Friday, November 30, 2012

Let me 'splain...

Wow. Has it really been almost three years since I posted anything of substance on High Fibre Diet or Scarfaday?? That's just... wow. At least I can honestly say that it's for a good reason: I've been super busy doing all manner of exciting - really exciting! - fibrey things. Things I was keeping under my hat at first until they really got going, and then they got going with such wild abandon that I just haven't found the time to stop doing it long enough to sit down and tell you about it.

"What ARE these things?" you might ask. Well, I shall tell you! The biggest and bestest one I can sum up in three little words: The Bobbin Tree. That's right,


It's my (not so) new (anymore) business venture. My new baby. My love! It is all about fibre and people and doing stuff! I haven't given up on the Weaver's Palette entirely, mind you. I still weave. Some. A little. Okay, not much. Mostly on my rigid heddles, actually. (Though that didn't stop me from buying a 10 shaft, 64" wide Glimakra Standard with one plain beam and one sectional last spring, or an 8 shaft Schacht Baby Wolf at Christmas. Ahem.) But I have completely changed tacks with my professional life and I could NOT be happier.

You may recall that motivation to weave has always been a struggle for me, hence Scarfaday. It was such a problem that I even wrote an article about it in Handwoven. I love to teach weaving. I love to plan weaving projects. I love to dress the loom, even. But actually weaving? On my own? In the basement? Not so much. Not enough to keep the shops that were carrying my products happy, at any rate, which meant I always felt guilty about not getting things done, which meant in turn that I always felt bad about myself and the way I spent my time (i.e. online, not weaving).

I am a people person. I need face time. I am like a second generation Sim with a really high social score who needs a steady diet of little green pluses from interaction with other Sims to stay happy and keep my mood diamond shiny green. This is why I love teaching. This is why I love getting together with other weavers and spinners to talk about what we're doing. This is why, when I was part of Mixed Media Artisans, I enjoyed running the shop (as long as there were customers around) far more than making stuff to put in it.

Clearly something needed to change.  Take it from me, when your struggles to motivate yourself to do your job are so well known that you're asked to write an article about it for an international publication, you're doing the wrong job. When Mixed Media closed I was this close >< to throwing over the whole idea of making a living at fibre and get getting an office job somewhere instead, though that made me sad, too. I love having my own business. Worse yet, a "real job" might give me the face time with other people that I wanted, but it wouldn't net me much fiber time. I wanted both!

Enter the Bobbin Tree.


...No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

M'yeah, so all that up there? I wrote that a YEAR ago. More, maybe. The first paragraph said "a year and a half" before I changed it just now, so it must have been around then.

As you can see, I'm still struggling with finding the time to blog, and as before that's because of doing many exciting things instead of talking about doing them. A really great sign that I'm finally doing the thing that's absolutely perfect for me. :D So... hooray!

As mentioned previously, in 2010 I started The Bobbin Tree. For the first couple years I operated it out of my living room closet (though, much to Ron's dismay, it tended to leak out all over the house a lot of the time). I had some classes at my house. I went to markets and conferences and retreats and events all over Cape Breton, the Mainland, and into New Brunswick and PEI. Got my (business) name out there. Met amazing people. Made amazing friends. Had a BLAST. And thought more and more about opening an actual retail location, perhaps combined with some studio space so I could weave and spin and, most importantly, teach classes.

That's a really brief synopsis of of 2010 and 2011, which brings me up to 2012. I want to tell you all about 2012 but I'm afraid if I do it properly I'll get sidetracked and it'll be another year and a half before I hit post, so I'll go month by month and stick to the highlights:

Dec 2011/Jan 2012: Ohboyohboyohboy Ima open a shop! SO EXCITED!! ...Except then the landlords' plans changed and suddenly I wasn't opening a shop anymore. SO BUMMED. A few tears and lots of very sad faces. Fortunately this was all temporary, as you will soon discover! Also, the shop I was going to have is now my friend Joan's NeedleIt, and it is super cute and filled with all manner of great things and if you are in North Sydney you should go there and buy her stuff.

Jan/Feb 2012: Weaving classes with mydearolmum at her Willingham Weavery! This was our third kick at the can and hands down our best year yet. Week Two focused on profile drafting. I rocked the profile drafts, letmetellyou. (Psst: we are teaching more in Jan/Feb 2013!)

Some of our Weaving II students dressing their looms from B2F with practice warps. Notice how diligently Susan is playing on her phone working on her loom?

A major highlight was that my best imaginary friend, Susan, came all the way from Kansas to take our class! Susan and I met via Twitter back in ... uh, back in History, around the time that Google Wave failed to crest, whenever that was. We have chatted almost every single day since, but this was the first and only time we've been in the same place. And that place had looms in it. HOW GREAT IS THAT?


March 2012: Mom and I went to John C. Campbell folk school and took Laura Fry's Efficient Weaver class. OMG, the Folk School is the best thing evar. I wish I could afford to go all the time. The weaving studio that Pam Howard maintains is every weaver's dream come true: dozens of looms, fabulous equipment, big work tables, space, light, and fab people to hang out with. I made a some really great new friends that, thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I've been able to keep in touch with. And of course it goes without saying that the class was great, because Laura is great. An amazing teacher. A bottomless font of weaving knowledge and expertise. The whole week was made of WIN. Laura is teaching more classes at the Folk School in 2013. You should go!


Five days of working, learning, chatting and not a small amount of weaving = FUN TIMEZ.

March/April 2012: Road trip with my friend Sandra to the Maritime Fibre Arts Retreat in Chester Bay, NS. Tons of fun! Can't wait to go back next year! Sandra and I already have our reservations. In fact, so do something like 80-100 other people. I'm pretty sure we've got the entire hotel booked for 2013. Uh, not Sandra and me personally, but folks going to the retreat. Right.


I took a little bit of fibre and yarn with me.

April 2012: The Helping Herd auction! In late March, a not-very-far-away cashmere goat farm burned to the ground, leaving its owners, Chris and Christine Silver, with fewer than half their herd and other farm animals, no outbuildings at all, no vehicles, utilities cut off to their home, and no insurance. The tragedy was terrible, of course, but you know what was wonderful? In April, my friend Mimi Fautley (of The Loop in Halifax) and I organized a Facebook auction to raise money for the Silvers, and HUNDREDS of people raised THOUSANDS of dollars! As you might imagine, the auction started out with a fibre focus, but it quickly expanded. There were over a hundred really amazing items up for auction, many of which were hand made by the donors. We raised $7,000! I think I am more proud of that auction and what we were collectively able to do for the Silvers than anything else I've ever done.

Moar April 2012: Also, I got shingles. That kind of sucked. And PayPal totally screwed me over because of the Helping Herd auction, and my accounts are STILL frozen. So that also sucked. Meh.

May 2012: HOLY COW, I won a Women in Business Award! In Arts & Culture, even! On my birthday, even!

Best. Birthday. Present. Evar.

Moar May 2012: HOLY COW, this time I really DID open a shop! (Are you noticing the "holy cow" theme here? Good.) The Bobbin Tree put on its big girl pants and moved out of the house and into the brand spankin' new Artisans In the Attic in downtown Sydney. Seriously, you guys! I have a shop! FOR REALZ! It is SO GREAT. You will hear tons more about it in its very own blog post, probably in lots and lots of blog posts, so that's all I'll say here for now. In the meantime, you can read all about it and everything else Bobbin Tree related right here.


My honest to goodness, big girl shop!

June 2012: Field trip for a fibre getaway weekend at Adairs with my NB fibre peeps. TEH FUN!

March-June 2012: OMGomgOMGOMGOmgomgomg! I was approached by the lovely Liz Gipson, formerly of Handwoven, and Schacht, and author of her own weaving books and videos, and asked if I wanted to make a floor loom weaving class for Craftsy.com! First I had to go see what Craftsy was about and then I fell all over myself saying OHMYGODYES. But, you know, calmly so that I didn't sound like too much of a fangirl loon. One must at least pretend to be professional, right? M'yeah, not so much. So anyway, with Liz' incredibly helpful guidance and Ron's incredibly helpful insights, I worked my tail off for a few months planning a project and an outline, and by June I was ready to go...

July 2012: ...OMGOHGMOGHOMGomgoMgOMG I'm going to DENVER to FILM A CLASS! I think filming might have been my very favourite part of the makin-a-class process. Big cameras. HOT lights. Tryin' to remember what I'd just said and whether it made any sense. Freezing in place while the B camera zoomed in reeeeaaaaallly close on my hands or feet or shuttle or whatever needed to be really clear. Laughing. A LOT. Propping up looms with candy bars (no word a lie!). Panicking over whether we'd have enough time. Agonizing over what made it in and what got cut. It took four and a half days to film what turned into almost 9 hours of class, and every scrap of it was a blast. I didn't even mind getting up at 6:30 or whatever gawdawful hour it was, so you can tell how much I enjoyed it. Nicole and Shawn and Liz and Danica and every single person I met at Craftsy and Sympoz are super nice and so good at their jobs and obviously really love what they're doing so I couldn't help but feel the same way! Oh, and the hotel served milk and cookies every night. Heaven.

My Craftsy set! Not the ladder, you understand. That's just there 'cause Shawn was adjusting the lights. Notice Camera B over on the left. I'm standing next to Camera A.

Oh! And Ron and I got to actually go to Schacht and meet Barry Schacht and Judy Pagels (the super sweet lady I deal with when I order stuff) and all the other folks who work there and make the wheels and looms and everything else, and to go through the factory and actually SEE them being made. I even got to see the ladybugs! The actual ladybugs that actually go on the actual Ladybug wheels. Also, they have a community veggie & flower garden! And beehives! How can you not love a company with gardens and bees!?
Unfortunately, most of the pictures I took at Schacht - and all the ones that had people in them - turned out blurry. Here's a not too terribly blurry shot of some panels and treadles that are going to be Sidekicks when they grow up.

August/September 2012: Shop's busy! Cruise ships! Craftsy class is live! Look, students! Holy crap, hundreds of students! @.@ Eeee!

October 2012: The Maritime Spinning Retreat in Miramichi, NB. Ron came with me! SO MUCH FUN! And the Hub City Spinners that organized it asked The Bobbin Tree to provide the wheel and a bunch of goodies for the participants' goody bags. Made me feel SO GOOD. :D


And then of course there was Thanksgiving and a busy fall with the ships and the shop is doing so great and holy crap life is really, really good, you know? Which isn't to say that it's perfect, 'cause I'm still far from perfect, but I'm pretty sure the lesson of this past decade is that I don't have to be perfect. I still haven't found a way to love housework as much as ... well, anything else I might do with my time, and I'm still juggling way too many balls and occasionally dropping a few but, mindful of the Shingles Experience(tm), I try to cut myself some slack and allow myself some downtime. Not so good at balancing that yet; I seem to go feast or famine with the downtime. Maybe that will be my lesson for the next decade?

So there you have it: the last three years in one honkin' big info dump. Hopefully now that I've got that out of the way, I can get back to blogging on a regular basis.

5 comments:

Mandi said...

Please keep blogging! I am in your class and on Rav, but I cannot figure out Twitter...so I'd love to keep up with you here!

Janet said...

I will try, Mandi! If you notice me flagging, give me a sharp poke with a virtual stick via Rav, Craftsy or my Bobbin Tree page! ;)

Cindy said...

and a big shout out from South Carolina. Great Blog....keep it up. I'm living vicariously through you full time fiber folks.

Melissa said...

Wow, what a year! I guess I thought they were all like this one since we only met in March... But you are clearly deserving of all the above awesomeness and have stumbled onto a really good path. Congratulations, my dear.

OK, time to get off my duff and post to my own blog. Tanks for the poke!

Knittycat said...

It HAS been an exciting year! I love going to your shop, shopping in your shop, and doing fibre-y things of course :)