Moving On ...

>> Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm moving my knitlife posts over to my new website, I won't be back here to check comments or update. I hope you'll all join me over there! Thanks for being such awesome and loyal readers.


Umm... wow.

>> Saturday, April 10, 2010

In my last post I detailed ways in which I wanted to grow my business. It seemed all I needed to do was blog about it and all kinds of amazing things began happening.

Not the least of which is that #5 came to fruition in a big way.

I was featured on Lime N Violet's podcast, in their yarn porn section. I Kid. You. Not.
L&V have a subscribership of over 43,000 knitters. To be mentioned by them, for one of them to say "there's nothing in her shop that I wouldn't buy" is high praise. It's HUGE. I'm beyond ecstatic. I can't thank the ladies enough for this, and vow to make the best of the gift I've been given.

I am going to do the Fiber Frolic. I just have to fill out paperwork and write a couple of checks.

And there's a new project in the works, one that I'm super duper excited about. I'll be able to tell you more in a couple of weeks, but for now, you may want to book mark this site.

I'm just sayin'.



Growing the Business

>> Sunday, March 28, 2010

My husband and I were talking about the shop the other day and he asked me, "how do we grow your business?" I have been expressing a wish to devote more time and energy to the shop, and to create a bigger footprint for myself in the fiber community.
"Well," I said. "More people need to know about me, about the shop. I need to be mentioned on Podcasts, videocasts, blogs and such. I need to get my name out there, basically. Once more people know about the shop and buy from it, the more business will grow."
Bear (my husband) shrugged and nodded, and conversation moved on.

I should have known that although the matter dropped from conversation, it hadn't dropped from his mind. The next day while at work I received an email with an attachment. "I think you should do this" was written in the subject line.

It was a vendor application for the 2010 Maine Fiber Frolic.

As I clicked through the application, I realized that the rates were much more reasonable than I'd thought. $75 for an outside spot or $95 for an inside one. The Maine Fiber Frolic has well-known vendors such as Spunky Eclectic, String Theory Yarn, Golding Spindles, and Enchanted Knoll Farms, among others. The thought that I could have a booth as well was a tantalizing one.

But how?

I have no where near the inventory I'd need for a show like that. The MFF also requires vendors to provide proof of liability insurance. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it. Bear and I agreed that even if I didn't sell a lot of things, the MFF would be an awesome way to get my name out there into the larger world.

So last week, we hatched a plan. Here's what I've been doing:

1. Called local insurance agencies. Liability insurance costs about $400 a year. That sounds steep, but I can make payments on it and can cancel it after the show without a penalty. I will have an appointment with them later this week.

2. Downloaded an application with a yarn/fiber wholesaler. I just need one more trade reference and a photocopy of my business license and I can send that in. The minimum order is $500 - this is proving to be the sticking point in the plan. If I can come up with this money soon, it should be enough inventory for a booth at the MFF. If not, then it won't happen this year.

3. Dyed up a bunch of my current inventory and spruced up the shop. Most of what I have right now is sock yarn, which I've been adding to the shop over the weekend. I tested out a new method of dyeing that is both faster and more beautiful than my previous method. The shop is no longer organized by collection but by form - yarn, handspun, and fiber are all in separate categories.

4. Got a commision to dye the "bonus" skein of yarn for an existing sock club. This was very lucky for me, as I happened to be in the right place at the right time. If nothing else, this is a great way to get my name out there to people who may have never heard of me. I'm just waiting on my yarn and dyes to arrive. I hope to have them dyed up on Tuesday and in the mail by week's end. Sooner if I can manage it.

5. Joined an online Stitch N Bitch group where I can show yarn porn real time via web cam to a bunch of knitters and spinners who love them some pretty yarn! I'm hoping seeing the yarn and the link to the shop in tandem will spur on some sales. If I get mentioned on the SnB creators' podcast, well, all the better.

6. I'm having a sale in the shop this week to help spur sales. 10% off everything and free shipping over $20. That means every skein of sock yarn ships free. I have my fingers crossed that this helps move my current inventory out so I can get this wholesale account moving.

So that's it. If you have any other ideas on what I should be doing, let me know! I need all the help I can get. Wish me luck!


What the heck WERE those pics?

>> Friday, March 5, 2010

I promised an update/explanation of those pics and so now, several days later, here it is. The first few pics are of a newly-finished scarf. It's my design, and I'm calling it the Harvest Wheat Scarf. As soon as I can figure out how to make a .pdf file, it'll be for sale in the Etsy shop and on Ravelry. I may also do a giveaway here. I will be sending four copies of that scarf to Ida Walker's Fiber Friends Feed America campaign (F3America). I will be giving you much more information about that soon. The scarf is a simple design, and is a super quick knit with bulky weight wool and size 11 needles. I haven't measured it yet (I will) but it took almost exactly two skeins of Lamb's Pride bulky. I reversed the cables at the end of the first skein so when one wears it, the cables go in the same direction on both sides.

The second knitted item from the last post is clue #1 of my Evenstar Mystery Shawl, designed by Susan Pandorf. I'm about 1/3 of the way through clue #2 now. I'm mad in love with this shawl and wish I had more time to work on it. Every other row is straight knit and the charts are fabulous. I do have to pay close attention to what I'm doing, however, since a single missed or added yarn over will screw up the pattern completely. I've had to unknit a couple of times. Clue #2 is going more smoothly since I'm paying closer attention. Clues come out every two weeks, so I've got to hurry up if I don't want to get behind. There are only seven days to the next clue, and I have about 22 rows left of clue #2!

Please let me know what you think of the scarf. I can't wait to hear your opinion!


Pics now, update to follow

>> Friday, February 26, 2010


Evenstar Mystery Shawl (1st post)

>> Friday, February 12, 2010

I've mentioned before that I'm signed up to knit Susan Pandorf's Evenstar Mystery shawl, a laceweight shawl based on The Lord of the Rings' Evenstar (the necklace the elves wear). Here are my details:

Yarn: Knit Picks Shadow
Colorway: Midnight Heather (black, navy blue, trace amounts of emerald green)
Yardage: approx. 1800 yards
Stash yardage: 2200 yards
Needles: US 4 (dpns, then Knit Picks Options interchangable circulars)
Beads: Crystal 8/0 seed beads
Bead count: 2900
Beads purchased: 3360 from
Gauge recommended: swatch = 6" x 4"
Gauge as knit: slightly less

The gauge swatch was a piece of the pattern. I knit it up, soaked it and blocked it. I had to block it pretty aggressively to get it close to the 6" x 4" recommended, and as you'll see in a moment I still didn't quite get there. I've already gone up a needle size from the recommended US 3, so I think I'm going to leave it where it is, and if it's a tiny bit smaller than the pattern says, who will ever know but me? Most of the knitters signed up are using light colored, silvery yarns, but I opted to go dark because it is what was in my stash. I like it:
And a close up of the stitch pattern:

I got the first clue tonight and have finished half of it. I will do the rest of it tomorrow, and then wait on tenterhooks until the next clue comes out (which I believe is in two weeks?). Until then, happy knitting!


Irish Moss Toque and other stuff

>> Monday, February 8, 2010

I finished the Irish Moss Toque for my friend Leigh Anne yesterday. I'm not going to block it as it looks pretty good already and I don't have a head form to make sure it blocks in the round. I hope Leigh Anne likes it! I enjoyed knitting it - the chart was pretty good and easy to follow. Every round is three repeats of the chart and it knits up quickly. Two repeats of the 24 row chart and you're ready for the decreases. I wasn't really a fan of the decreases as they stay in pattern but it's so easy to lose track of which stitches remain and which ones disappear. It looks pretty good, though, so I'm pleased overall:

I will get a picture of her wearing it as soon as I can.

In other news, I was finally able to knit up the Evenstar swatch. I will be participating in the Evenstar Mystery Shawl Knit along that begins on the 12th. I love all of Susan Pandorf's designs, and this shawl kicks off a whole series of designs inspired by the Lord of the Rings. The inner geek in me is loving this. I'm going up a needle size, which I was worried about at first but my swatch just barely got gauge so I think the size should just about even out. My yarn is Knit Picks Shadow, colorway "Midnight Heather" I hope this shawl goes better than the mystery sock did. I still have to frog that and design a new sock to make from it. I won't be beginning that project until the following are done:

1. Icarus
2. Horseshoe Scarf
3. Giraffe
4. Manhattan sock #2

The Evenstar Shawl will be knit apace with the clues, if I'm lucky. I have February vacation next week and I'm hoping to knock out at least two projects by the end of the week. Wish me luck!


On Frogging

>> Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I cast on the Girls' Night Out Mystery Sock with a lot of hopes. It was my first mystery sock, my first KAL, and my first time trying out mosaic knitting. I got gauge with the yarn and needles suggested, but something happened when I tried the sock on.

Which I didn't do until I'd finished clue #4 (turning the heel and completing gusset decreases).

It does. Not. Fit.

I cannot even get the sock over my heel. Apparently my gauge changed for the mosaic section, and it was now too tight (and with two colors, it was also not elastic at all) to get anywhere near my heel, let alone turn it.

When I realized that there was no way the sock would ever fit me, I was faced with a decision: keep on knitting the socks and gift them away, or frog the project completely and try something different with the yarn. I wasn't really in love with the pattern (which is very well written and entertaining to knit, but just not my kettle of beans), so I am going to take the plunge and frog this sock.

It will be the first time I've ever frogged a knitting project. Ever.

I'm not as sad about it as I thought I would be, probably because I'm looking forward to designing a sock that will better suit me. It's fabulous yarn. I think it will be a toe-up sock and will have some sort of sun motif on the top. I'll have to work on it and get back to you about it.

I have three Christmas projects I need to finish, and one I need to start and finish, hopefully all before the 13th. On the 13th I begin the Evenstar Mystery shawl, which I'm hoping will go better than this mystery KAL did.


Feast or Famine

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sales in my shop have slowed since the holidays, which is to be expected. I've been trying not to purchase more fiber to dye until I sell some of what I have in current inventory. I created my first add for Ravelry, and have been taking time to finish my holiday knitting and recharge my dyer's batteries. I've signed up for two knit alongs, one of which is in progress now (the Girls' Night Out sock). The other will start in February, and is called the Evenstar Mystery Shawl, pattern by Susan Pandorff. I can't wait to get started on this, even though I still have a metric butt ton of things still on the needles. In a way it's been good that I haven't had a lot of sales, because I've gotten so behind with other things.

I do have to admit, though, that I was getting kind of nervous. I'd started to wonder if perhaps I wasn't meant to have the awesome fiber shop that I thought originally I was going to have. I'd started to think that maybe I didn't have what it took to create a fiber business. Or maybe that the things I'd created weren't as pretty as I had thought they were when I dyed them.

Then on Tuesday, one of the other English teachers came into my room. She know that I sell fiber and yarn, and wanted to purchase some yarn for a friend of hers. The only yarn I have right now is sock yarn, and she didn't want to gift such a thin yarn that might limit someone in terms of possiblew projects. "Well," I said. If you like any of the fibers I have in the shop, I can spin them up for you. It costs more for handspun, but I can spin it more thickly so it's more versitile."
"That sounds great. I'll take two."
I boggled. Two? Two skeins of hanspun? To price handspun I double the cost of the fiber. If there are problems (knots, bunches, etc.) I take a couple of dollars off. She wants Aroostook and Acadia to be spun into yarn. That's about 60 dollars! She didn't even blink when I quoted the prices to her. She even asked for a recommendation for a good knitting book (I chose All New Homespun Handknit by Amy C. Clark) and bought that an hour later. To say I was excited was an understatment. I haven't been able to spin for over a month due to the amout of knitting I've had to do, and so this was a perfect excuse to dig Brownwyn out and get some wheel time.
Later that day the other English teacher (there are three of us) heard the first talking about her purchase and said, "You know, Heather, it would be a great idea for my mom for Mother's Day. Could I get two as well?"
Boggle again. "Certainly," I said. "Which colorways would you like?"
"I can't decide," she said, perusing my shop. "Can I see them in person?"
The next morning (Wendesday) I brought all of my inventory to school to show the second English teacher. I even showed her what the first had purchased. As the second was ogling the fibers, the first came in, picked up the one skein of sock yarn I had and said, "I like this a lot. I'd like to have this, too."

Ummm, okay. That's FIVE items purchased in two days. I was even more excited than before and couldn't wait to get started. I took those listings off my Etsy shop and got to work.

Last night I got two emails. The first was from my friend Brandy who wants to buy two bundles of fiber from me (Gaia and Hestia). She will be picking them up tonight. The second is from a former customer who was writing to let me know that she spun my fiber into yarn and knit the yarn into a beret that she then submitted to Spin Off Magazine, in hopes of being included in an upcoming issue. If it is selected, my shop's name will appear in this magazine.

Oh. My. God.

I went from having no business for several weeks to having a violent boom of business in two days. I'm still reeling, but I'm having an awesome time. Maybe this is what I'm meant to do after all.

Hugs and warm thoughts to all of my customers, past, present and future!


Selfish Knitting

>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Although I blogged yesterday about all the Christmas knits I'm still working on, it hasn't stopped me from casting on a few things for myself, too. The first thing I cast on was a sock for a dear plurk friend, Yenforyarn. A fellow knitter and designer (not to mention a real life friend of my favorite fiber seller, Coby), Yen has recently been diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. Across plurk and ravelry, knitters set aside time on Dec 28, the day of Yen's first chemo treatment, and cast on one of her sock designs. I chose to knit her Manhattan pattern, in my own handdyed yarn from the shop. I'd been saving this yarn for a special occasion, and this certainly fit the bill. The yarn, "April Showers," complements the pattern well, I think. I've already finished one sock:

The next sock will have to wait a while to cast on, however, because I'm busy with another selfish knit. It's another sock, this time from Brewer's Knitting Company, and it's a mystery sock. This is my first ever mystery knit (where you have no idea what the FO will look like, and have to wait for days to get each "clue", or knitting section). So far I'm enjoying it. The yarn is a bit thin so it requires size 1 needles which I'm not a big fan of, but so far the pattern is an enjoyable knit. I like that there are only 24-36 rows to knit with each clue. It's a lot easier to avoid knitting boredom that way. Many of the knitters doing this are doing both at a time, but I'm just knitting the one for now. I'm through clue 2, and here's what it looks like:

I finished Tara's thrummed mittens this morning and have updated my last post with pictures. That's what I'm working on. How about you?


Knitting, knitting, and more knitting.

>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This won't come as a surprise to any of you who know me, but I'm still working on my Christmas knitting. Yes, still. I got some of it done, but no matter how hard I tried, getting eleven projects completed in two months was way beyond me. perhaps if I didn't have to work, at all, I'd have completed more items. Perhaps if I didn't also cast on a couple of things for myself, I'd have more finished objects. Whatever the reason, my Holiday knitting is still in full swing. I thought I'd update my original list here so you can see where I'm at.

1. Icarus Shawl for Grammie. This is not done. I'm past the repeats of chart one, and am partway into chart 2. I think I have about 40 rows left. My yarn is in a hopeless tangle, so I have to bite the bullet, cut the yarn, and start with a new skein. That will be my project for the week. I'd like to have it done by the 28th. That's so not going to happen.

2. Trigger finger mittens for Daddy. These are done. I even wrote a pattern up for this and had it test knit. As soon as I get it translated into a .pdf file, it will be available for purchase. I can't wait for this. My first ever design! I will update this post with pictures this afternoon.

3. Maine Morning Mitts for Mom. These were done a long time ago, and were a big fit. She wants another pair in powder blue. I'm looking for the yarn, as she's allergic to wool and can't wear it.

4. Handknit socks and a tightly knit hat for Bear. Sock #1 is not yet to the heel, and the tightly knit hat was too small. I decided to gift it to someone else. Bear totally missed out on the holiday knitting.

5. Thrummed mittens for Tara. These are almost done. I just have one thumb of one mitten left to knit and it's all done. I hope to get that done today.

6. Mark is getting the aforementioned hat that was too small. It should fit him perfectly. I hope he likes it.

7. A beanie for Leigh Anne. This is in progress. I have about 20 rows of the body left, then the crown decreases. Maybe another week or two? Depends on how much time Icarus takes me.

8. An Elephante for Caitlin. I did get this done. It's cute. I'll post pics later today. She loves it so much I've already had to perform one repair. I hope to have to do many more.

9. Viking Beanie for Nicholas. Not even begun. I may knit him a giraffe like I'm knitting for my nephew, since it will go well with his sister's giraffe.

10. Scarf for Dani. I wrote up a quick pattern and am about three feet into it. It's a simple horseshoe or wheatear cable, and halfway through I will reverse them so the sides look the same as they hang down. I'm using bulky wool and size 11 needles, so this is flying.

11. Giraffe for Nicholas. Not yet begun. It's on the backburner until I get more things finished.

12. John: Not getting a knit this year. Tough.

I will post my selfish projects later this week. Happy knitting!


Shop update 1/2/10

>> Sunday, January 3, 2010


10kH is here for now. Hush.

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