Saturday, February 26, 2011

a serendipitious day

gratuitous sheep/getty images

this little tale requires a bit of setup, so hang on with me... it's a good one.

a few weeks ago we had a big staff meeting at work where the amount of a much-anticipated profit sharing check was announced. that in itself was a huge deal because not long ago our company had to right itself after a soap-operatic fall from grace. anyway, i was pretty giddy upon finding out we would ALL be getting a handsome $1000+ check in just one week.... my mind was racing in anticipation of what goodies i could acquire while my practical side was telling me to use it for bills and other non-exciting expenses.

what i kept coming back to was my business – and how i really, really need some tools to make my work easier. a few weeks ago i was completely fixated on getting a new digital camera. i talked to my photo mentor and fabulous coworker about my yearnings and she said that while a new camera would be awesome, maybe i could make better photos with the camera i already have. she told me to really dig into manual mode, tinker with the settings and then polish everything up in photoshop. ok, i felt a little dejected, thinking that i didn't have the skills or smarts for a fancy camera like that. but i took her advice and i do think i am getting much better shots. here are a few taken today by a north window. no photoshop on these, just wanted to see what i could get straight out of the camera.

bulky-weight handspun, rovings dyed by carol at

 hand painted brown sheep lamb's pride, convo me on etsy if interested in either. i can set up a listing for you.
so i was pretty happy with how these turned out. i need to work on the color of the second one, it's not quite green enough.

now, back to my epic tale.... the day after we got the news about the big check, i had to visit my friend J. to pick up some clothes for a freelance photo styling job. as we were chatting, i was having fun playing with one of her new computer toys.  i confided that our home computer setup was getting kind of antiquated and some software i picked up recently couldn't even run on it because the family mac didn't have the intel processor and i wasn't sure i wanted to load it onto DH's work mac. she suggested i just use the cash for a new laptop. me? splurge like that for my fledgling little craft+print design+ photo styling biz? yeah, maybe. but that's a lot of money.

i spent a couple days mulling it over and it wasn't too hard to justify the expense. last night i made an appointment with one of the business specialists at the MOA apple store because i knew from a good source that they give a token 5% discount for business folk. i was pretty jazzed about that. so this morning we got to the apple store before the mall opened and picked out exactly what i wanted.

and now the fail. the massive, stupid fail. THE APPLE STORE WAS OUT OF LAPTOPS. BEFORE THE STORE WAS EVEN OPEN. um, what? dude said he would call the southdale store so they could set one aside for us. grrrrrr. well, let's just bite the bullet and drive through another snowstorm to another mall and get the damn thing. so we get there, find the store, (us east-siders don't hang with the swells in edina too much) approach yet another dude in blue and he iphone-s one of his buddies in the back room about my mac. i was feeling a little impatient but still cool, after all i was getting a deal.

out comes a woman who looks a teeny bit familiar, but not totally. she introduces herself as a friend of J. (the pal who talked me into this computer biz in the first place). and says she can do me one better than the five percent. she's gonna give me her friends and family discount for 15% off!  SWEET FANCY MOSES! i was so excited i grabbed this poor woman's shoulders and started jumping up and down like a cheerleader (see below). turns out, J. and apple lady had lunch yesterday and they discussed my possible purchase. so it was just a fortuitous twist of fate that brought me to southdale, where M. was working, who graciously helped me save some major cash. it was awesome how it worked out!! thanks to J. and M!

Friday, February 11, 2011

a quick charity project

What a fun project. Every year the Special Olympics collects handmade scarves for the athletes and coaches to wear at the games. The scarves are made by crafters alll over the globe to support folks from their home state. A couple weeks ago I got word from on of the knitters at the office that the Minnesota delegation needed hundreds more scarves. While I could only crank out one, some of these folks went nuts! We gathered yesterday for a meet and greet and took a few moments to admire all the fantastic scarves. If you'd like more information on the scarf project, check out the red heart yarn page with all the details. I gotta say, this was my first time working with the Red Heart and it was a lot softer that I remember. info here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

looking with a critical eye

i have been thinking a lot about etsy lately. how my shop has been so quiet compared to this time last year. things have dropped off a lot and to be totally honest, it's pretty discouraging. while i have been doing great at craft shows, it would be fantastic to be making a couple sales a week on etsy. it would keep me motivated knowing that my shop was a destination for people who want this kind of product. it would be more fun to make the yarn knowing there was a demand for it!

the beauty of etsy is that it showcases beautiful things. but even the loveliest gem won't look very sparkly if it isn't photographed well. good photos are the number one reason people click on your shop.

i am taking steps to make better pictures. i recently upgraded to CS5 and hope to get a new camera before too long. while i am really comfortable styling photos when someone else is shooting, i am a beginner behind the camera. and it shows. i need to get practicing... learning how to take advantage of the beautiful light this snowy winter brings into my home and take more photos.

and stop feeling sorry for myself!

so, for all you photographers out there. i am soliciting your advice. i want to make better pix of yarn. the top photo is one of mine, the second is what i am hoping to learn to create myself.

Friday, February 4, 2011

watching the wheel go round

thanks, leslie, for the pic.
last week i got some very exciting mail from carol at the sheep shed studio. this is a wonderful small business that YOU should check out. ok, the website design is kinda dated and hard to navigate but that makes it more like a treasure hunt. carol has some amazing fiber finds. she lives in the beautiful wyoming countryside just a few hours from the brown sheep yarn mill in mitchell, nebraska. she buys their mill-end rovings and yarns and sells them at a terrific discount. she also dabbles in dyeing and every now and then i buy a pound or two of whatever she has in the dye pot. no custom orders, it's just totally random and i love the surprise. this time just might be the best. i GASPED when i saw this excellent color combination... sadly, i didn't shoot it until after it was spun. what do you think?