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

Continue Reading

Anniversary! (+1 month)

colorstudies3

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I completely missed my two year anniversary! Luckily, I noticed it today, exactly one month late. Better for your, because we get to celebrate my shop anniversary now, while the sock club is on sale!

owlcozywitheyes2

Because I have been open for two years, I am offering a 20% discount on everything in the shop now through Friday with coupon code ANNIVERSARY

tiedyesock2

Thanks for sticking with me this long, yarn lovers.

spooky falkland handspun

Here’s to a happy and prosperous two more!

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

A Bit of an Hiatus

Some of you might have (or are bound to now) notice that I put my etsy shop on vacation this morning.

I am not taking it down.

I am not dissolving my business.

I am not even going to quit selling at the farmers market.

I just have not had the time or the peace of mind to put the energy into the online shop that it needs. I make a sale, then forget about it until it’s the last available shipping day. This has happened with every sale this month. I could understand if I weren’t making sales, but I am, and then I forget about them. And I don’t think that is fair to anyone, especially the folks waiting for their fun, new yarn. So I put my shop on vacation until November 5th, 2012.

This gives me time to do three things:
1. Settle fully in to my new job
2. Plan the 3rd Annual Fiber Arts Bazaar (I will settle for nothing less than a fabulous.)
3. Build up some hand-made inventory and replenish sock yarn, etc for the holiday season.

Things I am not taking a break from:
1. Blogging and micro blogging. Keep checking back here and on facebook and twitter
2. Knitting and spinning and maybe weaving if I ever get off my arse and get my loom back out
3. Dyeing
4. Selling locally

So there you have it, the big news.

In other realms, I have decided what my knitting challenge during the Olympics is going to be! (see how I cleverly worked my way around the name controversy there?)

I am going to make Motheye by Anne Hanson out of my red laceweight yarn. And I am going to finish this one! (Some of you might have noticed that I have pulled out every laceweight project I have ever started)

What’s your Olympic challenge?

Continue Reading

Special Promotion!

As I was doing some light maintenance to the etsy shop this morning, I noticed that my online sales are sitting pretty at 96. 96! Do you know how close that is to 100? I’ll tell you since I am so good at math: it’s 4 skeins away from 100. And so, I thought, you know, this is cause for celebration.

From now until I sell 100 items, all items in the shop (including spinner fiber) with be 20% off with coupon code DINO20. So get in there and get while the getting is good, because I imagine those will go fast!

What’s even better than yarn on sale?

Free yarn? Custom yarn? How about free custom yarn?

Whoever purchases with 100th skein of yarn will get a free custom dyed skein of 100% merino sock yarn.

Happy Shopping!

Continue Reading

Introducing Brachiosaurus!

I have a new love, and it’s soft, cushy, and chunky.

Everyone, meet Brachiosaurus, my new line of chunky/bulky yarns.

Arent’ they lovely? And they are all available now in the Tiny Dino Studios etsy shop.

Specs:
100% Merino Yarn 3-ply
110yards / 100g skein
Size US 10-11 Needles
Hand Wash / Dry Flat

If you happened to be signed up for one of my Feb. knitting classes, this yarn would be perfect for either project. If you are enrolled in one of the classes and would like to purchase some, email at marla at tinydinostudios dot com asap!)

I set aside my test skein so I can knit along with the hat class.

Because not only do I need a silly hat, that silly hat must be bubblegum pink!

Continue Reading

Mini Skeins!

I have finally added some new sock yarn mini skeins to the Tiny Dino Studios etsy shop!

Pick any three or six mini skeins for your preferred color combination.

I am turning 27 next week. To celebrate I am offering a 20% off sale on everything in my shop from now through my birthday, January 5th, 2012. Use coupon code DINO20 at checkout.

Continue Reading

Winter WoolFest 2012

Just thought I would nip in real quick and let everyone know that I will be one of the Vendors at Winter WoolFest 2012 in Wamego, KS. I will have everything you see listed in my shop, and hopefully a few extra special items that I will have time to make once the Christmas knitting is over.

I am also teaching the Cottage Knitting class, so if you want to learn more about lever knitting, I am your gal.

And, a sneak peak at what I have been up to with my silk.

There is a couple handfuls of the cocoons dyed to match some alpaca roving. This has since been blended on my hackle and spun. I will ply tomorrow and show off the finished product then. (You know, something to look forward to.)

I am off to nurse my silk blisters and work on my gifts. (The gift knitting will end someday, I promise.)

Continue Reading

Fantasy Knitting

As the Christmas knitting deadline looms and I slowly work down the number of projects I have to do (3 1/2!), my desire to dive into the sweaters I have been longing to knit for myself grows constantly more difficult to deny. This morning, I gathered up all my works in progress and next in line to-be-knitted patterns just to admire them. Once I had the patterns out, I had to match them up to yarn. Now, I don’t have a huge stash, but I had just enough yarn to do each of these patterns.

In October, I fell in love with Amy Herzog’z design in Knitty. The Vignette Cardigan.

I ordered Valley Yarns Sheffield as the pattern calls for, in a lovely chocolate brown. I knit the back while on a weekend trip with my siblings. And that is as far as I have proceeded in the pattern because the immediate need of my family for wintery goods like mittens and scarves took priority.

About a week ago, I cast on this top-down sweater of my own design out of my Pteranodon Yarn. It’s 100% Merino and so much fun to knit with. And yes, there will be a pattern once I finish it.

I call this colorway porcini, like the mushroom. It’s going to be such a comfortable sweater when it’s finished, though you can see I have barely even started on it. Christmas knitting.

And now for sweaters I have yet to even cast on

(Disclaimer: The order in which these sweaters are listed in no way indicates the order in which they will be knit)

Over the past couple of months, I have kind of developed an obsession with making something out of lace weight yarn. I have never used it before, and I love the idea of using it to make a sweater. I am (obviously) in a sweater knitting place, like the idea of a versatile, light weight, delicate, lacy garment. Looking through my pattern books, I came across Stefanie Japel’s Glam Knits.

I find the lace pattern on the Lace Panel Tunic enchanting, and it seems to fit my criteria for a lace sweater. It will be out of my Oviraptor lace weight yarn out of the plum colorway, as pictured.

Then of course there is virtually viral Rocky Coast Cardigan from Coastal Knits

Which I paired with Knit Picks Swish Worsted in the Lost Lake Heather colorway. This looks so comfy. I want to knit all of the sweaters in this book, and I don’t think that’s an uncommon sentiment.

Finally, I had kind of a Gollum moment when Knit Picks released the Uptown Chic e-Book earlier this year. Another book where I want to knit everything. (Only I would make the gloves mittens. I have already established that I loathe knitting fingers.)


The Burnside Tunic is right up my alley. (Though I do wish there was just a touch more to the sleeves.) I am using the called for yarn, oddly enough in the called for colorway. (This is extremely rare for me. I am all about the substitutions.)


And just for fun, and because I had the yarn, I decided to knit the Division Street Scarf from Uptown Chic as well. In Wool of the Andes Bulky in Blackberry.

Is there anything you can’t wait to get started on?

Continue Reading