Knit for me – 9/24/2019

I recently sent off applications for 4 craft events, one just before Thanksgiving and 3 Holiday Markets, the first 3 Saturdays in December. Today, I was notified that the Holiday Market one was approved. At hubby’s suggestion, I ordered some soap molds in holiday shapes and will make some soaps for those events.

I always have something on the needles for these events, in this case, I have a scarf/mini shawl. Some handspun worsted weights that will become fingerless mitts or mittens in various sizes sitting in the wings.

But also on the needles is Free Your Fade Shawl by Andrea Mowry. When I was at Black Mountain at the Knotty Ladies retreat last month, I purchased Only the Finest yarn, a 788 yard (8 oz) multi skein of 4 two ounce skeins of coordinated fingering weight yarn that is 97% Alpaca and 3% Blue Faced Leicester. Also a full skein, 395 yards (4 oz) of a 5th color. The yarn is delightfully soft and the colors very much my fall/winter colors.

The colors left to right are the order I will use. I have used the first two ounces and faded to the second color. The fades will be narrower than the pattern as it uses only 2 fades of 3 colors, but the Merlot wine color will be the widest and will be at the edge against my face. The total yardage of the yarn I purchased is slightly more than needed, but I’m sure the remnants can be used in a hat. It is rare for me to knit for myself, but between the cost of the yarn and the time it will take to knit 1000 yards, I couldn’t ask enough to sell it, not that I would want to.

Craft Season Approaches-9/9/2019

Each time I have a vending opportunity and sell little or nothing, I have second thoughts about the whole process. Is it worth it to load it all up, set it all up, sit there for hours, only to pack it up with maybe a few dollars in my pocket? Then the notices start arriving about opportunities that I haven’t tried before, hubby suggests new shapes or scents for soaps, I try a new product for myself and think it will sell and start downloading the applications.

Last night I ordered some “holiday” shaped molds and a flower shaped mold for cold process soap. Last spring, I added a sheep, a goat, and a couple traditional shapes. I rarely make the loaf shape that has to be sliced anymore. I played with a gorgeous swirl, but it didn’t set up properly and had to be re batched which caused the swirl to be incorporated. Then last night, shortly after I completed applications for two events I have never done before, a friend and I chatted and she may have yet another we can do together, both demonstrating fiber prep and spinning as well as vending our wares. The Holiday Markets at the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market, that I have done those for several years and had mixed results will conflict with one of the others, but I can still possibly do two of them. If they all pan out, that will be 5 events in a couple of months and will hopefully reduce my stock so I can reassess what sells and what doesn’t. Oddly, the two soaps that are preferred by my eldest’s family and by me are two that don’t sell at events very well.

I started out with mostly body care products and a few knit hats. As I have continued my adventure in spinning, more knits and weaves have been added, but the types of markets that I am doing generally don’t support the cost that a hand spun, hand knit or hand woven garment require. If I were to value my time invested in the process, the prices would be so high as to frighten off lookers. As a result, I generally try to recoup my fiber cost and some tiny amount for my design and time, but mostly consider it my entertainment expense. If a 4 ounces bag of wool costs $15-$25, pricing a hand spun, hand knit hat at $30 causes folks pause, but really doesn’t pay me for my time at all. It takes several hours to spin the fiber and several more to knit a hat out of medium weight yarn, my hand spun is often finer and so takes longer, so the pay for my time is $5-$15 total for 8-10 hours of work, not even sweatshop pay.

Maybe I’m going about this wrong. I started making soap for family, but only one son’s family wants it. With jobs and kids in the house, they need easy to care for clothing, so hand washable hand knit woolens aren’t favored. I have tried online shops and don’t sell much if anything there either. Maybe I should just make enough soap for the two families, spin and knit what I will wear and not worry about selling any of it.

Can you tell, I am discouraged, but still hopeful?

Weekend of Fun-9/1/2019

I am home from a few days of fun with friends at one of the fiber retreats that I attend as a participant and as a vendor. We changed the location this year from a State Park in Tennessee to the Blue Ridge YMCA Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina. A couple of years ago, I volunteered to work on organizing the goody bags for the first 25 participants that register as overnight guests, and as a vendor, agree to donate a door prize. This year, because it is Labor Day weekend, we lost a few regulars, but had a few new folks. We also have a voluntary “Dirty Santa” gift exchange game. I was fortunate to have a beautiful copper shawl pin donated as a door prize by a blacksmith friend, JJL Forge, you can find him on Facebook. A good discount on a yarn bowl, and I had a 4 ounce hank of roving plus a hand spun, hand knit scarf that I made that were also door prizes. With gifts donated by other vendors and folks that just wanted to add to the fun, there was a door prize for everyone.

We have several husbands that come and hang out, hike, or in one case spin with us. I cleaned up at this retreat. I gave a friend some fiber she could spin or blend with some of her wool from her animals. She was a commuter participant so she could care for her animals and this morning, she returned with the two white balls of the softest white Cormo roving as a gift for me. The teal and gray sock ball was my door prize. The red roving top left was my gift exchange result, the 5 balls of yarn in the center were a purchase for a wrap for me. The yellow skein sitting on the reddish and pinkish roving was a grab bag that I purchased because I took only natural colored fiber with me and wanted some color. The yellow part was spun and plyed yesterday.

Some participants do not spin so there are knitters and crocheters that come as well. We had some different vendors this year, Unplanned Peacock Yarns came, vended and donated mini skeins for the goody bags. Happy Art by Kay donated a painted plate as a door prize and a box of home made toffee for each goody bag. We had two artists that taught classes, one watercolor painting, one Bob Ross painting. Classes in Zentangle, Darning knits, Reading knitting charts, 2 different yoga classes, Word bracelet making, 2 different weaving classes, and so much more to keep us busy and allowing breaks in the knitting or spinning if you signed up for any of the classes.

It was busy, relaxing, rewarding, and I am glad to be home to catch up here for a few days. There is laundry to finish, a yard to mow, a house to vacuum and dust, but goodies to play with in my down times.