Sunnyslope Art Walk Pics

Published by Gwynne under , , , , , , , , , , , on 5:33 PM
Gwynne: There are so many exciting developments on the Bewilderknits front. This fall has been magical for us. Every time we get together at a meeting and chat, tons of new ideas come up about what we can do next, what directions we can go, where to put our next hours and resources, and new goals for what to learn and what to improve. That is the status of the lovely present, and I am overjoyed when I think back and reflect on the past year and all that we have accomplished. 

We've made some products, done a few photo shoots, established our etsy shops, acquired custom embroidered fabric labels for our finished pieces, and Practical Art in Phoenix is representing my work. We exercised due diligence and established our partnership and took care of all the legal mumbo-jumbo (this is shorthand for a SLEW of work). We've learned how to spin, acquired a total of three spinning wheels (two are mine, which is a long story - but if you know me, this isn't shocking), and we've become more highly customized in our work and fiber sources. Karen became a felted purse specialist while Cora and I continued to feed our obsession with yarn spinning, and I continue to have new ideas for projects to make with upcycled sweaters (which take up half a closet in my home office). We've appeared already at two art walks with really great support and feedback. I'm super enthused about the neighbors we have by our booths (I'm hesitant to say "colleagues;" so many of these artists blow my mind and are far more experienced) and I'm excited about exploring the new events we're going to be appearing at shortly. 

Bewilderknits has been a great vehicle for my advocacy of adopting Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) methods to control feral cat overpopulation. I created a Kittyknitter line of scarves - including designing branding for it - to raise money for my neighborhood's issue, but also to raise awareness for others in Phoenix who experience the same problem. 

I learned a lot about advocacy, communication campaigns and the viral social networking power of the interwebs - plus made new buddies in the process. Stacey Gordon, the genius puppeteer and Etsy shop owner of Puppet Pie, now has a line of kitty finger puppets which raise awareness about TNR and help her spay her neighborhood feral cats (Thanks Interwebs!). 

We have new Bewilderknits custom made logos that we commissioned from a Philipino illustrator named May Ann Licudine, or MALL, as she calls herself when she signs her name (Thanks Again, Interwebs!) She is so kind and touching and her work is so mystifyingly delightful and delicious, words fail me. I also mustn't fail to mention that with her work, Etsy banners, business cards, price tags and entire web site designs-in-process were done by my most-supportive-and-awesomest-ever husband (Thanks Photoshop and Shay!).

And all of this began with the simple question we kept repeating for the last several years, which was, "Gee, we should make a business out of this knitting thing we seem to all like so much. Wouldn't that be awesome?" 

Yes, it is! And Fall of 2009 has been "Livin the Dream." If we have a Bewilderknits Prom, I nominate that to be our theme.

Cora:  Bewilderknits Prom...ha ha ha!   Yes, I agree with Gwynne: this has been quite a year!  So much has happened; we've come so far - from sitting around a knitting circle, daydreaming about the 'what if's' of having a knitting business, to actually having one!  And while I was in Colorado earlier this month and purchased my own spinning wheel, a Schacht Ladybug.  I'm so excited about it!  It just arrived a couple days ago.  I can't wait to start spinning on it and discover the fantastic yarn I can create. 

Karen: I’m really proud of all that we’ve accomplished this year.  It’s been more work than I expected, but the work is more satisfying than I could have imagined.  It’s a great feeling to have come this far and realize that we’re really only getting started.  I have so many ideas! 

Gwynne: We debuted our new branding with spankin new business cards and price tags at our booth display this Fall at the October Sunnyslope Art Walk.

We had been in production mode all summer long, so we had a slew of scarves. Over the course of a couple weekends of booth design run-throughs, we decided to try to display them all by creating a "Wall of scarves" that Cora and Karen began cleverly arranging according to color. So the wall was a yarny spectrum of fibery flavors (Taste the Yarnbow!). There were so many scarves that it created a color-fade across the wall, so browsers could walk in and feel everything. We had a mirror and a sign (in our new Bewilderknits font) telling people to try them on. 

I was so excited to have our booth be seated right next to Lisa Takata.

Cora:  Lisa was the one who started it all!  She was the one who taught Gwynne how to knit way back when...who then taught Karen how to knit...who then helped refresh my knitting skills!  

Karen:  That’s right.  Gwynne taught me how to make the knit stitch at my very first knitting circle.  If I remember correctly, Lisa was at that same knitting circle teaching Gwynne how to purl!  Being placed next to her somehow made the event feel like a milestone for us. 

Gwynne: I finally got the idea to make some copy about the Kittyknitter project to put next to the basket of scarves. 

I sat in front, spinning on my giant spinning wheel, Ferris. Cora sat on the other side, near Karen's purses. I think she knitted a whole awesome hat that night.

Cora:  Yes!  I made an awesome gray hat.  I used some of my cloudy gray hand spun yarn made from Angora Rabbit Hair and Silky Mohair Locks for the rim of the hat and the pom-pom on top and then Heather Gray Burly Spun yarn from Brown Sheep for the body.  Shay mother purchased it as soon as it was done, however it was quickly returned due to her allergy to wool.  I advised her to try a hat made of alpaca because alpaca fiber is naturally hypo-allergenic.   

Gwynne: Speaking of Karen's purses, Shay got a really neat picture of our new tags hanging off of Karen's felted purses. Each of our tags is customized and different - Mall made us cartoon mini-me's that we're using on our price and contents tags. Karen's has an image of her knitting a felted purse underneath a giant leaf in the rain.

Cora:  Where I was sitting knitting I could hear every ones comments as they inspected Karen's purses.  Everyone ooo'd and awed over them.  They were definitely a hit!

Karen's tags are awesome.  All of ours are.  Not only did Mal's creations capture the theme and "bewildering" vibe we were going for, but Shay's expert use of Photoshop to create the finished tags made them that much better.  Mal's images were created on photoshop, and all the elements are movable, which has allowed Shay to create such diversity with only 4 images.  I couldn't have dreamed these tags into creation; they are perfect!  

Karen:  They are amazing, thanks to Mal.  And to Gwynne for finding Mal, and to Shay for all of his contributions!

Gwynne: Yeah, the whole process of getting to this point took a few months. But I've loved having you over, Cora, to work on these projects. Like the old days when you were a roommate!

So, meanwhile, Shay hung out behind the table with Karen, talking to customers who browsed through. I was so tied up in conversations with passers-by that I missed a lot of what was going on behind me. It sounded like a lot of sales were being made, though. 

Karen:  While Gwynne was spinning, people were perusing the Wall of Scarves and items on the main table.  There were knitted hats and ear-warmer headbands, felted bangles and bags, and Gwynne’s felted flower accessories laid out in clusters on the table, reminiscent of a tiny woolen garden.  People seemed drawn to admire and try on her hair combs .  One customer liked the pins so much that she wanted to buy them in bulk! 

Also very popular were Scarflettes made by Gwynne and Cora. One in particular that Cora made from various earth-tone yarns and upcycled buttons got extra attention.  It sold by the end of the night after being wanted by many.  Overall we seemed to be getting great feedback from just about everyone.  

At one point, another vendor came over to tell us how great our booth looked.  He was also impressed with the quality of our work, and said that we should market our items to high-end department stores!  The booth did look great, thanks to many improvements we made since the last art walk, including neat new mannequin heads to display our accessories.  People loved these! 

Gwynne: Yes, the mannequin heads have ESP.

Cora:  Yes, Blanche (our blonde mannequin) said to Eve (our raven mannequin) "My neck is stiff."

Karen:  Eve replied, “Mine too, but modeling Bewilderknits accessories gives meaning to our hollow plastic existence.”   Blanche felt compelled to agree. 

Gwynne: True. Also, people were VERY attracted to the yarn. By coincidence, Shay set up one of the booth lights in such a way that it was spotlighting Cora's handspun behind me, and I overheard many people wishing they could knit, and asking for items that were made out of that kind of yarn. 

Cora:  I am in the process of spinning more and more yarn.  I plan to integrate my hand spun art yarn with purchased yarn to create even more unique scarves and hats.  It's coming!  Please be patient! :) 

Gwynne: Yeah, I concur. I was pretty pleased overall with how the night went. Family came by, and it was a super social event. It was so crowded! And now the weather is getting so good, I can't wait for our next events.

Cora:  Yes, with the weather changing in our favor, I expect to be an even bigger hit at our upcoming events.  I'm really excited to see how they go and what feedback we get and sales we make.    

Karen:  Here’s to scarf weather!  I’m also really excited about upcoming events, not only to showcase our handmade items, but also to check out the other vendor booths.  

It’s so great to see people visiting art walks and farmer’s markets.  They aren’t just shopping, they’re getting involved and seeing what the community has to offer.  I’d like to thank everyone in advance for visiting us at upcoming events this season.  We hope to see you at our next event, the very first Indie Chic @ 10th Street in Tempe, AZ!