Happy Halloween

My life has been absolute chaos this week!!

I find it amusing that I always plan on having more time.  I think to myself that this time I will get it right, I will use my time wisely and efficiently and clear off my to-do list with time to spare.  And then when it comes to it I realize that one thing may be more or less important than another, or that I simply don’t have the desire or need for something else.

And then I realize what I’ve been neglecting in a sudden panic and try to come up to date with everything that should have, and could have, been done on time to begin with!

Is it the artist in me?  The mother?  The 22 year old fiercely independent female that refuses to listen to anyone, even my alarm clock?

It doesn’t help that my fierey (and chaotic) disposition has put me at odds with the man I live with.  And most of the time love.  And sometimes want to strangle.  I find myself neglecting housework to walk down to the Bagel Shop to use their wifi, bribing my daughter with bagels and jelly for 20 minutes of peace to write about the pent up frenzy because I’m angry with my significant other for not seeing the world my way.

The main problem is that it’s a cycle.  And if the problems arise because I’m young and willful, I can only say that time will eventually catch up with me and teach me a thing or two.  That next year I will be 23 and 7 years from now 30, and that should place me in a more serene and time-efficient disposition, right?  But that’s only if age is the instigator.

If I am this way as a result of being an artist, well, we’re pretty much screwed.  My mother was an artist.  My father was an artist.  My brother and sisters all have their special creative outlets and it runs in the blood.  I’m never growing out of that then and must simply accept my fate as reckless, timeless, and fiery creator of wonderful things and the man I’m with should either follow my lead and accept me for who I am or hit the road in search of someone calmer.

In either case, this quaint little bagel shop where I have sought solace is fantastic.  My daughter loves the food and is drawing pictures of “ish.”  You should try it sometime.

That’s kind of how I’m feeling right now.  Ish.

The Pixies Are at it Again!

I read an article in Faeries Magazine that was written by Wendy Froud.  She was writing as an apology for why her husband, artist Brian Froud, was unable to write the article himself.  (He writes a page in every issue of the magazine).  She said the Faeries had stolen his creativity, taken it on wild adventures, and then given it back, and he had found himself gripped with such an insatiable urge to paint and sketch and had disappeared for several weeks into his little British studio to capture that creativity before the faeries ran off with it once more.

My inspiration grips me in much the same chaotic fervor that it reaches for Brian Froud.  And having it described as ‘the faeries running away with it” seems to fit more than anything else.  And seeing as how I make faery wings and fantasy accessories, it would make sense.

This sweater has been my inspiration, and indeed I feel the urge to underake my own little “sweater quest” to see it’s creation.  The wild blend of colors and texture is fascinating.

I have been knitting a lot lately – stock busting, designing, and getting ready for the holiday rush.  My projects lately have involved lace as a way of hanging dangly earrings.

This inspiration surge has stretched as far as my barista life as well.  I am experimenting with mocha variations, and have hit on 2 that I really like.  One is a green tea mocha, which is more earthy to the palate.  The other is my little sip of heaven: chamomile.  It has a luxuriously rich taste to it; sweet and calming.

So, with coffee and knitting in hand, I am ready to get back to work!

What Does It Take?

I keep saying “When I get time” and something always crops up.  Like our 10 week old kitten practicing her stealth, she spies us coming, crouches behind the mound of fabric in the middle of the parlour and rolls her shoulders as she gets ready to pounce.  Just as we’re walking by she springs forward with her arms high above her head and this happy little expression on her face, as though she’s yelling “Ninja kitten! Attack!”

I laugh a little.  I mutter a little about cat hair being spread all over the fabric I leave out.  And then I remember that I have projects I should be working on.

Thanks, kitten.

By the end of the day I am exhausted.  And I know that the rest of the household is exhausted as well, so asking them to pick up my slack is out of the question.  I suck it up, grit my teeth, and get on with it.

The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that my family is happy and decently cared for (they live with me, I’m not even going to attempt to claim I care for them well).

 

Yarn Cafe?

I get 15 minute breaks every 2 hours at work.  I used to walk around the block a few times, to stretch my legs and get some air.  But it is now getting chilly out, and walks around the block seem less and less appealing.  Like a good little knitter, I carry a KIP bag with me.  Knits-In-Progress.  Currently, I am working on the popular Precious Pumpkin Beret (designer: Little Green Pixie) for several friends, and so I sit at the counters knitting up pumpkin shaped berets and stare off into the sunshine as I do so. 

One customer in line spotted me sitting there dreamily and came over to chat.  She was asking about knitting in the round – how do you start?  And I asked if she was part of a Stitch n Bitch, something I have been craving since our move.  Unfortunately, no, but she did give me some good leads.  We then talked about coffee (seeing as how we were sitting in a coffee shop at the time) and she said that I should combine knitting with my love of coffee.  Open a Knit Cafe.

I believe there are already a couple in existence – I remember reading an article about one in LA, of all places, called (cleverly named Knit Cafe).  Seriously though – Coffee clutching.  Stitch n Bitch.  The difference is……?

Seeing as how I am a crafter with the aspiration of owning a coffee shop someday, the idea stuck.  I had given it some thought a few years ago, but the fella I was dating at the time convinced me it would never work.  Then I read the article about Knit Cafe and I thought to myself “Oh, it’s been done already,” and that was that.  Since that point in my life, I am happy to say that I both ditched the boyfriend and discovered a renewed sense of self that has pushed me to expand my dreaming.  I have turned my dreams into my reality.

So, originally, I had wanted to open an Artist’s Cafe.  A studio for artists and performers to be creative in attached to a coffee shop/gallery for them to display and perform.  I was going to call it something like AlleyCat or HodgePodge.  I’m mulling over the idea of a knitting store with a built in coffee shop/tea house right now.  It doesn’t feel that strange.  The woman I was speaking to, the Instigator if you will, said how she wished there were more places like that, and the Windy City especially could use one.

My one issue is that I am determinedly nomadic.  It’s an impulse that I’m trying to work with, embrace rather than reject, but remain stable for the family’s sake.  I don’t want to settle in Chicago, of all places, because of how bland the city feels to me.  (No offense, Chicagoland.  I am a Milwaukee girl, after all.)

In either case, my post-college credit is bad enough that it’s going to take a few years before I can take out a loan to cover the start up cost of running a business.  I have time.

And who knows what the future will bring to me.

(ps: the Precious Pumpkin Beret Pattern is available for purchase at etsy.com/shop/littlegreenpixie)

Suzie

I admit it.  I am a Suzie Homemaker.  Or rather, I try very hard to aspire to caring for and nurturing my family.  The term family is used loosely.  The people who enter and exit my life for any length of time come under the umbrella of community I create over myself.  I shelter them as much as I can, physically and emotionally, I feed their mouths and souls with warmth and wisdom, and I crave their company on both sunny and rainy days.
In the case I am using the word here, however, refers more specifically to the house and members of the house.  I have been distracted by the tasks of being a successful, caring and patient parent as well as trying to make life a little more comfortable for my fellow.

This afternoon, I spent my free time cleaning and organizing my young daughters room.  Until this morning, the window in her room wouldn’t close, which, being October, means that her room has been rather chilly these past few weeks and she has instead spread her toys among the living room floor, and then exasperatedly yells at the kitten for wanting to play as well.  And, while her room is not quite as decorated as it will be, at least it is clean and organized and, thank heavens, warm.
Aside from cleaning and organizing, I have also been cooking.  Odin has been a wonderful match for us, and when he, however reluctantly, agreed to move to Evanston rather than Des Plaines (creating a 40 minute – at best – commute) I felt that if there was anything I could do to make it easier on him, I would.  He is, afterall, covering most of the rent and other bills.  So, I try to have a warm and tasty dinner ready when he walks in the door, a clean house and fresh laundry.
Suzie.  That’s me.

I like cooking, however, and Odin likes eating.  So perhaps that Suzie Homemaker aspect is merely a good, mutually beneficial companionship that we adhere to with pleasure.  He never tells me when something tastes like crap and I try my best to follow his weird hippy diet.

As far as the studio goes, I have a dilemma.  There are 3 lights right about where I want to make the studio, however, the ceilings in this old house are 10 foot.  I am a mere 5’4″.  Even standing on a stool I can’t reach the lightbulbs, which happen to be burnt out.  And, being fall, it is usually dark by the time my somewhat taller partner returns home from work and the attic is already too dark to safely stand on a stool to change the bulbs.  Therefore, I should be working on the studio sometime in the early afternoon.

Unfortunately, being a part time barista has it’s drawbacks.  The first of which is that my hours are in the morning and I have to wake up before the sun does.  The second is that I am on my feet all day without much time to sit down, as usually on my breaks I try to leave the building for fresh air.  And thirdly, throughout the morning there is so much adrenaline pumping through me as people order espresso drinks in wild procession that by the time I do get back home I simply want to veg on the couch with a yarn catalogue than work some more.  Then, just after 3, I pick Ellette up from school, help her with her after school routine (what happened in school today?  What yummy paperwork did you bring back for me? etc.), then make dinner, clean up dinner, and have some quality family time.  It’s by the making dinner part that the sun has already set low enough to great stark darkness in the attic, so work is impossible.

Humph.

What in the world makes me think that I can undertake several challenging tasks simultaneously?  At first I think it can be a breeze; naivety or stubbornness, I’m not quite sure which.  But, soon after I begin, I realize I was sorely mistaken.  By that time, however, it is too late to turn back.  So, I face it head on, with as much vim and vigor as I can muster, and then at the end of the day I collapse to recuperate before doing it all over again.

Somehow I wonder if it is merely love for what I am doing that sustains me.  I love my daughter, I love Odin, I love this neighborhood, I love my business, and I love my day job.  So, while it may seem cumbersome, tedious, or inconvenient half the time, at least in the end I feel a sense of accomplishment that, unlike so many others, I am happy with myself because I am pursuing my dreams.

Settling

I have completed reading The Handmade Marketplace, a brilliant guide for crafters such as myself for expanding business and creating a successful company.  That is what inspired me to begin this blog.  And, unfortunately, amidst the chaos of transformation, I have not been as diligent as I would like to be in regards to this blog.

In Breif:

Little Green Pixie

Lesson 1:  Branding, that means – business logo.  This is very important, and previously I was using a black and white photograph of myself.  But recently I have created a new one.  I am working on color and digitizing the design, and finding an affordable, yet dependable, source for creating new business cards, and the ever important tags.  I have begun labeling everything with a tag the says in colorful blocked letters: Little Green Pixie.  It has added a sunshiny touch of class to my product.

 

Lesson 2: Marketing.  I have come up with several methods.  I never leave home without a handy stack of business cards.  You never know who you are going to meet or what quaint little shops you are going to pass.  I leave my cards everywhere and talk to everyone.  Important note: I do not push my product.  If I happen to strike up conversation and it leans toward the “What do you do for a living” I mention the crafting and performing and hand off a card.  A card is also handy when meeting people I would like to meet again, because it holds all of the necessary info for contacting me.  I have been talking to the owners of shops I have frequented and mentioned that I make certain things that I think would go wonderfully with what they carry, such as coffee cozies at a coffee shop!  There are two ways of approaching this.  Wholesale business stance, which is purely professional, and creative gifter wishing to simply spread the joy of creation.  This is where labeling and branding is important.  I am giving little gifts of what I make to potential shops, which they may or may not put on display or use personally.  For instance, a set of coasters to a local coffee shop, with my label on the back of each, for customers to use when they are sitting at the lounge chairs in the shop.

Lesson 3: Determination.  It is a long, difficult, sometimes frustrating process, especially when relocating an established business to a new place.  I am starting basically from scratch with all of my marketing.  This does, however, open up many new possibilities for me.  I can reinvent my image, which I am setting to enthusiastically.  I have a moment to breathe so as to develop that new image and variations on my product line.  I have several new ideas for stock for spring (sneak peak: this handy little leaf shaped pouch for all of those fantasy and renaissance festivals you participate in!  I’m still tweaking the design, but I’m excited about stocking these come April!

 

In short, my life is settling enough here in Evanston that I can actually focus on the business aspect of my life and get that in gear, all greased up and tuned up and revving to go!

 

Look out world!  Pixies are on the loose!

Topsy Turvy

I relocate really well.  But that is when it is only me, with no one else involved in any way.  I can pack up a suitcase, move to another location, and settle in just fine.  I will suffer occasional bouts of loneliness, but I make friends quickly, love to explore on foot, and find ways to occupy my time.

Now, bringing a child in to the mix.  A child who is solely dependent on me to provide for her, give her attention, and make her feel safe.  That is a whole different story.  Then, factor in the school system, health system, and daily routine, and suddenly it’s nowhere near easy.  I hadn’t anticipated this.  The system isn’t working with me; there is no leeway.  It’s as though they expect me to already know their requirements, and because I don’t they treat me as though I’m wasting their time.  The system is ineffective and unfeeling.

I have had plenty of things to handle recently that has kept my creative powers restrained.  And I am finally happy to report that those “things” are being worked out – post minor breakdown, but still.  I’m a single parent running my own business while relocating.  I just took on the world!

I am almost ready to let the creative juices spill out again.  I have a few more commissions I am running around to fill, while setting up house, and creating the craft studio.  We still have no furniture.  No, that is not true entirely.  I found an armchair on the curb when I visited my dad and hefted it into the back of my station wagon.  I also had a friend give me a small kitchen table with 2 dining chairs and a comfy arm chair.  I would love to find a fainting couch, antique hat rack, and other ridiculous romantic items.

In the meantime,  I am trying to come up with good holiday items and beyond, new marketing, and whatnot.  I am essentially starting over in a new, unfamiliar town.  This will take time.

But I am mom.  I am woman.  I am faery.  I can do anything!

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