The Old Tattered Flag

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Evolution of a crafters booth!

As I sit here on a Monday morning with loads of orders to fill and a shop to put back together, after a wonderful weekend in Ghent, NY at the Heavens To Betsy Spring Hook-in, I just had to sit and write a quick post.  Yesterday was that day we dread all year, the organization of tax STUFF to hand over to the accountant.  Ugh!!!  But before that my husband proceeded to show me some drawings of what he wants to do to streamline my booth.  I realized this morning that as I unloaded the trailer that this is a constant evolution.  What is the perfect booth set up?  I know for sure we will never have it because, I'm not sure if you know this or not, but I'm a very stubborn person.  I do not want to have anything that everyone else has, so my booth will always be a little different even if that means that it takes a little more elbow grease.  I don't want to have the pre-made screens and set ups that you can by from store set up websites.  It's really funny when we start hauling our booth set up in to an event center.  People look at us like we are crazy, but then somehow it all comes together.  I am reminded of Mom and I loading a dolly with cinder blocks.....yes, that's right...cinder blocks and 6 foot boards to display the wool on for our first hook in.  Times have changed.....we only did that once!
So, I thought it would be a fun post to show how our booth has evolved over the years.  I don't have any photos from the first "cinder block" hook in so you will be spared that horror.

The two pictures below were after we returned to NY from living in Missouri for a year.  This is when we really started traveling to hook-ins.  This was in Feb. 2014, in Ghent, NY again.  It got the job done.

Not too bad for pattern display, but a pain to set up!

I knew I wanted to feature certain rugs for each show based on the next season as hookers are always at least 1 season ahead.  This is when we started getting serious with a display.  Not too bad to set up, just a few screws then lifting it up on the table.  This was also when we started using lighting.  Thanks To Betsy's husband, Eric we realized this was very important!!

It was pretty, but still wasn't right....there was no organization.  

I think this display is at the Brandywine Hook-in, perhaps also in 2014 or 2015.  I was still using the screen to hang patterns.  Too messy though!

Still using the "feature board".  Still pretty, but still messy, we need organization.

Then came the call from Kathy inviting us to Rug Hooking week at Sauder village.  We would have to cram into an approx. 10 x 10 booth......we needed to have a plan.  I needed more organization and still wanted to have a feature board.
We managed to fit a LOT of product into a little space and our new display worked well...

But this was the size booth I would really have like to have at Sauder (we were happy though).  We always like to bring our shop on the road so we always rent at least 2 spaces.  This booth is 20 feet across, again, the Brandywine rug hooking guild.  I think this was our booth at it's best!  On the left you can see that we were using "the beast".  It's a rolling pattern closet.  This booth is wonderful, but it still needs some improvement.  It takes us about 3 hours to set it up, not too bad for all of this, but we want to streamline it more.  

So, back to the drawing board my husband was yesterday.  This is the look I want, but we are working on ways to streamline, pre-load our shelves so we can load at home, roll it in and there it is.  I also would prefer to not use "the beast".
So, as you can see, it is always an evolution.  What is the perfect booth?  I don't know, but we are trying to find it?  
Until next time.....

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

If only......

If only there were more hours in the day I could write on my blog again.  I could take pretty pictures with my new camera and share recipes and show works in progress.  Only problem is that by the time I sit down to work on those "works in progress" it's too late to write about them on my blog.  Be patient with me.  I am going to try to be better about writing, but I know that I need to change the way I write.  Perhaps it doesn't have to be showing 10+ pictures.  Maybe just one picture summing up the day will do.  I do promise.....I am going to try to be better.  

The picture below is showing a stack of orders we have had in the last few months.  The stack is ridiculous......first because, WOW, we've been busy but then WOW, so busy you haven't even had time to clean out your order box!!  Oh well, such is life!

Just know that I am still here, and have been yearning to write, just need to re-vamp my blog entries.  Like I said before, be patient with me!

Until next time.....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A New Year...

When my boys were growing up and home during their school vacations we always loved the week between Christmas and New Years.  We would play games, do puzzles, watch movies, eat lots of great foods.  It was great!  I tell myself every year that I am going to relax and take some time between the two holidays to "rejuvenate", but I guess I really need to let those days go.  We all have to work during that week, no more school vacations.  
I told myself I was going to bake everyday, blog, craft.  It just doesn't happen.  Somewhere along the way here my little side business has turned into a full fledged, 7 days a week, 8-6 daily job.  I'm not complaining, really I'm not, but I just need to lighten up on myself and tell myself that those "good old days" of games, puzzles and all day in pajamas are long gone.  
We've been super busy in the shop and on the busy that we've barely had time to catch our breaths.  And if we do have a "quiet" day it's usually spent doing real things like putting the Christmas decorations away, taking all the Christmas out of the shop or my favorite, doing laundry.  
I am constantly looking for ways to "streamline", ways to shave time off doing things, so we can fit more time in for what we love.....creating.  I have pledged to do my designing for the whole year in the month of January and I'm happy to say that that plan is coming to fruition.  I will say sadly, that I cannot share any line drawings of upcoming designs anymore because I have noticed that some of these, from the past, have ended up on Pinterest in "free pattern" categories.  So the saying, one bad apple spoils the whole damn bunch applies here.  But, below are some teasers of what we've been up to lately...

I'm doing a little color planning for what I was going to call Seasonal Hippie bags, but I've since changed my mind and decided to call them "BoHo" bags.  One for each season.  

Above is a design I've had in my head for some time...."Grandma's Lace".  I feel that I can show this one as no one in their right mind, except me of course, is going to tackle drawing this one. 

Above is an Antique adaptation I gave Mom last year for Christmas.  She hooked it through the holidays.  It has a nice vintage feel to it.  

In between the day to day operations and designing for the whole year I've been moving a LOT of inventory and other stuff to the house next door where we do all our production, so it has freed up space in my home office, which I now devote to website maintenance, emails and shipping.  Below is a pretty picture of my shipping area.  It's pretty but a lot of foul language has been coming out of my mouth of late as we are having some network (internet) issues.  Oh well!

A gift to myself, a nice new Apple Mac for my office.

If you look carefully you can see that Spring is starting to spring forth here and there in our shop..

Part of our transitioning all production to the house next door has been hauling all our bolts to and fro.  It sounds daunting, but it's necessary....there is just so much wool.  Notice I said so much, not TOO much, can there ever be too much? Nah!

Since I've made the home/shop office strictly for web maintenance and shipping I needed to have an area to get away and create.  This is the upstairs room in the production house.  Lot of room to spread out.

And speaking of production, we are always drawing and packaging patterns to head out the door.  Here's a bunch of punch needle patterns waiting to be packaged.

...and here we are on a cold, Wintery, Saturday night.  I've been busy punching two designs for upcoming magazines, and just finished a baby gift so now it's on to creating new designs.  The wool below is for a vintage heart for the front door of the shop.  A night of hooking while watching our Patritots is just what I need after a long week.
*I cut all this wool, 3/4 of a yard in about 15 minutes with our new custom made dies for rug hooking strips.  If you want to know more about it visit our website,  You will be able to cut up to 81 strips of wool with ONE turn of the handle.

I hope you are all bundled up tonight, I know there is some bad weather in the Midwest....of course we are thinking of our friends in those areas.  Stay safe, in fact, stay inside and hook or punch.

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A few of my favorite things....

It's a simple blog favorite things.  I don't know what it is about Christmas that just makes everything more special.  The way you see things with a different eye.  Well, I also got a new camera.  In my next life I would love to be a photographer, or a graphic designer, or this or that, you are never too old to dream or reinvent yourself, right?.  Anyway, here are some things around the house seen through the lens of my new camera....and yes, they are my favorite things...

A Candle
A favorite vignette

Christmas Dinner
A hooked Rug
Peace (and beautiful artwork by my Sister)


Punch Needle

A Handmade Santa

My favorite Snowman
My Mother

My Mother in law visiting for Christmas
My Oldest Son

My Youngest son 

My Dog

My Hubby
My Family

My Shop

My Home
 I don't know what it is about this time of year that makes everything just a little bit more special but it just does and I'm happy to embrace those things.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a Very happy and healthy New Year.

Until next time.....

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas comfort food and memories.....

Does your kitchen look like mine right now?  Flour, sugar, vanilla and butter are the main ingredients in many kitchens during this time of year.  Why is it that we feel compelled to make all these sweet treats, cookies and candies as soon as the snow starts to fall?

I have always said this time of year is my favorite for so many reasons.  Probably first and foremost as we all know....I'm a foodie!  So, this is like.....well.....Christmas to me, lol!  Today I am in heaven because everyone is home.  Both boys, hubby, Mom and of course all the critters.  To me there is nothing better than a full house, add to that the fact that it is snowijng and we all may be housebound tomorrow!  So, I decided since some of us have the sniffles to make up a couple batches of soup.  Is there anything better when you have a cold than a hot bowl of soup?  I have made the copycat version of Olive Garden's Zappa Toscana soup by:
Cooking some sausage, you can use jimmy dean (1 package) or sweet italian sausage
1/2 onion, diced
4 strips of bacon, crumbled
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Chicken stock, I used two containers
Thinly sliced potatoes, about 3 medium
Simmer until the potatoes are fork tender
Add 2 cups heavy cream or half and half
Kale or Spinach, chopped, about 4 cups
Salt, pepper and parsley
I say "about" alot because when I'm cooking I don't usually use recipes all that often.  Just throw it in and hope for the best is my motto!

But why do we feel compelled to make these comfort foods and goodies?  I know for me, as with most of you, it is tradition.  
Baking has always been an important part of Christmas in our family...

When I was a young girl my Mother and my Sister and I would make several different kinds of cookies every year to give out to friends and neighbors.  We would make pecan snowballs, chocolate crinkles, peppermint spirals, peanut blossoms, sugar cookies, mint frosted brownies, the list goes on.  This was before there were craft stores.  We didn't have all these cute little boxes and tins to put cookies in as they do today.  So, we would line the bottom of a gift shirt box with aluminum foil.  We would then carefully arrange a selection of the cookies, usually 2 or 3 per box, or more depending on the size of the family to whom it was going.  We would then carefully wrap it with saran wrap and top it off with a bow.  We would give these cookie boxes to the mailman, the trash men, neighbors, co-workers.  It really is a very fond memory of mine and I carry it on to this day.  

We would also have dishes of candies and nuts around the house.......

And we would decorate our tree with candy canes.  The candy canes would be put on last, the finishing touch....after the silver tinsel.  I like to use candy canes as part of my kitchen decor now.  I toss a few in a jar surrounded by greenery as you see below.  

Jars of flour, oats and baking powder become part of my kitchen decor as well as they are frequently used during the month.  Pans of cookies and containers of puppy chow are usually front and center in our kitchen....

Puppy chow!  It is a staple in this house.  I mixed up the 6th batch today.  My youngest son lives on it during the month of December.  I made some for our Christmas open house and was so happy to see our guests walking around with a cup of it happily munching away.

So, yesterday when my husband asked me to make up a batch so he could bring some to work to put on his desk it made me happy.  It made me smile because the tradition continues.  I might not have the time to make the long list of cookies we made when I was a young girl but by just filling a few treat bags for my husband to give out to his co-workers, the spirit continues and that is really what it is all about.  I know more chex mix, peanut butter will go in my shopping cart the next time I go to the store as there will also be a batch going to the USO for soldiers who cannot get home for the holidays.  My son works at the USO so the tradition will continue with him as well.  

That's why we find comfort in these special foods.  It's about the feelings you have when you are baking that 8th batch of Christmas cookies, or frosting those sugar cookies with your children or grandchildren.  It's comfort, it's the feeling of home and nostalgia.

So, next time someone asks you to make those  special cookies or candy, I hope you know that you may be making a memory for someone or starting a tradition.
Until next time.....

About Me

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog. I am married and just entering the second phase of my life as a Army retiree's wife. My husband and I did 25+ years in the Army. He is now officially a retired Colonel and has just entered the civilian workforce and I am happily settled in our 1830 Stone house. I (along with my Mom) operate www.theoldtatteredflag and currently we are building a small shop in the back part of the house. We live in Northern NY, right near the Canadian border. I have two handsome sons and 2 puggles. Life is busy for us, but I wouldn't have it any other way.