Sometimes being the boss is hard

Now is the time on Sprockets where we talk about three decisions I need to make for my business, but I don’t know which road to take for any of them; or, rather, I probably do, but need to process by writing. Internal HaldeCraft neep ahead. Really long. Skip this, or pour your favorite beverage and stick your feet up. I’m not kidding. It’s a long one. Never mind; I broke it up into three parts, it was getting JUST THAT LONG.

Scenes from a work day: objects in motion #yarn #handdyedyarn

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Out to lunch

The hardest part about not having a physical shop any more is meeting up with local customers for delivery. Yep. This is pretty rough. #Craftlife #Selfemployed

Between computer highs and lows and waiting for house loan stuff to sort itself out and work, I feel like I got nuthin’. I mean, surely something is in here, in my head, that needs to be written, but … I think of a million things to blog about when I’m doing other things, and then I sit down to blog and it’s just … crickets.

Things to blog about:
What have I been doing, socially?
What have I been doing, work-wise?
What have I been doing about the house/move?
How’s my computer?
How’s that health and fitness thing, then?
Seen any good TV lately?
How’s that new day-planner working out?
What’s this about joining a creative business group?
Didn’t I have a birthday?
Why is it so hard to find a doctor who fucking LISTENS?
Knitting? Spinning? Weaving?
I feel another blog redesign/cleanup coming up; so many dangling categories that could be cleaned!

Yes. Those are all topics that will show up. And probably a few other thousand things I’ve forgotten. Or, nothing! It could be anything around here!

Everything old is new aga– no, wait, it’s still old.

File this under “things you shouldn’t see on a computer you bought five months ago”:

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I think that was… last Tuesday or Wednesday. Now, I backup everything to an external hard drive once a week, but on some Facebook recommendations I went ahead and signed up for Carbonite and left my computer running (and Carbonite back-upping) until we left for the convention on Friday. Sunday night when we got home, I got the same message when I turned my computer on. Restarting it booted it up correctly (just like it had the previous week), but it is clearly going to go at any second… and I was worried mostly only because of two things I needed the hard drive for — Quarterly sales tax, and yarn club.

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Tell me what you want, what you really really want

In case you haven’t picked up on this, Tim and I have been talking about moving the HaldeCon Household. We started earlier this year with an unexpected turn; we decided to start verbalizing what we wanted, and within a month or two of that, some friends whom we love dearly got a new job out-of-state and decided to sell their property, which is perfect for us. Like hawks, we’ve been circling around while they got renovations done on their new house… and those renovations are almost complete. After months of worrying about what the price might be, on this perfect-for-us piece of land that comes with the love our friends put into it and memories of good times spent with them in their beautiful house… we have a price and we are going to start preening our peacock feathers in front of banks, hoping they will throw bags of money at us (OK; so we’ve also spent the last five months paying things off and making ourselves look good, financially, so we are pretty positive that it’s just going to be a waiting game/approval process).

What do we want in a piece of land? Well… first, let me tell you want we DON’T want. Because in the last five months of waiting, we’ve also looked online at a lot of other, similar properties that frankly just don’t look as good. This is going to sound like That Poor Man is just along for the ride, but having lived out in the boondocks before, I have a list of things I *don’t* want. In fact, what we’re looking for in a place could more be defined by what we’re NOT looking for rather than what we ARE. I have a long list of “never agains” thanks to living on 40 acres in the middle of nowhere for a number of years. Oddly, the same living situation has given me a small list of “must haves”. But the “must not haves” are longer.

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The Florida Fiber-In 2014

OK; ya’ll get the unedited version; I’m going to post a slightly cleaner (no f-bomb) version on my work blog tomorrow.

I was so busy the whole weekend I didn’t have a lot of time to whip out my camera; I think this is the least number of photos I’ve ever taken at Fiber-In.

Thursday night our living room looked like this:

Thursday night

Yes, we are watching Buffy; I’ve never seen the whole thing (more like one episode per season).

And when I went to pick up Rhea, after we got her bags in the car, the Rav looked like this:

Not one more thing can fit

That’s Yorkie, a stuffed dog I got when I was 16, and he’s gone everywhere with me since then.

I should have paid closer attention when That Poor Man was putting it all in there, but I was busy trying to wind up the last of the handspun yarn that I’d set to dry overnight. This “not watching him pack” thing will come back to bite me at the end of the weekend. But I like jigsaw puzzles… how hard could it be to get it all in there, right? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH foreshadowing.

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The last week has looked like this….

Three more mugs making the Fiber-In cut - fresh out of the kiln. Nothing like cutting it close! #ceramics #mugs Starting some stitch markers to finish up at Fiber-In #stitchmarkers #polymerclay
Signs, signs, everywhere are signs! Minerva; a 50/50 Merino/Tencel roving, debuting at Fiber-In and coming to the shop soon after. #handdyedroving
Gosh, I can't imagine why I feel so disorganized and scattered today. #workspace #office #chaos Neith; a 50/50 Merino/Silk pencil roving, debuting at Fiber-In and coming to the shop soon after.
Working on #buttons for Fiber-In. Hoping people don't mind if I sell them singly; I'm not going to have the time I thought I would to make button backing boards. #polymerclay Today I am stamping ALL THE THINGS. #logo
I'm really not good at this #breakfast thing (egg allergies really cut out a lot of typical "breakfast" foods). Here's what's fueling me this morning. #apples #cheese #coffee Dry faster! Dry faster! #handdyedroving #pencilroving #bluefacedleicester

And you know what that means… tomorrow morning I leave for the Florida Fiber-In! Fiber… Oh! Shit! I never did post about that over here; I did on my work blog, though, and you can read about the 11th Florida Fiber-In here. Oops. Sorry about that, I could have sworn I cross-posted that one! Sigh. See y’all next week, when I’ll catch up and answer emails and all that good stuff.

I’ll be posting about the Fiber-In as it happens on the Facebook and the Instagram if you want to follow along this weekend!

Fear of Commitment

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This year was going to be amazing. Back in January, in spite of being worried about Lenny the Boob Pea, I had such plans for HaldeCraft this year.

Part of those plans included expansion, and by that I mean actual physical space expansion (not necessarily product expansion, although that would have organically followed had I had the room to do it). Those plans have still not come to fruition and I feel like a bird in a cage that’s only a little bit bigger than I am. I can’t spread my wings. I’m too cramped. I also feel like I was handed a gift-wrapped package at the beginning of the year of awesome good things for my business and that I never did open the box. I’m not sure whether I didn’t open it because I was waiting until I had more room, or because I was afraid of committing to the next step. It’s easier to say I didn’t have room, but I feel like maybe I’m hiding behind that because saying that I was afraid to jump into the pool with both feet seems a little … ungrateful to that well of creativity that keeps. giving. me. IDEAS.

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Imma take a day off. Ooo, maybe I’ll redo my entire website!

HaldeCraft_mini

Because why else would you take a day off?

This morning, Tim was like (when I said I was contemplating not dyeing yarn today, but instead, running errands, doing laundry, and getting some things done I haven’t been able to do), “Don’t dye yarn today. Sure, it’s not a day off if you’re doing things for work that you can’t do when you’re dying yarn. But you’re still getting work done, you’re just rearranging your schedule, like any good manager does.” I’m paraphrasing, because I was half asleep when he was talking to me, but that’s the gist of it. Gist? Jist? Whatevs. Fake day off, FTW!

ANYWAY. My point. I need some website design feedback, because I apparently can not think for myself any more. I emailed a friend about this yesterday but like a song stuck in my head, I can’t stop thinking over it. So Imma brain dump on you!

Re: my work related website design.

I’ve been running into some problems the last couple of weeks; Shopify (my host/shopping cart) is making some upgrades to their back end, automagically sucked into supported themes. While Happy Cog, who made my theme, does still have a couple of themes up one theme on the Shopify website, mine is no longer supported (boo!) and they’ve phased it out/no longer offer it… so I’m running into weighing “do I want to not have these upgrades” vs. “do I love this theme.”

And I do love the theme. Brownish-gray! Easy on the eyes! Funky without being blinding! Just a little bit different, and simple without being plain.

But I also really like the idea of better/easier viewing/shopping for customers on mobile units, and being able to assign variant images to my drop-down menus when I offer something in multiple colors (so that when someone chooses, say, “blue”, the default photo automagically becomes the blue one, both on the website and in the cart when they’re reviewing their sale). This would save me a lot of drama when, even though I try to remember to add color names to all the variant pictures, someone gets upset when they think they were buying something oatmeal colored but get something gray instead.

But I love this theme.

But what else is next? What other improvements/offerings will Shopify make? Is the above the start of me being left behind if I stay with this theme?

I was thinking maybe of starting 2015 with a new shop theme. Except that’s four months away, and except that I can’t stop thinking about a new theme… but I’m so brain-fried right now I don’t know if I can’t stop thinking about it because it’s a great idea, or I can’t stop thinking about it because just like a song by Meatloaf, it is stuck in my head and nothing I can do can get rid of it. PARADISE BY THE DAAAAAASSHBOARD LIGHT!

So. The Shopify theme store doesn’t have many me-appropriate themes up there any more, sadly. By “Me-appropriate” I mean easy on the eyes, but a little bit funky, doesn’t look like all the others, and stands out not because it’s garish but because the design is so simple that my product photography does most of the work. There is really only one up in their shop that I would consider… the rest all look like I’m trying to sell computer equipment, or have that fucking white letter on black background shit that I hate. Or otherwise don’t fit the idea in my head of a handmade goods site. This is cute, but I don’t offer sewn items, so I’m afraid buttons and string on every page might be misleading. This one appeals to me (probably because it comes pictured with ceramics) but is soooo painfully plain.

This theme, on the other hand, looks similar enough to my current theme that it wouldn’t be too different for people; the color scheme is close to what I have now, the layout looks pretty similar, but it has a spot to welcome people on the front page (which I don’t have now, and that’s always bugged me), it has a matching – but smaller – mobile design for phones and tablets, and it has a lot of things out of the box that my current theme does not but that I’ve been able to figure workarounds for.

If you’ve clicked the link, could you tell me if you think it’s “me”? Or tell me that I need to wait until the start of the new year? Or tell me that yes, if they’re making changes and the theme I have isn’t supported any more, this is not a crazy idea? My gut says get it now, just do it, but I also don’t trust my brain this week because SQUIRREL. I know “advice is what you ask for when you already know the answer and wish you didn’t” but in this case I really am open to your thoughts.

In case you’re thinking “how much work would this make for you, when you’re already saying you have the brain of a goldfish?” — Changing themes is not that hard with Shopify, thank goodness; that’s one thing they do right – everything they offer is built on the same bone structure, the theme is just like … skin that you take off or put on. So “updating” my theme would take, like, an hour, tops. (In theory). Of course I have been known to take on easy things that go catastrophically pear-shaped, so, there is that.

Blah blah blah words words, blah blah. Thanks!

I am not easily distrac– OH LOOK A CHICKEN

Since Monday of last week (not yesterday Monday, but the Monday before that) my daily schedule has been the following:

Is it a spoiler if I edit out the color on the photo? #handdyedyarnWake up.
Start the coffee.
Start the dye pots that I set up the night before.
Pour coffee.
Let dye pots heat for one hour (while drinking coffee and catching up on the Internets).
Start dyeing Color #1 (approximate time for loading all three pots, 20 minutes).
Wait 20 minutes, check and stir yarn.
Wait 20 minutes. Add citric acid.
Wait an hour. Take out yarn, rinse, switch, start dyeing Color #2 (approximate time for loading all three pots, 20 minutes).
Wait 20 minutes, check and stir yarn.
Wait 20 minutes. Add citric acid.
Wait an hour. Take out yarn, rinse, switch, start dyeing Color #3 (approximate time for loading all three pots, 20 minutes).
Wait 20 minutes, check and stir yarn.
Wait 20 minutes. Add citric acid.
Wait an hour. Take out yarn, rinse, switch, start dyeing Color #4 (approximate time for loading all three pots, 20 minutes).
Wait 20 minutes, check and stir yarn.
Wait 20 minutes. Add citric acid.
Wait an hour. Take out yarn, rinse, hang outside to dry. Set up pots for next day.

I love that this is what I do, but I have to be honest… those 20 minute increments slay me. The hours are mostly OK, I can get stuff done in them. But the 20  minutes?! I have an alarm that I set, because believe me, I will forget that 20 minutes (or an hour) has gone by and that I need to do something (I used to use the stove/oven timer, but then whenever Tim was cooking and using it I would randomly run into the dye room when the timer would go off, panicked that I’d totally forgotten I was doing something… so I downloaded a timer app for my tablet). So the alarm goes off, and I have a moment of trying to remember which stage I was on in the process, go and do the stage, come back and reset my alarm for the appropriate time… and try to remember what I was doing before the timer went off.

If I were smart (HAHAHAHA) I would make a list of a bunch of things that would take me either 15 or 45 minutes, and I would do those things, and only those things, in the 20 minute and 60 minute arcs of time that I have between stages of yarn. If I were smart. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Instead, I spend five to ten minutes trying to remember what I was doing, get back into the groove of it, and then another however many minutes of actually doing it before the alarm goes off again.

I feel like the dogs in Up, like every once and a while I just randomly yell “SQUIRREL!” for no reason. Speaking of dogs, it’s been hard to get my walks in, in the last week. A couple of times I have managed to line that first hour up with an early morning walk, since I walk for about 45 minutes. But not every day. So even though I’m getting a lot of steps in walking from one end of my house to another fourteen times a day, they’re not really exercisey steps. Is “exercisey” a word? IT IS NOW. So in addition to being able to hold a thought in my head for about the same amount of time as a goldfish does, I also feel like a slug.

HOWEVER! I am getting a shit-ton of work done, and it’s work that I’d be spreading out over three months, if not doing it now. Hopefully soon we will hear what our friends want for their property, and if it comes in at what we are hoping for, we’ll be buying it and moving (so everyone cross your fingers for us because if it winds up being out of our price range….?). If we wind up buying the property and moving in October, having all this yarn dyeing behind me, club essentially being finished but for the swag, I will be over the moon happy. That’s a lot of work I won’t have to do at the same time as moving, and that makes this week worth it. Even if Tim asks me things and I just stare at him and blink a lot because it’s super-difficult for me to even form a cohesive sentence right now.

Also, if the property is within our budget, and we can get it, it will open up for me a larger working area and I will be able to up my dye pots from three to five, almost doubling what I can do in a round, and possibly shortening my work day because of it. Three rounds of five instead of four rounds of three… I like those numbers.

I plotted all my work out to get this done, and some fiber dyed for Fiber-In, and I will be continuing to dye straight through until Sunday, six days from now. Five? What is today? Last night I dreamed I forgot to pick up my aunt and uncle at the airport.

CHICKEN!

100 Things: The Comic Books

100things

In some ways this was just as hard as I thought it would be – it’s like kicking my babies out of the house when I know they can’t fend for themselves, but in some ways it was easier than I thought. Some of the comics that I have complete runs of… I don’t even remember. American Flagg? Cheval Noir? Oh My Goddess? But others… I’m so sorry. Akira, Animal Man, Green Arrow, Evangeline… It breaks my heart to let you go, but I never go to you to reread, and maybe some of you I can get as Graphic Novels, which take up less space.

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I got all this, plus another 200 or so that I’d never even put into boxes, down to six boxes of what I want to keep. Sandman, Hellblazer, Books of Magic, Black Orchid, Elfquest, Concrete, and a couple others.

I would say this took me about three days, although one full day was just thinking about it (I am not sure, 100%, why I was reluctant to start, but it was probably some combination of worrying they’d be in bad shape, worrying I’d cave and not want to get rid of any, worrying that I’d start reading and lose a week), one day was mostly thinking about it and finally moving the boxes into the living room where I was going to sort, and one day was actually sorting.

But now I have to say it took five days, hahahahah. One extra day because I accidentally unplugged my computer while I was typing this and then went on to do other things and never got back to it, and one day to pull some comics for a couple of friends, which means that I’ve whittled the boxes down even more. I’m glad that some of these comics are going to other collectors who will appreciate them — it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to get rid of all the ones I was thinking I’d get rid of, though, and now I’m at a standstill. Tim asked why I didn’t just take them to GoodWill, and I almost fainted. Have sets broken apart? Comics tossed willy-nilly in with other things, spines bent, bags and backs thrown away? BLASPHEMY.

Er, anyway.

Maybe the lesson for me here wasn’t that I’m supposed to get rid of all of them, but just that I’m supposed to be willing to get rid of them. Akira is now spoken for, which makes me happy; I’m sending that friend Appleseed as well, because if they like the one they’ll probably like the other. What of the others, though? I thought about posting pictures on Facebook of the titles I’m willing to part with, but I really don’t want it to devolve into an episode of “oh, do you have ____ issue # ___?”. I really want it to be more like, hey, if you want 225 issues of Green Arrow, here they are. I want them to go to a collector, or at least someone who will appreciate them – with gentle hands – but I also know that if I give them up, I have to give up caring what happens to them. It’s not like I’m adopting out a pet, and want to make sure they haven’t had ten dogs who have all gotten hit by cars. “Do you drop your comics in the mud? THEN YOU CAN’T TAKE MINE.” Ugh. The perils of being a Collector. It’s hard to let go.

Verdict? Undecided. Magic Eight Ball says to concentrate and try again.

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