It’s “year in review” time again and this year has been especially exciting for me as I watch this little yarn company grow towards my vision. This year, in SweetGeorgia Top Five tradition, I’d like to share the top 5 learning experiences of 2010.

Pounds upon pounds of my most favourite spinning fibres

Learning how to dye outside the box

Vancouver being both the host of the 2010 Winter Games and also a hot spot for Hollywood film-making afforded me a few choice dyeing commissions earlier this year. Despite having a full dye schedule, I squeezed out extra hours to some how dye yarn for the Red Riding Hood film that is coming out next year. For the film, I did some ikat-style tying and dyeing on blank singles wool yarn that the film buyer had shipped express to me. I had to tie and dye it and send it back the very next day. Talk about dyeing under pressure. I am grateful for these special opportunities and the chance to push the boundaries of what and how I dye. (And I’m grateful for my dehumidifier too).

Learning to pack up and go

We attended the FibresWest show in Abbotsford for the first time ever as a vendor and found it to be immensely rewarding to meet and greet knitters and spinners first-hand. It required packing up what felt like the entire studio — all the shelving and all the yarn — and transporting it to Abbotsford. It’s not easy. And I discovered that my tiny Ford Focus is of no use in these situations. I’m ever so grateful to James and Teresa for designing and setting up our booth and for my parents and Dan for helping out during the entire weekend. It gives me hope that I’ll be able to do this again for 2011 and that hopefully it won’t be as much work as last year.

SweetGeorgia's Fibres West Booth
SweetGeorgia’s Fibres West Booth

Learning not to be cheap

Well, I’ve heard people say that you should have a bookkeeper at the ready on the day you start your business… and well, I didn’t. In between freaking out about my studio rent, paying my mortgage, and having enough cash flow to buy supplies, hiring a bookkeeper wasn’t the first thing on my list way back in 2008 (or 2005, if you want to get specific). But it should have been. I think this is one business lesson I might need to learn over and over again… Surround yourself with good, smart people. Don’t scrimp on talent. Stick with what you’re good at and hire for what you’re not good at. I think I’m going to need reminders of this all year long.

Learning not to be shy

Over the years, I seem to have become intensely introverted. I sort of blame social media. Being “present” on Twitter, Facebook, Ravelry, or even this blog allows me to connect with others in the knitting and spinning community while still sort of hiding a lot of my insecurities. Going to visit Lettuce Knit and meeting Megan, Laura (Cosmic Pluto), Denny, and Stephanie (Yarn Harlot) was wonderful and fun, but it also revealed to me how shy I’ve become. It’s going to take a big, big push, but I’d like to finally find a local knitting group that I can attend so that I can actually talk to other knitters about knitting, rather than simply tweeting about it.

Knit Night at Lettuce Knit
Knit Night at Lettuce Knit

Learning to ask for help

The absolute scariest thing I’ve done all year is hire someone, but honestly, it’s been one of the most rewarding. All year, my mother has been helping me out at the studio, nearly every day since her retirement. If you’ve visited the studio this past year, it’s likely you’ve met my mom… she who is eager to show off her newly finished shawl or who is busy braiding and packaging your fibre club deliveries. But even with all her help, we’ve been literally swamped with yarn. And so, when it became a possibility, we asked Carina to come on board and help too. Carina was a long-time customer and weaving student and spent a lot of time at the studio last year renting my Spring loom. Since she left her job, I’ve been very grateful that she’s agreed to come to the studio and help twist, tie and package our yarns. I still have great fears about not knowing too much about “management” but it’s something I’m learning and eager to learn more about.

A full studio is a happy studio. Can’t imagine how much twisting and tying goes on here.
Bombyx silk dyes so vibrantly in every shade

I have so much to be grateful for. Not a single day goes by that I’m not reminded how incredibly blessed I am to be doing the work I love to do. Every day, our studio is filled with colour and fibre and all the things that I’ve loved for the past six years. Looking forward to more.