Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Merry Christmas to all!

Some may see this as coming a little late, while others a little early.  But since I know this time of year is very busy for everyone, I'm wishing you a Merry Christmas now, and will hopefully have the time to follow-up with a Happy New Year in a timely manner.

I've started my Christmas shopping.  It seems I'm a little behind the ball on it this year, maybe it's the boxes waiting to be unpacked in the garage (which we can finally park the car in), maybe I'm just a little slower this year.  Who knows?  What I do know is this:  I'm well on my way to reaching the goal of atleast 50% of my shopping supporting local businesses.  Whether this means supporting another local artist, or buying my son's boots at the local baby store.

Call it an early start to my New Year's resolutions to support local when possible. 

Merry Christmas,

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

What an amazing week so far!

Arlene Dickinson recently said: "I don’t think there’s ever been a better opportunity to be an entrepreneur than right now... Innovative people who have different and new ideas and people who go to the market with a new value proposition do extremely well" and I couldn't agree with her more! 

This past weekend Balanced Needles Knitting & Quilting got a little boost with our MOMpreneur Award of Excellence nomination with a note in The Star Phoenix!  We're also very excited that the Martensville Messenger will be featuring us in an upcoming editorial.  The momentum is building, and it is definitely an exciting time to be an entrepreneur.

This morning, we broke the top 10!  As of 10:00 CST we're in 8th place overall, which means our nomination is on the first page of the gallery!

I'm still in the process of finding suppliers for some of the more unique items that get turned into quilts, bags, and home decor.  Yesterday I placed an order that I'm hoping arrives much sooner than the expected delivery date of December 26.  Then again, I'm the one who decided that placing an overseas order during Christmas would be a smart idea.  But, those looking for RAF, Armstrong, Munro and a few other tartans are in luck--I'll be doing up a few samples for you soon!  I'll post pictures here and on the Balanced Needles Knitting & Quilting fanpage when they are ready.

Until next time,

Monday, 19 November 2012

Exciting Times--Busy Times

Between trying to keep up with Christmas sewing, finding suppliers for some of my upcoming projects, voting for and promoting the MOMpreneur Award of Excellence, it has been a very busy few weeks. 

As if I don't have enough on my plate, I have been accepted to instruct a 2-day Bargello Quilting class at the Saskatoon Quilters' Guild Spring Retreat in May!  Which means that I need to start prepping my samples now, because we all know that if I wait until after the New Year it will be May 1st and I'll be scrambling to get everything put together.  Word of caution to all friends and family members, if your Christmas present is not exactly "finished" and comes with a "return for completion" tag on it, you might not get it back until after the Retreat.  Sorry, but the best way to teach a technique is to show it in various stages :)

While in Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving last month, our American neighbours will be celebrating this week.  While I am very thankful for being Canadian, and while our culture can sometimes be best described as "Not American," there are sometimes I wish we celebrated in a similar way.  I learned a new thing this year as a result of American Thanksgiving called "Small Business Saturday."  It's the Saturday after "Black Friday" but before "Cyber Monday."  The aim is to support local small businesses, which can often be left out of the big shopping rush of that weekend.  This year it falls on Saturday, November 24.  Conveniently, around Saskatoon atleast, there are a few show options that I'm aware of:

Martensville--First Annual Shopping Extravaganza 9am-5pm at the Martensville High School

Saskatoon--Wilson's Greenhouse 11th Annual Christmas Craft and Tradeshow (Friday-Sunday, hours vary)

I'm sure there are others going on, but I'll be at the Martensville one and a good friend will be at Wilson's.

So, whether you're looking to help Santa out with his gifts, or checking your own list twice, remember to support local!  It's well worth the effort.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Mompreneur Award of Excellence 2013 - Please Vote

I have some very exciting news and need your help to spread the word:  I went out an a limb and entered the Mompreneur Award of Excellence 2013 competition.  Please follow the link by clicking on the image below, register and vote for me, then tell everyone you know to do the same. 

It feels a little awkward to have to promote it this way, but the competition is based on whoever gets the most votes.  And since Saskatchewan has a history of doing well with these kinds of things (Tommy Douglas - Greatest Canadian, Sheepdogs - Rolling Stone), we can see some great successs.

Thank you in advance for your support. 


Friday, 12 October 2012

How to Choose a Craft Sale

One of the other blogs I follow, Handmade Success, recently posed a question to readers about how to choose which craft fairs/shows to go to.  I added my two cents in and thought I’d share them with you:

We had a less than successful market day recently.  We felt we were doing everything right:  good venue, reasonable cost for the booth space, good visibility at the venue, we even brought a not-so-portable spinning wheel along that drew the attention of everyone that came through the market.  Unfortunately, very few people made their table money that day.  However, we learned at least two things: 
1) End of summer may not be a great time of year to be trying to sell homespun yarns, knitting and quilting items.
2) We will research future venues/events a little more. 

Many other posters had already indicated the importance of going to a potential show to do research if you can.  My recommendations on how to make this research useful would be to see if the vendors that are there are willing to share some information on the show with you.  Organizers may not be as honest about what their traffic has been, or what percentages of their vendors come back each year.  Other crafting entrepreneurs usually will though - why?  Because they usually recognize that you're not a direct competitor, unless you're snapping pictures and taking sketches of their work to copy for your own.  We each create something that is unique and different and good vendors work with organizers to create a positive environment for each other.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

My Other Passions

During the spring and fall I've been known to refer to myself as a "weekend widow." You see, my husband, Russ, is the Commanding Officer of North Battleford Gliding Centre. This takes him away on Saturday before the sun comes up, and while he usually comes home to sleep I don't really see him until after supper Sunday evening. His involvement in the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program is nothing new, in fact we met through cadets 14 years ago (wow, time flies when you're having fun). What I forget to be thankful for sometimes is the joy that being involved in the Cadt program brings to him. Russ, and his staff, have had the opportunity to share a love of flying with many youth from accross this great province of ours. 

We made a family trip out of going to the Gliding Centre this Thanksgiving weekend.  Ian was all bundled up in his fall gear, and did his best to toddle around on the uneven ground.  Russ and I enjoyed a flight together while some of the staff occupied him, and when we landed he got to sit on my knee in the glider for a moment.  I fear the aviation bug bit him early, as the first thing he wanted to do was pull the "red knob" (the release for the tow rope).  But what else can you expect when both parents got their wings as teenagers?  Not to mention the fact that he took his first flight in a 182 when he was 14 days old.  The Rick Mercer Report even made a trip out to the Gliding Centre in Netook, AB this past spring.  You can watch the video here:

I just remind myself every now and then that while Russ is more passionate about flying than I am, he is also very supportive of my fabric addictions too.  Both are expensive, but also very relaxing.

Ian and Auntie Teaghan at NBGC.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Getting Ready for Market

Balanced Needles Knitting & Quilting is off to the Community Market at Wilson's Greenhouse this Saturday, September 29!

While it is very exciting to be part of this blossoming community, it's also a little daunting.  The grand question for any crafter is always "how much should I bring?"  Here's the list of questions I ask myself each time:

1.  What time of year is the show/market happening?  If it's a one-day/one-weekend seasonal show, bring everything you can fit into your booth (with room to set it up appropriately) that fits that season.  If what you sell is large and difficult to transport, think about taking one or two and the appropriate signs indicating whether the item(s) are for sale/order. 

2.  How much stock do you have?  If you've only got three owl stuffies, bring all three.  If you've got more than what will fit nicely in your display, bring one less than that.  This can help convey the popularity of the item.  If your display area allows for easy (hidden) storage of extra stock, bring some along for really popular items.  Restock throughout the day as necessary, or bring more along the second day if possible.

Don't sacrifice quality for quantity. If you're known for selling good quality, your customers will keep coming back and recommending you to others. But if you're rushing to make "just one more" for sale, you're apt to make mistakes that could cost you a sale.

3.  How old are your items?  If what you're selling was very trendy five years ago, it might not be as popular now.  Simple, "classic" items however could still go for the price you've already marked, provided there is no indication of dust, or other "imperfections" that may indicate the item has been going back and forth between your home and the market for some time.  Consider reducing prices on older items - selling something at a bit of a loss is better than at a total loss, right?

There's always the question of "how much should I charge?"  But that's another topic for another day.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Upcoming Craft Sales

Meghan and I are busy at work getting ready for a few sales over the next few weeks.  A major part of my preparation is completing the move from garage to studio, as well as finishing up the arrangements of the studio space. 

Our first show will be Saturday, September 29, at The Community Market at Wilson's Greenhouse & Gardent Centre  in Saskatoon.  Details will also be posted to

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Work In Progress - the studio

As promised, a picture of the studio space in its current format:

Sorry it's sideways, apparently I need to read/see the videos on how not to take pictures/videos with your phone for public viewing online.  That said, it is very unorganized right now, and when I have a better handle on what it will look like then I'll show you the "finished" product.

My brother and his lovely bride dropped off a shelving unit for me today.  Derk was even gracious enough to assemble it in the basement space so that all I have to do is determine where it is going, and what is going on it!  Thanks Derk and Ksashar!

I should probably get back to unpacking the rest of the house, because it seems that no matter how often I wish for it there are no magic gnomes coming into the house at night to unpack boxes. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


First, a huge thanks to all of our great friends and family that helped us out with the move.  It went way smoother than expected!

Now comes the "fun" part - unpacking!  My wonderful husband has already set-up the foam flooring in the area that will be my sewing studio.  I will be uploading pictures of the "WIP" (aka: flooring down, work tables in place, nothing else unpacked) shortly - I promise this time!

Once the space is organized, and I know where my other projects are, I'll have even more photos to upload for your enjoyment :)

Until next time!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Projects are all packed up!

I know I promised to post pictures of my most recent projects, but the moving date is looming closer and I needed to feel confident that nothing would be left behind.  So, long story short my sewing room is now a box fort and the pictures will have to wait until everything is unpacked in the new home.

On a side note.  I will be attending a Trunk Show and Presentation at the end of August featuring Prairie Quilt Mercantile that should be really inspiring.  I will most definitely have to remember to take my camera along and get permission to post. 

Unfortunately, the tape gun and cardboard are calling my name... More fun tips on packing sure to follow.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Moving the studio, and the rest of our home

After careful consideration we decided to sell our home.  With the help of our agent, and the lovely couple that is purchasing the house, we have a sale! 

Now comes the tough part.  We've been living in the pristine conditions of a show-ready house for a few months, and that has all been taken over by the smell of cardboard and packing paper.  While searching for a new home with our agent, hoping to find something early this week, we are also in a bit of a rush to pack up our current residence as the new owners move-in the third week in August!

Some things that we are keeping in mind for a new house:
  • "new" can be a relative term, and just because it is a few years old doesn't mean the basement has been developed.
  • "developed" is also a relative term - some basements we've seen would need to be gutted and start from scratch.  Been there, done that, with a scar or two to prove it - don't need to do it again right away.
The great thing about moving is that as I pack up my fabric, notions and sewing machines (one boxed, one in rolling case and serger in another box) I can sort through some of it and make the unpacking process easier - right?  If nothing else, I should be able to put some of the tips and tricks that I've been reading about setting up a great studio space right off the hop.

One thing is certain:  the next four weeks will be very busy!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

New Apprentice

I've been working on a few new projects, will post pictures soon, and have an apprentice who likes to "help."  His name is Ian, and we just celebrated his first birthday last weekend. 

When he was very young, before he started to explore his mobility and reach out to the world around him, Ian would sit on my lap and watch the needle move up-down, up-down, up-down.  After a few very short months, he started playing with the fabric and I had to find a new place for him to supervise from - conveniently, he was very content to nap on the floor next to my sewing table.  Now that he motors around the sewing room I've had to make a few lay-out adjustments such as hiding power cords behind boxes, and moving smaller sewing notions out of reach. 

One thing I didn't anticipate was Ian's fascination with the foot pedal - I should know by now to be suspicious when he's suddenly quiet.  The good news is, he can blindly sew a 1/4" seam in a very straight line (or maybe I just lucked out that the fabric was already lined-up nicely), and working on a non-computerized machine I was able to flick the power switch before anything got out of hand.

Work-Life Balance seems to have a whole new meaning now...

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

New Look? New Blog!

After returning to my "day job" at Saskatoon Business College, I've had a few opportunities to re-evaluate where life is taking me.  I envisioned a fresh start to the blog and so here it is. 

I look forward to continuing this journey with you!