Monday, April 18, 2011

Interview With A Fiber Tycoon

New to the 1000 Things Alpaca Team Blog...

SkeinYarns is an absolutely incredible fiber artist from New England, Australia. Known for her stunning color combinations and extremely high quality yarn and fiber. She registered her shop name in January 2010 and opened for business in May 2010 - less than a year ago. In that time, she's made over 1000 sales on Etsy!!

Get to know SkeinYarns and find out some of the secrets behind her unbelievable success...

Describe yourself in 5 words.
Creative. Perfectionist. Compassionate. Reliable. Independent.

Tell us about your business! How did you get started?
Ever since I can remember I have always been interested in Arts and Crafts. I draw, paint, sew, I love visiting art galleries and buy way too many arts and crafts books, magazines, pencils, sketch pads, etc...

When it comes to knitting though I am completely obsessed. I started knitting when I was around 11 years old, I used to watch my grandmother knit and wanted to learn. My mother taught me how to knit and purl. I made a few little things, mainly dolls clothes but my interest in knitting faded.

It wasn't until I was in my mid twenties and all of a sudden I got the urge to knit again and it never left. I knit every day, even if it's a few rows....I love it. Not long after I picked the needles up again I became interested in hand-dying yarn. It started with Kool Aid then progressed to acid dyes and after a few years of experimenting I had a huge amount of hand-dyed yarn. It was then, that I thought about opening an Etsy store and here I am!

I registered my shop in Jan 2010 and opened for business in May 2010. I sell all different weights of hand-dyed/kettle-dyed yarns, as well as fiber.

Do you have Alpacas or another kind of farm?
I wish! Maybe someday. :)

Describe your typical crafting day!
I get up at around 7.30am, have breakfast then sit in front of my laptop with a pot of tea checking and responding to emails and messages on Etsy and Ravelry. At around 9am I usually head to the Post Office and drop off my orders, then its home to my dye pots! I usually dye yarn/fiber until around 3pm, then its either skeining up yarns, making labels or packing orders until its time to make dinner.

I usually try to leave the nights free to relax, catch up with my partner Paul and of course knit. But at least once or twice a week I'm up late getting everything ready for the shop updates...this means taking and uploading pictures, getting the listings organized etc. I also try and squeeze in an hour or two of bookkeeping days really do fly!

What is your Etsy shop name and how did you pick it?
Its "Skein"... I wanted something simple, one word which describes what I sell.

What key things do you think have contributed the MOST to your success on Etsy?
The main key was having really good quality product photos. Another important key was advertising on Ravelry. This was and still is worth every penny. Also having good quality yarn and fiber... knitters and spinners invest a lot of time in making their projects and handspun yarns and if the yarn/fiber is of poor quality, they won't come back.

Tell us about your first Etsy sale!
My first sale was about 12 hours after I first listed my yarns... I was SO excited, it was the best feeling... it's ALWAYS a great feeling and makes all the hard work so worthwhile.

If you could offer ONE piece of advice to new sellers, what would it be?
Learn how to take great pictures of your items. There are so many wonderful tutorials on etsy and online. Read up on lightboxes (so easy to make yourself with a bit of cardboard), simple lighting tips etc... Its really easy and doesn't cost much money, you don't even need an expensive camera.

Tell us about your product photography! What is your process like?
Before I started my Etsy shop I spent a lot of time researching how best to photograph items for online sale. I use a simple "lightbox" which is just a white square of canvas laid over a table and curving up onto the wall (you can also use regular white cardboard). I set the table next to a window, so that I have natural light which reflects off the white canvas. I then set up my yarns and snap away!

I also use photoshop to brighten and crop photos...another wonderful tool. I have a Nikon D5000 which has been a wonderful camera, but when I started I was using a cheap digital camera which also took great lightbox pictures.

Note from the blog author - check out our Team's photography help discussion thread!

5 shops from your favorites list that you recommend?

In no particular order...

Falling Stitches... I love Ariane's designs, I highly recommend trying one of her patterns...all of them are beautiful. She also sells lovely beaded stitch markers, which you can never have too many of.

Ms Gusset... A fellow Aussie hand-dyer who has the most beautifully dyed spinning fiber (I know I brought some :) ). I Highly recommend Ms. Gusset to all spinners. MsGusset also sells sock yarn and I hear is about to start a sock club... I'm hoping a fiber club will follow!

Sage and Mage... Another Australian Etsy seller who has beautiful essential oil products including perfume, lotions and balms. I brought some ginger perfume and wow! I will be back for sure.

Pretty Twists... Has the most wonderful selection of mouth watering handspun yarn. I have a few skeins in my stash which one day will be knitted up into something special...but for now I just love to look and pet them. Pretty Twists is also based in Australia.

Mulberry Muse... Another Australian shop which has been a favourite of mine for a long time. I'm really taken with the whimsical/vintage/ornate designs... so clever and so beautiful!

What do you do to relax?
Knit! I love to knit and listen to podcasts. I also love to cook and will happily spend hours looking through cookbooks finding recipes to make when I have a free night. There's nothing better than preparing a feast while enjoying a good glass of wine.

Fun or obscure fact about yourself?
I don't watch TV. I love movies /DVDs (including ironically TV series like The Wire and Sopranos my two fav's) but I don't watch TV ever... not even the news. I used to watch way too much TV and found that it sapped a lot of my time, so I decided to try and give up for 1 month and that was 2 years ago...I don't miss it one bit!

Where would you like to be in 10 years?
I would love to have a little walk-in store where I can dye my wares out the back and sell from the shop as well as online.

Read more about SkeinYarns on her blog!
Follow her on Twitter!

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  1. A lovely interview, a beautiful etsy shop!
    Thank you so much for the sweet compliments:)
    Mulberry Muse

  2. That interview was a pleasure to read! I really really love Skein yarns! Thanks for this interview!

  3. Lovely!! Can't wait to check out her shop, wonderful interview.