Archive | October 2015

Two Finished Hats

I’m still working on the mermaid blanket, and it’s going as slowly as I expected, probably because I have to take breaks to work on something else periodically. My next craft show is the 18th, so I’m trying to balance getting new hats made for that with the need to get the blanket done before Christmas. That won’t be a problem at all; I’m over halfway through the longest part and soon I’ll get to start decreasing for the tail. It’s good baseball crochet since it’s so mindless right now, just row after row of shells. No new pictures, because it’s not really that interesting at the moment.

Here’s what’s more interesting right now: two newly finished hats! The first is the Butterfly Hat, which popped up on my Facebook feed recently and I thought was fantastic. I’ve done the butterfly stitch before, on my sister’s fabulous bag, and I really love the look. So when a friend asked me to make her a black one, I was delighted to try out the pattern. IMG_3827It came out a little more…bubbly than I expected, but I still like it. I think it’s because it’s a 5-strand butterfly, rather than the 3-strand that the bag pattern called for, and there’s more tension on the stitches. It might be kind of interesting to play around with it and see what happens with a 3-strand. IMG_3828I used acrylic this time, black Purl Essence Sincerely from Joann. It came out a bit big, but my friend has a big noggin so that should be perfect!

Last night, while I watched the Royals (it was sad, but we’re going to turn it around tonight), I finished my Spiralini Hat.IMG_3834 IMG_3835I LOVE this pattern. Very simple, and I love how the spiral continues throughout the decreases. I also love the feel of the Knit Picks Preciosa. My only thought is that when I make this pattern again, and I will, I think I’ll go up a needle size for the body to give it a looser drape.

For my Halloween knitting, I’ve got an orange slouchy hat on my needles. My kids are too old for trick-or-treating, so I get to stay out of the rain and watch the game tonight. Wishing you all a safely spooky Halloween!

The Shawl After Blocking

Today I unpinned my Chocolate Cherries shawl and took it outside for a photo shoot. IMG_3819It’s significantly bigger now, has much better drape, and the eyelets are nice and open. It still wants to curl a bit at the edge, but I expected that, and it doesn’t bother me. Here are a few more shots of my new pretty:IMG_3824 IMG_3822 IMG_3821 IMG_3820If you’re interested in the details, the project is Ravelled here. I’ll probably wear it more as a scarf than a shawl, and I probably won’t wear it often. But when I do, I’ll think of Mother’s Day when I got the yarn, and of my dad, who loved chocolate covered cherries. ❤

Blocking a Wool Shawl

Back in May, I finished this gorgeous shawlette in Baah! Sonoma Chocolate Cherries. Since then it’s lived folded up in my craft room waiting to be washed and blocked. Now that the weather is turning cooler, I decided I needed to get it ready to wear. Here’s what it looked like pre-blocking:IMG_2344A little bath in some Eucalan and here’s what I had: IMG_3812Not very encouraging, is it? But here’s the wonderful thing about wool: you can tug and pull it into shape and you end up with something like this:IMG_3813I’m not the best blocker; it may not be perfectly symmetrical. And the stockinette edge on the bottom will still curl up. But those tiny things won’t matter once it’s unpinned, and doing this will open up those little eyelets wonderfully. Since that’s why I picked this pattern, I think I’ll be happy with it.IMG_3814Stay tuned for photos once it’s dry!

Watch me WIP!

I have SO many works in progress right now, it’s crazy. Maybe not, maybe everyone else has 10 unfinished projects hanging around. Do you? I tell myself it’s okay because one is in deep hibernation, and six are for me that need to be on hold while I finish some money-making projects. So really, that only leaves three, and that sounds a lot better!

I did finish the Royals gloves and earwarmer and delivered those yesterday, and I’m proud to say that for the very first time I was able to make two gloves that matched each other in size! Not only that, I did it TWICE. Whoooa, that’s serious knitting success for me. Fresh off that high, I decided to jump off the deep end and start my biggest project: a crochet mermaid afghan. I’m sure you’ve all seen the photos. Well, it’s my turn to make one. IMG_3751I’m using Knit Picks Brava Worsted in two shades of purple and one shade of teal. Funny story: I picked up my crochet hook and my yarn to make my chain…and froze. I’d kind of forgotten how to chain! I did two stitches like a knitting cast on before my brain was like, No, stop, I got this. Fortunately, once I got going, I realized it’s not really a difficult pattern. The hard part for me will just be keeping myself interested enough to make something blanket-sized! But I’ve got a deadline so I feel confident.

Of course, I’ve also got a couple of hats on the needles. My Knit Picks Preciosa has just started to become a hat. I’m trying the Spiraltini pattern because it’s a simple pattern that looks more complicated than it is. I’m not at the fun part yet, though. It’s still in the ribbing phase. IMG_3756Last night the girl had a choir concert and I needed something super simple and portable so I grabbed a skein of Cascade Eco Cloud and cast on for another Broken Rib Slouch hat. I love how the chained texture gives it such awesome stitch definition. IMG_3753I’ll probably finish this up today when I need a break from the mermaid. Gray and rainy day means a day spent with my yarn! Except I’m out of wine, and that’s a problem…

Yarn Day, Yarn Day!

Today was Yarn Day! I placed a Knit Picks order recently for the yarn I need for the mermaid blanket order, and of course I needed to get free shipping plus there was a discount, so I ordered a few things for myself. And today I found it on my porch…as I was leaving to go to Costco!! Argh. I had to WAIT to open it, but finally the moment arrived. IMG_3729It just never gets old, diving into a box of yarn.IMG_3730This is Brava Worsted, and it will become the crocheted Mermaid Blanket. It might be a challenge for me, but I’m looking forward to doing some crochet again. I get awfully knitting-centered sometimes. I absolutely love these colors.IMG_3731This was my splurge: six skeins of Preciosa Tonal. Pretty, eh? I love the subtle color variations. They feel more…roving-esque? than I expected–I think I was expecting something similar to a MadTosh feel–but I really like them. Very soft, should be marvelous to knit with. My goal is for them to become more slouch beanies; I think I can get two hats from each skein. But sadly these little beauties will have to wait. First I need to finish some orders. I got one pair of KC Royals fingerless gloves done this morning, and during this afternoon’s game I aim to knit the earwarmer. Tomorrow is empty right now, so maybe I can get the other pair of fingerless gloves done. Here’s hoping! IMG_3732These gloves were a fantastic knit, extremely fast and I love how the ribbing keeps them nice and snug. Now if I could just keep track of how many rows I do in the first mitt so I can replicate it more easily for the second! The pattern is called 220 Fingerless Mitts.

I might be…a good knitter…maybe? Sometimes?

I got a fantastic email last night, another thank-you from a happy Etsy customer. This one turned into another special order, so now I’m making two more scarves before December. That’s added on to a mermaid blanket, an earwarmer and two pairs of fingerless gloves. Whew! I’m gonna be a busy gal. I better get out my elbow support and just start wearing it every day.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would have any kind of knitting-related business, not before a couple of years ago. But then I learned to knit in April 2013, and now here I am, with glowing reviews from Etsy customers and craft show customers, repeat business from those customers, special orders, and it feels…perfect. I feel so very lucky. It’s hard for me to think very highly of what I do, because it’s not that special, it’s not unique. Many people knit just as well as I do, and many do more complicated, unusual patterns than I do. And that’s okay. I’m happy where I’m at with my knitting.

So why am I succeeding now? No idea. My attention to detail, maybe. My commitment to customer service (thank you, Coldwater Creek), maybe. I put myself into what I make and I share myself with my customers (and all of you!) and I think people respond to that. I don’t really have the answer, and that’s okay too. As long as I can keep doing what I’m doing, it works for me. It’s not like I’m making a ton of money. Nowhere near it. But I’m at a point where I think the knitting can be self-sustaining financially and that’s huge. (That’s also assuming I can resist big splurges at the yarn stores!) And I think if I keep at it, I might actually profit someday. Wouldn’t that be cool? Yep. Very cool.

This weekend might have been my last free-knitting time before I plunge into all those custom orders. I splurged on some buttons recently, wanting to make more button slouch hats before a craft show next month. IMG_3705I decided the big pink one was perfect for the black and white hat.IMG_3708Yesterday I spent a couple of hours listening while my daughter rehearsed with her local honor orchestra, and cast on for another Borealis beanie.IMG_3715I was done 20 minutes before they were.IMG_3718The girl saw the hat and promptly stole it. This is the same girl who spent an entire day off school making cookies to sell to help offset the cost of the tuition for that orchestra. Voluntarily. So, she wants a hat, she gets a hat.IMG_3722How can I resist when it looks so cute on her?

Ouch. And also, Happy I Love Yarn Day!

I did a LOT of knitting yesterday. I finished the Where’s Waldo hat…

 wove in tails on a cute kid’s hat…

 Started a new slouch hat during the Royals-Blue Jays pregame show…

 And finished it by the end of the sixth inning. I’m thinking red buttons, what about you?

 Then I cast on for another hat with the Borealis…

 and things were going smoothly until I realized my elbow felt a little tight. I straightened it and yep, there was the tendinitis twinge. Oops. So I put the knitting down, and today I’ll take a break from knitting and instead go to Joann to stock up on some buttons. And since it’s also I Love Yarn Day, I might go to the yarn store. Maybe. Just maybe. What’s on your agenda this fine fall weekend?

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

You would think, with a couple hours of high school football game knitting last night, that I would have made great progress on my Where’s Waldo hat. You would be wrong. I kept looking at it as I knit on the second stretch of white, and I realized that the proportions of the sections were going to be wrong. See, I’ve been going a little nuts recently, making hats on the fly without a pattern. I look at patterns to get an idea of how many stitches to cast on, and then I knit. I’ve done enough hats that I usually have a pretty good idea of when and how to start decreasing. And that’s really cool! I like that I’m learning enough to be able to do that.

But I’m second-guessing myself on this particular hat, probably because it’s a special order and not just for my inventory. I want to make sure it’s exactly what my customer wants, with the right amount of slouch and everything. This is one time my perfectionism slows things down! So here’s what I had: IMG_3649I’m only doing one thick red stripe, and when I started on the second white section, I realized it would be significantly bigger than the other two, and the red stripe wouldn’t be centered. With a sinking feeling, I knew what my next step would be. I spent the first half hour of the game frogging and then picking up stitches. After counting rows and estimating how many I’d have total, I made the first white section bigger. Here’s where I am now. IMG_3660You like my little helper there? Yes, that’s pillow-eating Grace. At least she doesn’t eat yarn. Anyway, I have high hopes of finishing this hat today. After that, I’m moving on to building up my hat inventory for my next craft show in November. I’ve even wound the yarn I want to use.IMG_3662These are my last two skeins of Berroco Borealis, a gorgeous mix of blues and greens. They should make lovely slouchy hats. Hopefully I have good buttons in my stash for them, because I have no place close by to buy good buttons. Have you seen the selection at Michael’s? It’s sad. I swear, I got so spoiled by Joann. Hmm. Maybe a trip to Joann can be my reward for finishing the Where’s Waldo hat!

Finally, here’s a tiny elephant. The girl found it in Jack’s mouth this morning. We have no idea where it came from, and the poor thing is missing a leg. As small as it is, I can’t believe Jack didn’t swallow it whole. So this is a survivor elephant. He will live in my craft room now. IMG_3664

Keep The Momentum Going

Wow, this has been a crazy wonderful week! So I last blogged about the craft show, and since then, I’ve had a lovely flurry of custom orders and Etsy orders and nice messages. The best was from a woman who bought one of the button slouch hats at the show. I attach a tag to all my items with my website, etsy shop, etc, and she actually took the time to find me online and found the blog post where I wrote about making her hat. She loved getting the backstory, and asked me to make her another hat. How cool is that?? I swear, I had a smile for hours from that, just that my hat and I made that good an impression on her. Even better, I had the perfect yarn for the second hat she wanted, my last skein of this purple/red/black/gray Borealis. IMG_3646But before I could do that, I had another special order to finish. My Yoda hats are my most popular items on Etsy, and someone who’d bought one messaged me after receiving it. She loved it, and since I’d done such nice work and was so quick and friendly, could I make a Princess Leia headband for her daughter? Well, of course I could! I could and did, and though it wasn’t as easy as Yoda, I liked how it turned out and I really hope she was pleased too. IMG_3638Then another message from a satisfied craft show customer: she loves her hat, can I make her a Where’s Waldo hat? Oh yes, that sounds fun! That’s on my needles right now, actually. IMG_3649And during all this, my Etsy app kept dinging at me: Ding, a hat sold! Ding, a hat sold! Ding, a scarf sold! Oh my stars! It’s been SO MUCH FUN. I wish it could always be like this, but I know it won’t. Still, I’m going to keep doing craft shows and getting my name out there, and I’m going to keep making fun, unusual stuff for my Etsy shop, and maybe someday I’ll get back to knitting things for myself. As I sit here typing, I keep glancing at these skeins of Chateau, which have been wound for several days waiting to be knit into a cushy cowl. Don’t worry, little yarns, I’ll get to you soon enough. IMG_3652

Craft Show Results

This show freaked me out. Big time. I showed up to set up and it was in this BIG pavilion, and there were all these vendors with fancy displays and tons of product, people who clearly did this all the time. And then there was little old me, with my styrofoam heads and makeshift thrift-store displays and a wide variety of products. I was paralyzed for a little while, with no idea how I was going to do this. Thank goodness, my Knitting SIL showed up to help and jump-started my competitive nature. Between the two of us, we set up a professional, attractive display. IMG_3590 IMG_3591The first day was disappointing. Big crowds for the first three hours or so, but over the course of the 8-hour day, I made less than $100. Plenty of people stopped and admired, but no one was buying. I was discouraged but still hoped the second day would be better, and it was! The crowds weren’t as big but I made some sales, enough to sell twice what the booth space cost me. Great? Nope, but good. The Royals hats didn’t sell as quickly as I expected but I sold four of the six button slouch hats I just made last week, so I’ll be making more of those.

Here’s the highlight of the entire show: mid-afternoon on Saturday, two women stopped by my booth and admired several of the hats. The older woman tried on a red slouch hat and liked it, the younger woman tried on a few, then they said they still needed to look around. About half an hour later, they were back. They’d seen everything, trying to decide what their ONE purchase would be…and out of 100 or so vendors, I’d won their business! That made the whole experience worth it to me. Two hats, not a huge sale, but it said huge things to me: they appreciated the work I’d done, they liked it enough to spend their money on it. THAT is why I do this. THAT is why I price my items as fairly as I can. I’m not in this to get rich. I’m in this to do what I love and share it with others.

It wasn’t just them, either. I got so many compliments about my display, my products, my fiber choices, my workmanship. People stopped and really looked at my pieces, felt them, and told me I did very nice work. No, most of them didn’t buy, but that’s ok. It was enough to tell me that I’m on the right track with what I’m doing. Enough people get it, get that my goal is to take a beautiful yarn and find the right pattern to show it off, and do it in a high-quality way to produce something that’s better than you can buy at Target or Kohl’s. I did have one person ask me if I’d take $10 on a $15 acrylic hat (I said no) but only one. That person is not my target. My target is the person who appreciates beauty and quality and is willing to pay what those things are worth.

So now I have to figure out how to reach my target. I’m not sure this show was worth doing again. I had a wonderful time, but the profit wasn’t huge. Am I better off doing smaller, less expensive shows? In the past, I’ve made almost the same amount of money at them while paying smaller booth fees. Do I search for shows in areas that are typically more oriented toward handmade/artisan/independent sellers? Areas that are higher income? Or do I just keep doing a variety? I’m not sure. I’m pondering while I start looking around for some more shows to do.

What’s my takeaway from this show? I need more depth in my kid hat inventory. People wanted them. They loved my Yoda hat, but since I only had maybe five kid hats available, they didn’t sell well. I need more colors, more styles, more sizes. And the button slouch hats will definitely be a staple. They’re quick to make, stylish, and the buttons add great flair. I want to have some chemo caps too, soft and snug acrylic beanies. I had a request for them and hated that I didn’t have anything that was just right. (Of course I also had a request for camo alpaca beanies/gloves marketed as “Hunters’ Special” but I don’t think I’ll go that route.)

I’m never going to be the both with tons of colors in only three or four styles. That’s just not me. But I think I can find a way to meet the customers’ needs and still make what I love. They want kid hats? I love making hats. Having a variety of colors and sizes is all I need; they don’t have to be the same pattern. They want slouch hats? Man, the possibilities are endless. I’ll be making slouchy beanies forever and be happy doing it.

Making money from yarn is hard. It definitely takes time and effort and patience. In the last month or so, I’ve been posting more frequently on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and it’s helping. I’m nowhere near a rockstar but I’m engaging with more people, and I think my visibility is slowing growing bit by bit. Now I need to to take the next step and be more present in person; i.e. do more shows/fairs. I’m looking at this as a job, but I’m still loving it. How lucky am I? Very! Especially since I had so much time to knit the last two days that I finished three hats, including this one. IMG_3614IMG_3613