tips for after sheep and wool

The days after a sheep and wool festival (or any large event) are ones which can cause a range of emotions. Today, the day after Rhinebeck is one of work and recovery. To help you process, I gathered a few of my favorite tips for recovering from a large creative event.

My Number One Tip – Pause

two goats: a dark grey and a light natural colored laying on hay in a barn

There are a few post-event emotions that seem to occur whether you’re a first-time attendee or have years of shows under your belt. You’re likely exhausted, exhilarated, excited, and overwhelmed all at once.

That’s ok!

Perhaps like me you are introverted and enjoy a routine schedule. You find it challenging to get back to the day to day after a large social event.

On days like today I carve extra time to for myself in the morning before I attempt to settle into my workday. I recommend at least 5 minutes and think 15 is even better. I like to sit in quiet contemplation, please do this however is best for you1.

These events can be overstimulating, and I’ve found that pausing before taking time to formally process allows for it to be done in a more meaningful manner. Why? The pause allows a bit of distance to take place both cognitively and temporally, yet not too long that details are forgotten. My experience is that this allows me to write the details that will prove relevant later. When I skip this step, I find there are larger gaps in my records than exist otherwise.

Three additional tips for Processing your Sheep and Wool Experience

two page spread of an orange lined notebook on a wooden desk with keyboard, mini watercolor set, pen, and date stamp visible.
please click to expand image full size
  1. Write it down. It’s an established fact that I love notebooks. So much so that I offer some of my favorites in my shop2. As I process the event, I first focus on bold strokes in a first pass. These are the basic details. Who, what, where, and whys.
  2. Write more. Throughout the week, I write and draw more and fill in gaps. For example, since the photo I’ve added a note about how fast the women’s room line moved3. Here I also try to record the initial ideas and plans I have for new acquisitions. Scribbles for potential blog posts or sketches designs begin to make an appearance.
  3. Review. I also use this time to review my records for my yarn, fiber, books, and notions. While I should always update my database, that doesn’t always happen timely. I know some yarn that came in over the summer didn’t make it into Ravelry. This week I’m inventorying my storage bins and adding missing entries. Books are catalogued in LibraryThing. While I don’t track my needles and notions in a database, I properly store them.

I know this tip is out of order chronologically, but I’ll put it here anyway: as soon as I get home, I take a photo4 of what I purchased so I can help record details about what/who/where — we know that labels disappear. I no longer post “here’s my haul” pics to social media, but I take one for reference. I found this sort of display can cause extra feelings for everyone and they are rarely end positive.

Additional tips:

Tools

Are you looking for some tools to help you process your experience?

Are you preparing for a festival? Check out my tips.

  1. What are ways to make time for yourself? Some ideas include: sitting on a bench and breathing autumn air, taking a walk in the woods, napping with a kitten (or puppy), writing in a journal, painting, or sitting with your favorite beverage and a favorite book to (re)read. ↩︎
  2. Are these sold out? I also offer notebooks at PSG Studio. ↩︎
  3. The one near the first aide stations/building G. ↩︎
  4. Are you more curious than my cat about what I purchased? If you really want to see a photo, please ask. I bought 5 oz of fiber, and 3165 meters of yarn (880g) over a few vendors and skeins. ↩︎

This post was first published in 2017 and updated for 2023.

preparing for sheep and wool

It’s autumn and that means the fall sheep & wool festival season. These events are fun for the entire family but can be overwhelming the first time (and ever after).

This post shares my tips for attending a festival in person. I walked many trade shows before I went to my first sheep and wool and thought a fiber festival would be the same. While there are similarities, I find the differences can either make it exciting and fun or a draining lesson that ends in frustration. My first sheep and wool experience was over fifteen years ago and I cried on the drive home, overwhelmed by everything I’d seen and experienced.

At the time I didn’t know to adapt my trade show tools to help me prepare or that I might need to decompress after. I first wrote this post to help share my experience over the years as an extremely shy socially anxious introvert. I have more tips specifically for trade shows.

The biggest difference I found is that a trade show is attended with a company budget, meanwhile fiber festival purchases come from your own pocket. That small shift changes the entire experience, even if your company is a solo enterprise. The result for me is I think through my purchases differently (read: even more angst). The dynamic of meetups and encounters change too. Meeting friends in a social context is very different than when you’re specifically thinking about work.

Rhinebeck!

The third full weekend of October will be here before we know it, and that means the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival up near Rhinebeck, NY. This year’s show is October 20 and 21, 2023. Please note that any information written here specific to the festival may change. Please visit the official website to stay informed.

tips and advice to prepare

Note that many of the links are specific to Rhinebeck. The tips are useful for any festival.

  • First and foremost: remember we’re all on this same rock circling the sun together. Please be kind and respectful to everyone. Be kind.
  • If you want to save some money, purchase your ticket online.
  • Familiarize yourself with the map of the grounds, review the schedule, and take note of the vendor list. Remember that many vendors are solo or very small businesses and things happen. Be kind.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You will be walking.
  • If you need mobility assistance, I recommend that you bring equipment from home (including rent at home and bring); I’m unsure if any services will be available at the Fairgrounds. Please contact the festival directly if you have specific questions or concerns.
  • The pathways at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds are mostly smooth and paved. They may also be crowded. The area is not flat, there are areas of incline (well, depending which direction you want to go). I recall some uneven terrain near the fiber sheds and some parking areas. If it rained recently there can be mud.
  • Be prepared for changes in weather. It could be 80°F. Or it could snow. On the same day. Wear/bring layers.
  • Please be sure to note the yarns and pattern of anything handmade that you’re wearing. You will be asked. Also be prepared that you may be asked where to find the yarn/pattern at the show.
  • If you need a break, take one! Be kind to yourself. Respect others needs for breaks too. If you can find the info, try to take a note of large group meet up times and locations so your quiet tree doesn’t suddenly become the center of attention.

tips and advice for the evening/day after

  • Prepare for an emotional release. Maybe you anticipated this event for a very long time. Perhaps there was disappointment or wonderful surprises. All of your emotions are valid.
  • Be kind to your feet.
  • See more at my post tips for after sheep and wool.

I hope these tips can help you enjoy a sheep and wool festival.

Note: some photos are from Maryland Sheep & Wool.

Additional Resources

This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated over the years and for 2023.

Hello, again, world.

While most of my planning and goal setting happens in the autumn, I often use the new calendar year as a time to make small changes for my business. This year’s shift is to meet the modest goal of flexibility and finding new ways to adapt during this continued and prolonged period of change and uncertainty. To do so I’m going to return to creating new fiber art while I finalize a few long-promised patterns.

Why the shift in focus? The current expectations for knitting and crochet patterns are not sustainable. Each pattern requires significant time and resources; it’s hard to make that happen in a sustainable manner for a $6 pattern that sells only a dozen copies a year. What will I do instead?  I plan to return to creating small fiber art sculptures and jewelry.

 I love to create and enjoy figuring out how to make yarn exist in freeform shapes. Here’s an example of a puppy I knit in 2011.

Poloraoid photo of a black spotted white dog sitting on a beach and the back of a tiny knitted version

If you’ve met me at an in-person event, it’s possible you’ve seen examples of my necklaces. They often include a found or remixed object, such as part of an old decommissioned hard drive. I’m also exploring a collaboration with a local pottery artist. As soon as I have a few items finished I’ll add them to the shop.

Don’t worry, I’ll continue writing regular posts here and the monthly newsletter. I love sharing for free and know you may like to show your support. So, you can do so here. There’s no expectations on my part, but plenty of gratitude if you’re so inclined.

One crochet pattern design that is close to completion is a one-skein shawl ideal for 400m of a long-color-repeat/ombre dyed sport weight yarn. Dot’s been extra helpful as I work to finish the sample. I hope to release this by early February (two years later than planned).

tuxedo cat looking at a crochet hook and some crochet fabric

Update (13 January 2022): looking for this crochet design? It’s Strataterra.

Gifts for creative individuals

It’s that time of year—you want to support your favorite makers and organizations during the holiday season. This year’s edition of this post is a revised and recycled regift. I’m cleaning up and revising all the posts I’ve written about this topic over the years and updating for the new world we live in.

First, Thank you

For those who have taken a few seconds to read one of my posts or social media updates, thank you. If you’ve then taken a few more moments to comment or react, thank you. To the knitters and crocheters who invested in one of my patterns, thank you. To those who have taken the time to knit or crochet one of my designs, thank you.

Gifts to give creative individuals

There are three gifts that I strongly believe the creative people in your life will appreciate and use:

  • Time.
  • Space.
  • Support.

Yes. These are difficult to wrap but that’s an incentive for you to be creative. While financial support helps artists to have the time and space to create, there are other ways you can help if your budget is tight.

Do they sell things? Buy their stuff!

Of course, if you can (and want) to buy something the creative in your life offers for sale, please do so!

Time

Time is a finite resource, even more so when you want to meet a gift deadline. If you want to help a maker who is working on a deadline, take on some housework or errands. Assisting with cooking, cleaning, child/elder care, cleaning the litter box, etc. you get the idea.

Space

My experience is that crafting needs evolve and yet the work area is the last to see updates.

Ask what would help make a crafting space more useful. This could be storage, lighting, or spending time helping to organize supplies.

Tool Upgrades (or maintenance). Ask if there’s a tool they’d love upgraded or needs some more TLC than they can do on their own.

I know I can never have too many notebooks. If you’re unsure what to get I highly suggest the quality of Rhodia and Clairefontaine notebooks. I happen to have a few in stock.

Support

Be a friend. Art is often a lonely profession and the creative process can be rough. Set up a reoccurring date to chat with a friend and work hard so you don’t both back out.

Share & promote! It’s important to like/share/promote. I have brilliant friends and while I wish I could buy everything they make, realistically that isn’t possible. One way to help is to let the authors/artists know that you like their work and tell others about it. Buy legitimate copies of their work (or borrow from a library) and write a review to a book review website (or online store).

Say thank you. Is there someone in your creative community or even outside you find inspiring? Drop them a note, I personally think handwritten is best, but addresses aren’t always easy to find, so an email or contact form works too. Send a short note to let them know you appreciate their work and how it inspires or makes you smile.

Bonus: Donate

I’ve been seeing variations of: “did you buy extra stuff or clean out your closet earlier this year and now you don’t know what to do with it? Donate your things!”

No. By and large, please don’t. My mantra is this: Give Money, Give Time (and Social Media boosts), and only if you know the organization well (and have checked first) Give Stuff.

When a friend donates, it is beyond a humbling experience. While I highly recommend my local humane society, Westchester Humane Society at New Rochelle, find out what organization they care about and donate in their honor. Giving doesn’t always require money. You can start simple and small: share their message and donate a few dollars if you can.

Please help support independent businesses & artists. When monies are invested with them, they very often then turn around and help support others in their communities. I know that I do!

Best wishes for this holiday season.

a gift box wrapped in kraft paper and tied with a light blue bow. the background is a bokeh lights and light blue

This post is a 2021 update and consolidation of posts first written in 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

a very good place to start

I’m always curious about origin stories. In my work helping clients with their solo and microbusinesses, I know that customers want to know about how a business began. These stories are part of us, and for many, they are a challenge to pause and share.

I realized I’ve never shared my story.


Construction

In April of 1983, the adventures of little acorn creations began with a small construction project in my backyard.

Over time this space grew as I did and evolved from one that I used mostly for play and imagination to one where I went with purpose to create and make new things.

A man in his mid 40s stands with his hands on the frame of a small wooden structure. There is a window leaning against a tree in the background. Two young children sit on the completed plywood decking sharing a snack. The polaroid image is captioned "April 9, 1983 Daddy framing Penny's Playhouse. Penny entertaining her first guest - [name blurred] (popcorn & soda).

In building the playhouse/cottage, my father reused as many materials as he could. They were often rescued from projects he’d worked on. Not only did I have windows with screens, but I had a sink, and electricity thanks to a very long hose and extension cord. Today adult-me would do things differently, but it was the early 80s!

This first build was my playhouse, and I spent hours there with my stuffed animals and dolls. On occasion a neighbor’s child would come visit, but those were rare despite photos making it seem common. Everyone helped each other with household projects so she probably came along because her dad was helping mine with the framing.

Over time, it became my private retreat. I’m sad I no longer have photos of the interior space or what I made there. I remember going out with sewing, crochet, and lots of paper. I wrote many stories while sitting and looking out at the nature outside my windows. My work was almost completely with found materials, recycling and reusing long before it was chic. I was very creative with toilet paper tubes — at least I thought so. After I finished something it would go up on a shelf and I would often add a price tag! (ed note to New York State: There was no one to sell to so I don’t owe sales tax.)

Small wooden structure with porch photographed in autumn. Two small outdoor chairs are on the porch. There is a small child with a pink jacket looking toward the camera. (photo taken in October 1983)

The name

Little Acorn Creations was named in part by my grandmother, though she never knew it. She liked to name her real estate investments, small cottages near her home that she rented out. When they were sold, she kept the signs (at the time house numbers were rarely used). One went to my mother and was her contribution to my space. My recollection is of a dark green painted sign with careful lettering that read of course — little acorn. When it came time to form my business as an adult, it was a given what I would name it!

Working with Anzula’s Yarns

I hope this post finds you and yours well as we begin to understand our “new normal.” We adapt. We mourn. We celebrate. We wash our hands.

While I (once again) haven’t been consistent in writing here, I’ve been working with yarn and fiber. Some days I work on designs with intricate details that are unique and make me feel brilliant and creative. On other days I curl up with the comfort of garter stitch or a granny square.

As I try to embrace the slower pace that is everything these days, I’m working on swatches to continue my Anzula Meet the Yarn posts. As our reliance for online and virtual interactions grows, these posts become more important (no pressure!). While I hope you can support your local yarn store, throughout these strange new times, Kalliope Sabrina has opened Anzula’s online store to everyone. You can find it at anzula.myshopify.com.

In this post, I created a summary of the Meet the Yarn posts I’ve written so far. There are many more yarns in the Anzula universe. I hope to swatch them all for you soon!

MCNs – 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon blends

Swatches of Anzula Cloud

Cloud, swatches shown in color Charcoal. 2-ply Light Fingering weight. 114g / 575yd (526m)

Swatches of Anzula Squishy

Squishy, swatches shown in color Aqua. 3-ply Fingering weight. 114g / 385yd (352m) and also available in 25g & 50g combinations.

Swatches of Anzula Ava

Ava, swatches shown in color Misfit. 3-ply Sport weight. 114g / 330yd (302m)

Swatches of Anzula For Better or Worsted

For Better or Worsted, swatches shown in color Keola. 4-ply Worsted weight. 114g / 200yd (183m)

Cashmere & Cashmere blends

Pile of Anzula Serenity swatches

Serenity, swatches shown in a color similar to Orchid. 4-ply Fingering weight. 100% Cashmere. 50g / 185yd (169m)

Pile of Anzula Dreamy swatches

Dreamy, swatches shown in color Dark Matter. 3-ply Fingering weight. 75% Superwash Merino, 15% Cashmere, 10% Silk. 114g / 385yd (352m)

50% Tussah Silk, 50% Superwash Merino blends

Pile of Anzula's It Could be Worsted swatches

It Could Be Worsted, swatches shown in color Nimbus. 4-ply Worsted weight. 114g / 190yd (174m)

Pile of Anzula's Luster swatches

Luster, swatches shown in color Safforn. 3-ply Fingering weight. 114g / 405yd (370m)

Pile of Anzula's Silken swatches

Silken, swatches shown in color Dany. 2-ply Fingering weight. 114g / 370yd (338m)

Sparkles – blends with Stellina

Pile of Anzula's Lunaris swatches

Lunaris, swatches shown in color Chiva. 3-ply Fingering weight. 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Sparkling Stellina. 114g / 425yd (389m)

Pile of Anzula's Nebula swatches

Nebula, swatches shown in color Dusty Rose. 3-ply Fingering weight. 86% Superwash Merino, 14% Sparkling Stellina. 114g / 400yd (366m)

Pile of Anzula's lucero swatches

Lucero, swatches shown in color Sophia. 3-ply DK weight. 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Sparkling Stellina. 50g / 250yd (229m)

Other fiber blends

Pile of Anzula's Dottie swatches

Dottie, swatches shown in color Teal. 3-ply Fingering weight. 80% Superwash Merino, 17% Acrylic, 3% Polyester. 114g / 420yd (384m)

Pile of Anzula's Katara swatches

Katara, swatches shown in color Boysenberry. 3-ply DK weight. 50% Superwash Meirno, 50% brown yak fiber. 50g / 98yd (89m)

Pile of Anzula's Gerty

Gerty, swatches shown in color Mariana. 3-ply Fingering weight. 100% Targhee Wool. 100g / 390yd (357m)

Pile of Anzula's Milkyway swatches

Milkyway, swatches shown in color Seaside. 4-ply Light Fingering weight. 80% Milk Protein, 20% Superwash Merino. 114g / 500yd (457m)

Pile of Anzula's Meridian swatches

Meridian, swatches shown in color Sexy. 4-ply Lace weight. 55% Tencel, 35% Alpaca, 10% Nylon. 114g / 811yd (742m)

Please know there are even more Anzula yarns that I’ve not yet written about! I hope this post entices you to work with Anzula’s many wonderful yarns! Looking to purchase some? Kalliope Sabrina has opened Anzula’s online store to everyone, find it at anzula.myshopify.com. As always, thank you to the entire Anzula team for supporting this project.

Singer sewing machine on wooden table top with 13 sewn masks in front. Masks are in a rainbow of prints, all cotton fabric.
a selection of the 36 masks I’ve sewn to-date.

One other thing I’ve worked on, like many others over the past few weeks, is sewing masks. I’m focused on two local nonprofits, Cluster Community Services which, among other programs, provides mental health services and the Humane Society of Westchester at New Rochelle. I’m waiting on a delivery of elastic as I exhausted my supply of ties with the first batch of masks. In the meantime I’m preparing fabric so I can be ready to go. For this second batch I’m changing the pattern I use; I’ve found the Tom Bihn Mask pattern a great one for production sewing.