Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Olives and pimientos

I put up four new rovings in my Etsy store today, and I sent out an email to the babablacksheepyarns online store yahoo list, but the best thing I did today was this hand painted roving:


The back yard

Is being worked on, my being out of work at the moment notwithstanding. Last year we almost hired a guy to do the work and then I got laid off so we decided to put it off. This year we were close to deciding on a guy to do the work and my job contract ended. So we figured we better go ahead with the work, because otherwise I'll find myself out of work every time we get close to hiring somebody to do our back yard.

They started yesterday morning and ripped out the old fence pretty much instantly. It was gnarly, all atop rotting rail road ties and whatnot. They took those out and started putting up the new fence. It's now all in and it looks lurvely! We're not sure how we are going to paint it though.

Now they have begun digging up the part of the back yard that will be the patio. For those who don't know, this has been planned to be two spirals, one each of red and yellow brick pavers, circling into a center. I drew something out last year and have been noodling around with the design ever since. I'm very excited to see it come into being - and scared that they won't get it right. I just have to trust them to do their jobs. They will certainly do it better than I could!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Here's the lovely dinner that Adam made, mostly by himself with only a little useful help from me.

He brined the 13-lb turkey overnight using Alton Brown's recipe (also see the four videos on YouTube). He lined the pan with half-apples to keep the turkey from sitting on the bottom of the pan (we couldn't find our rack anywhere and we begin to suspect we never had one at all. We used my mom's at Thanksgiving). He stuffed it with aromatics, including rosemary, sage, apple, and onion, and then placed it on top of the apples. Here it is all ready for the oven:

And here it is, perfectly roasted:

My contributions were the artichokes and mashed potatoes (not shown because they were boring):

And the Easter Bunny happened by as well.

It was utterly magnificent - one of the best turkeys I've ever eaten. And the gravy wasn't bad either, because of the apple flavoring in the juice. Adam's sister Tracy and her boyfriend Ryan drove up from south Jersey and ate the feast with us. It was lovely having them here. After eating, we played Rock Band for a while, then watched "Die Hard 4".

Here's hoping you all had a lovely Easter as well.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Spring!

Today is the Vernal Equinox, which means it's the start of Spring! Easter is this weekend, and our back yard work is going to start next week (and hopefully wrap up within a few days) after which we will have a patio, and then we can begin planting seeds in the back yard garden. I'm excited to begin the new season.

I think I am going to have to get a new job, ideally part time if possible. It's great to have a store on Etsy, but I'm not making very many sales (yet) and it's not enough to support me by a long shot. Also, I know Adam is antsy that I don't have a plan for how more money is going to come in.

Yesterday I had my second career counseling session. I really like my counselor, who I think can help me zero in on what will make me happy in my work life. Last week she assigned me homework, to list 25 moments of accomplishment (that I felt sucessful about), and then pick 7 of those 25 and write a short paragraph about each. I did this; it was hard getting started but I was able to find a lot of things that I was proud of, big and small:

1. When I rescued a baby who fell in the pool right in front of me

2. The first painting I made in my Painting 201 class

3. Several sculptures I made in college

4. When I had my senior thesis show

5. When I took my slides to White Columns gallery

6. The first time I spoke in a meeting

7. When I broke up with Richard B.

8. When I paid off my creditors and was able to resume answering my phone with my name (I wasn't dodging anybody anymore)

9. When I had a drawing in the Small Works Show at NYU

10. The first time I got straight A's and A+'s at Columbia pre-med

11. After I quit smoking, when I was able to go right into a store where I was window shopping (I wasn't working on a smoke I had to finish before going in)

12. The first Perl CGI script I ever got to run

13. When I bought my first apartment (in Brooklyn)

14. When I hand made custom Roman shades

15. When I made amends to my dad

16. When I pulled my nephew out of the snowbank he'd fallen headfirst into

17. When I went to Provence and was able to converse in French with the locals

18. When I went for my Advanced Brown belt in karate

19. When I sang in the Second Avenue Talent Show (and other venues)

20. When I bought my house

21. When I moved in with Adam

22. When I made my felted dinosaurs

23. The first time I dyed yarn

24. The first time I spun yarn

25. The first time I sold something from my Etsy store

I wrote paragraphs about 12, 14, 17, 18, 19, 23, and 25, but I won't put them in here. I went over them with my counselor. My next assignment is to assess the events I wrote about and figure out what strengths/talents/interests they utilized, working from a list she provided me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What I've been doing

I have a bit more free time now that I'm not working. :)

I have dyed a bunch of rovings.

I have been spinning a lot of yarn. One is the deep pink which I may get to do on spec for a customer of the Etsy site. I spun her two samples (one 2-ply, one 3-ply) and sent them to her and am waiting for her to get them and see what she thinks about them.

I also spun up some thick-and-thin yarn, in a bright yellowy green, and some plied with a hot pink singles, sort of an Easter special:

I've read many times that you'll never be able to duplicate the consistency of your first yarn that you spin, so I decided to try. I feel like I can spin crappy quite easily if I try. It's much harder to spin laceweight! I have a lot more practicing to do before I will be very very good. In the meantime I can take a break now and then and spin some varied-weight yarn.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The fingerless gloves

I finished the second pair of gloves for my finger-ly challenged love.

He specified that the pointer finger should be closed at its tip, and the rest should be a knuckle's length and left open.

I dyed the roving, spun and plied the yarn, and knitted the gloves. It's a pretty good and relatively easy man's fingerless gloves pattern (the one I made for his right hand, anyway, which doubled makes a regular pair), and I'll write it up and post it here shortly for free.

It's official! Baba Black Sheep Yarns is a real business!

I just registered my business, Baba Black Sheep Yarns, with the county clerk's office. This means that I have a nice certificate with a big shiny gold star on it to hang on my wall, and I can open a bank account in my business's name, and - most important - I can buy supplies wholesale. I keep great accounting records, so even if I commingle funds in my personal bank account that's probably not a huge deal at this stage of the game, and I don't need more wall decorations, but I do want to buy roving at wholesale prices. It means that I will end up buying something like fifty pounds of Henry's Attic roving, but that's okay (as long as I can resell it). I have to collect sales tax for NJ, which is kind of a pain in the neck, but I guess it's part of the deal.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Which fiber are you? quiz

Using material excerpted from The Knitter’s Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn by Clara Parkes, Random House has posted a quiz called Which fiber are you?

Mohair - A smooth, polished surface. Mohairs are positive and confident. You always strive to make a good first impression because you are a proud person, and you care a good deal about what people think of you. You are careful with your words and are always tactful. You enjoy having a broad base of support and respect from those whom you come in contact. You attract this with your warm, sunny, and inquisitive personality.

Working on my workroom

I got cheap pine shelving units from IKEA and a very inexpensive folding 6' table from Staples that was on clearance and I reorganized the basement so the hot plate is not teetering on a couple of cardboard boxes and I could put things away in containers. IKEA and Staples are great for stuff like that.

I got an email from Sundara yarns celebrating the fact that they are turning two years old this month. You know, I am really hard on myself in that I expect myself to be instantly up and running, viable business concern, with a huge inventory and the ability to do things that require years of experience. For me to compare myself to someone like that, who has now several years of experience doing what I hope to do well someday, is just self-defeating thinking and I hope I can wean myself off it.

The fact that Sundara yarns is ONLY two years old is actually amazing, considering how excellent an operation she has going. She's another consummate professional whom I greatly admire and hope to follow in the footsteps of. I shall just congratulate her on her success and let it go at that! I recommend you check out her online shop. For her two-year anniversary she created a special color, Tulip, which she was trying to match a flower in her mother's garden that is "the most gorgeous peachy pink with hints of cinnamon." It looks like she got it. Check it out here. I have some of the fingering silky merino shown on that page, which was part of the Seasons yarn club that she had this winter, and it's really amazing yarn. It'd be really great for a pair of late-winter gloves.

I also think this fingering silky merino yarn would be terrific for a tapestry, though I just had the thought and am not sure if I mean needlepoint, or fancy stitchery, or knitting, or what. It just seems like it would be great for a big canvas that was meant for display. Perhaps a big heirloom bed coverlet.

Adam is sick with a bad head cold, and suffering in the living room, snoring away while I work in my basement and do other stuff around the house. I love being unemployed and can easily find plenty of things to do to fill the day quite cheerfully and productively.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I won something in a blog-fundraiser-raffle!

I read about a fundraiser for leukemia that blogger Cairo Kate was doing in honor of her brother who is going through treatment right now for leukemia, and I donated some money toward the thing. I won a prize - the first time I've won anything online! I'm excited. Kate emailed me to say that I won a skein of Jojoland Harmony laceweight, which you can see on this page. It's a lovely color, very ME. I'm psyched. And I'm also glad to say that she had a very modest goal of $500 that she was aiming to raise, but was able to get over $2000 in all in the fundraiser. So that's very cool.

It's glorious weather today and I'm a free woman, so I went over to Montclair to "meet up with some people I know" over there and then tooled home in a relaxed fashion. I went to the local nursery to get some plant stuff and then came home and had a sandwich. When I got home these had arrived for me:

They are from Flawful Fibers. I so admire how professional and tied-together all her products are when they arrive. She wraps up the products in tissue paper, closed up with stickers of gemlike photos of her rovings, and cards with the deets about the fiber, and it all looks so clean and smart. Plus she gave me a free sample.

As I am getting my store started I am looking at how other people do things; she is someone (even though we've not met) whom I look up to as a fiber artist and as a store owner. I really enjoy buying her rovings - they are all so lovely.

I have so much to learn!

It's Business Time!

Adam has been really encouraging me to try to figure out a way to make money from my fiber art and has offered to underwrite my expenses more in support of it. I confess that I feel that having been let go at this time from my job was a sign from the universe that I need to give it a try. I spent the rest of Friday and the weekend working on dyeing roving, spinning, and photographing items for my Etsy shop. I also added a number of things to the shop and also decided to change the shop over to (instead of the username I was selling under before), for consistency across blog, shop, etc. I changed the link at right to the new address.

I made a couple sales already in the new shop address, too, which is great. It's very encouraging.

Yesterday I set up books (accounting) for the business as well. I will probably expand on this, but for a start, I set up worksheets on revenues, expenses, inventory, and Etsy listings. If I were to keep up these, I could produce monthly and/or quarterly P&L (Profit&Loss - mine will be mostly L at least at first), which would come in handy should I decide to go further and seek a business loan. Also, and this sounds weird I'm sure, but it's kind of fun. I worked in business analysis (Mergers and Acquisitions) when I first got out of school and the numbers work is somewhat mindless and calming. (It's only fun because I don't have to do it for a living...)

One other thing. It's Monday and I don't have to go to work at my old company. I have to say this was the first weekend in 6 months in which Sunday wasn't ruined with dread for going back into the office the following day. I HATED that place. I did like many of my coworkers quite a lot, which was the only thing that saved me. But I detested my job, and the organization was colossally dysfunctional. And working in Jersey City sucked ROCKS! It was so ghetto - dirty, littered, and crappy. I'm so happy I don't have to go back there.