Trying out tumblr

For some reason, on a whim, I thought I'd try out tumblr.

I know, it's a bit of a betrayal, eh?

So for those who are interested, check it out! I think I kinda like that format if I were to post just short things like photos and links, however I'm also trying to test out the long blog entry with it too.

I guess for now, if you follow my blog, change the link to the tumblr one if you can!

My Ysolda package - my early Christmas present to myself. :D

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So one night back in November I was suffering from insomnia, and I was trawling around facebook and twitter when Ysolda tweeted that she had a limited sale on some project bags...

Obviously on a whim, I bought a couple of project bags for myself (seeing as I never finish my WIPs but they keep on increasing in numbers, so you can never have too many project bags) plus a kit for the Rose Red pattern.

I kinda forgot about it until the parcel arrived - it was like an early Christmas!

When I opened up the parcel, it was like receiving a present, all nicely wrapped with ribbon and a cute Ysolda badge. It felt like it was a gift, that I didn't spend money on it at all!!! I like the way they do their business... :P

I bought a limited edition Ysolda project bag, Elijah project bag, and a Rose Red kit, which had two balls of yarn and the pattern inside the Rose Red project bag.

And as you can see, I was one happy customer!

Now... All I have to do is do some more knitting, eh?

Happy New Year?

Don't mean to fish for sympathy, but I spent New Years Eve alone. Followed by a break up. So my New Years was pretty awesome - full of tears and wallowing and self-pity. But at least it's a new start, right?

I do have my friends, however, to thank. They have all been very supportive and have patiently listened and cared for me even though I must have been frustrating at times, making the same mistakes over and over again. I sometimes am just helpless when it comes to boy troubles, and I fear that I am going to make those same mistakes I did years ago... And to be honest, I am a bit tired of it all. All I really yearn for is stability, and I guess for now the only certain thing that I know is stable is myself and my friends around me. And my family too. :D

2010 had a lot happening, however I don't know whether it went anywhere for me. It was lots of fun, however. Sad that I didn't do as much knitting as I wanted, and I haven't destashed all the excess yarn I want to get rid of, so I hope that on the knitting front I'll be able to accomplish a whole heap of things this year.

Why I say 2010 had a lot happening but didn't go anywhere? Well, I did a lot of theatre projects. Even though it may have built up my repertoire and experience and such, and it was immense fun, because they were mostly university student/amateur productions, it wasn't necessarily paving me a way into the industry. However, I got to meet heaps of new people and got to just have lots and lots of fun.

In a sense I sound a bit bitter when I say 2010 didn't go anywhere for me. I don't mean it to sound like that, but when I do reflect on it, it kinda felt that way. Which means that I hope 2011 will be a very productive and "moving forward" (to quasi borrow the words from our PM) type of year. I hope career wise I will be able to start my own business and do something for myself (I have always wanted to work for myself, be my own boss), I hope to finish knitting projects (I've joined a sock club just so I can), and I will continue to be surrounded by loving family and friends.

I always start the year by saying I should concentrate on myself more. Then I drift and start being dependent on certain people, or worry about certain people, or just be damn lazy and unmotivated. I say a lot of things, and I'm sure everybody does too, however I'm not totally great at fulfilling them. But I'll give it another try, and see how things go. I am a bit of a thinker, and sometimes my thoughts get carried away and weigh my heart down, so let's see if I can distract myself and focus on getting things done.

Here's to a new year. Let's hope all the tears I had for 1/1/11 are the only tears for the year, and it can only get better from here.

WWKIP Day video - finally up!

So yah, have been totally slack, and after all these distractions of life, uni, theatre and what not, I have finally edited and uploaded the video. :D

Check it out on youtube!

I may try and start my videoblog again, seeing as I kinda enjoyed the first one. However I don't think I finished any of my knitting projects since the video... Oh wait, I lie, just one (Daddy's vest). But yah - maybe within the next month or so? Maybe I should stick to keeping it a yearly thing. :P

What have I been up to recently? Oh, nothing much really...

So my last post dated back to the beginning of July - 3/4 months ago. It's amazing how time flies when you have so much going on (yes, I lied in the blog title).

In the space of 3 months I did 5 shows: Little Shop of Horrors (Musical), 40 in Song (A Cabaret Showcase), Omon Ra (Play), February (Play) and Reefer Madness (Musical). All volunteer (except for 40 in Song), all in the name of fun, practice and experience. I have a couple of loose ends to tie here and there, but in essence, my show run is now OVER! I can recover for the next couple of weeks until I start getting restless again.

Cast and Crew of Little Shop of Horrors, performed in Fig Tree Theatre

Little Shop of Horrors was a NUTS production (the major for 2010), which involved a lot of rehearsal time and patience, yet it was extremely polished by the end of it and definitely well received. Everyone who went to see it was impressed with the talent and the production value. The main reason (and it was kinda a lame reason, but most of you would understand) for me wanting to be involved was mainly because George (my boyfriend) was involved. I knew that if he was going to be playing piano at rehearsals then I won't get to see him much, so the next best thing was to be in rehearsals with him, so I played synth in the band. :D It also happened that he had to go away for three weeks anyhow to help out his mum in Sri Lanka for an art exhibition and visit his brother in the Maldives, so I covered for him for those three weeks when he was away. All in all, lots of fun and lollies in the confined space called "the orchestra pit", and it was great to be performing in the Fig Tree again. :D

A showcase of songs composed by Heinz Schweers,
performed in Downstairs Theatre, Seymour Centre

Before I signed onto Little Shop of Horrors, I signed onto playing the synth in Heinz Schweers' band for his showcase 40 in Song, celebrating his 40th birthday with his musical theatre compositions. Heinz has written music for a couple of musicals (one being A Nasty Piece of Work that I was also in the orchestra for back in 2008 at New Theatre), and is successful at writing sweeping love ballads and catchy tunes (admittedly by him a little Eurovision-y) and the singers and the band were all very talented and professional. We had very productive rehearsals, and after only a couple of runs got together we did a 3 night show run in the Downstairs Theatre of the Seymour Centre. The singers' abilities just blew me away, and I always looked forward to show because I knew I was amongst very talented, beautiful people. Unfortunately, 40 in Song was in the middle of Little Shop of Horrors show run, but fortunately only for 3 nights of the 2 week run, so I didn't miss out on too much.

Cast and Crew of Omon Ra, peformed in Studio One

Whilst rehearsing for Little Shop, Sean (who played Mr Mushnik in said production) approached me the night before proposals were due for NUTS' Week 8 and Week 10 slots to help him produce his show Omon Ra. Even though I was putting forward my own proposal, I ran the risk of not being approved, and said yes as a massive favour for him (sometimes people underestimate the amount of work that goes into producing). Sean's show got approved, but unfortunately (or fortunately?) mine wasn't, but it didn't really matter because I knew no matter the outcome I was going to be involved in yet another show. Omon Ra, I must admit, was not my kind of play, however I appreciated it for what it was. It was thought provoking, and the cast was, once again, very talented. The creatives (lighting designers Julia and Michael, set designer Bri, costumer Beth, and set constructor George) were also very very talented, and I was proud of putting that show together. Salima, the stage manager, was also quite on the ball with things and I appreciated her gutso effort in keeping the production together. The cast also consisted of men (Caz was the only exception, but she's not the most girly of girls I know), so it was quite interesting working with a group where the cast were mostly male, and the crew were mostly female...

Cast of February, part of Sydney Fringe Festival
performed at the New Theatre

What I forgot to consider when I said yes to Sean to produce Omon Ra was that I also said I'd help out Gee with February, which was selected as part of a triple bill of plays for the Inaugural Sydney Fringe Festival. This was happening at the same time as Omon Ra, so I had to utilise my time management skills and make sure I was able to attend to both of the show's needs. I initially said I was going to assist Gee in producing the show, however I also assisted Gee in the direction as well. February was a very well-written short piece (10 minutes, written by Gee herself), and despite its brevity managed to explore many themes including nostalgia, feminism and self-assurance. Bri also was involved in designing the costumes and set, and Bri, Gee and I were once again reunited in another show since our City of Angel days where we all first met. Being a small piece, it also had a small cast - Fliss and Maddi, both who were very talented and worked hard despite their busy time schedules. Because we were a triple bill, we also worked with cast and crew members of the other shows - Murder in the Dark and Time, both which were well performed and received.

Cast and Crew of Reefer Madness
Performed in Fig Tree Theatre

Whilst finishing off Little Shop of Horrors, and producing both Omon Ra and February, I was talking to Brent, who was directing Reefer Madness through Studio Four, about his musical directors, who seem to all bailed out on him. So I kept telling him that if he wasn't able to find any that I would be happy to, but obviously he didn't take the hint... Until I blatantly said "Look - I'll do it if you're happy to have me on board." I must admit, being in Little Shop it made me realise how much I missed musical directing, and so I really wanted to get behind that keyboard again and lead a band and cast through the type of theatre I love best - musical theatre! When I first saw Reefer Madness as a movie with Alan Cumming and Kristen Bell in it, I wasn't quite impressed by it. I actually didn't watch the whole movie - I left half way through. So I was slightly dubious about the show but thought I'd give it a chance anyway, mainly because I thought musical directing different shows will give me more experience and build my musical theatre repertoire. When I finally got to know the songs, I was proven wrong - they were ten catchies and lots of fun, and the musical was very funny and hilarious. A couple of one liners here and there amused me to no end. Topped with, once again, a very talented cast (some who were from earlier in the year), a wonderful crew who were so friendly and accomodating, and the choreography being totally awesome (thanks to Jorge), Brent chose a really entertaining musical not only to perform, but also for the audience. Despite the short rehearsal period and the unfortunate "bailings" of cast and crew members, it held together quite well in the end and everybody just had lots of fun, which I think is a very important aspect when one is involved with amateur/independent theatre.

So, in doing all these productions you could say I was just a tad busy. I'm a little worn out, but since it's also school holidays I also have one week of doing nothing (well, almost nothing, I do have a couple of teaching catch ups to do and accompany a saxophone exam) to recuperate and just relax.

One of the things that I've neglected a little has been my knitting. I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to sell my excess yarn (from when I did yarn stalls at the markets) and to reorganise my stash. I also resolved to finish all my projects before I start new ones... Now that winter is pretty much over, I'm scared that warm weather will once again deter me from knitting and I will lose my mojo! However, seeing as this long weekend has been pretty miserable and drab, I do hope that in the next 2 months or so it'll be okay knitting weather and I can finally finish those knitting projects, and also keep tabs on what I have in my stash and how I'm going to use it all up.

Life is pretty good at the moment, having successfully produced quite a number of shows, being surrounded by lots of talented and beautiful people, and directors who should be immensely proud of their work. I was also lucky to consistently have wonderful support from my loving George and my family and friends. To quote one of George's most frequent phrases, it's only "onwards and upwards" from here. :D

For curiosity's sake

comments: 2
The results for my survey. Unfortunately, "freeonlinesurveys" was not free, and I had to pay a monthly subscription of US$9.99 in order to upkeep it since it exceeded 50 responses, and I was not allowed to see my results until I paid. So I decided to finish the survey with 124 responses over 2 weeks, otherwise if I leave the survey up it'll keep on deducting $9.99 per month, which I do not want to happen.

So the charts show the amount of responses to each question, such as 35 people clicked on a) for Question 1. It's not the percentage, as for some questions I allowed it to be more than one available answer.

Stupidly, though, I suspended the paid account without copy and pasting the answers to the "others" for the questions I allowed "others" for... I remember some responses, but unfortunately I won't be able to access them unless I pay again. Although, I did print out the answers to me that were the most important, which were the answers to questions 15 and 16, so that's okay... :D

If you can't see the numbers properly, just click on the image, and the image should enlarge.

*Drumroll* And here are the responses!!!

Question 1: What size yarn do you mostly use?

a) Lace weight
b) Sock Yarn
c) 8/10 Ply
d) Bulky 12/14 ply

Question 2: What would you prefer to see more of?

a) Australian indie dyers and/or spinners' products
b) Organic products
c) Overseas products, such as Rowan, Cascade, Malabrigo, Habu, Jitterbug, etc
d) Australian products such as Cleckheaton, Patons
e) Other

Question 3: Would you also like to see the following fibre crafts available in store?

a) Felting
b) Spinning
c) Dyeing
d) Crochet
e) Other

Question 4: Would you or anyone you know of attend any of the following workshops if they were made available?

a) Spinning
b) Dyeing
c) Finishing techniques
d) Crochet
e) Sock knitting
f) Lace knitting
g) Kids school holiday workshops
h) Other

Question 5: What aspects of a knitting store would you consider very important?

a) Very friendly and informative service and assistance
b) A well-presented store, with bright lights and easy access
c) Affordable prices - if it's too expensive I may go elsewhere
d) A great range in both colours and products
e) Other

Question 6: If there is a courtyard at the back, would you utilise it?

a) Yes! Depending on weather, of course.
b) No not really, I like knitting in private at home.
c) Maybe, depends on who's there - do I have to buy something?

Question 7: If there is a courtyard, I shall make it available for functions if you would like to host a tea party or a knitting/fibre party. Would you consider it for your next birthday/event?

a) Totally!
b) Maybe... Depends on how much it will cost.
c)No, not really.

Question 8: I'm hoping to include a cafe. Are you mostly:

a) A coffee drinker
b) A tea drinker
c) An ice chocolate/milkshake drinker
d) A soft drinker
e) Water's fine for me, thanks.

Question 9: I'm also hoping to have a cafe for people who don't knit (but maybe have loved ones that do!). What type of cafe would you prefer?

a) All day breakfast and a lunch menu
b) Baked goods and sweets - cakes, cupcakes, cookies, chocolates, pastries
c) One that just does good coffee and other beverages, no need for food
d) A combination of all of the above, but a selection of each
e) Other

Question 10: What time would you most likely come and visit the store?

a) Late morning - 10am-Midday
b) Lunchtime/early afternoon
c) Late afternoon - after 3pm
d) Evening - 5-7pm
e) Mostly weekends

Question 11: I would like to provide internet access so that knitters and other fibre enthusiasts can do their research. Which medium would you like?

a) Free wireless internet - bring in your own laptop, phone or reader
b) A computer or two on the premises
c) Both!

Question 12: What would you prefer to do in terms of pattern books and instructionals?
a) Have a library - where you can borrow and return like a video/DVD store with a membership and a nominal fee
b) Just have a huge range to choose from, I like to have my own books
c) Have a service where you can order books in when requested to be purchased
d) Don't really need it - I buy heaps online which tends to be cheaper anyhow

Question 13: Of course, location is very important. What would make you think twice before coming to visit the store?

a) If it requires more than 10 minutes of walking from a bus stop/train station
b) Paid parking or difficulty in finding parking
c) No parking

Question 14: I envision this place to be not only somewhere you can buy knitting goods and other fibre goodies, but also a space to be creative. Would you come just to knit/spin/crochet/dye if I make facilities available? Of course, no pressure to purchase anything.

a) Yes of course!
b) Yes, if the furniture is very comfy.
c) Yes, I'll use it as a meeting place to meet up with friends.
d) Yes, if it is kid and pet friendly.
e) No, I don't want to impose or have that pressure to purchase anything.
f) No.
g) Other.

Question 15 was Do you think knitting is just a current fad, or do you think it'll stick around for at least 3-5 years? and pretty much all of you said "No, it's going to stick around for sure". Some of you made the point that it'll wax and wane in popularity, but it'll definitely be around.

Question 16 was Do you have any requests, suggestions or ideas to keep in mind if this grand plan of a knitting store combined with cafe happens?. I had a lot of well wishes and good lucks, and a couple of good suggestions such as a really good website for online purchasing (which I thought would be a given), disabled access (which sometimes businesses seem to forget) and stocking Madelinetosh! I had funny ones, such as "No feathers ;) We will all lose respect", and even though I've knitted feathers ONLY ONCE (and it was for my mum - she chose the yarn), rest assured that I will vow not to stock feathers in my knitting store. :D

So I got a bit of insight as to what people would like, and whether Sydney (or even Australian) knitters were on the same wavelength as me in terms of what is wanted in a yarn store. But please note, this is research for an idea... Can't promise anything, and if anything does happen, it probably won't happen as soon as I hope (which is at least 1.5-2 years)...

So... Opening up a yarn store...

As you may have seen in my previous post, I put up a survey about opening a yarn store.

I have been given lots of advice, lots that I appreciate very much so, and some that are pretty much a given, such as "Do you realise it's really difficult maintain a business?" Uhhh, yes, I do. :D

It's interesting seeing all the results from the survey... Such as a lot of the knitters (and some of my friends) are more Coffee drinkers than Tea drinkers, majority of people will by 8/10ply yarn and Sock yarn, and the majority of you would like to see more Indie Australian products, followed by international yarns that are not readily available here in Sydney (in person that is, online is very very easy to obtain).

So my next step is to look into how I'm going to get all the products, figure out my calculations as to how much I need to sell and how much rent I can afford. The places I look at are getting a little wee expensive, which then requires me to go further away from the city. However there are so many people wanting it here, there, and everywhere around Sydney suburbia that it will be difficult to please everyone!

A friend of mine lives next to My Little Cupcake, and he told me that first it started up as an internet business back in 2002. Only a couple of years ago did it have a shop front, and it's not really near anywhere, it's smack bang in the middle of the lower North Shore suburbia. But apparently due to word of mouth, awesome publicity with SMH (has had write ups in their food/home section) and internet exposure that they're getting lots of business from mothers driving their kids after school having a cupcake for afternoon tea, and the many wedding/baptism/birthday/other major life event orders that happens over weekends. No matter where you are, as long as you have a well presented, friendly shop front (every time I'm there I always look into their store at their pretty pretty tea cups and home decor) and just awesome products, people will travel. Or order online. :D

I also read in the comments section in my survey someone suggesting (I don't know who, because you don't really leave your details behind) that I should start online and see how that goes, and slowly work on getting a shop front. Seeing as it worked for My Little Cupcake, maybe I should do the same.

I've been trying to get a job with Morris and Sons so I could get first (or second) hand experience in ordering and what people like buying and just how a yarn store is run. However, due to conflicting timetabling with my current job teaching piano, I believe it seems to be hindering my process in getting a job there (I've been knocked back 3 times already)... I'm with my current teaching job until at least the end of the year, and I don't know whether to continue next year (as it pays fairly well for the amount of hours I have with them) or to try again with Morris and Sons saying I can work full time and commit for at least a year or two (as I need to save money in order to start a business).

So it seems to me, seeing as a) I don't have enough money saved to start a business, and b) it seems hard for me to get a job in the yarn retail industry, I might try my hand at doing it at home. Last year I tried with the markets, but I think this time around I need to save a bit more money and find a product that no other online store in Australia has, and maybe make a presence in some of the markets such as Glebe (again).

For now though, folks, I shall be holding off any grand plans of opening a cafe/yarn store anytime soon. Thanks heaps for your help/contribution with the survey, as it's given me a bit more insight as to what the demands are like at the moment. Who knows, maybe I might be able to find an investor who's willing to fund my quirky plan and hopefully I'll be able to set this thing up as soon as next year. But for now, it still remains as a business plan...

One can only dream, right?