Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Back to Real Life

Having only vended in two art/craft shows this year, I've gotten a glimpse of what it's like for the casual vendor, the regular vendor and the professional vendor at these events.

Such a Newbie!

I'm still very new to this world of vending and craft shows.

It was shocking to see how quickly someone could unpack a van filled with shelving, display racks, display lighting, signage, as well as all of their products and all the bags, receipt books and extension cords they needed to set up their booth.  And the speed with which it could be broken down and packed back up in their van was equally as jarring.

Some of the people that do the art/craft show circuit regularly have their set up/break down routine down to a science.

For me, even a simple display took me quite a bit of time to pack into the trunk of my car, transfer into the show venue and organize and set up my booth.

And given that I will only be doing shows in October, November and December in any year, I don't think I'll ever be able to match the efficiency of the hardcore regulars who do these shows.

But overall, I found the process quite enjoyable.

Financially, the two shows I did were minimally self-sustaining, in that the time and cost of materials and the cost of the booth were covered by sales with some additional profit to pay for the initial set up costs (cost of the table and display busts, etc.).

Socially, the shows were a lot of fun.  I loved the co-vendors at both the shows I did and enjoyed the interactions with customers and friends who stopped by to look at my knitwear

Since these first two shows were really just testing the waters to see if  I wanted to continue next year, the result was yes, I do want to continue doing this next year and will probably expand to do 4-6 shows in the last quarter of 2017.  Plenty of time to plan and re-stock inventory between now and then.

Current Knitting

While I wasn't able to finish the Clockwork shawlette/scarf in time to display it for sale, I did finish it Sunday night after the show.

I also started a new Cross Stitch Scarf with the leftover yarn from the last one I sold at the show.

I am learning quickly which items and colorways sell best (at least to the limited customers I have worked with so far) and I'm confident this scarf will sell quickly at my next show.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Asking For What You Want

Most people who only know me through my blog might not know this about me, but I am terrible as asking for what I want.


I know it's odd, but I turn to mush whenever I need to directly ask for something I want.

Them:  What would you like for your birthday?
Me:  Nothing really...I have everything I want.

Waiter:  What can I get you?
Me:  Which is better, the pork or the chicken?

Thaddeus:  Where would you like to eat?
Me:  Which do you prefer, Mexican, Indian or Barbecue?

Whenever there are situations that require that I make a definitive statement about what I want, I have to practice the words I'll use to express it so that it doesn't come out as a whimpering question instead of a declaration.

I know this doesn't sound like me (or maybe it does, and my anxiety has been clear to readers for over a decade now), but it definitely is true, and it's amazing to me that I've been so successful at maneuvering around this defect.  It's almost as though someone disable one of the keys on my piano, and I've just learned to play any music that doesn't require that specific note, or I've improvised songs to play a different set of notes instead.

I've also looked at the many reasons why it's so difficult to state something as simple as what I want, and while I could name dozens of reasons, knowing the reasons has never resolved the problem for me.

Do you think this handicap in my life would make me eligible for a handicap parking tag for my car?  I'd like to know, but I'm afraid to ask directly.

Current Knitting

It's down to the last few days of knitting for getting any inventory I hope to sell at this weekend's Fine Craft and Arts Fair in Stockton, NJ.  I did end up finishing the last two West Coast Watchcaps (for a total of six to replace those that sold at the last show), and the sparkly Cross Stitch Scarf.

I've also almost finished another Cross Stitch Scarf in multi-colors that will be a fine addition to my inventory.

I'm hopeful to complete at least one more scarf or wrap in time for the show this Saturday.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Volkswagen Troubles

Some of you may know already that Volkswagen recently got in legal trouble with some of their diesel-engine cars and are going through a very expensive legal settlement to make good.


When Volkswagen started selling diesel cars in this country, many car enthusiasts were very excited.  The various diesel technologies they sold were far superior environmentally than similar gasoline engines and the mileage was incredible.

It turns out that Volkswagen was cheating on emissions testing in a very devious way.  When the emissions measuring equipment was attached to the car, the car's computer recognized a test was being conducted and reduced the emissions outputs for some chemicals to meet emissions standards, when in fact the actual emissions weren't really meeting the standards.

Volkswagen got caught, and after a lengthy legal battle, they were required to either fix or buy back affected cars and pay a penalty to owners.

Back in 2010, Thaddeus bought this car...

It's a Jetta Sportwagen TDI (TDI means diesel).  Since his car was affected by Volkwagen's scam, he was offered a settlement package.  Since a small part of his offer expires at the end of this month we decided to purchase a new car to replace his 2010.

We ended up going with a Volkswagen Golf GTI Sport in Midnight Blue.

We test-drove the car, negotiated price and picked it up in the last two days.

So far, we're quite pleased.

Current Knitting

I made minimal progress on the fifth of six hats and also a bit more progress on the Cross Stitch Scarf in glittery yarn.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Boolab writes, "I tried to click on the 'email queer joe' button but it didn't work for me, admittedly I am pretty much computer illiterate."

The e-mail button will open up any e-mail software you have set up on your computer, but if you don't have an e-mail software, you have to just send me an e-mail at - welcome to QueerJoe and thanks for your nice comment.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The "V" Word

When you travel to take a week or two off, and publish the "v" word in your blog, it seems to attract a lot of spam bots who try to publish comments with advertising.  So this time, I'm posting after the fact.

Had a Fantastic Time

Traveled to Cancun with Thaddeus and his sister and her husband last week.

We had wonderful weather, beautiful beaches, good hotel, great traveling company and quite amazing food.

You'll note, I bought a hat while I was there, but only because my sister-in-law and Thaddeus both said I looked good in it.

Thaddeus also arranged all of our restaurant visits while we were there, so we ate like royalty.  Here are some of the restaurants we enjoyed the most:

Tempo by Martin Berasatagui
du Mexique by Sonya Grimond
el Cejas
La Parrilla
Puerto Madero

Suffice it to say, I'm tanned, relaxed and ready to hit retirement with renewed vigor.

Current Knitting

I spent just a little time on vacation knitting, and only brought the West Coast Watchcap projects with me.

I finished a total of four hats.  I would have completed more, but I can't carry on knitting needles when I go through TSA in Mexico, since they will sometimes take them away.

This one is my favorite one I've knit so far...I just love the colors.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Maureen writes in comments, "Joe, is the Biased Wrap your own design? - I love this version so much that I have tried scrolling back through your blog to see if I can find a reference to it's beginnings, but I have failed to do that. I even checked your patterns for sale on Ravelry to see if I could find it."

Yes, and no...the original pattern is Cascade Scarf #4 by Brian Smith.  I have modified the design in a number of ways to make it my own, but I didn't feel I could publish the results, since the core idea is really Brian's.

Leslie noted in my link to one of the original posts 14 years ago, that I first mentioned the "coffin cover" project, which I just recently finished (relatively recently). 

Monday, November 14, 2016

USA Number One!

I've always hated the competitive nature of people who claim this country is "NUMBER ONE!"

Not Really Close

I've read a lot of articles and I've seen a number of movies that show how the United States isn't anywhere close to number one in a lot of important areas.  I won't rehash those...Michael Moore does a fine job in his movie Where To Invade Next?

I will say that if you ask any nation that enjoys drinking tea, they will tell you that getting a good cup of tea in this country isn't very easy.

I never quite understood the fascination with a good, red-blooded American, I like coffee, and as a good, red-blooded, gay American, I prefer a good latte.

But it could be that our options for tea in this country just suck and I was forced to enjoy lattes and coffee because the tea was so awful.

But I do like fresh-brewed iced tea, and always have a container of it in my refrigerator (even during the winter).  For years we made our iced tea using a brand called Luzianne tea (not the cold-brewed bags...the hot-brewed bags).  It made an adequate iced tea, in my American opinion.

But then Thaddeus got a chance to taste a tea at our local Middle-Eastern was a cardamom tea.  I'm not a huge fan of cardamom, and not a huge fan of tea, so I refused to even taste it.  But he asked the server what brand of tea they used and Thaddeus went out and bought a box of the same brand.

Ahmad Tea's Cardamom tea...he made a container of iced tea with it and forced me to try it.

He was is the best testing, most refreshing and satisfying iced tea I had ever had.  I have even tried it hot a few times and I LOVE this tea.  You Brits really know what you're doing!

Of course it's made in England, so it doesn't bring the U.S. any closer to being number one.

Current Knitting

I ended up finishing the Biased Wrap, although I still have to weave in some the ends and wash it.  I also started a new project.

The blob of glittery silver, black and tan is a new Cross Stitch Scarf that will help to replace inventory for my next Fine Arts and Crafts Show the first week in December.  For anyone in the Hunterdon County, NJ or Bucks County, PA areas, this is an excellent craft show and a perfect place to pick up very nice gifts for the holidays.