Thursday, April 21, 2011


Back in Michigan, accessory stores would ask to sell my scarves, but not much ever sold when I tried to do that.  MaryLiz, the owner of Leon & Lulu's,  which is about the coolest store in the world, would hold artists' markets four times a year. I did several and always sold a lot of stuff.  I asked her whether she would ever consider carrying Woolynns and she very honestly said no. She said part of why my things sell is I am there with them.  I explain the nuno felting process (thus the prices) to people.  I encourage them to buy the right piece for them, not the most expensive.  MaryLiz explained, rightly, that without that added attention, most people would look at the tag and walk away.  In her giant store, that is likely what would have happened.

I thought about her words often.  It may have been the best business advice I could have received.  So when looking for places in the Twin Cities, I have been looking first for stores selling locally designed clothing.  Then I need to meet the owners and see if they really sell the pieces or just work the cash register.  I need to see how large the space is.  I have been doing my homework and I am pleased to introduce the first shop carrying Woolynns here in MN.

C'est Fou is in one of several renovated houses on Grand Ave in St. Paul.  It is part of a wonderful shopping district with independent businesses, restaurants, bakeries, etc.  The owner of C'est Fou is Susan Metzger.  She designs all the clothing and includes alterations in her prices.  You will not leave her shop in something that doesn't fit you perfectly.  All the accessories are by Minnesota artisans.  The day I brought some pieces over for her to check out, she found herself unexpectedly busy with two women who were going to Scotland this summer and wanted a few new outfits, clothes that would travel well and weren't from a department store.  A little something special, in other words.  Susan allowed them time to browse, but once they began trying things on, she showed each one how a little tuck here or there could change the entire drape. She pulled sandals out from her shoe store so the women could envision summer (never mind that it was 30 degrees out for a high that cold April day).  She added belts, necklaces, offered to change a sleeve. In short, she was clearly there to make these women look good, not to make a big sale.  Exactly what MaryLiz was telling me I did for Woolynns.

I left seven scarves and three bags at C'est Fou last week.  Susan says that they already get much attention from customers.  The shop certainly shows them off well, and they are definitely being seen by a new market.  It is all I could ask for so soon after landing here in the Twin Cities.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

All in a couple days' work

I used to keep my sketches and inspirations in a drawer.  That will no longer do.  A trip to IKEA, a power drill and some anchors (and some culling of scraps that I no longer remember why I kept), and now I have an idea board on the wall my work table faces.

Plastic floor covering from Lowe's and some indoor/outdoor duct tape and the carpeting is now protected from water. Finally, I set out some materials and start back to work.

The skinny forest is not an original idea.  Sometimes, to move into a new skill (felt painting here), I take someone else's design and see if I can make it in wool.  This was from a photo of a mass-produced painting for sale in a catalog.  Don't worry.  I won't sell it.

Drip dry after felting.  It is a good thing I know by now not to judge them when still wet.  They are never as nice when you first hang them up to dry.

A crinkle scarf trying to push its way toward a muted Spring.

Yarn and wool become a scarf, a necklace, a belt.  Your call.

A Skinny Forest felt painting for my studio.

It feels really good to be back at something like normal.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Social Being

I am waiting for inertia, like Elvis, to leave the building.   Previous moves always included a failsafe way to find a daily community.  College, work, mothering-related groups, children's schools.  This one is harder.  I don't know my children's schoolmates parents since we are no longer at a small private school.  I am having a slow time finding work teaching yoga.  I don't have any work other than the self-directed kind: unpack, rearrange, help children settle in, locate the necessities of living in a new place (schools, library, grocery stores, medical providers, etc.).  Oh, and felting, which is also solitary and self-directed.  It isn't as though I didn't know this was coming, but living in reality is a bit more challenging than preparing for that reality.  

In the meantime, I found the Textile Center in St. Paul, getting lost more than once on the way. (Not knowing how to get places is my least favorite part of moving.)  A beautiful space housing many classrooms for weaving, dyeing, sewing; a small studio currently housing an exhibit of art dolls (that were extraordinary); a library that was closed; offices; and a small shop.  I browsed, picked up brochures for summer camps for my girl, and purchased something to dispel the inertia: a book called 1000 Artisan Textiles (Quarry Press).  From clothing to accessories to household goods to wall hangings to 3-dimensional art, it is a feast for the weary textile artist.  Something to inspire and challenge.  It has me ready to pull out the sewing machine and learn more about garment construction rather than continue plunging into seamless felted clothing without a basis for my attempts. It has me ready to try a felt painting.  It has me ready to make another hat, another purse, a pillow, a bowl.  In short, it is getting me interested in the days ahead.

Is it enough?  Of course not.  It isn't as though I am all alone.   A friend of a friend took me out for a wonderful evening at the theatre.  A couple of old friends (one from MI and one from high school) are also here, though I have yet to see them in person.  And we have family here, too.  But it is the daily community that I am wanting.  I'm someone who knows her bank tellers by name, who chats with the other parents at a small school, who commiserates with the grocery cashier.  I am a very social being.   But it seems wool and silk are about to become my new best friends.  

I am more excited at the prospect than I would have expected.  

Hello, fiber.