Stocking up

So, after much dithering, I am starting to create stock for my planned shop – mainly bath puffs.

Bath puffs - upcycled acrylic, organic cotton, and recycled cotton + acrylic mix

Bath puffs – upcycled acrylic, organic cotton, and recycled cotton + acrylic mix

I have a variety of yarns to use – recycled cotton and new organic cotton (which will make very soft and absorbent puffs – more like a flannel than a nylon scrubby and ideal for the bath); upcycled acrylic (the closest I can get to the familiar nylon scrubbies and better for the shower); and a range of twines, including hemp, nettle and bamboo. I have come to accept that nylon is nylon and other fibres simply do not have the same characteristics. If you want a nylon bath puff, that is what you will have to buy. But if you want a greener option, then there are a range of fibres with a variety of properties that can easily be turned into a puff.

Woolly wash balls (left merino, right Shetland wool) and their little soap 'hearts'

Woolly wash balls (left merino, right Shetland wool) and their little soap ‘hearts’

My exploration of bathing products is not finished, however. Thanks to inspiration from my friend Anja (have you checked out her blog Free food for rats?) I am now creating what I am calling woolly wash balls – felted bars of soap*. I think that these will work well – they are self-soaping, but once the soap is used up you have a lovely felted scrubby or puff. I’m currently working with soap that was in my store cupboard, but I’m hoping to get hold of some lovely locally made soap. I’m also testing out different wools – I particularly like the idea of undyed wools (like the Shetland in the picture) and have just bought a variety of these to play around with… more on this in a later post.

The trouble with making things to sell is that I don’t get to keep them! So, I’m trying to have at least two projects on the go at all times – one for me and one for the shop. Compared to knitting a pair of socks (20 hours) a bath puff is relatively quick (haven’t timed it yet but perhaps 6-8 hours), so I should be able to make a couple of bath puffs for every pair of socks if I share the time out right. And felting is quicker, but a lot messier and not something you can just pick up whilst you’re watching the telly. At last I have decided where to start now…

-oOo-

* Which has led me to an exploration of soap… a whole new can of worms that, no doubt, I’ll write about in the future

Laughing my socks off

I have just returned from a few days in Devon with a small group of people who are all working towards gaining their diplomas in applied permaculture design. It was billed as a ‘support event’, which sounds like a potentially rather dull way to spend a weekend. However, nothing could have been further from the truth… I have not laughed so much for ages.

We laughed until we cried, we laughed until we were incoherent, sometimes we laughed because we were incoherent, we laughed over breakfast, lunch and dinner and late into the night. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and I think it might be addictive.

It sounds like an enjoyable way to spend some time but not very productive. The funny* thing is, though, that I have come back home inspired and with a significant amount of work done on my diploma portfolio. I did some work on my waste of space design, including a base map and an overlay for my year 1 planting along with some notes about this design. However, the most useful part of the weekend in terms of taking my portfolio forward was a discussion about my business plan.

A sock too far - no more knitting for nothing, it's my business

A sock too far – no more knitting for nothing, it’s my business

I want to generate a small income from making things. My original plan was to make and sell my knitted snails and other permaculture teaching tools, but that has rather stalled over the months and my interest has grown in items like the bath puffs and other items with a wider potential market. As a result of all the discussions, I have started to see first, that I don’t at the moment want to concentrate on teaching tools and, second, that I’ve had the wrong attitude to my creations. For example, until now, I have had a tendency to say ‘yes’ when people ask me to make something for them, even when they don’t offer to pay. I am currently knitting two pairs of socks for a friend (total knitting time about 40 hours)… and in exchange they will be very grateful and cook me dinner. It’s not exactly a fair exchange if crafting is to be my business and so it has to stop… it is a sock too far! So, the current project will be finished and handed over, and then the business will commence. I will begin by building up a stock and I will plan to sell that stock at an event… perhaps a Christmas fair.

My very wise friend Snuffkin (who was there over the weekend) has suggested what I say next time someone asks me to make something for them. She wrote to me just this morning:

I’ve just thought of the answer that isn’t ‘no’! It’s ‘yes of course I will, and they’ll be available for you to buy at **** Christmas Fayre so start saving your pennies’ !!!!!!!

Thank you Snuffkin… I can now relax about making things and I can complete my business design, start making my stock and head towards both an event and an etsy shop.

So, next time you’re stuck for a way forward, get together with some people you have something in common with and have a good laugh!

-oOo-

* Yes, the pun was intended… there were lots of those over the weekend too thanks to Corky who has a sort of punning Tourette’s syndrome!

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