Friday, October 2, 2009

Questions about the fiber industry

The preceding post was written on Sunday, Sept 28th but due to technical issues (operator error) was not published until today:

First of all the heading of this post...should it really be questions about fiber industries (plural)? My questions are about spinning, dying, knitting, AND designing. Where does one industry stop and another one start? Many of my questions are also about the publishing end of it all and as such involve a whole different beast.

Secondly, how does one such as myself contact the appropriete people to get the answers? Are the people who are kind enough to give answers the people WITH the answers? Does that even make sense to anyone besides myelf?

With those pre-questions asked, here goes.  This is an open letter to all of those individuals involved in the many aspects of the varies industries/activities/hobbys that I find myself chasing after down the rabbithole (I think the white rabbit was an angora). Whether you do these things from your home for pleasure only or as a professional as your only source of income I welcome any and all advice.  And thank you in advance.  You can either leave a comment here, or e-mail me .

Deep breath, here goes...

To whom it may concern;

I am a novice in all things fiber related.  I never cared for fashion. I didn't know there were "Knitting magazines" or this vibrant fiber community.  I had never heard of or seen a drop spindle. That all changed in 2005 when I found after learning to knit that "I GOT it". I am talking about the great and amazing, religious-like awakening of the soul when you realize your life's calling. Now I just need to find out how to make a living doing these amazing things.  Here are my questions in no particular order:

1.  For independant dyers: how or what kinds of records do you keep to dupicate a colorway? Do they include photos? How many skeins do you dye at a time?  My dying experience has always been a series of happy accidents.  I tend to prefer painting the skeins.  Do I keep track of the ml of dye used?  How do you keep your sense of serendipity and your sanity?

2. How do you find wholesale companies to get 'blank' yarn from? Do you use one company for the various yarns or do you work with multiple companies?

3.  For spinners/dyers: Do you sometimes just spin solid color or white yarn and THEN dye it or do you usually spin multicolor top or roving?

4.  How does one get 'test knitters'?

5.  Designers: If a garment is made with 'standard' construction do you just design on paper and give to test knitters or do you knit it yourself first and use the test knitters as a double check?

6.  Selling designs: mainstream magazines vs. Knitty online vs. Ravelry vs. Your own web site or blog which is best and why? Which is easiest? Which pays the biggest dividend for the long run (i.e. name recognition vs financial)?

7.  Coding technicalities: help! How does one integrate photos, charts, schematics, and regular documents together in to one PDF thingie? Then how does one 'host' this PDF thingie and offer it for sale using PayPal?

8. If you want people to notice and use your work BUT you also know you want to put togther a book AND you need to make money at this; how much do you put 'out there' and how much do you 'keep in reserve'?

9. What is the typical pay for a design from the major publications (VK, IK etc.)? Do they look at stuff from rookies such as myself?

I think that is it for now. For some of the above questions I have sort of answered them for myself but I would still like to hear what people have to say. Question #7 is a big hang-up for me in part because our PC is about seven years old and having issues. We are looking into buying a laptop but that is a whole other series of questions.

Gotta run.  Today is National Alpaca Farm Day so we're off to see and pet some Alpacas.

PS. One of the sweaters I am working on now is 100% Alpaca (dreamy soft).

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