Little Changes January 26 2018, 0 Comments

In my last blog post back in November, I said that I was going to discontinue offering wholesale pricing but that has not happened.  It surely does keep me busy and sometimes overwhelmed with orders but I have continued to receive wholesale orders.

I do have true updates to give everyone however.  A website update is on its way along with desperately needed new photos.  I have discontinued the large potholders in their past form but will be bringing them back in the same style as the small potholders only larger.

Also, with the new website design, one new product will be created by incorporating heavy canvas in bold colors with natural leather.  Some of the new designs will include bags, stitch markers, zippered pouches, and hand forged shawl pins.  I almost forgot, I am also awaiting a brass branding head with my bird with branch logo that I will now use on all of my potholders.  It's small and subtle and I think you guys will like it.

I'm looking forward to sharing the new products and new website with all of you ... can't wait actually!

Thank you all for your loyalty and patronage!  Have a great day!

Entering a New Chapter November 01 2017, 0 Comments

Good Morning All!  I'm feeling a bit liberated as I embark on a retail only business model.  It has been a very long few years that has been both challenging and exciting.  Having big name stores carry my potholders has been wonderful and validating.

On October 21st and 22nd, I was a vendor at the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival.  I love meeting my customers and talking with them.  That interaction with feedback has been sorely missed.  While in the midst of completing large wholesale orders, I barely have time to answer my own retail customers' inquiries.  This Christmas will be different!

It is my goal to not only offer my potholders but also, once again, offer my bags; something so many people have been asking for.  Hopefully, I can begin to update my website and get back to taking some good product photos.  

Alright, folks, let's do this together!  I look forward to doing more shows and interacting with each one of you in whatever way we meet!  Thank you for all of the continued support through the years!

Strictly Selfish Knitting . . . Kindof March 30 2016, 0 Comments

If I could, I would spend my days gardening, knitting, making soap, and sewing pretty little useful things.  Most of my days are spent juggling life with kids, squeezing in knitting (two rows in the morning and two rows at night), gardening one hour a day and calling it exercise, thinking that I really need to make soap, and putting potholders together, and sewing, sewing, sewing them.

My all-time favorite activity is knitting.  It is extremely relaxing … and I’m pretty good at it.  I really would love for knitting to be a potential income source but I really don’t ever see that happening.  Hand knit items take such a long time to create that the cost would be outrageous.

So, not too long ago, I was pondering this knitting thing and realized that I had made everyone at least one lovely item but I had made nothing for me.  I realized that if I continue to give my hand knits away, their recipients wouldn’t have a reason to learn for themselves.  I made the decision to do strictly selfish knitting.  I did make one exception, however, when I saw this dress pattern on Pinterest, the Clara Dress.  I have a new granddaughter and she needed to have this dress.  As I was knitting it, she was growing and I was getting nervous!  I made the 9-12 month version.  I probably should have made the larger dress but this will look cute the couple of times she gets to wear it.  It can always be a great room decoration.

Yarn used:  Madelinetosh, Tosh Merino Light, Colorway is Calligraphy, One Skein


What I've Been Up To November 29 2014, 0 Comments

Of course, this time of year is extremely busy for any maker and I am no exception!  That doesn't stop new ideas from flowing around in my head and neither does it stop my uncontrollable desire to learn.  

My Ideas:

The little bag at the top us a prototype I've been using for the past couple of months.  I love it!  It's the perfect size to run into the store with, it fits in the car door pocket, it looks good and it helps me use up my small pieces of waxed canvas.

I have a few other ideas I am tossing around. What deters me at the moment is sourcing fabric that is made in this country. I may have to satisfy myself with fabric made in the countries of friends.  I'm thinking of offering my Grocer's bag in two additional fabrics, possibly one in an array of colors.  

I have read books and watched plenty of videos on soapmaking as this is a skill that is right up my alley. I made one unscented batch that turned out better than I had expected.  I am putting together an order for some scents so family and friends may end up being my human guinea pigs this Christmas!

What I Have Studied Over The Past Week:

Audiobooks - I get to learn while I work and I work a lot!:  

The Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki

How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

Difference by Bernadette Jiwa

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy.  

I took a little bit away from each of these books.  Scott Adams gives some practical advice that anyone could apply immediately to everyday situations. Robert Kiyosaki insists that the old way of doing things is forever gone.  Those ways may, for the most part, be gone but I am holding out hope that manufacturing will return to this country and make it great once again. Overall, the Cashflow Quadrant is a good book on how money works and I would definitely recommend it.  The most important thing I took away from Eat That Frog is to make "to do" lists and then get to the ugliest thing on that list first.  

Please feel free to respond.  I love to hear from my customers!  

Also, if you haven't indulged yourself in the world of Pinterest, you should really consider it!  It is in my top three favorite sites to use.  I do have a rule though, I only pin what I really love, not what I kindof like.  If you decide to check it out, I would love it if you followed me: 

We Can Do This! November 19 2014, 0 Comments

I often hear people say "Nothing is made in this country anymore.  Everything is made in China."  This statement is completely false.  I made my first bag at a time when it seemed impossible to find a U.S. made bag.  That was before Etsy.  I believe that Etsy has caused a mini handmade revolution.  We need a huge revolution and that revolution can only take hold with people like you.  Every time someone purchases a product that is made in this country, not only are they typically getting a product that will stand the test of time, they are creating a job.  You have the POWER to create huge economic changes!

Disclaimer:  All of my products are constructed with tiny, less than 1/16", stitches that hold tight.  If I think a seam will be under stress, I stitch it atleast one more time (maybe twice more).  I also seek out American supplies partially because of the standards the E.P.A. requires them to be produced.  I would not purchase Chinese (or any other country) suede because I wouldn't risk my own health or the health of my customers. 

During this holiday season, please take a moment to flip the gift you are considering buying over to see which country it is made in and buy accordingly.  Even selective consumers often have too much stuff.

What I do:  If it isn't made in this country, I consider how badly I need it.  If it seems impossible, I choose the next best thing - made by one of our political allies.  I often search out a used American made products at a second hand shop or on Ebay.  Sometimes it can't be avoided but that shouldn't deter you from trying.  When companies recognize that American made products are selling better than those manufactured elsewhere, they will scramble to make the adjustment too.

If you are not aware of the way large corporations infiltrate countries like Bangladesh with abusive labor practices, you simply need to look it up on YouTube.  They may be able to make inexpensive products but the way they do it is completely wrong.  

I have assembled a list of trusted American made products that I hope will help make it easy for you to buy American and help the people in our country to prosper once again.


Akadema Baseball Equipment.  Patriot Series gloves are made in New Jersey, as are the wood bats.

Anchor Glassware:

Buck Knives:

Case Knives:  More pocket knives.

Catskill Craftsmen:  Larger manufacturer of large butcher block style cutting boards.  I sought them out when I needed a great big, well made cutting board for my kitchen island.  They custom made mine for a great price.

C.P. Basils Wooden Kitchen Tools:  These small business makes inexpensive cherry wood kitchen tools.  I bough a scoop and a fantastic spoon that gets everything off the bottom of the pot.

Chippewa Boots:  Look for the ones that are made in this country.  My husband is a UPS driver and usually goes through boots quickly.  These boots lasted him two full years which turned into a bargain.

Corelle Dishes:  Still made in USA.  Not great looking but fine for every day use.

Cutco:  Knives made in western New York State and said to be the sharpest knives in the world.  I own a few but could easily makedo with just one - the 7" Santoku.  I sent them back to be sharpened and they replaced my bread knife and my scissors!  Awesome company!

Danforth Pewter:  I know everybody loves the Hallmark ornaments but I would prefer an heirloom pewter ornament any day.

Fiesta Dinnerware:  Start a collection and add to it one piece at a time.

Kitchenaid:  Stand mixers are made in USA.  They have recently began manufacturing small appliances domestically.

Leatherman Multi-Tool Knife:  This is perfect for men (and some women too).

Lifefactory Glass Water Bottle:  This water bottle hasn't broken yet and I've used mine for over a year.

Lincoln Logs:  These classic toys will soon be once again manufactured in the U.S. in the state of Maine.  Make sure to check the label and purchase accordingly!  

LL Bean:  LL Bean continues to make their Boat & Tote and their Maine Hunting Boots here.  I think they have also added a peacoat to their US made line.

Lodge Cast Iron:  I use cast iron.  Mine do not need to be enamel coated.  These inexpensive pans definitely do the trick.

Maglite Flashlights:  Men, women and children all could use a really good flashlight.

New Balance Sneakers:  New Balance still makes select sneakers in this country but you have to check.

Nexcare Bandaids:  I know this isn't really a gift idea but this is a place you can easily put down the BandAid brand bandaids that are made in China and pick up the Nexcare brand that are made in this country and they work much better anyway.

Rainbow Flip Flops:  My oldest son swears by these flipflops.  I have witnessed people asking him where he got them.  I love that Made in USA is important to the kids too!

Weber Grills:  I have the regular charcoal grill and the smaller smoker.  I love them both!

West Bend Hot Water Kettle:  West Bend 6400 found on Amazon for around $27.

West Paw Dog Toys:  This company made one of dogs' favorite toy - the pink flamingo.

Wigwam Socks:  This company makes all kinds of socks along with hats and gloves.

Please feel free to comment below if you know of any companies that can be added to the list!

The American consumer who purchases American made goods is the one who creates jobs in our great country.  Thank you!  


Summer Busyness May 30 2014, 0 Comments

This year will be a year of trying new things.  With a very busy baseball schedule ahead of me with two of my boys, we will be trying something very new ... camping.  We live in the country and I have always said that I have no need to go camping because I have all of the appeal of it right on my own property. There is nothing but woods behind our home, at night we hear the coyotes yipping, we sleep with the windows open, we hear the birds chirping, etc.  Because of the coyotes yipping and the black bears in those scary woods, there is something about a little tiny piece of fabric between me and all of that that kind of freaks me out. Anyway, it needs to be done and we're going to do It.

I have to do this camping thing (have you seen the price for a hotel room lately!) but we are going to try to do it right. We purchased a tent (a used one time kind of deal for one third of the price paid), and two cots.  I have scoured Pinterest for great ideas on how to do this successfully and have been somewhat drawn in by the glamping idea. I have a plan and that is to keep the colors bright and cheerful. That way, if it should be dark and dreary (oh Lord, and even rain), perhaps the cheerful colors inside the tent will make us feel better about our situation.  The cots are relatively comfortable but I will need something a bit closer to a pillow top.  

I have been inspired by this blogger for her fantastic pillow cases as well as by the colors she uses. 

The plan is to make a cot topper out of five pillows held in place with a fabric case with seams for each pillow. I will also make some blankets using fleece and twill. How to fit it all in the Volkswagen will be secondary to the comfort factor.

I am looking forward to working with some traditional fabrics. I have spent the past few years sewing only leather and canvas.  Who knows, I may start offering some new things in the shop that feature traditional fabrics.  I have been tossing around some different things.  I would love to begin making the bahama shorts that were all the rage in the 90's.  Wide brimmed sun hats for women might be interesting as well.  

One last thing that I will be doing is making a cheerful crocheted flower for each camping trip and will hang these banner style at the tent entrance. By the end of the summer, I should have about 20 of them!

Until next time ...


To Thine Own Self Be True March 04 2014, 0 Comments

I frequently consider the words of William Shakespeare, "To thine own self be true."  If these simple words were considered before making important life decisions, many mistakes of judgment could be avoided.

Tanya Ernst Designs will soon be carrying custom mugs with those wise words etched in stone(ware). These signature mugs are beautifully handcrafted in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The mugs are on order and will take a few more weeks before they will be available on the site.  I can't hardly wait!

Until next time,

Bird With Branch Logo.jpg



New Website Through Shopify February 26 2014, 0 Comments

They say that manufacturers have the worst websites.  That was very true for me for a very long time.  Those who are more tech savvy than I am may think that my website is still pretty bad.  Nevertheless, I finally got a small window of opportunity to spend some time updating two very outdated websites by combining them into one.  

I began my business with a name that referred to where I am from, Catskill Mountain Country.  That was very homey and seemed crafty . . . but I outgrew that name a long time ago when I began making my New Vintage Gun Metal Gray Bags.  So, I decided that, since I am my business and my business is me, I would simply use my name which represents all that I do.

So, now that I decided on my name and logo, I had to decide how I would make this website happen.  Of course, high priced web designers were out of the question.  I did a little research and chose Shopify.

Then I got an iPad Air and started taking photos.  I simply don't always have time to set up complicated photo shoots.  I really like everything to be perfect but if I wait until I get perfect, this website would never happen.   The iPad made it easy to crop photos and attach them to my products.  

I will continue to add more photos of my potholder colors as I go along.  I hope you find everything you are looking for.

"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."  William Shakespeare