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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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A Ramble (about Zombies)

I finished my horrible temp position today. I say it was horrible, but really the people were very nice. It was all the dish washing that was horrible. And the hairnets. I am thinking of learning how to tend bar just so if I am ever low on the cash, I never ever have a wear a hairnet again. On the upside, I made some friends in one of the local school districts, which in two years time when I am looking for a teaching position might come in mighty handy.

I feel jubilant that I do not have to go back tomorrow. The fear that I might not get another assignment immediately is only mildly nagging at the back of my mind. (By the way, if any one is looking for a fantastic personal assistant this summer, I am your girl!) Perhaps it is the shedding of manual labor (for now) or that my potatoes are growing like gang busters or just that it has been a year since I finished school, but I finally feel like writing again. Don’t get me wrong, I have been writing, but it was work. Now I can’t wait to get to my computer to get some words down on a bit of an essay or whatever story is in my ear today. Some days I can’t decide which project should receive highest precedence I am so excited. Right now for instance, do I work on my food essay or my zombie story? Or do I ramble like a chatterbox to my blog because I can’t settle down enough to think critically about either one? (Obviously you can see which one I chose.)

About the zombie story. . .
I have never thought that much about zombies. I mean, I watched Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later and a couple of Romero flicks. I understood how the idea of the zombie apocalypse was inherently frightening and exhilarating, but I have never been particularly preoccupied by them or any other monster stories. (I did read Dracula and Twilight–both as academic endeavors, one an historical perspective, one a bang my head against the desk this lady is published! brain mash–but that’s about the extent of my dabbling with monster fiction.) Then we decided to give that one zombie tv show a try. You guys, The Walking Dead is damn scary. I made it through both seasons (some nights with the unintentional help of too much wine. You know how it goes, you settle down on to the sofa with your knitting and a post-dinner glass of wine, and then dead people start eating living people and magically your glass has refilled itself and you’ve had three post-dinner glasses of wine and your knitting is completely forgotten.)

I had dreams about zombies every night for three weeks. At first they were closely related to the tv show, but eventually the became more and more individualized to me. In one of them I had one bag of food, one bag of clothes and other supplies, and one bag of yarn and fiber supplies that I lugged with me as I fled for my life. In another, on our way out of town, my posse and I stopped to raid a brand new yarn shop (opened, in the dream, by a real life friend of mine who was sadly not in my posse), which had opened just before the unfortunate onset of zombies and we hadn’t had any time to check it out yet. Being eaten alive? New yarn shop? You see the dilemma.

The latest one was Monday morning, and after I laughed at my dream, and told the fictional yarn shop owner about it so she could laugh at my dream too, I decided I needed to write about zombies. Because 21 night straight of dreaming about zombies obviously means there is some unfinished business there. Monday, I sat down and wrote about 350 words to get my story started.

I haven’t had a zombie dream since.

As I pursue my zombie story, I am going to continue my otherwise complete indifference to zombies and concentrate on writing the story. I will also continue to be amused that I am writing a story about zombies–almost out of nowhere–when I still claim my favorite novel is Jane Eyre.