Sunday, February 27, 2011

Banner completion

I finally took the plunge and created a real banner for my Etsy shop.  I added pictures of the yarn, fiber we sell along with the photo of Zoelenna on a nice brown background.  The GIMP software tonight just flowed for me far better than my first attempt.  I am so proud of my computer progress in this area - a little bit at a time.  I also did fiber/tool shopping this week and the items have arrived.  I ordered custom gift tags with my shop name, a leather leg protector for prepping fiber and some fiber from a Ravelry friend destashing for a move.  I came across another lady on Ravelry looking for yarn for kids to learn how to knit with and will be shipping some of my acrylic based yarns to them for projects. It is nice to find a home for the acrylic based stuff.  My last purchase for the week was a spinning DVD which has been very helpful in actually seeing worsted from woolen prep styles along with their hybrids.  It also discussed what fibers to use for each style for different types of projects.

alpaca scarf
I spun up the mohair purchased last year and think I will ply it with some wool white top I have as it has so many colors in it.  Washed some hand spun skeins so that I can start knitting and selling them.  Decided to make a knit scarf with a woven pattern out of the alpaca worsted weight yarn I have.  I must admit that I do really like the woven texture and am enjoying the patten even though it only consists of 2 rows repeated throughout the project (pictured on the right).

I am 3 rows shy of completing my petroglyph scarf as I ran out of yarn.  I suppose I should start spinning up the remaining fiber just so that it can be completed, cleaned and blocked.  I have too many choices of things to spin on the wheel - yikes!

I am going to start on the mitten order this week along with working on the scarf. That is only 3 projects needles at this point.  Still tossing around ideas for headbands for the small amounts of yarn I have in my stash.  Of course I could just take photos of them and try to trade/sell them on Ravelry for fiber.  It could be more of a viable option than selling them on Etsy as they have such limited yardage. 

Although there haven't been sales in the shop for February we certainly improved in our marketing presence.  The yarns and some fiber have been featured in a few treasuries and actually received some nice comments on the FB page too.  Posting new pics of the fingerless mitts on Etsty today and will try to get the beret listed on there too.  I can't wait to see the roving from the llama in March.  It has been a busy and good week and March will be filled with more spinning, mill processing and knit designed projects for me.  Back to knitting the scarf.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fiber Mill adventure

Well I did make it to the mill on Saturday eventhough my bronchitis did not appreciate the journey.  I took a tour of the entire operations from washing the fleeces, to drying, picking, carding and finally creating yarn from them.  Learned not to care so much about keeping the lock formation of the fleeces being sent to the mill but concentrate on shaking out the dirt and checking that the length is uniform. 

I brought the black Llama fleece I purchased as an example and Andrew (Spring Too Fiber Mill) helped me choose the fiber to add to it (soy silk) and what percentage to add (10%).  I choose this fleece for its softness which one doesn't generally associate with Llama fibers.  We talked about the strength of the fibers as it relates to textile processes and some of the benefits of combining different fibers together to complement/enhance one another.  So in about a month I will get a roving made from the black llama fleece with white soy silk spread throughout it.  Having spun up a similar type of roving I am anxious to see how mine will turn out.  Within the next year I will need to take some fiber sorting classes to aid in choosing fleeces and help me improve the material I will be offering for resale on Etsy. 

My March goal is to research fiber combinations (alpaca/wool; alpaca/bamboo) and learn the pros and cons of blending fibers and for what use.  It was an educational day and well worth the drive.  I am excited to see the end results of the raw fiber I will send to the mill this spring.  I'll be sure to post pictures so that others can share in the journey.

Sunday was my day of spinning yarn.  I spun up the red roving into yarn for the fingerless mittens order and plied my pretty bluish/red roving which turned out to be more purple/red (see pics below).  You can see a picture of the actual roving in my Flickr album.  It was a productive weekend, one filled with rest and minimal human interaction which are always a treat for me.

Colors came through
better here

Friday, February 18, 2011

New order

I met up with a dear friend a few weeks ago for drinks.  Told her about the Etsy shop and gave her my business card all while enduring her looks of "I can't believe you publicly admit to knitting".  Today she sent me an email to say that she checked out my shop and wants to order a pair of custom gloves for herself.   I get to spin up the red wool top that I have had for a long time and make them into a gloves for a dear friend.  This has been my little ray of sunshine on a week of illness.  Docs say I now have bronchitis but I am still plugging away.  It is true what they say about marketing yourself at every opportunity for you never now when it could lead to a sale and promotion of your work.

I took the rovings from ATAR and made them into 1 and 2 oz balls; taking pics this weekend to update the listing.  Considering creating a shop on Artfire too!  Have to do more research but it is all about exposure.  I spun up and plied the bluish red roving which has turned out nicely too.  Pics to come soon.  Still plugging away on the scarf made from the petroglyph handspun yarn.  I am 3/4 done with it.  I had the shop critiqued by a none fiber artist who made some good observations.  The tough question for me to answer is "why should I buy from you versus so and so".  I love my creations and have received complements on my work but it is hard to compare my work to another.  My love for alpaca fiber along with wool, angora, silk and mohair is hard to explain but I know from a business standpoint I need answers to drive sales and capture the interest of others.

Visiting the mill in Kiowa, CO tomorrow to learn about their operations and how to best use their services to increase sales on Etsy.  For most of the weekend I will be taking it easy and letting the meds hopefully start to kick in.  Thank goodness I love to spin fiber as it doesn't take a lot of energy or thought and is quite meditative in its nature.  I should have quite a bit of hand spun yarn created by the end of the month.  Shearings occur in May so I still have a few months to reduce my stash to stock up with new fiber - Is it ever possible to have too much fiber?  I don't think so as long as the moths don't get to it. 

Will hopefully spend time coming up with answers to the "why buy from you" question this weekend too.  The shop and my creations are a work in progress and baby steps are sometimes necessary so that one doesn't fold or get defeated.  After all I have a full time job which carries enough issues and my crafts release the creative/nurturing aspects of my personality.  For me money has never been nor will ever be the driving force of my life.  Helping others and creating a spark in them to discover their God given talents has always been appealing to me.  I am fortunate to have a mom who loves crafts of all kinds and passed this trait onto me.  God brought the alpaca community into my life at a time when I needed to reminded that not everyone works to build a mass of wealth but aid in the community.  If you ever have a chance to visit an alpaca or llama ranch I highly advise it.  The animals are not only beautiful but the owners tend to be welcoming, friendly sorts of people.  They love to talk about the animals and their lifestyle and overall are very giving people.  I may need to visit a ranch soon to re balance myself - well have a great weekend!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Alpaca Fiber mission

Well I have done my research and spoken with a local rancher and alas alpaca ownership is not in my near future.  As I do love their fiber my goal (business plan) is to focus on fiber sales.  I am preparing to purchase several fleeces this year and send lots away to be processed for resale on my Etsy shop.  Of course I may keep a fleece or two for my handspinning needs but this is far more practical and economical for someone who doesn't really want to live on a ranch. 

My goal for March is to learn how to crochet as it is much faster than knitting.  Looking forward to getting together with the local knitting group on Sunday (let's hope my health continues to improve).  On Saturday I will be looking at fleeces at ATAR in Arvada, CO and seeing which color schemes and softness grab my attention.  Hoping the mill in Elizabeth opens soon so I can send items to be processed. 

Took lots of pictures of my handspun yarn and the completed gloves which need to be uploaded onto the Flickr site, Ravelry site and into Etsy for sale (some of them).  The headband is coming along and yes I have fiber on my wheel.  I have so missed spinning fiber it is a wool dyed roving in subtle shades of purple, blue and red.  Once I get the pictures loaded I will add them to the post for everyone to see.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Project finished

The one good thing about being ill is one has time to work on knitting projects between sleeping.  The mittens have been completed and are being cleaned at this moment.  I will take photos soon to post here and on Ravelry.  I am quite proud of them now that they are done and it was a good stretch of my skill set.  My next project is making headbands from some of my small quantities of yarn.  My first one is with gray handspun yarn of mine from a wool roving created in the early days as it is thick yarn.  The goal is to experiment with different types of joining (seamed and button).  I am using a moss stitch as the design. 

I have somehow lost the photos of all of the handspun I was going to post on Etsy. So this weekend is picture time again.  I used my Microsoft Digital Image Editor to alter the size of alpaca photos and was able to post them to Etsy this week - yeah!  It is good to have options on picture software.  The blog has been jazzed up a bit too with links to my Flickr photos and I found a cool app for the Etsy shop which is to the left.  I saw another bloggers Facebook page on their site but still can't figure out how to get the actual image to appear on my blog.  Perhaps I will write them for advice. 

Well I am off to bed and then to the doc to see what's wrong with me but I am glad to have finished the special order.


Fingerless mittens


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Alpacas & spinning

I have been given the opportunity to purchase a baby alpaca by the fall.  He is 6 months old and was rescued along with his mom a few weeks ago.  I have spent a great deal of the past week researching being a fiber rancher boarding on someone else's property.  From the purchasing standpoint it is financially feasible.  Still need to research the tax implications and vet costs for maintaining the animals (gelding males). 

I made design improvements in the 2nd mitten so I am now remaking the 1st.  They should both be ready for delivery by Friday.  I am looking forward to getting back to spinning yarn.  It does truly relax me and I also purchased a baby Llama fleece last weekend.  It is so soft and is black in color.  In March, the plan is to ship my bag of 2nd fleece and the tan cria fleece to the mill in Elizabeth, CO for processing.  The 2nds will be made into clouds and the cria fleece into roving.

I opened up a business checking account last week and purchased 2 showcase spots on Etsy for this upcoming week.  Still have to load the pictures of the handspun and work out why the photos of the alpacas are not cropping correctly.  Overall the past 2 months have had positive challenges and experiences and I am looking forward to the additional challenges (business wise) of 2011.