What is Saving My Product Photos

Last week, I posted on the Tiny Dino Studios facebook page about playing with my foldio, and I got a bunch of questions about how I liked it. Before this past week, I’d only used the foldio a handful of times, and mostly with my phone. And after that, I’d never taken the time to edit the photos, but holy smokes you guys, the little light box thing is totally worth it!

Mocha Morning Soap

Here is one of the new product photos I took last week using the foldio. It’s not perfect, but it is light years ahead of the photo of the same product I took a few weeks before that on my desk using the window for light.

See the difference?

Box of Chocolates Special Edition Valentine’s Day Soap

Here’s another soap that just finished curing. It’s scented with chocolate and lavender, colored with cocoa and red oxide.

Good Vibes Soap with poppy seed swirl and calendula petals

This is brand new, and has a couple weeks left on the curing shelf. I call it Good Vibes because it’s a very earthy, fresh, relaxing essential oil blend of sandalwood, eucalyptus and patchouli. I also adore how the poppy seed swirl turned out.

I’m not the most composition-minded photographer out there–and I call myself photographer in the sense that I hit the shutter on my little canon power shot and a photo results–but I’m really glad I have my foldio. While there are some of my photos where I couldn’t edit around bad composition (see below), it’s not the foldio’s fault I barely pay attention to whether my shot is in focus. It’s designed to photograph small things. That’s why it’s only ten inches wide.

See how you can see the edge of my back drop and the sides of the light box? The soap is true though!

With a little conscious effort on my part, I can really improve my product photography with the help of my little light box. So, while this is what I have, I’m going to say that any light box will help.

I’m going to keep practicing my photography, focusing on getting more usable pics out of each photo session, and paying more attention to how I line things up. But editing photos this time around was so much less frustrating than usual. Hooray!

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DeStashing

new studio wide

I have been on a journey for the last ten months. Most of this adventure has taken place inside google docs and 3 or 4 manila folders full of scratch paper. I have written my novel 5 times over and finally landed on a draft that I can make into something. The feeling is sublime., and I have taken a few days to revel in it. I sent it to my beta readers, had a drink to toast it, and gave myself the reward of Maria V. Snyder’s Glass Series. (I have devoured them. Seriously. We need to talk about book more often, reader friends.)

This journey of mine, however, has not just been about writing my novel. I have been on a highly introspective, speculative path that’s had some confidence building detours. I won’t say I’m completely done with it all, but I feel like I could wear this shirt honestly, and get some shit done.

If you’ve stuck with me over the last couple of years, there’s been no surprise that I didn’t know what the hell I’ve wanted to do. I’ve been bouncing around from one crafty infatuation to the next, without ever really settling on anything. One thing about writing my novel that helped me was that all of my passions kept popping up. That book incorporates so much that I love–coffee, textiles, modern small business strategy, men’s fashions. (True confession, I say I subscribe to the New York Times for the book review, and the comprehensive news, but the only thing I ever get through cover to cover is the style magazine.) Through the writing process, and examining what worked for my characters, I was also somehow able to wrestle out what gives me the most joy.

Strangely enough, they are the two things I do the most already: writing and retail. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that I should put the two together and write about retail. Except that I am really excellent at getting in my own way.

Comical metaphorical stumbling aside, I have a head full of specialty retail knowledge, and if I don’t get some of it out on the page, I’m in danger of exploding it all over the place. And let’s be honest, there’s a time and place for telling someone they need to reexamine their pricing strategy. (But hey, if you wanna talk about pricing, check back tomorrow!) Meaning, that you, reader friends, can expect to read some tricks of the trade right here.

I am excited. Are you excited?

wool rainbow

So what does all this self-helpy, soul-examining, navel-gazing have to do with destashing? It means I need to transform Tiny Dino Studios from a fiber studio to a multipurpose studio. There is a ton of awesome stuff that I’ve basically stopped using, and I want you to have it.

Through October 31st, my etsy shop will be open and all the yarns and spinning fibers I have stashed away will be up for grabs at 60-75% off. That is a steal of a deal on some really high quality yarn. I will be updating the shop on Saturday mornings with everything I can find through the end of October or as long as supplies hold out.

Mr Drum Carder

In addition to everything on etsy, I am selling my drum carder. I bought him right before I started to lose my enthusiasm for selling yarn, so I’ve made maybe 12 batts on the guy in the last couple years. (I have cleaned him up since I took this photo.) The card cloth is 120tpi/90tpi. I’m asking $200, and I’ll thrown in a bag of loose locks and fluff and stuff. Local only, I’d prefer not to ship this guy. Email me or leave a comment if you’re interested. ┬áDrum Carder Sold!

Check out etsy, and hang around for what’s next!

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A List

1. It’s been six weeks since my miscarriage. I am 100% healthy and feeling pretty good in general. Thank you everyone for your sympathies. Even if I wasn’t in the headspace to talk too much, it really meant a lot to hear from you.

2. This summer has been nothing but change. On top of the above, my husband and I are both working outside the home. The only other time this has happened in our entire relationship was while I was pregnant Felix, who is now in daycare. It’s a huge transition that we’re all still wrapping our heads around.

3. Because of all this change and upheaval, my attention span has been short. The only thing that I have spent any significant time on has been my novel.

4. I started my fourth big revision to my original Nanowrimo story last week. I’ve come to the conclusion that my method for writing novels is the most arduous and slow that there is–you know, besides not writing at all.

5. Once I gave myself permission to write and rewrite and let anything happen in my universe that I wanted to, I might have got carried away doing just that. I explored every nook and cranny, and it got me up to almost 140,000 words. That’s way too long!

6. Cutting 50,000 to 60,000 words sounds like a big job. That’s a whole Nanowrimo! But so far, I am having a blast revising it down, keeping on subject, keeping just to what’s important. That was the valuable part of all that exploration over the last few months.

7. I miss blogging.

8. My knitting and fiber arts have been all over the place. I have only finished one project since April: a toy giraffe for Athrun for his birthday.

9. I’ve been posting knitting photos to instagram and twitter. I’m tinydinostudios on both.

10. Have you seen what they’re doing on etsy right now? They are running a crowd-sourcing pilot program, and it’s awesome. I was wanting this exact thing the entire time my shop was open to allow me to buy a whole clip of wool and send it to the mill. Ah well. I’ll pass the love along.

11. I was lucky enough to stumble upon the campaign for Sarah Welch Pottery before it was over and will have a new ceramic travel mug headed my way in a couple of months. It’s worth the wait, I’ll drink my coffee iced out of glass until then.

12. Yes, I am enough of a coffee snob that I don’t like plastic or stainless coffee mugs. One retains old rancid coffee flavor. One makes the coffee taste like metal. No, I am not delusional. It’s really there.

13. I just finished a honking long book–about 1000 pages–and I don’t know what to read next. Any suggestions?

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It’s Time for Something Different

Some of you may or may not have noticed that I closed down my etsy shop a couple of weeks ago. I tweeted about it last week, but otherwise, I closed it down fairly quietly. It was not a bittersweet moment for me.

dinning room before

The glamour of selling hand dyed yarn and fiber lost it’s appeal about two years ago. If you’ve been reading my blog since May 2013, when we had to leave our cozy little apartment and I didn’t have a place to dye for awhile, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise. I’ve bounced around with what I’ve shared with you since then, a little sewing, a little printing, a little gardening, even a free knitting pattern or two. Each and every one of those things was so much fun in the moment that I wanted to share them with you, hoping you’d be diverted as well.

But as I go back and read over some of my posts, I have to admit, that I am less than impressed.

calbedpulloverstorage

I can tell I was just dashing off posts as quick as can be–and lets face it, they were pretty shallow.

minerva

One of the reasons I closed down my etsy shop was that I just didn’t feel like I fit in there anymore. I love the DIY lifestyle. I love making my own chicken stock and yogurt, I love processing my own yarn from a big greasy fleece. I love composting and gardening and making my own soap–but you know what’s left after you do all of those things?

A mess.

messydesk

A big fat one.

But etsy is selling a curated, tastefully simple, DIY lifestyle these day, and kind of leaving the DIY out of it. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a million, brilliant artists still selling on etsy, but most of the time those artists are buried in a sea of not-so-handmade listings.

airbenderstripes

When it comes to the fiber arts though, my competition remained largely other indie dyers and small farmers, and I was completely cool with that. What I was not cool with was the ever increasing price it cost just to get product views.

When I was really having fun with dyeing yarn and doing my yarn club, I could make a couple hundred dollars or more a month off my web sales, after etsy and paypal fees. Not enough to live off, but a couple extra trips to the grocery store if need be or a part for the car, that sort of thing. A couple of years ago, etsy introduced search ads, which allowed you to put your product at the top of the page when someone searched for the keywords you used on your listings. You could cap how much money you wanted to spend on search ads each week, and I thought it was effective. I put my reasonable cap on and saw an increase in sales and in page views when I used them.

tiny_dino_knit_before_it_was_cool_notecard

A few months ago, they switched the search adds to a bidding system which was not cost effective for a small shop like mine. The minimum cap was about $1/day. I gave it a try one month–while admittedly not doing a whole lot of other promotion–and paid about twice in fees as what I made in sales. I turned it off the next month and received hardly any page views and no sales. I don’t think I’d ever had a month with no sales since I opened my shop, but in December and January it was zilch, zippo, nothing.

I’m not blaming etsy’s new systems entirely. I have already said my heart wasn’t in it anymore, but the recent changes were the nail in the coffin of my little etsy shop. It feels like, as etsy has switched from a website where you go to find handmade originals, to where you go to find what’s on trend, that etsy is more preoccupied with selling the idea of a lifestyle rather than the goods that make that lifestyle possible. I thought etsy was supposed to be a stepping stone for launching a handmade business, but it feels to me now like it’s more concerned with nickel and diming the indie artist out of their studio space.

It certainly wasn’t the right place for me anymore.

clementines and cherry blossoms

And I feel like, while I was trying to fit into that etsy aesthetic, so was my blog. My identity as a blogger was confused. My writing was mediocre at best.

I wrote in November about sticking with Nanowrimo for the first time ever, even though I have goddamn degree in creative writing. I haven’t stopped writing since I started back in November. I’m putting the finishing touches on a draft of a novel, and hope to start searching for an agent sometime later this year. It’s taught me a lot about myself–one of them being that I tend toward caution when I really want to kick and to curse and to generally stir up a fuss.

uterus

Writing my novel has shown me that while I don’t believe in censorship, I certainly was practicing it on myself a lot, telling myself this was too controversial to write about, or that was too political. That I would write “fuck” too many times and offend someone.

carrotjuicemarla

And now I kind of don’t give a damn.

What’s this mean moving forward? I’ll still write about my knitting and my gardening, but I might also write about books or my writing. I might piss you off. I might insult you. Mostly, I hope to make you laugh, or to motivate you to live your dream. Because I have always wanted to be writer, but I never had the courage to let myself be one before.

imadeit

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Etsy Shop is Back Open!

Good morning all. It is August 16th, and as promised, my etsy shop is back up and ready to go.

Stop in and browse around. I have new sock, lace weight and handspun yarns, as well as some new spinning fiber.

How do you like my new photographs? I’ve been meaning to do this for about two years now. In some ways, I am sorry it took me so long to get up off my ass and do it, but in others, I am glad I waited until I had all the right pieces. My dining room has some of the best natural light in the whole house, being lined with windows and all. That, paired with my vintage cherry blossom table cloth (the first thing I ever bought on etsy ever right after it opened) and my new pottery, everything came togther so beautifully.

clementines and cherry blossoms
My table cloth, just to refresh your memory.

Now, I’m off to do some spinning so I have a bit more handspun to offer up for sale. What are you up to this weekend?

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Renovations, etc.

workday saturday
This is what happens when your husband watches you set up a shot: he keeps adding things to it. It was originally just the yarn and the coffee, but everything he added to it, the fresh banana bread, the zucchini from the garden, the baby toy, all seemed appropriate. They are all reasons why I haven’t been blogging much the last couple of weeks, but not the only ones.

In June, I made myself a schedule and tried to stick to blogging 5 days a week for a month. I mostly made it, but looking back at the end of the month, I felt like I hadn’t done anything but blog. I love, love, love blogging–and if I didn’t also have a full-time job, I could probably swing five quality posts a week. Since paying the bills is an unfortunate reality, I am going to have to cut back on the blogging schedule–and, you know, have some time to do stuff to blog about…like update my etsy shop.

I have been planning some renovations for the Tiny Dino Studios online store for ages. I am finally starting to implement them. If you stop by, you will see that I currently have no listings. Over the next two weeks, I will be taking new photos, writing new copy, and adding new product. New listings will go live on August 16th!

In two weeks, I’ll have a whole new store. In the meantime, you might see a few new graphics popping up or some minor changes on the blog and other social media outlets–be sure to check those out for sneak peeks of what I’m working on.

Mug from FriesenArt.

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Shop Update

I know it’s been about a million years since I updated the Tiny Dino Studios etsy shop, but the long wait for new product is finally over! You can find all of these new items and many more sale items in the shop now.

Happy Tie Dye Lace Yarn 4
Happy in Oviraptor Lace

Madame Soothsayer Tie Dye Lace Yarn 3
Madame Soothesayer in Oviraptor Lace

Fire Flower Tie Dye Sock Yarn 3
Fire Flower Tie Dye in T-Rex Sock

Jelly Bean Tie Dye Sock Yarn 3
Jelly Bean in T-Rex Sock

Happy Tie Dye Sock Yarn 3
Happy in T-Rex Sock

Handspun Wensleydale 4
Handspun Wensleydale

Easter Eggs Falkland 3
Easter Eggs 100g Falkland Top

Gobstopper Wool Top 2
Gobstopper in 181g of Wool Top

Fun fact, everything but the handspun was dyed with food safe dyes! I haven’t played with food coloring in ages. It was a blast. I love how it enables me to mix colors on the yarn. Which is your favorite?

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A Garden Party Under the Big Top?

People keep asking me about wedding colors, and me, being me, immediately don’t know how to communicate all of the things that go through my head upon bringing up these thoughts. I usually end up saying something lame, “You know, summer wedding in Kansas, so Sunflower, which I guess means yellow?” Finally, someone read my mind and put it all into a neat little graphic on pinterest.

It encompasses the garden party aesthetic I am envisioning closer than anything else I have seen–possibly because it wasn’t originally meant for a wedding. And while it involves sea foam, it is not just yellow and sea foam, which frankly, resembles vomit in my head (I can’t explain why), and for some reason seems to be the thing at the moment–at least according to Pinterest. And if Pinterest doesn’t have the pulse of the nation, I don’t know what does.

The thing is, most people ask about wedding colors, and I get the feeling they mean bridesmaids dresses and cummerbunds. Since we’re going informalish, and having no wedding party, there will be very little of all of that. “The colors” I am thinking about are more to set a mood for the day. That I want things to be a little whimsical, a little romantic, a little self-deprecating, and a lot of fun. For instance, I stumbled across this invitation on etsy, which is a little circusy, but also pretty hilarious. Let’s be honest, the only thing that could make this invitation better was if dude had a monocle. (Bonus, the artist is from Lawrence, so local!)

Then, I found this dress.
weddingdress
Which yes, is from Old Navy, and yes, is white, two things I would not have expected for me to want in a wedding dress, but it’s kind of perfect.

So things seem to be coming together rather nicely at the moment. I am gathering ideas and finding some sources of inspiration. I have a great surprise for wedding favors up my sleeve, but I’m not quite ready to share just yet.

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