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First Spring Flowers

A good piece of advice my grandmother gave me: wait to see what pops up in the garden in your new home before you start digging around.

Now that I have a home with a yard, I see what she means. Moving in during fall meant I only got to see the tail end of what was going on in my yard. Now that spring is starting to creep in, unexpected flowers are popping up, too. And just in time… winter was really wearing out her welcome.

I recognize the crocuses, and they are a marvelous splash of color. But there are some things starting to pop up that are a mystery to me, too. Can anyone tell me what these great curled leaves belong to?

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Tiny Buttons

Tiny Buttons

I’ve been making a pile of tiny covered buttons lately.

I have a very hard time parting with even the smallest scraps of fabric. Of course, that means I have a seriously out-of-hand collection of scrap fabric. I’ve starting turning some of it into these tiny buttons, which will ultimately become push pins.

I’ve also used bits of scrap fabric to make appliques. My pile is big enough, though, that I need to come up with some more good projects for scrap fabric. Any ideas?

Also, I’ve been loving this Pandora station lately, built around the Kate Nash’s song “Merry Happy.” You should check it out.

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Another Quilt-in-Progress

Finishing the Zig Zag Quilt really motivated me to tackle some other works-in-progress I’ve had hanging around for much too long. I have had the squares cut out for this quilt I’m making for my own bed for almost as long as the Zig Zag Quilt has been hanging around.

I sewed all the blocks into long strips, and then joined the blocks with thin strips of cream fabric. As you can see in the photo, Yoda is helping, as he usually does with my quilts. I did this a couple weeks ago, and have since been distracted with another project, which I hope to be posting about soon. I still need to make and attach some borders of cream fabric around the edges of the quilt, then actually quilt it and bind it, but at least I’m making progress! It’s an actually top now, instead of just a collection of fabric squares. Too bad I can’t Yoda to help with cutting out the borders I still need…

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Zig Zag Quilt Finished

Zig Zag Quilt

Finished. Finished. Finally.

Remember this post, from way back in 2009, when I said I’d started a Zig Zag Quilt? Or this post from a day later, when the top was all put together, and it just needed quilted and bound?

Well, I finally finished it. It’s quilted, bound, and been through the wash for that little bit of crinkle. It only took me, oh, almost 2 years. I actually finished it a couple weeks ago, but I’ve been waiting for sunshine to take a decent picture. Now that that’s happened, it’s really all done.

Zig Zag Quilt Back

I made this quilt using Crazy Mom Quilts’ instructions, and despite taking so long for me to finish it, it really was quite easy. All of the fabrics I used were from the Tracy Porter collection that was at Jo-Ann Fabrics a couple years ago (and which I think maybe only I had a crush on.) I did five lines of quilting on each of the repeating/background zig zags, which I started thinking after maybe the first zig zag was overkill, but by that point I was committed. So this is pretty heavily quilted. I do love how all the quilting looks on the back, though. And also, I love the pieced stripe I added to the back. This was the first back I’ve done that hasn’t been one solid fabric.

It’s certainly satisfying to finally finish something. Now I need to work on finishing a quilt top I started ages ago for my bed…

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Snow Day

We’re snowed in today! We got a couple feet of snow, and with all the strong winds, it’s been piled in to high drifts. We spent the first part of the morning enviously watching our snow-blower-owning neighbors clear their driveways. I’m baking a carrot cake now, and then it’s my turn to go outside and try to dig us out. I’m wondering now why I didn’t think I needed a snow blower…

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Taking Photos

I spent some time this morning taking advantage of the sunlight and taking photos of little hootie owls. After looking at them, though, I think I need to redo the whole thing. I think I set the exposure too high, and everything looks a bit washed out. I did get one lovely photo, though. This little hootie owl hanging in a metal tree I found at Joanne Fabrics last fall.

Now it’s back to the light box, to try to get some truer colors. Wish me luck! or better yet, share some tips with me for getting great photos, because I’m often underwhelmed with my photos. What are your secrets?

UPDATED: I retook all the photos with a lower exposure, and everything looks much better. I listed the whole flock of owls on Etsy.

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Happy 2011!

2011 already? What happened? And on that note, where have I been? I haven’t posted since September, at which time I promised to get better about blogging. So much for promises from me. But it’s a new year now, and that almost requires making new promises.

So, once again, I’m going to try to be a better blogger. And I’m going to start updating my Etsy shop again. Pop on over now and see all the new things I listed today!

As for where I’ve been, it’s a fairly simple story. Back in July I got a new job that ate up way too many hours. 12 hour days and almost 2 hours a day driving to and from work were not uncommon. So just before Christmas, I started a new job, with shorter days and a much more reasonable commute. And I can already see a difference. Hopefully, blog readers and shop visitors will begin to see one, too!

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Time flies… when you’re working all the time.

Whoa! Where have I been?!

I got a job… a massive, time-sucking, blog-abandoning job. But I missed you. And I never meant to abandon the blog. So this is me, peeking my head in to say, “hey, I’m sorry. I’m still alive, and I’m going to be better about blogging again.” Are we cool?

Speaking of time sucking, I’ve been working on making some clocks as a way to create something functional, and highlight fabulous bits of fabric. If you stick around, I’ll get a picture when the light is good, like, tomorrow, and share my latest effort with you… and for now, back to the salt mines.

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Business Planning…

Yesterday, I announced that Anodyne Design had won a small business grant from the wonderful people at Intuit, and I shared my plans for how I would be using that grant to grow and improve my little business. It was exciting to really think about the my “next move,” and I can’t wait to get started!

But the contest isn’t quite over. This week, the 9 finalists from April, May and June will be judged by Seventh Generation co-founder, Jeffrey Hollender, for a chance to win the grand prize of an additional $25,000 small business grant. The judging criteria are simply to find the business that is “most loved by its customers, vendors, employees, or local community.” I have taken a look at the other finalists, and I think it’s going to be a tough call to make. In the spirit of looking to the future of Anodyne Design, whether I were to win the grand prize or not, I have given some thought to how I might best use $25,000.

In addition to my original plan focused on developing the online side of Anodyne Design, I would also start developing an online indie boutique that would provide a home for small, local businesses engaged in environmentally responsible design. As a maker myself, I am always searching for the most eco-friendly materials, and I particularly like to create items that are designed to be re-used, to last, and to replace something disposable. As a shopper, I am looking for the same sort of items, and I don’t think I am alone. This venture would require a new web presence, branding, and advertising.

An extra $25,000 would also make it possible for Anodyne Design to participate in larger in-person events, such as the Renegade Craft Fair and Strange Folk Festival, which require entry fees, travel, and a significant investment in time. One of the joys of being a small business is in being able to interact one-on-one with individuals who share my love of handmade, and I would love to be able to pursue that beyond the bounds of my small town.

I would also be able to invest in some new equipment that would help me to be more efficient and to create items that so far have just been waiting in the “someday” pile. In particular, I would be adding a new serger and a die cutting machine to my arsenal of tools. I will also be able to continue using top-of-the-line environmentally responsible materials. And perhaps most importantly, $25,000 would definitely make it possible for me to expand the space dedicated to my business, which for the moment is only one-half of a small office I share with my husband. I can just imagine how much more productive and creative I could be if I had a little more space.

So this is my plan of action, whether I jump into the fast lane with the grand prize grant, or whether I take it slowly. Either way, it’s going to be awesome. What do you think? Did I miss something, should I being paying more attention to one part of this than another? Like I wrote in my last post, Anodyne Design isn’t much without you, so your input is really important to me as I grow. Let me know what you think!

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Love A Local Business

One of my strongest memories from elementary school was a school-wide presentation we were all herded to the gym to attend. On stage, a man and a woman taught us about cold pricklies and warm fuzzies. Obviously, warm fuzzies were good things to share with other people and cold pricklies were not. One of my favorite things about owning my own business and selling handmade is all the warm fuzzies people freely give me. I love hearing what you think about my work, whether you buy it or not, and I really love getting feedback from buyers. One of my favorite things I’ve heard a few times recently is, “I bought something from you awhile ago, and I love it and use it all the time.” Seriously, this sort of comment makes my day. It’s warm fuzzies for me, and I really hope that I’m giving warm fuzzies back to you, too.

We're Loved - Anodyne Design on Love A Local BusinessLast month, I signed up to participate in Intuit’s Love a Local Business contest. Small, local businesses sign up and then their fans leave comments about the business. Each comment counts as a vote, and at the end of the month, 3 comments are selected and the businesses win a small business grant. Amazingly, and thanks to your kind and generous comments, Anodyne Design was one of the June winners! Thank you to everyone who left a little love for Anodyne Design, and to Intuit for having such a cool program!

I have been thinking hard about how to best use the grant to grow Anodyne Design, and I have a few ideas. But I would also really love to hear from you about how you would like to see Anodyne Design grow and improve, because it if weren’t for all the wonderful people who support me with their love, nice words, and occasional purchases, there would be no point to Anodyne Design. So I’ll share my plan with you, and I’d love it if you would share your ideas in a comment.

In the past month, I have been thinking about the best direction for Anodyne Design. I have been wanting to focus more on developing the business online. In particular, I have been working behind the scenes to create an online shop. I think the small business grant will provide the perfect resource for improving the online end of business. In particular, I am planning to use the grant to:

  • Invest in a higher quality camera to improve product photos
  • Invest in a proper lightbox (and lights), also to improve my product photography
  • Hire a web designer to help me with my online shopping cart
  • Develop a comprehensive online marketing/advertising campaign

All of this will help me to launch a lovely new online shop that should provide the best possible shopping experience, and also help me to help spread the word of Anodyne Design and handmade accessories in general.

I am also planning on using the grant to engage in a few less-exciting, but important tasks, including repaying a small business loan and hiring someone to help me make sure all my taxes are nice and orderly. And finally, this grant should help me to start working with more environmentally friendly (and sometimes more costly) materials, such as organic cotton. I always try to make the environmentally responsible choice for Anodyne Design when I can, and a little more capital is going to make that a little easier to do.

So that’s my plan… what do you think– is it a good one? Would you do something different? What do you want to see from Anodyne Design? Please let me know!