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.

 

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!

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!

 

It’s My Yarniversary!

Hello Fiber Sisters and Brethren!

Amidst all of my focus on my anxiety lately, I nearly forgot that this month, August, is the one year mark of my yarn dyeing and selling adventure! Happy Yarniversary to me!

It feels like I’ve been dyeing yarn for far longer than a year, and maybe life stress has contributed to that. But when I realized that it was my one year Yarnivesary, I felt like I should be a bit proud of myself. One year is a short time in the grand scheme of life, and I’ve come a long way since my first color creations. I’ve developed my technique, I’ve adapted my own style, and most importantly, I’ve kept at it.

The photos above are a year apart in dyeing and photographing, but it’s the same colorway. Others may not be able to see a difference, but I can! I have adjusted my technique so that I can more easily repeat the colorway, my dyeing is more even, and I have improved my speckling! I am glad for Instagram so that I can go back and see my progress and feel good that I have kept working at my craft.

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Some of the very first skeins I attempted dyeing.

After a year of dyeing and selling yarn, some things haven’t changed. I still do a happy dance every time someone makes a purchase from my shop. I still, immediately after the happy dance, start to have a mini panic attack thinking “What if they hate it?” and worrying about it getting lost in the mail. I still want very much to make this yarny adventure my full time gig and I’m working towards being able to do that. Sometimes I’m hopeful and excited, and sometimes it feels like an impossible dream. But I still keep trying.

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House on the Hill – one of my newest colorways with an inspiration photo included.

Life has gotten messy since I started dyeing yarn, and not just because I spill dye on the counter. But for the month of my Yarniversary, I’m going to feel good about my progress in the crafting life. I haven’t figured out how to clean up all of life’s messes. But I have figured out that when you spill dye on the counter, a layer of Dawn dish soap for 15 minutes and a dry paper towel to wipe it up will take that dye right off the counter. And if you learn nothing else from me today, I hope at least that much is useful!

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Krypt Kicker – another original colorway that I have revamped for year 2.

To celebrate my Yarniversary, I wanted to share some love with all of you wonderful fiber friends who support my shop, my blog and my crafty pipe dream. Go to my shop Sisteresque Fibers on Etsy, and use the coupon code ONEYEAR to get 15% off of everything thru the end of August! All of your support and kind words mean so very much to me! This is my art and its a beautiful thing when someone other than me finds it beautiful, too!

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me, whether you made a purchase, made a comment, or just read my little yarn diary. Thank you!

Until next time my magical friends!

Knitting Anxiety: Why Do I Create It?

Hello Sisters and Brethren!

*Warning – I curse sometimes*

This weekend I have finally gotten some knitting done! For those who know me well, it would come as a surprise to find that I have gotten very little knitting in during the last two weeks. My normal modus operandi is to knit for a couple of hours every day, but truthfully for the last few months I have been struggling to get time in for my beloved hobby.

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Four at a time socks that I had to separate to get off the needles. 

I do have a part time job that I started in May, which has significantly cut in to my creative life. This frustrates me, but sadly income is necessary for all of us, and I have not yet made my knitting and yarny joy into a day job (still trying, tho!). Honestly, the job shouldn’t deter my knitting terribly, but because my time is now limited differently, I find I am creating my own knitting anxiety.

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Cauldron Bubble – new colorway that took me full a week to add to the shop after dyeing. 

 

True confession, I have some general anxiety and depression issues (self-diagnosed as I am too embarrassed to bring it up to a doctor as of yet). So it’s not entirely unusual for me to over think and over stress even the simplest of things. Where my knitting, yarn dyeing, designing and even blogging is concerned, I have a bad habit of giving myself arbitrary and unreasonable deadlines for completing projects. When I do not meet those deadlines or complete ‘enough’ projects, posts or new products in a given time period, I begin to feel very lazy, useless and bitterly bummed out.

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I finished a pair socks, finally! Yay!

I can’t quite say why I do this. I did grow up in small town (population 1,100 small) South Dakota in a stereo-typical hard work ethic valuing environment. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe hard work can be a good thing and having goals and ambition can be beneficial. However, where I come from, creative endeavors are often meant for retirees or people considered to be hapless and burdensome. Practicality was always king and the idea of even having an artistic dream, let alone following one, was an aberration.

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Double Double Mini Kits – why do I think I need to be ready for Halloween already?

While how I grew up may be a factor in why I create stress in a hobby that should be a stress reliever, I’m not sure its the whole story. I am 31, and I feel somewhat that I need to take accountability for…well, for my own bullshit. My rational mind is aware that I am my own enemy when it comes to my anxiety. I choose what my self worth is measured by, so I do not need to measure myself by how much of my hobby I complete. Yet, continuously, I get angry with myself for not getting more done.

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House on the Hill – new colorway, and my dream house. 

I don’t have a happy ending answer for why I stress myself out. I am still working through why I become so anxious about things that should only be happy, and how to stop myself from doing it. But I wrote this blog post as I believe I cannot be the only knitter or crafter out there who struggles with this. Maybe we’re just struggling with anxiety in general, maybe life is a bit overwhelming sometimes and it just permeates every part of us and all that we do.

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Phantasm – a creation of the mind, much like my anxiety. 

Whatever the case, I think we all need to remember to forgive ourselves for what we perceive to be our short comings or failings. Knitting is meant to be my joy, my me time, my creative outlet and in some ways my self love. I am still working on just getting out of my own way and letting go of the need to measure my accomplishments or success as though it makes up who I am. It does not. So if you’re anxious about the things that are supposed to make you happy, you are not alone. And at least that’s something.

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Krypt Kicker – let’s all put our stress in a crypt and kick it!

Thanks for getting real with me for a while. Next time, I may have a happier post, or I may not. But I’m going to try and just be proud of myself that I did post, and not tell myself that I have a deadline for the next one.

May your knitting and hobbies feel magical and cure you of your ills! And when they don’t, forgive yourself. It’s ok.

Until next time Sisters and Brethren in yarn!

 

 

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