Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Ramblings from My Studio

Today I am sitting here in my studio with the sun going down crazy early. Only 1 more day of that and we will start going the other way. Thank goodness. I just finished sweeping, wiping, and washing my work table and floor so that it is clean and ready to mess up again after the holiday season is over. I am really looking forward to getting back into the studio after New Year's to start painting all the ceramics I have made but didn't have enough time to finish up for my holiday sales. 

I am not much for end of the year wrap ups like many people are. I don't obsess about what went wrong and what was successful. I just like to move on and see what comes next. I have been thinking about what I am going to work towards in the new year and how I am going to accomplish it. At this point, I am not thinking at all about writing another book. I have been rather discouraged with the sales on my last book. I have yet to get a royalty statement (that comes in February) but I do know that the book didn't get covered by the press as much as the last one. That is discouraging - as you can imagine - after all the blood sweat and tears I put into it as an author. But then there is a lot in life that is discouraging and if I let it get me down, it will just depress me. So it means it is time to move on and see what else is out there for me to make and do and learn. 

I see my little internet based world changing slowly as I look at it from my vantage point down here in the basement of our farmhouse. Podcasts - the "new thing" (they really aren't the new thing - they have been around for years) and what everyone is trying to convince the old bloggers (that would be me) to take up aren't for me right now. I love to listen to them as I work but I don't want to host one - too much editing and time on the computer to take away from things that interest me right now. (I spend enough time on my computer with fabric design, blogging, communications, and updating my on-line commerce sites.) I will gladly chat on a podcast but I have not interest in hosting one.

That said, I am sad to see that Kathy and Steve Elkins from Webs are discontinuing their podcast Ready Set Knit. I was on their show several times and they were always so kind to me at helping to promote my latest book or venture. I don't blame them for stopping their podcast - they took up podcasting when it was fresh and new and did it for 12 years. Lots of times, you just run your cycle and you aren't new anymore and people just aren't interested in what you are talking about. I doubt people stopped listening to their podcast - I think their business is going in a different direction with the acquisition of Tahki/Stacy Charles Yarn Company. Yay - Donegal Tweed continues - one of my favorite yarns ever. Change is good and they have a real challenge there with taking over a wholesale biz along with a retail space in NYC

Another change I see now is the continued growth of mobile communications and devices. It used to be that almost all of my readers of this blog were reading through a computer. More and more, I see readers coming here on tablets or mobile devices. If most readers are like I am, I open up my phone with coffee first thing in the morning while The Farmer is opening up his favorite sites on his iPad every morning. I see if anyone has posted anything new and maybe I will read it later when I have a moment. I delete anything I am not interested in right away - like the gazillion emails I have been getting for on-line shopping this holiday season - and then read what I am interested in later in the day. Seriously - is it necessary for Anthropologie to send me an email every single day? That isn't going to get me to buy anything. I will buy when I am good and ready thank you. 

When I was busy promoting my holiday sales on my on-line store, I was exhausted with all the promoting I did - sending emails, putting blog posts up, posting to Instagram and Facebook every day or so. I felt bad/guilty "bothering" folks with more emails, more chatter, more images. But it worked and I sold quite a bit of pottery and tea towels and so I will probably do it again. I try to make it authentic but it all feels rather desperate to me. Perhaps it is desperate. I do know that in my life, the absolutely only time I spend money is the end of the year for the holidays. Otherwise I am just trying to make it through with all the normal stuff of life - paying for heat, electricity, food, shelter, transportation. If others are like me, I have got to go for the sales when they are easier rather than when they are impossible. 

What I am thinking about doing now is changing my website to a more mobile friendly set up that is more commerce based. It will be a lot of work but I think it is time. The last version of my website was done in 2013 which in internet time is severely antique. I need to move it to a platform that works better with phones and tablets. Right now I am researching Squarespace, Shopify, and Big Cartel. If anyone has any thoughts on any of those - I would really appreciate the comments. My Etsy shop did good this season and it was very easy for me to update, etc but I am not wild about Etsy and how they won't let me communicate directly with customers via my newsletter. (They don't give you the email of any of the buyers so I can't send them communications directly.) Etsy wants to keep all that information self-contained and have buyers stay on their site. That isn't a problem with those other websites. I can't blame them - they are a publicly traded company and they are beholden to their stockholders. That's what happens - good or bad. Business is business. 

Mark is getting stronger every day. He is out and about and doing the chores that he can do after the hip replacement surgery and complications. He certainly isn't back to normal. He is still in a lot of physical pain because his other hip needs to be replaced. Maybe next summer. We had the sheep sheared the week after the Holiday Open House. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw the photos. Here are Kevin and Jeff and the sheep before and after.

We changed shearing time last year to November from July so that the ewe's body conditions are more easily visible before lambing and so the lambs can find the teats easier. Our shearers use blade shears so they leave wool cover on the ewes so that they stay warm in the cold weather. It was a success and so that is how we will schedule it in the future. 

We had our first set of twins a week after shearing. This same ewe had early twins 2 years ago. The twins are doing great and there are several ewes that are looking more and more pregnant. Just a reminder - since you are probably curious about the paint on the ewe and lambs. The stripe color on the back tells the time period it was born in. The number on the side gives the number of the sheep. The color of the number identifies twin or single (blue means single, green means twin). 

And so it goes again on the farm - round and round the cycle of life and loss. The sun comes up and goes down. The grass hibernates, rests, and then regrows. And that is what the people do too - find our footing once again

Thanks so much to all of you who continue to read and support my work as it ebbs and flows between making, writing, potting, textile designing, decorating and whatnot. I so appreciate all of you who read, comment or not. I wish you all the best for the holiday season. 


Patricia said...

Hi Kristin,
I would suggest that you contact Janet Szbo (suck it up buttercup, blog) she is doing the same thing, upgrading and possible commerce site. She might be a wonderful resource. Like you she is a former knitter, who is sewing, lives in Montana, creative and trying to find out what her new path is in life. I admire her as I do you.

I also want to say your posts about your sale were not intrusive. Far from it, you are not telling me about a flash sale, or sending me emails every single day. I now delete and don’t look anymore because I have enough clothes, and shoes. I also am buying second hand clothes, and looking at the local feed store for hardwearing clothes. Big change from city life/east coast living. I was wondering if after the first of the year you would have more pottery available. I hope to get some Xmas cash and would like to buy some things. Just don’t have the money now.

Have you thought about yarn bowls? There are really just big soup bowls basically or you can do more specialized one with holes for various sized yarns. I also would check out promotions where you can tie in your pottery with a yarn company. Lots of knitters drink tea so mugs would be a great item for cross promotion.

Maybe work with webs and one of their yarns to make kits with mugs, ornaments, or vases. I have all kinds of ideas! For people who don’t want to make their own stencils is this something that can be kitted? (Paint, spong, stencile) with your pottery can you make basic pieces that people can put their own patterns on? A clay that doesn’t need firing? I love your cards and in today’s world getting a personal note is really nice as so much is now email. For those of us who are older and have a great history of handwork, the pleasure of your work it always a breath of fresh air and realistic. something we can do.

Kristin Nicholas said...

Hi Patricia
You are a wealth of ideas. Thank you so much as always over the years. It is so different living in the country as opposed to east coast burbs and urban life. Glad you discovered second hand clothes. It is how we survive here in the boonies. Amazing how much good stuff you can find when challenged. And besides... the sheep don’t care what we have on. As long as they are fed. And we stay warm which is always the challenge.
Have a very Merry. I hope to have more pottery soon. And I will contact Janet. I hope I remember.

Adaliza said...

Merry Christmas to you all on the farm, both 2- and 4-legged :: from us all over here in Winchester, UK :: living our colourful, creative patchwork world with a head full of ideas for the New Year. Carry on creating!!!

Colleen Sharpe said...

I LOVE reading your blog posts. And I'm agreeing with another commenter in that your e-mail updates and Instagram promotions don't bother me. I follow you for a reason - I love your work and your thoughts. If I didn't, I wouldn't follow and be open to receiving your updates.

I have found that when bloggers/creative business owners start switching over to more slick websites and doing more slick marketing, I lose interest. I think it's because their "voice" starts to get lost. Or maybe it changes and they are fine with that; I am free to unfollow. But I highly doubt that will happen with you no matter what new platform you choose. I think your "YOU"-ness will still shine through. You can't help it, and that is part of why I love following you and your work. I LOVE YOUR WORK. You live a very interesting and colourful life, and you show that.

fracksmom said...

I check for your update on my iPad while I drink my morning coffee So your wonderful blog works fine on my device.

I wish you a merry Christmas and a blessed new year

marcia Love said...

Hi Kristin -- I've read your blog for years and always enjoyed it. I will definitely follow you how ever
you post. I enjoy reading about your life as well as seeing all the fine things you create. I just wish
I were younger and could do more crafts myself!
Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday and am so glad to
hear the farmer is seeing some improvement.

Kathryn Samuelson said...

Hi Kristin:

You might look at They have telephone help and are generally friendly and really helpful. You could talk to them about what you want to do. The pricing is good, or at least I think it is.

Your new website should most likely be mobile friendly almost automatically. Plus it's fairly easy to set your site up as a secure site if you're going to be selling from it.


JackieLemon said...

I love your blog and check for updates every morning. I only listen to one podcast. Have tried many, just don't hold up or become repetitive and video podcasts take too much of my time. I do not find your emails intrusive, mostly they are very informative and I just love your color sense and style.

Brenda said...

Hi Kristin, I get emails alerting me to updates on your blog and your website. I always check them out as I'm interested in seeing what you are up to! This works well for me - I don't always remember to check out instagram etc., but the emails remind me.

Thanks for all your sharing of ideas and how-tos. You have been an inspiration to me and my home is more colorful and personalized than it used to be.

Patricia said...

I thought of something else. What about clay ornaments? You could do sheep, Xmas balls, stars, tree, dog, cats, socks in clay. These could be flat ornaments with holes at the top for hanging on the tree. I would see if someone could do a cookie cutter type impliment and then you could do a slab type of art. You could do a tractor! Solids, and mixed colors, and use some of the foliage and make imprints in the clay.

If you could do turkeys for thanksgiving, maybe make them placeholder somehow make them reusable.

Lastly don’t forget sculptures. In the past I had a favorite artist and bought her work. the pieces ran anywhere from $400 and above. She allowed me to pay on layaway and I have terrific pieces.

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