Cormo and Cormo and Spinning

I have a set of pictures that might look fairly deceiving.


A pile of cormo top for spinning.


Some cormo yarn in the process of being spun.


The body of a cormo sweater.

Oh what progress can a girl make in a day!

Except that these are two different projects. The sweater is already spun Cormo yarn came from a sale at Juniper Moon Farm, while stuff I am spinning was my 2011 spinners share from the same farm. It’s delightful to work with. These two are both my first cormo projects, and I am completely in love with the fiber. It makes me want fleeces.

Well, that’s not new, everything makes me want fleeces. The only reason I don’t have more fleeces is that I don’t have a drum carder, or the patience to use hand cards day in and day out. Otherwise, my apartment would need no furniture because we would just luxuriate on fleeces instead.

mmmm…Sheepy.

Seriuosly though, I just figured out why I don’t spin more. You see, I used to have my wheel set up by my desk. My desk chair was the perfect height for keeping good posture and still spinning for hours. Except I never sit at my desk after dinner unless I have a major deadline. (After dinner is when most of the fiber progress happens around here.) And if I am at my desk facing a deadline, it is not usually spinning related. (To be fair, I have never had a spinning deadline, but I am looking to change all that.) No, after dinner, on any normal night, I am on my seat on the sofa, watching something British on the TeeVee. I can’t spin on the sofa, it’s too low and cushy, which are great qualities, I feel, in a sofa, but not so much for a spinning perch.

So what did I do?

Wait for it….

………

I sat on a pillow. And it was perfect!

I don’t know why it took me two years to think of putting a throw pillow under my bum, but there you go. Now all I want to do after dinner is spin. Of course, I don’t have anything dyed the right color, and dyeing can take days, but I’ve had this cormo share for a year, and it hadn’t told me what color it wanted to be yet, so I hadn’t dyed it, and I have never spun natural white fiber. Saturday I was itching to spin something and I had been working on that oh so cushy sweater, so I grabbed it on a whim and gave it a whirl. It started to speak to me then. This cormo wants to be a thin, dk-ish weight, three ply yarn, but it hasn’t decided on a color yet. I thought I would get bored with spinning the undyed stuff, but it looks so nice on the bobbin, and splitting it into one ounce little chunks makes me feel like I am spinning waaaay faster than I am–and I am having a blast.

Something happens when I start really getting into what I am working on. I start thinking big–huge even. Like, I should start a regular line of handspun yarns. Not like the one I have now, where I hand paint 100g of fiber and then spin it up into a ooak 100g skein. I am talking buying a fleece and spinning that into a whole fleece’s worth of yarn. And then selling that, dyed in upon request. I mean, I’ve already wanted to start processing fleeces and selling hand processed spinning fiber to spinners, and I sell mill-spun yarn to knitters and crocheters, but why not start and line of handspun? From types of wool that aren’t merino? (Nothing wrong w/ merino, most of my mill-spun yarn is merino, it’s just so ubiquitous, and frankly, not my favorite to spin.) And better yet, why not buy from local (meaning midwest–since that’s the region of the country I am from) farmers? Cause then I could help advertise those farms as well?

Sweet.

Let’s do it.

Only problem?

Still don’t have a drum carder. But I’m working on it.

I am still working out the wheres and the whyfores, but this is the sort of business I saw my one-lady yarn dyeing company evolve into eventually–I just forgot about it a little bit over the last two years.

I have been doing a lot of business soul-searching lately–a lot of realizing that I need to put a whole lot more energy into this machine if it’s going to keep on rolling. I am excited to do it, but it’s going to take some time to work out. So don’t expect a bunch of different stuff up tomorrow, but just know, I’m working on it.

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Hand-Spun! . . . and a whole lot more

055
200 yards worsted weight hand-spun wool

I am thrilled to announce that I am adding a line of hand-spun yarn to my etsy shop! The first addition is pictured above and more are on their way. I have been spinning all day long. I find the motion of spinning a deeply soothing exercise now that I have the hang of it. Because of that, I have been spending a lot of time at my wheel. So much time that there is no way I could ever knit all of the yarn I have been spinning. (Well, I probably could but I would really like to avoid having my apartment over flow with yarn the way cartoon laundry rooms do with soap suds.)

The summer is winding down. I have been finished with school for about three months now. Athrun started Kindergarten on Tuesday, and I have had zero luck finding a job outside the coffee shop, particularly a job I feel like I can really do well. This summer has been full of waffling back and forth on the issue: Do I find an office job that pays a little bit more and allows me to sleep like a regular human being or do I concentrate on growing my own business ventures and creating a job for myself? Do I find a job where I might have to cancel on Shephreding Camp (because did I mention I am going!) or do I stick with the coffee shop and work toward my goal of starting my own farm, possibly fiber csa, sometime within the next decade or do I go try my luck as an administrative assistant or a customer service rep?

To tell the truth, as ready as I am to be the coffee shop customer instead of the barista, I also want to have the opportunity to participate in 2012 season with Growing Growers so I can learn more about growing food out on my Future Fantasy Farm and meet the really great farmer’s who live in my area. I can’t tell you how drawn I am to the idea of participating in that program, but concerns about money kick in just like they always do. The basic concern being that I could really use some more of it. The temptation of money has pulled me back and forth over the past three months, but the strangest thing pointed me in what I feel is the right direction about two weeks ago. The complete lack of money for the right thing.

Not far from my apartment, there is a great shopping center which is mostly full of small, local businesses. One of these, a coffee shop that has always struggled (and was never open when I could go there, might I add) closed down. It’s a cute shop space, and if you’re from Topeka, you know which one I mean. It was all wood with big windows, a nice bar with a little seating downstairs, with a homey upstairs. I noticed the closed for good sign one morning on my way to work while filling up my gas tank. All I could think was “STUDIO SPACE!” and that’s pretty much all I thought the rest of the day.

The downstairs, with some renovation would make a really cute yarn shop, which Topeka is sorely lacking. And upstairs would be the perfect classroom space. You could hold small knitting/spinning classes and maybe even some dyeing lessons. It would small, cute, cozy, a gathering space even. Maybe I would keep the espresso machine. Everything a yarn shop should be. I could see it perfectly, but I knew the rent on that place would be more than I currently pay for where I am living, and nobody is giving out business loans–especially to a girl who already has a little debt and barely-above-minimum-wage job–but the motivating thought the past few weeks is that I can get there.

I don’t necessarily need the rented studio space, but it might be a stepping stone somewhere along the line. Right now I don’t really know. All I do know is that I am putting myself full-steam back into Tiny Dino Studios and going where it takes me. (I am hoping this means more blog posts as well as more products.)

I have some hand-knit samples worked up, but the photography hasn’t quite worked out yet. I almost feel like I need a dress form. But one, dress forms are expensive, two, most of the modern ones are ugly, so I would want to find a vintage one, which is probably even more expensive, and three, I have a very small apartment and finding a place for it might be a problem. All that aside, if you know of someone who has a nice vintage dress form along these lines, I would be happy to make them an offer.

Now, I am off to do some yoga, which is my other new project: losing all the weight I gained when I went back to school–which is a whole other blog post.

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Re-Emerging

I have been hard at work lately on a few things, but most of them don’t include my fledgling of an etsy shop. It has not been neglected by any means, but I do have to admit that my energies have been elsewhere.

School is quickly drawing to a close, and with it, a large, but not obscene amount of writing. It is all my kind of writing: the creative yet slightly self-indulgent kind. If you want to know what I mean, go to your library, local bookstore, or your (preferably) your bookshelf, or you can go here: Essays of E.B. White, and read the foreward. If you read nothing else, read the foreward now, and you will know what kind of writing I have been doing, what I am trying to do, and why I love E.B. White. (Now you should go buy that book, but not from amazon unless you can’t find it nearer. I have that problem myself quite often, you would be amazed how little a bookstore in Kansas actually stocks about agriculture. It’s shameful, really.)

Despite the large amount of writing which stands between myself and the rest of the school year, I am feeling remarkably calm. That is a big change. It helps that the writing I am doing is the kind I feel most comfortable with, but what is really different is that I feel as I am emerging from some the frantic state of mind in which I have been residing for the last few years. My time in school is quickly coming to an end, and instead of feeling the dread of not having an amazingly profitable job right away, I am just feeling excited.

Here are a few of the things that have been distracting me from the blog lately.

1.
This Earl Grey tea with lavender is not really a distraction, more of a crutch. I know Earl Grey is an afternoon tea, but I have been drinking this stuff every morning (and most afternoons as well). It is delicious and rich, and the perfect substitute for coffee. I am not sure when or how it happened, but I started taking my coffee with cream a couple of years ago, and not I can’t have coffee without it. I am trying to eliminate more of the dairy from my diet, because I am one of those people who does not do so well with too much of it. My solution is to drink this tea instead of coffee. So far I am doing all right. I got mine here, but your local health food store might carry it as well.

2. I am going to ReThink Topeka this afternoon. My friend Julie is doing her best to get me out of the apartment a little more often.

3. In fact, earlier this week, we hit the cutest yarn store in Kansas. I bought some fleece off a sheep named violet, which is going to teach me to better use my hand carders.

4. Jacob’s Reward Farm is another fiber CSA, of which I am a brand new member. I have really been enjoying their blog. They are expecting a lamb! Check it out.

5. I am visiting this farm on Tuesday to meet the sheep. I bought 1 lb of Aran’s (the sheep) roving, and the wool is gorgeous, so I assume the sheep must be as well.

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I Have Been Listening To a Lot of David Bowie and Other Ruminations

The song “Starman” by David Bowie has been stuck in my head for weeks now, and I have only just got around to digging up all the David Bowie files on my computer. So, my title is kind of a lie, I haven’t really been listening to David Bowie, just the facsimile of him that runs through my head.¬† I am not sure what took me so long, other than I just didn’t like any of my media players. I recently ordered one of the new Zune HDs (but have heard nothing from Zune about when it will be shipped, so whether I will actually be receiving this device at the marvelous sale price it was at last weekend is yet to be determined), so I downloaded the Zune software. I actually really like it. iTunes and I have never really got on, it might be because I have no patience with apple software. I know I might be in the minority here, but it is counter-intuitive to me, having always used a PC. (And I love my asus laptop with a strength of emotion that might not be healthy for a piece of equipment I will most likely have to replace in a couple of years.) All of that to say that I dug up my nearly complete David Bowie library, and after admiring the staggering amount of amazingly rockin’ live albums he has, I found the classic, original The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust in an attempt to relish in the greatness, and perhaps get that song out of my head for a little while, as great as it is. And then I listened to it. . .

And I just can’t help but apply the chorus to my life as it is right now. I am interpreting the star man being afraid of blowing our minds but knowing¬† it’s all worthwhile, as a little bit of a personal message for me right here right now, no matter what anybody else thinks it should be about.

One of my major goals this year was to go into business for myself. Three weeks ago, I opened my etsy store, and even though I have not made a sale just yet, I have been dyeing and promoting and slowly working to get over my internet shyness. It has been going well, I feel, and I know it is only a matter of time before I am making regular sales and am making enough money to put back into sustaining my business. I do know that I am not going to be making enough money to support myself from Etsy anytime soon, but I am working on it.

Aside from the fiber arts, my other passion is writing. It is what I am going to school and getting into major debt for. I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not writing in some way, shape, or form. And though the last couple of years have been rather tumultuous with me personally what with getting divorced and basically starting from scratch like I did when I was eighteen and moving out on my own for the first time, and I did not write as much, I am finally finding some equilibrium. The compulsion to write a lot has returned full-force. It turns out I have a lot to say.

One of the major things I have learned though all of the previously mentioned tumult is how to allow myself a voice. In other words, the things that have terrified me about writing in the past, like sending out query letters and promoting myself and *gasp* actually letting people other than the chosen few read my work do not scare me any longer. (At least not to the debilitating extent that they used to do so.)

A major factor in this is that I am fed up with my day job. It is not any worse than any other job where one works for other people and sometimes works too often. This is common, and for a lot of people, it is waaaay too much to ask, which is why they work for themselves. I am there. I fantasize daily about working from home: about working on my latest essay while the steamer is setting the dye on the yarn.

Then today, the wonderful Susan Gibbs from Juniper Moon Farm, where I am a shareholder, posted this to her blog. Go take a look, and I know the pictures of the sheep and goats and puppies are distracting, but please come back. I will wait.

……

….

….

So, like Susan, I knew exactly what that sign was talking about too. It was my message from the Star Man. Write more. Get published. Get out of this place (I was checking my reader at work, I will freely admit) and do something that doesn’t stain your fingers brown! (If you are a new reader, I manage a coffee shop.)

It just so happens that Tuesday, my first essay for my essay-writing class is due. I have had this essay in my head for a couple of months now, but had not given myself the time to just sit down and write it. But tonight, I sat down and did it. I finished my first draft. While there is a ton of work to do before it is fit to even be turned in for workshop, it feels so good to finish my first piece since November. And I know right now, that even in this rough state, this one is publishable.

I can do this.

I have no idea when I will really be able to work from home, or if I will find a job (with benefits and/or a sustainable salary) outside the coffee shop before that happens, but I do know that I can get the writing done until then. And really, after a few years of feeling really down on myself and my ability to create, that is all I need.

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