Friday, November 4, 2011

What is Karen up to now?

Busy, busy, busy. When you own your own business there is always a laundry list of things that you need to do. If you are working on controlling expenses, you think you should be working on advertising. If you are working on advertising someone has probably called off sick and you have to cover... well, you get the idea.

This week I am working on FUN. Nothing but FUN and I am having a blast! Last week I was in Houston attending International Quilt Market. To be honest, I can't remember the last time I came home feeling so totally jazzed about what I found. Fabrics, yes. There are always tons of fabrics to choose from and this season there are about a dozen new companies from which to choose them. Some years there is an obvious "hot" new item that everyone is excited about. Not so this year and I like it better that way!

When there isn't that special "one thing" that everyone gravitates to, you have to be more creative in your buying. You have to dig a little deeper to find the gems that you can polish and make sparkle in your own store. This Market I went out of my way to attend workshops and demonstrations that I normally wouldn't have time for. WOW! Talk about inspiration! I packed my overweight suitcase with fun stuff that I couldn't wait to get home to try.

This week is where the rubber meets the road for those new products. Sure they look good under the sparkly lights of the convention center, but before we offer them to customers I have to test them myself. Can I make them perform their tricks here at home? More importantly are they well designed enough that my customers will want to play with them too? Here in the "test lab" where I am creating new projects for our upcoming Handmade for the Holidays event I am happy to say that all of the new products have passed the test with flying colors!

In addition to new products I also gather a ton of ideas for projects that I create and write instructions for here at home. We have a huge button bin that we use on a regular basis but somehow it never seems to get any smaller. I saw some great dyed button projects at Market. Instead of purchasing the dyed buttons I decided to come home and dye our white and clear ones. How hard could it be? Hard. I sorted for about an hour, dumped the white and clear buttons into Kelly Green Rit Dye and waited... swished, stirred and waited. Then I waited. 36 hours later I had the buttons in the photo. These were all in the same dye bath for the same length of time.

Why some are light blue and some are lime green and absolutely NONE of them are Kelly Green is a total mystery to me. Frank Panion, my beloved high school chemistry teacher always said I made more chemistry in the hall than I made in class. My husband wondered why I thought I could dye buttons. My staff wondered why there was a strainer of buttons in their lunch sink! Easy fix. I ordered the already dyed buttons from our distributor!

So the button dying didn't work. Big deal. They are cool colors and I will find a use for them... eventually. I still enjoyed the thrill of seeing what would happen. Meanwhile I stitched up some batik rayon samples that are going in the wash tonight. I played with the new spritz dyes until I absolutely had to stop myself or there wouldn't be any left for customers. I steamed, fused, gathered, clipped and stitched. I've made the mistakes, learned some lessons and now I absolutely can not wait to share the success stories with my customers so that they can roll up their sleeves and have some fun! Sometimes the best thing you can get is permission to play for awhile.


banjo795 said...

I don't have an answer for your button mystery, just some speculation. Buttons are made from different materials, and some of those materials can be dyed using a water bath method, others can't. From what I recall, Rit dye doesn't work on all fabrics, either. said...

Dear Karen. I am not responding to this particular question. I do not know how to blog or whatever this is and I am frantically searching for your pattern Timeless Treasures titled Berskhire Blues which you mentioned in the February Issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. I was browsing my books and this is just the pattern I have been looking for. Do you still keep those patterns and if so how may I get it? Thank you and Happy New Year.