What the fuzz?

Felting? Fulling? What is it?!? We decided to put together a little ‘infomercial’ on what sets our products apart and what it is that we actually do.

I believe it should also be noted that that some folks may have been attempting to confuse what we do with wet felting. Wet felting is basically using the raw, unspun wool and turning it into a felt sheet. This is nothing like our process. If it does not say fulled or seamless shrunken wool then it is not created the same.

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No rain, no flowers.

Hey, how are you? It’s been a while. I hope you’re doing well, that things are okay. If you’re not all right, well then, that’s okay too. Truth be told, I think the majority of us aren’t “all right.” We all go through an ebb and flow of difficult situations that are essentially helping us grow up into better versions of ourselves, even though they seem to come in the version of 20-foot waves.

I love (yet also simultaneously despise) the saying “no rain, no flowers.” It’s reassuring that the waves of torrential downpour will guarantee growth, but nobody wants to keep getting dumped on in order to see the bounty of blossoms.

Did you know this business began over 30 years ago? Bet a dime you didn’t, and it’s likely that you may have never even heard of us until recently, or even today. See, shortly after my mom and grandma started this business, it rained. And it didn’t just sprinkle or mist, we’re talking 40 days’ and 40 nights’ worth. Could you imagine essentially being a nobody (sorry ma) that people were still so threatened by? There was wave after wave of people who sought to fight against the productivity, the growth of this little business.

The flood of legal battles have ended all in our favor (thank you God), and so seems the defamation as well. The army we once faced for nearly two decades, many of those jumped ship. However, after the water dissipated, we realized that the time lost on protecting our possessions would never be recouped. In those days of legal paperwork and continuously setting the record straight, we were outrun in the race. We had lost time investing in promoting our products. People who had just begun these crafts were already widely known. We thought the lack of interest was because of the types of products we made, so we invested even more time in design, and even less in advertising and reaching out.

Friends, can I tell you, sometimes it feels like The Great Flood is at your door. You may feel like you are experiencing tumultuous undercurrents from other people, which keep you from your full potential. Don’t look at it that way. It becomes really easy to be dismayed, trust me. To be clear, you’re not a bad person for losing faith over it.  I’ve been there. Sometimes, I didn’t want to be faithful, but I looked at it as a duty. If you focus on the bad that’s happening, you’re only going to drown yourself.

If we hadn’t experienced everything that we did, we may not have grown into creating better products, we may not have grown into becoming wiser in business relations and protecting our intellectual property. We’ve become more bold. We also relate to a lot more people now, sharing struggles. This business may not mean anything to anyone else, except those who wanted it snuffed out. But we’re here, we’re growing, and I think it’s finally showing! We are pretty dang excited with our refined designs (we’ll share more in the next few days).

Recite these, heck, stitch it on your sleeves: no grit, no pearl; no pressure, no diamond; no rain, no flowers. And just remember, you aren’t the only one who gets to enjoy your flowers!

Here’s some florals from around my house to distract you and temporarily drown away your sorrows. I hope your clouds will clear out soon!

Hugs,  Rhonda

What it takes to make.

I may seem like a lucky jerk for being able to work from home. Sure, I know that I am very fortunate to be there for my kids, day in and day out. I’m raising them while working, and I’m so thankful for that. But I really don’t see ‘makers’ talk about the ugly side of this ‘industry’, the sometimes depressing side of it: the roadblocks, the cynicism, the doubts, the time invested, the rip-offs.  You see our nicely finished, hand-made item being held by a freshly-bathed babe on a beautiful antique quilt and you think “their life is so perfect, I hate them.”
Am I wrong? I don’t think I am because I am guilty of thinking the same about other makers.

But it’s far from perfect. Maybe in always putting our best foot forward, we kind of lost that personal connection with others. Maybe we’ve become un-relatable, though we are probably the most laid back, easy-to-get-along-with people.

So yeah, this line of work can be a big bummer at times. Have you ever worked for two years on a design, shown a sneak peek and said “coming soon!” as if you were going to have a stinking parade for yourself, then you find out a few days later that you are finally pregnant and you get sick? Like dead almost. I mean the kind where you lose 30 lbs in a month and are in and out of the hospital to get your fluids replenished because everything made you sick—crackers, water, air, Kleenex, you name it. And then that new pattern you should’ve had done before Valentine’s day is still in limbo come April because you haven’t been able to eat food for two months, much less count stitches.

When you are a ‘maker’ for a living, life can really put a hiatus on things.

And, when you’re finally able to eat, you demolish half a bag of tortilla chips with salsa and stare at a half-knitted doll dress and think “What am I doing with my life? I’m thirty-one, I should be knitting trendy chunky blankets or neon pink speckled shawls or something.” But the truth is, I don’t want to make either of those. I want to make dolls and knit sweet little baby sweaters and bonnets. But, I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I have questioned what I’m doing. Ask my mom, she has about 1,743 text from me of half-finished projects and I’m asking, “is this stupid??”

Then, when you decide that the dolls you spent months making actually look stupid, and ‘who is gonna want that rabbit/grasshopper hybrid…’ (don’t even judge the fabric pile in the corner and the paint-swatch walls. That wall has since been painted and all that fabric has since been hidden from my husband)…


…and you toss that junk into a basket full of others, destined for the Island of Misfit Toys along with those dolls that only have hair stitched on half of their head; the ones who look like they should be named Olga and have a face that only your child will love:


And as if I wasn’t enough of a hindrance to myself, I get the ridiculous emails. You wouldn’t believe the kind of emails from people wanting us to make a whole pattern from an item we made 11 years ago so that they too can make it. Like we can just pull all that from memory… Or people, who have no intention of buying, request a complimentary 1”bear for their blind aunt, I kid you not. Would she tell the difference from the bear and a piece of lint?? Or the emails from people that don’t even care about the product you made but instead ask where they can buy the tea set in the background of your photo. The constant emails alone are enough to make me grey—you don’t earn a dime for your time dealing with that stuff.

I wish that was the worst of it. I think the worst is creating something from nothing, not earning nearly enough for your time, then seeing your design duplicated by someone who is making money off your idea, hand-over-fist.

You may see the perfection of the finished item, but boy does it take a long path to get there. I’m sure more venting will come.

Just know that if you’re a maker enduring these things, hang in there. You’re not alone.

Hugs,

Rhonda

Christmas can stay. 

Sometimes, I feel as though I was destined to live in a little Nordic village surrounded by snowdrifts and wearing intricately knitted mittens, walking down tiny, dark streets that have dozens of little glowing windows lighting the sidewalk. Currently where I live is the opposite. Sunny Arizona. We had roses blooming on Christmas and our Japanese maple had just begun to turn a deep port wine. The tree in the backyard lit up our whole living room to a sunny yellow hue until Christmas Eve. 
“Merry Christmas, it feels like Halloween.” 

As I scrolled through lovely instagram feeds and blogs with blankets of snow and evergreens, I admit I got jealous–however I’m not jealous of traveling in it. Just, otherwise. It was hard to dive into the new season when I felt stuck in the last one. But it’s like God was telling me that there is always something to celebrate, regardless of the season you’re in, regardless of the circumstances. Just when Christmas was almost passed, I finally started celebrating. In fact, we’ve continued to celebrate even after December has ended. I mean, who says you can’t make santa cookies after Christmas? And i feel like Christmas isn’t truly over until you want it to be. Or until the gingerbread cookies are gone. Whichever. I still have my trees and wreaths and lights up. I told my husband, “They’re not coming down ’til February!” He obliged–I think mostly because he won’t have to climb up to the second story roof to take down the exterior wreaths just yet. 

I feel like I’m still hanging onto Christmas because I let my outside circumstances keep me from focusing on the important and it passed me by. Christmas is a time for us to slow down. To celebrate Jesus–not only his birth, but all of his works as well. It’s a time to cuddle, to create, to celebrate. And to eat cookies. The four C’s. Remember that.

I think we collectively, as a whole, are so eager to start on a new year, new us, new life, blah blah… that we rush through The Best Holiday. But if you feel like it passed you by without really saturating yourself in all its goodness, bake some soft gingerbread cookies and let your kids decorate them. Make some hot cocoa and do a Christmas puzzle. Leave up twinkle lights a little longer. Knit stockings and watch Christmas movies. Just enjoy the season if you, like I, missed it.
We hope that you had/have a happy, happy Christmas.

Hugs, Rhonda

Stay Gold

I thought I’d take a quick break from the Prep- and Dessert-Day minutiae before tomorrow’s hustle. I bet that if asked what you’re thankful for, your first answer is “family.” Now, unlike those of you who just say it to give the good and noble answer, I am truly thankful for my family, especially this time of year. In fact, my family are kind of a hidden treasure. Gold coins, really. On a more technical scale, our family name is Aucoin. Now, “Au” on the Periodic Table of Elements is Gold. And “-coin” is pretty easy to figure out. Gold coins.

On the surface we may seem like a normal group, kind of a simple troop. Nay, I say. We are not normal. Growing up with three sisters was anything but dull. We live to laugh; everything with us ends in a comical skit or joke of some sort. When we were younger we would think of all kinds of antics to arouse some kind of merriment–which may have included pantyhose on our heads from time to time, don’t ask. We just enjoy each other’s company. There have been many times of sadness or frustration where I just needed the entertainment my family bring, and boy do they bring it. I mean, sometimes the 200+ texts may be a bit much, but it’s all good.  Aside from all of us girls inheriting same laugh as our mom, I see so many of her characteristics in my sisters and in myself. We are strong, we are forgiving. We are tolerant, we are giving. We commit, we are faithful. Our husbands are pretty fortunate… But faith is the largest trait that I can see in our family. Our family motto is actually: “Pray about everything;” that and “Drink more water,” or “Pie is a breakfast food.” I’m thankful that we had parents who invested time teaching us to do good and be good; to put God first. I’m thankful that now that I’m grown, I benefit from it every time I spend time with them. Now those values get passed onto my kids, and I’m so thankful for a good husband who sees the importance of praying many times a day with us and the importance of being present. I’m so glad that now I see the thankfulness in my children (as seen below). It’s also nice to see that I fall under “bed” for the things that my son is thankful for, hah!

I know that I can call on my family to pray, to laugh, to seek advice. I wouldn’t be who I am without them. Tomorrow, I will wholeheartedly thank God for the treasure he has given me in them, and I hope you do the same with yours. Happy Thanksgiving.

Hugs, Rhonda

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November Light

I don’t know about there, but it has been unseasonably warm here in our neck of the woods. Today, finally today, the weather dipped a little bit. Our noses were numb on this morning’s walk, but it was good. I was beginning to grow tired of the perfect temps as odd as it is to say. But we are knitters and crocheters. We live for the cold.  Those unbearable 70-80 degree days have had their highlights, though. For about a week there, I would look out my front windows to see dozens, if not a hundred little butterflies floating around all of my Perky Sues, Petunias and Alyssum. The kids would go outside and just twirl around in the butterflies. It was awesome. And even for about a week after Halloween, we had still enjoyed ‘spooky sprinkles’ on our cocoa. A certain little someone even wore her costume day and night for a while there (below she can be seen delighting in a yogurt breakfast and walking brother to the bus stop dressed as a butterfly).

The days are more noticeably shorter, the stretched out shadows outside begin at about 4pm now. And there’s just something about November’s light around here. Especially at the beginning and end of the day. Everything seems more golden.

But we are bundling up today–hooray! And so are our creations. I mean, look at my mom’s most recent bear below. Is he not the sweetest little guy you’ve ever seen. With his little hand knitted overalls and cowl… He is available here for a very short time! This little guy is unlike any other artist bear–he was crocheted out of 100% wool then put through a vigorous process to shrink him up, making him more plush and fleece-like. Impressive work from that woman! She also has a pattern just released for her Knot Head bears which is for sale on Etsy and will be offered at other venues soon. We’ve also got some warm wooly knitted designs coming up, so look out! Thanks for stopping by!

Hugs, Rhonda