Monday, September 30, 2013

Weekend Productivity

 This was my favorite kind of weekend - no real plans, gorgeous weather, and a full list of projects!

And wine. Love wine. :) I'm a red wine kind of gal all year round, but something about it in the crisp fall weather is just the best. I'm probably showing signs of my age, but the above photo was from Friday night. And it was perfect. A little crafting, nice glass (just kidding, it's not a nice wine - two buck chuck!) of wine, junky tv show, quiet, lovely.

Putting the finishing touches on a newsboy hat. This is before I noticed that I put the button strap on at an angle. Argh! Just grab the seam ripper. :)

It's so nice to actually be able to gather a bunch of finished hats up and SEE how much I got done! I finished up the monster hat that I started last week, the gray is the newsboy hat, and I managed to start AND finish a little elf hat for a new December baby! Plus I have the brown swatch in the back that has a bunch of stitch experimenting for a project I'm about to cast on. AND I made a couple meals this weekend - I felt like superwoman! That is before I figured out that I didn't actually turn on the dishwasher after I loaded it. Right back down to earth.

I took a couple of new photos of the newsboy hat to update the listing. I had a rare combination of daylight, time and finished items so I tried to take advantage. I also grabbed some shots of a new listing - the monster hat! This is a topper for a Halloween costume, so it seemed right to make it a little....nuts. Silly googly eyes, mouth full of pointy teeth, and all in pink, purple and green to match a little girl's costume. Can't wait it ship 'er out!


Friday, September 27, 2013

In development

Apparently I'm a little bit of a liar. A few weeks ago when I met with my knitting group, we were all discussing what kind of things we make. Some of the ladies, who are immensely more talented than me, were talking about patterns they had written. When someone asked me if I ever write my own, I just said, oh, no, I don't really do that. I said that I design all day, so why would I want to keep doing that in my off hours?!


I'm working out some stitch patterns for one of those newborn cocoons for photo props. Someone contacted me to see if I could make something like that, but I just couldn't find something out there on the internet that I really liked. She specified that she was interested in something that was more like a sleeping bag than a nest, and something more lacy and delicate than a ribbed pattern, as well as some color preferences. And, well, that darn designer in me just won't stand down! I'm noodling around a few ideas, and will probably end up incorporating bits and pieces of a few different patterns and putting my own twist on it. I can't wait to have some consecutive hours this weekend to work out some more of the details!

I've also had a request for a monster hat to finish off a Halloween costume! This one will build off of the basic shape of the earflap hat that I used for the sleepy owl and the boo hat, but I have some ideas to take it to a different level. We're aiming for something sort of Monsters, Inc-esque, but still pretty and girly. Hence the pink, lol. I had the yarn for the body of the hat on hand so I was able to get that going right away. I'll have to head to the store this weekend pick up the other colors the buyer wanted.

So yeah, I lied. Much as I try to take the easy way and just follow pre-written patterns...I just can't seem to help changing this detail here, or tweaking that over there, or, oh heck, just throw it all to the wind and start from scratch! It's really great actually at this stage in my shop, because most of the items I have listed started from someone's custom request. It gives me a concrete task to focus on and play with until it's just right, and if it turns out well and the buyer is happy, well then I know I have something special that might be just right for someone else! And if it's not just right, well, we can always tweak it a little farther!

(and also, I just have to say that I'm totally floored by some of the blogs I read that have the most gorgeous pictures of some of the tiniest details of their days. I'm all for pulling out my big camera and pretending like I have a clue what I'm doing for events or outings or finished product photos....but beyond that, man, it's just SO much easier to grab the iPhone! I would loooove if I were able to express my ideas and frame my life in such a lovely way. But I just can't seem to manage it!)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Those" parties

As a woman of a certain age, it's no surprise that many of my social engagements are "parties." You know what I'm talking about. Mary-Kay, Arbonne, Scentsy, Partylite....the direct sales gigs. Some people despise them and avoid them like the plague, but I get it man. I mean, it's your friends. It's not like they're going to give you the hard sell or make you feel bad if you don't buy. I suspect most of them are doing it for the discounted stuff you get for throwing a party anyway! And yeah, a lot of them might be doing it to earn a little extra money for the family, which, hi, I totally get.

Plus, confession time, I LOVE infomercials. LOVE. I didn't have cable as a child, and actually I still don't. So during those weird times of day when we wanted to veg out and no cartoons were on....the infomercials were. And oh, how I would watch them. They were so good. Somehow they made 12 year old me long for a Ronco food dehydrator. I've never ordered anything off an infomercial itself. Despite my love for them, I'm pretty tight fisted and more amused than swayed by the inevitable "but just wait!! If you order in the next 5 minutes we'll quadruple your order and knock off two payments!" pitch. (I will admit to in-store purchase of OxyClean - that stuff got an entire glass of red wine out of my brand new couch. It looked like someone had been shot and there is no evidence of it today. Sold. Also, fun fact, when you put a red wine stained white pillow cover into a sink full of OxyClean, the stain first turns a terrifying shade of dark blue before disappearing. Science, I guess? Also I was gifted a Snuggie, and I love that thing, lol.) (I also watched a ton of late night infomercials when I was plagued by pregnancy insomnia. I was also plagued by pregnancy induced productivity, so I would whip these guys up while I was at it.) So direct sales parties are basically in person infomercials, which, if you're me, are pretty cool.

Usually I go to these parties mostly to see my friends, have a night out of the house, sip a little wine, nibble a little food that I didn't have to make and I don't have to clean up after. Which, there you go, is the genius of the direct sales game! However I find that a lot of the stuff sold is sort of crazy out of my price range, or interesting but not something I need, or for whatever other reason, I don't tend to buy a lot. But then...along came Norwex. (btw I think that link might support my friend who threw the party if you happen to click and happen to buy. Which wouldn't be the worst thing, right?) While I hate to clean, I hate a dirty house more, so the cleaning products....they get me where I live. (See aforementioned adoration of OxyClean for proof.) The stuff is a miracle, of course, lol. Apparently the claim to fame is embedded silver particles that are part of the cleaning clothes which make them antibacterial with just water for cleansing. I can actually get on board with that claim as I've attended numerous lunch and learns about healthcare fabrics that use similar technology to kill superbugs. I hopped on the hippie-ish train several years ago, so no toxic chemicals appeals to me, not buying cleaning products appeals to my inner cheapskate, and not mixing up voodoo vinegar solutions appeals to my inner couch potato. As Micheal Scott would say, win-win-win! Plus, the girl....she cleaned butter off a window to a streak free shine with dry cloths. Ah-mazing. Might even inspire me to clean my windows for....well, the first time. Price points per product were actually really reasonable. I don't think there was much that was over $30, which tends to be my pain point for a lot of things. And plus Norwex apparently stands for Norwegian Experience, and I'm part Norwegian, so that means they were talking directly to me, right? So basically, they got me. I ended up buying the standard cleaning cloth and amazing glass shiner cloth, bathroom scrubbie mitt, and makeup removal cloths. The most disappointing thing of it all is that it seems that none of this comes with the person to actually, uh, USE them.

Monday, September 23, 2013


 I have a new item in the shop! But first let me back up a little, and take you through some trial and error.

I had this vision in my head for a new series of earflap hats with embroidered lettering. The hat itself was simple enough as I've made it in a solid color a few times before. The lettering....oh the lettering though. I knew the look of the lettering I was looking for, but I wasn't sure exactly how to achieve it. 

I started with the middle "o" so that no matter how big they ended up, the letters would be centered.

Looks ok from the front.....

But it looks like crap from the back. Not to mention that all that bulk would be pretty irritating on little foreheads! 

So I tore that out and went back to the drawing board.

I thought that embroidery thread might still be the right thickness so that the letters would pop against the crocheted background. Of course I couldn't find a needle with an eye large enough for the embroidery thread (and I broke my needle threader in the process of trying to make it fit), so I tried pulling apart the plies of the thread. This worked....but totally disappeared into the yarn of the hat. So I thought that maybe if I went over the stitching a few times.....well yeah, that looks terrible. (This experiment would be the center "o" in the picture above.) Then I tried again with the yarn to make the "b", but only went through the stitches on the front side of the hat. This at least smoothed out the back side, but was super bulky on the front, and not really the cursive look that I was going for. So I tried one more time by basically stitching the yarn onto the front of the hat using regular old needle and thread...and found a look I liked on the final "o"! This gave me the boldness of text I wanted, but nothing bulky or itchy on the inside.

It turned out pretty darn close to my vision! I'm loving the earflaps and straps in an effort to actually keep the hat ON those little heads! I fear the pumpkin hat might be a bit of a struggle in our case, though I will still insist on it for trick or treating at the very least! Please visit my shop to see more details!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The week that got away

I really thought that with a 4 day business trip, I'd be able to get so much done! I was wrong! Every night was spent doing the hours long "quick meeting wrap up" followed by dinner with co-workers. Call me what you will, but I really don't enjoy that part of traveling. After a long day interacting with people and being "on," I just really would prefer to go back to my room and be alone with my thoughts. Or the Kardashians or something lol.

I also thought that the 2.5 hour ferry ride would be a good time to get some knitting (or in this particular case, crocheting) done. Again, I was wrong! The ferry DID actually go this time around, but it was really, really rough. I think I was able to crochet for about 15 minutes before the constant rolling of the waves got to me, despite the dramamine I'd taken. (By the way, fun fact. Apparently dramamine comes in "drowsy" and "less drowsy," not the NON drowsy I was hoping for!) I put my work down and tried to focus on the horizon like they tell you to, and it was not doing much from my inside seat. I guess the whole point is to focus on something that is not moving, but when it's surrounded by a moving window, well, it doesn't work! Eventually I got up and went outside to the back deck which had the benefit of much needed fresh air, an unencumbered view of said steady horizon, and a lovely English (her) and Scottish (him) vacationing couple. Their lovely accents were apparently soothing to my upset tummy, because while I got nothing useful done, at least my lunch stayed with me. I was lucky I went out when I did because a bunch of other passengers were not so lucky. Once that motion sickness really gets hold of you, you're pretty much just a goner till you hit land.

Despite all of my whiny lack of downtime, I did manage to complete an Etsy order for the lovely Mari of Crab + Fish, as well as one half of one sleeve of a baby sweater.

The striped baby elf hat in gray and white is on its way!

I need to investigate some cuter packaging methods I think. It's one of those things I'm loathe to spend money on, because I'm never really sure what sort of difference it makes beyond a 3 second "oh, that's cute" reaction. I feel like I should also maybe make up some cards or tags or something for "branding," ha. I feel like I should see if this sticks more than a month or so though before investing any money beyond the basics. I'm a perennial under-spender though when it comes to my hobbies. Which I suppose explains why I still use a hideous knitting needle case that I got off Craigslist when I learned to knit....about 5 years ago. Self, I'd say it stuck. I will admit to having a sewing project on my list to take care of that though! Now if I could just find some time.....