Sunday, July 11, 2010

TdF Day 6, 7, 8

Day 6:
I spent the afternoon pouring over samples and crunching numbers. I am just waiting on one final price and I will be ready to place an opening order with a new supplier. I will be reanimating Alpacalips 100% alpaca yarn and rebranding it as a limited edition run of Zombie Alpacalypse which will be an alpaca, merino and silk blend. I am wavering between a softly spun silk single or a tussah silk/merino blend yarn. I am bringing in small 20-bump runs of Falkland wool, polwarth and either silk or tencel. All that thinking about what others want to spin counts as spinning myself, I think.

I started a bobbin of merino wool in Chocolate Covered Cherries. It fought me for half an ounce before I gave up.

Day 7:
I finished the first bobbin of CCC. It fought me the whole way. My enthusiasm for this project is waning. When is the rest day? Soon, I hope. Half an ounce from the end I realized, dumbass, you didn't draft enough. I drafted the remaining fiber and it spun effortlessly. Half a braid to go.


Day 8:
Today I spun a great big pile of nothing. I was going to finish up the singles of the 4oz braid I was working on. I was contemplating pulling the other 3 braids out of the shop and spinning up yarn for a sweater, but then they sold. All 3. Just like that! It was meant to be! Hey, I am not complaining in the least about that, but it did curb my enthusiasm for finishing the current braid. Tomorrow is a rest day. I rediscovered some alpaca fiber I forgot I had in the freezer (what, you don't keep your fiber in the freezer?) that I think I will spin tomorrow evening even if it is a rest day.

Hours too late

This started off as a nice blog updated and then got long and ranty. That's sort of a simile for my entire week. It was nice with long and ranty parts.

I woke up hours too late this morning to watch today's mountain stage in the Tour de France. I will wait until they are done riding in a few hours and watch it from the beginning this afternoon. In the meantime, I'm enjoying having my computer at a distance reasonable for getting some work done. My laptop has been hooked up to the TV so we can watch the Tour feed from the computer on the television. It's great for watching internet shows, but rotten for checking email. I've been balancing my keyboard on my lap and squinting for a week trying to read my email on my TV 8 feet away. I finally gave up even trying.

The feed from Versus has been awful. I paid $30 to, according to Versus ad, "not miss a minute of the Tour" or something like that. I paid $30 to, according to Versus advertising, get the full uninterrupted feed in HD streamed from the Tour directly to my computer. Then on the very first stage the race started and the feed still hadn't. Later, when trying to watch the feed on demand, the technology on Versus didn't work. The next day, same thing. The day after? Ditto.

Versus finally sent an email apologizing (but not offering any kind of refund) for the failure of service. Fans were riotous in the 2.5 days it took Versus to send that email. This is their biggest sporting event of the year. Versus had advertised what to expect. Furthermore, they advertised the same thing LAST year and failed to produce. The fans were upset last year, but nothing like they were this year having been duped for their money twice.

Versus had chat rooms, facebook and twitter feeds devoted to the Tour and talking about the Tour. Fans went to the various forums asking why those of us who paid $30 couldn't get the feed, so Versus did know there was a problem.

At any point Versus could have put up a twitter or a quick message saying they were working on the problem and that would have bought them a few hours. Instead they waited to act until fans started filing dispute claims with their credit card companies to get the $30 they paid back. Versus may have well been working on the technology issues for the full 2.5 days it took them to email us, but they didn't let their fans know that and the fans, rightfully, filed disputes getting their money back.

Ahem.

Scott's been on vacation this week. That's reason number 2 why I have 1000 unread emails in my inbox. Did I say 1000? I meant 7174, but only the last 1000 are from this week. Sadly, that's not including the spam folder, although it does include an email a day from QVC, Land's End, Ancestry.com, One Stop Plus, Amazon, JCPenny, Writers Digest, FansEdge, Walgreens, Old Navy,  and Groupon and at least 2 emails a day from Interweave Press, Facebook and nearly defunct social media sites that desperately wish I would validate their existence by logging in and connecting with people I don't know. How the heck do I unsubscribe from some of these emails because clicking 'unsubscribe' sure isn't doing it.

This is going to seem like an abrupt topic shift. I bet you're not used to those in this blog. Ahem.

I can't speak for other artists or crafters, but I like knowing what shows I have coming up months in advance so I can prepare for them. It makes me itchy to have someone approach me with a show that's in 2 weeks. Sometimes it makes sense, like if the shows is short on vendors or someone canceled, but sometimes it means the show is so unorganized that they forgot to get vendors.

There have been several shows pop up lately that I have either been interested in or been asked to be a part of that are coming up really soon and the vendor application paperwork still has not been finalized. I have a big gaping hole in my summer shows, so I am interested in finding a good fit, but I am rapidly losing interest in doing poorly organized shows no matter how cool they sound. How do you tell which are the organized shows running short on vendors and which are the disorganized shows who treat their vendors badly? You don't. You just gotta go with your instinct.

I will occasionally see people, especially people on Ravelry, say that we the vendors ought to be more patient and understanding because the people running the events are volunteers. Absolutely! I agree with that 100% however, while organizers are volunteering their time, we vendors are paying to be there. There has to be a little give and a little understanding on both sides, I think.

This is going to seem like another abrupt topic shift, but in my mind it is related.

I took two classes this summer. Both were online. One was supposed to last 8 weeks and the other approximately 1 month. Both cost about the same amount per hour of instruction. The two classes produced completely different experiences.

The 8 week class came with a class description, a syllabus and an statement of what the student can expect from the teacher, what the teacher expects from the student and the consequences of either student or teacher failing to followt he syllabus. I completed the 8 week class and feel like I got my money's worth.

The 1 month class came with a class description, sort of, from a teacher that is well-respected and well-known in the industry and, furthermore, one of my favorites in the industry.  There was no syllabus, no topic list, not expectations of the class or the teacher. There was just a statement that we were going to cover the principles of the topic and that's okay because we all trust the teacher to give us our money's worth.

The class started right away with the first topic. It was way over my head at first, so I decided only to observe and read rather than participate. I know I wasn't the only student who had decided that. The second lesson came out a week or two later. It was still over my head. The third lesson was delayed even longer so, since I had extra time, I put my head down and plowed through the first two lessons until I understood it. The third lesson was posted on June 13. Nothing has been posted since then.

I have read in places other than the classroom that the instructors are having personal issues that are delaying the class. In the classroom itself we were told that the primary instructor was a victim of a crime, no one hurt, and that it was taking time for the instructor to get back on track because she had to spend so much time on filing paper work. Completely understandable, but don't make us guess what's going on. We were given a schedule, finally, for the rest of the class and that schedule has long since blown past us with nothing new being posted. In the meantime, the instructors have started a new class on the SAME TOPIC while we are still waiting for our to resume Uh, WHUT?

I have been trying not to rock the boat too much, because I still kind of idolize the teacher. Like, so much so I just bought her newest book in two different formats. I notice that none of my other 34 classmates have said a word, either. I wonder if this is because it is verboten to speak a critical word in the knitting community? Or I wonder if it is because we are new designers and the two instructors are, right now, our only gateway in to the mystical word of tech editing? I finally said something. I cannot be the only one wondering If that was $60 I just threw down the drain.

Here's where I'm putting the parts of this post back together. We may be a friendly community. We may value our volunteers. The arts, crafts and cycling community, may be a kinder, gentler community, but those of us who have paid money to participate in it are entitled to receive what we have paid for. If that cannot be provided or if there is going to be a delay in providing services, then JUST SAY SO and keep us in the loop as you figure things out. Don't make us guess.

In my final unrelated blog news, we went to Meramec Caverns on Friday. I had never been before. I loved it. It was all of the stunning natural cave formations with none of the mud, snakes or arduous walking conditions, with a whole lot of kitchy cornballishness (is that a word?). It was just my kind of thing.