As much as we need the rain, I was a little sad for my daughter, this morning. The Bunny's work may be hindered by this moist reminder that this is Spring and rain can happen. We are getting ready to head Down The Hill to Cameron Park, in a couple of hours, to witness Syd's first real egg hunt with her 7 year old brother, who will be thoughtful and wonderful to her, I just know.
The Daughter and Stoop Crinkletoe took our granddaughter to the El Dorado Hills egg hunt, for the fun of it but when I heard the age ranges for the "little kids" hunt, I just knew that the little one would come up short. Toddlers to seven. REALLY? Hordes of greedy school age kids swooping in to grab everything in sight, when Toddlers are just missing the experience. Hmmm...no fair.
No worries, she will have fun today! As promised, I made a batch of the old fashioned sugar cookie dough (the kind that uses powdered sugar) and will take it down to the festivities, so that the kids can have the fun of rolling the dough and cutting out easter shaped cookies. It is the simple things that make life fun and I am so glad that my daughter thought of it. We made cookies together a LOT when she and her brother were young and have photos of the craziness that ensued during decorating times. (I especially love the ones with pastry tube tips over our eyes.)
To those who celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, I wish you peace and renewal.
To those who celebrate as I do, with the rites of Spring and Mother Earth, I wish you Peace and Renewal, as the trees and dormant plants wake up and the Spring Peepers chirp their froggie songs. The longer days make me happy and this year I have so much for which I am grateful. I have loved seeing the photos of all of the lamb and kid births from my friends on the internet and celebrate this new life with them.
It makes me wish that mankind could celebrate our world and the seasons again, because if we all did, we would see the need to care for our Mother Earth. When you live in and on concrete, I guess that you lose touch with why we must take care of the soil. Here, where we are in the middle of nature, we are grateful for the rain that refreshes the creeks and our water that comes from underground. We celebrate an abundant conifer seed year, keeping the songbirds and squirrels cavorting through our forest canopy. I celebrate the return of the warm sun, to help the plants grow in my little veggie garden and I celebrate the happiness of my dogs when they run and run and run.
Life has begun speeding up again, since I said "I Will" to Melissa Laffin-Iverson's suggestion that I buy her business. As you know, I did not answer in the affirmative at first, being happy enough to keep busy in the dye workshop until the day that the heavy labor of dyeing and schlepping to shows became too much for me. I figured that I would retire in the next few years but wondered what I would do with myself all day, especially in the winter months, when working in the gardens was impossible. That answer came to me, when I said OK to the unknown and invested in this venture.
Since that day, I have been using every quiet moment to think and wonder and trust that this would be right for me. As a customer of Melissa's, I knew that they product that I bought from her was far superior than any other fibers that had ever run through my fingers as a dyer and spinner but I still did not know about everything that could be had. I took her advice about what to buy from the "best" mill and then slowly got the courage to contact other mills, feeling like a babe in the woods.
I took a deep breath and wrote to people whose business days were either ending as I awoke, early in the morning, or yet to begin. We conversed in English (second language to most) and I learned to convert kilos to pounds and figure whether something was a good price for me and my customers. I learned to become someone who regularly wires US dollars (my hard earned US dollars from the Dyeworks) to strangers in all corners of the earth, with the help of my awesome banker. I began clenching my jaw at night, wondering if I had made the right decision and wondering if all of the money that I sent magically through the ether would be well-spent and most importantly, whether the product would arrive and be wonderful.
Last Friday began as Hell Week. I began a conversation with a new supplier (one who was not a known entity to Peace of Yarn) and in the meantime, I got a tracking number from my BEST mill for the shipment of The Best Stuff, which was in the hands of FedEx, which made me SO excited. Saturday morning, when I got up at 6 am, I got the dogs out to pee and then settled in this chair to check email and watch the progress of the Big Boxes. They were in Memphis and were getting ready for Customs clearance. Whoopeeee! A few hours into my day, I decided to peek at the FedEx trackign page and I saw something that made that needle-across-record sound inside of my head; a red exclamation point saying that the package was delayed, due to "insufficient information" to be able to easily classify the commodity. DAMN! I called FedEx right away and spoke to someone who said that the shipper had been contacted and that I should contact the shipper. Dude, it is SATURDAY. All that I could do was wait.
Meanwhile, I had been in a conversation with this new purveyor, while doing figures and research about the particular products that they handled, deciding to make an opening order with them for a couple of products that have been harder to find. There were serious language barriers with the contact person and I was getting a little nervous, but carried on. After all, these nutty people were working on the weekend, just like me...
Monday morning dawned and I agreed to buy silk hankies and Tencel Top from this company. After making my initial order and receiving the invoice, I promised to pay that morning. After breakfast, I had Rod help me fill in the paperwork for the wire transfer, because his draftsman trained printing was so much more legible than my artist's hand. We tried to decifer the seller's information and make certain that all of the unusual names were in the proper places, on this, my third wire transfer in a week. (bye bye, savings!) We felt confident and this time, he accompanied me down to the bank. Done.
When we returned home, the message light was blinking on the phone and of course, I had missed a call from FedEx. DAMN! I called back right away, but of course, this guy did not answer his phone. I left a message about where he should send the forms and waited. I got the forms by email and quickly filled them out and because Rod was busy, I hurried into his office to fax them off. I called the FedEx guy and told him that I had faxed the copies and to please call or email to let me know that he had received them. ::crickets:: Well, it turns out that I had put the papers into the machine the wrong way and had sent him BLANK PAGES. I discovered this the next day! Crap! At this point, I freaked out (this was Tuesday, already) and resent them, which seemed to activate the elusive FedEx Guy, who actually called me asking for one more form to be filled in and faxed. He was now waiting for the mill to give him more information for customs. (meanwhile the Wire Transfer person is freaking out that he had not received my money yet, which seemed strange, judging the speed with which the others were received.) Wednesday arrives and I keep seeing the Red Exclamation Point on the FedEx site and try calling "my point man" again. ::more crickets:: Oh yes, and I was dyeing for orders all through this...
By Thursday morning, I had really worked myself into a stressball with gnashed teeth and decided to go around the "point man" and talk to someone ELSE in the chain. Not only did I get right through but I got answers (yes, I threw the Point Guy under the bus, at this point) and these people could tell me that they had been waiting on a Hard Copy of information from the mill (got it) and that this would clear customs, fly out that night and be here the next morning. Holy sh*tballs.
We saw the red exclamation point disappear and one boulder fell off of my shoulders. Friday morning, when I got up, I saw that the FedEx plane had left Memphis at 3:30 am and had arrived at Sacramento at 5:30 am. Ok...movement. My email contained two more worry ending messages. The first contained a tracking number for my second mill delivery and the third contained "we got your money" from purveyor number three. The Stress producing logjam was broken and everything was moving along the pipeline. While I had not been reading my horoscope, I figured that some naughty planet had moved and let everything happen.
When I saw the magic words Out For Delivery, I began getting kind of a Nesting Anxiety, while waiting for the truck that carried my initial big investment. By 11 am, as I was applying dye to some yarn, I said aloud to Lorrie that this driver had one hour until it was no longer morning. Then I thought that I heard a man's voice. I stuck my head around the corner from the dye counter and listened and then I heard it again...sort of a wheezy hello from a deep voice. Here, coming around the edge of the open wall was a tall man in a FedEx shorts, winded from his hike up our driveway (at altitude) saying that he was out on the road and had been calling but no answer. Turns out that he had been calling my cell phone, which does not work here, eschewing the home phone.
Out pops Rod from the house and off they went, down the hill to help get the Big Truck over the steel and wood bridge that traverses Weber Creek. Up he came in his shiny new truck and when we looked into the cavernous trailer, our three boxes (and the race car motor for someone else up here) looked small! One by one, he scooped the pallets onto his motorized pallet mover thingie (technical term) and down the lift onto the concrete in front of the yarn racks. Done. He maneuvered that truck like a pro and with a couple of aided turns was down the drive and over the bridge...byebye.
My work began, as i began hefting the rock hard balls of fiber out of the boxes and then I realized what I had bought, mostly sight-unseen; the most magnificent fiber that I had ever felt. I am dead serious. I have been dyeing and spinng silk/merino top for 25 years and thought that it was the finest available...until I realized what I had, here in my arms. When I pulled the first ball out of the box and looked at it, I assumed that it was 100% Mulberry Silk. No, it was my blend of Superfine Merino and A1 quality Mulberry Silk. I have never touched A1 quality and did not know the difference, until yesterday. I then moved on to inspect the other blends and just about swooned when I got a glimpse at the white yak/Tussah silk blend. It looked like something that a king's garment would be spun from and why, because the quality of this Tussah silk was like nothing I had ever had run through my hands. OH. There is a DIFFERENCE and this is The Very Best.
Now, Weaver Creek Fibers is In Business. I feel like I must have been in the Birth Canal last week and now that the Magnificent Stuff is finally here, I am breathing the air of relief and excitement for all of the rest that is yet to come.
The Merino that I have decided to carry is a 16.5 micron, which is like cashmere. Melissa had been carrying the "Super 150s" at a huge price and this will be much more affordable and I know that the minute difference in micron level (softness and fineness) will be tiny and spinners will have luxury and a much more manageable price.
The learning curve has been steep and I have had jaw pain from worry but now that almost everything is here, I know that as a seasoned (30 years now) fiber artisan, I made the right decision, for myself and people who would have been so sad to see it disappear. I am not clenching anymore and did not wake up worrying about this vendor or that vendor. I am on my way.
My friend, Holly Haynes, did what seemed like the impossible and took me from zero to sixty in what seemed like a week. She got me all set up and open for business on the new website for Weaver Creek Fibers and I have to tell you, when I first saw the great critter shots on the opening page, I got a little bit giddy and excited. We have all of the information that you need, right at this moment, if you are a fiber artist with either a resale license or a storefront, to get in touch with me about setting up a wholesale account.
I am very happy because my first sale came in and the fiber went out, the very next morning. True, I have been robbing my own stash to get things up and running but the first mill's shipment is due very soon.
This is always the issue...turnaround from the mills, but I am making the investment for myself and others, so that Melissa's Peace of Yarn can live on in Weaver Creek Fibers!
I think that taking on the care and feeding of a fiber business is actually really good for my brain: it has been buzzing madly, since last we met. I have gone from being timid about parting with a chunk of my savings, to feeling more confident every day about this being a good move for me and for my colleagues.
A "big fat order" from the mill that creates the really luxurious stuff is working its way through the combing machinery, at said mill, and I am waiting for the email that will tell me that it is time to go to the bank and wire the money, so that the boxes and boxes and boxes of luxury fiber will begin their journey to me. (it is going to be "fun" to see how well I can organize it, once it gets here! Rod is a little worried about space but my own personal fleece stash can make way, into the hands of others)
I got my office organized into a much more efficient space (it is about time, I know) for all of this weighing and shipping that will be happening and the biggest upside is that it is SO much better for getting the dyeworks packages out. DUH! My mother always said to me, when I was a teenager and on into my messy twenties (young motherhood), that "one can always tell the state of someone's mind by the state of their surroundings". Oh. Taking on an extension of my business has forced me to organize my mind AND my surroundings. Ok, I get it. Nice work, Mom.
The other "little something" that comes back to me, from my 30's, is what my co-leader of a Brownie Troop said one day; "if you need something DONE, ask the busiest and most productive of your friends. Even if she is juggling things, asking to put one more ball into her rotation will hardly phase her, because she is already on high alert". Do you believe it? I guess that I do. I see it with my own daughter, who works full-time, cooks beautiful meals and gets her kids here there and everywhere for activites. I wonder how she does it but then I was a stay-at-home mom who crammed a creative career, baking, gardening, couponing and raising small farm animals into the waking hours of every day. We just DO it.
Now, I feel more energized, just thinking, planning and getting more organized. I guess that after the stress of trying to work during Mom's decline made me a little "soft" after she left. I found myself thinking more about being the next in line to leave, instead of all of the things that I wanted to do every day, for all of the rest of my LIFE. Seeing my mother through all of that time of transition really took a toll on me but I have come through it, stronger and more determined to live my life fully, every day.
We had a WONDERFUL and exhausting trip to Stitches West. I kept wondering why I was always SO much more tired, doing that show, and then it hit me; all of the other shows, we arrive the day before load-in, getting a good night's sleep before the muscle pumping schlepping and set-up. Hell, this year, the day before we drove three hours to GET to set-up, we had to dig out of a blanket of snow, so that we could get safely get out of here before dawn. Oh, no wonder I arrived tired. Hah! We also drive home, the same night as load-out (after a day of the sales floor), and I wondered why I was a freaking zombie on Monday! That all worked ok, when we were in Lafayette and the drive to and fro was about an hour but now I think that next year, we will drive down on Tuesday and drive home on Monday. MUCH smarter.
The West Coast Stitches is always an Old Home Week for us, touching base with people who have been friends or customers of mine since the days of juried craft fairs. In those days, people in California could get their hands on me at shows several times in a year, before we began to travel cross-country. Now, we are one-and-done with our home state, in February of each year. I keep wondering how it can be 30 years now but then the days are zooming by in a blur. Perhaps, adding this new level of interesting work will put a little rubber stopper in the spokes of my life wheel and make the days slow down a bit. Is that possible?
What is possible is something that I did not dare to hope for and that is the excitement and renewed interest in the voice of my web-goddess, Holly. She had begun the daunting task of creating a new and more efficient/clean website for the dyeworks (it is happening behind the curtain of the internet) when this new thing popped up. I never thought that she would want to take on such a BIG job again but surprisingly, it has inspired her and the wonderful website for Weaver Creek Fibers is being put together for launch, by the end of the week! (she must be feeling the same excitement and creativity that has touched me!) I am SO excited and grateful for her help and enthusiasm and I joke about her racking up enough hours for me to have to buy her a car!
When something like this is dropped into your lap, one of the hardest things is knowing where to begin, when everything must be done at once, but we have done just that and now I have the task of creating an email list from a business that was only done with phone calls and "snail mail". When I said that I called my friend Melissa a Triceratops, my grandson pipes up from the back seat of the car, "Grammy, did you really call her a Triceratops"? Why yes, I really did, but in a loving way. :-) Now, I am pulling this business into the 21st century, one web connection at a time and it is energizing.