Cogknitive Fiber Retreat 2010

It’s hard to describe how exciting it was to peddle my wares in person for the first time! There was definitely a lot of madness in the couple of weeks leading up to it. I pretty much went straight from finishing the website, to at long-last unpacking and organizing the workshop, to Boonville for the CA Wool and Fiber Festival, to dyeing up a storm! Unfortunately, the worst heat wave I’ve ever seen in SLO decided to hit right when the major dyeing needed to happen. Hello, Murphy! My mom also came up to visit and help, so she was sweating it out as well. We had 110 degree highs for 4 days in a row, and pretty much no one in town has air conditioning. By mid-day the house was a sauna and outside was a furnace, so we started taking “siestas.” We went out for lunch to a place with air conditioning, ordered anything on the menu that was blissfully served cold, then did all the small errands that took us to air conditioned places. Like Staples. And then we stared at the beautiful display of colored pens for a while. And then looked at all the nice paper. And then had a nice conversation with the checker. And then went to Michael’s because, you know, they have different pens. And air conditioning.

Anyway, we both managed to survive the heat, and Mom went back to SoCal for the couple of days right before the retreat, while I got busy reskeining and labeling. Of course, first time around with a batch this big, everything takes twice as long as I think it will, mostly because I’m developing my systems. So reskeining took a full day when I thought it would take half of one, leaving Friday morning to do all the labels, because I had to leave for Tehachapi on Friday afternoon. It started off not so bad – I had templates for several labels already, so I had a good start. My printer decided it likes to jam on card stock, so that was a bit of a pain. My names for things and text gets a little loopy as time goes on and the pressure to finish increases. But I’m two labels away from done! I can see the finish line!

And then I see it. The huge glaring stupid mistake. You see, I already had a label made for the superwash sock yarn, which I took as the template for every other label I created. I had made labels using that text for about 12 different types of yarn, each with 2 or 3 colors. I had been really careful about making sure I updated fiber content, gauge, needle size, country of manufacture for each one. What I missed was care instructions, and every single label said machine wash. And none of it, except that first batch of superwash sock yarn, was machine washable.

So there I was, exhausted from working my ass off, brains melted from the heat wave, about to leave in an hour for my first show, and all my labels have an incredibly stupid mistake on them. I seriously considered crawling into a hole and dying at that point. I know, most people would have just crossed it out, or printed out a sticker that said “hand” to cover “machine.” But what if the sticker fell off? It’s small text, it would look like crap, it would be broadcasting to the world that I’m an idiot (hey, it’s different when I blog about it and call myself an idiot)… I reprinted them all. On a printer that was jamming on card stock 1 out of every 3 sheets.

I managed to crank it out and leave only a few hours behind schedule. But I still needed to name a few colorways and actually put the labels on the skeins. Mom had called earlier to see how it was going, and I told her the story of the labels. She expressed her condolences and quickly got off the phone, sensing that there was really nothing she could do. But in fact, she told my sad story and marshaled an army of volunteer label-put’er-on’ers in Tehachapi. We all sat in the common room (what would the next day be the marketplace), I drank a much-needed beer, and cut labels while others taped them on and stuck the price stickers to them. It was really great to meet such a friendly and helpful group of fiber folks, and I finally started to relax a little.

The next day was really the jewel. It was really cool to have all my yarn and fiber on display, to be able to show the results of all the hard work I’ve been doing. And it’s great to chat with knitters about yarn, I just love it! What was also great is that Tom and Mette of Ranch of the Oaks were selling their own alpaca yarn right next to me, and whenever I was talking to someone about the Small Farm Yarn line, I could say “I buy the fleeces directly from farmers and those people right over there make it into yarn for me.” Super-cool. Here are a few pix of my booth!

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What is she doing with that spindle? Plying? Crazy!

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The other side of the yarn display!

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The fiber!

It was nice that this first outing was short and pretty chill – seriously, I had enough going on and was stressed out enough as it was that it was really nice to have a relaxed group of shoppers, other cool and friendly vendors, and very awesome organizers. I met a lot of fun knitters, and it was great to finally meet Laurs of BeeMiceElf, and get a chance to chat a little with Elf of Redfish Dyeworks (whose work I’ve been admiring for a few years now), get some soap from Dawn of Wolfe Farms, plus meet StashyMama in person, and Nicole of Freckleface Fibers, and meet new people like Michelle of Fickleknitter patterns and Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios. It was also really nice to meet Nathan, chat a little with Dr. Gemma, and I also finally got the chance to say more than “Hello/Goodbye!” to the Knitmore Girls. Very fun and definitely inspiring, the whole thing!

I have a lot of display ideas for Stitches, just got a sweet credit-card swiper that plugs into my iPhone (it’s hip to be Square), and am checking the boxes, one by one. I can’t wait!

About alpenglowyarn

Engineer, maker of tools for yarn dyers and maker of other interesting things. I still do some natural dyeing, but not as a business. View all posts by alpenglowyarn

5 responses to “Cogknitive Fiber Retreat 2010

  • Susan

    I am so glad to get your first newsletter! You are awsome as are your wonderful yarns! Love reading about the process and I too wish there were some pictures of your process in the heatwave! Would have been fun, now that it is over and you can laugh about it! I am looking forward to some of that dark blood red superwash that your lovely test knitter skillfully transformed into not one, but TWO shawlettes. Just reminding you :)

    • alpenglowyarn

      Thanks so much, Susan! I know – note to self – next time heat wave rolls through, take pictures of sweaty ghetto look. Hey, wait a minute….I’m not sure I like that idea! :)

      The dark blood red is definitely on the list to dye next, and I’ll send you an email when it’s ready and up! I’m going to spend next week organizing and prepping yarn, so I’m thinking it’ll be 2-3 weeks.

  • Redsknits

    Great post, why didn’t we think to take some photos of your backyard and ourselves as we were ourselves dieing while dyeing in the heat wave – we were wearing such unique ensembles to complete the “ghetto” look. The next time I’m that hot I need to be in a spa sauna with someone handing me chilled water with lemon slices before my facial and massage appointments.

  • Marya

    Wow, Im tired reading about it all!. Your display looks great. Congrats on your first successful show.

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