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Dear Readers,

While I may not exactly be current with all of my goals, I have already posted more often in the first three months of 2016 than I did all of last year. And I’ve been making more things! Sweaters even! And reworking and posting a pattern!

I think that making 50-100 hats and 35-50 pairs of fingerless gloves each year has been sucking the life out of my knitting. The only thing fun about production knitting is speed, otherwise it is BORING. I’m finding that it is pretty wonderful to prioritize my own projects above salable items.

It is difficult for me to find time for knitting complex projects, mostly because I don’t seem to have a lot of quiet alone time at this point in my life. Some things, like Violet’s pair of fingerless gloves (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/police-box-mittens) which require a chart for stranded colorwork…while the project is small and really not difficult, do require ongoing concentration. So those project have to be taken out on special occasions. I mostly try to find a happy medium. A little thinking.  A little more commitment.

Last weekend I attended an environmental law conference at the University of Oregon in Eugene. We’ve been going to this for the past 8-10 years. It runs Thurs-Sun with mostly 90 minute time slots during which there are 10-15 different panels and workshops available. Some are really geared toward attorneys and law students but many are accessible to a range of attendees. We learned about the hidden environmental impact of the internet (spoiler: worse than you’d ever imagine), ecology of the prison complex, anti-civ movements, corporate and government surveillance methods, youth activism, indigenous peoples and their role in the environment, and much more. This was Violet’s first time at the conference, and she particularly liked the Know Your Rights training presented by the Civil Liberties Defense Center and the keynote address by the Raging Grannies group.  Our farm brings seeds to this event, and we distributed over 1200 packages to participants at no charge.

I find that copious amounts of knitting are a requirement for events like this. With a 6 hour drive time each direction, and hours upon hours of sitting during presentations, I totally rely on knitting to keep me focused. I’m always a bit torn over which project(s) to bring because it has to be big but kind of mindless so that I can concentrate on the presentations and speakers. This time, I brought one of the Bundles of Bliss from my Etsy shop inventory and made another Bliss Wrap (and a couple of smaller items as well). Here are some photos of the more recent one, and my personal wrap that I’ve been wearing for the past several winters:

 

These wraps are super easy to make but still interesting because the yarn is just so nice. It’s really one of those “let the yarn do the work” sorts of projects.

Cast on (long tail or some stretchy method) 100 stitches with a size 10 circular needle using the bulky merino wool yarn. This will make a wrap about 22 inches wide (flat, or 44 around), although it can stretch another 10 inches or more. These measurements are from a finished wrap that has not been blocked.

Knit two rows with the bulky wool. At the beginning of the next round, switch to the mohair boucle or the bamboo handspun yarn and knit one round. Switch to a different yarn at the next round. Continue in this manner until the wrap is about 18 inches long (unless you’d like it to be shorter or longer).

I would suggest not using the mohair for more than one or two rows at a time because of the integrity of the yarn. However, I have also seen wraps made with the yarn in stripes and it does seem to hold up just fine.

If you think this may be too loose to sit around your arms or shoulders, you may reduce by knitting two stitches together every 10-12 stitches for one round. Continue knitting in the normal manner for 3-6 more rows, then cast off.

I prefer a stretchy cast off (here’s a link to a video using one method http://blog.expressionfiberarts.com/2014/04/29/how-to-easily-work-jenys-surprisingly-stretchy-bind-off/) .

If you knit the wrap to at least 14 inches, you should be able to loop it twice around your neck and pull one layer up over your head for a hood which will cover your neck and top of shoulders.

If you use a Yarnarchy Bundle of Bliss, you will have yarn left over. Quite a lot. Possibly enough for two slightly shorter wraps. If you use this to knit a throw, it should knit up to at least 35×45 if you block it.

Note: you can download a printable PDF of the pattern for free on Ravelry here:

Here are a couple of projects hot off the blocking board-both made with Yarnarchy handspun. The 6 month size baby sweater is made with one skein (100 yards) plus another 25 yards of black single ply worsted.  The purple project will be a really sweet cowl with quite a lot of buttons, but I couldn’t wait to post a photo. This project is made using about 2/3 of one of my handspun kits.

And finally….spring sale goes through the end of March!

To cure your winter blues, to encourage the coming of spring, and in celebration of all things Irish (St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th and my own birthday on the 19th!), I will offer a fantastic March sale. Green or Spring themed colorways will be offered at 10% off of the normal price during the month of March.

Happy Spring!

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Just a quick one!

I have a few spots left in the Spring yarn club…$62 gets you beautiful spring themed yarn (choose 400+ yard sock or 100 yard handspun) delivered to your door in March, April, and May.

 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/225832609/spring-sock-yarn-club-membership?ref=shop_home_active_2

https://www.etsy.com/listing/225837524/spring-handspun-yarn-club-membership?ref=shop_home_active_1

I’ve been busy with quite a lot of new yarn lately….DSCF6117

This is my most recent favorite spring yarn!

And doing more knitting.  Since I am usually on the go with my knitting, I rely heavily on a good knitting bag.  My friend makes these AMAZING bags and even though I am a seamstress myself, I cannot stop myself from buying one each time I see her. I’m getting quite a collection. I’m partial to the knot bags, but she also makes one more like a small over the arm basket with stiff interfacing that I love for small sweaters.  I think she’s been on a short break, but she does have stock available even if her Etsy store doesn’t show it. You can always contact her for details! Tell her Yarnarchy says that knitters need her bags!!! http://www.chubbyclouddesigns.com/ and https://www.etsy.com/shop/chubbycloud/sold?ref=shopinfo_sales_leftnav

Blech. I hate raising prices. Looks like I haven’t raised my prices since….2008. WHAT? Sheesh. Time does fly. In the past 8 years, my costs have certainly gone up. My cost per pound for fiber has just about tripled actually. The lame thing is that the costs go up a bit each year but I’ve been avoiding a retail price increase because….well, because I am grateful to my customers and I want my yarn to be accessible. I want people like ME to be able to afford my yarn. This is a big part of why I generally avoid wholesale-I want to keep my price points low. But today, while looking at spreadsheets in preparation for my income taxes, I just couldn’t ignore that my costs are wayyyy different than they were 8 years ago. So yeah, it’s time.

But rather than do it all at once, I’m going to just increase as I post new listings. $20 skeins will probably be around $22 depending somewhat on fiber content. If I were giving someone else business advice, I’d say it was a must to go up to $25 just to cover the increase in supplies alone. I guess this is one of those times where emotion wins over logic. So take advantage of my hatred of inflation and buy yarn sooner than later.

In other news, I am FINALLY getting my inventory built up again. My stock was so pitiful after the holidays, that it really is taking much longer than normal to restock.

The fiber arts camp happened last weekend and we had a great time! It was a smaller group of ladies, just 5 this time, but I think a good time was had by all. I really wish that I could just travel around teaching camps. I’d teach fiber arts, and Hogwarts, and Greek mythology, and Middle Earth camp. Maybe a few others, but those are my current favorites. Some for grown ups and some for kids. Teach once or two a month and spend the rest of the time with yarn. Bliss…  You know….I will travel to teach, so don’t hesitate to contact me if you might be interested in hosting.

But back to the recent fiber camp.  Sometimes I am rather obviously reminded that we do things a bit differently here.  Sigh.  It’s pretty much fine, and clearly I’m not going to change anything, and honestly…most people are great about it but still. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to invite people to a completely unremarkable home in the suburbs.  That awkward moment when new people visit the community house and you lead them through the rustic (would “rustic” or “rural”  conjure up the image of a tarp-covered roof?) entry way to sit on a dilapidated velvet sofa, behind which hangs a 12×8  painting of yourself wearing nothing but a giant rear end and unicorn horn….that probably wouldn’t happen in my imaginary suburban split level.  And then you immediately have to discuss overly intimate topics with complete strangers because even the restroom isn’t a straightforward topic.  Instead, you have to say things like “if you have to pee, you can just go anywhere, (look of horror) but if you have to….well, anything else I guess…you have to walk around that big cedar tree, behind the greenhouse, and up a set of stairs to the skypooper. There are instructions on how to use it.” At this point, they usually look at their watch.  As in, “can I make it X hours so that I can use the restroom at the gas station on the way home?”  If I had an apartment filled with Ikea cabinets and memory foam bath mats, I would never have to say “pee” to a stranger.

These  ladies were pretty darn cheerful about it and for that I was grateful. But still. Sometimes  it would be nice to have the option to blend in a bit more.

I love this time of year because I can actually knit things for fun and not for business. I finished a few lingering projects, and while I’ve been gearing up for my big February commitment (I knit something big for each of my girls, usually a sweater) I knit a couple of smaller toddler sweaters for a very cute little friend named Bree. I don’t have any photos of her wearing them yet, but I’ll post when I do. The first was made with reclaimed yarn-I found an ugly slouchy short sleeve sweater at Goodwill for $3.99 that was handknit with Noro yarn so I bought it and took it apart. Good thing it was really ugly. I have been known to purchase handknit items just to save them and if they are just a little ugly I wind up keeping them for years and never wearing them even once. This one was not going to be flattering on anyone, so it was not much of a loss to unravel someone else’s work. And the sweater is so cute!

 

 

This one was made with some 2 ply handspun and a partial skein of silk and wool single ply worsted. It came out very nice I think, especially since I made up the pattern as I went along. I’m planning to post the pattern for free here when I get it written up.

Maybe this will help me reach my 2016 goal of writing more patterns!  I think if I just had a good patron…if only.

This year, the big girl wants me to make a Weasley sweater for her except we’re going to make it with the deathly hallow symbols on the bottom rather than a big letter on the front. And the little girl doesn’t want a sweater, but wants a pair of Doctor Who fingerless gloves-knit with sock yarn, stranded colorwork, with little tardis…wait, how does one pluralize tardis? Tardises? Oh-just asked the internet gods and apparently since it is an acronym it would be TARDISes. Anyway, those will be all over the gloves.

 

 

Well, apparently having a part time job away from home is really affecting my ability to blog. And I miss writing. Quite a lot.

I am still a maker of yarn. It is just my luck that I decide to take a part time job at the end of a year with mediocre sales and spend the first year of said job trying to keep up with a 25% increase in yarn sales.

I tried to set a few goals for myself last year and I think I accomplished at least a couple of them. I did more knitting for pleasure. I discovered that I can justify more time for this by using some of the knit items as samples at events. This means stealing back various items from family members, and having to hear Violet tell customers “Yeah, that Leftie shawl IS pretty. It’s mine, but I don’t get to wear it because MOM is always taking it for her booth.”

I bought an electric spinning wheel last spring. I felt like it was a necessary evil because I’m sorta ruining various parts of my body by production spinning and with an e-spinner I’ll at least save wear on my ankles/knees/hips/back. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it anymore, but I don’t think we’ll ever be best friends. It is a wonderfully made machine, tiny and beautiful and silent and responsive and top of the line…but it isn’t fast enough. And as it turns out, I really like my whole body to be involved in spinning. I lose the meditative, whole body experience with an e-spinner and so I use the machine sporadically to break up long hours of treadling. Being better to my body was a fiber goal last year and the e-spinner was very good for that.

Writing more patterns would be a good goal this year. I want to make 4 sweaters, even if one or two are for kids. At least a few more shawls. Again…I really need to learn to use those darn knitting machines gathering dust in my studio.

Right now, my house is silent. Until pretty recently, this was an absolute rarity. I had young children, and a big active social life and there were always more people and children around. A decade ago, when I made supper it was unusual if I were cooking for my family alone. And our youngest girl was one of those super busy and extremely talkative children. We developed a whole host of phrases that we’d never considered when our older daughter was young. Things like “I need you to have that conversation in your head” and “You are talking so much that no one in the room has space for their own thoughts.” This may sound somewhat cruel, but trust me…it was necessary.

So until recently, silence was rare. Willow will be 22 this spring, and Violet turns 15 in June. Willow just returned from a long stint in Europe (more about that in a minute) and although she’s moved back to the farm she’s living in her own space and planning to build a house over the next couple of years. Violet has outgrown much of her hyperactivity and is now a teenager with her own interests and need for quiet private time. I became a parent about 6 weeks after my 20th birthday, and I honestly have no real idea what it is like to live without kids in the house. I can see where some of the changes are going to be awesome-the idea that I could just spend the evening writing for instance, is amazing. But living with children is hilarious and exciting and right now I’m super glad that I was never one of those stay at home moms without many interests or active social life. My whole world would be crumbling. Sometimes I am exhausted by my lifestyle, but I’m never bored. At least I will easily find things to fill the time when Violet moves out, even if they aren’t quite as amazing as raising children.

Now onto this Europe thing. Willow and her boyfriend went to Italy at the end of the summer to work as nannies. They received room and board and a little pocket money (about $80 a week) and worked about 30 hours a week. They were in the north-Torino and Milan but didn’t love Italy quite as much as they thought they might. After 10 weeks or so, they traveled to Germany to stay with a friend of ours (super loved Germany) for a couple of weeks and then to Ireland where they WWOOFed (stands for Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms) at an estate outside of Cork.

We’d been wanting to visit Europe forever, but hadn’t been able to swing it (a kid at 20 does tend to put a crimp in one’s travel plans). Willow was staying there through the holidays, so we decided to join her. Robert, Violet, and I flew out in mid December and then took a train to visit her. We spent a day exploring her host’s estate (including a 17th century manor house and 14th century ruins of Castle Creagh), then more exploration in Dublin and northern Ireland. After a week, we took the ferry across the Irish Sea to Wales and boarded a train for London. We stayed about 30 minutes from downtown for the better part of 2 weeks, then took the train to Edinburgh for the last 5 days.

I seriously could post several pages about this trip but am holding back because my posts are too long already. Some of our favorite places or things we did:

  • Northern Ireland-Giants Causeway was amazing and Dunluce Castle was magic. And apparently the inspiration behind C.S. Lewis’ Cair Paravel.
  • Museums-most are free and insanely good. Like, if we get a Rembrandt touring through the Seattle Art museum, everyone flocks to the exhibit and is like “Did you get a chance to see the Rembrandt?” to their friends. At the National Gallery in London, they have them by the DOZEN. We didn’t see everything that we wanted to, but        particularly loved the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • Henges-Stonehenge was exactly what it looks like and definitely worth it but they get like 3000 visitors a day. No joke. It is effing crowded. I almost think I found the fact that I was able to get shots which made it appear as though we are visiting with maybe 10 other people to be more of a miracle than the great stones themselves. Better to go to Avebury. Aside from being the largest stone circle in Europe, it’s also free and you can touch all the stones. And there really were like 10 people.
  • Bath-visually stunning. No words.
  • Oxford-one of our top favorites. Architecturally amazing, a great combination of lofty academic tradition and village feel, and also it was pretty magical. I had my best meal of the trip and my best ever mulled wine at the Eagle and Child, the small pub which was a second home for Tolkien and CS Lewis.
  • Edinburgh-although I want to say that Ireland or Oxford was the best, I think overall we all enjoyed Edinburgh the most. Maybe we’re just partial because Harry Potter was written here. Since we are all Harry Potter nerds, we did quite a lot of things related to this subject during our entire trip.
  • Note-Wales was amazing and we want to go back. Soon. Think lush green magic castle land.

I should mention here that although my yarn business did pretty well this year, I am selling yarn and not drugs or guns so it’s not like I have a lot of cash. We usually are comfortable financially but mostly because our overhead is low. I drive a car manufactured in the year I graduated from high school. You get the picture. So a 3+ week trip to Europe for three plus an adult daughter and boyfriend who are broke after traveling for 3+ months was looking to be very very expensive. I had to work hard to find creative ways to reduce costs for this trip. If anyone is planning a trip to Europe on a budget, please feel free to write me and I’ll share more details on my own strategies. But for now, my best suggestion is to sign up with www.trustedhousesitters.com If you want to join, you can write to me at yarnarchy@hotmail.com ; if I refer a friend you’ll get 20% off your membership and I think I might get a free month.

We housesat in Epsom, a small town in Surrey located 30 minutes by train from Victoria Station in London. Our hosts were away for 12 days, and left us with their sweet cat Oakley and their three bedroom home. Their place was lovely, and they allowed our whole family to stay there. We fed the cat in the morning and evening, gave the kitty some attention in the evenings, and watered the plants. And this literally saved us at least $2000 because London is EXPENSIVE. This was a wonderful experience and I’m looking forward to using the site as a host in the future.

Here are a few photos of our trip-enjoy!

Patterns

Haint Cowl

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Lumpkins

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Yarnarchy Victorian Cuffs

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Super Duper Easy Instant Gratification Yarnarchy Wrister Pattern

thuja 4

Yarnarchy Steampunk Scarflette

collar A 1

January has been full of surprises! My last blog post was all about my new-ish part time job, but I neglected to mention that I have also been spinning like crazy. After the holidays, my inventory was really low. Dear readers, I was so busy through the fall and holiday season that I didn’t even tell you what I was up to!

To sum, I had two yarn parties and two events in October—the Okanogan Family Faire and Fiber Fusion. Both of these are in WA state, but on opposite sides of the Cascade mountain range. I was a vendor at Fiber Fusion for the first time. This event was a little more “down home” than I would typically attend; it was held at the Monroe County Fairgrounds and had some livestock displays as well as vendors. It was also geared toward spinners, so I my expectations were fairly low as my yarn obviously appeals to a knitting/crochet crowd rather than makers of yarn. However, I did much better than I’d expected and met a lot of wonderful ladies as well.

November is typically my biggest sales month of the year on Etsy, with Black Friday weekend being the obviously focus. I began the month with KnitFit! in Seattle, which is a fantastic little show. Intimate enough for making real connections with people but large enough to feel festive, and as a vendor, to make a tidy profit. At the end of the month, I returned to the Celebration of Craftswomen in San Francisco. I was a first time artist at this show in 2013 and had great time—decent sales and a great excuse for a road trip with a good friend. This year it was held over Black Friday weekend which was…super lame. I missed Thanksgiving with my family for the first time ever as I had to drive to California the day prior. I was worried that holding the show on a holiday weekend might affect sales in a negative way, and indeed this was the case. The patrons of this show, the proceeds of which benefit the Women’s Building (a totally kick-ass project and an amazing building itself!), just aren’t the Black Friday crowd. As the organizers have already booked the same weekend for 2015, I shan’t be returning. I’ll have to find some other excuse for a Bay area road trip.

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Several days after I returned home, I was off to my biggest show (sales wise) of the year—Urban Craft Uprising. I can’t even tell you how much I love this show. Just go. Returned home for a few days, then down to Portland for the biggest show (attendees and nearly sales wise) of the year-Crafty Wonderland. Again, an amazing show. Just go.

About 10 days later, it was Christmas. Oh, did I also mention I was also busily shipping Etsy orders and making/stocking not one but two booths at the Allied Arts Holiday show for the 6 weeks leading up to the holiday? Two booths, but nary a skein of yarn in either. And I was also working my part-time job.

So yeah…very busy. Which means that January is all about spinning yarn because I barely had any inventory!  And last night…I was up until the wee hours of the morning fussing over the purchase of an e-spinner. My newest injury is plantar fasciitis, which began in earnest last spring. I can blame it on a variety of things, but I can’t escape the fact that treadling plays at least some role. So yeah. This e-spinner is a must. As soon as possible. Given the $1200 price tag, I’ll probably have some sort of incentive to help cover this cost. I’d been hoping to put off the purchase for a few more months in order to make it a bit easier on my budget but honestly…after spinning last night I just don’t think I can wait.

How about this? Beginning 1/26, orders over $150 (total before shipping) will receive a handmade Yarnarchy tote bag. Hand sewn, 100% cotton (sturdy/heavy) featuring my logo, $20 value. Orders over $250 will receive the tote bag and a set of 10 handmade note cards featuring lovely yarns (combined $40 value). Just mention my new wheel during checkout!

I’d better get sewing.

My shop is chock full of yarn, and I can’t post all the photos or it would just take forever to scroll down the page. I do post all of my yarn on my Pinterest boards, so find Yarnarchy and follow me!  Just a tease though…

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And since I get to have the last word….I miss winter. Real winter, I mean. Having spent my entire life in this region, and the past 16 years being pretty intimately connected with the same piece of land as a farmer, I can say with certainty that the weather just isn’t right. We used to have snowfall here each winter.  Like the first thirty years of my life.  The winters were mild enough to keep kale through the spring with a little mulch. We had few if any pests. We get our water from a spring and it kept to the same level year after year…and obviously for many decades based on the physical evidence. But things are getting weird. We haven’t had snow in two winters. In the last 8 we’ve had either nothing or Snowpocalypse with several feet. We were even snowed in for over a month 7 years ago! But then…nothing. Instead of mild winters with mild snowfall, we now have totally erratic snowfall with totally erratic temperature. In November, when our average low for the month should be 34, we got down to 4. FOUR FREAKING DEGREES!!! Goodbye kale, hello burst waterlines. We have had reduced rainfall, and this week…instead of 35 (average temp for a day in January) it is set to be 64 degrees! All manner of trees and plants are budding out, and our garlic is 4-6 inches high instead of buried under mulch until spring. Because it isn’t spring, and it will freeze again, and it’s likely to kill a goodly portion of our garlic and fruit blossoms since they will be out way, way too soon.

I get that there are a lot of people who deny climate change. I’m not one of them. I get that there are many factors, including natural cycles and shifts, but I can’t believe that people would actually deny that our first world lifestyle isn’t affecting our climate. I wish I could make all of them do this little experiment today:

  1. Remove some of your houseplants and put them in your enclosed, unheated garage.
  2. Buy two blocks of ice; put one in outside in the weather and the other inside the garage.
  3. Turn your car on and leave it running for an hour.
  4. Is the garage warmer than it was previously? Is there more or less ice left inside? What do you think would happen if you left the car running all of the time? Imagine that your garage is a little wee version of our own atmosphere. Right now there are over 7 billion people. When my grandma was born in 1923, there were less than 2 billion people and when her grandma was born, there were less than 1 billion and we didn’t have cars, or freezers, or central heating, or factories, or airplanes, or hardly any of the lovely conveniences we use daily. So imagine our 7 billion, and imagine all of our conveniences of modern life, and think about how hot your garage became after a big machine was running for an hour. And how you didn’t want to breath the air, and how the plants were looking a little sad, and how the ice was melting faster in this garage than it would have without the big machine running in the closed system of the garage.

So yeah… I get the irony that I am about to start relying a bit more on electricity rather than pedal power, and that my business relies entirely on the availability of cheap transportation of goods. I also have a composting toilet and rainwater collection and my tiny house runs on 5% of the power used by the average American household. I do what I can, choose my battles, provide as much as I can myself or locally, and try to have some balance. But it sure is difficult to have the conversation about what we’re going to do when the spring dries up or the fruit trees die from weird low temps or just won’t bear fruit because it feels like June in January, because we’re not even speaking the same language yet.

I just want us to speak the same language. Can we all just admit that humans have made a big mess? Until we get there, we can’t talk about how to clean up the mess, or how to prevent more messes in the future. We can’t talk about how much we all love kids but that in three generations, our population tripled and we just don’t have enough resources for that to keep happening.  There’s only so much water, if nothing else.

And if we don’t have water, we don’t have snow. Which means a lot of things, but right now it means that I don’t get to go sledding with my little girl on the hill in the woods and make hot chocolate, and have a snow day.  This is how beautiful our farm looks with snow!

snowed in 06 004 snowed in 06 002 DSCF7067 DSCF7113

So…I have a job.  It’s a pretty neat job as jobs go.  It is part time, and has a few different components but the basic theme is teaching nutrition to elementary school students and helping initiate a cafeteria reform program to encourage healthier lunchrooms.

As some of you may have heard, for most sellers Etsy has been slowly tanking since they went public.  August 2013 saw some big organizational changes including the option of designers outsourcing the making/shipping of their products. This opened up the Etsy market to hundreds of thousands of new shops, changing much of the dynamic from artisan products to mass produced imports.  So this kind of sucked, and my sales declined quite a bit for the next 6 months.  It has been a year and half since that change, and although my sales have increased, they’re still not back to 2010-2012 levels.  I increased the number craft/art shows I participate in, dropped the local farmer’s market as it was definitely not profitable, and worried about the security of my income a LOT more.

I tend to be somewhat conservative, business and money wise.  When I was growing up, my family made their income from the commercial fishing industry and you may have heard the saying “Spend money like a fisherman.”  There was either a lot of money or none at all.  As an adult, I’ve tried for a more secure middle ground.  My idea of “security” is vastly different than most though; I’d never (even as a child) had health care until the recent standardized program, I’ve never had vacation or sick leave, no 401k, and so on. I’ve mostly build security by having little to no debt.  I own my house outright, no car payments, and I really try to keep our overhead low.  We shop at thrift stores, grow much of our own food, do most repairs ourselves, and try to lead a good life with what we have now rather than what we can pay back later.

But I don’t have a lot of disposable income, preferring to spend time with my family and working in our non-profit land trust project rather than working to build a hefty savings account.  So when my sales drop, I see a pretty immediate affect.  As a sole proprietor I also don’t have any protection if I’m injured on the job, which is inevitable given that most of my work involves repetitive motion.  Because of the way I’ve chosen to run my business, I basically make enough but not much more than that.  I could change things….I haven’t raised my prices in 6 years in spite of the fact my fiber cost has doubled since then.  I do little or no wholesale, so that I can keep my price points low. I want people like me to be able to buy my yarn. Maybe I couldn’t afford to knit a dozen $200 sweaters, but I could save up and make one.  Maybe not all of my knitting could be with $20 per skein yarn, but certainly some of it could be.  I could outsource the making to other spinners who are willing to work for a pittance and profit off of their labor; they’re out there, both locally and internationally.  I could switch most of the production to millspun, as Spincycle has done.  I could focus on being an indie dyer and move toward little to no handspun.

However, I like the way I run my business.  I just wish the sales were a bit higher and more consistent.  Except that I can’t keep production spinning for years. Yeah, forgot about that.

In May of last year I contacted a former employer about a coordinator position.  This employer is federally funded and is geared toward research and education for agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, and community members.  The position was already filled, but they continued to stay in contact-applying for a grant which would allow me to join their program.  I began in October, and the position runs through the school year.  18 hours a week, teaching kids about nutrition, a nearly perfect fit with my lifestyle.  I can still make yarn but would have a financial cushion.  I could spend time teaching kids during the year instead of just during the summer months as I normally teach a summer camp program at a local college.

Yesterday I discovered that the original coordinator position has re-opened, and I was asked to step in as interim.  I haven’t begun yet, but this job sounds great.  Exactly the sort of thing I have experience doing, and makes use of my inclination toward teaching as well as program organization and management.  It also allows me to work with adults including the senior population.  I think it even pays a bit better.

The drawback is that it is a year round program.  This should be a good thing but I do teach full time for 7 weeks in the summer and adding a part time job to my schedule during a super busy time on the farm….is daunting.  However, I think the biggest thing is that I am so very used to being self-employed.  My whole life operates according to the seasons.  I don’t know if most people can even conceive of this.  Here’s a tiny part of what it looks like:

Jan-March:  replenish yarn inventory, focus on homeschool, start working in the greenhouse, work on seed distro program, first farm intern arrives in Feb or March, catch up on admin duties like grant writing, applications for craft fairs, web design.

April-June: decreasing focus on yarn, more homeschool, 3 or 4 interns to education and manage, much work on planning/growing/installing 2 acres of annual food crops.

July-Sept: teach 7 week program at college, 3-5 interns, continue work on garden but begin CSA plus harvesting, food preservation, fall garden, try to get a week long family camping vacation in, mid August begin replenishing yarn inventory, back to homeschool in the fall.

Oct-Dec: extremely busy with yarn business including 6-8 craft fairs plus busiest Etsy quarter, finish farm harvest and food preservation, interns leave late November, work on seed distro program by harvesting/curing/processing seed, knit/crochet 100+ ready to wear items for sale, christmas.

So the year round thing is worrisome but do-able.  But they also wanted to know if I’d be interested in full time employment!  Full time!  I do like the work–both practically and ideologically–but what a change that would be.  In regard to financial security…it would be pretty awesome.  Health Care! Vacation!  401k!  But right now, I just don’t think I can give up the rest of what I have going on.  If nothing else, I have a 13 year old who’ll only be spending every day with me for a few more years at best.

And yarn. I love yarn.  I love fiber.  I’m wrecking havoc on my body parts by spinning 200ish pounds of fiber a year, and I’m accepting that I need to change what I’m doing. I can’t do this full time for the next decade, even if the money was great. My fiber goals is 2015 are:  buy an e-spinner (cheaper than replacing my knees and ankles), design 6 more patterns, do more sewing (my first fiber love), increase number of yarn subscriptions (I’d love for 25% of my business to be memberships!), learn to use my knitting machines, do more home yarn parties.

I felt like I was working, working, working in my thirties. Maybe my forties will be about working less but making more. That would be pretty darn awesome.

Speaking of awesome, I did promise some yarn photos.  I have a limited amount of this new yarn-Bliss, a single ply fingerling, 100 gram skeins measure 329 yards, 50% Baby Alpaca and 50% Mulberry Silk.  Pretty amazing.  I really can’t even describe the softness.

I’ve also been selling quite a bit more art yarns, both Thicket and Thin as well as Shearlocked.  So I’ve been making more of that as well. Right now, my shop is decently stocked with over 120 different colorways or products. I’ll probably have another 20 over the next couple of weeks.  Don’t forget that January is my Knitting For Pleasure month.  I offer a coupon code for 10% off (KNITTINGFORPLEASURE)  because I want to acknowledge and reward all of the dedication and hard work my fellow knitters put in over the fall and early winter for holiday gifting.  This is the time to do something for yourself.  As for me, I’ve been into stranded colorwork lately and thrummed mittens. I’ll post a photo of those projects too.

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