We started out the day with the focus on our day jobs. Not exactly filled with any form of crafting or fabricating but ever so necessary. After a few hours, we decided it was time to head off in search of something to eat. We ended up at "Sapporo Sushi" off of Spring Garden in North York. It's our usual place for sushi. After going there for 10 years, it still provides me with the experience I want and the right flavours that guarantee that I will come back soon.
Once we finished eating, chatting with owner and back in our car, we went off to do some errands. It's very difficult to stay on-task when you're a crafter. I mentioned to Lulu that there is a little bit of madness when it comes to crafting and being a crafter. You can walk through a mall and at any given point in time, you get drawn towards sales of thing you think you might need for an activity or something you think you can make. If there is a dollar store.... good luck. A crafter MUST enter lest they be smited. Not only do we seek out things we "might" need but we also look around for things we might be able to make instead of purchase. It's pretty entertaining if you step back and examine what is exactly going on in a crafters mind. Here is an example:
Crafter enters store. Sees a mirror for a wall. It has a nice frame and costs $59. Hey, that's really nice! they think to themselves. I know, I have some extra baseboard, I can cut it up, frame up a simple mirror and decoupage with all those pictures I clipped from the travel magazines I picked up last week! SCORE!
This is only an example but it happens all the time. When we show our products in certain parts of town, I know that lots of the people walking by are thinking that they can do what we crafted.
Anyhow, continuing right along. After we spent some time at the mall we went off to Markham to pick up some contact lenses for me and while we were traveling, Lulu got a call from our shoe guy (he gets us prescription orthotics for us) called and we zipped up to his office which was close to where we were.
This story needs to be finished a little later. I am totally exhausted and planning on heading to bed. Tomorrow I will finish off my entry.
Just wanted to share something awesome with everyone. Last spring, I needed a new prescription for my glasses so I found SwapEyewear and they are totally awesome. The sliders, on the arms of the frames, are changeable. Not only are there tons of designs to choose from but you can make your own. I've been in contact with them and they are very customer satisfaction oriented. I lost a nose piece and they are sending me a set free of charge. I took the time to photograph all the new sliders I got this week. So far, the reactions are very positive. I also wanted to mention that the frames are metal free. They have different ones but I got the"all plastic" ones. Z sometimes grabs them and gives them a good chuck. The only time I had a problem with them was when Z accidentally sat on them and I misplaced the nose piece.
Lulu came by the shop (that's where I work) and while I was prep-ing made a spreader from some maple. It came out really well. From start to finish I think it took about 20 minutes to make. She needed to use a rasp and files and sandpaper. The belt sander helped and the buffer finished it off really nice. We are thinking that it might be something we should look into selling. It looks and feels really nice.
Here is a question to all the readers: If you were interested in wooden spreaders for butter or other shmears; how much would you spend on this spreader (6 1/2 inches)?
So working today on some more kimonos we were inspired. Recycling or should I say, Upcrafting one of my old sweatshirts, our little boy is now a proud owner of a fine "fishbone" kimono. Currently working with textiles is considerably more entertaining. Something to do with dressing Z with recycled materials.
I am always in search of new things to try on the web. The other day, I came across a pattern for a kimono shirt. When I was pregnant with Zander, I had found a kimono pattern on the Martha Stewart website. Unbeknownst to me, it was a complicated one - only because the instructions did not explain clearly how to do everything. I managed to finish it, but I have to say that the new pattern surpasses Martha's! Thanks to Amy Finlayson from Habitual for sharing her kimono pattern.
I managed to finish it, and make pants to go with it, in less than 2 days! I put the shirt on Z today and he looked so handsome. I can't wait to try on the whole outfit on him. It'll be so cute.
Update: I finished another kimono for Zander's girlfriend.
Today, I spent the day teaching 12-13 yr olds how to make sock monkeys - or should I say, sew. This was my 2nd year doing it and thought it would easier this time around. It is, in a way, but I still felt like I had to repeat my instructions a zillion times. I even had to inform the kids that I was "on break".
23 students, about half with some sewing experience and half without. Even the ones with experience needed a lot of repeated demonstration. As I was instructing them, it occurred to me that a video would have been a lot more helpful! I could have Mika videotape me demonstrating how to make the sock monkey from start to finish. It would also include how to do the basics like threading the needle, knotting the thread and doing a back-stitch. I could have zoom-ins of how things are supposed to look like. So that is my next project on the list of things to do.
Back to the workshop....by the time 3pm rolled around, most kids had finished their sock monkeys. There were all sorts of shapes, qualities and looks. Quite interesting. Some looked like they are about to fall apart - due to the fact that the stitches were not very good. Interestingly enough, I observed that most kids did not pull their stitches taut enough so that when their work was inverted to the right side, the stitches all showed on the outside. I took photos of some of the finished products to show.
One of the nice things about crafters is their need to share. I love the fact that we contacted someone from a site regarding a kimono design and they sent the pattern... of course, we aren't going to be using it for profit but it's going to look darn good on Zander for Chinese New Year (Yes, I know... Kimono = Japanese and not Chinese but it's going to look Good!) r
Lulu and I had been planning for a long time to carry children's wooden toys and other items that were currently not on the website. I had made a number of set of blocks for Zander before he was born and we sat down during a number of evenings and decoupaged them. We thought they were great! Lots of colour and great images from "Wired" magazine (we are both computer geeks at heart). Hoping people would buy them from us, we tried the out on ETSY... Sadly, nothing sold and we seriously had to rethink what we were going to do.
In the meantime, we gave Z the blocks. He absolutely loved them but, to our dismay he started to grind off the sides of the blocks with his teeth. Fearing complaints from future customers, we dropped the idea of selling them.
While we were traveling in San Francisco during the summer with Zander, we discovered the awesomeness of "Plan Toys" and "Melissa & Doug" toys. I think I was more entertained about the toys than our son. Plan Toys has great colours and a wonderful feel (all of their products are Eco-friendly and mostly made of wood). The M&D toys are great; very low-tech dynamic play sets and play-boards. We had already wanted a ton of the toys for our own son and it got me thinking about carrying it on the website. It was a perfect solution to our problem of expanding what we carry. M&D and Plan Toys spend millions on Research and Development, saving me the hassle of doing it. So, we got back to Toronto and I set up the accounts.
I know that there is more value to handmade products and there is a certain uniqueness to each one; I just didn't want to take a chance with someone elses kids. I am very happy with both companies. I wish I could sell more but I am not too worried.
For the most part, we try to work on the business as much as possible during the "off-season". Everyone probably experiences the same as we do; quiet times from January to August and then Crazy-Crazy from late August till end of the year. Here is an example: We are trying to make booties for a variety of sizes and increase the quality. We won't work on the jewelry for a while and the monkeys will only be made to order. It gives us a chance to test out new stuff as well.
News: the blog is going well and so is he Twitter account. It seems a little redundant to mention that but it is part of our whole process. I have to thank @firsttiger for encouraging us and helping us out whenever we have questions regarding anything technology. Also, our friends up north (@vocaltic) who provided us a little bit of transport for our items.
Lulu's latest love is making the 'ninja booties'. Their evolution has been a long one. We've given them out to friends to test, and we sold a few but they were still not perfect in our books. Lulu found at the fabric store a non-slip material which really elevated the usefulness of the shoes. Before that, they were more like house slippers which were really slippery. So, here is the explanation: they are made from reclaimed fabrics (jeans, polos, t-shirts, etc) that look good on the outside and brand new polar fleece on the inside and the bottoms are the non-slip material (white) which is brand new.
We've also had the challenge of figuring out the sizes. Zander has been our model so as he grows so do the sizes. Right now, like I mentioned in the previous blog entry, we've got patterns for size 5 and below. I've been asking Lulu if she would make me an adult pair which she's already tried but it came out too wide.
Not sure what we'll be working on today... I was thinking we should try to clean up the craft room
Waking to a new day, we decided that it would be a good day to work on our crafts. After breakfast we all headed down to the activity room/craft room and started working on the Ninja Booties while Zander played and we worked (actually Lulu was working and I was entertaining Z.) With Classical 96.3FM playing great music in the background, Lulu was able to finish off 2 pairs of shoes in a larger size... size 5, it's larger than Z's foot. As well, our friend Julia, wanted a couple of pairs for her 10 month old so, we worked on those as well. The ones with the blue star are hers.
I noticed that when I was cutting the material, I would leave my shears on the counter and they would disappear under some material. What I noticed was that I had some blank wall space and an extra kitchen utensil hanging bar. Two screws and I mounted all my shears and cutting tools (and the lint brush that I always lose.
lulu & mika craft and make many beautiful items. Always creating and working together.