Full year of prompts

Well….we made it a full year.
I had all the prompts made for myself in January and did them all in a nice PDF so they could be saved forever and ever. If anyone wants to download the full list I’m putting it at the end of the post. You can certainly use these again and again. Use the same ones every year and see how your answers have changed.

PDF of journal prompts from 2016

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Kid Hollow Yarns

Right after Rhinebeck I got a note from Pogo of Friend’s Folly Farm telling me that a friend of hers was looking to sell off all of her farm yarns. Farm yarns? Mohair? Sign me up. In walks the Kid Hollow yarns to my life. I bought all the blank yarns she was offering and I’m in love with them.

LOVE. Big L-O-V-E kinds of Love.
I feel connected to her flock. These goats weren’t my own but I love them anyway.

I have the 3ply – 48% Kid Mohair, 30% Merino and 22% Nylon
This is such a round yarn. It’s sport – DK and about perfect for warm socks.
I haven’t been dyeing a lot of it up. Still testing colors on it and working on samples
But just look at it!

I also have a 2ply – 48% Kid Mohair, 30% Merino and 22% Nylon
This yarn is more flat. My sample for this is going to be a shawl. Yes, it’s the same content as the 3 ply but it’s got all the characteristics of being an amazing shawl yarn.
I dyed a couple more in this one and sent some of that red off to Beth Smith to play with.

The final yarn I acquired is a 2ply lace of 50/50 Kid Mohair and Border Leicester.
Can I just tell you that this is a dream yarn of mine. Long wool and mohair. Sign me up!
I haven’t dyed any of this yet because I’m a little stymied on what to make. I don’t wear a lot of lace garments as I can be a little rough on things at times. I am leaning towards things like Ice Queen, La Cumparsita, Alinda Wrap, Abrazo…. Or maybe I’ll wait and see what Beth Smith comes up with and copy her.

I haven’t started to really produce these for the shelf yet. I made a listing on the website so people can order custom almost solids but the more elaborate hand paints will get introduced at SPA at the end of February. Though, if you want something special, please message and we can see about working something out.

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Filofax for 2017

Filofax for 2017.
The book planners in the A5 size were really close to perfect but I wanted to move pages in and out. The Bullet journal style with the index was brilliant. Yet I found it lacking something something. That’s when I switched to the Midori planner. It too was missing something. I started to audition the filofax in a cheap little plastic binder with handmade pages and fell in love.
A dear friend gifted me a Filofax binder and oh, mah, word. This. This, I think is finally my dream planner.

Wanna see? Yes you do.
It’s so pretty.
And on edge…
It looks pretty full but I have some room. I might even pull out some of the weekly pages as months pass. Like in February, I can pull December… and so on. It’s rare that I go back any further than a month but I will be saving it all in my old plastic binder anyway.

So let’s see what we have inside.
First are the pockets. OMG, so many pockets and I have a couple of plastic ones too. I might find I don’t need these though seeing my expired coupons at a glance is always handy. OH – that paint chip thing, is a book marker…. I’ll show you how to make those in a later post.

Next is my gratitude section. When I feel a desire to make note of great things I have a few pages I can write on.
You can see I haven’t written a ton but there are about 5-6 pages in this all with different prompts that I’ve started at least a little something on.
The pages in this section are ones I’ve cut to size from a Rhodia pad of paper and a plain pad of calligraphy paper. Both are perfect for using fountain pens. Actually, everything I’m using works well with no bleed through and minimal shadowing if any. All this paper is just wonderful

This is my spiritual section. I can write things about my yogic or ayurvedic studies. I might break them apart at some point but right now, they’re together.

Finally we get to the meat/tofu of my planner.
The monthly calendar (purchased from Filofax)
We have the weekly pages – grid on one side and weekly schedule on the other. I got this from Paper Shae on Etsy. This is the format I fell in love with using the Midori. I knew I had to continue it.
And then my daily checklist. It’s not filled in yet for 2017 but I’ve been using one for a few months and I’ll fill this one in when I take a couple of days off next week. I might discuss what I put on there at another time. This post is already long and pic heavy.

The following little section is just random stuff I threw in there. Things that I wanted to keep track of but that wasn’t necessarily needed in the meaty section
Because I get asked… I know I don’t necessarily need to lose weight… but my doc suggested that if I lost 10 pounds or so I wouldn’t need to be on BP meds for a little longer so I’m working on it because I’ll do almost anything to avoid taking another pill.

The final section has another clear pocket and blank pages/dividers that haven’t been designated a category

But don’t worry, there’s a ton more pockets in the back!

There we go. We’ve come to the end. This is the planning system I’m using through 2017 and probably longer. I really have loved this more than I’ve loved the others. I know I get excited about new planner things and then start finding fault with this or that but I don’t hate anything about this yet. I don’t feel like I’m compromising on anything that I’ve wanted either. We all need different things from our planning and this right now is doing it for me.

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Super basic hat.

I’ve been making this slouchy hat lately.
Well…. that makes it sound like I have more than one finished. I don’t.
I have one finished and one started:
And 2 more balled up waiting for attention:
All Spunky Eclectic Targhee Classic. I might dig around and find some handspun to do this with. I’m on a wee hat kick lately.

Anyway, if you want to make this slouchy easy hat I quickly jotted down the pattern and listed it on Rav. It’s the Simple Basic Hat. It’s the last free pattern I’ll be putting out for a while. I have a few others I’m working on releasing (patterns that I have finished testing long ago and never released)

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This is where we are now.

The industry is changing.
The fiber industry is always changing (as most industries are) but for some time we’ve been seeing a gradual shift that in the last year or so has been undeniable. We’ve had discussions on fair fiber wage for teachers, farmers never get paid well and lately there have been discussions from designers that are talking about changes. It’s changing for the dyers and fiber suppliers too. It’s changing on all fronts. Seems normal enough in the cycle of life for this kind of shift to happen. Still it can smart to know that goods/ideas/information that was worth paying for 5 years ago are no longer considered “worth money” now.

I can’t tell you exactly when this shift started but it was going to happen at some point. There are many things that can contribute to why this shift has sped up though. Social issues, a switch in popular craft of the moment and an over saturation have helped to increase the downhill speed of the cycle. Regardless of when or why, this is where we are now. This post is not being written as a complaint. Far from it. It’s just the facts with maybe a little opinion tossed in.

I am thankful to all the people that kept the fiber industry going during it’s last slow spell.
I am thankful to my colleagues that rose up with me during my 15 years of owning Spunky Eclectic to help make this industry what it is now.
I am thankful to the new folks bringing new energy into the industry.

Designers, Teachers, Farmers, Dyers, Businesses, Suppliers, and really anyone within this industry can probably feel the change. I felt it shift in 2014 and started to make plans then. Of course, I didn’t think the change would happen as fast as it has, or as palpable, or have as many people noticing it so strongly. Here we are. Change is here and now we need to decide what to do about it.

Part of that has been the fair fiber wage. As the industry demand is shrinking, there are places that want to pay less. They still want to make the same profit even if it means squeezing that from others. Sorry, we’re all taking a pay cut. This is how it is now. I’m not going to work for a venue for less than a fair wage. Sure I help some places out for various reasons but no, you can’t step on my back to keep your profit margin the same. I will share your burden but I will not shoulder the whole burden.

So…. where does this leave me, really?
The only thing keeping me in the industry is my love of fiber. I love spinning and weaving and yarns with every little crunchy bit of my black heart. I have been working extra hours just to hope to squeak by one more month. The fact is, I’m working longer hours than I ever have in this business and making less money. I appreciate all the helpful people that have said things on other blogs and such. If you’re not living it, you don’t know. I work when I get up, I work when I go to work, I work when I get home. My kids used to see me doing “things”. Now they see me working. All the time.

It’s actually now at the point where hard decisions need to be made.

Yes, I’m staying right where I am. Spunky Eclectic will continue to exist, dammit
You can picture me with Scarlet O’Hara – Gone with the Wind…. kneeling in my field of fibers and clutching some of it at sunset. No? Too dramatic. I agree. But I plan to keep right on trucking along. Sort of.

I/We can’t keep working these long hours for this little income for our family (fair fiber wage indeed) so I’m restructuring. I need to know if this much work is acceptable to me. I mean, it feels oppressive sometimes and as a team my husband and I are not making a sustainable income this year. Sometimes that’s the way it goes in business but sometimes it’s not acceptable. Jay is looking for work and I have found part time flexible hour employment. My job is only entry level and it will give me some idea (since I’ve been self employed for 20 years) if I hate working out there enough that working in all my awake hours for myself is better than doing any work for someone else.

Why am I telling you all this? Because it’s my blog and I have a habit of going on and on about myself. Also to let you know there are business changes if you’re a customer. If you’re only ever an online customer, you won’t see a difference at all. You can probably disregard this whole posting. The difference is going to come by way of brick and mortar shop hours. As soon as I get my new hours at the new job I’ll be adjusting the hours of the physical store. If you plan to come to the shop, please call ahead.

Now, I’m expecting this shift to be a really really good thing. In the least it will be a learning experience for me and a chance to experience some new challenges. Also, I’ll be leaving the house and talking to adult people on the regular. That’s going to be interesting. Maybe having an outside income will help free up more creative time at work.

I’m not the only one in the industry that’s in this shift. There are some that already have their part time jobs, others that are looking, and I’m sure others yet that some time soon might realize that’s a decision they need to think. There will likely be others that don’t even notice the changes in the industry at all and that’s awesome.

All industries have their ups and downs. The beautiful thing about ours is that it’s a community and even in the low times, a community rallies and holds each other up. I know all the businesses alive today won’t make it through the industry changes (it’s the way it is) but I’m rooting for you all. Those that do change and move on to other things, I’m hoping for it all to be for the better. Those that stay, I hope it’s not a struggle and that you are being fairly paid for your work.

Rock on you gorgeous people.

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Ply day

Every so often I have a ply day. It’s not that I hate to ply…. it’s just not my favorite and I need to be in the right frame of mind. That frame of mind seems to be “I want my bobbins back so I can spin more singles”.

I made a couple of bulkies:

I am totally in love with this sport weight:

I finished off these wee little skein of blue that might need to be an accent color in a hat or something:

And then because I had a few bobbins free and I got tired of plying, I spun up some Aran weight singles:

I’ve already started to amass singles again but there are a few on the wheel I want to finish so maybe I’ll be posting about plying again in short order.

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Let’s talk planners

Sometimes I call them journals but really it’s all about the planning for me. These things used to be more journal like with a lot more writing in it. Last year I started with the Midori and there was a ton of writing going on. January and February were very full of creative writing for me. Then shows and teaching events started in. Being on the road, I just wanted to nap. I would bring my journal/planner into the bed with me, and grab a cup of coffee. Then I’d stare at the blank page before I realized I needed to get some sleep so I’d be effective the next day.

I had such high expectations of my journal but really I spent more time with the planner portions of the Midori. I also started carrying a second planner to work on spiritual and yogi stuff. And then a 3rd book as I was going through a yogi exploration in depth… This was all too many books and invariably one would get left behind. I know that I could have put new books in with the Midori but the truth was, I’m not a fan of the size of the Midori. There, I said it.

I’m not a fan of the Personal sized Midori. (8.25 x 4.33 inches)
I missed my A5 sized journals. (5.8 x 8.3 inches)

Yet, if we remember, I loved the bullet journals but there were things that weren’t working so I switched to the Midori planners/journals. Now we know that wasn’t going to work the way I wanted it to after a solid year so I started hunting again.
In walks the Panda Planner.
I just picked this up but I’m passing it on to a child… why?

Monthly –
Love the goal setting and the places to write note about how each month did for me. This I will continue on. I like having a month view but I want a full year a time (Panda Planner is half a year). It will help me plan out. I share a Google Calendar with my family and I’ll have to update this but I have things planned so far in advance that it’s nice to have a full year I can flip through.

Weekly –
I like the positive outlooks this has. It’s pretty cool with the habits, the projects, the goals…. I like that it has blocks for all aspects of your life so you don’t skip something. I have a habit of skipping the personal and only taking care of the other 3…. maybe. There are definite portions of this that I will be keeping on.

Daily –
There’s not so much love here for me. I thought this would be a great way to keep my daily work and daily spiritual/yogi work all happening each day. The theory was sound but I don’t want to fill out all their little boxes. Yeah, I might have had issues with authority once upon a time. What of it? There are a couple of things I’m going to keep but I’m not sure exactly how yet. New planner stuff will be trickling in and I’ve started a little bit by cutting up paper I have to mock up what I want.

There’s bookmarks that help you keep track of where you are and a handy back pocket. There aren’t any blank pages, though. What if I wanted to write more? What if I needed further exploration of something that came up in my studies. I haven’t written a lot of creative stuff lately but I’d like to do more and I want the option available to me. If it’s not there, then I definitely won’t do it.

Now… I want to take a moment to tell you that the Panda Planner is pretty fantastic in a lot of ways. I hope you didn’t take this post being too negative about it. It’s got some great features and if you’re trying to break out of a rut, be more confident, learn how to goal set, be more positive…etc etc, it could really be a great planner for you. Personally I should have known better because I’m pretty set in my requirements of what I want. More info can be found at Panda Planner – and if someone wants to try this at a discount, I have a couple of discount cards that can be used on Amazon. Privately message me and I’ll get you the discount code. For some of you out there, this could be the exact planner you’re looking for.

For me, we’ll talk more about what I’m working on…soon

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