Monday, June 30, 2008

It's been a while. Things get so busy for me in the summer, and unfortunately it's not with swimming and gardening dates. I don't have my production flow down. After almost 2 years I still feel very new at this. I spend a lot of time throughout the year doing research, getting marketing opportunities and materials together, etc., etc... And now my outdoor vending season is about to begin on July 6th (at the Norwich Farmer's Market) and I need new inventory!

I've been really inspired and recently started making clothespin bags in a new design. The construction is simpler but I'm very happy with how they look. Also on the docket are "Laundry Day Aprons" based on a traditional design I saw in The Apron Book by Ellen Anne Geisel: the whole front is one large pocket for holding clothespins. I've been using one I bought from a competitor (for research purposes, but actually I'm a total fan of hers: and it's a great aid at the clothesline. I'm hoping the societal change in attitudes about energy/fuel conservation will have more folks inspired to hang out their laundry this summer. Nothing makes a task more pleasant than using beautiful tools. That's where I come in - aiming to increase your domestic bliss. My signature hostess aprons trimmed with shirt collars will have a few new twists later in the season, too. Stay Tuned!

Other products new this year are billfolds (see illustration A, above) and small quilts. "Virtuous Baby Quilts" made from all post-consumer pre-loved fabrics and 100% organic cotton batting. Eco-parenting at it's most cozy and gorgeous! I have so enjoyed composing these quilts. Well, the layout is quite simple, it's choosing the fabric combination that I love, love, love. It's been sort of like putting a family together, or a band(!). Each fabric was formerly a piece of clothing or had similar significant history and definite personality and connotations for me. I'd love to do some of these as custom quilts for new babies out of special cast off clothing provided by loved ones. One of the great things is that these fabrics have been pre-washed several times so the baby's skin won't come in contact with any of the harsh sizing and dyes and other chemicals new fabrics have on them.

Prices have come down on a few items as I've decided not to offer them wholesale. In fact, I'm thinking about price structure in a whole new way after getting to know
I've been hanging out on Etsy a lot lately; looking around to see what else is offered, reading the success stories, figuring out how my products can fit into it all,and of course, constantly readjusting my own shop ( I'm very optimistic about the possibilities for Mountain Ash Design, especially when I read about folks who sell on Etsy full time. I've been finding myself less and less willing to drive around to vending opportunities. Putting more of my efforts into selling on Etsy is right in line with my low-impact-on-the-Earth mission for my business. I'll have to do a whole post on Etsy soon. I've become a real cheerleader.

This morning I'm waiting for a delivery of firewood and soon after that I'm off for a day of errands that might include buying a new dress - oh boy! It's been a while since I had a new dress, but Revolution in WRJ is offering a deal if you bring in a wedding invitation. I think today's the last day.
Have a great week and 4th of July and come stop by the Sunday Craft Fair at the Norwich Farmer's Market on July 6th!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Happy Dog

I love this bright spring green color so much. It's so great to live in Vermont at this time of year. I've been enjoying it at it's most joyful verdant expression on my walks with the dog these last few weeks. I think we may only have a couple more weeks of this effect as the sun shines through the leaves before they become thicker and darker green. This color has really inspired my work for most of the past year.

This wonderful bamboo fabric came from my neighbor (I had enough to also use in a few aprons). I've incorporated it, and some other choice pieces with variations on spring green, into some of the small quilts I've been making. Here are some pictures of the first batch of said quilts. The latest batch, including more green-and-blue than green-and-pink, is at the quilter's right now, but will hopefully be back in time for me to sew on the bindings and take to the consignment shop at the Vermont Quilt Festival June 27 - 29.

On the right:
Many interesting vintage and recycled fabrics and possibly the last stripe from my previous orange phase.

These green flowers were cut from what I can only think to call a Tiki shirt: It had the total vibe of a souvenir shirt you'd wear at the Tiki bar on a tropical vacation. Lost its shirt form along with a few other shirts to make this quilt, which is mostly borders around borders.

More along the pink-and-green theme, with some sweet equally Spring-like yellow flowers on the back, bordered in blue/yellow business shirting.

Are other folks excited about particular colors? Are there certain colors you are always looking for, drawn to, find yourself using or wearing? What's your ideal pallet?

News from the homestead (warning: the following contains several off-hand comments about chicken death):
Remember those cute little black balls of fluff I posted about in April? Here they are 7 weeks later - hanging out in the chill spot under the trees and getting a visit from the geese (guard animals). They are a pleasure to take care of: so good-looking and full of vigor and personality. Richard commented today, "I hope they're tender." This is an issue. The Cornish Cross Rocks ("staggering blobs of flesh" I call them) grew (the ones that lived) to be SO big and were mighty tasty and tender. Actually our "mortality rate" with them was about what the chick suppliers tell us to expect, only I want a zero mortality rate, until they are ready to harvest. On that day we can expect a 100% mortality rate! These hardier Kosher Kings might not be as tender. Our localvore/omnivore friends are all observing our experiment with interest. The chicken tractor is off to the right, on this little hill overlooking our place where we also put in a new garden this year. You can hear the birds singing in the woods behind.

... .... Care to comment on my mash-up of descriptions of idyllic rural life and morbid comments about farm animals? Can you relate? ...or no?
(It's okay if you can't. I'm certainly not here to preach a certain lifestyle, just to chronicle what's going on around here.)
So...Wish I would leave these food-raising tangents out of my craft blog?
Inquiring minds want to know!