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My love of cotton

One of the advantages of developing your own style with one specific technique is really spending quality time with your materials – learning them inside and out. 

I’ve been weaving for about 12 years now and somewhere in the first 3-4 years, I did a placemat project that called for carpet warp (sometimes known as rug warp). It’s a tough cotton typically used for rugs. I loved it! 

This type of yarn comes in a million colors and won’t break the bank. And as an added bonus, I have a great resource close by in Kalamazoo, Michigan! Great Northern Weaving offers lots of options for me and in a pinch, I can get in the car to drive the hour & a half to see the yarn in person. It’s a great arrangement! 

Working with the same fiber for so long has given me an appreciation for what it can and can’t do. Carpet warp is a work horse! I think in the many, many projects I’ve done, I have had a yarn break once. It’s so durable and sturdy – perfect for handbags! 

On the flip side, I’ve discovered that because of its sturdiness, it’s not ideal for wearables. It just doesn’t drape well or soften up enough. It’s also not ideal for fringe – it doesn’t keep its shape. If I am weaving a table runner, I either hem the fabric or twist the ends. That keeps the finishing work looking clean. 

One of the other considerations is the amount of shrinkage. For a plain weave/twill weave structure, it can easily shrink 10% in both directions. What is crazy is when you do a little Rep weave (Ripsmata), it can go as high as 20-25% for the length! I don’t find this to be a pro or con, it’s just the nature of the beast. 

I tend to use carpet warp for all my warps. The wefts will vary, depending on the desired end result. But I’ve found it to be very versatile and crazy colorful, which works perfectly for me! 

What are some of your favorite fibers or materials? 

Milestones 

Boy, it has been a week! And it’s only Thursday! This week has brought lots of firsts! And like most new things, they are exciting and terrifying all at the same time!

I was asked to be a vendor in a new store opening up in Detroit and the owners asked me to provide them with a line sheet. Now, in true entrepreneurial fashion, I said, “Of course I can provide you with a line sheet!” And I promptly opened up Google to find out what the hell was a line sheet!

I knew it was a tool used in wholesale, but had no clue beyond that! So guess what? I now have a line sheet!! Thankfully, I had been paving the way for this to happen prior to this week. Ultimately, I just had to sort out the format. I was ready with most of the information already! This was the first big mile marker of the week.

Next, I have been talking about creating pillows for awhile now and this week, I got the first samples! With any new product, there are usually lots of decisions to make and hiccups to work around. But, I’m very happy with the road we’re on and it’s going to be a mighty fine place to start!

I’ll have an official release for the pillows and other upcoming homegoods soon! But for now, I simply wanted to share the good news that more cool woven stuff is coming!! Whew!!

Stretching yourself in so many directions at once is thrilling! But a very strong part of me wants to just sit down and thread some yarns through the loom to balance it all out! Throw in more known elements to counteract the many unknowns, if you will.

It’s so exciting to grow the business! But, I’ve always been the girl who’d rather stroll down the hill versus ride my bike at top speed with my hair on fire. So balance is the key. Along with the support of great friends and family. Oh – and lots of faith!!

What big milestones are you working on this week?

Workaholic 

Are you a workaholic?

You can’t get there from here…

I live in a small Midwestern town up near Chicago and for those of you not familiar with the area, we jokingly say that we have 2 seasons – winter and road construction. Because I live close to some major thoroughfares, this is especially true! To make matters worse, we’ve recently had some sort of pipe burst on a local street right around the corner from where they are doing work on the railroad tracks. So, this month feels particularly frustrating because in many instances, you just can’t get there from here! 

But as I sit at a different set of railroad tracks multiple blocks away from where I need to be, watching a 1000-car train go by (I’m sure that’s an exaggeration, but it feels pretty accurate!), I began reflecting on how it all kind of fits in my life! (Is it just me, or does some of your quality thinking occur while waiting on a train?) My mission for this year and years to come is to be a better business girl. I feel like my weaving is in a good place now. So, it’s time to personally sort out the more foreign side of being an entrepreneur – marketing and selling. 

At the end of last year, I took a hard look at how things went. And it was clear that I needed to make a few changes. In an effort to be smart about those changes, I have enlisted some wonderful help from the wise, experienced folks at SCORE. (If you are looking for assistance with your small business, I can’t endorse them enough!) They are helping me focus on the end game and keeping me moving in the right direction! (I almost typed they are “keeping me uncomfortable”, which is also true! But, growing pains are worth it, right?) 

As a first step, I’ve been working with Seth and Justin at SERA Solutions who have been walking me through the tricky task of updating my website and adding a shopping cart! They have been brilliant! My goal is to really get into the game when it comes to online sales. I realize it may take awhile to truly get the momentum going. But, I’m excited to take steps in the right direction! (You are welcome to check out our progress on www.actoncreative.net!) 

Next up is to really hone in on where my people are and get in front of them – online, in person, etc. It all sounds simple on paper, but complex in reality. I have faith that between my mentors and myself, it’ll happen! 

So, as I am sitting in my Pontiac counting cars on the train, I’m thinking there are a lot of parallels. Except in this case, even with a number of detours, I’ll get there eventually! (And p.s., I’ve decided to enjoy every twist & turn along the way!) 

How about you? Any interesting detours lately? 

What’s weavin’?

It was a long, relaxing holiday weekend here, which was just what the doctor ordered! And what else was on the agenda but some quality weaving time! (I’m guessing not everyone had that on their agenda… just a guess…)

So, here’s where I am. Still working on my lipstick red/light blue necktie fabric. It’s slow, but steady work. At this point, it’s a little like eating pasta – every time you think you are almost done, the remaining bits multiply!

Handwoven fabric

Handwoven fabric

Handwoven fabric

Handwoven fabric
I’m hoping to finish it up soon! I can’t wait to show you the finished bolt!!

What are you working on this week?