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Honour the Child

Blog Archive

BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Tuesday, 31 May 2011
My daughter loves her twirl skirts.
Partly because she is very sensitive to touch and prefers looser, softer clothing~ a skirt only touches at the waist.
And partly because she loves to *move* and enjoys the feeling of the skirts moving with her.

I am not sure how much her *teacher* loves them, since she (the teacher) was faced with helping Ro stuff them into her snow pants all winter long!

I love them, too!
In this, I am like Sy Sperling~ not only the hair club president, but also a client!
They go with anything, they are wash and wear and they do last a long time!

One of the benefits of our Rowan Tree Twirl Skirts, is that they grow with the girl.  Every one is designed for 2-3 years of wear in any season, which makes them a great value compared to pants that grow too short too quickly!

I was thinking about this as I snapped some pictures last week, so I thought I would gather some evidence of the longevity of these skirts...

Age 3.5 (2009)
Quick snap of the same skirt today (2011, Age 5 3/4)
June 2010 (this is a shorter style)
 June 2011
Summer 2010

May 2011
This black and white 'party skirt' replaced Rowan's original one which she wore for 3 years!
 And each has room to grow, still... which is good because she plans to keep them until she is a grown up (she says).♥
Monday, 30 May 2011
In Waldorf education, each day of the week has an associated colour, planet and grain.

Rudolf Steiner called rhythm the 'carrier of life' and by marking each day with a colour, something visual and evocative, we help young children tap into the rhythm of their days.


The colour for Monday is Violet.
In my search for pretty purple things to help mark the rhythm in our homes, I always start with the Natural Kids Team (search: naturalkids team) on Etsy and then go from there!

1. Hellebore Root Child Doll, by Alkelda.
2. Springtime Flower Elf, by Forest Mother.
3. Goose Girl, by Made 4 U By Magic.
4. Tiny Fairy, Moon Forest.
5. Finger Labyrinth, by Golden Light Ceramics.
6. Handknit Doll Cardigan, by Lavender Lore.
7.Happy Camper Wee Folk Hat, by Mousie Masala.
8. Gnome to Go, by Beneath the Rowan Tree.
9. Rainbow Kids, by Mees and Ewes.
10. Tiny Purple Fae, by Tiny Oyster

Enjoy♥
Sunday, 29 May 2011
Welcome to the Playdate! (#10)
Everyone is welcome to link up to this post all week long with your  
kid related posts... 
recipes, games, crafts, parenting, stories... 
just think of it as our virtual play group!

Here is what the play looked like at our house one day this week:
Last week's Playdate was a BLAST! 
Thanks to all of our new participants who helped to make it the best playdate yet with all of the crafts, games, treats and activities to keep things hopping.
With summer vacation a month away for us Ontarians, and underway already for many of our American friends, this is a perfect resource for beating boredom for kids at home!

Here are some of last week's highlights
(chosen from participants who added the Playdate button or link to their post or blog)
If you are featured, please grab a button for your blog or post!
Beneath the Rowan Tree
::A craft for our Playdate::
from Erin at Making Memories (Oregon)
I *totally* want to make these for ME! 

::A Snack for our Playdate ::
Oh yum! from SmileMonsters
::Playtime for our Playdate::

::A get outside and Play Activity for our Playdate::
from Trisha at Stampin' & Craftin'
 
And now for this week's Playdate!
Beneath the Rowan Tree
The Playdate Guidelines:
♥ Add your link and thumbnail below and please visit some of the other links and comment.
♥ Your posts can be old or new, we welcome your best! (no more than 3 per week, please)
Consider adding the playdate button (above) to your post or sidebar, or even a text link back to this blog (http://beneaththerowantree.com) ~ you don't have to, but it sure would be sweet ♥!
♥ ANY kid/ baby/ family related posts and ideas welcome... but please no shop links, promos or giveaways.
♥ I will feature my favourites from the playdate in next week's Playdate post (choosing from those who have added our button or link to their shared post).
♥ Hit the Facebook or Twitter buttons below and share with your friends!

Hint: Use the title of your blog post for the 'name' portion of the link up!

Today is the 4th anniversary of Beneath the Rowan Tree, so it seemed like to time to brush up on my photography skills, at long last.
Now 'brush up' is generous.
My photos are ok, but I don't know the first thing about photography.

Thanks to a wonderful opportunity to do a basic photography workshop with local photographer Wendy MacCrimmon (please do visit her amazing site and prepared to be inspired!), I can now find the aperture and program settings on my camera, adjust my iso and have a longer wish list of equipment I need for business photos!
We paired up and were to take a series of shots of our partner, practicing the various skills.  My partner and I did all right, with Wendy's help, but really hit our stride when we found something more interesting to photograph than one another!
Lots more practicing and learning to do, but it always feels great to be a student again!♥
Saturday, 28 May 2011
We have a new skirt!

The TipToe™ Skirt is a little dressier than its Puddle Jumper™ cousin, but still keeps that BTRT sense of fun and playfulness (and always comfort, durability and long lasting fit!)

As part of  the 'Silk a Day in May' Giveaway running all month for our 4th business anniversary, I issued a challenge on our Facebook Page (come and join in!) for a name for this skirt and 'Tiptoe' won the majority in the final decision poll.

The suggestion came with the visual image the skirt evokes... of a girl lifting the hem of her skirt as she tiptoes through long grass or over a mud puddle (places we fully expect BTRT girls to be!)~ of course, with its raised hemline, in this skirt our tiptoeing girl could go right through the puddle safe and dry!

The TipToe™ Skirt is available in sizes from 16-18 inch" doll and 18-24M right up to a 7/8 (or more!).
It has two layers.  The upper layer has a fully encased and secured (for safety!) drawstring for cinching up the hem to reveal the layer beneath.  It is full enough to twirl and the drop waist will grow through several sizes allowing the skirt to be worn for a couple of years, or through a couple of children!
This design emerged by working over and with patterns by Patty Young and Little Lizard King.  In the end it is our own design, but a debt is owed to these designers and their groundwork!
Skirts are available by chance in our Etsy Shop or by custom order.


And finally, I add that all of our designs are rigorously tested for fit, comfort and movement...
♥♥♥
Friday, 27 May 2011
Our small community was rocked Monday by the tragic accident that took the life of a 55 year old woman.
We have five railway crossings in our little town, running parallel to our main street. To leave the main part of town you must cross the tracks~ we all do it daily, often many times a day. And on Monday afternoon, Jean Anne was crossing the tracks at the center of town in her car and was struck by the train and killed.

She leaves behind her 80+ mother (whose only other child was killed at age 16 in a traffic accident) and her two children in their early twenties.  Today, this small family unit was to be in Halifax at the son's graduate school graduation.  Instead they stood shoulder to shoulder, devastated, in the funeral home for visitation.

My ministry leads me to companion this family, and the wider community in this time of shock and grief. And tomorrow we will gather for the funeral, and lean on one another and our faith as we remember and give thanks for the life of this amazingly vibrant and passionate woman.

In 15 years I have ministered to many families in times such as these.  But as a mother, the brokenness of these children breaks my heart along new lines. I have always thought that if there was a hierarchy of grief, losing a child had to be at the top. But this week I see the devastation of losing a mother for these young adults and it is overwhelming. Words fail me, compassion wells.

So this afternoon, with the first sunshine in the week, my daughter and I took a walk along our favourite route~ the lakeshore.  And we drank in the beauty of the spring day, the fragrance of the blossoms, the chill of the lake risen high with rainwater as we dipped our toes.  We admired the mama duck with  her dozen wee ones and laughed as the dogs splashed along the shore.  It was glorious and I was so thankful for this moment with my child, for happiness and love and laughter and being together, hand in hand.
Lilacs nearly in bloom.
The fragrant blooms in the front yard.
A favourite shade tree.
Joy in motion.
Footprints in the sand ~ for the moment.
Where the Red-wing Blackbirds nest.
Our 'secret island' where we play and dream.
My light and joy.

Accidents happens.
Life changes in a flash, in a moment.
But this moment?
We have it.
And we are so thankful.♥

What are you thankful for today?
As you may know, this month is the 4th Anniversary for BTRT.
I was feeling reflective and thought I'd share some info and experiences, but thought I'd ask *you* what you want to know.
You can add your own questions HERE and read more about this (self) feature!

Question: How do you handle shipping with Canada Post? The rates are so high and seem so unreasonable.
Amen.  It stinks!
I have a theory on the expense.. Giant country, relatively small population generating revenue (and declining with alternative ways of using the mail).  I know my Postmistress has more than once asked me not to use Paypal shipping as the business is important to keeping our local PO viable (not just mine, I mean, but all counter business).

However, when competing in a market with the USPS in the states, our shipping rates always appear exorbitant and even fishy to shoppers.  In fact, I include a 'shipping rates reflect the realities of Canada Post' disclaimer in every listing!  I do not like the practice of hiding shipping in an item's price that some folks use.  This just makes it harder to 'justify' the actual rates for those of us who don't obscure them.

Many of my products have been developed based upon what will fit through the 'slot of doom'~ that 20 mm slot that dictates whether an item is a Light Packet (International/ USA) / Oversize (domestic) or a parcel.  If they are under 500g and fit through the slot, the rates aren't too bad. But if they do not... a small packet starts at nearly $8 CAD, even if the item is only 10 g in weight!

 For setting my rates in Etsy, I know the approximate mass of my products and which class they can travel.
The awkward part is the 'ships with another item' and the parcel rates for within Canada (on which I generally lose money as BC starts at $13 from Ontario, and people have a hard time believing the USA rate is $7+ while their is that high!). Knowing the rate/weight increments helps tremendously!

On the other hand, it costs what it costs, and I do not let the parcel rates affect fair pricing.  I simply lay it out there and let the customer decide (and always suggest combined shipping!).


(And don't get me started on the expenses to bring in supplies and the gouging of US suppliers! Add customs, taxes, duty as well and supplies cost significantly more than they do for our US counterparts ~ and competitors! OR a high Canadian dollar...)

It is a challenge, for sure! But knowing the options (and insisting on them at the counter~ yes we Canadians go to the counter for EVERY item we ship out!~ many postal employees simply don't know about Light Packet, for example) and staying on top of rate changes will definitely help stabilize shipping charges for your business.
Thursday, 26 May 2011
Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.
Pedro Calderon de la Barca

In Waldorf education, each day of the week has an associated colour, planet and grain.


Friday's colour is green.  And with all of the rain we have been having, our highland landscape is so rich and beautiful with green upon green~ the lemon lime green of the birch in the spring, the brilliant green maples and blue green conifers marching up the hillsides around us...

Keeping a weekly rhythm of colour in season leads to all sorts of wonderful finds, and today I want to share with you some gorgeous greens by the artisans of Etsy's Natural Kids Team and others, too! (search: naturalkids team).

1. Peas in a Pod Bouncy Balls, by Wool Crazy.
2. Green Wooden Airplane, by Imagination Kids.
3. Troll Bridge, by Muddy Feet.
4. Seahorse Eco Baby Rattle, by ekoleeko.
5. Striped Green Frog , by Sigh Foo.
6. Gnome, by Pippiclippi.
7. Heart of the Spring Birch Playsilk, by Beneath the Rowan Tree.
8. Birch in the Spring, by 6CatsArt.

Stay green ♥♥
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
As you may know, this month is the 4th Anniversary for BTRT.
I was feeling reflective and thought I'd share some info and experiences, but thought I'd ask *you* what you want to know.
You can add your own questions HERE and read more about this (self) feature!

Four years ago, I was making more playsilks and painted clothing than one child needed, so on a whim, I opened an account at Etsy, a little handmade marketplace (2007). I hadn't planned on starting  a business.
It was a slow start, but it did take off in that way!
I then spent the better part of that year establishing a base at Hyena Cart.
And then looked back at my Etsy shop and decided to put a little effort into it (stock more items, promote a little more), and it really took off.

However, for new businesses just starting out today the Etsy world is a very different (and much much larger) place. And honestly, I am thankful for having had a chance to establish my business before Etsy tipped and became what it is today.

A reader asked:   I am just starting to sell my creations and am wondering what your experience has been.  How do you feel about Etsy?

I am ambivalent about Etsy.
It has been good to me, in the sense that it provided a marketplace for my work.
On the other hand, the exponential growth of resellers, the lack of support for existing sellers on business related issues (Etsy is 'hands off' and 'just a venue' so don't expect much!) and the move towards some ambiguous 'social shopping' thing has left me a little cold.
However, if you take it just at face value, as a marketplace, it can work for you!
Recent Product Picture

And the usual advice applies: excellent photos, a well stocked store (several pages of items), clear and concise descriptions, simple policies in place, good use of categories, attractive header...
You are creating a virtual store and people need to feel attracted, comfortable and informed.  They want to get a certain vibe that keeps them checking back and shopping.
Follow this with good communication, customer service and top notch products.

And the thing is... you can do *all* of that and founder in Etsy obscurity.

Joining a TEAM can help make the place feel a little smaller and more personable, it can also help with shared advertising and presence. The Natural Kids Team is a great place to start if you are into that sort of thing!

I try to follow all of that advice, and it contributes to success, for sure.
But I stand by my conviction that far more credit belongs to networking.  Not the shallow 'follow me, I'll follow you' numbers sorts of games. But creating real community and relationships with sellers and customers.
By knowing your niche market (#1 business tip as far as I am concerned!) and connecting, authentically with them, you create a true network.

I spent a *lot* of time in my first couple of years promoting others.  Featuring them on my blog, collaborating with them, recommending their work.  Truthfully, I received very little back in this vein in terms of direct 'pay back' but that wasn't my reason for doing it. I made connections, got to know the market and learned a lot that helped me hone in on my brand.  It was great market research and I made some good  friends and supports in this way. I still try and feature others' once a week on the blog, at minimum.

Growing the natural toy/ family sector together has helped everyone.
And you absolutely MUST make connections outside of Etsy for the Etsy shop to see much traffic.
I could say much more (ok, I know I could!), but it is probably more helpful to answer specific questions (so go ahead and add them in the comments!).

Next Question: Do you spend a lot of time doing markets and fairs and such?
 Nope. I don't do them.  I have done a few (2 or 3) and they were not worth my time.
Sales were fine. It was the set up + travel + child care + day away from home + making up in stock (all my silk is dyed to order in the shop) which was simply too expensive in terms of my time and energy. 
Because I have a full time job and we have a family business on top of BTRT I have to be very mindful of my time and its value.  We live hours from everywhere that would bring me in touch with my niche market and I have more work than I can handle most of the time from online orders so the gamble of a fair or market is too risky.


Question:  As far as pricing goes, how do you take into account your materials and time spent on your work and find a reasonable price to sell your wares so that they are not too expensive?
My time is valuable (to me & my family, at least!).  I carefully calculate the cost of my materials (ie wool roving can be weighed and amount used calculated) and pay myself an hourly wage, including the time spent on photos, listings, marketing.  I also build in a profit (which many people often forget!). It isn't much, but it makes it worthwhile.

I love to make things, and if I had a business or not, I would be making things.
But that doesn't mean I should do it for nothing (which this market sometimes forgets, or even holds against sellers who run a business).
 And as far as expensive... that one is tough.
What is expensive?
Are natural toys made with ethically sources wool or silk or wood, handmade by a single artisan, one at a time to last several generations going to be 'more expensive' than mass produced disposable factory plastics? You betcha.
But what about the 'expense' of those same cheap toys in terms of the environment as they sit in land fill forever? Or the 'expense' in terms of a child's imagination and ability to lead their own play?

Put those questions against the costs of natural materials (ie silk has tripled in cost since I started 4 years ago... I only made my first price increase a couple months ago), the limited (or lack of) buying power for the single artisan and all the other factors and the 'guilt' we so often feel (and may be made to feel by others perceptions or comments) dissipates.
An 'expensive' item :)

I decided long ago that I would rather make ONE quality item, price it fairly and wait for the right buyer, than to make 5 items, underpriced and have to work 5x harder for the same return.


Not everyone can or will choose to afford natural toys.
But I can't afford winter trips to the tropics or a new car either... I don't mean that to sound pugnacious, only that not every item is meant for every price point or market sector.
And honestly, a pair of playsilks is an investment in play that may far outlast and outplay many other toys purchased for the same money if we as a culture can let go of our need for more stuff..
(And I make a habit of donating some of my toys to various charities and resource centers to enable children who wouldn't normally come in contact with them to have the opportunity).

How's that for candid?!♥
I welcome your input~ questions, disagreement, insights... please add them to the comment section!
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
I think the rapture may have passed us by, but somehow, today, at about 3:15 PM (est) I must have had an out-of-body-experience.
Nothing else explains it (except maybe temporary insanity?).
Can strep throat become strep brain?

Because.
I.
Bought.
A.
Barbie.

(Actual that makes a cool acronym. BIBAB. As in "I was struck with an overwhelming case of BIBAB" OR "when the BIBAB gets ahold of me, I do crazy irrational things").
Stinking BIBAB.

Anyway. I did it.  And if you think "no big deal" you have to understand that Barbie and I have a history. And when I look over it, I see that I have been losing ground at an increasing pace:

2008 (Rowan Age 3) : Curse You Barbie (and Your Little Comb, too!)
2010 (Rowan Age 5) : Holding the Middle Ground (And It Isn't That Bad)
2011 (Rowan Age 5.5): Barbie is in the House

A slippery slope!

You see, I don't hate Barbie.
I was a Barbie girl in my day.
I had the Corvette!
But I hate the pervasive, insidious stuff she comes to represent.
So, while I have not completely banned her from the house, I have stood on my high ground by not being the provider of Barbie and her fashion minions.

I honestly don't know how it happened.

Having tried every other place in town for small peat cells for starting seeds, we went to the dreaded WalMart. We went to the gardening section, found them and for some reason veered into the toy section.
OK, the reason was that I wanted to know what *heck* a Zooble is.
I even made Rowan promise there would be no asking for toys, no meltdowns over pink toddler cameras as had happened the last time we were any where near a toy section (and that was just last week!).
We were not buying anything today.
I was resolved.

So we turned down that pink aisle of doom.
And didn't get even the length of a cart into the smooshy pinkness when Rowan *gasped* at the Fairy Barbie that she "always wanted".
This is where the out-of-body bit comes in.
Because next thing I know, she and I are discussing the merits of a brunette fairy over a mermaid whose tail turns into a hoodie and her hair turns pink in cold water.

The mermaid won. Hands down.
You can take her in the TUB!

As we rolled away from the toy section I asked Rowan if she was as surprised as I was.
She nodded, big eyed, clutching her mermaid doll, not trusting this stranger who just helped her pick a Barbie for no reason at all.

When we unpacked the doll (from its Houdini-esque packaging), Rowan was delighted.
But I was a little bummed.
Because while the doll has long soft *colour changing* hair she doesn't come with a comb?!
What's up with that?


So there you have it.
My confession.
But I will always swear the BIBAB made me do it.

(Slinking off to hide my shame, and maybe try dunking the new Barbie in the cold water to see her hair change!)
Monday, 23 May 2011
Welcome to the Playdate! (#9)
Everyone is welcome to link up to this post all week long with your  
kid related posts... 
recipes, games, crafts, parenting, stories... 
just think of it as our virtual play group

Beneath the Rowan Tree
The Playdate Guidelines:
♥ Add your link and thumbnail below and please visit some of the other links and comment.
♥ Your posts can be old or new, we welcome your best! (no more than 3 per week, please)
Consider adding the playdate button (above) to your post or sidebar, or even a text link back to this blog (http://beneaththerowantree.com) ~ you don't have to, but it sure would be sweet ♥!
♥ ANY kid/ baby/ family related posts and ideas welcome... but please no shop links, promos or giveaways.
♥ I will feature my favourites from the playdate in next week's Playdate post (choosing from those who have added our button or link to their shared post).
♥ Hit the Facebook or Twitter buttons below and share with your friends!

Hint: Use the title of your blog post for the 'name' portion of the link up!


♥○♥○ Love letters just right for putting in a pocket, lunch bag or under a pillow! ○♥○♥
Send your loved one a sweet message in this re-usable, adorable envelope.
free, sewing, tutorial, diy, envelope, love letter, craft, children, valentine, notes, lunch, simple, quick, felt, cotton

This tutorial is a great scrap-buster and can be made from a variety of materials: any fabric, wool felt, recycled wool sweaters, even paper would do.  It requires only basic sewing skills (and could be handstitched, even glued, by a young child).
free, sewing, tutorial, diy, envelope, love letter, craft, children, valentine, notes, lunch, simple, quick, felt, cotton
 The finished envelope is 4 x 5"
3/8" seam allowance.

Materials:
♥  Fabric scraps, 2 x 9.5 x 8" or sewn together to make a piece that size
♥  Straight pins
♥  Scissors
♥  Thread
♥  Sewing machine
♥  Chalk or fabric marking pencil
♥  Envelope template
♥  Scraps of felt or other embellishing materials
free, sewing, tutorial, diy, envelope, love letter, craft, children, valentine, notes, lunch, simple, quick, felt, cotton
1) Gather your supplies.Print and cut out the envelope template (reduce or enlarge if you like).
Prepare your two main pieces~ if you do not have scraps 8.5 x 9" you can sew pieces together to make the required size.
It works very well if you attach pieces at the places you will fold the finished envelope (as in the middle one pictured below).

2) Cut out your envelope pieces (2) along the solid lines.. Do not cut the slit yet!

3) Using some scrap felt (or heavier fabric like denim) cut out two pieces to reinforce the portions of the envelope which will be the tab and slot for closing. Set aside.
free, sewing, tutorial, diy, envelope, love letter, craft, children, valentine, notes, lunch, simple, quick, felt, cotton
4) Embellish the front of the envelope.
Start by chalking the front square to insure that you stay within the bounds.
 Then add your details with wool, fabric, markers, whatever you choose.
I have made a stamp (1") and label with wool felt for this example.
Use pinking shears or a zigzag stitch to create the edge effect for the stamp.
free, sewing, tutorial, diy, envelope, love letter, craft, children, valentine, notes, lunch, simple, quick, felt, cotton

If using felt, set your stitches to short and narrow to best attach the small pieces.
I used a darning foot for creating the spirals on the heart (and the writing on the other examples).
5) Align the two envelope pieces, right sides together, adding on the reinforcement felt and pin together.
6) Sew the pieces together using a 3/8" allowance and leaving a 1" opening for turning (return your stitch length to normal if you have shortened it!).  I prefer to leave this opening along one of the short sections in the side folds.

7) Once you have sewn around, turn and check to make sure all of your seams are accurate and then trim neatly.

8)  Turn out and be sure to use a finger or other implement to push out all corner seams.
9)  Press the entire piece, carefully folding in the raw edges of the opening.
10)  Topstitch the entire perimeter (got fancy stitches? use 'em!), being sure to catch the opening in the seam.  If you like, you can also topstitch along the folding lines.

11) Chalk and cut the slit through all layers. Finish the raw edges as you prefer (buttonhole, zigzag) ~ my buttonhole function and I are on the outs, so pardon my rough edges!.
12) Fold up your envelope, press seams heavily with steam and you are done!
 ... now write a note to someone you love and send it!
Have fun! ♥♥
You are welcome to make these for any reason you like (including to sell). 
Copyright protects the text and photos of the tutorial. 
And credit to the author is always appreciated!

©Beneath the Rowan Tree/ Lori Campbell, 2011.

And if you enjoyed this tutorial, please share the love~ tweet, like it... send to a friend and be sure to leave a comment here with any links to your finished projects, we'd love to see them!
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