unaspenser: (maid on the shore)
( Apr. 7th, 2011 12:47 pm)
I know I have many people on my friends list and among my readership who make some sort of art for money, whether it's writing, drawing, painting, beading, knitting, spinning, pattern design, woodwork, sewing, etc. Some of you even, like me, choose to create your beautiful art in exchange for money, but I have no idea how many of you, like me, struggle to justify why you're worth what you charge.

By and large, the response I get to my prices for hand-knitted items is acceptance, with the occasional person who is stunned at how reasonable they are.

When I got an offer from a brick and mortar store to carry my knitted goods for sale I was really excited, but the more I learned, the more apprehensive I got. The final straw was that I charge 20 cents per yard of yarn to my customers for cabled items. This is pretty standard, maybe on the low side, and certainly less than minimum wage for a craft that takes a lot of time and skill. I offered the store owner 25% less than this, to which he countered that he wanted to sell the items for what I sell them for directly, and undercut my price by $20 per item. That's a lot of time and knitting, especially considering he wanted me to provide the yarn.

It felt great to say no.

It's hard, though, because we don't have a lot of scratch to play with and I use my knitting money to pay for all the yarn/fiber I buy. There's no room in our regular budget for that kind of thing. It's hard when I know all the things I'd like to get and make and try and when I go and look at the website for the spinning wheel I'm saving for. It's hard when I think about how much Arlen's green card will cost if/when we ever have the money to pay for it. It's hard to say no to work I need. But I refuse to be slave labor, especially to someone who is, frankly, rather rude about what I do, and who perhaps has no idea of the value of what I am providing.

I was polite, but firm. Take my price, or take your business elsewhere. I'm not counting on a reply. It really was just the icing on the cake of this irritating day.
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unaspenser: A lovely drawing of a little grebe. (little grebe)
( Apr. 5th, 2011 09:02 am)
I am so pissed at knitpicks chroma, their new fulled single to mimic Noro, which has lovely long color transitions. As soon as it came out I knew I had to have stripy socks made out of this stuff. The first ball has so far had three knots disrupting the color progression and several large ugly slubs. I emailed them about the first ball and they dutifully sent me a second to say sorry. I am almost done with the first of a pair of knee socks out of the stuff (because I'm thrifty and using it anyway and nobody will notice anyway) and one of the knots just CAME UNTIED in my knitting causing a near disaster. There is not enough play in the yarn to even retie the knot, so I will have to unravel back to the untied knot and then figure out how to rejoin it without causing any more damage. Not cool, knitpicks. I love you, but this is not cool.

Also, here are ten songs I am liking and listening to these days. Some are old, some new, and the styles vary widely. But you should check them all out.

1. The Eels - The Good Old Days
2. Karen Elson - Garden
3. Jack White - Sittin' On Top of the World
4. Thea Gilmore - Rags and Bones
5. All American Rejects - Night Drive
6. Jack Johnson - No Other Way
7. Parlotones - Brighter Side of Hell
8. Yellowcard - Believe (possibly the only song written about 9/11 that is worth its salt, with the potential exception of The Dixie Chicks' Not Ready to Make Nice)
9. Sacred Harp Singers At Liberty Church - Idumea
10. The Eels - Love of the Loveless
I typically listen to podcasts when I run, something to keep my mind busy while I do my time on the pavement. Usually I listen to WTF with Marc Maron, which is a great combination of humor, introspection, and intellectual conversation. If you haven't tried it out, do so immediately. Anyway, I was sitting at my desk just now after a long and productive weekend, with my mp3 player on shuffle, and one of the WTF episodes came up. Immediately I perked up and had this instantaneous and visceral reaction that I don't think I've ever had before in my life. All of a sudden, I wanted to run. How in the world did that happen? When did I become one of those annoying people who talks about how great running makes her feel? I am not a health nut by any stretch of the imagination, and running so far has been a struggle. It's been something I've had to make myself do, something I've had to talk myself into. Now, magically, after about two months of sweating and asthma attacks and sore joints and tight muscles, I *want* to run! I did my last one on Saturday and I felt a twinge of disappointment that I probably won't have time to go again until Wednesday unless I become one of those even more annoying saintly people who gets up at 5:30 every morning to bound off into the dark before work. Guess I'll see just how much I want to run...

I had a good weekend of baking, spinning, garden planning, spending time with my sweetie, and watching the new baby chicks in our kitchen fight over their first worms. Gets me every time. Yesterday I spent all day at my yarn store of choice helping them do inventory in exchange for yarn. I was there from about 9:30 to 6 and let me tell you, I have a whole new level of respect for the ladies who work there. I was exhausted and sore by the end of the day, and I had NO IDEA how much yarn was packed into that little shop. It was a fun day of bonding with some of the other regulars, fondling lots of delicious stuff, eating good food, and singing along to a lot of pretty awesome music.

Today will be a quiet day at work since it's spring break at the university. Plenty of time to knit on my stripey sock (the current desk knitting), listen to podcasts, and poke around on the internet. Tonight is the last dance class of the current session so we'll have a little party with finger foods and do extra dances instead of having a set class. Should be a really good time, and I'm hoping for at least two four-couple sets. Fingers crossed!
unaspenser: (poe clarke)
( Feb. 16th, 2011 09:55 am)
I've got a lot of projects going on right now, and I'm having trouble focusing on any one thing, but that doesn't seem to stop me from starting as many new projects as I can manage.

This braid of combed top dyed by yours truly expired in my etsy shop yesterday:

Photobucket

So I'm going to spin it up into a navajo ply sock yarn and relist it. I need to get around to listing a lot of things. My shop's been far too quiet lately.

I spun some lovely new rambouillet fiber I bought on etsy into a nice smooshy two-ply worsted (which was very difficult, as I'm by default a very thin spinner):

Photobucket

I went to knitting night at my LYS last night and had lots of fun chattering with people while I worked on a pair of aquaphobia socks for a friend and I'm closing in on being done with the first one (yay!!!).

I am still without a spinning wheel and not certain how soon that's going to change, so I'm hoping to spend more time with my spindles trying to improve my technique. I also need to get my butt in gear and use the bicycle wheel that is taking up space in the shed. More about that in a future post, I expect.
unaspenser: (sacred fire)
( Sep. 22nd, 2010 09:17 am)
Life has been so busy lately that I keep forgetting to write, or I assume people will be bored with all my Diane-centered chatter.  Whatever, it's my blog!

First I should say that the Treasure Valley Celtic Festival and Highland Games went well, the dance I wrote looked great, and people really seemed to have a good time.  There's a video on facebook, though I'm not sure if it's up on our fan page yet.  We start dance classes back on Monday the 27th, so if you're interested, give us a try!  There will be lots of new students, and we are gearing up for our St. Andrew's ball and dinner in November.

That same day, Saturday, was Worldwide Spin in Public Day, so I brought my drop spindle and cranked out some of the corriedale cross that was my very first handpainted roving.  Needless to say, I'm so addicted.  I also carded some of the fleece I'm working on, and now that I've made a few mods to my wheel (added some leather bushings to the crank shaft to keep the footman from moving when I treadle and wiggling the wheel, which causes the drive band to move around) it is much smoother to spin, though it doesn't keep its momentum as long.  I will continue to play around with it.  Need to take some pictures to share.

I got another order for a bonnet last week, which is perfect because I'm just about done with the ones for Mark & Margaret Lethbridge (a pair of bagpipers who are giving me some publicity on their links page).  Anyway, this necessitated a yarn order from Knit Picks (I like using their yarns because it makes it easy to let people pick their own colors.), so I bought myself a new size 0 circular needle (couldn't justify getting 1s as well, since I have perfectly functional set of bamboo DPNs even if they are starting to get bent from use and the finish is a bit sticky requiring them to be periodically waxed... 0s will make better socks anyway, less of the dreaded waffle-foot) so I can finally try some of the patterns from my Toe-Up Two at a Time book.  I plan to use that lovely yarn I won a couple weeks ago and posted about here.  I also bought some of their ridiculously cheap Peruvian Highland roving $2.69 for 3 ounces.  There is a sale on Wilton's Icing Dyes at Joann Fabrics right now (1.49 for half an ounce), so I will get some of those to hand-paint the roving.  I'm planning on making a fractal-spun two-ply for a pair of pretty winter knee socks.  Maybe they'll be ready in time for winter 2011!

The visit from my grandma and her husband went really well.  I always enjoy my grandma's stories and her ribald sense of humor, which shocks Arlen every time.  Grandma told us about when they came to Idaho from Kansas when she was 8 or 9 and they got their first house with running water and electricity, and what a novelty that was.  She was thrilled to be able to go to the bathroom indoors.  Her husband, Jim, is a real interesting character, and I loved most watching Grandma's face as she listened to him B.S. on and on.  Such a combination of affection and annoyance.  Don't you just love family?  Three days of their visit was plenty, but we were sad to see them go.

Anyway, life rolls on as usual.  Today is the equinox, Arlen's built a Sukka in the yard, and we'll try to do something special to mark the day, I'm sure.  Time to finish reaping the bounty of summer and to start pulling inward for the darker times of the year.

unaspenser: (two gals)
( Sep. 9th, 2010 09:12 am)
First of all, I'm rather excited about Diana Gabaldon's graphic novel, The Exile.  Now you can see some of the pages on its amazon page.  Beautiful art, and it should be a fantastic story.  So grateful that a friend pre-ordered it for me in exchange for a lace shawlette I knitted.  I am constantly cash-poor, but always willing to barter for knitwear.

Sadly, that strategy doesn't work with my student loan providers or utilities.  I am in a constant state of money anxiety these days, which always makes my stomach unhappy.  We are getting by, and every day that passes is a day closer to Arlen's visa coming through, but it is not a fun time for us.  There is no spare cash for going out with friends or buying treats at the store.  It's a good thing we're both so inventive and resourceful.  We eat well courtesy of our garden/chickens/home cooking/thrifty shopping, but it still sucks to have to scrimp and save, and I'd really love a new wardrobe, a bunch of nice jewelry, and a house/car.  Is that really so much to ask?

On the upside, we continue to be resourceful in other ways as well.  Arlen has decided to jump on the knitting bandwagon, and his first project for himself was a knitted kippah/yarmulke for synagogue.  He's been doing some serious studies into Judaism, and the kippah he had didn't really fit well, and had a tendency to slide away and escape.  I've been cranking out finished objects lately (and starting many more projects), which I've been squirreling away to become birthday/holiday gifts for friends and family.  If there's one thing I have to give, it's knitwear.  At least I'm good at it, and I have a sizable stash (though not nearly sizable enough).

I'm loving my sheep to sweater project.  The sheep fleece I bought is all washed, and I am painstakingly flicking the tiny locks into rolags and spinning them on my new old spinning wheel.  It has a wobble, but it doesn't seem to impact the quality of the yarn, and I've almost filled my first bobbin!  I've got about a month until the very first Trailing of the Sheep Fiber Festival in Sun Valley.  I am planning on entering the max allowed 3 skeins in the animal fiber, traditional spun category.  My hope is that I will win first prize for at least one of them (heh) and there is a cash prize for that.  If I win, I'd use the winnings to purchase a fleece or some other spinning related bribe for myself.  They apparently give special consideration to yarn that's been hand-prepared, so I'm hoping to be a shoo-in, especially with all the documentation I've done of my process so far.

I'm trying to find other venues to market my designs.  I'm rather wet behind the ears in this aspect, still, but my next goal is to submit a pattern to the independent designers project through www.knitpicks.com. 

I guess that's enough chatter for now.  Life goes on, things keep moving.
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