Tag Archives: business

The End of an Era – My Last Rainbow Pencil Rolls

Today marks the end of an era.  It has been 5 years since I decided to turn my love of all things handmade into more than just a hobby.   4 years ago I opened my first Etsy shop (now replaced by artisaninthewoods), filled it will all manner of sewn and quilted things, and waited excitedly for my first sale.  I was ecstatic when I received that first “sold” email from Etsy.  And of all the items in my shop, that first sold item was…….

Rainbow Pencil Roll

A rainbow pencil holder.  24 slots, all colour-coded to match standard pencil crayon sets.  The pockets made just tight enough that the pencils are less likely to fall out during travel.

Not only were these pencil rolls my first sale, but my second as well.  They went on to become one of my Etsy best-sellers, and responsible for more custom orders than anything else (except for create-a-creatures of course!)

For the last several years I have been stitching rainbows.  I have made them from scrap fabrics, customer-chosen fabrics, and hand-dyed fabrics.  I have made them large enough to hold an artist’s set of 36 markers.  I have monogrammed them and tied them with ribbon, buttons, and velcro.  I have even made them to give as gifts myself, and two people have benefited from receiving one out of my “oops” bin.  (Like the one I made with 23 slots instead of 24 – how did I miss that???)

But yesterday, I stitched up what may just be my last rainbow rolls.  I love sewing.  I love these rainbow rolls.  But I also love new projects, and I feel it is time to move on.  So last night, with a little hint of nostalgia, I put my last 3 rolls for sale.

Rainbow Quilted Pencil Roll

It is the end of an era.  But the beginning of one too.  (If you follow me on Facebook then you will have already seen the newest in laptop fashion!)

You have been good to me rainbow rolls, but now we move on to new adventures!

If you’ve been looking for a rainbow pencil roll, you will still find a few in the shop.

What new projects are YOU embarking on?

 

Upcoming Classes!

There are very few things I love in this life more than learning new things.  This is why I am always taking courses, always reading books, always have a list of things I want to learn more about.

But I am just as passionate about sharing what I have learned with others.  (This is perhaps why I chose teaching as a profession!)  I am the the teacher who is always running into the principal’s office and saying “Did you know that?”  or “I just learned.”  or, “Hey, research shows this, maybe we should try it!”  Luckily for me I work in a small supportive school and all of this is encouraged! :)

So it is really not too surprising that I have spent the last few months thinking about how I can share what I know about sewing with others.  I have had the pleasure of teaching my friend’s girls how to sew, have had a few friends over for some on-on-one sewing help, and last year I taught my entire Kindergarten/Grade One class how to sew.  But so far, there has been nothing formal.

Until now.  Isn’t it amazing when you start to think about something, and then everything seems to fall into place to make it happen?

My school was looking for some fun after school programs, so at the end of November I am running a three day class teaching students aged 5 – 10 how to sew their own stuffies.

And then someone I know bought this beautiful cottage on the water and has set it up as a retreat centre centred around creative craft classes and retreats!  It’s the perfect spot to relax and to learn something new.  And I am now their official sewing instructor!

I am offering two classes in the next two months, both centered around introducing or helping others with the fun and versatile art of sewing, and also with the goal of helping with holiday gift-giving.  If you live locally, and have been wanting to learn more about sewing, or just need someone to help you out with a project, I would love to see you there!

How about sewing some super-comfy flannel pajama pants?  Making flannel pajamas for my nephews for Christmas was one of my first sewing projects way back when and has now become a holiday tradition.

Or…how about a workshop?  An evening to get out of the house and work on those holiday projects away from curious eyes (and maybe get a little help along the way?)

 

For those of you who don’t live locally, but are just as eager to learn to sew or develop your skills, web-based classes (and maybe even Skype sessions!) are in the works.  Stay tuned! :)

Have you learned something new today?  Share it in the comments and we can all learn together!

 

 

New from the Nightstand – January Edition

I have quite an eclectic mix of books to share today.  I actually allowed myself the pleasure of devouring a few fiction selections in the last few weeks, and devoured they were! :)   I also discovered a new non-fiction favourite and attempted some projects from a crochet book. 

I told you I would come back to this.  The author describes the Renaissance Soul as a person who is multi-passionate.  The kind of person who loves change, variety, and moving in new and different directions all the time.  (She had me from the title – I know who I am!)  I absolutely love this book!  It has been instrumental in helping me to find focus, weigh priorities, deal with my want to do everything and all at once, and with more than a little help from Michelle Ward, is helping me to design a life and business that fits my dreams and personality.  A must read for anyone who struggles with balancing diverse interests and passions.

Ok…I know I’m a little late in picking this one up.  (After all, the book was released years ago and the movie hype has long died down.)  But I’ve never been one to do something when everyone else is anyway….(hmm…or at least not since I left high school…)  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I have not seen the movie, so was not tainted by visions of actors dancing in my head.  This book takes you an a journey, lets you spend a year in the life of the author, and allows you to meet a host of wonderful people in the process.  It’s not a high-action, can’t-wait-to-see-what-happens-next page- turner, but it’s honest, engaging, and satisfying.  I will definitely be seeking out more from this author!

This was a book that I loved, until I actually started trying to make one of the projects in it.  I love all of the full-colour photos, the wide range of projects, the fun and casual writing style.  Where I ran into problems was in trying to follow the patterns.  And perhaps I just happened to pick the project with the most errors, but errors there are.  Enough errors to fill two pages on the errata link (although I believe these have been corrected in the 2nd edition), and then I discovered some that were not on the errata list at all!   Although I gained a lot of crochet practice and was really proud of myself for not only finding the errors, but figuring out how to fix them (After all, I’m no expert crocheter)  in the end, it just seemed like too much work and time when there were other projects I wanted to tackle, and I gave up on the book. 

This was a fun read!  Especially if you are a fan of food tv (which I am!)  The characters are interesting, the story enjoyable, and I was happy with the ending.  It’s one of those books that makes you smile and then you pass it on to a friend so they can smile too (which is how I ended up with my copy, which I then passed on to my mom!) 

What books are on your nightstand?  Please share your favourites in the comments – you can never have too many books to read!

Something for Me!

I had a big job to do on Friday that I have been putting off for awhile.  In order to make it easier, I promised myself a reward at the end of the task.  I decided that once it was done I would take the time to sew something for myself.

Several hours later, the work was finished and I was ready to sew!  I really didn’t know what I wanted to make until I was trying to shut my wallet away and couldn’t get it to close.

I played with it for a bit trying to figure out what was going on – it isn’t like there was a lot of money in there!

And then I found the culprit – I had stashed some of my beautiful new business cards in one of the pockets so I would have them to hand out as the opportunity arose.

Obviously, if I wanted my wallet to close, that wasn’t going to work.  And so I knew what I needed to make – I needed a business card holder!

And if I was going to make a business card holder, wouldn’t it be nice if it reflected the items I actually make for my shop?

A few hours of hand-sewing later (I must pause here and say what a luxury it is to take time to sew by hand now and again) and my new holder was finished!

It’s made out of a felted wool sweater, with some wool fabric scraps I had purchased from Quilting Acres several months ago. 

The tree is perfect for Artisan in the Woods, and the cards sit snugly inside, until they find their new homes!

I am in love with my Moo cards – aren’t they pretty?

I found inspiration for my card holder here.

Do you ever promise yourself a reward when you have a hard job to do?

What I Want to be When I Grow Up

Thursday was one of the most amazing days of my life. 

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Michelle Ward, the “When I Grow Up Coach” for 6 super exciting, super productive, hours.

And I finally know what I’m going to do when I grow up!  (Or at least what I am going to work towards for the next couple of years!  Not being pinned down to one specific thing is one thing that I have learned is important to me!)

I have to admit it was a little surreal at first.  Michelle is someone I discovered at the Etsy Symposium, and then have been following her blog ever since.  So I am used to seeing her on my computer screen.  But to actually talk to her, one-on-one, it was a little bit like meeting a celebrity at first (not that I have ever met a celebrity!)  And still being a Skype newbie, the whole idea that I can see and talk to someone at the same time still blows my mind (I still own a phone with a cord attached to it, remember?)  But it was well worth a few moments of shyness and jitters and feeling like I am on the Jetsons!

So how did this all come about?

Well…two reasons.  I’ve always felt like I never really knew what I wanted to do “when I grew up,”  not because I lacked ambition, but more because I had too much!   I wanted to do everything!   I liked to sing and dance and act and play the piano and write and I was passionate about food and healthy eating and creativity and kids and animals and the environment and the outdoors and on and on and there just didn’t seem to be a university program out there where you could “major” in everything! :)

I kind of fell into teaching (a story for another day), and I enjoy it (most of the time!) and I am passionate about it, and I love my students, but I also still love so many other things including gardening and writing and sewing and cooking and I am always looking to learn something new.  And teaching is a job that, if you do it right, takes up most of your time.

This year, teaching part-time, has opened up a world of opportunity for me – 6 days a month to do whatever it is that I want to do.

And I feel like I have been spinning my wheels more than ever.  Running in circles because there are so many things I want to do and I keep starting a bit here and then a bit there, and never really feeling like I have accomplished anything.

Then in walks Michelle Ward with a new program she needs a guinea pig for.  And oh, how I love to be the guinea pig.  (You’ve got a pattern to test, I’m your girl!  You want someone to edit your cookbook and try out the recipes – pick me, pick me!  You’ve got a brand new program you want to launch, but someone has to be willing to walk through the learning curve with you, I volunteer!) 

So I jumped at the chance, and it led to some of the best hours of my life.  We spent some time talking, some time working, and all of the time getting closer to the focus that I have been longing for.  I discovered that I am a Renaissance Soul (I’ll save explaining that for a later post) and we develop a plan that is going to allow me to move forward, but always leave room for learning new things.

For the first time in a long time, I am really excited about my life and where it’s going.  I know what I want to do, I know what I am going to do to get there.  Whew!  What an amazing feeling!

And a lot of what I am going to do is going to involve this blog, and Artisan in the Woods, and I can’t wait to get working so I can share all of this awesomeness with you!  There are exciting things coming!

Have you ever had a day like this?  A day that leaves you energized and excited and ready to finally move forward? 

When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.
– Nancy Coey

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
– Howard Thurman

The new shop is here!!

It has been months of work, but it’s finally here.    Introducing, my new shop………

Find me on Etsy!

Find me on Facebook!

I even have a new website/blog coming soon!

I’m still adding and creating items every day, so the shop selection will continue to grow over the next few weeks.

I am really excited about many of the changes I have made to the shop, but am the most happy about finally being able to show you what has kept me from the blog the last few months (you didn’t think I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs, did you?)  I still have a few things to do on the new website, but hope to introduce you to that sometime next week.  Lots of things happening here at Laundry on the Line!

What’s new and exciting with you?

A Fabric Book (and an unconventional business plan)

This weekend I had the opportunity to stretch my sewing muscles, while at the same time doing some very necessary planning for my business.

The past seven weeks I have been involved in the Right Brain Business Plan Course and have loved this unconventional, visual, and creative way of diving into business planning.  (Check out the website if you’d  like to know more.)

After spending weeks in working through the steps of business planning, the final step is to bring everything together in a format that resonates with you.  (and artistic entrepreneurs have done everything from accordion books to mobiles to altered books.)  And just in case you  are wondering….no, this is not the type of plan you take with you to the bank! (although that is covered in the course as well.)

I had completely planned to put everything into a scrapbook-type format, and even bought a blank book to house it all, but at the last minute I changed my mind.

I am a sewer, after all.

So I started planning a book made out of fabric, instead of paper, that would incorporate all the elements in a way true to my business.   I discovered this page for inspiration and then I just let the rest develop out of my own imagination! 

Using felt for a base, I put to use my rusty embroidery and hand-sewing skills, and incorporated recycled fabric pieces, quilt cast-offs, and buttons and ribbon from my stash.

I love that feeling of trying something for the first time, that stretching and growing that happens when your brain has to solve new problems and think about materials in different ways.

All of the business elements are tied in or placed in pockets, so that they can be changed and updated as my business grows.

I think this is the perfect housing for my business plan, as well as a fun new way to experiment with sewing and fabrics.  I can definitely see myself making  fabric books or journals again!

How do you like to challenge yourself?  What new skill are you learning, or wishing you could learn?

How about an online sewing class?

I’ve been dreaming again.  Not the kind that you have at night (although I certainly have my fair share of those, too!) but the kind of dreams that make you think about all the exciting and wonderful things you could do.

This is nothing new to me, being somewhat of a “dreamer” by nature.  I would need several lifetimes to act on all the ideas for projects that run through my head on a daily basis.  Many of them come in and out and I never think of them again.

But sometimes I have an idea that seems to stick in my head long enough to start looking less like a dream, and more like a possibility.

After attending several online classes recently, I have been inspired to think about setting up an online sewing class.  I love sewing and I love sharing all that I have learned with others (I’m a teacher, after all!).   And with somewhat serendipitous timing, Crissy Heron, at Indie BizChicks.com, is offering a chance to win a spot in her course on how to teach an online class.   (Her site is full of great information on running a business!  If that’s your thing, be sure to check it out!)

So…I’m putting this idea out there, and we’ll see what happens!

What kind of crazy/awesome/exciting ideas are you pondering today?

 

Bringing Children’s Drawings to Life

I spent several years in university studying play, imagination, creativity and learning.  I am a strong believer in play-based learning, on encouraging children’s imagination and creativity, and on using dramatic play, the arts, and imaginary worlds, to bring learning alive.   It is not uncommon for the students in my classroom to be archeologists, scientists and marketing experts as they venture into ancient Roman ruins, explore life at the bottom of the ocean, and enter into a boardroom discussion on the design of a new children’s toy, all without leaving the walls of our classroom.  We also like to hop into paintings, bring story characters alive, and experience historical events first hand. 

It is with this spirit, and with great respect for the imaginary worlds of young children, that I embarked on a sewing project for my students as a Christmas gift last year.  If you have been reading awhile, you might remember the puppets I created from my students’ monster drawings.  You can find them here, here and here.    

I really loved bringing the individual details to life, so when I opened up my Etsy shop, these custom mini-monsters were one of the first things I added to the store.

But I really wanted to take this concept and apply it to something a little bigger, something a little more cuddly.  A kind blog-reading friend graciously allowed me to borrow her children for a test run of the concept, and my first create-a-creatures were born.

I made them out of polar fleece for cuddly softness, and tried to be as true to the original drawings as possible.  I love how unique they are, and must admit it was a little sad to have to pack them in a box and send them away, but I am sure these two creatures were happy to meet their young designers! 

These cuddly custom designed creatures are now available to everyone in the shop

I couldn’t resist making a little something for my friend’s youngest daughter, even though she was too little to draw a picture.  This is my second attempt at the Black Apple Doll (my first attempt is here), made from flannel and fleece, with a cotton body.    I made the arms and legs slightly bigger this time and am much happier with the result! 

I hope all three of them enjoy many days of play with their new friends!
 
It is a happy talent to know how to play.   –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pretty in Pink Completed!

Don’t you love that feeling when you finish a big project?  Especially when you love the way everything looks when it is finished?

That’s the way I feel about this pretty in pink set. 

You might remember seeing this quilt in progress.  Here it is, all quilted and ready for its new home. 

The quilting is fairly simple, but I really wanted to showcase the applique and I think the simple outlining of the hexagons and then on the applique itself does that well.

And here is the matching doll quilt:

I worked on both quilts simultaneously,  just repeating everything in miniature after working on the big quilt.   Although it would have been possible to make the little quilt exactly the same, it also would have made for a very expensive little quilt, which its new doll-owner might not appreciate! :)   I think this one is close enough to be cute!

I also made matching curtains and a crib skirt, which (sorry!) aren’t really conducive to pictures until they are installed in their new homes. 

And then there were just a few scraps of fabric left…..and I couldn’t resist making just one more thing as a little gift to go with everything else….

She is made from the Molly Monkey pattern at Mmmcrafts, and has been on my “to make” list for years and years (but I have never had a reason to make one before.)  I know, I know, she’s not a monkey.  I really loved the idea of using the grey with the pink fabrics, but didn’t think grey was very “monkey-ish” so I decided to turn the monkey into a kitty (inspired by some of the photos on the Molly Monkey Flickr group).  I later discovered there is actually a pattern for the kitty on the Mmmcrafts Etsy shop, too. 

I’m sad to see all of this pink leave my sewing room… but….

on to the next project! :)

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