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Secret Message Kits

I remember one of the rare occasions I received a Valentine’s day gift.

I know, you’re shocked, right? Surely, someone as stunning as me should be taking the morning of the 14th February off work so I can await the postman and his overstuffed sack of mail just for me!

Truth is, even the card from my Dad (who I could always count on) stopped a few years ago.

Anyway, Once upon a time I received a rose, left anonymously on my front door.

Men are strange fellows!

Seriously, if you’re going to pretend to visit my brother and act surprised that I got a rose from a secret admirer, which you happen to find when you arrived…

…Don’t buy the flower from my sister’s florist shop!

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I’ve recently been making a series of mini craft kits designed for beginners.

Each kit comes in a small gift box, so the finished item can be given in the presentation box as a present.

I’ve made a couple of animal brooches (more on their way)

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They come with almost everything you need to make the finished brooch, you’ll need scissors and maybe a pencil.

My latest kit though is perfect for lucky crafters this Valentine’s Day.


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It comes with all the materials you need (Yep, you need to provide your scissors and a pencil) to make your very own Valentine’s day brooch.

The tiny wool-blend hand-stitched envelope is a brooch your loved one can wear, and hidden inside is a hand stitched love message just from you.

What a wonderful way to celebrate the season of love…

…and if any of my family are reading this, hint at my dad that I want my card!

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Costing your Craft

Screen Shot 2016-12-15 at 14.56.19.pngOne question us crafters ask a lot is how much?

How much should we charge?

I know, as a knitter & crocheter, the feeling of despair when someone asks me how much an item is thinking it will be cheap since it’s knitted.

Or they look at a doll I’ve crocheted and think, since there’s not much wool in the doll it should be cheap.

I’ve been pondering whether my craft stall should include a sign suggesting customers consider the hours it took to knit before telling me their gran could make them one for a lot less, but I don’t want to put off the customers who are appreciative of the costs.

It sounds harsh, but one lesson I’m learning is to not to be too concerned with the passers-by (I won’t call them customers) who just want a look and moan. Those people who think they’re doing you a favour by informing you the going rate for a Primark knitted hat is pennies compared to your hand knitted fair isle beanie.

You can, if you choose to, spend your time discussing the merits of buying Primark acrylic, machine made hats, sewn in a mass market system in foreign parts. You can educate them on the luxury of Shetland wool, the crofters who benefit from them buying a pure wool product, the environmental benefit of buying a product that hasn’t had to fly halfway across the world. These people will probably be quite happy to chat, even seem interested. But I’m learning to let the comments fly and smile quickly before turning to look for a potential customer that doesn’t need educating.

I sound harsh, I know I do. But if a customer is happy to wear a cheap acrylic mass produced hat, then they’re probably not a customer of hand made crafts and educating them won’t change that. Besides I’m paying a hell of a lot for my education, why should they be educated for free.

Simply put, I’m working on my craft stall to seek customers.

That said, if someone seems genuinely interested in why I charge what I do I’d like to know I can justify my pricing and have them see my product as something to be valued.

Still, there are always new crafters wondering how to price an item and I thought it might be nice to go through just one way to decide how to price your item.

Some years ago I wrote a blog post about making a polymer clay notebook pendant, here’s a link

Makey Make – Polymer Clay Notebook

Rather than reveal costings for some new item I thought it would be nice to go through the process of costing the notebook.

Stage 1 – Listing your products

As you make an item, go through EVERY item you use in the making process

MATERIALS – white polymer clay, 0.80mm silver wire x 2″, jump rings x 2, silver chain

Then the tools you use

TOOLS – Pens, Steel DPN, Pliers, wire cutters, work board, pasta machine, cutting blade, oven, timer, baking tray,

You also have your essentials

Heating, electricity, lighting, rent

Lastly you have your time

Once you have your list you need to work out how much of each material you use

This can take some time and working out and I’m going to estimate my pricing here so don’t use it as gospel.

COSTINGS FOR A CLAY NOTEBOOK NECKLACE

I estimate I could make 32 pendants from 1 block of clay. It’s £1.90 for a block of clay so using a calculator I work out £1.90 divided by 32 = 0.0593 per pendant

Do this for every item.

Clay = 0.0593

Wire = 0.0220 (need to check sterling silver prices from one of many silver suppliers)

Jump rings = 0.0299 (for sterling silver bought in bulk of a 1000)

Silver chain = £1.38 (Sterling silver chains on Ebay can be bought quite cheaply and I’ve estimated from someone selling them in bags of 20 so it’s worth considering getting sterling silver over cheaper metal)

£1.46 for each sterling silver necklace – you can make it cheaper by using a base metal, but customers will probably be more willing to buy an item advertised as sterling silver than silver plated.

Necklace total so far = £1.46

Next your tools, you are not replacing your tools after each product but you need to consider the wear and tear and eventual replacement. This will vary on what the item is, my wire cutters are heavy duty ones and I expect will last many years, my oven is a cheap mini oven but I still expect a couple of years out of it, my markers probably last me a year or two. (I have a mini oven for clay because polymer clay gives off a toxic fume when baking, if you do a lot of clay it is best to not bake clay and food in the same oven!)

Work out an amount of money to add to the price to cover the cost of wear and tear to tools. This is impossible to get accurate and we’re talking fractions of pennies rather than pounds here, I’ll estimate 5p towards wear and tear

Necklace total so far = £1.51

Next is the essential things you need like lighting, heating, having a room to work in, again it’s not much, and if you have a meter in your house you could work out how much electricity you use in one hour, but again, it’s pennies rather than pounds. I’ll estimate 10p

Necklace total so far – £1.61

Finally time. The national living wage in the UK is £7.20 for over 24, and less for a younger person, but are you the kind of employer who only pays the living wage. There is a lot of benefit in paying staff well. Also think, are you happy working for £7.20 an hour, if you are  then this is your rate, but I’m not. I would like to pay £10 an hour, it’s quite a bit more, but if I need help it would be on a one-off basis maybe a few hours a month and that’s a bit unreasonable to expect someone to drop everything for a few hours work for less than a tenner. My rate is £10 an hour.

I reckon, working in a conveyor belt system where I make the white notebook squares, then make the spirals, then the chains, which is quicker than making one necklace at a time, I might estimate 20 an hour. This means £10 divided by 20 to get my wage cost = 50p

Necklace so far = £2.11

This isn’t everything though, you have packaging, are you going to put the necklace in a more expensive box? are you going to make a card display (add time for making the displays) are you just going to hang them on a display and put them in a paper bag.

It’s worth taking a long time looking at packaging as sometimes it’s the packaging that sells the item rather than the item itself. I once worked in a staff canteen in London where we had our sandwiches made and delivered by a big catering company. One morning we received the wrong order and got the sandwiches meant for Harrods.

Same sandwiches, made with the same products by the same workers in the same factory, but because of the packaging and name on the sandwich there was a considerable cost difference.

Since I’m budgeting for a sterling silver necklace, I’m going to budget for a nice but simple cardboard jewellery box. The company has a discount for buying larger quantities so I buy 100 boxes at 16p each (boxes don’t go out of date and I can use them for other items I make)

Total cost of necklace £2.27

This is my base rate. The cost at which I neither make or lose money

Next I want to work out my wholesale rate, this is up to you. Some companies (name brand handbag companies are notorious for this) may decide to add a huge margin. I decide a profit of 100% for wholesale making the necklace £4.54 for wholesale.

Thinking about this I might be sneaky here and round the price up to £5 each, with a bulk buy option of £4.50 each if the shop buys more than 10. That’s up to you, but the whole point of wholesale is to sell more in one place.

Next is Retail price, generally between 40% and 100%

If I charge 100% for retail the necklace will be £9.08. Round it up or down to £9 or £10 and you have the price you charge your customers.

Some people will be wondering whether they should add more money on when they sell on internet shops like Etsy who charge a small fee and Paypal who also charge a small fee (neither companies are working for free and need their cut too). Again, that’s up to you, but I count this into my retail fee, since a shop will have their bills taken our of the retail fee.

It’s also worth asking, if you sell to a shop and they retail the item at £9, is it fair to ask your customers to pay £10 because you have added fees for Etsy and Paypal?

Another question is postage and packaging, do you charge for this?

Again, look at the profit margins and where your customers are and decide for yourself. It might be 80p to post an item in the UK, so making UK postage free is enticing to customers, but if your online shop reaches an American customer the postage might end up as £6 and suddenly offering free postage is losing you money.

Finally, when you have gathered all this information, look again at the price and the item. Would you pay £10 for a sterling silver necklace and handmade pendant in a small jewellery box?

“Hell Yeah” then go ahead and make lots more

“Nah” then look again at the item you want to make, can it be made cheaper? can you buy materials in bulk and cut costs? are your profits too high? it may be that the item is just not worth making to sell and you need to look for something else to make and sell.

I hope this helps, and although I’ve estimated the costings I hope it might inspire some crafters to think about choosing a higher quality material or even inspire a crafter to decide to think about selling their own items.

 

 

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The Progress of Plodding on – EPY week 5

I sat down to write my now regular post about the EPY week, for about 30 minutes I’ve sat here thinking, what happened this week?

Bank Holiday weekend was awful, as usual, we had constant downpours and the strange hot but rainy weather that often leaves me with a migraine, and what a migraine, by Monday I was fed up of it all. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t have any plans for the bank holiday, but I felt it was a weekend wasted. There is just something downright unfortunate about being ill on your day off, so to make up for it I took Tuesday off but more of a recuperation day rather than a fun day.

Wednesday I went into the EPY office and went to the first group meeting. I remember being asked about the cost of a doll and kicking myself for not being more confident in stating the price, but on the whole the day went by largely uneventful and perhaps I was still getting over the three day migraine (honestly, it was the worst one I’ve had in a very long time).

Wednesday evening I got home to a letter from my housing office informing me that I owed so much rent that I had 7 days to pay or I was going to court. So Thursday I spent the day gathering evidence and making phone calls and eventually a trip to the housing office to find out that a mistake had been made and I’m not going to be faced with eviction after all.

Friday I went to Harrogate for the Great Northern Quilting show, I’m calling it a ‘research’day rather than a fun day out. Honestly, I was researching craft kits!

Well, the week ended with fun at least.

So here I am, sitting here thinking of something useful or interesting to say… 

Nothing.

But then I realised that there are still little excitements to share.

A couple of long awaited packages to put some craft kits together arrived. Lots of little online changes to websites that are finally starting to give me an online presence I’m a bit happier about. Several conversations with a supplier that finally tracked down the exact buttons I want and have been trying to find for months.

There hasn’t been any huge eureka moments this week, no leaving the office feeling my life changing before my eyes, but maybe this is what having your own business (or even a happy life) is about. The daily plodding on that eventually leads to a business connection you’ve been after. The final email of a week long conversation that finally seals the deal. 

People talk about the light at the end of the tunnel and that light should arrive on Wednesday (Monday and Tuesday I’m in London) This proverbial light is the butt of jokes, the description of the afterlife and the hope of many. Yet, little is said about the journey to the light, the long road to the eventual conclusion.

Well, this post is beginning to sound like a sermon so I’ll say what they say at church.

In conclusion…

What I’ve learnt this week is that running a business isn’t always a continual celebration of enormous achievements. The most biggest acheivements this week have come from the long constant plod through the dark tunnel, and in business, as in life. I need to enjoy the darkness, the everyday and the long steady plod a lot more than I do.

Amen. 

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The creatives office – EPY week 2

The EPY (Enterprise Year) gives me an office type place of work in Huddersfield, which I aim to work from four days a week. It’s a nice office, quite empty at the moment because many of the other students are still on summer holidays. It also forces me to move from home and play mode to office and work mode.

On the down side, being a creative person, it’s not the most inspiring environment. The colour scheme is very grey, light brown and a touch of muted green. I don’t ‘get’ the hot desking thing. Since it’s everyones nature to sit at the same desk everyday, this idea that we can use any desk seems pointless. There’s nothing personal to identify me as an individual. There’s no plants, no sound, I’ve taken to wearing headphones, even though there’s not always something playing on them. There’s nothing to say “I Was Here”.

I’ve never had a ‘desk job’, I’ve worked in kitchens, restaurants, hotels, hostels, day centres, clubs, even worked at the Magic Circle (Now that’s an interesting workplace!) I always thought I’d hate working in an office, and I’m finding out that it’s true.

A few months ago I had a meeting at the Electric Works in Sheffield, a similar office type place, but with one major difference, a three storey metal slide. It was a long, tough day. Discussing the effects of poverty is never easy and some of us were struggling to see hope by the end of the meetings. A few tears had been shed, frustrations shared, anger, hurt, and despair. What a sorry bunch we were. However, when it was all over we got in the lift and rode to the top floor, then one by one, got on a slide and… well, the video will show you what happened.

My main frustration about having the office space is that it forces me to be organised more than I imagined. But its a good frustration.

I feel as though I have two workspaces, the office in Huddersfield and my creative space in Leeds. I can’t say I’ll spent the morning on paperwork then the afternoon on making things because the commute between the two is too long. I can’t face a dull paper work hour and follow it with a bit of creating because my creating tools are in Leeds. Most frustrating is that I can’t come up with an idea in the office and immediately grab the wool to see if it would work.

I bring a stuffed backpack with me everyday, filled with things I might need to get me through the day and every morning I leave behind a small pile of things I just can’t fit into the bag.

Not all is lost though. This office, plain as it is, is forcing me to sit and write blogs more regularly, it’s forcing me to finally get serious about the workings of my own business. It’s like the skeleton of the business, forcing me to gather my facts on similar business ideas, forcing me to face the financial costs of business.

Lets face it, if I had an office space within 50 feet of my creative space I’d spend my days distracting myself with pretty knits. Sure, I’d make a lot more stock to sell (or would I?), but the backbone, researching the costs of competitors, looking into toy safety laws, being realistic about pricing, those things that will keep a business standing in the long run, those very important things just wouldn’t get done.

It’d be nice to have a plant though, or some fish… cats! what about cats in the office while you work? I like the idea of finishing everyday with a slide, but then… how many days of sliding would it take before that was no longer special? If the extraordinary became ordinary where would we go next?

Perhaps, on reflection, having a slide in the office might not be as fantastic as it seems. I like the sense of fun that a slide brings, but having it everyday would make it ordinary, and that might make it a chore, and adding one more chore to my to do list just takes the enjoyment out of it.

 

 

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Taking the scenic route – EPY week 1

Friday, the end of my first week on the Enterprise Year.

I started off my week telling people that I wanted to have a business making dolls, two days later I knew one thing, I’m not spending the year making dolls.

Just as a supermarket wouldn’t describe themselves as a milk seller, what I want to do is so much more than doll making, but what exactly?

In between talks about managing my time, being creative, even a trip to a pipe cleaning business I’ve been trying to sum up what exactly I want this business of mine to do/be. Listening to people talk about their own business ideas, and success stories, slowly getting ideas in my own mind and then BANG!

Like a marathon runner hitting a wall on the 23rd mile, I hit my wall on Wednesday evening.

Not so much a physical wall, rather a feeling that my head was full. I’d heard enough and couldn’t take in one more single piece of information. So I went to bed.

I’ve said before that I’m a voice hearer, which means (at least for me) that having to concentrate on one person talking is really difficult. That’s why I usually have my knitting with me, it distracts the inner voices enough for me to concentrate. But being in a new environment I wasn’t sure how people would react to me knitting while they spoke about their love and passion for their business, so I didn’t knit, and it was terrible.

By Wednesday night I had had enough, I needed rest, and yet, lying in bed I was wide awake. At 1am, I got up went into the kitchen looked in the fridge, then got back in bed. 2am, I opened the window to let some fresh air in. 3am I closed the window because a neighbour had worried me with tales of being robbed. 4am, I turn audible on and listened to a travel book. At 4.30am I woke (yep, I fell asleep) with an idea for business, I wrote it down then tried to sleep again, at 5am I began my swearing stage where the cat sat patiently listening to my rendition of “Why can’t I get the £&$% to sleep?”

Thursday was a tired nightmare, I was the nightmare to those around me, although my idea of what to do with a pipe cleaner was one of the winners and I got a £25 Amazon voucher.

I really need to get my knitting out… I really need to bite the bullet and let the other people know I might knit while they are talking and please don’t think it’s because I’m not interested.

This morning I woke feeling a little deflated. Still a lot of things camping in my brain, but the worst was the feelings that I couldn’t do this. I looked on Facebook, not my usual routine but someone had shared a video called Things people with Down’s Syndrome are tired of hearing. I suggest you have a watch.

The comment I loved is just one minute in. A mother with a young child answering the question, Will she be able to do things?

“Yes, she’ll be able to do everything, it’s just we’ll take the scenic route”

And so, I started my day, still a bit tired, getting a migraine, feeling like screaming or running, wanting to work away from people for a while, wishing the open office had more walls, needing to find ways to work in an environment that makes me feel paranoid, knowing that I need to find ways to work that complement my mental illness rather than destroy my passion… looking for the scenic route.

 

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Free, Fair, Pay your share.

A few months ago this sign was seen in a local cafe window.

By a strange coincidence I met the cafe owner a few days later and he told me how the sign came to be.
He was looking out of the cafe window one afternoon and saw a man going through the rubbish bins in the street looking for food. Shocked that it happened in this day and age he went out to speak to the man.

No one should be in such need that they live off the waste of others, so the cafe owner hoped to bring the man into his cafe for a proper hot meal. Sadly the man didn’t seem to trust the cafe owner and ran off.

The owner wanting to gain the mans trust, decided to put this sign in his window, hoping the man would see it and not feel threatened or ashamed of his predicament.

Leeds (my home city) has had a few cafes recently open up with a different way of charging for food. The Pay What You Feel cafes give good food, company and discretion for those who might otherwise struggle. A bucket for money giving a descreet way of paying what you can afford rather than asking for charity. The idea of giving without shaming the poor appears to be a new idea, but somehow, I think this is how it should have been all along.

Just imagine having the collection plate passed around at church and instead of a plate that lets those close by see how much or little you can give there’s a bag or bucket you put your hand in (even braver, the possibility to take out what you need).

So, why am I thinking about all this?

Today I arrived in Windermere for a three day ‘get together’ to talk about poverty. The conference centre/hotel we’re staying at made a stand a year ago to run in a similar manner to the cafes. Whether you can afford £10 or £200 you’re treated to wonderful food, lovely accommodation and the friendliest staff around. No one knows who paid what and since everyone is treated as though they are family, no one worries about it.

You’d think it’d be the most disasterous business move of the century, but it seems to be working.

It got me thinking, would that work as a crafter?

What if I set up a stall and instead of pricing everything I asked people to pay what they think. My heart wants to give it a go, but my head says no.

On the other hand…

Imagine this hotel I’m staying in had kept to the old way of charging. Firstly if I had to pay a hotel price I wouldn’t have come, but it’s more personal than that. If you told me to pay £40 for a night here and I paid it there’s a sense that I have paid for £40s worth of luxury, and in that instance I’d expect a lot for my £40.

On the other hand, not giving me a price to pay makes me really think about what I’m getting. If the staff are nice to me I’d want to pay, then again, good food is worth money. At the end of my stay I’d like to give generously.

Putting this into a crafting context and whether I would risk a pay what you feel stall, the hotel experience has given me something to think about.

If I put a price on my item, lets say a skein of hand-spun wool. We’re not just talking about the price of the wool, but the couple hours carding, spinning, washing the wool. All things considered, £30 for several hours work maybe isn’t that much, but would anyone pay that much.

Then again if I put the wool on a stall unpriced, would people pay?

Here’s where the hotel experience comes in.

How do I get people to value my wool enough that paying a decent price – a price worth the time and skill put into it – is happily considered rather than smirked at?

One word – Experience.

If I can get people to experience the process of spinning wool, to see the skill of taking a fleece and turning it into colourful, bouncy yarn?

I need to look at the whole experience of buying from me. The little things that turn pondering customers into regular friendly buyers.

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Astronaut Pattern – My Little Crochet Doll

You’ve all been very patient and I hope the wait was worth it (blame all the work at Uni).

Finally the next patten has been finished and is ready to make.WP_20150809_002

The astronaut pattern has a jump suit, made with a few rows, but mostly rounds in single crochet (double crochet to us Brits). It has a zip at the back, buttons wouldn’t do for an astronaut.

The boots are worked in BLO, giving the soles a ridged effect similar to the ones used on the moon.

The helmet has a plastic covering to keep oxygen in.WP_20150809_005

But most important, the front panel has working LED lights. Of course, when you’re playing on the dark side of the moon you need some lights to see your way.

I buy my electronics from Kitronic, a UK company. They’re easy to find on line, but Maplins are starting to sell sew-able electronics too (although expensive from them).

If you’re stuck please email me and I’ll see if I can help.

So, finally here is the pattern

MLCD Astronaut – US

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Traditional Crafts and Traditions

I want to start with a story, which I’m sure most of you will know.

A little girl is watching her mother cook a fish and notices that her mother cuts off the head of the fish before putting it into the pan to cook.

“Why do you cut off the head?” the girl asks, to which her mother responds, “it’s how my mother taught me to cook”.

So the little girl goes to her grandmother, “Why do we cut the head off of the fish to cook it?”, to which the grandmother responds, “It’s how my mother taught me to cook”.

And I’m sure you know the story by now.

The little girls goes to her great-grandmother and asks, “Why do we cut the head off the fish to cook it?”.

The Great-grandmother replies, “because my pan wasn’t long enough for the whole fish”.

Tradition.

My Grandmother in her then-fashionable bonnet
My Grandmother in her then-fashionable bonnet

I grew up in the Salvation Army, I know all about tradition. I grew up wearing a horrible bonnet designed for Victorian heads and hairstyles (buns). Many women salvationists kept pieces of sponge in the bonnet to keep it from slipping, but I know many women who kept their spare pair of stockings in there.

Yep, the army bonnet. It’s history is fascinating really, it’s Victorian style comes from the birth of the army when salvationists were often targeted by the skeleton army and publicans angry that their biggest customers were becoming Christians and not spending their money in the pubs any more. The bonnet was head protection from stones and other missiles.

In Victorian times the bonnet was a fashionable and useful item. Now it’s an uncomfortable, unhelpful, off-putting tradition.

Tradition.

When I first started spinning wool I sat in the spinning group listening attentively to every word people said. If I was going to master this craft I needed to hear everything.

Eventually I got my first set of carders (large brushes for, well, brushing the fibres). One spinner was showing how to use the brushes when another spinner spoke up.

“You should only brush the fibre three times.”

Why? No one knew, but a name was mentioned in reverence as though this unknown (to me) spinner was the fount of all spinning knowledge and if that’s what she said then that’s what happened.

I spent some time using the cards, giving them three brushes.

Then I broke free.

I recently invested in several spinning videos and watched one, From Wool to Waulking by Norman Kennedy.

From Wool to Waulking
From Wool to Waulking

Norman has been spinning since a young lad and learnt mostly from spinners in the highlands of Scotland. He was raised firmly in spinning tradition and his video is both informative and fascinating, I totally recommend it.

http://www.interweavestore.com/from-wool-to-waulking-spinning-wool-and-creating-cloth-with-norman-kennedy

But…

Throughout his video he makes reference to other spinners and knitters who don’t do things as he was taught. He speaks as though he is the one authority on spinning knowledge, often seemingly putting other spinners in an inferior position.

Norman Kennedy has a unique insight in spinning, he learnt from traditional spinners from one part of the world. He’s has a knowledge that thankfully he is sharing in order to keep that tradition alive.

But tradition doesn’t leave room for experimentation, new technologies, and other cultures.

Yesterday I had a fantastic trip to the British Wool Marketing Board in Bradford. I’ll tell you about it another time, but Oh My!!!

I have never seen so much fleece in one place, and the smell… To dye for.

Stacks and rows and stacks of huge plastic bags filled to bursting with wool.

Halfway through the tour one of our group turned to me and said, “I see they store their wool in plastic, but I was told only to store it in a cotton pillowcase”.

Before I could respond we were led through a door and my chance lost.

I thought long and hard about this idea of only storing fibre in cotton, where does it come from…

Imagine, this woman goes to the spinner who taught her, “Why do we only store fibre in cotton?”

“Because that’s how I was taught”

And the question goes back through time to a very retired spinner, who taught spinners through the ages, now sitting in an old folks home with her knitting stored in a plastic tupperware box beside her…

“Well, back then, plastic wasn’t available and cotton kept it from going all over the place”

I don’t know if that’s the truth behind this, but if plastic is good enough for the Wool Board… and Spinner Judith MacKenzie… and Armley Mill Museum… and… well, pretty much anyone who ships wool around the world. Then it’s good enough for me.

I love the traditional crafts, and I hope you do too, but if you ever hear the words…

You’re holding your hook, wool, needle… (Insert tool here) wrong

You should only do that …. (insert number here) times.

That’s not how my mother, grandmother, teacher … (insert person here) did it.

And you’re not in a re-enactment group….

Ask the question and consider whether it matters, after all, Traditions are like rules… Made to be broken.

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Crayon Play 1

We started with a video from Mathery studio…

http://www.mathery.it/works/#/pastello/

They re-created crayons and turned them into wearable tools for play.

So we made our own at University.

https://youtu.be/DbdV9ztGQXs

Here’s the instructions if you want to make your own.

Doc 18-03-2015 10-43 AM1

Doc 18-03-2015 10-44 AM1

This got me thinking.

What else could I do with crayons…

This got me thinking…

What else could I do with crayons?

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Slow Creativity

It used to be, things made slowly, by hand were for the poor. If you couldn’t afford new clothes, you made them. Hand knitted jumpers were made by family members over time, where shop bought winter wear was for people who could afford to travel to skiing locations.

Well, that was my experience anyway.

Shops couldn’t/wouldn’t stock the handmade style because it took too long to create. If you had money, you could afford to save time and buy what had been made commercially.

Machinery came in that cut time and costs to products and the quicker things were made, the cheaper they became.

But with modern machinery came a loss of traditional craftsmanship.

The slow movement brings back the loss of hand made skill.

The idea that something is made slowly, consciously. No modern machinery, no technology that takes the focus away from the task of creating.

At Uni we were given a small piece of cloth. We were told to bring simple tools, tweezers, scissors and spent several hours sat on our own, no conversation, quiet music playing, dimmed lighting.

Our only goal, to take apart the cloth and put it back together.

Experiencing the cloth fully, contemplating the craftsmanship in making.

I started by silently taking threads from the edge, just wanting to take enough to make the cloth a neat square. Nothing was to be wasted, every scrap had to be saved.

When I had enough threads I had the idea of crocheting them into a square. I tied the ends together then made a granny square.

Using more threads I cut a hole in the fabric and sewed the granny square back into the cloth.

Could I do this enough that it no longer was a woven cloth, but a crochet blanket?

The idea then formed that I would only do certain squares. The cloth would remain, but with an added value.

After the cloth was made we were told to treasure it, make a box or similar to put it in, so I made a box.

I bought a cardboard book style box from Hobbycraft and painted the inside with gold acrylic.

The outside of the box was painted with metallic paints

The cat added value by walking over the paint before it dried (Note to self – when I’m famous, rent a studio with a separate area for the cat)

Finally I folded the cloth and secured it with brown ribbon.