Tag Archives: studioloo

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!

 

Where I Craft – Yarn Love Challenge

If asked where I craft, really, it’s everywhere. I tend to have very busy hands all the time, and my home studio, although it has it’s own place – my entire basement….it kind of spreads around the house. I am decent at picking up after myself however, and when finished with things, taking them back to the studio. I had this idea when we first bought a house, having bought a bigger house than we needed for dwelling to be able to incorporate my studio, that I would be able to separate work/craft and life, but the truth is – I need my craft, all the time. I need something to do when I am watching TV or hanging out waiting for dinner to cook, or spending time with the dogs and baby, or even chilling outside. I need to do the stuff I do; I need to make. I feel like i always have a million ideas in my head and getting out a certain amount of things productively prevents me from exploding.

The first thing that I worked on when we bought the house was my studio, to ensure that I could remain productive and prepared for shows and sales despite the craziness that takes place when you move. I am very lucky to have a large studio with a dye kitchen, pottery room, area for skeining yarns on my skeiner, yarn stash space, big library card catalog to organize all my goodies, and a cozy knitting/crafting nook with TV for background noise and good lighting.

A couple years ago I decided I wanted to setup a little pop-in shop for when people want to come over and do a little shopping, but the real reason is so that I can organize all of my products that I sell at shows. It makes it really efficient to see what I have, and tell what needs to be made. It also inspires me because I really enjoy looking at the breadth of my work.

I also keep a lot of things to inspire me in my studio – scraplets of things, found objects, interesting art and collections.

I also have a few other spaces around the house that I setup as cozy spaces to both store spinning wheels in an intentional and functional way, and also act as a change of scenery or quiet space to create. My library is one of them.

One of my other favourite things to do is work outside. I love that I organize Worldwide Spin in Public Day and get to spend time outside spinning, and encouraging others to do so. I love calling up a bunch of friends for a Sunday Crafternoon and hanging out somewhere outside in a woodsy area or near water and just talking, laughing and making. It’s the epitome of the good life. This is my spinning setup in my back garden.

Close-Up: Yarn Love Challenge

I decided to share close-ups of a couple of recent projects that I have been working on. The first is of a freeform crochet hat that I recently finished, spun from my own handspun art yarn. I am always in love with bright cherry red and robin’s egg blue/teal colours. They were my wedding colours and the colours that always play in my mind. This is the Belle Bonnet – a hat that has been crocheted with my own yarn that has slubs of red, felted wool and stems of tiny red flower buds. On the one side I incorporated a commercially made red, polka-dot commercial ribbon yarn. I am very in love with this hat for it’s modern feel, and bright happy colours. It was fun to make.

And, then below is a little closeup of the fibres I was working with and the teeny adorable bunnies that I am incorporating into a ‘Little Bunny Foo Foo’ yarn I have just completed. This is a brief look at how a lot of my yarns come to fruition. I tend to really enjoy spinning addins into my yarns, and working with themes. I do a lot of thrift shopping, antique store hopping, estate sale hunting and attend a lot of vintage shows to find interesting and creative materials to add to my yarns. I also handmade many of the materials that go into my yarns such as wood and felted beads and buttons, fibre flowers, and ceramic sculptural items. My studio is a bit of a chop shop for toys and all sorts of things are made for the creation of yarn.

Introduction – Yarn Love Challenge

Thanks for visiting to follow me along on my #yarnlovechallenge. My name is Cindy, and I have been a maker of something pretty much all of my life. From the earliest influences in my young life I was taught to try to make something from nothing and I have been obsessed with that concept ever since – both making, and trying to make use of existing things that I have in my stash, or that I can create myself or find in my journeys. I started to sell my work in 2000 and the first iteration of Studioloo as a business actually started on a website called Diaryland.com. I started out selling random things that I was making at the time – sculptural dolls, toys and mosaic and mixed media clockworks. I then started making several other things – t-shirts, fridge magnets, and the crochet bug bit me. I was taking part in a lot of online trading groups – making mixed tapes, making homemade fridge magnets in a group I created called ‘Fridge Love’ and starting to think about making garments and working with yarn. I had been influenced in my youth a lot by different knitters and crocheters and eventually found that the kind of yarn I wanted to use to make things with didn’t exist – so I embarked on figuring out how to make my own yarn. From there, my path narrowed creatively with hyper focus on fibre and I got my first spinning wheel and began to spin yarns – immediately being inspired by themes and the concept of yarns that were functional beyond just the standard traditional use for yarn. I made a lot of hats – sculptural and wild, and I made a lot of other things. You can take a look at a lot of my projects in my Ravelry Notebook.

Fast forward all these years later and I have progressed my fibre education to include hand dyeing, handspinning of mostly art yarns, needle and wet felting, knitting, crochet, weaving, and making a lot of the embellishment items that can be used with fibre goods. I continue to run studioloo.com , sell my goods, and participate in many art and craft shows each year. I have also expanded my hobbies to working with clay, wood, and textiles.

In November, I became a mother to my sweet Matilda Bee so my days are now enriched in so many more ways with baby coos, tiny clothes and the feeling of family that has never been so strong and wholesome. I am blessed with a husband who is very involved in the overall process of my craft and business and I am able to balance my career, art and family life with his support. Most days my updates happen on Instagram or on my Facebook page.

Busy Bees of Summer

Summer is finally here! Lots has been happening around Studio – major house renovations and all sorts of stuff. I know the website has been a little quiet lately, and I have been opting to take a bit of a hiatus from Ravelry, Facebook, and any other social networking. I just find it all a bit overwhelming and it tends to detract from actually getting real things done. So, these days I am focusing things, getting lots done, and focusing on more in-person shows, and stuff. But, very soon I will be revamping my office to allow me to do more daily website updates, blog updates, etc. I still likely won’t be on social networking much – except for Studioloo blurbs and pictures on Facebook and Instagram. It’s really working out nicely for me not to spend hours of my day scrolling through stuff. We have to balance life…not make ourselves too available all the time. For me, it’s especially important as I have a day job, dogs, family, and so on.

Last weekend we had a big yard sale and managed to knock out Phase 2 of cleaning out the garage – getting rid of old artwork and antique stall stuff that we no longer want to hold on to. It was a fun, successful day. Having a yard sale is a great way to connect with neighbours and meet people.

 

Most of what I have been doing lately has centred around home renovation and preparing for Twist Fibre Festival in August. I have been dyeing loads of yarn, and still have a lot more to dye, and I have been washing loads of fleeces from my haul at Maryland Sheep and Wool.

This week we are also putting in hardwood floors in our living room, and painting away all the ugly beige. My to-do list is a little bit of a nightmare but I am working through it.

So, if we haven’t chatted in a while ….this is why. I will return to civilization shortly..I promise.

Studioloo’s New Navigation and Plushies!

I try to life live in a ‘good thing a day’ kind of way meaning I like to try to make little improvements to things as much as I can, when I can. So, I spend some time making the navigation of Studioloo more visual, with less text. It’s always the designer’s toss up to decide if you want to gamble on using images instead of text because I think when you take any kind of technical education or have technical job experience, you always think of these users who really want to buy your stuff but their computer might be from 1982 so the graphics load really slowly and they only have 800×600 screen resolution. I am slowly stepping out of these dark age concerns though because I really like the look and feel of images better.

So, the shop now looks like this, and I like it better – http://www.studioloo.com/shop.htm

 

As I noted in my last post, it’s going to be a busy weekend with Saturday in Brampton at Art in the Open and Sunday in Peterborough at Lang Pioneer Village’s Festival of Textiles. So, if you are in the area of either , come on out and visit me.

Yesterday I also received exciting news that I was accepted in Visual Arts Mississauga’s Art in the Park show on September 22nd.  This is a beautiful space with indoor and outdoor galleries. Last year’s show was a lot of fun with food trucks, great artists and live music. I will be out on the lawn.

vamshow

 

I have placed a few new handstitched plush toys in the shop. Grab them now or they are destined for Art in the Open tomorrow.

All available plush can be found here: http://www.studioloo.com/toysandplush.htm

Have a lovely weekend!

Summer buzz!

I know this blog has been really quiet, and I sort of have too. I guess that is what happens when life it this crazy whirlwind of summertime activity and building my house into the happy little nest that I need to make my brain work. I have been on many adventures so far..making the nooks of this new house more comfy for me, my husband and our fur-family. I have a lot of fun things coming up however. I updated the ‘upcoming shows’ section of the website so you can keep up with me. A great place to find me or my stuff is the Art in the Open event every Saturday in front of the Rose Theatre in Brampton. It works in conjunction with the Farmer’s Market so you can see me, get yarn, and stock up on awesome produce in one fun morning!

 

The studio is coming along nicely with most parts pretty much ready for production work now. The last thing to get done really is the installation of a big restaurant kitchen sink that I indulged in to allow myself an easier place for all of the dyework. This week I am hoping to get it all setup so I can start dyeing up some new yarns. I am going to have a new line of bootsie-loo sock yarn and lots of mini-loo mini skeins fresh off the presses in a couple of weeks.

This upcoming weekend I will be at Art in the Open on Saturday and then heading down to Peterborough for Lang Pioneer Village’s Festival of Textiles. I will be selling my wares and doing art yarn spinning demonstrations. There will be a lot of other fun things going on – natural dyeing demos, live music, animals, historic buildings and other fun museum stuff. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday.

 

This summer has been nice but really busy. I am looking forward to taking a bit of vacation soon because things have been really non-stop, but in a good kind of way. I have been working a lot and trying to find a new balance living in a different city with a different routine. I have not been online a whole lot as I have so much real life stuff to get done. I think I am somewhat addicted to working on projects around the house. There is just so much to be done, in phases. The next big project will be putting my library together – a room I have dreamed of having for ages. It’s safe to say that I have a lot of books and it will be nice to have them in their own little home where they belong. That way I won’t feel so guilty for having so many books. I think it will be a nice room to relax in, leave your troubles at the door and get lost between the covers of a good book.

It’s also almost Wordwide Spin in Public day – September 21st! So, I am in the process of doing a lot of planning and populating http://www.wwsipday.com with lots of activities!

Inspired Weekend

It has been a really great weekend of getting work done! I have put a new face on the Studioloo website which I am quite happy with and will be putting up a lot of listings. I have finished so much work that is not currently posted on the site. I took a bit of a hiatus from the duties of running an online shop. It’s a lot of work – the photography, photo editing, writing descriptions of products, uploading photos, updating inventories, carts, e-commerce, FTP’ing information, website updates, and so on! It can be somewhat exhausting at times. But, I do love to get my work out to a broader audience than those in Ontario. I really enjoy selling my work in person as well – it’s nice to hear people tell you their plans for your yarns or how something you made will accent their homes.

I have done a lot of spinning this weekend. I think I caught the spinning bug remembering Janice Rosema, an incredible fibre artist who passed away last week.  She was a great inspiration to me and overall just a really sweet person. We are having a little spin-along in the Ravelry art yarn community HERE.  Feel free to join in or post your photos of your inspired works for Janro on Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #spinforjanro.  I also did a bunch of crock-pot dyeing of rovings and yarns and managed to finish a bunch of administrative work for shows I am applying to and so on. My to-do list is getting a lot shorter.

There has been a lot of snow here lately so I have been fighting off my cabin fever just working away on things, doing a lot of home cooking and watching documentaries. They have included ‘Sweetgrass’ – a doc about sheep herders going through the Rockies with their flock, a documentary about all of the craziness and politics of the Barnes’ art collection and it’s foundation, a documentary about the making of South Park and how each episode is done in only 6 days, and a bunch more.  I am a documentary addict at this point.

I have also been working away on my Beekeeper’s Quilt and have passed the 300 mark. 300 Hexipuffs! Holy cow – one day this will be a quilt. I also designed a few charts – one of Catbus (for Studio Ghibli fans) and a few for Adventure Time. They are below:

 

 

 

Have a happy Family Day or President’s Day long weekend!

 

Apparently…I am crazy when stagnant!

My poor little pup, Toasty, developed some kind of illness in the middle of last week and through the weekend so I stayed home with him…all….weekend. I have really come to the point in my life where I can’t ever stay inside the house for an entire day. I don’t know why…but it makes me insane…and makes me think about how I could be doing a million different things but I just sit there…and watch TV.  It’s bizarre but I think a testament to the human body and mind needing nature, activity and stimulation.

So, I looked at my to do list from last post…let’s see how I did:

1. Update Art Yarn page in the shop with all new art yarns.
2. Finish reading driving manual and look into booking test.
3. Review required updates to pottery guild website
4. Think about trip to US and PR stuff with husband, start a plan.
5. Determine packaging for wooden buttons and start packaging.
6. Dye sock yarn.
7. Photograph and update Ravelry with rebranding on new yarns.
8. Work on cowl pattern.
9. Walk every day.
10. Work on documentation database for work.

Ok, not too bad…I finished 4 of 10 things but also managed to finish a few things not on the list…like teaching the husband to weave the rope rug I have been working on so he can help me and as a result I finished 2 more circles and he finished a couple. Here are mine:

 

And, I made really good food, including lovely beef short ribs. Here’s a photo mosaic of the process:

On Sunday I finally broke down and had to take a walk. Toasty was starting to feel a lot better but still just wanted constant sleep so we packed him up in his own little, cuddly crate and walked the beach. It was a nice, inspiring walk and was very nice in that I felt like part of a busy, artsy city. It was quiet and had freshly snowed.

The swans that I visited throughout the summer were there. I photographed these babies in various stages of their growing up process. Now they just look like baby swans but in an adult size.

There were guys filming a music video, singing and playing guitar. They had a cool, little rolling track that the camera could move farther and closer on.

There was even a lady letting her wee bunny take a run around on the beach. He was wearing a cute, little purple sweater and I even got to give him a little cuddle but I only managed to photograph his butt.

Then I collected a lot of amazing drift wood, some charred and a bit piece that looks like a bird head from Beetlejuice or something. I love it!

 

And there was much knitting hexipuffs for my ever-loving Beekeeper’s quilt.

And, in the shop there is a big new art yarn update! Check out the shop here: http://www.studioloo.com/handspunartyarn.htm

Take a peek at these handspinnies!

Also, I am in the middle of re-branding, dyeing, and photographing a ton of new sock yarn and other yarns. But, my best friend, Mat of Manspun fame has also written a lovely sock pattern for use with my yarn.  It’s called Man-Tastic Socks! and works for men or women. It’s a fun knit and great with variegates, solids or semi-solids!

Pick up your copy here! http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/man-tastic-socks