Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Out with the Old Year!

As we get ready to say farewell to 2009, I can honestly say it's been a heck of a year! My fiber work has taken on a new complexity in both the business and creative aspects. I have worked on my dyeing process, my spinning quality, and gotten my patterns in brick and mortar stores as well as on the Etsy shop. Although I have not knit as many hats as in past years, the sales on dyed fiber have more than made up for it. Becoming involved with Sally's gallery, Locally Grown has given me another venue for my work. Though not quit-your-day-job fabulous, it has allowed me to sell more yarn, particularly the hand-dyed sock yarn and handdyed, handspun yarns. Asheville HomeCrafts continues to be a steady source of fiber income. In addition to expanding my hand-dyed fiber presence, they sell my hats, patterns and yarns. They have done well selling the sock yarns and would like more 'semi-solids.'

The dance scene has been strong - lots of calling gigs (and a heck of a spring coming up) and I'll close out 2008 by calling the New Year's Eve dance at the Old Farmer's Ball in Asheville. The English country dance continues to grow and I have begun leading English dances. Because it takes a different piece of brain that calling contras, my repertoire is still limited. J and I attended the Contradancers Delight last week and I spoke with Warren about adding an English workshop next year. Sounds like a wee bit of a resolution, eh? While on holiday in Columbus Ohio, I called a dance at the Big Scioty Barn Dance - great fun to show off to a new group. I must admit I used the cheapest trick in the book - I called Trip to Lambertville, an easy fun dance, that is not in the repertoire of the local callers. Did a fine job too, if I say so myself!

Work has been a year of changes as well. I began teaching CS200, the technology integration class for Teacher Education majors. With 6 sections (2 semesters and a summer session) behind me, I can now begin to design the class I really want it to be. The adult evening course starts January 6th and I'm ready to take off! The call from the Library of Congress inviting us into the TPS program has totally changed my outlook as well. With 3 more years of grant-funded professional development, I can continue to do the work that I love on all 4 fronts! I love my life!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Putting Smoky Mountain Fibers to Bed

Just a nap, of course.

Because of my holiday travel, I took everything but the patterns offline. I can 'ship' them from anywhere. I will say that www.smokymountainfibers.etsy.com has had a terrific year. I have reached my personal goal of 1,000 sales earlier this month. It has been both a learning experience and highly satisfying business venture. Still in no danger of quitting my day job, I know that I could support myself if need be. Right now, I do as much as I have time for without making myself too crazy. Could I do more? of course! A newsletter, more frequent blogging, Facebook and MySpace pages, a Ravelry group, the list goes on and on. But I can't do everything - keep the B&M stores happy, teach my classes, call dances and be a SAFF board member. What I can do is continue to offer good customer service, dye good colors in yarn and roving and develop patterns for the hats that I love to make.

The scarf is coming along about 5 feet long, just a few more inches to go. I'll start the next scarf soon, then onto the Calorimetry for Jane (in a cashmere blend!)and maybe one for me (though in a mere wool-silk blend that has been in the stash forever). For Austin? a scarf? will I be able to stand it? perhaps the Turn a Square hat? hmmm...

For part of my travel knitting, I plan to take a couple of UFOs - the 'Fetching' variant handwarmers I started for Page and a couple pairs of socks that could use some actual feet and toes. I am also taking patterns for other headbands, hats and socks that may come to life at the end of needles during some quiet time.

I may give in and not take my spinning wheel to the Contradancers Delight. It takes up a lot of space for what may turn out to be about 4 hours of spinning. J is right - knitting is much more portable. Note to self: Spindle spinning!

Semi-bad news: 126 pounds. Still 10 pounds better then last year, but that is what Januray is for!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Knitting for Love

This weekend I delivered handspun yarn, hand dyed roving, patterns, cute little felted flower pins and about a dozen knitted hats to the Brick and Mortar accounts and mailed a couple of Etsy orders. I hereby declare the commercial knitting season over. Time to move on to knitting for the people I love.

So it's scarves, and hats for the people that I love and who appreciate my knitting. I think I'll even pop these into Ravelry. I've been wanting to make Calorimetry, so here's my chance, in a Noro Cashmere blend. I'm planning a couple of simple scarves for J's parents. I've also picked up a couple of nice pieces of pottery for J&A and possibly L&E.

Once the semester fully winds down, grades are posted and the course is fully planned out, we'll be spending a couple of days in Columbus, OH; then on to Pittsburgh for the big day with 2 of my favorite nephews. After that we will dance a few days at the Contradancers Delight Holiday, hosted by Warren and Terry Doyle in Morganton, WV.

Last Monday was the annual benefit Waltz at the Grey Eagle here in Asheville. Big fun, lots of waltzing with all my favorite partners. Thanks to Dennis and company for taking lots of photos, including this one, in which my sweetie is holding my hand, not copping a feel!

Friday, December 5, 2008

December already!

Another busy month has passed full of fiber work and fun with an added dash of dance - both contra and English. The semester is flying by as well. Finals are just a week away, and it's good for both faculty and students.

The College hosted a craft fair this week, with pottery, fiber and woodworking well represented. I set up my table next to a friend who mostly knits scarves (though I want to get her addicted to socks), so our work was largely complementary. I sold a bit of everything: hats, patterns, fiber and yarn + bartered for some lovely pottery .

I'm also back at Locally Grown, the craft gallery at the WNC Farmer's Market. Last weekend sales were strong and my investment is low. I help out friends while selling my own work. Not a bad thing! Plus I always spin and that draws in customers, while I get a healthy amount of yarn made. I love working with Sally too. She has great energy and we connect in a really positive way.

I've been making felt pins again. They got a good bit of attention at the College show and I have regular sales in both the craft shops, so I spent a bit of the Thanksgiving weekend in production mode. They are a bit labor intensive, but because I make the components in bulk, I make several at a time, so I have fun playing with the variations as I make up the individual pins. I love the way the new batch of Merino felts - fast and thick - and the colors are blending nicely. I particularly like the peachy orange color.

Tonight is my regular fiber group. We will get together for our monthly potluck and evening of conversation and fiber work. But mostly conversation! I really love those women. I feel so connected to that community in a way I didn't before.