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

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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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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.

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Look, No Felting!

Just a glimpse of what I have been up to since school’s been out:

I dyed my very first pound of roving (prepared fiber for spinning), and I did not felt a single bit of it! In the interest of sincerity, I should say that I have been hanging onto this particular bit of roving since September. I bought it with the intention of dyeing it, but without the courage to proceed. I was certain I was going to felt it all to bits. Turns out, I am just as good at all this as I hoped I would be, if not better! (Now, if I can hang on to this belief, I just might be able to get my shop up and running sometime in the next decade.)

I did a little bit of spinning as well.

I call it, Singles, With Dust Particles. Copyright me.

I have plied this already, mixing the colors in a cool barber pole effect, but I have not yet taken pictures of it because the plying process nearly gave me a stroke.  I am not very good at spinning yet, and this was only my second 4 oz since I bought my wheel. (School kind of got in the way of everything I wanted to do these last few months.) I keep telling myself I will get better at it, but I only half believe it.

For Christmas I received a couple of books about starting your own business, most notably Meg Mateo Ilasco’s Craft Inc., which I am pretty excited to read. I kind of cling to books when I am doing something that terrifies me–even if it is a fairly risk free enterprise I am taking on–starting a business like this means I have to be kind of social and perhaps confidant. I am not particularly adept at either of these two things. The more books I can read to tell me what to do and that anyone can do this, the better. Now, if I can just find a book that helps me translate all this new-found know-how into practical execution as directly related to me, I might be getting somewhere. I wonder if that book exists?

My goal for winter break is to get all of the legit making a business stuff done (that is what they call it on the IRS website, no joke), so if by some miracle I am ready to open up shop in February, I can. I am still shooting for a July 1st launch date, and I still need all sorts of important things, like a logo, so if you know anyone who enjoys doodling dinosaurs, have them give me a ring (seriously). Otherwise, I am right on schedule to officially launch Tiny Dino Studios this summer. (Hooray!)

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