I started this business in 2007. At first it was Yummy Yarn, and I sold my hand dyed, handspun yarn at the farmer’s market. I remember the lead-up to my first market day, when I was sure I didn’t have enough stock, I was afraid I hadn’t done a good enough job, and I was worried that my very modest plan to just make enough money to help us get by while my daughter was young was in fact still too ambitious.
The modest plan worked out, for the most part, for awhile. I sold enough yarn and fibre to make what I needed to make, and I got to work out of my home so that I could parent my child the way I wanted to parent. I added some teaching to the mix, thanks to the local arts centres and local yarn stores who let me run some knitting classes. It worked.
I can’t say that it ever made us rich, but it was okay, so when I found out I was having a second child, I just continued on in the same way. The business switched from mostly yarn and teaching to mostly fibre, and that was fine.
Eventually, it got a little boring. Crafts are great, but when they’re your job, they’re like any other job – the creative, interesting part is when you’re developing something new, and once it’s developed, there’s a lot of repetition. But still, it was something I could do at home, and that was worth some boredom.
Time has marched on, and last term I went back to the “real” work I’d done before I had kids, which was teaching college English. It was wonderful to get into a workplace with colleagues I could talk to, new ideas to explore, and all kinds of skills to develop and expand. I had to put the fibre business aside for a time, but I didn’t mind much. I had been missing the intellectual stimulation of my previous work so much that not having time to craft was a small price to pay.
It was good that I worked that term, because it let me detach a bit, and see some things for what they were. The fibre work was getting tedious, and it didn’t pay enough for our current needs, which now included two children in independent schools. I missed having time to craft, but much of my crafting time had been taken up with “work” crafts, like making freeform pieces to sell. I wasn’t using any of my crafting time for leisure.
Having the endless supply of fibre meant that I was able to make a stash of yarn beyond my wildest dreams, and that was artistically valuable (10 skeins of turquoise all in different fibres, spun to different weights? Yes yes yes!). But that wasn’t enough compensation for what the business didn’t give me, and couldn’t give me.
Last month we found out that we are moving to Sweden, and that was just the news I needed to make the decision: Two Sisters Stringworks is shutting down. Putting aside the logistical issue that dyeing fibre in a tiny Swedish apartment is not going to work, I have reached the end of this particular chapter of my life.
This was a wonderful time. I have always been a devoted knitter, and lately crocheter. People who know me know that when I am not in the mood to knit, I am probably not doing well. The skills development that I have been pushed to do in order to support my teaching, the artistic development that I have undergone with the last couple years of freeform work, the techniques I have learned as a spinner and dyer, I am so grateful for all of these things. They would not have happened without this 6 year span of unfettered production and experimentation. Without the platform and structure of the business, I would never had let myself do half of what I’ve done.
In about 5 weeks, we are moving. In just a couple weeks, I need to have all the wool and dye paraphernalia that I’m not keeping out of my house. When we move, I am going to pack up my spinning wheel, and not see it again until I gets off a shipping container in a few months.
I am going to pack up the materials for three or four projects, two of them pure, personal knitting, and I will only make things for fun.
My Etsy store will stay up, but once the fibre is gone, it will be just for freeform crochet pieces, and I’m only going to make the ones I want to make, and I refuse to pressure myself to make “enough”. My Etsy store will therefore become one of those many, many Etsy stores run by hobbyists who make awesome stuff and don’t sell much, because they don’t list frequently enough to get the hits. And I’m cool with that, because I am now also just a hobbyist.
Thank you, to the people who have kept in touch, to the people who have enjoyed my work and have let me enjoy theirs. Thank you to the people who gave me opportunities to teach, to sell, to learn, and to share in the fibre community, both locally and Internetically.
This was my time of life to be a woolworker, and I did it with all my might.