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How Often Should a Blog Be Updated?

31st August 2010

How Often Should a Blog Be Updated?

Depending on who you ask and what you read, the typical answer to the question in the title seems to be as often as possible. Most blogging experts would recommend that you post to your blog at least once a day, if not more.  The rationale behind posting multiple times per day seems to be that people visit your blog more than once a day and those who visit multiple times a day like to find new content.  If they find new content relatively frequently, readers are more likely to come back the next day.

There is also the issue of the obligation that those who write blogs have to their readers.  People visit the blog because they find the contents and the writing interesting.  Like anything else that is public domain, blogs can develop a readership, which expects that the blog will continue to be interesting and frequently updated.  Some people develop a relationship much like the one people have with a newspaper or a news web site.  They keep reading every day and they expect the content to be different and updated every day.  If people choose to read, does that mean you owe them new blog posts from now to the end of time?

When I first started writing this blog, I wrote two or three posts a week.  Some of that was because EnMart was new and I was still feeling my way with the blog and some of that was because a start up company requires a lot of tasks to be done.  As time went on, the load on my plate increased, but so did the readership of the blog, so I stepped up my posting schedule.  Some time after that, I started the second blog.  Most weeks I now write, on average, six posts a week.  I give myself weekends off, except I generally spend a small part of each weekend mulling over what topics I’ll write about next week.

What I’m trying to figure out is how frequently people expect to see posts updated on blogs they read on a regular basis.  Does it make any difference if the blog is a personal blog rather than a company blog?  How many days can a blog go without having a new post before you won’t be coming back again?

Personally, I like to see new content fairly regularly.  I will probably remain a loyal reader if the writer skips a few days, and I do have slightly different standards for personal vs. business blogs.  I do, however, know there are a lot of interesting blogs out there, and my reading time is at a premium.  If a blog I like doesn’t get updated on a schedule that I consider frequent enough, I’ll just move on to another blog I like that does.

I’m wondering what the rest of you think, though.  If you write a blog, how often do you post and why?  If you read blogs, how much does the frequency of new content have to do with how often you visit the blog?

posted in About EnMart | 1 Comment

30th August 2010

The Cure for the Metallic Blues

I’ve seen it happen over and over again at trade shows.  I’ll be giving people a sample of thread,  or a sample of backing and they’re excited and pleased to receive whatever I offer.  When, however,  I offer a sample of our metallic thread,  some people recoil like I’m offering them a boiled spider on a plate.   “I hate metallic thread”  is a common comment,  or “Metallic thread is such a pain”.  Apparently,  metallic thread is an issue for a lot of embroiderers.

I’m guessing most people have heard the horror stories that tend to accompany metallic thread.   Some people tell of the constant thread breaks.  Others will recount how they had to run their machine at glacial speed to enable the thread to sew.  There are tales of tangles and knots and other horrors.  In the end, each story concludes the same way,  with an emphatic “I hate metallic thread”.

My response to those sort of statements and stories is “You won’t hate our metallic thread”  and, as it happens,  I generally turn out to be right.   Iris Dazzling Metallic thread is designed to run smoothly.  While you do have to slow your machine down slightly,  it doesn’t require that you machine run at snail like speeds in order for the thread to perform well.  EnMart’s  parent company, Ensign Emblem,  runs this thread in all our plants, so we know it runs more smoothly, with less thread breaks and fraying.  We also know it adds a superior sparkle and shine to all your metallic embroidery.

Metallic embroidery thread is a great way to accent a design you particularly want to stand out,  and, with the recent addition of our colored metallic embroidery thread,   you have even more options when it comes to adding color and sparkle to your designs.  If you’ve one of the embroiderers who was sworn off metallic thread,  take Iris Dazzling Metallic thread for a test run and find the cure for the metallic blues.

posted in Thread | Comments Off

27th August 2010

The Friday Blog Round-Up 8/27/10

I haven’t done a Friday blog round up in a few weeks,  so I figured it was time to go and see what’s new in the machine embroidery blogosphere.

First up today,  a post that really hit home with me.  Kathleen Fasanella,  who is a writer I admire anyway,  wrote a touching post about the death of her uncle.   In the post she asked people to reach out to someone they hadn’t seen or spoken to in a while, because anything can happen and ties with those you love are precious.  I think we all need to remember that those we love and who love us are the most precious things in our lives.  I’ll second Kathleen’s request.  Call or e-mail someone you haven’t been in touch with in a while and let them know they matter to you.   I guarantee it will make your day brighter.

Second on the list today,  is a pair of videos from Stahl’s that will be useful for those who have vinyl cutters.  EnMart doesn’t sell or use this sort of equipment,  but I am very fond of videos that teach people how to get more from their equipment, and I’m all about education.  The vinyl cutter training video and the pressure sensitive vinyl video should be useful to people who work with vinyl and I’m happy to pass them along.

Third on the docket is the announcement of a new service from the National Network of Embroidery Professionals.  The service is called SupplierFinder.net  and will allow machine embroiderers to find suppliers for the goods and equipment they need for their businesses.  You can read all about the new website on the NNEP Blog.

Fourth in the round-up today is some advice from Marie and Graham from Odd Guy Art.  They are now veterans at selling their wares at festivals and outdoor events,  and they’ve provided some tips to help others be successful at this type of sales event.   I think my favorite tip is the one that involves the ping pong paddle.  I do have to wonder what happens if you miss though.

Finally, just because I think they’re awesome, I need to point out the terrific rubber duck designs from Urban Threads.   There’s emo duck,  super duck, geek duck and more.  They’re adorable and they’re on sale.  What could be better?

posted in Around the Blogosphere | Comments Off

26th August 2010

What Do You Want to Know?

When I started this blog, almost three years ago,  my main goal was to make it a place where machine embroiderers could find tips and hints and help on running their business and creating their products while also learning about the quality supplies that EnMart sells.  Since the blog began,  I’ve covered a wide variety of topics.  I’m lucky in that I have a large pool of experts from which to learn and this blog gives me a place to share what I learn with the rest of you.  It’s an embarrassment of riches sometimes, and that can make it hard to decide what to write about next.  For that reason,  I wanted to list some of the topics I could cover,  and ask you all to let me know which subject areas would interest you most.   If I find that a couple of topics are getting the most interest,  I’ll make those a priority.

Topic Area 1:  Backing – I can cover anything from types of backing,  to what backing is best for what sew-out or material,  to how to use backing effectively, to how backing is made.  I have access to a backing expert and he is happy to supply me with information.  I just need to know what questions you would like me to ask.

Topic Area 2:  Thread –  In the thread category we can discuss how thread is made, what is the best use for each type of thread,  the difference between polyester and rayon machine embroidery thread,  what redying of thread means and why it’s not a good thing,  how the raw materials impact the quality of the thread and many more thread related topics.

Topic Area 3:  Dealing with Common Embroidery Problems – What should you do to help reduce thread breaks (besides using Iris thread)?  How does bobbin tension impact the quality of your sew-out?   What should a standard machine maintenance schedule be?  How can you DIY when it comes to basic embroidery machine repairs?

Topic Area 4: Patches – How do you embroider a blank patch?  When are sublimated patches a good option?  How do you choose between heat seal and sew on backing?  How do you determine what size and shape is right for your design?

Topic Area 5:  Heat presses – How to choose the heat press that is right for you.   What is the difference between a swingaway and a clamshell press and what situations are right for each type? Troubleshooting common heat press problems.

The list of topics is endless,  and I’m sure I could keep going for  several more topic areas,  but that’s really not the goal of this post.  What I really want to know is what you want to know.   I can write about almost anything,  but there’s no reason to write about topics that the readers of this blog don’t find interesting or helpful.  I’m hoping those of you that read will chime in with your suggestions for posts.  As always, my goal is to make this both a useful and interesting blog, and feedback from all of you will help me reach that goal.

posted in Embroidery Questions | 1 Comment

25th August 2010

Why EnMart is a Member of the NNEP

Three years or so ago,  when EnMart was being created,  one of the things I did was look around for organizations we could join.  I knew I wanted an organization that dealt with commercial embroidery,  since we sold thread and other supplies for companies that did embroidery.  I knew I wanted an organization with a loyal membership.  I also, if I could find one, wanted an organization that held trade shows or seminars,  because that would give us an opportunity to get in front of the members and speak with them.   Finally, I wanted an organization that would support and help publicize the suppliers that were members.   Obviously,  I had some requirements back then.

After searching for a while,  I came across the National Network of Embroidery Professionals or NNEP.  EnMart became a member shortly thereafter.  That decision has been one I have never regretted.

Fast forward to today and we’ve just completed exhibiting at NNEP Embroidery Mart in Nashville.  It was a great show.  As always, the NNEP members were interested in our company,  excited by our products and eager to buy what we had to sell.   The show was set up so we could talk one on one with customers and was big enough that there was lots to see, but not so big that it would take days to walk the show floor.  After a couple of years of being an NNEP supplier member,  going to a show feels like visiting family.   The excitement and enthusiasm for the craft of garment decoration is uplifting.

There may be bigger shows,  and there may be more technique specific shows,  but I guarantee there are no better shows.  If you own a commercial embroidery company,  membership in the NNEP is a great investment.  It will also bring you discounts from many suppliers,  EnMart included.   If you’re a supplier to the commercial embroidery community,  as EnMart is,  you won’t find a more loyal group of customers than the NNEP members, and you won’t find an organization that is more supportive of its supplier members than the NNEP.

We had a great time in Columbus,  Houston and Nashville this year, and I’d like to thank all the NNEP members who stopped by to meet us at one of the trade shows and stayed to become EnMart customers.  Your support and enthusiasm for EnMart means a great deal to us and is greatly appreciated.  My thanks also goes to Jenni, Arch, Susan, Jessica and all the NNEP staff.  The NNEP is a great organization and EnMart is proud to be a part of it.

posted in Trade Shows | Comments Off

12th August 2010

Blank Patches – Made to Order

I think, today,  we’ll start off with a fairy tale.

Once upon a time,  there was a magical warehouse filled with every size and color of blank patches you could imagine.  The shelves rose high into the air,  but the ceiling was always magically higher.  The warehouse expanded as new sizes and color combinations were added, and was always just exactly the right size.   The keepers of the inventory had a magic mirror that let them see exactly where each shape and color combination was in the warehouse,  and new size and color combinations were added quickly to the shelves by little elves who did nothing but stock inventory.    A crystal ball allowed for accurate forecasting of blank patch orders,  so that there was never too little and never too much of any size and color combination.   The warehouse was an enchanted place where all the blanks sat tidily on their shelves and the right size and color combination was always available when necessary.

While that story is a nice one,  it isn’t how things work outside of fairy tales.  In the real world, in order to keep costs down,  and to eliminate the need to have an entire warehouse just for blank patches,  EnMart makes our custom blank patches when an order is placed. At last count we sold blank patches in thousands of size and color combinations.   Just stocking the possibilities for one size blank would take up shelves and shelves of space.    Making our blank emblems to order allows us to provide the best product to our customers while still offering an economical price.

This means that, when you place an order for blank patches,  you should allow one to two days for manufacturing time in addition to transit time after the order is shipped.   Our turnaround time is one of the fastest in the industry,  and the additional time for the blanks to be made is usually quite short,  unless the order being placed is for a large amount.  In those cases,  turnaround times will be longer.

If you have any questions about turnaround times or our blanks patches,  you can feel free to contact us at any time.   We will be happy to advise you about production schedules,  potential turn time for your order and how best to ship the order to get it to you in the time frame in which it is needed.

As always,  our goal is to provide the best product possible to our customers at a reasonable price.  For now,  until we get a magical warehouse and some inventory stocking elves,  making blanks to order is the best way we can find to do just that.

posted in Patches/Emblems | 2 Comments

10th August 2010

Know Your Needles: Needle Basics

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I’ve done blog posts about needles in the past.   It has been a while, however, since I covered the topic,  and I thought today would be a good time to go over some of the basics facts about machine embroidery needles.  I know new people are coming into the business all the time,  and this information may be helpful to them, or to established business owners, simply as a refresher course.

First, I wanted to discuss something that I didn’t know,  just because I think it’s a neat piece of information.  I’ve wondered, for a while now,  why needles are numbered the way that they are.  As it turns out,  the needle numbers are a combination of the American and European needle numbering systems.  The American system numbers needles from 8 to 19.  The European system numbers needles from 60 to 120.  The smallest numbers are the lightest needles,  the largest numbers are the heaviest.   So, for instance,  a 65/9 needle would be lighter than an 80/12.   Apparently how the numbers are listed is a matter of preference.

Second let’s talk about the needle shank.  There are two types of needle shanks,  flat and round.  As a general rule,  flat shank needles are used in home sewing machines and round shank needles are used in commercial embroidery machines.   Round shank needles generally have a larger eye which allows machine embroidery thread to pass through the needle more easily.   In either case,  whether your needle shank is round or flat,  the shank is the thickest part of the needle and fits into the needle clamp.

Third, we should probably examine the difference between ball point and sharp point needles.   Sharp point needles are exactly what the name implies, needles with a sharp point.  The needles create more a cutting action when they are used to embroider fabric.   The sharper tip makes it easier for the needle to penetrate densely woven fabrics.   By contrast,  a ball point needle has a rounded tip.    The rounded tip of the needle offers less of a cutting action which makes these needles ideal for loosely woven fabrics or knits.

Finally,  we should discuss how often to change your needle.   According to Schmetz Needles,  the manufacturer that makes the needles that EnMart sells, a good rule of thumb is to change the needle every 8 hours or at the beginning of each project.   Of course,  how often you elect to change your needle will depend on the type of fabric you sew and your machine.   As you get to knwo the machine better, you’ll be able to determine what schedule of needle changes is right for you.

posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

9th August 2010

Every Logo Has a Niche

Last week I wrote a post about the fact that everything that gets printed isn’t necessarily suited for embroidery. Later in the week I was discussing the post with the owner of our company and one of our embroidery experts, who had given me a lot of the information that had gone into the original post, when she said a very wise thing. “You know,” she said to me “every logo has its niche.”

What she meant by “every logo has its niche” is that every logo has a medium that will allow it to be produced in the best way. Our challenge as decorators is to determine which method will allow the logo to shine, and then to convince the customer that method is the best way to proceed. Unfortunately, that isn’t always as easy as it should be. That’s why, sometimes, a short demonstration is in order.  In order for you to see what I mean,  I’ve provided a demonstration here in this post.

Let’s start with the original artwork.  The instructions are hand written and certain items are to be deleted from the finished product.  The artwork also uses fades and shading to define the images.   Beginning with this artwork,  most shops generally have three options for creating the finished design,  embroidery, screenprint and sublimation.   Some shops may also have the option of direct to garment printing,  but most of the advantages of sublimation are also present in direct to garment printing so, for the purposes of this discussion,  we’ll put them in the same category.

This is the original artwork as an embroidered emblem.  Fades don’t generally translate well into an embroidered design. This look may be acceptable to some customers,  but it may not be the best choice for this particular design.

This is the same artwork as a screen printed design.  The colors and clearer and the shadows are more defined.  It is a better representation of the design and would probably suit the needs of most customers.

This is the same artwork as a sublimated design.  The shadows are clearly defined and the fades are crisp.  This is a representation of the original artwork that would satisfy almost every customer.

Granted,  this is a fairly simplistic example,  and was also done using emblems,  since that is the primary product of our parent company,  but the basic message is still intact.  Each logo has a garment decoration technique that is an ideal match,  and it is our job as the experts to help our customers find that match.  The more you know about how each technique works,  and what the strengths and weaknesses are of each technique,  the better able you will be to help your customers make the right decision when it comes time to choose how their logo will be represented.

posted in Garment Decoration | 1 Comment

5th August 2010

Community in the Computer

This is a somewhat different post than what I usually write.  We had an experience recently that made me realize, yet again,  why we are on Facebook and Twitter and why I spend so much time connecting with people through those venues, forums  and our blogs.   I wanted to share that experience with you, not only to say thank you to those who helped us out in that particular instance,   but to remind all of us what social media is supposed to be about.

First I have to set the scene.   It was a hot Wednesday evening.  I was stranded in the Walgreens parking lot, with a car that wouldn’t start.  It was hot, did I mention that?  I was waiting for a tow truck that seemed like it might never come.  It was hot, in case you missed it,  and I don’t like being hot.   My evening wasn’t shaping up to be the best,  and my mood wasn’t trending toward happy either.

Anyway, to pass the time,  I was checking e-mails and Tweets on my cell phone when I received a direct message from Rodney at T-shirt Forums.   Rodney is a friend of EnMart, we are a sponsor of his forum, and we write for him occasionally,  so I thought the message might be about that.  Instead,  I opened the DM to read that someone in Orlando had just let him know that the EnMart booth had fallen over.   Catastrophe!

As it turns out,  the booth problem wasn’t a big deal.  I called our guys on the ground in Orlando,  they got the booth set to rights,  there was minimal damage and we went on to have a terrific show.  What really stands out to me about this experience is the fact that someone, I don’t know who, which is too bad because I’d like to say thank you,  saw our booth had a problem and took the time to contact someone they were fairly certain could get a message to me.   People I don’t even know, except through a forum or a social media site, were taking the time to look out for our interests.

I think, sometimes,  people get caught up in the number of fans and followers,  or the number of retweets or how many sales result from a post,  and don’t remember that the first word in social media is social.   Facebook and Twitter, forums and blogs, allow us to connect with each other,  to form relationships that exist even though we may be thousands of miles apart.   It isn’t all about making the numbers or moving the product,  social media is also about creating connections that will stretch from Orlando, where a booth fell over,  to Michigan, where a peeved Director of Marketing is sitting in her dead car in the heat waiting for a tow.

Personally,  I think this sort of community is awesome, and I’m proud and grateful to be a part of it.

P.S.:  One quick update to this post since I now know that the unknown person I mentioned above was actually Mark Bagley from www.multirip.com and www.perfecttransfers.com.  Just wanted to say thanks Mark.  Your alert was greatly appreciated.

posted in About EnMart | 1 Comment

4th August 2010

Don’t Forget the Sprayway!

Sometimes the most basic stuff is the stuff that’s easiest to forget.  If you run a machine embroidery business,  you don’t want to forget about Sprayway products.  These sprays are very useful for any shop and can save you a lot of problems and hassle.   If you haven’t checked out our Tools and Accessories section lately,  here’s a little refresher course on what Sprayway products can do for you.

Sprayway Anti Static Spray –  This spray helps counteract static electricity charges that can attract dust to you machines.   It can also be used on fabric to help eliminate static cling.    This spray can also be used to prevent static electricity shocks which could damage a computer memory.

Sprayway Clean Jet Lint and Dust Remover – This is essentially “canned air”.  It can be used to clean small or delicate areas in your embroidery machine.  Use it remove lint from bobbin cases.

Sprayway Fast Tack Reposition Spray –  If you don’t want a permanent adhesive,  this is the spray for you.   You can use this spray to make regular backing into an adhesive stabilizer.   This is non staining and non transferable.

Sprayway Silicone Spray – This product stops sticking and binding and protects your machines.   Silicone spray can also be used to speed fabric flow and reduce friction.

Sprayway Spot Lifter – If you’ve ever had to discard a piece of fabric because you got a spot or a stain on it,  this product is for you.  Spot Lifter removes stains from cloth.  It is safe and effective when used on cotton, wool, synthetic materials and silk.  Spot Lifter is also guaranteed not to stain the cloth.

Sprayway Spray Adhesive – For temporary bonds,  look to Sprayway Fast Tack.  For more permanent bonds,  try Sprayway Spray Adhesive.   This product bonds to foam rubber, cardboard, plastic, glass, wool, cloth and metal.  It has a quick and long lasting tack and is water resistant.

For those of you who work in shops where MSDS sheets are required,  I would also like to point out that EnMart offers downloadable MSDS sheets for all Sprayway products on our web site.  Just click the MSDS link on the top menu bar to see the list.

posted in Machine Embroidery Supplies | Comments Off

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