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A little retrospection

Phydeaux's new exclusive base yarn

Sometimes, I’m just so busy, I don’t spend time looking back.

Which means I lose out on the chance to truly appreciate the journey.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey with Phydeaux this week, though.

It was just five or six years ago (maybe longer?) that I started playing with dyeing yarn in my kitchen in the Bay Area, while working at Stanford.

I was so young!

I started out dyeing yarn with the idea of dyeing my OWN yarn in order to sell my hand knits nation-wide.

one of Phydeaux's first tonal yarns

And immediately found myself pivoting, focusing on selling yarn and knitting patterns of my own design, and not my hand knits.

Which was okay – I couldn’t really take the production level knitting any longer, with a pinched nerve in my shoulder and some carpal tunnel issues.

Little did I know that my side hustle, my creative gig, would become my fulltime gig when I moved to Northern California in Summer 2012, to take care of my mom and help my dad.

And then live with my dad after mom passed.

Phydeaux's first "studio" in Chico

Those early days of fulltime Phydeaux were … tough.

Mom was in hospice, then passed away so quickly – a blessing, for sure, but wow, we just weren’t prepared to say goodbye so quickly.

And I had JUST moved to a new house in Chico.  I wasn’t even unpacked when our funeral guests arrived.

I think I was so busy taking care of dad and family, and also taking care of Phydeaux, that allowing myself my grief process was difficult.  Grief seemed like a luxury, albeit necessary.

Mom would have totally understood this, mind you.  I get my analytical nature and mind from her.  We usually analyzed and shared our deepest, darkest hurts and pains and joys and sorrows with each other.  But we were no longer able to do that, and that’s been a challenge for me.

phydeaux tradeshow at summer tnna

If you’d told me when I first started this adventure that I would exhibit at the TNNA tradeshow … I probably wouldn’t have believed  you.

That was a real gamechanger for Phydeaux, allowing me to work with yarn shops across the country.  At one point last year, Phydeaux was in 50-60 yarn shops, I think.

But, last year was a tough year for Phydeaux, and I had to pull back from wholesale while we sorted out a lot of issues.

So, while I’ve really missed exhibiting at TNNA, not doing so was the right decision, and Phydeaux is in a MUCH better place right now, particularly as we prepare to launch our first exclusively spun yarn!

Phydeaux hand dyed yarn

I’ve spent a lot of time this last year experimenting with new yarns, particularly American wools (like above).

I haven’t found one that I’m head over heels in love with yet, but I do have some that I’m really really in like with.

But I’ve also been working with a mill to develop a yarn FOR Phydeaux.

OUR own yarn:  mine, and also yours.

And … it’s on its way to my driveway now!

Phydeaux's new exclusive base yarn

Tomorrow, I get to announce the name of this brand new, amazing merino/cashmere/nylon fingering weight yarn.

I’ve run a contest this week for name suggestions, and I’m going to pick the winner(s) tomorrow, along with my dad.

We’re both beyond excited to choose the name (and announce winners)!

But even more excited to see all 3,000 or so skeins of this yarn that we’ve been developing, obsessing over, planning for since last year.

So, stay tuned – there are SO much good new fibery thing on the way, starting with this yarn that I’m so in love with.

And hope that you will love as much – or even more!

p.s., if you’d told me when I first started that I’d one day invest in several thousand skeins of Phydeaux-exclusive yarn, I would have laughed, I’m sure.

 

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Behind the scenes: shop updates

I haven’t had time to update my website/shop in … months!

Which seems really ridiculous to me, but it’s just how things are in my life, between dyeing, shipping, teaching, cooking, feeding (dad and a host of animals), cleaning (hahaaaa, okay, I should clean more), driving dad to medical appointments an hour or three hours away, blah blah blah, lather rinse repeat.  🙂

I also haven’t had a lot of excess yarn FOR a shop update, but realized this week that (a) while waiting for new yarn to arrive, (b) finishing up orders using the yarn that I have, and (c) dealing with our first heat wave of the year (not a great time to dye yarn anyway!) … it’s time for a shop update.

Shop updates aren’t quick and easy.

At least not for me – I’m sure other dyers are much smarter and more efficient with these things.

I added a lot of yarn to my website yesterday – yarn that I already had photos or “stock” photos of.

Today, I’m photographing more yarn.

I photo in bunches (minimum six photos/skein, of which I use one to two), then upload photos to my trusty PC laptop (where Photoshop resides), then flip through all those photos, deleting the out of focus or otherwise not great photos, then compare photo by photo each skein to choose the best photo per skein.

THEN, each of those winning photos goes into Photoshop:

  1. Trim the edges for the right “frame” of the skein in a rectangular landscape mode
  2. Is the color too cool?  Warm it up.  Too warm?  Cool it down.
  3. Adjust the brightness and contrast.
  4. Add 3 more points of brightness when it looks perfect (maybe 5 points if I’m adding it to Etsy) – many images seem to darken a bit after uploading.
  5. Adjust to 1000 pixels wide, save, return to original size.
  6. Crop to a square image (adjusting as needed).
  7. Adjust to 1000 pixels wide, save adding an “a” to the end of the previous image file name (which tells me that it’s the square image).

Now I’m ready to write up a description for each skein, including all the necessary details, upload the image(s), make sure that the weight is set correctly, preview before publishing to make sure it looks okay, add all the necessary tags and set up in the right collections (for my own website) (like “new” and “ready to ship yarn”).

And voila!  Done!

So, that takes around 20 minutes per skein, when you add it all up:  photos, editing, description, preview, posting, corrections, etc.  If I have 20 skeins to add, that’s not a big deal.  But … I have, easily, 200 skeins that have amassed during the last few months.

Yikes.

I have my podcasts on, cold drink continually refreshed, and I’m just working my way through each batch of skeins.  While doing all the other work that still needs to be done.  🙂

I’m sure there’s an easier way to do things and it might help if I wasn’t so particular about photo quality.

But I’m nearly always happy, or at least satisfied, with the results when I finish it all up.

Want to see the shop update?  There are several pages of new yarn already available and even more to come.  You can see the new skeins on the website now, by clicking HERE.

 

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Dyeing in the woods (dyeing yarn, that is)

This is my view from the back doors of the dye shop.

Pretty nifty, right?

Behind our property is nearly 10 acres of pretty wild, overgrown forest.

Which isn’t so nifty now that it’s summer – and fire season.

This weekend will mark three years of living in the woods, which is … awesome.

In the city, you live by your commute.  Traffic rules your life.

In the woods, the weather reports rule your life.  And fire season.

Fire season is a very real thing.  Our community was pretty much destroyed in a fire in 2008.  We still see the scars and burns, even in the woods behind us.

And with this year’s amazingly abundant Fall and Winter, we are surrounded by grasses, brush, trees … kindling.

So, everyone cuts and mows and rakes and discards and burns piles of branches and cut down trees (controlled burns).

We clear our 100 foot perimeter around our homes – at least as much as we can – to create our defensible space.

We firm up our evacuation plans, make sure the cat carriers and dog kennels are located, and that the photo albums and baby books are on one shelf for swift removal.

And then …

We continue our lives.

Which, for me, means dyeing yarn.  Teaching the dyeing of yarn.  Shipping yarn.  Taking care of dogs and a herd of cats.  Taking care of my dad.  🙂

And squeezing every second of joy from these long, long days of sunshine and warm breezes, before the days slowly become shorter and shorter, yet again.

I used to hate the summer heat and complained bitterly as the temperatures soared.

Now, maybe through my advanced wisdom gained from advanced years (haha), I just smile, try to enjoy, and remind myself that before we know it, I will be unhappy because the roads are icy and I’m too scared to drive the 45 minutes to town.  In which case, I’ll take the heat.  🙂

What are you most enjoying these last precious days of Spring, as we melt our way into Summer?

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Hellooo

 

Wow, I’m flabbergasted that I stopped blogging for so long, but … I did.

So, hello!  I’m slowly returning to the world after being seriously overwhelmed with business, life, and everything in between in the last few years.

Since Mom passed away, life has been a bit crazy.  My dad moved in with me.  Then we moved together to the mountains.  And added puppies to our family.  And more kitties.  While Phydeaux continued to grow exponentially, but without the infrastructure needed for solid growth.

I’m scaling back as I type, deciding what Phydeaux can do, and what we don’t need – or want – to do, moving forward.  I cancelled exhibiting at this summer’s tradeshow (TNNA) in Washington DC, in order to work on current yarn shop and retail orders, as well as focus on my family (dad, dogs, cats).

Phydeaux has been SO busy for so long.  Which is awesome, but also exhausting, when you’re a business of one plus some part time help.  I’m relearning to love knitting and dyeing and everything in between, which is amazing.  While taking actual time off during the week, which seems crazy (but I love – and need – that time off).

I love my life.

I love my business.

I love all of my wonderful, talented, amazing customers.

I love what I get to do every day.

And I need to also love ME.  I kinda forgot about doing that in the last year or two.  So that’s what I’m working on.  As should we all.

On the way to Phoenix #plflive2016

A photo posted by brenda phydeaux designs & yarn (@phydeauxdesigns) on

So, things have changed a bit at Phydeaux HQ.  Instead of a few cats in our combined household, we now have four cats (!!!) and two horse-sized dogs.  And a feral cat colony.

They sure love their papa #bullador #bulladorsofinstagram #dukiedog #belladog

A photo posted by brenda phydeaux designs & yarn (@phydeauxdesigns) on

Hard to imagine life without all these furries.  They sure make things … interesting.

This is Whitey- not the most creative name, but his tail ha a white tip, so it works. #feralcat #feralcats #tabby

A photo posted by brenda phydeaux designs & yarn (@phydeauxdesigns) on

And there is still yarn.  And knitting.  Lots and lots of yarn and knitting.

Time to refill the online shop with ready to ship yarn … #phydeaux #handdyedyarn #knittersofinstagram #dyersofinstagram #yarn

A photo posted by brenda phydeaux designs & yarn (@phydeauxdesigns) on

I have so much to share with you.  About life and animals and family, as well as yarn and knitting and business.  For now, here is our newest family member, Wiggie, formerly feral (she was the runt, very very tiny), not sold on being a pampered indoor princess yet. Definitely not sold on me yet (sob).  But we love her and aren’t giving up on her.  She just doesn’t know she loves us yet.

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