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 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 managed to end the 2013 craft fair season with a profitable show. At this past weekends Holiday Artisan Boutique I took paid orders for 3 custom knit hats. Patrons loved the faux cable hats made but as they are more kid size than adults each requested a hat with longer length.
The first of the three is almost complete and has engaged my knitting skills. My patron chose a sports weight yarn as opposed to worsted weight. I have had to adjust needle size along with alterations in the stitch pattern. It is turning out rather nice though.
The car is packed and ready for set up this evening. All items are packaged and cleaned except for 1 scarf which will be done tonight. I have a lot of knitted items to sale so hopefully customers will bring them into their homes. Woke up this morning feeling under the weather and am now fighting off a cold. We are also finally supposed to get snow this weekend and I am hoping it puts people in the shopping mood. Our weather has been in the 60s this week so we do need the moisture. Hope to touch base on Sunday with my success.
So Saturday truly was my day of rest. I lounged around the house for most of the day and then went to the Alpaca ranch for a birthday party.
My creative endeavors consisted of cleaning the alpaca hat and a skein of BFL yarn. I did sell the Estonian Lace scarf yesterday and delivered it to the birthday girl as her sort of surprise gift. It was well received and admired. See picture below.
Today I took photos of the new handspun yarn and actually listed 2 items on Etsy. This afternoon I will be going to a craft fair to meet the owners of an online shopping site and then meeting up with some new crafters to work on the knitted alpaca scarf.
CVM wool handspun yarn
Black Shetland wool handspun yarn.
Overall a quiet weekend for me but filled with good friends, food and a sale!