Drive By Update

1. I just did an impromptu giveaway on facebook. It was quick and fun, and I will definitely do it again. Winners will be announced tomorrow, and everyone that participated will get a 10% off coupon for the shop.

2. It has been a long and stressful few weeks as Brock tries to find a job. I am trying to hold it together, but just keep researching magic instead of working on Tiny Dino Studios, because one day I will actually write a young adult fantasy novel.

3. The first issue of ply magazine debuted and it is gorgeous. The first article on the first spinners made me want to go back to school and do the Textiles BFA at KU with a minor in History. Someday, I will do this.

4. Since Brock is unemployed, but brilliant, he is making a video game. I might be fantasizing about it having Minecraft-type success and becoming a full-time student/mom who couldn’t give a damn about money. In these fantasies, I am also, thinner, taller, blonde, and wearing a baby on my back as I work on the looms in the art building and walk around campus.

5. Despite the above despairing, I have been dyeing, and I have updated my shop accordingly.

6. I have also been spinning some really dreamy alpaca, pictured below. I don’t even hesitate to link you to Marcia’s shop because her stuff is so brilliant. (Most alpaca breeders go for density and then fineness. Marcia just breeds for fineness, and let me tell you what I am spinning is like buttah.)

greyalpaca
Available for purchase here. Let Marcia know I sent you.

And here’s what just went up for sale in my shop, if you can pull yourself away from the Alpaca.

magic moss2

morning rainbow

appleblossomandpeavines

harvestgoldpteranodonworsted2

sea glass tunis

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I am Beat or Acknowledging How Much Time You Put in To Your Craft Business

I am swamped at my day job. I am the kind of busy where I am days behind on all of my projects, I accomplishing my daily tasks at an almost feverish pace, and my office is a mess because cleaning stuff up as I go takes too long. (I realize I will likely have to spend two hours cleaning it at the end of the month, but it will be two hours well-spent, let me tell you.) Then I grab the kiddo from school and try to give him my full attention til dinnertime, and then it’s back to work on Tiny Dino Studios.

While I am sure I have mentioned it before, I am trying to spend as much time on my yarn business as I do on my day job. It’s a lot easier to quantify the day job as 30 hours a week, because I am scheduled to be there. This yarn thing is another story. When a so-called hobby overlaps so closely with work, it can sometimes be difficult to draw the line between work and play. I think about it this way: if I am knitting a sock for myself out of yarn I dyed, that is not work. If I am photographing pictures of said sock and yarn for the blog, that is work. If I am designing a sock, any time I touch it anything to do with it, it’s work. I have never quite reached 30 hours a week yet, I am averaging closer to 20. Since I never seem to make it 30, I always feel like I am not doing enough. I could always be doing more, and I feel guilty for taking some time off.

This is stupid, and I am trying to stop.

I have a pretty full schedule most of the time. Yesterday, for instance was day job from 8-3, doing yarny work on my lunch break, picking Athrun up from school, Athrun time for two hours, Athrun off to his dad’s so I can go write at the coffee shop for an hour and a half and then I spent two hours teaching a knitting class. Then home for a glass of wine and bed.

It’s no wonder I’m tired today. In 13 hours, I had a two hour break with my kiddo–and while writing and knitting classes are all totally and completely fun for me to do, they are still work.

Today, I feel like sitting on the sofa and doing nothing–but I have put in 6 hours of day job and 3 1/2 hours of knitting job so far, and I feel like I should keep going. To admit that I just don’t have it in me is a battle I don’t usually win. Normally when I feel like this, I tell myself I am going to relax and do something not work related after dinner, I get through an hour before I start to feel lazy and pick up something work related to do.

The thing is, I have no reason to feel guilty or lazy.

So tonight, I am going to revel in my non-working, and congratulate myself on everything I have accomplished over the last couple of days. (And eat some damn ice cream.)

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Yesterday I hinted at some changes I want to make in the near future in my business, but I did not elaborate. And I apologize, I hate it when people are vague and secretive on their blogs. Usually when someone is too vague and too secretive too often I stop reading it and just look at the pictures. If the pictures seem to indicate this person is continuing to pretend they live in the magazine portrayal of their life they display online, I unsubscribe. The blogs I continue to read? The ones where people struggle. Where the writer curses. Where the author admits that sometimes life is shitty. The blogs I keep reading are the ones that are still a story in progress–still have struggles–are less a brand and more an individual.

That being said, there is something definitely to be said for professionalism and branding. One of the changes I am looking at is making my blog design, etsy shop, packaging and promotional materials all more consistent in design and tone. I’ve experimented with different yarn labels, cards, and banners over the last couple of years. I am not completely happy with them any of them and it’s time to take greater creative responsibility of that aspect of my business. In my mind, this will make my products and yarn lines more professional, more marketable, and more desirable to the consumer, thus increasing sales. I also want to prepare to wholesale some of my yarn–not that I have anywhere to wholesale it at the moment, but I want to be able to do so when I find the right place. While I plan to give the old dot com a makeover in the next year, I really don’t want to become one of those antiseptic blogs that adheres so much to a brand nothing important ever gets said. If anything, I am endeavoring to make my blog more candid, more intimate than I have in the past–and it’s not because I think it will get me more sales.

As well as being a marketing tool, my blog is another creative outlet (not one that I necessarily utilize as well as I can, but I think of it as such nonetheless. I always intended this blog to chronicle how I go about making Tiny Dino Studios a business–and how difficult and wonderful it can be. I feel like somewhere along the way I got too tired to ever really see that through. Getting back to that place and not cutting out the stuff that makes the process sticky and frustrating is important to me. I am not cheery and happy all the time. I am often grumpy and tired. Starting a creative business and building a creative business is hard, and I want to document both the hard and successful–not just the pretty.

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Etherial Progress and Navel Gazing

Today I was so pressed for time, I took blog photos at my desk. And not fun webcam photos either. Honest to goodness blog photos.

And this is the only one I edited even a little bit
grim_realities_of_a_working_knitter

Hello desk calendar back drop.

Etherial_at_work

At least I am making progress. And I am pleased with my dye job.

I have been doing a lot of business navel-gazing lately. I am ready to make some changes in what I do, the building business kind of changes, and yet I am currently faced with the dilemma of finding time to take photos that aren’t badly lit and backed by desk calendar that’s still on the wrong month.

Mulling over big things in my spare time is not serving me as well as I would like, mostly because I feel as though I am on the verge of something with no time to act on it.

Perhaps I will know what it is when I finish this sweater.

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Undyed Stuff

My work tends to get the most attention when it’s bright and loud and saturated with color. I know in most cases, that’s what the Tiny Dino Studios brand is known for. I also happen to really love working with natural fibers and fibers from different breeds. Knowing there different fleece characteristics across different breeds and then actually exploring some of those differences for myself are two very different things.

I have my comfort zone wools for spinning, Falkland in any form, and Merino I like, but as long as it’s not top (because I am picky.) Alpaca is fun and different. And just generic American Wool is fun and durable and soft. This is what I spin most often because it’s what the people around me produce or sell, so it’s easy to come by. But I have been trying to branch out a bit.

I’ve been working through some Cormo, which is lovely to spin. It’s soft, but not so soft it doesn’t have any durability. It’s my favorite parts of Corriedale with the best parts of Merino thrown in. Then, I received my Tunis roving back from the mill. Tunis is a little coarser, and you can feel the difference between a mediumwool sheep and a finewool sheep when you hold a skein of Cormo in one hand and a skein of Tunis in the other. And yet, they are both soft. Perhaps it’s just the way I spun it (worsted, chain-plied, heavy fingering weight) but I can hold it up to my neck and it doesn’t prickle. And though it has less crimp than the Cormo, the Tunis feels distinctly springy–like it’s got the energy to paint the town red while the Cormo wants to eat bon-bons while reclining on a silk settee.

The color is vastly different as well. Tunis is known as a red sheep, and while the wool is not actually red, it has a peachy, kind of antiqued white color to it.

Tunis_Handspun_Yarn
It’s hard to see on it’s own. In this photo (which is too bright, I will give you) the skein just kind of looks to me like a skein of springy undyed wool.

But when you sit it next to the Cormo, you can really see the difference.
Tunis_next_to_cormo
The Tunis is on the left. The Cormo is on the right. Please study carefully, there will be an exam.

Then, I received this in the mail yesterday:
Rambouillet_Lock

That is a lock of Rambouillet. I purchased a 10 oz bag on Etsy last week and it is gorgeous. As you can tell from the veg matter in the photo, this lock is unwashed–unwashed! Look how gorgeously white and crimpy that is! I am very excited. This is possibly the softest lock I have held in my hand ever. And the locks were so beautiful, I couldn’t quite bring myself to break them up by throwing them in a big tub to soak.

washingwool
To keep the lock integrity as much as possible, I am using the Yarn Harlot’s method for stove top wool washing.

Updates when it’s clean!

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Linocuts for Knitters

notecard_set_tied_with_ribbon

If you were one of the folks who subscribed to the first ever installment of the RAWR! sock club, then you know that I have started having fun with linocuts. Those few lucky ladies received my first two note card designs in their sock club packages, and now they are available to everyone in my shop!

The first design still makes me laugh, and I hope it puts a smile on your face too, tiny_dino_knit_before_it_was_cool_notecard
We’ve all known Tiny Dino was too cool for school for ages, but now we can spread the message with a top-hat wearing Tiny Dino knitting away at a garter stitch scarf.

My other design is a bit more classic–and to me at least–the epitome of calm, serene, happy things.

sheep_thankyou

I love this little sheep!

I am printing these cards made to order at the moment, in single goes or sets of four using kraft paper note cards and professional printing ink.

sheep_linocut
Here’s my sheep block. I have a few more uncut blocks, so be on the look out for more designs.

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Tunis Roving is Here!

braidoftunisroving Buy This Here!

I think I mentioned awhile ago that I had purchased some wool from a local rancher and sent it to The Shepherd’s Mill here in Kansas. Well, I just got it back and I love it!

It’s Tunis wool. It’s been minimally processed so it has a great sproingy hand along with a little bit of vegetable manner and just a hint of lanolin smell. mmmmmmmm Sheepy.

A little bit about Tunis:
Tunis is a medium wool sheep with modest crimp. (my Tunis has more crimp than usual and has been bred for fineness). There is some faint lustre, but Tunis is known for it’s peachy overtones. Fine grade Tunis (like what you see pictured) is good for next to skin wear and for midrange garments as well. Tunis does not felt easy. Overall, it’s a pretty durable wool. It would make a really great fisherman’s sweater. And I currently have four pounds of it undyed and available to for sale up on the etsy site so you can do just that.

tunislock
The stable length is about 4.5 inches, and I did my best to capture the crimp definition in this photo. (Before I sent this to the mill, it looked more like Corriedale lock than the pictures of Tunis I’ve seen in books.)

tunisbraidupclose

I am going to go spin some right now!

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Working in the Coffee Shop

swatching

When I was working as a barista, the same handful of people would come in to work on their laptops on the same days every week. For a long time, I was happy to be the barista, serving them, but toward the of my barista-ing tenure, I desperately desired to be on the other side of the counter.

About the same time I stopped being a barista, a new coffee shop opened up in town–one that I had never worked at, one where I didn’t know most of the baristas, one where I could start new and be one of those people who gets to work in peace on the sit-down side of the counter. (One that was also operated by PT’s Coffee Roasting Co, which, hand-to-god, roasts the best coffee ever.) Which is what I am doing tonight.

I am trying to work at the coffee shop one or two nights a week. The ease of sinking into the sofa and spacing out on the internet has proved too much of a draw to me over the last few weeks. I am hoping that coming here helps me stay on task. I have spent the last two hours writing up a rough draft of a pattern that I have been meaning to write down for two weeks now.

pattern_teaser

I am planning to sell this particular pattern, so no more details at this time. HOWEVER, I am still looking for one more test knitter. I am providing yarn to knit with and paying in yarn. I am also hoping for pretty quick turn around, so please comment if you are interested, and I will get back with you for more details. (Disclaimer: I am happy to ship yarn to anyone in the US for this project, but if someone local offers, they will probably get the job, simply because of ease, but I certainly don’t count on getting a local, so please don’t hesitate if you’re tantalized by the photo above.)

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Sky Scapes in Wool

It has taken me a whole month, but I have finally organized, photographed, edited and listed all the of the fiber I dyed in January and February. (I didn’t do a whole helluva lot in March, I’m not going to lie. I was in a late winter funk. Most of this work has been done in the past week.)

I dyed a whole set of wool in an interpretation of different sky scenes I’ve witnessed in the past few months. I was really proud of them, and I think they turned out just how I imagined. I was happily adding the braids of Falkland wool to etsy when I realized that all of the first names that popped into my head happened to also be the titles of all of the books in the Twilight series! I wrote a paper (for myself, which has never seen the light of day) that was pretty damning of Twilight on a literary level. (I was working on Tess of the d’Urbervilles for school at the time, the contrast was night and day, I tell you. Night and bloody day.) I thought to myself, while those names are succinct, you can be more specific. You can do better. So, yes, I changed the names of what I was going to call my braids of hand-painted fiber because I didn’t want them called the same thing as Twilight books. I kept one (New Moon) because there was nothing else I wanted to call it, that I felt fit. Everything else went.

Why?

Because I like to bash on teen vampire angst-drama? No. I mean, I think it’s an horrific series of books for all numbers of reasons, but you can blame that on the high-falutin Creative Writing degree if you like. No. I changed the names, because once the thought occurred to me that I could do better, I had to try.

Telling myself that I can do better has been a great motivating factor for me these past few weeks. I have been scheming and planning on how I can once again work for myself for a year. Since the day I went back to being employed by someone else, I have been thinking about how I could get back to working from home, and actually making money at it this time. Knowing that the second time around I won’t be so completely zonked from the marathon that was finishing my degree and working a pre-dawn, low-wage job for years, so I won’t need so long to recover is in itself a huge leap forward from before. Building a confidence in myself through my current place of employment has certainly helped. It has reinforced that I am good at what I do–which is a much better feeling than not being able to find a non-pre-dawn, non-low-wage job after busting my ass to get my diploma. It’s easy to caught in the security of the steady paycheck and just give up trying to do what I want. But you know when you leave for work in the morning and you know you could easily fill the next 10 hours with your own creative work that the job is just a temporary solution. And here’s the thing, I really flippin like my job. It’s exactly the perfect fit for me if I am not going to be working for myself. I feel blessed–ineffably lucky–to have this job. But at the end of the day, I know I can do better.

I have had it in my head for so long that I need a three-year plan to be back to working from home again, but even with the best intentions, I don’t sit down and try to outline this plan. I keep putting it off month-by-month so that my three years has already nearly become four. I would like it to not become five. So I am endeavoring to start putting as many hours in on the work I would like to make money from as I do on the work I do make money from.

You came here to look at pictures of pretty hand-dyed fiber and I tricked you into to reading an hour’s worth of belly-gazing. Aren’t I sneaky?

Here’s the wool:

foggy morning falkland
Foggy Morning

newmoonfalkland
New Moon

summer skies 3
Summer Skies

starry night falkland2
Starry Night

Sunset Falkland
Sunset

dawn
Dawn

Thunderclouds Falkland
Thunderclouds

And no, I’m not telling you which ones I changed, but I’d love to hear your guesses in the comments!

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