Saturday, July 9, 2016

Clearing the Way for Clearance

I've spent a fair amount of time today updating my Etsy shop.  It's been kind of neat to see how things have begun to evolve.  

For example, I think the tote bags that I was working on recently are so superior to the ones I made last year.  My sewing has improved but I also think my approach to designing the bags has improved.  I chose to make bags that are a uniform size and I took the time to put pockets on both sides of the bags.  I also was able to find larger upholstery fabric samples to work with so the front and back of the bags match.  So now I have a bag recipe to work from.  Figuring all this out feels like a big step forward to me.  

It's also led me to create a clearance section in my Etsy shop.  It just seems like it's time to celebrate what's new by letting go of what's still hanging around.  I've marked stuff way down so have a look.  There's likely to be more things added over the next few days.

I'm in the middle of a post production clean up in my craft room and this is really freeing.  I haven't done a big clean up since before the holidays so this is really necessary.  I'm trying to focus on some wise words that were shared with me by other crafters.  I do not have to make everything for everyone.  The notion of narrowing my focus and picking a few things to make that I enjoy making, is totally obvious and brilliantly simple.  It's also making the clean up go much more quickly.

I leave you with this picture of the new bags in my shop and the many things they can carry.  I know my pictures still need work but I like the idea of this picture if not the way I executed it.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Getting Done What needs to Get Done

After doing such a good job of keeping my blog updated weekly, I fell down on the job last week.  I confess that after 6 1/2 weeks of my husband being on strike, the news of the tentative agreement on Friday, May 27th left me giddy and slightly unable to focus.  All the anxiety, which had been propelling me at a truly manic pace, slipped away and I found myself in need of a break.

Along the way, I got some projects done that had been languishing far too long, like this dog bed cover for Oreo.  It's essentially just a rectangle with elastic around the edge but it works so much better  than what I had been using.  Clearly he is a pretty big fan of it.

Although I didn't get the listing for special order memory quilts live in my shop yet, I did get a special order for one from my sister's boyfriend! I'm pretty excited about the possibilities.  I'm just getting started on it and it is still very much in the planning stage, which is what takes most of the time anyway.

Time to get back on track!

I also

Monday, May 23, 2016


What a week it has been!  I managed to get a ton of stuff done like this pillow that I has started last week.  First pic is a front view, 2nd is the back side.  Its an envelope style cover.

I'm so pleased with the way this came out.  As I had hoped, I was able to get this done in time for the Maker Expo on Saturday and it featured prominently in my display.

This was really one of the first times I did a display like this and I was pretty pleased.  The response was pretty good.  From my point of view, getting the word out is almost as important as making a sale when you're this early in the game.   I think I was able to make some good connections with fairly local places that host classes too, which I hadn't expected.

Thanks to some extra time I put in earlier in the week, I had custom order listings live in my shop for Memory Pillows and T-shirt Memory Rugs.  I still need to make one for custom Memory Throw Quilts but that didn't stop me from putting together a flyer for those three items to give out at the Maker Expo.  The construction of this did not go smoothly, my printer and my laptop decided they hated each other.  My son saved the day without lecturing me about how I should have gotten this done sooner, a song I've sang to him many times.  I was very grateful.

The plan was to make two of the pillows and I am thrilled to report that the second pillow got finished yesterday.  So many people this weekend talked about how much they loved the pockets on the pillows and how they would store their remotes in them.  I honestly hadn't considered them for any practical use, I just liked the way they looked but it does seem like a great idea.

Looking to the week ahead, I'm not sure how much sewing I'll be able to get done for the shop.  I've got some very unglamorous mending projects to get done, including sewing new elastic on my son's bed sheet, fixing buttons that are falling off a sweater, fixing a button band on another sweater the way it should have been done in the first place and hemming a shower curtain.  My big shop goal for the week is to get the custom memory quilt listing live.  

Have a great week!

Monday, May 16, 2016

What Inspires Me

This past week was very productive.  I was able to get at least 8 bags and liners cut out.  If you've been following me on Instagram, you've already seen these but if not, enjoy!  The floral fabric and the owl fabric are the liners.

I was thinking a lot about what inspires me to create.  In the case of these bags, I love the way the lining fabric peeks out a bit.  I wanted to find a way to use these fabrics as liners, especially the owls.

Another project I started working on this week that I'm finding really inspiring is a set of throw pillows.  They are clearly a memory project as they are being made from strips of clothing.

I find that I really enjoy planning and creating projects like this.  I like the challenge of fitting the disparate pieces together in a way that celebrates memories.  This will become a simple envelope pillow case.  Here's how it's turning out so far.

I think this type of project will become a special order option in my shop.  I'm heading to the CCLD Maker Expo this weekend and I'll be bringing this pillow.  I'm curious to see how it is received. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mondays are Hard!

I confess, I could barely roll myself out of bed this morning to make coffee.  There was no way I could blog given that I could barely form a sentence.  We got in very late last night after a trip to the Adirondacks and it just took me forever to settle down and get to sleep.  As a result, I've spent the day operating in a bit of a daze.

This week my schedule is bit strange as I'm covering for a coworker.  As a result, I'm going into work late tomorrow, leaving early Wednesday and working Saturday.  I'm going to have to be super organized to get  everything done that I need to get done.

I'm really happy with the amount of t-shirt yarn I currently have in my shop so I think it is time to switch gears and start working on other things.  Project bags are next on my agenda along with some zipper pouches.  The plan is to use denim and upholstery fabric to create these.  I've got two very specific designs in mind.  Now if only I can avoid distractions!

Ultimately, I need a better answer when people ask "what can you make with your t-shirt yarn?"  Here's the interesting thing, I don't make much with the relatively thin, bulky weight t-shirt yarn that I sell.  This thickness of t-shirt yarn evolved out of two other makers' requests.  When I make rugs   I use yarn that is about 3 times thicker.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, I'm going to head over to Ravelry and do a little research.  I'd like to come up with some answers that are better than, "Let me show you what my friend Kristina made..."  (Not that I don't love showing off the beautiful things she makes.  In fact, you should stop reading this post and go visit her website.  She's amazing, right?)

So my plan ultimately centers around creating a list of patterns that work well with my t-shirt yarn.  I do have some test knitting that I had done on slippers that I was really pleased with.  Maybe it's almost time to create a Saved by Kate Ravelry group so we can share ideas or host knit alongs or look for test knitters?

Actually that brings me to an interesting thing I've noticed.  Blogs and Ravelry seem to be interactive in a more meaningful way than Instagram or Facebook.  I can't tell you how many times I've posed a question on both Instagram and Facebook and only been met with likes rather than responses.  I suspect people often don't get beyond the image to the words.  I must ponder this as I decide if I need another thing to keep track of.  Thoughts?

I leave you with this lovely picture of my latest entry into my shop, Desert Sun, a colorway hand dyed by me.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Better Late Than Never!

I confess that this past week very much matches my description of the prior week.  I'm just pushing through to get as much done as I possibly can.

I've enlisted the help of my husband with some of the t-shirt yarn making process.  This has added a rather comical element to things.  I confess, I'm a control freak.  Currently, he is only allowed to stretch the t-shirt yarn and hopefully, one day, he'll learn that it doesn't require Herculean strength.  A gentle tug will do the job nicely.  In the interim, you might see some smaller skeins in the shop every now and then.  Like this one.

I've also begun to schedule some events which is both gratifying, because people want to see my stuff, and terrifying, because people are going to see my stuff!!  It really seemed like it was time to take this next step.  The first event I will be attending is a Maker Expo at the end of May.  This is not a selling event, although you can take orders.  It is billed more as a demonstration event.  More on my plans for that next week.

I've completed cutting and almost completed stretching the dyed batch of t-shirt yarn thanks to some help from my hubby.  I'm hoping to have that in the shop by the end of the week.  Actually, I'm hoping to have it in the shop by Thursday but I'll settle for the end of the week.  Looking forward, I hope to transition to working on some bags in the near future but it might not happen before next week.  Also there's the rug recipe to finish working on.

In other news, the debacle that is my workspace is slowly evolving and I do mean slowly.  Its hard to find time to organize while you're busy making so instead I've been moving stuff from side to side, from flat surface to other flat surface.  Jim took pity on me this weekend and moved stuff out of the room to help me get a jumpstart.  It's much improved but much of it is still in the hallway.  At least now, as I make  things I can put them where they belong and there's several clear flat surfaces to rest my coffee mug on.

There's a really delicate balance going on in my world right now as I juggle teaching yoga, working at the sewing shop, running my Etsy shop and family life.  My hours at have increased which is great given my husband's current lack of a paycheck (thanks Verizon, you greedy bastards) but its also taking its toll a bit.  I'm working hard to set reasonable goals for myself.

So with that in mind, I'm going to step away from the computer and go hang out with my hubby, watch an old movie and knit on my Tanhouse Brook Shawl which I am loving!  It's hard to see shawl pics when they're still on the needles but here's a peek.

See you next week!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lights, Camera , Action!

As promised, here I am again.  It has been a week of just pushing through to get stuff done, even when all I'd like to do is sit on the couch and knit.

I am working my way through a backlog of t-shirts, slowly making them into t-shirt yarn to put in my shop.  Knowing that these t-shirts are all clean and ready to be made into yarn has been wonderful for me.  I'm falling into this rhythm of prepping a shirt or two (or 6) after work and each night doing another piece of the prepping process.

This chipping away at things approach allowed me to do a shop update yesterday.  Given that last week left me no large chunk of time to work on shop things and Saturday was spent visiting an out of town college, that feels amazing.

Here's a peek at a portion of that shop update:

You might also notice a change in my shop pictures.  That's because I've finally unpacked the light kit that arrived a week or two ago.  I am no master at this lighting thing but what a difference even my incompetent set up made in my photos!  I'll need to work on that but I'm so pleased overall.

I spent a good portion of yesterday dyeing plain white t-shirts that I had been saving.  I have a cache of dyes that I'm working my way through trying to learn dyeing technique.  Here's a peek at the results of that and some future t-shirt yarn

I'm quite pleased with the results both of the dyeing and the photo.  Now I must get ready for work.  See you in a week.  


Monday, April 18, 2016

Motivation & Introspection

One could say that I'm not very good at this blogging thing and they would be right.  Not long after that last post I went on vacation and, when I got back, I started a new job that has kept me hopping.  The job is a good fit, I get to be around creative people all day but I'm tired at the end of the day and by the time I get in a little work for my shop, I don't have much energy left for blogging.  In fact, after the holidays, I barely had time or energy to update my shop.

All that changed last week when my husband went on strike.  He's one of 39,000 Verizon employees walking the picket line.  Rather than talk about the anxiety that produces, because its a little too obvious to comment on, I'd rather talk about the motivation it has provided me with.  It really got me thinking about my goals and how I want to move forward.

The introspection actually started a few weeks ago as I was working on this special order t-shirt rug.  I started thinking about pattern recipe that I've developed for making these rugs.  For the first time, I took extensive notes on my process.  I've always jotted notes down but this time I really paid attention.  I even tweaked my technique to improve the overall look.  Honestly, that change was so obvious I'm ashamed to admit it.  In the end, my customer was really happy with the rug and so was I.

My goals as far as the t-shirt rugs go are to phase the pre-made ones out of my shop, offer special order ones to customers made out of their own t-shirts as this one was and to have the pattern recipe for sale by mid-May so you can make your own masterpiece.

Another thing this rug project got me pondering was how to maximize the t-shirt yarn that I can get from one shirt.  I needed to use every bit of the t-shirts sent by my customer to make sure I had enough to make the rug size he wanted.  I played with different cutting techniques to accomplish this and eventually found that joining smaller strips was the way to go.  This experimentation for the rug led me to make this joined yarn ball.  Its still an experimental process as
far as I'm concerned.  I'm going to wait for some feedback from the customer who bought it before making more but I'm really excited about the potential of the process.

I also had a question from a potential customer about how thin I could make the t-shirt yarn.  I experimented a bit yesterday and discovered that, although the cotton t-shirts I prefer to work with don't like to be much thinner than I'm already cutting them, I can get a cotton polyester blend t-shirt as thin as 1/10 of an inch.  As with the joined ball, I'm still considering this an experimental process but I'm hopeful that the potential customer will agree to take this first ball, use it and offer some feedback.
I have other goals in mind but this post is running long and I need to get ready to go to work.  I'll save some of my other thoughts on how I want to move forward for my next post.  Speaking of my next post, I'm going to aim for a weekly post done on Monday mornings.  So I'll see you in this space again on the 25th, I promise!