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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Story of Om Nom Nom Part 2

Two days ago marked the beginning of my (estimated) fourth month of pregnancy and yesterday was the one-year anniversary for the opening of Pro-Portional Designs. Now seems like a good time to give you part two of the story of Om Nom Nom.

In mid-to-late March of 2009, still only a few months into my new married life and coping with the loss of my youngest brother-in-law, my husband was called back into active duty by the Army. We were told that after a brief period of in-processing in South Carolina he would be sent to Iraq. He was to be in South Carolina that April. [Picture shown was taken by my husband while in South Carolina]

Q's birthday is in April. With such a day coming and the grief still entirely too new and unbelievable, this impending date only adding to the stresses our families were now under.

It was decided that a family cruise would be a good idea for everyone.

Video shot and edited by my brother-in-law Cody.

There was so much to do with so little time. My husband and I officially dropped-out of school (there are forms you can fill out), he left his job, *we informed our landlord (making sure to give him a copy of my husbands orders) that we would have to leave, and we packed up everything. My husband didn't want me far from his brothers while he was away, so at his request/suggestion, I placed the majority of our items into a storage unit down the road from my in-laws house, and the rest (**items I felt would comfort me and furnish a bedroom) was moved to their house.

At that time, an addition was being built onto my in-laws house, there was no ground entrance (ladder only), no door to separate the inside of the room from the great outdoors and no door into the room from the main portion of the house.

The day I took my husband to the airport my husband's immediate family (mother, father, and brothers) went with us to a sort of, "going-away lunch." My husband requested that his family members each give him an item to remember them by while he would be away.

While my husband was away I shared the living room with one of the boys, whose bedroom was also the living room. A few boxes were in the house with me but none were able to be unpacked as I had no proper room. Each morning I would head outside, climb up the ladder to the unfinished room, and fill a tote bag with items I felt I would need to get ready for the day (clothes, underwear, shampoo). I got really tired of having to do this every day and soon started putting enough items in my bag to make it up to 3 days before needing another trip up the ladder.

I lived this way for a little over a month when the Army ultimately decided they did not want to keep my husband and send him to Iraq. Not having ones husband sent to Iraq is a definite win, but being left with no money, no jobs, and no home - is not.

Once back in Ohio, my previous sleeping/board arrangements were no longer appropriate. The living room simply would not accommodate 1 15 year-old boy and 1 married couple. My husband did his best to make the unfurnished room containing our things into something remotely habitable.

We separated the large piles of plywood meant for further construction of the room into two piles and pushed them together to form a make-shift box spring. What we used for a bed went through it's own evolution. I believe at first we shared my sleeping bag. Later we laid down a few blankets, a couple for padding and a couple to sleep under. The final outcome after many attempts to form a "proper" bed was to procure a queen sized air mattress which we pushed up against the actual box springs and mattress of a very old bed. It was un-even but it was better than what we began with.

Through all of this, I continued knitting. I knit on the couch when the living room was my room and once my husband moved us into the unfurnished "tree house" I was at least closer to where I had been keeping my yarn. It was during my time there that I created the "burger beanie", which only lead to a lot more foodie and sometimes geeky items.

It was during my time in that "tree house" that I announced on my own personal facebook page my hopes/intentions to move forward with an Etsy shop that would feature most of the items I had been posting to my wall for the previous months. People were very supportive and some even seemed excited. That show of support and excitement made me forget all about my initial worry of "why bother trying this when someone else seems to have had the same idea a year or two before me?" Besides, the (majority of) ideas I had, weren't anything I was seeing from anyone else.

Eventually my husband was able to find work and we had saved ***just enough to move out of our "tree house" before winter fully set in. We didn't move out of our "tree house" until mid-October, and when you primarily live outside - IT'S COLD!!!! [In the picture shown: Myself in the Foundling Nemo hat that has been for sale since the stores opening and two sweaters trying to keep warm up in the tree house.]

Things were incredibly difficult, even after finally finding a place to lay our heads down indoors. I began tearing apart items I had knitted for myself to provide yarn to make items for the store, in hopes that something would manage to help me support our small family. My TARDIS blanket eventually became parts of different items now sold in the store, most notably, my Milk "feed bag." The entire blanket has not been used yet but all of the yarn has now been designated for store purposes.

Later that same month of our move in I finally reached my goal of " having no less than 20 items" before opening my store, chose a launch date, started the Facebook fan page, and opened my store.

During these first three months we were shown amazing kindness by a woman I met on Ravelry that for all intents and purposes could be considered a stranger. We have never met in person and only spoken via Ravelry forum, Ravelry mail, and eventually Facebook.

After hearing that once again I had gone to the grocery store only to come up so short I was unable to buy food, I received an e-mail via Facebook. She made all of the necessary arrangements to send us money to insure we were able to eat! I would be able to pick it up the next morning at Wal Mart.

The next morning at Wal Mart I told the employee about what this woman was doing for us and she too could barely believe it.

My husband and I would like to once again thank Charlene of the Savannah Ravel Rousers.[Hypertext links to Ravelry will only work for those of you who have Ravelry accounts] We'd also like to thank Wendy from Dollfoolery who gave us canned and dry goods, sent me a care package for my birthday, and donated a garbage bag full of yarn to help build my store.

On October 24th, 2009 I opened my Etsy shop and on November 23rd, 2009 I opened "the doors" and was ready for business. It's been a really difficult road, at times littered with hate mail from fans of another designer, but for the most part, I have still managed to enjoy it.

So there you have the story of Om Nom Nom. I did my best to compress the details and events as well as keep you (hopefully) mildly entertained.

* While living at my in-laws house I received a bill closing in on $2000 from them. They claimed we broke our lease (ignoring the clause that in an instance like being called back to active duty we were able to leave) and said we should pay no less than another months rent as well as cover their expenses to make the repairs to the house they refused to make before we moved in ($50 of which was for "dirt in basement" - it was a 100 year-old house with a stone basement).

** These items were mostly books, yarn, and the elements that make up my tea corner.

*** U-haul provided by my loving parents who knew we'd never be able to afford one.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Story of Om Nom Nom Part 1 (Again)

I want to thank everyone for your well wishing and your understanding during the other day's, "day of silence."

I tried once before to explain the story/beginnings of Om Nom Nom Studios / Pro-Portional Designs. Because it's a bit complicated and long I'm going to do my best to make it as short as I can. But the story will most likely span 2 posts.

Technically I learned to knit when I was five years-old from my mother, the only other knitter in a family full of crocheters. Watching too much television can lead to the same results as reading too much WebMD before a doctors visit - you very well may think you know something you know nothing about. So at five years-old, after finding my mothers knitting needles and some yarn I attempted to knit all on my own. Knitting turned out to be nothing like cartoons make it seem and I suppose my mother found her little girl failing miserably at knitting as a result of watching too much cartoon knitting.


See how the mouse holds those needles and the results of his knitting just cascade down ever so nicely? I've never seen anyone hold needles this way.

Knitting didn't become something I "officially" did every, single day until October 2008 when I lost my youngest brother-in-law in a car accident. He was only 13, and losing him not only devastated the family I had only married into two months before but what seemed like at least an entire county.

My husband and I spent a lot of time at my in-laws house, sleeping on the couch just to be near the family, and to help in whatever ways we could. The boy missed a lot of work and I missed a lot of school at first. Our neighbors were nice enough to clean my house for me while we were so rarely there to help and (many of) the people of Perry County, Ohio were kind enough to bring non-stop food to my in-laws house to make sure everyone had something to eat.

Eventually the boy and I had to return back home, back to school, and back to work - doing our best to move forward. Being an unemployed student left me with more free time than I cared for and I was in need of a distraction. I had the incredible urge to make a blanket to keep my hands and mind occupied. I told the boy of my plans and made sure it was okay if I went and bought yarn to make a blanket. Up to this point everything I ever knitted were garter stitch scarves made from yarn procured at Wal-Mart.

After consulting google for yarn stores in the Columbus area I found four: The Yarn Shoppe, Heavenly Creations, Temptations, and Knitters Mercantile. The only one of these that was currently open on Sundays at that time, was Knitters Mercantile, frequently known to area knitters as, The Merc.

The Merc was full of so many yarns that I had no idea where to begin. Ultimately I chose (I believe) one skein of Rowan Big Wool for my blanket. Never having made a blanket I had less than no concept of just how much yarn goes into the creation of a quality blanket. Having now made this "mistake" I recommend against using Rowan anything, let alone Big Wool to make a blanket unless your last name is Trump, Rich, Gates, or something of the like.

Let's pause to do a little knitting and financial math here shall we? A no frills blanket can easily take 2000 yards of yarn or more. Rowan Big Wool costs about $15.00 per skein. One skein of Rowan Big Wool contains 87 yards of yarn. To create a blanket requiring roughly 2000 yards of yarn, using Rowan Big Wool that contains only 87 yards of yarn per skein, leaves you needing at least 23 skeins of Rowan Big Wool, at the rate of $15.00 per skein, this leaves you spending around $345.00 on your blanket before taxes.

The TARDIS blanket was never completed. It was to be my first intarsia project, but I chickened out, and the skills I used to create the "illusion" of intarsia I later learned were below sub-par and never would have made it in the long run. It wasn't long until I visited the yarn store I originally wanted to go to, Heavenly Creations. It was there that I initially met Wendy (who now runs Dollfoolery) and Amy (of "I Can Knit That".)

Wendy, introduced me to the oh-so-deliciously-soft-and-warm yarn, Malabrigo, my very first day in that store. Amy, sparked my interest in Tim Hortons. I decided to make a Dr. Who scarf and at Wendy's "here-touch-this-stuff" I chose to make it out of Malabrigo. This epic scarf that takes a lot of people a significant amount of time to knit until completion only took me 6 days in my grief. In the picture the 12.5 foot long scarf (unblocked) is folded over and wrapped with a giant slipknot.

I lost a lot of weight knitting and grieving. When I wasn't in school I sat on my couch listening to audio books and knitting - pausing only to eat oranges. Eventually, I was back to knitting in class (something I hadn't done since high school.)

My lust for all things Whovian lead Amy to remember me as "the Doctor Who girl".

First sewing machine project shown above - giant plush TARDIS.

Very soon my projects started branching to the non-Whovian in nature: Sweaters inspired by paintings like The Scream, Waterlilies, and Starry Night. I started making so many items that I didn't think I'd have room in my house or in my schedule to wear and enjoy them all. It was then that I opened my first Etsy shop. And it was a tremendous flop.

Around the time I made my own version of the "Roll-ups" (sushi scarf) pattern that can be found in Debbie Stoller's "Son of Stitch 'n Bitch", it was on. All I could think of was food in yarn. I was bursting with ideas of things I could make. I started out by looking online to see other sushi scarves people had made and then to see if any of my other ideas about food in yarn had already been done. Low and behold some of them had. This is when I discovered Twinkie Chan and honestly my bubble burst, I felt like I couldn't sell my foodie creations if someone else had already opened their own store a couple of years before me.