An honest account of my first yarn advent!
We are now partway through January already, so I thought I would come and unload some thoughts about advent, and share some photos (although they have been heavily shared on social media already).
So 2018 was my first attempt at "proper" advent. I had never felt inclined to do it before, it seemed like a lot of work. But I had been doing a bigger advent for a friend and long time customer, so I thought "Ahhhh, what the hell, I might as well!".
The response to sign up was so fantastic. As a dyer, launching sign up for something is incredibly nerve wracking. In the early days of my business it was hard to gather enough interest to justify doing the club. I had to work for it. I had to share in Facebook groups and plug the hell out of it, just to get as little as 10 sign ups (which may sound like a large number, but when you consider our profit, and the work that goes into a club, it really isn't that many). Though I am extremely thankful that I no longer have this issue, I think part of my brain is still stuck in the "Will this flop?" mentality. But it wasn't a flop, it was massive (for me).
There were problems with advent right from the off. My numbers weren't right, I had failed to prepare myself for how difficult the maths would be with the amount of options I offered.
Lesson number 1: next year, don't offer a million options!
The dyeing was easy peasy. Whilst it was a lot of work, dyeing the yarn is rarely the problem. But I didn't realise that I had created a couple of colourways which were incredibly similar to each other. When writing down my plans on paper, I tried to imagine what the yarn would look like, and my imagination fell short. I will come back to this later.
Lesson number 2: test dye colourways before diving in.
Something I never thought about was the twisting of the skeins. I dye a lot of minis for my Lurid Minis yarn club every month, but those are sent untwisted as large letter......My hands and wrists were not prepared for the extra work, haha! I soon got into a rhythm though, and even fashioned a hook which fitted onto a battery powered drill, making much lighter work of things.
Lesson number 3: Save up and buy a pro skein twister!
The next issue came with packing......Oh, the horror! Again, the issue of "too many options" reared it's head. But by now I did have tangible items (dyed yarn), which helped greatly with organisation. This did mean that every available surface became a receptacle for all the different options. I bought the wrong boxes.......Then I bought too few of the right boxes (I have no idea how, I had the number ingrained in my brain!). Emergency box shopping happened and it was all plain sailing...........Until.........
Lesson number 4: Check descriptions before purchasing, and check numbers!
.........I had to take these boxes to the post office!! It's mid-week, everyone is at work, I don't have a car! Big yarn clubs often go out on weekends or Fridays for me, so that I can get a lift with bags. But advent was obviously time sensitive, so it needed doing now. Panic started setting in, but I pulled myself together and took the boxes in shifts in large shopping bags. The post office woman was frazzled after 3 days of me appearing with box after box. But they were gone! Off on their journey (one going as far as Australia!). Now I had to wait for them to arrive......
Lesson number 5: Schedule post office drop off with a person who is able to drive.
.....some started arriving, yay!!! More started arriving.....But updates on the first batch were not coming. There was a problem. We had one week before 1st December and there were still several boxes missing. They should have been there by now!....And the one destined for Australia was showing as still in the UK. Several phone calls later, and the issue was resolved with my local sorting office. They all arrived on time, apart from the Australian box.
Lesson number 6: Send any Aussie parcels a month in advance! It's the other side of the world!
People started opening their advents and I was pleased and relaxed. Excited to see people making things! But it became apparent that the sequence of one person's advent was backwards. I mentioned it to her, and quickly forgot about it. Honest talk now; I honestly didn't think much of it, I didn't take into account that this would be an issue for the customer, and I was wrong. A couple of weeks down the line, said customer was understandably unhappy. She contacted me and told me she was disappointed and felt dismissed. I hadn't even apologised. We had a chat, I felt bad. I knew I had messed up and I was sorry that I needed to be told before I realised what an issue it was.
Lesson number 7: Never assume that something is OK, just because you don't see an issue. Always apologise. Always.
Then the issue of the similar colourways came back. Not because a customer failed to recognise a difference between the two, but because during packing I had actually failed to recognise a difference! This issue was ironed out, but I don't think I ever did find the other person who obviously had two the same. I did make an effort to find them though.
Lesson number 9: See lesson number 2!
OK, that's enough of the negativity! Because, after all of that, I will be doing it again! That is the reason for these lessons. I can look back at the tail end of this year and check up on myself, make sure that I am doing better, and learn from the mistakes I made last year.
Most of all, I enjoyed seeing so many projects coming from these minis!
I also did a big advent, as mentioned above. I do this every year for one customer. And this year I will be opening it up for just a few other people. The advent calendar comprises of 24 x 50g skeins, and one 100g skein for Christmas day. Each skein is individually wrapped, as you would expect.
Because of the volume of dyeing this would require, I will only be opening up 4 spaces. And because of the limited numbers and lots of interest, I will be doing this in a fastest finger first way. At the end of January, I will be opening a website listing for a £20 deposit, there will be 4. And once they are sold out, that's it. The rest of the payments will be made in instalments each month or in full, should you be in a position to pay it. More info will be coming nearer the end of the month.
Sign up for my standard advents will be opening in May. Early, I know, yes you can laugh and roll your eyes if you want, Haha! But this whole blog post demonstrates that preparation and planning is key.
And as a sign off, here are the previous two "Big Advents" I have done.