general

Knitting and Camping

Last weekend the Pip & Pin team (plus men and babies) packed up and went camping! 

Though, according to some, we were not "real" camping, as we stayed in a little cabin and were not entirely exposed to the wild wilderness. But I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed having running water, a clean, dry bed, a wood-burning fireplace, a toilet, a fridge and a roof. (The roof really came in handy while it poured rain all of Saturday night.)

While we were enjoying our trip Katie and I did what we always do when we are out and about some place pretty, we took pictures. Lots of pictures. Lots of pictures for new Pip & Pin patterns. Unfortunately for you, they are mostly all on Katie's camera and I don't have them yet so you will have to be satisfied with a tiny teaser of some squishy knits to come.

And of course, our favourite backdrop of the day was the white wall of the camp site bathrooms... 

 

Nodecker and Meg + 1

Last weekend was a little bit bittersweet. 

J and I decided it was time to get rid of our old tent trailer. It was a 1983 Bonair with orange stripes that had originally been his grandpa's, then was his brother's, and became ours about 4 years ago. This thing was ooooold. 

One of our first trips to Weaver Lake

One of our first trips to Weaver Lake

When we first got it, we set it up in an empty lot beside one of our friend's houses and spent about 8 hours cleaning it up, organizing everything and sewing up all the holes in the canvas (there were a lot). We got some of those gold house letters from the hardware store and posted "Nodecker and Meg" on the back. (The +1 was added a little later).

By the end there were countless rips (though only one really big one), one of the side zippers had busted and we had a towel hung up keep out the bugs, the door didn't work properly and if you didn't close it just right the whole thing would pop out and one of the pullys in one of the corners snapped so one side sagged like crazy. But, the heater and stove worked so we could take it out in the winter, it could be covered in a tarp to keep the rain off aaand it kept most of the bugs out. 

Me and the tent trailer when the door still worked, drinking a Baileys and coffee

Me and the tent trailer when the door still worked, drinking a Baileys and coffee

I think the main reason we decided to get rid of it is because we don't have anywhere to put it. It was being stored at one of J's friend's houses, but they are moving soon. Since it wasn't at our place, we couldn't just pop it up to take a peek inside and see what was there, we couldn't clean it out after, or leave it set up to dry if it was wet. And for the weekend trips that we do, it's a pretty big hassle to pick it up, set it up, take it down and drop it off again. 

So from now on tenting it is. We took out all of our stuff and boxed it up, gave it a sweep and posted it free on Craigslist and it still has the "Nodecker and Meg +1" on the back.

Moar Blackberries!

Georgia and I went back to McKay Creek Trail so I could get ALL the blackberries. I haven't made jam in awhile and decided it was time again. 

First we had to get the berries, which is always the most fun part. She's such a little copycat now and although she wasn't exactly picking the black blackberries, she tried real hard and that's all that matters. And she didn't prick herself with thorns, again.  (Although I sure did)

At the end of the day I ended up with a stupid messy kitchen and six jars of jam. (Seriously, who can make jam neatly? It looked like something had been slaughtered in there and my countertops are stained pink).

Pinantan Lake

This weekend Georgia, N and I went up to Pinantan Lake to visit my aunt and uncle. It is this tiny town just outside of Kamloops up in the mountains with no cell service and one general store.

They live right on the lake and although it was pretty cloudy most of the time and there was a huge thunderstorm the day we left, we had an awesome time. Georgia had lots of new things to touch and some kitties to chase, N had some boys to talk to about rusty trucks and guns and fishing and I had a nice patio to sit and drink coffee and knit on. I had never been up there before so it was really nice to have a chance to see everyone.

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Besides going up for a visit, we also went up to bring my aunt some gold. She makes jewellery and specializes in repairs and recycling. She is going to melt down all of our gold (most of which is from my grandma's old jewellery store) and make our wedding rings. I think it is such a neat idea to have this stuff that never gets worn and has been sitting in my jewellery box for ages turned into something awesome. I'm not sure when they will be done or exactly what they will look like but I am suupperr excited to see what happens. 

 

Walks on the River

Earlier this week I took Georgia on one of my favourite walks along the dykes at McKay Creek Trail.  It takes you through a forest, over some bridges, on top of some dykes, past a horse all the while being surrounded by wild blackberry bushes.  

Georgia had fun with her favourite past time, collecting rocks from the gravel, we picked blackberries right from the bush (surprisingly she didn't prick herself on any of the thorns), and we went to go make friends with the horse. She cried when we had to say goodbye which was pretty cute. 

When I was little I used to come here with my grandpa every once in awhile.  One year we came in the fall and the salmon were spawning. There was a bridge over this little side creek and we spent quite some time watching the salmon work their way up through the rocks.  The next time we went was in the spring and we went to the same bridge and watched the baby fish make their way back down to the river. It was a pretty neat experience to share, and although we did go on that walk quite a bit, those two times were the most special.

A few years ago it was also the spot that me and N. had one of our first dates. It was fall and so we went to the same bridge me and my grandpa went to, and watched the fish. N. made a terrible, terrible dad joke and now whenever we drive by I tease him and say that's when I fell in love with him. 

It probably isn't the most special or significant place in my whole life, but it is neat that I can take Georgia to these places and have some stories to tell her when we eat blackberries on the grass. 

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(Want to know the joke? What do you can a fish with no eye? A fsshhh. Worst.)

Out takes

Since I'm in the process of revamping some of our patterns, and working on some new ones, it's time for product photography again.  Hooray!  My favorite! (hah!) At least this time around I'm (mostly) not the model.  I just gotta say, taking pictures of babies is waaaaay more fun.

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Geocache Fail

I attempted Geocaching today and failed miserably. I had heard about it awhile ago but had never tried it.  Basically people hide a log book and maybe some trinkets, upload the GPS location to the website and people try to find them.  If there it is big enough to hold things, you can trade them for things you bring yourself, of equal or greater value.

knew where the one I was looking for was, it was right down the street at a gas station/Tim Hortons/car wash.  I wanted a pumpkin doughnut anyway, so off me and Georgia went.  I was definitely in the right place but I just. couldn't. find it.  Plus it was in a pretty busy area and I felt like a bit of a nerd wandering around the entrance of the car wash with my phone out and a baby strapped to my chest.  Maybe it got stolen or lost or (most likely) I just wasn't looking hard enough, but it was pretty disappointing to go out for my first time and not find anything!

Oh well!  There's lots around my area that me and Georgia can walk to and a TON in Abbotsford alone, so I will try again another day.  Maybe I'll even go back to this one and look again.

The cool thing about Geocaching is that it's not just in "in town" locations.  There's lots in parks and forests and hiking trails and stuff, and since both me and N like to go exploring I think it would be pretty neat to go adventuring as a fam jam.

I will not be defeated!  And I'll let you know when I actually find one.

Working with Baby

Right now I am on Maternity Leave from work because I had a small child way back in April.  Here in Canada, Mat Leave is a year long which is flipping amazing to say the least.  Being able to stay at home has been fantastic and I really hope that I can continue to do so even after my leave ends. At first I was worried.  Not about staying home and being bored, I am a complete homebody and don't get cabin fever too often, but about being able to work on Pip & Pin from home while keeping a baby fed and entertained and alive and happy.  And at first my worries were completely justified.  Newborns are hard.   (Especially ones with acid reflux, maybe a touch of colic and who absolutely refuse to be anywhere but in my arms).  I had trouble just keeping the house half decent and personal hygiene definitely took a nosedive.  But then things just started getting easier.

At about three months is where things started to turn around.  She started sleeping and eating more regularly, her reflux and colic started clearing up and she started realizing that it's OK if I am not righttherealways.  And I was able to start drinking milk and eating cheese again.  Yay!

Now at almost six months, she's becoming this whole little person.  She can play with toys and smile and giggle and babble and wiggle around.  Even if she gets frustrated because she can't do something yet or falls over and can't get back up and screams bloody murder, she really is pretty awesome.

While I thought having a baby and having a business would be insanely impossible, I've realized that having a baby has actually made me better at what I do.

I am 10,000 times better at prioritizing my time now because I know I really only have a few hours in the morning to work while Georgia's napping, and maybe a few at night if something really needs to get done, but I'de rather spend that time with N.  I can make a list of things I need to do, see what is the most important and (here comes the most shocking part) actually do it.  Knit City, our first market of the season, is only about a week away and I have so little to do I almost feel guilty.  I basically just have to organize my stock, figure out what I'm taking with me out to Vancouver and...  that's pretty much it.

I also learned how to take breaks.  Now instead of working for 12 hours straight and burning myself out for at least a couple of days, I just do what I can when I can do it.  Mornings are really good, which is weird because I have never, in my entire life, been even the slightest bit a morning person.  But Georgia'll wake up at 7, eat, play for a little bit and then go down at about 8 for an hour or two, wake up for another hour or so and then take another nap.  This means that I only work for maximum two hours at a time and then I am forced to take a cuddle break.  It's a pretty tough life.

I know it sounds all ooey gooey sappy babylove over here and it kind of is, but I'm pretty OK with that.  How can you live with this face and not be consumed!

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I really shouldn't even publish this because I know as soon as I do, absolutely everything about what I just said will change...

About Those Kinks...

Hey! It's been awhile!

Last January I basically declared that Pip & Pin was going to stop knitting and, well, that's kind of half true.  I think we've picked a couple of new and exciting things to focus on aside from knitting, but are still knit-centric.

We've been working on our patterns and I've finally figured out Ravelry.  Even though there's only one pattern up so far, there will be more soon.   Promise.

We're in the process of putting together knitting kits which will include everything you could possibly need to create your very own Pip&Pin creations and theeeen there's still a few more super secret projects we're dabbling in as well.  (I don't really want to say because, knowing us, we'll half start some of them and then there will be people knocking down our doors because we got everyone sososoo excited and then we didn't follow through.  Hah!)

So yes, this chapter of Pip&Pin is slowly closing (we will still be selling the remainder of our stock this year, but won't be creating anything new) but New! Exciting!  Things!

(Also, parentheses! And exclamation points!)

 

I'll try to not be so random with my posts in the future as well.  Maybe I'll only wait 2 months in between posts next time.

Working out the Kinks

Happy January! For us, January means the end of knitting like mad women, the end of shameless self promotion and the end of markets.

This season marked our third year at Pip&Pin and it was certainly a doozy.  We took on a lot more than we ever have in terms of how many markets we did, the scale of those markets, how much we promotion we did and how much we worked on our online presence in general.  We were featured in some pretty cool Christmas themed articles, did an interview with an awesome Vancouver magazine and did two filmed interviews for a documentary that's being made about the hand-made culture (which was an experience to say the least.  That's a whole other post.  Let's just say we really hope they have good editors.)

Although we worked ourselves to the bone, we had a lot of fun, met a ton of new people and got to catch up everyone we really only get to see around Market Season.  Katie still can't knit at the moment.  Two months of doing it constantly as well as being a graphic designer has rendered her entire right arm pretty useless.

The big question we had coming into this season was, is this worth it?

We love what we do, but can we keep doing what we're doing while continuing to grow as a business?  Is this enough to sustain us if we decide to take this on as a full time gig?

Luckily, we came up with these questions sometime last September and started using Freshbooks to track all of our hours.  I mean all of our hours including knitting (obviously), time spent at markets, time spent preparing for markets, photoshoots, photo editing, blogging, facebooking, PR, marketing, listing items on Etsy and Poppytalk, answering emails and basically anything that had to do with running your own business.  Not surprisingly, it was a lot.  Between the two of us, from October 2013 to the end of December 2013 we logged somewhere along the lines of 800+ hours.  And that is for an already fairly established business with a website, etsy, facebook, twitter, etc, etc, all set up.

This past weekend we holed ourselves up at a friends condo on the beach, set up our "office" in front of a window with a view, and sorted through all of the data that we've collected over the past couple months.  We did this with plans to create lovely pie charts and line graphs of where our money and/or time went and what markets were the most worth it, although we didn't quite have enough time for that.  (And by the end of the day, our brains were so fried from basically doing math and data entry for 10 hours straight I doubt they would have made sense any way.)  They will come sometime in the near future though.

I can sum up our earlier questions though:

Is this a sustainable business? 

No, what we have right now is not sustainable and by our calculations we ended up making less than half of minimum wage per hour.  (Which in Vancouver, means less than a quarter of an actual living wage.)

Can we continue to do what we're doing and grow as a business?

Again, a big no.  Knitting is highly labour intensive and it's not like we can just keep raising all of our prices and expect people to pay them.  What we need to do is a bit of an overhaul on our brand and what we want to focus on as a business.  What we can be doing better and what new things we can try that are less labour intensive and can generate more income.  Basically we need to start working smarter.

Is this worth it?

Absolutely.

Even though we are not rolling in the dough right now,  this year we learned a lot about how  to make our business better and how to one day become sustainable.

Plus, even though it's not a lot, we are getting paid to hang out with each other and do something that we both love and are passionate about.  That's definitely worth it.

 

 

 

*In the next week or so we will be showing all of our findings in cute pie charts and junk so if you're like me and love stats, be sure to check that out too*