Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Emotional Ups and Downs of Spinning and Knitting

Wow! It has been wayyyyy to long. From the ache in my back, I think I have been working too much. You know when you haven't seen a friend in a long time, and you don't know where to start -- that's how I feel right now.

Let's start right with this moment, where the wind has been taken out of my sails - I am awake this morning bright and early very angry. What a wonderful start to the day! Part of the reason I haven't been blogging is that I have been working hard on updating my website because I wanted to apply to the SF Craft Mafia's Winter sale. This was going to be my first attempt to get my product out to the public. So, I thought that I would pitch my products, and my wonderfully talented friends products, Maia and Brooke. They will be out of town and can not represent themselves and they have a great product. So, I wrote to Craft Mafia for their advice regarding how to apply/ proceed.

This has been our interaction so far:

Hi --

I am applying to participate in Mafia Made Winter 2007. My business's name is A Verb for Keeping Warm. www.averbforkeepingwarm.com

I have a question -- I am in a co-operative with 2 other businesses, Tactile Fiber Arts and Sincere Sheep.

I am wondering if it would be OK for me to represent our co-operative and sell products from all three companies. Unfortunately, the owner of Tactile Fiber Arts and Sincere Sheep will be out of town the 21st. All three companies have similar goals overall -- to offer earth friendly fiber and yarn products. More information can be found at www.sinceresheep.com. Tactile Fiber Arts currently does not have a website.

Also, would I apply as a joint applicant? And pay $95?

Please advise.

Kxistine Vxjar

And, this was their response:

From: Bxrbe Sxint Jxhn
Date: September 3, 2007 8:48:57 PM PDT
To: Kxistine Vxjar
Subject: RE: Mafia Made 2007 Question

Well, I'm gonna vote no for her regardless of her coop businesses. Shes a
yarn spinner and she says WAY too cheap

Are you kidding? This is your response? hmmmmmm -- ok. what do I say to that one? I am having a very hard time trying to write something back even vaguely professional. This hits right on the edge of my personality that some may describe as sensitive and emotional -- a nice way to say bitchy and aggressive! And, why is she speaking to me in third person?? Do yarn spinners cheapen the DIY craft movement?! Let me tell you, when you are working your ass off -- it does NOT feel good for someone to call you cheap.

So, I thought I would turn to my fellow fiber bloggers for support. Argh!

On a happier note:

Brenda Dayne's new sock pattern, Brother Amos, has been posted. I am going to download it and hopefully start on it soon.

I finished a hat for Adrienne out of Judith McCuin's shetland yarn. She looks very cute in it.

I have been dyeing like a mad woman and having alot of fun. I really feel like I am learning alot about natural dyeing.

I have just cast-on Pomatomus.

My mom is coming at the end of September from Minnesota. We are going to Ashland, OR to look for a farm. I love when my mom comes to visit.


aija said...

That is CRAZY. My guess is that she meant to email what you received to someone else in the organization and flubbed instead (a guess b/c her formatting and style is SO bad!) Sounds like they're having an email exchange and "voting" on whether or not you'll be accepted.

As for her, I'd think as a SPINNER herself (you can google her, I'm not linking but she sells handspun) she'd understand about the pull between selling and wanting to sell your handspun. The b*tch in me thinks that her art yarn is a waste and overshadows the true artistry of useable yarns like yours. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind art yarn but I want to be able to use something as well as admire it (and I don't want to use something made by someone so crude!)

I waffle between passivity and aggression but since I just came in from a long walk with the kid and the endorphins are running high... if it were me, I'd email to the email address you initially wrote to about applying and write about your products as if it were out of the blue (I mean, it's REALLY HARD to find stuff that's been naturally dyed that looks good, both fibers and yarn), and say "oh by the way I'm writing again because it seems that there is some discussion behind the scenes about my and my coop's businesses-- I received the email below by accident and am open to discuss my and my partners' products and pricing in a transparent manner...", copy/paste the email received, cc: the *&^%# who accidentally sent you the email, and hope for the best. If anything, you'd expose ms. SJ's gaffe to the rest of her "crew."

It's pushy, and maybe they wouldn't want to include you because of bruised egos if you sent it... but I'd be pretty mad about that email if I'd received it (error or not).

I've heard iffy things about sf craft mafia (cliquish, etc.), but that's just talk. The sf bizarre bazaar is holding their application period right now (http://www.bazaarbizarre.org/sf_stuff/app2007) -- they only hold the app period open for 2 weeks, but it seems comparable in fees... if you wanted to swing that way instead.

Anyways! Good luck :) I know how it is to put yourself out there with things you make, and to hear negativity back in such an offhand way...! Ergh.

Kristine said...

I completely agree with you Aija. Thank you for your input. I too have waffled in between passivity and aggression.

I think there is definitely space in the marketplace for art yarn and yarn that is priced more or less middle of the road. I want to offer products to folks who believe in and want to support locally made, natural dyed, small business yarn manufacturers -- and make sweaters, socks, etc. I really want to see people make things out of my yarn.

I have stuggled many time over how to price my goods and still stay in business. In the long run, I plan to offer a series of limited edition handspun yarn that will be more costly. And, I had to make the decision recently to sell machine spun, hand-dyed yarn to make ends meet.

Needless to say, this has been a very interesting learning experience.

Stefaneener said...

Well, the things you learn. I don't have useful things to offer you about this, but it is a tough situation.

On the other hand, I've now read your posts for the month and I'm glad to be back.

Anonymous said...

How unprofessional! Definitely seems like Ms. Saint John replied to the wrong person, but regardless it does not make her look good. If and when you reply, I'd cut/paste the entire email, including the headers, and respond in as professional and polite a manner as possible. You may not get what you want, but at least you'll look the bigger person!

cpurl17 said...

I'm catching up on my blog reading and, wtf! Can't wait to read what happens next...

CassieMarie said...

Youch! Man, what a mean thing to say to someone! Intentional or not! Seems like there have been nasty comments/emails popping up all over blogland recently! (check out my post on kittens)
Keep your chin up chica! You are better than that! And I LOVE your beautiful yarn!

Unknown said...

I just came across this post and I read it differently. I don't think it was an insult to your products looking cheap or anything. A lot of DIY businseses start out selling their products too cheaply until they get a following and start raising their prices and she might have been concerned that you were too "new". Also, I would recommend that you not actually use anyone's real name on any critical blog post. The crafty world is a small one and if you don't like someone, it's better to just make up a fake name. You wouldn't want someone to do it to you, would you? Barbe Saint John is actually a pretty well known person in the art/spinning world and you might not want to leave her name in there!

Kristine said...

Piccolo, thank you for your input.

I did write to Barbe and the SF Craft mafia asking for an expanded reply to both my original question and to Barbe’s comment. Unfortunately, I never received a reply to my original question or to what Barbe’s comment meant. I guess we will never know what Barbe St John meant by her comment. In our correspondence, she never chose to explain herself. However, to her benefit, Barbe did apologize that her comment made it to my mailbox.

Yes, Barbe Saint John is known in the craft/art world. And, yes, the art/spinning world is somewhat a small world. I think that this could have been the prefect platform for Barbe, as a representative of SF Craft Mafia and a master artist, to offer constructive criticism and acute guidance.