Tie Dyeing for the New Baby

I haven’t made too many things exclusively for this new baby. I still have so much leftover from Felix, that we’re not lacking for much. Still, this new little one will be a person all their own, so a few thing just for him or her seems appropriate.

This past weekend was chilly and drizzly, which is strange for Kansas in July, and I got a Tulip tie dye kit on sale at Michael’s, so I enlisted my 10 year-old’s help in tie dyeing a few things for the new baby. Not only did we get to spend some quality time together, it helped get him invested a little bit in the prep for the new baby. He’s not exactly enthused about having another new sibling at the moment, but this was fun for both of us.

Tie Dyed Osnaburg for the Ring Sling
Tie Dyed Osnaburg for the Ring Sling

We started with three yards of osnaburg done in the classic spiral technique. It came out perfect! I’ll be making another ring sling out of this as soon as my rings come in.

When I was going through our baby clothes a couple of weeks ago, I found more than 10 plain white onesies. While I’m all for the practicality of a neutral onesie, I’m not typically known for dressing my babies practically or along gender lines, so we had a lot of fun tie dyeing some onesies in all colors.

Athrun dyed this one. It might be my favorite.
Athrun dyed this one. It might be my favorite.

This guy was created by rolling from top to bottom and using two rubber bands to divide it into three sections. Then Athrun absolutely saturated it in dye. I love it!

TieDyedOnesie2
This one reminds me of turtles

We dyed everything dry, and this guy was the only one that kind of repelled the dye. It’s a Disney brand organic cotton onesie, and I don’t think Felix ever wore it, so there’s the chance that it had never been washed. I’m not entirely sure, but I love how the dye came out anyway. This was accordian folded then sectioned into four, dyed alternately with lime and kelly greens.

TieDyedOnesie4
I love the color bleeds on this one.

As a contrast the the Disney onsie, this Gerber one was dyed using the same technique (just a different orientation) and really soaked up the dye!

It's a sunburst! Complete with sunspots!
It’s a sunburst! Complete with sunspots!

We used the bullseyes technique on this one, and the colors are so much fun.

The clean up onesie
The clean up onesie

Included in the kit was a sheet of plastic to protect your work surface, which worked great, but we were left a bunch of dye drips all over the plastic when we were done. (The instructions say to cover the plastic with paper towels to soak up drips, but we don’t use paper towels, so we improvised.) I used one last onesie to soak up the dye. Way better than paper towels. Baby will look like they helped dye their own wardrobe.

 

And just for fun, when I went to edit photos for this post, I had a large amount that accidentally looked like this:

wrap fabric plus belly and feet
I can only see my feet because the baby has started to drop

At 35 weeks, the belly is getting in the way of everything.

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Decluttering: Studio Progress

Through this whole decluttering process, my beautiful studio became a dumping ground for all things that fell into the “art supplies” category. In my house, that’s a large category: candle-making supplies, misc. soap stuff, yarn, looms, wool, markers, fabric, paint. Anything that didn’t go in the kid’s art supplies got tossed in my studio to be sorted all at the same time.

Getting through it all was a huge job. It has taken multiple passes through my little 8 x 15 sun room, but over the last few days, I have made major progress.

Here’s the Before:

The other side of my studio, filled with badly stacked boxes, leaving just enough room for my bike and indoor trainer.
The other side of my studio, filled with badly stacked boxes, leaving just enough room for my bike and indoor trainer.

One whole side of the room was covered in boxes and the bike trainer was set up in here, taking up the rest of the floor space. I couldn’t get to my sewing table because of the bike, and my desk got so covered up in stuff that didn’t belong anywhere else, that there was no using that either.

Here’s what it looks like now:

From the doorway, a place to spin
From the doorway, a place to spin (and mint from the garden tied to the ceiling fan to dry)

How I Cut My Art Supplies in Half

  • Paired down my yarn so it would fit into my large set of rubbermaid drawers and put that in the closet. This still leaves me with TONS of yarn. I’m a little afraid I’ll never knit it all.
  • Paired down knitting needles, sewing notions, weaving supplies and shipping materials so that they fit in one of the smaller set of rubbermaid drawers. That fit in the closet also.
  • Also in the closet are my Ashford SampleIt! loom and my homemade Inkle loom, my Foldio.
  • Sorted through all of my WIPs and frogged the ones I was never going to complete and rewound the yarn
  • Organized my spinning fiber and accessories into two baskets. If I can see it, I am more likely to spin it.
  • There is a third set of small rubbermaid drawers in the corner where the iron is living. Inside are candle making supplies and a few misc. packaging and shipping supplies like raffia and tissue paper that didn’t really fit anywhere else.
  • Threw out any paints, ink, or markers that were old and dried out.

Getting rid of any art supplies is an emotional journey. To admit that I was never going to use some old, crusty fabric paint again was a hard decision. And trying to part with spinning fiber? Gut-wrenching. But in the end, I only kept the things I really loved and actually saw myself using in the near future.

 

The Sewing and Art Table
The Sewing and Art Table

I contemplated putting the sewing machine away and making this into a soaping table, but I came to the conclusion that this room is too small to house everything, though that would be fun to do someday! There are a few projects that could contribute to my soap business where I could take advantage of the sewing machine and the printing supplies. Little draw string bags with my logo on them maybe?

The desk
The desk

I’m still using my old Luke’s Diner table as my desk. I love the clean white work space. It’s perfect for spreading out with notebooks and devices, and when I keep it clean, it’s easy to clear off and use as a daytime photo backdrop. In fact, the green bowl in the lower right hand corner of the has a pile of stuff waiting for me to photograph.

Not pictured is a wire wrack next to the desk stuffed with notebooks and business guides and my file folders. I’d like to get a bookshelf for that eventually, but right now we’re working with what we’ve got.

I’m so excited to have this room in working order again. It’s lined on three side with windows, and has beautiful natural light. I hope to spend plenty of time in here over the next few months as I get my soap business off the ground and continue writing.

My next project for this room is decorate it. I found a photographer on etsy, and I’d love to cover my walls with her work.

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Avoiding a Pinterest Pregnancy

I love pinterest. It’s my go to website when I’m searching for new recipes, new workouts, business tips, or just want to look at something pretty for a little while. Pinterest is the best way I’ve found to find new blogs to follow and knitting patterns I would have missed on ravelry. Lately though, my pinterest feed has turned into a really negative place to be.

It began when I started my August Baby board. When I learned I was pregnant with this new little one, I was more active than I ever had been. I was walking, doing yoga, and had just started karate lessons. I was having a blast and wanted to continue that activity safely into my pregnancy. I did drop the karate, but in the interest of continuing my fun, I pinned a couple things about working out safely while pregnant, and in the postpartum period.

More pregnancy-related pins showed up on my feed, and I clicked on a few of them, usually something about morning sickness or ways to help reduce ankle swelling. They were benign enough at first, but then the tone began to change. I was getting lists of ten-must do’s during the third trimester, what I have to pack in my hospital bag, and worst of all, pin after pin after pin showing full-term pregnant bellies as a before picture next to a sculpted-ab after photo. Next to those were pins about how to avoid ugly parts of pregnancy, like gaining weight anywhere but in your belly. Next to those, how to avoid stretch marks.

The theme was becoming pretty clear. Pinterest was telling me that the way my body looked was the most important part of my pregnancy. Oh, there were still the “Do this and you’ll have an easy natural labor” pins mixed in there with a couple actually helpful breastfeeding pins, but for the most part, my pinterest feed mostly cares about how skinny I’ve stayed this pregnancy.

Guess what? I haven’t.

Since I didn’t start out skinny, I’m not all that bothered. Do I still exercise? Yes. Do I do work out to be skinny? No. I do it to be strong. To keep up with my kids. To not have to ask for help when I want in the peanut butter or the sauerkraut. (No, I don’t eat them together.) I exercise so I sleep better, so that my back and hips don’t hurt like hell when I have to sit at my desk all day. I exercise because I like competing with myself on my step-count each day, just for the sheer sport of it.

In fact, this whole working out thing is pretty darn selfish of me.

But that’s just it. I do it for me.

I have enough to worry about what with growing a human and preparing my family for his or her arrival to be constantly concerned with how gross other people think my body is, pregnant or not.

34 Weeks
34 Weeks

And honestly, I’m feeling pretty darn cute.

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Refreshing Peppermint Sugar Scrub

My giant mint plant makes my tin look tiny.
My giant mint plant makes my tin look tiny.

Most of the year, I am a lavender kind of girl. I love the smooth, relaxing, floral scent, but when the weather turns hot and muggy, and I spend a lot of time outside getting dirty in the garden, at the end of the day I really only want one thing: cooling, refreshing peppermint. Peppermint soap is delicious, but after a long day of working in the sun, nothing is more luxurious than a peppermint sugar scrub.

I love sugar scrub. I use the recipe I’m sharing today on my face daily. It’s also perfect to rub into your hands and forearms if you type or knit a lot, or, you know, constantly.

My go to carrier oil for sugar scrubs is coconut. It’s easy to work with and not too heavy to use as a facial cleanser, while still being an effective moisturizer. I like to use a fine-granule sugar in my face scrubs. Regular old table sugar is just about perfect.

This recipe fills one of my 4 oz metal tins, but a good rule of thumb is to use twice as much sugar as coconut oil to fill whatever container you think is pretty or practical. A container with a lid is best to keep water out of your scrub, and you should always store your scrub outside your shower.

Refreshing Peppermint Sugar Scrub

1/3 C coconut oil, softened slightly but not melted
2/3 C sugar
7-10 drops peppermint essential oil

Stir together in small mixing bowl, then transfer to tin

To Use: wet skin, scrub into skin, rinse, pat dry.

Don’t want to make it? This product will be available for purchase form Tiny Dino Soapworks soon!

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Catching Up, A List

1. Being pregnant is hard.
2. I want to sleep all of the time, but constant sleep is not conducive to the doing of the stuff.
3. Like gardening

We might get some zucchini!
We might get some zucchini!

4. Those blackberries tho

blackberries2016
Our blackberry bush has gotten massive this year, and look at all those potential future berries.

5. I’ve been dropping hints here and there about starting a soap company. I am ever so slowly building an inventory, but see #1 for more info. But here’s a sneak peak.

From left to right: french vanilla soap, sandalwood soap, piney-woodsy-manly soap, earl grey soap, and lavender bath salts
From left to right: french vanilla soap, sandalwood soap, piney-woodsy-manly soap, earl grey soap, and lavender bath salts

6. I’m hoping to launch the soap company before the baby comes (in 11ish weeks!), but if not, look for it before the holidays. (And if you’re interested in my pumpkin spice soap, let me know soon, so I know how much of it to make this summer!)

7. De-cluttering ground to a halt, because we had to do all of the things in April and May. We started tackling the two last big projects this past weekend: the big kid room and my studio. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

8. I am preparing a query to send to an agent for the book I wrote last year.

9. I realize I should probably try more than one agent, but baby steps.

10. While I didn’t set out to write a romance, my first book project turned out to be one. While thinking about a second project, I thought I might try to write a romance on purpose, so I found a book on romance novel writing.

11. As I’m reading this book, a lot of the advice felt familiar, and I remembered that I have a degree in creative writing, and you know, have apparently already written a romance novel, so I’m probably doing OK. (I read the whole thing anyway.)

12. It’s not a bad book if you’re just starting out though. Plus, she uses illustrations from a bunch of different books, and some are so intriguing I now have a whole new list of books to look up.

13. I am kind of excited to plan another novel project.

14. Except, I’m not so good at the planning part.

15. I love writing by the seat of my pants, but it’s not very efficient, so I am attempting to outline my next book before I start writing. It kind of sounds like torture.

16. In between being writerly, building a new business, and you know, growing a baby, I’ve been doing a little knitting.

Action shots once there's a baby to wrap in it, I promise.
Action shots once there’s a baby to wrap in it, I promise.

17. I wanted to make this new wee one a nice, heirloom quality baby blanket that didn’t use all of my brain power. Enter the twinkle blanket.

18. It’s knit out of 100% merino, undyed, and I am in love.

What have you been up to? (And what kind of soap do you want?)

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Decluttering: Paper

Before I started going through all of my papers, I never would have claimed to be a paper hoarder. I thought I was pretty good at throwing old junk mail out a couple times a week and filing things that are important…and forgetting that a lot of time I tend to shove paper in file just to get it out of my sight. Now that I’ve been through it, I have to admit that I had a problem.

Case in point:
awful paper

Did I even know what I kept in this file? Not at all. It was just junk that had probably accumulated on my desk. I think I found one useful file in all of this. Same for my other three file boxes. I found some business receipts, some old W-2s, and other once useful documents, but mostly, I found junk. Wadded post-its, old syllabi, the orientation folder from when I worked at Target from approxiamately 5 minutes back in 2008… Readers, I found Japanese homework. I haven’t studied Japanese since 2005. I don’t even know how that got filed since I didn’t buy that folder until I started Tiny Dino Studios in 2011.

And my file folders weren’t even the worst part. Check out my craft drawer:

messy paper in messy drawers

1. The drawers are just plain messy, but I’m not organizing yet, I’m still in the decluttering stage.
2. What even is that jumble? I don’t even know.

I think things like this are a symptom of not spending enough time in my studio. I give myself just long enough to complete my project, but not enough time for clean up, so when I go in to start something new, I just shove the leftover stuff from last time out of sight. Also, I don’t have a trash can in my studio. I really should remedy that.

I don’t have any pretty pictures to show you, because even though my files boxes are functional and I know where all my important stuff is, the rest of my studio is still a disaster. The files boxes and binders are waiting patiently on my desk for their turn to find a home.

What was important in this project was gather all of the paper into one place and sorting it one piece at a time. Like the books, it was a bigger job than I expected. It took me a few hours to find and rifle through all that. In the end, I threw away four bags of what was essentially trash that I had been carrying around for years, which was extremely satisfying.

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Decluttering: Books

Books are the number one hardest thing for me to get rid of. I thought it would be yarn or fiber arts related goods, but selling my drum carder taught me that I’m just fine without it. Books though. For more than half my life books have been my identity–I was a reader, a writer– it was mandataory that I have a large book collection.

Our bookshelves were messy
Our bookshelves were messy

Because of that, it took me a few weeks after purging my clothes to make it over to my bookshelves. That’s right, shelves. I have one in the bedroom, two in the living room, and my husband has three in his office. (I didn’t touch his books, and he flat out refused to get rid of them on his own. He even rescued a few volumes from my discard pile.)

Yes, that is a doorknob and a half-knit sock you see.
And the tall one had become a place to keep things out of toddler’s reach.

I had two rules. in discarding.
1. I had to really love the book, and want to reread it and / or use it in future in order to keep it.
2. If I loved it, but had the eBook, I had to get rid of the paper copy.

For whatever reason, I didn't think this would be such a huge job when I started...
All of my books sorted into piles

Out of about 300 books, I only ended up keeping 100, most of which fit on the one bookshelf in the bedroom. The rest are all art/business related books, so they will live in the studio, and even then, there are only about a dozen. Most of the books I am gettind rid of are old books I either couldn’t or didn’t want to sell back to the college bookstore. For some reason, when I was in college, I wanted to keep all of my English-major related books.

He's been very helpful through this whole clutter culling process, so much so that I've accidentally thrown away some important thing Felix decided we didn't need anymore.
Felix is helping sort books.

I haven’t cracked a single one of them in the five years since I graduated. Obviously, I’m over it.

Not surprisingly, the books I kept were by the authors I love the most, John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Thomas Hardy, The Brontes, etc. The rest are about gardening and farming–all of the things that make me dream and give me joy.

Secret, most of the discards are still in boxes on my back porch as I slowly find places to donate them.
The Final Sort. The keepers in the front, the discards in the back

One surprise was that I kept only two knitting books. I am discarding some gorgeous pattern books (interested in snatching one up? Stay tuned, I’ll have them up for grabs in a few days), because I almost always knit from indie patterns on ravelry. Downloading patterns takes up so much less space.

Now I have all of my books in one place, organized by author and subject, and easy to find.

There are roughly 60 books here. Most of the young adult books and the Harry Potter books went to live in the kids' room.
The end product

I expected to me be sad to see so many volumes go, but I feel lighter for having pared down my collection to only my favorite books. And, next time we move, we’ll have 200 fewer books to haul.

What are the books you can’t live without?

PS, You might have noticed that I didn’t blog about purging my closet. It’s always been easy for me to get rid of clothes, I have little emotional attachment to most garments, and generally only buy what I need to get by for awhile. I would like to be more intentional about what I bring into my collection in the future, but being in the middle of a pregnancy, clothes only cross my mind when I complain about how all my maternity pants are still too big, and all of my regular pants are way too small.

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Mission: Tidy & Organize

When we moved into our house a little over two ears ago, we thought we were going to have to much open space. We were moving from a 900 sq ft apartment to a 1900 sq ft house. There was no way our stuff would fill it up, and I was worried about the house feeling empty.

dinning room before
our dining room the first morning we had the keys

We were so dead wrong.

Turns out, we had our apartment so jam packed that we should not have worried.

dinningroom after
our dining room on our first weekend in the house

One mistake I made when moving in was to not take any time off work to get the house unpacked and put away. I wanted to, but I was pregnant. Any days I took off would count against my paid maternity leave, so I hoarded those days. That means I put our stuff away here and there, not really finding a permanent spot for anything, because I was cutting in to my usual clean up and maintenance time, but we were making it work.

new studio wide
my studio the first month we lived here

Fast forward two years, a few holidays, and one toddler later, and our place is a never ending mess. The clutter has taken over. Between toys, coats, bags, books, hobbies, etc, I feel like I will never get the place under control. I never feel like my house is clean, because I have to organize and tidy before I can clean.

I don’t mind cleaning. I loathe tidying. I like everything to have a place, or to get the hell out of my way. I have better things to do than constantly be spit shining my home. I would like to live, thank you very much.

Sometime a year or more ago, I found Mari KondoThe Life Changing Art of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I bought it and didn’t read it because I wanted an excuse to not put in the work. Then I kept seeing it pop on various blogs, and the little bits I saw about it reminded me why I bought it. So I cracked it open, finally. The book is all about getting rid of all the things that clutter your house and your life and finding places for all of he things that matter most.

Kondo encourages the reader to recognize when an object has fulfilled its purpose in their life, even if that purpose was to only give joy when they bought it. Then thank it for that joy, and get rid of it. I love the idea of acknowledging the emotions inanimate objects invoke in us. Emotion and potential are why I hold on to things I am never going to use, and saying it aloud is an affirmation of those feelings that lead me to hang on.

I want to purge this house of all of our clutter and find a place for everything before this baby gets here. Since we’ll be moving bedrooms around in preparation, the KonMari method feels like it makes sense for us and our house.

current state of my studio work table
current state of my studio work table

I’ve already started on the clothes, and am mentally preparing myself for the books. I probably spend more money on books than anything else. These days they are mostly eBooks, but I still collect my fair share of paper books, and they have accumulated.

The other side of my studio, filled with badly stacked boxes, leaving just enough room for my bike and indoor trainer.
The other side of my studio, filled with badly stacked boxes, leaving just enough room for my bike and indoor trainer.

I’ll be sharing my progress every Monday to help keep myself accountable. Wish me luck!

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Thoughts on Paying Yourself by the Day

This video showed up on my facebook feed last week, and I shared it on the TDS Facebook page, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since.

How have I never heard this before? Do you know how long I’ve been doing this? Maybe if I’d gone to art school?

I love how simple he makes pricing work for sale. It’s got me rethinking the prices I’d been playing with for the upcoming Tiny Dino Soapworks. Especially since I’ve already been working on how I would batch my oils for soaps and body butters, etc. to save time spent measuring oil for each new product.

Let’s play with some theoretical numbers for a moment, shall we?

If I wanted to figure out how much to charge for a bar of soap, the first thing I do is figure my cost of materials. Say a 10-bar batch costs $15 to make, including packaging. That means cost of materials on each bar is $1.50. If I were paying myself by the day, and could theoretically make 30, 10-bar batches of soap in a 10 hour day, that means I could make 300 bars in a day. That means I would pay myself .$60 per bar, raising total price of the bar to $2.10.

This is far too low. Selling your soap for that little will run you out of business, especially if you’re making closer to 3 batches of soap a day. (If you’re at a point where you’re making all 300 bars, I hope you’ve scaled up from a 10-inch mold!)

If I were to figure the price hourly, still paying myself $50/hour, I still get the cost of $2.10/bar. However, if I figure the pricing model I proposed in Why You Need Wholesale Pricing First, this number would be my starting point, and not my end point. My wholesale price per bar would be (rounding up) $4.25, the retail price $8.50.

Those are numbers I am far more comfortable with for recouping expenses.

If I were still selling handspun yarn, I would never be able to sell it using this method. I could probably spin one, maybe two skeins of yarn in one day, unless I was doing super chunky stuff. That means 1 skein would cost roughly $275. Usually, I was lucky if I could sell the yarn I spun for twice the price of materials at around $50.

For soaping and spinning, I’m not sure this model works, even though I consider those artisan crafts. However, for woodworking, for sewing, I could see how it could work very well.

What do you think? Which pricing model works best for your handmade business?

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Coffee Melt and Pour Soap

coffee soap

While I usually prefer cold process soap, I played around with some melt and pour soap I had laying around this weekend. I cleaned up from breakfast on Sunday morning then chopped it up, melted it down, poured a bit of leftover coffee in it (from the pot, not my cup) and sprinkled the top with grounds for some good ol’ exfoliation. I love how most of the grounds stayed on the surface, but a few floated to the bottom of the mold. Bonus, no added fragrance to this soap, just the caffeinated goodness of the coffee.

The thing about melt and pour soap is that it is deceptively easy. Someone else has already mixed the lye solutions with the oils, so I get to skip the part where I have to clean my kitchen, take it apart, cover it with newspaper, done a mask, goggles, and gloves, and then clean everything again once I’m done. With melt and pour, I put parchment over my cutting board, chop, melt, grab whatever essential oil or additive and be done. The drawback, I can’t control what oils are used in the soap or in what percentages. I have yet to find a melt and pour base that doesn’t use palm oil, which isn’t my favorite.

If you’re interested, I used about a pound of Brambleberry’s LCP White Melt and Pour Base and about 2 oz. of coffee. I got three 4 oz. bars like pictured and three 2 oz. bars from a different mold. Any white melt and pour base should yield similar results, but I particularly like the LCP, which stands for “Like Cold Process”, so it’s mostly lacking that yucky sticky feeling so many melt and pour soaps have.

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