Monday, October 30, 2017

They Like Me! They Really Like Me!

I had my Sally Fields moment this past Sunday at the Flemington Fine Artisans Show in Flemington, NJ.  Show customers really seemed to like what I was offering.

Show Results

The show I participated in this past Sunday was the best show so far in every way I would assess it.
  • The venue (an old pottery factory that made Stangl pottery) was interesting and well-laid out (it was also indoors on a rainy/stormy day)
  • The other vendors were of a very high caliber of artistry
  • There was extensive promotion of the event in newspapers, postcards, signage and even billboards.
  • The foot traffic was constant without being crowded
  • The customers attracted to this event were looking for nice items and were willing to pay for them
  • The other vendors and the organizers were very pleasant to be with
  • I worried a bit that the thunderstorms would keep people away, but there was only one lull in traffic during a time when it was really storming outside.
During the course of 6 hours, I ended up selling:
  • 9 Scarves
  • 2 Shawls
  • 10 Shawl Pins
  • 7 Coffee Cup Cozies
  • 1 Baby Blanket
  • 1 Pair of Baby Booties
  • 6 Hats

Overall, I was very happy with final results of the show.  I usually have three levels of achievement I strive for:
  1. Minimum Success - enough sales to continue to participate in the show in future years
  2. Stretch Goal - a wildly successful day of sales
  3. I almost reached my Stretch Goal, so I am quite pleased.

Only two negative items:
  • A customer dropped/broke one of the ceramic shawl pins
  • I need to knit about 20 items to replace the sold inventory of knitted goods before my next show on December 2nd
But even the customer who broke the shawl pin also dropped over $100 on knitted goods, so I considered the little bit of damage just part of the cost of doing business.

A few more photos of the show are at the bottom of today's blog entry.

Current Knitting
The customers were constant during the six hours of the show yesterday, so I wasn't able to finish the Ombre Wrap during the show.

But I did take some time to finish it this morning in between unpacking all the display materials.

The wrap is beautiful and the fabric has a lovely light-weight bounce to it.  For garter stitch, I couldn't be more pleased.  It also ended up being longer than 6 foot long and about 10 inches wide.  I'm thinking it may be the first thing that sells at my December show.

Some of the following photos I stole off of Lena's Facebook page since I hardly had any time to photograph the show.

It was a pleasure to see the blog readers that braved the weather and showed up on Sunday...being around my people is incredibly supportive and nurturing.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Optimist or Pessimist or Realist

I have always been more of an optimist.  I am more hopeful (usually) than worrisome and I will often imagine the future as a bit more rosy than a realist might.

How About You?

Thaddeus just told me that this Sunday in Flemington, NJ that it will most likely be a rainy day.

This Sunday in Flemington, NJ I will be participating in my first of two Artisan/Fine Craft Shows for 2017.

Will the rain inhibit people from venturing out to do some early Christmas gift shopping?

First of all, the event is inside.  As an optimist, I think it will be great to find an indoor event to have something to do on a rainy day.

Second, the venue (the old Stangl pottery factory) will be a beautiful spot to spend some time on a Sunday.

Third, the Fine Artisan Show and Flemington are great places to shop, eat, and roam around.

Yes, I guess there are some people that would prefer not to venture out on a rainy day (even if they'll be in a car or inside most of the time).  Yes, I imagine transporting my booth from my car into the show's venue might be a little bit more difficult in the rain.

But overall, I'm still hopeful that it will be a successful event...for me and the other fine vendors there.  Click on the photos section of the show's web page to get a great overview of the caliber of items that will be available there.

I'm hopeful that most of my local readers are optimists as well and will venture out to the Flemington Fine Artisans Show and not let a bit of wet weather stop them!  Hope to see you there!

Current Knitting

Garter stitch on US 3 needles can be very slow...especially when I have a cat vying for my lap during the times I'm relaxing and sitting down to knit.

It will be a lovely wrap when it's finished, and I'm hopeful I can get enough cat-free knitting time to finish it in time for this Sunday's show.

There goes that optimism again!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

LYS Love

It's been a while since I've been in my local yarn store (LYS), and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I went back there last week

Benefits of Local

Twist Knitting & Spinning in Lahaska, PA is my LYS and here are some of the benefits I remembered when I went back after probably a year or more absence:
  • Their yarn assortment goes from common to exotic (from Cascade to higher-end luxury yarns like Shibui and Manos...including some beautiful local yarns)
  • Swatches showing how the yarn knits up are plentiful as are the ideas for projects using the yarn
  • There is enough activity in the shop to have yarn inventory that is turning over regularly
  • They have an extensive assortment of needles in many different brands
  • Sales staff (or the owner, Deb) will suggest items they know I'll like
  • They let me know about local events in which I might be interested
  • They work with yarn reps that I know and take my suggestions to heart for new products
Overall, I find supporting my local yarn store can be incredibly are some of my latest purchases:

Lana Grossa Olympia - Two clearance bulky exploded balls of yarn!

Shibui Cloud - Lustrous Kid Mohair/Silk yarn that is incredibly soft

Wonderland Yarns Unicorn - Glittery and fluffy!
Various knitting needles to round out my extensive collection
The first yarn was on clearance and the rest was at a 20% storewide sale day, so I saved a LOT of money.

Current Knitting

Working non-stop on the Ombre Garter Shawl in two different colorways, I still have a long way to go before I sleep.

Based on all the work I put into this one, I'm not sure I'll be able to price it for as much as it should cost, but I am loving how it's coming out.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Resistance Knitters

Resistance to the insane direction that this country is heading comes in many forms.

Two Types of "Friends"

This blog, Facebook and other social media allows me to broadcast my personal message to thousands of people.  Over the years, I have accumulated a very wide and varied audience and list of "friends".  Many of them are knitters, crocheters, weavers, sheep farmers, etc.

It was incredibly satisfying that some of the first anti-trump protesters were my fellow knitters.

The Pussy Hat Project was an amazingly creative way to visibly protest and thanks to the group Pussy Riot and the Pussy Hat project, we have a visually cohesive group that can express their dissent just by wearing a hand knit garment.

I have knit a number of Pussy Hats for friends and protesters, and I will have at least one to display on my table at the Artisan Craft Shows I'll be doing in the next couple of months.  As a thank-you for one of those hats, a friend of mine gave me this:

I love that this gift was home made...I love that it was done using rainbow colors...I love that she used a quote that meant something to both of us.

Nothing more satisfying than thoughtful, beautiful gifts.  This little treasure will take up a prominent spot in my home.

Current Knitting

First of all, it started out as a garter/bias scarf using to different ombre yarns.

Given that the yarn is a light-weight sock yarn and I was using US3 needles, the fabric was very light.  Another fortunate event was that I made a mistake in the scarf and didn't notice it until I had finished a couple dozen rows on top of the scarf.

The mistake was fortunate, in that it allowed me to rip out the scarf and cast on for a large, light-weight shawl instead!

I also finished a couple more pairs of booties.

Or have I posted these already...or better yet, how the hell would anyone know anyway?

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Power of Promotion

I just got the electronic postcard (above) to promote my first Artisan/Craft Show at the end of the month, and it's no wonder this show gets a lot of high-end traffic of people looking for nicer hand-crafted gifts.

Beautiful Work

The organizer of the Flemington Fine Artisans Show is a jewelry artist herself and has a very fine aesthetic eye.  It shows in her promotional design as well...don't you think?

Most of the more well-established vendors at higher-end artisan/craft shows have signage for their booth, so I decided to take advantage of Costco's new Business Printing center to order a vinyl sign for my booth.

I know I shouldn't be so excited about a stupid vinyl sign, but I ended up getting this custom sign printed and shipped to me for $25 (I could have also picked it up at my local Costco Warehouse).  And even better, with an executive membership and credit card, I get 4% back in February on the purchase ($1 back isn't bad on such a great little item!).

A similarly sized vinyl sign on VistaPrint, for instance, starts at $28.  VistaPrint also charges you for custom graphics and shipping.

There is a do need to know how to create "vector graphics" to be able to use your own scale-able images in a way where they don't pixellate...or know someone that can do it for you.  I've used graphic software packages for years, but learning vector image technology really is a whole new language and it took me a while to learn how to do this...even with a friend's help.

Current Knitting

The latest Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf was completed since the last blog entry.

It will block out a bit wider than these photos, and I'm also planning on displaying it at the craft show with one of these little beauties from Lickin' Flames...

These little ceramic sheep on shawl prongs are AWESOME.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Life Imitates Art

Is it me, or is there very little historical perspective in political arguments any more?

Depth of Field

In photography and other image-based art, there is a great concept called "depth of field".

The depth of the field in photography describes the distance between the nearest and the furthest objects that are in focus in a photograph.

Limiting the depth of field, or the focused area of the photo to a narrow band of distance allows a photographer to highlight the portion of the photo that is important...or to manipulate the viewer of the photo to focus on what the artist wants the viewer to see as the important subject of the image.  The out-of-focus background allows for a colorful or dreamy background without distracting the viewer from what's deemed important by the photographer.

Similarly, today's political issues in the U.S. seem to lack any historical or background clarity.

Our news broadcasts use the aural equivalent of a narrow depth of field when they insist on only broadcasting sound-bytes of an issue...demanding the listener to focus on just the issue at hand.

Some news organizations attempt to blur the background by providing historical references to a sound byte that guide the listener to believe what the news organization wants them to believe, but few news organizations have the time or attention span of their viewers to be able to truly give a broad depth of field to an important story.

There are a few exceptions.  International news can often be better at this.  PBS seems to provide a broader background than other domestic news.  And individual sections of shows will sometimes delve deeply into the background.  The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC often uses the first extended segment of the show to focus on historical background of a story before even introducing the story.

Suffice it to say that "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it" is something that is proving more and more true every day lately.

Current Knitting

I rushed like a mad man to finish the latest Color Block Scarf.

It's finally starting to get cold enough outside where the idea of wearing a scarf won't soon be out of the question. 

I also started a new Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf.

This one is using a high-contrast combination of yarns that I'm liking quite a bit.  While these high-contrast, bright scarves don't always sell quickly at the Artisan/Craft Shows I sell at, they often attract people to the table to take a closer look at what I've got for sale.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Opposites Attract

Everyone knows how common it is for two people who are in long-term relationships to be complete opposites in some area of their lives.

Types of Opposites

Are you a night-person and your partner a morning-person?
Do you hang toilet paper rolls the correct way and your partner the wrong way?
Does one of you prefer savory/salty treats and the other sugary/sweet?
Is your wardrobe all spring colors and his all fall colors?

Well, I've come up with a new combination and it's how you prefer your interior lighting!

Thaddeus and I are both morning people and fortunately, he knows how to hang a roll of toilet paper correctly.  But he and I couldn't possibly be further apart when it comes to how we light the rooms in our house.

Thaddeus prefers minimal, subdued ambient lighting with accented lighting to show off a painting or a piece of furniture.

I prefer a much brighter, open all the shades and curtains to let the sun stream in sort of lighting.

To be less charitable (to both of us)...Thaddeus prefers dark, dim, dungeon-like lighting whilst I prefer surgical room, squint-worthy lighting.

Thaddeus is constantly coming into a room asking if I still need a set of overhead lights on and turning them off without waiting for a reply.  I am constantly increasing the dimmer switch to full brightness to fill the room with as much glare as it can handle.

We just replaced the under-counter lights in our kitchen.  I have complained for years at how little light the old fixtures created.  Thaddeus replaced them with multi-level/multi-warmth LED lights and while I LOVE the new lighting, he's still getting used to how bright they are.

Yes, even after almost 34 years, we're still negotiating differences.

Current Knitting

Another pair of booties is off the needles.

Still need to sew them up, but I got distracted by starting another Color Block Scarf.

I've been trying to increase the number of items on my sale table to include more gift items for men, so I'm focusing on darker, more subdued (more Thaddeus-like) colors.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Crazy About Apple?

Full disclosure...this household owns an iMac, a Mac Book Pro and an iPhone 6S...but the only reason I stay with Apple products is because it's now what I'm used to.

Are Apple Products Better?

For years I heard the Apple fan(atic)s talk about processing speeds and intuitive apps and being free from worrying about viruses and the power of graphics processing and on and on.

As I transitioned from corporate life, where PC's and Windows and Microsoft Office were necessary components of work technology, I slowly switched over my personal life to iPhones and Macs.

My thinking was:
  • The iPhone is the best smartphone and I want to make it as compatible with my home computer as possible
  • I do a lot of photo processing for my blog
  • iTunes will work better on Apple devices
  • The bettering of my life will far outweigh the cost of learning new interfaces
  • I won't have to worry about cyber security
  • Processing speeds will be faster
None of these assumptions was really true, and to add insult to injury, I paid a premium for my technology.

The iPhone has one serious flaw that was only recently been corrected...the ability to store documents and attach them to e-mail documents.  Switching from a Blackberry years ago to an iPhone, I was shocked I could no longer attach documents without some pretty big app gymnastics.  It was more compatible with my Mac Book Pro than my PC, but I was disturbed by how difficult some of the simplest tasks were.

Photo processing sucks on my Mac Book. Until I found applications that could do what I needed and then learn the new applications, processing photos for my blog was (and still is) more painful than when I did similar functions on my PC's.  I actually use the Mac version of MS Paint to do some of my photo editing.

iTunes sucks no matter what platform it's on.  I always thought iTunes sucked on Windows because it needed to override so many defaults to work well...but it seems to such just as bad on my Mac.  For example, just take an existing music CD and try and transfer the music into iTunes so you can listen to it on your iPhone.  Don't get me wrong, I do it, but it's an incredibly convoluted process.  I've considered starting a business of converting CD's to iTunes for people.

The learning curve of a new interface was initially steep, but now that I'm familiar with OS and IOS, I'd have difficulty switching's not that it's better or more's just what you're more used to.

Cyber security continues to be a concern.

Processing speed was the biggest disappointment on my Mac Book Pro...I finally converted my hard drive to solid state (which it now comes delivered with) and upgraded my RAM to the highest allowed and my computer is fast as hell.  But as delivered, it was really quite slow and I had to do a lot of research to make my computer as fast as most PC laptops I have owned.

I'm glad I own Apple products...and I enjoy using them...I will even continue to purchase new Apple products when I need to...but I am in no sense a part of the iCult and never will be.

Current Knitting

I had a library book due back yesterday which I had barely I took a lot of knitting time reading instead.  But I did also work on a few more pairs of baby booties for the craft show table.

I'd ideally love to have a couple of dozen pairs of booties in a rainbow of colors that will coordinated with the baby blankets I'll have.  I'm not sure I'll make that goal, but I should have enough booties for the shows.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Upcoming Artisan and Craft Shows

Two of the great joys of participating and selling my fiber-craft at shows each year are:
  1. Getting to show off my knitting/crocheting to a public that seems to really like it
  2. When friends (both real-life and virtual) come to my booth and I get to meet them

Love to See You

Only a small percentage of QueerJoe blog readers are geographically close by to where I live and sell my work.  So there are very few people I know from on-line forums and this blog that I ever get to meet in person.  I don't often have the opportunity to meet even the folks who live somewhat close by.

There are also very few craft shows that meet my criteria for wanting to set up a table:
  • Must be within 30 miles of where I live
  • Can't be an outside events (requiring display tents)
  • Must be between October and December (knitwear doesn't sell so well in the Summer)
  • Needs to attract higher-end buyers who can afford finer hand-crafted items
This year I'm only doing two shows:

Flemington Fine Artisans Show - Sunday, October 29, 2017
Stangl Factor - 4 Stangl Road, Flemington, New Jersey 08822

Prallsville Mill Fine Crafts & Arts Show - Saturday/Sunday, December 2-3, 2017
Prallsville Mill - 33 Risler St, Stockton, New Jersey 08559

I know many of my readers are knitters, but both these shows will have extremely beautiful gifts and items for sale you will love.

RSVP to either or both of the shows on Facebook links and I hope to see you there!

Current Knitting

Another magical multi-tasking HowlCat was finished since the last blog entry.

Alex Tinsley's color combinations are much more bold than mine.  I'm honestly trying to build up potential gift items to sell at the craft shows for men, and I believe that most people buying gifts for guys don't like interesting colorways.

But then again, these Noro Beanies seem to sell pretty well.

I just finished this last night and I'm reminded of how amazingly well Noro does color.