FiberCrafty Files

  • Did someone say "wine"?

    This week I took about an ounce of my cheviot from Sadie Spins! to spin a practice yarn (yes, I'm "swatching!"). I want to start my spinning for socks project. Remember way back in January when I said I was going to do this? I love the colorway that I got - it's a dark wine and rich.

    Speaking of wine, the color trends for fall are deep and vibrant reds like Cranberry, Merlot, and Crabapple. You know what means, let's explore this palette, perfect for fall and the holidays! As always, thank you for shopping and supporting FiberCrafty and our shops!

    Dockside Yarn & Fiber

    Beautiful coral reds that have a hint of brown. This handspun is a blend of 60% superwash merino and 40% tencel, making it soft and fluffy. 2-ply light fingering weight with 575 yards. $50

     

     

     


    Angel Locks Fiberworks

    Stunning gradient roving - predrafted merino wool with slow color change and a total of 4 ounces of fiber. This will be easy and fun to spin. $25

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    The Girl Who Crafted

    Downton Abbey Collection featuring the colorway Lady Mary is on a DK Blue Faced Leicester yarn base. 100% superwash, skeins have 246 yards. This colorway is also available on multiple bases! $26

     

     

     

     


    Ten Mile Fiber

    Hand-dyed Leicester Longwool combed top in a gorgeous blend of crimsons, reds and green browns. Longwool is great for socks and spins into a sleek yarn. 4 ounces.  $20

     

     

     

     

     


    Woolmarket Fibers

    Cabernet - Rich wine red tweed yarn allow you to use a tonal yarn but still have pops of texture and color with the tweedy bits! Fingering weight yarn in 85% superwash merino and 15% neps. 438 yards. $28

     

     

     

     


    KnitrxSews

    Fancy sheep set atop a wine red faux leather base in this project bag. Large bag holds 2-3 skeins, has an 8" wrist strap, is fully lined and with the top folded over, acts as a yarn bowl! Measures 11.5" W x 9.5" H x 4.5" deep. $25

     

     

     


    Puss n Boots Yarn

    Firestorm is a fun play of colors that has a range of reds, and flashes of yellow and black. Fingering weight yarn with 75% superwash merino, 20% nylon and 5% stellina adds an extra flash. 437 yards. $26.50

     

     

     


    Duchess Fiber Arts

    Berry Corriedale Roving in shades that range from plum to salmon will create a soft red appearance in the final handspun yarn. Correidale is a wonderful multi-purpose wool. 100 grams. $12

     

     

     

     


    Pixie Knit Designs

    Cranberry bitty batts are a hand carded spinning, weaving or felting.  A total of 1.3 oz, has mixed content of fine wool, Merino, tussah silk, sari silk, silk noil, bamboo, and nylon. There are a few other bitty batts in the shop that would be pretty paired with this!  $7.15

     

     


    Dancing Waters Farm

    4 ounce sampler of 4 shades of red in a 50% mohair, 50% Shetland blend. Colors include 1 ounce each of Fuchsia, Mahogany, Mulberry, and Reddish Brown.$9

     

     

     

     

     


    Just for fun

    Last week I told you about making the Julgran sweater for my daughter. It has a funnel neck and she wanted a simple ribbed neckband. With either version I had to pick up stitches around the neck and one trick that helps to create a tidier neckband is to pick up and knit with a needle a few size smaller. I'm using size US7 needles on the sweater so I picked up with a size US4. I will do the same for the sleeves. You know how sometimes in the neck your stitches can be a little wonky? If picked up stitches are larger, the wonkiness is exaggerated. If you use smaller needles, it helps to conceal. I hope that you find this helpful!

  • Green goes with everything... it's Mother Nature!

    I'm so taken with the green yarn I'm using (see "Current Crafting" below to learn what I'm using), let's look at some green yarn, fiber, crafts, and accessories available in FiberCrafty shops. I was talking to an interior designer friend once and she said "green goes with everything, it's Mother Nature!" I just love that, don't you? As always, thank you for shopping and supporting FiberCrafty and our shops!

    APL Crafts Handmade

    Emerald Coast is a gentle interpretation of an island coastline with hints of the blue sky, puffy clouds and green trees. Available on several bases including fingering weight in superwash merino; merino nylon and MCN. Yardage varies based on the yarn. Starts at $23.

     

     

     

     


    BB Knits

    Creeping Wisteria - The bright spring green contrasts with grey and fuschia beautifully. Fingering weight yarn of 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon with 460 yards. $22

     


    Loop by Loop Studio

    Stunning table runner rug hook kit! When finished measures 12" x 40". Kit comes with original hand drawn pattern on linen, rug binding, enough hand dyed wool strips to finish the project (number 8 and some number 6 strips for accents), color photo, color key and instructions. $210

     


    Homespun Heirloom Yarns

    Handspun Corriedale yarn in a lovely celery green. Slightly tonal variations will offer some interest in the finished fabric. Perfect for socks! Fingering weight with 380 yards.  $44.50

     

     

     

     


    Moon Fairy Fibers

    The Leaves Begin To Turn -  Spring green with just the first hint of purple. 4 ounces of 18 micron merino combed top can be used for felting or spinning. $22

     

     

     

     

     


    IlLOOMinated Yarns

    Snow Antidote - greens, yellows, blues and hints of purple with just a few black speckles on a fingering weight base of 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon. 463 yards, $30

     


    DawnODesigns

    Handemade ceramic yarn bowl in a rich turquoise green. Perfect for keeping your yarn from bouncing around a table. It measures 3.25" high x 5.75" wide. $30

     

     


    Sadie Spins!

    Wildflower -  Falkland combed top. Falkland isn't a breed but rather a region where the fiber comes from. Generally, Falkland is very soft and a finer wool. Dyed in a beautiful palette of white, green, yellow and purple. This braid is 5.8 ounces. $29

     

     


    Split Rock Ranch

    Riddle Tweed Blend is a blue-green fiber with golden flecks. Blended from 1/3 tweed blend, 1/3 merino and 1/3 bamboo.  Available in 4-ounce increments. $10

     

     

     


    Timberwood Farm & Fiber

    Clun Forest wool has been mill processed and dyed into 2 shades of green to create a heathered look when spun. The fiber comes from the farm's flock and will spin into an elastic springy yarn. Can also be felted. Sold in 4-ounce increments. $13

     

     


    Current Crafting

    I have been cruising along on my daughter's Julgran sweater! With it being fitted, cropped and in worsted weight (as well as for a 17 year old!), it's coming along quickly. I decided to enter it into the NC State Fair so I also have a deadline. I'm using PassionKNITS 100% Superwash Merino in a gorgeous emerald green (Hunter's Point) and I can't wait to finish and block it.

    I also managed to get in some spinning and plying so my wheel is empty now. I have a 1 ounce sample to spin and then I'm going to dive into my "spinning for socks" project using Cheviot from Sadie Spins! Stay tuned for that one.

    Just for fun

    I recently had to make breakfast for about 30 kids in our Youth Group (and a few adults). I settled on making breakfast sliders because they were relatively fast and simple, plus straight up delicious. When I have to cook for large groups I almost always start to second guess myself and then I end up making too much. The kids were happy though and a few even took these for their lunch. Appropriate for this time of year, these are called Tailgate Breakfast Sliders. For those of you who take your tailgating seriously, these might be just the ticket! Enjoy!

  • Cat lovers and yarn lovers go together like...

    Well... like cats and yarn! Do you have cat? It seems like cats go hand in hand with knitters. I don't know about you but I think everything I make is about 1% cat hair! Our shop owners seem to like cats also and there are lots of cat-themed items available. Let's look at things inspired by our feline friends! As always, thank you for shopping and supporting FiberCrafty and our shops!

    needleclicksetc

    Cats in Hats stitch markers! Set of 5 lightweight , hand drawn stitch markers, each one unique! These will fit up to a US8/5.0mm needle. Gift wrap optional! $12.75

     

     

     

     

     


    Behind The Hill Farm

    Miss Kitty is actually an alpaca! She has a beautiful coat and her naturally white fiber was handspun into a beautiful chunky weight yarn. 2 ply with a beautiful sheen, varying yardages available ranging from 88 to 331 yards. $22-$75

     

     

     

     


    Fairly Fiber Fun

    This natural Jacob batt in a beautiful gradient has nothing to do with cats BUT, it reminds me of my Siamese cat Jerry because he was these same colors. Each 60 gram batt is just over 2 ounces, hand carded from the same fleece. $15

     

     

     


    PassionKNITS Yarn

    Tiger Paws is a stunning blend of oranges and browns on a decadent fingering weight base. 50% superwash merino, 25% baby alpaca, 25%nylon is a wonderful blend and each skein has 438 yards. $30

     

     

     

     


    Serenity Artisans Bowls

    Tiger Maple has a beautiful grain and the wood has been highly buffed to highlight it. Hand made yarn bowls are works of art as well as functional pieces and each is numbered. It measures 9" across, 5.75" across the bottom and is 4.5" high.  $110

     

     

     


    IlLOOMinated Yarns

    Bandid is a big ol' fiesty house cat who inspired this colorway. A perfect blend of greys, blacks and whites on a fingering weight base of 75% BFL and 25% nylon. BFL is perfect for socks or anything else where strength and softness is needed. 464 yards, $30

     

     

     


    Baaberry Farms

    This drawstring bag has fabric decorated with playful kitties, a coordinating lining and a faux suede base. Generously sized to hold a 2 skein project, base measures 13"H x 8"W x 5"D. $25

     

     

     

     

     


    LunaStitch

    A yarn kitty is a great way to keep your yarn organized and tangle free! YOu can open and close the flaps with snaps, allowing you to remove your yarn if needed, unlike bags with grommets.Bag is approximately  6" tall with a 5" diameter and will hold a 4 oz cake of DK, worsted or sock yarn. $15

     

     

     

     


    Trade from Scratch

    This drop spindle hand burned with playful kitties has been made from Maple and Birch and polished with tung oil. A slight imperfection comes with a lower price but no reduction in functionality. $30

     

     

     


    Knitzy Fiberlicious

    Handspun, marled yarn looks so much like a calico to me that I couldn't resist. 99 yards of 2 ply 100% wool. This is a bulky weight yarn. $15

     

     

     


    What’s going on at FiberCrafty the week of 9.13.2019…

    I was glad to see a few visitors at the Knitting Guild talk! Greg and I enjoyed sharing details about Elizabeth Zimmermann and what made her so special. She was such a gift to the knitting community!

    Current Crafting

    Over Labor Day Weekend I made a Knitted Knocker. Have you heard of them? Knitted Knockers is a non-profit that is entirely volunteer run. They distribute knitted prosthetics for women who have had mastectomies. They are lightweight and more comfortable to wear than traditional prosthetics and last year they spent over $58k in shipping! I had been planning to make some and ran across a local woman who has a mastectomy scheduled next month. I offered to make one for her and she was really excited. I was, too! I'm glad that I can make one for someone local. They have very specific yarn requirements so if you are interested in making some, check out their website!

    Just for fun

    TV and knitting goes hand in hand so I thought I would share something we have done in our house when we cut the cable cord. A lot of people have headed or are heading in that direction but it raises challenges (admittedly, very much first world challenges). We tried a couple of trials with various services and ultimately settled on YouTube TV. You need a smart TV but it includes local channels, sports (which seems to be what a lot of people get stuck on) and unlimited DVR. You can also create individual profiles for family members so that everyone can have their own "library" of shows. They just raised their rate but it is still substantially less than other cable services.

  • Novelty yarns (and accessories to go with them)

    Call them novelty yarns, art yarns, or fancy yarns, they are often pretty funky and I don't think people use them as much as they could! Whether you’re working with boucle, handspun slub (or thick and thin) yarn, eyelash yarn, or just about any other type of novelty yarn or fiber you can think of, there are so many ways different types of crafters can use art yarn. Knitters and crocheters can work novelty yarns into an existing project as an interesting stripe or use them on their own for unique small projects. If you are a weaver you have lots of ways to use novelty yarns. Spinners can make them as subtly funky or crazy funky as they want. Let's look at some art yarns and fibers to make them. As always, thank you for shopping and supporting FiberCrafty and our shops!

    Cocoon-homespun Soft Goods

    Heidi has a fun spinning technique that creates a tonal thick and thin slub yarn like this one called Aquatic. 55 yards of bulky/super-bulky weight, 100% merino wool. You can see how lofty this is! $36

     

     

     

     

     

     


    Fluff to Stuff

    This Bubble Crepe Art Yarn is very eye catching! Pastels were plied with a black yarn to give a stained glass effect. This is one of a kind, bulky weight with 34 yards. The perfect accent yarn! $27

     

     

     

     


    Gotmygoat of Wynham Farms

    Many art yarns have locks spun in for texture and color. These Magenta kid mohair locks are 3" to 5" in length and there is a total of 4 ounces. Perfect for spinning alone, blending or using as a textured add in.  $15

     

     

     

     


    Not Your Grandma's Yarn

    The best of both worlds, a set of traditional handspun yarn (50 yards) paired with a coordinating boucle-style art yarn (20 yards)! Mohair, silk and wool were hand dyed and blended for these bulky weight skeins. $38

     

     


    Jersey West

    Teeswater is a breed of sheep that has long lustrous locks that are well defined. These locks range from 10"-11" and are dyed in a pretty dark pastel range of colors. 1 ounce of locks, perfect for incorporating as an accent in a project. $15

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    The Artful Princess

    Bulkier art yarns need a bigger bag to carry them in! These Mosaic Llamas decorate a large wedge tote. The base is 8" x 4.5" and 11.25" tall. It has a padded interior, a coordinated lining, and a wrist strap. Excellent for a larger project! $30

     

     


    PrisKnits

    Super fluffy spinning batts made from a wide variety of fibers including Finn, Corriedale, Mohair, Bamboo, Milk, Viscose, Silk thrums, Silk Noils, and Angelina. Deep pink in color with bits of black and white thrown in for contrast. These weigh 2.19 oz in total. $20

     

     


    Quirky Bits & Pieces

    Kristin knows fun and funky and this Tardis handspun yarn is a perfect and beautifully spun example.  Merino and Tencel in blues, browns and yellows pair well and there are 35 yards of this bulky yarn. $32

     

     


    Wandering Spindle

    Funky one-of-a-kind handspun in stripes and tweeds. Spun to create sections of solid white, solid brown and marling, the stark contrast between the colors creates an eye-catching yarn. US raised and processed wool. Bulky weight, 104 yards. $18

     

     

     

     


    Yank Your Yarn

    Darn It, Garnet! I Love You - Art yarns are often knit on larger needles so you need stitch markers that will fit! This trio of garnet red glass markers on with gold-plated copper wire will fit up to a US 13/9mm needle. $9

     

     

     

     


    What’s going on at FiberCrafty the week of 9.6.19…

    We are anxiously waiting for Hurricane Dorian to pass and are experiencing heavy rains and winds in Raleigh. By the time this is delivered to you, it should be heading out! And just in time for my talk on Elizabeth Zimmermann at the Ol' North State Knitting Guild on Monday night (9/9). If you are local to the Raleigh area, it would be lovely to have you, even if you are not a member!

    Current crafting

    I finished all the crochet on my Malia Bag. It was really fun to make and I have added the boxed corners and grommets for the handles. I just need to sew a lining for it. The designer has amazing YouTube! I don't consider myself an experienced crocheter and I found them very helpful. Over on The Unraveling Podcast, Greg and I are hosting a Back to School Colorwork CAL (craft along).  We have pretty loose rules and it's not too late to join! Check out the thread in the group for more details. I cast on the Interplay Shawl and so far, it's pretty fun!

    Just for fun

    This time of year when hurricanes are flaring up, I always enjoy checking out this wind map. The black and white presentation makes it really easy to see the patterns made by the wind across the US. My daughter told me about another one that is in color and very interactive. You can find that one here! I hope if you are on the East coast that that you are staying safe from any of the storms that are popping up.

  • FiberCrafty Update Release Notes 12/27/2018

    Happy New Year!

    We have been busy working on some site updates for FiberCrafty. We have rolled out some of these updates on December 27, 2018 and are beginning work on the 2nd phase of this update.

    Release notes for this first phase can be found in this document.

    We have tested all of these changes however, if you encounter a bug or the site acting in an unusual way, please let us know! Testing the site is not the same as real world use (though we try). We value your feedback so that we can take care of any issues. And a special thank you to everyone who made suggestions or offered thoughts on how to improve FiberCrafty. This is what will help our site grow and evolve!

    Thank you for your support of FiberCrafty!

  • Field Trip! Kathy of Wynham Farms with gotmygoat Goes to Africa

    I am delighted to share this guest blog post from Kathy Martin of Wynham Farms. Kathy raises Angora goats in Sequim, WA and she recently took a trip of a lifetime! Grab a cup of tea and enjoy a few moments of armchair traveling through Africa, visiting fiber farms, mills and weavers.

    So here I am, a semi-retired fiber farmer and fiber artist, thinking that my travelling days were relegated  to sane, safe stateside trips when Linda Cortright of Wild Fibers Magazine created a tour that could not be ignored: Angora goat farms, a mohair mill, a silk farm, sisal weavers, mohair weavers along with the beauty of the land and wildlife in South Africa and Swaziland. Could I challenge myself to 40+ hours of travel from WA state to another hemisphere? Could I leave my Angora goat farm, Great Danes, spinning wheels, triangle looms and comfort for the relative unknown?

    Swaziland Dancers.

    First, I should explain that Linda Cortright is not just the owner/journalist of a prime periodical, but she is a world traveler who meticulously checks out the potential journeys for Wild Fibers’ tours. Her small groups of 10-12 travelers enjoy safety, adventure, history, other cultures, fine lodgings – all of which she has researched and visited ahead of time. I had joined Linda on her first tour to the Falkland Islands in 2015 so I knew I would be well taken care of.

    This 15-day tour started out in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, close to the very tip of the continent. The group of 11 visited the Nelson Mandela Textile Arts Centre with interesting displays of  African weavings and beadwork.

    95 kg mohair bump

    On to the showroom of Mohair South Africa Ltd which produces ~50% of the world’s mohair, obviously dedicated to the advancement of the mohair industry. I have to interject with a link to a video “Mohair South Africa, Weaving Stories for a Lifetime”.  The video was filmed mostly at Wheatlands, a vast working farm that is steeped in 8 generations of family history which we called home for 2 nights. Prior to Wheatlands we visited Erekroon, a smaller farm of 17,000 acres (!) with about 1,000 Angora goats and 500 Merino sheep. Be still, my heart!

    While in Port Elizabeth we also visited a mohair processing mill. The scouring conveyor belt and the water conservation systems were impressive. There were hundreds of barrels full of freshly carded mohair. It would’ve been hard to sneak out some when the bumps alone weigh 95 kg (210 pounds). The spinning/weaving buildings on site were very high tech with tests being run on the yarns as they were being spun and with onsite laboratories to further test quality. I understood the quality control necessary after hearing that their custom orders were placed by fashion industry’s leaders such as Chanel. Glad they had an outlet with Oddments which I could afford!

    One of Adele's Ladies inspecting yarn.

    I will jump ahead here past the awesome hikes and unique landscapes of the Karoo, formed millions of years ago. Onto the awesomeness of Adele’s Mohair, a designer extraordinaire of knitting yarns. Adele ventured into the industry in 1983, educating and employing the rural women of the Xhosa tribe, and keeping in mind sustainability of the land. Again, be still my heart!

    Our next fiber related visit was at the Piggs Peak Craft Centre in Swaziland where we were welcomed by native dancers. The craft center not only had roadside shelters for smaller entrepreneurs but also housed the showrooms for Coral Stephens Weaving and for Tintsaba, both endeavors aimed at educating and employing local, rural women. We were honored to tour the studios of both art houses.

    Sisal baskets.

    Tintsaba Master Weavers showed us how their amazing baskets, home décor and jewelry are made from Sisal. The agave plants producing Sisal fibers grow wild and are harvested by industrious women who must have fingers of Superwoman strength. After stripping the leaves and drying the fibrous strands, the dyeing is done in rustic wood burning vats. These lovely women shared their trade in a special workshop with the Wild Fibers’ group, teaching us that their skills were not learned overnight. I will not be hired.

    Coral Stephens Weaving Studio uses mohair, raffia, cotton and silk to make outstanding home décor items, drapes, carpets and tapestries. We watched the labor intensive picking and hand carding of the mohair prior to spinning using pieced-together spinning wheels some of which might have been bicycles in their earlier days. The yarn is then dyed in wood burning, huge pots using very scientific measurements so that there are enough skeins of one colorway for their extra large weavings. One room alone must have had over 20 enormous looms, manual not machine driven.

    Coral Stephens curtains.

    The last of our fiber tours was taken at the African Silk Farm after spending several days on game drives. The farm grows its own mulberry leaves to feed the worms and macadamia nuts to feed its visitors. There were several outbuildings with windows for our viewing pleasures: moths into eggs into caterpillars into cocoons. I was pleased to see how easy they made it seem to gently cut the cocoon, releasing the live larvae to continue its life, and then winding the silk strands before spinning. What lovely garments and bedding tempted us!

    The 15 days sped by in a whirlwind of fibers and African wild animals seen without cages or moats. A truly Wild Fiber adventure which I consider my Trip of a Lifetime.

    I learned so much and am so thankful to Kathy for sharing her adventure with us. Africa is not a destination that I immediately associate with fiber! If you want to get some mohair of your own, or explore Kathy's shop full of locks and handspun yarn, you can find  Wynham Farms with gotmygoat on FiberCrafty!

  • Faces of FiberCrafty: Alicia Baines of APLCrafts Handmade

    We hope that you enjoy this series featuring interviews with FiberCrafty shop owners. Our goal is to give you a little peek behind the scenes and a chance to learn more about our talented business owners.

    Today's post features Alicia Baines of APLCrafts Handmade based in La Vergne, TN.  I learned a couple of new things about Alicia and hope you do, too!

    Tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from, what crafts do you enjoy, what is your background, do you have any pets, etc? I'm originally from New Haven, CT and have been living in middle TN for almost 14 years now. I've always enjoyed crochet as my first love even though knitting has kind of taken over for now as it's still pretty new in my life. I enjoy gardening even though I'm not very good at it.

    Romantic Endeavor is a fingering weight polwarth with 437 yards.

    What is the name of your shop? Is there a story behind the name? APLCrafts. It is named so because I have no talent in names so as many small business owners do, I chose my formal initials.

    How long have you had your business? I've had APLCrafts for 3 years. I've dyed yarn for 1.

    What kind of products do you specialize in? Hand dyed yarn. I love working with Merino, and Polwarth yarns.

    Every story has a beginning, how did your business get started? My story begins at the end of 18 years as a professional baker and food service worker. It's rough on your body and I found I couldn't do it anymore so I turned to the one thing that has always been with me. Yarn.

    Mysticxian is a rich blue DK weight superwash Polwarth with 246 yards

    Do you have a favorite pattern that shows off your products? I recently made the Susan Scarf for my best friend using For the Love of a Mermaid. I think it worked up beautifully.

    Blue Christmas is a gorgeous new colorway with sparkle! Fingering weight in 75% superwash merino, 20% nylon and 5% Lurex. 437 yards

    What else would you like to share? I've dipped my toes into crochet design and have a few patterns available on Ravelry. I've also this year started a podcast. It's very new but it's my own little corner of the world and I'm enjoying the process.

    What's your favorite feature or part of FiberCrafty (as a shopper or shop owner)?  As a shopper I like the many filter options in the search bar. As a shop owner I love and appreciate how easily I can adjust my inventory, and keep information if I'm out of stock so I don't have to re-write my listings.

    Alicia, thank you for sharing about yourself and a glimpse into your life! I didn't know you had crochet designs and enjoyed looking at your patterns. The Dragonfly Meets Butterfly shawl is exquisite! Alicia's products can be found for sale in her FiberCrafty shop, APLCrafts Handmade.

     

  • When you own a business, you are in sales.

    Do you consider yourself to be in sales? You might say no but if you are a small business owner, the reality is that you ARE in sales! You are also in customer service, marketing, product design, and a host of other roles but today let’s talk about wearing that sales hat.

    I know what you are thinking. Salespeople have an undesirable reputation. Some salespeople are definitely less ethical but that isn’t the norm. When you boil down the basics of sales it is helping to connect people, based on their wants or needs, with the right products or services. That’s not such a bad thing!

    I have to put myself out there, too! This is me! Hi!

    I spent over 20 years in a successful professional sales role before I started my business, fibercrafty.com. I learned a lot selling software and while software is completely different from hand-dyed yarn and fiber, the basics of selling are the same. In this post, I’m sharing two of the most important rules to consider and practice in the sales efforts of your business. These are relatively common sense but often hard to remember to do.

    Rule #1. Be yourself. First and foremost, if you are a single business owner, you ARE your business. You are what sets your business apart from other people. You bring a unique perspective to whatever your product or offering is and you need to let that shine when talking to customers or prospects. Tell your story! Why should people buy from you? What makes your shop special? People buy from who they know and trust. If you have a hard time with this, ask a close friend or family member to help you. Or maybe even a wonderful customer that you have an established relationship with. Ask then what about your business stands out, what makes them buy from you.

    Rule #2. Make it easy for someone to buy from you. This, my friends, is where the rubber

    From a shop on FiberCrafty.

    hits the road. When selling online, people can’t handle your products or see them in person so you need to help them make a decision while online. And you want it to be an easy decision. To make this even more challenging, you have only a matter of seconds to capture and keep their attention. Research is showing that the amount of time you have is gradually getting shorter. In the year 2000, you had 12 seconds. Now, you have 8 seconds. The more steps the customer has to take before buying, the less likely they are to buy. For example, if you didn’t include some information in your listings, such as the size of your bag, a shopper might have to send an email to ask. That is an extra step you don’t want them to take. The good news is, you can anticipate and answer most questions before they are asked.

    We are going to dive into this idea in more detail with the next few posts but for now consider:

    • Are all the details of my product included? Are the attributes complete?
    • Are the pictures clear? Are there pictures showing multiple angles? Are there pictures showing an item to scale?
    • Does my item have variations - if so, can they be selected with a menu choice or do they have to contact me separately? In some cases they will need to contact you, but if there is a way around it - make it easy! (FiberCrafty is adding an internal messaging system in the update to help with this.)
    • Did you proofread your listing for spelling? This can affect products showing up in searches.
    • Did you check your listing for accuracy? (especially if you have copied an existing listing)

    Take a look at your listings and your shop through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Maybe you have a friend who can help you by reviewing it. Are there unanswered questions? Are there ANY barriers that would make clicking “add to cart” a step away? This is truly a situation where over-providing some information can be helpful.

    From a shop on FiberCrafty.

    How does it feel to explore your shop? Does it feel well curated? Are the photos of products on similar backdrops? Or does it feel like a disarray. Think about walking through a brick and mortar shop. Some shops are a delight to browse and walk through. And there are others that feel cluttered and disorganized. Online shops can create these same feelings.

    Working to create a shop that feels curated and like it was built with care will make it far more likely for shoppers to browse. Well written listings with anticipated questions answered, will make it far more likely for shoppers to click Add to Cart and Checkout, which is the ultimate goal.

    If you are not a FiberCrafty shop owner and you want to continue to learn how to curate your online shop for the fiber community, let me know! Not all posts in this series will be posted publicly on the blog. 

    What advice would you give someone about how to help their customers say yes? Comment below and share! In the yarn and fiber industry, we are fortunate to all benefit when we put community above competition.

  • Faces of FiberCrafty: Debi Roberts of BaaBerry Farms

    We hope that you enjoy this series featuring interviews with FiberCrafty shop owners. Our goal is to give you a little peek behind the scenes and a chance to learn more about our talented business owners.

    Meet Debi Roberts!

    Today's post features Debi Roberts of BaaBerry Farms based in Miller, NE.  When Debi isn't busy running her farm, she puts a lot of thought into designing her project bags and hand-dyeing yarn. She is also pursuing her dream of owning a fiber business and designating her farm as a sanctuary.

    Tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from, what crafts do you enjoy, what is your background, do you have any pets, etc?  I currently live in the middle of Nebraska, after having moved here 5 years ago with my husband from South Texas, where we raised our 4 kids. Being a military brat, I have lived just about everywhere, including multiple countries. We own a 120 year old abandoned General store on just under 30 acres, where we raise our fiber flock of mainly Corriedale sheep. We have 5 Great Pyrenees dogs, 4 house cats, and 2 grouchy geriatric Pekingese house dogs. We also have about 26 laying hens, and a few dairy goats.

    Gorgeous Angora blend, hand-dyed yarn by Debi.

    I began playing with fiber as a very little girl. My Granny taught me to knit and crochet starting when I was 5 years old, so going on 48 years now. I also sew, quilt, and hand-dye all of our yarns. I have our yarns mill spun at a local to us mill, at just over 250 pounds of fleeces a year from our ladies in the pastures, I just cannot handle all the processing any more. We purchased our property in the hopes of opening a combination Yarn shop/Coffee shop. Hopefully sometime soon, we will see that dream come true.

    What is the name of your shop? Is there a story behind the name? BaaBerry Farms got its name as a result of my very sarcastic sense of humor. As this is a g-rated site, I will let ya'll sort out what it means.

    I can personally recommend the Uptown Bag, I love mine!  It's sturdy, roomy and travels well. Perfect for a medium to larger project. - Pam

    How long have you had your business? For just about a year and a half.

    What kind of products do you specialize in? We mainly produce hand-dyed mill-spun yarns, in several bases, and of course our project bags.

    Every story has a beginning, how did your business get started? Our business actually started as the result of several things. We knew it was what we wanted to do, and we were on track to actually open the brick and mortar store, when I was seriously injured at work. So everything came to a stand still. I decided after some recovery time, that in order to keep our sheep, and our property, I had to do something. So began the online shop, and attending Fiber Fairs when I was able, so that we could keep our sheep fed. After three major surgeries, in the last 2 years, and at least 2 more to go, it hasn't been easy.

    Debi's son models the BaaBerry Scarf.

    Do you have a favorite pattern that shows off your products? I personally adore the BaaBerry Scarf that I recently published on Ravelry (it's free!). It works up wonderfully in any of our yarns. I have been making them for years for family and friends.

    What else would you like to share? To say that it has been a challenge to start my own business doing what I love would be an understatement. Financially we were wiped out even before I got started, and starting a business with literally no budget is not something I recommend to anyone. It is a daily fight, and many times I have wanted to just walk away. But I love what I do, and I love my sheep. Hopefully my health will continue to improve over the next few years, and the dream of our brick and mortar shop will happen.

    Classic drawstring project bag, so versatile!

    We are also in the process of having our property declared Historically Significant, and as we are a non-slaughter farm, we are making some other changes to further insure that our ladies in the pastures live full and purposeful lives.

    What's your favorite feature or part of FiberCrafty (as a shopper or shop owner)? The best thing about having our shop on FiberCrafty, is Pam the owner. She has made an extremely user friendly site, and is always available to answer any questions and give feedback.

    Superwash merino yarn with sparkle!

    Debi, thank you for sharing about yourself, your lady sheep and your plans! I'm really excited to see your farm become a sanctuary. Debi's products can be found for sale in her FiberCrafty shop, BaaBerry Farms.

  • Faces of FiberCrafty: Brenda Vance of Split Rock Ranch

    Split Rock Ranch

    We hope that you enjoy this series featuring interviews with FiberCrafty shop owners. Our goal is to give you a little peek behind the scenes and a chance to learn more about our talented business owners. Today's post features Brenda Vance of Split Rock Ranch based in Florissant, CO.  Brenda and her husband Jim have 70 animals and after reading about all she does, I’m going to go take a nap! But first, let me share one of my favorite lines of this interview. “I love art that is eclectic, unique and distinctive and strive to create fiber art that meets those criteria.” What a lovely outlook!

    Tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from, what crafts do you enjoy, what is your background, do you have any pets, etc? I grew up in Colorado Springs and we moved to our ranch in Teller County - about an hour west of Colorado Springs - in May of 1997. We raise, train and show llamas and harvest their fiber. We use them for packing, and have raised and shown our llamas earning numerous Grand and Reserve Grand Champion awards in the halter show ring. We started to pare our herd size down several years ago due to the drought and outrageous hay prices in Colorado and the surrounding area. We are now down to 15 llamas. One of our original two llamas is still alive and he turned 25 in July this year. We also have Nigerian Dwarf, Angora and Pygora goats - milk and fiber - what's not to love?!

    Three years ago a friend gifted a miniature horse mare (Paloma) to me and six months later we added a gorgeous little mini stallion named Nitro. On Mother's Day last year Paloma gifted us with a stunning little mini me colt who looks exactly like his sire, down to the two blue eyes and amazing personality. Two years ago I added a black and white tovero yearling mini filly and a year ago I brought home a yearling bay and white tobiano yearling mini filly. We plan to breed paint mini horses when these fillies are old enough. I would also like to start showing my little herd of mini horses. Nitro is trained to drive a cart (why do they call it trained to drive when they are actually pulling the cart?!) so I'd love to polish off our driving skills and cruise around the neighborhood. I wish I could spin horse hair because there's certainly enough of it around here!

    Mulberry Silk Yarn

    In addition to the llamas, goats and horses, we also have four cats (all rescued) and four standard Poodles and three toy Poodles. We fostered over 50 kittens from September 2007 to June 2011 (not all at the same time, thank God) but the poodles love to chase kitties so we no longer foster kittens but still support the cat rescue org. I also have chickens and ducks who normally produce more eggs than we can possibly eat. The dogs and cats sure appreciate the extra eggs!

    As for crafts that I enjoy, aside from dyeing, carding and basic fiber arts, I knit, crochet, weave and dabble in jewelry making. I love to keep my hands busy! Lately I've been working on a custom triangle loom making triangle shawls. This loom has large wooden pegs rather than small closely spaced nails so I use bulky yarns and I love how the shawls are turning out. I may even try working two triangles and then weave them together into a ruana or poncho, or even a blanket or two. So many possibilities!

    What is the name of your shop? Is there a story behind the name? My shop name is Split Rock Ranch. We chose the name Split Rock Ranch because there is a large rock formation on the ranch that has a pine tree growing out of it in a V shape and it split the rock as it grew. At the time we had no idea that there is a ranch in Wyoming named Split Rock Ranch - so there is no connection there. Lightning recently hit the tree and blew off large slabs of rock but so far it is still standing tall despite a crack in the trunk of the tree and black sooty marks on the rock.

    How long have you had your business? We started Split Rock Ranch in 1997 but made it "official" with the state of Colorado in 2005 when we trademarked the name Split Rock Ranch. Initially it was intended to just be raising llamas but it branched out into other fiber animals and then all types of fiber and fiber art.

    These custom fiber blends are very popular in Brenda's shop!

    What kind of products do you specialize in? Llama fiber when I have the chance to shear (which I haven't done on a regular basis for the entire herd for a few years due to a knee injury and subsequent knee replacement). I love to work with all types of natural fibers with a real love of definitive lock structure sheep fleeces such as Teeswater, Wensleydale, Lincoln, etc. and mohair. After my knee issues and I was unable to treadle a spinning wheel or stand for any length of time to card and dye, I started to order commercially prepared fibers just to keep my business alive while I healed. That part of the business has done very well so it keeps my stores stocked while I work on creating my own fiber art.

    Every story has a beginning, how did your business get started?

    Brenda and her husband, Jim

    We started with two male llamas purchased in November 1996 and then moved to our ranch in May 1997. Llamas became an addiction after we added a pregnant female and another show quality male to our small herd. We went to our first llama show in January of 1998 - National Western Stock Show - and we were hooked on showing. When I started to shear our small herd, I needed to do something with their incredible fiber so I learned how to spin in 2000. Spinning raw fleeces required that I have fiber processing equipment so I bought a couple of drum carders and then started playing with different types of fibers, blending them into batts and rovings on my carders. Then I started dabbling in dyeing, starting with Kool-aid dyeing and quickly moving on to professional acid dyes. When my husband was laid off from his job in December of 2003 (he was a casualty of the MCI/Worldcom merger) I knew I had to get serious about my fiber business and ramped up my production and subsequently my sales. I worked a full time job in town (50 mile round trip) until June of 2008 when I "retired" from my "real job" to work the ranch and my fiber business full time. I've held numerous jobs over the years, mostly administrative and managerial positions, and the majority of it spent in the construction field, both commercial and residential. Again, the love of "creating" and "building" are probably what led me to the construction industry, even if I wasn't doing the actual construction part of the work.

    Do you have a favorite pattern that shows off your products? I honestly prefer not to use patterns. IF I use a pattern I tend to start with a pattern and then make it my own by changing things to suit my taste and preferences. I love when the yarn does all the work without having to work fancy stitches to create texture and visual interest. Several years ago I designed and created the first extreme fringe scarf using lockspun teeswater locks yarn spun by Esther at Jazzturtle. I had admired the lockspun yarn but nobody was using it for much so I decided to crochet or knit a base scarf with wool yarn and then crocheted the lockspun yarn along the edges to create an amazing work of fiber art. Those scarves sold as fast as I could create them. I love to think and work outside the box when I create and design.

    Hand dyed mohair locks.

    Is there anything else you would like to share? My husband and I have been married for over 33 years and he is very supportive of my work. When he retires, I may just put him to work processing fiber. He wants to learn how to weave so once we get a spaced cleared for our floor loom, I am hoping he starts to play with it and becomes hooked on fiber as well! My husband and I both volunteer on the Board of Directors of the health services district in our area. He is the Chairman of the Board and I am the Finance Officer. We are a special tax district supplying EMS and ambulance services as well as a skilled nursing center in Cripple Creek. When my husband joined the board over 13 years ago, the board voted to declare bankruptcy and dissolve the district. My husband was the only dissenting vote and he managed to convince the board to try some different tactics and they agreed. Since then the district has gone from 3/4 of a million dollars in debt to zero debt, we've completely remodeled the skilled nursing center, we've purchased new ambulances (with the help of grants providing half the cost) and we have a nice cash reserve set aside for future district needs. I joined the board in 2007 as a "temporary" board member until they found others to volunteer. After I became the Finance Officer and straightened out the paperwork disaster I was handed, they voted to keep me on as a permanent board member. I try to blaze my own path rather than follow in the footsteps of what others are doing - not just in business but life in general. I am inspired by the work of other fiber artists but generally give things my own special, unique twist when I create my fiber art. I love art that is eclectic, unique and distinctive and strive to create fiber art that meets those criteria.

    What's your favorite feature or part of FiberCrafty (as a shopper or shop owner)?

    Split Rock Ranch - Where fiber is our passion...and it shows!

    I love that FiberCrafty caters to FIBER and was created by and is run by a Fiber Artist who understands the unique issues of marketing, creating and selling fiber art. I think Pam does a fabulous job of promoting FiberCrafty and its sellers!

     

     

    Brenda, thank you for sharing about yourself and your shop! We are glad we had this opportunity getting to know more about you, Jim, your animals and your business. Brenda's products can be found for sale in her FiberCrafty shop, Split Rock Ranch.

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