Sunday, January 20, 2008

Adventures in Ink

This past week has been all about ink. I printed out the rest of the catalogs to be sent to Lorna's Laces (did I mention that they're distributing my patterns? Yay!), and in the process went through several more toner cartridges. It's so depressing to watch your profits going up in ink! Serendipitously, a conversation about cost-per-page of self-published patterns started up on Ravelry and the very helpful and experienced Dawn Brocco mentioned her shockingly low cost per page (as compared to mine) with her solid ink printer.

I had no idea what solid ink was, and I didn't look forward to shelling out another $1000 for a new printer, but I knew I had to do something. I found some discount off-brand toner, but it still would run me $80 a cartridge and wouldn't help my cost per page THAT much. I crunched some more numbers, and realized that I could pretty much pay for a new printer with the money I'd save using it to print out the patterns ordered at TNNA. I could bring my cost-per-pattern down nearly $1! I had no idea that the costs varied so dramatically between printers, which is why I didn't do more research back when I first bought my laserjet. Back when I was printing about 30 patterns a month to go with my sock kits, it was more than adequate. But trying to make a go of it selling wholesale, the margins go way down. In order to have money to cover the costs of things like my phone line, the website, advertising, etc., $1 per pattern is going to go a LONG way. My business model might actually be viable now! As much as I love designing, I don't want to be paying to do it...

Enter my new baby, the Xerox Phaser 8560/DN:

I decided to shell out the extra $200 for the duplexing (double-sided printing) feature because it will save me so much time and grief. On my old printer (sans duplexing), I had to print out the odd-numbered pages, then flip everything around and feed them upside-down through the manual feeder tray (since they seemed to get gummed up if I put them back into the paper tray after they'd been printed on one side) 50 sheets at a time. Again, not a big deal when I was printing 30 patterns a month but a BIG deal when I have to print 1000 at a time...

The new printer uses solid ink instead of toner, so all I have to do to load more ink is open the top and drop these little crayon-like blocks into the appropriate slot:

It's really cool. Best of all, no more bulky, wasteful toner cartridges! Here's the size of my old toner (and this ends up being multiplied times 4 because there are four different colors of toner) compared to the size of the packaging for the new solid ink chunks:

Amazing difference, isn't it? (And in case you're wondering, the spots on the carpet are ground-in Play-Doh, which I tell the kids repeatedly to only play with in the kitchen but somehow ends up all over the house anyway...) The toner also comes in a heavy corrugated cardboard box and is covered in bubble-wrap. The amount of waste per cartridge is a bit appalling, but the solid ink makes almost all of that go away. It's very exciting!

I've got some yarn to show off (good new things picked up at TNNA), but that will have to wait for another day. I've got editing to do! I finally got my pattern style guide put together and am going through every pattern with a fine-tooth comb to make sure they're all consistent. I've also got three more plus-size patterns to grade (I'm offering all of my sweater patterns now in two different versions - XS to XL and XXL to 6X), all before the 1st. I'll be announcing some great new shops soon, and for those of you who've signed up for my e-mail newsletter, I will finally be putting one together as soon as I get all the orders out! I really need an assistant (too bad most people aren't willing to be paid in yarn).

Somewhere in the midst of all this chaos, I gave Sydney a haircut. Isn't she adorable? I can't believe she's going to be five in a month!

And now, back to the editing room...


Anonymous jen said...

We'll be moving back down to Portland as soon as my husband finds a job (cross your fingers Tuesday morning) and I am TOTALLY willing to be paid in yarn. Seriously.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Yarnhog said...

Cool printer! I like the little crayon blocks. Nothing gets Playdoh out of carpet. Except scissors.

5:16 PM  
Blogger lexa said...

Holy cow! How did your little girl get so big so fast?! Can't believe she's almost five. My youngest was five on the 14th of this month, and the oldest was 8 on Jan 7th. Times flies when you have kids!

4:12 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

I'm so excited the printer is working out for you! Isn't it awesome?! (Can you have a love affair with a printer, cause my zeroz is currently very high on my "love" list)

Sydney's hair looks so cute, too!!

4:52 PM  

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