Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Striving for Consistency

I spent the last two days getting my shop updated with the loveliness that was last week's dyeing experiment.
I've dubbed this Summer Sunset and, while I love the way it came out, I'm not at all confident that I could replicate it.  Consistency like that will come with time, at least I hope it will.  If you love it, get over to the shop and get yours while it lasts.
Speaking of consistency, I finally took the time to wind up the last of the original yarn balls on my ball winder.  They are now all center pull skeins, happily nesting in their very own drawstring bags, with business card tags on them.  As I say on each listing:  

Yarn is wound into a center pull ball and packaged in a reusable, drawstring bags made from a t-shirt sleeve to keep your yarn tidy and tangle free while you work with it.

This benefits me as well.  Now all my t-shirt yarn just needs to be packaged for shipping and its ready to go.  That having been said, what a lot of work it was to get it all done.  The worst part was, it felt redundant.  The difference of course was that this time it was getting done in a way that really works best.  That didn't stop the temper tantrum that was going on in my head though.  Looking back on that picture, maybe making 18 bags is a pretty good accomplishment.

I also did some much needed updating in my pictures and descriptions today with a goal of making things more consistent.  I stuck with the t-shirt yarn section for today but I got some feedback from other sellers about other sections that need attention as well.  I plan to make those changes in the very near future.  Feedback is so scary to ask for but so important...but mostly scary.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dyeing to Try or Trying to Dye

I've been working to replenish my t-shirt yarn stock in my shop, not the plain colors but the funky ones.  T-shirt yarn made from tie dye t-shirts never lasts very long in there.  What's a girl to do when there's no guarantee of finding tie dye t-shirts at the thrift store?  She can try dyeing some of the seven gazillion white t-shirts filling thrift store aisles.

That was my task today.  I had some dyes on hand that were also a thrift store find and I'd already destroyed a canning pot with a dye bath a while back, so I was ready for action.  

Here are the results drying on the clothesline.

A closer peek

You can expect these to make their way into my shop on Monday.  

Overall, I'm pleased with the results.  I wasn't thrilled with the process.  Chemical dyes stink, literally and rinsing out the dye until the water runs clear wastes a ridiculous amount of water to my way of thinking.  I wound up using the washing machine to do this and I still feel like the amount of dye coming out was endless.  I still have some chemical dye left but I lean toward exploring natural dyes in the near future.  

Since I still have some of this dye batch left, I've got some gray t-shirts soaking in it.  I'm curious to see what they look like.  Every time I've made gray t-shirt yarn it just looks grungy and unappealing to me and my efforts to bleach dye gray t-shirts have been utter failures.  The gray never changes color with the bleach!  How is that even possible??

The other discovery I made was that the blade on my rotary cutter was insanely dull.  What a difference a new blade made! 

Happy weekend to all!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Road Ahead

I really enjoy listening to podcasts when I'm crafting.  I'm hooked on some of the usual suspects like Serial, Undisclosed and This American Life.  I'm also hooked on some crafty, maker related podcasts like Prairie Girls Knit and Spin, the Knitmore Girls and, most recently, Have Company.

I confess, I've been binge listening to Have Company since the end of last week.  Its really inspiring to hear the variety of guests Marlee Grace has on.  After listening to a wide variety of artists and makers, my wheels really started turning.  I started pondering different aspects of my shop and the direction of my shop.

In my mind, the earliest beginnings of Saved by Kate date back to denim quilts made for my sons' bunk beds.  First my sons, then my daughter, then my daughter's boyfriend, then my other daughter, then my sister, then my daughter's new boyfriend...one quilt organically led to the next one.

The memory quilts have followed a similar path, one that feels like a natural progression, rather than a business plan.  Yet a business plan is what it has become.  A close friend, and my first paying customer, just responded to pictures of my latest effort with, "you are really an extraordinary crafter of these and must continue to market them to the paying customer."  Given that she is an amazingly talented seamstress, my heart is singing (or screaming, OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!!)

So what does this all amount to in practice?  Well, yesterday I took a deep breath and put some business cards out on 2 community bulletin boards.  This morning when someone in my yoga class asked what I was doing later, I told her I was sending my latest memory quilt off to its owner and offered to show pictures.  I ended up showing her several of my projects.  In a sense I outed myself to the class, which is something I need to do more often.  I've gotten good at this in some venues and remain not so good in others.  The conversation this morning was a good first step.

For the future?  I need to replenish my t-shirt yarn a bit.  I'm working on a prototype for a possible class.  There's a fairly local craft show that I think would be a great venue for me but I need to see how much inventory I can build up before applying.  In the just for me category, I'm knitting socks, lots of socks and their mine, all mine!!

I leave you with two pics of the finished memory quilt.  (I'm still working on the photography piece of this, especially the lighting.)  Let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Finally, an Update!

Its certainly been a lot longer than a week since my last post.  Yeesh, time gets away from me sometimes.  Time to get back on track.

I've been busy with some special orders, like this bag from a pair of embellished pants.

Also this memory quilt, which is coming together nicely.  

There is a rhythm when I making memory quilts.  The beginning is always fumbly as I try to make a plan that brings together pieces of clothing that are vastly different in color, style and fabric content while honoring the memory of the person (in the case of one's I've done for people who've lost loved ones) or the time of life (as in the case of one's I've done for people to remember their time on a team or at college).  Sometimes I'm given guidelines and sometimes I'm given a free hand.  The challenge, in either case, remains the same.  How can I make this come together?  At some point things begin to click and then it seems the project takes on a life of its own.  It becomes intuitive, which is so exciting to me.

In other news, here are two recent additions to the shop:

A string bag, fully lined and made from upcycled pillowcases

A larger, brightly colored t-shirt yarn area rug

Finally, the biggest news of all.  I have finally set up calculated shipping on the larger items in my shop.  Why should you care?  Well, for most people, it makes the shipping significantly cheaper.  I'm curious to see how this change affects sales, or if it affects sales.  I don't know why this was such a challenge for me to set up but now that its done I feel like Wonder Woman.

Now I'm off to finish that memory quilt...