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Husp quality clothing etc

 
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Jason Silberschneider wrote:... I don't want executive dress shirts costing hundreds of dollars, I want a good, strong work shirt (or even buttonless tunic) made of linen that I can throw in the compost pile at the end of its working life. In the past, the rag and bone man would come along each week and collect all the worn out linen to be made into paper. But composting is just as environmentally friendly. Use simple wooden buttons, and linen clothing is 100% compostable.

Living in the global, online shopping world that we do, you'd have no problems selling your clothing to permies anywhere. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for the first of the linen gardening shirts!


Yes, we want good strong linen clothes! Like they used to wear here (the Netherlands) about a 100 years ago.*
But I prefer the flax (or nettles, or hemp) as well as the production of the yarn, the fabric and the clothes to be 'local'. The flax growing still in this country now is transported to China to be made into yarns, the yarns are transported back to Europe to be woven and then to antoher European country to be made into very expensive clothes (and then transported to the 'rich countries' all over the world). Al that transportation is not 'environmentally friendly' at all!

*I am so happy the old linen sometimes appears here in second hand shops. I made a shirt/jacket out of an old linen bed sheet, many years ago. Now it needs some reparing, but is still very much wearable.
 
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I would love it if the original poster would update us on how she is doing...

One thing I noticed is that everyone has focused in on the materials that her clothing is to be made of, and no one has talked much about the sewing, knitting, etc part of it. I find it amazing how a skilled seamstress can turn the worst piece of material into something amazing while the most beautiful piece of hand-crafted material can be reduced to rubble by someone unskilled.

 
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R Ranson wrote:these videos about fibresheds are a great start at showing what can be done. Not HUSP exactly, but moving in that direction.



Thank you so much for posting that. I didn't think that I would find it interesting or enjoyable, but I did!
 
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Thomas Partridge wrote:
As for pricing such clothing, how much of the mark up would be because it is environmentally friendly and how much would be because it is actually superior to synthetic products currently available.
prices would not be marked up as in, it's a $5 hat versus a $20 hat "because I bought this pretty yarn". It will be priced according to the time and materials that go into the items. If I buy yarn and knit a hat I would price it to cover the cost of the yarn needed plus my time knitting it. If it is a hat from my handspun that i processed all myself and knit myself it will be priced accordingly.

Would these items offer a significant advantage in terms of durability and/or function over say something I could pick up at Walmart?
It is my goal to make quality items. That goes not only for the quality of what goes into making them but the quality of the finished items. That said, a nice fluffy handspun wool hat, I believe, keeps you warmer better than an acrylic yarn hat. And that wool hat will last better longer than an acrylic hat.

 
kadence blevins
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

Yes, we want good strong linen clothes! Like they used to wear here (the Netherlands) about a 100 years ago.*

I have spun a little bit of flax for linen but we didnt get along very well. I am hoping to try it again later on at some point.

 
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Robyn Holmes wrote:I would love it if the original poster would update us on how she is doing...

One thing I noticed is that everyone has focused in on the materials that her clothing is to be made of, and no one has talked much about the sewing, knitting, etc part of it. I find it amazing how a skilled seamstress can turn the worst piece of material into something amazing while the most beautiful piece of hand-crafted material can be reduced to rubble by someone unskilled.



I am waiting for photobucket to upload now. I took some pics of things I have done so far. this isn't from my sheep yet but it will show you some of things I have done.
 
kadence blevins
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Matthew Nistico wrote:

All of this means that, while I would never buy that $40 piece of clothing at the mall, I WOULD every once in a while augment my normal stream of thrift store goods with that one special piece of permie-made clothing, even for a lot more $ than the mall price. But again, I would expect it to be "awesome, classic in appearance, and long lasting." And for the record: I could not care less whether it met the strictest definition of HUSP and was made without burning wood. Frankly, that just sounds absurd to me. HUSP was a thought experiment of Paul's to explore the limits of how close to the earth one could live. I shouldn't put words into Paul's mouth, but I don't think he imagined it as a realistic standard for how even 1% of people would actually live, even in the most ideal vision of a sustainable future economy. What I would care about is permie-level land management with your animals, natural dyes, handmade attention to detail in craftsmanship, and free of toxic gick. Based on your original post, I would feel safe that we are on the same page in these areas.

Your original post indicates that you were at a "pre-Kickstarter" stage of conceptualization and business planning. How far has your plan evolved in the two years since? You asked a simple and direct question - would we be willing to buy your clothes - and few if any posters have given you a simple and direct answer. Until you are prepared to provide a few more details, I don't think you will get any more direct answers.

Since posting this I have started with my sheep. At the moment I have 2 ewes and working on getting more ewes from two farms and in contact with a farm to look at rams in the fall for breeding. I am very excited!
I have a lot going farm-wise with their production to make things as good as possible. Two paddocks in and three more in the works. Working on the water system, spring fed and having to move some pipe around. At this point I am hoping to have at least 10 ewes or so and a ram by fall.


So, as soon as your preparations are ready for it, I look forward to you posting here 1) photos of actual clothing items; together with 2) descriptions of their manufacture (weaving method, dyes used, etc.); and 3) at least a ball-park realistic price. Ideally these would be photos of your own prototype items, though presumably made with someone else's wool, but I think you could also get away with using a photo of someone else's clothing and simply writing "my sweater would look very similar to this and be of similar quality."

I am waiting for photobucket to upload pics I took today of some items I already have made. So I will be posting as you suggested. I am working more into clothing items now. I have done several shawls and just sold a skirt I wove with acrylic yarns to someone in my guild here. So I am on the right track I believe!
As to their manufacture I have started going youtube videos on my crafts. so more of that will be coming as well. I will link some of the relating videos.
The guild is going to be "spring cleaning" and I am hoping to be able to buy a full size floor loom! Crossing my fingers and toes that it works out!


When you are at the stage to be able to provide these three details, then I think you could expect to start getting actual yes/no answers in order to gauge your potential customer base. Then, on to Kickstarter! Although it occurs to me that you might have problems getting Kickstarter backers to put up money now so that you can start building animal paddocks and provide them with clothing over a year in the future (how long does it take to raise sheep to first fleecing?) You might need to get your project further along using your own funds before taking it to Kickstarter, though I realize that kind of negates the whole point of a Kickstarter campaign. I'm sure you've already considered that wrinkle...?

Yes that 'wrinkle' is what was keeping me from starting for a while. Thankfully my grandparents are helping me start currently. I am hoping to start selling things more so that I am not so reliant on their help and get things off the ground with production. I am making a list and hope to do a video tomorrow to talk through my plans and ideas. probably wont be kickstarted worthy but it will explain this much better than I can handle typing it all out and surely better than you all probably want to sit and read in one go.

 
kadence blevins
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spun and knit. Shetland sheep wool bought as roving from local flock. natural and dyed.
Shawl
appx time 55 hours



knit. wool, not my handspun, got in a trade. natural off-white.
shawlette, lace weight
appx time 15 hours


spun and crochet. off white, bought as roving. pink, all processed by me by hand.
shawl
appx time 45hours


spun and knit. off white wool, processed by me by hand. spun on drop spindle.
scarf
appx time 30 hours


spun and knit. wool and alpaca. all processed by me by hand.
hat
appx time 35 hours


spun and knit. alpaca and wool. all processed by me by hand.
hat
appx time 40 hours



spun and knit. Shetland sheep wool. bought as roving from local flock.
hat
appx time 30 hours



woven. acrylic and acrylic mix yarn.
scarf
appx time 20 hours
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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kadence blevins wrote:

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

Yes, we want good strong linen clothes! Like they used to wear here (the Netherlands) about a 100 years ago.*

I have spun a little bit of flax for linen but we didnt get along very well. I am hoping to try it again later on at some point.


Kadence, here in the Netherlands we have started a network of interested people last year. Or in fact there are two networks, working together, one is 'Fibershed De Lage Landen', which is only about textiles and clothes (all natural and produced 'locally' as much as possible), the other one is Permanet (NL), for the non-food use of permaculture products in the Netherlands. We have FB-groups and websites, it's all Dutch, but you can look at the photos of http://www.fibershed.nl/
Some of the members of these networks are experimenting with flax and nettles for yarn. It takes a lot of time and effort to find back the old ways ...
Most of this is about wool (sheep and alpaca).
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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I never answered the original question ... No, I won't buy your products. I make my own clothes, so I don't have to buy them.
I support people who do so too, here in the Netherlands and all over planet Earth Not financially, but on social media.
 
kadence blevins
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Thank you for that link! It is quite interesting to see I am going to have to look more into the fibershed group now that it seems to be up and running.
 
Matthew Nistico
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@Kadence - Wow, that is a lot of progress! And some nice photos. I must say I am surprised at the large number of hours to produce these items, but then I have no experience with making textiles myself. Keep up the good work!
 
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Thanks so much for posting your pics.

My favorite is the off-white shawlette. I personally think the most popular (and profitable) items would be ones like that. IMO, older crochet patterns wouldn't sell nearly as well (or just repeated single, double or treble crochet stitches). I love to crochet (absolutely can't knit), and it always seems to me that people's reactions are less-than-stellar when they hear the word crochet. I think knitting is just more "fashionable" right now. That being said, I love to crochet baby blankets in a basket weave pattern, and get gushing compliments from a very easy pattern.

I attempted to attach an example of the basket weave pattern I randomly found online so you can see what I'm talking about. Hope this helps!

basket-weave.jpg
[Thumbnail for basket-weave.jpg]
basket weave
 
kadence blevins
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Thanks.

yes most people seem to love one and hate the other (knit vs crochet). I do both but I knit a lot more than I crochet.
And the thing about basket weave pattern is that most people cant tell between knit basket weave or crochet basket weave. and the crochet haters probably think the crochet basket weave is knit by the look of it.

Of the pics I posted the hats are knit 'freehand' not from a pattern. I did a few different patterns with cheap acrylic yarn and my handspun hats are all 'freehand' knit and patterned pretty much by whim. I like to play with the color work.

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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I do ALL kinds of textiel techniques. Most often knitting and crochet, but I just LOVE trying out less known techniques. Like 'nalbinding', also called 'looping'; I made this tiny purse (for putting coins in) in that old technique.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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My latest large project was this 'vegan-recycling sweater'. It's made in a special knitting technique with a cotton-linen yarn and torn stripes of an old cotton bed sheet (pastel colours).
 
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kadence blevins wrote:
prices would not be marked up as in, it's a $5 hat versus a $20 hat "because I bought this pretty yarn". It will be priced according to the time and materials that go into the items. If I buy yarn and knit a hat I would price it to cover the cost of the yarn needed plus my time knitting it. If it is a hat from my handspun that i processed all myself and knit myself it will be priced accordingly.

It is my goal to make quality items. That goes not only for the quality of what goes into making them but the quality of the finished items. That said, a nice fluffy handspun wool hat, I believe, keeps you warmer better than an acrylic yarn hat. And that wool hat will last better longer than an acrylic hat.



I understand that you would not arbitrarily mark up such a product, but if you price your labor (which for the hat you say is about 40 hours) even at $1 an hour the hat becomes at least a $40 hat and that is before the cost of materials. You say a hat would be $20, so that is about $0.40-$0.50 an hour labor depending on the cost of materials.

I would gladly wear a homemade hat or scarf (although I would be much more interested in homemade warm weather clothing) and would consider even paying as much as $20 for one just to be eco-friendly and to support cottage industries, but I wonder if it wouldn't be better to work on solutions where the crafter sees a better return on their time investment and the product is more affordable for the consumer.

For that issue, would fur hats be more cost effective in terms of time and material while maintaining the same level of functionality?
 
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The labour time will go down significantly with doing. Just need to find a rhythm.
 
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Kadence, I love the hats that you are making especially beautiful colors and patterns...we can see the care and love that goes into them!
When Steve was coopering he put his hours on the buckets along with the price just to show that is wasn't a very lucrative business and that he was not making much per hour.

Sometimes just starting out, we take a hit pricing and selling things but hopefully make a 'living wage' eventually.

Maybe just focusing on a variety of great handspun wool hats could lower the hours spent per hat and make them affordable?

I have a friend that is waiting on me to spin our wool in order to make him a replacement wooly hat for one that did wear out over the years. We haven't discussed price because in the end we will probably trade (owen rein, our friend, the basket and chair maker)

....and I know (been there) that no craftsperson wants to do just one item....it's the variety that makes that work so fulfilling:)

 
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I think Thomas and Judith have it right. If this were something Kadence does as a hobby, and sells the products just in order to spread the beauty around beyond her own closet, that would be lovely. But if this is something she plans as a business - even one that aims to break even, not to make her rich - then I'm afraid I just don't see the numbers adding up. You can NOT run a business valuing your own labor at $.5/hour. That just makes no sense. Even if it were a side business, and not the enterprise that puts food on the table, there simply must be more profitable ways to use your time and your land.

I know nothing about the technical sides of knitting, crocheting, weaving, or any of it. So I won't insult anyone who does with ill-informed suggestions. I will only state the obvious conclusion that she MUST find some way to streamline her process in order to drastically reduce the per-item labor required. If she can't, then I think her enterprise is a no-go. Hell, I wouldn't spend 40 hours just in order to make a hat only for myself.

Bottom line: I'm thinking I might pay in the range of $40-$50 maximum for a beautiful hat like the ones Kadence photographed and posted here, and that only once in a long while. I'm just too poor for such indulgences on a regular basis. Perhaps some readers are thinking "hell, you'd pay that much in any mainstream retail store." Perhaps. I've already written that I never shop retail, only thrift stores, so maybe I'm completely out of touch with the economies at play here. But assuming she were to make a reasonable decision and value her own labor at minimum wage ($7.25/hour where I live), then based on 40 hours she should be asking in excess of $300 for that hat, including materials costs. Out of touch or not, I can confidently conclude that $300+/hat isn't going to garner many customers.
 
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The hours put into it are a bit high, but that will come down drastically with more experience.

One of the biggest problems with this kind of cottage industry work, is that measuring by the hour isn't accurate. Mostly because it's part of multitasking. If I spend an hour cooking dinner, and 45 minutes during that same hour spinning, then I've added almost an hour to my day. If I were to consider housewifery (or house spinstery - since I'm not married yet) as an occupation, then I would have 24 hours and 45 minutes every 24 hours. Or in real life, I do 26 hours work in a 24 hour period if we were to calculate my work (farm, house and textiles) on an hourly scale.

I don't know if I'm explaining this well. Basically wadge way of thinking doesn't fit well with cottage industry. For start, it doesn't motivate the artizan to produce faster. The faster they produce something, going on the wage model, the less money they get for making it.

A far better way (in my opinion, based on experience) to price by item made. Here's what I do.

-I spin yarn for sale.
-I price my yarn by the yard based on how complex it is and how much joy I had spinning it. If it is something I want to make more of, I price far lower than something I hated making. So, my per yard price is between 10 and 25 cents per yard USD.
-To this price, I add material cost
-To that I add washing/carding fee of $2 to $4 per oz. I choose this much because this is what it would cost to send it out for processing, not because it reflects my hours. Some fleece is far faster, some much harder. I get a better result hand processing rather than sending the wool to the mill, so it saves me time later to process at home.
-I take a subtotal and then I add 30 to 40% that would be commission if I sold it in the store. (which gives me room to offer a discount for awesome people like permies)

I'm not as fast as I could be, but after over a decade of spinning an average of 2 hours a day (much more if I have a commission) I can spin a hats worth of yarn in 1 to 5 hours. With an extra 2 to 5 hours for wool prep. That's while multi tasking. If I focus on it and get in the rhythm of it, I can almost half that time.

So the time can be gotten down. One of the reasons I'm so fast now is because I started my pricing by the yard from the start. It motivated me to spin faster so I can make more money for my time. I know this isn't the most popular approach to hand crafts, but it worked well for me.

At the beginning my prices covered materials and maybe about $2 an hour of dedicated labour. Now, without changing the price of the product, I'm getting about $12 to $25 per hour on some yarns.

This is why I prefer the per item pricing rather than time spent pricing model.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Thomas Partridge wrote:For that issue, would fur hats be more cost effective in terms of time and material while maintaining the same level of functionality?


Sorry Thomas but a fur hat isn't more cost effective at all. For getting the right kind of fur you have to do a lot of effort! I think rabbit fur might be the most cost effective. It isn't so difficult to raise rabbits. But still: they need space, food, care, etc. Or do you think of hunting? To go hunting, you need a rifle, and the practice to shoot fast animals ...
And then when you have an animal, the fur is not immediately good for making hats. You have to treat the fur first. Sewing fur is a specialists job ...
Probably a rabbit fur hat and a knitted woolen hat have about the same value, when you count everything ...

The problem is: we are used to clothes being much too cheap! Clothes are made in 'low wages countries', where people get next to nothing for working all day in factories under bad circumstances. Many costs are not even counted: the harm it does to the environment f.e.
 
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

Thomas Partridge wrote:For that issue, would fur hats be more cost effective in terms of time and material while maintaining the same level of functionality?


Sorry Thomas but a fur hat isn't more cost effective at all. For getting the right kind of fur you have to do a lot of effort! I think rabbit fur might be the most cost effective. It isn't so difficult to raise rabbits. But still: they need space, food, care, etc. Or do you think of hunting? To go hunting, you need a rifle, and the practice to shoot fast animals ...
And then when you have an animal, the fur is not immediately good for making hats. You have to treat the fur first. Sewing fur is a specialists job ...
Probably a rabbit fur hat and a knitted woolen hat have about the same value, when you count everything ...

The problem is: we are used to clothes being much too cheap! Clothes are made in 'low wages countries', where people get next to nothing for working all day in factories under bad circumstances. Many costs are not even counted: the harm it does to the environment f.e.



But by the same logic the sheep/alpaca/ect also need space, food, care, ect. With rabbits the fur is often thrown away since people are primarily raising them for their meat and the price for a rabbit fur is so small. I understand that tanning the hide is labor intensive, but so is spinning wool. If you consider the labor and cost necessary to produce the base materials the same, then you are left with the labor necessary to produce the final product. So my question is this: Would something like the below picture (except simpler) take significantly more or significantly less time to make than say a knit cap?



Something like that (except made simpler with hide strips instead of thread) from what I understand of leatherworking would not be that difficult - probably take under an hour with practice. That is using pre-tanned hides, since the process of tanning probably takes as much direction interaction as spinning wool does.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Thomas Partridge wrote:... So my question is this: Would something like the below picture (except simpler) take significantly more or significantly less time to make than say a knit cap?

... Something like that (except made simpler with hide strips instead of thread) from what I understand of leatherworking would not be that difficult - probably take under an hour with practice. That is using pre-tanned hides, since the process of tanning probably takes as much direction interaction as spinning wool does.


I can't give you a good answer Thomas. I don't have the type of sewing machine needed to sew fur.
But I can knit a hat/cap like that in a few hours. Of course it's depending on the wool, thick yarn knits much faster than a fine quality. It's depending on the knitting person too. An experienced knitter works much faster than a beginner.
 
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

Thomas Partridge wrote:... So my question is this: Would something like the below picture (except simpler) take significantly more or significantly less time to make than say a knit cap?

... Something like that (except made simpler with hide strips instead of thread) from what I understand of leatherworking would not be that difficult - probably take under an hour with practice. That is using pre-tanned hides, since the process of tanning probably takes as much direction interaction as spinning wool does.


I can't give you a good answer Thomas. I don't have the type of sewing machine needed to sew fur.
But I can knit a hat/cap like that in a few hours. Of course it's depending on the wool, thick yarn knits much faster than a fine quality. It's depending on the knitting person too. An experienced knitter works much faster than a beginner.



Something like that on a simpler scale would most likely be hand stitched wouldn't it? The rustic look trapper cap, not the knit one . I would think something relatively durable and functional could be made using very primitive methods (similar to how moccasins are made even today).

I suppose this has become a very different discussion than it was originally, which is more time and material effective in producing winter clothing - leatherworking or knitting? Which is more environmentally friendly and which is more lucrative?
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Thomas Partridge wrote:...
Something like that on a simpler scale would most likely be hand stitched wouldn't it? The rustic look trapper cap, not the knit one . I would think something relatively durable and functional could be made using very primitive methods (similar to how moccasins are made even today).

I suppose this has become a very different discussion than it was originally, which is more time and material effective in producing winter clothing - leatherworking or knitting? Which is more environmentally friendly and which is more lucrative?


Hand stitching fur takes a lot of time. I hand stitched leather, but I think fur is even harder. But I'm not very experienced in this.
There are many aspects to clothing ... Like there are to food
 
kadence blevins
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thank you everyone for your posts.

I had not posted prices because that is the part I have the most difficult time figuring. I can look at multiple things and see the time and effort and value in them. however my mind does not equate money in this way. Hence I find it difficult to put a number on things.

When I have posted prices or been discussing prices (elsewhere, not on this forum) I get backlash. people who also craft tell me my prices are despicably low. People who would be prospective buyers say my prices are much much too high. even so far as to say I was price gouging simply because it was all hand made, with a lot of alluding to whether the quality was there or not for the item and the price.
And this is all about the same items, much like I posted here above.

If I estimate out for how R Ranson said about pricing (all estimated because for the posted above hats I didn't write down for yardage etc)

130yds x 0.15 = 19.50
19.50 + $8 = 27.50
no prep needed for this particular hat, bought roving
30% of 27.50 is 8.25
27.50 + 8.25 = $35.75

That would be for the brown and yellow hat with the dangly pompom.

Adding up for estimated yardage etc on the cream lacey shawlette comes out to $30

for the first pictured hat above:
~135yds x .20 = 27
27 + 7 = 34
2.5 x $4 ($2 each wash and card) = 10
34 + 10 = 44
30% is 13.20
44 + 13.20 = $57.20

for the second pictured hat above:
~135yds x .20 = 27
27 + 8 = 35
3 x $4 = 12
35 + 12 = 47
30% is 14.10
47 + 14.10 = 61.10

Please let me know what you all think about this. I am very interested in all the feedback I can get.
 
Thomas Partridge
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The thing is, people who craft may be telling you that your prices are despicably low and hold up proof that they sell things at their prices. That however doesn't mean there is a sustainable market for that product, just that they were able to find someone to buy their product at least once. If you make a hat and sell it for $600, you might find one person to buy the hat but in the grand scheme of things you ended up only making $600 that year. How many of those hats would you need to sell to make a living doing it (i.e. more than just a hobby) if you sold them at $600. Could you sell that many hats a year at that price?

The price breakdown you have above will very likely see hats sold, I will not lie to you. But is it a world changing or even something you could reliably make a living doing? If it is a hobby then definitely go for it, hobbies are wonderful and enrich our lives. Even if you are planning on it being a business, I would start it out as a hobby that generates income so you can test the waters in terms of the market for the item.

You might also consider fostering a barter economy with them. You likely can barter for a much better value than you can sell the item for - especially if you already buy a lot of things from other cottage industries and small farms. I would for example not pay $20 for one of the hats (out of my price range for hats) but I would probably be willing to trade 3 or 4 muscovy ducklings or a half dozen chicks for one. That is of course just an example, I am sure there are dozens of other trade opportunities.
 
Robyn Holmes
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Kadence,

Like you, I have never been very good at pricing things I have made. I do know that where your items are being sold and who are buying them have A LOT to do with how much you can charge. (Extreme example - Paris boutique vs. flea market)

That being said, in a middle-of-the-road scenario, I would charge $40 each for the hats, and $80 for the shawlette.

I know this is backwards to your pricing, and I think the hats will sell for less because people will look at the hats and think, "I can make that". (Or Aunt Polly, or whomever they know can make it.) Also, because you see so many people making hats, they aren't as unique. Lastly, because using the same stitch looks "easier". (Please don't get me started on my rant on this!!) That's why I posted the picture of the basket weave stitch. Even though it's nothing more than double crochets, it fools people into thinking it's way more complicated than it really is.

I don't know how you made the shawlette, but I think it is a perfect example of something that would sell very well. It looks like something a fashionable 20-something would "layer" in some sort of trendy way. (As an almost 40 yr old who hangs out with Amish ladies, I am NOT an expert!!) I even think that if you were to get it into some trendy boutique in Pittsburgh, you could charge around $150. (Especially if it's as soft as it looks!) If you can sew, and you make a silky camisole that is attached at the shoulder seams, you could even add $20 - $100 per shawlette.

I hope this helps!
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Kadence, what I told others in my group Permanet NL (a network of people making hand-crafted products and materials from permaculture grown plants, trees and animals, in the Netherlands): we can best see this as a 'side-job'. It's impossible to make such products of such materials only for a living!
You have to see it in a permaculture setting. You grow veggies and fruits as well as fiber materials. You have most of your food, you make your own clothes, and then you grow and make some more to sell, so you have some money, or to trade for products you don't grow yourself. You can't think of prices in the way 'the old system' does.
 
kadence blevins
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I have been working on picking fleeces. got video done and currently uploading to youtube about picking and washing a fleece. and what was done in the video has been carded and is awaiting the batteries to charge on my little, very slow, solar charger.

I am going to try and get some of the babydoll sheep fleece picked and washed. I already have some done and carded. going to make it into a pillow and test it out. if I like it I can have pillow filling wool ready to sell
 
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

Jay C. White Cloud wrote: Hi Elisha M.

I have read similar description about urine in new and old text...If I may share, I believe from reading other text and direct experience this is a "misnomer" about urine for the most part as it applies to textiles, and its "uric acid" application as a cleaning agent.



Hi Jay C. White Cloud. I think really in the old days urine was used for cleaning wool. There is a town in the Netherlands where the inhabitants were called (translated) 'jar pissers'. The urine was collected for use in the fabrication of wool fabrics. But maybe it wasn't the fat wool right from the sheep, but the spun or woven wool.



Urine was used, but not fresh urine. It was allowed to stand and sort of "ferment" (I don't know the right word) until it degraded intostinky ammonia. That's why it cleans the grease out of wool so well. You can't just pee on your wool and it's clean. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking because something is "natural", it's not harsh.
 
kadence blevins
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The sheep were shorn June 29. The fleeces are picked and separated and are waiting to be washed.
Midget's fleece was 3+ lbs. Skirted to 2lbs. Last year it was 1+ lb. I am very glad to see how she is looking under all the wool. she has gained a good amount of size but I think she is just going to always be little.
Pigpig's fleece was 5+ lbs. Skirted to 3+ lbs. Last year it was pretty much the same but I couldn't use it at all last year because it was all felted at the tips and had sooooo much VM in it PLUS there was a break in the wool. So I didn't even bother with it at all So I am very excited to work with this fleece from her!

I bought a 2y/o Shetland ewe (black) and her ram lamb (chocolate brown with a white forehead, born march 2016). The sire was quite nice looking so for now he keeps his nuggets and I will see what lambs he can make. He is a lovely color and they both have nice dual coated fleeces. so neat to see how they are similar and yet different than Icelandic fleece with the dual coat.

Right now I am planning to keep the ram lamb and see what he throws breeding the ewes. He is young and won't likely be ready to breed this fall and I am hoping to buy a fine wool Shetland ram from a lovely flock. The woman is in my spinners and weavers guild and I know she has lovely wool. So I will have: unrelated fine wool Shetland ram, unrelated to the other ewes dual coated Shetland ram. Probably after I see what lambs they throw I will decide if I want to keep both, just one of them, or neither. And if they throw something terrific I will keep it back to breed. Then after a couple years I may bring in a different breed ram. Right now I am thinking the following breeds: Jacob, Icelandic, Babydoll, Tunis, Bluefaced Liecester (BFL), Border Liecester.

I also have found someone around the very large country block from me has Icelandic flock but it seems like they are older and not very able to keep things up. I am hoping to get back that way sometime soon to try and chat with them. maybe able to help them out and get some fleeces or work trade for some animals.

At the rate I am thinking is most likely with these ewes and a couple more to start up I should have at least 10 ewes after two breeding seasons. More if I am able to buy a few more ewes this year to start. Starting up I will likely be keeping all the rams lambs as wethers for fleeces. Maybe once I get more ewes I will cut them back and only keep really great fleeced wethers. And keeping all ewe lambs for at least one breeding season to build up and then later on cut back to just the ones with the nicest fleeces. And to help see what I will be getting with the genetics.
 
kadence blevins
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UPDATE

I have done the math and if by my averaging I will need 50 sheep to be able to sustain myself with an income. With my current setup and starting amount of sheep I should be able to breed up to that many animals by spring of 2019 while selling off extra rams and bringing in some unrelated ewes. From this point I will need to maintain this number of stock, get rid of the lesser animals, keep better lambs, make sure my pastures are handling the amount of stock on it, and hopefully really have my rotation and stocking and fencing nailed down.

I have a sales idea started and if all goes well I will be able to have some of these ready by April, spring 2017.

Small fiber box:
-8oz fibers
-mix of: batts, locks, rolags, washed fibers, etc.
-$22 plus shipping

Large fiber box:
-16oz fibers
-mix of: batts, locks, rolags, washed fibers, etc.
-$37 plus shipping

Small Flock Box:
-8oz fibers
-mix of amounts raw fibers
-$16 plus shipping

Large Flock Box:
-16oz fibers
-mix of amounts raw fibers
-$32 plus shipping

I also have an idea for a small and large 'yarn box' but do not have the particulars figured out for that yet.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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kadence blevins wrote: UPDATE

I have done the math and if by my averaging I will need 50 sheep to be able to sustain myself with an income. ....


Hi Kadence. Do you mean then you will have all of your income from the sheep alone? Or are these 50 sheep part of a whole permaculture polyculture, both you and the sheep having greens, veggies, fruits, materials, etc. from your land?
 
r ranson
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Tha looks great Kandence.  How exciting!

Yarn, in my overly opinionated opinion, should be priced by type and yardage more than by weight.  It really gets my goat when people charge by weight.  A 3ply lace weight yarn of several hundred miles weighs the same as an extra bulky yarn of only a few yards.  One takes an hour to make the other hundreds of hours.  Yet the bulky handspun will often sell for double the price of the lace weight, warp strength, 3 ply yarn.  That's all well and good for the bulky spinners, but it undervalues the labour involved in making the yarn.  
 
kadence blevins
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

kadence blevins wrote: UPDATE

I have done the math and if by my averaging I will need 50 sheep to be able to sustain myself with an income. ....


Hi Kadence. Do you mean then you will have all of your income from the sheep alone? Or are these 50 sheep part of a whole permaculture polyculture, both you and the sheep having greens, veggies, fruits, materials, etc. from your land?



If my estimations are near correct and I can sell all the wool (or wool products, lambs, etc) then I will get a livable income for myself under current circumstances. With some increase and working out the kinks of sales and things I should be able to earn some more and need less inputs. By this I mean keeping the sheep that do better in my style of keeping and sheep that need minimal added feed through the winter. Bettering my pastures and some more expanding of the pastures that I am planning should be able to sustain this amount of sheep and with my keeping and bit of work be able to regenerate the areas as well.
From there I would be able to put more time into my personal growies and etc to feed myself and the animals through the year.

R Ranson wrote:Tha looks great Kandence.  How exciting!

Yarn, in my overly opinionated opinion, should be priced by type and yardage more than by weight.  It really gets my goat when people charge by weight.  A 3ply lace weight yarn of several hundred miles weighs the same as an extra bulky yarn of only a few yards.  One takes an hour to make the other hundreds of hours.  Yet the bulky handspun will often sell for double the price of the lace weight, warp strength, 3 ply yarn.  That's all well and good for the bulky spinners, but it undervalues the labour involved in making the yarn.  



I agree with you. I can see adding on the cost of buying the roving or fleece but it would be ridiculous to sell by weight. I'd never spin anything other than bulky and super bulky!
With yarn boxes I was thinking maybe to do by cost and then choose different yardage and weights of yarn to fit the prices.
for example:
small yarn box: $25 I could do 150 yards of apprx worsted weight.. or 100 yards apprx DK weight.. I don't know why pricing yarn makes me so anxious but I can never really decide.
 
kadence blevins
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FINALLY! RAIN!

It has been more hot and more dry than 'average' this year. I am happily listening to the downpour on the metal roof as I sit here comfy, clean, and content knowing the plants are soaking up the water.

Imagining how in future years when this happens my farm will be a less hot and less dry microclimate and when the rain finally comes the swales will be ready to hold the water on and in the land.
 
kadence blevins
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Three years ago I started this thread with the basics of my goal. I now have a flock of 24 and will be lambing in April. Some bumbling, false starts, parasite problems, heat, cold, deluge rain, drought,.... I'm doing some redirecting in 2019. After serious contemplation, soul searching, and far too much number crunching for someone who doesn't enjoy math... I decided that I was either going to take meat lambs to the bigger auction (50 miles away) or I was going to have to cut down to 10 and suck it up as a hobby money pit.

Not that I was against meat animals. Not at all, there is lamb and rabbit in the freezer that was born and raised and butchered by me. (And two deer from the farm this season) Until this reassessment I didn't realize how in the hole I was going and how much return I could be taking advantage of with intentionally making sure I had lambs to market that way.

The flock will be moving from mostly shetlands and crosses to mostly BFL-shetland 'mules'. In 2020 I plan to bring in some Corriedale ewes that will also become a mainstay of the flock. From there I will work on wool quality and hardiness. I believe with this mix of sheep and crossing that I will get really nice fleeces that are fine to medium micron.
By 2022 I should have my flock built up to around 50 ewes and several rams. I estimate this amount of sheep and these breed crosses will shear near 400# raw wool a year. Between half to three quarters of that weight will end up usable/saleable product. Roving, yarn, pillows, and quilt batting.

I'm also hoping to combine this idea with one that's been knocking around my head a while. I am going to go to some farmers about buying part or all of their wool clip. At first probably just set up to go to a couple during their shearing and buy fleeces from them. By fleeces I mean reasonable poundage, like 50+lbs or 10+ fleeces. This fiber I would go through and prepare for the mill and have milled into various farm yarns/rovings/top. I've asked around and I have some people that are indie dyers who would buy farm yarn/roving bases. So I'm covering multiple markets. Depending on how thing's go this could be as early as 2021.
 
kadence blevins
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ok lets see if I can manage this picture right... nevermind, see attachment. lol, I'll figure that out later.

~ This whole post is based on the doodles on the picture above below. Let me know if anything doesn't make sense and I'll try to clarify. ~

I've writing out tentative plan for rotation the next year. Improving on my mistakes and adding new areas. I now have 6 electric net fence, 164'. Breeding groups have just been seperated and the ewes will be moved to the "~6acre" feild. It's a big area but not alot of growth so we shall see how long it lasts them. Hopefully winter doesn't swoop in too quickly. Then on I'll have to deal with them in the permanent fenced paddocks. It's not optimal but next winter things will be very different!
At the moment I'm estimating the ewes will go through one round bale in a week and that's how I'll rotate them. Set out each paddock with a round bale and when the bale's out move to the next paddock. Before the rotation is up set in new bales, off set from the previous bale placement. Hopefully I'll be able to put out bales for the paddocks on nicer days, then the rest of the time I can just open the gate and move them to the new paddock and bale.
Come spring these areas I'm going to seed behind them and get them into overgrown areas to clear out. Current estimations puts this at April 1 to June 8 to rotate through and seed behind almost all of it.
Come back to graze a few of the first paddock 75 days after moving the sheep and seeding.
The seed I'm going to order is two mixes, one for April to June, one for July to September. I will also be getting some buckwheat, I think it'll be seeded on the terrace with the mix. The fall seeding in the permenent fenced paddocks will try to hit it lightly and leave it for winter stockpile. If my estimates are close at all this would have the sheep on each area 4 times from April through October. Then the permanent paddocks about November through March until I can figure out more. Though I'm wondering if these new areas will kick up enough that I'll be able to keep grazing into December.
Red lines are permanent fence. Everything else is to highlight an area or show where I've been utilizing the netting up to now. IE, in the yard and to divide the bigger paddock. All acreage marked is estimated from the ODNR interactive map, I don't know if it accounts for slope but it's an estimate. The R paddocks is where the rams are, more on them later. Black boxes are barn or sheds.
The grazing plan is just to give me an idea of how I want to direct things. Even in making this up I edited it around to optimize easier moves. I'm shearing February and lambing March. So the plan starts April 1 in paddock 1 for two days and seed behind the sheep. On to paddocks 2, then 3 the same. Over to L1 using the netting, moving every day and seeding behind. This was hay feild but its weedy and at a bad angle to do anything on the tractor. Down to L2, which is yet to be determined how to divide with netting. It's wooded but not much brush and probably too thick of canopy to bother seeding. Over to 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
Now we get to the big changes. The g1-9 used to be goat pasture and has been left alone for years. It's weedy and brushy. The first time through will be mainly to knock stuff down so I can come through and beat down stems and hack at multiflora rose. So several days in, then hand mitigate, then seed. The pink lines are tentative divisions with the netting. G9 looks dumb, and it is kind of dumb. That is valley with a small seasonal creek, wooded, very overgrown weeds and brush. This is going to be my first silvopasture area. There is alot of nice big trees in there and I'll be thinning out the junk trees and brush. I think alot of it will be open enough to be seeded behind the sheep.
From there I graze the edge (right) of the "~6acre" feild to the terrace, marked with green approximate sections. Across there then grazing the edge (left) of the feild down to the little blue section which is a steep driveway bank. On to N3, 2, 1 which is the yard and of the few places I won't be seeding behind.
Which brings us to paddock 1 on about June 17th having had 75 days rest to end the first rotation. The second rotation we catch up on days, not needing to knock down weeds through the G1-9 sections and giving me 54 days rest by the end of it. The third rotation holds 54 days rest. That brings me to October and breeding groups and the end of my grazing plan.
On to the rams... I begrudgingly have to put them back in the R marked paddocks for winter. However next year my boys will be fat and sassy on more grass than they'll know what to do with. The ~6acre and ~4.5acre hay feilds have seen better days. At this time the ~4.5 feild is two-thirds brush hogged from it's plethora of goldenrod and ironweed. The ~6acre feild was mowed twice over the summer (before I finally got the electric net! Bad me!) to mitigate weeds seeding out more. This is going to be the rams job and I think I've come up with the perfect solution to work for me and Dad. He wanted to get a first cutting from both, hopefully by early June. Then I'd be able to graze it around August he thought. I thought on it a bit and we compromised by me getting the rams out on the ~4.5 feild starting in April, or whenever it's growing enough to get them on it and moving. I'll rotate them there and Dad can get a first cutting on the ~6 feild. About August or when it's grown back enough to graze, I'll move the rams over to the ~6 feild. Now the ~4.5 feild will be growing and see if he can get a hay cut from it. Four rams in netting, being moved every day across that big of a feild, it'll be growing in nicely already I think. I can't wait to see the changes in these feilds!
Also, in the plan the ewes will be grazing the terrace a bit earlier so they'll be there and gone before the rams are in that feild most likely, and not be back until the end of September right before breeding groups go in.
I didn't try to plan through breeding groups because I think so much is going to change before then and I'll be learning alot with this big rotation. Anything I plan now will probably be useless by that time. I have had some ideas on how to work it though. It's going to be difficult with 4 rams and I want them in single sire groups. Going forward I want to have at most two breeding groups but this is the base for my ewe flock I'm building. So more groups now gives me the replacement ewes I want, will make it possible to have the flock I'm aiming for, and be able to do two groups going forward. Big goals.
I'm planning some ruthless culling and plenty of replacement ewes kept back this spring. I tried CIDRs for the first time and I'm penny pinching to the max to get the ewes pregnancy scanned. I'm going to see if I'll be able to seperate the singles and twins scanned ewes at the end of gestation to be able to feed the twin carrying ewes a bit extra. And knowing a ewe is all done and not having to reach in unnecessarily. I've got notes on several ewes with checks against them. Anyone not bred, gone. Repeating singles, gone. The four-letter-words ewe that kicked me in the mouth and now has a big cott on her back for no reason, gone.
I have 3 ram lambs that were culls from a friend, real cheap to butcher. They are late lambs and mostly will be lamb burger. Then 1 of my rams that's a 2y/o that I don't need anymore and he wouldn't sell for anything at auction. He will make some nice cuts. I'm going to practice on some rabbit hides I'd froze and tan them. Hopefully I'll be tanning the rams hides later!
I put out feelers the whole past year and could not get anyone to respond to be on a wait list for a ram or ram lamb. I was preferring BFL but I put out feelers for 4 different breeds in multiple groups. Nada. Then magically someone lets me know they'll be at a fiber show that I'll be at in May, the price and cost to deliver to the show. Heck yes, finally! So in May I'll be getting a border leicester ram lamb from New Hampshire. And a plus, she has won ribbons for her fleeces. Her flock has plenty of multiples so I'm hoping that will also help me with my lambing rate. I'll ramble more on breeding plans in another post because this is getting quite long.. I'm afraid to look..
So I guess here is my current lessons learned...
~ parasites! Get off that same spot for crying out loud. You don't have it under control. It won't be fine until next spring. Don't keep back more animals. Don't bring in more animals. Either get in gear and have a plan to get the animals moved around in one month's time or sell down your stock, if not out, and deal with the issue.
~ I lost every single lamb this year because "I got it under control" with the barber pole worms... And ended up with loads of coccidiosis built up in my paddocks, the lambs were ill with worms symptoms but none of the additional symptoms of cocci. By the time I figured it out and treated for cocci I'd lost half. By the time the treatment was finished I had 3 lambs. Two days later I had none. This year the learning curve ran over with a bus. And alot of it I should have known better.
~ electric net and batteries. Why on god's green earth did I have to grow up with the dairy goats from hell? It took this much issue and learning curve for me to break down and try the net... And guess what... It is as amazing as it sounds! The sheep were trained to it in one afternoon! If someone develops a time machine, please go slap past me and tell me to buy the damn net!!!
~ A great deal is not always a great deal for you right now. I am a pro at finding deals and not having a damn thing prepared, crash course research, buy the thing/animal, and then figure out how to house and manage them. It can be done. I don't recommend it. I'm glad that I learned from these experiences but I have a plan now and I need to stick to it. Or take a step back and assess everything, does this really fit in the situation or am I making decisions based on "price reduced!" shoppers adrenaline? It's like auction fever!
sheep-fence-oct-1-2019.png
Sheep fence
Sheep fence
 
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