I've been feeling a little tired and preoccupied lately, not exactly ideal considering we are going into the busiest 3 weeks of the year... though perhaps understandable given that situation. Dad's recovery from surgery is going smoothly enough, but there is a part of my brain preoccupied with whether he's getting enough walks, should I hide the car so he doesn't try to drive it, is it my turn to bring him breakfast, did I put enough things around the house for him to do but not bend/twist/lift, and so on. Add to that the usual pre-holiday preparations - finding room for all the merchandise arriving, making room for the holiday section in the store, trying to make sense of the chaos in the office, writing the draft of my holiday letter, thinking about postcards and gift bags, finalizing my list of presents to give and make... Not to mention the general pressure of wondering if I over/under bought and whether we will have too much or too little for customers. I am also housesitting in a week so I am trying to come up with my list of projects to work on and things to pack. Then again, I am reminded of one of my new favorite postcards:
Anyway, all this preoccupation means I've been a little lazy on the making end of things. Though my consignment check in October sent me into a little tizzy, I've had my share of evenings spent working on jigsaw puzzles or mix tapes - neither of which have any effect on my November consignment check. But this week was rather tiring, given the amount of work that I did to rearrange the store and set up phase I of the holiday window. Then again, I posted various things on our Facebook page - generally to the effect of Jack London's words that I love so much:
"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
So as I sat at home feeling tired and deserving of rest, I gave myself a little "snap out of it" speech and went to the sewing room for a few hours over the last few days. Walking in there, I was bombarded with a number of projects that have been started which could use my attention - headbands and garlands, an altered skirt, aprons... Just a wee bit overwhelming. But I stayed on task, working on a batch of batik scarves that I started a long long time ago. In fact, the strips of batik fabric leftover from quilting had been sewn together for a completely different project - that's how long ago I started: I was doing something else. But I thought it might be lovely to have such colors wrapped around one's neck so I had a little more stitching to do and then I was able to back them with flannel and make them into scarves. I managed to finish a prototype last week and then had 6 more to make, which I finished up last night. Here they all are, laid out on the table...and yes, making me feel like they would have been cool all together as a quilt. Though I made myself a bed quilt last year, I haven't had time for quilting the way I used to. It is starting to feel like a past life. But I sure do love working with batiks. The batik fabric isn't very drapey but the flannel on the back is nice and I made them extra long so you can double them around your neck. I'm quite pleased. Now to figure out the next project. Though I'm starting to think that perhaps it will be a non-store project and I will finally learn to bind a book and will finish up my book of quotations on painted pages. I haven't worked on that for a few weeks - but I sure do love those pages.
In other vaguely store news, Sachi is working with Lakeview and Monroe Street public libraries to have a gift tag/wrap workshop at each branch in December. Unfortunately, we really do run into space and time limitations during the holidays here at the shop. So, for December, the craft table becomes a product table: right now it is hosting our boxed notecards early bird sale (25% off holiday boxed notes from now through December 1) and then it will become the Christmas table after December 1. Luckily, there is space at the libraries... In other library news, I am exploring the possibilities of the resident artist program at the Bubbler which would be super cool and is leading me to dream of all the projects I could work on and share with other people. It reminds me much of the feeling I had before we opened the store - I brought all sorts of projects into the shop because I thought I would get so much work done, only to realize that doesn't really work out along with delivering customer service. Still, the idea of library studio space is very tempting....
Other arrivals this week include "I'm with Bucky" t-shirts, messenger bags with colorful/pretty/fun fabric prints on their front flap, wrapping paper, and letterpress notecards. There are a few items that are not yet running out but which are running low so I have some anxiety about the people who are in the "just looking" phase - worrying that they will come back the week before Christmas and be disappointed. My list so far is : Wisconsin pint glasses, Madison neighborhood print, specific sizes of specific t-shirts, cut-out letter books. Oh, well, now that I see it written out, it's not so bad. The reality is that we will hopefully have something else that is just as suitable and if they are really really attached to giving a particular thing to a particular person, they would have bought it already, right? Being someone who buys things when I see them and think they would be perfect for someone, it is always a challenge for me to understand the people who see something they like and then wait to purchase it (I'm not really talking about financial constraints; I am talking about the people who seem to consistently say to me: oh darn, if only I had bought that when I saw it). But perhaps I can't take full responsibility for someone's disappointment. That would alleviate some of the preoccupations of my brain.
It is also the season for our holiday ads so we've enjoyed seeing those in print. We were particularly happy with the work of local artist Stefanie Lin who is the Crafty Helper who both loaned us her child and her photography skills to provide the photo for the ad featuring the Wi/Mn onesie. It was really wonderful to have an idea for an ad and then be able to delegate some of the work. I need to work on my delegating skills some more - that is always a challenge for me.
But I also feel the need to sit down and make a list for the next 6 weeks and maybe do some prioritizing. I am terrible at getting distracted with tasks that aren't at all urgent, which only makes the urgent tasks even more urgent and stressful. Yet another thing that needs improvement. But now I'm going to go think about what I would pack to be an artist in residence... never mind that would happen in 2014.... But, really, wouldn't YOU like to see what the two Komai sisters would come up with for such a thing?!