Archive | April 2015

Bam! Another Hat Done

I finished a hat this morning. I am so in love with this pattern. It’s called the Combination Summer Hat and I have now made three of them. The body is all loose, airy crochet, but then you pick up stitches and a knit a ribbed brim. I tell you, I think it’s brilliant. Part of the reason I like knitted hats better is that they seem to have more elasticity, but I love the look of crochet for spring and summer projects. Add in the fact that I can make one of these, start to finish, in a couple of hours, and yeah. This is perfection.IMG_1944 IMG_1945This one was made with Berroco Weekend, which is mostly acrylic but has 25% cotton, enough to give it some stiffness and a great drape. I’ve got two more colors ready to go!

We had a fair bit of rain this weekend, which made for muddy puppies and muddy floors. Not great. But it also made for a funny photo op when the puppies found a new source of water.IMG_1939Hopefully the rain is done for a while. I’m ready for some sunshine and a drier backyard!

Another Craft Show Done

Yesterday I had a little craft show, another Etsy at the Exchange for local Etsy vendors. Here’s my little table display:IMG_1928I want to start hunting for display options at some thrift stores. I need some height variation, some visual interest, and if I could find a good way to hang purses, I’d be thrilled. These shows are short, just four hours, but they’re free and I think it’s going to keep growing into something big and cool. I sold a couple of things, gave out several business cards, met some interesting fellow vendors, and the local paper was there taking photos, so that could lead to some good exposure. Both my Etsy traffic and blog traffic were up yesterday evening. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I also bought something. I just can’t resist Wonder Woman.IMG_1938This was made by Rosete’s Thread, and she had a ton of neat stuff made with pop culture fabrics: potholders, dish towels, baby sets, dog bandanas. There was Walking Dead, TMNT, lots of superheroes, and some other stuff I didn’t recognize. She also had really cute ruffled scarfs and fleecy shawls. If you’re interested, you can find her on Facebook or on Etsy.

After the show, I found some solitude and worked on a hat, a custom order from Etsy, and this morning I finished it, except for closing the top and weaving in tails.IMG_1935 IMG_1937This is a pattern I’ve made before, and I found it much easier this time around. I even managed to do some of the cabling without a cable needle! It was a little scary, but it sure made it simpler.

But the best thing about yesterday’s show was it helped me find my short-term focus. I need to build my inventory of warm-weather knits. I think a lot of people walked past my table because it was 70 degrees and sunny, and they didn’t want to think about hats or cowls. My next show is in two weeks, so that’s how long I’ve got to make some spring hats, skinny mesh scarves, a market bag or two, maybe another purse. I’ll display fewer items and make sure they’re all perfect for higher temperatures. I better get busy!

Today it’s Two

That’s right, I have two finished objects to present to you today! Thanks to my daughter, I finished knitting the honey cowl during flute lesson and cast off waiting for the band concert to start. IMG_1919Pattern is Madelinetosh’s brilliant Honey Cowl and I used MadTosh DK in Astrid Grey. Using one skein made a tall, cozy cowl, and I love it. Should be great for fall! I do apologize for the crap photo. I couldn’t find a good backdrop for the gray color (the grass was wet and I couldn’t bring myself to put the cowl on it). Yes, I know, the swing needs repainting. Sigh. Knitting is more fun. So, YAY, another WIP moves to the FO category and I’m down to only 4 WIPs. Feels good!

My other FO is a super super fast hat. It’s a special request and it was so fun because it combines both knitting AND crochet! Yes, both! How cool is that?? The body is crochet, and then you pick up stitches to do a ribbed knitted brim! Since it’s meant to be a summer hat, the body is all open and airy, which is why it went so fast.IMG_1916 IMG_1917The pattern is the Combination Summer Hat and I used Knit Picks Brava Worsted but I want to do more of these in cotton. I might have a custom order coming in from Etsy, so I have a real reason to go to my LYS, and while I’m there I might just look at some cotton. Just look, mind you. Maybe touch.

So there you have it, two FOs in one post. I am a knitting fool, clearly. I have a craft show this Saturday and a birthday party on Sunday, so I need to do some shopping beforehand (presents, printable labels, change for the cash box). That means not as much time with my yarn, unless I’m really efficient.

Finally, today’s puppy photo. It does not include the puppies. It is more the aftermath of the puppies. IMG_1904Maybe I need to add a new curtain rod to my shopping list.

So Close to Two Finished Objects

I *almost* had two things to show off today! I missed it by about three inches. First I’ll show you the hat I did manage to finish. IMG_1905_2 IMG_1906You can’t really see the cool zigzag pattern very well, but it’s there and it’s neat. And it was really simple too, which is definitely how I like my hats! It’s Ravelled here if you want more details. I worked on this one outside part of the day, sitting on my patio in the sunshine. The puppies are loving spring too, if for no other reason than they enjoy my company in the backyard.IMG_1891I mentioned yesterday that this is a busy week; the girl has a lot of activities. Last night, we had a choir concert. She’s not even IN the choir yet and she wants to go, to “support the choir”, she says. Well, it’s a good sentiment, and I love music, so we went. It’s strange to be in my old high school, watching the choir that I used to be part of. Very nostalgic. I feel really young and really old at the same time. I can still remember so much of high school vividly, those strong emotions and complicated relationships and friendships I didn’t truly appreciate until years later. But then I watch my daughter and her friends and they seem so much younger than I am, and I realize that yes, I really am 20 years removed from that world. I also realize that it’s a lot of fun to be part of it from this side. So I’ll keep going to the choir concerts, and the band concerts, and the plays, and the football games, and enjoy it all over again.

Anyway! Sorry, got distracted, didn’t I? My hat was done and I needed an easy project for during the concert, so my honey cowl went along. The linen stitch is so simple, it was a breeze to work on even in the dim lighting. I really thought I’d gotten it done, but then I came home and measured. It still needs three more inches. Sighhhh. And there I was, thinking I’d get to cross off two WIPs in one day. Well, one is good, and there’s a good chance I can finish the cowl today. We have flute lesson (45 minutes of knitting) plus a band concert (60 minutes of knitting). No patio knitting today, though; it’s gray and rainy with threats of severe thunderstorms. So I’ll leave you with a pretty reminder of the *good* thing about spring!IMG_1890_2

I am not just a Knitter

Again, another day with zero knitting. But it was okay, because I spent it doing the other thing I love: reading. I do a bit of freelance proofreading, and I’ve got one prolific author who seems to like what I do: this is the third book she’s had me proofread for her. Her name is Antoinette J. Houston, and she’s got two paranormal novels on Amazon right now. This third one is science fiction, which is not a genre I typically read. But I enjoyed this one, even if I was focusing mostly on grammar and punctuation and stuff like that. It took me all day to do my first read-through but I got it done!

Today I’m taking a wee break from the proofreading and spending time with my yarn (at least until I force myself to run my errands). I’ve got some Cascade Cloud on my needles, and wow, it’s nice stuff. Feels so good in my hands, dense but springy and soft. I’m making an All-Day Beret with it and enjoying every stitch.11150838_1624885424401537_2563179216556120231_nOf course I still have to fulfill my role as chauffeur. The girl has play rehearsal all week after school (almost Tech Week!) plus two nights of band rehearsal and one band concert. I have no idea how we’re going to fit in choir next year, but it’s a good problem to have.

Mostly, though, the puppies and I have been enjoying our downtime after nine days of spring break. IMG_1802Until next time, happy reading/writing/knitting/crocheting/puppy loving!

Two Finished Bags

My felted bag kept talking to me, even after I said it was done. “I’m plain,” it whined. “I’m missing something!” It finally occurred to me this morning what it was missing: a flower! Especially after the silk lost so much sheen and color, the bag needed something fun to make it pop. So this morning, I made it a flower with a button center and now my bag is satisfied. “I’m lovely now,” it purred happily.IMG_1876I finished another bag this weekend and it’s really, truly done. It’s a cotton/linen market bag and I’m quite pleased with the springiness of the yarn. It should work out perfectly for its purpose.IMG_1877I’ve got another bag starting in my mind now: a hot pink cotton fat-bottom bag with a dark denim lining and clear plastic handles. Won’t that be fun? Before I start it, though, I want to get a few more hats done before my next craft show on Saturday. And I might have good knitting time today. The kids have eaten enough candy that they seem to have fallen into a sugar coma and are nice and quiet. Better get busy while I can!

Spring Break in Photos

Spring Break is almost over. It has been very quiet and casual, for the most part. Lots of sleeping in, hanging out in PJs and binge-watching Arrow and Sherlock, and quite a bit of knitting. Here are the highlights:

Lilac market bag in cotton/linen

Lilac market bag in cotton/linen

My new fabric remnants for purse linings

My new fabric remnants for purse linings

Impromptu lunch at Steak 'n' Shake

Impromptu lunch at Steak ‘n’ Shake

Puppies got bored

Puppies got bored

I hate to end on a bad note, but that’s life sometimes, right? Two books escaped with just a few small gouges, one lost the dust jacket but is still a good reading copy, one is readable if I don’t mind a big missing corner, and two were destroyed completely. Sigh. At least they ignored the first edition of Cold Mountain. I’m trying to remind myself that we’ve gotten really lucky. Since we got the second dog, Grace, six weeks ago, we’ve left the two pups out in the house while we’re gone and for the most part they’ve been really good. I have no idea what brought on this little chew-fest, but it’s enough to make me decide they can stay in the kitchen while we’re gone!

How much is that purse in the window?

Last night, I finished my felted silk/wool bag. I hand-sewed the lining, sewed on the handle tabs and handles, and trimmed the long strands of silk sticking out. It would appear the bag is completely done.IMG_1820_2 IMG_1822 IMG_1823_2I like it. I was discouraged as I was working through it, frustrated with the felting process and not sure the lining would go well enough. But now that it’s done, it pleases me. I think it will become a knitting bag for ME.

Sure, I could try to sell it. It’s attractive, striking, unusual, handmade, handy. But I’m really not sure I could get anyone to pay what it’s really worth. Here’s a glimpse into the struggle of pricing handmade items:

  • Silk Yarn $16
  • Wool yarn $9
  • Lining fabric $5
  • Wooden handles $7

I’m already at $37 just in materials. But what about time?

  • Finding the right shade of blue wool to match the silk: 1 hour
  • Knitting the bag: 4 hours (approx)
  • Felting the bag: 2.5 hours (1 hour hand-felting, 2 cycles in the washer, stuffing & shaping the bag)
  • Prepping and sewing the lining: 2 hours (longer because I’m a sewing machine novice)
  • Hand-sewing the lining into the bag: 1 hour
  • Hand-sewing the handles into the bag: .5 hour

That’s 11 hours of labor. If I give myself even minimum wage (Missouri: $7.65) that’s $84.15. Add in the materials, and I should price the bag at $121. Whaaat? Sure. It’s technically worth that. Hard to argue with the facts. But where do I find the person who’s willing to pay that?

So here’s my question to you, fellow crafters: How do you price your items? Do you use a formula? Do you peruse Etsy or other sites to see what others are pricing similar items? Do you go with your gut?

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. This is an ongoing struggle for me, and I’m trying very hard to stop undervaluing myself and what I create. But at the same time, I do want to sell things. Not just for the money, but so other people can have things they love, so that I can share the joy of handmade.IMG_1821_2