Archive for January, 2013

Going Out of Business Sale

Posted: January 24, 2013 in Ramblings

Yes, it’s true. After struggling all year to try to make informed wholesale purchasing decisions, marketing decisions (cough), dye color decisions, and so forth, I have ended up so dismayed at my year-end financial figures that it is once and for all time to admit that I can’t run a business to save my life! Therefore, I’ve pulled all my “must-have” items from the shop, and everything that’s left is 30% off with the clearance code CLOSEOUT at checkout. Stop by and take a look. Many of the items are one-of-a-kind, and those that aren’t (Artyarns, Feza) rarely go on deep discount anywhere else.

Some of the goodies you’ll find there:

cake with flash

feza 405

spruce forest group

zauber cape front

My design, knit by the wonderful Ravelry user RedAunt.

Snoqualmie

Posted: January 21, 2013 in Ramblings

Some real news for a change…on Sunday we went tubing at Snoqualmie. Here are some pics.

He was a lot happier than he looks.

He was a lot happier than he looks.

 

So was he.

So was he.

Of course, he looks pretty happy here.
 

Can you spot the monkey?

Can you spot the monkey?

A panorama of the slope area.  Click to see it better.

A panorama of the slope area. Click to see it better.

The ski slope behind us.

The ski slope behind us.

His hat fell off on the slope, and the worker bee fetched it for him.

His hat fell off on the slope, and the worker bee fetched it for him.

 

 

 

Shoe Marketing (for a change)

Posted: January 21, 2013 in Ramblings

I go to Zappos, I go to Amazon. Both sites (and other US-based retailers like Online Shoes) show a lot of pictures of shoes from different angles. I particularly pay attention to the side view (to see if the heel is too high), the sole of the shoe, and the top-down view (to see how they’ll appear to me while I’m wearing them). All of these sites show the top-down view either toe-up (pointing towards the top of the screen, as if I had them on), or pointing sideways, which is not so bad because I just have to tilt my head to see how they look.

Lately, for grins, I’ve been eying some ($$$$) handmade shoes and boots on Etsy. Most of these are from European makers; I don’t really know why, but they are. England, Greece, Romania, and Spain are the top ones I’ve been looking at. And for some reason all of these European shoemakers show their top-down view with the toes pointing towards the bottom of the screen. As though I’m looking at someone else wearing them. This is 100% unhelpful and I have to pull the photo down and rotate it in my photo program. I’m just wondering why they all think that’s a good way to show it.

The other thing is that the Euro makers rarely show the sole, or an eye-level sideways view. I even emailed the Spanish shoemaker to ask for a picture of the sole, and…she wrote back to explain what the sole is like (but no pic).

I do think a picture is worth a thousand words. I wonder why the Americans have such an obsessive attention to shoe pictures while the Europeans don’t?

Just curious.

Emptying the Closet

Posted: January 19, 2013 in Ramblings

A bit of a different theme today.

Recently I spent some time looking at all the shoes I own.  There are quite a few that I haven’t worn in years, and either can’t fit into, or don’t like the style any longer.  I’ll put them up here instead of going through ebay for them, at least for now.  If you’re interested in any, let me know.  All prices include US shipping.

Size 7.5M with Teletone taps.  Worn for about 2 hours total.  Leather.  $35.

Capezio tap shoes.  Size 7.5M with Teletone taps. Worn for about 2 hours total. Leather. $35.

bivielboots1

Biviel granny boots, size 38 (about a 7.5). Worn a lot, but still in pretty good shape. A cobbler should be able to restore them to like-new, but the tongue is really narrow.  Beware if you have wide calves.  They fit me, but with a strip of skin showing on either side of the tongue!  $35.

mainbivielshoe

Biviel platform loafers. Size 38. Purchased on sale and never worn except around the house. Heel’s a little high for me (see below for the side view). $50 shipped.

Yeah, not a pair of shoes.  This is a Timbuk2 Cargo Tote that I had customized and never use. Comes with a cross-body strap and buckles to attach (needs sewing).  When I ordered it, they did not offer the crossbody strap.  When they started offering the strap, I asked them if I could send it back and have the strap added, and they said no, but sent me the materials to do it myself.  $50.

Yeah, not a pair of shoes. This is a Timbuk2 Cargo Tote that I had customized and never use. Comes with a cross-body strap and buckles to attach (needs sewing). When I ordered it, they did not offer the crossbody strap. When they started offering the strap, I asked them if I could send it back and have the strap added, and they said no, but sent me the materials to do it myself. I haven’t done it.  $50.

Side view (unfortunately sideWAYS as well) of the Biviel loafers.

Side view (unfortunately sideWAYS as well) of the Biviel loafers.

This is a stock photo.  Doc Martens 'Triumph 1914" boots, size UK5, bought last year and worn 3 times.  I can't get them to flap down like this without making it uncomfortable to walk, and when I wear them un-flapped, they just aren't doing it for me.  $100.

This is a stock photo. Doc Martens ‘Triumph 1914″ boots, size UK5, bought last year and worn 3 times. I can’t get them to flap down like this without making it uncomfortable to walk, and when I wear them un-flapped, they just aren’t doing it for me.  They don’t have a zipper; these are lace-on, lace-off.  $100.

Another stock photo. New Rock, size 38, inside zip. These we purchased used from Ebay, and one of the medallions at the top of the tongue is missing. I think it’s around here somewhere. $90. Big and heavy, these babies make a statement. Alex’s foot is now too big for them, and they don’t suit me anymore.

And I have a bunch of stuff on ebay, too, mostly all New Rock boots, size 38.

A Vent about Commerce

Posted: January 16, 2013 in Ramblings

I’ve constantly been amazed by the number of people who join the dyer’s groups on Ravelry, with their welcome post stating something like “I just dyed a skein of yarn with Kool-Aid and I love it so much I’m about to open my own Etsy shop!  Please help me figure out how to do this!”

Not the Kool-Aid part.  That’s been an accepted way of dyeing for quite some time now (as has Wilton’s icing).  No, I’m amazed that people want to jump right into selling hand-dyed yarn with so little experience.  I’ve been dyeing on and off for ten years and I still don’t feel my stuff is professional to “launch a store.”  I do list some of the things that don’t work out for my own needs, but not “a store for hand-dyed yarn.”  Perhaps it’s simply a confidence thing.  Maybe I don’t have enough.

Once I get past that, I’m astonished that these people have the guts to ask a bunch of experienced dyers (many with Etsy stores themselves) how to do it.  Can’t you do your own research?  And you really expect a bunch of potential competitors to simply hand you the information?

Aaaand…once I get past that I’m always floored that people in these groups do give out the information!  People in these groups are always giving out dye secrets, Etsy tips, undyed yarn sources.  I suppose there are probably a lot of people (like me) who withhold the information, in favor of not inciting too much competition, but I guess you really only need one person to spill the beans.  I’ve learned a lot of interesting dye tips there, but still can’t really believe that people work out these special processes (gradient dyeing, self-striping) and then post the instructions.

But what bothers me the most – the absolute most – about all this, is that half these people cannot spell the word “Dyeing” correctly!  Many of them “love dying so much”!  Argh, even if it didn’t read so funny, it would annoy me; most of you know that already, but…if you’re planning to start a business, and you can’t even spell the technique properly, you probably shouldn’t be starting the business!

What I’m wondering is how many people shy away from stores that can’t spell things properly.  I’m not speaking of a typo here or there, but a whopper like “dying” for a dyer.  Do these people experience lower sales?  Even if I didn’t hand-dye my own stuff, I’d avoid anyone who couldn’t get the basics correct.

I’ve never investigated any of these newbie shops on purpose but am also wondering whether people might fear to shop at a newb store (in case the person wasn’t yet skilled enough with the dyeing).  Maybe the shop owners don’t talk about that in the store information.

Anyway, that’s today’s rant.  I don’t get it.  Do you?

Feza Alp Premier

Posted: January 11, 2013 in Ramblings

Some of you may know that I’ve just become a retailer for Feza Yarns, mainly to get my hands on the Alp Premier yarn. This is an art yarn which is made by tying lengths of different yarns, gauge- and color-coordinated, together into a 210-yard skein of worsted weight yarn. Feza recommends size 10 needles for 5 stitches to the inch. I received my first shipment yesterday and cast on for a sample project this morning using color #412, a blend of peacocky colors.  Following are my notes about it.

First of all these skeins are not uniform.  That is to say that one color may be a blend of ribbon, eyelash, slub, plain plied yarn, where another color may be ribbon, ladder, thin eyelash, flags, or whatever.  Each skein I have contains some ribbon, but other than that they’re not uniform at all, and not all the ribbons are identical in construction.  Skeins in a matching colorway appear to have identical content, though.

So I’ve started the scarf you see below.  Since this was more of a “how does it work up” kind of test, I took their needle recommendation of US10 and cast on, without regard for gauge.  I cast on 40 stitches for the body and two edge stitches each side to keep it from rolling.  I should have done the first few rows in garter stitch to keep that from rolling, but didn’t think of it…sigh…I’ll add something on later to stabilize it.

The first thing I noticed is that the yarn is very slippery.  I am using my Nova (metal) needles and it’s very slippery.  I would have switched to my (wooden) Dreamz but the only size 10’s I have are already in a project.  So I continued with the metal needles for the purposes of this post.

Beginning of a scarf, 44 stitches wide, size 10 needles.

The second thing I notice – which you might be able to see by clicking the picture to enlarge it – is that this results in a fairly open fabric.  It’s loopier than I like to see; partially I dislike these open stitches because I’m a klutz and often catch them on dishwasher tines, door hooks, etc.  However, since I probably won’t wear a scarf around the house while cleaning, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  I do plan to design a new kind of garment with one of my new colorways, and will probably go down to a size 8 needle for that.

The other option that occurred to me would be to carry along a laceweight or fingering weight strand of something sproingy, in a solid color – the most neutral color that appears in the skein.  For the above I would have chosen brown, but in all the other skeins I have in stock, either cream or pale pink.

L-R:  405, 412, 411, 416, 33.

L-R: 405, 412, 411, 416, 33.

 

Wow.  Half my post went missing.  Anyway, what I wanted to wrap up with is the link to my store listing for these yarns.  I have six skeins in each colorway, except the #412, which has only 5 remaining.  Buy all the skeins in one colorway and get 20% off!  You’ll have to contact me about setting up a specific listing; Etsy doesn’t allow those kind of specialized discounts.

 

Memory Fail, or Customer Ripoff?

Posted: January 3, 2013 in Ramblings

A few days ago I went to Ben Franklin (a store like Michael’s or Jo-Ann) to look at yarns. I was going to try to create a Feza Alp-style yarn on my own, using various blue, cream, yellow and copper bulky yarns, and wanted to see what they had in stock. I ended up finding five skeins that fit the bill, and bought them, and brought them home. They’ve been sitting on my desk in their bag since then.

This morning I thought about this project, its cost, and everything, and…it’s too daunting. I decided to return everything, and pulled out the receipt to make sure all my ducks were in a row for returns.

The receipt showed the five balls of yarn (which all had price tags on them to match the receipt) and a line for “Seasonal, 19.99, 80% off” so it was 5.99.

There was nothing else in the bag. And I have mentally walked through that entire visit and cannot remember even considering the purchase of anything seasonal. I believe the sales clerk rang that up accidentally, but how could I prove it? If I said something, they’d just think I was either making an unneccessary fuss over $5.99, or trying to scam them. Who’s to say I didn’t remove a $5.99 seasonal item from my bag and come in to act forgetful and get a refund? Yes, I realize that’s a bit dopey – why would anyone want to scam a store for a mere $5.99 – but the case could be made.

So I took the yarn back today, thinking the whole way there about what to do. In the end I decided to do nothing. It would probably waste more than $5.99 of my time to work this out with the store, and I didn’t want to waste time. So I returned the yarn and then retraced my steps from that day…and there was indeed nothing that I would have bought. Then I checked the Jeep’s cargo bay, in case something had fallen out of the bag and rolled away. Nothing.

So, my gut feeling is that this was “operator error” by the sales clerk, but since I have no way to prove it, I’m stuck. It galls me enough that I probably won’t shop there anymore. They have $5.99 (plus tax) of my money, for nothing at all.

And yes, this is just another rant. What would you do in a case like this?

To soothe my soul I became a Feza retailer when I got home 🙂