Development Update – Yarn Testing Phase… Yum!

Ok, so believe it or not the website is nearly done! Many late nights and a few moments of panic when I realized what the heck was I thinking trying to learn html/css, but now I’m over the hump and its getting easier. I had a realization last week that while I was putting in so much effort into this part of my life, everything else was suffering. I had to take a breather. So last Friday and Saturday I just spent the day cleaning the house, playing with the DS and went out with my friends in the evening. Felt MUCH better. It was so great that I scheduled a monthly ‘just clean the house, then do relaxing & fun stuff day’ for myself. Who would know that in launching a new business I would also learn so much about work/life balance, stress, and the benefits of adequate sleep. It was so easy to fall into overworking myself when it was so fun and exciting. The first few nights it took hours to fall asleep I was just so excited about what was going on. Now that I’ve got a few weeks under my belt I’m getting used to the new normal. I even like figuring out css codes! All that remains is to do all of the visuals and product packaging design with our graphic designer. We don’t have our new logo yet, but I’ve got some great ideas & rough sketches.

The DH and I agreed to finance the new shop ourselves, my last etsy shop was almost entirely self-leveraged; I started with $200 and built it up over the last three years. Its slow, but safe. Now that we’re sure that this is something we’re going to take seriously, its easier to invest in it. Our self-investment will go towards everything it takes to get the site and business up and running. Then, with any luck, we’ll be able to pay ourselves back later on down the road. With a bit more luck, we’ll be able to make a living at it.

I also have been saving a bit from custom hand-knitting projects for theatre and film I’ve been doing on the side. Super fun! So fun in fact I’ve decided to keep doing it longer term, and even to put a little effort into finding new clients. However, I’ll need to be careful about this, the last thing I want is to have no time to knit for myself! Or get arthritis!

So since I’ve managed to get (for the most part) the main workings of the site done, I’ve been moving into find-new-base-yarns mode. I’ve been scouring websites looking at both super popular and obscure base yarns that are in line with my ideals. (Vegan, eco-friendliness, low/no petroleum-based fibres, biodegradable, available in formats that are dyer friendly) So far I’ve ordered up single balls, cones and skeins of a whole bunch for testing. When they arrive, I’ll dye them up, and knit them to see what they’re like. I’ll be looking for things like: does it dye well? Does it hold the dye? Is it durable, soft, fun, pretty, nice to knit with? I’m also focusing on trying to fill every category of yarn so that, say you have a knitting pattern already, you will always be able to find a yarn that meets the criteria of your pattern (gauge, feel, drape, stretchiness).  Currently my etsy shop has focused mainly on fingering weight yarns. I’m going to change that. I’ll still have plenty of fingering/sock weight yarns though, since I know I’m not the only one who’s gone from shop to shop looking for vegan sock yarn that isn’t scritchy. Bulky yarns are the toughest of the bunch since most bulky weight vegan yarns are either completely synthetic or 100% cotton. I’d like to avoid oil-based synthetics, and I’m concerned that 100% cotton yarns will be too heavy, although there is one base yarn I’ve ordered that is  a boucle so that might help to keep it light. I personally love chunky knits once in a while, and would love to make a big fat cowl that I can snuggle up in for the chilly days ahead.

Ok, so to recap, since I started its been, research, build, look for yarns. The next step will be test, choose favourites,  buy tons of sweet yarn, and then the big job of dyeing it all. The plan at the moment is to wait until the shop is fully stocked before launching. I’d like to start on the right foot, so that visitors, even from day one have plenty to check out. So beware, I’m going to be hoarding precious goodies for a few months! Must resist urge to steal from self….

I’m also considering my options for having yarn custom-milled for me, although I find that a little intimidating at the moment. I’m definitely going to look into that, and maybe talk to some dyers who do that and see what its like. I’m terrified of ordering a big batch of something and it ending up being something I’m not happy with. I guess that’s just something I’ll have to get over and just try it.

Knitters, do you have any favourites I should be trying? Dyers, any words of wisdom?

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