Preparedness- 10/22/2019

One Fingerless Mitt was finished and the second is well underway. The decision to make them mitts not mittens was made.

Last night, a new label was created for the soaps, generic so that I can write in the variety on the front, and the ingredients printed on the back. White Glassine bags were purchased for use when doing historical events. Clear cello bags are used at Holiday Markets.

Today it was too wet to be outdoors, so a new yarn band was designed and printed on craft brown cardstock and the skeins were banded and priced for the first vending event.

All of the knits and woven goods were checked and retagged if the tags were worn or folded and the prices checked to make sure they agree on my payment site. The knits and skeins then sealed in container to get them to the event.

More knitting needs to be done, to finish the mitts and make at least a couple more pair in different sizes and colors.

The weather is cooling into real autumn like weather and we have gotten some much needed rain. Still no frost has occurred and none is the forecast that I can see. The first historical event on my schedule is the Spirit Trail at Wilderness Road Regional Museum on Sunday, October 27, from 4 to 8 p.m. This is a fun event with a wagon ride through Newbern history. The next is the following Saturday, November 2, and I go from Revolutionary War to around Civil War era at the Harvest Time event at Booker T. Washington National Monument. This is a vending event as well as historical demonstration as a spinner and will be with a friend. It is supposed to be chilly that day and so I’m hoping to sell some of the hats, mitts, and scarves in my inventory. The weekend after that I return to Revolutionary War and will demonstrate fiber prep and spinning at the History Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke, November 9 and 10.

After that I have a weekend off before the winter craft events begin. On November 23, I will be at the Catawba Farmers Market at their annual Holiday Craft show, and the first 3 Saturdays of December, at the Blacksburg Farmers Market Holiday Markets. A busy time ahead.

Stiff – 10/20/2019

Since my return last week from helping eldest and family finish moving their household, I have done almost no knitting and no spinning. The weather finally broke and has been much cooler and we have had some rain.

The rain revealed that the vent through the metal roof that has been resealed twice since installation a dozen years ago is again leaking. The leak ruined the drywall soffit in the finished basement within a year or two if it being finished, and several years ago at Christmas, eldest tore down all the drywall and rebuilt that soffit using paneling that allows me to unscrew a few screws and lift out a piece of the panel to put a drip pan in the ceiling whilst awaiting another repair.

The leaky vent is one of the two toward the left side top, I sure can’t get up there.

The cool and the rain also bring in the winter stiffness in my hands and lower back that are caused by arthritis, thus the lack of knitting and spinning. The arthritis and trigger finger in 4 of my fingers is always worse in the winter.

With the various historical demonstration and craft events looming, some knitting must be done. One of the projects that went with me and never left my bag is a triangular scarf. This morning I picked it back up to work on. It is about 1/3 done and is a smooth fine fingering weight merino.

Another reason knitting isn’t happening much is that prior to my leaving, hubby gouged a good bit of flesh out of his back (I will spare you the gory pictures) and as I wasn’t here to keep it bandaged and antibiotic on it, it didn’t heal whilst I was away. If we keep antibiotic ointment and a thick pad over it and he doesn’t stretch or twist too much, he stays fairly comfortable, but he can’t reach the spot to care for it. Now that I am home, it is getting treated, covered, and I am doing all the driving so he can sit still. Riding passenger is always knitting time. The wound is healing now and hopefully will cease causing him discomfort soon.

I have some worsted handspun yarn skeins that I would like to get knit up into fingerless mitts before the craft shows. I never know how much to price my handspun handknits for so I went on an etsy adventure looking them up. It was not helpful at all. The prices are all over the place, the styles equally scattered. I saw short “wristlets” for way more than my much longer mitts. Plain bulky weight ones for double my fingering weight cabled ones. But then I saw handspun handknit lace shawls priced so low that the cost would hardly cover the fiber, much less the time to spin and knit it. I have several hats, a couple of scarves or mini shawls, a couple of large shawls, 1 pair of fingerless mitts with gusseted thumb. There may not be a lot more to sell if I don’t get busy.

I need to figure out how to raise this rack enough to use top 3 or 4 rungs without setting it on a table top. The rack is 5 feet high and at one of the events, I am limited to an 8 foot table they provide. Still pondering how to do this safely and securely.

Well, back to knitting, or they surely won’t get done.

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?