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Adjust and Cope, Adjust and Cope!

I’m in an awful mood. It’s been building for days. And now I am certifiably unfit for anything but solitary confinement. So I’ve confined myself at The Stitchery all night, furiously pounding out this post, having finally written emails to my elected representatives and signed a petition and donated money…

The Consumer Protection and Safety Implementation Act of 2008, which will effect every aspect of our family business, Hello Wood Products, has had my attention for the past 2 weeks thanks to Kathleen at Fashion Incubator and a dear friend who pointed me to the forum discussions. I have read the postings at Fashion Incubator but have remained q u i e t. I don’t feel I could possibly help anyone out of the mass confusion. Thankfully, Jennifer’s post at SmartMama helped clear out some of the debris left over after reading so much speculation and worry.

I have also read quite a bit of the regulation itself. I think that I have a grip on the lead issues, the choking issues and the status of inventory. But I am still lost as to the phthlates issues. I barely know what a phthalate is. PVC, I know. And it can be everywhere. Ack!

We use acrylic water based finishes and paints; the purist, most environmentally friendly, non-toxic we can find on the market. We’ve paid the top dollar for our finishes in the past 20 years and had to work with our finish manufacturers while they worked out new formulas and products. We’ve lost a lot of money on finishes when the non-toxic finish industry hadn’t developed the correct formulas yet.

But I’ve never looked at our finishes for phthalates. Are phthalates even a real threat to the children who would use our materials in the classroom? That hasn’t been solidly answered yet. So once again this tiny little company will fund someone else’s learning curve. We’ve done it before and it looks like we’ll be doing it again.

And here we are. We’ve survived the last 4 or 5 years against the cheap Chinese imports. We’ve struggled victoriously against the notion that Tennessee woodworking is a losing investment and gotten local banks to make loans to us. We’ve taken the 10 years or so to train and retain our own irreplaceable skilled labor. We’ve taken on huge, time honored European companies and carved out our share of the Montessori market. We’re still standing, respected in our little niche in the world as a quality manufacturer. We’ve met all regulations and played it straight arrow all the way.

And we’ll meet the regulations and play it straight, in the face of this, too. It will do me no good to rant. I just have to live through it.

I will be stalking HealthyChildHealthyWorldfor Jennifer’s next post, due to come out next week, I think, on phthalates and am in awe at her clear writing and thinking in this issue, grateful that it’s her chosen field. And may a thousand blessings rain down on her and Kathleen. My poor head is almost exploding.

I simply want to sew for people who love quality fabrics and to make wonderful, durable educational materials for Montessori children.

What to do while all these complications are rolling around in my super-packed skull? Escape into sewing:

I was soooo excited! A week ago my friends and I decided that they must have their own top-of-the-line wool vests for this winter. I was so excited to be working in quality fabrics for these guys I adore and have known for so long. But now my friends don’t want me to have to invest the amount of time it takes to do fittings and create the garments. They are distressed by the details like whether there is a pocket or a collar or the type of buttons or the cut of the front. They wish they hadn’t agreed to the vest projects now.

I must have done something wrong. This isn’t how my projects are supposed to go! Sigh.

I’ve already delivered one vest that was a trial garment, made of thick handwoven silk fabric that I so love but haven’t been able to find a pattern for. My friend didn’t like it. I was prepared for that. It is technically a “muslin”. He doesn’t have to like it, it was just a “have to” on my part and a test of a pattern. He can put it away and never wear it, ever. At least I have worked up the silk and know it’s capacities. I guess I shouldn’t have given it to him. But until I speak with them tomorrow I won’t know if I still have “my joyous escape” to work on any longer. I’ll have to find a new escape.

I guess the act of writing about this has cleared my mind, as it usually does. Thanks for “listening”, you all are so helpful!

If I can’t feel like the continuation of the vest projects will be harmonious I will work on my own travel wardrobe. I am doing the audacious: I am taking two weeks off, right at the beginning of January, the beginning of a new financial year for both the School and the Company, and going out to Palm Springs to take a couple of sewing classes. I am completely nuts but I signed up for these months ago and the hefty class payments were due and paid for before this CPSIA was made clear to me.

So I’ll work on travel garments in order to escape. There, I have a plan of action.

As an old friend of mine used to say (breathlessly),

“Adjust and cope, adjust and cope!”


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

4 responses »

  1. oh mary beth, what a time to be going through! i’ve been thinking a lot of you, and the other small business with this CPSIA thing. i had been toying in my mind the past few years with starting a little side business thing myself, but since it has to do with kids, i’m not doing anything until this gets sorted out.

    i think it is good that you are taking those two weeks off. yeah, the timing probably could’ve been better, but you’ll have a nice breather and come back refreshed and ready to fight! 🙂

  2. Deep breath, have faith. It will all work out. Thank you for being so diligent in providing the best for children. From reading a couple of blogs, it is apparent how big a mess has been made with this set of rules. When stress, sew.

  3. So sorry this CPSIA thing is causing so much grief. I don’t know anything about it, but I can certainly sympathise. Even worse that your wonderful vest-making project isn’t working out so well. Who could NOT want a custom-made vest by Mary Beth? The trip in January sounds like a really good idea. Get away, clear your mind, concentrate on something else. It can’t help but be good for you!

  4. Pingback: CPSIA Compliance, Courtesy, Confusion and Compassion « The Stitchery

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