Saturday, May 31, 2014

Blogging in Blogsy

I just bought a third-party app called Blogsy so that I can blog on my iPad when we take trips. I don't like to haul my laptop around but Apple doesn't talk to Google, which owns Blogger. Let's see how this goes!

I finished weaving my last warp of dishtowels yesterday morning before I left for my sub job. I measure each towel carefully because as you can see, I'm at the end of my warp. This is what you call cutting it close.

And of course, close inspection by my snoopervisor was required.

These are the colors I've chosen for my next set of towels and will probably be the last with the turned taquete draft for a while. I almost called this recent set the last set, but I can't resist seeing how these colors will work together.

I'm pleased with my scarf from 50/50 Merino and silk. I think when I've woven this off, I'll put the next towels on Maudie Mae here and use my big Bertha for some baby blankets.

Okay, I've already lost the first post I wrote because I missed some steps in the set-up. Let's see if I've learned anything. Here goes~




Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Day in the Life

Devon was supposed to be here and shear our guys on Saturday but when it started to get dark, I knew he wasn't going to make it.  He called at 8:30 where he was just finishing up at a ranch in Loyalton, 45 minutes from here.  He said he'd still come or he'd do it in two weeks when he's back in our area.  We elected for two weeks and fortunately the weather still isn't hot.  These guys will be glad to be relieved of their huge coats.
The weather was really pleasant Sunday so I hung up my sun catchers and read on the front porch.  Ian called Carol to see if she'd like to come over and sit out with us, maybe have a beer.  She was doing yard work and glad to take a break.  She is the library director in Fallon so is only home on the weekends.  She and Ian always talk libraries and she and I always talk books.  She told me about a website called NetGalley.  It's for professional readers, and apparently as the facilitator of a library book club, I am one.  It took a while to build my profile and request some books.  You get to read a book before it's released in exchange for writing a book review.  You wouldn't believe how many books are coming out soon.

I got approved for two of the books I requested and just finished reading Jennifer Weiner's upcoming release, All Fall Down.  I've never read her before because I thought she was a romance author.  While written in a breezy style and with humor, this is a very serious book about addiction.  I hope her other books are as engaging because she's written ten others.

Chrissie and I are just a month away from our trip to Massachusetts.  I've struggled with what to do for a wedding present.  The kids have lived together for a couple of years and don't really need anything.  I finally hit on the idea of buying one of Erik Holland's paintings of Nevada.  John was conceived and born here, it just seems fitting.  Erik had about four dozen paintings to choose from but when I saw this, it was the one.  I love the cottonwoods in the fall.  This is the wedding present.

I can see by my Etsy statistics that my scarves aren't drawing any attention at all.  I have had good success selling hats in the fall.  These are the colors of my cat and a hat is in progress.

And here's my cat, in a box where she shouldn't be.  I had planned to list more towels in Etsy today and left the lid off, but then got sidetracked making soap and writing my first book review.  She was just doing what cats do when they find a box.  The lid is now on.
I just finished knitting with this strange yarn.  It's three strands of linen and cotton.  It was really stiff and had a tendency to slip off the needles when I'd set the work down.  When I finished knitting my project, it was absolutely hideous.
But after it was washed and blocked, it turned out great.  Melissa gave me more of this yarn in off-white and I'm just going to make the same pattern.  After that, I'm pretty much out of knitting except for hats.  That's a heck of a state for a knitter.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Books, Books, Books

I struggled this last month for reading material and ended up re-reading three Barbara Kingsolver books - Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven (they kind of go together) and Animal Dreams.  I wasn't thinking ahead to what my book club had on tap for this month and guess what - it was a Barbara Kingsolver -

 Flight Behavior - I'm not sure we've spent two hours in book discussion before this book.  Most of us found the first several chapters a rough row to hoe, but then we were completely sucked in.  I think that's because the protagonist seems so shallow and unlikeable in the beginning.  Give her a break and enjoy Kingsolver let her character grow and bloom.  The theme is timely - climate change and global warming.

Americanah, Chimananda Nogzi Adichie - I loved her first book, Half of a Yellow Sun (soon to be a movie) and was looking forward to this one.  It's much different, a post-revolution tale of a Nigerian expat.  It's hard to put myself in the shoes of a college-educated Nigerian woman, hoping for a better tomorrow and yet trying to figure out how to live in the moment.  Nigeria is always in the news, now more so than ever.

The Circle by Dave Eggers - I was entertained and at the same time a little disappointed.  It's a little like "what if" Facebook and Google were one company.  It think it falls in the 3.5 stars range and nothing wrong with that.

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza - I heard Danza interviewed on NPR by Terry Gross and so when I had to opportunity to check this out from the library, snatched it up.  I wasn't sure at first, thinking his teaching gig was a publicity and self-promotional tool.  I clearly knew nothing about this man.  This was a deeply thoughtful, introspective and troubling look at education today.  I think it should be required reading by everybody.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker - I saw this at Costco and didn't buy it but put it on hold at the library as an ebook.  I'm not sure I would have read it were it not that I didn't have anything else to read instead.  I'm ordinarily not a fan of fantasy fiction but I got caught up anyway.  It's a combination of historical fiction, cultural myth and romance, set primarily in 1890 Manhattan.  If you liked Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, I think you might like this.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Promoting Etsy Sales with a Facebook Fan Page

I'll tell you what I've learned and that doesn't mean there isn't more to it.  My frustration with Etsy is trying to find a way to direct people to look at the sales in my store.  I started thinking about ways I could use Facebook (hereafter FB) to assist.  I posted a couple pictures on FB as I was getting ready for my recent craft sale.  One I sold right then, I shipped it and have been paid.  I had two other friends see the post and ask to get with me to buy some things.  That's scheduled to happen tomorrow.  No sale guaranteed, but we're getting together.

There are three kinds of FB pages: Personal, Fan and Group.  I already have a personal page and use it regularly.  Friday I read Google articles and fooled around until I finally created a FB Fan page which I named Sage Creek Studio.  I had to identify my emphasis from a drop-down menu in the set-up.  Nothing fit well so I chose "artist."  Fan pages differ from Group pages in that they are open. You're trying to direct traffic to your page.  People get your posts after they click on the "Like" button.  One of the articles I found particularly helpful on how to sell craft items on Facebook can be read here.

I still didn't know how to link to Etsy so back to Google I went.  The answer actually is in Etsy and can be read here.  I thought that meant my sales would now show up on my Fan page, but not so.  I posted a sale the next morning and it took longer than I thought, partly because I struggled to get good pictures and also because a scarf is a new listing for me and writing up the description took longer than I had anticipated.  Then I got hung up when it wouldn't let me post the sale until I had selected something from "Variations."  I still don't know what that means and spent ten minutes trying to guess the right answer.  When I finally wrote in "Hand Made," it liked that and posted my sale.  Once the sale was posted and I clicked on the button to share with my FB Fan page, it appeared as a regular post.  That was Saturday morning and last I checked, that post of my new sale listing had been seen by 35 people.

Etsy and FB both have cool statistics so I can tell that I'm generating some interest.  I sent "like" requests to everyone in my address book as did Ian and my sister-in-law Rochelle.  Three days after creating my Fan page, I have almost 100 likes which I like!  I have next to nothing listed and will get some sales posted after I see my friends tomorrow.

I like to use eight colors in my dish towel warps.  These are the colors I'm currently weaving.  I get ten towels from my warp so have woven eight different weft colors and two duplicates.  That means I have to list each individual towel as an individual Etsy sale and it's numbingly tedious.
I love how rich the eight colors look as warp and have never questioned the logic of using all eight colors in weft.  There is no logic.  Four colors is sufficient.  I've selected the gold, rust, brown and olive green so will get three of two colors and two of two colors.  That drops my listing fees 50%, from eight individual listings to four, with duplicates.  I wish I had thought of
this long before now.

I'll weave one of each, then decide which two are my favorites and then will weave a third of each one.  I don't know why this looks pink.  It's a rich rust.  I'm not happy at all with my new camera and after my next phone upgrade may just stop carrying a point-and-shoot altogether.  It's a Nikon Cool Pix, my third one.  I loved the first two, hate this one.
I was asked at the guild meeting Saturday by someone who had found my blog - what does Sage Creek Farm look like?  It looks like this!  A whole lot of Sage and not much Farm.
And this is Sage Creek Studio.  The squirt bottle is for kitty control.  If I don't go up early enough, Maddie pokes her head through the bars on the balcony and calls down.  She had just sashayed in here.  Her attitude says - finally!  She and I like this little studio.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Making Yarn, or Future Scarves

I have fought with my right selvage on every one of my scarves.  I beat with an open shed on dishtowels because I want to pack the yarn in to make a dense fabric, so my reasoning was that I should do the opposite on scarves since I want an open fabric.  Yesterday I suddenly remembered my friend Rae saying that she always beats on an open shed, so I switched and the problem cleared up instantly.
I'm spinning on the last of the fiber Melissa left me last summer. It's going to make a gorgeous scarf and while I have enough handspun yarn for three more scarves, I need to more fiber.
And speaking of Rae, she emailed me a couple weeks ago  to say that she doesn't spin anymore and would sell me some of her fiber at rock bottom prices.  I stopped by on my way home from town yesterday and she wasn't kidding.  She all but gave this fiber to me.  It's largely silk, with the bright bags in the front being silk she dyed herself.  She warned me that some of it's a little felted, but it's going on to the drum carder and so that won't matter.  The bag on the left is camel and the one next to it is cotton/silk 70/30.  Oh, and there's a small bag of black alpaca.
It was like dyeing Easter eggs today - so much color.  
I had blended two batched and was getting ready to start on a third when I realized that I didn't have anymore of my favorite blend of whites, merino/alpaca/silk noil.  I always add white, strange as that may seem. Time to break for lunch!

This is my final batch using colors in one of Rae's silks.  That light blue is some recycled denim/cotton that I have had in my stash at least a dozen years.  It's like drier lint!  I imagine it will probably be a pill to spin, but I'm game.  Weaving scarves is stash busting for me.
This is three hours work, and I do mean work.  The spinning always makes it worth it, plus I just get a kick out of seeing what I can come up with.
This is going to become another one of my "granite" scarves.  I included Rae's tussah silk and camel to the blend but it's mostly merino and silk, some alpaca and llama too.  I can't remember what's in the other's  I just kept grabbing fiber and tossing into my weighing bowl until I had 3 ounces.  

Arik Shapiro, my massage therapist, is also an artist.  Actually he's an artist first who realized in college that he couldn't support himself with art so instead of an art degree, he got a life sciences degree and then went to massage school.  Massage pays for him to do his installation art and now he's getting NEA grants and commissions.  He's also one of the founders and promoters of Reno Art Works, and last week at my session, we talked about the possibility of our weaving guild renting space from them for workshops. 

I got the cook's tour on Tuesday. The date was originally Monday but I broke a tooth and had to drive in for a dental appointment the next day.  It's a warehouse space but the price is right.  Plus, access is a cinch - just raise the bay door and roll in the looms.

I asked him if he knew anything about using a Facebook fan page to promote sales.  And yes he did, and in fact, would give me some tips.  Mainly he said that I needed to use that page to point sales to my Etsy store.  I've been frustrated with Etsy because sales kind of get lost.  It makes sense to use them for their commercial qualities but do my own promoting through FB.  I've read a dozen articles and I'm still ruminating.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Craft Fair Sales

I posted a couple photos on Facebook as I was packing for the craft fair.  I had 38 in all which doesn't seem like a lot for all the weaving I felt I had done.  These are the towels that I just finished in the hyacinth colorway.  They looks like hyacinths to me!
I spent a good deal of time labeling and pricing everything, something I don't usually do when I have a whole table to myself, but with half a table and only 1 1/2 hours to shop, I wanted unambiguous information.
I had eleven silk/wool blend scarves and six rayon/silk.  I sold one the day I posted this picture on Facebook and mailed it off to Yuba City the same day.  Another friend couldn't make it to the craft fair but made arrangements to get together.  She needs to buy some gifts.  And a friend from book club picked one out and asked me to bring it to the next meeting.  I was flying high, expecting the same level of response from the sale the next day.
The organizers asked that we donate a raffle item in exchange for advertising on their Facebook page.  This is the last of the felted bags I used to make and don't anymore.  I didn't mind offering it to them.  It seemed reasonable to me.
Mim learned about this event through her daughter in law.  It was well organized and we were able to set up quickly.  I learned a big lesson that day.  You need to get more information before you sign up.  The organization is MOPS (mothers of pre-schoolers) and is part of a warehouse church.  The space is their sanctuary, sans chairs.  The event was to promote the MOPS program, was advertised as a Vendor Fair and it's purpose was to help promote sign-ups.  It's a very young congregation, with lots of toddlers and pregnant moms.  They weren't there to shop and they didn't.
I think Mim and I had an appealing display and we did have looky-lous.  They had created a bingo-like card of the vendors and raffle ticket buyers got a bonus if they had each vendor sign off on their space.  That brought the ladies to our table, but they never stopped visiting long enough to shop.

Being young people, they played music over the PA system so that we had to shout over it be heard, creating a bit of a party atmosphere.  They emailed me a survey this morning asking for feedback, asking if I would do the event again.  I gave feedback and said NO. My one sale came from a grandmother.  Lovely people, not a good event.

Christina and I have tickets for the wedding next month.  We fly into Hartford where everything is astonishingly expensive: flights, hotels and rental cars.  I reason that it's the insurance capitol of the US and they know business people will come, pay the prices and then write it off.  At least the two tickets will give Ian and me enough points to fly to New York in the fall.

Speaking of fall, my break has healed but my neck still is stiff, even with yoga and massage.  Last week my yoga instructor asked me what I was doing for anti-inflammatories.  I told her that I take an Advil after breakfast.  She introduced me to turmeric as a natural anti-inflammatory, as recommended by Dr. Oz.  Ian and I talked about it after I got home and after looking at information online, he ordered a bottle for us.  We have only taken it for a week and both of us have already seen improvement.  I thought I'd pass that on, in the event it might be something you'd like to know this.