I know I haven’t been posting here much, but I have started monthly shop updates in my shop. They are the first Friday of every month and what do you know? Today is just that!
Shop News The Rainbow Club is now liveand you can purchase it through April 10th. Each month, you will receive a rainbow skein and all three together will fade. It’s a limited edition club and these colorways will never appear back in the shop! Don’t miss them!
If you follow along with the Dye with Me vlogs on YouTube, you probably know that I have a Dye with Me club. This is how you can purchase the skeins we dye up in the vlogs. I do plan to write posts about them as well, so you can follow along here from now on if YouTube isn’t your thing. The Dye with Me clubs are now reopened for the May 1st renewal. By signing up for the club, you will have your membership renewed on May 1st and then receive a skein from April.
I showed the new May sticker kits on Tuesday, which you can check out here.
May is coming, which is my birthday month. Stick around for more news later this month because I will be offering up something special to celebrate!
The spring rainbow gradient is back in the shop. This was a beloved gradient last year and I can’t wait to have it back in the shop. I’ll have a sample to show you soon and so make sure you’re following along to see when I post it. I’ll be sure to post it on Instagram as well. The spring rainbow gradient set is available on sock and DK and of course you pick the size of the skeins.
Each skein is a light, pastel version of a shade in the rainbow with speckles of the same color on it.
Before the Rain is also back in the shop. This is a light gray blue with some slight gray speckling. I love the smell in the air before it rains. When you can sense the rain coming but it hasn’t quite appeared yet. The sky is still blue but those clouds come rolling in. April showers and all that.
Frostbite – quite the name for a Spring color, huh? I know, I know but this was the December club colorway and I couldn’t wait any longer to release it. This was a popular club color and I wanted to make it a regular asap. It’s a light gray and white base. Some of the gray base has a twist of a blue in it as well. There are bits of a loving red (no better way to explain it. Not quite bright red, not too dark either. Just a rosy red) that will speckle throughout the skein. It’s paired with a perfect tonal deep red.
Lovebite – the perfect tonal pairing for Frostbite. This was the contrast skein for the December club and I just love it on its own. It’s a deep tonal red with bits of a dark blue to just blend it into a lovely textured tonal. Available on its own or as part of a two skein set where you choose the size of the skeins. I also will have this as a secondary option for the Emelyn Mae shawl kit.
Meadow – this is a colorway that I’ve had in my head for a while and I”m excited to bring it to the shop. It’s a lot of pastel colors but more flowers in a meadow than little girls bedroom. This will match a lot of colors in your stash or even ones in my shop. Let me know if you want pairings and I can help you out. This will make a great colorway for a multi colored project where you need a light tone, but you don’t want a neutral.
Sweet Tooth – a new 5 skein mini skein set that I’m through the roof excited to share. I had a dye with me series over on YouTube where we used a cake photo for inspiration. In one of the vlogs, I dyed up a mini skein set and fell in love with it. It was so springy and speckly and delicious. I had no formulas written down for it so I’ve now formulated it and made it into a regular colorway. Available in any size skeins.
That’s it! Make sure you check out the colors I’ve been featuring in the shop as well.
Leaving the shop at the end of this month is: Cayenne Pepper Smoked Paprika Sea Salt Purple Basil Galentine’s Day – colorway and gradient set
Don’t forget to check out the Caladenia Shawl kits. The MKAL started today! Check out my instagram for photos of my completed clue 1.
Here’s a link to the shop. This will take you to the new items, but you can navigate to see all items.
Well hello there world. It’s been a while since I posted on the blog, but I’m more than happy to be back in action. I’ll be catching you up in some crafty goodness.
In general, I plan for this blog to mirror my YouTube channel to provide those who can’t or don’t want to watch vlogs to read about the same information. Feel free to follow me in either place, or both, but it should be the same information.
Today, I’m going to do a monthly catch up on all things crafty. I also want to introduce the blog to my craft journal, as I started one this year and have been enjoying tracking it.
Did I finish anything in March…? Hmm… yes, yes I did! I finished the Eostre Children Cardigan that I knit for my niece Hannah. I will link to the vlog here and unfortunately, I don’t have a blog post about it. Let me know if you want to see one!
I knit up this sweater for my niece because she asked for it. I knit up two sweaters for two of my nieces, my brother’s daughters, when they were 5 and 3. Now, the 5 year old is turning 8 and expressed how she was sad she had grown out of that sweater. Too polite to ask for a new one, she never did! Well, now that she mentioned that, it was time to make another one. I picked out a simple cardigan with lace sleeves that I knew she would love. I knit it out of my yarn, agirlandherwool, in the Aurora colorway. She has seen photos of it in progress but not the finished sweater. Her birthday is soon and she’ll be receiving it in honor of that! I can’t wait.
That’s it. No other finished objects to speak of, but I’m very proud of that one.
Works in Progress (WIPs)
A list of the current WIPs as of the end of March: 1. Vanilla Oink Pigment socks – vanilla socks that I mostly work on while I’m dyeing yarn 2. Caladenia Shawl – Ambah O’Brien MKAL – mostly monogamously working on this one. I do have kits in the shop and I’m using the Spring kit. All other spoilers will come when the MKAL starts on April 1st! This Friday! 3. Moduloncho – Just started on this one this past weekend. Lots of squishy garter stitch, which I’m super excited about. More details will come on this one soon too.
The Rainbow club is now live in my shop. Once a month, you will receive a rainbow themed colorway. The three colors will form a fade. The clubs are available until April 10th and then these colors will never be for sale in the shop.
The craft journal sticker kits are up in the shop. I will do a separate post on these, but I’ve been using a craft journal as a way to track my projects in a memorable and keepsake way. I love flipping through it and putting pen to paper and writing some of my favorite things about my project.
I say this often, but I don’t consider myself a creative person. I understand the irony in all of this, but I’m not someone who can draw or write nicely and I couldn’t come up with a pretty craft journal without the addition of these stickers. They make the pages vibrant and fun and all I need to do is write down the facts, a few memories and it is good to go. I can change how I use them page by page and I’m not stuck using a format the same way all of the time. The options are endless and I hope to continue bringing more stickers to the shop to allow for you to feel the same way.
Today, I launched the May sticker kits. Here are some of the images below! I hope you check them out and enjoy!
That’s all the crafty news for today. I am excited to be back here on the blog and back with my needles. Feel free to reach out with any questions and I’ll be back on Friday with another post. We’ll be having a shop update with yarn and I’m excited to bring more spring to the shop.
I recently finished my Golden Dusk MKAL shawl, which is my first FO in a long time!
The usual details first: Pattern: Golden Dusk MKAL / Tamy Gore Yarn: agirlandherwool / Silk DK / 4 Spices Collection Needle: Size 6 Cast on: 10/19/2020 Cast off: 1/17/2021 The pattern page on Ravelry can be found here.
I have a finished object! I have a finished object!!
This is so exciting. I feel like I haven’t shared crafty progress in way too long, so thank you for your patience. I will say this project could have been done much sooner, but I’ll get into that in a bit.
I’ve always loved Tamy Gore’s designs and the Ashbrook shawl is one of my favorite makes. I knew going into this mystery knit along (MKAL) that I would love the end result of the project. For those of you who aren’t quite sure what an MKAL is, you basically work on the project without knowing what the end result is. The designer will release the pattern in separate clues, usually a week or two apart, and you just knit along in your blinded bliss. In some cases, it probably always work out well for everyone, but if you pick a designer you like, then I’m sure you’ll like the finished project.
This was definitely my mentality going into this project. I knew going into it that it would be a straightforward pattern and I would love the end result. I was not disappointed. It turned out to be just that. The pattern it close to stitch sampler in some ways and it really feels that way as you work on it. You move quickly from garter to garter stripes to brioche, add some lace, mosaic knitting, short rows. Basically if you can think of it, this pattern has it. It only has it for a few rows at a time though. #PotatoChipKnitting to a T.
In the end it’s a large shawl, it does use 4 colors after all. The way that it is designed though, it doesn’t feel that large. I think some of that has to do with the squishiness that is garter along with it being a heavier weight yarn. Instead of being wider, it’s thicker. For me, it’s totally wearable and I plan to wear it. Lots.
The yarn is my hand dyed yarn, agirlandherwool in the silk DK base. It’s a 50% SW Merino / 50% Silk DK base and it is really lovely yarn. It’s shimmering and soft and I’d line my bed in it if I could. The base makes the colors just brighten up and shine and it just makes the shawl that much nicer.
I do have kits for the shawl in my shop, but it is on my regular DK base (SW Merino/Nylon blend). I’m not currently offering the silk DK base, mostly because I think you need to see it in person to appreciate it. As of now, I’m planning on it being a festival only base, but if you are interested, definitely let me know.
Overall, A+, a perfect start to the crafty year. Have you knit a Tamy Gore design? I’d love to know!
I’m using the term “What I Wish I Knew” lightly as some were things I knew but maybe didn’t prioritize it as much as I am now.
Social Media I don’t know if I knew back then just how big social media was. I’m not involved in social media in my personal life and so I never really took note of how much everyone used it. It’s just never really been my thing. I didn’t use Instagram much before having a business and I rarely post of Facebook. I have learned just how valuable social media is. It’s how businesses market these days.
The thing that I also didn’t think too much about it how people like to invest in the person behind the business as well. This means putting myself, Lauren, out there in addition to everything agirlandherwool has to offer. It’s new to me, but I’ve been doing a lot of things I never expected myself able to do. It’s definitely something I will always be working on, but I am proud of how much I put myself out there for my business. I’m appreciative to everyone I’ve been talking to over the internet!
I knew having a YouTube channel would also help me put myself out there more. I held off on starting one for a while because again, it’s way out of my comfort zone. It’s only gotten easier though and I do think it’s something that is vital to a small business. I feel like I’m able to open up more than just through text and start to be more comfortable with my personality. I edit my vlogs less than I used to and just let myself show. Embarrassing or not.
Collaborations/Networking It’s possible to grow a business all by yourself, but it certainly helps to network. When I started my business, it was a hobby and I wasn’t necessarily concerned with the growth. Sure, I wanted people to buy my yarn, but I didn’t necessarily want to put in the effort of growing a following (see previous section about my internet insecurities). As I changed my mental state of seeing my business as such instead of as a hobby, I realized that growth happens by networking and collaborating. Without a doubt, this is something that I’m still working on and will continue to work on probably forever. Every time I reach out to someone or put myself out there, it’s a win. I was listening to the Knitmore Girls the other day (I will say I’m way behind. It’s still the summer for them), and they talked about rewarding yourself once something stressful (or moreso daunting/not fun/ hard to do) is complete. It’s such a simple and genius idea and so true.
I set a 2021 goal to keep working on networking and I’ve already started the process. It’s something I haven’t prioritized so far, but it is something that is vital to a small business.
Reinvesting in your business When I first started out, I borrowed from our personal finances to buy the initial materials. I mean, with starting a business, the money has to come from somewhere. While it wasn’t that much money, I had an initial goal of putting the business in the green as soon as possible. This meant that my primary focus was paying us back as soon as possible. When I would estimate how much money I needed to keep for business expenses, I never really accounted for growth. I more paid us the profit instead of planning on expenses growing over time. Amatuer, but that’s the whole point of this blog post.
As I started paying us back much sooner than I probably should have, I had to keep borrowing from us to keep up with the growth. I would essentially break even only to borrow back from us. While it’s not a bad thing to pay off debts before reinvesting in the business, it just made things messy. Looking back on it, I wish I knew that it was ok to hold onto that debt (personally not with a bank) and use the money appropriately to grow.
Buying things that save you time Building off the previous one, I wish I knew that it was okay to spend money to save me time. I think I always told myself (and still tell myself) that it’s not worth spending the money when it’s something I can do myself. Early on, I think that’s reasonable.
I watch other YouTubers who are Etsy/small business shop owners, not yarn dyers, who enjoy talking about their businesses as well. Advice that I often hear is that it’s worth spending money on the points in your business where you have a bottleneck. It’s also worth spending money where it saves you time because it means you can do more for your business. It really started to hit home and I have to say that it really has paid off.
One of my first early purchases to save me time was my electric skein winder. Originally, I was winding by hand, meaning that I wound the yarn off of cones by manually spinning my yarn swift around and around. This was a time killer and a shoulder killer. At the beginning it was manageable, but there’s no way it would be an option anymore. Let me just tell you that when someone ordered 300g of sock yarn, it was a marathon for my arm.
At first, trying to save money, I tried a swift that had a handle on it so I could crank it at waist height instead of winding it up above my shoulder height. However, it didn’t work and I had to return the product. Once that didn’t work out, I found my only and best option was to invest in the skein winder from Crazy Monkey Creations. It really has changed my business and again, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with orders if I were still manually winding skeins by hand.
My dye studio is something we do not acknowledge our appreciation of enough. I no longer have to work around the eating schedule in our kitchen. I can leave things to cool and have it not be in the way. I generally have more space and time to devote to dyeing with it being it its own area. Being able to invest in that dye studio has definitely been a game changer and one that I should celebrate more.
My spin dryer! This one didn’t save me energy, but saves me TIME. This is a huge thing. Yarn that I dye is dry in only a few hours. Minis can be dry in less than an hour. This is a big deal if I need to add a skein last minute to a gradient that didn’t turn out right. It also means I dont have a backlog of yarn drying. I also don’t have massive amounts of wet towels either, which adds more moisture to the air, further slowing down the drying time.
A lot of the items above have been investments in me and my time. Without them, I’d have to have longer processing times and more stress generally. I definitely wish I had known sooner that investing in my business in this way would pay off, even if the direct ROI didn’t seem apparent.
Setting small milestones is fun! When I started my business, I set a few small milestones. It was really fun to think about them and hit them along the way. Even if they aren’t these huge long-term goals, it is fun to celebrate along the way, even if it’s just a $1 celebration.
You’ll always look back and think ‘what was I thinking’ There are so many times when we improve on things that it’s only natural to look back and realize how far we’ve really come. When I first started, experience, time and money were all minimal and so of course things are better now than they were. It’s important to take advantage of the early opportunities to both fail and succeed as well as learn about what works for the business and what doesn’t. I know over the years, I will continue to look back and think “I thought that was a good idea…?” but know that at the time, it was an adventure to go on. A good experience to learn from.
Yarn related A lot of the above has to do strictly with business and I thought it would be fun to also reflect on what I wish I knew, specifically relating to the yarn business.
The first is that people really like to see swatches. I completely understand. I think it’s important as a buyer to know exactly what you are buying and how well it will fit into your crafty project. When I first started out, I knit swatches, but without really interacting with people, I didn’t know of its value. These days, I get requests for it and so I better understand the need for it. It can be really difficult to see what the skein will look like worked up.
Kits work really well for customers who want to know what the yarn can and should be used for. I’ve found kits that I list in my shop, specific to certain patterns, do fairly well. I find the ones based on certain patterns do even better than those generic 2 or 3 skein sets. In general, I’ve been trying to dye up matching tonals for variegated skeins. Even more so, I’m planning to offer up more kits in 2021, so stay tuned!
The last thing goes along with one of my 2021 goals of staying ahead. I hope to be more aware of patterns that are up and coming by designers. One way for me to do this is to volunteer to be a test knitter so I can have a general idea of what’s to come. Often when designers ask for test knitters, they at least say what yarn will be needed, which is helpful for pre-planning kits.
That’ll wrap it up for today, but I plan to discuss more about what’s to come in the future in the next blog post in this series, posting in two weeks. Feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a post. You can also check out my YouTube vlog where I can talk more about this topic.
Now that the January clubs have arrived at their homes, I’m here to talk about them and the inspiration behind it.
Starting in January, I offered up the club as a mystery skein, with an optional contrast skein, or as a mini skein set. For both options, I used the same inspirational photo.
My main inspiration in picking this photo is that I love to roast veggies and make soups in the summer. I wanted to find a photo of some root vegetables that reminded me of this. I also like to balance out the colors that I include in the clubs to provide variety and not have similar skeins back to back. I don’t often dye with orange and so I thought it would be fun to add that in there.
That being said, I was really nervous going into this club. These aren’t my typical colors and I was nervous for how it would turn out. I have to say that I do a test skein when deciding on the inspirational photo to make sure I can actually come up with something. I was still nervous though!
In the end, I was really happy with the skein I came up with. I kept it light and more of the neutral colors than the bright orange and green. They were more hints and I toned them down to keep them more in my style.
It’s a really soft light brown base with various neutral colors. It has some speckles of the orange and green, but again, not too much.
For the contrast skein, I decided to go with a light green. Again, to stay within my comfort zone, but to bring in a bit of color. I like that I again kept it light. It might not be the standard moody winter color, but I think it represents root vegetables and the overall feel I was going for.
New this month was a mini skein set based on the same inspirational photo. I picked out various elements of the main color and brought them into their own mini. If you are interested in more details about how I do this, check out an upcoming series I have on my YouTube channel starting in a few weeks. I’ll be talking all about photo inspirations and creating colorways and mini skein sets.
So overall a soft feel, but a really fun mini skein set for the winter months.
You can purchase these colors on for a very limited time – now through the 15th. The colors will be retired for at least 3 months.
February clubs are also available. If you purchase the mystery club between now and the 20th, you’ll be signed up for the February club. Make sure you select the ongoing subscription for the club. You also have various options for the length of the club. Feel free to reach out with any questions!
You can watch more here on YouTube and tune in if you haven’t seen the ongoing coupon code available only at agirlandherwool.com.
Setting goals for 2021 is hard because I really don’t know what this year will look like. There’s a possibility I’m back to commuting to work, traveling on weekends or continuing to stay home. However, I’m setting goals now assuming life is as it currently is and if I need to change them during the year, then that’s what I’ll do! Are you setting 2021 goals or just going with the flow?
Knitting In previous years, I’ve set goals for the number of projects I’d like to complete that year. It’s usually based on what I have planned for the year. This year, I will not be doing that. I have no clue how much knitting time I will have this year and I don’t want any pressure to complete anything at all. I won’t even set goals for knitting x times per week or x minutes a day because I really can’t say anything to it. Right now, I knit about 1x per week and we’ll see how that changes this year.
Of course if I want to knit, I will absolutely allow myself to do so.
I do wish to complete the Radvent throw this year using the 2020 advent calendar. If you’ve been following along, I failed miserably at completing an advent pattern this year. So I’m trying again!
I also want to up my charity game this year and continue to use scraps in my stash towards charity items.
Spinning Ha! If I’m not setting any knitting goals, I certainly will not set any spinning ones either. Last year, I wanted to hit my goal of 3x per week and maybe increase it. This year, I just have the goal of spinning the Loop batt I purchased at Rhinebeck in 2019. I have not yet started it.
Business My business, agirlandherwool, is definitely where I have the most goals as it is what I’m most actively working on these days. While I do have metrics for a lot of these, I’m going to keep them pretty general. My goals are the following:
Vend at festivals if it is allowed and they are safe. Technically, this is just a waiting game as I have already signed up to vend at two of them. This can change. It’s not really a goal as it won’t be up to me if it is achieved, but I think when I look back on 2021 and if I had vended, I’d like to mark that off as a big win and step for my business.
Have more collaborations with other makers. Any designers out there who want to collaborate, let me know! This also includes sponsorships, working with other crafters or really anyone! I’d like to keep working with others in the community.
I want to start looking into having sample knitters for my shop. I need to research how this will work logistically and legally, but if you are interested in knitting samples for me out of my yarn, feel free to contact me.
I plan to offer limited series clubs on the quarters. The 2nd quarter club will be a rainbow themed club.
I want to offer more pattern based kits in my shop. I love setting these up, especially in alignment with my shop’s any size skein theme. Kits always seem to do well and I’d love to offer more. If you have some favorite patterns either new or old that you would love to see kits for, definitely let me know. I try to find ones that use lots of colors, but I’m open to anything!
One main goal is to be more ahead. I always feel one step behind and like I can’t always release products as I want to. This year, I didn’t offer up holiday yarn because I didn’t have my act together in time. I’ve already started pre-planning colors for spring and so I think this will start to work out better. I’m actually a few Dye with Me vlogs ahead right now and will be dyeing new February colorways starting next week.
In conjunction with 6, I plan to have one personal dye day per week. This means that one day per week, I will not dye orders. As a dye to order shop, it’s easy to just keep up with orders. The downside is it doesn’t leave you time to dye up anything new. By setting aside one day a week, I’ll be able to stay ahead and continue to offer more in my shop.
I’m currently working with a really great routine that has allowed for more efficiencies in my shop without as much burn out. Essentially, I’m doing a little dyeing, a little yarn prep and a little packaging each day. This is opposed to long dye sessions on the weekends, late at night and then entire days devoted to packaging or late nights of prepping yarn. Overall, it’s been working out better and I’ve been consistent in getting orders out within 3-4 business days without feeling behind or stressed. This routine will have to change once my commute is added back in, but I will cross that bridge when I get there.
YouTube Once again, I have metrics I would like to meet throughout this year (please subscribe!) but here are some general goals.
Stick to my current 2x per week schedule. Consistency has been really great for having more interactions with viewers on my channel. I also may add in random content if I want to and feel like I have more to say!
I would like to go into more livestreams this year. I’m not sure if they will be live dyeing as I prefer to keep my mask on while dyeing, but it’s something I may try out. I also would do live “package orders with me” where we could chat, answer questions and craft! I’m thinking of setting a goal of 1x per quarter for now.
Blog Consistency with my blog is certainly something I struggle with. It’s often the first to go. I think in order to consistently post, I’m going to aim for 2x per week (vs 3) and keep them aligned with my vlogs on YouTube. I haven’t been knitting and so I do have knitting progress weekly, I’ll go back to posting that on Wednesdays, but for now, the topics of my YouTube vlogs are good!
Theme My overall theme for this year will be growth and contentment. Those might sound opposing, but I truly do wish to grow my business this year and also remain content with where I’m at in the moment. It’s okay if I’m not a huge well known dyer, but I can certainly work towards growth. I want to be content with the products I do put out and not worry about the things I wish to do but just simply don’t have time for. I can’t wait to become more comfortable with the day to day of owning this business so that I can continue to bring more to the crafting community.
You can see me chat about my 2021 goals on Youtube here…
Now that vlogmas is over, I’m back to my business series about how I started up my yarn business and where I currently am with it. I have a few more posts that I will be adding to this series over the next few weeks and then I plan to revisit it over the years. The idea is to see how I grow and change with my business over time. I also think it will be fun to look back at the things that are at the forefront of my mind today and see where it stands in the future.
For a while, I was intrigued by how dyeing worked. Like many people now ask me, I wondered how the colors were speckled or stay separated from each other. I’m the type of learner that has to do something to learn it, either write it down, work out the problem or get my hands dirty, which was the case here. I decided to try it out and see for myself.
I wound up the skeins of yarn into little minis and just went for it. I tried solids and then mixed some colors that I thought would look nice together. I tried mixing, speckling and just doing whatever to the yarns to see what happened. I used the little pans and minis on my stovetop and once I started, I couldn’t stop.
I really didn’t know I what I was doing, first of all and I didn’t have too many dyes. I really just kept using them in new combinations to see what would happen. A lot of those early skeins ended up in my Northeasterly blanket, which I’m still working on today.
After researching owning a business, Etsy and suppliers, I took the plunge and went for it! In the early days, I tried to keep the costs of my business at a minimum and it showed. I used the same materials that I still use today, I didn’t wimp out there. However, I would dye up my colorways on minis and photograph those… on my driveway. Some of the originals in the photo on the left (my original shop), were taken on my in-laws deck, as I opened up the shop while I was there. The ones with the white background were on my driveway with a piece of computer paper behind it. So high tech… so lame. The photo on the right was one of my first kits, also photographed on my driveway.
I actually don’t mind the driveway look in all honesty. It’s a plain background and you don’t see shadows. The issue for me was the light needed to be perfect. My house faces east and as soon as the sun came up, it would wash out the colors. I needed the sun to not quite be up over the house across the street. This meant that given the time of year, I needed to take photos on the weekends. I was out of the house during the week before the sun was up. If it was a rainy weekend, forget it. It didn’t happen. Still, it worked and was a decent way to start.
I knew it was deceptive though and people would think I only sold minis. I knew that if I wanted to sell skeins, I needed to photograph them on 100g skeins. This is a double edged sword. I actually think I’m hurt now by showing 100g skeins where people can actually buy minis too. However, more people look for the 100g skeins so I’m better off showing them that way.
I was slow to dye up my colorways on 100g skeins because that takes stock and early on, I had no clue how to predict who would like which colors. Early on, it’s hard to trust yourself and know that if you love something, someone out there will too. It’s also difficult when you don’t have a following who actively look up what you are dyeing.
Eventually, I did and I think it helped the shop. That’ll be for another post…
Note from Lauren of the future…. I wrote this post back in November and never clicked publish! I’ll be continuing this series this month, so this is a great way to catch up.
I often get asked how I got into yarn dyeing and I figured it warranted a blog post. In fact, I plan to do a series more on my hand dyed yarn business, the early years.
I think the why started because it was something I was intrigued with when I first learned of hand dyed yarn businesses. When I first started buying hand dyed yarn, I probably had no clue they were mostly run by one person shops. I don’t think I fully grasped that until I saw some of their YouTube channels. I was always interested in seeing how the yarns came to be and quickly became obsessed with the process.
I was always a crafty kid and always had to have an activity wherever I was. While I wouldn’t call myself a restless kid in that I loved to take rests, I also didn’t like to sit with nothing to do (still don’t!). As a kid, I worked on a lot of needlepoints and brought those with me on trips, family visits and wherever else I could. I remember as a kid saying that I wanted to own a needlepoint store one day. It just seemed like a dream to surround myself with the craft and even as a kid I knew it was something I wanted to do. As I got older, reality set in a bit more and I never found myself on a path to open a business.
Knitting certainly took over my life and like a lot of people, being a knitter became more and more of an identity. I was living in a new city with no I knew outside of coworkers and found myself drawn into the knititng community. I was reading blogs, listening to podcasts and watching youtube videos. I learned how to knit simply by absorbing myself into it and by the time I had the time to start knitting (I was being with exams at the time), I thought I could do way more than I probably should have. Since all of the people I listened to were knitting sock after sock, I didn’t even think twice about casting one on. I quickly grew my stash and projects from there.
I’ve always been a learner. I loved school and was always excited for the start of a new year. I love challenging myself and seem to get bored when things become routine. It’s ironic though because I often call myself a routine person and someone who does well with routine. I think I also love to plan and schedule and so when things become too routine, I have nothing else to plan and so I look for something new.
After I finished up my exams, I really took to knitting and that was the next challenge to myself. Years later, I think I was just looking for something new to learn and that just became how to dye yarn. I started watching videos and became more and more intrigued by the process. Up late one night after too much coffee, I ended up buying some supplies to try out dyeing. To say I fell in love with the process quickly is an understatement.
I knew starting a business wasn’t just appreciating a love of the craft. You have to also want to be a business owner. This is also something I’ve wanted to do since I was little. Own my own business. I remember as a kid saying that I wanted to own a needlepoint store one day. It was never realistic to me in that it wasn’t a path I ever found myself on, nor did I really know anyone with their own business. I knew people in corporate jobs and that’s what I saw myself doing. I remember a cousin of mine once saying that a baker stops being a baker once they open a bakery.
It was a commitment I wanted to try and I knew being part business owner and part hand dyer was just the journey I was ready to take.
Stay tuned for the next post in this new series. Next time I’ll share more about how I started my business.
You can watch me talk more about the WHY here on my YouTube channel…
Well, it’s January 2021. It’s crazy to say it that’s for sure. I hope you all had fun ringing in the new year and setting yourselves up for a new year. Last year, I wrote a post reflecting on 2019 and setting goals for 2020. You can read it here. In this post, I plan to recap my 2020 and then touch on any goals I had set last year. Next week, there will be a post with my 2021 goals.
2020 Project Recap
In 2020, I finished 23 projects. This probably doesn’t sound like a lot to some of you, but I’ve been in the 20-30 range for the past few years. I don’t knit toys or wash cloths and so I tend to have bigger projects. I will say the 23 is actually higher than it should be because I do have a couple of preemie hats in there so… projects can’t be much smaller than that. It’s all the same and the number doesn’t matter, but for me, this feels like quite the accomplishment. I had a busy year and knitting has fallen off the radar and so I am happy to have hit 23 projects. My goal was 25 projects, but I knew that could be a bit of a stretch. More on that later.
22 Knitting projects and 1 Crochet project This is new to me because this was my first crochet project. I really did enjoy that process and want to crochet more, but I always turn to knitting.
7 Pairs of Socks This is low for me. I usually knit way more socks, but after 2019, I was a bit socked out. In the end, 6 is not surprising. I didn’t necessarily intend to knit any at all, but I always seemed to have a pair on the needles. One pair was tube socks for my niece and those went really quickly.
2 Sweaters for me I finished my Altheda sweater and the Pavement sweater and so far this winter, these have been my go to wears. The Altheda sweater came out big, but for the first time ever, I’ve been using it as a throw on sweatshirt type of thing around the house. It is so comfortable and not too warm and I have been living in it. So much so that I’ve gotten the comment “weren’t you wearing that yesterday…?” My Pavement sweater is also comfortable, but a little nicer. I would definitely wear this one back to work when that day inevitably comes. I love the yarn (Once Upon a Corgi on the tweed base) as well as the style.
5 Shawls/Wraps Again, not surprising. I do love knitting shawls. 3 used my yarn for shop samples and two were fun projects for me. I’ll talk about this a bit later, but the Drachenfels shawl achieved a big goal for me this year. I also crocheted my first project, which is my Rainbow Showers wrap with Manos del Uruguary minis. I love this wrap as well. The samples for the shop are: Neon Bricks (my first Stephen West shawl), the Mimeograph Scarf (collaboration with Pam Grushkin) and the Time Trades shawl using my Rose Gold collection, which was a mega hit. A good assortment of projects there.
3 Hats I knit 3 hats this year, 2 of which were samples. The non-sample is the Sam’s Hat with yarn from Tidal Yarns. I definitely recommend checking these kits out. I love the yarn and the pattern. I will be wearing this! The two hats for shop samples were the 103 hat by BostonJen with my Graffiti colorway on the DK base as well as the Kentia Hat by Ambah O’Brien on my Silk DK base.
1 Cowl Cowls are definitely underrated in the knitting community or maybe it’s just me. They are so great to tuck under a jacket for warmth without creating all of the excess wrapping round and round and your hair gets stuck and then it’s choking you… Is it just me? I knit the Escarpment cowl with yarn that I bought from my local yarn shop. It was a fun quick project and with the yarn being made with cotton, it’ll be a great spring/fall wear (when I leave my house).
5 “Other” projects The remaining projects were scrap projects to use up leftover yarn, which I’ll touch on it a bit. I also did some other miscellaneous shop samples.
2020 Other Goals Recap
Knit more for charity This definitely started off strong in the new year, but when my knitting time became more devoted to shop samples, I fell off the wagon. I had the ambition of going through leftover yarns and knitting them into charity items. I still love this idea and intend to continue doing this. I just need to prioritize a knitting day to it. I won’t call this a fail because I did knit a few items for charity and for a first year, it’s a great first step.
Continue spinning 3x per week and maybe more. I’m definitely not in this habit now, but I did finish my first ever handspun project this year and so this is a win. Again, there was a time when I was spinning more than 3x per week and devoting 15 minutes to it was such a great thing. I just again, knock that off the list when things get busy. I do want to get more fiber on the wheel though, of course!
Knit through my untouched yarn in my stash. This didn’t happen completely, but I also would call this somewhat of a success. The Drachenfels shawl was knit with yarn that I’ve had in my stash since 2016, I believe. Those skeins are basically all used up at this point and so that was one of the projects I had in mind and I accomplished it. I also knit the Honey Bee Dance Socks out of yarn that was gifted to me in… 2014? 2015? One of those. Definitely was happy to use that up. I also knit the Sam’s Hat, Fish are Friends not Food socks, Altheda sweater and Gingerbread House socks out of stash, which yarn purchased in 2019 and prior. The charity items were with yarns from 2015ish? Definitely a success even though I still have a few skeins left in stash.
2020 agirlandherwool Recap
Man oh man, quite the year for agirlandherwool. THANK YOU EVERYONE READING THIS. Whether you read my blog, watch my channel, follow me on Instagram, shop in my store, or just chat with me about knitting and yarn, thank you. I’ll touch on my overall theme for 2020 at the end, but you all are amazing and I appreciate all of the support in all of the ways.
Continue to work on the shop and introduce new colors Definitely hit this. I was able to bring in new colors throughout the seasons as well as new gradient sets. I also introduced clubs, which have been a big change in my shop and I love creating the clubs each month. More always coming soon! I also set up my dye studio, which has allowed more time for me to dye. I also launched my shop here at agirlandherwool.com!
In person shows Well, it’s the first mention of the pandemic here. I set myself the goal of vending in person. While a scary thought and a “I don’t even know how to do that” type of mindset, I knew that I needed to get my yarn out there and people needed to see it in person. I sent a bunch of applications out and was so excited when I was invited to vend at two festivals in September. When the pandemic hit and it came to be that they weren’t going to happen, I was relieved that I was offered acceptance for 2021. I knew I was “in the club” now as in general, returning vendors get first pick at vending openings. So, I didn’t vend this year in person, BUT, I put myself out there and if festivals happen in fall 2021, I hope to see you there!
2020 Overall Theme
My overall theme for 2020 was to connect more with the knitting community. I wanted to participate more in my lys, A Knit Sheep’s, Sunday sit and stitch sessions. I wanted to reach out to the community more and get to know people. I have to say, this was my biggest success this year. I think that a lot of us turned to the internet community during the pandemic and I’m so glad I didn’t shy away from it.
As a way to further my ability connect with my community, I started my YouTube channel. I’ve loved the conversations we’ve had, sharing my love of yarn, dyeing, crafting and my kitties with all of you. There are certainly plenty of internet friends I have now that I didn’t have at the beginning of the year.
I have been a more active participant in the sit and stitches, which is fun too. It’s so nice to connect and root for each other with our projects and during the pandemic.
I also did collaborations this year!!! I collaborated with Ambah O’Brien for the advent season. Didn’t see that on my 2020 goals list? Yeah, didn’t dream big enough there Lauren. I was so honored to work with such an amazing designer and it led me to meeting even more of you. I also collaborated with Pam Grushkin on the Mimeograph Scarf, which is a great pattern for gradients. I sponsored the Splash Pad party and the still-going Pigskin Party with BostonJen. I was interviewed with Ambah and Jana on the Purl Together podcast. I just am in awe of the year I had from a collaboration perspective.
All in all, I’ve met and chatted with so many of you and so I definitely am so proud that I hit my goal of connecting with the community more. I’m a naturally shy and anti-social person and I have to talk myself into these things. I can’t really explain my ability to put myself out there for the business, but it makes it easier. The things I’ve done for the business are things I never would have done otherwise. Thank you all for the support.
Check back soon for my 2021 goals. I’d love to hear your reflections either here or on my recent instagram post.
Check out me chatting about these topics on my channel here…
It’s Wednesday and I’m here to chat all about my current works in progress. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope it brings you some joy during the work week. Definitely check out my YouTube channel to see any projects “in person.” I’ll be showing my current WIPs in this Friday’s 2020 reflections vlog. I’ll also be writing a blog post that will go live here on Saturday.
Slipstravaganza Shawl – Stephen West MKAL Pattern: Slipstravaganza MKAL | Stephen West Yarn: agirlandherwool | Sock base | Speckled Orchid, Hibiscus Tea, Dragonfly and London Fog Needles: Size 2 Gauge: IDK Cast on: 10/9/2020 Cast off goal: Hopefully soon!
Well, it’s been a while, but I’m still knitting away on this shawl. The past couple of months have overall meant less knitting time, but when I can knit, I’ve been working on this. My hope was to finish it before the end of the year, but there’s not enough time left. I’m still working through it though.
At this point, the shawl is far from a mystery. I’m up to the last section, which is a chevron striped border. You have the option of 3 stripes (one in each contrast color) or 6 stripes (two in each contrast color). It is so tempting to stop after three, but when I look at Stephen’s photos, he knit 6 in all of them. I feel I’d be doing the pattern wrong by ending early, especially when I still have more yarn left. I will say that, as expected, this thing is huge but, I have the benefit of planning to use it as a sample and therefore don’t need it to be wearable.
Golden Dusk MKAL Pattern: Golden Dusk MKAL | Tamy Gore Yarn: agirlandherwool | Silk DK base | 4 Spices Kit Needles: Size 6 Gauge: IDK Cast on: 10/19/2020 Cast off goal: none
I wasn’t working on this one for a bit because I really was focused on the West shawl. I did need a break from it and I know this shawl in general was moving a lot faster than the other one so I took it back out. I think I’m very close to finishing it and so I will post more about it soon.
Other 1. Vanilla Socks – I’ve worked on them here and there, but not too much 2. Spinning – I haven’t spun. 3. Northeasterly – I have not worked on this as I need to pick out more colors. I’m really bad at working on projects if they are not ready to go.
Inactive 1. Neat Ripple – This is on hold until I finish up the charity items with the colors that I have used so far. 2. Tan House Brook Shawl – 2 shawls is enough!
What’s Next? I can’t even think of such things.
Shop The biggest change to the shop since I last did a recap is that my shop is now here at agirlandherwool.com! There’s even a New Items section so you can check out the latest and greatest from me. I added some fun winter colors, sock sets and mini skein sets, so I definitely recommend checking it out. There’s also ongoing mystery clubs, mini skein clubs and a dye with me club.
I was off from work this week and so I have been busy with new colorways. Check back soon as they will be live in the shop soon!