Monday, October 18, 2010

To My Faithful Followers...

...and delightful lurkers one and all...

The blog is moving. Now that the shop is up and running, I'm trying to keep the split personality thing to a minimum. I won't be posting here anymore. Please click on over to...

and stalk, er, I mean follow me there. It won't be all shop talk-there'll be more Gems From the Music Room, I promise! I'm sure I can come up with more random blather, too.

See you over there!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gems from the music room, part seven.

Before I tell you this one, you need a visual: I have dark, almost black hair, except for a prominent grey streak in the very front.

Student, who is new to me and has unpredictable social filters: You look like a movie star!
Me: Oh really? Who?
Me, to myself: Oh for pete's sake, why did you say that? Here it comes...
Student: In that movie, "Ella Enchanted!" The girl who plays the know, Anne Hathaway!
Me: no response, as I have fainted dead away from being compared to a princess and not Cruella DeVille

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Check One Off the Life List

After much hemming and hawing, and wondering if I was crossing all my i's and dotting all my t's, I finally give to you...

Spencer Hill Spinning and Dyeing.

It's up, and it even has a few things for sale. I have more items to post, but I need to retake a few pictures. That should be more successful when the sun is out. Of course, around here, that could mean next May, so if it doesn't happen in a day or two, I'll go ahead and use the ones I have. (They're fine, but I just would like to do it a leetle beet differently. See that? I've been in business all of 24 hours, and I'm already changing things.)

I don't regret taking as long as I have, really. But escape velocity has been achieved! I hope you'll come take a look...any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Typos, grammatical errors, suggestions for future products, anything. I've already had a request for a fiber club, which I think is a great idea...once I can reliably dye unspun fiber without turning it into a felty lump. I want to get some handspun up there too. I haven't sat at the wheel in a while. Actually, there's a question for you: when it comes to Etsy purchases, are you happy buying the usual four-ounce lots you see of handspun/hand-dyed yarn, or would you like to see larger quantities? Like, a sweater's worth? Handspinning a sweater's worth of yarn is no small feat, but I'm talking about hand-dyed millspun yarn, too (especially since I'm not going into the "handpainted" category; I suppose what I do is closer to kettle dyeing). Let me know whatcha think.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ever-so closer

I'm not quite ready to fling open the doors, but I do have a bank account and therefore a PayPal account (I had one before, but now it's been upgraded to a business account) for the business. AND I got a new ink cartridge for my printer, so now I can get to tags and labels and such.

Still working on the photos. I know things don't have to be perfect the first time I put them out there, but I don't want to look like a total n00b, either. Since we'll be back to school soon, I think I'm going to check with my art teacher friend and see if I can either a) bribe...I mean, barter with her for some shots, or b) check with the high school art teachers and see if there's a high school kid who wants some photography experience with more than the yearbook. (My art teacher friend is very, very pregnant, so I'm not sure how much whatsie for photography she has left right now.)

The box from Earth Guild came today, so I have more alum and can get some more yarn and fiber dyed before the silly season begins. It's coming together, finally. Hard to believe, but pretty damn cool at the same time.

Funny: when I went to the county clerk to register my DBA, the clerk looked at the name (Spencer Hill Spinning and Dyeing), and then hesitantly asked if I was sure about the spelling. I assured him that d-y-e-i-n-g was indeed correct, because I intended to do the d-y-i-n-g kind only once, and that wouldn't make for much of a business now, would it?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


If one can fire by two-thirds, that's what I did today.

I went to the county clerk and registered my business name.

I got online and applied for my sales tax collection authority number.

That gives me about 30 days to find someone with better photography skills than me, let PayPal catch up to the fact that my name changed when I got divorced, get some packing and shipping materials, and get an Etsy site together, because...

something has to be done with all this yarn, and Spencer Hill Spinning & Dyeing is closer than ever to doing it. Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Purfuit of Happineff

Happy Independence Day, everyone. I've been independent of school for just about a week now, which leaves me much more time for the purfuit of happineff*. Lately, that's involved small-scale gardening, cold-water fleece processing, a lot of spinning, some furniture purchases (and the re-arranging that accompanies them), and more spinning. I know I said this in my last post, but there's more details to come. Right now, I must go purfue some more.

*In case you don't twig the reference, go here, and scroll down into the "Capitol Records" section. Then go get your hands on the recording, because every good American should be familiar with this piece.

Friday, May 28, 2010

O hai!

OK, so it's been a month. It seems like I should have piles and piles of goodies to photograph and share, but alas. I have more than nuthin', at least. (No photos yet, though. Hopefully tomorrow.)

It's been a roller coaster at work. Like everywhere else, money is a major problem for schools in NY. Just before spring break, it became clear that my district faced a budget shortfall of $8 million. Very often, the state rides in at the last minute with refigured aid formulas, but not this year. Massive cuts ensued; half of the music department, half of the art department, most of the social workers, anything that looked like an elective, elementary classroom teachers, office and custodial staff, administration (gasp!), closing two buildings and combining sports teams (more on that in a minute). But thanks to an extremely generous grant from the Corning Foundation, a lot of that was restored. But not all, and it's only a one-year solution. Things aren't expected to be better next year. I have seniority in my department, so I'm not worried about losing my job; what it actually will be in the next few years remains to be seen.

The two elementary buildings are still closing, which has needed to be done for quite some time. One is nearly on the PA border, and has one class (occasionally two) at each grade level. It's a delightful little school, but...if you're trying to save money, a tiny little building out in the boonies isn't the way to do it. The other one is in town, but the areas that it serves are decreasing in enrollment. There's been reassignment of kids, staff, materials, equipment, everything. Nothing has physically moved yet, but the emotional turmoil and upheaval began as soon as the school board directed the closures.

Combining sports teams: we have two high schools (which also should be combined, and I believe will be eventually), and since I've worked here, have had combined certain sports teams but not others. Swimming, wrestling, track, cross country, and probably a few others I can't think of: district teams, not separate high school teams. Lacrosse, football, basketball, baseball, softball, and again others I can't think of: high school teams. Makes perfect sense, right? Yeah, that's what I think too. So through another board action, about $280 000 was saved by combining ALL teams into district teams.

By and large, this has been supported by the community, both kids and adults. The kids are pragmatic; they're friends on and off the fields, play with each other on summer and travel teams, and look forward to being on the same teams as each other. Frankly, I think the Corning Hawks men's lacrosse team will be practically unbeatable in years to come, with the talent available between the two schools. Most adults understand the cost savings.

Then there are the adults who still have unresolved high school sports issues. These are the ones who were on the West High lacrosse teams that never beat the East high lacrosse teams and still want a chance to do it. A trio of them, who not coincidentally also ran for three seats on the school board, concocted a "foundation" that they claimed had raised $300 000 to "restore" Corning sports. Really? Which sports? The ones that have been combined for twenty years? Well, um, no. There's not enough money to restore them, too. Lacrosse? Well, DUH. Of course, that's what our sons play. Luckily, voters saw through this scheme and turned them away. Not only did it feel like they were trying to buy votes, people wanted to know what would happen next year. And if they could come up with all this lovely money, why wouldn't they use it to restore elementary classrooms instead? Is the lacrosse team more important than a kindergarten class? Feh. Go away. The board also rejected this "gift," which was essentially a line of credit with nothing backing it. (Never mind that it didn't have actual 501(c)(3) standing yet either, which takes months and months to obtain, and therefore rendered it legally useless. Oops. Damn technicalities.)

Around Herself, dirt has been delivered, so planting has begun (here's where the pictures will help soon). Not much spinning has happened, as I was afraid to put down the lace wrap lest I not pick it up again. It is finished, and there are pictures. I currently feel the same way about a baby sweater, but it's close to completion. I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool at the last minute, so I should tell you that story as well (I lost my Ikea virginity on the same was amazing). And there's Mitzie's upcoming dental work. The fun just never ends around here, let me tell you.

I *did* finally renew my passport with my correct name, so at least I can run away to foreign lands if need be...