Friday, May 28, 2010

Video "Holding Out for a Browncoat Hero"

Just found this video of our Big Damn Heroes, set to "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler. I didn't realize Inara had so many action sequences.

Video found via this article at Wired which referenced a Romance Writers of America conference workshop that offered Whedon's work as template for romances.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Value of a Hand Knit Baby Blanket

Last year, at Husband's request, I knit a baby blanket for a client of his. She was expecting her first grandson or something like that. Anyway, he was trying to curry favor so she'd keep sending business his way.

Apparently her daughter loved is so much, she's asked if I would make another one. She said she would pay for supplies and my time and of course if I couldn't she'd understand too.

This is my reply to my husband:
These are the specs on the blanket I made for Client's grandson last year. I record all the details of my knitting projects at, which is how I am able to calculate the following.

(8 skeins Bernat Cotton Tots yarn x $4) + (1 ball Knitpicks Cotton Solid x $3.50) + (3 skeins Omega Sinfonia cotton yarn x $5.50) + (1 skein Tahki Stacy Charles Cotton Classic x $6) = $54.
Shipping and handling for mail ordered yarn and mileage for store-bought yarn not included.
All machine washable and machine dryable yarn for easy care by busy parents.

Other supplies:
Knitting needle: Clover Bamboo Circular needles, US size 11, 36" = $12
Crochet hook: Boye Aluminum crochet hook size N = $2.25

Design time: Time spent looking over patterns, selecting yarn, deciding on what to make: 2 hrs
Preparation time: actually going to the stores to buy the yarns or order on-line. The yarns came from Michael's Arts and Crafts, Hobby Lobby and Needlenook in Atlanta and Knitpicks: 4 hrs.
Began actual knitting: January 27 2009
Completed February 26 2009
Estimate that I knit on it 1.5 hours a day (I knit at least an hour each night and I'd say 4 hours each weekend day, so we'll average it to 1.5 hours a day.)
Time: 6 hrs + (31 days x 1.5hrs) = 52.5 hours

Labor and value-added: 52.5 hours x $10 = $525
mileage not included

Total value of the blanket: $593.25

Look this over. If you think Client would be willing to pay me $593.25 for a baby blanket, I would be more than happy to take her commission. It would most like take more time to make this blanket because I imagine there would be a lot more back and forth as I look over possible patterns and yarns, send her the pictures for her approval or not, and so on until she and I agree on a pattern and colors.

If not, she can browse through for handmade items. This is the link for handknit baby blankets specifically: Not all of the sellers will note what the material is made of, so it may be easy care cotton, cheapo acrylic (read: plastic), or hand wash wool.

Another option for handmade goods: Beehive Cooperative

I am going to guess you will tell her that I am busy working on other projects right now and won't be able to do it. But please do tell her I'm glad her daughter enjoys the blanket I did make for her first child.

We'll see what he does.

ETA: Husband will tell Client I'm too busy now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cold Mountain Update

Somewhere along the way I put in an extra yarn over in my second repeat. Of course I didn't put in any lifelines. I'm also concerned that it's not going to stretch enough to be wide enough.

I'm contemplating starting over with a needle one size up. Or starting over on the Cheshire Cat stole from Purlescense UK.

And despite all that I wrote a month ago about Doctor Who, I haven't watched it since. It's got just a bit more cheese factor than I can take. The Doctor's just a bit too manic for me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cold Mountain shawl

Progress picture of my Cold Mountain Shawl from Knitty Summer 2009. I've done just one repeat of the first part of the chart on Chart A.

Close up of the yarn,Waterfalls laceweight in the colorway River, by Creatively Dyed Yarns.
I got it at Stitches South. It was between this green colorway or another one with yellows, white, and blues, a color combo I love. However, I thought the green would be more versatile.

I love how this ball, half the skein, looks like a planet in space. So round, so green, against the black of the sofa, like space. I've been watching Battlestar Galactica DVDs and watched an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation right before bed, so I may have space on the mind.

The lace pattern is very easy and geometric. I'm planning on giving it to either my mother-in-law. She's not a frilly lace person so I thought a simpler, more geometric pattern would fit. Plus her favorite colors are taupe and cornflower blue, so this green should complement that well.

I know lace stretches a lot after blocking, but so far it seems really small and my m-i-l is rather large, so she may end up using it more as a scarf than a shawl.

I made my mother a shawl last year and coincidentally, it was also green. It was the Wool Peddler Shawl, posted here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Craft, Inc.

I am reading Craft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco. Title is pretty self explanatory.

It's always been that I earned a living doing social activism, social change work and did art and craft on the side as a hobby. However, I always struggled with trying to find a way to make both work. 10 years ago when I was in graduate school, I remember talking about that in an anthropology class.

Now with the rise of and a resurgence in handcraft marketplace, there are lots of people making money from what used to be a hobby. It's something that I want to look into. However I have my reservations. If this is really going to be a business, how much time will I be able to spend on each piece, how much can I price that for in order for it to sell, and how long before I could make a profit and not just cover costs?

At work, one of our programs is helping refugee women start their own businesses. We have workshops on cash flow, marketing, pricing, writing business plans, etc. Many want to sell their handcrafts but it's a struggle. If you're making handwoven totebags, how do you compete with $5 totebags sold in Walmart, made from sweatshop labor in China?

Granted, part of the marketing in knowing who to market to: people who understand or value hand-made items, and not just having the item. Hence the rise of Etsy and resurgence of handcraft fairs.

So what would my business be? I'm thinking handmade prints. They're easy to produce, unlike knitted goods which take forever. They're easy to mail, unlike pottery, which is heavy and take a long time to produce. And they're easy to reproduce. Once I have the linoleum cut, it's a matter of inking up and printing on paper.

Currently, I thinking about a name and website domain name. The one I'm thinking of is not taken and I'm considering registering for them now, just to make sure I have them before someone else takes them. However, I don't know that I really want to use my name (initials, really) for my business.

Plus there's the fact that I have not really done the research to see if this is a viable business idea or just idle dabbling because I want to leave my day job. Not that I would leave my day job until this printmaking business started turning a profit.

So I will finish reading this book, continue with my printmaking class, develop a print-style and a portfolio of linocuts. Afterall, I should probably see if I can do the production part of the business. Then develop a budget and business plan. Preliminarily I think I would sell through Etsy and do the production work on the weekends and maybe a Wed night.

All this while working a day job in a down market, trying to sell a house in a down market and then trying to adopt a kid after the house is sold. And still have time for a husband, who's the most wonderful guy in the world.

Also, just found this page on how to calculate profits on Etsy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Museums of DC

This week I've been away at a conference about small businesses and as conferences go, it was fine. It was held in DC and so I stayed with Sister which was great, and I saw a good friend from college. I'll be back in a few weeks for another conference and will stay with her again.

Smithsonian Museums visited:
American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery -- I've been there before but saw only half. Loved the Luce Foundation Center for American Art there. It's like sampling almost every kind of American art throughout time, from folk art to Art, from all regions and times and many kinds of mediums.
National Museum of the American Indian -- the cafeteria's really unique in that you can sample Native American food from the different regions of the country. The only exhibit I saw was "IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas" about the interrelations between people of African descent and Native Americans in North and South America. I loved the pictures of the multiracial families, all captioned "These people belong to each other." And the exhibit included discussion about Loving v. Virginia, which allowed people of different races to marry each other. That ruling is so very important to me, because with out it, Husband and I wouldn't be able to marry.

Other museums:
National Gallery of Art, East Wing: I go there everytime. Mainly because it's the wing with the contemporary art, and it's the wing closest to Sister's work place when we go into the city together.
US Botanic Garden: No, I did not misspell that. Check the link. Went there for the first time this trip.

I was going to walk from Sister's office to Stitch DC but as I passed the US Botanic Garden, I thought a)I've never been here and I like gardening, so I should stop in; b)it's free and it's right here; and c)I really, really don't need to buy any more yarn.

Inspired by the color combos I saw in at the Botanic, I'm going to try making something with silver-grey and tangerine orange.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday's Rose

I love how the edges of the rose are turning purple, echoing the purple petunias.

The rose is called Chrysler Imperial. Yes, corporate sponsorship extends to plants.