October?!

And just like that I’ve slipped into October. The nights are cold and the days are warm, but that is about to change. By next Wednesday we are supposed to get snow. That is okay. It is time. I like the seasonal shift. Fall is my favorite season.  There are so many wonderful things this time of year. This is when we shift into the indoor crafting and making season. It is the time when we can spend more time with our family. It is the build up to the holidays.

I enjoy it all. Most of all I enjoy the colors and smells. There is nothing like the smell of the first snow on the rotting leaves. Oh my! Wool sweaters, hats, boots, gloves/mittens, and scarves! Blankets and cozy soups and hot drinks. Those things just are not enjoyable without the cold weather. I would be so sad to live in a warmer area. I have lived in the tropics for a year and it just wasn’t the same.

I know, I have taken a complete detour musing about Fall and not said anything about what Little Hawk Yarns is up to. And yet… That is what Little Hawk Yarns is up to. I am enjoying Fall and Harvest Festivals and getting to actually wear the woolies that I make. I am also knitting class samples, have joined up in a sweater knit along (KAL), and am trying to keep up making. I’ve been dyeing wool with black walnuts and even been making ink for drawing and writing with dip pens. And last but not least I’ve been working on how I can best bring my products to you, my dear customers.

On that note, I have a couple of questions for you (especially if you are in the Western Nebraska Panhandle):

What item do you wish you had at stores in your area? Knitting needles? Yarn? Sewing notions? Knitting notions? Spinning wheels? Fiber for spinning or felting?

How do you prefer to purchase that item? In a store? Online? Or at a craft fair/vendor event?

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Preparations

This is the time of year that all my focus directs toward winter preparations. August slips into September all too quickly and before we know it the snow and the cold descends. My preparations for my home start in August and even in July with the garden and canning its fruits. Then I move into September and it starts to become about my knitting, spinning, holiday fairs, and classes.  I still feel a bit like the squirrel during this late summer time. I am hoarding my nuts for the coming winter. Part of this is that I grew up in the high country with wood heat and horses. This meant all summer was the time to be hauling firewood and putting up hay in preparation for the coming cold season. Even more defining was that my dad’s profession of farrier was seasonal as well so we also saved up money for the coming winter. Everything in my life growing up revolved around preparing for winter.

This has shaped my adult life as well. Those little subtle ways that I never could figure out until the last several years. Why I had that drive to put up tomatoes and applesauce… I still feel anxious if I do not have a stash of firewood despite not heating with wood. I like the feeling I get when I have a stockpile of food, heat source, and wool for the winter.

Now that I have my own business I work this time of year in preparation for the holiday season which runs basically August through January. The type of show or sales event I’m attending dictates how much and what kind of preparation I do. Sometimes it is gathering my resale items like my African Market Baskets and millspun yarns. Other times like now it means making things. Yarn. I am spinning not nearly enough, but I will be changing that shortly. Today is all about pine cones for decorating. I have a beautiful Ponderosa Pine in my front yard. I was a bit grumpy about all the pine cones it was dropping to get in the way of mowing. And then I realized I need to make use of the bounty. I love decorating with pine cones. So, I am cooking them at a low temperature to kill any bugs and open them up and then I will proceed with decoration building. Everything from simply scenting them with cinnamon to building garlands with them. I am still working out details which is just fine because today is simply preparing them to be worked with.

Pine cones. Spinning new yarns to add to the inventory. And dryer balls. I have to make a bunch of wool dryer balls. I have been low on my inventory all summer so now is the time to start working on those again. They are such a popular way to reduce your drying time and stop buying dryer sheets.

Well, it is lunch time so I’d better get that done and out-of-the-way so I can continue making.

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Some of the updates are done!

Yay! I got my Manos del Uruguay yarn lines up on the web page. It didn’t take me forever, but it isn’t exactly as I’d like it either. It is at the point where it is on there and I need to go back in and edit some photos to make them better. I will continue to make small modifications to the pages and get them right.

In the mean time I am also working on spinning, class preparations, and my master knitting swatches. I’m realizing how quickly the time is passing for the master knitting and I have got to get a move on. 17 weeks is my estimated timeline. I have about 15 more swatches to knit so if I knit two a week I should be okay. So long as those don’t need to be re-knit umpteen times. I am enjoying this challenge and it sure is improving my knitting knowledge. Exactly my goal. Someday I want to do this for my spinning as well.

Fall is quickly descending upon us. While this makes me very happy it also means that the produce is taking priority over a lot of my Little Hawk Yarns projects. Yarn will not spoil but the apples sure will. Mostly I am dealing with apples and plums. I have the plum tree and my neighbor has the apple tree. We’ve been trading fruits. I don’t have much of a garden this year since I am having to establish a new one. Next year I will hopefully have plenty of tomatoes and onions, and herbs, and dye plants, and more than I know what to do with.

With projects piling up I’d better get back to the physical world of yarn and fiber. I have several piles of beautiful wool that needs carded up for my upcoming spinning class.

 

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Mental Blocks and Schedule of Events

I’m lacking motivation today. I have a block on writing, creating, even my to-do list isn’t getting made. I seem to have a case of the “don’t wannas.” I wonder what happened. Yesterday was good. I got lots done. Today I got up and just don’t want to do anything. I keep finding myself staring at a screen or off into space.

I find on days like this I need to do the little projects. Update a calendar. Post to social media. Read a book on a technique. Knit a row. Spin an ounce or two of fiber. Write a blog post. Those little things seem to get things rolling. I need to do a web page update. I have so many fun new products that need added. Doing web page updates is shear torture for me though. It is so dang tedious. Every little detail needs to be there. I much prefer the real world tactile experience. I guess that is why I do fiber things.

Oh! I know what I need to tell ya’ll. Fall event schedule. See? I knew there was something specific I needed to talk about on here.

August 25 Friendly Festival, Hay Springs, NE

September 22 Beginning Spinning Ta-Da Quilt Shop, Chadron, NE

September 29 Harvest Festival and Car Show in Gordon, NE

October 6 Easy Peasy Socks, Brown Sheep Fiber Arts Schoolhouse, Mitchell, NE

November 3 Knitting with Short Rows, Brown Sheep Fiber Arts Schoolhouse, Mitchell, NE

November 9 & 10 To be determined…This is an event here in Chadron, NE I’m hoping to get into but I haven’t heard yet.

My Fall schedule is shaping up pretty nicely. So far I’m liking the pace. Now that I’ve got some ideas and a tiny bit of momentum I’d better at least go finish up washing my fleece. I’m on the last rinse on the last batch. Then I just need to wait several days for it to dry. We got cool and damp weather in so wool won’t dry very quickly in that weather.

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Summer…

Where does it go?! My kids go back to school in two days. I still have summer stuff I want to be doing. On the other hand, it sure will be nice to get back into the routine of the school year. I love having the time with my kids but the schedule is so wonky what with camps and travel and visitors. I love that we are able to do that stuff though. It just means I haven’t gotten nearly as much done as I intended. Well, rather I got different things done than I had planned. Isn’t that life though?

I did get some things done. I’m knee-deep in reworking my business plan(s). I’m working on comparing routes I can take so that is taking a little longer than if I were writing one plan. I am taking the plunge with an email newsletter. If you would like to be on that list you can sign up here . 

I have also been getting classes lined up and planned out. I have three classes set up for this Fall and a couple of events to do. The classes are not quite confirmed on spaces yet so I won’t publish registration information just yet. That will come this week or next I’m hoping.

I just bought a couple of fleeces today. Add that to my to-do list. They are very nice Columbia fleeces from a fellow in the area. I may have more fleeces than I know what to do with come spring time. I have a little bit of one soaking as I write this so I can give it a good sample this week. I do love my Unicorn Power Scour for this kind of job.

Let’s see… the main things I’m focusing on this week are cleaning my office (I’m still sorting and organizing from moving), cleaning wool, spinning yarn (I’m super low on handspun), getting my email newsletter written and automated, trying to get my social media sights to do what I want them to do (not just what the automatic stuff thinks I want it to do), and get my kids back into the school routine. That should take care of this week shouldn’t it?

Not to mention I have two sock knitting projects going as I’m testing additional patterns for my sock class in October. I’m working on getting my homework done, albeit slowly, for my master hand knitter certification, and making sure the classes I’m planning are organized enough to put into my teaching book for that certification. All fun stuff but a lot of different irons in the fire.

I’d better go check on that bit of wool. It will be time to put it through another wash.

 

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The re-building and re-vamping continues. I have been so crazy for the last two years that this last six months of having moved and slowing things down has been strange. I’m working on a whole new normal. I’m re-learning to work at home with the kids around. It can be a bit wonky to sort schedules and get into a routine. We are getting there, but it hasn’t been an easy thing to figure out.

What is the cliche? All good things take time. Something like that anyway. I’m making some steady small changes. I’m working on a couple of different models for my business. I haven’t decided how I want to do things for sure. I have some options, but I’m trying to predict which will be best for my business and family.

Some options are to re-establish a brick and mortar store, take it on the road and do fiber fairs around the country, or do some sort of combination or seasonal store. I may be leaning toward a brick and mortar store. I like not having to set-up and tear down my stuff every time. On the other hand, I like to travel and I like going where the fiber people are.

Honestly, it will likely come down to numbers. Money numbers. It usually does come down to that.

All right, I’m off to pick up a kid, and crunch some numbers…

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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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