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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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Focus

I have been blogging to you in my head as just about every day of the week, especially on days I don’t get a chance to blog. I have been having so many new ideas!

You see, I am now gainfully employed, instead of just-barely-sustainably employed, which opens up a lot of new opportunities. I can now seriously entertain the idea of one day owning a car that can haul all my yarn and supplies to craft shows. I fantasize about my future yard and future giant garden with a real sense of attainability. I can pay my bills and use my debit card without cringing for fear of it being declined. What will happen first of course, before any of that other stuff is acted upon, is that I might finally be able to pay off my debt. I don’t have a lot, bit it’s enough to be an encumbrance for attaining a decent car or a yard or a vacation. To have the opportunity to finally make more than minimum payments on my debt is a staggering prospect. It’s freeing. It’s a whole new world, as it were.

And the crazy this is, I really like my job. I think I have said this before, but even that fact still surprises me. I thought for the longest time that if I wanted to work for more than minimum wage I would somehow have to compromise my integrity. While I know this assumption is wrong on many levels, I also don’t believe it to be uncommon. Perhaps it’s a collegiate-inspired disillusionment? I am fortified know that I can go to work each day and do my job and not be dishonest. (I think, working in the service industry requires an amount of dishonesty in that it requires a person to assume some complacent anonymity to get through the shift and not annoy customers.)

At the same time, the new schedule and the new environment is an adjustment. It is all new, and I have a lot of new work-related things to think about. So much so that sometimes I have trouble shutting these things off throughout the day and into the evening. Sometimes, I wake myself up in the night thinking up clever merchandising plans for one of my retail sites that have nothing to do with reality. (One recent idea/dream had to do with feigning a haunting, which involves a level of dubiousness that I do not possess.) Because of this, my fiber art energies have been diverted into as much knitting as I can handle. With two sweaters and two pairs of socks on the needles, I am in my knitting element. I have not been dyeing any yarn–except for one special order. I have not been attending the farmers market. I have not been spinning or weaving or designing. I have been knitting items that are not for sale as fast as my fingers can move.

All the while, I have been fantasizing about owning my own yarn store and what about my new job I could take with me to do that. Now, don’t get too excited. Remember the beginning of my post where I was excited about some very simple, generally attainable things? Without a serious financial backer, there would be no way I would be able to open my own retail operation anytime in the foreseeable future, but I have been applying these fantasies to Tiny Dino Studios.

In the past, I have tried to sell knitted good along with my yarn. I have had good luck with these products, bu t I don’t enjoy the process. I am selfish with my knitting. I do gifts of course, but when knitting to sell, I sometimes get angry that I can’t knit what I want. Taking frustration out on knitting is not a good place to be.

As fall approaches, I have been feeling pressure to create winter items like scarves, hats, and mittens for sale at the farmer’s market. I am not going to give in to that pressure. I have other knitting goals that are more important to me to meet. I want to teach knitting classes and eventually design my own sweaters and mittens and socks. There is a lot of work I need to do to be able to reach that goal. I am working through projects / books that I believe will get me there.

Focusing down to only just selling yarn from now on takes a lot of pressure off of me and gives me the motivation to move forward with my dyeing business where lately I have been feeling discouraged and confused.

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What A Tease

My goal to not feel exhausted in this year was put to the test immediately. I came down with a cold, on my birthday, after breaking my glasses. I always have contacts as back-up, but it should be illegal to have to wear contacts while you have a cold. Just saying. Despite the sickness trying to weigh me down, I did get a teeny bit of dyeing done:

Mosasaurus Swimmer

Mosasaurus

A Mosasaur is a terrifying, prehistoric, aquatic monster. It is not technically a dinosaur, but then again, neither is a pteranodon, but they are both included in every dinosaur book my son owns. Also, there is a Mosasaur at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum. It is huge and impressive, and I am glad it is dead. (The idea of swimming with dolphins freaks me out, so you can imagine where this creature lands on my fear scale.) However, the attending underwater hues and blue scaly skin in which the Mosasaur is always illustrated does look rather fetching when transferred to a spare bit of Merino, don’t you think?

I have been doing some knitting as well. On Thanksgiving, my aunt asked me to make her some gloves with thumb flaps so she could use her iPhone without taking her gloves off. Since she lives in Michigan, where it is colder than it is here in Kansas (though it was 0 F this morning, which is quite cold enough for me), and I never venture out without my gloves between November and March, I thought this would be wise. I found the Podster Gloves and started in on them. Two months later they are 98.9% done.

I am hoping to finish them as soon as I post this, wash them, and put them in the post tomorrow. I would have had them done a week ago, but for two reasons. The first was the aforementioned cold. For days I could neither smell, hear, taste, see nor think. My head was pretty much useless. There were a few times, whilst in the act of blowing my nose, that I just wished I had the flu. Then at least I could stay in bed. Yes. It was that bad. Needless to say, not a lot of knitting was happening then. When I did feel up to continuing work on the second glove, it decided to be difficult. I knit half as many rounds between increases on the thumb gusset as I should have the first time. That thumb would have fist someone with short, squatty hands . . .which is no one in my family. We all have long, piano-playin’ hands. (No, I don’t play. My aunt does though.) I ripped out the whole hand and knit it to match the other glove. I made it through all the fingers just fine, but when I came back to knit the body of the thumb, I managed to create some sort of knitting sculpture. It fit the contours of my right thumb snuggly and and exactly. It was actually kind of amazing. It was, however, very tight, probably too tight, and you know, meant for someone else, who though might have a similar right thumb, does not in fact have my right thumb. I ripped again.Yesterday I reknit the thumb very slowly, and it seems more generally sized. I am sure that all of these mysterious errors have everything to do with the wool getting a mind of its own and nothing to do with the intelligence conquering cold–nothing at all.

Some time during the tea-fueled stupor of the last few days, I cast on for a sock that is intended for myself.

So far so good.

The yarn is something I did myself (no surprise there). It is a skein a just dipped in left-over dye bath from a self-striping skein I did for a dyer’s swap. It was not meant to be self-striping, as you can see, just an experiment with dipping a skein exaclty down the middle in two different colors. I had named these socks The Ugly Socks before I started on them. I think the name is going to stick, even though I have to say, I kind of like the way they are pooling.  I am anxious to see what sort of disaster befalls these socks before the end, aren’t you?

Just a wee bit of real work went on today. I am officially legal to do business in the state of Kansas and the US at large. Which means whenever I decide to open shop, I can. The idea of opening earlier than I had planned is becoming ever more appealing, I have to admit. I still have a few things I would like to get in order before I really get into this for real, but I am getting closer.

I know. I am such a tease.