About Class Act Fabrics
contact me at:
Class Act Fabrics
PO Box 307
email me at
Linda (at) classactfabrics (dot) com
Class Act Fabrics ...about us... (I think this is turning into a 'blog')
Well, moving to Erie didn't happen <wry grin>. Just as I got back from Pennsic the bottom fell out of the real estate market. And then the bottom fell out of just about everything else. I think that is a hint to me to "bloom where you're planted".
So I'm still here in beautiful rural northeastern PA in my little bungalow with a whole bunch of gorgeous fabric. The trouble is that fabric doesn't talk with you ....well, it does psychologically and esthetically, but there's only so much talking to yourself that you can do. So I just got a part-time job through the Area Agency on Aging.... 20 hours a week at minimum wage working as a receptionist at a local not-for-profit. It's not really a job...it's a training program to re-train 'older folks' to get back into the workplace. I can now speak in full sentences again without stopping to try to remember words....at least most of the time ;)
This means that I'm not here most days so it's catch me if you can with the phone. Email is always a good way to get me.
That brings us to computers. I now have 3 computers. It happened this way.
First some background: I'm slightly paranoid....my middle name should have been
Murphy because if I drop my guard for an instant things go wrong. Several years
ago I worked up to 2 computers after trouble with one that left me 'dead in the
water' and tearing my hair out. I decided to leave one for only my website and
the other for emails and research. I also decided to have 2 hard drives in my
website computer...one for backup 'just in case'.
No, don't try to understand...it's how the paranoid mind works.
So about a year ago one of the drives in my website computer went down. The only drive my 'computer guy' had on hand was a 5G. I figured that my website wasn't that big, XP Home didn't take that much space and I didn't plan on much else so this would be fine.
Yeah....best laid plans and all that. The 5G drive filled up really fast...I also used it to manipulate the pictures on my website and save them all. duh....
This year, right after Pennsic, I decided to get high-speed internet cable, as 600 bytes/sec dial-up just didn't cut it. Cable is wonderful! I started to 'clean up' my computer and found that I couldn't do a defrag on my 5G drive because I didn't have space enough.. I tried saving to CD but I didn't have enough space to do that either. I deleted unused files and still no go. Then my second drive 'disappeared'. And the cable stopped working. My website was still on my webhost but I couldn't get to it!
I contacted my friend a couple states away who happens to be a systems
engineer and a very patient and wonderful person (bless you Willy!) He
helped me decide to get a new computer, finding out that the second drive was
bad. I got the new computer (the story on that is too weird and long to
put in a short blog) and we found that the cable modem was bad. The cable
company was very good and I had it replaced quickly.
Now, this leaves me with a perfectly good, if over-filled, 5G computer. Of course, the case is about 10 years old and various parts range from 8 to 2 years old (with a brand new ethernet card). Three working computers for a tiny fabric store. How many computers can you use at one time?
Now I need to get pictures of all that new fabric up on the website!
I decided just before Pennsic War this year that I needed to move closer to my kids. I have wonderful friends here and there's telephone and email to talk to anyone I want, but.....
It all started when a friend told my son about a part-time art teaching job
in the city where they live. I was really ready to get back into teaching...I've
missed it a lot. So I re-worked my resume and had friends help me
tweek it to where I was very impressed myself! Then I started thinking about
moving all my stuff and almost backed down.
But the pull was still there....my 'kids', teaching, actually doing things besides 'store-stuff'.
I didn't get that position but it made me realize what I 'wanted', and what I could do without if I 'wanted' enough. Sigh....here I come, ebay.
After Pennsic War, which was another year of high humidity, burning sun, torrential rain, drizzle and high humidity with 4 perfect days (2 at 'set-up' and 2 at 'tear-down') I stayed a week with Dan, Emma and kids. And we talked....and we looked at properties....and we dreamed. And I can do this!
I'm not sure what will happen, where my new place will be, or when I'll get there. Just before I put my house on the market, the bottom dropped out of the mortgage/real estate business. Life is a gamble. We'll see what happens ;-)
Emma just started med school at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine,
another step in her plan to become an osteopathic physician. My forth
grandchild starts kindergarten this year. I've got at least 20 'good years' left
and I'm not going to waste them.
And now it's 2 years later and I still haven't remembered how to make a new page. There were some computer problems, you see..... and I'm still trying to find some things that went astray. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting too old for this 'electronic stuff'.
Speaking of 'old'.... have you had your baseline echocardiogram yet? If you
every have funny feelings in the middle of your chest or any other symptoms of
heart problems, please get them checked out quickly. Don't wait. Modern medicine
is advancing by leaps and bounds ....nuclear stress tests and angiograms are
getting faster and better all the time. And now they even have a nifty little
plug to put in the hole they make with the catheter to do the angiograms! Its
easier to clean out a plugged up artery than it is to recover from a heart
attack. Had my scare. The angiogram showed that the stress test was
a false positive...no sign of any buildup in my heart. But several of my cousins
have bypasses now. Take care..... I'd like to be able to serve you some cinnamon
And if you are going to be in this area sometime, let me know ahead of time so we can try to coordinate schedules so you can stop in, fondle the fabric and have a 'cuppa'.
A bit of "God's Country" tucked into a lot of "God's
Country". That's about the best description of Tunkhannock, PA, that I can think of.
This area is famous for it's flaming foliage every autumn as well as it's maple syrup in the spring. If you decide to come visit, you must see the town of Tunkhannock also. There are some beautiful Victorian homes and wonderful antique and gift shops that you would love! Please plan on a day and I'll point you to the neatest and best of this beautiful area.
Class Act Fabrics started out in May 1989 as a storefront on the
main street of Tunkhannock. Exposure was great but parking was not. After about five years
of heavy trucks rattling the windows, I had a big sale and transferred the rest of the
period appropriate fabric to a special room I had built in my home basement.
I worked doing mail order, doll shows and special renaissance events. Of course, supporting my love of selling fabric required me to take another full-time job as well.
In January 1996, northeastern PA was treated to unusual weather: about 2 foot of snow followed by a sudden, drastic thaw and lots of rain. The housing development where I lived received a "once in a hundred years" flood, and I cleaned out my basement the painful way. If my knight-in-shining-armor hadn't been there to help me cart a ton of fabric up the cellar stairs, I would have been totally wiped out.
By December 1996, the township had complied with 3 levels of red tape and our development was "bought out"....a first-ever event in PA! It has now become the most beautiful park with nature trails, a small pavilion, and walking paths that we have seen in this neck of the woods! Lazybrook Park. Also the site of Indian Pow-wows.
I then bought my present store (which is located on high ground without a basement). It is a four room bungalow which was converted from a 1950's motel to a home. And I also had a 'Slavic' house on wheels built at the site of a medieval organization's large annual "war". (see below)
In November '98, my mother died after a three year fight against ALS, Lou Gerhig's Disease. Mom liked my fabric store. She loved to teach and help there. Losing someone important makes you stop and think about your life. After half a year of hard thought I realized that I wanted to sell fabrics and teach about them more than anything else in the world.
And so, Class Act Fabrics came back in a new format in 1998...online...as well as a storefront. (let me know when you're coming and I'll put on the coffee pot and tea kettle!)
Talk about teaching an old dog new tricks! Well, my son would say "an old dragon" but it comes out about the same anyway. In 1998 I learned how to write e-mail, navigate the web, do word processing, and use a printer, and in 2000, a scanner and a digital camera. But this web site is really the tops of new tricks! (I've finally realized that it will never be finished...it is a "work in progress".)
But I still needed to pay the bills. After several "social service" jobs, I created a job as "head projectionist" at the local theatre. Small theatre, small town, small paycheck. Left that in the spring of '03 when I realized that I really wasn't cut out to be in a darkened booth with machines no matter how much I liked the machines.
Now I'm trusting the Powers that Be and hoping that my store will become
self-supporting before all the savings run out.
Here it is March 2004! I have 5 grandchildren now! Yikes. Check out the 'Glossary' for some esoteric reading! Still eating beans and hot dogs but the heartburn is gone ;)
AND IN ANOTHER LIFE.......
My work history revolves around the service industry. I worked in the family gas
station when I was in high school, held the usual odd jobs in college(waitress, store
clerk). After graduation from Kutztown State College (now Kutztown University) I taught
elementary art for 15 years. I've also been a client service coordinator for the JTPA
program, a Theraputic Staff Support person, a movie theater projectionist. I served
10 years in the US Army Reserves, 5 years as an instructor, and 5 as NBCNCO in an engineer
unit. I've done substitute teaching in public schools.
I used to think that people should have one job all their life. I thought that my father was a bit "unusual" because he would change jobs every 5 years or so. Now I just know that he was "ahead of his time".
Together my parents could do anything! From build a house from the ground up to any kind of hand or needlework, to professional level cabinetry. And they never told me I wasn't able to do something....well, they'd tell me they didn't want me to do it but that's not the same thing ;)
And in a "past"-present life........
TA DA! Meet The Honorable Lady Maria Pieknoplotno, (it's Polish, sounds like Pyank-no pwoot-no, and means "pretty linens" or "pretty fabrics") the Polish fabric merchant, living in the Italian City States around 1495.
In a Medieval re-creation group called the Society for Creative Anachronism,( a
not-for-profit, educational, organization which selectively re-creates the Middle Ages
without the plague, pestilence or poverty... www.sca.org
, www.aethelmearc.org/ ) I play at another
"time and life".
I'm a Polish "widow" (if he comes back from the sea after the 16 years he's been gone, there will be no doubt that I'm a widow!!) who inherited an importing business from my father. I preferred the fabric end of it so his other partner took the rest, my son took a ship and I took myself to Florence and Venice ......where all the good stuff is!
I have a wooden "house on wheels" with a Slavic look, which lives at Cooper's Lake Campground, Slippery Rock PA....the site of the annual Pennsic War www.pennsicwar.org . And every August for 2 to 3 weeks, I load the choice 'period' linen, wool, and silk fabrics into my truck and little trailer and head west to sell fabric in the Middle Ages!
I'm really enamored of fabric and what people have done with it in the past. I love
examining clothing and sewing tools from the 1800s.
see: http://www.fabrics.net/joan602.asp for a "Going Away" dress from 1861.
And I think I've been put under a geas to discover just how thick the thread/yarn was that they used for broadcloth in 1340. Now that wouldn't be too hard.... except that there are 3-4 qualities of broadcloth in most of the 20 to 300 weaving towns in Europe that made the stuff! And regulations governing their production changed every 30 to 80 years or so.
I've also run across some other fabric names while trying to appease the geas so I've started putting them in the "Glossary".....see the column to the left on this page and click on 'glossary'. The definitions are short...just enough to give you an idea of the many fabrics available. If I could determine which weaves/treatments/sizes were attached to which name, it would make me very, very happy. However, the time, money and resources aren't available to do that so I do the best I can.
Perhaps I'll have more on that later ;)
While pursuing this 'past' life, I got caught up with some of the fancy clothes, of
course, and had to try making some for myself. This column is my comments on that
As long as I'm flapping my jaw, I might as well give you my view on "small businesses".
Merchanting and Microbusinesses..(editorial)
Do you like betting...games of chance...risk-taking...all or nothing experiences? Try becoming a very small business.
You "bet" that customers will like what you have chosen to sell. The "game of chance" is figuring out what the customers want and how much they are willing to pay for it. The "risk-taking" includes losing your business, losing your house, getting ulcers, alienating your spouse or family, etc. The "all" is success at any level: staying ahead of the bills, adding to your product line, making friends as well as customers, learning and growing yourself while helping your customers achieve their goals. The "nothing" is having to go back to the work world as a low-paid employee while trying to pay back your business loans.
This is rather a generalization of a sole proprietor situation but it gives you an idea of some of the "behind the scenes" emotions.
If you are thinking of going into business in the future, I recommend the SewBiz list which is hosted at www.quiltropolis.com which is a wonderful source of information and mutual support. Also, use your library and find the reference books on "Starting a Small Business".... there's lots of them. Some of you who will read this are costumers, professional or amateur, who need period appropriate fabric. That is the reason I started this site. My fabrics are not cheap, but they are less expensive for what you get than you would pay most other places, and I do my best to research what would be most appropriate.
Hmmmm..... I just got a batch of "linen testers" also known as "thread
counters" or "those neat little black metal frames with the glass magnifying
lens and little white centimeter marks so you can count threads, that fold up real
tiny." They come in a sturdy little black imatation leather pouch.
I have 10X with a 12.5mm lens (about1/2" dia.) and 8X with a 19.0mm lens (3/4" dia)....both for $8.50 each (out of Pennsylvania) and $8.49 plus 51 cents State Tax (in Pennsylvania). They're on the linen page right now. I'll try to get a new page up in the future. Now to remember how to make a new page.....hmmm.