A Cat Show

travel-pillow-ok-0061ON COLUMBUS DAY weekend, I took the KOALA Caddies on the road to a cat show in Marstons Mills, MA.  It’s only about a 30 minute drive from my home to this town just west of Hyannis.  I had no idea what to expect, but I knew that where there are cats, there are crafters who deal with the fatal attraction of felines to yarn.

I was joined in my adventure by my dear friend, Patty, an animal lover second to none.  We set up shop in our assigned location, happy to be next to Ring Seven.  We got to watch lots of judging and see beautiful cats from many different breeds.

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We had a great day. We didn’t sell too many Caddies, but we made a dent in the supply of our newest product, the KOALA Caddie Travel/Nap/Accent Pillow seen above.  We also discovered another use for the KOALA Caddie! This kitten seemed right at home in her satin-lined pouch.  How sweet is that? A Catty Caddie!

We met some wonderful people:  cat owners who breed and show their prized felines, members of the Cats On Beach Cat Club, who hosted the show, and vendors offerings everything from tiny catnip playthings to elaborate kitty furniture.

cat-show-kitties-0331We just loved meeting Leslie and Andy, owners of Nunwell Glass. Their handmade sleeping cats are exquisite. They offer their special creations at cat shows and at their website: glasscats.com.

We also were entertained by the wonderful Jenny, whose “stuff” is just the best! She handcrafts the neatest items for cats and is herself a delight! She has an online shop, Jennys Pet Stuff,  where you can explore her extensive list of creations. We loved her cat beds in the shape of fish and mice. cat-show-kitties-0371

If you are a pet lover and you live in driving distance of Providence, RI, you may want to attend the 17th Rhode Island Pet Show and TICA Cat Show taking place on March 6-7, 2010, at the Rhode Island Convention Center.  Be sure to check out the link provided.  It looks like it will be a fabulous event!

I have added some photos from our day at the show.

All is well ~ Mary

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First KOALA Caddie Slide Show

slideshow-501RECENTLY, I took photos of Ann Kelleher, the owner of Fancie Purls Yarn Studio in Plymouth, MA.  Ann kindly consented to model the KOALA Caddie Yarn Craft Apron in its many configurations for photos to be used in a “How It Works” slide show.

The KOALA Caddie I chose for the slides is made from one of the fabrics in the Valorie Wells Sole’ Collection for Free Spirit.  These photos are still in the editing process.  When that is complete, we will use them in a Word Press slide presentation that will become part of this website.

My sister, Annie, made her own slide show from these preliminary photos on Smile Box.  It was a great help for buyers who couldn’t quite believe all the configurations that the Caddie is able to perform. We now have a slideshow as part of the website under the “How It Works” section.

Ann Kelleher recently moved her shop from Norwood to 184 Water Street in downtown Plymouth, directly across from the ocean.  The view is fabulous.  Her shop is bright and cheerful, with an ever-expanding inventory of wonderful things.  You can be sure of a warm welcome and an invitation to browse or to sit, knit/crochet and chat.

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Many thanks to her, and to my sister, Annie, for their enthusiasm about the Caddies, and their desire to share it.  They are among the many people who supported me in following a path that didn’t come with a map — wonderful people who have gone out of their way to offer suggestions, time, and encouragement to help me fashion a business out of a new idea.  Thanks to all of them.   All is well ~ Mary

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One Year Later: Cast On Magazine Review

SOMETIMES I find it hard to believe all that has happened in the last year and a half. When the following review appeared in Cast On Magazine last autumn, I had no more than an email address in place for my new business. Despite that fact, about a dozen  knitters trusted Penny Sitler’s recommendation and purchased Caddies from photos I sent, or from fabric they chose online.

Now, less than a year later, I have a website/blog, an Etsy shop, a calendar of upcoming shows and demonstrations, and customers from as far away as Queensland, Australia.  This summer a scheduling conflict prevented me from offering the KOALA Caddies at the Knit and Crochet Show in Buffalo. However, I intend to support this wonderful event in the future and I want to send a special wish of thanks and appreciation to Penny, The Knitting Guild Association, and to those dozen pioneers who bought KOALA Caddies, and then wrote to tell me how much they loved them.

Cast On Magazine Nov 2008,  Product Review - by Penny Sitler, Executive Director, The Knitting Guild Association

“Have you ever been sitting in a waiting room working on a knitting project, only to have your yarn roll off your lap and across a not-so-clean floor?  How about when you’re knitting away at home and the phone rings?  You madly scramble to collect your project, set it down without the needles slipping out, and rush to the phone, only to have it stop ringing before you can get there.

Avid stitcher Mary Shooshan has developed the most brilliant project container I’ve seen – the KOALACaddie™ - because of those same scenarios.  Part craft apron, part project bag, the KOALA Caddie wears like an apron, and has a pouch to hold your project.  Snap it shut, and your supplies stay put.  Untie it and everything is protected till you’re ready to get back to work.  Each is uniquely handcrafted of lovely fabric, with a matching satin lining.”

All is well ~ Mary

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Natalie Warshawer September 5th, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I heard about your apron from a fiend in the GBKG. She emailed me your blog. In fact, Elaine’s picture ends your blog.

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Satin Swatch Sets

turqoise-caddies-for-design-page-and-etsy-025A low friction fabric such as satin is intrinsic to the KOALA Caddie. It prevents wear on the project and the yarn kept inside, so no more pilling and fuzzing of your work in progress. Last year, when I started making prototypes, I used satin bought locally from a large chain store.  I’d wait for a sale and/or coupon and then buy a few yards in varied colors.  As the idea of a full-fledged business began to develop, I realized that I was going to have to do some research to find better quality, more colors, consistent prices, and free delivery.

The internet led me to about a dozen possible sources, but one company in California had everything I wanted. I found high-quality, easy care satin in 3 dozen colors at fair prices with free delivery on large orders. Whew! I sound like a commercial but I have yet to be disappointed in any way.

For me, cutting satin is a labor of love. The task requires great pinking shears, some good music and/or movies, comfy clothes, bare feet and endurance.  About a month ago I cut satin for 3 long days, enough to make the season’s 200+ Caddies.  So now the satin is in sets, bagged by color, and stored in clear drawers ready for selection - a major accomplishment for me.

satins-0023Today I prepared for an upcoming KOALA Caddie demonstration at Fancie Purls Yarn Studio in Plymouth, MA (8/6 at 7 p.m.). In addition to dozens of one-of-a-kind Caddies, I’ll bring lots of great fabric for a made-to-order option, including the choice of satin.  I decided to make two satin swatch sets.  I have a golden friend named Patty who will process sales and orders that night.  A swatch set will help her with this and a second set will give another shopper the chance to play with colors. I cut 36 rectangles - one for each color, then cut those in half, made labels for each and assembled them. Goodness gracious, it seemed like it took just about all day.

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They came out fine. I still need to find an alternative to the big safety pin holding each set together, but for today, I’ve done enough. I hope that the idea waits until at least 7 a.m. tomorrow morning, rather than striking at 3:30 a.m., but I guess I’ll take inspiration when and where it comes. I’ll leave a pen and paper on my nightstand!

I’m really looking forward to the demo and thank Elyse, moderator (Milolevi) of Ravelry’s Borders Knit and Crochet Group, Kingston, MA, for her efforts to make this event happen. I’m very fortunate and very grateful to have her support. She chose fabulous fabric for her gorgeous made-to-order Caddie. I’ll tell you all about it soon.

All is well ~  Mary

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Elyse' August 7th, 2009 at 8:03 am

Mary,
Great event last night. Well done.
I loved the new caddies you showed us & all the beautiful fabrics.
Besides the caddies being well made & useful, they are pretty & fun to look at. How could I not order another!
I think the thing that I really love though, from the first time I saw you & your caddies is how your passion really shines through. It’s easy to support that kind of enthusiasm.

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That’s What I’m Talkin’ About

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Yesterday a family friend, Nik, visited after a long absence.  After chatting for an hour or so, he became the most recent victim of my mission to spread the word about the KOALA Caddie™ Yarn Craft Apron.  (My husband, Bob, teases me unmercifully about my shameless proselytizing regarding the Caddies.)

Okay, so Nik is a guy and he doesn’t knit or crochet. He is a great thinker and businessman though, and he has his own demons of passion: golf, guitar, learning Spanish, golf, baseball cards, golf - you get the idea. I know that if Nik encountered a tool that would improve his golf game, he’d be the first one to sign on.

I showed him a KOALA Caddie filled with a recently finished project: a baby blanket for our newest great nephew.  I removed the blanket and yarn, and after a lecture on the “fuzzies,” showed him that the first row and the last row of my work look almost identical.  There is no pilling or fuzzing over the earlier rows. The secret to that is the Caddie’s satin lining. There is so little friction on the project and yarn kept inside the Caddie, that it is difficult to tell at which end I began.slideshow-emily-03710

Nik couldn’t believe that the Caddie that held the big project was exactly the same size as the gathered and shortened apron I was wearing to hold a small hat project for my little granddaughter. I showed him all the configurations, short and long, wide or gathered, and the many wear options. I explained that they were all made by hand and that each was one-of-a-kind.

slideshow-emily-0052Meanwhile, back at the couch, were the baby blanket and yarn that I had removed from their Caddie for Nik’s demo. I turned to collect them and behold - yet  another selling point.  Her name is Emily, she does NOT crochet, and she has no business sitting on my project!  That blanket had not been out of the Caddie for 5 minutes when it was under spaniel siege.  We all had a good laugh, and Bob suggested that here was a perfect photo opportunity. I grabbed my camera and a blog post was born. Now I have to micro-inspect my baby gift for fur and hope that the proud new parents don’t read my ramblings.  ~  All is well, Mary

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1 Comment

Elyse' August 3rd, 2009 at 9:07 am

OK, you caught me checking in on the KOALA Caddie news! I can’t help it -I’m such a fan.
My own caddie has barely left my hips since I got it. Love it! Love it! Love it!
Beautiful blanket & Emily is adorable.

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What Are You Making?

encore-lap-robe-004I love to ask other knitters and crocheters what they are making.  It almost always leads to a conversation centering on their pride and joy about  this bright spot in their lives.  Someone recently asked me if, with so much time devoted to making and selling KOALA Caddies, I have time to crochet anymore.  The answer is:  I do indeed - I make time to crochet.  Using my trusty KOALA Caddie, I work on some project almost every day.

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So what am I making at the moment? I am crocheting a lap robe using a pattern by Anne Rabun Ough from Leisure Arts Leaflet 151, Original Fisherman Crochet for the Family.  It was published in 1979 and although I had lost my original copy, I was able to find the leaflet online.  I LOVE that!

I don’t usually make squares or strips that need joining. I know that I have a lot of company there. However - a) I have wanted to make this lovely project for a long time, b) it has only 12 large blocks,    c) I had the yarn, and d) I knew I’d be on-the-go a lot and the blocks would lend themselves to portability.  I also loved the fact that it was finished using the interesting reverse single crochet and bordered with woven stitch plus fringe.

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encore-lap-robe-0282It’s going great!  I have 5 squares finished.  I hadn’t used the double diamond with bobble pattern before - it’s so interesting. The other stitches in the blocks are popcorn, low ridge front, knurl and diamond.  I am using Plymouth Yarn’s Encore in a teal/gray heather.  It has a nice rugged look.  I’ll share more when it nears finishing.  I need to keep moving on this because there is a new Baby Shooshan in the clan in need of a blanket! I’m choosing pattern and yarn now and have vowed not to begin it until this lap robe is finished.  (Who am I kidding???!!!) Oh, and by the way, what are YOU making? I’d love to know.  ~ All is well, Mary

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Beverly Fischer June 16th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

I received a gorgeous KOALA Caddie as a gift. I have to tell you how lovely it is. The workmanship is superb, and I know because I was a professional seamstress who stitched boat and airplane cushions. I use my Caddie for my beading projects. It holds my small appliques that I bead and sequin and then apply to tablecloths, napkins, XMas tree skirts, and it’s the handiest thing I have ever used for this purpose. I keep my small tubes of beads and sequins in it, plus my thread, needles, felt pieces, etc. So…another use for the Caddie!!! Love it, Mary! Thanks for a great design.

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A Day To Remember

On, May 21, I attended a function in Boston.  The guests of honor were noted fiber artists, Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably.  There was a wonderful exhibit of projects made by participants using designs and materials created by these two men.

Each gave a talk, illustrated by slides of scenes that have provided inspiration for their creations.  Over the many years of their collaboration in the Kaffe Fassett Studio, these men have optimized their talents to the point of genius.  I was spellbound.

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Brandon Mably, Kaffe Fassett & Mary

Back to reality and following a wonderful luncheon buffet, those attending had the opportunity to meet both Kaffe and Brandon. I had made a KOALA Caddie for each man from fabric that he had designed.  I used Kaffe’s Shirt Stripes for his Caddie, and  for Brandon’s, his  wonderful Jazz.  Both men graciously autographed KOALA Caddies that I will treasure.  It was so much fun!

~ All is well ~ Mary

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Kaffe Fassett & Brandon Mably

This week I received an announcement and invitation to a function in Boston to be held on Thursday, May 21.  “Celebrate 25 years of Kaffe Fassett Designs, and the 30th anniversary of Rowan Yarns, with Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably.”  I can hardly wait!

Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably are famous for their versatile talents stretching across the world of fiber artistry.  I have set links to their websites where you will find in-depth information about them.  It will be an honor to meet them in person.

The event promises illustrated talks, Rowan yarn tasting, book signings, door prizes, and an East Meets West luncheon buffet. There was also an invitation for participants to display and model items they have made using Kaffe’s or Brandon’s designs. Westminster Fibers, an important contributor to the needlecraft and quilting marketplaces, produces the spectacular fabric designs of these guests of honor.

I will be featuring KOALA Caddies made from these fabrics in my Etsy shop.  Be sure to check out Westminster Fabrics and view Kaffe Fassett’s [scroll down] and Brandon Mably’s newest collections, due out in June.  They are breathtaking! ~ All is well ~ Mary

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KOALA Caddie at Kona Bay Blog

kate-hetu-asians-06912Douglas Eagleson, the founder and owner of Kona Bay Fabrics, stopped by my Etsy Shop and discovered his fabric sewn into KOALA Caddie Yarn Craft Aprons.  He was pleased to find yet another new way that crafters are incorporating his designs into their creative projects. Etsy.com has become one of his favorite places to scout.

In his blog he writes: “KOALA Caddie has developed a unique craft apron for knitters and crocheters. I think these clever aprons could be appreciated by handywomen (and men!) of all kinds.”

I am so pleased that he liked them and that he recognized the wider scope of their usefulness.  I have 5 KOALA Caddies made with Kona Bay fabric in my present inventory at Etsy, and 6 more ready to list. I also have an ever-growing stash of gorgeous Kona Bay fabrics for future use.  Thanks to Douglas for the great recommendation.  Kona Bay Fabrics is always a first stop for me when I am looking for exquisite designs either at local quilt shops or online.

(The Caddie in the photo is made from a gorgeous Kona Bay panel purchased at equilter.com.  I lined it with the palest pink satin and used pastel pink snaps and toggles.  The cranes and flowers have shimmering gold outlines, so I stitched this Caddie with gold metallic thread. It belongs to a lovely young woman named Kate.) ~ All is well ~ Mary

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Ohiocrochetlady May 23rd, 2009 at 8:45 pm

What a great idea, a crochet apron.

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Keeping it Clean

I'll do my work from the satin pouch.
I’ll do my work from the satin pouch.

Tomorrow I will be heading to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  My dear friend, Wendy, will have surgery to replace her “squashed” hip.  She will be in the best of hands, but I’ll be her advocate for 48 hours until she is literally back on her feet.

This reminds me of one of the main reasons I designed the KOALA Caddie.  Sorry to say, my friends, but the world is not all that clean anymore.  There are critters out there smart enough to defy current medical treatment and hospitals have become a breeding ground for some of the worst.

That being said, I still want to crochet at the hospital.  Though I won’t be taking a gift project, I feel comfortable bringing one that I’m making for myself. That is because I will be crocheting out of my KOALA Caddie.  My yarn and work will not be pulled out of a bag and exposed to the hospital enviroment.  I’ll have no spills to the floor or runaway balls of yarn, and thus minimal exposure to germs. I know there will be interruptions so I’ll be washing my hands OFTEN, but my project will be at less risk than my clothes.

So at dawn tomorrow I’ll hop on the bus (another germ haven) to Boston with my laptop and my yarn work in its washable Caddie, praying for blessings on my friend and her surgeon. I’ll let you know how everything goes. ~ All is well ~ Mary

(Update: The surgery was very successful and Wendy is up and around. She is one of the true steel magnolias. I’m very grateful. Thanks to all.)

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