Saturday, August 09, 2014

books and stuff...

 Rakhi is tomorrow- a Hindu festival that celebrates the Brother /Sister bond...and it has really speeded up things....our Block guy got finished a few days early and has been on the phone COME NOW and pick up your big order of blocks...we have to go to the village for Rakhi they said...come quick.
All our ladies have been stitching like crazy [ and very nicely] and it has been a bustle this morning of women dropping off work and getting paid to go and buy presents.....
Ladies all dressed up- all a a sparkle with bling bangles etc.
I have had to point out to Praveen how many they have and how few I have....won't hold my breath for him to get the hint, haha.
 On our way back from block man Mr Jujartram and dropping off a rather large order for indigo to Mr Rambabu0ji and his son Kuldeep we dropped into the old textile market at is a spectacular enclave built by the Maharaja of Kishangarh about 100 years ago to create trade opportunities in his town...feels a bit like a place time forgot.
 I hate to ask...but all has gone quite upstairs...floors are ground back and polish is being applied, painting is almost finished...if the sun ever shines again [4 days of overcast and rain I am suffering that SAD, perhaps it is MAD syndrome from lack of sun] print tables will be made....
above quilt room, ohh and need glass for windows,,,
 yippee!! print room
 a divider has to go up and this end becomes our design studio/office....just me and my man!!
garden is starting to look pleasant again and this rain will certainly bring grass again, a lawn in no time.
I am madly stitching samples to send off with the courier....but I actually have enough space in the side of my mind to start thinking of our Book Project.
we have a lovely nestegg sitting waiting for something to happen, it does cause me a smidgeon of guilt but not much because I simply have not had time to allow it to grow.
Right, we have funds, we have papers in front of us for the necessary to set up a Charitable Trust...we need a few answers.
Mission statement.....
Friends of our worked or at least told us about Big Brother Mouse and we gain much inspiration from them...we want a mobile library- if books are all packed into crates we can take them from school to school on a weekly basis....
I had a rather difficult childhood, 13 primary schools does not suggest the most stable father used to drink, my mother wait in the car and have a tipple and we sat there until closing times many nights a week.
For 12 months or so we lived in Wallsend and across the road was the was free baby sitting for my mother to drop us there and from that time aged about 7 or 8years old books have been a source of pleasure, escape,  information and later a road to some semblance of sanity. I figure if you can read, you could learn and the world becomes a lot more available to you. You are better able to create your own destiny.
 Praveen never really went to school, for him opening a book is a bit scary but over time he has come to see what inspiration we have from some of our design books, all the ideas we get from our travel books, what fun his kids get from the books we buy them [ and since he met me and we first spoke of education and how to encourage his kids he has made every effort to encourage them to dive into education]
Can I brag a minute,  Preeti his biggest girl has just enrolled in a degree course to become a teacher, she has been at Uni 2 years now starting in a non-degree course and done well enough to move onto a bigger pond.  We are so proud of her. 10 years ago her outlook was finishing school at 16....
Here books are so rare, only tattered text books and painful to wade through...a good story or nice picture books are a whole different idea...

So we are wading through details for our Reading that boring? as a name I mean.... I thought before Hope Initiative? ...the Kitab= Book [ marrying Hindi and English in the name]

got to dive back into samples now but we are finally on track with the books and reading idea

OOHh and a small excitement, a month ago we engaged a new office guy...our books were in a terrible state, mostly because the guy we had engaged to do them was rather slack...well it has been a very hectic month in the the point of driving me nuts some days BUT light is here, he has just presented me last months report, files are all maintained, books balance, I can pick up any file and see what is happening for each tour, each supplier, each is such a relief.
I now have to review all costings and the order process for manufacture...but it is looking do-able and so much stress will be off my shoulders, thanks be Ganesha you have been working over time here this month [ the Hindu god Ganesha, remover of Obstacles is one to have on your side]

Saturday, August 02, 2014

blue days.....

Blue days....only in the sense we have an ongoing obsession with indigo and are just working out how to utilize it in our next range.
 Our play day was weeks ago but it has taken ages to have a minute to think about it....
workshop building...big stuff finished but much slow little stuff ongoing.
painting man near finished, electric finished just got to buy fans to install,
gggggrrrrrrrrrr grinding man is here, cleaning off the floors...hate the noise it makes the whole building vibrate.....
not bags of cement outside my office means no clouds of dust blowing in....
once new office is ready we can start to move and dust everything off as we go, until then old office looks like a bomb, a dirt bomb that is hit it!
 in amongst washing another million saris and getting them dry in between thunder storms I have been arranging and re-arranging piles of indigo looking at how the prints come out, what we could mix with what to make new quilts and throws, new garments....
 a lot of just ooohhhhh and aaaahhhh over how lovely it all is. This silk musru is mesmerizing.....
Workshop re-organization has been more than spaces deep....had a few issues with staff come to a head last month and just about finished working them through, we have regular Friday meetings now and ask for feedback as well as give feedback ....ideas sharing, programming for work etc, etc.
really good for the energy of OUR WORKSHOP.
we want it to be our workshop- only if everyone likes to pull together can we be the type of success Praveen and I envision.
Australian that I am I have longed for Sunday moon and full moon just seem to happen and I am not prepared so usually work...crazy but that is how it goes.
Indian law says Sunday closed for bigger businesses, but Rajasthan practice doe not.... staff worried wages would drop...worked out if lunch is a little shorter....we save enough hours in month to have Sundays off-  had to talk it all through and work out hours etc but we can do it.
Yeh!! a step towards modern work practices....and staff at home Sunday, kids are off school that time. novel idea?
so different here in India....people work so hard just to get by, most don't expect family time, just family looking after, paying for food, housing and school.
Off to work because tomorrow is SUNDAY!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Indian Inspiration Creative Camp

It has been all systems go in The Stitching Project world but no rest for the wicked....burbling along on the back burner Creative Arts Safaris has been sorting through a million details for a batch of teachers, students, yoga practioners to visit around October and further along, collecting details for our Indian Inspiration Creative Camp and finishing itineraries and costings for our Textile Traditions of Vietnam's North 2015 and Moorish Delights of Andalusia and Morocco 2015

Sort of where to start to multi task.
Indian Inspiration Creative Camp.... agenda is worked out but layers can always be added in.
My mate Dawn is going to be here- bit of a helper and we always fiddle around and experiment together...she is excellent at rust and book making and tweaking ideas- take a look on Pinterest at some of her books etc.
We had a great session with our Indigo guy recently and got play days all sorted for groups...look back through these pages for pictures
During our last Indian tour Praveen learnt a lot about eco-dyeing from some of our guests so will be master of the dye pot as we try hubble, bubble, boil and trouble stuff out....
also keeping an eye on some inspiring blogs etc. Have a look at these Louio, the watercolours of Louise Molesworth are beautiful and her notes on eco dyeing a good place to start, Living Cloth- lovely ideas for getting in the zone, and Dips and Stains is a mine of imformation...
Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth always inspires me to want sit and ponder and stitch,.
I currently collect things that catch my eye on my Pinterest page for the tour, and lots of indigo stuff on Inspiring Blue... or Eco Dye.... etc, etc, etc, ....yeh got a Pinterest bug....not terminal or dangerous, possibly contagious!!
 and I am hoping, hoping, hoping my mate Dijanne Cevaal will be here as well....I have wanted her to visit for ages but she is a busy soul....we are thinking she can stop off here on her way to Europe- I do hope so....good research for her Traveller's Blankets surely

Vietnam is such an interesting place, embroidery everywhere as well as markets and places to explore, the beautiful Halong Bay to hang out in/ on and cruise....

and Moorish Delights of Andalusia and Morocco is a lot of fun and laughs, yes set against a fabulous landscape and amazing history....inspiring stitching/weaving women and oohh more fun.

I have had a few complaints already- too many good offerings at once. What can I say? sorry- but  no way are we sorry...they are all good, my only suggestion is join them all- we will be :)


Monday, July 21, 2014

making headway....

 Well builders left, thankfully tapping and stone cutting finished....painful.
 Painters in
Mess everywhere building clean up to do
everything needs to be tossed out of every room and nook and cranny and dusted and a new home and organization found for it.
Got new office guy, who is turning all the books up and out as well....transparency and order coming along....soon I will be able to turn over to him a mountain of fiddly tasks....the need for systems and double checking he gets. systems, systems, systems....up until now every time I instigated  something it was either crashed or forgotten and everyone relied on me to remember everything. Exhausting and stressful and you well me can get so locked into coping you well me couldn't see the end to the mess.

A good scream and a new employee and boy what a difference.
Same method employed in the cutting cutting man looking amenable and a new system there will help Praveen and I keep everyone on track.

Meanwhile we as a workshop have been working like crazy on orders.
We now employ 45 women...amazing, training is going well with new ones....probably 1 or 2 to be weeded out they are onto there 3rd chance and we have a strict 3 strike we will see.
More building.....relationships....
In Singapore we now have a presence via Anita of Moirai
They stock a lot of our work and we are working on a whole heap of new things that will be exclusive to her shop[s]...she has plans.
 They have created an elegant, peaceful space, madly busy with interest in our work; so behind the scenes a lot of scurrying getting work happening.
I have spoken to Anita a few times this week and I can hear her excitement and the pleasure she is experiencing working with one of her daughters, sharing a dream together.
Wonderful energy.
 Do drop by if you are in Singapore

Shop Great World City, 


B-2, Unit 10,

1, Kimseng Road , 


Lovely to experience their dreams happening and be involved.
Many amazing new beginnings....

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Building....hopeful camels, helpful cows....

A mate just asked for a building is getting close now....
 Baba - early morning ready to go to work...hopeful for a handout on the way. He is integral to building, ferrying water to the workshop in his camel cart.
 Door is installed for print room
 stone shelves are in place...
 tiles are going onto roof to weather proof everything
 view from print room window
 Ladies Stitching room- space for 2 quilt tables and plenty of stuff
 lots of windows for good light
Matilda the cow...sampling cloth we are dyeing for new Peace Graffiti Lycra yoga tights....
Things are happening...can actually start to see an end to it all.
can't wait to have a good clean up and get the dust out of everything...picking up files or thread boxes or anything and it is very liberally coated in dust- yuk!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Indigo day

 Finally got a chance to spend the day with Rababu-ji our indigo guy....we need new samples to use for the next range but more importantly we wanted a chance to really look at what happens when you layer this over that using our blocks not the ones available to us through our mud resist guy Me Ganesh.
 So a great day, looking and doing....

George thought I wanted to play as I sat this morning to contemplate all the pieces on the washing line and dream what we might do....silly boy.
Yesterday whilst we were waiting for the fabric to come back from the washer man Praveen and I had time to twiddle our thumbs and chat a little.
Interesting things happening, we are madly building the workshop and scrambling just as much to set procedures in place and stream line office work and workshop stuff.
We feel we had a win last week with workshop staff, now we have dis-armed the workshop manager who was not managing but muddling and bullying staff have been keen to help work out a workshop agreement defining our expectations and their expectations. Something to keep everything clear and protect us all from the way things had gone.
realistically a lot of the blame is ours- we appreciated the good, skilled work and made allowances for little things we saw that were not the best behaviour. We should have had much clearer boundaries and asked more questions.
We are getting there.... and workshop is coming along nicely.
Next thing I can see that I will have to deal with is clients and payments.
One thing all our staff comment on is they like the way we pay regularly...often in India workers will not get paid until the boss is paid by clients, or after they have spent a fortune on a wedding or something.
our first commitment is to our staff and we pay monthly for workshop members and upon completion of each piece for our women. this is important because for many that has an impact on what goes on the dinner table tonight and kids school fees being paid.
when we talk to clients we clearly state we expect a deposit before work can start and we expect FULL payment once work is ready to be dispatched. I can understand they might want to check and so wait  for arrival of goods but then for people to regularly forget or send a message "OH I am a little cash strapped...I will pay soon" is not fair.
What would you think of me if I said to a woman...sorry no money for dinner tonight -client made an order but now doesn't want to pay on time?... you don't mind do you?
 It puts us in a very difficult position- we don't have the money to cover people's debts to us....sometimes I wonder how we will go on?
What do they call it a cash flow problem? those better off not being careful enough to make sure there is timely payment for the fairly traded goods they are so interested in?
Interesting isn't it? I am sure they are not mean or horrible people but they are also not thinking.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Peace, Love and Hippy Dreams....

Peace, love and Hippy dreams might be where we started but it has become a never ending tale of paperwork, organization and details....I keep telling myself it is just a phase....and it is just a phase.
If you take a job you join an organization where existing procedures and practices are there for you to slip into...even if you come in to improve the system, they have a system.
We as the originators of this idea have to be the ones to set up the system, set up the procedures, understand how it all fits together.
What a steep learning curve.
We both tend to be easy going- well Praveen is easy going, I am probably intense if I am truthful...but I do like to believe in people, believe they are of good heart and will get on with things.
I am so, so unused to I was unused to delegation I have become much better at it.
I do expect once I have started a system, given out a job it is followed through.
Well a few things lately have made it glaringly obvious that not everyone we employ are on the same page.
Our workshop manager is an incredibly capable guy, unfortunately he seems to think  he is indispensable and so can misbehave in his interaction with staff and if he does not like their response he can fabricate a story and get them sacked. It has really come to a head and his prima donna act of it is them or me is about to back fire.
 We had a big talk with him when I got back 2 weeks ago....somehow he came out of it thinking he is untouchable...don't know what it is- clearly defining what is not acceptable and pointing out good points we want to see more do you hear "just keep doing what you like, mate."
 End of the month we account the months work and pay wages....his will include a yellow slip- OUT Mate.
As you can surmise this is painful, frustrating and difficult....Praveen, even- the man who can give way  too many last chances is at the end of his tether.....
so it has been painful, and frustrating see a capable person so full of themselves they are shooting themselves and us in the is now difficult waiting the last few days to GET THAT NEW LEAF TURNED OVER!!
yep Praveen might be very patient- I am not!
Bit of therapeutic sample stitching always soothes my raging heart.
Our work with the women is proceeding very well, and  inducting new women going great.
Really not much in the way of teething problems and batch 1 we started  before I left are up to speed and Batch 2; who a very brave Praveen started on his own seem to be coming along very nicely.
New women tend to be relatives of existing women...some are coming from Beawar....which is more than 1 hour away on the train ..... they say it is worth the time and expense to go through the induction as once they are up to speed we will give 2 weeks of worth at a time. They have no chances of fair employment and being at home and are really happy at this chance.
We have a clear system with the women- it all clicked into place a few years ago when we started recording below par work in the work register along with the notice 3 marks and you are out.
Before that it was difficult us saying better, them saying the kids were sick, the cow go out...a wedding came so my work was poor.
We put it in perspective poor work and a client does not come back and we are all out of work. Better to stop that at the source- you let us down by not pulling your weight as part of stitching team.
 3 counts and you are out.
Now exactly same system in the workshop and it applies to everyone.
If you know a good workshop manager- send them along, position vacant!!
yippee...we will be back to being happy little beings in no time :)
and my frustrations have paid off - getting ready for new improved space I dragged all the saris home and have been having a massive re-organization and colour matching session....
we have so many orders for our women's hand stitched re-cycled sari stuff.