How Not To Blog

When you end your last post “stay tuned,” you probably don’t expect your illustrious blog host to disappear for six months.

Felix/Mommy selfie time. Also, feeling the love with my @bitchmedia B-Hive mug, because we value independent media.

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I got new glasses!

Yeah, I didn’t expect that either. I have spent the last six months in a haze of not enough sleep, baking, yoga, playing with babies, and of while plenty of writing has been happening as well, there has been a lot of I don’t have time to turn this into a blog post, lets make it an instagram instead. But I have missed this space.

This peasant loaf is my prettiest so far. Can’t wait til it cools to see how it tastes. #gfbaking #glutenfree

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Over the years, I’ve talked about doing a lot of different things with Tiny Dino Studios, and I get excited about new projects and new hobbies, and make all sorts of plans that I never quite follow through on. I start out with the best intentions for a yarn dyeing business, for helping people with their handmade business, for freelance writing, for selling soap, and then I get side tracked by whatever story I’m working on and all my good intentions go straight out the window.

You’d think it wouldn’t take me years and years to realize I should put all of my energy into my writing already and be done with it, but it did.

For whatever reason, I felt like writing wasn’t enough to focus on. Those other things had the potential to bring me money sooner, even though I cared more about the writing.

I’ve spent the last few months coming to terms with owning that I want to just be a writer.

And doesn’t that make it sound simpler than it really is? There is no “just” about it.

I currently have one novel in time out while I decide if it’s done or not, another I have been working on for a year, and a third that’s waiting in the wings. Not to mention all of the scary parts of writing like query letters and synopses, and whether self-publishing a little isn’t a bad idea.

Enjoying being outside before it gets too hot. ??? Love watching the plants grow. ????????????????

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On top of that, I miss the good old days when blogs were a way to genuinely connect with readers instead of another avenue to facilitate the means of production.

I don’t want to sell you stuff.

I want to talk about my writing and complain about this elimination diet I’m getting ready to start. (I’m totally Fat Tuesdaying it up this weekend, because come Monday, I have to give up all of my favorite things: coffee! chocolate! chickpeas! tomatoes!)

Mostly, I want to share fun stuff, like this pinterest board I made for my current writing project:

I know some authors have boards and boards and boards for each of their stories. This is the first time I’ve done it, and it was fun trying to find people and places that match what I see in my head when I write.

Now, anyone want to beta read?

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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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Birthday New Year

I am sure all you are just about sick of new year resolution blog posts, but I am going to try you patience only a little while longer.

Most people celebrate the new year, you know, on the New Year. For me, it’s kind of just a pit stop to keep the holiday season going until today. My birthday. Since today is my real new year, and it’s so close to the actual one . . . well you see where I am going.

I am not a fan of resolutions, but I am a fan of recognizing when certain needs should be met. For instance, the second I quit my job in November, I started exercising more. It was a good start. I certainly didn’t have the “I just don’t have time” excuse anymore. But seeing as that I am the heaviest I have ever been (to be honest, I have been at this same weight for over a year, so the plus side is that I haven’t been gaining!), now seems like a good time to really step up the exercise program. Walking/Jogging is good and relaxing, but I really love yoga. I am going to endeavor to incorporate some practice into my daily routine. I am a natural worrier and over-stess-outer, and even a short practice helps me breathe, calm down and focus on getting down to business. So goal for 2012, do more yoga, breathe, and relax.

I am also going to start writing fiction again this year. I have ideas swirling around me as I work on all my fiber projects. I am finding that knitting and spinning provide time for ideas to ruminate in my brain for awhile until I am ready to write them. The two forms of art are very complementary in this way, and I think I have finally recovered from the trauma of writing for school enough to start writing for myself again.

I feel like I have done a lot in the past year. 26 was a struggle, but I came out the other side of it a little more fearless and a lot more confident. 27 is already shaping up to look pretty good both personally and business-wise. I don’t think I’ll be sky-diving (ever), but I hope to reach 28 in much the same manner.

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A Special Sunday Preview

Just a peak at what at the new stuff I will be offering at next weekend Bazaar. (What doesn’t sell will be up in the Tiny Dino Studios etsy shop sometime after next Saturday.

snake falkland top2

superstition merino top 2

spooky falkland handspun

heartsick falkland top2

grapevine falkland top3

big top merino top
This has become a big skein of thick n thin yarn which is out drying on the balcony right this very instant. It will be my donation to the silent auction.

autumn cheer merino top
I am working on spinning this gorgeous piece of merino right now. I have it in my head that I am going to navajo-ply it, even though I have never navajo-plied anything before ever–not that that’s ever stopped me.

My week is going to be filled with more fiber, a little trick or treating with the kiddo, and tolerating my last few days at the day job. What are you doing this week?

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Sale and New Wool!


To celebrate finally earning my bachelor’s degree, I have a sale going on over at the shop through this Sunday. Use code DINO10 and receive 10% off your entire purchase.

Here are a few of the things I have been dyeing up lately:

Two 100g skeins of fingering weight BFL yarn done in Robin’s Egg Blue.


4 oz braid of BFL Top in Wildflower


4 oz braid of BFL top in Fire Flower

(I will have a more substantial post later on, I promise.)

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May, In Pictures


The Boys


Our Bucket-Full of Giant Hail Stones (which later made their way into some whiskey and cola)


Some Handspun. The yellow is a two-ply yarn made out of a carded merino batt from PortFiber. The rest is my first attempt at a usable singles, all from the first addition of The Cosymakes FarmClub. All yarns are about fingering weight.


The Garden. Or part of it anyway. Here you see cucmber, roma tomato, strawberries, and some mint way off in the distance. What you can’t see is that there are two more tomato plants, some basil and oregano to my left, and a whole box of growing peas to my right.


Some oregano, just because it’s pretty.


A picture of the landscaping taken from the second floor balcony.

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Greener Shades and Farmers Markets


4 oz. BFL Roving dyed with greener shades acid dyes.

Part of the idea of starting my shop was to become a source not only of beautiful high quality fiber, but to also to do that in as an environmentally friendly way as possible.  Because of the sales I have made so far, I have been able to take a few more steps toward that goal. Last week, I ordered the greener shades dyes I have had my eyes on for awhile. They have no heavy metals in them, which makes disposal of dye bath easier and more ethical. Also, they meet the criteria for organic production, so when I receive the organic Lincoln CVM roving I just ordered from a local farm, it can still be called organic after I dye it with the Greener Shades dyes.

With the farmer’s markets starting up, I hope to be able to start a dialog with some more local fiber farms and get some good quality Kansas wool up on the website.

This is gearing up to be a very exciting summer. For the month of April, I have been able to arrange myself to have Sundays off my day job. This means I can dedicate most of the day to the fiber arts, which can only mean good things for the shop. I have been mulling over ways to make self-striping and gradient dyeing yarns easier…I tried some gradient dyeing on Wednesday which ended in a disastrous mess of knotted wet yarn. At least I learned my lesson about following directions on the internet from my virtual yarn-selling competitors and am coming up with my own, more expedient methods.


2 Skeins of 100% Merino sock yarn in semi-solid violets. Also dyed with greener shade dyes.

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Sneak Attack!

I got a great surprise this evening while working on the essay I was so excited about last night. Here I am preparing to tell my troubles to the world, and then have a nice long nap because I have been feeling slightly under the weather, when all of a sudden, I look down at my phone and notice I have something like ten billion emails. Ok, so it was more like 8, but still, that’s more than I ever get in that particular account at a time. Sure enough, I check it, and I have four sales and four payment confirmations! And then it just kept on coming….

So far tonight I have sold 11 items out of the 24 I had listed in my shop. I am just going to call that half. Half my shop in one evening. And I have The Handmade Movement to thank for it. I would recommend checking out the website. It’s a really great idea. I also had no idea it existed. This website encourages folks to buy handmade items from new etsy shop en mass, which also helps kick off sales for that shop. They call it a sneak attack, and I think it’s a fabulous idea. I plan on participating in the future.

I couldn’t be more flattered to be included in tonight’s sneak attack, and I really look forward to help brighten some other new seller’s day the way mine just has been.

Thank you all!

Oh! And I somehow managed to finish my essay. It has been a very good night.

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