5 Tools to Elevate Your Small Business Game

Tools and strategies to use across social media, aid in brand development and optimize marketing efforts.

This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links.

A bit of a disclaimer: I’m not writing from a position of authority, but I am drawing on experience.

I have personally used every single one of the items on this list, and can trace significant improvement in most aspects of my creative career back to them. Besides a strong liberal arts background, I’ve had zero formal education in areas such as social media marketing, website development, SEO, advertising or content creation. I was constantly embarrassed by my novice efforts and how they might look to anyone who had, for example, a degree in graphic design or mass communications. But discovering these tools over the past couple of years shoved my self-doubt gradually in to the back seat. I’ve learned so much and cannot wait to show you how to do the same!

  1. Principles of Design
  2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  3. Skillshare
  4. Studio (Over)
  5. Books by industry leaders

Principles of Design

Meg Reid of 99designs explains that principles of design are, “rules a designer must follow to create an effective and attractive composition,” in a 2019 article. I couldn’t sum it up in a more helpful way. If you’re a maker or a creative, keeping these guidelines in mind will simplify your decision-making when it comes to making design choices. And these aren’t exclusive to artistic disciplines. Sudden Impact Marketing promotes effective design by translating these principles into a version for marketers to reference.

That being said, if you want to learn more about this topic I recommend these:

  • Seth Godin points out how critical “design rules” are to the creation of goods or services that sell well in his TED Talk

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Photo by George Morina on Pexels.com

Search engines (like Google) rank your website higher or lower on the results page largely based on how much text from your site matches the user’s query. But why does that matter?

Think about links you click on after searching Google for yet another word you’ve totally forgotten. They’re usually within the top 10 results, if not the top 20. More users are viewing results on the first page compared to subsequent pages. More views translates to more clicks, which means that you’re increasing the number of opportunities customers have to make a purchase. The best part? You have some power to influence how your shop is ranked by tweaking the wording and structure of your listings. Among other pretty technical tweaks I won’t get into right now, this is a free tool you can utilize to stay on top of the competition.

If you haven’t been exposed to SEO in the course of starting a business, you might not believe that this is generally accepted as a standard practice in digital marketing. And while algorithms do change, this Forbes article will explain how SEO continues to be extremely relevant in the world of business.

Even though I’ve been using better and better SEO strategies for around 2 years, I continue to find myself back at Marketing Artfully, a blog by entrepreneur Tara Jacobsen.

  • Tara breaks SEO and keyword marketing down as broad topics
  • provides free Etsy SEO worksheets to help whittle down your copy, find the perfect keywords and increase traffic
  • Ultimate Etsy SEO Guide” lists free tools you can use to better understand engagement with certain keywords, searches and your individual listings

Although she uses her Etsy shop as an example throughout most of the video and written tutorials, Tara’s approach to keyword marketing/SEO can be applied to any sort of digital marketing.

Marketing Artfully is a very accessible resource for new ecommerce business owners who are looking to optimize their product listings for higher search result rankings and for targeting their ideal consumers.

Skillshare

Full disclosure: I fell in love with Skillshare after I signed up for a free one-month subscription. Admittedly, it wasn’t something I could afford long-term, but the amount of useful information I managed to soak up in three months was life-changing. I was skeptical that this platform could provide me with access to tutorials that went into detail and demonstrated specific technical skills I needed to improve my product photography, digital art, or creative workflow. But I found a number of classes that catered to people in all skill levels. There are hours of guided walk-throughs, tutorials, and many classes include projects tailored to hone each new technique.

The topics featured on Skillshare are particularly helpful for creators of all types; photographers, painters, copywriters, print-makers, designers, crochet artists and web developers, to name a few. But they also have a fabulous library of classes that focus on personal skills like productivity, fighting procrastination, healthy eating habits, etc. If you’re not willing to pay month after month, I suggest you get an idea for what subjects are available, make a list of topics and techniques you want to learn more about, and subscribe for just a month or two. The knowledge you gain will be priceless.

Studio by GoDaddy (formerly Over)

This app is everything you need to make professional-looking and branded content on every platform. If you’re semi-savvy with a smart phone, you can save money by making all promotional material yourself, from logomarks to color palettes to coordinated Instagram stories and Facebook page covers. The free version works much like Canva, but the premium subscription comes with access to Unsplash’s and Pixabay’s entire catalogs of stock photos and videos, an extensive library of both classic and new typefaces and their fonts, aesthetic themed templates, and advanced editing capabilities. Studio recently debuted a desktop version for the previously mobile-only app, and premium users get to use both with project syncing across devices.

This app helps the average person maintain a cohesive brand presence on social media, all e-commerce platforms and through those physical touchpoints such as business cards and packaging inserts. I’ve used this app for my business’s branding, freelance branding for other businesses, content creation, and to make digital art prints. The premium subscription includes limited commercial licenses which allows users to create unique art with graphics provided by designers and sell hundreds of digital downloads of their unique art. Passive income, anyone?

Books by industry experts

There is no better tool for improving your small business than a book written by an expert in your industry. Invest a little money and some time into reading- or listening to- what the foremost minds in your field are writing about. What are best practices? How do they tackle big projects? Where do they find the best resources? How do they maintain a healthy work-life balance? Or, when your area of expertise is a craft, what techniques do these makers employ that they’ve developed through years of trial and error? The practical knowledge you gain from reading- for example- any of the books I listed in this post will instantly boost your skill level and overall understanding of the craft. It also enables you to innovate during the creative process later on.

There is some wisdom behind the saying, “work smart, not hard.” Meaning, don’t recreate the wheel if you don’t have to. Learn from your predecessors’ mistakes and avoid wasting time, money and energy by reading books written by industry leaders.

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References

Butler, P. (2012, August 31). split complementary: New and improved Elements and Principles of Design icons. Split Complementary. https://splitcomplementary.blogspot.com/2012/08/new-and-improved-elements-and.html

Jacobsen, A. T. (2019, July 23). Ultimate Etsy SEO Guide. Marketing Artfully. https://marketingartfully.com/seo-for-etsy-sellers-ultimate-etsy-seo-guide/

Marketing Artfully | Marketing For Etsy Sellers, Authors, Real Estate Agents, & Rebel Entrepreneurs. (n.d.). Marketing Artfully. Retrieved March 9, 2021, from https://marketingartfully.com/

Stephanie Harlowe. (2007, May 17). How to get your ideas to spread | Seth Godin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBIVlM435Zg

The 7 principles of design. (2019, May 7). 99designs. https://99designs.com/blog/tips/principles-of-design/

Valencia, A. (2020, March 10). Council Post: Why SEO Still Matters In 2020. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2020/03/10/why-seo-still-matters-in-2020/

9 Principles for Effective Design. (n.d.). Sudden Impact Marketing. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.simarketing.net/content-creation/9-principles-for-effective-design/

My Quarantine Lifesavers: Audio Content Pt. 2

Find the first edition of Quarantine Lifesavers: Audio Content here.

Because, will quarantine ever really go away?

Again, I must preface this by confessing that I’m a true crime addict: I listen to what’s been called an “unhealthy” amount of dark content. BUT there are a ton of new additions in categories like sleep/relaxation, creepy thriller/ horror fiction (I got a heads-up about Squid Game, y’all), at-home workouts, yoga and investigative reporting!

Photo credit: ‘Squid Game’ sets off a new game, trying to figure out why it took off on Netflix (Brian Lowry, CNN, 2021)

So without further delay, here’s the newest list of my favorite audible content creators and resources (starred titles can be found as podcasts and YouTube videos):

Podcasts

  • “Crime Weekly”*
  • “Dark History”*
  • “Rotten Mango”*
  • “Baking a Murder”*
  • “Casefile Presents”*
  • “Casefile Presents: The Vanishing of Vivienne Cameron”
  • “Crime After Crime”*
  • “Criminally Listed: Into the Killing”*
  • “Fiber Artist Podcast”* (Niroma Studio on YouTube)
  • “Killer Instinct”*
  • “Lights Out Podcast”*
  • “Mile Higher Podcast”*
  • “Planet Sleep Podcast”* (I actually dare you to stay awake through the stunning nature footage, soothing soundscapes and utterly tranquil narration. Plus, the same host/producer duo is behind “Lights Out Podcast” and are part of Mile Higher Media, AKA my fav family on planet Earth. No, seriously they’re all a family and the talent runs deeeeep.)
  • “Seriously Mysterious”
  • “The Sesh Podcast”* (super lighthearted and chill vibes all around, highly recommend especially if you’re someone who needs background noise that you can tune into and actually enjoy, or tbh if you’re just lonely!)
  • “Trace Evidence”
  • “True Crime Daily: The Podcast”* (videos on True Crime Daily’s channel)
  • “True Crime Junkie”
  • “Weave”
  • “99% Invisible”

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

YouTube Channels

  • Bailey Sarian (also behind “Dark History”)
  • Bella Fiori
  • Brittney Vaughn
  • Caitlin Rose
  • Chloe Ting
  • Christina Randall
  • Criminally Listed
  • Danelle Hallan
  • Danielle Kirsty
  • Dark Curiosities
  • Eleanor Neale
  • ExpertlyDyed
  • gabulosis
  • Georgia Marie
  • Gioli & Assia
  • History Time
  • Homework Radio
  • Jon Chrymes
  • Jonna Jinton
  • Joshua Miles
  • Kendall Rae (Kendall’s company Mile Higher Media is also behind “Mile Higher Podcast” and “The Sesh Podcast”)
  • Kirsty Skye AKA Daughter of Remus
  • LoeyLane
  • LordanARTS (also behind “Seriously Mysterious”)
  • Marc Rebillet
  • MissMangoButt
  • Mollie Westbrook
  • Nicol Concilio
  • Primitive Technology
  • Profiling Evil
  • Rachel Shannon
  • Real Crime
  • Samantha Melanie
  • Savannah Brymer (also behind “Killer Instinct”)
  • Sherrilyn Dale
  • Stephanie Harlowe
  • Stephanie Soo (also behind Miss Mangobutt, “Rotten Mango”, and “Baking a Murder”)
  • Willyarn
  • Yoga With Adriene
  • 60 Minutes Australia

Photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

Audiobooks

  • Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are (Plomin, 2018)
  • The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History (St. Clair, 2018/2019) (read our post on the book)
  • Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times (Barber, 1994/2019) (read my review here)

Macramé, weaving and crafting-related playlists curated by Cotton Dawn Co. will be showing up soon in a new post, so definitely keep an eye out for that. Comment and suggest my next audible content binge! Seriously though. Seriously.

There are no affiliate links in this post and this post was not sponsored. Contact us here to bring any incorrect information to our attention.

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References

Lowry, B. (2021, October 5). “Squid Game” sets off a new game, trying to figure out why it took off on Netflix. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/05/entertainment/squid-game-analysis/index.html

Beautiful Free Images & Pictures | Unsplash. (n.d.). Unsplash. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://unsplash.com/

Where is Ella Mae?

Ella Mae Begay is an auntie and a mother. She’s also a Navajo Elder and weaver from the Tółikan community, living in Sweetwater, Arizona. And she is missing.

Ella Mae was last seen at her house in a more isolated area of the Navajo Nation and reported missing by family on June 15, 2021. She may or may not have been in her vehicle, a silver 2005 Ford F-150 with an Arizona license plate AFE7107. Although the search has been expanded to include Utah and New Mexico along with Arizona, the pickup has yet to be located.

Image courtesy of the Navajo Police Department (2021)

Ella Mae’s niece, Seraphine Warren, set out to walk across tribal lands in an effort to bring more attention to not just her missing auntie but to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Children and some men as a whole. She’s also shared that she didn’t know what else she could do, what other avenues she could pursue in the search for her missing, and very much loved, relative.

“I want to walk because I have to make a point. I am walking for the missing indigenous, the murdered. Every day that is all I see, people going missing,” said Warren.

(Finding Ella Mae Begay, 2021)

MMIWC, also referred to as No More Stolen Sisters, is not just tangential to this missing person’s case; it is a creeping pandemic that began far before COVID-19 and one (in my opinion) that has only gained traction recently due to the efforts of creators with social media platforms. I myself only found out about the disproportionate number of indigenous people going missing compared to the settler populations of Canada, the United States and Australia through a free documentary called Finding Dawn (2006). A couple years later my eyes were opened yet again by the marvelous and ongoing work of Danelle Hallan, a true crime YouTube creator. Her series on MMIWC allows the audience to gain a deeper understanding of daily life in communities where family members and friends seemingly disappear, and law enforcement historically turns a blind eye. You are able to listen to the pained voices of indigenous people literally cry out for justice across decades and continents.

Image courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada (2006)

Ella Mae’s case was brought to my attention via another true crime YouTuber, John Lordan. He is also a tireless and respectful creator who regularly produces videos where he thoroughly tracks the last steps of a missing person or persons, and follows the media’s coverage of the case chronologically. He points out what kind of community and law enforcement efforts have been deployed, search frequency, which organizations offered their services, volunteer numbers, geographic spread of past searches and the most up-to-date photos of the missing person(s).

For a recent deep dive into what information is available regarding Ella Mae Begay’s disappearance and the circumstances surrounding her disappearance, I highly suggest watching John Lordan’s excellent video. Otherwise I’ve linked as many credible news articles and segments as possible throughout this post as well as in the References below.

If you have any information regarding locating Ella Mae Begay, 62, or her silver Ford F-150 please contact the Navajo Police Department Shiprock District at 505-368-1350. Or if you’d rather stay anonymous, check out Crime Stoppers USA to locate a program and submit a tip.

This blog is geared towards connecting fiber artists today with the traditions and practices of our past. Navajo rug weaving in particular is the perfect example of a revered body of traditional artistic knowledge, cultural meanings and a historical record of sorts. Its characteristic motifs are even reflective of specific geographic features present in the landscape Navajo ancestors daily looked out upon. Navajo rug weavers are so generous with their knowledge and in my opinion their ability to pass on traditional weaving practices is crucial to maintaining their community’s social and political capital. Uplifting, supporting and amplifying the work of Navajo weavers keeps their heritage and artistic legacy alive. Like a language not spoken by many people, Navajo weaving must be passed on to others before the old ways are lost.

Or, before the weavers are lost.

Please help spread the word of Ella Mae’s case, share on all platforms and with whomever you think will reach the most viewers. The more eyes looking out for her means reuniting her with her loved ones more quickly, or it means campaigning for justice so her loved ones can begin to grapple with loss in whatever form it takes.

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I was hesitant to include pictures of Ella Mae’s weaving because while it seems several websites host her listings, I can’t discern which listings originate with her, which ones are reproductions using her name for clicks, and I’m unable to ask for her permission directly. However, you can donate to the official GoFundMe here.

References

A-la-recherche-de-Dawn_LG_1.jpg (704×396). (n.d.). Retrieved September 5, 2021, from https://dkyhanv6paotz.cloudfront.net/medias/nfb_tube/thumbs_large/2013/A-la-recherche-de-Dawn_LG_1.jpg

Danelle Hallan—YouTube. (n.d.). Retrieved September 5, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/

Finding Ella Mae Begay: Native American elder missing for 46 days. (2021, July 31). KNXV. https://www.abc15.com/news/region-central-southern-az/finding-ella-mae-begay-native-american-elder-missing-for-46-days

Locate a Program – Crime Stoppers USA 1-800-222-TIPS. (2019). https://www.crimestoppersusa.org/programs/locate-a-program/

LordanARTS. (2021, September 3). Ella Mae Begay on Brainscratch Searchlight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5mplVHQOHc

Nourse, P. (2021, April 6). Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Children – No Excuses. No Excuses. http://www.noexcuses.blog/murdered-and-missing-indigenous-women-and-children/

Nourse, P. (2021, May 19). Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children: Part II – No Excuses. No Excuses. http://www.noexcuses.blog/missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women-and-children-part-ii/

Welsh, C. (2006). Finding Dawn [Documentary]. https://www.nfb.ca/film/finding_dawn/

Free Ram’s Horn Kilim Pattern

Did I just spend 5+ hours creating this pattern for a wall hanging? Yes, yes I did.

Also known as Kocboynuzu this motif traditionally symbolizes heroism, fertility, masculinity and power among ancient Anatolian communities(Kilim Motifs and Symbols, n.d.).

Skip to pattern

Maybe you’ve never heard the place-name ‘Anatolia’ before, or maybe-like myself-your first introduction to Anatolian culture actually occurred between the pages of a fiction novel. I honestly thought this was a made-up kingdom for years, and when I finally learned it actually exists it was like discovering Narnia.

Confusingly, “Anatolia” can be used to refer to a geographic region, an ancient civilization consisting of diverse peoples across a period of thousands of years and it can also refer to modern-day Asia Minor/modern Turkey. In this post we’ll be using the term to indicate ancient kingdoms and cultures operating on the peninsula east of the Aegean Sea, southeast of the Sea of Marmara and bordered by the Black Sea to its north. (Map to follow if you need to see the region visually.)

Photo credit Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. (1997)

I interpret the modern addition of this kilim in design (likely on one’s clothing) to invoke self-assuredness, sex positivity, physical health and respect. Without investigating the etymology of Kocboynuzu-but with several years’ education in classical Latin-I can’t help but associate the noun virtus, virtutis with the meanings linked to this kilim. The root word, vir, is translated as “man,” with virtus essentially denoting qualities that were considered inherently ‘masculine’ by the ancient Romans. These qualities included heroism, prowess, strength of character and courage. Although I can’t say the ram’s head was used exclusively in designs on Anatolian men’s personal items or their prayer rugs, I would bet money the motif doesn’t appear often throughout a bride’s trousseau.

TLDR: ram’s head kilim = virility (in ancient Anatolia) from the Latin word for “manliness.” Because we all know ‘strength of character’ and ‘heroism’ are traits that only cisgender men from patriarchal societies naturally possess…So why is the noun gendered feminine? Asking for a friend.

(c) 2021 Cotton Dawn Co.

I’ll continue to add whatever patterns I create for Cotton Dawn Co. weavings to this blog, so if you’re interested in saving several hours of your precious time, be sure to check back!

As always, I welcome corrections to the historical information presented in this article, and I’m constantly looking for more sources on the subject of ancient textile traditions/cloth cultures, ancient weaving techniques and experimental archaeology (which usually involves a massive amount of primitive technology). To help our blog with providing quality research and to suggest more accurate information, please contact us here!

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References

Kilim Motifs and Symbols. (n.d.). Kilim Studio. Retrieved August 23, 2020, from https://www.kilim.com/kilim-wiki/kilim-motifs

Kilim Weaving Techniques. (n.d.). Kilim Studio. Retrieved August 23, 2020, from https://www.kilim.com/kilim-wiki/weaving-techniques

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Anatolian. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved July 11, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Anatolian

Upper Paleolithic Period | anthropology. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved July 27, 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Upper-Paleolithic-Period

Virtus—The Latin Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2021, from http://latindictionary.wikidot.com/noun:virtus

Weaving Sources Masterlist

Tons of free tutorials, pro tips and tested materials for beginning to advanced weavers and spinners*

To appear on Cotton Dawn Co.’s Weaving Sources Masterlist we must have used the resource and found it to be helpful, inspirational and/or informative. Every reasonable effort was made to purchase fiber from environmentally responsible merchants to use in our handwoven pieces, so these brands offer ethical fibers or have offered them in the past.

If you come across a source that reflects a skill level you don’t yet possess, bookmark it for later! Or, note the techniques you plan to learn in the future.

Several resources will appear more than once on the Masterlist (e.g. Spruce & Linen is included in both the Websites/Blogs and YouTube collections) but their other platforms or shops are easily accessible through the links.

Lola Mott of Rustic Threads de Lola is one of my absolute favorite artists, and not just because of her gorgeous work. Many of the techniques found in my woven wall hangings come directly from Lola’s helpfully labeled Pins. Personally, I like to replay the clips demonstrating knots or embroidery until my fingers remember the movements. There are a couple other weaving-related Pinterest accounts I’ve found that include the names of the techniques shown, but Lola is the most consistent.

Books:

  • Color Secrets: Three Keys to Crisp, Clear Designs (Tien Chiu)
  • The Art of Tapestry Weaving: A Complete Guide for Mastering the Techniques for Making Images with Yarn (Rebecca Mezoff)
  • Weaving Within Reach: Beautiful Woven Projects by Hand or by Loom (Anne Weil)
  • Welcome to Weaving: The Modern Guide (Lindsey Campbell of Hello Hydrangea)
    • Welcome to Weaving 2: Techniques and Projects to Take You Further (Lindsey Campbell of Hello Hydrangea) is on my wish list but I thought I’d add the title info in case y’all are hungry for more
Screencap: https://classes.warpandweave.com/ via Warp & Weave, accessed July 2, 2021

Websites/Blogs:

Screen cap: https://youtu.be/s2yodb-dB00 via Spruce & Linen’s YouTube channel, May 7, 2021
Screen cap: https://youtu.be/XzzKlhyJKec via
Rebecca Mezoff’s YouTube channel, April 28, 2021
Screen cap: https://youtu.be/MdQ7_fIwQSc via Fibers and Design Weaving’s channel, April 10, 2020

YouTube:

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Materials:

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* This is a gentle reminder that the list will change constantly, and that not every artist I admire will appear on it for one reason: I don’t have a perfect memory. Also! If I’m missing a certain resource you found especially useful during your creative journey please drop a link it down below in the comments!

4 Myths Busted in “The Golden Thread” by Kassia St. Clair

Striking the perfect balance between a broad topic and source-heavy deep dives, this book will whet your appetite for all things fabric.

Role of Fabric and Fabric-Making through History

Each chapter opens with a quirky or thought-provoking quote; and this (in my opinion) is definitely one of the book’s most valuable qualities. Including a non-intrusive amount of direct quotes from primary sources and industry leaders is key when leading the audience to a richer understanding of past eras and distant cultures. The ideal ratio of firsthand accounts to the premise illuminates otherwise intangible concepts such as attitudes, or the volume of workplace chatter, the adrenaline rush of retrieving honey from a tree to share with your community, or even the unspoken fears of professional athletes. St. Clair deftly balances these two elements and the result is a cogent summary of how fabric has influenced humanity through time and place.

Myth #1

Speedo’s line of high-performance swimsuits modeled fabric after shark skin to decrease drag

“Biomimetic” surface of Speedo Fastskin® FS II fabric. Photo credit: J. Oeffner and G. V. Lauder (2012.)
Skin surface from the mid-body region of a bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo). Photo credit: J. Oeffner and G. V. Lauder (2012.)

Or, that was the idea behind the brand’s creative response to the 2010s period of ‘technologically enhanced’ swimsuits. In reality, the suit’s texture fell so far short of shark skin that it actually increased swimmers’ drag. Some athletes enjoyed the suit’s compression but Harvard University’s Henry Bryant Bigelow Professor of Ichthyology George Lauder demonstrated that 1) the suit’s surface texture did not successfully mimic shark skin, and 2) that wearing a Fastskin® FS II would not significantly affect speed because it would not be stretched over the extremely flexible body of a shark (Oeffner & Lauder, 2012.) Without shark morphology working in unison with the suit surface, the hydrodynamics don’t indicate a positive outlook for Olympic hopefuls.

Myth #2

Teflon was invented by NASA while researching heat/ UV ray reflecting materials

Roy J. Plunkett with a cable insulated with Teflon and a Teflon-coated muffin tin.
Photo credit: Hagley Museum and Library;

gift of Roy Plunkett
Reenactment of the 1938 discovery of Teflon. Left to right: Jack Rebok, Robert McHarness, and Roy Plunkett.
Photo credit: Hagley Museum and Library

Actually, researcher Roy Plunkett working for the DuPont Company-later involved in developing space suit prototypes-had discovered it years prior. Teflon popped up in American kitchens starting in 1951 (Discovery of Teflon, 2017) which is at least a decade before NASA saw the polymer’s extra-domestic potential (St. Clair, 2019.) So where was this misconception born, and why is it considered ‘common knowledge’?

Myth #3

Big businesses were contracted by NASA to make the spacesuits worn by U.S. astronauts on the Moon

Photo credit: NASA
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The truth is that Playtex made the first space suit (Feitelberg & Feitelberg, 2019.) Just fifty employees strong at the time, the small business was better known for making women’s underwear and shapewear (St. Clair, 2019.) Originally a subcontractor for Hamilton Standard, they had to compete twice in prototype designing competitions to secure a leadership role in making suits for the Apollo project. Apparently other contractors-including Hamilton Standard-were outraged that this women’s underwear brand had been awarded the contract over themselves (St. Clair, 2019.) Teams of seamstresses hand-sewed rubber layers together for each ensemble. There was virtually zero margin for error, and metal needles were eventually banned to prevent accidentally tearing the suit’s layers, and compromising its integrity. The amount of skill required to complete each suit is overwhelming.

Myth #4

Lycra and spandex are two distinct fabrics with different chemical compositions

Photo by David Waschbu00fcsch on Pexels.com
Photo by Lou00efc Manegarium on Pexels.com

In reality, they’re all the same synthetic fabric originally manufactured by Dupont, then marketed under different names (“Spandex vs. Lycra,” 2018.) Similarly, rayon is “a generic term, coined in 1924, for artificial textile material composed of reconstituted, regenerated, and purified cellulose,” (Major Industrial Polymers – Phenol Formaldehyde, n.d.) Basically it’s an umbrella term for viscose, tencel, modal and lyocell; it is not a standalone synthetic fiber blend as is commonly thought. Oh, and “bamboo” rayon? Not necessarily environmentally friendly

My Highlights

– listening to the natural vs. synthetic fabric and fashionable vs. functional controversies unfold while St. Clair describes the history of humankind’s eventual ‘domination’ of Mt. Everest

– sassy and ironic comments from the author that somehow always reflect my own internal commentary

– the generous addition of quotes attributed to ancient writers and intellectuals (I’m a sucker for all things classical- shocking, I know)

What are your highlights?

Share your favorite bits of “The Golden Thread” in the comments below, and let’s discuss more myths that were completely busted by this book!

This post is not sponsored, and there are no affiliate links on this page. That being said, this blog provides resources so here are some links:

Find it on Amazon:

Photo credit: Google Books

References

Feitelberg, R., & Feitelberg, R. (2019, July 19). Preparing and Dressing Apollo 11’s Crew for the New Frontier. WWD. https://wwd.com/eye/people/preparing-and-dressing-apollo-11s-crew-for-the-new-frontier-1203223358/

Lauder, G., & Oeffner, J. (2012). The hydrodynamic function of shark skin and two biomimetic applications. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 215, 785–795. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.063040

Major industrial polymers—Phenol formaldehyde. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/industrial-polymers-468698

Rayon | textile fibre. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/technology/rayon-textile-fibre

Reuell, P. (2012, February 9). A swimsuit like shark skin? Not so fast. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/02/a-swimsuit-like-shark-skin-not-so-fast/

Roy J. Plunkett. (2017, December 14). Science History Institute. https://www.sciencehistory.org/historical-profile/roy-j-plunkett

St. Clair, K. (2019, November 26). The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History [Audiobook].

St. Clair, K. (2019). Under Pressure: Suits Suitable for Space. In The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History.

What is Spandex? What is Lycra®? Are they the same or different? (2018, April 5). Pine Crest Fabrics. https://pinecrestfabrics.com/fabric-knowledge/spandex-lycra/

ONE Thing You Have to Do Before Using Your Rigid Heddle Loom

You’ve made an investment, so don’t ignore this tried and true time-saving advice.

Picture this:

You’re sitting on the floor, huddled over a wooden contraption straight out of the Mousetrap. But instead of plastic parts that kids jam together, you’ve got a bunch of wooden limbs that ~eventually~ fit together after hours of coaxing. You had to lay the individual pieces out and rub furniture wax into every square inch of their surfaces. Then you had to attach gears and levers and these things called pawls.

When it’s finally time to put this sensitive (and expensive) tool to work you’re certainly not in the mood to waste time figuring out how to fix the rookie mistakes you’ll no doubt make. You just want to weave.

You just want that rhythmic repetition.

You just want to make something.

So before you warp your rigid heddle loom I highly, highly suggest you spend some time checking out Liz Gipson’s Yarnworker, “a space to discover all that the rigid heddle loom has to offer, including helpful FAQs, resource lists, terms to know,” and more. Content is available in the form of blog posts, videos and even a newsletter.

Learn from my experience and avoid time-consuming mistakes in every step from warping to finishing.

I pinkie-promise you’re not taking the easy way out of a noble but seriously impractical ‘trial-by-error’ phase of learning. You will have a lifetime to puzzle out the complexities involved in designing and weaving with the rigid heddle loom. Just ask Tien Chiu!

I was so excited to start weaving, and so sure that I didn’t know the right terminology to ask questions, that I didn’t even try. Had I executed a single Google search I might have found Yarnworker’s shining light in the dark, wordless terror of inexperience.

Trust me when I tell you: this website is not another shallow blog with a clickbait title promising to solve all your problems. Gipson takes a deep dive into multiple workarounds, what-if scenarios, calculations, and more. She includes photos, stories about personal experiences and doesn’t hesitate to deliver references she, herself, uses.

As of the day this post is being written, Yarnworker’s last article was published in late November, 2020 and there’s a virtual event scheduled for early April, 2021. It looks active and the site navigation is beautifully approachable, so before you warp your first rigid heddle loom . . .

. . . check out Yarnworker!

There are no affiliate links in this post and no content within this post has been sponsored since its last update.

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About

Hello, folks! 🙋🏻‍♀️ My name is Michelle, and I’m a super-fan of ancient history who also happens to run a small handmade business.

I started this blog to organize my own research into an array of topics like

But then I thought, what if other people are as curious as I am? There are plenty of fabulous blogs out there for the history-buffs and the weaving enthusiasts, but none that I’ve found satisfactorily connect the history of fiber art to the global community of contemporary fiber artists.

The goal of this blog is to fill that void by sharing research, experiences and resources that solidify the connection between modern fiber artists and our past. Not a fiber artist? No problem!

I save all the resources that have proven useful during the process of brainstorming my business and building a brand. They’re largely accessible to those who haven’t completed any higher education in business or economy.

So, if you’ve been trying to learn more about

  • SEO
  • Web development
  • Social media marketing
  • Product photography
  • KPIs

. . . then don’t waste another second of your valuable time and follow along!

Wool-Bearing Trees

How would you describe an apple to an alien?

This was an exercise I (shockingly) remember from elementary school, where the goal was to build descriptive vocabulary and grow comfortable using adjectives. Eventually the class realized that if this alien was already familiar with other round fruits from Earth, we could describe the apple to them by comparing its taste, texture, skin, color and size to those fruits.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Keeping this approach in mind, how would someone describe a cotton plant to a person who had only seen clumps of springy fiber come from sheep? What if the word “cotton” wasn’t even in their vocabulary?

Authors writing during the Neo-Babylonian period solved this problem through periphrasis in temple records and other texts dealing with the flow of goods and capital (Quillien, 2019). Periphrasis is the act of using multiple words to refer to something in a roundabout way.

Yes, I definitely looked that up.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

In this example they used familiar concepts to refer to a rather novel fiber plant as “wool-bearing trees” because there was no word for ‘cotton’ in their language at the time. There’s evidence that Assyrian King Sennacherib (704-681 BCE) started cultivating Indian cotton alongside other non-native plants in his palace gardens at Nineveh (Grayson & Novotny, 2012). Herodotus, a really spectacular ancient historian, later used this phrase to describe garments Indian soldiers wore in Xerxes’ army [Histories, VII, 65 (5th century BCE)]. And although spinners and weavers were making fabric using this fiber, there’s still controversy surrounding whether or not an Assyrian word equivalent for cotton developed during this period (Quillien, 2019).

Fragment of a stone panel from the South-West Palace of Sennacherib, modern day Iraq, dated 704–681 BC. (c) 2021 The Trustees of the British Museum

Yet, even knowing the logic behind putting the words “wool-bearing trees” together doesn’t stop me from picturing teeny-tiny sheep growing on trees. Please, comment and tell me I’m not the only one!

References

Fragment of a stone panel from the South-West Palace of Sennacherib, British Museum_0.jpg (1600×1224). (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2021, from https://www.britishmuseum.org/sites/default/files/styles/uncropped_huge/public/2019-11/Fragment%20of%20a%20stone%20panel%20from%20the%20South-West%20Palace%20of%20Sennacherib%2C%20British%20Museum_0.jpg

Grayson & Novotny. (2012). The Royal Inscriptions of Sennacherib, King of Assyria (704-681 BC) RINAP 3/1. Winona Lake, Eisenbrauns.

Herodotus, Histories, 6-106. 5th century BC.

Quillien, L. (2019). Dissemination and price of cotton in Mesopotamia during the 1st millennium BCE. Revue d’ethnoécologie, 15, Article 15. https://doi.org/10.4000/ethnoecologie.4239

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