Update on that Art Yarn Scarf

Update on that Art Yarn Scarf

So, Last week I made a video showing you how to use a hairpin lace loom to make an art yarn scarf. If you missed that check it out here. Once the camera was off and as the video loaded, I started to mull over ideas for finishing this scarf. And of course as is the norm for my ambitious right brain….this project has mushroomed and is now threatening to become a shawl.

My latest color jam has been light warm neutrals(beige, cream, light warm grey) punctuated with hot pink and orange. So I pulled out some screaming hot sock yarn and crocheted an edge, putting a cluster of 3 double crochets into each of the loops. I almost left it as is, but decided that I needed to flesh out the color pop just a little more, maybe asymmetrically…

But first I decided to pull together some coordinating yarns to see if maybe I would prefer keeping the pops thin as I added some width to this piece. So far these are the yarns going into this project bag…

So some of the theories behind this selection. I added another hot pink yarn is a slightly different tone and texture. I am not sure if this will end up in the piece or not, but I think there needed to be a bridge between the stark contrast from the super bright and the neutrals. I don’t want there to be too much pink here, but it needed something else. I am also picking the variegated neutral with a little dark grey for depth and little blush pink as a nod to that hot pink. This I feel will be a big part of the shawl/scarf. But we will see. I also pulled together as much handspun using undyed fleece as I had. I needed to play up what was already in the piece, but find some smoother textures. I am also adding the tiny bit of beige-grey worsted that I have. This will draw out the grey Montedale in the art yarn. Not pictured, but I may add it in is an undyed skein of alpaca/merino/silk yarn to round out the creamy white neutrals.

I will keep you posted as to where this is going. But can I just say…OMG this is the first new fiber art piece I have felt compelled to dive into after a long hiatus to work on my new clay obsession. So what are you working on? leave me some comment love below, or shoot me an email. You guys inspire me more than you know.

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Crocheting with Art Yarn

Crocheting with Art Yarn

Today fiberista, I am giving a shout out to all the right brained Crocheters. I know it can seem as if they are the red headed step children when it comes to cool crochet resources that aren’t this:

 

Ok I exaggerate because there are awesome patterns out there. A quick browse through my Pinterest boards and you will see MANY of them indeed are crochet.

 

But there is not a whole lot of info for crocheting with wild art yarn. The structure of a crochet stitch is just not meant to show of the intricacies of a very textural art yarn.

So today Fiberista, I am going to share with you one technique which I think is hands down THE way to crochet that crazy art yarn AND maintain your ability to actually SEE the details of your hand spun art. I made you a video.

So, tell me. Do you have a favorite crochet method for crocheting with handspun art yarn? Leave me some moment love below. and as always, if you love this blog post, then please share. xo

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Your Art is Not Your Technique

Your Art is Not Your Technique

Let me clear something up, your art is not your technique. Technique involve process of habit, muscle memory, physical skills of precision. Art involves right brain creative genius being brought into form through your technique. Techniques are just a way to express your art. Your art is your visual language. Technique is craft, visual language is art.

 

Craft vs Art

A quick google search will show you just how common the argument of craft versus art is. And it is true the line between art and craft can get awfully muddy. Some people will argue that art is strictly aesthetic and without function, craft being anything functional. But spend any time in a fine craft community (Like Asheville) and you will see the line is so very muddy. But dive deeper into the stories and ideas behind any fine craft piece and you will see a right brain expressing ideas. Suddenly even the fact a piece of weaving or ceramics, normally considered craft and you are even looking closer to see the art…indeed becomes a part of the visual language in and of itself. Fine craft is that line where craft crosses the line into art. It is art, despite being rooted in mastered craft skills.

 

Copying the Masters

When you master a craft skill that as an artist you find room to focus on where you can add creative genius. A popular exercise for a student learning how to paint is to copy master works of art. It is an exercise designed to learn the literal strokes of paint that will yield a specific visual effect. But of course the student can not call it quits once they copy a painting. They go on to learn how to apply the painting skill to their own ideas.

And there is nothing wrong with just being content to master a craft skill. In fact not all knitters want to go further into fiber art. I can’t blame them, knitting on a master level is crazy hard and an accomplishment itself. But if you find yourself filled with new creative directions as you work, then you are crossing over into fiber artist.

 

Sharing Your Techniques Helps You Stand Out

I have been guilty of this myself. There was a time when I did not want to share my craft process thinking that I would be giving my work away. But honestly, I had to learn my process from someone else as well. And I have even modified that process to accommodate a different look for my work. So like the student painter copying the masters, by doing a process over and over again, with the small tweaks and creative curiosity I moved that technique into expressing my own visual language.

When you share your techniques, you are inviting others to step into a community. It is in community that one can get feedback and challenges to stretch you own creative genius. It is actually in community sharing techniques that you can actually STRENGTHEN your own visual language as you see how it contrasts with others doing similar work. I find in community a drive to explore my own ideas deeper for new directions.

So master your techniques. Be in your craft and observe. You will find your visual voice while you work. Share your ideas, and you will find strength in your voice and inspiration for more ideas.

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Pricing Your Work Part 1: the nitty gritty of running the numbers

Pricing Your Work Part 1: the nitty gritty of running the numbers

It is a question I get asked a lot: How do I price my work?

I get it it is so very hard to know how to place value on art work in general. But as far as pricing hand knits and crochet, hand made yarns and fibers it can seem so much more confusing. I mean heck, you can find yarn at Michael’s for less than $10 a skein and sweaters at Target for $29. It totally breaks my heart to see one devalue their work trying to compete with a corporation that is able to produce in mass, gets corporate tax breaks, and large advertising budgets. Plus there are so many other reasons for you to price your work for sustainability as opposed to quick sales, but I am going to climb on that soapbox next week. Today, Fiberista, I am giving you the first of a two part post on how to price your work.  And it is all about how to run the numbers.

So, the formula for calculating your price is quite simple.

(Cost of Goods {I include packaging} + labor{time spend producing x hourly rate}) x 2 = wholesale price

wholesale price x 1.5 to 2.5 = retail price

Labor is what you pay yourself for making your product. The rest of the profit is what you use to pay overhead for your business and invest back into growing that business.

You calculate labor based on what you need to live, divided by the number of income producing hours you will work. Here’s the important part… If you are running a small business, YOU WILL NOT BE WORKING 40 INCOME PRODUCING HOURS. You will have to account for the time you will spend on marketing, accounting, new product research and other admin tasks. It is not uncommon for you to only spend 25-30 hours a week making stuff when you own a handmade business. Here in the US the minimum wage is $7/hour. It is not a sustainable wage. Even if you are supported by a spouse and do not think you need the money, do your fellow fiberistas a solid and do not set your hourly wage so freaking low. There are single moms out there who have dreams of just being able to feed their kids with their cottage industry yarn business as opposed to paying enormous daycare fees to go to a desk job in a cubicle. Your  skills and knowledge are worth more that $7/hr. Besides, a lower price does not alway lead to more sales…I will cover the bizarre theories behind that next week. Just know you can ask any price for anything, keep that price sustainable for the full time business fiberistas.

So, looking at that retail price is pretty scary, huh? Especially if you are pricing something hand knit, because holy smokes knitting takes a long time. So many fiberista’s will shave off their labor costs to make the price more attractive (hey, I have been down that path myself and learned a very hard lesson). Here’s the thing. If you are serious about growing a business, or even just support the idea that fiber artists should be able to pursue the dream of growing business, you will need to factor in the labor costs. When growing a business you will eventually need to hire help. Building in labor cost into your prices provides the path to being able to hire help.

So back to the numbers, If any of these numbers are making you a bit uncomfortable then you are in the right place. Because the follow through with pricing your work based on this formula, and the marketing skills needed to actually get that price involves some serious mental gymnastics. And that I will cover next week.

In the mean time I have a couple of super awesome resources that I have personally used to figure out my pricing.

Craftybase.com
Especially if you have an ETSY, Shopify or other online shop, go sign up for this right now. Designed with makers in mind, Craftybase.com is a super awesome way to keep track of inventory, sales and…my favorite and most used thing…a pricing calculator. Sign up here and get 10% off your subscription(this is an affiliate link)

These two Creative Live classes
Bookkeeping for ETSY Sellers and Bookkeeping for Crafters Both by Lauren Venell. Lauren is a season crafter who grew her business to a thriving popular product. She has so many insights on how to set up your business to make sure growth will happen sustainably. Be sure to check the schedule, you can catch the upcoming rebroadcasts for free. But I would consider buying the class on Demand to refer back to.

As I mentioned there will be a part two next week, where I will help you have the courage to ask for the price you need for your fiber art work, and how to find the customers who will very happily pay those prices.

 

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Creative Ways for Working with Handmade Yarn

Creative Ways for Working with Handmade Yarn

Working with hand dyed and handspun yarn can be a pain in the ass. I get it! When I was selling handed yarn it was the one question I was asked the most often…What can I make with this.

It is one thing to fall in love with an interesting yarn, an another thing altogether trying to find a patter that will work with it. And if the yarn is handmade chances are there is only a small amount of it. Maybe even not enough for much of a project.


For the last 10 years I have been studying ways to work with the handmade yarns that I love so much. It was a way to provide resources to my yarn customers. But it also is a way for right brain knitters/crocheters to find creative expression painting with yarn. I have written what I call anti-patterns that were created with handmade yarns in mind. So here are my best anti patterns, knitting theories and creative techniques to help you use your handpainted and handspun yarn into fiber art.

Friday 5: Five random pix from my week

Friday 5: Five random pix from my week

I am writing this from my phone. How awesome is it that I can blog from my phone anywhere, like in the car, or on the John. I swear I am not blogging this from the John. I am however hanging out in the living room, don’t want to go downstairs to the studio computer where all the photos live. So today I am giving you 5 images from my phone that encapsulate my week.


No. 5: Size matters

I am at that point in my ceramic study where I am trying to get a feel for how big to make my mugs. Shrinkage happens. What I think is reduculously huge, turns out to be on the big side of average. The mug on the right was laughably large when I pulled it off the wheel. So here I am recording scale of my new carved mug so I can see how it shrinks once finished.


No. 4: glass feathers

I am making some fused glass feathers for a wind chime. Yes I am still making tons of glass puddles. But while I am working through my stash of broken pieces to melt, I am making this.



No. 3: cats stealing the dog bed

Ballsy…


No. 2: I made yarn this week

Read the post here


No. 1: my favorite journal page this week

I am working through a month long journal challenge. Check it out on my Instagram feed.

Off to paint more pages… what are your Friday 5 today