Archive | October 2015

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

You would think, with a couple hours of high school football game knitting last night, that I would have made great progress on my Where’s Waldo hat. You would be wrong. I kept looking at it as I knit on the second stretch of white, and I realized that the proportions of the sections were going to be wrong. See, I’ve been going a little nuts recently, making hats on the fly without a pattern. I look at patterns to get an idea of how many stitches to cast on, and then I knit. I’ve done enough hats that I usually have a pretty good idea of when and how to start decreasing. And that’s really cool! I like that I’m learning enough to be able to do that.

But I’m second-guessing myself on this particular hat, probably because it’s a special order and not just for my inventory. I want to make sure it’s exactly what my customer wants, with the right amount of slouch and everything. This is one time my perfectionism slows things down! So here’s what I had: IMG_3649I’m only doing one thick red stripe, and when I started on the second white section, I realized it would be significantly bigger than the other two, and the red stripe wouldn’t be centered. With a sinking feeling, I knew what my next step would be. I spent the first half hour of the game frogging and then picking up stitches. After counting rows and estimating how many I’d have total, I made the first white section bigger. Here’s where I am now. IMG_3660You like my little helper there? Yes, that’s pillow-eating Grace. At least she doesn’t eat yarn. Anyway, I have high hopes of finishing this hat today. After that, I’m moving on to building up my hat inventory for my next craft show in November. I’ve even wound the yarn I want to use.IMG_3662These are my last two skeins of Berroco Borealis, a gorgeous mix of blues and greens. They should make lovely slouchy hats. Hopefully I have good buttons in my stash for them, because I have no place close by to buy good buttons. Have you seen the selection at Michael’s? It’s sad. I swear, I got so spoiled by Joann. Hmm. Maybe a trip to Joann can be my reward for finishing the Where’s Waldo hat!

Finally, here’s a tiny elephant. The girl found it in Jack’s mouth this morning. We have no idea where it came from, and the poor thing is missing a leg. As small as it is, I can’t believe Jack didn’t swallow it whole. So this is a survivor elephant. He will live in my craft room now. IMG_3664

Keep The Momentum Going

Wow, this has been a crazy wonderful week! So I last blogged about the craft show, and since then, I’ve had a lovely flurry of custom orders and Etsy orders and nice messages. The best was from a woman who bought one of the button slouch hats at the show. I attach a tag to all my items with my website, etsy shop, etc, and she actually took the time to find me online and found the blog post where I wrote about making her hat. She loved getting the backstory, and asked me to make her another hat. How cool is that?? I swear, I had a smile for hours from that, just that my hat and I made that good an impression on her. Even better, I had the perfect yarn for the second hat she wanted, my last skein of this purple/red/black/gray Borealis. IMG_3646But before I could do that, I had another special order to finish. My Yoda hats are my most popular items on Etsy, and someone who’d bought one messaged me after receiving it. She loved it, and since I’d done such nice work and was so quick and friendly, could I make a Princess Leia headband for her daughter? Well, of course I could! I could and did, and though it wasn’t as easy as Yoda, I liked how it turned out and I really hope she was pleased too. IMG_3638Then another message from a satisfied craft show customer: she loves her hat, can I make her a Where’s Waldo hat? Oh yes, that sounds fun! That’s on my needles right now, actually. IMG_3649And during all this, my Etsy app kept dinging at me: Ding, a hat sold! Ding, a hat sold! Ding, a scarf sold! Oh my stars! It’s been SO MUCH FUN. I wish it could always be like this, but I know it won’t. Still, I’m going to keep doing craft shows and getting my name out there, and I’m going to keep making fun, unusual stuff for my Etsy shop, and maybe someday I’ll get back to knitting things for myself. As I sit here typing, I keep glancing at these skeins of Chateau, which have been wound for several days waiting to be knit into a cushy cowl. Don’t worry, little yarns, I’ll get to you soon enough. IMG_3652

Craft Show Results

This show freaked me out. Big time. I showed up to set up and it was in this BIG pavilion, and there were all these vendors with fancy displays and tons of product, people who clearly did this all the time. And then there was little old me, with my styrofoam heads and makeshift thrift-store displays and a wide variety of products. I was paralyzed for a little while, with no idea how I was going to do this. Thank goodness, my Knitting SIL showed up to help and jump-started my competitive nature. Between the two of us, we set up a professional, attractive display. IMG_3590 IMG_3591The first day was disappointing. Big crowds for the first three hours or so, but over the course of the 8-hour day, I made less than $100. Plenty of people stopped and admired, but no one was buying. I was discouraged but still hoped the second day would be better, and it was! The crowds weren’t as big but I made some sales, enough to sell twice what the booth space cost me. Great? Nope, but good. The Royals hats didn’t sell as quickly as I expected but I sold four of the six button slouch hats I just made last week, so I’ll be making more of those.

Here’s the highlight of the entire show: mid-afternoon on Saturday, two women stopped by my booth and admired several of the hats. The older woman tried on a red slouch hat and liked it, the younger woman tried on a few, then they said they still needed to look around. About half an hour later, they were back. They’d seen everything, trying to decide what their ONE purchase would be…and out of 100 or so vendors, I’d won their business! That made the whole experience worth it to me. Two hats, not a huge sale, but it said huge things to me: they appreciated the work I’d done, they liked it enough to spend their money on it. THAT is why I do this. THAT is why I price my items as fairly as I can. I’m not in this to get rich. I’m in this to do what I love and share it with others.

It wasn’t just them, either. I got so many compliments about my display, my products, my fiber choices, my workmanship. People stopped and really looked at my pieces, felt them, and told me I did very nice work. No, most of them didn’t buy, but that’s ok. It was enough to tell me that I’m on the right track with what I’m doing. Enough people get it, get that my goal is to take a beautiful yarn and find the right pattern to show it off, and do it in a high-quality way to produce something that’s better than you can buy at Target or Kohl’s. I did have one person ask me if I’d take $10 on a $15 acrylic hat (I said no) but only one. That person is not my target. My target is the person who appreciates beauty and quality and is willing to pay what those things are worth.

So now I have to figure out how to reach my target. I’m not sure this show was worth doing again. I had a wonderful time, but the profit wasn’t huge. Am I better off doing smaller, less expensive shows? In the past, I’ve made almost the same amount of money at them while paying smaller booth fees. Do I search for shows in areas that are typically more oriented toward handmade/artisan/independent sellers? Areas that are higher income? Or do I just keep doing a variety? I’m not sure. I’m pondering while I start looking around for some more shows to do.

What’s my takeaway from this show? I need more depth in my kid hat inventory. People wanted them. They loved my Yoda hat, but since I only had maybe five kid hats available, they didn’t sell well. I need more colors, more styles, more sizes. And the button slouch hats will definitely be a staple. They’re quick to make, stylish, and the buttons add great flair. I want to have some chemo caps too, soft and snug acrylic beanies. I had a request for them and hated that I didn’t have anything that was just right. (Of course I also had a request for camo alpaca beanies/gloves marketed as “Hunters’ Special” but I don’t think I’ll go that route.)

I’m never going to be the both with tons of colors in only three or four styles. That’s just not me. But I think I can find a way to meet the customers’ needs and still make what I love. They want kid hats? I love making hats. Having a variety of colors and sizes is all I need; they don’t have to be the same pattern. They want slouch hats? Man, the possibilities are endless. I’ll be making slouchy beanies forever and be happy doing it.

Making money from yarn is hard. It definitely takes time and effort and patience. In the last month or so, I’ve been posting more frequently on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and it’s helping. I’m nowhere near a rockstar but I’m engaging with more people, and I think my visibility is slowing growing bit by bit. Now I need to to take the next step and be more present in person; i.e. do more shows/fairs. I’m looking at this as a job, but I’m still loving it. How lucky am I? Very! Especially since I had so much time to knit the last two days that I finished three hats, including this one. IMG_3614IMG_3613

Just a few photos today

I’m not feeling very wordy today and I’ve got a lot to do, so today’s post will be mostly photos.

Location of this morning's newspaper. Yep, that's the street.

Location of this morning’s newspaper. Yep, that’s the street.

Grace's new favorite thing is lounging in the greenery to watch the street.

Grace’s new favorite thing is lounging in the greenery to watch the street.

Tubs are packed with inventory and props for today's craft show set-up.

Tubs are packed with inventory and props for today’s craft show set-up.

Included are these 4 new Royal blue hats to celebrate my KC Royals in the post-season!

Included are these 4 new Royal blue hats to celebrate my KC Royals in the post-season!

I managed to make not one but TWO super bulky striped hats yesterday! That was fun. Don’t know that I’ll get much knitting time today, what with setting up my booth, stopping at Costco for dog food, and the boy’s choir concert tonight. But I’ll be sure to post photos of the craft show once it’s all done!

Yesterday Was (not so) Awesome

It started off pretty well with morning tea and knitting, but after lunch I went shopping for a few new clothes. Unfortunately, I needed a bigger size and only had one pair of jeans and maybe half a dozen long-sleeve shirts that fit well. The up side was that I found a few good things, but I wasn’t thrilled about the size I had to get. So I wasn’t feeling too great about myself after that, but I was trying.

Then last night I got in trouble. I got in trouble for letting my son order a shirt in a size that ended up too big, then for getting upset when he snapped at me about it. I got in trouble for running down the hill that morning to take him the frosting he needed for a class project (“Someone was THERE, mom”) and then found out that he was letting me walk with him to school not because he liked the time, but because he didn’t know how to say he didn’t want me to. I trust him to get to school safely, but it was one of the few times I got to spend with him alone, and I liked our little chats. Guess I was the only one. Then I got in trouble for not knowing where the rubbing alcohol was (“We have all these beauty products and nothing USEFUL”) and then in trouble for getting upset by being snapped at unexpectedly.

So yeah. Yesterday was SUPER. Maybe it was just a bad day for everybody. Sigh. Today I let him walk alone, I will email the band director about ordering a smaller size, and I’ll find the darn rubbing alcohol. AND I’m going to knit! That was about the only good thing about yesterday. I now have two finished Royal blue hats to take to the craft show, and I think I can get one more done today. It’ll be a beanie in super bulky yarn so it should go quickly. IMG_3569The brim on this one came out a little bigger than I wanted, but it should work well for those with slightly bigger heads, or with lots of hair. And if it doesn’t sell at this craft show, I might see about adding a bit of elastic to snug it up some. IMG_3575And I love how this one turned out! The gray and blue is a little less common for a KC Royals hat, but I love it. And I showed the side with the joining seam because I was pleased with myself. It’s still noticeable if you look for it, but overall it came out really clean and smooth. I just have to decide whether to add a blue pom pom. Personally, I’ll always vote for a pom pom. How about you?

Craft Show Madness

It’s setting in, the frenzy of an upcoming craft show. I feel the urge to MAKE ALL THE THINGS that I think will sell because I’m convinced the stuff I’ve already made is not good enough. I know I won’t be able to put up an attractive display by myself so I’m crossing my fingers that my knitting SIL will help me out. I’m fretting about how to take essential breaks when I’m working my table by myself. So yeah, normal pre-craft show jitters.

All the broken-rib hats have buttons attached and yesterday I cast on for a new hat. It’s a simple slouch hat in stockinette but I’m doing red and white, a candy cane look for early holiday shoppers. I like it so far, and it’s going quickly. IMG_3523But this morning it hit me: WHY am I not doing blue and white?? My Kansas City Royals are heading into postseason baseball, and KC is baseball crazy this year. I’d be silly to not have some blue in my inventory this weekend, so I’m setting aside the red and white for now. Good thing I have extra circular needles!

The most exciting progress from the weekend comes from the husband. IMG_3507He got 36 of 41 fence posts installed! I am SO excited to see this taking shape. It’s going to look fantastic. Plus we’re all ready to retire these stupid chains for the dogs. The lack of running-around time is making Grace crazy, so that when I take them for a walk in the evening, she’s uncontrollable with energy. It makes walks miserable for both me and Jack, who gets tired of being pulled around when they’re on the double leash. So if the rain holds off, I’m going to see if I can handle taking both pups to the dog park to run off some of the crazy. Wish me luck!

Back to the Fun Yarny Stuff

I am so humbled by the responses I’ve gotten to my last post about my fight with depression. So many people have thanked me and shared similar experiences, and though it saddens me to know that it affects so so many people, I’m encouraged that the more we talk about it, the more we heal and the stigma grows weaker. Thank you to all who liked and commented. You made my heart a little fuller and stronger.

But now I want to go back to a happier topic. I have lots of little knitty things to share. First of all, I’ve got FIVE new hats for my craft show! IMG_3502I’ve decided to add buttons to all of them. I was undecided at first, thinking they might discourage someone from buying one. But as my wise daughter pointed out, there might be someone who would be more inclined to buy it with buttons. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t looked at it that way, but it seems so true to me. The buttons make them stand out, make them more unusual. Sure, my button choice might not be what they would pick, but that’s okay. I only need one person who likes my choice. So now I have lots of buttons to sew on before Friday. Yikes! Friday. I’m a little nervous about this craft show. It’s a bigger two-day show at a popular venue. It should be well-attended, which is great…as long as I can put up an attractive display and a few people like what I’ve made.

Yesterday I got to have breakfast with my sister and nephew, which was delightful, and then we hit the thrift store to see what treasures we could find. I did well: I found a big stash of circular needles for only $2 each. I resisted the urge to BUY ALL THE NEEDLES and just came home with 5 sets. Sadly, in my frenzy I picked up two of the same, so I’ll probably just pass the extra on to my Knitting SIL. No, I probably didn’t NEED any of these, but they’re different lengths and it’s always handy to have a good variety of circs.IMG_3503I also found this gorgeous tote bag that looks kind of like silk. I have a serious tote bag addiction. I tried to resist but my sister encouraged me. “But it’s so pretty!” Yes, yes it is.IMG_3504
See, look at that hot pink lining! How could I resist? Definitely worth the $5.IMG_3505Later, the husband took the afternoon off so we hit a really cool vintage store downtown. I found another big stash of needles, both circs and straights, but this time I was strong and resisted. It helped that they were $4.50. Not a bad price, just not as cheap as $2. The only one I couldn’t resist was a fantastic set of bone knitting needles, hand carved in Nepal.IMG_3506It’s a more unusual size but seriously, how cool are they? They even have their own fabric zip-up pouch. The needles are a bit heavy but I’ll still be on the lookout for a project I can make with them soon.

So there you go, all the knitting stuff that’s made me happy the last couple of days! Now I need the time to actually KNIT.