Blogging Branding

I signed up for blogging branding through WordPress U . Without a posted start date, it started immediately. Checking out the tag bloggingbranding in the reader I realized why they no longer have a private commons for members of this course as they had in Blogging 101. Everyone is starting this 10-day course on their own schedule!

Now that I am three days into the course, I still haven’t done the assignment for day one; “Set three goals for your blog.” Their resource page seems to be recommending goals with a 2-3 month time-line. If you have been following my blog, you will realize that we do craft shows and that this blog is mainly to communicate with anyone interested in learning more about our retirement business of crafting. But some of our other interests will also appear from time to time.

This is the beginning of our busy summer season (as you may have gathered from my lack of posts.) Therefore I have decided that although I do need to learn more about consistent blogging/branding, my priority now needs to be ensuring everything is set properly for the craft shows, to continue growing our local business.

So as an official start to this course here are my summer blog goals;

  1. to continue posting at least twice a month (more if I can make/find time)
  2. collect and read all the information from the class and start to utilize it this fall.
  3. Increase followers by 50% by the end of the year.

A heartfelt thanks to all who have made the choice to follow our blog. Keep in touch, enjoy the summer, and watch for eventual improvements.Any suggestions are welcome in comments.

Meanwhile, here is a quick look at some things started a couple of weeks ago. More editing and  there will be FO’s for next time 🙂

hand dyed wools

Hand dyed wool & nylon yarn, wool, mohair, & nylon yarn, and merino wool top.

hand dyed

Another colorway, the top has now become yarn!

pastel purple merino wool

On my wheel

knitting

a shawlette on my needles

 

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Spinning vs Other Chores

I’d rather be spinning, but some other necessary things were competing for attention this week. As tax day looms closer I had to prepare the things for our accountant. As a business owner, I trust a second opinion when dealing with red tape! And it’s a relief to have that finished.

To motivate myself, I gave myself rewards of spinning time, and then knitting time, between organizing receipts and totaling columns of numbers.

spinning snow-dyed

on my wheel

 

First I spun the merino top that I snow dyed last week. I planned a heavy yarn that would match the gauge of the commercial thick and thin that was dyed at the same time. It pleasantly surprised me to see how the colors arranged themselves to mimic the first yarn.

thick and thin with handspun

colors aren’t quite true but you can see the pooling

Of course I needed more breaks (and chocolate) so I also cast on a hat to see how the yarns worked together! That finished I had just enough yarn to make a second slightly different one 🙂  Pictures of those tomorrow if the light is better.

balls of yarn

wound into balls ready to knit

Lesson of this post, work a little and play more, don’t be a last minute person 🙂  To add to this years goals…Keep current on paperwork! So today we dropped my car to the garage for a little fixing, did some shopping, and tonight I finished 4 batches of magnets for the shows. Tomorrow maybe some more snow dyeing…it’s supposed to be gone by this weekend!

Organization of Inventory

One of my goals this year is to improve my organization of inventory.  As a business I need to have control of my inventory. Although most of what I make has a long shelf life, instead of making what I enjoy, and struggling to make more of other things before the next show, I’ve decided to better track the specifics of things I sell and develop an inventory par level, to relieve some of the stress between back-to-back shows. Of course I will still be developing new projects as well as tweaking older ones, since another part of business is constant change. With a better inventory system I should be better able to see where I’ve been as well as where I’m going.

Last year I made a spread sheet for candle inventory. Instead of just writing down the scents I sold at each show (as I had in years past) I began by listing all of my scents (over 100),  included my beginning inventory, my sales of each for each month, and the number of each made each month. Then I had a running inventory to tell which ones needed to be made next. (Yes, this could be done in excel, but was easier for me to track by paper & pencil/pen on a columnar pad.) This year I have plans for slight changes which should make inventory keeping easier yet.

Soy candles at a craft show

Free smells of Soy Candles

Now at the end of the year, I have a complete picture, not only of my best sellers (which tend to vary from year to year) but  also of the monthly and seasonal variations which will allow me to better tailor my production for this year.

With candles somewhat under control, I decided that yarn needs to be my next challenge…..I spin a lot more than I realized, both at craft shows and at home.

I have more than five 18gal totes of yarn that I have spun over the last several years. (Plus a smaller amount that I have listed here and here. Starting  with the five craft show totes, I emptied them on the table, one at a time, sorting them by color.

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Then I started taking each color and dividing the skeins into families by color (dye lot) and fiber type, assigning a “parent” number and sub-numbers, and recording the pertinent information on a spread sheet. This way with a quick look at the parent number, I can tell a customer how many skeins of a particular yarn is available, whether it is in my back stock or listed on line.

two different colors ready to re-label

sorted into reds and greens

 

 The greens and the reds are completed (unless I find more in hiding). I am pulling some skeins to use in knitting hats and cowls. It’s a good way to display how well the yarn works, and gives me a better idea of the yardage needed for a project (although this will vary with pattern and individual gauges.) But best of all, I have the enjoyment of working knitting with my own yarn; A skein with no knots, easy to wind into a ball without tangles because of the way I wind my skeins from my spools. And I see how the shades of color work together to enhance the pattern, forming an unique project.

Yarn for future knitting

Some of my added stash

 

 

(Hover mouse on pictures below to read captions)

 

Organization is a lot of work, especially when I get distracted with knitting 🙂  Two totes turned into two and a half, plus a bag of stash for me. I have only three totes plus a small box left to do. It is progressing quicker than when I was handwriting everything on my old labels.

retagging yarn

new yellow tags ready to replace the old handwritten ones.

 

spreadsheet taking form

yarn and my inventory tools

Once finished I will know which colors I need to dye more of to spin. This leads to the roving totes that will next need to be “organized”! Then there’s hats etc that need their own spreadsheet!

As I create, I’ve also created “the never-ending organizing-inventory monster”! (I do like red though 🙂 All a part of growing a business I guess!

What inventory and organizing secrets have you discovered? Please share in a comment.

 

 

 

New Work in Progress

This is a WIP that I started the other day. It’s a hand spun, hand dyed shaded cranberry wool yarn that I’m combining with a fun fur for another hat to felt and add to my inventory.

hand spun, hand dyed yarn for a felted hat

Shaded Cranberry yarn as the start of a hat.

So far I am meeting or exceeding my inventory building goals. Now to make time to work on the rest of them (but knitting is too much like fun!)