Monday- That unnamed stress

Do you ever deal with that Stress That Shall Remain Unnamed. You know it, when your significant other asks you whats wrong and you just can't put your finger on it. You feel like a porcupine, all prickly on the outside, and soft on the inside. Like if you don't keep up your guard some predator will wander by and make lunch out of you. Sometimes I think if I just go back to bed, I will wake up reset. I wish I had a control-alt-delete buttons those days.

When I try to explain in a waterfall of things comes out. Many are unrelated, some don't even make any sense, but the things that have a real impact, that I should be upset about, are buried under these things, this weight, and I have to dive down deep to really figure out what is going on and why.

So that is the way I have been feeling. And I am still not completely sure why. Yes I have all the normal things to be worried about when having your own small business, like cash flow, show schedule, inventory, taxes, etc. And I have my normal stressors, like house things to do, family illness, day to day obligations, and the occasional things that springs up out of nowhere. But I don't know why my brain is so weird lately. Why my fuse is so short, why I have this inability to figure out what is wrong and then go and fix it. And I think that is what makes it all worse- that inability to fix it myself. The inability to even diagnose what needs to be fixed. And that is the straw that breaks the camels back: that is what makes it all worse, intolerable in fact.

So I am stuck in this cycle right now. I am doing what I can think of to break out of it: visiting with friends, exercising, knitting, meditating, eating well, and sleeping lots. I think it is just going to find a weak point and I will break out. Maybe when craft shows start, maybe nicer weather so I can get outside more, maybe when I get some things situated with the business. But it can't last much longer. Somethings got to give.

Fiber Fridays

So I started a new project. A shrug. The yarn has been in my stash forever just itching to be something cool. But my new obsession means that I have left all other projects lamely in the dust. This includes a wrap, a sweater, a blanket, socks, and fingerless gloves. Once I finish this wrap it is going to be my full on intention to finish these projects sitting about- especially the blanket that is going on year three! And yes, that means if I have to remove the one side of finished edging, then so be it. If I cant get the other three sides done, remove the side I have done and do another boarder. Maybe I can get someone to crochet a nice edge in exchange for some soap and call it a day! I think there is something about 16 feet of cable that isn't appealing to me. Too much repetition I think. Or maybe I just need to get back in the grove and I will knock it right out... hmmmm... gotta see...

I set up a new area to knit in in my bedroom. Added a chair and a lamp and a footstool in an area next to the bed. So now I can watch Netflix on the TV, in peace and quiet, and not worry about being loud while dad is trying to sleep, or trying to prop myself up in bed with a million pillows, or fighting with the cats who want in my lap (well that may still happen). There are a few quirks. I need a pillow or two, a place for my yarn so it stops rolling under the bed, and a stash area for scissors and such. Then it will be perfect.


Workshop Wednesday

This has pretty much finally been a week off. Besides a few orders that got mailed, not much was done around the shop at all. I ran out of paperwork to do while I was gone (yay!!), and dad made sure the shop was clean when I returned.

Monday I spent the morning getting caught up on mail, emails, phone messages, and bills. The afternoon was spent hammering out a few details for a new store to sell in. Then I went on to dinner and knit night with friends.

Tuesday morning was a meeting for the new Steel Stacks Farm Market. Overall i think it is going to be a great thing, but like all new endeavors it will have some growing pains at the beginning. There is still some construction going on, and the festivals will impact us a little, but overall it should be a great thing for the community.

Today we made pomegranate-grapefruit soap. I got a few orders out, and got ingredients ready to make lotion bars tomorrow. I took a walk to the coop so I got a delivery done and some exercise at the same time. Now just catching up on the blog:)

Next week should be better. We have a lot to do, soaps, lotion bars, salts, and a few special orders. Gonna be a good week.

Monday stress (late)

Coming back after time away always is stressful in itself. This time hasn't been bad at all. With only two kinds of soap left to make for a while I am coming back to more paperwork than shop work. It is getting to be the time of year that cash flow gets difficult. There are lots of show applications to get out and they all seem to be due at then same time. Lots of web sit stuff to deal with, and I really, really want to get picture up on the web site. It is almost tax time so that is a project unto itself, and dad has some retirement stuff he needs help getting figured out and making some decisions on that is best for the family.

Monday I had a meeting with Cathy at the Accessories Boutique in Bethlehem. In a week or so I will have most of my inventory for sale at her shop. I am excited about it, but it always takes time to get all the displays right, inventory wrapped, signage made, and that sort if stuff. I am super excited about it and I think it will be a great place to shop.

Tuesday we had a meeting for the Steel Stacks Farmers Market. This will start in May and take place on Tuesdays. There is a great variety of farms represented, as well as baked good, soaps (me!), and alpaca. As with any new venue I have some reservations, but I think this is going to be a great event.

So the test this week is to try and stay balanced and to keep this even keel. Lets see if if it works :)

Fiber Friday (late)

Been knitting lots while I have been away. Two shawls, a tote, and over 20 washcloths. With each stitch I can feel the stress melt away. It is better than therapy for me. We went to a yarn shop here in town and they had wonderful cotton yarns, some the softest I have ever felt. I bought three or four skeins of various cottons to make some washcloths with as well as enough to make a few pairs of socks and two small shawls of scarves. Somehow I found the inner strength to leave the silk yarn with beads there. Probably because it was mega expensive. But it was also mega beautiful.

The only thing I wished I got more done with is a shawl for C's mom. But between the cold and having to be a lot of places, the harder pattern and large size really kept me from getting anything done on it. Not to mention it is black yarn, so I really need light to be able to work on it. hopefully I can get back to it once I get home and it doesn't become a huge work in progress taking up space and langusihing in my knitting box.

But the fiber fun was helping C's sister knit. She knows how, but is always more comfortable with some reminding in how to cast on, turn the work, and learn a few new stitches along the way. So we got her yarn for a shawl and some needles, and I got her going on a cool pattern using some elongated garter stitch. Knitting with her really was the highlight of my fiber for the week.


Workshop Wednesdays

Well my nose is still running, but I at least got out for my morning walk today. Now I have a monster blister, hope I can go out tomorrow.

Since I have been feeling better I have been getting lots of things done.

I have caught up reading my trade magazins that I had with me. That makes my reading pile about half as big as it was when I left. Hopefully not too many more have arrived while I have ben gone.

The web site is updated with the new soaps that will be available within the next few weeks. Got them up on the wholesale web site as well.

Worked on my taxes, started entering info into a spreadsheet, got through till April done. The rest is at home.

I researched and requested show applications. Looks like there will be at least three more new shows and we will be starting earlier this year, mid April will be the first show!

I started working on two new virtual storefronts. One is through the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild, the other is from a new site that isn't even live yet. I am helping them work out some bugs. Hopefully this computer work will make my products easier to find and order on the Internet and introduce me to some new faces. I really dislike all this computer time, but I really think it pays off in the end.

I updated the LV Food Coop web site with the new soaps avaialble. Wholesale too. There are just three more to add in once I get home and figure out when they will be ready for sale.

I wrote my first press realease, actually my first two! One for craft shows and one for retail stores, everytime I get the chance I will send them out. Hopefully a newspaper will pick up the stories and interview me. That always brings in new business. Can't wait for craft show season to start so I can experiment!

I tracked down an order that hadn't arrived, turns out it was never even sent. And I thought it was lost in transit due to all those storms!

Research: I researched a few things for special orders, some lotion, some liquid soap info, lanolin in soap, and a flea soap. Once I get home I can implement my newly found knowledge into some research and development for some new products!

And some knitting: one washcloth for every day I will be away. Just have 4 more to go this trip!


Monday Stress

Well the cold is almost gone. Probably just another day or two before I am back to 100%. Stress and your health really do go hand in hand. when I push myself too far, my body fights back and gives me the rest I need and deserve wether or not I want it right then or not. If I had just relaxed one week earlier, I probably could have avoided this, but I didn't listen to myself so it was too late. It was probably why that last week was so hard on me too, my body was fighting back. I knew I was wiped out, but I thought it was more mental than physical, but it was definatley a warning sign I need to look for and listen to in the future.

That is something that anyone that is self-employed has to do: listen to our bodies and minds for signs and warnings and heed their calls. When you do it all, or even do most of something, being sick really impacts everything, not to mention the doctor bills it causes. I now know that I need to even things out a bit, take at least one day a week completely off, and eat more fruits and vegetables.

So that is the plan when I get back. 10 hours a day max, one day a week off (teo if I can manage it), an apple a day, and some excercise. Try that for four weeks and see if I am in better shape before my next break than I was before this one.

On another note: last week R left me a message that really resonated in me. She noted that I Control, Compete, and Compare. This is with others and with myself. And she is right. So I need to work on these things. They are not flattering features of my personality at all. Especially when I fight within myself, within my household. That is one reason I started blogging about this stuff this year, to hold up a mirror to be able to see things better and to be able to make changes. The business is going well, with the expansion last year of Dad helping I am now a boss too in a way, so many changes, so much to reflect on and learn and do different.


Fiber Fridays

So this week I have been sick. Too sick to be 100%, but not so sick that I have to just be in bed. This means I have been totally geeking out and knitting for days. Nothing better than some Dr.Who, Torchwood, Primeval, or XFiles, tea with lemon, and the quiet clang of some knitting needles.

So far I have finished five washcloths, a felted tote, and today I will polish off a möbius caplet.

The washcloths are great when I get tired or too uncomfortable to think about things. The felted tote was fun because I really had to figure out the pattern. It is for C to use when he travels. Something he can put in his carry on and use to store his phone, wristwatch, and wallet as he goes through TSA. What happens now is thatch puts everything in the bag, and it always seems to sink to the bottom and take him 10 minutes to find everything when he is through the line. Making something felted is always fun because when you knit it it is huge, and when you are done with some careful washing you have this perfect little item, thick and heavy, pretty indestructible.

But I love the möbius caplet. Because of it's single half twist, it is an endless loop. It rests on the shoulders, and hugs you, making it difficult for it to fall off, unless it falls past your waist to the floor. Its construction is unique and is knit from the center out, rather than from side to side. Right now I just am knitting a simple one but I want to explore knitting different patterns and textures using this technique. It makes my brain thinking whole new way.

So back I go to the sofa. I have no voice so I can't go anywhere even if I wanted to. Can't go through the day completely silent unless I am alone.


WorkShop Wednesdays

This past week I did not accomplish as much as I had wanted to. Some of it was technical glitches, some of it was just a general feeling of being burned out and tired.

Thursday I went to the dentist.. No cavities this time!! After that was a quick trip to the nearby Trader Joe's ( yes this does mean my dentistbis 45 minutes away, hey I like him, so why change??) and the Asian and Iinternational foor dmarket. It was there i finally found octopus for a salad i just love to eat. Pulpo de Gallega. It is octopus in an olive oil and paprika sauce. I can get it in PR but it seriously is $40 a lb at the deli. I can make it for about $5 a lb. Still not inexpensive, and very labor intensive, but worth it to me:)

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we made soap. Got the Ocean Tides and Rejuvenation are done. Just three more to go and I should have enough stock to get me through Musikfest. Then it will be a mad dash to make more. Also have a special order of Dragonsblood to make once I get back.

Only my luck will have it that as soon as the printer toner shows up, the computer will die. Well, not the computer, but the routing switch. Nothing got printed until C came home and fixed it on Saturday. I left lip balms to label for dad and some newsletters to mail as well. Last week before I left I at least got the email newsletter out and was totally caught up on orders before going. Also left dad with one batch of soap to make, and some lotion bars to shrink wrap. Other than that, he just needs to drop of orders at the coop on Wednesday's and he is done. Easy two weeks for him too. Hope it give him time to regenerate his juices the way I am these next two weeks.

So far I have had the opportunity to get one month of tax paperwork gone through, filed, and into a spreadsheet. Glad I have started this year out right. Last year I was just so lazy when it came to doing paperwork and book keeping. I am hating all this catch up.

I arrived with the sniffles and am fighting off a cold. Not fun at all. But using the down time to catch up on stuff. Will do another month of tax info today.

Not much else, just a slow week of book keeping and show research, paperwork and product research.


Monday Stress

I have pushed myself too hard lately. Long days (10-12 hours), seven days a week since I got home on Jan 10th. I felt really behind and lazy and not at all good about myself. So I pushed it. And the last week I have been a total wreck. I only got through because of a few knit nights, a totally accepting and supportive family, and more caffeine than I have indulged in for a long time.

Things are good now. I ran off this morning to Puerto Rico with C for two weeks. I left the shop and house in my Dads loving and capable hands. I did bring some things to do, but it is a lot of busy work, research, catching up on trade publications, starting my taxes. I look back and i can't believe all that we got done in the last month. There are only three more soaps that need to be made, a few hundred more lotion bars, some special orders, sachets, and samplers. I mean really, a few more weeks of work, maybe a month if I can take it easy this time. I will be all set for the show season to start for the first time that I ever can remember.

But I need to not let myself get stretched so thin. I really was at the point where I was crying while watching TV commercials, and going from "fine" to "blooming nuts" in 3.5 seconds. It is so not worth it for me to get that way. And there is no need. Just an internal conversation with myself that self imposes deadlines and work hours. A driving desire to "catch up". To who or what I am not exactly sure. To work hard to prove to dad and c that i do.... Silly me, they already think I work too hard, don't need to prove anything to them. Need to keep up with a mystery person, like keeping up with the Jonses but rather than buying new cars, I am trying to be more creative, more productive, and more perfect than some fictional, mythical being who is just like me but better, and who doesn't exist at all.

I already feel better just getting away. I can't be in the shop, i can't clean the house, I can't do detailed work because I don't even have a computer with me i can do it on. I can only do what I have with me, and that is only so much. I have only checked my email 100 times today, hopefully tomorrow will only be 50, and the day after only 25 times, till I can let go, disconnect some, rest. It has been a while.


Fiber Fridays

So why do I take a day each week to talk about my hobby rather than my job. Well, first because it is a very important part of my life. I am borderline obsessed with fiber arts. They relax me, they inspire me, they give me a chance to meet new people and make new friends. I can show my love for family and friends through objects that I have made. Objects that I have lovingly chosen just for that person, with yarn that often took weeks or months to choose and find. Not to mention the object itself. Sometimes made in two days, sometimes two weeks, and even two months, they represent to me the time I have taken for that person.

For example, right now I am knitting the Sweet Honeysuckle Wrap for my MIL. I have been working on it for a week now, and I am not quite half done with it. It took me a week to pick what I though might be the perfect pattern for her, another few days to find the softest black yarn I could, and a few more days to modify the pattern to suit her particular needs (it needed to be a different dimension all together). Now it will take me about three weeks to make it, and I have to learn a new technique to finish it as well. Now I live far away from her, and if I didn't much of this time would have been spent with her rather than knitting for her. But since I don't live near her, this wrap to me represents all the time that I send her good thoughts, think about her happiness and health, and wish that I could be closer to family more often.

Not all people who knit think this way, but many that I know do. And not all people who receive a knitted (or crochet, tatted, embroidered, etc) gift understand what these gifts can represent to the maker. I know knitters who have been hurt so many times because the recipient of their gift didn't care if it was handmade and not from a store, that they refuse to knit for anyone anymore. I don't care. I don't care if you don't get it. If you don't know, understand, or care how much of my heart and soul goes into an item, I will knit for you anyway. Selfishly it is as much for me as for you. The process is for me, the product is for you. And if you "get" my process and it makes the product mean more to you, than that is great. If it doesn't, well then, your loss.

There is a similarity with my soap making. I make the soaps for my customers. I try and tailor them to their needs. I try and make each one the best it can be, and I try and enjoy the process as much as the finished product. I think the difference is that with the soap, sometimes I get bogged down in the process. That I need to make hundreds of a particular kind. During this time of year where I have little feed back from customers, I an feel engulfed by the process, not knowing if the products will find a happy home. So that is why I dedicate one day of my blog to my hobby, because it lifts my spirits, reminds me who I am, what I want to do, and why I want to do it. Without knitting I would be a grumpy soapmaker, and with it I am actually a better one.


Workshop Wednesdays

I feel like I am running uphill this week. So much that wants/needs to get done yet not much enthusiasm to do any of it. There is just hurdle after hurdle to get over just to get the most simple thing accomplished. Toners run out, ice storms hit, computer parts die, a migraine headache. I know I am getting to the part of my list of things to do that is getting harder to accomplish, but adding these little things on top just wears me out!

Lip balms are still not labeled. Yellow toner died. Ice storm prevented any delivery of the ordered toner.
Lotion Bars: all are labeled, but the shrink wraps still haven't arrived (darn weather).
Fizzys are made and wrapped and labeled. Got those done before the color printer ran out of toner.
New soaps made: Oakmoss, Orange-Mint, Pear, Coriander-Bergamot, Ravensara, Honeysuckle, and Vegan Delight are all done. They will be ready by the end of February for sale.

Paperwork: Keeping up with bills and show applications, all being sent out and paid on time. I researched shows for April-July that either Dad or I could participate in. I just need to check them against our existing schedule, then call or email for applications.

Personal: went to knit night again (I so need this as part of my life), missed a meeting and lunch due to the weather, picked up the dry cleaning, and exercised (all but one day) when I was supposed to (darn headache).

Next Monday I leave town to be with C for a few weeks so there is lots to do before I go, and lots to back to bring with me. I want to make bath salts before I go (if my essential oil ever arrives!), and need to do the newsletter. I plan on bringing tax stuff to do, research (for pending special orders), things to organize (like my flickr account), and of course some knitting too (I have to have some fun).

So I better get back to work. I could procrastinate here all day :)