Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bookmark Efficiency

If you want to sell items that you have hand made, efficiency is essential. Efficiency can come in many forms. It could be finding a new way to do one of the steps along the process or doing a large number of the same item at the same time.  
When I decided to set up my loom to make some bookmarks, I went for a four meter warp. I estimated that I could make nine bookmarks with that length.  My little loom can't handle much longer than four meters anyway, but it would give me probably 3 more bookmarks than a three meter warp.  You have to expect to lose about half a meter from the set up process. 
As it turns out, I managed to get eleven bookmarks. I had a timer going the entire time and I checked it regularly.  It took me an hour and a half to set up the loom for weaving.  By the time I was finished weaving the first bookmark, the timer was at 2h 11m. Just over two hours to weave one bookmark.  And that doesn't include agitating it in water, letting it dry and pressing it afterwards.  That also meant that it took me about 40 minutes to do the weaving and the edges for one bookmark.
Part way through, I also switched shuttles.  I didn't think that one of the ones with the bobbins would fit, but it did! And that saved me another 5 minutes per bookmark. 
So it took me 2h 11m to do one bookmark and 7h 35m to do eleven bookmarks, averaging 41 minutes each. Now that's the difference efficiency makes!

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Owl you need is love...

Ever notice how you pick up on something one day then you start seeing it everywhere? Last year or two it was mustaches. Mustache stuff was everywhere. T-shirts... patterns on fabrics... bandages! You could get dog collars with mustaches on them (keep in mind I've been working in a pet store). I feel like by the time I noticed I was too late to jump on the trend and get stuff ordered/done up.

I decided after this mustache thing to try to pay more attention to things like this in the market scene.  May not by my thing, but I feel I should be aware.
(Hmmm... A crossover in trends perhaps?)

Now it seems to be owls.  I see them everywhere. Charms, mugs, t-shirts, fabric, etc. I really noticed at last year's big craft sale when a little girl was selling some very simple stuffed owls that she has sewn herself.  I admit I bought one. They were just so flippin' cute! And my niece adored it when she opened the box on Christmas morning. 

Now they appear to be everywhere.  There doesn't seem to be anything you can't get with owls on it.  And I've noticed that they are either very, very simple and cute or incredibly intricate and maybe a little intimidating. 

It appears that my sister caught onto this owl trend long before I did.  You can see that in one of her pieces of her pieces of fantasy art, Hunter's Moon.

I'm supposed to be going to the fabric store tomorrow. (Weather permitting. The roads have been very gross up here in the north this year.) If I can find some owl material I'm grabbing it! Before I miss the opportunity. 

You can check out my owl treasury on Etsy here.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Introducing Flouster

I have started a new business venture.  I call it Flouster.  What is Flouster? It is a business for me to sell my personal, original creations as well as an agency to sell the handmade goods of others.  There are lots of high quality goods made by ordinary people.  Most of them do it just for fun.  They have a gift, but it's just a hobby.  I mean, who has time to do all the advertising, promoting, photography and shows in order to sell them?  That's where I come in.
I currently own a retail store.  Pet products, mostly dogs. I don't even own a dog. (I do have two cats, and I do love them, but I am certainly not a crazy cat lady who spends all her time and money on them.)  Why am I working at a place that has absolutely no correlation to my interests? And then going home exhausted to the point where I can't even do the things I DO enjoy - to create!

Ahh... to create.  I love making one-of-a-kind items (A bag made from a combination of my favourite fabrics).  And when one simply cannot find the exact thing one wants in a store, I make it (flannel pajama bottoms with elastic cuffs, or an "ugly" Christmas apron for my mom).
My mother also loves to create.  She is an avid knitter.  She designs her own sock patterns.  My friend Katie makes beautiful beaded bracelets, of which I have about eight or nine.  My father in law makes gorgeous bird houses.  I could go on... But you will probably see many of these things on my etsy sight.  They do it for fun.  I do the rest so they can afford to keep creating! ;)

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Reusable Bags

I bought this reusable shopping bag late in 2010. (May have been 2011, but I'm pretty sure it was 2010.). I bought quite a few to use as stocking stuffers and kept one for myself.  I liked it because it was quite compact.  So I could just stuff it in my backpack (my version of a purse) and always have it with me.  It wasn't perfect because it is nylon and nylon is plastic.  But I figured that it would last forever and therefore perhaps maybe outweigh the production waste of four or five cotton bags.  
Well, it's starting to fall apart.  I brought it into my craft room intending to fix it and thought, "Why couldn't this same design be made out of a less destructive material?" Don't worry.  I still intend to fix it. Mending something is still better than replacing it. So I made this: 
Same basic design concept.  But made out of cotton instead of nylon.  Cotton fabric will decompose in under 6 months compared to nylon which takes 30-40 years.  And that's under ideal circumstances.  If they are deprived of oxygen and other natural requirements for biodegradation, it takes much longer, if they completely decompose at all.  

Now, as I understand it, nylon never truly biodegrades. The particles just break apart becoming smaller and smaller chunks of the polymer. So even though it appears to have disappeared to us, the tiny pieces are still floating around and polluting the world.

This bag is also nylon, but I like it because it is an upcycled flag.  In this case, one of the ones that hangs from the streetlights.  Rather than just tossing out the old flag, they decided to turn it into something useful and give them away.  And it's pretty.  :)

I read an article once that stated it takes 26 uses of a reusable travel mug to actually start making up for the production compared to the production of the "disposable" cups.  I would imagine that it would be similar in the case of bags.  

So let's look at my usage.  I would say that I use a reusable bag at least 3-4 times a week.  (That is seperate occasions, not 3-4 bags used at once.)  that's one bag used 3.5 times a week, 182 times a year and having has this bag for just over three years, an estimated 574 uses in its lifetime so far. Minus 26 to accommodate for the production and that is 548 "disposable" plastic bags worth of pollution and garbage reduced by this bag.  Again, so far as I do still intend to mend and keep using the bag. 

Not too shabby.  Now, if I can reduce that footprint even further by using a material that will go back to the earth at the end of its lifetime, that would make me a very happy girl.  

On a side note.  I intend to make more of these bags (I have made one more already.) and have them available to buy on etsy. There aren't any bags posted yet, but keep your eye out at for these and other creations by me.

The Inspiration; The Result

Pinterest is a wonderful thing for any crafter! 

It's a sad day.

Today we say goodbye to a dear friend. Granted one I haven't known for long. But in the time we have spent together, my life has been enriched.  

Life seemed easier. Clearer. I could see the future and I liked it.  You are gone before your time, quilting ruler. 

It was an untimely accident. Took a tumble while the chair was being adjusted and landed right under the chair. Damn you carpet! If you had been linoleum, this may not have happened! 

The crappy thing is... It's made of plastic.  There's no way to fix it. And there's no non-plastic alternative. (At least not that offers the feature of being able to see through it and line up the lines with the cutting mat.) Taping it would never make it as accurate ever again. And it would never again truly have a straight edge. 

*sigh* I am typically not one to be sentimentally attached to inanimate objects, but this was one tool that really made crafting more fun because it made it less frustrating.  Also, it was a gift from my mother in law. 

Sad, sad day... Well, guess I gotta go get a new one!