Sunday, November 28, 2010

Making cheese

I tried to make mozzarella cheese for the third time yesterday... the first couple of times I got the temperatures wrong (we use Celsius here and all the recipes I found on the internet use Fahrenheit, duh!), it took me a while to figure out what was wrong. This time it sort of worked, but I think I might have overcooked it a bit. Instead of getting that nice soft ball of yummy cheese, mine was a bit harder, perfect for  melting over pizzas, not so perfect for the tomato-mozzarella salad I had in mind. I used a great little tutorial on this cool blog, by reading it it looks so easy, I guess I'm going to have to practice a bit!
Mmmmm... Fresh mozzarella

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blue is for boys, pink is for girls

I had this interesting discussion yesterday with my midwife yesterday, about why pink and blue are the "designated" colors for respectively girls and boys. According to a friend, pink used to be the color for boys in the 19th century! My midwife has this book filled with little facts about birth, babies, etc... You wouldn't believe the meaning of these colors. I was a bit shocked at the misogyny behind it! So a few centuries back, the colors chosen for babies to wear were supposed to protect them. So because boys were considered superior they chose blue which represents protection from heaven. It didn't say what pink stood for though. I've never been a big fan of color coding babies and toddler, now I am even less!
Peapod cocoon by May22

Now that I am in the third trimester of my pregnancy (all going well so far!), I've also started doing a bit of reading, to refresh my memory and get ready for the birth. Have you ever wondered why women are expected to give birth lying on their backs? If you have had a birth experience and had freedom to move around and choose a comfortable position while in labour, you'll know that it is probably the most uncomfortable position to be in! Well it turns out a 17th century french doctor, Francois Mauriceau,  is credited for coming up with that idea. Because of course he knew what it feels like to be in labour pain... As read on "Vaulted Treasures":
He advocates a reclining position in bed rather than sitting on a birthing stool or chair for delivery. This “French Position” permitted the obstetrician to more easily examine the patient and perform procedures. Its use quickly spread in Europe and North America.
Why a man should dictate what is best for women is beyond me. I am not an extreme feminist, but I do believe in the power of instinct, and when it comes to a woman's business, who should be better placed than the woman herself to know what feels best? 

Monday, November 22, 2010

And I forgot to mention

We just happened to walk past Robyn Matheson's relocation sale too, and although the clothes are not my style, there were lots of fabric seconds that were! It's probably a good thing we're going back to Gisborne today!
Tahi in one of his dinosaur singlets

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wellington op shop finds

We are in Wellington for a few days, so of course we had to do a bit of op shopping. We went to one I hadn't been to before, the Salvation Army in Johnsonville and found some cool clothes! Tahi found two dinosaur singlet, so he was stoked and I found a pair of comfy pants, a Witchery woolen cardigan and a Max organic cotton cardigan. The quality of clothing is definitely a level up from Gisborne... Yay!
Max organic cotton cardigan, super nice and soft!
I played around this morning and modeled my new finds... funny!

 Being in summer mode in Gisborne, we came down with very little warm clothes and I didn't expect it to be so chilly, so it was lucky to find some nice cardis. Since this winter I've had a renewed interest in them, and I'm slowly accumulating some nice finds in my wardrobe. Speaking of which, it's "Embellish knits month" at Grosgrain, worth checking out!
Witchery woolen cardigan

Joys of summer

Gisborne is getting hot, it's been so nice to hang out in the garden and at the beach. Tahi's been loving playing in the water! Josh was back for a week end, so here are a few photos of our summer beginnings.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sneak preview and giveaway

I've finally taken some photos of the new merino singlets I'd made for the Baby Expo, now I just need to load them onto my shop(s). Most will be on Etsy but I might also put some on Felt. And there is also one in this month's giveaway for one lucky kid!

The sizing ranges from 3month to 2 year old. The color and pattern will be free to choose, depending on what's available.
To enter this giveaway, four options:
- Follow this blog
- Post and link about this giveaway on your blog
- Heart me on Etsy (and tell me which items you like too!)
- Facebook or Twitter

Post a comment to let me know how you've entered, each option is worth one entry, don't forget your email so I can contact you. Entries close on the 10th of December (which should leave enough time to post the winning singlet before Xmas).

Good luck!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Working on a deadline - part 3

In this last part I will talk about the benefits of "mass" production. It seems odd to be using this term when talking about handmade.
Mass production can also be termed Fordism, after Henry Ford who is credited to have come up with the concept and created some of the first assembly lines. The idea was to produce inexpensive goods coupled with high wages to workers. That was before globalization encouraged companies to shift overseas and pay miserable wages to workers in developing countries. Modern big (and smaller) brands have no consideration for craft(wo)manship, the beauty of a product well made and the welfare of the people who make them. Let's face it, the only thing that interests them is how much money will end up in their bank account. This seems so far removed from the emergence of the handmade movement and individuals starting their own little ventures, making and selling their wares locally or on the web, Fordism is the last thing you'd have in mind when defining your business and philosophy.
Yet, we can all do with a bit of Fordism. Not the selling yourself cheap part, but optimizing your production costs. We all want to sell at a fair price without undercutting ourselves. Choosing to make in a mass production way can seem soul-less but has its advantages.
Henry Ford Quote by YourVinylAnswer

- We can make things faster. I wanted to make enough singlets for my stall so that people would have a choice of colour and size. So I cut out all the fabric first, then did one pass of sewing, one pass of pinning, another pass of sewing and finally screen printed them all. I saved a lot of time because I didn't have to go back and forth between the cutting stage and the sewing stage. As mentioned in part 1, I was able to "chain sew", sew all the bits of fabric in one continuous thread. Each singlet individually would probably take me 45mn/1hr to make each, I made 48 of them in about 20hrs.

- We are more efficient. If you repeat the same task 48 times, you are more likely to get better and faster at it. And I found I was less likely to make mistakes.
End Mass Production by DeadWorry

With this I will end my third and last post on the subject. I hope some people will find it useful. I wrote this based on my experience and observations, and obviously what works for me might not work for everyone. I think the most important to keep in mind when you are making and crafting with a deadline such as a market, a wholesale order or simply a custom order, is to know yourself and what works for you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Working on a deadline - part 2

Now that your work and head space are clear and organized, it's time to get busy!

2- Allocate time

- I found that timing myself was quite useful. If I know how long it takes to achieve each task, I can plan ahead and know when I can expect the finish product to be ready, or how many hours I need to put in to be ready for D-day. In my case, the latter applied and I knew I would have to work a couple more hours a day to get everything done. It's also a good way to work out how much your work is worth.

- Set yourself deadlines and goals. I find that setting a time when each step has to be finished helps me get through it all.
Wood Clock Faces with a Salvador Dali Twist by porkchopshow

- Set a time for work and a time for "play". I made it a rule that I don't work when Tahi's awake. I used to dash into my sewing room if I had had a spare 10mn when he seemed to be playing and having a good time on his own. But it never worked, and he'd always end up coming looking for me then wanting to play with my tools or whatever he could find in the sewing room (scissors being a favourite). Plus I didn't feel like I was being very productive with all this stopping and going and Tahi wasn't getting the quality time he deserved. So now I use our time together to play or do house chores, so when he's finally in bed and asleep I can focus on my work. This way I get one or two hours of uninterrupted time to myself.

3- Delegate

Don't be shy to ask for help. If you have family or friends around you trust and that are willing to give you a hand, say yes! It will make less stressful for everyone and some people love being involved in projects. This time round Josh was away with the car, so I asked a good friend to look after the boy and some other friends lent me their car. It would have been near impossible without their valuable help!

I hope you find this useful, and stay tuned for part 3!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Working on a deadline

Being self employed can be great and is ideal for people who need flexibility in their schedule and find it easier to run their business themselves. This involves making your own decisions and overseeing the entire process your product goes through. It is very rewarding yet stressful at times.
While I was getting ready for the Baby Expo last week, I thought about all the steps I was taking to efficiently and productively sew some new stock (which sold very well by the way!). More often than not, we mums don't only have to deal with our business and time is very limited. I usually get about two working hours a day. Last week I stretched it to four, but felt exhausted on Sunday.

I compiled a list of hot tips for busy mums. It is a bit long, so I will split it into three or four posts. Here's part 1:

1- Get organized!
To me planning is crucial to successfully get through a big workload. It may seem like a waste of time when you sit down and brainstorm for half an hour but that half hour could save you so much time later on!

- To make sure I don't forget anything, I usually have a list written on a piece of paper lying around and just take notes during the day of anything I might think of. This way, I don't have to "block" some of my precious time and I can write things as they come (I have a terrible memory, the sort where you walk into a room and forget what you went there for!). I have to admit though, I'm a bit of a list freak!

DIY notebook by TalkoftheTown
- Clean up your workspace. A well organized workspace where all your tools are in place, nothing is lying on the floor and you have free space to spread out later on will also save you time and minimize the risk of mistakes. When you're in a rush, you don't have time to stop and think where you last saw your pair of scissors or where you threw that piece of fabric that would be so perfect for making that cute top!

"Keep Calm And Carry On" poster by KeepCalmPosters
- Be methodical. I've never been a big fan of mass production. I like making each garment one at a time but when I'm trying to get lots of stock made in a short amount of time, this method doesn't work. So I get out the fabrics and patterns I will be using and proceed to cut everything. I cut various fabrics and sizes. It may take me days, but doing it all in one go means I don't have to keep going back and forth between the sewing machine and the cutting table (actually the floor for me!). It also means I can sew all the fabrics that require one color of thread together, and once they are all cut I chain-sew (haha) everything. I end up with a string of bits of fabric, which I then pin together and keep going until they are all made. It's tedious and boring but much faster than making one or a few items at a time.

In the next post I will talk about how to use your time efficiently. I would love to get some feedback and hear how other people manage to get through their workload!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The day after

It's Monday and I'm glad last week's over. The Baby expo was a success, with people cueing at ten to 10 to get in, in typical Gisborne style. This is one thing that still surprises me here, when there is a bargain to be had, people come rushing. There will be cars circling around houses where garage sales are as early as 5.30 in the morning, no kidding!
The Gisborne Baby expo was giving out 500 bags of goodies, so people rushed to the doors so they didn't miss out!
Over the Rainy Clouds by Carambatack

This made for a very busy morning, things slowed down around lunchtime then got quieter in the afternoon. I had spent the week making some merino singlets and they were by far the best sellers. Josh is back this week end with our camera, so I will be able to post some photos soon and update my shop at the same time. I hadn't finished putting labels on though, and left it to the last minute, thinking I could do it while setting up and not expecting people to turn up so early. Big mistake! I was still putting labels on at 10.30 with people checking out the stall and a friend helping me put the singlets up on the racks... not a good look! Good lesson to lear for next time.
Tahi spent the day with my good friend and her daughter, which I am so grateful for and without which my day would have been much much harder. He was happy and chirpy when I picked him up.
That night I couldn't wait to get to bed! The next day I woke up and spent the day in a daze, just pottering around the house (and made marmalade jelly). It felt a bit like a hangover, without the bad headaches. So this week I am taking it slow and getting some rest!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The rush

Josh is away for 7 weeks, and I've got 3 days left to get some stuck ready for the baby expo in Gisborne. Nothing's changed since school days so I left lots of making to the last minute (or week) and I am now rushing to get everything done. It seems deadlines have always been the way to get me busy!
Anyway, I'm planning on catching up with some sleep next week, and if you happen to be in Gisborne make sure you drop by!