Artisan: Lynn’s Lids

I keep doing fellow artisan features, but I just realized that I haven’t actually done one of these posts for myself. So, just in time for my 3 big September sales (Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale, Danforth East Arts Fair and Etsy Made in Canada at MaRS), here goes:

Lynn's Lids felted wool dryer balls Lynn's Lids felted wool Toronto iPad sleeve Lynn's Lids needle felted wool Santa ornaments

Artisan Name: Lynn Wyminga

Products:  hand knit, waterproof & windproof felted wool hats, tea cosies, iPad sleeves, sheepy wool dryer balls, natural wool catnip balls, Christmas tree toppers and ornaments, either hand knit then felted wool yarn, wet felted wool roving, or needle felted wool roving.

Price Range: $10-100

How did this all begin? 
A few years ago, I picked up knitting again for the first time in 20 years. I made scarves for my kids’ stuffed animals, then scarves for my kids, husband and brother-in-law, but I didn’t need a scarf (my brother had knit me one!) so I browsed through the patterns at my local yarn shop and came across a pattern for a felted wool hat. I am a hat lover, so I figured if I could keep myself in hats (instead of buying them), I’d be set! So I made a bowler and during the felting process, I was kinda hooked. That transformation is a bit thrilling every time it happens. Anyway, I wore the hat out (and promptly made myself another) and friends kept asking me to make them one, and eventually Lynn’s Lids was born. (I had to take nearly 2 years off for treatment of 2 cancers, but when I was strong again in the fall of 2012 I started in earnest.)

 About:
I am inspired by many things, but nature is a big one (take the sheep on the dryer balls!) and necessity is another. The dryer balls idea came from the David Suzuki Foundation newsletter since I needed a smaller ticket item to sell at markets. They are a great gift since they are environmentally friendly (reducing dryer time) but even if the recipient isn’t interested in that aspect, they are just so darn cute (I had a non-English speaker order them on Etsy and they didn’t know they were for the dryer until they received them with my note – they had just bought them as fibre art!). I have made a lot of them, and as of yet I haven’t tired of it. I’m making the right product, I guess.

Other new items come from client requests (tea cosy, cat bed, computer sleeve, various hats), my own needs (iPad sleeve, camera cosy), and sometimes just whimsy (catnip balls, ornaments, Frankenstein hat, cyclops hat, devil hat, dragon hat).

The hats are definitely my favourite. I enjoy making every single one, from the knitting, the thrill of felting, and the blocking. (But not the waiting. Never the waiting.) I especially enjoy creating new designs and patterns, as that keeps things fresh and exciting. Not everything works, but mostly they do (a good example is the baker boy cap, below – which I made up a few years ago but took 3 tries to perfect). It feels great when someone tries one of my lids on and it suits them perfectly. I’ve been wearing my second hat (a bucket hat turned out to be the favourite for me and I gave that first bowler to my mom after a couple of years of wear) for 6 years so I know that they don’t really wear out. Because they are felted to a thick dense fabric, they are very durable, keeping out the wind and rain and I know the wearer will be warm and dry for years.

Needle felting is so much fun that I want everyone to give it a go, so I teach it on a regular basis at my local yarn shop.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Start creating stock early, bring a big bottle for water (it’s dry in there), pack your own food (junk food takes its toll and they are long days!) and ask a friend to come and give you an hour’s break in the middle of each day, if possible (if you can’t afford to hire a booth sitter). Smile and enjoy it. It’s a great time.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
On day 3 (of 5) a woman I recognized from earlier in the show came up to my table (in the Etsy section) and headed straight for the basket of catnip balls, exclaiming to her friend, “I bought one of these on Wednesday and my cats just love it!” and bought 6 more right there!

You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, www.lynnslids.com, Pinterest, my Etsy shop, and here, on the blog. To find me in person, check out my upcoming markets (via Etsy) or my where page.

Lynn's Lids baker boy cap with flower

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Fellow Artisan: County Cupboard (Cabbagetown & OOAK)

Today’s fellow artisan is a dear friend. Helen and I have known each other since the 1990s when we worked together in Kingston, then a decade later when we both happened to be on maternity leave at the same time (and in the same part of the city) with our first children. Now we carpool to craft fairs and bounce ideas off each other as SAHMs and small artisan businesswomen. I love her products and own one of County Cupboard‘s vintage Toronto map pillows, which I picked up when we were both selling at the Spring One of a Kind Show. Helen and I hope to be neighbours at the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale in just over a week and a half!

 

County Cupboard

Artisan Name: Helen Hawketts

Products: Vintage Canadian map pillows & tea towels

Price Range: $25-$60

How did this all begin?
Inspired by my family’s love of Prince Edward County, and hoping to pivot on an existing mail order business, my original business plan for CC was for it to be a web site where you could buy all sorts of great PEC products. There are SO many talented artisans and craft people in the County, it seemed like having a sampling of them in a ‘County cupboard’ was a logical business idea. My own offering for ‘the cupboard’? Scan a 1930’s map of the County that I had, get it printed onto fabric and sew it into a pillow.

The broader County products web site idea fizzled but a star was born in the map pillow. I gave them to friends & family that first Christmas 4 years ago and soon was asked for other areas, especially cottage country. I now have 6 vintage maps, and one vintage postage stamp design. A new (old) map will be unveiled at this year’s OOAK in November.

About:
I love actually making these pillows & tea towels. I find sewing very soothing.

I’m inspired by the people I meet at shows – my customers are very passionate about these maps. Many are really touched when they see their cottage area appear on a map. It’s really cool to witness and I’ve heard some great stories.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Stay calm, try to enjoy the madness because life can get really quiet when the dust settles. Have fun!

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
Love the camaraderie! It’s palatable.

 

Custom cosy #2 and class review

Hey, check out what I found: a review of my needle felting class on the Design Thrift blog.

So I took the needle felting class at the Purple Purl – and man, was it ever a blast! It was a group of eight of us all gathered around a coffee table to drink lattes, learn about needle felting, and complete our first needle felting project – a cute little penguin.” [More here…]

Also, I have created the second custom tea cosy!

Lynn's Lids Eiffel Tower custom tea cosy in purple heather

 

By the way, I was saying yesterday that this one took 4 times as long to felt as the carousel one since I used different yarn. Between the blocking and the needle felting I shave the cosy (same for hats). With this one (with all that felting), there was a lot of fuzz:

I save the fuzz for the next time I’m making dryer balls and add it to the cores. Waste not, want not!

Custom carousel tea cosy

Okay, I admit, I’ve been a little nervous about fulfilling this particular custom order… hoping it would turn out.

A lovely gal found me at the Spring One of a Kind Show and started talking to me about Teavana tea makers as she has a couple and liked my cosies. So we went back and forth a bit via email with tea maker photos and measurements (on her part) and yarn colour photos and sketches (on my part) and finally came up with a plan.

This is the first of two cosies. The other cosy is still blocking, as it was a different yarn and needed to felt for 4 times as long as this one. Such is the way with felting. You’ve been warned.

The request was for a carousel… I’m pretty happy with it.

Custom carousel tea cosy by Lynn's Lids

 

 

One of a Kind Show and more

Well, it’s been a while, I know.

I’m in the throes of custom orders, but I thought it was time to do an update.

The One of a Kind Show was great fun, if a little exhausting. Being primarily an online seller, I do love to get out there, and let folks see, feel, and, in the case of my hats, try on my products, and to talk to people. Another favourite activity is getting out and about and seeing what my fellow amazing artisans are creating. I even did some shopping and bought myself a new dress from Frëtt Design, a Québec clothier and my favourite from last year’s Spring One of a Kind Show. I also bought myself a vintage map of Toronto pillow from my friend Helen of County Cupboard for my late, great dad’s wingback chair that I inherited:

The show itself was long:

The cherry picker blocking my One of a Kind Show table during setup

Tuesday was move-in, where I had to set up my table with a huge cherry picker parked directly in front of my table (see right).

I came back later that evening (setup was until 10pm the night before), but it was still there. So the first day was an early morning, since it opens at 10am, but media is allowed in at 9am, and I had to get back there before 9am to make sure it actually looked okay, and to get my garland and sign pinned up.

Did I tell you the story of the garland? It was my favourite wool sweater (no, I didn’t make it, it was a store-bought gift from my husband), which finally wore through the elbows. Generally I cut up old woollens into strips and use them as the centres of my dryer balls, but I couldn’t let go of my sweater. Since it was in the same colour scheme as my logo (surprise, surprise!), I decided to felt the sweater, then cut it up and make it into a garland. That was back last September, just before the Danforth East Arts Fair. For the One of a Kind Show, I was going to buy a sign, but I still had a good portion of that sweater left, so I decided to try make my own sign. It was really not what I needed to do in the week leading up to the OOAK Show, but it turned out pretty good (not perfect, but a good first try) and it was a fun needle felting project. This photo shows the first day, before the show opened and before I turned on the lights:

Speaking of the week leading up to the OOAK Show, on the day before move-in, I received an email from a home magazine saying they wanted to include a set of my Sheepy Dryer Balls in a “laundry” issue, and they needed them by Thursday. I would have loved to have picked out or create 3 perfect specimens for them but I didn’t have any blanks left and I was packed up and ready to move in so I had to make do. I also didn’t have time to drop them off anywhere but luckily they came by and picked them up!

My friend Helen and I carpooled and shared a parking pass, which was great. I had a four friends (thankfully I have the kindest and most generous friends) come by to spell me off for a couple of hours so I could take a break each day. That was fantastic since Wednesday I started before 9am and closing time was 9pm. Thursday was the late night shopping, plus there was a new seller breakfast and info session, so we were there from about 9:30am-11:15pm. Friday and Saturday were 10am-9pm, and Sunday was 10am-7pm, plus move-out. Although Saturday and Sunday were the busiest for foot traffic, Thursday and Friday were the busiest for sales, which was interesting.

I had a great time with my Etsy Section neighbours, including Son of a Woodcutter, Misses Country, CGMonsters, and Green Honeydew (photo below doesn’t show all of our tables, as Son of a Woodcutter was beside Misses Country):

It is a fun atmosphere in the Etsy Section, as cosy as it is. The section itself is a big attraction for people, but the major drawbacks as a seller to the section is that if you are placed in the middle aisles, it gets too crowded (I felt very fortunate to be placed where I was on the outside of the section) to get around, and for each of the 50 tables in the section, you can only have a maximum of 3 people at your table at one time. That said, it was a great opportunity to get my name and products out there, it was a ton of fun, and I feel it was a great success. My Sheepy Dryer Balls also got a mention on a lovely and informative Streamlife blog in an entry about the One of a Kind Show, for which I am very grateful.

Tips for the OOAK Show if you are a vendor:

  • Enlist friends to help you if you can. Even just an hour off to eat a meal quietly is a welcome break. If your friends can’t do it, employ a booth sitter for a little break.
  • If you need a nap, there is a nap room. There are only 3 cots, but at least there is one!
  • There is a registered massage therapist with whom you can sign up for a massage if you need one.
  • Bring your own food. The show is expensive enough without adding overpriced food to your expenses. There is an artisan lounge with microwave ovens to heat up your meals, a fridge, free coffee, tea, tables and chairs, and a computer.
  • Bring a bottle for water. There is an HTO water refill station, but if you forget your bottle you’ll pay $5 for water. And it is super-dry in there so you need to keep hydrated.
  • I had an anti-fatigue mat upon which to stand and I think it saved me, since that floor is concrete. $25 well spent.
  • Smile. Engage with folks. Stay off your phone. Meet your neighbours. Enjoy yourself. And when the final announcement is made that the OOAK Spring Show is closed, have a good hearty cheer with all of the other vendors (that was a fun surprise!)
  • Use the mentor program. I wish I had done so.

Lots of family and friends came by to visit and cheer me on, which was a real treat. Here’s a photo of a local friend and Swag Sisters owner, Guy, and I having some fun with hats late on Thursday night. (Incidentally, I am in the Frëtt Design top that I bought at last year’s Spring OOAK Show.) Thanks, Erin (also of Swag Sisters fame!), for taking the photo.

Guy and I in some Lynn's Lids at #OOAKS14

During the OOAK Show, I received a message from someone in the US who loved the Toronto iPad Mini sleeve, but she keeps chickens, so she was wondering if I could make her an iPad sleeve with a chicken on it. So after the OOAK Show was over, I got to work on that, which was a totally fun project! She has since received it and is very pleased:

The other custom orders I have been working on have been custom sizes for Toronto tea cosies.

Lynn's Lids custom sized Toronto tea cosy

Next up are a couple of custom Teavana cosies, one with the Eiffel Tower and one with a carousel. I will post those when they are complete, but my rough sketch for the carousel is:

And finally, last week I taught another needle felting class at The Purple Purl, which was great fun, as always. Bunnies are an ambitious project for a first class, but we mostly fared well, and here are our results:

There are a few other things in the pipe, but they will have to wait until next time.

Another photo shoot

Just a quick post before bed…

I went to the ROM to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit last week with a couple of friends and we got to talking about photography and one of my friends realized that he had a portable lighting box that he was no longer using, collecting dust at his parents’ place, so he offered it up to me. It sounded perfect for small product photographs, so I took him up on his offer. I picked it up last night and got to work with it this morning. I was under time constraints as I don’t actually own an iPad Mini so I was borrowing my son’s friend’s while he and my son were out at a workshop together.

Here’s the setup (yes, those are dryer balls drying on the heating register):

Lynn's Lids first attempt with the portable lighting box

And a little more detail on the box itself here:

Lynn's Lids first attempt with the portable lighting box (2)And the finished photos can be found on the Etsy item (an iPad Mini sleeve) listing or on my One of a Kind Show artisan profile.

I have to say, with a tripod (it actually comes with a tiny one that would hold a point and shoot but not a proper SLR), this works really nicely. It came with 2 double sided backdrops (green/white and blue/grey). My husband feels that it needs more light and would use flash. Maybe I’ll try that next time, but I like the setup. I recommend it for small objects. It will be perfect for Sheepy Dryer Balls and would be perfect for a friend of mine who makes and sells jewellery. If you’re curious, search for “optex photo studio kit“.