Closing It Out – Opening it Up

I know. Haven’t been here.wp_20160904_11_29_29_pro Well, I’ve been here but not here. I’ve been in and out of the hospital. The blood clots came back. We travelled a lot this summer and now I am doing the holiday orders. Attended some weddings, graduations and baseball games. The Cubs won the World Series!!!

This has been a year on the move.

wp_20160914_10_37_20_proWhat I enjoyed with family and friends had consequences for the shops so this year won’t be as lucrative as the last few years but we are closing out 2016 on a happy note: that I am alive right now is a big bonus that making more money would not have overcome if I didn’t.

shawlcollageI love my craft and I look at these photos and say from those balls of yarns, these beautiful things come and I am grateful for the blessing and gratification knitting and crochet provides.

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rastaearth2I look forward to new years with optimism and great plans but for 2017 there is no great, big vision. I simply want to do good. And to do well.

There is a lot of work I have to do in both business and the area of social action and justice and I can plainly see how I have been phoning it in on both counts and that cannot stand any longer.

In order to get the results, I have to do the work. And even though the work may not end in the results I want, I still have to do the work in order to fail or fall short.

My motto for 2017 will continue to be ‘Discipline and Consistency’ but I will also add deliberation to it. So I can be more purposeful and deliberate about what I do.

It doesn’t make much sense to come to these conclusions and then wait for the new year to start living them. I’m the kind of person that needs a running – well, a walking- start. There’s no time like the present since that is all any of us really have.

Did you notice the storefront? It’s the other page on the blog and that will be where the items I talk about in blog posts will be available for purchase. The next blog post will be about stripey things and those stripey things will be for sale on the blog so if you want them, you can go to the BCB365 page and that’s where they’ll be ready for you to grab them up. No need to go over to the Etsy shops or register (though they are worth the effort) and they will be offered for a lesser price than in the stores.

I have some orders waiting for me and I am about 9 days ahead of everydaywoodlands4my shipping dates and I want to keep it (or improve on it) so I am going to do some work. The snows came yesterday – took a while to get here but it is not a complaint. Mr. Honey is doing fine and we got a new bed that I need a step stool to get in.

All in all; a pretty good year.

 

Happy Holidays and a blessed new year.

When Will I See You Again?

eyelet rasta
eyelet rasta

Yeah, I know. Don’t start on me. I was finishing up the last of the orders and then I was recovering from the fact I’ve been sitting in that chair since September getting up only to go to the bathroom and eat.

Now that it’s all done and I had a few days without any orders (got one today) I find that I have to do some retooling of the business plan so I don’t kill myself.

The first thing I did was to figure out how long it will take me to drop some weight and get back into shape – I am going to ignore all that stuff about being over a certain age and just try and get my old bones to remember they went to school on a partial tennis scholarship and that they actually love exercise. I settled on 75 weeks and there’ a new page with that title and I am going to be logging and blogging about those 75 weeks. Let me tell you, sitting in a chair all day is not conducive to anything healthy.

The second thing I did was to redo some of the shop inventory. We talked about that before. I have moved from doing the Juliet caps to the eyelet rastas. I sold a lot of those in 2011 and 2012 in different colors so I am working some up and will be putting them in the ready to ship section of the shop. I also made my first hooded scarf and I am redoing it because I made it too small – the scarf part.  So it’s being undone and redone. I am hoping the ready to ship takes us some of the slack.

I am also tinkering around with the idea of limiting the number of hours I knit – just writing that makes me shiver  but too much of a good thing causes stress and tiredness. I think a ten hour work day, six days a week is plenty. Come on, go with me on this. At the very least won’t it be fun to see me go into withdrawal?

By the way, I am just 12 sales away from 600.  So there’s a goal to be reached.

I have to update the other pages in the blog and then I have to go to the grocery store for some veggies, fruit and milk. Then I have to get that order out – it’ a prayer shawl. Some of those are going into the ready to ship section as well. I was surprised at how many of those have sold recently.

Wish me luck with everything. I didn’t even mention the new store that’s opening in the fall with members of the knitting group. Maybe I did before. Can’t remember. More details on that coming soon!

 

That Space Time Thing

knitted newsboy in aubergine
knitted newsboy in aubergine

I do not believe I will be able to find someone who can explain to me why I, acknowledged to be a fast knitter/crocheter, who can start a hat at the beginning of the Wednesday night knit club and have a finished hat at the end of it three hours later, take an entire day at home to make a hat.

I just know I started that hat yesterday before noon. I’m pretty darn sure of it and yet it was dark outside and it’s been getting dark after 7 pm lately; it was after dark when the hat finally came off the needles. I know I stopped working to work out. But I sure didn’t work out for ten hours. I know I stopped to make dinner. But why wasn’t it done before I stepped into the kitchen – to make a fabulous dinner of porterhouse steak with onion sauce. OMG, that was some good stuff. I don’t understand what happened.

So, I can only conclude the time at the mall is different from the time in the house. The mall is in a different dimension and considering the Friday afternoon knit together is also in a mall, the time must be different there as well.

The time must be different because the space is different. The dimension must be different because I swear, I can finish a hat in the three – three and a half hours I am there and that includes eating dinner or lunch. It would also explain why the crochet Juliet cap is till not done and I know it’s been in my hands and worked. I am convinced there’s something here and a studious and committed science student who figures this out could find themselves in Oslo.

I have a confession: in the wee hours this morning, I purchased some yarn. I did not give in to the temptation of the yarn sales. I was looking at the shop because I wasn’t renewing the expired or sold out listings because this is a slower time in the shop and I was also looking at the list I made of how many of each item I’ve sold and one of the biggest sellers is this and I am running low on this yarn. It is also a yarn from Hobby Lobby and according to Miss Vickie they still haven’t restocked their shelves which were supposed to be restocked at the end of last month. If you look on their website, it is clear they haven’t made much progress since I thought they were restocking the shelves but they did have this particular fiber stocked and they also had the fiber that made this and because I think it’s a fun fiber that would look good in other patterns, I took advantage of the free shipping and ordered five skeins. Also, I’ve sold a couple of the black tweed hats and wanted to have some more on hand. I just used my last skein last week.

It was purely a business decision. Not a speck of fun in it.

I did have some fun with a yarn color called Ocean from Caron by the Pound. Those who have been around for some time may recall Caron by the Pound was my fiber of choice before I found Hobby Lobby but now since it seems Hobby Lobby is in flux, I cannot rely on them as I have. I used the ocean before but the color just hit me yesterday – maybe that’s why it took so long to make the hat; I was admiring the color. I can also tell you the taupe color I prefer is also Caron by the Pound. But I have abandoned the idea of using just one yarn brand. Hobby Lobby has broken my heart and I will never love that way again.

It gave me the idea I should keep notes on the fibers I really enjoy using and to get them when I need to restock. I would love to get the stash down from the more than 140+ different varieties to about ten with a variety of acrylics, blends and natural fibers. The Caron in ocean would be one of them because the color is so rich and yet so calming.

Today’s knitting agenda is a taupe cable hat followed by an elfin in green and a redo of a gray puff. I’d have better luck finishing them if I went to the mall.

 

This Time Around

The Cowl in brown
The Cowl in brown

Carol wanted to know if Etsy had away of leaving feedback for folks that leave feedback for you and the answer is: yes and no. I can leave feedback for the buyer but it won’t appear on her profile. It’s not made public to other folks. The only way to find it would be if someone reads her feedback then somehow gets to my page and reads my feedback left for other people.

I must say this is one of the areas where Etsy falls short. They won’t remove the feedback from someone who obviously got it a little wrong because they say it’s not in the policy.

Despite the fact that means I could go on someone’s shop page and say: got the product, love the product, got it fine but you know, I think I just want to leave them a negative just because I can.  Etsy would not remove it because it doesn’t violate the policy, despite that, I am going to make an assumption and someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty certain Moses didn’t bring those policies down from Mt. Sinai on some stone slats.

In other words: your policies need to reflect the reality of what is happening in your business.

They also say they don’t display the feedback because of privacy issues. But there is no assumption of privacy in an open market. And if I put feedback out there, I have no right to privacy when it comes to a response. The feedback system as it stands now is buyer friendly and that opens up the seller to blackmail and extortion.

There is also this thing called ‘kiss and make up’ where if someone leaves negative feedback, you can send them a request to change their feedback, supposedly offering something to make it all better. In this case the hat was delivered before she left the feedback and she had other options other than leaving feedback that would have led her to the tracking information – for instance, if she had tried to open a case for non-delivery, she would have been led to her tracking info and found the hat had already been delivered. I can’t bend the arch of time so there’s nothing to make up. I did send it, however, after she acknowledged she had it and after answering her question as to why I didn’t respond to her email.

I can, and will, leave feedback if she doesn’t respond by Monday.

On happier knitting news, I sold the first of the new Juliet caps and it wasn’t even one of the ready to ship ones. Very nice.

I was telling my friends during knit group that I worked hard to get a hat finished late Thursday night and took it upstairs to mail it only to discover I made it in the wrong color. Sigh.

I feel like such a slug not getting hats done faster only to get one done and it was the wrong color. The new one is all packaged up and will now be sent priority mail since I also messed up to shipping label. This is a lesson about rushing. There is a taupe hat on the needles that will be followed by a white hat and the two of them will go off together to be followed by another taupe one heading off to Australia.

The second headband still isn’t done but it’s in the final stages and I have a modification on the pattern to make a second type of headband.

The good news is the show we had the past two years in May isn’t going to happen this year so I can work for the June show that is happening.  Now I can plan on having new stuff and a section for clearance of items I’ve had for a long time.

Six containers are now in the hall and doing fine. There is a space for others to come up. I did a first round clean up of the living room so the refrigerator could be delivered and they were on the doorstep a little after 8 this morning and did a very nice, swift and clean delivery of the new and take out of the old. Now maybe we can have some decent ice cream that’s not too soft.

The weekend managed to sneak in again. I am determined the next day and a half to do some serious order filling. After all, winter is back or at least spring isn’t here so there are still needs.

Wonder

versa in green
versa in green

The good old Versa hat. I no longer offer it because I no longer have a supply of the yarn. I will have to bring it back in another form.

The great office purge finds the entire area in front of the bookcase cleared. The next area will be that surrounding the little craft table. I suspect I will throwing a lot of that away.

I went for a walk this morning. I went to bed at 2 a.m. and for some reason found myself awake ant 6 a.m. I thought I’d trick myself. I said to myself, “If I can count to 100 without dozing off (something I can hardly pull off) I’ll get up and go for a walk. I think I go to 105 before I realized God was laughing with his typical: “Ha, I knew 1000 years ago you’d do that; still funny.” So, I got up, grabbed the phone, the headphones and went out for the walk. Worked up a nice, little sweat which wasn’t bad considering it was a little nippy. But very nice to get outdoors again.

Sitting in front of me, ready to made into a crochet cap is some blue Ardilla Cotton. They don’t make this anymore. In fact, Google Ardilla Cotton and watch what comes up. I let out an audible “Oh!” when I saw.

I am curious to work with this fiber. It’s a pearled cotton, a little more upscale than the typical cotton. It’s crocheting a little thinner than worsted but I don’t know if it’s enough that I will have to add to it to get gauge. (We don’t need no sticking swatch.)

 

But wait, you may be saying, yesterday the choice was black cotton or the anniversary yarn.

Yes, that was yesterday and that hat was very quickly done. I was sitting downstairs yesterday waiting for Mr. Honey to come out of the bathroom when I saw a sister ball of yarn of the yarn I selected up here. I also saw a crochet hook of the same size and I know the pattern by heart so I just went for it. Completed it pretty quickly, too, which tells me that trying to multitask can sometimes slow you down. So now, along with four acrylic caps is one made of the anniversary yarn.

But wait, you may be saying again, why not then make the next one out of the black cotton? Because the anniversary yarn and the black cotton are in the same container and I am moving from container to container. Why must I explain everything? You really should have known that one.

Three packages left here this morning. I dropped them off at the post office (well, I was up) and I wanted to make sure they went out with the first pick up. Our delivery doesn’t happen until the afternoon so things don’t get processed until the next day. With their departure, the needles are clear to do a variegated rasta, a classic slouch (I do have enough fiber to do it) and another variegated rasta that will make its way across the pond to France.

It’s the weekend and when you don’t have a Monday – Friday job that doesn’t really mean much but you have to mention it anyway. I will be working to lower the number of orders and also to add to the growing pile of crochet caps. I will also begin looking at the headbands patterns and stitches and select a couple of those.

Need to get jumping – Christmas is just 9 months away.

Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation

The long scarf
The long scarf

For some reason, people in Mr. Honey’s family seem to think he should help me in the shop. Specifically they think he should do the shipping. They tell him since I have so much to make it would be awfully nice if he did the packing up and the shipping.

I have no idea where they got that stupid idea.

Besides the fact that it would take longer to explain where to find the link to the shipping labels than it would for me to prepare the entire package; they never asked if he was helpful at all.

And he is.

Mr. Honey will take my packages to the post office when he run his own errands – even if the post office is not in the direction he’s heading. He is also the business manager and is a great sounding board (even when I’m sounding bored – couldn’t resist…) and he is very supportive.

The living room is looking like a yarn shop storage room because he purchased more bins than I asked for so I could control the madness. And other than an occasional shake of the head when he weaves his way through the madness, he has never said a word about how his ordered, structured life has been overtaken by a yarn crazed woman he married on purpose. A woman who wasn’t yarn crazed for the first ten years of their marriage.

He still won’t let me make him a sweater. This is probably a good thing since he wouldn’t get it until 2054. But he will see something he likes then hint, hint, hint until I figure out he wants it for himself. So far, this is limited to scarves but maybe one day it will evolve to something else. But probably not – the guy is low maintenance.

I appreciate the sentiment of his family for wanting him to be involved but this whole thing works because he is who he is. Besides, I don’t have a doubt that if something happened to me and the doctor said I could still knit but I could no longer do the labels, he’d do that too.

Let’s just hope that day never comes.

This River Runs

Infinity scarf in fiesta
Infinity scarf in fiesta

This is the infinity scarf I’ve been working on. Can you see now why it may have taken more than my usual seven hours of knitting a scarf? Even though I was using bigger yarn and bigger needles, even though I do not use a cable needle when making cables, those cables took some time to get in.

I am tempted to go against my natural instincts and block it. Something in my mind says this is wrinkled. Something else thinks that a good steaming of a wool blend fiber is just what this scarf needs to be more of what it is.

I am sitting down until that temptation goes away. Nothing good comes out of Nazareth on this one. I include blocking instructions when I send the care instructions because I don’t want to be the one to change the size or shape. And woe to me if I let the steamer linger one moment longer than it should at a particular spot and the fiber breaks down. Only has to happen once to know that another horse ain’t gotta leave that barn.

That way when someone sends me a note and they say they washed the item and went to shape it and what was a round hat is now a poly something or another hat, I can write back and state with great sincerity, ‘Did you follow the instructions?’

The table clearing (It’s taking so long because I am not putting a full frontal effort into it.) has unearthed a small lap blanket. Huh. I made it but can’t remember why I made such a small one when I usually make a full grown afghan out of that pattern. Again I say – huh.

There is stuff to be taken out to the garbage bin and deposed of. I can claim a small victory in office declutteration. That’s right, I made a word. Someone has to make them; why not me?

When Something is Wrong With my Baby….

basketweave hat
basketweave hat

I have logical friends. I think 99% of them are quite logical. One of my logical friends, Erin, left a comment on yesterday’s post where she wondered if it would not be easier to offer already made products.

Yes.

But, it would also be less lucrative. This I know because it’s what I did the first three years of my business. The right mix, I believe, is somewhere between the two extremes and that’s the mix I’m working on for 2013. The warmer months of the year will be spent (hopefully) making bunches and bunches of product to be placed in the ‘ready to ship’ section of the shop. Those months where the sales will be slow which means I have time to knit primarily for pleasure and secondarily for the shop’s busy season and we shall see how it all works out.

I am off this morning to First United Methodist Church of Oak Park to participate in a UMW program. I was first asked to attend, then I was asked to attend in my position as a district officer because the keynote speaker is the district Vice President, then I was asked to be a reader. All of this I said ‘yes’ to. It was when they asked since I was going to attend, and I was going to be a reader, if I wouldn’t mind throwing in a singing solo, that I said no. I am hoping to get in some knitting time (knitting goes everywhere!) and I can’t sit in the back and do some stitching while I listen if I have to sit in the front.

I am going to be working on the infinity scarf that I designed. It is working up very prettily and I know I am close to the end because I am getting that ‘why isn’t this over already’ feeling that we get when we are closing in on the finish of a project. Yes, I said ‘we’ because that’s true, isn’t it? We get that way. You and me. Not just me. Right?

I am hoping it will be completed tomorrow. In truth, having it done this afternoon would be great so I can get it posted for the incredibly patient person who wants it…and so it will be over and done with. I’m fickle. It’s a flaw.

By the end of today, I hope to have less than 40 open orders. BTW, these open orders include the ones I’ve received for this month so while I am not having the blitz of orders I did a few scant weeks ago, I am still garnering business. This funny winter weather may be keeping business up.

I am also making progress in the office organization event. I have cleared away some stuff and I am about to tackle my work table. I know it’s underneath all that stuff because I can see its legs. Once I get that done, that will be a tremendous boost. I am going to get this done. It is a resolution of mine that I made just the other day. Rebel that I am, I decided not to make a new year’s resolution. Instead, I made one for February.

That;s how I roll.

 

Infatuation

The Ribbed scarf in taupe
The Ribbed scarf in taupe

I am below 50 outstanding orders. This is great news and I am still working diligently to get folks their stuff. I had some wonderful feedback from someone who said their only minor complaint was that it took so long to get but was worth it. (In truth, it took her a lot less time than a lot of folks but I ain’t gonna tell her that.) I have been commissioned to do two scarves. The first one is done and has already been purchased. The second one will be done shortly – after I kick out of couple of the hats I still have to do.  Miss April and Miss Pilvi have been quite wonderful with their assistance.

I tell myself that I am going to take a couple of days off after I am all caught up – which I was hoping would be at the end of the month but it won’t be. I probably won’t take the time off – there is a craft show coming up and I also need to get ready for the 2013 items I want to offer and I should get started on them, you know, in 2013.

But I also know I will not take more than a day off because I am still infatuated with the craft. It isn’t the craft I want a break from – it’s the business part of the craft. I can take a couple of days away from that and it might not be a bad idea to close the shop down and come back with the new designs and new items I have in my head and use the new ideas I have for refreshing the shop – and being better at handling high traffic.

I can take some time away from thinking about customer feedback and customer care and all that stuff and just get back to the creative and spiritual side of this thing I love so much. That would be nice.

I don’t know that I want to go way back to the innocence stage of knitting where I was just knitting scarves because I’ve met so many great people and done so many things since expanding my knitting – but I would love to go back to the feelings of joy and creativity that was with me when I didn’t have to concern myself with the business side of things. But never fear, as soon as those feeling come over me, I will start to worry that I will never have another sale.

I”m like that.

In the meantime, I am going to do some writing, try and organize my office (I have to move those dozen bins out of the living room to somewhere) and continue on with the business at hand.

Happy knitting to you!

Owning It

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Let me say this for the record: Customers are not always right. Harry Gordon Selfridge or Marshall Field, whichever one thought this one up, was wrong.

However, I own a business. I run a business and even when they are wrong, I don’t get the luxury of acting like me and telling them in a way they could hardly misinterpret that they are not correct. In short, I don’t get to act pissy when I want to.

For instance, the persons who ordered a hat in January (the same hat) – and, by the way, every single description says to allow 10-14 business days and there’s a note on my shop front that says I am working on orders from Mid-December – but one sent a note saying only “Do I need to cancel this order?” and the other, who ordered less than a week ago sent a note asking if they would be sent this week. I did respond to both – not as me but as me the business owner.

For one, I responded and referred them back to the description where it said to allow 10-14 business days and explained where that would put them on the calendar and the other was more or less, you can do with your order what you like since it’s – you know – your order. Haven’t heard back yet.

This is one of those instances where you wonder if the customer service angels are playing around with you. On the one hand, you don’t want to simper and whimper and encourage such outrageous behavior as customers who don’t read descriptions, notices or policies. On the other, you don’t want to correct them to the point where they are treated as children – even though I have discovered they usually are compared to me.

I think what really bothers me is that there are folks who have waited quite patiently since mid-December. I’ve had just two people cancel their orders and I do work hard to get them what they’ve paid for and to have some impatience where there really shouldn’t be any makes me a little nuts.

Sign.

In other knitting news: Mr. Honey went to The Container Store the other day to find something to store his new clothes in. Now, Mr. Honey does not go clothes shopping very often but when he does he’s like a girl getting out of private school. He found what he was looking for but he also came back with five of the containers he purchased for me for my stash storage – because he felt I needed them.

He is right. So now there are 14 bins in the living room. Four of them are empty but that is a temporary condition and all those containers will not easily come into my office which is a clutter bomb. I am determined to clear out both rooms and provide some organization to them – not to mention give my hubby the living room back and make it so we can actually have people walk through it and not wonder when I opened up a yarn store.

The first step is to complete those 72 orders I have open. So I have to go and do a hat in gray and send it off with its sister cream hat to one of those patient people. It’s Friday! It’s the first of February and best of all, it’s a free day for me. The store is closed for the day and I am looking for some new things to start making for the store and lining up things for the first craft show coming in a few months.

Wish me luck and continued customer patience as I work through these orders! Have a great weekend…