In Defense of Hand Crafted Prices

Hello my magical friends. Welcome back!

I hope you have all had a lovely holiday season and that we are all looking forward to a new year!

By now I’m sure everyone has resolved to go on a diet – and I don’t mean to lose weight (because screw that). You yarny people know what I’m talking about. It’s the “yarn diet.” The “I’m going to stop buying yarn just because its pretty and use what I already have in my stash.” Yep, sure you are.

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Gretel with Lemongrass

Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re on budget (like me) then a yarn diet is totally understandable. After all hand dyed and hand painted yarns are of a much higher price that what you can buy in a big box store. But if you have disposable income and enjoy being the curator of your own yarn installation (again, me), then I say buy the yarn!

When you buy the yarn, indie dyers and makers like me do a happy dance! We also immediately afterwards have a panic attack about whether or not you will love or hate the yarn, but that’s for another entry. What I want to focus on this time around is the why indie dyers do a happy dance – and why those hand dyed and hand painted prices are as high as they are.

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Deceivingly Delicate

Some of us can guess the basics of the costs that go into a yarn dyeing enterprise. Materials of course: yarn, dye powder, mordant, water (lots of water), pots and trays, towels and utensils specifically for dyeing, even expensive spin dryers and warping mills for those who have the budget for a more extensive operation. These things all add up and to start a yarn dyeing business you almost need a small business loan. Or if you’re me, you just slowly build over the course of a year or so. And I still don’t have the expensive spin dryer, although my aunt’s salad spinner works like a charm!

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The First Hard Freeze

Beyond the materials, naturally, is the time and effort to create your art. Dyeing yarn is labor intensive. At my best in dye mode, I’ve been able to dye 20 skeins in about 4.5 hours. Which really, that’s not a lot considering how much some bigger dyers are able to kick out at a time. But more than the time and effort for just creating your art, you have to market and sell it.

This is where I think some people don’t realize how involved it is to be an indie dyer, very especially when you want it to be a significant source of income (I’m not there yet, but I love each and every customer who helps me climb that ladder). If you want to sell your yarn art, Etsy is definitely a big place to do it – it’s where I do it! See my Sisteresque Fibers shop here.

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An Un-Love Spell

Now Etsy is a great tool for makers. They have a lot of tools and options available for listing, advertising and shipping your items. This is great, but remember, makers still need to create each listing for each item, which of itself is difficult. We need to include as much information for your customers as possible while still being appealing. We need to have exceptional photographs of our items, with good lighting and background. Most of us makers don’t have a copy writer to come up with brilliant descriptions, we don’t have an IT person to list our items and make sure it matches our inventory, we don’t have photographers to show off our art. And that’s not all we don’t have.

As indie dyers or makers, we do it all because we don’t have extra staff and people. We don’t have a warehouse full of workers who package and ship orders when they come in, we do it ourselves. We don’t have a team of customer service reps who field calls and questions when a customer has a request, a question or (heaven help us!) a complaint. We have to handle that ourselves. We don’t have Social Media gurus with SEO training (I still don’t know what that is) to keep up with Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and YouTube. We have to do all that, too.

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Whispers On the Vine

It’s difficult to explain fully the effort and energy put into being a hand maker without getting long winded (or a bit discouraged). But I felt the need to defend the price of hand dyed yarns and of all hand made things. Because behind that lovely, unique item is a real person, who does do a real happy dance when you buy our item. We have real dreams and aspirations, real worries and desperate hopes, real life bills to pay that we often need a regular day to support because making a go of our passion is rough as hell.

I don’t write this little entry to lecture, not at all. What I want buyers to know is that you can trust we indie dyers and indie makers have given our all to that item you buy. We have labored to create it, to put our art into the world, and have been the one person show that gets it from our brain to your mailbox. And above all, you can trust that we love that art we have created. That more than wanting to make a living from our art, we so badly want is for you to love our art. For you to feel joy when you have that art in your hands. The dream is to make a living at it. The purpose is spread our passion to the world.

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Aphrodite, Of Love and Beauty

So from the bottom of my enlarged heart, I thank all of you who support indie dyers and makers! We so appreciate your support, you understanding of our efforts and your sharing of our passions. You truly do make our dreams come true!

So thank you for joining me for this entry. And if you made it all the way thru this behemoth of a post, gold star to you!

Until next circle my magical friends.

 

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Winter Berries Design now LIVE

Hello my Magical Friends!

I’m back again! Here with a new a hat and cowl pattern that is now live in my store on Ravelry!

My new Winter Berries Hat and Cowl knitting pattern is perfect for beginners to stranded colorwork. With only two colors used at one time, yarn management is kept to a minimum. It’s perfect for those who may not have experience with multiple yarns at once and a nice simple piece for experienced knitters.

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My sister, Aysha, modeling my hat and cowl while little Lucy tries to get in on the fun!

I used my own hand dyed yarn on my Dense DK base, which you can get in my Sisteresque Fibers shop in any colorway. I loved using my own yarn! The purple color is The Evil Eye colorway; the red is Blood Binding; and the green is The Poison You Picked.

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Peek-a-boo Aysha!

Worked on a US Size 5 needle, this pattern is based on a 12 stitch repeat. This makes it easy to customize the size of the hat or cowl; just add or subtract multiples of 12 stitches when you cast on and follow the pattern as written. Simple!

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I had so much fun knitting this up and designing the charts for the colorwork! I do hope if you choose to support my yarny dreams and purchase my pattern, you will enjoy it, too!

That’s all the self-promotion I have for now 🙂 Until next circle, Fiber Friends!

 

Rhinebeck is on My Bucket List

Welcome to the virtual fiber circle!

This weekend is the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, better known to knitters and fiber enthusiasts as Rhinebeck! Sadly, this is another year I cannot be there in person, though it is on my yarny bucket list. But my magical fiber spirit is strong and I shall participate in Rhinebeck virtually!

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My first task was to complete what would be my Rhinebeck Sweater (if I were going), the Arboreal Sweater by Jennifer Steingass. I used my own hand dyed yarn in my colorways The Evil Eye (purple) and The Poison You Picked (green), both of which are part of my Black Magic Woman mini kits, available in my shop. I loved how they came out in the minis so much, I needed a sweater! Choosing a pattern from Jennifer Steingass was tough, as she has many that I want to knit! But this simple two color yoke sweater was enjoyable and easy on my brain.

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I found a way to participate in a virtual Rhinebeck weekend myself, but what about my followers and customers? A sale of course! I’ve added new colorways to the shop and a brand new sparkle mini kit, Hoodoo Holiday! And for this weekend, the 18th to the 21st I have a 10% off sale running in the shop! No coupon needed, just spend more than 10$ and get 10% off your fun yarny goodness. Just because you can’t go to Rhinebeck doesn’t mean you can’t get yourself a yarn haul!

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And last, but certainly not least, is my Instagram Giveaway! To help my friends and followers join the excitement of a fiber weekend, I’m giving away some special treats! One skein of my own colorway, A Coven Wedding on Plump Sock, a full bar of custom color matched soap from Oak City Soap, their Loverly Lavender guest soap, a mint lip balm and some little chocolates! Follow me on Instagram @sisteresquefibers to enter the giveaway!

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That’s all for this entry, I wish you all luck in the giveaway! If you get to go to Rhinebeck I hope you have a great time, and if not, I hope you join the virtual fun!

Thanks for joining the circle, until next time!

Scattered WIPs, Scatter Brained

Long time, no blog post! Hello again Fiber Friends!

Its been a while. Truthfully, I’m going through some big life changes and as a result I have relocated back to South Dakota to be close to family for a while. I am stressed, anxious and desperately trying to figure out a job – sadly my creative life is not yet in position to be my day job, though that is always the ultimate goal.

Still, I am working at slowly at my many WIPs.

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Bag from KnitForBrains on Etsy, Pumpkin needle keeper from MollyKleinDesigns on Etsy.

These are just a few of the socks I have that I told myself I would have ready for the cooler weather. I may have to push that back to ready for the snow, but even that may be a bit of a stretch. I started these while still in North Carolina, and when I bid farewell to my Podcast friend Barb of Super Stitchy, she gave me the sweet little beaded witch stitch marker she made herself. So if it does take me longer to finish these, at least I have a fun reminder of a fiber friend.

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My fun little witch marker from Super Stitchy and my MollyKleinDesigns needle keeper. Madeline Tosh yarn.

I had also told myself I would have a sweater done for the fall by now, but naturally, my latest sweater is not yet completed. Just about done with one sleeve and one left to go.

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My own hand dyed yarn in The Evil Eye (purple) and The Poison You Picked (green). Bag by HappyUnicornStudio on Etsy.

I’m loving my new Dense DK base, I have a loose gauge so the more densely spun yarn won’t grow as much as my Plump DK base. I started this in NC as well, and between settling into a new space and the emotions that come with not knowing what my life is right now have slowed me down. I did finish the body while waiting for my baby Jack Russell, Lucy, to come back from teeth extractions at the vet. However, stress knitting, while useful for keeping me from biting my nails and clenching my teeth, is still not my ideal knitting.

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Bag by TwistedYarnAndFiberBags on Etsy and Malabrigo Rios Yarn.

Stress aside, I am happy to be closer to family, and happy for the cooler knitting weather in South Dakota. Knitting out of necessity gives me unique pleasure. I suppose my productivity anxiety is quelled a bit by the idea of knitting practical items for myself that I know will go to good use, and soon. I started myself a hat in the Acres Wild pattern by Kniting Pirate on Ravelry. I’m using Malabrigo Rios yarn and toting it in a phantasmically perfect bag from Twisted Yarn and Fiber Bags on Etsy. We have one week of temporary warm temperatures coming and then October will be in full cool swing, and I will definitely be wearing this hat.

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My WIPs, my mind and my writing are all a bit scattered, and I would apologize, but that just where I am right now. I am continuing to put my best effort into my Sisteresque Fibers Etsy shop, I have added Pre-Order or Dye to Order yarn in hopes of more sales with less unsold inventory about. I have intentions of creating some colorwork hat patterns and a few cross stitch patterns. I only hope my job search and possible job find won’t interrupt my creativity too much, as it is a large part of what is currently holding my sanity together. Tho, sadly, it doesn’t pay for health insurance. Sigh.

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I will end on a lighter note and say that I am grateful to the fiber and crafting community for providing a place to go during the worst of times. Everyone is so supportive and happy to share times in their lives that have been rough – and how the made it thru to the other side. To everyone who reads my blog, supports my content, my shop and my fibery pipe dream, I love you all! I wish you all the most magical fall knitting and I hope your October is full of treats, yarn and many Halloween movies!

Until next circle, Sisters and Brethren,

Love from Haleigh

Don’t Sweat the Small Socks

Welcome back to the fiber circle!

This week let’s talk socks! Over the summer I had tried a new sock knitting technique: four at a time socks inside socks! Wait? What? That’s right. I had two pairs of two at a time socks on the needles, with one pair inside the other. Here’s the YouTube video I used to figure out how to knit a sock inside of a sock:

I had a two at a time sock set going, so I started another and then put the second socks inside the first set. As much as I did enjoy the new technique, I had also started a “part time” job (with commute, its a full time hours away from home and knitting job). I felt drained of time for knitting and the four at a time socks were moving too slowly. And then came the knitting anxiety. There was nothing else for it: they had to be separated.

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My separated four at a time socks in Biscotte Yarns with my Addi Turb Sock Rocket needles. 

Once I had the separated, they did seem to fly off the needles. Of course, I did a spend a weekend working on them, so the extra hours of time did help. I had two pairs of socks done by Wednesday and it felt good!

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So what did I do to celebrate having two pairs of socks done and blocking? Cast on another two sets of socks of course! I know, if I was stressing out about not getting these socks done, why start two more? Well, because I am a knitter. I need to have socks on the go. Particularly now that I have discovered two at a time and the joy of having no second sock syndrome.

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Amazing bag by Knit for Brains, German yarn by the name of Unisono and some //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sisteresquefi-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00DX8759A&asins=B00DX8759A&linkId=6f096d9d7e950ce9779f37af36177cfb&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Chiaogoo needles.

I made a firm decision not to let myself stress over my knitting. As a reward, I bought myself a positively perfect Nightmare Before Christmas themed bag from Knit For Brains because I adore Laura’s bags! I also went ahead and cast on a third pair of socks. Partly to challenge myself to keep enjoying my knitting rather than agonizing over how many projects I am getting finished.

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Beautiful bag by Nanette Wake, Yarn by Mineville Wool Project, more Addi needles.

I’m loving the yarn I’m using for all of my new on the go sock projects. And I keep reminding myself that a knitter should always have socks on the go. You never know when you will need to keep yourself busy in a waiting room, on a plane or in a car. So why not have a few projects in progress? The world won’t end if you don’t finish them in a “timely manner.”

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One of my finished pairs of socks in Biscotte Yarns.

In summation my fiber sisters and brethren, don’t sweat the small socks. And for that matter don’t sweat any of the things that are meant to bring you joy. I know that can be difficult when you’re having a down day, I’ve had plenty of my own. But we knit because we are looking for the good, we are finding our peace. And yes, we do happen to end up having some magically magnificent socks!

See you at the next coven meeting!

 

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