Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Workshop Videos

Here are some more time lapse movies from today. In the first one, I show the process of changing colors from one section to the next. The goal of swapping out cones is to create the long color gradations in my cloth and to replace cones that are running out of thread.

In the next video, I'm winding the beam. Wispr is plying cones of thread, cutting and sewing garments while cones fill. It was a busy day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beam Winding Videos

In order to promote the Kickstarter project, I'm shooting more footage to give to a real video editor friend of mine. Here are two time lapses from yesterday.

And here's the project as it stands with my own homemade video:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Show Research

This weekend I went to see a couple of events in the area and decide whether I should try to vend there next year. Local events are good because there's little cost involved in doing them. The fees are usually small and the travel costs negligible.

The first show was the Summer Arts Festival in Roseburg. It was nice. The Atmosphere was friendly. There were a few woven pieces in the gallery, but no vendors selling hand weaving. (This is no surprise. The lack of competition is why I chose weaving.)

Overall, this seems like a nice show to do. I don't expect to make a lot, but I think it would work out well considering that the show is about an hour away.

The next show was the Black Sheep Festival in Eugene. Of course, I expected it to be kind of wool-heavy, but wow! I had no idea.

This is a show for the other end of the fiber spectrum from me. There are three (or four) giant rooms full of sheep. There are many, many vendors selling wool and spinning tools. There are some vendors selling yarn and books, a few selling weaving tools, but no vendors selling handwoven cloth.

I think that this show could be lucrative for me when I have an entire line of locally sourced wool cloth at fairly low prices. The attendees at this show want to know who owned the sheep that made the wool that I'm selling.

This doesn't cut me out entirely. In a few years we expect to own a new piece of property. This new monastery will be focusing heavily on homegrown food and fiber. At first the wool we grow will probably just be for our own use, but we may eventually take some of it to market.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kickstarter Project: Help Me Spread The Word?

It's an exciting time in the business right now. I've just moved into a new studio space and received a shipment of yarn. My friends are joining in the work more and more all the time.

And today we launched a big project that I've been keeping under my hat until it was ready for the world to see. We're using to raise $5-10,000 in 45 days to help buy the amount of yarn that will give me some freedom in my designs and buffer against yarn supply issues.

These things are becoming important as I try to grow the business to support a small community by this Autumn. We're forming a new crafts monastery where we focus on our connection to the divine through the act of creation. Weaving is the first craft, but others will surely follow.

We will start out on rented land this fall, but plan to buy our own within a couple of years.
I can really use your help in getting the word out. I would really appreciate if you could tell people about what I've been doing and give them this link:

And one important thing to mention is the rewards aspect of Kickstarter projects. Everyone who donates will receive some of my weaving, and might even get to choose what warp color I weave next. The success of this project depends on widespread support, so please help spread the word in any way that you can.

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Loom: Deconstructing, Reconstructing

Here are two time lapse movies, one of taking the loom apart, and another of putting it back together in the new studio.

I don't know if I ever mentioned that I do all of this stuff directly on my iPod now. All of the panoramas, movies, time lapse, HDR photography, blog writing and more. These tiny computers are amazing.

This video turned out great. It captures about two hours' work in two minutes.

This video is great except that out of a large studio space, a tiny spider decided that the place to hang out would be directly on the lens of my iPod camera. He shows up about halfway through, obscures the scene during the part of the setup when the most pieces are being attached, and disappears in time for the boring fiddling. Ah, well!

I think it's actually kind of funny. I'm sure there's some kind of message there. You know - weaver, spider, that sort of thing. I put him outside and told him that he would be welcome back if he didn't mess up my work.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Workshop Move-In

It's happening! I'm moving the weaving workshop out of my cramped cabin and into a dedicated studio space. The new space is in the heart of downtown Wolf Creek.

When applying for insurance, I found that the building was built in 1859, which is very old for Oregon. That would have put it toward the end of the brief gold rush in this area, and at a time when this town was on the main thoroughfare.

The spaces have obviously been renovated, with modern drywall, light fixtures, and grounded electrical outlets every eight feet.

I'll be using the larger space for the weaving and sewing studio, while the smaller one will be used for storage and perhaps photography. (The panorama software really didn't like that narrow, dark room, but I think you can get the idea.)

Those vertical strips on the wall are channels for adjustable shelving. I just happen to have a box of brackets that fit, which will make the building of shelves super quick and easy.

The move-in is happening one van load at a time. Today the loom moved. (watch for the video tomorrow...)

Starting tomorrow, I will travel to work every day just like normal people. If you've been reading my blog for a while, I'm sure you know just how important it is for me to be seen as normal. (Smirk!)

It will be a big shift, but one that will make for easier, more efficient production, and a nicer living situation. I'll be able to walk across the room without swinging from the loom like a jungle gym!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

So Much Change!

...and so little time to write about it.

I'm doing lots and lots of careful accounting in preparation for the next steps in my business and the transition to a new intentional community scenario.

Among the decisions that I've had to make are:

How fast do I need to sell to make rent?
How much can I afford for insurance?
What type of security system do I get?
How soon can I pay for all of my new yarn?
How many shows can I do?
Which ones?
When do I start weaving wool for Winter?

Thank goodness for Quickbooks! Growing a business on a shoestring is tough, but with thorough accounting it gets a lot easier. I may not have much, but I'm making every bit that I have work as hard as it can.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Device Failure

Yesterday I spent about eight unscheduled hours recovering from an iPhone crash and didn't get to bed until almost midnight as a result. (That's about 2 1/2 hours late for me.)

I don't know exactly what happened. I added a todo list item and the screen froze. I forced the machine to power down and it would not come back up.

I sort of saw it coming. In March, it stopped syncing with iTunes and said I needed to do a complete restore. "No way!" said I, "I'll wait for it to really fail."

Knowing is, indeed, half the battle, as they say. I stopped using the built-in apps for any real work, opting instead for third-party apps that sync separately from iTunes.

As a result I didn't lose the important stuff:
- Daylite, the CRM system that holds all contact info, customer and vendor relationship history and future commitments, all projects/opportunities and all their appointments, todo items, and notes.
- Bento, the database that holds my gift certificate history, 2 years of notes around founding a new monastery, all my recipes, and my gas mileage records.
- FMTouch, the hand-rolled Filemaker database that holds all of my production history and timecards.

Here's the sum total of what I lost by restoring a 3 month old backup:

- Contact info for one alarm company
- Two days of production timesheets
- Several unfinished blog posts
- A few dozen random photographs
- A daily alarm so I wake up on time. (Sorry, Stella!)
- The ability to trust my first generation iPhone to perform in a time-sensitive sales environment

With that said, I was pleased to find out that I can buy an iPod Touch at the grocery store in town. As soon as the credit card transactions from last weekend are deposited to my bank, I'm taking advantage of the NET60 terms with my yarn dealer and replacing my iPhone with an iPod Touch. I turned off my phone service years ago anyway.

I just can't take a chance that this sort of failure could happen on the morning of a sales event and prevent me from accepting credit cards that day. I'll keep the old iPhone as a backup but switch my daily trust to the new iPod Touch.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Location Photography

At last we had a day with no rain in the forecast. I hurriedly steamed a batch of garments while Harlan shlepped the dress form and reflectors to our first location.

We got six garments photographed in a variety of poses in two different locations.

So now I'm working with Arcana on copy editing in preparation for the launch of a new, improved Etsy store with new photos, new copy, and new merchandise.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gap In My Photography

I have always tried to document my process, more so after starting a blog, and even more so when I opened a web store. But, there's one glaring gap in my photography coverage and it revealed itself while preparing to submit vendor forms for summer craft shows.

"Please provide one large photograph of the artist at work." Aw, crud! I never take pictures of myself at work because I'm the one holding the camera. And the loom is all taken apart as I add internal supports to my beam and wait for the red yarn to arrive. This means I can't shoot weaving process photos this week.

I've sent out the call to my friends to see if someone has snapped a photo I can use, but so far nothing. Maybe I'll just have to get dressed up next to an empty loom or take pictures of myself winding bobbins or something. And from now on I'll enlist my friends to use my camera to shoot photos while I weave.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Reflector Results

Here is a quick set of before and after pictures, showing the result of bouncing light into the shadows with my new reflector.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to experiment with a different site or improving things more because we only had about 30 minutes without rain.

The reflector really helps with the shadows on the lefthand side of the photo. The darkest shadow is not completely black, the cloth looks smoother, and the colors show more than the texture. And overall, the garment is slightly brighter than the background.

There is still a problem on the right, though. I noticed it at the time, but didn't know what to do. Now it's obvious - turn the dress form to get light into that shadow. I'll try it again if we get a break from the rain tomorrow. It's POURING right now after sprinkling all day so I'm not holding my breath.