a couple things I've been thinking about
We're already a couple months into 2017. Whoa. This new year marks a bigger-than-usual new beginning for me, and for Viola. I've made a few personal resolutions, that have inevitably been swept together with work (story of my life, and that of most small business owners I am sure). Happily for me, I love my job and feel completely blessed to be a part of this woolly world. These resolutions have come about gradually over the past year, through slowly realizing that I have unrealistic expectations of what I can and should be accomplishing in a given time. I set ambitious goals with unattainable time lines and am always surprised when a frazzled and exhausted version of myself has to push back deadlines and make rushed changes in order to complete a project.
It is all too easy (and fun) to be swept away in the excitement of a new project or opportunity. In the past, such a thing has knocked this fledgling business, and it's easily distracted owner off course. Which is why 2017 is going to be a year of tying up loose ends. I've never had any success with clearing out WIPs before starting new projects, or knitting down my stash before buying more yarn. I am certainly not the sort of person who would find such a task to be simple or straightforward. Whether it is cleaning my room, knitting a sweater or baking a cake, my approach to any project is to start all components at once, make a really big mess, flit back and forth between various parts, start another thing and end up with something that is often a surprise (albeit a nice one). Practical and useful life skills such as structure, organization, planning, scheduling do not come naturally to me.
However, I wouldn't (and couldn't) have this any other way. I know how I work, I know I can create beautiful things and I know that I want to continue doing just that. So, at last, I can tell you my plan for 2017...
It begins with scaling back in order to regain a little control. Back in 2012, I left for England because the business has become too out of control. I won't run off to another country this time - promise. I do not want Viola to grow so big that it looses the personal, individual and handmade touch that (I think) has made it so special. I have struggled to balance this with an increasing demand (thank you very much, lovely people). I put massive pressure on myself to churn out as much yarn as possible, when in reality, I am already doing as much as I can.
Moving into my new studio has made such a difference, and there is still a lot of space for further growth. I jumped straight into work last year, with so much catching up to do and a dreamy head brimming over with new ideas. It was a whirlwind, and I am totally pleased with all that I accomplished. However, I must acknowledge that there were a lot of tasks that were sidelined and lost in the frenzy of 2016 as well. In fact, there are a few fundamental issues with Viola that have been unresolved since the pre-England days, and it's high time these were sorted out. Many of these points are far too boring to go into any detail about, and some are too big and complicated to attempt explaining. Suffice to say, I will have my hands and mind quite busy with the most tedious (and satisfying) job of sorting out years of half complete, scattered and piece-meal ideas and projects. By the end, it should feel even better than finishing off the oldest WIP at the back of a closet...or so my plan goes.
The remainder of this winter is to be spent breaking down the water issues that are still affecting my dyeing process in Mooresburg. As you now know, I am not a scientific sort of person. My official diagnosis thus far has been 'It must be an age old mystery of Grey County well water'. In reality, this 'water mystery' has meant that I have to overdye most of my yarn, taking up to 6 hours for a single batch of yarn! Even then, I struggle with consistency as the very same process can result in quite different colours from one day to the next. Committing to large orders, even preparing for a shop update has been quite the stress-filled experience. Some days go smoothly, and others feel like taking 5 big steps backwards; nothing is reliable, and it needs to be. Once water is sorted, I'll be moving onto a rewriting and organizing of colour recipes, then to packing and shipping streamline and on and on it will go...the list is quite long.
I realize that running a small business is always this way, and I enjoy each challenge. I recognize that, in spite of whichever crisis may arise, I am doing something that I love and it allows me to be part of a beautiful community of people. I feel relieved that at last, the path ahead is becoming more clear. Quality, love and involvement are what matter to me with this business. They will be the driving force behind any decision from here on out (even if that means having to say no to something really, really fun. Life is tough.)
Which brings me to the consequences of my revelation; I will not be able to take on any new wholesale accounts, however small. I appreciate the patience and support that has been shown by many. I am over the moon, honoured and flattered by the interest Viola has received, and by no means want to withhold yarn from any one. I would love for Viola yarn to be available in shops for knitter's casual perusal, but this would mean a great compromise in quality (as well as my own sanity) and so I cannot do it.
I will always be a dreamy sort of person, with too many big ideas and not enough space in my head. Viola will always be a personal project as much as a business and livelihood, which means that it will remain small, ever changing, but always sincere.
So after what has been a rather long silence on the blog, I think I've caught you up on the thoughts that have been swirling around in my mind. I doubt that I'll ever manage regular blog posts, but will do my best to keep you in the loop (mostly I think about knitting and cake though).
Thank you to all of the lovely people I have come to know through this wild adventure!