So what’s your EDC?

A few weeks ago my husband said to me, “So have you ever heard of EDC?” I thought about that. The only thing that leapt to my mind went way back to being pregnant, when that stood for “Estimated Date of Confinement,” and referred to, you know, your due date. Somehow I didn’t think that was what he meant, though, so I said, “I’m not sure.”

“It stands for Everyday Carry,” he told me. “Check it out — there are forums and stuff, where people are talking at length about what they carry around every day.”

I thought about that for a minute. “You mean,” I said, “like my pocket stuff?”

“Yeah,” he replied. “And then there’s extended EDC — and that’s like your bag that you always take with you.”

“Huh,” I said, pondering this idea as a discussion topic. Now, don’t get me wrong: as a fiber geek, I frequent a range of forums and mailing lists and the like where people discuss exotic and obscure stuff in excruciating detail. So I’m definitely not down on the idea — it just hadn’t occurred to me that this was, you know, something people got into talking about. “So,” I asked, “what is there to say on the subject? I mean… what, like, this is what I have in my pockets and why?”

“Exactly,” he said. “Plus details about the stuff, and what you could do with it.”

“Huh,” I repeated, still thinking. I mean, I actually have a specific list of things I truly can’t cope with not having on my person, and I’ve been known to totally rant about it. I’m an extremely pocket-oriented person and I like my tools. I’ve come a long way and stripped down to a point where I actually carry a lot less stuff now than I used to. But still, there’s a core list of things I can’t cope with being without, and my wardrobe choices and lots of things about my lifestyle actually revolve around what I now was realizing was a concept people actually, er, have a name for. And forums about.

“In fact,” said my long-suffering better half, “people even make YouTube videos about their EDC.”

“What? Seriously?”

He showed me some. I felt torn. On the one hand, it seemed… strange. Self-important to think of making a video about the crap in your pockets. And voyeuristic to watch. But, you know… interesting. “You should do an EDC post on the blog,” Chad suggested, half-joking. O, the absurdity — after all, who’d want to know what’s in my pockets, or the bag that hangs by the door so I can grab it on the way out? And what’s next after you start telling people that, going into detail about the stuff that lives in your car? I mean, I’ve talked about the emergency knitting and spinning stuff. I’ve thought about blogging my packing process, and then concluded I just am not sure I want the world to know what my real life ratio of socks to spindles in my suitcase is.

But with a few weeks of consideration, I decided I really was going to do an EDC post. And this is it. And it even comes with YouTube videos. Seriously, I’ve emptied out my pockets and my little carry-around-town bag (it’s totally not a purse, I would never carry anything so girly as a purse!) and decided to share. Here you go. First, what’s in my pockets…

…and what’s in my carry-around-town bag.

I’d love to hear from all of you about your EDC. I wonder what we have in common and what we don’t? For example, most chicks would probably have makeup in their EDC. I do own makeup, but… it’s not an every day kinda thing for me. And some people are capable of feeling comfortable without a knife and fire, but I’m not — I don’t even really like going outside and walking around without those things. I started carrying a knife and fire of my very own when I was 8. Anyway, I’d love to hear what you carry! Tell me about it, blog about it, let’s go!

Introduction To Spinning: 2 New Videos

A couple of years ago I made a video called Drop Spindle Basics to demonstrate, well, the basics — the most elementary parts of spinning.

Since it’s been up, I’ve gotten all kinds of feedback on that video, ranging from “THIS IS AN AMAZING VIDEO. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with the world. This information and wisdom will go far in my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” all the way to “Details of what you’re doing would be nice – I can’t follow what’s going on with just frantic motion.” (I admit, that latter one pushed my buttons, and it took great emotional reserve on my part not to reply with “Have you tried listening to what I’m saying? Turn up your sound,” or “Come over here and say that to my face and I’ll show you some frantic movement!”)

I’ve also spent a bunch of time watching other videos, thinking about them all, and of course, engaging in a wide variety of teaching activities. Over the past 6 months, I’ve been saying, “If I had it to do over again, I’d change this, or that, or the other thing about that video, to speak to this, or that, or the other concern.” And of course, the funny part is that obviously I do have it to do over again any time I feel like it, right?

Well, any time I can steal a minute or two and a camera operator who knows where to zoom in, perhaps.

So what issues did I end up having with the first video over the past couple of years? Lots! I still like the video and think it’s a solid demo with enough information to get you started. But there were things I hadn’t anticipated. For example, I specifically chose low-cost materials so as to be very approachable, and show that even without fancy equipment, you can do all kinds of spinning. I tried to tailor the video to the lowest common denominator in terms of tools — to the simplest, cheapest spindle option likely available to a majority of folks who’d watch the video. This choice turned out to have unintended consequences — like people reaching the conclusion that the video’s only for spinning with a low whorl spindle with no hook. It isn’t — yes, it tells you how to do that; but drafting is drafting, spinning is spinning, and the same basic technique applies. Yet, people got caught up in what was, to me, just one fairly superficial thing about the video.

Also, I wanted more “spinner’s eye view” stuff. When I teach, I often stand next to a student, instead of in front of them; I wanted to create something closer to that effect. While a video still lacks the interactive nature of being there in person, I wanted to do something closer to my ever-evolving 5-10 minute basic spinning lesson on the quick. And I wanted to answer questions that people seem to often be left with.

On the other hand, I also didn’t have it in me to spend a ton of time, or, well, any money at all on something to throw on YouTube. There’s a limit to what I’m willing to do in that context, after all. So without further ado, here you go: Intro to Spinning Part 1 and Part 2.

Enjoy!

I’m back…

Man, you guys came up with some absolutely fabulous stories. I have been laughing my butt off reading them all, and I love every one! But Lauren was the closest to right. A dear friend of mine had an absolutely appalling February (I keep telling her March is bound to be better) that was riddled with illness, death and the emergency room, usually on someone’s birthday to boot. It got to the point that her stories were getting hard to believe, so I had to go up there to check and see if, in fact, Justin Timberlake had showed up to take her dancing, and that was why she was telling me these outlandish stories cancelling our plans to get together.

Sadly, Mr. Timberlake was not there when I arrived, and all of my friend’s stories were totally true. I had actually suspected as much, and this was why I jumped in the car to go make sure she wasn’t working herself to death teaching spinning classes just after leaving the hospital. I figured the odds were decent that she’d let me push her out of the way and take over her classes, and that ultimately, she might even forgive me for doing so, and so might her students.

I did, as is traditional, totally trash her shop. Perhaps someday she’ll forgive me for that too. After all, she is a kind and forgiving friend.

While I’m racking up the things for which I’ll need my pal’s forgiveness, I’ll add one more. See, here’s the thing. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that fiber businesses — all of them — are teeny, tiny microbusinesses. They’re usually a business owner, who wears all of the hats, and an assortment of part-time employees, many of whom are family and friends. Although there are a handful of larger operations in the fiber world, a really big operation might have a total of 20 employees. Dudes, I have waited tables at tiny restaurants with more employees (and bigger earnings and shorter hours for the owners).

Tiny businesses can be fragile things. They depend on one or two people whose lives are entirely consumed by the operation. You don’t get sick days; if you’re sick and can’t work, your business is shut down. Since you’re working round the clock to keep things going and make things grow, you’re usually doing lots of different things. A fiber shop owner has to handle all the standard stuff like customer service and sales, plus inventory, shipping, receiving, order management, product development, marketing, making decisions about what to carry or not carry, scheduling classes, teaching classes, planning and running events, advertising, human resources, taking care of the physical plant, being a janitor and maintenance person, keeping the books, if you can think of it (and probably if you can’t), it has to happen. It’s a helluva workload, and you have to manage all of it while making sure you’ve got an inviting place for folks to come and spend their time. It’s not for the faint of heart.

When you’re the one person constantly in charge of making all of that happen, and you have a bad day, or a day when you can’t work, it could spell disaster. Death in the family? Your only choice may well be to close the shop unexpectedly for a while, and leave, worrying the whole time not only about your bereavement but about what would happen if someone came to the shop for the first time, found it closed, got upset, and then made the rounds of the usual online scenes saying “Man, I went to that shop and it was closed even though the hours on the web site said it should have been open. What a ripoff. Nobody should go there.” As unlikely as that may sound, I have seen that happen. Or what if you have to cancel or reschedule classes? You know you have students who are counting on you being there and making things happen for them. You don’t have the choice to close, cancel, or reschedule.

So the one thing I could think of to do for my friend was to try to take a day or so worth of such worries off her shoulders — something that only a spinning teacher could do. And something she’d be happy to do for a friend who, if the tables were turned, would be the first person here to give me a bit of her time.

Here’s to March. February’s fired. For such a short month, it sure does seem to drag sometimes.