It seems appropriate, at this time of year to be talking about sales. The "delight" that is Black Friday seems to have jumped over the Atlantic, and people are desperately trying to grab a bargain. Quite literally in some places.
Even my twitter feed has become full of small independnet companies like mine that feel they have to jump on the sales bandwagon. It's something I have quite strong feelings about. I respect the business owner's decision, and their right to run a sale, but I happen to believe it's not a healthy thing for a small one person yarn/fibre business to do.
I work hard, as does every other single person business out there. Every single thing that is listed for sale in my shop has required work, with my own hands. When I calculate my prices I look at all my costs, and work out how long it takes me to do something. I then calculate how much I'll be paying myself for that item. If I run a sale I'm effectively taking a pay cut. I'm saying that my work isn't worth as much as I believe it is.
I'm not Amazon, it's employees will still earn the same amount of money when they work on Black Friday. If I run a sale then I still do the same amount of work, but will be paying myself less. I value my time, and my expertise too much to do that.
I'd also like to think I have a close relationship with many of my customers. We chat in my ravelry group, interact on twitter, and have conversations on Etsy. You are more than just a meaningless address, where the packing of orders is as close to automated as it can be. When Mum and I pack the parcels we spot the names of people who buy regularly. We get to know the colours and fibres you like, and speculate on what you might be making. We look on a map, and imagine what your life is like in those far away, exotic countries.
I value your custom, without you, I don't pay my bills. I believe you're entitled to pay a fair price for my items, and that means not having an artificially high price, so that I can afford to run sales. I also don't believe it's fair to put pressure on you to buy just because there's a sale on. I want people to buy the fibre they love, in a colour they love. That way they'll use it up, create something beautiful, and not just have fibre sat in a storage box becoming compacted and deteriorating in quality.
I also know the sinking feeling when you see a sale happening, and know you have no money in your bank account to buy anything, and that next week when you do have cash, the price will be higher again. Or even worse, you've just treated yourself, and then see the same item reduced in price a short time later. It's also horrible to go through your stash and discover the item you bought because it was on sale and you felt it was too much of a bargain to resist, but actually, it's not your colour.
So I keep everything the same price all the time, that way you can buy at the time that suits you, and know that you've paid me a fair wage. The only time I ever run a sale is the Pot Luck Sale at the end of show season, and then it's because items have been handled and it would be unfair to ask full price for them online.
The past couple of days I've had a friend visiting me. When Jill and are together there's usually large amounts of fibre involved. She was one of the enablers who got me spinning, and is venturing down the fibrey business route herself at the moment. Rather handily she's also moving to a cottage on the other side of the hill, all being well.
It was Jill's birthday today, so for her birthday treat I took her to our local auction. Never let it be said that I don't spoil my friends!
t's a proper rural auction, normally used for the weekly livestock sales, but once a month they also hold a household goods sale. There's usually items from a couple of house clearances, plus all sorts of odds and ends that people have decided to try and sell. There's some utter junk, and some real gems. Boxes usually start at £1, and if you've very unlucky the box before the lot you want to buy doesn't sell and they combine both lots together!
Given Jill has a house to furnish we were mostly interested in the bog stuff, this pew bench was the real star of the sale.
It was properly old, with the sort of wear you only get from something that's been sat in, and polished for hundreds of years. Alas, at £320 it was a tad too expensive for our pockets!
Instead I bought her a Lamb Oggy and a milky coffee and we sat down to people watch. You get dealers travelling from all over the place, the local farmers with an eye for a bargain, and just about everything in between!
I spend a lot of time developing my new fibre collections. Putting together colour combinations, fibre combinations, then seeing what they are like to spin, and then using them to create fabric of some sort. It's usually months of preparation and a lot of investment of time and money.
Usually to start off a concept and to get the creative juices flowing I use pictures and images. The latest collection of fibre, Hiraeeth, is all about the landscape of Wales, the history of Wales and the legends and myths that surround this beautiful country
I start off by writing a basic outline of the sorts of colours that I think I might like to use. I'm not a wordy person so the notes at this stage are usually pretty brief, seriously, most of the time I have a colour, then a colourway name and all the rest is in my head. I find writing descriptions of things really hard, it takes forever, though I am getting better! Instead I'll use pictures to get an idea of colours. You can take a look at the Pinterest board of the images that inspired Hiraeth here.
Once I get started the colours tend to flow quite naturally but I can't get an accurate idea of how they going to look until I see the finished fibres. I then order some prototypes, quite often what I think I wanted to use can change considerably at this point in time. I take a look at the collection as a whole, I want a good balance of colours, warm, cool, light, and dark. I look at how the colours interact together. This is also the point that I start test spinning. Colours become further blended and darken when spun.
Sometimes my first idea becomes the fibre blend that you see on the shop shelves. Most of the time the colour will go through two or three further development stages. When I'm happy with the colour way I'll do a larger test spin of around 100 g, at the same time I'll also be on the lookout for a pattern that I can use to show off the colours. That way you, the customer, can gain an accurate idea of how the colour will end up in your finished projects
When all that is done I'm ready to launch the new collection. I'll spent a lot of time taking photos. I try to capture the colours as accurately as I can, not always easy with this complex blend of fibre types and colour. This is where I also try to translate the inspiration swirl of images and emotions in my head in to words, so you can see what I was trying to capture.
Hiraeth has been months in the planning, and due to an issue with one of the components I’ve not been able to finish of the collection. I’m so pleased to be able to say that the wait is nearly over. The final colours are on their way to me, so will be in the shop very soon, along with the sample packs. Pray for good light over the next week so I can get the photos taken as soon as I have the fibre!
Those of you who keep an eye on the Ravelry group will also know that something else new is on the way. I’ve been posting teaser photos over the last few days of some spun skeins of sparkly loveliness. Just like with Hiraeth there’s a theme behind them, and a whole collection of wonderful colour. I’m currently at the second round of colour development and hoping to get this collection rolled out in a shorter time frame than Hiraeth.
The blended fibres are always popular, they spin beautifully, and a re a nice low cost way to inject some colour in to your world. I've been having a think over the past few days (hurting shoulder leads to less doing, more thinking!), and I'm wondering wether a Blended Fibre club might be of interest to people.
You get the benefit of my colours, in a smaller quantity (though nice large quantities are also possible), for a similar price to the BoB club curently. There's always people who are desperate to join the BoB club, but I can't fit more of you in without neglecting something else, this is hopefully a way for you to get a different sort of club membership.
Edit to add- wow you lot are keen.
The club is happening, you can find out about it here.
My gawky babies of the spring are now all grown up. Of the 6 eggs I hatched, 3 survived, and all 3 are cockerels... good job I bought some more adult hens this summer. I'm far too much of a softy to get rid of them just because they don't lay eggs.
They spend most of their time hanging around together. The more mature ladies find them far too brash and exuberent, and the older cockerels will have nothing to do with the wippersnappers.
They've also discovered the delights of girls, and as a result have been harassing the ladies, and then run off when caught in the act by the older cockerels. They are a trio of sex pests. Most of the hens don't want to know and will just turn tail, or even give them a good pecking.
This however, is Penny. Penny doesn't do saying no. Not a day goes by when Penny doens't have to be rescued from underneath a pile of exuberent black cockerels who all think she's the best thing since sliced bread. This afternoon Big Bird was standing on her facing one way, and then Millar got in on the act as well by standing on her head. Subtle, they are not.
This is Big Bird. He's Cav's son, Cav was my tame accidental Polish who blundered around getting confused by everything, and was happiest when sat on your lap being hand fed. She was killed on the road last spring. Big Bird has no such issues. A more brash cockerel you could not hope to find.
They've also found all the good spots to hang out. Dad's workshop is nice and dry, and comes complete witha tame human who provides a regular supply of corn. They've even been known to sit on the shelf by his lathe watching him turn. Lets hope they don't fall off or it might be a very fast form of rotisserie chicken!
Unlike for most people, beaches are a winter destination. Our pair of dogs are rescue dogs, and were never taught how to behave properly around other dogs. In the summer, the beaches are full of people, and their dogs. As a result we leave them to their fun in the summer, and we go in the winter. The beaches are nearly always empty, so we get views like this all to ourselves.
I know the sky is grey, but somehow it has it's own beauty. At least I think so..
This is Ynyslas, a sandy penninsula that pokes out in the the mouth of the Dyfi estuary.
Aberdyfi is just on the other side of the river, seems so close you could touch it!
However, there's no bridge across at this point, instead it's a 13 mile drive up the riverto Machynlleth if you want to get there.
Before the sand dunes is a huge expanse of sand and mud flats. Great fun if you're a dog who likes to chase things.
This is just so Meg, the trot towards you, because you might just throw her ball!
Then when you throw it! Such fun, and then your Mum tried to get in on the act and dump you in the sand!
Guess who found the continuous shooting mode on her camera, and worked out how to make animated Gifs?
This is why I really love the place really. Just look at that sky.
Things are still blissfully boring round here. Work is very busy (thank you!), so evenings are spent doing non-thinking activities.
I have picked up my crochet hook again in an attempt to finish off a blanket project I started more years ago than I care to admit.
I've also been spinning, partly to reduce the quantity of fibre bulging out of storage boxes, but also because there are times when 100g of hand dyed fluff provides just the right amount of challenge. I theoretically have a fleece project I'm working on, hoping to spin it up for a jumper, but the first skein was very wrong in terms of thickness, so the whole project went in to time out. I pulled out the pretty braids just to remind myself that I do know what I'm doing, and can make yarn!
Heavenly Fibers Hannui
Spun to a weight that matches a couple of skeins I've already spun. Aiming for a rough Sport/DK weight makes for comfortable spinning, and tends to give me options for the finished skeins.
There are so many great striped patterns out there now that allow you to combine skeins of yarn. It's also a thickness that makes a nice woven fabric if I choose to go down that route.
Now if you'll excuse me, reducing my stash of dyed braids appears to have resulted in my buying undyed fibre to use with it to make Northmavine Hoody... I'd best get spinning!