Skip to content

the joy of slow.

we should be sleeping. instead, we’re getting the coffee, ipod, and a nice big list ready to get things organised tonight. why? we’re expecting wool tomorrow. thankfully, not the whole ton is arriving, but enough for the courier to enquire if we had a forklift. where exactly we’d keep a forklift in a third floor apartment is a tad beyond us, but it doesn’t hurt to check, right?

TON OF WOOL

bonus of getting your own wool processed - named bales!

TON OF WOOL been a really wonderful process so far, and it’s had us thinking about doing things slow – thanks to steve hopkins of blogging everyday in march for the slow reminder. TON OF WOOL (getting a ton of wool processed in australia from sheep to skein) has been much faster and simpler than what we expected. we’re so thrilled to be able to bring a local product to market, and to acknowledge the change (albeit tiny) that is being made – to how wool is processed, to what craftspeople know about their wool, to being able to purchase wool safe in the knowledge that it hasn’t left the country before you’ve bought it.

blogging and the website is going to be incredibly slow compared to the breakneck speed we remember working at in new media where the deadline was yesterday. we know – there’s a wealth of things that need improving, changing and a decent spit and polish around here. we’ll keep on staring wistfully at sites like ali edwards or the pitcher plant project (we smell a book coming on!) and skein yarn. for now though, it will do.

handmade, slow: 3 magazines to look out for

we’re thrilled to see the rise of the slow and handmade, and one way of gauging interest is media. launching on kickstarter today, with half of their goal already reached is handmade, a magazine from juniper moon farm. juniper moon farm holds a special place in our heart – through offering subscriptions to yarn and fiber to urban folk, they’ve also offered an education into the rural way of life, and made it so much more than just buying the end product.
we’re tossing up what to sign up for, but a tshirt about a handknit revolution is a winner:

the revolution will be hand knit

the revolution will be hand knit

.

amanda blake soule – a mum with 3 books behind her about the handmade & family, she’s now branching out into a magazine, taproot “a quarterly magazine celebrating local living through writing, photography and the arts, both fine and domestic.”:

taproot

then there’s the local goodness of slow “Slow Magazine Australia is a low gear lifestyle publication that delivers authentic content focusing on life in the slow lane, especially in regional Victoria.”. slow magazine seems to have lived up to their name and started slowly, but are meandering beautifully with design awards for their pages, and wonderful local stories. check out the tasters about living slow on their site, and grab a hard copy to slowly work your way through.

slow magazine australia - issue ten

slow magazine australia - issue ten

we’re blogging everyday this month as part of Steve‘s little experiment to get us all blogging for 31 days in March. For more info, follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #b03

nikki gabriel goodness, spot the chart, inspiration

after several phonecalls and enquiries (we’re terribly good at getting lost) we finally made it to the nikki gabriel sale. nikki had the most amazing dress on, which was either a dress from the summer 09 collection, or something very similar.
while we didn’t take any photos in the store of the small selection available, as luck would have it, we spotted one of her designs in the wild at the north city 4 launch, and begged. luckily, awesome model. lovin’ the coordinating beer:

nikki gabriel cardie

nikki gabriel cardie

also spotted: machine knitting chart! we’re a sucker for the rose pattern, and here it is on the backs of mittens:

rose mitten backs

rose mitten backs

we’ve previously played around with the pattern, stopping and starting it, adding in standard rows of knitting and so forth to break it up:

rough roses

rough roses

it’d be fun to revisit in the not too distant future.

finally, some inspirational knitwear spotted in the crowd – it’s a fine silver thread alternated with something more cotton/linen like:

stripes

inspirational stripes

we’re blogging everyday this month as part of Steve‘s little experiment to get us all blogging for 31 days in March. For more info, follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #b03

melbourne fashion festival, knit/craft happenings

we were just a tad shocked going through the craft victoria highlights of loreal melbourne fashion festival, which is on throughout march. their highlights have none of ours, so we figured…better let you know about ’em.

starting tonight with their launch, material culture is an exhibition of RMIT textiles and design alumni (not only students, but also teachers & staff), which we’re hoping is going to be showcasing some wonderful knitwear. given that lotta apted locked herself away for a month with knitting machines, it’s looking good!

penthouse mouse will be showing another RMIT alumni – wendy voon who has her knitwear as part of the exhibition. also featured are gusset faves limedrop who are going from strength to strength in fashion.

wendy voon @ penthouse mouse

wendy voon @ penthouse mouse

we’re particularly thrilled about the opening of the textile and fashion hub in richmond. having such a hub means that micro businesses and labels have a shot at sampling and/or creating a range and learning about the process here in australia, rather than relying on going overseas. we’re looking forward to seeing how we might be able to extend ton of wool into a product with them, if that’s feasible.

in terms of other events, nikki gabriel who specialises in hand/hand machined knitwear and a knitwear range for the DIY crowd, is running a pop up shop fri march 2nd, saturday 3rd. details on her blog.

also on this friday night is the launch of north city 4, a community space which offers tenancy, creativity and education in the form of a shared jewellery & object studio. launch night features marcus westbury, known as the guy whose hobbies include rejuvenating cities such as newcastle – check out the TED video.

finally, we’re turning a little new leaf here by blogging everyday in march. if you’d like to find out more about the challenge or how to contribute then head to the squiggly line.

Pinterest finds – Luli Sanchez

Luli Sanchez on Pinterest
Luli Sanchez 

The Surge Of Craft.

we were thrilled to see that tim o’reilly had been thinking about the crafters on etsy, which is echoed in the new york times article “don’t mock the artisanal pickle makers“. as someone involved in the crafts industry, it’s great to see that yes, there is interest and a surge in the people who are dedicated to craft and providing a quality local product. that’s what ton of wool is all about.

part 1: how to make money using crowdsourcing (from someone who made amost $40,000)

$38, 893.00. we made thousands on pozible.com.au, an australian crowdsourced funding site (if you’re in the dark, wikipedia re: crowdfunding). to date, it’s the largest amount raised by a single person in the short history of pozible . we’re writing this to let you know that compared of other methods of raising cash, it’s a pretty simple, fast and easy way, if you do it right. it’s also legal, which is rather handy.

Go shove your advertising up yr nuffnang!

so, how the heck did we tell bank managers and the other usual methods of financing to suck it and work without a bank loan?  how did we not sell our soul to nuffnang? where do we get the hookers and cocaine? not so fast, grasshopper.

for starters, there was a reason behind our madness of deciding to go down the route of crowdsourced funding. we’d done our homework on the whole crowdsourcing thing thanks to friends and people that we knew. nickd wrote a book about user interface design. my spinning hero, pluckyfluff aka lexi boeger, made her dream of a pluckyfluff HQ come alive. shannon okey, knitgrrl extraordinaire, kicked the bank manager’s butt and got her business funded for expansion.

we watched, we donated money to causes that we loved, and we got a little wistful. what could we do with websites like kickstarter? there had to be something.

how we came up with our project.

the pieces coming together all happened in a rush. admitedly, we’d laid a hell of a lot of groundwork before starting out on our path to cash. we’ve done the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS). twice. we’d written articles for yarn magazine,  done a lot of knitting book reviews, worked for a yarn store, blogged since 1998 (we were part of the beginning of diaryland & blogger, amongst others), and started our own business selling hand dyed yarn in australia, because it seemed kinda weird to be importing the stuff.

we have sheep here in australia. researching things a little further, we have a rare breed of sheep, the cormo, which is pretty popular overseas. it’s the biggest fibre seller at the moment at the spinning loft, a fine purveyor of fleecy goodness based in the USA at howell, near detroit in michigan.

long story short: we fall in love with cormo, and desperately wanted to have it locally manufactured into a form that more crafters can use (ie combed top for spinning & felting, and yarn for knitting & crochet). how? after a few months of research, it turns out that we can get it done, but it’s no small operation.

we do the sums and nearly fall over backward at the cost – how do farmers ever manage to afford the costs of transport, scouring (cleaning the fleece), processing (combing and carding the fleece to get a spinnable fibre), and spinning before selling their own product? there was no way that we’d be able to do it alone. or was there?

there was the option of simply getting the farmer to trust in us, and fund the whole thing. problem was, we wasn’t sure that we had an audience, and that there were enough people willing to pay a premium for a locally made product. we really needed to keep that farmer happy, by making things as simple as possible.

do your homework.

we did the homework with kickstarter. the truth of the matter is, unless you’re in the US or have someone amazing who is going to do all your dirty work in america (set up the account on kickstarter, have a US amazon account, have a US bank account, make your ham sandwiches, and the list goes on…), and the bulk of the people funding you are going to be in the USA, you can forget about kickstarter. they have automated walls for people outside of the US to ensure that you don’t start a project with them.

the cormo project was going to be all australian. it had to be, because that’s essentially what we were pimping – a rare australian sheep from the founders of the breed, processed from sheep to skein in tasmania & victoria. we knew about pozible from a few sources, including the famous hell hole of complete shit in both good and bad ways, messandnoise.

there was a project that was being pimped on messandnoise that was successful “given everything” – a film about oz musician maurice frawley . sure, it helped that they had paul kelly backing them, but it was a great project, and it’s awesome to see a film about  a well loved local musician come to fruition.

we did the homework on pozible. perhaps too much. we religiously checked out other projects, read all the fine print, checked the everything crowdfunding flowchart, read the blog and possibly annoyed the hell out of those boys who were successful. we googled them. we called them. we contacted them via messandnoise.

get the code.

most importantly, we got the code. if there is a way to make or save money whilst doing crowdsourced funding, take it. pozible offers a discount code through various avenues, and it’s really super duper worth your while to get one. why? here’s how pozible’s fees work:

we raised a total of $38, 893.00. if we didn’t get the code, we’d be paying pozible $2,916.00. with the code? $1,944.00. a simple task which took a few minutes saved us close to a thousand dollars.

pozible wants you to be successful, and by adding in a little extra work for you to do, they figure your chances will be greater. given that since doing pozible, that no one had asked us for a code, or the folk that we got our code from, pozible are very right. check out the statistics – less than 40% of the projects on pozible are successful – getting a code is one little step on your path to success. (update – we’ve only got one left, but if you think you’re worthy – get in touch!)

beware midgets in the porn industry

we didn’t really think about this one, because for us and our checkered history of applying for jobs amongst other things, we love addressing selection criteria. 49% of pozible projects are rejected, because they fail to meet pozible’s criteria.  before you start on your path to millions by crowdsourcing a charity that cares for midgets in the porn industry, you might like to check where pozible sits with your project.

there was nothing like TON OF WOOL, hell, there wasn’t even a craft category (like there is on kickstarter). so, we did the right thing, contacted pozible and checked. added bonus – pozible knows that you’re coming, they’ll look out for you, and they’ll approve you faster, because you checked, and you, smart person, have the code.

 coming up with your target amount.

we asked for what seems like a ridiculous amount of money – $33,000.00. we had no choice in the matter, because the minimum with the scour for white wool was two tons, and we talked them down to one. we did our homework. we did the sums. we talked to our accountant and gave them the figures and listened to them sweat over the phone and tell us that we’re doing something really dumb and risky. if our accountant didn’t do that, something would be horribly wrong.

we talked to a fibre loving knitter pal who’s also a bookkeeper who knows her way around a balance sheet, and got her to do some sums and check ours. then, we went through the scenarios, many a time, and came up with how it was all going to work. we needed to buy all the wool, and get it all scoured. then we worked out the bare minimum we’d need to sell, and how much we could charge for it in order to cover the costs of buying it all, scouring it all, and processing what needed to be sold.

then we added the fun stuff – the costs that pozible charge, transport costs, gst on any transactions, postage, labelling. to be on the safe side, we padded it out by using maximum costs for things that could possibly be a lot lower (for example, wool processing is cheaper when processing 500kg as against 250kg, but we used the 250kg figure).

whatever project you’re doing – that number crunching is uber important that you get right BEFORE you go for funding. always go for the bare minimum that you need to get your project funded – it’s not unusual for projects to be funded way over their additional goal, particularly if you spell it out that you’re going for minimum, however if extra funds occur, what they’re going to be used for.

know your product.

have awesome rewards that people are going to want. there’s a couple of schools of thought about rewards though, and there’s no one way that’s right, but there’s what works for you. we needed simple, so we stuck with product only, and a digital craft magazine – entangled that we’d been helping out with that we wanted to publicise – a win/win situation. if there’s someone you can team up with to offer something a little off the wall without too much hassle, all well and good. others warned me about going all out and giving away crazy things that cost extra and were a lot of work. for example, we do hand dyed yarn. there’s no hand dyed offerings, because we couldn’t put the costings into pozible without a lot of fussing around.

others have gone all out with weird offerings, and it’s worked for them in terms of publicity. great examples include josh freese who did some uh… interesting package deals “Take a limo down to Tijuana and he’ll show you “how it’s done””.  there’s also the wonderful $3000 grilled cheese party for bottle coozies (and james brown stickers, t shirts, all sorts of crazy). do question if you really want to be signing product a thousand times (hello trent reznor) or what else you’d be prepared to do/offer, particularly if it’ll get you media attention, and it’s something people will shell out cold hard cash for.

do a video for your project.

we know. we didn’t do one. at least, we didn’t publish one of the tens that we did do, because we hated it, and chances are, pozible hates us for not having a video, because it’s one of the things that they love to see you do. so we’re going to do a video just for pozible about pozible instead. meanwhile, we highly recommend robin sloan’s awesome advice on doing a video.

oh, honey

in the throes of trying to find something interesting to watch whilst knitting, we came across a documentary about bees – “Queen Of The Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?”. we haven’t seen said documentary (yet!) but our obsession is growing.
turns out that locally, the melbourne scene is looking pretty good for bees. there’s an urban bee guild, melbourne city rooftop honey, and  bee sustainable in brunswick where we’ve been told they stock local pollen, perfect for a smoothie kickstart to the day.

we’re looking forward to seeing a honey CSA starting up, and growing some herbs to help out us (salad time!) and the bees.

5 ways blog events have changed over ten years

a comparison of South By Southwest (SXSW) 2001 & Problogger Melbourne 2011

1) blogs & events have come to australia

in the year 2001, there wasn’t a hell of a lot of blog events in australia. the closest thing we went to was national young writers festival, which featured various people using the web for nefarious purposes.

so, we hightailed it overseas during the olympics in sydney, living in london, and going to sxsw in austin. needless to say, things were a little different back then. there were less bloggers and new media folk, and we knew of each other. it’s kinda scary looking back at the photo below of a blogmeet in london and knowing where some of these people are now. not to mention the missing one.

bonanza 1, originally uploaded by Meg Pickard.

sxsw these days is a massive several day conference – check out the sessions for next year. when we went, it was a much smaller, cosier experience, consisting of going to breakfast at the house of the locals, and mooching off people whose company had paid for their hotel room. we weren’t the only one – justin hall was the king of doing stuff on the cheap,  our one regret being not finding out more from him and how he did it. thanks to loobylu, we managed to at least score a free ticket on her behalf, given that she was up for an award.

if you wanted to meet anyone, not a problem. zeldman? hug first, introduce yourself later. so many people who are now really well known – back then, we were all just hanging out together.

these days – a blog event in our city! due to not blogging and basically living in a black hole, we find out about it at the last minute on twitter, and scamble to get a ticket from someone who can’t make it.

2. teh interwebs celebrity

back in 2001, there wasn’t someone who was a new york times bestseller author who just happened to be in town for some billboard plastered conference on how to be a millionaire who could make a guest appearance. this time around, tim ferriss rocked up. like amanda mentioned in her five lightbulb moments from problogger, swooning women. or after checking out his thoughts on dating, not so much.

3. monetization

was that even a word in 2001?  suffice to say, if there were a drinking game based around the word at problogger, you’d be needing your stomach pumped in emergency before the day was done.

4. sisters are doin’ it for themselves

whoa. the biggest takeaway from 2011 is heck – the womens! where did all these females come from?  the Australian Women Bloggers directory shows that the answer is, a combo of fashion/design and mommy/mummy bloggers. this is one trend that is great to see – that women are taking up internet use and communications, and more importantly sticking to their guns and doing things their way. a prime example is the honest and we-had-tears-streaming-down-our-face-laughing woogsworld. we’ll put it on record that she is destined for Big Things (and we don’t mean larger thighs).

we loved it that there was a panel with the women from woogsworld, foxinflats, stone soup & hair romance, with paul cunningham feeling very out of place, particularly when the birthing stories started. about time. NOW YOU KNOW HOW WE’VE BEEN THE LAST FEW YEARS AT THESE TECH THINGERS, BOYS.

5. the handy tips and tools

there were a few things that we picked up at problogger that we found rather handy. linking muliple email accounts together using sparrowmail. reeder for .rss feeds. nicole avery of planningwithkids super organised methods including batch blogging on the weekends for more time during the week. using numbered lists for posts (ie 5 ways, 10 things, 100 best etc), and the importance of setting goals (that one never gets old).

the truth is, the basics haven’t changed so much. doing what you love, and being smart about it is nothing new. thank goodness for that.

mosses and mushrooms and whimsy, oh my!

found on twitter via the wonderful ravelry staffer rainydaygoods:

snake-a-licious sweater

snake-a-licious sweater

tinyowlknits aka stephanie dosen is someone to make your day just that little bit more wonderful. an amazing knitting talent (just looking at her projects makes us swoon), she’s got the vocal chops too, which you can witness on rockwiz.