Yarn: HaldeCraft HandDyed Emma in “Buttercream” (solid) and Lorna’s Laces Honor in “Chocolate”
Pattern: driftwood by Isabell Kraemer
Started: August 14, 2013
Completed: October 24, 2013
Notes: Knit mostly on the road trip to West Virginia and back, I love, love, love, love, love how this turned out. I plan on wearing the shit outta this, and want to make another already.
There is excitement in the air. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m ready for and looking forward to GLAM, because I’m ready for and looking forward to my annual Christmas/New Years/Family Birthday vacation, or because I’m ready for and looking forward to what I’m planning work-wise for next year.
I’ve been thinking about my plan for next year since October. I know a lot of thinkers and planners out there in the world call late December/early January the time to plan for next year (be it business-wise or personal) but I start thinking about what I want in the coming year around my birthday in October. Why? Birthdays, to me, straddle that line between looking backwards and looking forward. And one thing that 25 years in retail has taught me is that November and December are usually busy enough that clear-minded thinking doesn’t always get to happen in large enough doses to plan for an entire coming year. So I start thinking in October; reviewing the plan for the last year, judging it with hindsight, trying to be as honest as one can with oneself about what worked and what didn’t, thinking about how to apply more of what worked to the next year, and how to subtract more of what didn’t work.
Here are five things I’m not planning on doing as much of next year:
- Saying “yes” when I know full well I don’t have the time or mental/physical energy to do what is being asked of me (sure, I have to finish the swag for yarn club, get it all boxed up and mailed out, and do my quarterly sales taxes, all by the 10th… but I can totally take on that large custom order for 250 mugs for your college reunion due the same day!*).
- Running off on a tear when I get a baby bubble of an idea or a request for something grand but large and too time-sensitive, and don’t take the time and breath to think it through (what, what?! Bringing in three entire new lines of yarn at a fiber festival is a GREAT idea! I can totally pull that off in six weeks!).
- Be more harsh with discontinuing products that aren’t selling, even if they’re something I thought was a good idea at the time (be it yarn colorways, soap fragrances, or beloved adorable ceramics that just never sell).
- Waking up, starting with answering emails/messages before I’ve even finished the first cup of coffee, and going straight through all day until just before (or, vexing That Poor Man who has cooked for me, just *after*) dinnertime .
- Worrying about people who have asked me for information whom I then never hear back from when I ask them if they want to place a custom order (in fact, my entire custom order process is under review right now).
Oh! Edited to add a Bonus #6, because this was in my mind last night and then I totally forgot to add it this morning. I’m going to stop apologizing to people for selling out of something. I’ve always been of a mindset of “I am truly sorry I sold out of this random thing that you need/want! All the things that I make and I am out of THIS one, I am a failure!!!!” but when I step back and think about it… isn’t that my goal? To sell out of things? If I don’t SELL things, I can’t afford to BUY SUPPLIES to make more things. I really like making things. I really, really like making things for a living. So no more apologizing for being sold out. I can be cognizant of and sympathetic that that a human being can’t fulfill a want/need, but I don’t have to be sad and guilty and take on the burden of the idea that I’m failing them. I’m in the business of selling things. Business isn’t personal.
* completely random made-up thing I haven’t actually had a request for but you get the idea.
Here are five things I’m planning on doing more of next year:
- Sticking to my four-week rotating work schedule, which will consist of a week of soap, a week of yarn, a week of hand-built ceramics, and a week of slipcasting ceramics. Repeat indefinitely, sticking exactly to that and not letting one bleed over into the other.
- Being more honest with people about my turnaround times on custom orders, working within my four-week rotating schedule and my work load, with still taking into account their delivery needs.
- Waking up and starting with half an hour at my spinning wheel or my loom rather than my computer and my email.
- Stick to the schedule I’ve already plotted out for bringing in new (and some seasonal) products next year (I did this last year, gave up on it halfway through because I got behind in a few things, then tried to get ahead in a few other things, and it all sort of collapsed around me. Note to self: STICK TO THE PLAN.)
- Working more slowly, more methodically, being more present in the task rather than rushing through it to get to the next thing on my list.
What about you? When do you evaluate, either personally or for work? Yearly? Monthly? Daily? (Boy howdy do I wish I could shut that Daily Evaluation voice up!). Are you already thinking about next year?
I could feel a turn in the air yesterday when I started the last coat of glaze on the last ceramics to be fired before GLAM. You are coming to GLAM, right?
The first photo is Wednesday’s unloading, and the second is Thursday’s loading. ALMOST DONE. Soap is all packed (has been since before we left on vacation). The last of the ceramics are firing now. I’m packing yarn today. GLAM is Sunday. Do you know what that means….? All I have to do tomorrow, Saturday, is unload and pack the kiln. THAT’S IT. Then on Sunday, TIME TO PLAY! I’m getting excited about GLAM. I have a booth this time, in case I didn’t mention that. Three tables, not one, like last year. That’s why I’ve been busting tail to make so much. Well, that and all year long I made what is in retrospect some poor time choices that I wouldn’t make again, causing me to be rushed pretty much all year… but that’s a different blog post. Right now, all I want to say is… ALMOST DONE!
Yarn: HaldeCraft HandDyed Andre in “The 70s Have Called”
Pattern: Fissility by Lorena Haldeman
Started: Sept 15, 2013
Completed: Oct 21, 2013
Notes: Knit for a friend, but as I write this I’m worried they won’t fit; hopefully by the time you read this, though, I will have mailed them to her and if they don’t fit, she will have mailed them back so I can rip out and rework….
Tuesday I woke up to this!
More snow had started to fall during the night; thick, fat flakes that piled and piled on top of each other. I sat and had breakfast with my nose pressed to the window, watching snow fall lightly. After a bit, it let up, and Bill went out to start up the snowblower… which meant I ran to put on clothes to go take some photos before he blew it all away! Note to self: next year make gloves with fingers, rather than only bringing the fingerless gloves that are fine in Florida.
I’ll have many more photos up in a couple of days. Suffice to say – and you knew this was going to happen, right? – I stayed outside until my fingers and toes were little frozen nubs and I took lots and lots of photos. About the time that Amy was ready to come out and take photos, the snow started falling again. We walked down the hill (walked! didn’t slip and fall!) and down to the river, and with the great photos I got with my camera, I can’t wait to see what Amy got with hers. She has such an amazing eye — if you like my photos, you’re going to love hers.
There just happened to be an exhibit of Ansel Adams photography in South Bend while we were there. He was one of Amy’s big inspirations, so of course we wanted to go (which meant braving the roads, which did cause me to like the snow just an iota less… but not much less). The exhibit was amazing. It wasn’t large, but by the end I was getting glassy-eyed from seeing so many amazing things. Each photograph was perfect. Everything, every scene, every cloud, every stick, every drop of water, every leaf on every tree… every single thing in each photograph seemed to be aware of and loving the photographer. I’ve never seen his work in person, just in art books… and like I found when I went to the Van Gogh museum, the art books don’t do the work justice. The art books, while important for getting lots of things out there, dilute the power of the piece. The exhibit was really powerful.
And no trip to South Bend is complete without going to find some jumbo jelly beans, so the drive continued out to the South Bend branch of the Wakarusa Dime Store; AKA Candy Nirvana. Everything from traditional dime store candy to crazy Hello Kitty bars, to the jelly beans we went in search of. Curses, they were out of cinnamon ones (they only make these a couple of times a year, so once they’re one, you just have to wait). I got lemon, and coconut, and a fruit medley. And a few other things to compliment my candy haul from Jungle Jim’s. I am set on candy snacks for the next year!
Monday was spent in the car. We left Asheville after breakfast and with a ten hour drive if we made no stops, we were ready for a long day (as we did have stops planned). Speaking of stops, here’s a tip — if you’re ever driving through London, Kentucky, and think it might be a good place for a stop? A good lunchtime break? Keep driving. Definitely do not stop at the Ruby Tuesdays, no matter how much you want a salad, because the sullen inattentiveness of the employees who clearly don’t want you to be there….? Well, you will not be able to keep a straight face.
This section of driving also brought me my second FO of the knitting week, a hat for Amy! Her ears were cold, I had the perfect yarn and the right set of needles… so a hat it was! It also brought me the knowledge that although I had realized I forgot to pack the power cord for my laptop (crisis averted – Tim’s job gave him a laptop to take and the power cord is compatible with mine)… it was at this point, three days into the trip, that I realized I had forgotten to bring a hairbrush. HI, I AM FERAL. When was the last time I brushed my hair?! Usually I just wash it and put it up in a bun. I frequently forget to brush it. AS EVIDENCED BY MY NOT NOTICING FOR THREE DAYS THAT I DIDN’T HAVE A BRUSH. Derp.
High point of the day? We made a side trip in Cincinnati to Jungle Jim’s. Long time readers will remember we try to go there any time we’re within a couple hours of Cincy; this place is a mecca! It stuns me that some people are lucky enough that this is their weekly/regular grocery store. They do have regular grocery store things… but then they also have three or four times the floor space devoted to foods from different countries (more Pocky than you can shake a stick at. A stick. See what I did there?!) including so much cheese that I had purchase anxiety and almost couldn’t choose… teas from England…. candies from every country imaginable… rices, spices, and even cooking utensils.
You’re not supposed to take pictures inside (they want you to buy postcards, which are non-strategically placed *after* the registers, so you don’t see them until after you’ve paid)… but, I was feeling like a rebel so I brought in my cell phone and snuck a few shots of my favorite things… the things I try to explain to people who have never been there but I can’t quite seem to get across the enormity of the awesome tackiness. I’ll let those photos speak for themselves.
And after that we still had a few hours to go to get to South Bend. We hit a little snow flurry (I was excited! Maybe there would actually be snow when we got there!) and a little weird construction, but got to Tim and Amy’s parent’s house late at night and with about two inches of snow on the ground. Both of those things made me happy.
Yarn: HaldeCraft HandDyed Ursula in “None of Your Beeswax” (solid) and String Theory Colorworks Force in “Orchard Bee”
Pattern: plain stockinette
Started: July 28, 2013
Completed: August 30, 2013
Notes: Knit for the kit Caitlin and I were putting together.
Sunday morning we got up and went over to the McDonald’s for breakfast. Sure, there was a continental breakfast in the hotel, but the hotel didn’t have a floor-to-ceiling double-sided fireplace, and a baby grand piano in the corner. I KNOW, RIGHT? I only eat at McDonald’s about once every five years, but this was totally worth it to be able to see that. I will have a couple more photos when I get the camera hooked up to the computer.
Cetty had already been to the hospital to see Joe that morning, and it sounded like they might actually release him that day. We talked about that, and also about how the Biltmore, which I do want to see, was $60 to get in, and how it was too cold do do anything in the outside part of it (barn, animals, gardens). So we decided to drive over to Highlands (locals, it’s like Melrose, with all the antique shops, but in the mountains) and that if Joe was released that day we would stop at Cashiers on the way back and see if Cetty and Joe needed help with anything. That meant some fun mountain driving — I’ll have about a two minute video I’ll post to YouTube when I get home, that will frighten my mother. The Rav, by the way mom, handled both the mountain driving and the light snow driving quite well!
While we were in Highlands we stopped and had lunch at this crazy Inn… I say “crazy” because the food and the service and the ambiance was four-star, but mostly they get in tourists like us. So it’s weird. The clientele doesn’t match the vibe, if that makes sense. But the food was good, and again I got a couple of photos that I’ll post later, of some of the woodwork which was of course beautiful.
We were able to help Cetty and Joe get settled a bit. Joe looks great; you would never know he just had major abdominal surgery. He’s lost weight, sure, and he’s pale (but to me everyone up here is pale) but other than that he’s doing fantastic. Their dog Ashley, who had been staying with a friend, was so glad to see her mommy and daddy. I thought I had a great picture of her sitting under Joe’s recliner, but it looks like I only uploaded that to Facebook and not to Flickr. I’ll have to get it off my phone later. Anyway, Tim installed a new TV for them, Amy went grocery shopping while Cetty picked up Joe’s meds, and I took Ash for a little walk around the property (Ashley was very glad to show me around, and she’s a lovely and happy dog… but it sure did make me miss my puppies).
For dinner we decided to find someplace local. I looked up vegetarian-friendly restaurants because by this point in the trip I would have sold my grandmother for some vegetables. I really wanted a salad. We found one that got good reviews, the Tupelo Honey Cafe, and I could tell when we got there that the food was going to be good because the place was PACKED on a Sunday night. I don’t think there are too many places I’ve been to to eat that had a wait on a Sunday night. I got a great salad and some to-die-for goat cheese grits (you know I’ll be making some of those when I get home… they have a cookbook and Tim’s going to pick that up). Then for dessert we went to a place called the Chocolate Lounge, which is… it’s like the Sweet Dreams Ice Cream of chocolate. Chocolate bars, truffles, caramels, cakes, brownies, hot chocolates… it was a little overwhelming! And delicious. Good times, y’all, good times.
OH! I didn’t get a picture of him, but when we were going into Tupelo Honey, we were passed – and I’m not even making this up – by a tall guy in a Gingerbread Man costume, but instead of being bald he had dreadlocks down to his butt. Later on he ran past the restaurant. When we saw him the second time we were all, “if he comes by again, GRAB THE CAMERA!” but unfortunately he didn’t come back again. Run, run, run, as fast as you can… you can’t catch me, I’m the GingerDread Man!
After that it was back to the hotel, and to sleep, so we could get moving in the morning.
We hit the road as early as we could, hoping to be in North Carolina by dinner time, in case Cetty could get away from the hospital for a bit for dinner. I don’t think I’ve told the story because this all happened so quickly; Tim and I decided to go to South Bend for Thanksgiving, and I was looking at maps trying to decide what awesome thing we should stop and see on the way. Then we found out that Amy could come with us, and not knowing if she’d ever been back to the Cashiers area since they moved when she was a toddler, we hit on coming through North Carolina and stopping at the Biltmore.
Not even days after we decided that – and I mean, literally, because we just decided about two weeks ago and not two days later we saw on Facebook a note from Cetty that Joe had not felt well, they had gone to the hospital, and he’d been diagnosed with aggressive, fast-growing, and very angry colon cancer. The fortunate part of this is that when it grew it blocked off his small intestine, and that made him sick — if it had grown even a centimeter to either side, well… well. So he was rushed into surgery that day, and they were able to get everything out. Because of how fast it was but how soon they found it, it hadn’t had time to spread.
And it just so happened that the hotel where Cetty was staying was just a block or so from the Biltmore, and the hospital was just a few blocks behind that. Perfect! We were able to get a room at Cetty’s hotel (Cetty reserved one for us before we even left Gainesville) and so all we had to do was get there. By the time we got on the road Joe was doing so much better that they were even talking of releasing him by Monday.
The drive up was uneventful. Some light rain, some traffic that Amy saw on her GPS and we were thus able to avoid, and for the most part it was just drive, drive, drive! We got to Asheville right around dinner-time and went to the conveniently located TGIFridays at the other end of the hotel parking lot.
Before we had dinner we stopped in to see Joe, and honestly, if you didn’t see his scars you wouldn’t have known something was wrong. He had lost a lot of weight in the last two weeks, and was pale, but was in fantastic spirits, laughing and joking, smiling, and oh-so-ready to go home. His appetite was great, his attitude was great… and everyone agreed that although it was just about the worst type of cancer to be diagnosed with, because of how it grew he was lucky in that instead of being silent, it basically knocked on his front door… and then was given an eviction notice. His prognosis is Clear Skies, and we look forward to seeing him and Cetty (and their pup, Ashley) when they come down in the RV in February.