Category Archives: Business

Recalculating…

With considerably more time on my hands than has been usual for a while, I’ve been able to kind of splash the road grime off my brain and look around a bit. Man, have I been doing stuff wrong or what?

First off, let’s be straight. I hate sales. Or perhaps I should say that I hate the active participation in sales as I’ve learned the concept within this industry. Now don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the services that good sales reps provide, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with most of the sales reps who visited me when I was buying for ThreadBear. I just hate doing it. And it’s not a judgmental thing in any way. But I’m only good at selling what I honestly believe wholeheartedly will be beneficial for my customers, and I’m not the kind of person who can abstain from offering an honest opinion if one is requested. Depending on the depth of the belief and the importance of the question, one really shouldn’t be surprised that I’m going to offer an opinion whether I’m asked or not. Fairly obviously, I have at least a healthy respect for my own opinion.

I do so because I know me. I’m willing to listen. I’m willing to shift my perspective long enough to hear the other guy’s side. And if the other guy’s side has merit, I’m willing to incorporate new beliefs and methods with relative ease. Having never—as an adult at least—been particularly dogmatic, I can respect sales as a calling while acknowledging that selling a full assortment of other people’s products is never going to be an arena at which I excel.

That being said, I know I did an excellent job for some of my customers. And yes, I know that I also did a crummy job for some others for the most part out of no malice whatsoever. Generally, the issue was more economic, but I digress. Several of my wholesale customers have remained very friendly with me since I stopped repping at the end of last winter. We chat a bit, and a few truly have become friends. But for the most part, the relationship of mutually interested colleagues didn’t change much.

We talk about their shops. We talk about new yarns, designers, market influences, promotions, industry gossip, and all the things I talk about with people who share a love for something that 90% of the people we interact with on a day-to-day basis don’t get. I help them. They help me. That’s what I did when I was a rep with those who would let me, and I continue to do it for free with just about anyone else who will let me. Only now, there’s little profit in it for me beyond personal enrichment and professional networking.

So with time on my hands, that’s a lot of what I’ve done. I’ve talked to people. And one of the things I’ve realized is that I really don’t need a job to be a professional. I am a professional. I have marketable skills and monetizable talents. I know these things. I’ve just been so busy trying to make a living that I forgot what my life was about.

I’m not going to go all schmaltzy. I’m a yarnie. That’s what I do. I love knitting. That’s what I do. And I freakin’ balls-to-the-wall LOVE what the fiber arts industry can bring to their—or rather our—market. That is what I do.

But let’s be specific. I was a corporate web developer looking for work in the Indiana boonies when Rob and I started ThreadBear. I worked in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, CFML, ActionScript, and PHP and used Flash, Dreamweaver, ColdFusion. I’ve also done some work in Drupal and WordPress installations and theming. So, I’m blowing the dust off my web developer’s hat. I’ve always kept a toe in, but I’ve been surprised at how easily I’ve been able to shine lights into dark corners of my memory. I’m not sure yet exactly how I’ll market that skill, but that makes one.

A very dear friend has graciously offered her services as a writing mentor. That might seem like a much bigger deal when I tell you this is a published writer who makes her living at the craft and business of writing. I’m ecstatic. I love to write, certainly, but this blog is likely the least planned repository of writing ever to grace the Internet. And Miley’s on the Internet. So—maybe not.

Also, yet another dear friend who is also an established professional in her field has offered to mentor me in the mysterious science of tech editing. Squee!

If you’re not aware, I’m a puzzle fan and always have been. Nothing terribly ostentatious: crosswords, logic problems, Sudoku. The usual fare. But nothing tantalizes like a garment pattern. Well, nothing tantalizes me like a garment pattern. I expect those little amigurumi characters have some interesting geometry, but personally I’m not interested in making them. At this time.

Furthermore, I’ve been ripping apart patterns and putting them back together as a shop owner and teacher for years. I’ve even dabbled however slightly in pattern design myself. So for someone I truly love and trust to offer that kind of assistance was tantamount to deus-ex-machina.

And finally, deus ex machina. Another dear friend who is an accredited professional in her field despite now working in yarn has agreed to work on a project with me that surrounds her background: theology. Maybe nine months before I stopped repping, she and I had a private conversation in which she began asking me probing theological questions to help me pin down or at least consider my own belief system. I have to say that it was one of the most empowering evenings of my life, and we barely scratched the surface.

Each of these projects will be explored further here. I’ve missed you. And I’m eager to play.

Shall we?

Empowering Biz Yarnies

Believe it or not, over the years I’ve encountered a business advisor or two of various stripes, denominations, and levels of personal understanding of how to implement their own advice. That said, I’ve picked up some interesting tidbits of anecdotal evidence that, as self-proclaimed pundit, I believe point in an interesting direction.

A SCORE counselor once told me that banks rarely lend money to start-ups whose owners are under fifty largely because it’s assumed that a professional who has worked in a field for a substantive number of years has failed enough times by fifty that she or he might be somewhat more likely to succeed than a younger entrepreneur of similar skills and collateral. Jack Canfield, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, writes in Success Principles that over and over he’s seen himself that failure begets ingenuity and hard work to overcome that failure, and he’s certainly not the first.

Time and again, we go away to empowering workshops and conferences and are inspired, come home, and have fantastic results for a little while. It’s natural. We’re social beasts by nature, and when what we surround ourselves with every day is significantly different in message from what we hear at those inspiring retreats, the energy we bring home dissipates quickly. Please consider the now fairly universally-recognized image of air escaping an air lock. You can breathe just fine as long as the vacuum holds, but the second you’re in space that little bit of air seems to vanish in an instant.

We as entrepreneurs and specifically as professionals in the fiber arts industry need to build a culture of inspiration.

Success can happen. We’ve all seen it. No, no one’s buying property in Dubai on what they made on a Ravelry pattern, but there are people making livings—good livings—working in the field. Some are shop owners. Some own distributorships. Some are designers and/or instructors. Some are sales reps. There are success stories in every segment of the field: people who did the right thing at the right time and somehow made it work. At least for a little while.

Long-term success is about long-term solid choices. It’s about surrounding yourself with the people who best support your vision and moving forward. And when the world falls apart—as evidenced by every toddler who’s fallen but hasn’t decided whether to cry—is all just fine as long as everyone smiles, pulls together, and keeps on going like nothing ever happened. Well. Except for keeping an eye on that crack in the sidewalk. You do want to remember that.

I’ve been teased mostly good-naturedly by several folks about being forward-focused but discussing past failures. My failures have been some of the most invaluable lessons of my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am or have what I do if I hadn’t screwed the pooch rather dramatically on more than one occasion. Come on.

But moving forward doesn’t mean ignoring the past. The past is full of lessons both from a personal and a historic stand-point. No logical person would argue that history is irrelevant to the future. And my history is fraught with lessons. Trust me.

So where do we get this input? Frankly, I don’t know yet. It doesn’t exist anywhere that I’ve found. What destination can consistently be relied upon to uplift specifically the yarn professional’s spirit? Now, for me that’s often Staples. Or Office Depot. Or The Container Store. The order is nice. Things are clean and neat. And I can dream about being able to afford enough of one type of container to hold all my yarn and craft supplies. But the entire industry can’t stroll through Office Max on a stressful afternoon.

So we have video. TED is a fantastic resource depending on how broad you want to go. You have to be discerning, but you can find some wonderful stuff on YouTube as well.

Entrepreneur Magazine has its own feed of videos on YouTube, and I found one today that really resonated with a lot of what I’ve been thinking about lately. Here, Barbara Corcoran speaks with great energy and candor about the gains we can achieve through failure and rejection. I’m not a Shark Tank fan, but her keynote at the Entrepreneur Magazine’s 5th Annual Growth Conference 2013 was both thought-provoking and empowering. I hope you enjoy it. [running time 1:05:55]

Ok. That’s great. But there has to be something beyond that. There has to be more. There is.

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender of Kizer & Bender have their own feed on YouTube. If you haven’t been exposed to this pair of delightful lunatics, I strongly suggest you fix that. Yes, Rich & George, I’m telling the world to expose themselves to you. My attorneys will be waiting for your calls.

I’ve also been a fan of Harvard Business School professor Youngme Moon since reading her thought-provoking book, Different. And I’ll admit that it’s the first and so-far only book that ever convinced me to read it from watching a YouTube video.

There’s a vast need in our business to begin to truly scrutinize what works and what doesn’t in a way that can be reproduced and taught to successive generations of business owners. TNNA has done a great deal to get this ball rolling, but a grassroots effort to educate ourselves as business owners and empowered entrepreneurs is necessary if we want to see long-term growth in the overall size of our market.

If you know of empowering videos, books, speakers, or bloggers who you feel might be of benefit to folks in the industry or entrepreneurs, please feel free to share.

Health, joy, and prosperity,
Matt

Addressing the Silence

I suppose it was inevitable that I’d restart the Crowing Ram blog by writing about ThreadBear. Really, it would be sort of silly not to, right? I mean really. Bottling things up is a bad thing. One should talk about things that affect one’s life and livelihood. And I didn’t for a long, long time.

I was embarrassed. Long before I realized that there existed the kinds of fundamental problems with the business that there were, our blogs and newsletters had become places where my partner made subtle—and sometimes less than subtle—jabs at me.

It may come as a shock since I’ve chosen to share this now, but I’m actually a rather private person. I appreciate intimacy, and I was always rather particular about what I shared online. So rather than contest anything that might have made me sound like a lunatic, I kept my mouth shut. As I hid more and more of my painful existence, there was less and less left that I felt comfortable sharing. Eventually, Crowing Ram—as a blog—became silent.

And that’s a shame. There were amazing things going on in that store that were never reported. There were things I learned as the roof was rather literally falling in around me. And many of those lessons would apply to most any business. Edison has been credited with saying that he learned more from the thousands of failed attempts to make a light bulb than he did from his ultimate success. If that’s so, I believe that there’s much to be gleaned from the many great accomplishments of ThreadBear as well as the catastrophic failures that eventually put it solidly in the rear-view mirror.

To paraphrase The Immortal Bard, I come not to praise ThreadBear but to learn from it. ThreadBear was a big shop, and its mismanagement did damage to numerous other businesses and entities. It’s scary to have large players on a small field behaving irresponsibly. So, let me make it perfectly clear that I knew when I walked away from the business that I was putting a bullet into its skull. It needed putting down. It was my responsibility, and I did the only thing that I knew how to do to put an end to it.

That said, I loved ThreadBear and love the part of it that was good still. It needed killing. I won’t deny that. But to not make use of the lessons it offers would be tragic.

This industry needs excitement. ThreadBear knew excitement. And actually, I can’t find a lot of fault in the excitement that ThreadBear generated. There were certainly complaints from competitors that we pulled customers away from them. But not only did we also build a huge number of new customers who weren’t already in the market, we also made concerted efforts to reach out to other shops for participation in events and to refer customers to other shops who carried products we didn’t. And as customers ourselves, we spent thousands of dollars a year in competitors’ businesses. Competition’s a real part of any business, and with very few exceptions I can honestly say that we had healthy respect for all of our competitors both local and at a distance.

There were a few who made the mistake of pitting themselves against us, and I really wish they hadn’t. Their businesses fell. But no business should be in the business of attacking another business. That’s just dumb. This industry needs brains.

And this industry needs growth. ThreadBear knew growth. What ThreadBear didn’t handle so well was controlled growth.

In fact, I’d say control was the one thing ThreadBear truly lacked. It was out of control. That’s bad. Really bad. I get that. And those that were closest to me at the time would confirm that control was much of what I spent my last days at ThreadBear struggling to establish. I’d have had as much luck stemming the flow of a fire hydrant with a cork.

I can’t regret that the business is gone. It needs to be.

But its lessons are both valid and numerous.

And I’m eager to share them. For the industry’s sake as well as my own.

Happy New Year

It’s odd, I think, that we talk about coming to crossroads. One of the things that becomes clearer to me with each passing year is that each moment is a crossroads. We choose in each moment what and who we will be. We choose where we put our energy and attention. We choose to dedicate all that we are to one thing or another. We choose to direct ourselves toward our truest purpose—any purpose—or we do not.

I’ll be direct about this. I lost my purpose.

I had a life that fulfilled me in a great many ways, and in that life I found purpose. I enjoyed building the community that supported a thriving and active yarn shop. My customers were—for good or ill—like family, and I was grateful every day for each and every one of them. My students especially gave me a sense that I was building a future for something I hold dear. And I enjoyed building the community that built that community. The staff and instructors that came through that shop were some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known. I know that a lot of people complain about sales reps, but I had some of the most wonderful and helpful sales reps; I had the other kind too, but I genuinely enjoyed seeing almost every sales rep that came through. The vendors that I met at TNNA and who made special trips to visit the shop were so good to us, and we had some of the most incredibly talented and wonderful guest speakers and instructors visit. I loved being able to do work that fed my spirit so much on a daily basis.

But there were issues.

Foremost, there were and had been monumental issues at home that only became exacerbated by working and living together twenty-four-seven. As suggested above, I’m pretty keen on choice. I stayed. I can make excuses, but the bottom line is this: I wanted to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’d given the man I loved every possible opportunity to save himself. And I disgraced myself in doing so.

I looked friends in the eye and dealt in good faith. I signed contracts. I incurred debt. And did so knowing full-well that the business ought to have been successful. There was no reason it shouldn’t. There were huge bills certainly, but there was income aplenty. Or so I thought.

I don’t know what happened. It was never really spelled our for me. While it stings to have benefitted from DOMA, we never married. I had no legal right to anything under common law. Nor thankfully some of the liability. Almost exactly a year before it closed for good, I walked away from ThreadBear. A couple of months later I found out my mom’s cancer was back and left Michigan for Georgia.

I had under $500 in cash, a storage unit full of what was left of my life, and a mom.

God bless mothers. And God bless my momma.

We got to spend about six month under the same roof, and I can honestly say that I’ve never had a better roommate. And not because she did my laundry. Well, not just that.

We could talk about anything. We’d both gotten out of relationships that weren’t working. We both had regrets and joys and faults and a truly amazing grace that somehow pulled it all together. We were friends. She was still a parent, but she became more. But she did really want me to find a job in Atlanta. I’d be glad to be corrected if I’m wrong, but there aren’t a lot of household-sustaining jobs in the independent fiber arts industry to be had in the Greater Metro area. I interviewed for web development jobs, but after the incredibly tempting third with the team that builds and manages websites for HGTV and Food Network, I placed a hopeful call to Rob Delmont. It wasn’t long before I relocated to Raleigh to take over a sales territory for Skacel Collection. I picked up other lines and built relationships with vendors and shop owners alike, but something wasn’t right. I thought it was the money, so I took another sales job on the chain side. As it turns out, it wasn’t the money.

I genuinely don’t enjoy or excel at sales. I’ve had excellent results for some products and some vendors, but the truth is that those were always—back to the days I was selling Mont Blanc pens and Tumi luggage—products and companies I believed in. I love many of the products that the various vendors I represented were selling, but selling to a hostile crowd is just not my strong suit. If you don’t want what I’m selling, you have your reasons. If you care to share those reasons, I may be able to help you find something you didn’t know I had. Beyond that, I’m more like a librarian than a salesman. (And trust me when I say that in general shop owners are a rather hostile crowd for every sales rep regardless of that rep’s skill, reputation, and history of successful interaction. I know there will be letters. Don’t get me wrong. There are exceptional shop owners out there; I just also admit to myself in hindsight that I wasn’t one.)

That’s why selling product to my customers at ThreadBear was so easy for me. I believed in the product. I was the one who’d bought it in the first place, and every rep who every wrote orders with me will confirm that I hate—and I use that word rarely—to spend money on anything I don’t think is good for the industry, my customers, and my business in that order. Yes, I sometimes chose to cut my own throat on a purchase because I thought it would be perfect for some group of customers. Yes, I sometimes chose not to purchase or discuss products with my customers that I thought were bad for the industry. And yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Let no one ever say that I didn’t do my very best to build that shop into one of the most diverse studios of media and libraries of learning for fiber artists I could make of it.

So now I’m officially unemployed. Fortunately for me, entrepreneurs are never truly unemployed.

That said, if I’m to draw unemployment insurance, I must search in person for work locally. I can get behind that. No, I won’t be abandoning my purpose. In fact, I’m doing quite the opposite.

Sure, if I find something that pays the bills here in Charlotte, I’m game for that. Where the money comes from isn’t terribly important to me. What’s important to me as I hear fireworks going off in the first hours of 2014 is that I have a purpose that needs serving. And as I said, I lost it.

Happy New Year, folks. I think I’ve found it again. Who’s with me?

And on…

There’s a proverbial “ancient Chinese curse” whose age and place of origin I cannot verify. It’s a wish that one live in interesting times. These are they.

Leaving my job and relationship was difficult, and certainly not having an income is scary as hell. That’s not to oddest part, though. What’s truly interesting is my own lack of… well, direction. Obviously, I’m sending out resumes and filling out applications. I’m also working to develop the contacts I would need to start my own web design and development business. I’m also brushing up on a lot of the technical skills that I’ve let atrophy a bit while working in a retail environment.

I even attended the Michigan Works Job Fair yesterday at Lansing Center. I had to scramble a bit because I’ve worn business casual or just plain casual for most of the last eight years, and as incredible as it must seem, I’ve put on a pound or two since I last purchased business attire. I got my hair cut, took out my earrings, got—in the lexicon of my youth—purty, and headed to town. I did make a few wonderful contacts, and I’m genuinely excited about the prospects of a couple.

That said, there was an awful lot of recruitment for positions for which I simply have too many teeth. If you’re a meth head and are reading my blog, when you’re going for a job interview, you should really consider soap. Your Sunday jeans might also be a good idea. And if at all possible, delouse. Oh, and stop reading my blog. Ew.

What’s blowing me away, though, is how much time there is in a day. What on earth are you supposed to do with it all? I mean… I’m using it to try to find a job, of course, but after all of the running around and spending hours on Monster and Career Builder and Dice and Thingamajob and every business’ website who, when I visited them in person, said, “you should visit our website,” I’m left to walk the dogs, fix myself some lunch, and figure out which other thousand sites to visit that afternoon. Seriously.

Fortunately, I really am in good spirits. It’s been sunny, and there’s been considerable promise—at least from retail businesses—in terms of looking for Christmas help in the next few weeks. I’m also amazed at the number of jobs for which I actually am qualified. I haven’t gotten any callbacks, yet, but I’m hopeful.

Knitting? Now that’s another story. I’ve not knit a stitch in weeks. I have had several ideas, though, so once I am again gainfully employed, I’ll be very happy to get my fingers dirty with a little design work. In the meantime, the pups are good, Rob and I are figuring out how we intend to cohabit, and I’m actually feeling very purposeful. Interesting, no?

News from the back office

Believe it or not, I do still exist! And not only do I exist, I’ve actually been doing things. I know. It’s mystifying.

Ok. I’ve been doing lots of work on a new website for ThreadBear to be announced soon with lots of new features and LOTS more product. Of course, I’ll get more details to you as soon as we’re in a position to make things public.

My mom did wind up having surgery for the cancer that I mentioned in a recent (stop laughing… it’s still on the screen at the time of this writing) post. She did not, however, require chemo this time, so BONUS! Go Moma! She’s since been to a seafood festival in Panama City Beach FL, an anniversary party in Brenham TX, and… Oh, wait. That’s not happened yet! She will be going to ThreadBear Fiber Arts Studio in Lansing MI in a couple of weeks to visit yours truly! WOOT! Yeah, that’s a good one.

She’s finished the baby blanket that we decided on for the new baby that’s due in October. My niece does appear to be having some issues with the pregnancy, but everything seems to be under control. For my own part, I finished a baby jacket from my own handspun yarn for the new addition, and I’m working on a jacket for my great nephew who just turned three. I can’t make something for the baby without giving him something! Good Lord! I can’t start sibling rivalry right off the bat. I’ll have pics tomorrow.

As for today, I’ve just finished getting photos up of Rob’s hand-dyed sock treasures at the main site.

What else? I guess you’ll just have to stop back by to see. Me? I’m headed home for some much needed R&R. Later!

What’s up

My mom’s had another cancer issue. It is being resolved as quickly and as effectively as medical science allows, but it’s still a pisser. She’s tough, my sweet Southern Moma, but I worry about her. And I try not to get her involved with drama here. That winds up meaning calling less, though, and she’ll string me up by the short hairs if I call her any less. Like I said, my sweet Southern Moma can be tough. So we stay in touch.

I haven’t given her the good news, though. I think we have a very strong candidate for the new great grandbaby’s knitting project. Kathy came up with it, and I think it’s great. Unfortunately, it’s at the shop, and I’m at home. So, that will have to be revisited.

For today, though, I’m home at the dining room table with Busby baking into the carpet at the screen out to the deck. There’s light traffic on Oakland, and the mowers have been out in the park across the river. A young woman’s walking a chocolate lab up the Riverwalk path, and a jogger in State shorts coming the other way has slowed to a walk with his jersey over his head catching his breath.

I’m forty, now. We had a party and everything. I was delighted by the black balloons particularly once I realized that I was still nearly if not the youngest person in the room. Since, I’ve had a stomach virus, picked up a taste for Gatorade G2 Strawberry-Kiwi, picked up smoking again briefly (don’t comment… my mother’s already been all over it), and am now still kind of trying to put a diet back together. Not a Diet, mind you, but a diet. A food plan. A sustenance plan with room for delight.

I like food, and I miss cooking. I just recently uncovered a copy of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I’m hoping for great things, but a decent meal every once in a while would be satisfactory. In the meantime, I’m glad it’s summer. Produce looks fantastic at the local shops. Even my favorite Asian market appears to have some fresh seasonal offerings. I haven’t a clue what several of them are, but maybe I’ll get a chance to find out. Maybe not.

I’ve been working on getting a new ThreadBear website up and running over the last several months, and we’re hoping to get that open to the public soon. Of course, given the time of year, we’ve been meeting with sales reps from various yarn, pattern, and accessory companies in anticipation of the fall season and the TNNA Market in June. That’s always entertaining. I’m sure this year won’t disappoint. I’m most intrigued by the idea of getting to see what’s new coming down the pike. That’s this show for most yarn shop owners. There’s a fashion show the night before the Market opens, and vendors from all over show you when they’ve got. It’s very cool… and very tempting. We try to shop there primarily for chocolate jimmies to put on top of what we’ve already ordered with sales reps. It’s easier to browse if we’re not pressed for getting our fall orders in, and it’s helped us find some of the more interesting products that have graced the shelves at ThreadBear. Personally, I can’t wait.

For today, though, I’m going to finish up K1CToo and Rowan and see what else remains to get online at the new site.

Free at last… free at last

Have you ever come to one of those times in your life when you felt like all of the work you’d been putting out there was really starting to come back to you? Liberating, isn’t it?

Have you ever had a secret that you were monumentally excited about but hadto keep under wraps? Remember how you felt when you could finally shout it?

Well, as most of you know, ThreadBear has had us bursting at the seams for months. I’ve had almost no time to post entries, and even my new wheel isn’t nearly as broken in as I’d like it to be. Connor has gotten so used to us being gone every evening for some event or other, she positively clings to Rob (and me, but she’s definitely Rob’s baby) from the moment that we come in the door until…well, she always clings to Rob—to the point we’ve dubbed her Speed Bump. One doesn’t just turn and start walking in this place anymore. You’re apt to trip over about eighty pounds of dog.

A few weeks ago, our landlady mentioned that they had a space for rent just next door to her office here in Bloomington, Indiana. The space is smallish, but it’s about a block off of the courthouse square in downtown Bloomington. We’d be just a few blocks from Indiana University, too. The rent wasn’t high, but between what we’re already paying for rent at home and what that space would cost us, well… let’s just say the combination is prohibitive.

Rob and I talked about it that night. It sounded good, but the money was a serious issue. We sort of tabled the idea for the time being, but we came back to it several times over the next few days. Then one evening, our friend Helen called while we were discussing this. Rob answered the phone, told her what we were talking about, and discussed the whole issue with her for a while. By the time they got off the phone, Helen had given us about four-hundred-some-odd reasons for opening a shop in her hometown of Columbus, Indiana instead.

The following day, Helen and another friend call us from the car. They’re riding around Columbus jotting down the telephone numbers of every commercial space for rent in Bartholomew County. We laugh, but it’s both gratifying and exciting. Within forty-eight hours, we come up with something. Another friend and client of ours in Columbus, Cathi, has a brother, Jim, who is trying to convert a two-story early twentieth-century house from duplexed apartments back into a single-family rental unit. The neighborhood itself is on the leading edge of gentrification, and the house in on a corner lot overlooking the neighborhood. There’s a small yard, and there was already a small cigar shop that Jim and Cathi are running on the back of the property facing the side-street, so zoning shouldn’t be an issue.

We stop by, meet Cathi, Helen, Jim, and his wife (another of our novice knitters) Amy, check the place out, and discuss the kinds of things we’d all like to see done to the place if we were going to put a shop into the building. Of course, we’d supply a lot of the TLC necessary to bring the house back to life, and Jim is very amenable to opening up the house by breaking down the walls that separate the apartments. There are several other things that need to be done, but basically, we all agree to think about it, and get back in touch.

To make a long story short, we’re doing it.

We made the announcement Sunday at our Open House, and Rob is talking with Jim today. From here, we have a whole lot of packing and a whole lot of planning to do.

The house is two blocks off of Hawcreek Boulevard or IN-46/IN-7 in Columbus, Indiana, and IN-46is an exit off of I-65 going through Columbus. We’ll be about 30 minutes from Franklin, 50 minutes from Bloomington, 50 minutes from downtown Indianapolis, an hour-five from Ellettsville, an hour-fifteen from Louisville, an hour-forty-five from Cincinnati, two hours from Brazil, two hours-twenty from Dayton, three hours from Evansville, three-and-a-half hours from Olney, Illinois, five hours from Lansing, eight hours from Atlanta, ten hours from Toronto, ten-and-a-half hours from Annapolis, twelve hours from New York, twenty-three hours from Grand Junction, Colorado, and about forty-eight hours from Calgary.

Does that about cover everybody? Louise, if you want travel times from France, contact your travel agent.

Well, obviously, she needs a little love. This is the main part of the house. Jim’s having central air installed, so the window units won’t be there, and the whole house is being pressure washed to reveal the white underneath. I swore it was grey to Rob and Helen, so here’s my public apology. It’s white. It justlooks grey.

I’m very excited to have a front porch again. I’m looking forward to dragging a wheel or a loom out there, but there will have to be a rocker or two, too.

I’m brainstorming madly for what to put behind the big double windows, but something will come to me certainly. There are actually a couple of back exits, but now that Dolores is in Colorado, we shouldn’t have to worry about frisking anyone! (Just teasing! PLEASE come for a visit!! We’ll make desserts! Chocolate, even.)

Ok. That’s enough for today. I’ve got to go to fill orders. If you’ve got an order pending with us, know that I’m on it. But obviously, we’ve had some pretty hefty distractions! 😉

Much love, people!
Matt.