'm someone that didn't have any guidance or support growing up.  I have always found peace in working with my hands. I've done many crafts.  I'm not much of a drawing type artist, but other than that, I can be creative.
I went straight from living at home where I had to depend on my parents for supplying anything I needed from clothing and food to the things I might have been interested in doing, to getting married.  I got married right after I turned 19, and have been married for 38 years now.  I did work at a couple of points in my life, helped support the income of a military enlisted soldier with two children, one who wanted to dance and was in many competitions and needed dance supplies and photographs and competition fees and travel fees, the other who needed a lot of medical help with substance abuse and other things.  I worked in office jobs mostly, although when I worked for the vet I did enjoy that -- till I had a bone spur in my shoulder and couldn't do the cleaning or have big dogs pulling on me.  Then we moved to the country. I haven't worked since moving here over eight years ago.

I'm no spring chicken.  I've had a massive heart attack (2007) and some other medical issues.  My stamina isn't what it should be, and I've let myself go physically.


Anyway, back to the subject of dreams.  I dream about having a studio, where I can do my sewing, my spinning and weaving and other fiber arts.  Space that is clean, and light, and easy to move around in.  Space where people can come, and join together to enjoy the fiber arts and share the company of others.  Space I can sell my goods out of.

My dreams have always depended on other people and their faith in me, or their belief in me, or their support of me.  Or maybe that's an excuse.

I feel like every time I turn around, my dreams are being shot down by someone else.

I'm kind of an all or nothing gal.  I want to go full speed ahead, and if something seems to get in my way, I decide I'm not going to go for it at all.

I need to have faith in the Universe, and know that eventually, it will provide for me to have my dreams come true.

I'm just not very good at waiting...........or being patient.

I just have to remember not to give up on myself, to have faith in myself, and to go for it.......and not let anyone else get in my way...........

Well, there, now I feel better for that pep talk!

I hope whatever your dreams are, they either have come true, or will come true for you.  Never stop believing in yourself.  If you feel no one else is supporting you, just remember that the only one that really has to believe in you, is YOU.

See, I know that, it's just sometimes, I get into a funk and I have to talk myself out of it..............

Dream on
Martha

Monday, May 27, 2013

If I build it, will they come?

My business isn't doing very well. I'm not a patient person, so that's part of it.  I don't know what else to do, to put myself "out there."  It's really difficult, in my opinion, to sell something like fiber - which I think people like to touch and feel and see in person - online.  Then, I see all the other people who do it and are successful at it, and wonder, "what am I doing wrong?"

I dunno.  As I said, I'm impatient so maybe that's it.

Hubby and I looked at sheds a couple of days ago.  These aren't any old sheds.  These are really nice sheds, sheds that insulation and walls and electric can be added to, sheds that could be used to store equipment in, that I could work in, that would be a nice space, all my own.  They are nice on the outside, and with a little work, would be very nice on the inside as well.

If I build it, will they come? 

If I want to become a distributor for equipment (spinning and weaving), the companies I've checked with, require a space to sell from, a space the public can check out the wheels and looms, a space that has hours to be open.  Some of them require more than others - some require an actual store front.  I can't afford a store front at this point in time.  I'm not sure where I'd even WANT a store front.  Would it be in the city?  In the town?  Would it be better near the city so that it's easily accessed?  Or would I get lost in the [city] jungle?  I can't afford $1000/month (and that's a guesstimate) and not get any business, and have to fold in  6 months AND lose all that money.  Do I build the shed and see if people come?  Our little part of the country is really beautiful and it's really only about 35 minutes (or sometimes 45) from the city to here.  The other two studios that are near here (well, near is all relative - they are both at least 45 minutes from me) are both on the side of hills.  One is north, one is south, both away from the city I'm talking about.  I'd be the closest one (that I'm aware of) to the city. 

I wish I had a mentor.  I would love to have someone take me under their wing, and help hold my hand, and say, you need to do this and this and this first.  I have no idea where to even start with what I'd need to pull together, to have a small business storefront. 

I guess starting small, with a shed, on the farm, is the best way to get started....then, if I were to grow, maybe it would be possible to actually have a real studio, somewhere people shop. 

If anyone out there has any experience building a studio business, I'd be interested in hearing your ideas.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day weekend. 

Always,
Martha

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My First Vending Experience

Well hello there!  I bet you thought I'd disappeared forever, eh?  Nope, not me.  I've just been SO frantic busy preparing for my first fiber festival.  Powhatan's Festival of Fiber was a great success!  This was it's induction year, first time, and I must say, all of my fears of no one showing up or purchasing, were smashed to pieces!  Yes, that's a GREAT thing!
We live about an hour and a half away from the venue, and the plan was, to leave by 6:30 (latest) and my hope was, to be out around 6:15.  Well, we left around 6:35, and had to make 2 stops after just starting out - mostly because I was following hubby while he drove the pickup truck, and stuff was flapping and flying in the back.  He stopped to move a couple of the not-so-secure things into the front of the truck, and off we went. 
We were almost there, and I called hubby on the celly telly and told him I needed a pit stop.  Although we left later than I'd hoped, and made 3 unexpected stops along the way, we still arrived in ample time to set up and get things ready.
My nerves were all over the place, and I kept talking to myself all the way there, and tried not to freak out too much.....
We immediately set up the tent, tables, and racks to hang things from.  We ran into a couple of snags, but we worked them out, and we made note of what works, and what needs to be tweaked - in case we decide to do this again.
At first, I found myself going in circles, literally, as I'd be doing something, he'd ask me something, I'd look for something, and try to go back to doing what I was doing, standing in place, going in circles.  I actually got dizzy at one point.
Setup was allowed until 9:30, then all vehicles had to be off the field, leaving another 30 minutes to tweak and finish setting up the booth.
We did it!  We got it all set up. 





The weather was perfect.  It was sunny most of the day, it got to about 72 degrees, there was a slight breeze that came up now and then.  In the afternoon, some clouds moved in which cut the sun, and that was okay because since we had no sides on the tent, the sun was beating in which caused some condensation on the fiber that was in plastic bags.  We had to start scooting everything around, in order to keep it out of the sun.  

 We did a really brisk business too.  We haven't counted up the sales yet, but I tell ya, it wasn't half bad.  I am very happy with the results.  We learned a lot, and if we decide to continue doing this, we have some tweaking to do, and a lot of decisions to make as to what direction we want to go in.

For now, I need to get everything out (when we were done, we just dumped everything instead of sorting through and being neat about it), check my inventory (which is something else I need to figure out - a better inventory system) and spend a LOT of time updating my website and trying to get some of the things I didn't sell at the show, sold online.

That's it from me for now, but I'll be back more regularly.
Thanks for checking in and have yourself a wonderful day.
Always,
Martha



Thursday, April 4, 2013

What's New?

Well, let me tell ya.  I've been one busy girl.  I decided to do jump in with both feet.  Yeah, well, that's me.
I applied to, and was accepted by, the Powhatan Festival of Fiber.  You can find out all about it here.  Now, I'm freaking out.
I've been dyeing fiber - and having nervous breakdowns.
I've been blending batts on my little blending board.  Love what comes out, but OMG, it takes me forever to do 3 batts that come out to 3-4 ounces all together.  S.L.O.W. going.

I ordered 45 pounds of fiber from Ashland Bay.  Wholesale.  $800 worth.  Holy cow!  Some is ecru, ready to be dyed.  Some is commercially dyed.  I've been blending some of the commercially dyed, and will sell some. 

There is fiber all over the house.  Upstairs, downstairs.  Hubby decided he didn't like everything sitting just inside the front door.  When you walked in, there is my wheel, bags of fiber, blending board, carrying case for supplies for wheel if I go byebye with it.  He found a place in the "office" for some of it.  Sorry honey.  I don't mean to make a mess.  It's just really hard to have stuff downstairs. 

Today I did some computer stuff, research (supplies).  Hubby set up the tent (didn't tell me till it was done) outside to test it out.  I went downstairs and he surprised me.  We decided to give it a try.  I have almost everything I need to have a decent tent.  Hey, it's 10' x 10'.  I need more product, and tablecloths.  I have to cut the bottom off my banner because I have a new website (website), and the old one is on the banner.  That's okay though.  The banner could be shorter.  So it's all good.  Here is a sneak peak of the tent.
The banner will hang in the center back.  I do wish it was a white tent, but the olive drab tan is all they had.  I needed a tent.  So there it is. 
There are 2 racks on the left that I picked up several years ago at A.C. Moore craft store.  LOVE them.  The one on the right is one I found at a junk place up the road - the place is packed SO tightly you can hardly move around.  But it's perfect to hang my few hand-made items on. 
Yesterday, I visited my friend Jan, who is moving back to New York where she's from. She is here for a couple of weeks, and is cleaning out her house. She had these awesome baskets in her attic that have never been used.  They are really beautiful baskets.  I'm going to put some plain fabric in them to line them, and use them to put fibers in.  I think they'll look awesome.  Here's a better photo.

The baskets have leather handles.  Classy! 




Here is another photo

I think if you click on the photo it might enlarge....

Here is a photo of the other side and baskets which are different.

Left side of tent.  The basket on the left is sitting at an angle inside another basket.  The one on the right is another really nice basket.


See that hanging shelf in the back corner?  We're moving it from there but it's plastic and it folds up for easy transport.  I had that already too. 



It's kinda like I've been preparing for this for years.  It's a dream I've had for a long time.  To become an artist, and be able to sell my art at fairs.  I had NO idea it would be fiber arts.  I knew my dream would come true though.

To be honest, I'm scared to death that no one will buy anything, and that if they do, something will be wrong with it.  I'm just so unsure.  But ya know, if I don't try, I'll never know, right? 

I have a LOT to do.  Photographing.  Labeling.  Bagging and tagging.  Making more yarn.  Making more batts.  Buying tablecloths.  Fixing my banner.  Finishing more product that is not fiber, but fiber related. 

Did I mention, the festival is on April 27th?  2013.  Yeah, that's exactly 23 days from now.  That gives me 22 days to prepare.  Holy cow!  What have I gotten myself into????? 

I spent Monday and Tuesday dyeing fiber, and ended up with such a sore back, I could hardly move.  I'm better today.  Thank goodness for massage machines, and Arnica. 

As I said, LOTS more to do.  Wish me luck.
If you're in Virginia on April 27th, come on out and see us. 

Take care,
Martha

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Batts!

I've found a new love.  Batts!  I love making them.  See?


These all might be a bit deceiving - they are an ounce or less in weight!  I just told hubby, I see a drum carder in my very near future!  I don't know if anyone will be interested in buying them because they ARE so small, but hey, they are soft, fluffy, and have some fun shiny stuff hiding inside!  A drum carder would give me larger batts.  I think they might sell better. For now, this is what I have, and hopefully, someone will be interested in buying them.



I did these on my blending board.  You can find my post on my home-made blending board here.  It's not pretty, but it does the job.  It took me awhile to start using the board.  I wasn't particularly fond of the rolags - either making or spinning them.  Then I tried dizzing off the fiber from the board, and I couldn't get consistent enough with that.  When I got my first batt off the board - well, all I can say is, love at first sight!  The purple one was so fluffy and fun and I put it on my head.  I was at spin group and everyone loved it, and said it should be felted into a hat!  I would love to - except I don't know how to make a hat from felting.  I will learn though!  Eventually.....

Meanwhile, I'm struggling - I think I need to make a new website for myself.  Just my stuff.  I think it would be easier to get people to buy.  But, do I go through WordPress and set up a site and a blog together?  Or through Blogger?  Or do I just set up a website and buy the E-Commerce through it?  Do I just try to sell through Ravelry and Facebook?  I asked on a fiber market group and a lot of people just use that to sell - FB and Ravelry.  Do I not bother to spend my money on the extra website?  I don't want to sink money into Etsy - just too much competition.

Of course, the problem with being part of the fiber groups is, everyone else in those groups is trying to sell fiber/yarns etc also.  So there's competition there too.

I don't know if the batts will sell, but hey, I'm having fun.  Except for taking 3 or 4 hours to photograph, download, edit, and upload to sites.  It's a LOT of work to do this!!!!  Also, it takes away from doing the fun stuff.  I was hoping to do some dyeing today, but it's now 12:30 and I don't want to start that.  I have so many other things I want to do.  Oh, did I mention, I haven't showered or gotten dressed yet?  Geesh.

I also made a bunch of shrink plastic designs with spinning wheels and knitting needles with balls of yarn.  They are so cute!  They can be earrings, key chains, or can just be hooked onto a spinning wheel.  I think I will have to find some more rubber stamps - I think a spindle would be cute.  They turned out okay except the larger circles of shrink plastic were being difficult.  For the 25 or so I got done, about 5 of those curled up on themselves and stuck to themselves.  Sigh.  No matter what I tried, I lost them. Oh well.

Thanks for looking.  I'll be posting these batts on my website here, but you can also find them on my FB page here. Now that I've posted that here, I'm off to my website to update! Can hardly keep up with myself!

Always,
Martha

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Did It!!!!!

Well, I took the dive.  I finally got brave, and dyed my own fiber!  It's not half bad, if I do say so myself.  I need to spin it, of course, to see if it really is worthy.  I was afraid it was a little felted at first, but when I pre-draft, it works!
Oh, you wanna see?  Look!
This is number 1.  It was my first try.  It's four ounces of Blue Faced Leicester, a wonderfully soft, next to skin yummy fiber.

This is number 2.  It didn't go as smoothly as number 1 did.  I had some issues with the dye running after I had steamed it.  I believe it was because I didn't steam it as long as number 1.  That is because I ran out of time.  So I had to soak it in more vinegar water (vinegar helps set the color) and then steam it the next day.  It came out great!























On number 2, the red ran into the yellow a bit more, but I love it that way! 

I can hardly wait to spin these up and see how they come out.  I love bright colors, and I love contrast.  I have learned a lot about my likes and dislikes since exploring my crafty side.

I ordered my acid dyes from Dharma Trading Company.  I'm not sure if I'll continue to use the dyes, or order from them.  It took over a week for the dyes to arrive - that's the slowest I've ever received anything from any company I've ever ordered from.  It was a bit frustrating.  Yes, I chose the least expensive shipping, but good Lord, I've done that with every company and it never takes THAT long to get here!  The other thing that is a bit frustrating is their website doesn't have very good instructions on how to mix the dyes.  I am new at this, and I have 2 books to follow and have looked at YouTube, but it would have been nice to have exact measurements given on how to mix the dyes, for what amounts.  I couldn't find that.  So, I went for it and tried to do what I'd read/saw.  It worked great for the red and yellow (see above!) but not so much for the Peacock Blue. 

Someone posted on FB on the dyeing page about the Dharma Peacock Blue not being so easy to get along with, but one of my spin friends says she uses it all the time with no issues.  Huh.  After she asked me what I'd done, she determined that possibly I used too much powder to not enough water.  I will follow some advice I did find on the DTC website, and I will try adding hot water and seeing if the dye will disperse better, and maybe I can use it for the next batch of dyeing I have.  I have lots of good colors to use, but this time round, I wanted to try to KISS - keep it simple stupid. 

This morning I took little Gabbi to the vet for her dental. I am determined, this time, to stick with keeping her teeth clean.  I HATE dropping her off there, and she hates it too.  She was the only one this morning, and the vet did her and called me within an hour of me dropping her off!  She was still asleep when he called but done with the dental, and he said to show up at 10:00 (that was 90 minutes from when he called).  Well, he called back not 5 minutes later, and said come get your kid!  She was a mess - she was screaming and scratching in the cage.  She kinda flips out, and is an emotional mess when I leave her anywhere, which is why I don't take her to the groomer anymore.  Poor little thing.  Well, she was fine when I got there, and has done really well today!  She's such a good girl.

I haven't felt very crafty today, so I worked on making space in my laundry room which is also my pantry.  I have a bookcase in there with food (boxes, cans, and baking stuff).  I cleaned, organized, and tossed the expired stuff.  Then I found an empty plastic tote box that we weren't using for anything else, and all of my dye equipment fit in the bin!  I don't know if it will always fit - I pretty much expect I'll have to have 2 bins eventually.  But that's okay!  For now, the one bin is fine, and it fits just inside the door, with the crock pot sitting on top.  It works!

We are expecting a huge snow storm.  I am looking out the window, and it seems like a nice day.  It's in the 40s and barely any wind (for once).  It's overcast, but not too bad.  They (the weather people) are so excited about this weather coming through.  I am hoping that once again, they will be incorrect, and we get nuthin but a bit of rain, maybe a few flakes, and that's it, because I really do NOT want the 7" more or less, they are calling for.  Not now, not in March. Thank you very much.

Okay, well, that's enough rambling for now.  I really need to go do something.  Actually, I'm ready for a nap but don't want to sleep as I've finally begun sleeping well at night again, and I don't want to mess that up.  Although, I seem to be only able to sleep about 6-7 hours at a time, but it's good sleep.











Saturday, February 23, 2013

Slammin Busy

I have been MIA - again. I keep apologizing but I have no excuse other than I have really had no time or anything to really blog about.  It stinks, but it's the truth.

I'm working on my business.  Having someone want to buy all the yarn I can make as fast as I can make it is great.  It's just not very fulfilling.  Does that make sense?  I spin and spin, then finish the yarn, and I hang it to dry, take photos, measure it out, price it, and send her the info.  She buys it, and I start all over again.

I haven't been able to make any "fun" stuff.   I spin to send to her to knit.

I am, however, going to change that.  If she has to wait a week or 2 while I do some stuff for me to put in my shop, so be it.  I can't help that.  I really NEED to be able to update my shop once a week at least.  I'm getting no sales on my website because it's the same old stuff!  ARGH.  Frustrating.  On the other hand, how can I gripe about making money from someone buying my yarn?  After all, that's what I wanted, right? 

Okay, so there's that.  Currently I'm working on Bamboo - and I can tell you, I don't think I'll work with Bamboo again!  It's icky feeling to the touch.  Feels awful.  As I'm spinning it, I actually start to be able to not feel it between my fingers.  Strange, huh?  I can't explain it any other way.

The Bamboo is black too - so I can only work on it during the day.  Can't even see it at night, even with a light on (not that the lighting in my room is great....).

I got 2 new books online, and 2 from the library.  I need to really study up on how to spin better for knitting, and one of the books addresses that.  The other book is one I'd gotten before, and I thought I'd ordered it online, but I think I ordered the wrong book.  I have to go check my books to see for sure.  I ordered a book on dyeing without seeing the book first.  I like the book, but it didn't tell me what I was sure I'd seen elsewhere about dyeing in the crock pot.  The other book I picked up in the library is the one where I'd seen it!  Duh.

I am all about making my "company" work for me this year so that next year, if the opportunity arises, I can do a show or two.  That is something I'd love to try.  Figuring out how we'd take care of the dogs while we're gone is one issue we're facing.  No way could we do a 2 day show if we can't come home at night, because of the horses.  So that's another issue.  I could do the shows alone, but Dear Hubby has so much fun selling, and it's so much easier with backup.  If one goes potty the place isn't left alone.  So I dunno.

I ordered some undyed fiber and also ordered dyes this week.
I also made my own Blending Board.  It's fun to play on. Still makes me want a drum carder though....

 It's not pretty, or impressive.  But it works.  Here's proof.
These are called rolags.  They are mini batts.  They are made from lots of different fibers that I put on the board, and brushed in with a paint brush.  Then I take 2 dowels (not very thick ones) and I put them around the ends of the fibers on one end of the board, and pull up and forward and that pulls the fibers up, and that is called drafting.  After drafting some (stretching the fibers) I pull them around the dowels, and keep going till the drafting becomes really thin. I take the fibers and pull one dowel out, then another and this is what you get.  I haven't spun this up yet.  I will though.  I can hardly wait.  I haven't measured the weight yet, and I don't know what I'd make out of it, but hey, it was an experiment. 

Normally, I wouldn't put all those colors together.....as I said, I used whatever I had that I felt wasn't the expensive stuff.  When I get to dyeing and I have bits and pieces left that I can use, I'll be able to blend more and make many more, and then I can really make something fun out of whatever I spin.  :-)

Well, that's it for me.  I need to go spin some of this bamboo before daylight ends.  Can you tell, I'm procrastinating about it????

Later folks
Always,
Martha




Friday, January 25, 2013

Wow!

I've been pretty busy.  Lots going on here.  We're in the dead of winter, which slows most people down.  Not me.  Things have been whizzing along here!  I'm sorry I went missing. I just had nothing new to really report.

I have started a dog training class with Evan. He's my Papillion.  He is loving the tracking class we started.  We go on Saturdays.  Only issue is, the first week between class one and two, it poured rain for 4 days and the 2 days before that were really foggy and wet.  It was awful.  Class day was great though and we picked up class two where we left off at class one.  Class three is supposed to be tomorrow - but it's cancelled.  We've had temps in the 20s with wind chills in the teens and single digits, and a tiny amount of snow on the ground.  The cold isn't good for me (heart issues) and it's certainly not good for the pups to be out for an hour sniffing around!  Hopefully next Saturday will be better.

On a wonderful note, the woman who bought my yarn to use in her new line of clothing, has finished the first sweater.  It's really beautiful.  See below:

Isn't it amazing?  Its her own pattern, with MY hand spun yarn!  The model is her daughter.  The wonderful artist of this sweater is Joey Goodrich, of The House Of Renee Originals. 

She just told me tonight that our names just went out to 7000 people!  Holy Cow!  A group she belongs to has that many people they distribute to. 

I spent the entire day today spinning new yarn for Joey.  I actually started it Wednesday.  It's Alpaca/Merino/Silk blend and it's really beautiful.  Soft as soft can be.  It's spun much thinner than the yarn in the above photo. It'll make a beautiful garment.  The yarn is hanging in my bathroom drying as I type this.  Photos later.

Tomorrow I'm going to another spinner's home. She has a barn she converted, which has a wood burning stove, and she's invited a lot of spinners to go.  I'm supposed to bring something.  I think it's just going to be a coffee cake (or 2).  I was going to make potato/corn chowder, but I don't really want to lug a crock pot and everything down there.  It's my first time going to her place, so I think I'll make something easy.  Hence the coffee cake.  Good ole Bisquick!  I do put a twist on it and add stuff, tomorrow I will add some chocolate chips.  Who doesn't like that?

I will try really hard to keep up here.  So much going on - it's been difficult. I'm trying to catch up to myself constantly.  Between my Facebook page Spinning My Wheel Fibers and my website www.cottage-artists.com and here, ordering fiber, spinning fiber, photography, trying to spin enough yarn to get ahead (which by the way isn't working),  going to spin groups, doctor's appointments, doing stuff with hubby, and fighting off a sinus thing, I feel like I'm chasing my tail!  Whew!

Please take care,
Always,
Martha