Iron Dragon Shop Changes Part Two

Hello fellow yarnists! It’s been a while since I posted a shop update, so here we go!

First, some reminders:

EU Sales Are Ending On July 1

As of July 1, 2021, there will be new VAT rules in the European Union. My shop is too small to accommodate the changes, so as of July 1, 2021 I will no longer be providing direct sales to EU yarnists. Sorry!

Loyalty Program Is Ending On July 1

If you currently have points, you have until June 30, 2021 to redeem them. On July 1, 2021 they will be forfeit—you’ll lose them forever. Fair warning!

Now Shipping Only on Fridays

The temporary assistance I had to help with shipping on Tuesdays and Wednesdays has ended. In order to maintain the lower shipping rates that I currently have, I can now only send orders out on Fridays. If this turns out to be an unpopular decision, I’ll start using my local post office instead, but it means shipping rates (especially to the USA) will go up.

New Shop Plans

When I started my current day job in November 2020 I felt pretty overwhelmed. It was my first time going back into a traditional work environment since my mental breakdown in October 2018. I wasn’t sure how it would go, and there was even a question about whether I would be able to handle a traditional work environment at all. So, I gave myself the initial months to settle in and see what happened. During that time, I didn’t dye any yarn. Then I learned about mandatory overtime required in March and April, and knew again that I would need to see how well I could cope. So, I didn’t dye any yarn in March and April either.

The overtime is finished now! It was very tiring but I made it through okay. I’m proud of myself for how well I did, and the experience helped me regain confidence.

While working it, I thought about how I want to handle the yarn shop going forward. The truth is, this day job has hours (even outside of the mandatory overtime) that are not really convenient for dyeing yarn in the evening after work while still leaving my weekends free to relax and recharge. Relaxation and recharging are still very important for my ongoing recovery, and I also have other creative projects that are important to me. Unfortunately, I get tired and stressed out easily. I have become worried that I won’t be able to work the job and dye yarn without burning myself out. I’ll be honest: at times in the past couple of months, when I have contemplated the time commitment that the shop requires, I have felt overwhelmed and like I can’t possibly keep doing it.

But, that might just be the persistent anxiety and depression talking. I won’t actually know if I can do it until I try. So instead of worrying about it, I tried to formulate a plan to keep the shop going in as simple a way as possible while still giving me the freedom to be creative. What I have come up with for the moment is this:

  • I will focus on solid or only lightly variegated colorways, with a few exceptions. Solid colors are the simplest colorways to dye. By “lightly variegated” I mean yarn that is basically a solid color but might have spots of lighter/darker coloring of the same hue that is a natural result of the dye process. Plus, it seems to me that a lot of indie dyers like to focus on the more complicated variegated colorways. Lots of people like those colorways which is fine, but I feel like there must also be yarnists out there who just want a nice skein of a solid color. In any case, this decision means I will be discontinuing colorways like Canadian Fall, Petalicious, and Summer Lake Cabin because they require more effort. The exceptions are colorways like Amethyst Sky, Hidden Treasure, and Bachelor’s Button, as they happen to be very easy to do. This decision also means fewer colorways will be matched up to photos I’ve taken. I really wanted to make photography a regular part of my dyeing but getting opportunities to take pictures of things that are a variety of colors that I’d want to dye isn’t as feasible as it once was. If I can still match something up, great, but I’m not going to bend over backward for it either.
  • I will only dye one colorway at a time. I’m a bit iffy on this decision but I haven’t had any other ideas yet about how to approach the inventory aspect of the shop. Rather than dyeing a handful (six skeins) of one colorway, and then a handful of another colorway right afterward, and basically trying to keep all the colorways in stock at the same time, I think I will need to just dye one until I have, say, ten to fifteen (maybe twelve as the average) skeins finished. Those will get posted for sale, and what I post is all I’ll have until the next time that colorway comes up in the rotation. Each time I finish one colorway, I’ll take a break and then move on to another one. The drawback to this is that if one person buys out the entire supply (sweater quantity), everyone else has missed out until next time, so it’ll be important to keep an eye on the blog, the newsletter, or social media to know when new stock is going up.
  • I won’t try to support dozens of different colorways all at once. There just isn’t going to be enough time for me to get through every colorway every year. It may end up that I’ll only be able to dye yarn between July 1 and October 31 each year (as the firm I work for closes on Fridays during that period, so I’ll gain an extra day to myself). It will depend on how quickly I can dye each one without sacrificing too much of my spare time. So, for example (just an example!), I might only get four colorways out of the whole catalogue done in a given year. This feels like kind of a crappy choice because it means someone might be waiting for a particular colorway (on a particular base!) for a long time, but there’s only so much I’ll be able to do. But! The more quickly a colorway sells, the more likely I’ll be to dye it again sooner to meet demand. I won’t be doing preorders. Less popular colorways won’t get dyed as often and will probably end up discontinued unless people specifically start requesting them. This will have to be balanced against experimenting with new colorways. I want to try creating more moody colors.
  • I won’t be making stitch marker sets anymore. I was hoping they would be more popular, but it didn’t work out that way. But! I still have lots of supplies to use up, so instead, I plan to offer a free stitch marker or two with a given purchase. It means I can make them one at a time at a more leisurely pace instead of requiring a specific matched set all at once.
  • I want to try a few other new things. Not right away, but at some point, if everything else with the shop is going well I would like to try designing enamel pins. Pins seem to be very popular with yarnists! I would also like to try selling prints (canvas prints?) of some of my photos. The shipping logistics of that are still to be determined.
  • The Dream base will be phased out. Dream is the 50/50 sport blend of bamboo and merino. It’s a great-feeling yarn, but it just doesn’t dye as nicely as I would like. And, even though I personally think sport weight is great, well, it’s just not a good seller. I am debating replacing it with a DK base as a more versatile weight. Would you like to see DK yarn from me? Please let me know!
  • The Solitude base might be phased out too. Solitude is the 100% superwash merino bulky base. I like bulky yarn for sweaters, scarves, and toques, but fewer bases would be easier for me to manage. I am not 100% committed to this one just yet, especially as I haven’t offered many colorways on Solitude.
  • If I have fewer bases, I might offer more colorways on all the bases I do have. I haven’t decided on this one 100% yet either. To date, no one’s ever asked me if I could dye a Journey colorway onto Fearless or vice versa so I have no idea if it would just be a “make work” decision. I might leave this one up to “I’ll start doing it when people start asking, if ever”.

These things might not work out. I might still find it too challenging to do both. But I will give it a try for at least another year and see what happens.

What do you think about these changes? I’m interested to hear your thoughts or if you have any ideas that I haven’t considered. Please feel free to leave a comment!

Happy stitching.