Archive | November 2014

Knitting Needles Galore

Okay, so remember yesterday I said we spent the day out around Weston, Missouri? Well, the kids wanted to go to HMS Beagle in Parkville, so we stopped there on the way home. I kind of got tired of the science stuff (I know, I’m sorry, I’m terrible) so I went down to the antique mall a couple stores away. I wandered all through it and found only a combination square/level for my son, who likes to woodwork with his dad. THEN! At the very end, on my way to pay, I glanced down and underneath a table I saw THIS:IMG_3279It was so full it wouldn’t close, and the needles were taped together into pairs, so I couldn’t really get into it too much to see what all it held. The tag just said “Assorted knitting needles & case $29”. Well. What knitter would have left it there? Certainly I couldn’t! As soon as I got home I dumped it all out onto the table and was surprised to see some little DPNs and crochet hooks fall out along with the long straights. Unfortunately, they’d all been taped together with scotch tape, so my first step was to clean them all with Goo Gone to get rid of tape residue. Then I washed them all in hot soapy water to get rid of Goo Gone residue. Then I matched up sizes and colors and laid them all out on the table to dry. Behold!IMG_3281In that case were 42 pairs of straight needles, 8 sets of DPNs (some mismatched) and 12 crochet hooks. That’s 62 pieces for $29! Woohoo!! Now, obviously I’ve been crocheting and knitting long enough that I already had some of these sizes, but I was able to supplement my collection pretty well, mostly with smaller sizes and DPNs. Oh yeah, and with Tunisian crochet hooks too! I was delighted to get a size 19 crochet hook. I really love the long red plastic DPNs (they’re on the lower towel, next to the ivory DPNs). There was also a set of red plastic straights, but I accidentally broke one while cleaning it. Oops.

So now I have two complete sets of 14″ metal straights and a pretty full collection of DPNs and Tunisian crochet hooks. I was able to supplement my daughter’s set of knitting needles, and I passed on the two teeny-tiny steel hooks to my SIL. I gave three sets of needles to my daughter for a friend who’s just started knitting. And after all that, I STILL have a set of 11 pairs of knitting needles left over, plus several random pairs! I think I will try to sell them and recoup some of my purchase price. Gotta love antique stores! What’s the best thing you’ve ever found?

Small Business Saturday

ACK! I have so much to share that I don’t know where to start! I think I’ll start with something that’s near and dear to me, and that’s Small Business Saturday. As an artist myself (cough cough, that’s hard to say sometimes), I am committed to helping other artists, crafters, and small businesses thrive. There is so much value in handwork, so much love and detail and care that goes into something made by one person. And I can’t help but admit that I like the idea of owing something one of a kind, or at least something not mass-produced. Sure, I shop at chain stores too, but I like to shop small when I can.

With that in mind, I decided to start a little sale today on my Facebook bonny knits page. I’m offering 20% off all my current inventory! Plus I just received my Square card reader to accept credit card payments; maybe it will make it a little easier for someone else to shop small!

We supported small businesses yesterday by spending Black Friday in Weston, Missouri. I love their little downtown area with all the antique and gift shops. The first place we stopped might have been our favorite. It was called Art for a Dog, and the sign advertised tees, hats and gifts for dog and cat lovers. We had to ring the bell to get in, and while we waited, two dogs on an upstairs deck greeted us. Marie came down and let us in, telling us a little bit about her business.

Marie Mason is the owner of Bella Company, and she started with a few simple line drawings of dogs and later started doing full color art. Her small shop had lots of paintings and tees and sketches, and there was so much life and personality in each animal. At least one of their four dogs is a rescue, and they support animal rescue organizations in several ways. It was just so obvious how much she loves animals, and I really wanted to support her passion and commitment. Plus her stuff was darn cute! I limited myself to one thing: a nifty green canvas bag with a great yellow dog picture on the front. It’ll make a fabulous project bag. She also does custom portraits, which is pretty tempting! You can find her on Facebook too. IMG_3282It reminded me of my puppy, Captain Jack.IMG_0109Ok, what else? Well, there was a new store there called Florilegium that sells arts & crafts supplies. It was a beautiful store, full but not stuffed, well-designed and a treat for the eye. You could tell they’d put a of thought and effort into their layout and displays. They had tons of gorgeous ribbons and buttons and stuff. I don’t know what else honestly, because they had yarn, so I was distracted. Again, I was good and limited myself to just one thing: this so-lovely skein of Kathmandu silk.IMG_3284While we were walking around, I was modeling my favorite new Junie Balloonie flower, the Santa. If you remember, a while back I posted about trading some handknit items for some flowers, and I received them last week. They are Fabulous! She specializes in custom orders and works with your ideas and colors. You can find her on Facebook or Etsy. These are mine:IMG_3256Santa was actually my idea (she says casually) but Amie Longstaff, the artist/designer/owner, brought it to life brilliantly. I adore this flower.IMG_3259Band Mom flower is one of a series she does, and it can say whatever you want. She’s got them for military moms/spouses/daughters, sports, firemen, police…everything. I ordered mine in my daughter’s school colors. It’ll be great for when I go to the games and watch her play in Marching Band and Pep Band!IMG_3260Frozen flower, for a niece.IMG_3261Monster High flower, for another niece.

They all have a barrette clip, a pin so you can wear it as a brooch, and a small chain loop for it to hang on a purse. I usually put my flowers on my purse, but yesterday Santa was clipped to my cowl. And I think it brought me good luck too, because I got to see Father Christmas himself!IMG_0135And last but not least, I recently ordered a few gorgeous, unique pieces of jewelry from Kind Spirit Jewelry. I can’t find the pictures I took of them, but I got a beautiful spoon ring, some big silver swirly earrings, a necklace with a gorgeous cobalt blue glass pendant… She’s in the process of shutting down her website so there are some FANTASTIC deals to be had. Seriously. Good prices. You can find her on Facebook too.

I’m think I’ll call that a wrap. I’ve got a story to tell you about my antique-mall find, but that requires it’s own post. Until then, support an artist or two and Shop Small today!

Matching Mitts

Behold, ’tis a great and wondrous thing! I have made fingerless gloves that not only match a hat, but MATCH EACH OTHER!IMG_3252 IMG_3254This is the first time I have been able to knit two mitts exactly the same size! I always count my rows wrong somehow, so that one mitt is longer than the other. Not this time! Bwahaha! Even better, I think they’ll actually fit the recipient well, and it was a great way to use up the last of the Mirasol Yarns Tuhu.

I also felted the red tote. Not quite as happy with it.IMG_3255This is after two cycles in the washer and a heavy beating by hand. I mean, I went to TOWN on this baby, and it just won’t felt all the way. So I’m going to try one more time in the washer and this time throw in a few dog toys for extra agitation. If anyone has any tried-and-true felting tips, please share them!

I’m getting so close to being done with holiday knitting, too! Only half a lap blanket, one hat, one fingerless glove and one toddler-size set of mittens left. Crazy, huh? I’m sure I’ll decide at the last minute to make more.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! May the company be happy and the food plentiful.

Happy Yarniversary to Me!

That’s right, it’s been two years this month since Yarn and I fell in love, and I wanted to take a moment to celebrate our relationship. We’re very close now, but it wasn’t always that way. Another title for this post might be “Why did you learn to crochet/knit?”

In March of 2012, we lost my father-in-law. The next month, my father. The month after that, I left my full-time job to stay at home. My mother would be moving home from Arizona and I wanted to be there for her, and my kids were increasingly busy and I wanted to be there for them too. Mostly I simply couldn’t handle the job anymore, or didn’t want to put in the effort. You might say I had a wee breakdown, or whatever. In any case, after seven years I suddenly had A LOT of free time.

That first summer was delightful. We’d adopted my father’s dog, so I spent a lot of time hanging out with him and the kids and just being quiet and peaceful, trying to process all the crap going on in my head. There was little stress; I truly enjoyed having so much time to spend with my family.

Then the kids went back to school, my mother was settled into her new house, and it was just the dog and me. Samson was older, quiet, didn’t need much interaction throughout the day. What was I supposed to do? Sure, I did grocery shopping, started cooking dinner. I cleaned (occasionally) and I ran errands. But none of those things filled all my time.

I read a lot, of course. Lots of light, fluffy novels because I couldn’t handle the darkness in the mysteries I used to love. I shared book ideas with my mothers and my sisters. My daughter takes piano lessons from my BIL, so I’d sit there once a week and chat with Pam, my SIL, about books and her homeschooling and whatnot. In one conversation, we were talking about the struggle to find challenging, age-appropriate books for our kids, who are gifted readers. She mentioned a series she’d recently found called Chicks with Sticks by Elizabeth Lenhard, about a group of high school girls who start a knitting group. I love YA books so I read them first, and loved them. But more than the stories or the characters, I was entranced by the descriptions of the yarn, the yarn stores, the act of knitting, and most of all, the soothing, healing quality it had for the main character.

I wanted that. I wanted all of it. The yarn, the beauty, the healing. Soon after I finished the books, I went to a used-book sale with my mom. Laying there faceup in the crafts section was a book called The Cool Girl’s Guide to Crochet. I’m not a superstitious person by nature, but this had to be a sign. I bought the book. The next day I went to Joann and bought a learn-to-crochet set and two skeins of cheap yarn and set about teaching myself to crochet.

I did a lot of little squares as I learned each stitch and how to change colors. Then I learned tunisian crochet so I could make the cutest project in the book: a cell phone cozy with a long strap. This was for my daughter for Christmas.60728_10151172999095918_1005085249_nAfter that I was on a roll, whipping up presents left and right. I won’t say they looked good, even though I thought so at the time. I made several scarves, a baby blanket, and a Kindle cozy. I was a woman obsessed. My stash grew quickly as I discovered the benefits of yarns beyond the cheapest, scratchiest acrylic. I branched out into purses and shawls and baby bibs. I craved the challenge of new stitches and harder patterns. I spent hours with an F hook making this multicolor wave scarf.IMG_3187Within a few months, I’d finished my first yarn garment, the Chevron Lace Cardigan.IMG_2029The yarn was a wonderful distraction from my grief. I still felt it, but it was muted. As soon as I mastered something, though, it didn’t distract me anymore. That wasn’t okay. So eventually crochet wasn’t enough. No, I watched my SIL wield those two needles and I wanted that. Knitting produced a softer, squishier fabric than crochet. I loved the feel of it. So during one piano lesson, I sat down with my SIL and she taught me the knit stitch and got me going on my first knitting project. She was a great teacher, patient and thorough, and soon I had a completed cup cozy.IMG_1875Impatient to wait for another lesson, I taught myself the purl stitch and boy, was that awkward. I remember sitting there trying to knit a dishcloth and it was going SO SLOWLY and it was SO HARD to get my needle into the stitches. I was frustrated but I was determined to master this knitting thing, and hey, you can bet I wasn’t thinking about being sad!

Over time my tension eased and the purling came smoothly. In fact, I love to purl. I love seed stitch, switching from knit to purl and back again. Yarn fills my life now, even as I’m coming back from that deep valley of grief. I’m learning to consider myself a fiber artist, though it’s hard. My yarn has been with me on hard days when all I could do was watch TV and crochet. My yarn has been with me on happy days, when I’ve gone to family parties and chatted while knitting. I’ve made things that my family loves (I think) and things that strangers love and are willing to pay money for. I’ve petted alpaca and angora, mink and merino, bamboo and cotton. I’ve got a large, enviable yarn stash and a diverse collection of hooks and needles, but it’s never enough. I still want more!

I know all you other yarn-lovers have seen the articles proclaiming the health benefits of knitting and crocheting. I can’t say much about the physical benefits, because my wrist definitely lets me know when I’ve been crocheting too much. But the emotional benefits are huge. Yarn cushioned my fall and helped my pull myself back up. I’m not at the top yet (are we ever really at the top?) but I’m so much closer than I was two years ago. So thank you, Yarn. I owe you a lot.IMG_3443

A Blogging Milestone

I have reached a milestone: as of this weekend, I have 100 blog followers! And most of them aren’t friends or family, which is what really blows my mind. I’m so tickled and flattered that so many people enjoy my posts enough that they want to see them regularly! To all of you following me, I say a hearty THANK YOU!! You encourage me to keep this little adventure going and help me believe that maybe I can really call myself a writer.

That’s not the only bit of encouragement I’ve gotten either. I have a new follower on my Etsy page, and again, it’s someone I’ve never interacted with before. Of course I love to have my friends and family follow me, but when it’s a stranger, you don’t question the motive. You know it’s because they honestly like your page. And that feels good.

My Facebook bonny knits page is at 72 likes, so it’s a slow grower, but that’s okay. It’s grown by almost ten likes within the last couple of weeks; that’s encouraging. And I’m hoping that after Christmas when I have more time to put into my business, I can get that number higher too.

Okay. Enough with the boring number stuff. I’ve been productive the last few days and have several things to show off. They’re all Christmas gifts, and there’s a slim chance one of the recipients *might* see this blog, but oh well. First is a simple cowl, made to hug the neck closely.IMG_3245It’s modified from this headband pattern. But I honestly don’t remember now how many stitches I cast on, and apparently I didn’t create a project on Ravelry. I *think* I did 60 stitches on size 13 needles, and I just did a simple 3×3 rib until it seemed big enough. It came out a little looser than I intended but I think it will still please the recipient. I used Lion Brand Hometown USA, a thick, warm yarn, in Tampa Spice.IMG_3250Now a hat! Another hat, hooray! I love how this came out. It’s for one of my nieces and she saw something similar in a Delia’s catalog, so this is my attempt to recreate it. I especially like the big pompom on top. 🙂  This was my first time using a Purl Soho pattern, even though I’ve been admiring them for ages. It’s the Super Soft Merino Hats for Everyone. I didn’t have the right size needles so I did the men’s size on smaller needles. I think it came out perfectly. The gray is Cascade Pacific Chunky, an acrylic/merino blend. It’s a yarn I just found recently and it’s a new favorite. The light turquoise is Tuhu by Mirasol Yarns and oh my is it luscious. It’s 50% Llama, 40% Merino, 10% Angora. My SIL bought it and started knitting boot cuffs, and discovered she’s extremely allergic to the angora. It’s sad. But her loss was my gain: I bought the yarn from her and it was heavenly to knit with. I held it double to match the thickness of the Cascade, and I *think* have just enough left to make a pair of the 75 Yard Malabrigo Mitts to go with the hat. Fingers crossed!IMG_3248Last one: the Lucky 7 Felted Tote. I realize it’s not felted yet. This is what it looks like after two cycles in my washer. I think I have determined that my washer just doesn’t felt. There’s no center agitator, so the wool doesn’t get enough action. (haha!) This is made with Cascade 128 Wool. The label said nothing about superwash, so it really should felt. Today I will submerge it in hot water and beat it with a wooden spoon. Tune it tomorrow to see how that goes!

One Lovely Blog Award

So I went to my blog yesterday to check on my stats (everyone does that, right?) and I found a perfectly wonderful comment that made me grin! I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by The Novelty Knitter. It’s a new blog to me, but I love what I’ve seen so far! She’s got creativity to spare, a vibrant energy, and an intriguing bit of quirkiness. I’m delighted to have another wonderful blog to follow. Thank you so much, Mika! (Honestly, I thought at first it was a joke or a scam. Sometimes you don’t really know whether people are actually reading what you write. So this is truly lovely.)


These are the rules of the One Lovely Blog Award:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you
  2. List the rules and display the award
  3. Include seven facts about yourself
  4. Nominate around 15 other bloggers and let them know about the award (their About page is a good place!) (I was going to do a Top Ten, but then I found one more. So Top Eleven for me!)
  5. Follow the blogger who nominated you, if not already. (This isn’t a big deal for me. Obviously I love to get new followers, but I don’t want you to feel forced. I want you to follow me because you *want* to follow me.)

7 Facts about me:

  1. My life is a musical. I burst into song at random moments, often making up my own lyrics.
  2. My dream is to someday open a yarn store/furniture gallery with my husband.
  3. I took French for four years and can speak it and read it pretty well, but can’t understand it when it’s spoken.
  4. My car is named Edward, because he’s attractive, fast, strong and protects me.
  5. I was in choir in high school and love to sing, but can’t read music.
  6. I eat corn chips with my cottage cheese. I mix them together like a little crunchy salad.
  7. I’m a pen collector. I have probably thirty fancy pens, including two Mont Blancs. One my dad gave me, and one I bought myself.

11 Nominees:

  1. iknit2Purl2
  2. KnitsbyWhit
  3. MadManKnitting
  4. Guy Who Crochets
  5. The Sweaty Knitter
  6. Little Green Pixie
  7. The Twisted Yarn
  8. The Knitter Nerd
  9. Small Blue Dog Publishing
  10. Ripping Yarns (aka Wooly Wormhead)
  11. yarnandpointysticks

Thanks to all of you for writing things and taking pictures that make me smile and think. I look forward to new posts from all of you! And even if you don’t participate, I hope I made you smile a bit and shared your blog with some new readers!


Hot Pink Headband

Like most crafters, I’m sure, I have several holiday gifts I need to finish (or start). I keep my list handy and the necessary yarns in a bag near the couch. I’ve made it very easy for myself. So yesterday, I made…something completely different. I’d found a wool/acrylic yarn that I think will make great headbands, especially for runners, and I bought a skein in hot neon pink. How can a girl resist that? I couldn’t.

I made a fabulous flower out of some light turquoise cotton and gave it a wild button, and it’s ready for some wild woman! Find it here!

Now that I got that out of my system, I can go back to my regularly scheduled knitting. I have one more order to fill, a cute little boy hat, and then it’s all gifts all the time! How are you doing on your holiday crafting?

Etsy and The Art of Hat Knitting

Wow. I got more views and comments from my Etsy post than almost any other post I’ve done. Sounds like it’s a big concern for a lot of people! I also got a lot of views on my Etsy page–thanks to those who followed the link! None of them have resulted in a favorite or a sale, but it’s a start. I really want to give it my best effort, but I’m still not convinced Etsy is going to be my focus going forward.

I think next year I’m going to put a lot more time and energy into craft shows. Based on my limited experience, it seems like hats, headbands and boot cuffs are hugely popular, and if you’ve got a variety of colors, you’ll sell them. It’s a philosophy I struggle with quite often, because that’s not how I craft. I prefer to find a yarn that calls my name and make the one right thing with it…and then move on to a different project entirely. Headbands and boot cuffs are fun and fast. But, if you’ve been following my blog at all, you know I LOVE hats. They’re my favorite thing to make. And I can get so much variation in patterns and types of yarn that I think I could easily specialize in hats without getting bored to tears.

For instance, I posted about the red cloche hat last time, and it’s been extremely popular. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it, and I even got an order for another one the next day! I got to knit this one in some blue-green wool, and I really like how the style works with the stiffness of the wool. I like this version even better than the red one.IMG_3239 IMG_3240 IMG_3243So yeah, I think I could be a hat specialist. I’d still make other things, bags and purses and cowls, but I want to built up a solid inventory of hats so I can be ready to do more shows next year. Need a hat? I’m your girl!

I just realized: I don’t have a hat on Etsy. Oops. Not the best move for the hat specialist. I better work on that today!

Let’s try this Etsy thing again

Several months ago, I listed several things on Etsy and was disappointed that nothing came of it. I got a few favorites but never a sale. Since then, my crafting skills have improved, as have my photography skills. I’ve also got a better idea (I think!) of how to make Etsy work for me. It seems like you’ve got to find a niche, make those unusual specific things that you can tag really well. Anyway, I decided to dip my toes back into the water, and I’ve listed three of my favorite pieces. My shop name is bonnyknitsforyou. I’d love it if you’d check it out!

They’re all different categories and they’re varying prices, so it’s kind of a test, to see which ones get more views/favorites etc. I’ve set a low budget for promoting the listings. After Christmas I hope to get a little more aggressive with it and post more, maybe promote more. Anyone have any great Etsy advice for me?

I also have a finished hat to show off. Remember the red cloche I made on Sunday? I got the buttons sewn on and I love the finished product. It’s really an ingenious design, because you can just button the flap as far over as you want it, so the hat can be as snug or loose as you wish. Too cute. I definitely will be making more.IMG_3227Here’s yesterday’s and today’s project. I’m getting clever and bartering with my favorite flower maker, Junie Balloonie. In exchange for four flowers (two for gifts and two for me) I’m making another headband and two sets of boot cuffs. I can’t show off the headband yet because it’s so flipping awesome and I want her to see it first, but I’ll show you the boot cuffs. This is my favorite boot cuff pattern.IMG_3234And of course I’ll show off the flowers when they get here. I hang them on my purse, but they’re also hair flowers/brooches, and she can make them in any colors your heart desires. You can see some samples on her Etsy page here. If you checked out my shop, you might have noticed that I have one of her flowers on my pink purse.

Now it’s back to the yarn. The puppy is sleeping and the house is silent. It’s the best time to create!

Craft Show Success & 3-Hat Sunday

Wow! What a productive weekend I had! I’m tired but boy do I feel good. I had a craft show with my SIL on Saturday at a local church. We had a smaller space than usual, just enough room for one 6′ table, so we had to smoosh it all together. My daughter decided to join us, and it was lovely to have the extra help and the extra company.

SIL and daughter setting up the table

SIL and daughter setting up the table

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

They were predicting 2-4 inches of snow so it was slow most of the morning. Like, really slow. Like, the only people there were the vendors and their families. My poor girl, who’s still recovering from a fall full of activities, fell asleep three times. I have a really cute picture of her sleeping but she’d probably kill me if I shared it. My sister visited with her two kids, so they entertained me for a while. And a good friend and former co-worker showed up, which was a delightful surprise. I’m always touched when people take the time to support me with their presence, and it’s even better when they buy something! Susan bought two of my favorite pieces, and I was happy to see them go to someone who appreciates them. Finally, after lunch, when it was clear the weathermen were crazy and no snow was coming, people finally started shopping. By the end of the show, I’d sold around a dozen pieces and made table and then some. I was thrilled to be going home with less than I came with! Although I went home with something new too.

IMG_3222Isn’t this cool? I love how it looks like a carpetbag! I can’t tell what the stitch is; it’s not linen or seed or stockinette. Sure, I could probably make something very similar myself, but hey, this is already done and ready to use. I like that.

So. Good craft fair. I worked on a hat order a little bit while I was there, then yesterday I buckled down and worked hard, and I finished THREE hat orders!! What a relief to cross these off my To-Do list!IMG_3215 IMG_3220Yes, another Olaf. (I know, he needs eyeballs. I have to go buy buttons today.) I know I said I never wanted to make another one. Either the price was right, I’m crazy, or I really like the person who ordered it. Or all three. In any case, I made another one, and now I know I *really* don’t want to to do it again.IMG_3216Red crochet cloche made with Cascade Pacific. It’s a pretty simple pattern and I even learned something new making it. It’s not the best picture because I need to get some buttons today. It has a flap on the side so you can button it as snug as you need it, and I’ll take another picture once I get that part completed.IMG_3218Last is a simple garter stitch baby hat with pompom. I was making it for a big-headed baby and had different yarn and needles than the pattern called for, so you can read my Ravelry notes for the modifications.

Is that all? That might be all. Surely that’s enough for one weekend! Oh, one more thing I did: after the show, I updated my Items for Sale album on my Facebook page and marked a few things down in hopes of clearing out a bit more inventory. Fingers crossed!

Now I have no idea what to take with me today for my waiting room knitting! I’ve finished all my simple projects, I think. Do I cast on for something else or be brave and take something more complicated?