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Make Baby Stuff Newsletter, Issue #014-- Patterns Update
February 02, 2009
This monthly newsletter is brought to you from the Make Baby Stuff website. Each issue brings you up to date with new crafty happenings, contests, instructions, reader questions, more tips and our featured crafty artist of the month! It is your kick in the pants to get crafty!
Good News for Handmade Baby Stuff!
In case you haven't heard, there is some good news for handmade baby and children's product makers. The CPSIA granted a one year hold for the certification requirements of handmade children's items. Hopefully, in this next year, they'll refine the law to exclude products made of all natural materials and perhaps one of a kind items. This means that small, independent sellers like those we feature in our newsletter will be able to stay in business for another year (and hopefully longer if new guidelines are determined) but it also unfortunately means that the big "bad" children's product companies that import from China do not have to have testing certification either.
Hopefully in the next year this law will be refined in such a way that it won't put the little guys out of business, yet it is able to regulate that items are indeed lead-free and safe.
The most common email I receive is questions about the patterns on MakeBabyStuff.com and confusion about sizes. Just a quick note to say that real patterns are coming, with actual size printables that you can print and tape together - no re-sizing necessary. This will take care of the confusion at last!
Who: Theresa Belville of Little Turtle Knits can be found enjoying chocolate and red wine (preferably together), knitting and spending time with her husband and tribe of four boys from ages 2 to 9 1/2! (Her two eldest are pictured knitting here with her!) She originally started out by selling her knits but now focuses on knitting swatches and samples for her popular design line.
If you are a cloth diapering mama and use wool covers (aka - longies) or if you are a knitter yourself, you've probably heard of her already. Her famous "Picky Pants Pattern" is a personal favorite of mine and about a million other cloth diapering mums too.
What lead up to starting Little Turtle Knits?
When my oldest was born, it was so hard to find boy clothes that weren't, um, how to say this....well, fugly! So, I knit up a whole wardrobe for him, and everywhere we went, people stopped me and asked where I got his clothes. I'd say that I made them, and inevitably they'd say "You should sell them!" So, I did - and Little Turtle Knits was born. We had a pet turtle at the time that AJ used to love just laying on the floor and staring at, so that's where the name originated.
What is your main source of inspiration?
My boys, of course. Watching the way they interact with the world helps me to see everything new again. Plus, watching them climb trees and scale rock walls always reminds me that, bottom line, the stuff I design has to be comfortable and work for the real lives that kids lead.
What is your favorite part of your creative process from idea to completion?
Isn't the flash of inspiration everyone's favorite, LOL? No, really - my favorite part is what comes right /after/ the initial idea. The getting down to the knitty-girtty (bad pun, I know!) of selecting a yarn and putting stitcks to string, trying to work out the details of the design. Trying different shaping techniques, different stitch patterns, and playing around with how it'll all come together. There are nights when I am up long after everyone else has gone to sleep, sitting in my little thinking spot (the corner of my family room) - knitting a swatch, ripping it out, reknitting. I can do that for hours and hours! The excitement of figuring it out is kind of like a drug, and I'm definitely an addict (proven by the fact that I've got dozen of swatches sitting on my desk right now, all worked up for new design ideas waiting to be written into patterns!)
Size grading. Oh, how I loathe it. If I could publish patterns with just one size, I'd have a collection at least 10 times larger than I do now! But figuring the correct dimensions for each size, then working the shaping, stitch pattern and all the million other details that go into a design - it's maddening.
Is it ever hard for you to share a pattern?
No, it's one of my favorite parts! I love seeing others get excited about my patterns, and I definitely get a thrill seeing all the projects made from my work. It's my (not so) secret mission turn the whole world into knitters. Imagine what a revolution that would be. Can you picture our leaders sitting around at world summits, all knitting? I can, and I think the world would be a much better place if we all played with sticks and strings.
When do you find the time to create?
Whenever I can. My life is crazy, so it's so hard to schedule in regular creative time. I make the effort to pull moments out of my day regularly, when my older boys are at school and the littles are playing together. Most often, I'm furiously sketching or knitting on the couch next to hubby while he's watching sports on TV in the evenings after the kids are in bed. It's a constant struggle to find creative time, but I'm better about it now than I used to be. I used to feel guilty whenever I'd take the time to create during the day - I felt like I should be doing laundry, or cleaning, or building playdoh people with the boys. Now, I obviously still do those things, but I don't feel guilty if I put them off for an hour so I can get some creative "me" time in, too.
What are your tips on balancing business and family??
I'm a list-maker, so my best tip is to make lists for everything. Every night before I go to sleep, I make two "to do" lists for the next day - one work, one home. It helps me clear my head before going to sleep, and gets me mentally prepared for what's coming the next day so I can prioritize. The best thing I did was put together my home management binder ( Go to my blog, here to read all about it, and download m brain files). Everything having to do with our home, schedules, etc - it's all in the binder. If it's there, I don't have to keep it in my head, which is good for all of us, LOL! Also, I think that as I've grown into mamahood and had more kids, I've realized what's important and what's not so important. Having a snack with my boys and listening to them tell me about their day when they get home from school? That's important. So, I make it a priority to put aside whatever I'm working on when they get home, and I sit with them. Making sure that all the socks are sorted? Not so important. So, we've got a giant ziploc bag (I mean, GIANT!) that all of our socks go into when they come out of the laundry, and when we need socks, we go fishing in the bag. It sounds so cliche, but really, I try not to sweat the small stuff.
What do you do to ensure that you don't burn out?
Date nights with my man! We try to have a date night once a month - even if we can't manage to go out, we'll order a pizza for the kids early and let them watch a movie, so we can cook a nice dinner together and enjoy it alone. We talk about anything but the kids or work - those are off limits. I'm very blessed in that I still find my hubby interesting (we just celebrated our 10th anniversary last week!) and he's my best friend in the whole world, so it's never hard for us to find things to talk about that remind us that we're more than just parents or our work.
Are you crafty in other ways? If so, what do you make?
I love photography, even though I'm not very good at it. I keep saing I'd like to take a photography course (but who has the time?!) I enjoy sewing, mostly little things for my home and clothes for the boys. And, I love to bake. I joke that if the whole knitting thing goes south, I'll become an artisan breadmaker. I've got a honey whole wheat loaf in the oven right now, waiting for the boys to come home from school.
Any future business plans?
I'd like to see the wholesale side of my business grow. I love my local yarn shops, and I'd really enjoy developing relationships with other shops. There's nothing like escaping to a cozy shop for a little eye candy and inspiration! I'm also working on a book, of baby designs with a natural living focus (think: lots more diapering options!) I remember when I published my first soaker pattern, and most people said "What the heck is a soaker?!" Now, cloth diapering has enjoyed such a resurgence, and so many new mamas now are conscious of their impact on our planet. I'm looking forward to sharing fun designs that are Earth-friendly.
Which of your patterns have you used the most? Why is it your favorite?
Having gone through 4 boys' worth of cloth diapering years, I'd say that it's a toss up between the Hybrid Rib Soaker and the Picky Pants. I've lost count of how many pairs of pants I've made in the past nine years! It's funny, though, because I wouldn't say it's my favorite - just the most practical. My favorite pattern would have to be the Stripey Slippers. They're so fun to make, quick and easy, and they are the perfect baby gift for all my breeding friends!
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As our site and community grows, I hope that you drop me a line and tell me what crafty baby stuff you are up to! Did you make something that was inspired by something on our site? Pretty please play "show and tell" with the rest of us! Often, having an audience for your crafting is just a kick in the pants that you need to get working.
Feel free to send in tips or questions too! We love mail!
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