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.