DeStashing

new studio wide

I have been on a journey for the last ten months. Most of this adventure has taken place inside google docs and 3 or 4 manila folders full of scratch paper. I have written my novel 5 times over and finally landed on a draft that I can make into something. The feeling is sublime., and I have taken a few days to revel in it. I sent it to my beta readers, had a drink to toast it, and gave myself the reward of Maria V. Snyder’s Glass Series. (I have devoured them. Seriously. We need to talk about book more often, reader friends.)

This journey of mine, however, has not just been about writing my novel. I have been on a highly introspective, speculative path that’s had some confidence building detours. I won’t say I’m completely done with it all, but I feel like I could wear this shirt honestly, and get some shit done.

If you’ve stuck with me over the last couple of years, there’s been no surprise that I didn’t know what the hell I’ve wanted to do. I’ve been bouncing around from one crafty infatuation to the next, without ever really settling on anything. One thing about writing my novel that helped me was that all of my passions kept popping up. That book incorporates so much that I love–coffee, textiles, modern small business strategy, men’s fashions. (True confession, I say I subscribe to the New York Times for the book review, and the comprehensive news, but the only thing I ever get through cover to cover is the style magazine.) Through the writing process, and examining what worked for my characters, I was also somehow able to wrestle out what gives me the most joy.

Strangely enough, they are the two things I do the most already: writing and retail. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that I should put the two together and write about retail. Except that I am really excellent at getting in my own way.

Comical metaphorical stumbling aside, I have a head full of specialty retail knowledge, and if I don’t get some of it out on the page, I’m in danger of exploding it all over the place. And let’s be honest, there’s a time and place for telling someone they need to reexamine their pricing strategy. (But hey, if you wanna talk about pricing, check back tomorrow!) Meaning, that you, reader friends, can expect to read some tricks of the trade right here.

I am excited. Are you excited?

wool rainbow

So what does all this self-helpy, soul-examining, navel-gazing have to do with destashing? It means I need to transform Tiny Dino Studios from a fiber studio to a multipurpose studio. There is a ton of awesome stuff that I’ve basically stopped using, and I want you to have it.

Through October 31st, my etsy shop will be open and all the yarns and spinning fibers I have stashed away will be up for grabs at 60-75% off. That is a steal of a deal on some really high quality yarn. I will be updating the shop on Saturday mornings with everything I can find through the end of October or as long as supplies hold out.

Mr Drum Carder

In addition to everything on etsy, I am selling my drum carder. I bought him right before I started to lose my enthusiasm for selling yarn, so I’ve made maybe 12 batts on the guy in the last couple years. (I have cleaned him up since I took this photo.) The card cloth is 120tpi/90tpi. I’m asking $200, and I’ll thrown in a bag of loose locks and fluff and stuff. Local only, I’d prefer not to ship this guy. Email me or leave a comment if you’re interested. ┬áDrum Carder Sold!

Check out etsy, and hang around for what’s next!

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

It’s 5am on a Saturday, and I Have Been Awake for Ages

Good morning all. How are you this lovely, cold Saturday morning. I am sitting in bed, in the dark, because I have very successfully woken myself. The last time the baby woke up to eat, about an hour and a half ago, he woke me up out of the middle of a sleep cycle. To avoid falling asleep while I was feeding him, I started thinking about work–well, apparently nothing gets my blood boiling in the pre-dawn hours than thinking about things I can’t do anything about until Monday.(He, of course, ate and went back to sleep immediately.) Next time, I am going to try to think about something more fun, like flowers or yarn.

It’s November 15th, and for the first time ever, I am keeping up with Nanowrimo. Usually by now I have completely given up on the whole endeavor. My first weekend in November is notoriously busy, and so I always start out the month a few days behind on my word count, and then I never catch up, and by the beginning of the second week I am too daunted by the sheer volume of words I am missing, and instead of writing for writing’s sake for the rest of the month, I just give up on the whole enterprise completely and for the rest of the year the only thing I write are blog posts and grocery lists.

Considering I have a degree in creative writing, this is pretty embarrassing.

This year, I decided I was really going to finish. I didn’t have a story idea until the last minute, and I have done absolutely zero planning. I’ve always been a fly by the seat of my pants sort of writer anyway, so this whole making stuff up as I go along and having no plan is fun. Not sure how much substance my story has, but that’s not the point right now. The point is to write everyday, and that’s what I’m doing.

Only took 2 1/2 years after graduating to get my writing mojo back.

Now that I am writing everyday though, my other work is slowing down a little bit. After finally finishing Brock and Felix’s Flax sweaters last week, I had a small bout of startitis and cast on Wheaton which I think is too gorgeous for words. I am knitting the worsted weight scarf version, because while I think this pattern is stunning, I am also aware that I have a very short attention span for knitting anything that turns out to be a rectangle. But I think a blanket, or even a stole in this pattern would be the epitome of luxury.

I am also working on a pair of mittens for Brock. I am using Skinny Fit Mitts as a template because I like the cable pattern on them a lot, but the pattern was written for someone with tiny hands, so not only am I changing it up by making them flip-tops, I am also having to lengthen and widen the thumb gusset, lengthen the hand and figure my own decreases for top.

And since it is supposed to snow today, I really need to make Felix a pair of mittens. I am just going to use my chunk wool and knit him a pair of thumbless mittens. That should be quick, and I hope to do it this afternoon after I finish my word count.

What are you working on?

Etsy Shop is Back Open!

Good morning all. It is August 16th, and as promised, my etsy shop is back up and ready to go.

Stop in and browse around. I have new sock, lace weight and handspun yarns, as well as some new spinning fiber.

How do you like my new photographs? I’ve been meaning to do this for about two years now. In some ways, I am sorry it took me so long to get up off my ass and do it, but in others, I am glad I waited until I had all the right pieces. My dining room has some of the best natural light in the whole house, being lined with windows and all. That, paired with my vintage cherry blossom table cloth (the first thing I ever bought on etsy ever right after it opened) and my new pottery, everything came togther so beautifully.

clementines and cherry blossoms
My table cloth, just to refresh your memory.

Now, I’m off to do some spinning so I have a bit more handspun to offer up for sale. What are you up to this weekend?

Drive By Update

1. I just did an impromptu giveaway on facebook. It was quick and fun, and I will definitely do it again. Winners will be announced tomorrow, and everyone that participated will get a 10% off coupon for the shop.

2. It has been a long and stressful few weeks as Brock tries to find a job. I am trying to hold it together, but just keep researching magic instead of working on Tiny Dino Studios, because one day I will actually write a young adult fantasy novel.

3. The first issue of ply magazine debuted and it is gorgeous. The first article on the first spinners made me want to go back to school and do the Textiles BFA at KU with a minor in History. Someday, I will do this.

4. Since Brock is unemployed, but brilliant, he is making a video game. I might be fantasizing about it having Minecraft-type success and becoming a full-time student/mom who couldn’t give a damn about money. In these fantasies, I am also, thinner, taller, blonde, and wearing a baby on my back as I work on the looms in the art building and walk around campus.

5. Despite the above despairing, I have been dyeing, and I have updated my shop accordingly.

6. I have also been spinning some really dreamy alpaca, pictured below. I don’t even hesitate to link you to Marcia’s shop because her stuff is so brilliant. (Most alpaca breeders go for density and then fineness. Marcia just breeds for fineness, and let me tell you what I am spinning is like buttah.)

greyalpaca
Available for purchase here. Let Marcia know I sent you.

And here’s what just went up for sale in my shop, if you can pull yourself away from the Alpaca.

magic moss2

morning rainbow

appleblossomandpeavines

harvestgoldpteranodonworsted2

sea glass tunis

Fun with Self-Portraits

at_work
I am back at work after 1 1/2 days home sick. Obviously I brought my new computer to play with over my lunch hour. No webcams on the work computer. I was surprised this morning to flip the switch in my office and have the lights flip on immediately and brilliantly. My office is pretty much the storm shelter, and had been unbelievably dim since I started working there.

This is what it used to be like
dark_office
No joke, I was working by the light of my computer most days.

Now I have plenty of light so I can do all of the important things!
knitting_at_work
That’s some aloft in Daisy for the Tule sweater. I love me some fuzzy mohair. (Really, the yarn is for casting on during the 15 minutes I have to wait for the kiddo to get out of school. I could knit at work, but I would have to figure out how to type and answer the phone with my eyes.)

But, since I was out with a little tummy bug the last few days, I have a lot of catching up to do.

happy_cuppa
Happy knitting, friends.

Twisted Fiber Festival

Just in case you were wondering where I have disappeared to:

I have been organizing this with the help of two lovely ladies who are, like me, going to be vendors also. As you can see below, I am teaching a class as well.

Twisted! Details

Vendors:
Alpacas at Orchard Hill
Knit n Spin
Tiny Dino Studios
Twisted Sisters
Th’red Head
Blushing Ewe
Shirley’s Succulents
Tom Swayne Woodworking
Prairie Productions
Laura’s Pygoras
Creations by Anna
Rouse House
Images in Time 3D
The Wicked Stitch
Elaine Kruger’s Sewing
Barb’s Nuno Felted Wearable Art

TWISTED Fiber Festival
FREE Classes/Demos
Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Potwin Fiber Artisans are happy to offer the following FREE
classes/demonstrations during the course of the TWISTED Fiber Festival! Each of the demonstrators is an artisan in the subject matter of their class/demo and many have scheduled classes in January so that you can build upon the knowledge and techniques you learn during the festival. Each session is 45-55 minutes long and the artisans will have tools available for you to utilize during the class; some will have tools available for purchase, and many vendors at the festival will have fibers available for purchase!

10am- BEGINNING KNITTING with Jenny Binfield
Jenny will show you how to caste on and begin knitting, and will have a handout with her basic knitting tips and techniques. Needles and yarn will be available, or you can bring your own needles and purchase some delicious handspun from one of the vendors.

11am- BEGINNING CROCHET with Susan Hudgens
Learn the basics of crochet, including slipknot, chain, slip stitch, single crochet & double crochet. Bring a crochet hook, yarn and scissors-some materials available, first come, first serve.

Noon- SPINNING with Marla Holt
Learn drafting techniques that allow you to quickly and easily spin fun thick n thin yarn and lofty thick singles on your spinning wheel. Please bring your spinning wheel and about 4 ounce of fiber you are familiar with spinning.

1pm- EMBROIDERY BASICS with Susan Hudgens
Learn the skills needed to complete a simple embroidery project including choosing materials, overhand knot, back-stitch, overhand stitch, French knot, satin stitch,, Lazy Daisy and as many other as we can fit in. Bring scissors, aida cloth, needles & floss-some materials available, first come, first serve.

1pm- DRUM CARDING DEMONSTRATION with Jennifer Beck
With an eye for color and texture, Jennifer creates beautiful art batts! Come watch her show you just how fun and easy it is to create an amazing fiber batt on a drum carder, ready to be spun into a unique OOAK yarn or used in your next felting project.

2pm- MAGIC LOOP KNITTING with Meg Wickham
The Magic Loop Technique allows you to make something small and circular by using one long 32″ or longer circular needle. Bring 75 yards of worsted weight (very soft) yarn and US sz 7 needles at least 32″ if you want to try alongside the instructor.

3pm- DROP SPINDLE SPINNING with Lori Warren
Lori will cover the basics of using a drop spindle: getting started, prepping your fiber, drafting, starting a leader, and park & draft spinning. She will also demonstrate how to skein and finish your handspun yarn. Drop Spindles, made by Lori, will be available for $10.

4pm- NEEDLE FELTING BASICS with Anna Walker
Stab something into existence and learn from @FELTit herself! With a barbed needle and some pretty fiber, learn the basics of needle felting as you create your own little cyclone! Basic needle felting instructions will go home with you along with your felting needle and a foam block!

I might not be very present until all of this is over, but when it is, look for the relaunch of the Tiny Dino Studios Etsy store and lots and lots of knitting!

In the Works Wed–Wait! What?

This is what happens when I try to do a regular, weekly segment here on the blog. I plan and plan (in my head where all the most reliable planning is done dontcha know) about what I want to include in the “In the Works Wednesday” post; what project to talk about and how cool and interesting and squishy they have been.

This morning before work, I was making a to-do list for the open time I had later on in the day. As I write “photograph new yarn for etsy” I think, “I could go ahead and photograph all my projects on the needles, because Wednesday is coming up pretty quick and I have so much free time on Thursdays–Gah! It’s Thursday!” Thursday, you know, the day after Wednesday.

I am not sure how I missed Wednesday, even though I did all of my other normal Wednesday things (except blog!)

Here I am a day late, hoping you enjoy this post just as much as you might have yesterday when the alliteration still made it a cool day to post it. I can’t even think of any cool Thursday alliteration, so before I start feeling down on my brain power, because clearly I haven’t been overwhelmed by rejoining the workforce or anything, let us move on to woolier subjects.


I started knitting Brock’s birthday socks. You will be able to tell I have been running on low bandwidth when you check out the rest of my projects–they haven’t made much progress, but in a week with very little knitting time I have managed to knit most of a large, gentleman’s sock. I excel at stockinette in the round.

The pattern is just a plain top-down sock with a heal flap, pretty much the only sock pattern I ever use because I don’t need a pattern to knit it anymore. (Locals, this is the sock I will teach when I finally get around to scheduling some more knitting classes. Stay tuned.) The yarn is “French Roast” from Swift Fiber Studio in 75/25 BFL/Nylon.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

Next up I have a tangle of a super secret surprise project that may or may not be a pattern in the making that is currently kicking my butt.

Can you tell what it is yet?

The yarn is Pteranodon Worsted in Cretaceous Grape. There is still one skein left in the shop if the color catches your fancy.

Then, I have the lace weight cardigan. And I swear I have been knitting on it. I have actually added two whole inches to the length!

Not that you can really tell.

How are your projects going?