Thursday, July 26, 2012

Business Plans

I'm working on changing the way I distribute my knitting patterns, and things I've made for sale.

My sister Gretchen and I set up an Etsy shop in January of this year. We're thinking about getting an occasional space at the local Farmers' Market, and doing some local holiday markets/sales. We'll both be offering items for sale at the CU Spinners and Weavers Guild Annual Show and Sale (November 2 & 3, 2012), as well.

As for my patterns, I've been selling them wholesale through a very limited number of yarn shops for more than 12 years. As you can see, my pattern website hasn't been updated in six of those years. ( It's on my list. Really.)

I have a number of free patterns, too, which are available as pdf downloads here.

Clearly, I don't work at this very hard. And I don't want to work at it very hard, to be honest. My heart and soul are in the creating, not the business logistics. I have no desire to submit designs to magazines or yarn companies. If they come to me, fine. I want to be in complete control.

So I'm converting all my paid patterns to pdfs and will sell them through Ravelry. Ravelry allows for direct sales to individuals, either through their home computers or via their in-store sales program. Payment is handled through Paypal, with which I've had good experiences.

Pattern pdfs can also be sold on craftsy.com and etsy.com, but the audiences there are much more diverse, and less focused on knitting -- and more likely to erroneously think they're buying a knitted hat, rather than the pattern to make a knitted hat, according to what I've heard. Ravelry pattern sales are automatically targeted at people who know how to knit (or crochet) and understand what "pattern" means.

I will probably investigate Patternfish as well - it's another targeted pattern-distribution site. But one (or two) things at a time.

It's beastly hot here, and dry, and has been for some time. I am so appreciative of air conditioning and ceiling fans!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wedding Sampler

I've been going cross-eyed finishing a wedding sampler for a client. She had stitched about 25% of it, and handed it off to me to finish in time for the wedding.

I got it done, it's mounted, and waiting for its frame. It turned out nicely, I think. She asked me to modify parts of the design, leave out a central motif, and stitch the couple's names and wedding date in the center -- in a sort of Hebrew-looking alphabet.

I went online and found this font, which I used as inspiration for charting the names and date. She was pleased with the result.

Here's the finished sampler, before framing. 


It will have a fairly dark blue mat and a gold frame. I think the frame we ordered is close to 14" x 14".  The stitching is 16 stitches/inch. I've done finer work, but not in quite a while. I was glad to have my new glasses!

Next up, replicating a family Christmas stocking for a bridal shower gift -- due a week from Saturday.

At least it's knitting -- I won't go blind doing that. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Inspired By...

My guild, the Champaign-Urbana Spinners and Weavers Guild, is doing a cooperative project with the Spurlock Museum at UIUC. Those of us who chose to participate are creating work inspired by an artifact from the museum's permanent collection.

Museum staff selected a number of artifacts which are not usually on display. The staff members who chose the artifacts are not fiber workers. In choosing artifacts from a range of cultures, they looked for a variety of colors, textures, and patterns. Pictures of the artifacts can be seen here.

In February 2011, we were shown pictures of these objects, so that we could begin to think about our choices. In May 2011, we held our last meeting of the year at the museum, and were able to examine the actual artifacts, with museum staff present to answer questions. Our final selections had to be made a month later (June 2011).

Since then, we've been puttering away. We've had lots of formal and informal meetings to discuss our processes and our progress, and have made use of a special mailing list to keep in touch (and keep up with approaching deadlines!).

This month (Tuesday, May 8, 2012) we met at the museum again, for a potluck buffet and a display of many of the works inspired by the artifacts.

It was amazing. I'd seen some of the work at different stages, either in person or in photos, but seeing what members brought, all in one room (well, one room and around the corner into the next) was impressive.

Each member's work will be shown alongside the artifact that inspired it. The exhibit will be on display at the museum August 20, 2013 - January 18, 2014.

I chose the "Wrought Iron Window-Door", item number 1929.11.0001. A photo of this object can be seen in the lower right corner of the project brochure here.  (Scroll down to the second page of the pdf.) Museum records state it to be from France, 16th Century. I wondered who looked through it, and what they saw. The more I looked at it, the more magical it seemed. In my mind, it became the gateway to a magical, mythical garden.


I'm using my renditions of the window-door as the outer surfaces of the doors to a triptych. I replicated the pattern of the window-door in wool pencil roving, which I needle-felted onto a woven wool fabric (from a thrift store skirt). On the inside surfaces of the doors will be depictions of a Tree of Life and a Fountain of Life, both universal concepts. The large central panel will be a depiction of the Peaceable Kingdom, another universal concept. The fabric for the inner panels is wool from a thrift store coat. I'm using embroidery, appliqué, needlefelting, and other needlework techniques on these panels.

Here's a detail of my Tree of Life: 


Each bird is about the size of a US penny. 

A couple of my critters from the Peaceable Kingdom: 


The lamb is about 3" from head to tail. They're made from pieces of felted sweaters, stuffed and embroidered. The lamb has real sheep curls needlefelted to his body.

Our projects are to be turned in at the museum the last week in June. I still have a lot to do, but I this project is feeding my soul in a way I couldn't have imagined at the outset. 

More to come. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Al Sadu, traditional weaving in the United Arab Emirates

Today's entry:

I found this interesting, and hope you will, too. I am always amazed at our ingenuity as a species. There are so very many ways to make cloth: weaving, felting, knitting, crochet, and other looping techniques; and then so very many varieties of working within each of those methods. The link below will take you to a fascinating video.

Al Sadu, traditional weaving skills in the United Arab Emirates | Intangible cultural heritage - UNESCO Multimedia Archives

In this weaving tradition, the patterns of the weave are created as the warp is put on the loom. The weft (the yarn woven between the warp strands) is beaten down so much that it doesn't show at all. This is the same technique used in inkle weaving (belts, bands, etc. - think guitar strap).

Also: new items in Yarnpro's Cottage Workshop - keep checking; we are getting more ideas than we can keep up with!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Eilynna's Honey Bunny Quilt

Here's a quilt I made for Eilynna - the top was finished in May 2011; the quilting happened off-and-on, over the next several months.


The pattern is Honey Bunny's Garden, from Crabapple Hill. I had picked up fat quarters of three quilting fabrics in peach, green and cream at Threads of Time, thinking they would work well together. I didn't have a plan in mind. A month or so later, I happened to see the pattern for this quilt, and immediately knew I would do it with those three fabrics. So I bought enough fabric to make the quilt. Or so I thought.

I embroidered the pictorial blocks on good-quality muslin, held double (this is the best. idea. ever. -- even though I am pretty anal about keeping the back of my work as nice-looking as the front, the second layer of fabric really helps). I suppose I could look up when I started, and how long it took to embroider the blocks, but I'm not really about that -- I enjoy it while I'm doing it, and enjoy the results when I'm finished.

As an aside, I'm always a bit perplexed when the first question out of someone's mouth is "How long did it take to do that?" What difference does it make? How long did it take you to play that round of golf? How long did it take you to read that book? How long did it take you to watch that TV program? What I do is my recreation, my creative outlet. Some of my friends are painters (art, not walls). I've never heard anyone ask them "How long did it take you to paint that picture?"

I cut the pieces for the blocks with a rotary cutter, and machine-pieced them. My piecing skills improved a lot as I worked through the blocks and assembled the quilt top.

I added a border to the top, which meant that I had to piece the backing fabric to make the back big enough (the fabric had sold out). So much for buying the quantity specified on the pattern -- next time, I'll buy extra, just in case I make some design changes.

I used Warm & White batting -- I love this stuff, because it's low-loft, behaves well, and you can quilt as far as 10" apart. I only wanted to quilt around the outside of the embroidered blocks, which finished at about 9"x9", so this filled the bill nicely.

The pieced areas of the quilt were hand-quilted in a cross-hatch pattern, fairly widely spaced.


Eilynna uses this quilt in her crib at Grandma & Grandpa's house when her mommy & daddy are at work.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Where Does The Time Go?

Wow, long time no blog.

I've been busy. That should suffice.

One of the many things that has occupied me the last few months is setting up and making stock for an Etsy shop with my sister.

That takes time, and requires upkeep -- which I confess has also fallen by the wayside.

I'm just into too many things.

I'll try to do better about keeping this blog up to date.

I'll leave you with a photo of my most recent creation for the Etsy shop -- it hasn't been listed yet, but should go up today (I hope). It's a tea cozy.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cash's Quilt

A little more than a year ago, I started making quilts for the grandkids' birthdays. This quilt was made from a kit from Keepsake Quilting, with additional fabric for the backing. 

The red border fabric came with the kit, and was meant to be the backing, but my friend Matthew snagged me the end of a bolt of the road fabric to use on the back. With that, and leftover red fabric, I was able to piece together a backing that Cash can drive his Matchbox cars on. 

The vehicles came as die-cuts with the kit. I glue-basted them on, then zigzagged around each shape in black. There were enough vehicles to applique to the upper border of the back as well. 

I purchased black double-fold quilt binding at JoAnn to bind the quilt. Batting is Warm & Natural. 

I hand-quilted around each wide stripe on the front, also in black. 

This is the only quilt in that birthday series that was actually finished by the relevant child's birthday.
It's long enough that he'll be able to use it on a twin bed, when he moves up to one. 

More pix below.