Friday, February 09, 2007

Reporting in

Ok, I don't really have a "work plan" yet. Trying to allot time each week to types of tasks is turning out to be challenging. (And may be why I'm not able to manage. The skill for doing this is probably a cornerstone of success and it seem to be a gene I'm lacking.) For instance, when I had to design, knit and write a pattern for a sock in a week, it sort of interrupted any other work flow. (Ok, I loved doing it. Worked out how to customize the shape of a short row heel!)

I have been managing to get emails out regularly. Right now, I think this is important, as it's the only marketing we're doing.

I have also been working with Jeanette - thank you, Jeanette! - on finalizing the share application for our co-op conversion. We got a little more than 1/2 way through it the other night. I have a little work to do to put some of the info to paper, but it felt like real progress. We are meeting again next week. My initial goal was to have this finished by end of this month. I already know that goal will have to move to early or mid March. The next paragraph explains why:

JenH and I are putting together kits for SPA. These are mostly small projects - hats, fingerless gloves, scarves. They are, also, mostly patterns written by Circles community members. All of the patterns that use the Circles logo will become the first kits we sell online. My plan is to sell the patterns for $3 consigning 1/2 of this to the designer. More complex patterns will sell for more, but I think it will be great to launch with these.

We can sell the patterns online separately, as well. Or we could create a booklet entitled something like "Some Little Things". We will have to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this. (I like the idea of a booklet with some narrative, but it will take longer to produce.)

I'm not feeling particularly inspired about a pattern format. I'm taking in the suggestions I requested from the community and will try to incorporate what we can, but it may be that we evolve into a decidedly "Circles" format with a menu of qualities that define the format. I'm feeling that we just need to get going and that if I wait for inspiration, it could be too long.

I did try our first online registration for a Travel Circle and that worked well (except for a technical glitch with our email service provider. We got around that by linking to a post on our forum.) This is a small triumph, as I've been nervous about working with code and money transactions. So, I'm a bit emboldened to move forward with more of this and start working on a shopping cart. Again, we'll start simple. Something basic from PayPal until we're ready to grow.

On the design front, I'm working on a side-to-side glove for a child that uses short rows to shape it to fit the hand and wrist. My first proto-type had beautiful shaping as far as it got - haven't done the thumb gusset yet, but was far too long. (I must have made some strange calculation in the beginning.) I'm starting it over, but it doesn't take that long to work up. So, hopefully, we'll have yet another "small thing" for our online product launch.

Last night, I was looking for something for a customer and I leafed through a book of design ideas I have been collecting. It was both invigorating to be reminded of all the things I want to do and discouraging to realize how many had not come to fruition., wondering when they will. Again, it's the transformation of ideas into the earthly reality. Moving from thinking to doing. It can be tough to go back and forth in a fluid way that keeps things moving. I'm in doing mode right now and I have to fight to keep out of dreamy thinking mode - clearly my preferred m.o.

Now, I'm off to find Alice's twisted rib fingerless glove pattern to knit a sample for the SPA and to be a model for photos for a kit. Then, I have to produce all the patterns for next week. In my spare time, I'd like to rework Babette's Hooded Scarf, since the original yarn was discontinued, and kit that up as well. It's on size 15 needles, so it should be a quick one, but nothing is ever as quick as you'd like. I may not have it for SPA, but it will be another entry for our online launch.

While I am managing to get things done, I am also constantly plagued with technical problems. Nothing drives me battier. Yesterday, I was nearly done with the marketing email, thinking I had perhaps an 1/2 hour of work to do. The service's new software has some serious bugs and my layout went crazy. Things would disappear. Strange text would show up, replacing what I had put in. Color and fonts wouldn't be what I had assigned. It was a few hours on the phone with them to find work arounds to save my email. Instead of sending it at 11:30 am, it went out somewhere closer to 2pm. Ugh. That's half a day gone.

In other significant news, a beloved staff member has to leave us. She needs to take care of her health and working an extra job is not serving her well. Besides the emotional loss of her presence, I also have to find a replacement.

We are also planning a major reconfiguration of the shop space. We just needed something else to do! No, I'll explain that in another post.

So, though I'm somewhat incapacitated, I do feel that things are moving forward. I look forward to the new era of the co-op. It should be firmly in place by the end of the year. But I am tired. I simply don't have the stamina that I once had, and yet, it's hard not to push oneself if progress is to be made. I'm trying to be careful, but I'm not doing a great job. I am keeping the social stimulation to a minimum - which saddens me - but I'm not sitting back.

I did treat myself to an evening with the Thursday Circle at the Taza Chocolate Lounge in the Mariposa Bakery (Central Square, Cambridge.) It was good to relax and refreshing to have chocolate that wasn't sweet. This was definitely a focus on the flavor of chocolate and not on sugar and milkfat. I knew it was good, when I realized I was quietly sitting with a blissful grin across my face. I highly recommend the Mexican Chocolate dring and the Fondue platter.

Al in all, I have managed to keep myself from straying too much into the vision zone and keep my focus on the here and now. Sometimes, as I'm buried in the tasks, I feel a little lost. As though nothing is really changing and I'm just spinning my wheels. So, it's good to step back, report in and have a sense of progress.