To do list

– Dye yarn
– Dye tops

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– Sew bags
– Make stitch markers

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– Get hair cut so I don’t look like something that has been hiding in the depths of the Brecon Beacons for the winter.
– Dye more yarn
– Make super attractive and inspiring signage for the stall which will attract every visitor who passes.
– Test my credit card machine
– Make sure I have jeans without holes in
– Wear in my lush new purple trainers
– Don’t forget Instagram, Twitter, WordPress, Facebook etc in my excitement
– Dye more tops
– Sew more bags

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– Print oodles of labels
– Check my shawls haven’t mouldered away since I last looked at them.
– Engage with my children once in a while (note to self; remember to pick Erin up from school every day. While she is very mature for her age, she isn’t quite old enough at 3 to bring herself home).
– Knit for sanity
– Gratefully (and tearfully, I expect) accept any and all offers of help
– Dye more yarn
– Make more stitch markers
– Bags? A couple more couldn’t hurt!
– Remember to hug my husband – without his help with the housework and childcare there’s no way I’d be able to contemplate any of this!

Just sittin’ in my car, drinkin’ a disappointing hot chocolate…

Today is my Sunday this week. That is to say, my day of rest! I’ve managed to get quite a lot of dyeing done over this last few days, including a couple of kilograms of Polwarth tops amongst the heaps of yarn, and I just wanted to take a day to gather myself. It has been good! Not that I’ve not been thinking about Wonderwool at all, I’ve just turned down the voices in my head a little bit and concentrated on resting!

Except for the tops I rinsed this morning, the yarn I hung up, the bits and bobs of packaging I ordered from the internet (Web shopping is just the greatest!), the lists I made and the orders I packaged up! But, I have had a fair bit of knitting time. I’ve watched some fairly cruddy TV which required no brain power at all, and I had the gift of a couple of quiet hours this morning when my husband took our daughter to the cinema.

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This evening, our younger son has a tennis lesson on the other side of Cardiff so I have brought him. I’ve also got my tablet, my phone and two knitting projects in my handbag. I don’t think I’ll be bored! I was thinking about doing a Tara Swiger and Periscoping from the coffee shop while I waited for him. Except this coffee shop has no Internet connection, they seem very eager to shut even though I went in nearly an hour before they’re due to close and, as I noted in the title, the hot chocolate is disappointingly poor. Next week I think I’ll try one of the other cafés in the area! So you get a blog post instead.

The lists of what I need to do, what I have done, what I should pack etc etc for Wonderwool are breeding, I’m sure. To the point that I went and bought a dedicated notebook to make sure that it’s all kept in the same place. (It doesn’t hurt that the rent of the notebook looks like the TARDIS either…)

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Sidenote: there’s a mother with a small child in a buggy walking around and around the car park at the moment. I recognise that walk, the “I’ll walk five miles if only she’ll go to sleep” trundle behind a pram. Destination and route are irrelevant, eye contact with said small child is avoided at all costs. And the mother looks exhausted. Probably more tired than the child, if truth be known! I feel like getting out of the car and taking her an energy drink in a gesture of solidarity, and tell her I remember those walks only too well!

But back on topic; fibre festival planning. The more I plan, the more I realise I don’t know. How much of a float do I need? Should I be dyeing more of this or that? How long should I allow to set up the stall? Do I have enough containers for my stock? How many carrier bags will I need? And so it goes on! I sense another list approaching…

Two weeks right now and I will have set up the stall. Zoe will be attempting to calm me down and reassure me that it’s all great (because she’s epic like that!) and I will probably have talked my husband’s ear off trying to describe it all to him on the phone. And then we’ll be heading for our very nice B&B which is promising a comfortable night’s sleep (assuming I can actually sleep for the excitement) and an excellent breakfast.

*Blech, this hot chocolate really is vile!*

Still, I can get a lot done in two weeks. Lots of yummy yarn in deep and satisfying hues; lots of cheerfully painted and squishy tops that will beg to be taken home with the customers and spun. And lots of stitch markers and other crafting trinklements decorating every spare space. Such fun!

In the mean time, I’m going to sit in my car for another hour, drinking my mediocre hot chocolate and knitting on a sock which will hopefully be one of my display items in a couple of weeks!

Terrifying serendipity!

Serendipity: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Today, I want to write about happy chance. Or how events collide and coincide to make the right things happen.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few days about the timing of the phone call offering me the stall at Wonderwool. A couple of weeks earlier and we would all have been unwell with a stomach bug and I wouldn’t have felt up to the challenge. Even a few days later and I would have considered that there just wouldn’t be enough time to prepare. But, as luck would have it, I had just received a large delivery of undyed yarn. I had plenty of fabric to hand to sew. My boxes of charms were adequately provisioned to make oodles of stitch markers.

A few weeks back, we had thought about going away in this coming week. Rob even booked time off work. But then we couldn’t decide where to go, and so instead of going away for the sake of going away, we decided on a staycation with some meals out and a couple of day trips instead. Saving on the packing and the expenditure on a holiday home. Which means now that there will be two or three fewer main meals to cook next week, and my husband will be home and able to help entertain the children whilst I’m working.

Last week I ordered more bag labels and decided to order a large quantity as it worked out at a much more favourable price per item. So I’ve got plenty (and to spare) for what I’ll make for the show. I bought some really cute fabric and ribbon which arrived on Tuesday too.

I had already researched card machines and insurance, so I knew exactly where to go to sort those out. Tables are provided by the organisers, so that is one less thing to find. And I’ve got plenty of shawls that I can display on the walls. So it feels like I’m on top of the peripheral things, if only I can have enough stock made to put together a good display!

When I applied to exhibit at Wonderwool originally, I booked a room at a bed and breakfast as I had heard that accommodation in the area books up quite quickly. And in all honesty, a contributing factor was the sound of the awesome cooked breakfast, guaranteed to set you up for the day! And then when I heard that my original application had been unsuccessful, I decided to keep the reservation and have a yarny weekend. Which took away the need for me to spend time looking for somewhere to sleep at relatively short notice!

Maybe I’m just better organised than I thought I was, but it does seem serendipitous that I’m in a position to be able to exhibit at this very large yarn festival with only a little over three weeks to prepare!

“Repeat after me, Jennie, you can do this!”

Twenty days left to produce my best quality items for Wonderwool Wales. Well, nineteen, because I’ll take a day off for Jack’s birthday. Actually, eighteen, as I’m travelling on Ben’s birthday so we’ll celebrate early. No, seventeen; I’ve promised a trip to the zoo to the kids next week one day….and so it goes on! I won’t bore you with the whole list, but I think I worked out that I’ve got about twelve or thirteen days to get this done.

So today’s blog post is about self confidence, or more likely self doubt. I’ve only recently heard about something called imposter syndrome (I think it might have been on one of Tara Swiger’s periscope broadcasts), but when I did, I recognised most of it in myself. I look at the list of vendors at Wonderwool and I think to myself “I’m going to have a stall next to all those real dyers and producers. There will be Sara’s Texture Crafts, Hilltop Cloud, John Arbon. And then there I will be in the middle of them all, and they’ll soon figure out that I shouldn’t be there.” The voices of self criticism in my head can be overwhelming.

But why shouldn’t I be there? I’ve been dyeing yarn for several years now, I’ve had a shop on my own for a year and a half, I’ve got a growing customer base who always (when I hear feedback) are happy with what I’ve made. Surely that entitles me to consider myself to be a “real” dyer too?

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I'm dyeing up sunshine, woo hoo!

I love colour. I love saturated, jewel tones. I love variegated yarns and tonal yarns that are almost variegated within the same colour. But then I’ll think maybe I should dye solids too. Maybe I should do pastels. But I can’t do it all, and the deep colours are my style. They’re what I want to be known for, so I should embrace that. I’m sure that there are more than enough people who like my style of dyeing to keep me busy, once my name and reputation are known. It’s this damned evil gremlin on my shoulder, sowing the seeds of self doubt into my brain. It’s the same with the project bags. I veer towards fun fabrics, perhaps geek themed, sometimes cartoony animals or scenery or suchlike. And then I’ll see a post on Instagram or a podcast on YouTube where someone is praising their latest purchased bag in a chintzy floral, or referencing a tv show I don’t know. And I’ll feel anxious, thinking I should be doing that in my shop, why didn’t I think of that? It’s totally ridiculous. Writing this blog post will be therapeutic, because I’ll be able to read it over afterwards with a little distance, and see that it’s silly to want to try to cover every base, every interest group, every fandom. I need to stick to what I know, what I like. And hopefully the customers will agree with my taste in colour, in pattern, in theme!

I’m not looking for sympathy, or begging for you to comment and tell me I’m awesome (although that would be nice!). This is just a part of how I feel about running my own business, and I wanted to document it. I think it will be interesting to look back in a couple of years, with the benefit of having experienced a few more yarn shows and (hopefully!) having enjoyed many more sales and see if I still feel the same way. I suspect not. I think that I’m probably just nervous about, essentially, stepping into the unknown and, once I’ve exhibited at this first festival and know what to expect in the future, I’ll feel more secure and calmer. And of course it won’t hurt if I sell some of my yarns, fibre, project bags and stitch markers while I’m there!