Posted on 23 Comments

Back In Scrubs

Turn off the news for a minute. (Or how about forever because honestly, it’s exploitative trash.) Anything you truly need to know can be obtained through other means (text alerts from reputable science agencies, state and local government, etc.)

Get up, open a window or a door and stick your face out for a sec or sit on your steps. Stretch. Breathe. Get yourself a warm drink, a big glass of cold water (or maybe just a G&T I don’t judge). Then come back and read this.

OK good. Let’s talk. I have a lot of news, but most of it is good, so you can exhale.

First things first:

As some of you know, I wasn’t always a production artist and dyer. I have some formal training in studio art, but I chose to give up that road to a fine arts degree when I was offered a science scholarship for college (no regrets). I’ve always had a visual arts practice, but the way I fell into being a full-time production dyer was very random. (Long story for another time)

In my most recent professional life, I’ve worked in Level 1 trauma center teaching hospitals. Prior to now, pretty much nobody besides nurses and doctors knew anything about what I did for a living. Most people still assume I’m a nurse. I’m actually a Registered Respiratory Therapist. It is a very specialized type of role; we treat people with heart and lung conditions, most of which are very ill requiring life support. Their organs need help maintaining basic functions in order to stay alive; physical breathing (inhalation and exhalation), absorption and distribution of oxygen throughout the body, removal of carbon dioxide, and maintaining a certain blood pH level.

These functions are maintained via mechanical ventilation, certain medications and therapies. We insert a breathing tube in the patient’s throat to make the air go in. Respiratory therapists are the ones who facilitate the process and run the technology involved with mechanical ventilators. We work closely with our ICU nurses, physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to keep people alive, and hopefully enable them to recover so that they can get back to the families and lives. So you can imagine exactly how essential respiratory therapists are to medical teams who manage critically ill patients.

There are very few respiratory therapists relative to the population. There are even fewer of us who have a special higher level adult critical care credential, even fewer who have specialized credentials to work with pediatric and neonatal patients.

I am one of 87 people in the United States who has taken those exams and holds both credentials. There are many others who work in these areas with on the job training with varying degrees of responsibility and knowledge.

After great consideration, I have decided to step away from daily studio production for Vivid Fiber Arts. I feel a deep moral obligation to use my healthcare skills to help during this COVID-19 pandemic. The healthcare crisis that will arise from this virus will be unprecedented. I am a seasoned veteran of the 2010 novel H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic. It was the worst 4 months of my entire professional career. This will be worse. I am 100% certain that I will get my ass handed to me on a daily basis. However, I’m the kind of person who thrives in chaos and crisis. It’s just the way I’m wired from life experience. It will suck. I will likely get sick. I’m OK with it. My husband is a critical care nurse and will be going too. (We don’t have small children at home.)

And you’re probably at this point thinking “like OK so … where exactly is the good news?”

The good news is that I was prepared for this. I knew a few weeks ago that this was going to be a strong possibility. While I was hoping I wouldn’t need to make this decision, I worked my ass off to make sure our customers would be well taken care of. I literally have done nothing but dye and sleep for the past 2 weeks. As a result, the Birdsong pre-order is completely taken care of, all current orders have been dyed, save a few skeins of end yardage. The majority have even shipped out already way ahead of schedule. We value our customer relationships above all else. Customer service is and will always be our #1 priority. I am eternally grateful for their support, encouragement, kind words and notes that make me smile.

Does this mean that Vivid Fiber Arts is closing down? No. In fact, the very opposite.
The very best preparation I made was having the foresight to hire an amazing assistant more than a year ago. Kristin has been with me for more than a year and a half. Kristin came to us with absolutely zero knowledge about yarn or dyeing. However, she had just the most perfect combination of transferable skills and is a quick learner. Kristin has been an essential part of this company, and I would not have been able to make so many customers happy this past year without her hard work. Aside from being smart, conscientious, trustworthy and skilled, she is an absolute gem of a person.

That said, I have zero qualms about leaving Kristin in charge of operations while I’m not in the office. Kristin will continue to fulfill all orders out of our current inventory, and field all customer service issues. I would ask that you bear with us during this transition. Kristin is amazing, but not a robot. Mistakes happen and you can trust that we always will make things right and then some. I would ask that you please treat Kristin with the warmth and grace you have bestowed on me.

I will be dyeing as much yarn as possible before I leave for my assignment. However, I don’t yet know where I will be assigned or for what duration I will be there. This means that Kristin will ship whatever is available, but I don’t know when I will be able to dye more gradients. I’m the only one who can do that right now. (However, I am working towards that not being the case forever).

We remain committed to providing the best customer service in the industry. However, I feel it’s a good time to recalibrate some expectations so that we can continue to operate on an efficient, ethical, sustainable basis that honors the humanity of artisan operations:

1. We will be shipping once or twice a week. The “Amazon two day shipping” mindset needs to die. It is unsustainable for small businesses that employ real people under humane conditions. This does not mean we will be leaving orders hanging out in the order queue for months at a time with no regard or respect for your patronage.

2. Our shipping supplies may temporarily change as some of our suppliers are suffering from global supply chain issues. We will do our best to maintain our legendary unboxing experience.

3. I will be releasing inventory into the shop before I leave. Please join any waitlists for which you want notifications. Please add our email to “safe senders”. Waitlisters get first dibs, then Ravelry VFA group members, then I announce it on social media. Social media is not a reliable source of information and announcements and it is not our priority.

Due to excellent planning and disciplined spending, Vivid Fiber Arts is in good shape for now. However, if you wish to personally show support for me and my family, please feel free to donate to my literal coffee account We will be drinking a lot of it!

If you’ve gotten this far, thank you so much for your concern, interest, and support. I won’t say I’m not scared, because that would be a lie. But I am at peace with my decision, and I have faith that things will go the way they’re supposed to- however that may be. I will provide updates as I’m available. In the meantime, while I’m waiting for my assignment, I’ll be dyeing, cleaning and launching a website to help other dyers . More news on that is forthcoming.

Big hugs to all!


23 thoughts on “Back In Scrubs

  1. I admire you so much. Stay safe out there. ❤

    1. I have nothing but respect for you and your husband! Thank you for making this decision, and for putting yourselves on the front lines to serve your fellow humans. Truly inspiring. My niece is a nurse in Brooklyn (first year as RN – hell of an entry into the career), and I worry about her every day out there. Again, so much respect! Thank you

  2. Best if luck to you, I’m proud to be one of your customers.

  3. Amy, you are an utter gem of a human being. Here to help however I can.
    Be kind to yourself – you’re already a fucking legend to others!
    Jo x

    1. I’m not a customer yet, but want to thank you so much for offering your expertise to the crisis and putting your health on the line to do it. I’ll drooled over some of your work previously and will be making a purchase in the future for sure.

  4. Hello Amy, I’m one of your fans that to date hasn’t actually bought any of your yarn….that will change one day. However, I want to thank you for a) taking the time to communicate your decision and its impact on your fiber life and b) the commitment you’ve made to provide your specialist skill set to the current extreme needs. Many thanks, take care and be with grace, regards Sue

    1. Love you,Amy. In your corner. Will wait for you to return to the shop. Kristen will be fine. You guys stay safe and cure the world. Xoxo Denise Pearlstein

  5. I wish you well. You set a grand example for us all showing that we need to be selfless and caring and patient. Thank
    you, in advance, for what you do. Travel gently into this great unknowable adventure and return to us with all your creative juices fired up.

  6. Amy, so much love and respect to you, and all of our front line workers.

  7. Amy: I am in awe of you. I love you and all you bring to this world. Fiercest hugs, Anne (of the littleskein variety)

  8. You’re a hero. Thank you for doing this, and best of luck to you and your husband.

  9. You are an amazing person…..I wish you well in your endeavor….Your yarn is beautiful, but your desire to help save lives is so much more important in the big scheme of things! I’ll keep you in my prayers….Karen

  10. Wow…just wow. Here in Australia, we’re seeing problems with food availability, and goddamn toilet rolls! Now medication, over-the-counter and prescription, because people are being selfish and irrational, not because we don’t have these items. So I applaud your decision and wish more people looked beyond themselves and tried to help rather than hinder.

  11. Take care of yourself, I send all my support, also it is not much, to you people in the US,
    Anne (France).

  12. “However, I feel it’s a good time to recalibrate some expectations”
    Very well said, Amy.
    Sending positive thoughts to you and your husband. Thank you for jumping into the fight, and thank you for taking the time to tell us about it.

  13. Please take care, stay safe!!! I really, really admire your attitude towards helping vulnerable sick people!!! Again: please take care!!

  14. Godspeed. You are awesome.

  15. My dear father-in-law is in the same respiratory therapy medical field. He is in the trenches now. I truly respect his dedication and yours!

  16. Love you,Amy. In your corner. Will wait for you to return to the shop. Kristen will be fine. You guys stay safe and cure the world. Xoxo Denise Pearlstein

  17. Thank you for sharing so much of YOU with the rest of US!

  18. Man you a true hero. <3 go kick the crap out of that coronavirus.

  19. My virtual hat is off to you. Thank you for being you, for everything you do.

  20. I am VERY late to this party, but I am in awe and am now doubly happy to wait as long as need be for updates!

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