Wednesday, February 29, 2012

60:365 Leap!

60 days of blogging and it's leap year! We decided that since it is a special day, we would purchase special leap day shoes. I've been on a no-shopping, no-new-clothing program for the last few years as I've been building my business. Though every now and then, I splurge. Here are new Spring shoes by Coclico. I may have also purchased new eyeglasses.

Speaking of being a fashion hoar, have you heard of Pinterest? It's a place to collect images and to be inspired. Just remember to credit the work in the photos to the creator, right? If you are on Pinterest, let me know your name, so I can see what you are pinning. I have been collecting dozens of ideas for Spring dresses - to wear with my new shoes!!

Then, I walked down the street and saw this beautiful Iguana.

And in the case, you need a new keychain - look at this! Available at the Bone Room. You are welcome! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

59:365 And Then I Walked

For the past five years, I truly thought I was running a real business versus a hobby business. I have priced things, taken inventory, created projections in order to open and maintain a stable business. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for having employees. It is the one addition, from moving my shop into it's current location, that has made my heart skip a beat.

Today, I learned that Sarah E. will leave Verb. Late last year, Sarah had a baby. Coupled with her hour long commute, this, for obvious, well founded reasons, has led her to the decision to stay closer to home.

I could not have opened my new shop without Sarah. Due to her past experience in architecture and project leadership, Sarah helped me create and build Verb's new space. To her, I am so grateful for what she has given me and Verb.

Having employees, I see two sides of a coin; their life and my life.  And the all the intricacies in between, of wanting their best interests in mind, and needing to run a business, being harnessed by the reality of a limited income stream, wanting them to feel valued, while in my own right trying to feel of value. When to ask for help, accepting the help offered and given. Depending on my employees, asking them to be accountable, and being gracious for what they can give when I would like to demand more - because I am so demanding of myself - or simply because I want Verb to be better. Being a friend, and being a boss. Being a peer, and being a teacher and a manager. Constantly working on balancing a shifting set of scales for each individual and their unique set of circumstances.

So today, I walked. Above are photos of what I saw.

Monday, February 27, 2012

58:365 The Day after Stitches West

Today, the van needed to be back at 9am and filled with gas. Guess who did that? Me and Aday! We stopped by headed back home, picked up Ysolda and headed to the shop.

I always forget that the shop is very busy right after Stitches. The shop was bustling with activity as people stop in from out of town and putting everything back in its place.

We only have one license for our point of sale system, so, over the weekend, the staff wrote all sales tickets by hand while we used the license on our laptop at the shop. So, we needed to transfer the files from this weekend, over to the shop desktop computer, and start using that system again. The less double bookkeeping the better, right? There was a bit of a problem with the transfer, which entailed a call to customer service, but for the most part the transfer went smoother than last year. We ran to the bank, made a deposit, and I headed home to take a long nap. I am so thankful that my staff is there to help and to take care of things. I would be an absolute bear right now without them.

I have uploaded a bunch of photos from the weekend, am working on editing them, and will post them in the next couple days. Now, I get to cast-on with my new Toots LeBlanc. Can't wait!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

56:365 recounting

Here's Ysolda. About to eat dinner. Recounting the 2 bites of food she had today. Another day at stitches west! Till tomorrow!

Friday, February 24, 2012

55:365 Pupperdoodle!

Oh lil' booger! You're so cute and you visited me at my booth. Thanks!! I have photos of my booth but they'll have to wait. Way to sleep to post them. Soon!! Promise! I hope if you're at Stitches, you'll stop by. We still have new colorways on super luscious yarns - like Floating!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

54:365 receipts

This is pretty much what I stared at all night: register receipts - with smiles, nods, and a lot of "long time, no see! Great to see you!" Thank you everyone who came to our booth. Thank you do much!! Hopefully, some booth photos tomorrow...see you soon!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

53:365 lime green and wine

After today, my glass of wine tastes too good. I'm staying in silicon valley. Do you like the color of the table??

Monday, February 20, 2012

51:365 And still we prepare

 I started my day with sewing linens for our Stitches West booth. As I went though my day, there were so many moments I wanted to capture on camera. Though stopping my hands for just a moment, meant I was one step further from the goal of labeling and skeining all the yarn. We have 5 pairs of hands, and 2 pairs of part time hands helping, and we still could not skein all of the yarn and finish the booth display. So that means, tomorrow, the one day I was hoping to take off in this 10 day stretch will be used, at least partially, to work. And if I put off what needs to get done tomorrow, then, Wednesday will be awful, so it is best I space out my chores. Elektra is off the needles and waiting in line to be blocked.

My favorite part of today was whittling magnolia branches. It would have made a beautiful photo. Next time.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

50:365 Bind-Off!

So. darn. close to the end of this shawl. Elektra by Romi. Even Tinier Annapurna in Purrfect. Meow! It will be displayed in our Stitches West booth. Between this glass of wine, and working to get this shawl done, my eyes are about to close. Night!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

49:365 Comb It.

Today, I taught people how to choose a hand-spinner's fleece, prep it for washing, wash it, prep it for spinning, and to spin from the fleece. Here's a photo of what the table looked like once we got going, and a nice sharp pair of combs to make the finest prep, hand-combed top. Yum.

Friday, February 17, 2012

48:365 hunting

This was the only moment I had all day, in which I focused enough to take a photo. I woke up and started my day texting (don't judge). Ran to my floral designer to pick up a sculpture and a box of moss. Then to the shop, grabbed my co-worker who has a gorgeous garden in the Berkeley hills and kindly let us harvest a few branches and vines. I didn't feel like taking a photo since I'd like the booth to somewhat of a surprise. Headed back to the shop and threw together the last few remaining dyepots. I hate to have to stop dyeing but it's time to switch gears into show mode; labeling, signage, building displays, sewing table cloths, and getting the cash register and bookkeeping supplies together. There's also making sure the shop is staffed, all classes taken care of, and that they have stock ordered, and change. Oh! Then the animals need to be taken care of. We've found ourselves in a bit of a jam so are taking marcel (angora) and pip (canary) to the shop. Cleo will go with S.

Anyway, here's Cleo hunting in the backyard at the shop. She's feeling better and will get her stitches out Monday. I love how she looks so determined when hunting.

See you tomorrow!! Night!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

47:365 New Hair-Do

Today I got my hair did, um I mean done! Trying to look good for Stitches West! That's right. Now I'm off to teach TTYT Third Thursday Yarn Testers. See you later!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

46:365 A Bit of Homemade Breakfast

Homemade granola, freshly roasted, and ground coffee for a day away from the shop. Can't quite call it a day off, since I spent the day working, though it'll have to do.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

45:365 Making a Booth, Checking It Twice

Today, I really felt the pressure of the clock ticking. Everything seemed to need to happen at once. While we worked from early this morning till evening, we still have so much work to do. It's been a real challenge to balance the work load of the shop, the dye studio, and try to do a show. Then, there's the battle between what I would like my line of yarn and the booth to look like, and the reality of what can happen. Just that conversation with myself can be time consuming and hard. Most times this conversation comes at a moment of defeat where I am up against a wall, and must decide what can't happen. I have gotten better at judging time and energy. Though still could use a bit more checking-in before getting to the point of exhaustion.

This year has been especially stressful for a few reasons. One reason is that there are quite a few natural dyers in the marketplace. At some point this year, I am going to expand a bit more about competition and question the healthy and unhealthy aspects of it. So I will start by mentioning it now. With the addition of natural dyers to the marketplace, I feel more than ever that I must have a beautiful, well done, range of colors. Perhaps you might think this silly or over competitive, and I believe you, it is, though I've committed to letting you know what runs through my head, so there you go. The other reason I feel the heat is because XRX the organizers of Stitches West has made two announcements.

1. The company who generates the most buzz in this forum on Ravelry will receive a free booth.

2. The company who has the most beautiful booth, judged by the teachers, will receive a free booth.

A booth at Stitches, a normal one, without a corner, is $850. To save that amount of money, well, it's nothing to sneeze at, I'll say that much. XRXs second announcement is a no-brainer. Every year, we try to put together a beautiful booth. I need the sanctuary as much as any shopper. Though the first announcement, that's tough. I am ok at making announcements, educating people as to what we will offer, though there seems something a bit sleezy about doing it, a lot, to get a free booth. Is it just me?

Although the show doesn't start until next Thursday, we need to have everything in hand, packed and ready to go by next Wednesday. Really, we need to receive everything and have it ready to go by next Monday. We'd like to take one day off next week, Tuesday. Today, we dedicated a good part of our day to mapping out the booth.  As we reach the pre-show, one week mark, everything that needs to be ordered has to be - otherwise it won't be shipped in time - for us to make sure it is right, and to pack it.

Here's my trunk with a bunch of random objects that may or may not make it into the booth.

We tape out the space, and do one of two dress rehearsals. By setting up the booth, we can see pinch points. Do you see those gorgeous samples?? I can't wait for you to see the samples in person. Gorgeous!

 The toughest thing about the booth this year is the flora we'd like to install. Yep, install, which means thinking on our feet while in the convention center. That could mean, two tired people trying to talk to one another, one quite possibly who just may be very impatient (certainly not me), and possibly not having something we need. Hmmmm. We still need to think about that one.

Wait! Who's that? An adorable woman, dressed in grey linen, knitting! With a suntanning pup!

Look at this box of beautiful and tasty treats! A friend stopped by to have a Valentine's Day picnic. That certainly added a wonderful break to our day.

xx. Hope you had a happy valentine's day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

44:365 Weather & Dyeing

One of my absolutely favorite things about living in the Bay Area is the grey sky. We have this beautiful layer of fog that rolls in at night and burns away mid-morning. It almost feels like everything is getting a fresh spritz. Normally, the grey sky does not mean rain. 

Though this particular sky, yep, that's a sky which threatens rain. And you know what today is? The last day I can dye indigo before Stitches West. Part of the indigo process is to let the yarn sit for a week before washing it.

Every year, around this time up until Stitches, and usually throughout Stitches, we get rain. We've had a very dry Winter which is going to mean drought this Summer.  While it is hard for me to curse rain, knowing how badly we need it, the idea of standing outside in it while dyeing is not one my favorite things mainly because the cold sinks into my bones which only a hot bath can cure.

The day worked out perfectly. It rained on and off, between pours, I dipped yarn into the indigo pot. Look at the stream rise off the yarn! Love that.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

43:465 Party at Verb! Knitting Cervices and Ukelele Love Songs

I completed a great amount of dying today; indigo, thai iced tea, taboo, magic bean, and the whale's migratory tale. This is very good news, since yesterday, I was feeling rather unmotivated, and we are fast approaching my deadline of Stitches West.

I did have our Valentine's Day party to look forward to which certainly helped. Sonya, who's the chief-cervix-knitter-and-felter, led the way. Here's the special cervix cookies she baked, the knit cervix, and the makings to make new cervices. It has been a bit interesting to watch people come into the shop, pick up one of the pink donuts, squish it, and then for us to tell them it is a cervix. You should see some of the faces we get. I have to say, eating a cervix cookie, hmmm.

Steffy Sue joined us for long songs on the ukelele.

And a step back so you can see the group. 

So much happiness and warmth. So grateful for everyone who joined us.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

42:365 To Convey Inspiration Through Flora

The design of our Stitches West booth is always in the back of my mind. The designing process can provide just the bit of escapism I need from the dyepots. On the other hand, I have big dreams that typically have to be carved away a bit due to budgetary constraints and time.  This year, one of our challenges is deciding the best way to display our numerous samples of lace shawls designed by our booth mate Rosemary Hill. It's a good problem to have!!

Always before a show, I visit my favorite floral designer. She had a space in the building which housed my first dye studio. You know how in your head, you know what you want, but you can't exactly bring it to reality because of lack of material knowledge. Well, that's how I felt about flora. I could see in my head what I wanted but didn't know the name of the plants. Well, my friend, Svenja, makes exactly what lives in my head. I am so grateful to her eye and to her exquisite taste. She has made such a huge impact on my style, shop, and booth.

Here, we are deciding if we can use these birch branches. And discussing how we will use them.

Then, if we take a step back, now you can see surrounding us all of this awesome lawn art (for lack of a better term) she has made from reclaimed materials.

The rest are photos taken from her yard. So inspirational and beautiful.

Needless to say, we walked away with a ton of ideas and are back to the drawing board adding in details and nuances.

Friday, February 10, 2012

41:365 Sew today. The Government can wait.

Day 41 out of 365.

Today was a pretty easy going day at the shop. We had a nice flow of friendly customers. Fabric sales are picking up which is very exciting since I love fabric and want to continue stocking it. I received an email from the Board of Equalization stating that I now owe pre-payments on our sales tax. Huh. Alright then. Not really sure how that is going to impact us. Typically when I receive emails like that, I let it sit for a few days and then take the time to give a closer look.

One of the challenges during my day, is to be faced with a lot incoming information; phone messages, emails, customer questions, employee questions, and friends stopping by. Then, I have the tasks that I must get done. Sometimes, I don't get to my to-do list until 2 or 3pm. I think I am getting better at managing this stream. One of the important aspects of my day is reserving some amount of time for unforeseen interruptions. For instance, right now, as we get ready for Stitches West, I might get an email related to the show, which is time sensitive, and must bump other tasks further down the list. As my employees continue to understand the business and to take greater roles, they are able to take on more responsibility. Last year, it was much harder. Many times, not even I knew the answer to many questions, so could hardly delegate that task to an employee. This year I know more, and have a greater sense of opinion and am able to make decisions easier. So this year, as we prepare for the show, if something I was supposed to do gets bumped, it is more likely that one of Verb's employees can help. Of course, no one but me can meet with my bookkeeper to prepare our 2011 taxes. Damn! And this continues to get bumped as we prepare madly for Stitches West, followed by prepping for our first fabric / quilt show in March. Going to have to make the time, right?

It's also helped that my employees and I have special question time. That way my train of thought is continuous or at least semi-continuous. Or they give me a list of questions, with a time / date they need the answers by, and I can answer the questions when I have a break and once I get the dyepots running.

In the instance of email, I've heard about this new app called Sanebox. So far, I've heard very good things. Anyway, one of the things I try to stop from happening is to let an email, that I could look at closer in a couple days, interfere with the program I have already designed for the day ahead of me - such as an email from the government ;)

Tonight, I came home, cooked a simple dinner of gorditas and red pepper soup. I roasted coffee. It makes the house smell so good.

And I sewed some project bags using this very cute Lizzy House fabric.

Now to knit a few more rows of Caliz before I turn into a pumpkin.