Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Gifts!

Hi everyone! My brain is getting altogether scrambled with alternating deadlines every week at work, which is leaving little time or desire for blogging, but I wanted to pop in with a couple of announcements.

First of all, the USPS has released the holiday shipping deadlines!

Given this, I've updated the information for my Etsy shop.


Need it by Christmas? The USPS shipping deadline for Christmas delivery is December 20. My made to order items (most of the knitted things!) have a 2 week lead time, so the order deadline for MADE TO ORDER is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6. If you are ordering "READY TO SHIP" items (this will be noted in the item title), the deadline is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18. Thanks so much for your understanding!

I'm busily knitting away on a couple of current orders, and I'm getting down to just a few things that are ready to ship! So no pressure or anything, but if you were planning to place an order for Christmas, the deadline is fast approaching!

And on that same note, I've been featured in a holiday gift guide! How cool! Thanks Suzanne!

Anyway, I'm hoping my brain recovers from all this work soon, but I don't really expect much before the new year!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Renting a Rug Doctor

My very first job was at the local Pick N Save grocery store. I was a cashier and service desk clerk, and I worked there for....3 years I think? Over that time, one of my responsibilities was to help people rent that little red carpet scrubber machine....and now (a bunch of) years later, I'm the one making the rental.

Honestly I'd never given it much thought. I don't remember my parents ever using one of these in the house I grew up in, and later on they built a house and had a crew come in and scrub everything from time to time. I DO know that on the day I rented the Rug Doctor, I was in a really foul mood. You see, I'd finally picked out a rug for the "den" area of my remodeled studio. ((link to rug) When it arrived, I wasn't certain it was the ONE, but I spread it out thinking I'd either get used to it or I'd return it.

However.....disaster soon struck.

All of those white spots are the result of an unhappy cat - not sure if it was unhappy bowels, attitude or both. This discovery made ME so unhappy I couldn't deal with it, so my husband did, and he was rather aggressive on the Resolve and not so much on the rinsing, so those white spots are not only discolored, but also rather crusty. I went down several times with a bucket of water and a scrub brush, and this was as good as I could get. I thought maybe it was actually bleached, but I decided to give it one more chance with a heavy duty scrubber, and re-evaluate my options after.

I got the medium sized bottle of the Oxy-Steam Carpet Cleaner solution (I opted against the pet formula because the pet portion of the stain was already gone. I also opted against the upgrade version of Oxy-Steam because it was bigger and I didn't need that much, and I was already irritated about having to spend any money on this in the first place.) My total cost was $50, including a $10 deposit. Operation was pretty simple. It was easy to remove the whitish reservoir to put in the diluted solution, and it wasn't heavy at all to pull. It operates by pushing a button to get the water and scrubbers going while you pull it backward. If you don't push the button, it runs as a heavy duty vacuum. One thing I'll say is that if you're doing a rug, you need another person to stand on the edge so the whole thing doesn't get pulled back into the vacuum, which has pretty strong suction. Obviously this isn't an issue with carpeting which is attached to the floor! I also had quite a lot of excess water, even after going over it a few times with just the vacuum function, so I ended up laying it out on the concrete portion of the basement to dry so as not to cause the vinyl flooring to pop up with all that moisture sitting on it. I also draped it over a coffee table to get some air to the underside after a day or two.

The results?

I'd give it a solid "decent." With the comparison of the before and after photos, you can still see the outline of the original stain. Everything feels the same texture now - no more crusty spots - and it's not quite so obvious in person where the problem areas are. Part of the issue honestly is probably the rug itself. It's viscose, and has both sheen and direction to it. It's sort of like microfiber in that you can rub your hand on it one way or the other and see its path. I'm hoping that both with regular vacuuming and a coffee table in the middle (you can see one of its bright footprint on the upper right above, which also demonstrates that this rug shows tracks if you breathe on it), that the rug will be ok in the basement studio. If I had endless money, I'd replace it with something else, but I don't, so I can at least rest in the fact that it's definitely CLEAN, even if it doesn't look perfect. I also wouldn't buy a viscose rug again. This is just NOT a "messy person" friendly material.

To sum up - Rug Doctor = I'd use it again if I had to, but I hope I don't have to! Viscose rug = not thrilled, wouldn't buy again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It may not be pretty

...but at least I'm moving.

Slowly, slowly, I'm staining, painting, polying. My usual problem with painted/poly-ed surfaces is that I get too impatient and don't allow enough drying time between coats, resulting in a sticky surface. That won't be a problem this time! I can basically get a coat on something every couple of days....and I'm sure it's about a week by the time I get back around to the beginning.

It's a good thing I'm in the mood (sort of) for painting. I keep turning around and finding spots like this that I just straight up missed when I had this color out for touch ups.

I rented a carpet scrubber to try to solve the unspeakable horrors done to my rug. The jury is still out on whether or not it worked - it's taking a long time to dry despite dehumidifiers and fans pointed in its direction. An afternoon rest outside caused, well, a frozen rug. I did learn that you can't JUST shampoo the middle part of the rug where the nonsense happened. As it started to dry, there was a definite visible line where I'd scrubbed and where I didn't. Luckily I'd prepared for such a thing and had enough time to RE-scrub before returning the machine. Long story short....I don't recommend a viscose rug. I'm not sure anyone will ever be allowed to touch it if it comes out of all this looking ok.

As I have absolutely nothing finished to show you, I'll leave you with this. What is wrong with the world. The My Little Ponys of my day were nowhere near this terrifying. Or....vertical. I'm so confused.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

making progress like molasses

I don't know what it is, but I am in a capital F-Funk.

Everything I'd like to do seems to be preceded by a whole bunch of other tasks, some of which I want to do, some I really don't, and others I'm not sure if I can.

I want to do more sewing to both grow my shop offerings and to make a bunch of personal things I have in the queue. To do that, I need to finish the sewing studio. To do that, I need to finish the cutting table. To do that, I need to assemble it. To do that, I need to finish painting the bases so that I can attach and stain the top. I've managed to get exactly one coat of paint on one of the cutting table bases. I'll need at least two coats of paint, and another coat or two of poly. That single coat took forever. Even mother nature was laughing at me as she rained down falling leaves into my wet paint, and now it's too cold outside to even finish the job.

So to do that, I need to clear space in the studio itself, but it has inexplicably become overrun with toys as well as all my junk because I haven't finished out the shelving yet, so I have nowhere to put anything. To do that, I need to figure out what to do about the rug so that I can face being down there. (I finally ordered a rug several weeks ago. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, so I was trying to get used to it. In the meantime, the cat had several large disgusting incidents all over it. My husband tried to clean it up, but used way too much cleaner and way not enough rinsing. I've tried scrubbing at it with water several times, but I fear the whole thing may be ruined, which really pisses me off. Last ditch effort may be renting carpet scrubber to try to fix it. And probably drinking a bottle of wine to take the edge off.) To stop this from happening again, I need to actually HANG the door that I purchased to prevent it in the first place. To do that, my husband needs to modify the door. I don't feel like I can do this myself because he started modifying the frame, and I expect he had a correlating plan to do the door the same way. So all that being said....I just feel stuck. I feel like there are just too many things, and they all feel overwhelming.

I'd like to be on top of the laundry situation because not being on my game is spiraling out of control over the rest of the house.. To do that, I need to clean out the laundry room which is currently filled with both scraps of and full sheets of drywall. I can't physically move the 4x8 sheets by myself (probably), so instead I just get frustrated that they are in my way. I'd like to move them into the garage, but to do that I need to either organize it or face the fact that no, we will not be parking a car in there this winter. All of this basement/laundry disorganization prevents me from other issues, like storage of outgrown clothing, what else can or should be moved to the studio from the former office/now playroom. There's this crazy domino effect, and I seem to be the only person bothered by it. But I feel like it's more than I can tackle on my own. I'm not great at asking for help. Maybe it's because I have this insane rolling list in my mind (yes, even more than I've outlined here!). There's an order that I feel things need to be completed, and I think I'm just crap at communicating said order. Plus it's not like time is this unlimited thing, and my timeline never seems to align with those of the people I need help from.

Usually I can get out of this sort of cycle by just writing things down, or talking it out or something. But it's not working for me this time. This time I just feel overwhelmed. Rather than feeling motivated by my list, I feel sort of crippled by it. 

So I feel stuck. And in a funk. And altogether crabby about it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some thoughts on pricing on Etsy

Crochet Booties

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and for handmakers, now is the heart of the busy season. As soon as the calendar clicked over to fall, I could see my Etsy shop views and favorites start to double....and even triple. I've been making enough sales to keep me rather busy, but I'm not overwhelmed just yet. However, making products, listings, re-listings, shipping things's all got me to thinking a lot about the way I run my shop and the way I've set my prices.

Want to know a secret? When I opened up my shop, I had no method to pricing. None. I simply threw out a number that felt sort of ok and went with it. I sold quite a few kids hats in the early days, and I priced them all pretty much the same. I thought, well, a kid's hat should be about.....this much, and I held that price despite differences in quality of material, varying complexities in pattern or color changes, and just went with it. I did price enough to cover the cost of materials and a little bit of pocket money to, most likely, buy more materials. But for my time? I pretty much didn't get anything for my time.
Slipper Socks
Don't get me wrong, I love making things. But when you are taking time from your family, your leisure time and your own sort of want something to show for it in return. I don't think that's greedy, I just think that's fair. Ironically, the more complex and time intensive a project is, I'm more likely to give it as a gift than for something for sale. I recently had someone inquire about the Nova sweater dress I'd knit to see if I'd ever consider making them for sale (by the way, thank you SO much for your interest! That was so sweet!) My first instinct was, good lord, how would you even price a whole sweater?! I mean, I can't just say $40 because that's what you might pay somewhere like baby Gap, because what if it takes me a month? But I also can't just say $300, because that's astronomical.

So I decided to actually work it out. What WOULD it cost to make that dress? In the past, I simply searched for similar items on Etsy and priced myself sort of in the low end of the middle of the pack. But after doing a bunch of research, and an incredibly enlightening conversation with the lovely and talented Elizabeth Ivie of Ivie Baby, I came to the conclusion that it makes MUCH more sense to look at my actual process and workflow to set my prices. I made myself a little spreadsheet, and it really opened my eyes. Even for the few existing items in my shop, I was paying myself a really wide and nonsensical variety of rates....some as low as $2/hr. Wow. What's minimum wage these days? Somewhere around $7? I've definitely done those jobs, as cashiering and filing work bought my first car and got me through the early years of college. Knitting and sewing certainly feel like more skilled labor than swiping canned food through the scanner. And yet I was only paying myself a fraction of that rate. And why? I'm certainly much more proud of anything I make in my shop than I was of those neatly alphabetized files.

I'm still working through it, but I think I've come to a couple of conclusions. First, an hourly rate doesn't make sense for knitting. For example, it takes me about 3 hours (roughly - I rarely have that much time in a single block in order to measure this!) to make one mitten. Double that, because most people order two mittens, and we're up to 6 hours. Conservatively, another hour or two for finishing work (it ALWAYS takes longer than you think it will!) and the we're up to 8 hours. 8 hours x $7/hour = $56. FIFTY-six dollars. FOR BASIC KID'S MITTENS. They're cute. But I'm not certain they are $56 cute.

Toddler Mittens

So....hourly rates for knitting sort of don't make sense. However, an option commonly used by commission knitters is a rate per YARD of knitting. This can range from $0.15-0.25 per yard of yarn depending on the difficulty of the pattern. I can easily do some mathematical wizardry (ahem multiplication and division) and figure out how many yards of yarn I'm using based on the total yards in the skein of yarn and the weight of the finished object. It's been pretty enlightening for me to work those numbers on the current (and super long list of potential future) items in my shop.

Hourly rates DO make sense for sewing though. Yardage doesn't, because yards go by in a snap when you're talking fabric! Plus there are all kinds of other details from cutting, actual sewing, finishing, and details like buttons, snaps or zippers to consider. Elizabeth said that she looked around at what professional seamstresses charge, and set her rates accordingly. When you are selling independently, you are not only the designer and maker, but you are also responsible for all of the back of house accounting, billing, shipping and marketing - those overhead costs really should be factored into your rates.

Even if you are selling as a hobby, it's important to price your work fairly. Some people are doing this as a full time gig, and it would be wicked tough to survive at $3 an hour. I've been working on a pair of socks (off and on) since June. So given the time investment, and the fact that good, solid quality sock yarn can cost $10 on its own, it's sort of heartbreaking to see people selling a pair of handknit socks for $12. I don't think you can even get Smartwool socks for less than $20 without some sort of monster sale! Obviously everyone should do what feels right for them, but the implication to buyers might be that ALL handknit socks should be worth $12, and I just don't believe that's true.

Snap Scarf
 I realized one more thing that I think is key for me to keep in mind. I - and other crafters and makers like me - might not be my ideal client base. Let's face it, I learned to knit and crochet and sew and who knows what else because I want nice things for just the cost of materials. I'm WILLING to invest my time and energy into learning these skills and into the time it takes to make them. I am not willing to pay for someone else to do this (mostly - I do still buy handmade from other people when I just don't have the time to pull something off or the desire to do it as well as they do!). It's important for me to realize that other people would much rather make the trade off to pay someone else to do the hard work and for them to buy the finished object. After years and years of mass production, there are plenty of people out there who actually want to seek out artisans to make them beautiful handmade things. And THOSE people are my actual client base. They understand that the cost of handmade goes beyond the wholesale price of paper and ink, or yarn, or fabric. It's much more than that. It's time. It's talent. It's hard work. And it's care.

So those are my thoughts on pricing these days. How do other people do it? What is handmade worth to you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chai Cider, my fall drink of 2014

I chuckled to myself the other day when someone on facebook posted a link to the 25 Things All Basic White Girls Do During the Fall, because so many of them are hilariously true. And in years past, I've been as excited about that pumpkin spice latte as all the other basic white girls. But I have to admit that while yes, I have had one this fall....I didn't really like it this year. I'm not sure what it was, but it just wasn't doing it for me.

A few weeks ago, while on the road for work, I saw a slightly different fall offering on this little coffee shop's menu, and I gave it a try. Apple cider chai....and I'm in love. I've even asked Starbucks to make them for me, though truthfully I have no idea what that coffee shop does to make them. The Starbucks version actually wasn't quite as yummy. My home version, happily, came satisfyingly close.

And even better, it's basically not even a recipe. All I did was heat up cider...and use it to steep my chai tea. Easy, yummy. It's definitely my go-to drink this fall!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall traditions, and works in various stages of progress

Just like the rest of the country, or so it might seem from my facebook feed, we've done the obligatory fall rites of passage this past week.

(I had to zoom in really far in order not to capture any unsuspecting families)

Almost immediately afterwards, we went above and beyond with the fall traditions.

The knitting was essential, as I was trapped beneath a sick person and couldn't risk moving. I only wish I'd thought to turn on the lights before we sat down...or that I wasn't working on something in black at the time.

If only I'd thought to grab one of my other projects! I'm plugging along slowly on my cardigan, and have only managed to miss one buttonhole which should have been worked "at the same time." You know you're in for it whenever directions toss one of those your way!

I've also got some gorgeously smooshy Skacel SimpliWorsted which is working up quite quickly and nicely. (I got it at an adorable new to me LYS called Bungalow Quilting and Yarn. They also carry all of that pretty Cotton + Steel fabric I see all over the blogosphere....dangerous.)

Speaking of fabric and why sometimes you really SHOULD buy it in person...

The two on the right are from and are both "navy." (sweatshirt fleece and ribbed knit) Now, I like both colors on their own, but they were meant to go into one project, so that's just not going to work for me. Even now, looking at the listings in better light, it's OBVIOUS they are different colors, but I didn't expect it to be so drastic. So, rookie mistake on my part. The gray herringbone* is from Joann Fabrics* and is likely destined to be a snap scarf. I'm going to take the sweatshirt fleece with me next time to see if I can get a decent match, or at least a passable contrasting color. And all of those projects are just waiting for me to get a little more work done on that table!

*this post contains affiliate links

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Woodworker I am not

I feel like the cutting table is the lynch pin to this whole sewing studio remodel project....and construction has begun! I've been agonizing for weeks about what sort of style I'd like to shoot for. I love the aged and whitewashed finishes I've seen lately on blogs like Yellow Brick Home and I Heart Organizing....but I've been on the fence. My sister has been advising me against it, so I'd been willing to be pushed one way or another. 

While shopping for lumber, I sent her one last photo to give me a final vote. A stack of navy swatches I'm thinking about for the base, and either a white wash stain, or straight up natural oil. The verdict? Well, I definitely brought one home...and I'll save the results for later!

Meanwhile, I'm SO getting a label maker at some stage of this renovation....I canNOT handle this!!! Do you see an extension cord somewhere in there? Please?

I sort of felt like I was channeling a toddler at many points this weekend...."I do it mySELF!" There's a fair chance that this table might be equal parts wood and wood filler....but at least all my limbs and appendages are intact, and I think I only got one splinter.

I spent a lot of time boxing myself in.

See above for some of my soon-to-be-wood-filler-filled-mistakes....and the reason I now understand why everyone in blog land is obsessed with the Kreg Jig. That's the second bit I snapped by the way. I only have, oh, approximately 16 holes that need to be drilled on an angle, and a billion that go at 90 degree angles. I snapped both bit within about an hour of one another on those angled holes. That pretty much put an end to my progress. But in better news, I've acquired two new bits and I'm hoping to make more progress as soon as I get a few free hours!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The best use of my time

It's been a totally crazy couple of weeks at work, and it doesn't look like that's going to let up anytime before the end of the year. It was one of those weeks where I really had to push beyond my comfort zone and take on tasks and responsibilities that I haven't done before. I won't say everything went perfectly, but we all survived and no one cried, so that's pretty good, right? All that to say that to make the deadline I had to shuffle up my work schedule and blogging fell off the list. Anyone miss me? :)

Also, remember how I devoted myself to finishing things?

Whoopsie...I got distracted. Apparently I thought shiny new things were more important than my finishing promise to myself.

The orange hat is to go along with last year's pumpkin costume - it still fits (I'm pretty sure...), the hat no longer does.

I basically took the idea from the split brim toddler hat but used the worsted weight yarn I had on hand. I modified the stitch count based on Tin Can Knit's Barley hat, and completely forgot to pay attention to the rate of increases, which is why the top is pointier than I'd intended. I also didn't feel like ripping it back, so I stuck a pompom on it and called it a day. Also, toddlers who hate hats love hats with pompoms. Just FYI.

And the slippers? Well...I got cold. While I love love love my tall slipper socks, I don't like wearing them with non-skinny jeans/leggings, so I've been thinking about a new short slipper pattern for a while. According to Pinterest, I learned about thrums approximately 36 weeks ago, and they popped into my head again last week thanks to Ysolda's series of posts about them. What's a thrum? Short story, it's a cloud of soft and warm that evidently sort of turns into a weatherproof felt layer as you wear it.

I love her pattern, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. I started working on my own basically by just adding thrums to a pattern I've had in my library for about 5 months. It turned out ok, but not perfect. It fits and all, but because it was worked top down, I couldn't try it on until it was finished. I have some plans hatching to figure out a way to work them toe up....and the bonus is that the little "hearts" made by the super warm thrums will be right side up if I go toe up!

Oh, and I've got this on the horizon....

It's also possible I bought this screen printing kit: (affiliate link)

Yep. I clearly cannot decide on the best use of my time. On the bright side, I haven't totally
abandoned my goals - I've definitely worked on both my socks and my sweater (just enough to realize that I'd missed one of those dastardly "at the same time" directions, so I'll be looking into the adventure of an afterthought buttonhole in the future!) this week, so I'm not a total scatterbrained disaster!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Finally finished

Ravelry says that I finished this Nova sweater dress in June.

That's not entirely true. Yes, I finished the knitting. Yes, I wove in the ends. I even bought grosgrain ribbon and buttons at some point shortly thereafter. But I put it away. I didn't have it in me to finish it.

You see, I was going through a hard time when I knit this dress. There was a painful loss in my life, and it was all I could do to just mindlessly knit, row after row, a little shaping but mostly stockinette for miles. It was therapeutic. It was something to do other than cry. I needed something to hold on to, to rip apart if it wasn't working, to put back together again because it could, in fact, be put back together.

I pulled it out a few nights back. I on a high after finishing my wallaby sweater for the Commuter Knitter finish-a-long. I didn't put this dress on my list, because I didn't know if I'd be able to. I was happy to realize that when I got it out, I didn't see it as a sign of pain, but as a symbol of making it through.

I hadn't quite realized how much it had helped me until I was listening to another podcast this week, from Michelle of ACTually Knitting (who, by the way, I think has such a soothing voice, great for a podcast). She was talking about how the simple act of knitting has helped her get through some really hard times this past year, and wanted to start a discussion of what other people had done or achieved or accomplished #becauseofknitting. At first I thought of my awesome knitting group and the slow but steady growth of my shop, but as she kept talking and started revealing the deeper things, the real things, I realized that knitting had helped me too.

(on more technical notes, I wish I'd sewn all the buttons on so the direction of the thread was the same, but I didn't. I tried lining the back of the buttonhole side with ribbon, but it didn't work out. I did line the back of the buttonband, but I didn't use backing buttons and I'm still not sure what they are for. The ribbon at the hem will hopefully stop that edge from flipping up the way stockinette garments so often do, despite the garter stitch border. The yarn used is toddler friendly Lion Brand Baby Soft and Bernat Softee Baby acrylics in DK weight. Overall I really enjoyed the pattern, and I think the only change I made was to reverse the order of the shaping stitches in the skirt.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Getting closer...the basement studio

As I tend to do from time to time, I've totally switched gears with the aesthetic for the basement studio from my last update. While I totally love and appreciate the all white, Scandinavian's just not MY look. I was just afraid of the whole space looking far too cold and "basement." Yes, I probably could warm up the space with white floors with enough textiles and wood, but this has sort of cost quite a bit more than I already loosely planned to spend. I also could have epoxied the floor and redone it with a laminate if I decided I hated it, but again, that's both more money and more time, another thing of which I've spent more than I hoped!

So. I changed my mind.

We decided to go the safe route, and put in a wood-look laminate (I can't find a link, but I picked it up on a sale at HOBO for about $1.50/square foot). I debated back and forth in the store for quite a while between the wood we chose, which has the same tone as the rest of our house, and something more like a wide, rustic plank, and a couple of white washed options. In the end I decided it made most sense to match the rest of the house. Installation was pretty easy. In fact, the hardest part was just getting all the drywall mud and dust and general construction yuck off the floor! Our floors are not at all level, so we filled in the obvious holes as best we could. I do have some concerns about the adhesive - these were peel and stick, rather than a product with a separate adhesive. We walked all over it many times, and used a roller as well, but I can still feel a few spots that aren't perfectly adhered. I think we will wait and see if anything pops up, and maybe consider a separate adhesive to re-stick some of the looser pieces.

So with the flooring and trim largely done, I got a very large dose of impatience, and apparently some sort of super strength delusions, because I decided that it was perfectly feasible to move these into the room all by myself.

If you know me in life, you know that I'm not what you might call muscular. And if you know these couches in life, you know that the bigger one has a couple of recliners built in, which makes it about a billion pounds.

It was a bit of an experience, but I managed the little one without too much trouble. The bigger one? Well, I don't have any pictures because if I'd stopped to document the process it's possible I may have been crushed and killed. There was a lot of sweating, relatively little cursing, and I only got pinned into weird places about twice. But I did it!

With the couches in place, I could start bringing in some of the other furniture. I placed the rug that was in the current sewing room (which still has some residual oxy-clean spots from a red wine incident which was too aggressively treated and not at all well enough rinsed. I'm working on it.) as well as the filing cabinet, sewing table (the long one) and computer desk.

Yeah, that's not going to work. The current setup is the same, but without the computer desk, and fits just fine on the rug. When I drew up the plans, I was lazy and didn't bother to actually measure anything and just guessed at the dimensions. And apparently I guessed wrong.

Nope. Weird dead corner, and completely non-functional file cabinet.

Hey, ok! Not terrible, this could work! (I don't actually love, or even like the file cabinet, but we do need somewhere to file household things, so it stays somewhere in the works. In fact it's moved again since this was taken, but the work surfaces are still there.)

Oh....just look at all of that space to lay things out, free of computer and associated cables!

And the soon to be (I hope) someday best part....planning for the cutting table!!!

(I'm testing out sharing my posts with a few link parties. I've linked up to Kathe with an E, Pam's Party and Practical Tips and Vintage Paint and More.)