Assessing

As summer approaches I am fast hitting that time of year where I have my busy season. It goes against all the traditional advice that the winter season is a yarn shop’s busy season. But I live in a rural area where a good portion of my customers are the summer tourists. Between that and having just moved I am re-assessing my business plan and schedule.

I no longer currently have a brick and mortar location. I’m looking for a location at the moment but locations are limited; as are funds.  I have several plans in work for a store, but I feel some reluctance to actually put them into play. The way festival/fiber fair schedules work I’m past dates to apply to be vendors for most of the fairs around during 2018. Amazing isn’t it? Early in the year and already dates are past for this year. I am starting to compile a list of where I want to be in 2019 so I can get vendor applications done.

There are a lot of unknowns for me at the moment. I am making. And that is wonderful to get back to. That said, I feel the pressure from myself to keep my business going and viable. I have several goals for my business:

  1. Get organized. Having my space in turmoil from moving is driving me crazy.
  2. Get my knitting instructor certification. I’m working on this but it takes time.
  3. Get my master knitting certificate. Again, in work but takes time.
  4. Teach several classes to get more people knitting and spinning. It is a wonderful thing to get more people involved in fiber arts.
  5. Re-open a storefront. I miss my little shop.
  6. Don’t go work for someone else. While I enjoyed having extra income, I did not enjoy having to give so much of my time to someone else.
  7. Expand the items I carry in my store to include more items I make.

This are just the beginning. I have other things I want to be able to do. I am really enjoying being available for my kids. I want to be able to continue to have the family time that I have found myself with all of a sudden.

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I’ve got my schedule a bit more nailed down. June 2nd I will be teaching a knitting class: Short-row Technique. I’ll do this at the Brown Sheep Fiber Arts Schoolhouse. I’m very excited about that. The next weekend on June 9th I’m doing the vendor event I was debating. With everything else going on I need to get some income flowing again if I ever want this endeavor to succeed. That vendor event will be at Fort Robinson State Park. I’m glad it is there since I’ve wanted to go for quite some time now, but have never made it in there.

I’ve also applied to be a part of our local event in July call Fur Trade Days. My new town has a big week long celebration of the fur trade days. I will see if this is a well attended event or not. It looks like it should be decent.

I have a crazy family schedule during June. I’m not sure I’ll get much more beyond the two events I mentioned above. I’m hoping to do more teaching in the fall and into the winter as well. I am planning on doing most of my winter teaching up here though so I don’t have to travel while the roads are bad.

I have new projects in the works as well. They are big enough they warrant a whole post of their own.

 

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Holy mackerel the summer fills up fast! I’m laying out teaching and event schedules and before I know it I’m into October solidly with a few events planned for 2019. How does that happen?! People who don’t want to schedule things until last minute… It is never going to happen. Between my business, kids, and family I pretty well have my next year scheduled out and then some. Whew!

While I love having it all planned out the planning can kind of stress me out too. I’d prefer to let things progress at a leisurely pace, but if I actually want to do some of the things I have to put them on the calendar well in advance. My area is notorious for having multiple events happen on a weekend so I have to decide what I’m going to do well ahead of time.

Take the second weekend in June. There is a 10K I want to run, a vendor event, and the standard knitting club meeting at the local library. There are conflicting times and many miles between them all. There is just no way to be in that many places at once. So, I have to decide which thing I need to do the most. Honestly, knitting club won’t happen for me that day, but I have yet to decide whether to run or do the event for my business. A smart business woman would do the event. But sometimes that business woman would like to have a Saturday to run and clear her head.

Ah well… I will continue tweaking the schedule and updating as I go along. Boulevard shoppes 2

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Master Knitting and Teaching Certification

I’m finding out how much I don’t know about knitting. Oh, I know I’m a beginner. I decided to jump into this TKGA Master Knitting course and a Teaching certificate from them to better my knitting. This is great on one hand; on the other it is kicking my hind end and tying my brain in knots. I am re-learning how to research things and to write papers. That is one of the things doing my head in.

Then, there are the different questions, patterns, and swatches to be knit. Talk about a challenge! I’m loving it!! I have discovered over the last year or so that I apparently get bored while knitting something easy. Some of the easiest projects take me forever because I just don’t want to work on them. Now, if it is a challenge then I knit on them often because I’m trying to figure things out. So these certificates are a way of staying challenged.

I suppose I should back up a little. TKGA= The knitting guild of America They have a Master Knitter program that has 3 levels to it. You get 1 year to complete level 1. 18 months to complete level 2 and 2 years to complete level 3. I’m at the level 1 stage. I do not know if I will go on from here. I really don’t have aspirations of designing knit patterns. I simply want to improve my knitting.

In addition to the Master program the TKGA started a teaching certificate program. This one I am determined to complete. I would like to start teaching knitting classes and the research and questions and planning within this program is a great place to get those classes lined out. Several of the exercises are exactly the classes I want to teach. Some are not exactly, but are great for stretching my skills and abilities. So far, this is actually the program that is driving me the maddest. There are a couple of the questions that I am struggling with. It will come and I’m learning loads, but it is a struggle. It is actually reminding me a little bit of being in my high school physics class. I had a teacher that didn’t really teach so I had to study and learn it on my own. Interesting, but challenging and some days lots of hair gets pulled out.

I’d better get back to trying to sort some of this out…

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To-do list is never-ending

Finally getting some things checked off of that never-ending to-do list. I got some of my web page updated. Check it out at www.littlehawkyarns.com. Of course give me a holler if you have issues with something. My web person did a great job setting it up but then he lost steam so I’m learning how to do this on my own. I might be upset if I were actually paying him, but since I’m not, and he’s my husband I don’t mind having to take over. He did all the little detail stuff to start with that I dislike doing. Now it is more of a maintain and update. That I can do. There are some tricks to it that I’m learning as I go along. I like learning new things so it works well.

What else…? I’m done with my dryer ball order and just have to arrange delivery. The April snow hasn’t helped with that. Friday and most of Saturday all of Western Nebraska was shut down by a blizzard. I bet we got close to 10 inches of snow along with the wind. That meant no visibility and treacherous roads. I was glad we didn’t try to go anywhere. I’ll have to work on the delivery arrangements for my dryer balls for a day that isn’t predicted to snow. And if all else fails I’ll ship them. For now though we think we can get someone either to me or me to the person who ordered them.

I’m slowly getting my summer schedule worked out too. Not sure how that is going to look with being in a new area. I’m working on finding several shows through the summer that are near me and then I’ll plan the further shows for the following spring and summer.  This means I need to get my truck fixed up and probably need to find an enclosed trailer to haul my stuff in.  I like travelling for things but I will have to do some careful consideration to see which shows will be best for my business. Mainly, not too costly. I could pretty quickly rack up some serious miles and charges for hotel rooms. I know how I would keep those costs down if I don’t have my kids travel with me, but if they travel with me I may modify things a bit. I’m playing with several ideas but have not come to any conclusions.

Now, since Monday has hit with a bit of a vengeance I think I’d better try to knock some more projects off my list. I feel a bit like I can’t get cracking today. I had a lot better luck over the weekend.

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Musings when I lack motivation…

Some days I just don’t want to… Today is one of those. Not sure who took my motivation. I could sure use it though. I have plenty that needs to get done and zero motivation to do it. We all have those days I’m sure. I did manage a run, a shower, and to do the dishes. That is about all I’ve truly managed to get accomplished today. So, why do I tell you this on my yarn/business blog? Well, because… We all have those days that we fall into a bit of a funk.

I think mine is due to the fact that I finished a knitting project and a sewing project and am almost done with a big order of dryer balls (I think I have two more to make). All of that has been kind of a big push to get through and all of a sudden it is ended. I don’t have any major projects lined up yet and I’m putting off the nitty-gritty details of running my business. Spreadsheets. I need them. I love having them once they are built. But reorganizing at the beginning of a new year is a pain. Yes, I know we are into April and I am just now talking about this. I don’t really talk about that aspect of this business. It is a lot more fun to talk about yarn, fiber, and other projects. Don’t you agree. So, I’m going to pretend I don’t need to sit down and work on my bookkeeping spreadsheets. Shhhh… Don’t tell I’m avoiding them.

I’m finding myself very indecisive regarding my next knitting project. I have several things I need to tackle but I’m arguing with myself about yarns and patterns.

Projects on the horizon:

  • Baby sweater (still have to find the right unisex pattern and the right yarn)
  • Carbeth (yes, I’m going to jump on this bandwagon) Cardigan
  • Blocking Report for master knitting course
  • Book reviews for teaching certificate
  • Swatches for master knitting
  • Sewing pants (well, finding a pattern I like first)
  • Several small knits for a beginner knitting class that I’m building
  • Breaking in the new shop model of a Schacht Sidekick travel spinning wheel
  • Sewing some baby blankets and burp clothes for a friend

Well, I don’t know about you but now I feel a little better about things now that they are sort of laid out. And of course now it is just about time to go pick up my kids from school. At least with swimming lessons today that should give me a good chance to lay things out in my notebook and get a good plan for the next day or so. We are predicted to get slammed with a blizzard. Weird to say that despite sitting here in shorts and having the temperature be almost in the 70’s today. My phone just buzzed with a weather warning that we are to get 10 inches in the next 24 hours. We shall see…

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Thoughts on a snowy day

It is supposedly springtime. Nebraska hasn’t gotten the memo yet. We got a solid 4 inches of snow last night and at 10 a.m. it has just stopped snowing. This after being almost 60 degrees F yesterday at lunch time.

The snow means I have an excuse to be inside and working on things for Little Hawk Yarns. Although, I’m not in my actual office/studio because in putting in a new outlet somehow my husband took the power away from all the other outlets in the basement. We haven’t chased it down yet. Honestly it makes no sense because of how the power should be flowing… That is a whole other story though so I won’t get into electrical troubleshooting here. What it boils down to is that I don’t have light in my area, or power for my computer, or for my sewing machine, or anything else that plugs in.

I normally like to put something on Netflix on my computer and get to work either spinning, knitting, sewing, or making dryer balls. That isn’t happening at the moment. I’m glad I have a laptop. I brought it upstairs so I can take care of the emails and my blog. Later I’ll have to bring up dryer ball supplies because I have a big order of those to take care of.

I’m in the process of getting a summer schedule lined out. Fiber fairs close to me are few and far between. Trying to decide what will be the best possible venues within reasonable travel distances. Unsure at this point.

In addition to scheduling for my business I’m working on plans of making my wardrobe. I’ve been fascinated by the Slow Fashion movement for some time now. I finally have a little better sewing machine so I can add to sewn garments, not just knitted ones. Also, I have two more sewing machines coming to me. One is an old treadle machine from the early 1900’s and the other is a Singer Industrial machine from about the 1960’s. Not sure if the treadle machine is still completely functional. My mom, who is giving me the machines, thinks there was something wrong with it when it got put into storage, but she can’t remember what that was. Now I get to put my mechanic skills to work on this.

So why have I decided to do this Slow Fashion? Because it makes no sense for me as a maker to buy my clothes from the big box stores that in all likelihood are using underpaid people to make their clothes and although they are inexpensive monetarily it seems they are costing us dearly in the long run. In many ways that I’m not prepared to discuss at the moment.

I’m continuously having to replace clothing that isn’t that old. Jeans are next to impossible to keep intact for long. I don’t mind repairing jeans, but they generally aren’t made of good enough material to warrant repair. Plus, most of the clothing doesn’t fit well. It is made for mannequins and I am not that shape. And, in order to purchase the type of clothing I’d really like to own I would need to be rich, or sew my own. So, I am going to learn to sew garments.

Will it be inexpensive to do so? Nope. Fabric is not cheap, especially good quality fabric. But as a maker and supporter of small producers I am willing to spend a bit more and get exactly what I want. No, I won’t pony up big bucks right away. I will buy muslin fabric to start with while I find the patterns that will work for me. Eventually I will buy the nice linens and denim I want.

I suppose this all ties into my store in that I cannot bring myself to just go along with the norm of buying cheap everything all the time. I like high quality tools, garments, and yarns. I want to reflect that in my everyday life in addition to the lines I carry in my store.

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