First let’s take care of business:
For those of you here checking about the Rainbow Ablet, I apologize for being so slow to
update the blog. Here’s the story: Yes the beads did come in (finally) and I had my amazingly cheerful elves at work right away with an order for twenty.
The very next day, the order came in from China… When it rains, it pours as they say.
So, as soon as the last of those twenty are gone, they are gone for good, (unless I decide not to renew my contract with the distributor, but it’s not up for another year and that bridge will be crossed when the time comes.)
In the meantime, my personal creative ADD has sent me a boomerang… which leads to the title of this post.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing. Short stories, personal essays, poetry…. This is something I have done my whole life. I have rarely shared my writing with others. Except for the poetry… which is what led my wonderful husband… But that’s another story for another time.
Over the past few months, I’ve been terribly distracted by this writing. I’ve even submitted a couple stories to some print journals… waiting.
I was going to start a separate blog for writing. It seemed a good idea for about ten whole minutes. I thought I could separate the many outlets my crazy creative juices boil up. Then I Googled “hand painted silk tallit, Coleman”, and pictures of my mama doll, ablets and chess set were included in the results… (Being very visual I tend to use Google images to search … part of my own personal insanity, I know, but I love Google for giving me the option.)
The all omniscient internet knows who we are. We can’t escape. There is no wall to hide who we are with what we do anymore. I’ll bet if you searched hard enough you could find out when my next phone bill is due, or when my next dentist appointment is, (if you care to do that, my dentist’s name is Paolucci) but I could recommend several books that would be much more interesting.
One such book would be:
The Arms of God by Lynne Hinton… which I just read. It was a quick read, eloquent and touching.
In light of this realization, I will be working (slowly) toward updating my blog, adding links to all the many tendrils of my craziness and putting it all in one place, out here, good, bad and ugly. Google, I yield… and hope this makes my life, in some tiny way, a little less complicated.
Since I have had so many inquiries about my popular rainbow style Ablet, I’ve decided to write a blog post as explanation, rather than typing the explanation over and over in convos on Etsy and emails to my site.
So here’s the dealie:
We ran out of the beads to make the Rainbow Ablet over 2 months ago.
My supplier ran out of the beads too, but assured me they were on order from India. 6,000 cases of beads arrived in NYC on June 6th. I only need one case!
They have, apparently, been held up in NYC customs since then. I call my supplier almost daily (I think they are starting to dread my calls). If anyone happens to know a NYC customs worker and would like to offer them a bribe, I will be most obliged.
Now, for my Etsy customers, here’s the situation:
I have a contract with a distributor (Creative Commodities) who are having the rainbow style manufactured in China for distribution to large retailers here in the USA. (Exciting, yes!)
IF my beads get out of customs where they have been held captive BEFORE my distributor gets their first shipment, then I will be able to sell a few more of that style on Etsy. We will make around 20 of them, but when those are gone, they are gone for good.
IF Creative Commodities get their shipment before I get my beads, then I will only be able to sell that style on my other site knittingabacus.com and that style WILL NOT be handmade by me, but will be handmade in China.
Am I making any sense?
It is a race against the clock.
The Chinese order is expected by the middle of next week. (July 26th-ish). I have no idea when NYC customs will release my beads, and it is possible that the Chinese order gets held in customs too… it’s all so darned complicated. But my contract with the distributor gives them exclusive rights to the Rainbow style and I will be buying it from them wholesale, essentially becoming a reseller of one of my own products. All my other styles will still be handmade by me and available on Etsy.
This picture shows a sample of what the Chinese version will look like and it will be available at knittingabacus.com and (hopefully) some big retailers both online and IRL. Cool the way they are stamping the word Ablet on it, huh?
So that’s the story in a nutshell as they say… Thanks for your patience. If you would like my facebook page, I’ll be updating there as soon as I know anything.
This was a very challenging project for me in many ways.
After my decision to restart with a black outline, I realized I was out of both black resist and silk. I quickly ordered more. Fortunately, Dharma Trading, where I buy all my silk supplies, has VERY fast shipping. My supplies arrived in less than a week. But meanwhile, my whole family had been hit with this awful flu that’s been going around New England this spring. A cough that has moved in and is building a permanent abode in each one of our chests. It knocked me flat for more than a week. It took some time before I could even look at the silk, let alone get started. In fact my package from Dharma sat, unopened, on my counter for days.
I finally stopped trying so hard, and as is the case with many things in life, when I let go and let God… well things just started to flow.Finally feeling almost human, I began work. But… as per my last blog post, the color swatch just didn’t seem to go with anything! Every color combination I picked was, at first, just awful.
… but in the end. WOW. I LOVE how it came out. I hope you do too.
It is one of my favorite Jewish symbols. A symbol of protection the hamsa is supposed to represent the hand of God. The stylized symbolic hand has been seen in many cultures throughout history including Middle Eastern religions and African cultures. For me personally, it is a unifying symbol. All humans regardless of race or creed have hands in common, after all.
The Atarah or “crown” of the tallis
“May my heart be opened, may my spirit become clear, as I envelop myself in the tallit.” which comes from The Book of Blessings .
This is the first kippah I made to go with the tallis. It is very pretty, but it is also a bit big; much more suited to an adult than a young bat mitzvah. I will list this larger one on my etsy site to be sold separately.
The next kippah is much smaller. A better fit, it will accompany the tallis.
Step 1: I print out my sketch on paper and piece them together with tape. This is one of the first steps in the process for every tallis I make. It takes about 22 pieces of paper for 1 tallis. The numbers aren’t part of the sketch, they just help me piece the whole thing together.
Step 2: Next I trace the outline onto the stretched silk with a water soluble marker.
Step 3: Then I go over the traced outline with gutta or water-soluble resist.
All of this was done in the evening.
My studio has fantastic light in the morning but is lacking in artificial light, so come morning I got a good look at the gold outline against the fabric swatch that my client sent. I didn’t like it. So I did some test swatches.
I have shown them here for folks to comment on.
The swatch in the background is a piece from the dress that will be worn.
It is a very challenging color to work with, a sort of grey taupe not quite purple not quite pink not quite beige not quite sure what color it wants to be.
It’s kind of like the mystery meat of the culinary students at RISD. You aren’t quite sure what it is, and maybe you’ll risk it, but maybe you’d rather not… Good thing I like a challenge ;) Though I never could bring myself to brave the meat!
In case you were wondering… it turns out that hot fuchsia, burnt umber, black and a touch of cobalt blue softened with a whole lot of water makes mystery color #1.
Here are some sketches for a tallis for an upcoming Bat Mitzvah. I know, it means drastically switching gears… but I couldn’t resist, I do love making them.
Note: Click on the images to view larger.
This tallis would have a peach mottled background. The design would actually have to be worked backwards to what you see here, with the black hamsas done first. The white would then be drawn on with resist to prevent the dye from penetrating it. Then the whole tallis would be dyed a mottled peach. There would be a lot of subtle variation on the white hamsas which would be mottled and pale due to the process. The design has 18 hamsot (is that the plural of hamsa?) Each one would be different, and would be more my style of flowers and patterns. The ones shown here were just copied and pasted from the web (except for a couple that I drew myself)
The second sketch is more feminine and stylized with two larger Hamsot (I’ll just go with that). the visual elements would be outlined in gold resist. I may do them in black if the customer prefers, but it will significantly effect the feel of the piece, as black outlines will give it a heavier feel. I like the stripes as a visual element, but I don’t particularly like painting them! They are very hard to get on there straight, and will likely have variation in the line thickness.
A variation on the theme above, the Hamsot on this tallis have a floral print pattern. Again the stripes… what’s with that? I suppose it just doesn’t look tallis-like to me without them!I have outlined the elements here in black.
Looking at all three here, I think I should do one more with two simple black Hamsas on a peach background, like the first one, but without so many elements… I’ll wait for feedback from the customer though, as my backside has been glued to my computer chair all day and it’s gorgeous out.
It was my first thought when I walked in the door. I have never been to a Stitches conference before and I understand that this one was MUCH smaller than in years past, but I was still WOWed!
I was in attendance out of the kindness of one of my wholesale customers, Suzi at knittingranch.com . She invited me to tag along at her booth and bring my ABLETs. How could I turn that down? I had considered going on my own, but couldn’t figure it out what with having to be there all day every day for 4 days and a nursing baby and no help at the booth and the expense… and Suzi solved all my dillemmas in one fantastic phonecall!
So, as many of you know, preparations began in full swing. For about 3 weeks I glued and beaded and chained and packaged whenever I could. I had many dear friends offer their help. I ended up with about 100 to bring with me.
Well, to make a long story longer…
Friday: Ted stayed home from work to watch the baby. Rowan and I drove to Hartford early Friday Morning with my basket. Suzi had said she had a display so I needn’t bring one. Folks rummaged through my basket all day. Rowan worked hard, demonstrating how to use the ABLET and even up-selling for a conversion kit. I sold a few, not a lot, but enough to break even on my expenses. Comments were all very positive and enthusiastic and everyone seemed to think it was a really neat idea. Several people liked them enough to slip them discreetly into their bags when we weren’t looking. I was a tad discouraged. I knew a nice display would help, so I plugged through my exhaustion when I got home and slapped a display together.
Saturday: I wrote up a sign “Win an ABLET knitting Abacus drawings at 12:30, 2:30 and 3pm” We had a lot of people sign on to our raffle at that point. 3 times on Saturday an announcement was made over the loud speakers
“So and So you have won an, um… AB… ABLET, um… knitting… abb-ack- oos, please go to the Knitting Ranch, booth 204 to collect your prize.”
It was great for me, because people came over to see what it was all about. I had to demo over and over (no Rowan) and my throat was getting sore, but… By Saturday Afternoon, I heard “OH… so that’s the knitting abacus everyone is talking about.” WOW.
I managed to give a birthday present to Rick, one of the editors of Knitter’sMagazine. It wasn’t his birthday, btw, but my note that I left telling him I had a birthday present for him got his attention enough to get him over to see me ;)
The editor of Moo Dog Knits came over and took my picture. She said she’d call for an interview this week.
Sunday: While the marketplace was much slower, my sales steadily increased each day. I had to arrive quite late because of dropping the kids at Sunday school. When I got there, Suzi said a bunch of LYS owners had come over asking for my card and that a sales rep had also stopped by interested in talking with me.
By now, many folks new what I an ABLET was and were bringing their friends over and showing them how to use this great new tool.
Since things were a bit slower, I was able to go around and network a bit more. I spoke with several vendors who were all so supportive and enthusiastic. They shared details and ideas for my own booth (maybe next year).
I particularly liked Mocha’s Fiber’s booth, for a small 10X10 space, which is probably all I’d need. ABLETs are quite compact. Her hand painted yarns are exquisite, btw. If you knit, you must check them out!
I met a couple who travel the world going from yarn conference to yarn conference who have gorgeous silk ribbon. I bought some to use with my ABLETs and I’ve already made one up with it. I think I’ll be switching, as long as it doesn’t fray.
I even met a charming couple who were LYS owners all the way from Australia!
When the show was ending, I grabbed what was left in my basket and ran through the marketplace handing out freebies to any LYS owners who seemed interested. I probably gave away as many as I sold. It was such a fun and exhausting weekend. And I have Suzi to thank for it. She agrees, that all in all it was a terrific show for me. She told me that when I’m rich and famous I’d have to pay her booth fee.
Well, Suzi… now you have it in writing! What you did for me deserves a good turn. I hope your business is every bit as successful as mine… um, that is if mine’s successful, cause if it’s not that wouldn’t be a particularly good wish for you, now would it ;)