Archive | April 2015

Today I Like My Puppies

Yes, my puppies are crazy and tear things up sometimes. But I don’t want you guys to get the wrong idea. I love my puppies, truly. They are adorable and sweet and affectionate. They love it when I sit outside with them, like when I’m done with my workout and I go outside to cool down. Jack comes to visit frequently. Grace, well, Grace just loves to be outside.IMG_2069And while I’m on the subject: working out is not my favorite thing. Lena Dunham recently made the point that she’s exercising for the mind, not the body, and that is so very true for me. Anyone who struggles with depression or anxiety or stress (so basically, everyone, right?) knows intellectually that exercise will help. Doesn’t make it easier to do. But still. I’m trying again to make it a habit and I’m not completely hating it. Fingers crossed it sticks.

And speaking of sticks (haha!), I love that my puppies can share sticks sometimes. They love love love to chew on wood, so rather than my house or my chairs, I give them sticks in the backyard. The best ones are the really long ones. They each get an end…until one steals it from the other and it turns into a game. IMG_2096 IMG_2092Let me brag on them: behind our house is a yard with two dogs, one big and one smaller (maybe some kind of collie?). These dogs are Crazy. Whenever they’re outside, it seems like they spend all their time barking at my dogs, digging at the base of the fence, clawing at the fence, and just generally going nuts. You know what my pups do? They run up, stick their noses up to the fence, sniff a bit, and run away to resume their games. Do they bark at these crazy dogs? Not anymore. Jack did at first, but we trained him to stop. Grace doesn’t bark too much anyway. They don’t dig to get at them or anything. They’re just like, “Oh, hey, it’s those guys again. Hi, guys. HEY! LET’S RUN AROUND SOME MORE!!”

So there you go. I love that Jack is so eager to please that he’s a trainer’s dream. I love that he and Grace have such a good time together. I love that Grace will let my son squeeze and hug and generally maul her without batting an eye. Sure, I wish she didn’t feel the need to chew on everything, but I know that’ll get better eventually. I get a lot of pleasure from watching them interact with each other and with the kids, and of course I love the puppy snuggles. IMG_2054

Some Selfish Knitting

Thanks to a doctor’s appointment and a grocery story trip, I didn’t have much knitting time yesterday. But with the time I did have, I worked on two projects for ME! They’re both ones that have been hanging around for a while, and I’m getting eager to wear them. One is my black and white chevron infinity scarf. I met a fellow crafter for coffee on Monday night, and took this with me. I thought it would be easy enough to knit while talking, but I didn’t do well. Last night I had to frog back about 10 rows to get rid of stupid mistakes. I was going to try to live with it…but, no. So now it’s back where it was and I’ve got the pattern set in my head again. IMG_2084I should have taken this super simple mesh scarf I’m making with some Pima cotton. It’s just a YO, k2tog repeat. Hard to mess up, though of course I have. It doesn’t look like much here, but blocking will work wonders, I think. This was my waiting room knitting.IMG_2086I worked a little bit on a bag commission too. This was my “sit outside with the puppies in the afternoon” knitting. This is the one that will mostly be a secret, but since this is just the bottom of the bag and it doesn’t look like much, I don’t think I’m giving anything away.IMG_2085I’m getting to the good part now, where I can start working the nifty pattern and where I’m working in the round. Maybe it’ll go quickly!

And the puppies. Oh, the puppies. Bit of backstory: we have a large patch of dirt in our backyard. We’re in the process of getting it prepped to lay sod, but until then, we have a lot of dust and dirt being tracked in the house. It’s a mess. Add that to two puppies who like to get on the kitchen table, and I’m washing a table every day. Plus the dirt and puppy paws are hard on the table. Easy solution, I thought. I went to Big Lots, bought a cheap vinyl tablecloth, problem solved. Right. Here’s my tablecloth after the doctor appointment. IMG_2076Jack says it’s not HIS fault.IMG_2075And I tend to believe him. It’s this one who’s the troublemaker, and she was on a roll yesterday. Ate the plastic pulls off the kitchen window blinds, ate a long plastic straw out of the dish drainer, tried to eat the hose and sprinklers in the back yard (multiple times), dig dig dig in the peat moss and dirt, ate the hostas…sigh. IMG_2078Alex and I finally took them for a long walk after dinner and it was a good thing, because only then could I remember why I wanted puppies. They’re so much nicer when they’re calm and cuddly. So fine. I’ll try to walk some silly puppies today.

Time for a Break

Saturday was craft show day. It was from 10-4 and it was in a more affluent part of town, with the promise of lots of shopping moms. I had a friend with me and she helped me create a more compelling table display than I’d done the last couple of shows. My hopes were high. IMG_2056Oh, and did you notice, I played with my hair again? Apparently I’m no longer a natural blond (I know, who knew?) so I’m trying to grow out all the processed stuff and find my real color. I had some leftover bleached blonde, so my fabulous hairdresser MIL gave me teal tips. Love them! Of course, my own mother’s reaction was different: “What happened to your hair??” LOL. Can’t win ’em all, right?

Anyway, yeah, I thought the table looked good. I had a selection of bags and lightweight spring hats, as well as spring mesh scarves and some cute baby hats. Too bad people decided they didn’t want to attend this show. It was slow all day long. I had three super wonderful friends from my old Coldwater Creek days show up, and that was such a treat. Plus they bought a couple of things! Other than that, I had ONE sale. Sigh. There just wasn’t much traffic. One vendor packed up and left at 1:30. But I did make table, and I had fun with my friends, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

It also clarified something for me: I’m slowing down on shows for now. It seems clear that spring/summer months are not good for the kind of things I love to make, and I don’t want to completely change my crafting outlook to cater to that. Plus, I was stressed out before these last two shows. I was worried about whether I’d have enough stuff, or whether it was the “right” stuff, and I felt guilty working on anything for myself or my family. That’s not what I want my knitting life to be, and I’m so grateful that I have the ability to step back. So for now, I’ll be knitting for fun. I’m still going to work on my Etsy shop, and I’ll still do the Etsy at the Exchange events when I can, but no more paid craft shows for now. I’m signed up for a big one in October and I might just let that be the next one.

I had another epiphany of sorts over the weekend, too. Another Creek friend, Terri, invited me to a dinner theater show, and we had a marvelous time catching up. We hadn’t talked one on one in ages, but she said she loves to follow along with what I write on Facebook so she felt like we were still close. At one point she asked me about the retail memoir I’d been working on. I’ve been working on that thing for that last four years, I think, and I keep working and leaving it and coming back and leaving again. But Terri’s question, and the fact that she’s not the only one who’s said they’d love to read it, made me realize that I’ve got something going on with this writing thing. No, I’m no literary genius. But I do love it, and I think I do connect with readers sometimes. So I’m bringing writing back into my life, more than just this blog, and I’m going to do my best to finish revising my manuscript. Maybe then I’ll be brave enough to start querying agents, or maybe I’ll just share it with friends and family. Who knows. I think for me, the process is the most important part.

Thanks for listening, friends. I know this was a more introspective post, less fun knitting talk, but I promise, there will be fun stuff in days to come. Still yarn, always yarn, but writing talk too, maybe even manuscript excerpts. And puppy photos, too. Today is Captain Jack, my furry little baseball fan. IMG_2061

I’m a Winner! And: Who’s that Maker?

Seriously, I won some prizes. Remember I told you about the Meet the Makers event at Ugly Glass & Company? I got to enter a drawing for a $20 gift certificate just for attending, and then I got entries for door prizes for making purchases. Well! I got a call a few days ago that I’d won the gift certificate AND a door prize! How cool is that? (Spoiler: Very.)

First up: the door prize. I got four entries. There were several door prizes to choose from, and each one had it’s own jar. I could put all my entries in one or split them up. I was torn between a lovely handsewn tote bag and a wonderful rainbow dotted cup, and ultimately decided I have a lot of tote bags (I think it’s a legitimate addiction) so I’d go for the cup. With four entries, I felt pretty good about my odds. And I won it! See how cute it is?IMG_2051I’m pretty sure each little dot is hand-painted. I can’t imagine how long that took. But I absolutely love it. It was made by PiCeramics, and she’s got a lot of beautiful cups, vases, pitchers and more.

Then it was time to spend my gift certificate. That was hard. I looked at GeekChic because I just love her nerdy handmade bags. She’s the one who made my awesome Doctor Who tote. And I looked at PiCeramics, but I needed to stay close to my budget, and her pieces had a deservedly higher price. But I kept going back to this booth of infinity scarves made with soft jersey-type fabric. I covet them every time we go to Ugly Glass, so it just seemed like destiny. I picked out two.IMG_2052 IMG_2053I love them. I put the blue one on right away, and I wore the gray/black one yesterday. I’m already trying to figure out what else I can wear them with. Sadly, I didn’t pay enough attention to the name of the booth, and the tags were removed when I bought them, so I can’t tell you the name of the maker, and I hate that.

I think more makers need to consider what goes home with their items. My cup came home with a tag that had a pi symbol on it, but I still had to go to the Ugly Glass website to get more information. For the scarves, I came home with no tags whatsoever. There are several clothing/accessory vendors listed on the website, and I have no idea which is which. I bought an adorable bag for my niece’s birthday at the craft show on Saturday, and I have no clue what her business name is.  IMG_2059I think it’s so neat how she has the little slots for crayons on the front, and it came with a Frozen coloring book. Plus there’s room for a few other things, so it’s perfect to take to church or out to dinner, things like that. I wish I could direct you to her, but I can’t because I forgot to get a business card and the tag only has a price.

So, a note to vendors: think about attaching a tag with your information on it. Or punch holes in your business cards and attach one of those. I put two tags on my items, one with a price and description, and one with my name, email, website, Facebook and Etsy. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to find me later.

Today’s puppy photo is brought to you by Grace, who seems to think she must be higher than the rest of us and therefore claims tables. IMG_1988

Just keep making, just keep making!

Well, tomorrow is craft show day! It’s a full day affair so I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’s a good one. I just keep making new stuff to sell, like this red cotton tote.IMG_2042I like the shimmery gray buttons a lot. They’re just decorative of course, but they add a nice pop of style to the bag.IMG_2041Then I whipped up this mini market bag. It took all of an hour at the most, and it was a great way to use up the last ounce of Berroco Weekend left over from the slouchy hat. I have no idea what it’s good for. Little yarn bag to hang on your wrist, so you can knit while you’re out and about, I guess. Hang it in your bathroom and fill it with hair scrunchies and headbands. Put some bubble stuff and plastic sand toys in there for a child to carry to the beach. Heck, I don’t know. But it’s little and it’s cute and I like it.IMG_2044I’ve got one more hat to finish today and then I’m calling it quits on making all the things. I’ve got to get the car loaded up so I don’t have to do it early in the morning. I’m so grateful I’ve got a good friend helping me with this show! She’s got a great visual eye, so I’m thinking my table will look pretty darn good. I’ll be sure to take some photos for you.

Puppy photo: Jack loves to nap on the couch next to me, and I thought it was so cute, with his head on the pillow. See, they’re not destructive *all* the time! IMG_2037

Crazy for Crochet

I can’t stop crocheting lately! Ever since I learned to knit, I’ve preferred it to crochet. Knitting is easier on my wrist and I love the fabric it creates. But I do still love the quickness of crochet, and it’s the perfect way to use all my cotton yarns. I made another small cross-body bag, just kind of made up my own pattern, and this one has a flap and a button closure. I debated between a dark silver button and a white flower. The flower was cute, but made the bag seem more appropriate for a young girl, and I wanted this to be more versatile. It’s something I would definitely carry. IMG_2032 IMG_2033_2I’ve been working on a custom order through Etsy, but the other day I got a request for a couple of chemo caps. In my book, chemo caps always go to the top of the list. I used soft, washable acrylic and made them a small adult size so hopefully they’ll fit snugly. IMG_2034_2This is the Shelbi Hat pattern, and I’ve made it several times now. It’s very quick but looks intricate and interesting. I especially like that the pattern comes with four different sizes. It’s not a free one, but it’s absolutely worth the money for me.

Oh, and I had a wee knitting crisis the other day! You know I’m making a bag for my sister, right? Well, I picked it up and (GASP!) found this: IMG_2010I have no idea what happened. These are fixed-tip needles from Joann, so I’ve asked my handy hubby if he can fashion a new tip on it. Nothing to lose, right? In the meantime, I switched to my Knitter’s Pride Nova interchangeables, and actually the metal works much better with the cotton blend yarn anyway. Knits much faster. THIS is why I have so many needles! (Well, that and they’re really cool and I just like to buy them.)

Finally, puppies. We bought a fire pit last year and it sat outside all winter long. The puppies found it recently and Grace has fallen in love with the basin. She pushes and pulls it around the yard, tries to flip it, and especially loves to sit in it. I’m not sure we’ll get to use it again as a fire pit.IMG_2017

Three Years Gone

Today marks three years since my father died. I still hate those words. I will always hate those words. I’m not in pieces today, not like I was two years ago. Today it’s a mild, pervasive numbing sadness. It still hits me at times with a shock: he’s gone? Wait, how can that be possible? And there are times when out of the blue I just miss him. Miss his hugs, his smile, the way he loved all of us so much. But there are many more times that I can think about him, talk about him, with ease and fondness and laughter. That part has gotten easier in the last three years.

Part of me is just sad that he doesn’t know me now. I’ve changed so much in the last three years, grown so much. I’m a different person in so many ways. I put my family first, and I try to appreciate every family gathering. I value truth and honesty and loyalty, which I always did, but now I don’t put up with the bullshit, the liars, the fakers. I worry less about how I may appear to to strangers, and more about how I’m treating the people I love. I’m not perfect, never perfect, but I try to admit it when I’m wrong. I apologize. I find more joy in a family dinner than I ever did at work. I live a quiet life now. A peaceful life. It’s a much richer life, and for that I’m grateful. I wish it hadn’t taken something like that grief to make such a difference, but at least it happened. I read somewhere that you don’t truly grow up until you lose a parent, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s true. It’s profound, or at least it was for me. Who else is such a big part of you? Who else is so instrumental in shaping who you are?

Today I’ll look at some old pictures, relive some memories. I’ll cry, but I’ll smile too. Tonight we’ll go out with my mom and siblings to have Mexican food and margaritas, his favorite. And when we raise a glass for a toast, in my head, I’ll thank him for bringing us all together. img031

A Handmade Market and Cool Makers

One of the best things about living near Kansas City is the wide variety of businesses you can find. If you go downtown to the West Bottoms Historical District, you’ll find warehouses converted into great stores selling antiques, vintage clothes and accessories, upcycled and recycled items, and handmade items. They do big events the first weekend of every month, and it’s always packed. It’s hard to find a parking spot, and you have to maneuver through huge crowds, but all the food trucks come out, and there’s a vibrant energy in the whole area.

My favorite shop is Ugly Glass and Company, located on the fourth floor of Le Fou Flea. It’s a handmade market comprised of lots of different vendors, with the store manned by the Ugly Glass people. I just love all the different things you can find: soaps, candles, bags, t-shirts, screenprinted kitchen towels, jewelry, baby blankets, diaper pads, Kansas City-related photos and prints and quotes, scarves, and so much more. The vendors refresh their inventory regularly, and there are always new vendors coming in, so it’s different every time I go.

Saturday night they hosted a Meet the Makers event with refreshments and door prizes, so I dragged Alex out there with me. My initial reason for going was to support Cocoon, an upcycling business run by a friend of mine. She makes birdhouses from cowboy boots, wind chimes from teapots, birdfeeders from tea cups and saucers, necklace holders and bowls out of records, and earrings made from aluminum cans. Everyone who came got to design a pair of earrings, so I got Coke can ladybugs! IMG_2003Aren’t they cute? Very simple, and lightweight too. She’s got a ton of colors, and you can do ladybugs, butterflies, or owls. Fun stuff.

Other than that, I was there to check out the space and get ideas for display fixtures. I’m pondering renting a space there, but just don’t know what to use. Bookcase? Metal shelving? Pegboard? I’m still pondering, and I’m not convinced it’s the right time for me to rent a space. With knit/crochet items, maybe I’d do better in the cooler months? But traffic will be higher in warmer months. I just don’t know. Any advice?

While wandering, I found a booth of handmade dog collars made by SLik Hound Pet Collars. Well, I have dogs. Two of them, in fact, and I love spoiling them. But they have collars, didn’t need new ones, I could walk on by…Hey! They had Wonder Woman! I do love me some Wonder Woman. This fabric also had Supergirl and Batgirl and it’s just fabulous. They were running a special that night of buy one, get one 30% off, so we picked out a KC Royals collar for the boy pup. LOVE them!IMG_1978They make them in tons of colors, patterns, and pop culture themes, and each one has a coordinating fabric sewn inside. These collars are available in a variety of sizes, they’re well-made, strong and sturdy, and they’re machine washable. Check out their website here.

We spent a while chatting with the makers, Nick and Amy. (I know what you’re thinking: Gone Girl. But I assure you, this Amy was SO much nicer than the Amy from that book!) I mentioned that I’m a crafter too, scoping out the place, and they were both so helpful and encouraging. It was a great reminder of why I love the handmade movement: people are so passionate about their craft, and they want others to succeed too. It’s not all about ME. It’s not all about the money. Sure, it’s a business and they’re trying to make a living. But they’re not trying to get rich. They’re trying lead a rich life doing something they love, and that’s definitely something I aspire to. It’s also something I want to support, so my pups will be wearing their collars whenever they go out. IMG_1992

It’s Cotton Season

Everything I’m making right now is cotton. I’m so ready for warmer weather that I can’t stand the thought of playing with wool or alpaca. I think other people feel the same, so since I’m prepping for craft shows, I’m trying to make things that will be appealing. You’ve seen some of the hats, now four in all. IMG_1965But I also made a lightweight mesh scarf. It’s either TARDIS blue or KC Royals blue, however you want to think about it. IMG_1999And this morning I finished a simple little purse with a long strap so you can wear it across the body. IMG_2002It’s perfect for baseball games, theme parks, amusement parks, anything where you just need your wallet, phone and keys. It’s got a snap inside to keep it closed. Best of all, it’s cotton, so if it gets wet, it won’t hurt the bag! (Might hurt the phone, but that’s not my problem!) It’s cute by itself but it’s even cuter with a little flower. IMG_2004I’ve got some gorgeous raspberry-pink cotton that might become my next little bag, and I’ve got another custom order hat to do in a cotton/linen blend. Looks like my cotton fixation won’t be ending anytime soon.

Thrift Store Finds

Today, while I was running errands, I hit two thrift stores in search of good fixtures to use as displays for my craft shows. One was a bust, but the other yielded several goodies. Check them out:IMG_1950I don’t really know what most of them are, except the taller metal one in the back which I can tell is a candlestick. But now, they will display my handknits!IMG_1951That gold one on the left will be great for purses and scarves. I’ll set it up on a box, higher than the table, so the pieces can hang down nicely. The others aren’t perfect hat stands, but I think they’ll show the hats off better than just laying flat. I can’t wait to do my next table display now!

I also stopped by the LYS to get some yarn. I had a good reason, I promise! My sister has commissioned a lined project bag with wooden handles, and I needed to get the yarn for it. I have the perfect handles and the perfect closure and now I have the perfect yarn! I wish I could show them off, but she reads my blog (I think) and I want it to be a surprise, so you’ll have to wait along with her. I’ll do my best to knit fast, but it won’t go as fast as these hats:IMG_1953I have two more I want to make, a red and a blue, and then I’ll be ready to move on to something else. This is the first pattern I’ve made so many times. Guess it must be a good one!