Saturday, December 8, 2012

Those hard questions

Today I am waxing philosophical. My struggle is with a concept I was raised with from very early on. "Work first, play later." This simply means, get your work finished and out of the way so its not hanging over you and you can be free to do what you want to. On the surface this is a great concept, very simple to understand. It is a responsible adult concept, one that really dictates how we do our jobs and live our lives... It is quite a bit harder to put into complete practice. Well, not the "work first" part, there is ALWAYS way more of that to do. It just seems for me that the work never gets done so my "play later" doesn't get to happen as much as I'd like. Job and career aside, I'm thinking more on the household tasks that everyone does.I am a homeowner, I have responsibilities to the property. These include yard work, laundry, remaking beds, etc. These tasks happen on a weekly basis in our house. The thing is, yet again I am doing housework, which would normally not be a problem except I'd like to be able to push aside the tasks that need to be done and "run and jump and play." Now please bear in mind, I have no idea what "play" I actually want to do, just not the work. But my sense of responsibility rears its head and says "no, no, you must get the work done so you can feel free." Why? Who really cares? I see other people put off their work to the point it never gets done, but they seem to have a lot of fun playing while their tasks go unfinished. It doesn't seem to bother them. But it bothers me. So I guess the issue is "why does it bother me so much to not have 'my work' done?" Why is it such a big deal? Who is really watching me and ticking the "irresponsible" box on their list of my personality traits? Am I self-centered enough to believe everyone really is watching me and judging me that way? I get a sense of satisfaction from knowing I have finished tasks. I can point to (fill in the chore here) and think "yes, I got that done" and "yay me, I am such a good little worker," but in the end, what does it matter? Why should I value those tasks so highly that I miss out on the fun things I want to do? If I don't get it done this week, there is always next week, or the week after. If I end up in an accident, I doubt I'll be thinking, "Darn, if only I'd gotten the laundry done." Instead, I'll be thinking "well, no way to get that scarf-gift ready before Christmas now." And yet, the work has to be done and it does hang over my head until it is, so off I go to do another load of laundry. And on the positive side of things, the laundry is the last thing on my list for today, so when it is done, I can play. And I even waited to write this until the laundry was well under way...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tall trees and why you shouldn't put things off.

There is a storm raging outside, her name is Sandy. I hear the rain beat against the windows and hear the tall trees getting whipped into a frenzy by the wind. This would not be a problem except one of them has a direct path to my bedroom, through the roof, of course, and the other has a direct line to the daughter's bedroom (also through the roof first, except she wouldn't even hear it coming, with her ears out). My husband has gone upstairs to bed, thinking nothing of this because he's been through more hurricanes than I have, but me, being cautious and finishing schoolwork, just can't quite let the smooshed house image go. Did I mention those trees have most of their leaves still on them, so the wind force is rather intense on them. Anyway, I will need to go to bed soon and just get on with the being smooshed or not. It isn't like I can do anything about it. On a second note "Why I shouldn't put things off." Yes, I know everybody knows this, but I did procrastinate and now I am sitting here (doing other stuff, but not SpindlesandMore) with no spindle supplies to create with. I haven't ordered them yet. If only I had, I'd have had two school free days to play and paint and create. But no, I put off ordering the new supplies when I got back from the show a couple weeks ago and now I pay for it with time to listen to a storm I'd really rather not hear. The positive note to all this is that today, both my sister and one of my friends took pictures for some projects they are working on and I helped. I, despite an aversion to pictures of me, volunteered to have my back and hands photographed for the projects. All identifiable jewelry was removed. The agreement was, no parts anyone would recognize, as we were going for the concept of the image, NOT 'hey, I know her!' based on a picture. It was actually pleasantly invigorating to my creative sense to discuss the shots and how they looked, what we liked or didn't, how the lighting really worked or flopped shadows in inconvenient places. Anyway, to bed and another stormy day tomorrow. Good Night.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ahh, the end

The Shenandoah Valley fiber festival is over for another year. This year was my first vending there and we will be back! After selling 13 spindles yesterday and 6 more today, along with both roving and yarn and a shawl, it has been deemed a huge success. Compared to other venders, I have a minuscule inventory, three small table with items spread out to be easily seen. One of the things that sets me apart from the other shops (in both good and bad ways) is that because I work full-time somewhere else. It is not my livelihood, and so I experience no pressure to make a sale. I can afford to relax at a show and take time to teach the spinning lessons for free. While I think I would like to make and sell spindles and other fibery things full-time, it is unlikely I'd be able to, nor would there be enough income in offering the lessons as a free gift to the greater good. I really enjoy spinning and offer the basic knowledge of how to do it free of charge as a way to bring old information to light and a make connection to our past, perhaps even cultivate a respect for the old skills that still have validity today, if we take the time to practice them. Spinning forces you to slow down and enjoy the process by its very nature. It is hard to rush when you are hand-spinning your yarn.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Oh what a day!! SVFF 2012 Day 1

I am on a bit of a high after today. Hubby and I attended the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival today (and will again tomorrow). Sales were good and about 20 people learned to use the drop spindle with several others standing by to observe the process and ask clarifying questions. My newest spindles were the most popular of those sold, so I will continue making those series. One of those series was the "manly spindles" Hubby suggested I make. He located some pretty cool decals for me to add to some of the spindles to make them bolder. The decals can be a bit touchy to apply and then to add the polyurethane layers so they don't bubble is wonderful fun. I did a bit of touchup work on a few older spindles and will have them out again tomorrow with the new ones. Come out and see all the lovely fiber, fleeces, clothing, patterns, hooks, needles, llamas, alpacas, sheep, possibly sheepdog trials, soaps and oils and food (there was a bactrian CAMEL there today too)!! Sunday hours are 10AM to 4PM.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just a bit further

I made 22 new spindles for the show Saturday. With only 7 more hooks to put in, I am nearly finished. I lost one spindle to a broken hook, no way to repair it by removal, so all the work sanding and layering the polyurethane is lost. Just one more pretty piece for the fireplace. Once the hooks are in, all the index cards for the new ones have to be completed noting their color, styles and marking, hook type and setting, identification number and date, weight, and the various measurements I use to track which concepts are more popular. Considering the show is Saturday, I'll be bustling a bit tomorrow night. It is too late tonight to do more. The newest concept I'm working on is one my husband suggested. He wants some "manly" spindles. Until now, this has translated as a few plain ones in dark colors. Now, thanks to his suggestions I have a new idea for some spindles, but have only been able to make two in time for this show. You'll need to come to the show to see them. :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Less than a week to go!!!

This coming weekend I will pack up my lovely spindles, roving, clothing items, camp tables, table covers, brochures, business cards, signs, and a host of other items into the back of my truck and head to my show. Until then, I will be dashing about trying to finish all the other things that need to be ready for the show. This evening I added two more layers of poly to the spindles. This finishes about a dozen of the spindles, but the others are still in need of one more layer on the shafts. Tomorrow I'll put in the hooks of the finished ones and do the last poly for the small batch. Now to print the spinning brochures and head to bed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

7 started with 5 waiting

I am happily anticipating the SVFF on the 29-30 due to its location close to my home (no hotel stay required this time) and the chance to see friends while selling the spindles and roving. I have seven spindles in paint now, a few are gradients of black going toward midnight blue and there is a silver and a copper. I am debating how many to leave natural and seal with polyurethane. I'd like to treat a couple with the WoodBeams beeswax, but in a moment of insanity, I reorganized part of my craft room and haven't seen the WoodBeams since. That's what I get for trying to clean the space up. I will continue the search and this Friday evening and into the weekend, I'll be working on the spindles. I love the creation process, I just wish I could sell all the spindles so I'd have more space to create more of them. I picture my spindles as making the world a brighter, happier place.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Oops and next show

And I was so intent on keeping up with this blog regularly... But life gets crazy and since my last entry I attended and sold spindles and roving at the West Virginia Fiber Festival on Sept 8-9. A nice show, only a few years old and still growing. With all the vendors selling fiber, my spindles fit in really well. As a result of those sales, I finally have the confidence to make more spindles. So, I have a dozen 3-inchers in process at this point. There will not be any 2-inchers made in this round. At this point, the spindles are built and the notches cut into their whorls. Hand sanding is not my favorite part of the process, but it must be done and I don't trust a machine to do it for me. Although, I have to say, after the second sanding, they are silky smooth. After that, the multiple painting and polyurethane layers. And finally, the setting of the hooks. My next show which is the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival at the Clarke County Fairgrounds on Sept 29-30.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Forever and future plans

School is over for this year (my last day was June 6) and while I have a couple school-related projects to work on this summer (when do teachers not have this), I'm putting them off and taking at least this week off before beginning on them. On the happy notes of Spindles and More, I sold two spindles a bit back (can't remember if I posted then or not) and I need to plan for another open house event, here at my home. I haven't chosen a date and I'll need to be careful to give myself plenty of planning, prep, organizing and baking time. I know I need to give several weeks notice for people to get the word out and I have to dodge the times I will be away from home as well (obviously). Incidentally, besides my spindles and hand painted scarves and blouses (the fundraiser for Talita Cumi), this time the open house may have some knitted bunnies for sale as well. I'll have to see if I can make them fast enough to be worthwhile as knitting them from sock yarn makes for the cutest small bunnies, but takes a lot of time for such a small critter. We'll see.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another Success

Well, it was a rainy day today and we were all moved inside. It was cozy, guests did not have to walk far to move to the next vendor and the vendors got to see each other's skills and items without having to leave their own stalls. I'm pretty sure my spinning by spindle helped the others pass the time when we had lulls in guests. My first ever workshop went well and I've even thought of a few things I'll improve upon. I sold three spindles, Hubby-Guy sold one of my hats and between us we taught a whole bunch of people how to spin. Plus there were a few frustrated knitters who stopped by and when we chatted, I directed them toward the continental style. All three were lefties who struggled with "throwing the stitch." YouTube is a great resource for this because you can replay the videos over and over as you learn it. It is a bit late now, I need to unpack the bins, move stuff about and then get to bed because I have school in the morning. We are going into the last week of April and SOL testing starts the first week of May.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


My first Earth Day event and it went really well. I sold three spindles and a bunch of roving. I should have tracked how many people I taught to spin, including the teenager who brought her friend over after she learned how and wanted to make another bracelet from her yarn. Several people asked me to host workshops on spinning with the option to sell as well. I'll need to follow up on the opportunities. I'll do EarthDay on the Greenway again next year, it was a lot of fun. I need to eat, prep more roving and pamphlets for tomorrow and get some sleep.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

So this weekend...

This coming weekend I am going to be taking part in two EarthDay events. The first is Saturday, EarthDay on the Greenway, in Luray, VA. The next is Sunday, The Valley EarthFest in Berryville, VA. I am excited and apprehensive. The Greenway event will be my regular show and sale. This will get me back in practice for Sunday and my workshop in Berryville. Right now I am knitting on a t-shirt rug for my sister to stand on while she is at market on Saturdays. I may show off the rug at both events.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It is official, I'm facilitating at least one workshop

Plan ahead, spread the word... I'll be facilitating a workshop or two on spinning! Valley EarthFest 2012 will be hosted at The Barns of Rose Hill to benefit the facility's increasing environmental initiatives April 22 11-7pm. The basic description of the workshop is: Come learn a little about the history of spinning and other handcrafts, and learn how to make your own yarn out of natural fibers. Learn how handcrafts can become part of your entertainment, self-care and all while being practical and Earth-friendly. Participants will be able to keep the yarn they spin and have an opportunity to purchase handmade drop spindles at the end of the workshop.


Ok, absolutely SQUEAK!! For those who don't know me, this is the best way to exhibit my excitement and trepidation. I have been invited to do a workshop for a local EarthFest and I have to admit to be very excited and a bit intimidated! I truly believe the following statements I made in an email inquiry made earlier this year... To some extent, the concept of handspinning (using spindles) falls into several areas of life in the following ways: Entertainment- spinning, knitting and crocheting are all portable crafts that can be used to fill small bits of time while people wait, it can ease conversations by giving it a starter Self-care- in the form of a meditative and relaxing craft, which also produces items that can be worn, used, or given to others Earth-friendly- natural fibers (wool, silk, alpaca, llama, cotton) are a renewable resource, by spinning your own yarn, you know what is in it and can avoid manmade fibers Spinning, knitting and crocheting are skills that should be promoted and supported, they are an excellent way for people to gain a sense of accomplishment in their own skills. Now I have to figure out how to flesh this out and explain it in an entire workshop. I suppose the first step is to write back and accept the job...

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Open House

So I braved the risk and invited some of my friends to attend an open house for Spindles and More at my home. I had three visitors and sold three spindles. That's a 1 to 1 ratio of visitors to sales!! It was a lot of work, mainly because I baked the cookies from scratch, made three kinds, hung up the scarves and blouses hand-painted by the kids at TC in Bolivia, hung the crocheted and knit things, organized the hand spun yarn and organized the spindles. I'm really proud of myself for making this work and when I do it again, I'll allow more time to plan, I only invited people the week before I held it. I had four or five people say they wanted to come but had already planned things to do. I've sent two registration fees in to two shows and I'll see how it turns out. I'm waiting for a response from another show that is supposed to send me a form to fill out as well. I feel motivated to keep trying and see how it all turns out.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The shop mini

Hanging on Part 2

   The second area where I reached my "I have had Enough" was my fear of rejection and invalidation with Spindles and More. I have not pushed Spindles and More because I feared others would look at my spindles and not be interested. I know the amount of time and how hard I work on the them to develop unique spindles (there are no repeats, even though the same colors get used, there is always a difference in style or detail). A hook may be set at mid- or high set, where the first was flush. Patterns change, I create series of spindles that can be part of each other, but also stand alone. Each decorative piece is hand painted and applied to the spindle in a specific manner.  The colors are chosen and combined by an idea of something I see in my world, or a concept I want to embody... There is a lot of me in each spindle I make and my fear has been that when others reject the spindle, they are in part rejecting me. And this is not just for the spindles, but the yarn and crochet/knit items too.
   But again, just recently, I took a bit of time to evaluate the Spindles and More situation. Here is what I discovered... I have three shows that only require me to fill out the application and send in the fee in order to vend there (and there are more shows out there). Since I make most of my sales in person, where the spindle can be test driven, this is a good thing. There are at least two people who have said they are interested in purchasing my spindles. And there is a local yarn shop that may be a possibility for carrying my spindles as well, which would open me to a larger customer base. 
   So, having realized the only real thing standing in my way is a fear I can't overcome unless I take a risk and put Spindles and More out there, I sat down earlier today and filled out applications, wrote fees checks, selected photos to send and wrote emails to get things in order and to make Spindles and More a living reality. No one will hear of it if I just sit here and tremble.

Hanging on for dear life

This is going to be a long blog, so I'll break it into two parts:
  One of my unfortunate personality quirks (those of you who know me, quit snickering at the "one" and "unfortunate") is that it takes me a long time to build up the courage to do something about negative situations I find/get myself into. Even though I experience the stress, I grit my teeth and hang on until I am so frazzled, the rope breaks. Recently I hit my "I am done with this" point in two areas of my life. One was an additional part of my job and the other was not promoting Spindles and More.
   The first was an additional part of my job I took on a few years back because I was tapped and they "needed me." Perhaps what should have clued me in to the potential for crazy was that the one person they offered it to before me looked them in the eye and said "Heck NO."
   This additional part involves being in charge of checking over sets of legal paperwork for the SpEd department  (so far this year I've checked close to 145 sets, in addition to writing my own sets), facilitating the monthly department meetings where I got to continuously break the never-ending bad news that yes, we are being asked to do more, with less time, resources and money and no, there is no way to "trim the fat" because we are already cutting into muscle, oh and that they now want us to start using the new format last week... Additionally, due to my exalted position, I was gifted two years in a row with a client who's parents were beyond obnoxious. I do not say this lightly, I've taught SpEd for 12 years and have been dragged to the doorstep of needing to slap a parent due to their ignorance on very few occasions, but these just obnoxious just to be nasty.
   And yes, there was a stipend, I suppose I shouldn't complain, I was paid for all this extra work. The stipend was, drum roll please... $1000. Total, for the year, before taxes, stretched over 12 paychecks.
   So, when I really took the time to look up from pedaling as fast as I could and evaluated the situation I realized a few things: 12 hour days at school were ridiculous, the people I was covering for still weren't doing their job and I was still covering for them, all the extra effort I was putting in was not being acknowledged by those who needed to acknowledge it, the pay was NOT worth the time, my health/mood was deteriorating, I was NOT happy with all the stress involved in the situation and finally, my husband and friends needed to be part of my life, not an afterthought squeezed in when I didn't have someone's paperwork to check. So I thought about it and I told my boss I wouldn't be doing it next year. They are not happy and are not sure who'll they'll get to replace me, but as my husband reminds me each time I worry "it is no longer my responsibility." "It is not my problem, It is NOT my problem, It is not MY problem." And the funny thing is even though I have another 4 months of serving in this capacity, my health/mood/relationships has already begun to improve and I smile and want to laugh every time I break that news that I won't be doing this next year. I try not to smile too much in front of my boss...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

To advertise and how??

  So I am debating the idea of advertising my shop in various places. The question is, how where, when and at what cost? There are several yahoo groups I am part of which offer the advantage of being free to post ads to, it is a specialized audience so there is more of a chance of results, one would expect. Then there is Ravelry, it costs to advertise here, but again, there is a specialized audience who are more likely to respond to ads. It will require a little more research to choose ad placement and duration. Etsy is a similar situation to Ravelry, specialized audience and again ad placement will make a difference. The downside to etsy is that I did a showcase there one time and had 0 response from it, I don't want to repeat a pointless experience. Finally Facebook offers a much wider base of exposure, but is not specialized at all. It's more of a get the kite aloft, cut the string and see if anyone responds to the attached note situation. I'm not sure it would work out at all, but it might be worth a try.
  Cost in advertising is an issue, this venture has been more of a way of expressing my creativity, not a money-making operation, so that means I need to take some savings and invest in the advertising that will make the most sense.
  Naturally, I prefer to go to shows and vend directly where people can handle and try the spindles, these are scarce on the ground due to the registration fees of some of the shows and my lack of networking and awareness of the shows. I know there are people who do the shows full time and have a full-time business, but I already have a full-time job that I cannot survive without, so "getting serious" business-wise about my spindle-making just isn't an option at this point.
  Anybody out there have some insights or advice?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pouring my heart out

*blarp* Well, there it is folks, I've poured my heart out. Never really sure how much to say and since no one reads it, why bother, you know? The shop has had few sales recently and the economy doesn't help. I don't really feel like I should keep creating inventory when I can't move it so I'll wait a bit. I can still spin, knit and crochet as a creative outlet. Besides, I have more items to list that haven't made it on yet. I haven't photographed or listed the hand-painted scarves and blouses from Talita Cumi. This is something I really need to get down as it is a source of income for them.

Until next time...