Monthly Archives: April 2018

Stitch Yourself into an Expert

So, I’ve been working on lots of new or re-visited things lately. I’ve been feeling like wanting to do something new and creative and have a few things that are sitting in a position of almost ready to launch but I am still deciding what to do, and when. Meanwhile I am still spinning fun yarns and going down a bit of a rabbit hole with sewing. I decided that being the new parent of a toddler requires a bit of time to oneself sometimes. So, I am going to take little workshops and classes from time to time so I can get some focused creative time. I started a few months ago taking a sewing boot camp class at Black Orchid Designs and it’s been a nice wake up call to get reacquainted with sewing and sewing machines. I’ve already made a fun pillow and I’m working on a dress for myself that I hope to finish this weekend. At home I have pulled out my sewing machine and read the manual and we are getting reacquainted as I turn my baby quilt project into reality. I decided some time ago to save all of Bee’s little sleepers and make a quilt out of them. It’s quite meditative cutting out the squares for this project.

I’m doing a simple patchwork design that I might add some interest to when I quilt the top layer. These cute little patterns are full of so many memories. I feel like I remember lots of places she went, and all sorts of milestones where I can still see her wearing these pajamas.

I’ve been trying to spread around my creative pursuits a bit and get into things that are not necessarily a part of what I do for Studioloo, but just fun in general. I’ve also been thinking on the concept of business vs. pleasure in the arts and in creative expression and also about how to be a professional with your skills. It got me to thinking about back when I first learned to spin. My skills were still quite new and had a lot of room to get better. I was spinning yarns I liked, but in smaller amounts, and with simpler techniques. I was not confident enough for some time to get started selling my yarns. I decided for about a year to just spin and use my yarns in my freeform crochet, as at the time that’s kind of why I started. I had been looking for yarn that was interesting enough to make really one-of-a-kind hats. That’s the very reason I started researching about making yarn. Then I just fell in love with it.

The point I am getting at is that there is value to learning your craft really well, and finding your style before you start to market yourself, or your craft. I look back at all that I have learned about spinning art yarns and I know that what I produce today is far better than what I produced 15 or more years ago. It’s hard to imagine how long I have been on this journey, and still that I love this yarn. The worst thing you will do as an artisan with the intention to sell your wares is to sell something that is not up to your quality standards. People will buy from you, but if they have issues they will not be return customers, and they might even leave bad reviews about you online that are hard to resolve. That’s a topic for another time — the whole anxiety of being perfect, making mistakes, not being able to afford mistakes, and customer service, etc. It’s a big topic.  My point is – love what you do enough to make sure that you make that ‘made with love’ really apparent to your customers. Learn your craft. Never get too comfortable in your expertise and keep learning!

Some of my tips about spinning art yarns successfully would likely be:

  • Anchor your coils and complex techniques with a strong ply so that they don’t fall out if the yarn is cut.
  • Make sure your yarns have tensile strength – don’t sell yarns that have fibres that fall apart of float away.
  • Don’t ply with sewing threads or other weak, easy to snap, yarns or threads. This makes your yarn an easy candidate for snapping.
  • Knit / crochet / weave with your own yarn – it’s your best way to learn how to use it and troubleshoot/advise on questions like ‘what do I do when I get to this flower add-in?’
  • If you can, produce a simple pattern to be used with your yarn. Art yarns are incredible and usually require only a simple stitch to be an amazing finished project. They are often bulkier so you can produce samples quickly. (I need to follow my own voice here – I do make samples but often they sell. I don’t like to keep things around too long.) Get someone else to test knit your pattern.

In other life events, we were lucky enough to visit the AGO and see Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirrors’ exhibit. We had a lot of fun and it was great to wear polka-dots and dress up Bee in a polka-dot dress.

And we went to the Creativ Festival and I  might have been bamboozled into some fabric stash enhancement.

I will sign off by sharing my contribution for the #artvsartist hashtag on Instagram. 8 pictures of your work and a picture of the artist.

Remember the Internet?

Lately, with all going on in the news, and in the world, I have been feeling kind of like I could turn back time to when the internet just felt more exciting, and big! We all had webpages and blogs, and seemingly endless avenues to visit and find other creatives. Then social media came along and for some time it was a nice curation of friends, family, and inspiring people we followed down the many roads the internet provided. It seemed easier. However, at least for me, now that same tool feels kind of limiting in that I don’t really want every part of my life connected. I want to have privacy. I want quiet time. I don’t need distractions like a social media feed to cause me to stare at a device for an hour instead of spinning a yarn, playing peekaboo with my daughter or taking part in something educational or relaxing. I’m also starting to feel like it’s taken things from me. I notice a change in productivity. There are some positives but like many notable tech leaders, I am starting to see more negatives than positives for me personally.

So, I’m mixing it up and using the time machine in my mind to go back a bit to how things were when I was happier about the internet. I’m updating Ravelry again, blogging, listening to podcasts and spending less time in general offline. I’m online for my day job and that’s really probably going to be about 90% of my online hours. I’m also debating about how I want to sell my work online. I’ve been terrible at doing shop updates for a multitude of reasons. It’s a lot of work photographing everything, writing descriptions, uploading it, tagging it, advertising, it. I’m not excited to do all that. But I might do something like have live sales or sell on Instagram, where I am posting pictures of both my progress and final items anyhow. It seems like a logical move to try to streamline everything.

I’m also getting back into sewing, which I have not done in a very long time, and I am spending lots of time just spinning fun art yarns. I’ve decided to refocus a bit more on that than on dyeing millspun yarns. I think the market is oversaturated a bit right now – although there are a ton of amazing dyers out there. I just find I have more fun creating yarns from scratch. I will still do small runs of dyed millspun from time to time but more as a special release.

Also, the Frolic is coming up really soon! Come on out and see all our new goodies!