Saturday, June 23, 2018

Styling Ideas for Twilight Bead Collection

This is my first attempt at trying styling ideas with my beads. These are bead strands and just waiting for ideas to be made into jewelry.

I kept it simple on my first try at styling.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Effectively Efficient: Now I know why I was avoiding this task

Now I know why i was avoiding the task of setting up my shop with all of the beads and jewelry I've made. It's too complicated! After a 14 hour slog taking photos, editing photos, simplifying my shop categories, and uploading all the photos on Saturday, I finally have all but 35 necklaces uploaded to the shop and ready for my liquidation sale of the artistic meanderings I've been taking for the last few years. What that means for you, if you're reading this post, is a fabulous discount on my already low prices for sterling silver, glass, polymer clay beaded jewelry. I have some base metal components (copper) in some of the pieces, and super easy simple pieces strung on cotton cord - perfect for casual beach wear.

Making my processes efficient

One of the big learnings this year has been to simplify, simplify, simplify so I can be more efficient and serve my customers better. The net effect is that I can make my pieces and style much more cohesive and efficient. I'll be focusing on my best sellers for Bead & Button and using those as the foundation for my Bead Collections and my Jewelry Collections. It's still a lot of work, and it also happens to be work I really love and enjoy.

Studio Setup

In other news, my oxygen concentrator is in the "hospital" getting repaired. I had unknowingly abused it by working outside with it and then leaving it outside in the humid Florida weather. I learned that the sieve beds need to be rebuilt to get a decent flow of oxygen.

One of the benefits of problems is that it forces you to learn more about your setup. While the timing isn't great (I'm getting farther behind on bead production), I understand my setup much much better. Fixing the oxygen concentrator will make me more efficient in the long run.

And I learned more about safety, such as installing a flashback arrestor on the propane side of the torch. I like the cachet of doing an industrial art, but I am also still learning a lot about the safety. My torch is a surface mix torch and less prone to flashbacks, but it still can happen if I were to let the propane run out and then the flame would get sucked back into the propane line. Without the arrestor, it could, at a minimum cause the lines to explode. At worst, it could go all the way back to the propane tanks and cause them too explode. No thank you. Flashback arrestor please.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Effectively Focused: Starting to Spin

While I am making great progress on the shed studio, and getting the foundations in place to grow my business, I am getting to the same spot I always get to at this point... I start spinning.
  • Spinning in my mind with all the stuff I want to do. 
  • I find more classes that will “help me” do XYZ. 
  • Deciding what to eliminate to simplify and laser focus. 
  • Underestimating how long it takes to get something... anything... done. (The last thing to install in the shed is the ventilation. Important safety feature.) 
  • I want to store everything in the shed “neatly and perfectly” and got overwhelmed with the knowledge of how much energy and time it takes to divest myself of stuff. 
  • More classes
  • More designs
  • More art mediums 
And then I implode and go quiet for a while. 

Pix of moving into the studio shed...
moving into the shed

As I was chatting with Lisa on my last coaching call, she mentioned I have two big events that will be time consuming through mid-June. That caused me to create a two-year roadmap that I can view on a single page to keep front and center and not spin off into space and implode and stall progress on converting my hobby to a business. This is keeping me focused on the goals in front of me. 

Right now, I have three big things going on - finishing the shed, which needs to be completed before I can start working for the June Bead & Button show. And taking a class. Plus filing for a tax extension (and getting my bookkeeping in order) and doing a sale to liquidate my 2017 inventory.  

Okay five things. I’m focused on juggling three. I’ll layer in the other two when the studio is complete enough to start work. The other two don’t require 100% concentration. 

Seriously - this simple tool is keeping me focused on all the plates I have spinning and not trying to start any new plates spinning (still happens but it’s a little more controlled than usual). 

Side note: I might be creating a little bit of creative dissonance by throwing in a spreadsheet onto my art blog. But I am two people: the really artsy, relentlessly creative person and the hyper-organized business person who is addicted to Excel spreadsheets.

Your turn: do you have a tendency to spin? Are you an art hobby or art business? Are you trying to grow your hobby into a business? What tools do you use to stay focused?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Studio Time: Knitting with Multiple Colors

I have a couple of favorite designers where I've learned some major knitting skills through knitting their designs. Their designs are challenging and interesting and the results are beautiful and elegant. 

Kate Davies is the designer of this gorgeous Epistropheid hat in fair isle style of knitting. My learning curve has taken a steep turn and I'm ravenous for challenging and complex knits. So I dove straight into fair isle knitting. I looked up various suggestions on how to knit fair isle. 
Researching fair isle knitting, I stumbled across double-knitting.

So, I did Epistropheid as a fair isle knit. It ended up being a very quick (two nights, total 12 hours) knit because I knit two-handed. Love knitting two-handed! Allows me to benefit from knowing both English and Continental style and speed up the process. Plus, I love the result of the hat. I still need to block it to allow the stitches to bloom out. 

My absolute favorite part of the hat is the top 9-point snowflake. So gorgeous. Such a clever design.

Even more importantly, I'm super proud of the neatness of the "wrong side" of the fair isle knit. The floats are tidy. Almost tidy enough to wear it wrong side out! But again I credit the two-handed approach to making this turn out so well. When I started fair isle, I was knitting both colors from the left hand and it was twisting the colors up. Once I started holding the contrast color in my right hand, the floats became much more consistent and the tension was also consistent (a key to the floats and proper tension). 

Now I've decided to take the challenge to the next level and do the Epistropheid design in double-knitting. It's definitely a mental challenge. One that I'm enjoying so far even though I've already frogged and re-knit this twice. Recovering from mistakes is much harder so I've been knitting more slowly. 

The last two-color knitting I'm going to conquer is the brioche stitch. I'm not super convinced I like this stitch yet. I think it probably has to do with the color combo. If I choose a color combo that I love better, I might like it a little more. I have some designs favorited in my Ravelry that are a little more intriguing than straight brioche. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Artfully Meandering: Down the Knitting Rabbit Hole - My First Sweaters

I blame Irma.

Well, I started falling down the knitting rabbit hole before Irma, but Irma clinched it. Nothing like evacuating to Alabama and having four days to focus on knitting.

I finished...frogged and re-knit my very first sweater. This is the Old Town sweater from Sunday Knits. This one took six weeks.

And then I went and knit a version in white for my niece. It was originally supposed to be for my sister, but I used a thinner yarn (smaller gauge) so it fits my niece better. This one took two weeks.

And now I have three four projects (two baby blankets, a scarf, and a hat) at the moment with a few others percolating in my head cast on my needles.

I knit my first pullover sweater in linen. This is gorgeous Prism Euroflax Linen yarn. I had a skein of this yarn in my stash when I decided to take on this sweater. I ordered two additional skeins from Desert Designs Knits to complete the sweater. Normally different dye lots can create a very jarring transition, but it worked out okay with this sweater. And I'm SUPER happy with the result of this sweater. In fact, I have a request to make one for another friend.  I've been able to machine wash this in super delicate and dry on delicate and it turns out perfectly. It's getting softer and drapey-er with each washing.

I've been pairing the sweater with another Sunday Knits item - the Sonoma Stole is perfect for the slightly cooler in between weather for a Florida winter. I get to wear my warmer knits!!!

While learning to knit with linen, here is a list of references that have helped me.

Here are the linen posts:

Adding lining to a knit piece:

And a side note on a cool stitch called the Linen Stitch for future knitting...