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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New Hat and Journal prompts

New Hat
A couple of weeks ago I posted a new free hat pattern.
Escape the Amazon
Wait, this is a better picture
I created this hat because of one I kept seeing on Amazon. It seemed everything I searched for turned up this hat. I don’t know why and that’s probably not actually what happened but it felt like it. It haunted me. The hat on Amazon wasn’t wool and I didn’t want to settle for a mass market hat. This is my take on the hat that followed me everywhere.

I have 2 more hat patterns I’m working on. Both are simple hats and will be listed for free like this one with a request to make a donation if you use it.

I’m going to talk about Journal stuff later in the week (I hope). It’s that time of year when we all start thinking about planning and journalling in the new year. Of course, you could be like me in past years, scrambling to get your planner together last minute. Well, this year, I’m putting it together now and I’m making some decision and working on some new things that will hopefully make my planning a little better. I’ll tell you all about it soon.

In the meantime, if you’re still using the prompts, I wanted you to have the PDF of journal prompts for December.

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Journal – November 2016

Here we are… another month of journal prompts. I’m glad I did these way ahead. I just wish I was still participating. I started out the year really well, finding time to relax before I start my day but something happened along the way… I’d like to get back to it, we’ll see what happens. I hope those of you that are writers, are finding time each day to write. Even if you’re not using my prompts.

PDF of journal prompts for November

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I received a message recently from someone asking for lower prices on teaching fees, again. To be specific material fees that in this case are already half the price of retail. Doesn’t hurt to ask right? Maybe.

I was however made privy of back channel conversations about my fees and I can tell you that it left me feeling a little less valued in what I have chosen for work. Happens every time I get this “push back” on my fees. Which aren’t the highest and not the lowest because I try to keep it fair. I don’t undercut my peers and I don’t gouge my contracts. My materials fees are wholesale or below when it’s feasible to do so and I try to do so for guilds. For shops, if I know the product and it fits, sometimes they provide the materials. There are all kinds of ways I try to help those I’m working for.

Fair Fiber Wage??

This is why the discussion was started in the first place even if it has dissipated now. The issue hasn’t been solved. Sure there was the one big issue of the one company that had made a mess of their contract that was less than fair to a whole group of people. They fixed the problem in a very lovely way and the discussion slowly died out. Truth is though, we get these little one at a time conversations that devalue our work. This has been ongoing and I don’t know that I see an end.

Teachers just aren’t valued. All kinds of teachers in a bunch of different industries.
We’re accused of gouging or being unfair to everyone else. Few think about the service we provide, the hours we put in, the work that we do that no one sees. The teaching event isn’t just that 3 or 6 hour event. It’s hours before that. It’s hours to get there and it’s always a couple of hours after to finish up and tidy or even back at the studio or shop to get all the gear back in.

I love teaching. I just wish my work was universally valued and I didn’t have to justify my prices to so many places. Don’t let #FairFiberWage fade out. All you teachers out there, I hope you keep fighting for what’s fair.

Before I leave though, I want to point out that there are places that get it right. It’s not always a struggle. I work with so many more places that are very fair in compensation and are right there willing to help a teacher out with every thing they need. Big kudos to you places that make it a joy to be working in this industry.

Let’s go spin something, it’s getting chilly out there.

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Journal – October 2016

Here’s the thing. We all know how horrible I am at remembering to post on time. If there are people out there enjoying the journal prompts I wanted to make sure that they were here and ready to go. I’ve finished a bunch of months ahead and I’m setting them up to publish on a schedule. I figure if I manage to be on time, I’ll have changed this post and you won’t even know that it’s on a schedule this month. If I didn’t, I hope you still enjoy your prompts and hopefully I’ll be back to talk about the journal stuff next month.

PDF of Journal Prompts for October

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