Winter Wine & Wool 2012

My first show of 2012 is in the books. The first Winter Wine and Wool at the Sandhill Crane Vineyards was on Saturday and it was a fabulous day! I was a little worried when Sassy and I got in the truck – it was gray and snowy and my heart kind of sank. I thought “everyone will stay home today and we’re driving through this mess and no one will show up”. (For the record, this is always what spins through my head on show day – I turn into Eeyore.)
What happened was so much better than I expected. It was the first time Heather has set up a Winter show. I’ve participated in the last 2 summer shows at the vineyard and they were a lot of fun and quite successful. All of the vendors were inside the big building (I think there were 10 of us) and the colors were amazing!
This is a shot of me and Andrea Morrison of Wonder Why Alpaca Farm. We were back-to-back last summer and had fun. This time we put our chairs right next to each other so we could chat without having to shout across the booths. We could tag-team customers so when I was busy, she would spin and when she was busy, I would spin.This shot was from very early in the day and people were just starting to wander in and look around.
I was a little concerned about putting the table right next to the light – I didn’t want to completely block it out. Turns out the snow threw a lot of reflection and people could see my colors just fine. I got comments about my socks, the sample hat Jillian designed and knit for me, and lots of questions about spinning. Turns out wine drinkers are a very curious group.
Best of all, I hit my goal in sales. I also got some great ideas for displaying my wares at upcoming shows.
Next up, The Winter Fleece Fair in Chelsea on February 18.

Day 13: Knitty

Do you read the Knitty blog? Do you know what Knitty is? Let’s start there. It’s the longest running ezine for knitters. Free patterns, wonderful columns, and a great review of all things fiber. My friend Amy is the founding editor and my friend Jillian is the editor of KnittySpin (Knitty’s sister publication) and the glue that keeps it all together.
There’s also a Knitty blog where Amy, Jillian, and Kate (editorial assistant) take turns posting about their fiber adventures and today, Jillian wrote about me. Go read the post here. It’s true, every word. 
Frequently I get a text or a phone call that starts with “Do you want to…”. I’ve said for years that there are 2 people I would willingly go anywhere they asked and pretty much do anything they asked me to do – Jillian is one of them. So it’s no surprise that I would have the missing pieces of her stash. 
When I got the text from her, I knew exactly where the bag of fiber was – I could picture it on my shelf in the fiber room. It was pretty gratifying to walk into that room on Saturday, see the bag, and actually lay my hands on it within a minute of walking into the room. Also, there’s the superhero aspect of it…

One more story about how we are fiber symbiosis at its best. We were at The Spinning Loft on Saturday and were piling up bunches of fiber for consideration. She threw a gorgeous hank at me, but I decided it didn’t work with what I had going and set it aside. She picked it up and put it in her own pile. Anyone want to take bets that at some future point I will be looking for “something” to finish off a project I have going and she’s going to say, “Wait a minute…” and come up with that hank?

Day 10: Future Creativity

I was Jillian’s second today, Uhura to her Kirk. We tripped over to the west side of the state to pick up a loom she had loaned to a friend and drop it off to another friend. As expected, we had lots to talk about. 


Earlier this week I received the e-mail that let me know I’m officially accepted as a vendor at Fiber Expo 2012. There’s lots to do between now and then. Jillian told me I needed a plan…here’s the beginnings of it:




This week, I will be

  1. ordering a sign with my logo on it
  2. placing an order for fiber and yarn (including any new base fibers needed)



By the end of 2011, I will have

  1. finished my financial statements for my accountant
  2. a spreadsheet that tells me what I sold at each of the fiber shows I did in 2011
  3. a list of colors that will always appear in my shop/at shoes
  4. an idea of limited edition and one-of-a-kind colors



By the end of January 2012, I will have

  1. all the fiber and yarn up on Etsy
  2. a booth plan
  3. table coverings
  4. display materials
  5. pattern support for the yarn (hat, mittens, shawl)



We also laughed a lot and I got some knitting done. It was an absolutely gorgeous day to be driving around gray, wintery Michigan. I finished my holiday shopping (stocking stuffers) and even managed to pick up a couple of things for myself. 


Jillian always knows when I need a kick in the pants and she never kicks me when she knows I can’t take it. She tells me things that I sometimes don’t want to hear, but really need to. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is the very best kind of friend to have. 

Day 9: Friday Roundup

Gratuitous fiber shot

Hmmm, it doesn’t seem like I’ve done much creatively this week. I am slowly getting pictures of fiber up into Etsy. Not very creative, but the photos are fabulous and it makes me feel better about having all this stuff around the house.

I am plugging along on the stocking. I will be turning the heel this weekend and that means I’m in the home stretch. Not much sense posting a picture – it’s a striped stocking, there isn’t much to see.

Tomorrow, I’ll be making a trip to the other side of the state to pick up a friend’s loom. What I’m looking forward to is the road trip. She’s driving, so I’ll be able to knit and we’ll talk about everything under the sun. I’m hoping to get some insight about my work for pay life from her. She’s a great life coach.

I think I need to clean off the table (covered with fiber) in order to be more productive (read: creative) next week. Sounds like a weekend project to me.

Day 2: Friday Roundup

Friday is going to be the roundup day for creativity. I’ll revisit anything I’ve done during the week and provide any updates as well as look forward to what I’ll be doing next week. I managed to snag the work camera and wow! I had forgotten what a great camera can do. The ease of taking these fabulous pictures made my head swim. I think my search for a new camera is at an end – I want one of these! (Nikon D5000)

Re-pourposed stocking

As it turns out, I could not rip out the beginnings of the stocking. I looked at it and looked at it and couldn’t bring myself to pull out the needles and waste all of that effort. I channeled my knit friend Erica and said – “Hey, it’s big enough for a hat!” So I bound off, wove in the ends, and pulled it on. It’s a bit snug for me, but I’m a pumpkin head. I think I’ll throw a couple of tassels on the points and shop it around. If it fits and someone likes it, it’s theirs.



Stocking 2.0

I cast on again (with about 30 fewer stitches) and came up with this. It’s a lovely start and I’m sure I’ll be able to finish this in plenty of time for Christmas. I thought the stripes were a little small for the scale of the piece, so I increased those as well. In the hat, the stripes are 5 of the dark green, and 3 of the other 2 colors. In the new version, I went with 7 of the dark green and 5 of the others. There isn’t much to see here, yet, but I already like them better.





Lynne Vogel Ltd top (2 different colorways)

I also wanted to share a skein of yarn that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. It’s really gorgeous and while it doesn’t technically fit into creativity this week, I’m still in love with it. If you’re a spinner and don’t know who Lynne Vogel is – go find out! Her etsy shop (here) is lovely and filled with wonderful patterns. She doesn’t dye much anymore, but when you can catch whatever she’s dyed, consider yourself lucky! She also consults with Three Waters Farms to work on colors and occasionally, you can find some of her colors there. (Again, no affiliation with either of these shops, except that Lynne is my friend and there’s that fabulous indie artist thing that I live by.)


Anyway, this picture is a better representation of the colors of this wonderful skein of yarn. I love it!




Up next week: ATC 

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with these fish cards, but they will be used next week in conjunction with the artist trading cards I have. There will be mod podge, watercolor crayons and pencils, and funky paper. Stay tuned.

Cool Project

I just came back from a meeting with 2 really cool women who have a great idea for a project. I can’t tell you much, but it involves fiber and the great outdoors. I’m incredibly excited to be working with these women and I’m hopeful that we can pick up some interest from the other great women I know.

I will be documenting my process – just in case anyone is interested after the fact. I always find it fascinating to see other artists’ process. How they come up with ideas, how they work to make them happen, as well as the finished product.

I’m so excited!

Edited to add:
I was awake at 3:00 this morning thinking about embellishments to add to my project. I had to get out of bed to make a drawing and jot down everything I was thinking!

Fiber Festivals 2012

Here’s the list of festivals I want to do next year:
January 28
Winter Wine & Wool, Jackson, Michigan
May 19
Michigan Fiber Fiesta, Greenville, Michigan
July 28-29
Castle Farms Fiber Festival, Charlevoix, Michigan
August 17-19
Michigan Fiber Festival, Allegan, Michigan
September 29-30
Northern Michigan Lamb & Wool, West Branch, Michigan
October 27-28
Fiber Expo, Ann Arbor, Michigan

I’ve applied and been accepted to Winter Wine & Wool and Northern Michigan. I will be applying before the end of the year to every place else. Castle Farms is already wait listing vendors so I’ll be hoping someone has to back out of their commitment for that one.

It’s an ambitious list. I’m hopeful that if I commit early, I’ll gain momentum. Next up, signage.

Art in the Park

I’ve done this show since its beginning. My friend Kate Kehoe organizes it and the table fee is basically a fund raiser for the senior center where the show is held. She does one in the fall and one in the spring. Every show I wait and wait to see if I want to spend the table fee to get myself in. Every time I miss the deadline and Kate drops me an e-mail, “Are you interested? You’ve got a table if you want one!” So I send in my table fee. My proceeds from the spring show barely covered the table fee and gas to get over there (it’s about 40 minutes from my house). 


With a sense of impending doom this morning, I got the girls up, we packed the car, and drove over there. We were an hour early – for some reason I thought it started at 10! We drank some bad hot chocolate and ate some bad donuts and muffins to kill a little time before we could set up. I was annoyed and irritated at every little thing and I think it was because we had done all this work and I wasn’t expecting anything from the show. I always say, “even if it’s a bad show, I get to spin for a whole day, uninterrupted and that’s good enough”. But if I’m honest with myself, it’s not enough. The time spent to dye and package all my wares, hauling it all over and setting up a booth in addition to smiling and being pleasant for an entire day is kind of a lot of work. Pleasant isn’t really my nature and I’m quite solitary so making small talk (with other vendors as well as customers) is hard for me. 


Turns out, it was worth it. I took Erica’s advice and made sure to greet everyone and actually talk to them. I looked for something to compliment (great sweaters, cool boots, interesting necklace), asked if they were knitters and/or spinners, told them they couldn’t just look – they had to touch, etc. It was fun – if I can make a sort of game out of it I enjoy it a lot more. Now, while my fellow vendors were my best customers, I did manage to sell a couple of skeins of handspun and that ALWAYS makes me happy. I managed to make back the booth fee, buy a tank of gas, and have $$ left over!


I do like doing this show. It’s in a very supportive neighborhood, my sister always brings me a latte, and the other vendors are amazing. However, this is one of the shows that I have to think about really hard for 2012. Is it really worth my time and effort if I’m aiming to do larger shows? I love supporting Kate and the seniors, but how valuable is it for me?

Fiber Shows

I’ve been doing a couple of small shows for the last couple of years. I didn’t start dyeing because I’d make a lot of money. I started dyeing because I love the colors, so small shows have suited me fine. As long as I made my costs back, I was happy.

 This last August I did what was recommended as a good show. It wasn’t. Something good did come out of it, however. It was a multi-day show and I asked a friend to come and booth sit with me. She’s a graphic artist and works in marketing. As the show was slow, we had a lot of time to chat. She gave me tons to think about regarding future shows, marketing, what my booth looks like, and how I react to customers.

 Here’s the tip of the iceberg of what I need ASAP:

  1. Signage (seriously – I have no signs) 
  2. Table coverings that match (and don’t look like I got them from a flea market) 
  3. A booth layout (a designed plan for a 10×10 space) 
  4. A show plan that includes how many and which shows I want to do 
  5. An inventory plan (including fiber bases and colorways) 

 Future needs include:

  1. A long term business plan 
  2. New camera to take better pictures 

Some of these things will be easy (and even fun) to do. Others will require some soul searching and hard work. I think I’m ready for it. Nothing makes me happier than splashing dye, except maybe when people come to my booth especially to show me what they’ve made from the fiber they bought last time. That’s great fun!

(Is anyone else having trouble with Blogger these days? It’s being very wonky and not letting me format on a consistent basis.)