The Future of The Yarn Office

I know it’s been a while; I think of writing (and things to write about) and then I put it off. But today I made an important decision: I’m letting all my etsy listings expire and am closing down The Yarn Office on etsy (my studio space at home will forever be The Yarn Office). In total, I have a very modest overall profit, modest enough that given the time I put into it, I’m more in the hole to etsy than profitable. There’s also the matter of marketing, which isn’t exactly my strong suit despite buying and reading 2 books on how to turn your art/craft into a business. My takeaway that’s been festering for a while is that I’m not a good businessperson and it’s time to move on to something new.

This morning etsy sent email to all shop owners announcing some changes. Listing fees will remain $0.20 per listing, but etsy’s commission on sales is going from 3.5% of the item price to 5% of the item price and shipping. In addition, they’re creating a monthly subscription service called etsy Plus that’s supposed to help your business grow and will roll out etsy Pro for high volume sellers next year. Not subscribing to these plans supposedly won’t affect your search results or access to current tools, but I can’t help but think little vanity shops like mine will be at a disadvantage. In the end, I’ve sunk more time and money into this than I’ve gotten out and so yeah, it’s time to move on to something new.

I said on Instagram that I was going to just let my listings expire over the summer instead of shuttering the whole thing, but the fee change goes into effect July 16 – I may just put the shop on vacation mode then and leave it in case these changes end up being beneficial overall to little cheeses like me. But I doubt it – I think they’ve been catering for quite a while to high volume sellers and factories rather than artisans, and in the 3 years since they’ve gone public, they’ve shifted even more to focusing on etsy’s bottom line, to which I no longer want to contribute without getting something more back. I mean, sure – etsy is a business, but it’s a business for which I’m pretty sure I’m no longer a customer.

I might actually start my own shop here on this domain, or at least create a gallery of work that I’m most proud of and move in more of an art direction rather than a craft direction (which I’ve been sort of trying to do anyway). I also heard about FiberCrafty for the first time today, too, so I might check that out – it sounds like it’s etsy (and Amazon Handmade) but for fiber crafts only. There are lots of possibilities, I just have to figure out what I want to do and what’s going to work for me.

Mending Jeans for (Social?) Justice: Part 2

I wrote earlier this week about mending jeans and the reBUTTal hashtag. Out of all my possible reBUTTals, I decided to embroider BELIEVE WOMEN on the back pocket of my current favorite jeans.

img_2506After taking the pocket off the jeans, I wrote the words on the pocket with a marker that washes out in the laundry. Then I searched high a low for my embroidery needles and could find them, so I had to go to JoAnn. I ended up picking up some DMC Cotton Perl embroidery thread along with the needles – it’s not quite as shiny as the usual embroidery thread, but it’s colorfast. It’s also not divisible into individual strands/plies. I probably should’ve chosen a different color, although I do like how subtle the final pocket is. At least the message is positive if no one can make out WOMEN – I’ll happily wear these.

I sewed the pocket back on by hand using thread made by Singer that’s specifically for jeans.(Note that I patched the pocket holes before sewing the pocket back on.) It’s a bit thicker and sturdier than regular thread. Most surprising to me was how easily the needle went through 3-4 layers of denim; I thought I’d need to break out the thimble, but there were only a few times I needed to put the eye end of the needle on something hard to push it through.

I also used this thread to mend the holes in this pair of jeans and another pair that had a rip in the crotch from my lunging to move a wedding dress. I patched all the holes from the inside using denim cannibalized from a ruined pair of Henry’s jeans and did some sashiko embroidery to keep the patches in place. I’m a little worried that I didn’t finish the edges of the patches, but trust that the sashiko stitches will keep the fabric strong.

While I was at JoAnn, I also decided to upgrade my sewing needles storage. I’ve been using this Crowleys needle case for as long as I’ve had my own needles; I’m not sure if it’s my Mom’s or if it’s from my Great Grandmother Smith. About a month ago, my husband needed a needle and spilled them all on the floor of our dining room. The new needle cases have less charm, but they do have a magnet in them that doesn’t come out when you tilt the case, so there’s nearly no chance that he’ll be able to spill all the needles again. The new cases don’t have the same charm as the Crowleys case, which I’m going to figure out another use for (or at least display it somewhere) so I can still see it and handle it.

And now it’s back to knitting baby shower gifts that I can’t show you until after the shower!

Mending Jeans for (Social?) Justice

img_2471One of my favorite pairs of jeans developed a hole where the top of right back pocket attaches. I kept wearing them. The hole got a little bigger and I just wore longer shirts. Finally, I heard them rip one day as I was getting out of the car to go grocery shopping. Thankfully, it was cold and I was wearing my winter coat, which ends about mid-thigh on me, so no one could see the rip.

I knew I had to mend them but wasn’t planning on doing it anytime soon, just at some vague point in the future. Then I saw a post from badasscrossstitch on instagram. She had one of her embroidery designs stolen by a jeans-maker who popped it onto the back pocket of a pair of skinny jeans without permission. She wrote a whole blog post about it and then, making lemonade out of a lemon of a situation, she started embroidering other designs on the back pocket of her jeans, wrote a tutorial on how to do it on her blog, and then started the #reBUTTal hashtag on instagram.

img_2473This has inspired me to do the same to my holy jeans. I took the pocket off my jeans this morning and will patch the holes – yes, there’s another one on the other corner of the pocket, and another small hole starting at one of the corners on the other back pocket – when it rains, it pours, I guess. At least I realized it now, during the mending process and not right after mending them.

I’m going to cannibalize a pair of Henry’s jeans that are too small for him now. I haven’t quite decided if I’m going to use my sewing machine to patch them discretely or if I’m going to use embroidery and patch them visibly, maybe with sashiko (Japanese technique for mending). I did at least get one pocket off along with all the bits of thread. I need to think about if I want to take the other pocket off or try patching with it on.

Anyway, while I’m patching, I’ll be thinking about what I want my pocket to say. It should be something feminist, I guess, and also have something to do with art theft, or paying artists. Ideas so far:

  • ®
  • © 1972
    (Yes, I’m that old, or maybe that young, depending on how old you are.)
  • Ask First
  • Believe Women
  • My eyes are up there
    (Just kidding, I think this would be funny but I wouldn’t actually walk around with that on my bottom.)

Do you have suggestions? Even if it’s not a suggestion, what would you put on your jeans if you were embroidering a back pocket?

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The Week October 23-29

Last week:

  • Walk instead of going back to bed after I finish my morning coffee. Done for today – I took Lil for a walk on the W&OD trail (a rail trail) that runs through my neighborhood and all the way into DC.
    Done. Lil and I have walked every day since last Monday. Somedays have just been around the block, and twice so long that I broke her and had to carry her part of the way back; I won’t do that this week, I’ve promised her.
Lil, broken (resting) on the W&OD
  • Go to TKD twice.
    I went thrice!
  • Carry on knitting  (S)urge, the new shawl and read The Essex Serpent while doing it.
    Done. I finished The Essex Serpent (5 stars, would read again) and started Brazzaville Beach.
  • Start a new embroidery or new spinning project.
    Started, made progress, and ruined. But I have a similar, better idea for the next one.
Almost done! But that netting …
Ruined! I should have made my peace with the netting. 
  • Write a post about Spinzilla.
    Nope. But I did change the poem on my refrigerator to e. e. cummings [hist whist].


And, unexpectedly, I found the perfect kitten while browsing Petfinder, which replaced my Twitter feed for a while. I convinced my husband, with some wise words from my 13 year old who said “Dad, just give in; you can’t win an argument with Mom!” and I filled out the adoption application for this guy, who’s current name is Spider.

Double paws, black fluffy coat, and a blep? I’m in love!

This week:

  • Carry on with walking every day, but not so much that I break Lil and have to carry her.
  • Go to TKD twice.
  • Carry on knitting  (S)urge, the new shawl and read Brazzaville Beach while doing it.
  • Start another new embroidery project using lessons learned from the scissor catastrophe.
  • Spinzilla. I’m going to write about it as soon as I post this.
  • Spider-kitten: wait patiently. My contact at the rescue is out of town until Wednesday.
  • Saturday we’re going to Morgantown for my oldest’s birthday. I think there will be hiking and cake. And lots of car knitting.

The Week October 16-22

So last week I flaked out on everything and spent a good part of the week in bed, either reading (I finished a bad steampunk novel and started The Essex Serpent) or sleeping. Spinzilla was fun but, as usual, I went all-in and by Saturday was ready for it to be over. My hip flexors hurt from sitting and spinning so much and I fought with the last braid I spun late Saturday and Sunday. I’ll definitely do it again, but with better and strategic planning, now that I know what to expect.

I also happen to be in between creative projects; I’m knitting a shawl, but I’m not over the moon excited about it, and I’m not embroidering anything right now. I also have started to doubt my validity and long term plan, which I’ve managed to do in record time. Am I really an artist? Is that something I can really spend the rest of my time doing? Or am I just another person with needles and knitting patterns? I just need to do some more soul searching and long term planning, or, you know, actually execute my long term plan.

I saw my therapist on Friday and she noticed that my affect is pretty flat, so seasonal changes in the light might already be affecting me. I may need a medication adjustment, which annoys me because I didn’t need one last year, so why should I need one this year? I’m even taking vitamins this year to help keep things under control. I wish there was a blood test or something similar that I could take – just like my husband testing his blood sugar level – to determine exactly what I need instead of this touchy feely stabbing in the dark stuff.

On to planning!

The week before last week:

    It was fun, despite me having no sense of pace or self-control. I’ll definitely do it again and recommend it!

This week:

  • Walk instead of going back to bed after I finish my morning coffee. Done for today – I took Lil for a walk on the W&OD trail (a rail trail) that runs through my neighborhood and all the way into DC.
  • Go to TKD twice.
  • Carry on knitting  (S)urge, the new shawl and read The Essex Serpent while doing it.
  • Start a new embroidery or new spinning project.
  • Write a post about Spinzilla.


The Week October 2-8

Last week:

  • Take fancy final project photos of Inamara, which involves getting Mr. Q & his photog skills.
    Ugh – I still need to do this.
  • Carry on with (S)urge, the new shawl.
    Making progress!
  • Spin, whether it’s handpainted or some of the fleece from my stash.
    I started and finished spinning fleece from my stash. All the details on it are here, but I spun 378 yards of a 3 ply sport-ish weight yarn, with a 2 ply and singles left over. I couldn’t wait for Spinzilla.
  • Ruminate further on a new embroidery project or, you know, actually start one.
    I ruminated and cleaned up my project basket, but didn’t start anything new.

This week:

I’m taking precious time away from the wheel to take care of some non-spinning stuff and then it’s back to the grindstone! What’s Spinzilla, you ask? All the details are here, but it’s basically a week-long spin-a-thon. (Hey! That rhymes!) I’m almost 2/3 of the way through my first braid of fiber and actually considering drinking some coffee so I can stay up later and spin more! (That’s probably a bad idea and I don’t think I’ll do it, but the thought is there!) Have a great week!

The Week September 25 – October 1

Last week:

  • Take fancy final project photos of Inamara, which involves getting Mr. Q & his photog skills. Use his camera this time, not my phone.
    I talked to him about it but we never got around to it.
  • Continue working on the new blanket.
    Finished. I started and restarted (twice) a shawl, and finally found a pattern that I like and started that over twice, going forward with different yarn.
  • Continue spinning the braid of Pigeon Roof Studios fiber.
  • Start a new embroidery project.
    Nope. I’m still stuck on the last one, but I have some ideas of what to do next.
  • Hopefully hear back from my friend and decide what to do with The View From Mt. Peg.
    Nope. She’s a high school English teacher in Hawaii, so that may explain why she’s not online much.
  • Saturday: meet Becky & her daughter Mia at Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. From there, go to friend gathering in Martinsburg, WV. Sunday is free, so maybe I can get Ky to go to the Leesburg Fine Arts Festival (day 2) to poke around and maybe make some connections in this local artist world I’m trying to be more active in.
    We went, we saw, I bought stuff – spinning fiber and vintage buttons; I’m ready for Spinzilla. And I also had a really good afternoon catching up with Leticia & her littles. I slept on Sunday, pretty much during prime Fine Arts Festival time so we didn’t go.


SVFF Goodies
My favorite bump of fiber from SVFF; BFL, llama, seacell. I absolutely love this color combination!
  • Some sad news: Moose, our 12 year old big black dog, hasn’t been doing well and so we have an appointment on Thursday to ease his pain and help him across the Rainbow Bridge. It went as well as could be expected. The in-home vet was very compassionate, Moosie went out without any pain and with a dog bone in his mouth, very fitting for a guy who could never eat enough. We miss him but are all glad he’s not in pain anymore.
Moose, the goofy noble beast

I also carded some fleece from my stash, so I have a batt ready to spin. Now if I could just find where I noted the breed …

This week:

  • Take fancy final project photos of Inamara, which involves getting Mr. Q & his photog skills.
  • Carry on with (S)urge, the new shawl.
  • Spin, whether it’s handpainted or some of the fleece from my stash.
  • Ruminate further on a new embroidery project or, you know, actually start one.