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.

Time Flies!

February went by in the blink of an eye and it feels like the Ides of March & St. Patrick’s Day 2018 will quickly be a thing of the past while I carry on privately writing, knitting, and doing other crafty things. I suppose I’m starting to come out of some kind of hibernation now that the days are getting longer again; I’ve started doing things that I’ve been putting off for a long time, like:

  • Submitting poems and a short story to Narrative magazine, which of course I’m anxious about, thinking “I submitted it ___ ago! Why haven’t they gotten back to me yet?” which started the day after I sent the email, of course. Also, I haven’t been writing the last few weeks, but I have a plan to start again.
  • I cleaned out my yarn stash for the first time ever and am handing off bits and bobs to a local knitter in another knitting group. The oldest yarn in there I bought in NYC in 2000 or 2002 – if I haven’t knit that Dale of Norway Baby Ull by now, I don’t think I’m going to, so it’s best to send it on its way to fulfill its destiny.
  • Updating my Ravelry stash pages. The yarn clean-out was spurred by two of my knitting friends giving me yarn, spinning fiber, and a stack of fair isle books they inherited, so there was a lot of updating I needed to do.
  • Finishing off embroidery pieces and listing them in The Yarn Office, my etsy shop: The View from Mt. Peg and Firecracker).
  • Adding handspun yarn to The Yarn Office: a set of handspun naturally dyed cormo that I’m incredibly proud of, some sunset-colored yarn that was fun to spin but so not my color, and some natural brown wool that I’m not quite sure what to do with. In looking at my handspun, I also realized that I really prefer making 3 ply yarns for some reason.
Cormo Set
Handspun, naturally dyed cormo yarn set

My knitting has been focused on using yarn that I got from my friend Lisa, who received almost the whole stash of a friend she met on Ravelry. Unfortunately for this friend, she can no longer knit (I hope that day never comes for me) and knew that Lisa would appreciate her colorwork-focused stash and library. Lisa was overwhelmed and so I happily stepped in to help take some of the yarn off her hands, starting with enough Sandness Garn Peer Gynt to make 2 sweaters. I’ve long admired Knit.Love.Wool on Instagram, and found that she (Jennifer Steinglass) not only has patterns that I got gauge for with Peer Gynt, but that for all of 2018 she’s having a buy 2 patterns get 1 free sale on Ravelry (info on her designer page). I just finished Starfall and started on Seachange.

Untitled
My Starfall Sweater with some slightly tweaked colorwork

I need to catch up with a lot of the blogs I follow (sorry friends!) – I’ve been reading The Internet and books instead of blogs lately. I’m currently reading the second book in a really fascinating trilogy by N. K. Jemison, The Broken Earth series. Before this, I read Octavia E. Butler’s Lilith’s Brood, which is also a trilogy that I really enjoyed. I find myself longing for female heroes and the female perspective and although both of these are sci-fi/fantasy, they deliver and they deliver on being diverse (another thing I’ve been craving) since both authors are African American. I’m also working my way through The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World. Yes! Those Amazons! They were real! This book is a bit more scholarly and so not the most compelling read, but it’s still really fascinating.

Oh! I almost forgot! I started another Instagram account, LittleGoldenNotebook, for inspirational quotes. I know, that sounds cheesy and probably like tons of other “inspirational quotes” quote account all over the interwebs. But these were all selected by me (and all have authors, which was important to me) to help me get through tough times right after I was diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder. I collected them and printed them on 3×5 cards to help a dear friend going through a rough patch, shared them with another friend, and then decided I should just share them with Everyone In The World. Here’s the quote for today, International Women’s Day:

Untitled

Note that this is probably the most feminist quote I’ve posted to the account, though I sort of modify this in my head to apply to humans in general, you know? How can I really be free when anyone is enslaved or doesn’t have full human rights? I’m guessing Audre Lorde would agree with that, but women – especially minority women – have been long neglected and that’s more what she was driving at (though I’m not Audre Lorde or intersectional feminism scholar by any means). Anyway. I’m doing that too and would love to have more company!

The Week Dec 5 – Dec 11

Last week’s goals with progress indicated:

  • Make recommended changes to the pattern for the Gir hat & scarf, including (reluctantly) instructions for using DPNs.
  • Figure out how to organize test knits for both, including what expectations to set.
  • Add another pattern as a custom knit to The Yarn Office.
  • Start keeping track of things people ask me if I can make. Evaluate whether or not I can or want to make them, possibly add to etsy. (Cat butt coasters aren’t exactly keeping with the vibe I’ve got going on in the shop, but if I like making them and they sell, why not?) List started in my Bullet Journal, I haven’t really decided on whether or not to make any of them yet.
  • Finish the Chunky Herringbone Infinity Scarf and start a listing for it in the shop.
  • Start etsy listings for the FOs I took to the event on Saturday.
  • Edited to Add: Text Al to get Master John’s email addy. Email him the info for requesting a custom order from TYO and ask him to send the pics he showed me. Also pre-emptively ordered yarn from Webs, along with some other goodies.

This week:

  • Make recommended changes to the pattern for the Gir hat & scarf, including (reluctantly) instructions for using DPNs. Decided to neuter the instructions, so to speak; they now talk about knitting in the round but leave it to the knitter to decide on whether to use DPNs or circulars/magic loop.
  • Figure out how to organize test knits for both, including what expectations to set.
  • Add another pattern as a custom knit to The Yarn Office.
  • Start etsy listings for the remaining FOs I have, including the Chunky Herringbone Cowl – next step will be pics.
  • Gild the reindeer head that I finally found again this morning after seeing it in a craft store a few weeks ago. (I made myself do the edits to the Gir Hat & Scarf before writing this post and before gilding the reindeer; so excited!!!)

Deer head

The Week Nov 28 – Dec 4

Last week’s goals with progress indicated:

  • Make recommended changes to the pattern for the Gir hat & scarf, including (reluctantly) instructions for using DPNs.
  • Figure out how to organize test knits for both, including what expectations to set.
  • Finish Henry’s hat & attach scales after the fact, if at all; it’ll be easier to scatter them on the finished hat than to scatter as I knit.
  • Keep working on the fronts for the Green Wood Cardi.
  • Add another custom knit listing to The Yarn Office. Added the Infinite Wave Cowl.
  • Start getting the house ready for the onslaught of people coming for Thanksgiving, which means cleaning. Ugh.  Edited to add: Thanksgiving was lovely. There were at least 5 dinner-/cooking-related arguments, but no big blow-ups (which has happened in previous years). It was really good to see all of my in-laws and Enzo, the widowed Jack Russel Terrier boyfriend of our dog Jacey; she died last June (2105) and he still looks for her when he makes the trip.

I also:

    • Participated in my first in-person event for The Yarn Office; a small business Saturday promotion at the tae kwon do school my kids & husband go to. I didn’t sell anything, but did hand out a few business cards that I created & printed on Wednesday, when I committed to doing the event.
Jeff is helping me get ready
Getting organized for the first public appearance of The Yarn Office, note my helper’s furry legs in the top center of the photo
  • Edited to add: I almost forgot! I did get a custom order for a hat from Master John, the 2nd biggest cheese at the tae kwon do school. I need to remember to send him email with info on how to create a custom etsy order.
  • Got a lot of requests and referrals on Facebook as a result of posting about the small business Saturday event. People have asked if I could make: crocheted slippers using flip flops as a base, crocheted cat butt coasters, crocheted owl hat for a child. I see 100% more crochet in my future.
  • Priced out some finished knits that aren’t in my etsy shop for the small biz Saturday event, all items knit using not-my-patterns, which I’ve hesitated to sell before, but I might just throw caution to the wind and list them.
  • Spent 6 hours in the car yesterday driving my son back to school. Luckily I was passenger, so I finished off a Chunky Herringbone Infinity Scarf I started on Friday (I needed something easy to pick up & put down to work on Saturday). Well, finished except for grafting/3 needle bind off. And I got in 8 more rows on the fronts of my Green Wood Cardi.

This week:

  • Make recommended changes to the pattern for the Gir hat & scarf, including (reluctantly) instructions for using DPNs.
  • Figure out how to organize test knits for both, including what expectations to set.
  • Add another pattern as a custom knit to The Yarn Office.
  • Start keeping track of things people ask me if I can make. Evaluate whether or not I can or want to make them, possibly add to etsy. (Cat butt coasters aren’t exactly keeping with the vibe I’ve got going on in the shop, but if I like making them and they sell, why not?)
  • Finish the Chunky Herringbone Infinity Scarf and start a listing for it in the shop.
  • Start etsy listings for the FOs I took to the event on Saturday.
  • Edited to Add: Text Al to get Master John’s email addy. Email him the info for requesting a custom order from TYO and ask him to send the pics he showed me.
The Yarn Office *in the flesh*!!!
The Yarn Office! If I’m going to do more of these, I need a sign or a banner. Also, the round table wasn’t my choice – that’s what they provided, though I think it worked out pretty well.