This year I decided if I really wanted to grow my business locally I needed to participate in more markets and festivals. I now find myself with booked Saturdays from July thru most of September and a couple of dates in October – wow! My first 2 events have been at the Golden Farmer’s Market which have been a bit slow. I have had at least 1 sale each event and am grateful I don’t have a booth fee. The big market is this Saturday the 12th which is the HorseShoe Market. This event is more of a craft event with lots of vintage sellers and small business owners along with great food trucks. It was a big investment for me and I’m hopeful that I will not only make my booth fee back in sales but also a profit this year.
The great thing about the markets is setting up the booth and laying out my merchandise. My first market in Golden helped me realize how little knitted items I had and how few hand spun yarns were for sale. As I am going for more of a fiber supplier business model I knew that I had to create many more skeins of yarn if I want to make this a viable business model. Fleeces and rovings are in abundance in my inventory but most of these will truly sale at the Salida Fiber Festival versus the farmer’s markets. So with some clear goals and set time for production my yarn inventory is increasing. This year new display tools were purchased and I’m still working out the best way to use each to highlight my merchandise. My lace shawl gets so many compliments and draws in quite a few people – I know one of these days it will find its’ way into a good home.
One of the best features of the market is the networking opportunities that come while I’m spinning yarn. Thus far I have made contacts to obtain new fibers at minimal financial cost and an opportunity to teach seniors how to spin yarn. I always bring my wheel to the markets as it is a great conversation piece and allows me to get in some production time. Men and boys are always drawn to the mechanics of the wheel and ask lots of questions which over time I have developed answers for.
This past Saturday I taught my first drop spindle class of 2014. I taught this method twice last year and then somehow let teaching get away from me. The class was held at the Recycled Lamb in Golden, Colorado and I had a total of 5 students. We spent 2 hours learning how to draft fibers, thigh spin, spin on a drop spindle and then review fiber tools. The next class will be 3 hours so that my students spin a decent amount of a single ply yarn and then we can 2 ply it so they have a small skein to show for their class period. As with any process the more you engage in it the better one can tweak areas to make the process better. Even though I was a bit nervous about teaching others once we started talking about fiber I found my groove.
Things are a bit slow on the production front from last week for several reasons. Primarily I received a record number of 7 sales last week which required packaging and shipping. Also I had to prep for the spinning class and get goody bags together for my students. The second set of goody bags was packaged for the Horseshoe Market in July and given my schedule I am just going to mail the items to the event versus attempting to drop them off this week. The college kid will be assisting in labeling packages which should help me get the 50 bags out the door sooner. I did manage to finish knitting one summer hat and spin a single ply of some merino/silk last week plus there are the 2 skeins finished earlier last week.
I still have knitting and spinning projects in the works this week and will have pictures for you a bit later.
Last week I made a commitment to be more productive with my hand spinning of yarns and knitting of items which was based on my small supply of material to sell. I am happy to say that my production schedule is working and I completed 2 skeins of yarn and 1 hat within a week’s time frame. These 2 lovely skeins were spun into 2 ply yarns that still need to be measured but I’m thinking they are DK to Worsted weight yarns. The cabled lace hat also has been finished and was a challenge because I don’t particularly like cable needles.
I love the shine factor in both of these yarns and am having fun going through my stash of dyed rovings. There was a time towards the end of 2013 that I found myself short on dyed fibers but somehow that has been remedied (shopping sprees). This week I am on target for 4 skeins of yarn as I plied 2 yarns on Sunday and they are drying this week. The dyed Louet Fiber yarns are on the menu for this week. These rovings will have to be Navajo plied to keep the colors from being muddy which requires spinning a fine single so I may just do one of them. I’m really trying to boost the number of worsted and DK weight yarns in the inventory so I plan on spinning more of my other rovings than the Louet group.
On the needles is a new hat being made from the yarn I won at the Salida Fiber Festival last year. I won 3 skeins of a linen/cotton based yarn in pretty spring colors (green, yellow and peach). The yarns are being turned into hats with a broken rib stitch pattern but using a 2×2 ribbing. I had started to make a cowl using some kettle dyed yarn I received as a gift but am not liking the look of it with the color changes. This yarn has short color changes and knitting it in the round is creating a very muddled mess of colors. Thinking this yarn will make a better scarf than cowl and as it is a cotton/cashmere blend it deserves to be in a special project. My inventory only has 3 cowls in it and most are very warm so the search is on for the right lightweight yarn in a good color scheme to make cowls for the summer.
This year’s wool market was a lot of fun and found me stretching my comfort zone. How you say? Well first off I took a workshop on spinning Orenburg lace yarn with Galina Khmeleva which was amazing. We had a lot of fun in class and I learned how to ply and set the twist in my fine fiber yarns using the Orenburg method. Galina is great teacher and I would recommend taking her class if you have the opportunity. She brought a wedding lace shawl and a warm shawl so that we could see and feel the difference in the two. There were also several stories about Orenburg history, life and creativity.
Me plying yarns the Orenburg way.
My second push out of my comfort zone was entering yarns in the yarn competition at the festival. I was brave and entered 2 skeins into the competition. My Navajo plied Romney wool skein (being used for the knit shawl) and a single ply of yak/silk yarn were humbly submitted to the judges for their critique. To my surprise both won ribbons – yeah!
They Romney took 2nd place in its category and the yak/silk yarn took 1st place along with “Best Use of Down Fiber” in the competition. It was nice to read the feedback especially on the Romney yarn and to get confirmation that I do make really nice yarns.
As this was the annual Wool Market I of course went shopping for fleeces (probably more than I should have). I actually had 2 days to do shopping at the market since I stayed overnight in town. My fleece purchases were primarily “new to me” sheep breeds. The fleece inventory now contains a beautiful gray Bond/Corriedale, a brown/cream Icelandic fleece and a glossy white Teeswater fleece. The Teeswater was only 2 lbs and my least guilty purchase. There was beautifully dyed rovings at reasonable prices so I had to snatch up a few of these and I purchased yarn from the local yarn shop that was represented at the Market. Several of the fleeces have been listed in the shop – http://www.herie7.etsy.com and I am hoping to get to cleaning and packaging a few of them soon.
I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family. November sales were also my highest ever and explains my exhaustion. This weekend marks my last craft fair for the year and I’m hopeful about selling most of my finished items (hats/scarves).
As the year is coming to a close my first business decision has been to not restock fiber till the new year. I find myself thinking more and more like a business person versus a hobbiest as time goes by. Nonetheless I still have plenty of fiber inventory to sell especially my alpaca fiber. The stock of alpaca just may go on sale so that it finds it way to new homes. Projects include finishing a cowl and a lace doily so that I can start to knit a shawl with beads (ohhh!)
So looking forward to Christmas and having the college kid home for a few weeks. What are your holiday plans?
I had a buyer contact me today for the cranberry lace scarf (Cranberry Alpaca Scarf) in the Etsy shop – yeah! This is my first cash sale and we made arrangements to exchange the scarf for payment at a local busy store (one can never be too safe). Just when I start to think my crafts don’t appeal to others I get a sale. Learned new terminology on Etsy and visited the forums to see how others have handled/listed items for cash sales. The forums contain so much information for we beginners which is very nice. Sometimes you have to know the key words to ask but in general I have found answers to my selling and shop setup questions there.
I was quite lazy this weekend so I haven’t plied the yarn for the 2nd glove. I also still need to spin the rest of the fiber for my lace scarf which I am 4 rows shy of completing – yikes. On the positive the woven style scarf is progressing nicely made with alpaca yarn. Still deciding which batch of fiber to send to the mill in April but every sale aids in paying for processing fees. There is still so much fiber in my bins to be spun up. Every time I think I have made a dent I find more – how does that happen??? I have a love affair and passion for fiber and connect so well with other fiberholics. My wheel and I have a date for Wednesday – let the plying and spinning move forward!
On the business front I am still practicing simplicity and trying to enjoy the journey of running a business. I do have a few years to make a profit before the IRS comes down on me. This week I will be finishing up projects, taking photos, and writing descriptions for my handspun yarns. Can’t sell them if I never list them!