Archive for the “business” Category

Bottom line up front: Because I know a number of people simply can't use Ravelry anymore, I'm now also selling my patterns on Payhip.

So, this thing with the Ravelry redesign. It sure is a mess, huh. From the early days of "Surprise! we redid the site! Don't you love it? ...wait, you don't love it?" to flat-out dismissing people's health issues, only allowing positive feedback on the forums (locking/archiving/hiding anything negative or questioning, and even blocking people from the main forums for continuing to ask questions), and alienating people who helped build the community from the very beginning.

I'm lucky in that I'm not one of the people who's had negative effects from the redesign. I found the original colour scheme and harsh drop shadows to be too much and stuck with Classic, but once they came out with the toned-down "Herdwick" theme I did switch over. I don't think it's great: many of the icons are meaningless; they use colours which don't match the rest of the theme; things don't line up; menus in the header open when the mouse passes over them (like when switching browser tabs) and stay open even when other elements of the page are clicked; it's just not good design.

In short, I'm grumpy about this. Really, really grumpy.

There are so many things they could have done better, and they just... didn't.

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In addition to the fibre arts, I have a second hobby that I enjoy just as much in a completely different way: calligraphy and lettering. I'm a graphic designer in my day job, and I've always had a love of letterforms and swirly, swooshy lines. Earlier this year I started an instagram account so I could easily share that art. Here are some of my favourite pieces:

Fancy lettering with lots of flourishes and detail...

White gel pen on black cardstock...

I love you more than anything. . . . #gelpen #inkthusiasm

A photo posted by inkthusiasm (@inkthusiasm) on

A stylized letter B that I did for the annual "Inktober" challenge (to make a new ink drawing each day of the month)...

And colouring pages, that I sometimes colour in myself.

"You could sell these!" people said, so I dusted off my Etsy shop and started to edit my profile there. And then... well, friends, I don't want to make this blog political at all (I have my personal Facebook for that sort of thing. Bleagh.) so I'll just leave it at this: then the US Presidential election happened, and I have some serious concerns about our future. Doing something small is better than doing nothing at all, so I started uploading pieces to the shop with the following promise:

**ALL PROCEEDS** from Inkthusiasm sales through January 20, 2017 will be donated to the ACLU, the SPLC, and Planned Parenthood. Every single dollar I make will be sent along. (So far there are only two dollars in that pot, but you gotta start somewhere.) There are some desktop wallpapers, printable art pieces for your walls, and I'll be working on adding more colouring pages next.

If you like my lettering work, please follow me on Instagram and enjoy! And with that, I'll get back to the usual irregularly-scheduled blogposts about fibre arts. :)

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For those of you who don't already know, Aubrey Kitten has been very, very sick. I knew something was wrong when she let me pile toys on top of her without a protest, and she'd lost interest in her food. Even an egg yolk didn't tempt her. (Floyd Kitten was happy to chow down on all the tasty treats we offered, of course. He's getting kind of fat.)

Last Tuesday we brought her to the vet and found that she had a raging mystery infection, a high fever, anemia and a heart murmur. We brought her home with antibiotics but she kept getting worse, so back to the vet she went on Wednesday. After an overnight stay complete with ultrasound, x-rays, subcutaneous fluids to help with dehydration, and even an enema, poor thing, she came home again with new antibiotics and some heavy duty anti-inflammatories that we were warned to only use if she really needed them. It was pretty much a last-chance thing; if the new meds didn't work then it was likely that nothing would work at all.

I thought we were going to lose her on Thursday night. She was shivering in my lap, though she still had a 105.5 degree fever. She couldn't hold her head up. She'd lost weight and was too weak to stand for very long. The fever hadn't broken by Friday afternoon and we decided that it was time to try the anti-inflammatories. As soon as we let her go, she skittered away under the bed... and twenty minutes later, came trotting downstairs like a whole new kitten and said "Hi! Is it lunchtime? I'm hungry!"1

She's been improving ever since, but she's not out of the woods yet. She's still terribly skinny, weighing just four and a half pounds. She's eating and grooming, she's alert and even a little bit playful. (This morning she woke me up at 04:30 excitedly playing with (and chirping at) a fuzzle on the floor. Talk about mixed emotions.) And she's purring like a little motor every time we scritch behind her ears.

Here she is in healthier days, surveying the living room with all the regality of her birthright as a cat. And here is her brother Floyd, looking calm but totally ready for action. They aren't related to each other, but they did grow up in the foster home together, and they're great friends. Even if Floyd likes to wrestle a lot more than Aubrey does, which makes her cry and hiss at him, they're happiest when they're together. (My sister the Knitting Ninja took both of these pictures when she visited in November.)

So, how does this relate to business?

In my last post I talked about building out a crafting space in our basement. Well, this is why. I'm going to be starting up the fibre arts business that I've been talking about for years now. The goal, after it gets to be self-supporting, is to build up the Kitten Emergency Healthcare Fund. Aubrey's vet visit was not cheap. It could have been so much worse, and I don't begrudge a single penny of it. But if it happens again, since her full recovery is by no means a sure thing, it's going to hurt the bank account a lot harder than it did this time.

Over the course of the next two months, Pirate-Husband and I are going to empty out the cruft that's currently in the basement and replace it with a good place for both of us to work on our respective hand-crafts. I'm going to get my long-neglected Etsy shop up and running, where I'll be selling handspun yarn and carded batts of fibre. Eventually I'd like to add hand-dyed yarn and fibre to the inventory, but that might be a little later down the line. I'm also going to be designing some knitting patterns for sale through Ravelry, to go along with the free patterns that I currently offer.

I've been wanting to start up this business for a while, but until last I had no reason other than to support my own hobby. Now I have Aubrey M. Tinyfierce2 and Floyd T. Underfoot3 to look after, and what better way to do it than through the things I love most to do in my free time?

This is such an exciting venture that I've had to stop myself from blathering on about it to people who have only surface interest in my hobby. I find that quite amusing, actually! There's a lot to do in order to get the basement ready, first. Nearly everything that's in there has to come out. Some of it will go to the dump, some to Goodwill, and some to the shredder. We have to build the sturdy table and find a good surface for it. Comfy work chairs will be necessary, of course, and shelves to store the craft supplies, and good lighting.

Meanwhile, I'm cranking away on baby gifts. I've got the wheel set up and oiled and ready to go, should I happen to turn to it, but this past week has had me spending much more time with my cats than with my yarn. I'm okay with that. As Aubrey continues to improve, I'll get back to the spinning.

1: Translated from the Felinish.

2: The M stood for "Mischief", but if she pulls through this illness I think I might have to change it to "Miracle" instead.

3: T for Trouble, of course. (P.S. for Dad: ♫ Oh, we've got trouble, right here in Up Mountain, that starts with T and that doesn't rhyme at all with F and that stands for FLOYD. ♫)

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I have been thinking about how I might start up a fiber artistry business. Here are some of the thoughts I have:

  • Dyeing yarn and spinning fiber:
  • Carding fiber:
    • Run already-dyed top through the drum carder to make nice blends
    • wool + nylon = sock batts
    • Sell on Etsy or to LYS
  • Handspinning fiber:
    • have to get faster at this, first, to make it worthwhile.
    • Sell on Etsy or to LYS
    • If selling to LYS, probably need to have steady production
  • Designing and publishing patterns:
    • I can see that this is going to be the slowest one of all, but the work only needs to be done once and then the pattern is out there forever.
    • I have a few ideas in mind. Just have to knit them.
    • Ravelry has a great system of selling pattern .pdfs.
  • Marketing:
    • this website (needs more pictures)
    • Twitter
    • business cards
    • Etsy
    • LYSs

So I took the first step - my new twitter username, to be used for fibery stuff, is KnittingPirate. Feel free to follow!

What else? I think it might be time for a new look for the website, too. I have been using the same theme for two years, and I'm running into some limitations. For example, I would like to be able to put a twitter widget into the sidebar, but this theme doesn't use widgets (and the sidebar isn't wide enough, anyway). Heck, the whole layout should be wider. And I'd like another sidebar; the one I have is sort of long.

Edited to add: New layout is here! With sidebars and widgets!

PS I put a few new stripes onto the stripey sock yesterday, lest you think I'm not knitting at all. :)

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