Sheep Fest is coming

Just a quick reminder that Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival is this weekend. We’ll be at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds on Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 10-4.

I’ve got lots to do to get ready for the show. I’m trying out some new display options in my booth to see if they’ll work well for the big show I’m doing in November. They still need some assembly before set-up on Friday.

There’s merchandise to tag and marketing photos to post in social media outlets.

I’ve got to repack my show bins from the outdoor show contents to the indoor show contents.

I’m bringing a couple of spinning wheels to sell (if I can get them into the car) so I’ve got some signs to make. [If you are interested in a Merlin Tree Hitchhiker or a Canadian tilt-tension production wheel, give me a shout.]

And while I’m doing all of that I’ll be weaving, knitting and dreaming about seeing sheep and alpacas. Yarn, yarn and more yarn. Maybe I’ll be tempted and buy some.

I’m in the pavilion (the big main building.) Hope to see you there!

A quick note

It was a beautiful autumn weekend here in Vermont for the Sheep and Wool Festival. The rain stayed away, the sun shone brightly, the leaves were turning.

It was so nice to see new faces in my booth this year.  Many colorful pairs of wool socks left to brighten and warm feet and some of you have new scarves as well.

Now that I’m back home I’m busy catching up. A new scarf is going on the loom, yarn is being wound for the sock machine and I’m making notes about next year’s show.

So if you missed the show this year, take a moment to mark your calendars.  The Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival returns to the Tunbridge Fairgrounds on October 1 & 2, 2016. Hope to see you there!

On self-employment

If you are self-employed does your boss give you sick days? How about vacation or personal days?

I don’t keep track of how many hours I work in a week (other than in my part-time gig at the local bookstore.) Some of the appeal of working for myself is the flexibility of my schedule. Work like a mad woman when there is a deadline or a show coming up. Take it a bit easier when things are just cooking along. I mostly try not to work weekends, unless deadlines, and usually I feel pretty good about the effort I’m putting into my business.

But last weekend I was tired, I went to bed tired and woke up still tired. Monday I was sure I was getting a cold, but by Tuesday not so much. But feeling tired and under the weather got me thinking about sick days. Really sick? Pretty obvious to rest and not work for a bit. But just kinda tired and sniffly seems harder to justify some time off.

Same with “personal” time. Sure, I do errands and flex my schedule somewhat. And I take blocks of time at the holidays and for our annual vacation, but the rest of the year I don’t really think about it. I’m not sure I’ve ever played hookey from my business. Just spontaneously decided to take a day off.

It’s kind of an intriguing idea and maybe when I can I’ll try it out. 🙂

But not this week because the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival is this coming weekend and I have bins to pack, a mess of socks to finish

 

Socks fresh off the sock machine

inventory to update and a scarf still on the loom.

 

Alpaca silk & tencel scarf

I’ll be at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds, Saturday October 3 10-5 and Sunday October 4 10-4. Hope to see you there!!

The business side of my business

Today I’m thinking a bit about what it means to be in business. I started out, as many do, by turning a hobby (knitting) into something to do in exchange for money. All of my early work came by word of mouth. I knit shop samples for my friend Ellen who owns Ellen’s 1/2 Pint Farm. I printed up some business cards at home and left them at the local yarn shops who in turn referred me to their customers who knit sweater pieces and needed someone to assemble them. Assembly and repair turned into knitting complete sweaters.

Before too long I had a website and a bigger audience than my hometown. I got commissions from people far away who I’ve never met.

I kept on knitting samples for Ellen and that work plus a knack for finding errors in knitting patterns turned into an opportunity to do some tech editing and test knitting for a knitwear designer.

When I added handwoven goods and knit socks to my inventory I had to shift my mode of operation. Word of mouth was not going to get scarves and socks out of my studio and into the hands of buyers. I started small, approaching a local gallery to see if they’d carry my work. When they said yes it was time to develop more marketing materials: hang tags and sock bands to reveal fiber content and washing instructions and woven labels to sew into my scarves. Oh, and I got to learn about commission.  The gallery takes a percentage of the selling price of each item.

Though I secretly hoped to sell out quickly (and who doesn’t?) the reality was a slow/steady stream of sales. It was manageable. After more than a year I started to think about approaching a second gallery. I’d been doing the local farmers market and a craft fair, but those are a lot of work. Hauling goods, setting up tent, table and displays, and dealing with weather. I enjoyed talking with customers about my work, but I also hoped for more sales if I had a wider audience.

I agonized over this decision. I didn’t think I was ready to handle the extra volume. The gallery was over an hour away so I wouldn’t just pop over to replenish stock. I worried about my capacity to keep up with the inventory when my scarves, hopefully, sold. I finally decided to move ahead. Sales started slow, but picked up around the holidays and I’ll soon have been there for a year.

I still worry about my capacity. Every time I take on a knitting commission I fret about the time I won’t have for weaving. And whenever the knitting queue is empty I worry that nothing new will come along. Because after more than 5 years in business I still haven’t settled on just weaving or just knitting. And I’m not interested in hiring any staff so it is just me, juggling the two crafts (and marketing, paperwork, finances and long-range planning.)

Next challenge? I’m looking at another gallery……


 

If you’re local, I’ll be at the Norwich Farmers Market Saturday Sept 19 and again October 17. 9-1 Route 5 (we’re outside until the end of October). And I’m at the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds October 3&4. Come find me in the main vendor pavilion.


I’ve just started using Instagram, follow me if you’d like to see more pictures.

 

It’s time for the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival

Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival is October 4 & 5, 2014 at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds in Tunbridge Vermont.  Fest hours are 10-5 on Saturday, 10-4 on Sunday.

I’m sharing a booth with my friends at Gage Hill Crafts and you can find us in the main vendor pavilion.  Look for Gage Hill Crafts on your map to find us.  I’ll have fuzzy, warm socks and pretty scarves.  Come say hello!

New this year, scarves woven with some of Ellen’s Half Pint Farm hand-dyed baby alpaca/silk.  Really yummy!

Baby Alpaca, silk and tencel scarf
Baby Alpaca, silk and tencel scarf

Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival is nigh

Time to pack up socks and scarves and head over to the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival.  It promises to be a beautiful fall weekend and I’m looking forward to fiber immersion.  Even if you aren’t a fiber person it is a great event for the whole family.  Lots of animals, demonstrations and tasty regional food.  Hope to see you there!

Crunch time!

washed and ready for pressing and tagging
washed and ready for pressing and tagging

Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival is two weeks away and I’m busy getting items ready for the show. These lace scarves are ready to be pressed and tagged. The loom is in near constant use and the sock machine isn’t far behind. If only I had 4 hands.

Visit my booth at Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival

The Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival is September 29 and 30 at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds in Tunbridge, Vermont.  I’ll be sharing a booth with my good friends Sarah and Rick from Terrapin Gardens Farm.

Shawl woven in Tencel in the M&W pattern

I’ve been busy knitting and weaving this summer and I’m excited to be doing my first show.  If you are coming to the festival please stop by and say hello.

 

October approaches

Can it really almost be October?  The nice thing about October is that it means it is time for the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival.  I’ll be there on Saturday in the Vermont Weavers Guild booth demonstrating weaving.  Be sure to stop by and say hello if you are there Saturday morning.  Demonstrating starts at 11 am and I expect to be there until 2 pm.

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