Five Years


Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 06-11-2014

businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-frontI recently noticed that it has been five years since I opened Highland Handmades.  That time has gone by so quickly!  I have had an incredible run so far, and the future has never looked brighter.  I thought I’d share a few of my favorite moments from the past half decade, as both a reflection and a Thanksgiving.  To all of my customers, friends, family, and viewers – thank you for the last five years.  You truly make this the best job in the world.

HH Highlight Reel:

  • Opening my shop and having plurkies as my first few customers (KarenB and Tempted were both incredibly kind).
  • Seeing people post finished yarns and projects in the HH group on Ravelry.
  • Being mentioned on Lime and Violet.
  • Vending at my first show (Fiber Frolic, June 2010).
  • My first ever sell-out shop update.
  • Leaving Etsy and starting my own online shop.
  • Being asked to vend at a show as opposed to applying (KnitEeast).
  • Vending at retreats (SSK, KitM, GGPL, HotF).
  • Traveling for the business (Nashville, Atlanta, Connecticut, New Brunswick).
  • Designing my own label suite.
  • Quitting my day job to pursue my dream.
  • Hosting my own retreat.
  • Meeting customers and fans.
  • Being featured in PLY Magazine.

There are a thousand more things that I have been fortunate to experience; too many to mention here.  I am overwhelmed by the love and support you all have shown me every day, through trials and triumphs, sorrows and successes.  Thank you seems so inadequate a phrase; and yet, it is all I can say.  Over and over again, a thousand times, for all you’ve helped me accomplish and for all the support you’ve yet to give –


Thank you.



Fighting with Fru Update


Posted by admin | Posted in HH | Posted on 26-10-2014

Hey everyone!  I wanted to give everyone a quick update on the yarn I sold to help raise money for Wendy Sillyfru’s medical bills.  I’ve had several people email me asking where it is, so I figure there are even more out there wondering.  I’m happy to give you all an update.

First off: together we have raised $2,380 for Fru.  I’m very pleased with this total, and it totally blew Fru away.  Thank you to everyone who bought yarn!  At this point, I do not know if I will be dyeing a second round.  Fruju is incredibly labor intensive, and 238 skeins of yarn is a LOT of intensive dyeing for just me.

When I put up the pre-orders, I mentioned that it would be at least a month before those orders could go out.  October 21st marked one month, and as of November fourth, 137 of the 238 skeins have been mailed.  I am, obviously, a little behind schedule.

Please understand I am dyeing as fast as I can.  When Fru got sick, I had already committed to a large show and a retreat for the month of October.  Both of those events make me money to live from during the winter when there are no shows.  Thus, the events took priority and I wasn’t able to stick to my original (somewhat overly optimistic) dye schedule.  I was further hindered by very wet weather here in Maine which prolonged the drying time of the yarn, preventing me from dyeing more.

In addition, I have a commitment to my year-long yarn club, which receives yarn at the end of every month.  So I need to find time to dye that, too.  They paid for their yarn back in January, so I need to be sensitive to their expectations as well.

Finally, I am waiting on a re-stock of the two yarn bases used in the Fruju/FHB yarns, and that will cause one final delay.  It currently looks like it will be the first week of November before all of the yarn is sent out.  I realize this is beyond the date the custom order quoted, I apologize for that and hope that you can be as understanding and patient as you been thus far.  I promise you I am doing everything I can to get you the yarn you paid for.

If you have any questions about your yarn, you can email me.  If you’d like an update on Fru (who is, unfortunately, still in the hospital), please visit her YouTube channel where she has been posting updates.

Thanks everyone!

EDITED TO ADD: As of today (October 28), Fru is HOME!  She has been discharged from the hospital.  Way to go Fru!


Win a Little Skein in the Big Wool Monster Kit!


Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 15-07-2014

wild thing kit 011


As mentioned on Episode 156 – Monsters and Matrimony, Annielightknits and I are giving away a luxe Wild Rumpus monster kit to one lucky viewer.  The rafflecopter is below – you get a point for every task you do/have done.  MAKE SURE you give us your email address so we can notify you if you win.  Winner will be drawn August 1st.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

wild thing kit 013

In Search Of Shop Samples


Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 20-01-2014

Update: Here’s where my list stands now, all thanks to awesome knitters!

Here’s what I need (crossed out items mean I already have them):

Black Cherry Lace: Belle Greene Shawl (Alynxia)

Pin Cherry Lace: Rock Island Shawl

Mountain Laurel Lace: Bee Leaf Pi Shawl (Keli)

Sugar Maple Sock: Don’t Cage Me In Sock, Mystery Shawl #2

Mountain Maple Sock: Level Up Socks (Tara)

Silver Maple Sock: La Vie de Bois Socks (Erin)

Red Maple Sock: Under the Wire Cowl (Charis)

Striped Maple Socks: Thumbless Mitts

Butternut DK: Hoaloha Sweater, In August Away Cowl (I’ll be knitting this one)

Black Ash Worsted: Stargazing Cowl, Drizzle Hat

White Ash Worsted: Susan the Sociable Crab,  Lined Beanie (Sara B)

I am, as always, blown away by the generosity and fabulousness of knitters.  I am so lucky to be in this business!  For updates and to see the finished items, be sure to check out the podcast.


A Day in the Life of an Indie Dyer


Posted by admin | Posted in HH, TFF | Posted on 31-12-2013

Since I’ve been fortunate enough to quit my day job to dye for a living, I thought it might be interesting to walk you through an average day.  Today is Tuesday, and I’ll be cataloging my day for you.  Most days are just like today.

7:12.  Wake up.  The sun is up and my room is bright, so sleeping any later isn’t going to happen.  There’s also a cat breathing in my face, so clearly I need to rise and shine so I can feed her.

7:30. First cup of coffee.  I’m up and dressed for pre-work work – sweatshirt over the shirt I sleep in, long johns and knit socks, wool slippers.  It’s -3 outside this morning.  I decide the long johns are clean enough to wear in the house all day.  I microwave the coffee (Paul starts it at 5:15, so by the time I get up it’s cold), add almond milk, and sit down at the desktop computer in the office, blanket over my lap.  It’s cold out.

7:30-8:00. Social Media/check-in.  My home page is plurk – my social media of choice.  I check on my knitters, grimace at the number of friends starting yarn and fiber diets.  Notice that a colleague is having a sale today (I was planning on doing the same).  Ponder how I can make my sale different from her sale so I don’t step on her toes.  Consider running a facebook or Ravelry-only sale.  While it may have a smaller reach, it would give me some data on how my customers are using social media themselves.  Make a mental note.  Then on to check Twitter, Ravelry, Facebook, and Intagram, ending with my gmail.  Delete the daily MailChimp notification and the message that I get when someone buys a pattern.  Scroll down through my unanswered emails and see if there’s anything urgent.  If not – it all waits for Monday, because Monday is the day I deal with my mail, both electronic and regular.  Re-read message about Highlands on the Fly 2014 to cement details in my brain in case I record a podcast later today.  Email wholesale customer (LYS) and see if they need any more stock as my shop is filled to the brim and I can easily remove stuff and send it to them.

8:00-8:30. Check my bank account, juggle numbers to see if I can squeeze in both a dye order and a fiber/yarn order.  View sales on PayPal.  Freak out about money for the first time today. Decide to worry about dyes first, then fiber/yarn.  Since I don’t have my dye shopping list ready, decide I will work on that when I set up for the day’s dyepots.

8:30. Review what Paul wants me to do today.  I need to go to the town office to register the dog and the Post Office to pay the box fee.  Check paypal again to see I have four orders that need to be shipped.  Make a rough plan for how to attack these chores.  Decide I will shower first, then pack orders while I cook my daily bacon and egg, then head to the post office, followed by the town office.  Double check that I have my checkbook in my purse because the town doesn’t take debit cards.

8:30-8:50. Peruse social media again while I finish my rapidly cooling coffee.  Remember I have two book reviews to write for the review blog I’m a member of, and make a note to add my reviews to Amazon as well.  Also Goodreads.

9:30. Begin packing orders.  Realize that I forgot to print Birch Batt tags yesterday, so I do it now.  Realize that my color cartridge is out of ink.  Crap.  Will have to print in black and white.  Realize black ink is out, too.  Double crap.  Will have to print from laser jet in studio.  Triple crap as this file is not on the studio computer.  Will have to load correct paper in laser printer and try to print to there from office computer.  Success.

10:20. Orders are packed.  I also remembered to print off the dye list for one of the dye companies I use so I can use it to plan my order later today.  Time to start the van, get it ready to run errands.   While it warms up, I go to the USPS website and order two sizes of Priority boxes I’m out of.  Grumble a little bit at how difficult their site is to navigate, but at least the boxes are free.

10:30. Get all my winter clothes on – winter coat, hat, mittens, scarf, etc. and head out to town.

11:00. Home.  Time to dye, but before I can do that I need to wash the dishes in the sink and eat again.  I’m always hungry!  Check plurk, see another indie dyer offering a sale.  That’s two that I know of.  Now if I have a sale, I’ll really look like a copycat.  Urgh.  I need to increase sales or I won’t be able to pay my bills.  Cue money freakout #2.

11:10. Quick fb convo with an author/friend of mine.  Receive offer to beta read her new book.  Dance party in my office chair!

11:10-11:30. Wash first round of dishes, fill animal water bowls, moisturize, cook lunch (reheated eggplant lasagna.  Decide to eat it but not the eggplant bits because they are slimy. Eww.).

11:30-12:00.  Eat lunch and create of two coupon codes.  One for FB customers, another for my Rav group.  Different codes/purposes, but same discount amount.  This will be research for which method(s) work and which don’t.  They are different enough from the other indie dyers that I am comfortable.

12:07. Receive first order using FB discount code.  Feel bad as she ordered from me just yesterday and it was a big order, and it didn’t get the discount.  Decide that if she asks, I will split the difference and give her 10% off.  Feel like a jerk, but resolve to be savvy business person and not a bleeding heart.  Hate myself for that sentence.

12:20. Open my most recent yarn shipment.  Realize immediately that it is wrong.  This is the third time this particular shipment has had an error.  Sigh with frustration.  Call supplier and leave voice mail as they are closed today and tomorrow for New Year’s.  Feel like a bitch for complaining AGAIN, but I double and triple check my order, my bank account, and the shipment and it is indeed still wrong.  Spend several minutes feeling down and stressed.  This is my biggest supplier and it’s not like I can take my business elsewhere.  Feel afraid I’m going to become “that” customer (the one everyone hates dealing with) but this is my business and I can’t afford for shipments to be wrong.  Listen to 80’s pop on Pandora until my mood improves.

12:30-1:30. Skein yarn and divide fiber or today’s dyeing.  I shoot for 8-10 pans a day.  Today is 2 pans Butternut DK and 6 pans Masham fiber.  As I work with Masham, I remember I have a custom order… maybe in my Rav mail?  When I’m done dividing, I check.  Indeed I do.  Add that order to the list of colorways I’ll dye today.   As I write that, I realize I’m out of one of the dyes I’ll need for one of the custom items.  Sigh.  Put that dye at the top of the list to purchase later today.

1:30-4:00. Dye yarn and fiber.  While doing this I kick the tennis ball for the dog who is finally awake for the day.  As I work I make note of the dyes I need, filling out the checklist I printed for one dye company and looking through the jars of another brand to see what I’m low on.  Try to call company #1 but they are apparently closed for New Year’s Eve Day.  That’s not even a real holiday.  As I work I think about business-y things.  The 2014 Snapshots from Maine club invoices go out tomorrow.  The post office will be closed, but I can get all orders ready for Thursday.  What percentage of club members have to pay their invoices before I can order the yarn?  Do I need vinegar right away?  No.  Dawn? Yes.  Add it to the grocery list with trash bags.  Remember I wanted to do a load of laundry today but I forgot.  Add it to the list of things to do once my hands are out of the dyepots.  Holler at the dog to leave me alone – he can smell the wet Masham fiber in the sink and has decided to investigate.  Give in and rub my wet stinky gloves all over him.  I’ll have to wash the dog hair off my gloves before resuming work, but he’s happy and that makes me smile.  Discover a hole in the thumb of one of the gloves.  Crap.  Now my thumbnail is discolored.  Get new gloves and get back to work.

4:00. Clean up the dyepots and accoutrements before Paul gets home.  It’s his turn to cook dinner and I want the kitchen to be ready.  The oven/stove are still full of fiber, but after another 45 minutes they’ll all be done.  A quick rinse and they are hung in the studio on my gridwall with drip pans beneath.  The box fan is on and this dry winter air is helping tremendously.

Evenings are varied – some times I work on orders, other times I knit.  some times I work on email or blog posts/newsletters/etc., often I make notes for the next podcast.  Tonight I’ll be working on orders as the sales I started at noon has resulted in about a dozen purchases.  If I get the packing slips complete, I may ask my shipping manager (Paul) to pack them so I can go for a run on the treadmill.


That’s a day in my life.  I’d love to hear what you think!