Am I Ready?

“Am I ready?” is the question I ask myself every year as the craft shows start. I spend a week making lists, crossing off things as I get them ready, adding two more for every one crossed off and still have the feeling I’ve forgotten something. This process continues until I have the two inside shows under my belt, then starts again until after the first outside ones….adding tents, weights, camping gear to the already bulging trailer.

I can’t really say I’m stressed, I know I have the important things together. I think it’s more excitement to get back into the routine of things after not having a concrete schedule for the winter. I’ll report back after the first is done!

Advertisements

Blog Avoidance?

Don’t know why I haven’t been posting as regularly as I had planned? I don’t have writer’s block as I have many thoughts written down in notes. Maybe it’s the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day and I need a few of those for sleeping?

Craft shows are approaching! I have copies of our schedule printed for handing out to those interested in where we will be. I’ve revised my candle scent listing brochure, adding more scents (that will eventually be discontinued) to my sale column! This also meant relabeling all my inventory boxes and sorting through over 100 scents (does that explain why I am trying to cut back on my variety?)  Plus I’ve been making more candles, printing their labels etc. Hopefully I won’t have to make candles between some of the back-to-back shows.

And I’ve been dyeing!…lots and lots of wool fiber 🙂 Tonight I finally took the time to edit the many pictures I’ve been taking of the finished colors. And I’ve spun a few sample yarns, changing the look of the colors by plying them with different colors.

 

 

And I managed to achieve these each of these two-tone results in the same kettle of dye!

And for a visual hint of how this was done, the following two pictures are of the same roving;

 

And the latest two color-ways;

Most of the above fiber will be available at craft shows for $3.00 per ounce (both the Suffolk roving  and the Merino top is about 8oz per batch/colorway). If you would like to purchase some to spin, contact me and I can list it for you if it’s still here.

Hope everyone will continue to follow and realize, as I have, that I will probably always be a sporadic writer….too many irons in the fire…which reminds me, I need to plug in and do some new wood burning! Til next time, enjoy your lives, and hope you had a Happy Easter.

Reset

Today we started to do a reset on our trailer! We’ve only done one small show so far this year, so had just pulled out the necessary things that weren’t already in the house for the winter. That left the trailer disorganized and messy when I finally was able to move it to the driveway.

trailer view before reset

left in from last year

We were lucky enough to purchase some used grid-wall and additional shelving this Spring, so that had to come out of the garage. Of course we had to decide how many and what to take. Next Saturday is a one day show, with my husband having one booth to display his art (the reason we really needed the grid wall 🙂 He will be across the aisle from us to have electric to show his black-light paintings. And our son and I will share the second booth in our regular spot.

grid-wall

new grid and old candle shelves

Working out the things we need, we started loading. I’m excited to see how everything will look when it’s fully merchandised. Yes I am claiming some of the grid and the wooden shelves! The grid will be attached to the two heavy shelves and have about 4′ between! Did I mention we also bought some hat stands that clip to the grid 🙂 And the shelving should work well to display my yarn. Yes I will take pictures.

heavy shelf

one of two new shelves

We still have at least 4 or 5 more totes to finish re-packing and load, as well as the boxes of candles to be loaded last minute. Canvases and easels will go in the vehicle as well as my spinning wheel and an ice chest for snacks.

beginning to reload

trailer partially filled

I’ve more things that will need to fit for the next shows on our list since those will involve craft tents, sleeping bags etc. Will need to pack a lot tighter and more efficiently, or not carry such a large selection? I like having back-up even when I can’t display it all, especially for the multi-day shows.

 

More Challenges

Today is a day of no pictures. I am facing the challenge today of setting up and learning to use a new computer.

No, my other one hasn’t crashed, but I have been using it for about 10 years, with only one major crash in that time. Luckily I was able to have it fixed and save my pictures etc. So we decided that it was time to update.

You may have realized by now that to say I am technically challenged is a huge understatement. I’m sure the very patient Dell tech support person who spent hours walking me through things and doing some of the downloads and connections remotely knows just how much I don’t know!

Now my challenge is to learn how to move all of my pictures from my old computer, plus learn how to use the new picture editor program that I now have. I did move some pictures from my camera, but the dates are wrong on them and I haven’t learned how to put them in proper folders. Also have found the crop function but not how to resize them…..it’s been a long day, maybe things will be clearer tomorrow! or I may switch my monitor back to the old computer and fix some pictures to load 🙂

Wish me luck! With two keyboards set up right now, I keep trying to type on the wrong one!

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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.