The Meaning of Normal

Color Wheel Scarf
Color Wheel Scarf

I’ve been feeling somewhat normal the past few days. These days have been spent trying to follow the new order of business for my day. Instead of waking up and just getting right down to that knitting business and then fifteen hours later wondering why nothing else got done; I decided to start the day doing some of those other things then knitting and eighteen hours later going to bed.

So, I’ve been getting up – checking the shop, writing blog posts, writing in one of my started books (I swear, I will get one published), doing some clean up (more on that) and then working out. After all that, I can pick up my knitting needles or crochet hook and then stress out that though I’ve done all that before, there are still other rooms that could use tipping over and shaking to clear them out.

The table clear is done! It was a very productive last day with finding some nicely packaged hats I thought had sold. The keyboard is still on the table – which was one of the reasons the table was placed there so I wouldn’t have to keep bringing it out when I wanted to practice. but I also remembered the other reason it was there: to hold the shipping supplies so I had a space to pack up items when they were ready to ship. I am glad to say, the scale, tape and bags are now also on the table ready for the next time I will need them. I even managed to get the care instruction and business cards on the table.

We must take our victories where we find them so we can offer the proper thanks and praise for them. The moment of clarity surrounding having a cleaned off surface brought with it the knowledge that I should just pick a point in the room, call it twelve and then work clockwise, tackling a surface in days to come. I picked the doorway as twelve and see my next conquest. I like this game.

Because of the weirdness of this winter – it’s weird this year because it’s not like it was last year – which was really weird and warm – this year, it’s cold and snowy like winter should be but because it wasn’t like that last year, it’s weird. (Read it twice, you’ll get it.) I have not been able to do walking as my workout. Got a couple of days in last week but even when the temp says it’s warm enough to walk, it’s been frosty and windy and I ain’t one of those who will run in a hurricane. So my workouts have been indoors, still heart racing and fun, but not the same things as ‘playing outside.’  But Mr. Honey says we need the wet stuff – I haven’t found his agronomy degree either but he sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. So.

This extended winter (look at that, it’s February and I think winter has been extended) I believe has brought about people knowing they still need winter gear so while I was busy clearing out December orders (not done yet) and doing some January orders (good deal of those are out) fifteen orders in February managed to sneak in. So there’s a lot of crafting to be done still. No day off for me and because I’ve been feeling more normal than I have been, I’m just fine with that.

Tonight, I go playing with the knit group. The winter weather advisory has expired and though the roof next door is completely covered and I see no sign of roof – an accurate weather predictor – I am hoping they get the roads cleared so I can go over to Miss April’s armed with knitting and the fixings for chili. We are having a pot luck and that is my contribution. Or, if the roads aren’t cleared or some other strange thing happens to keep me here – it’s tonight dinner. Either way, there be some knitting and chili going on this evening.

I really hope it’s with the group though. Just saying.

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?

Hustle and Flow

versa in green
versa in green

Today is a busy day in Honey Town: I have completed the infinity scarf and it needs to be photographed, placed in the shop, and the pattern needs to be formatted.

I discovered I have the wrong yarn for two prayer shawls I have to make and I can’t remember the name of the correct color so I will be standing in JoAnn looking like someone who came out without their handler as I stand in the Homespun section and try and figure it out.

And I am going to make a colossal attempt at clearing three days from my knit calendar today. I am already prepared not to see my bed again until the early hours of tomorrow morning but I am determined to have more than a handful of packages to hand off to the post office tomorrow.

I took the infinity scarf with me yesterday to the church event and I got to knit on it only before the program. There wasn’t time during the program and I could have pulled it out but I was at the front table during the entire time and that could have looked a little awkward – believe me, I was tempted. But I did have the chance to work on it while I chatted with Nancy. I’ve known Nancy for quite some time and a few years back, we discovered I went to grade school with her daughter. Nancy’s husband, Ed, married my nephew. Because he’s a minister. Stop it.

Nancy commented ‘that’s an interesting shawl you’re working on.’ I never quite know how to take ‘interesting’. It’s one of those words that can mean ‘I’m fascinated’ or ‘I’m fascinated you think that is worth time you will never get back.’ A sentence or two later she said it was very pretty. Turns out the interesting part was how the colors changed on their own.

I did make it a little longer than a regular scarf to compensate for the fact it was going to be seamed. The seam doesn’t take up the inches I added to it but what the heck. I spent some time trying figure out how long to make it before I seamed it and a study of infinity scarves on Etsy told me there was no standard. In fact, there were some scarves that were shorter than I was making – more than were longer –  so I felt good about ending it there. I swear, a few more inches would have been torture.

The table clearing in the office is progressing nicely. That’s where I left the keyboard. I knew it was somewhere. A few more things placed where they belong or thrown out and I will have my view back.

The snow is melting off the roof and it’s a bright, sunny day but I am not fooled, I know it’s cold out. But it should be a nice day to take the photos of the infinity scarf and I am going to go out and do just that!

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

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

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…