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 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

Fleeting Moments

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img_6246img_6382img_6402img_6501img_6563img_6963img_7145img_7230img_7249-800x533img_7252-800x533I feel it–the summer season is beginning to fade. Masses of flowers are staying bloomed a bit longer, now that they aren’t so quickly baked in the sun. There’s a cool morning breeze that teases us, only making way to warm midday temps. The occasional wind gusts whip through and scatter petals all over like confetti. This is when I begin to beckon the sweater weather by baking everything with pumpkin and cloves and leaving an apple cider candle lit all day. This is when I eat entirely too much bread. And yes, I break a sweat waiting for a pie to finish baking. Completely worth it.

In spite of my baked-sweets Fall summoning, it comes in it’s own slow-as-molasses timing. As soon as it’s here, it’s gone. The seemingly shortest, most beautiful season. As soon as it passes I feel like I spend the whole year waiting for next fall.  Here in the Southwest, I feel like the Dog Days of Summer last soooo much longer than in other regions.

Though the trees have yet to turn golden, I’ll take my time and enjoy the rest of what the warm sunshine has to offer in this last week of summer–no matter that it feels like an eternity. Besides, as the seasons grow and change, so do my kids. And I’d be okay if that would slow down.

Here’s a few things we’ve been working on, eaten, or enjoyed looking at while the weather hasn’t complied with our desires. If you’d like to see some more of those adorable rattles, view them here.

Thanks for following.

Hugs, Rhonda

 

 

 

Holly Jolly

Sometimes, it’s easy to get bogged down this time of year, especially if you’ve had to recently deal with anything like we have such as deaths of close family members and of pets, or having dealt with thieves stealing your Christmas decorations off of your lawn! However, in spite of all of that, I am going to choose to dwell on the good this season has to offer. I thought some of you may need a few photographical pick-me-ups as well, maybe you just need your inspiration sparked or your interest piqued. So, here are a few festive photos as of recently.

We’ve been busy making a few fiber goodies.

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Winter knits and crochets Out of the Thistle  christmas2

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And, I spent a weekend with my family in one of my favorite places, Prescott, dubbed “Arizona’s Christmas Town,” and for good reason. We saw dozens of the most intricate gingerbread houses. We went to the town square for the Christmas parade where my kids waved to everyone and made new friends. We participated in the lighting of the Courthouse where they read the story of Jesus’ birth and we all sang Christmas carols and ate too many sweets. A little reindeer sat outside a local bakery and sang about the coffee, cookies, and hot chocolate inside. Every corner was decked-out. Everyone was jolly. It was perfect.

Out of the Thistle® Blog, dwell on the good this holiday.

Out of the Thistle® Blog, dwell on the good this holiday.

Out of the Thistle® Blog, dwell on the good this holiday.

Out of the Thistle, dwell on the good this holiday.

Out of the Thistle® Blog, dwell on the good this holiday.

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So, just dwell on the good, share it with others, and just look to all the joyous moments to be found this season, no matter how small they may seem.

 

A tisket, a tasket, bunnies in a basket!

Out of the Thistle friends of fall, knitted bunnies

These three little cuties are now available on our website! They are the perfect size for being toted around by your little one. I hand-knit them with 100% American wool (from Quince & Co), then I put them through a process to shrink ’em up! The result: a more durable, fuzzy knit that holds its shape. I can’t even fully explain how much of a difference there is in just the feel of shrunken (felted) knitted dolls compared to regularly knitted ones. They just feel more substantial, yet… light-weight.

They are jointed (buttons are decorative) so they can sit on a shelf with ease.

Knitted wool jointed bunnies Out of the Thistle®

They have shapely features such as curved paws and feet and a perfectly puckered nose. Each little bunny is wearing a hand knitted alpaca, flutter-sleeve vest that ties in the front, and each one has a coordinating 100% cotton skirt (made from Liberty of London fabric). The outfits are completely removable for ease of cleaning. Standing at about 12.5″ tall, they are the perfect size for squeezing. xx

Out of the Thistle® Knitted wool bunny dollsIMG_3312

Keep an eye out for more of these one-of-a-kind softies on our website! Thanks for looking!

–Rhonda Potteet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homage to Honesty.

Have you ever had one of those weeks?

You know, the ones where you have a ton of friends and family in town, doing renovations for the elders and celebrating birthdays. And there’s a giant waterslide/bounce house in your driveway with a dozen kids running in and out, leaving puddles everywhere. It is loud, yet wonderful. And in the slivers of quiet moments, you work on your knitting–trying to meet a deadline… a deadline you told everyone to “mark the calendars” for. And you’ve been practicing shrinking wool for like eight months now, and you’re so excited that you THINK you’ve perfected it. Your mom (the master at it) offers to help finish shrinking a couple of dolls that you still have left to do. And she super-shrinks it (which is what you wanted!), but you realize that the waist is a good inch smaller than your other dolls (which may as well be a mile). And that’s fine and dandy. But, you’ve already jointed all your other dolls, which now must be cut apart and shrunken more. Oh, and don’t forget that you made 27 dresses for them. TWENTY SEVEN. And it won’t work, because you wanted to give people an option to purchase different outfits for the dolls–which means that they’d all have to be the same size. And so here you are, a 29-year-old woman, crying into doll dresses…

Homage to Honesty The Out of the Thistle Blog

… and you’re cursing your ambition and praying for sanity. And you’re thinking that working in customer service at the bank doesn’t seem so bad now. That maybe, handling dental insurance claims was just a walk in the park.

And when you pull it together after going through the seven stages of grief with your tiny knitted dolls, you begin to amputate those limbs and get back to work. Because, it’s what you truly love to do.

Homage to Honest The Out of the Thistle Blog

Then you pour yourself another cup of coffee, eat birthday cake for breakfast, and pray that it won’t be another year before you get these done. And you share your experience and honesty with other ‘Purveyors of Perfection’ and hope that they’ll have a good laugh, maybe even sympathize. That they’ll understand the strife in striving for better, in knowing that settling is not an option. And now you’re truly understanding that being a ‘maker’ is so much more than just “making.”

Sincerely, Rhonda

 

A Pair of Hares.

If you are like me you are probably shocked that Easter has somehow snuck up on you, that it is in TWO WEEKS. I’m pretty sure that it was January last week, so how did this happen??

Lucky for you, we’re giving you a heads up! If you knit and like giving one-of-a-kind gifts, then our “Claire the Hare” PDF knitting pattern is right up your alley. It’s available on our website, on Ravelry, and on Etsy (all of these links can be found to the right of this post).

If knitting isn’t your thing and you still love giving one-of-a-kind gifts, then these are for you! I have created a few rabbits using my pattern and they are available for purchase!

Instead of wearing the knitted overall dress, they are dressed in a couple of short-and-shirt outfits I created specifically for them. These took some time to make, especially sewing these tiny little shorts! But I just love the way they turned out.

Rhonda Potteet "Claire the Hare" doll

This first little bunny is wearing cotton, jade-colored high-waist shorts with a crisp floral, lace-trimmed tank top tucked in.

IMG_1294 Rhonda Potteet Claire the Hare doll

The shirt was sewn using a high-quality Liberty of London cotton. She was hand knitted from 100% wool and has a wool embroidered face.

This second little rabbit was also hand knitted from 100% wool, with a wool embroidered face.

Rhonda Potteet Claire the Hare doll

Rhonda Potteet Claire the Hare dollI designed and knitted her flutter-sleeve tank using 100% pure virgin wool. She is also wearing bubble shorts that were sewn using a high-quality Liberty of London cotton.

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If you are interested in purchasing one of these bunnies, please feel free to contact me privately for details via email. rhondapotteet[at]gmail[dot]com

Happy Easter!
Rhonda Potteet