We all have our favorite sources of inspiration and learning. Right now I’m intensely interested in personal development, marketing and fiber arts.
Five of my favorite blogs (today and in no particulary order) are: Marketing Creativity by Lisa Jacobs. Lisa is a marketing genius. She says so many things that resonate so deeply with me. I learn so much from every post she shares! For example, this post is a direct result of her post titled “27 Blog Topics You Can’t Wait To Write About“.
Mr. Money Mustache writes about living the good life frugally. I took real control of our finances last year after paying little attention for 25+ years (hanging my head in shame), and MMM, as his readers fondly call him, was instrumental in me getting my act together. I have saved a lot of money and paid thousands of extra dollars toward my mortgage principal this year and will finish my mortgage years early, all thanks to this blog. His slogan is Early Retirement Through Badassity. All the swearing is an extra plus!
Technically this isn’t a blog but a website, but I love it anyway. A Prairie Home Companion is my favorite thing on the radio. I usually can’t listen to it live, but can catch up here. I always laugh out loud at some point during this show. Garrison Keillor is a god. Smart men are so sexy!
Declare Dominion is a blog for women who want to be Epic Fucking Badasses. Anna’s motto is If You Want To Have A Beautiful Life You Have To Be Fierce About It.
Fierce is a badly overused word right now. If I hear Tyra Banks say “fierce” one more time, I might have to leave the room when the kids watch America’s Next Top Model. Anna uses “fierce” properly. The dictionary says “fierce” means showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity. And that is the way she writes her beautiful stuff.
Her post on “Make Your Own Meant To Be” is a good example of her writing and outlook. She encourages women to create the life they want. Another blog with plenty of swearing which I consider a plus.
There are lots of great blogs out there, and if you ask me next week, I can guarantee that my top five will be somewhat different. I’d love to hear from my readers about other great blogs that you consider to be required reading.
I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic last month, and it has changed the way I think about many things.
Before I start talking about this book, a word about her earlier books, just so you know I am fairly objective. I read Eat, Pray, Love – or more properly, I should say I tried to read it. I just could not connect with it. So, I’m not a huge fan of all her work.
One of the most intriguing things she talks about is that fear we all feel from time to time when we try something new, or meet someone new, or think in a new way. She points out that fear actually does serve a very important evolutionary purpose. Our ancestors who paid good attention to their fears survived to reproduce. Life was chancy and danger was everywhere – people who were cautious lived longer lives than careless risk takers. The ones who put every unknown berry in their mouths lived a shorter life. Since evolution weeded out risk takers, we’ve inherited that fear mindset.
Life is much safer now in general, when was the last time you met a tiger in your back yard, after all? But fear doesn’t understand that. And when you try something new or undertake a project with an uncertain outcome it can easily take over the show.
Ms. Gilbert explains all this in much more detail and more elegantly than I can, but additionally, she gives a great tool for overcoming fear.
She says we cannot and should not eliminate fear entirely, it’s purpose is still important at times. It keeps you safe when something really is about to go south. But undertaking a new art project is not terribly dangerous. So, she gives you one way to put fear in the back seat where it belongs.
She advises talking to fear as if it were a person, and telling it that it’s not going to get to drive on this road trip.
Now, that may sound silly, but I’ve been doing this and it’s made a big difference in the amount of anxiety I feel at various times, especially when beginning a creative project in an area in which I don’t consider myself very expert.
Acknowledging the fear and putting it in the back seat helps me feel safe enough to move forward with things that seemed overwhelming in the past. I don’t worry so much about what people will think about my work or even about me. Fear seems to cooperate and sit quietly watching the scenery.
I liked this book so much I copied a section into my journal and read over it several times a week.
I recommend every artist and creator (and that’s all of us, isn’t it?) read this book.
If you are reading my blog hoping for juicy pictures of fiber, this picture of a new handspun yarn is for you.
I recently joined a class on marketing and was required to answer this question –
After some initial resistance, I dashed off some quick answers, and surprised myself!
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
Become #1 in revenue of all outside vendors in the consignment shop I sell in at the Indiana State Fair. I don’t know how I would actually know I was #1, of course I don’t have access to other vendors’ revenue numbers. Perhaps this isn’t such a great goal. Goals are supposed to measurable, right? Maybe a better goal would be – sell $XXXX at the Fair. Or double last year’s sales at the Fair. So, I’d double last year’s revenue at the fair. My revenue was $1,162.50, which means my goal is $2,325.00 That’s a big, scary goal!
Have a functional website with a sales page. Lots of learning to get to that point. Seems a little overwhelming.
Create more patterns for sale. That will take a big time investment that I didn’t think I had available. More about that later.
Dye more yarns in slightly larger groups, instead of so many one off yarns. That’s doable.
Create a well organized dedicated dye studio, instead of having supplies here, the dye area there, fiber storage somewhere else in the house. I was reading this list to my daughter, and she said, “What do you need? Water? Electricity? Shelving? Lights? Oh you can easily create a dye studio, you should have Daddy move his weights, push that bunch of tools here, move those shelves, rearrange the laundry area, move that table and you’d be all set. Sometimes it takes a fresh eye!
About time availability – one of the assignments was to create a morning routine and policies. Mine include a commitment to a certain number of hours dedicated to work, in little 1-2 hour chunks throughout my day, which is quite a change from my previous method of squeezing it in here and there, allowing my mind to get distracted by whatever I notice, and basically getting little done. This idea of going “pro” and having an actual work schedule now looks like genius to me, of course.
I now dedicate about 4 hours per week day to work, working around the other things I need or want to do. I still spend plenty of time outside and get my errands done. But, I have accomplished more in the last two days that I did in a week before I had an actual schedule. So I can see that I have a lot more time than I thought I did, and I’m committed to finishing a class on pattern writing I began long ago, and then I’ll start writing up a pattern or two that have been rattling around in my brain for a while.
Another benefit of this dedicated time I’ve noticed is that I’m much more organized, my office space is tidy, and I have time to think and plan. Quite a remarkable change. At the end of my last work period, around 5pm, I start to think about the next day and get set up for that.
For example, tomorrow I will spend some time working on setting up my dye area, and by the end of day I’ll feel like I made some real progress.
How would you answer the question?
For the folks who come here looking for pretty pictures of fiber, here’s something for you.
Until next time. Happy knitting or whatever makes you happy!
We get a lot of questions about one of our newest product, rolags. I thought it would be helpful to have a post to point people to. Hopefully I’ll answer all your questions, if you have more please let me know and I’ll update the post!
1. What the heck is a rolag? A rolag is a specific type of fiber preparation, especially created to be super easy to spin. Here’s a little eye candy.
2. What’s the advantage of a rolag over some other type of fiber? Rolags are blended fibers, usually custom dyed (ours are), with the fibers all running in roughly the same direction. You can blend any fiber you care to. So, we may use something pretty “standard”, like merino and silk – and sometimes we use something unusual, like rose fiber or yak fiber. Strands of glitter can be included if you like it blingy. Rolags can be used to make color and fiber combinations that are hard to achieve by just dyeing.
3. Are rolags easier to spin than roving or batts? It depends. For me, batts can be more challenging to work with, because their fibers can be a bit more disorganized. You can see from this picture how the fibers are looser and the fiber is in a bigger piece. Rolags can be less intimidating because they are smaller and easier to hold.
I almost always spin using a top whorl drop spindle, because the cats won’t leave my spinning wheel alone if I leave it out, and I’m usually too lazy to go drag it out and then put it away. I personally prefer rolags over batts for the hand spindle. More expert spinners can spin batts with no problem at all on a hand spindle. I’m just not there yet.
It can be harder to get a smooth yarn, especially if you are a beginning spinner. Sometimes a lumpy art yarn is what you want, so batts are certainly useful. And, no argument, they are very beautiful!
The gorgeous batt is from Purple Lamb on Etsy. It’s called Precious Metals and is a combo of Mulberry Silk, Alpaca, and Bamboo. It’s really spectacular! You can find it here. There are lots of other gorgeous fibers there too! Go take a look. I’ll wait.
Batts are very versatile and can be handled in a number of ways (that’s for a future post).
4. Why are rolags more expensive than batts or roving? There is more work (and time) involved. To create rolags you need fiber (dyed or undyed – someone has to dye the fiber), a special blending board, and plenty of time. The fiber is blended, then pulled of the board to get all the fibers running the same direction. Typically a board of fiber is made into 3-5 rolags. One way to think of it is that a batt is the whole board of fiber rolled up and folded, and the rolags are the same board of fiber pulled and stretched out into small tubes. Obviously that takes more time and work.
5. Do I need a spinning wheel to spin rolags? Absolutely not, we both use hand spindles to spin rolags. Cheryl doesn’t even own a wheel! Hand spindles do a great job with rolags and they are very inexpensive. Why spend money on a tool you may not enjoy using? Start with a low cost spindle. You will soon be quite good at spinning. It’s like any other skill you’ve learned during your life. Remember learning to ride a bike? I thought I’d never get it, one day it just happened. Practice is the key!
Give rolags a try, you don’t need any spinning experience at all to get a nice thick and thin yarn that you can make into a beautiful headband or baby hat.
I leave you with some more beautiful rolag photos. Because we all love fiber eye candy!
Give rolags a try – I’d love to see what you create with fiber spun from rolags.