Tag Archive | crafters

One Done, Two Begun

Here, let me show you something I finished! I actually finished it a few days ago but was slow getting around to taking a halfway decent photo.

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This is my Quickie Scowl. I used Classic Elite Chalet and Chateau, two skeins of teal and one of light gray, and that wasn’t enough. It’s shorter than I wanted. I blame it on needle size. The pattern calls for 10 1/2; when I made it the first time, I used 10s (no idea why), and this time I chose 10.75 because I wanted to use my fun Marblez needles and I thought the size would be close enough. And I do love the loose drape and the nice big yarnovers, but of course it’s wider than my first scarf, so with the same amount of yarn, it’s also shorter. I thought about sewing the ends together for a cowl which would be long enough to double, but I asked my daughter and she voted for a scarf, so a scarf it stayed. And it is a cozy, warm, close-fitting scarf indeed!

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I did start two new projects yesterday, the ones calling my name, and boy are they fun! First I cast on for the Miss Winkle with my hot pink Frolicking Feet. It’s a Martina Behm pattern so there’s plenty of squishy garter stitch but also this nifty looped edge that is super addictive.

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It’s also super hard to photograph! It was a little tricky to figure out, and I’m pretty sure I did the first one wrong, but eh, it’s a design feature, right? At first I thought I’d get annoyed by the fiddly nature of it, but it turns out I’m loving knitting this and want to keep going just to make more loops!

My second cast-on was the Gothic Lace cowl in MadTosh Vintage and that’s a delightful knit too. The yarn is thick and squishy and slides just right on my bamboo needles and the lace makes me think without being too complicated, and bonus: when it’s done I’ll get to pick out buttons to add!

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And thankfully, the rest of my weekend is pretty empty, so I should get to work on these quite a bit. But once I get started on the margaritas tonight, I’ll probably switch back to the simple Hill & Dale cowl.

I think that’s a wrap for my 2016 blogging. See you on the flip side, and here’s wishing you all a happy, safe New Year’s Eve!

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

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

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

Knitting Fail

Well, I screwed up. Not big time, but still enough to be annoying. One of my WIPs is in timeout while I think about what I did. This project was one where I knew what the yarn was going to be as soon as I got it home. It was a project I was anticipating. It’s a purse made out of alpaca, so I waiting to start it until a little closer to fall. It was my celebratory back to school knitting. It started out well enough, though since I was using such large needles (size 10) and one strand of yarn, the fabric felt a little…loose. IMG_4807

I kept knitting away, and soon I had two sides and the gusset, which grew into the handle (that wider section).IMG_4895

I didn’t worry about it until last night. I was waiting for the girl at flute lesson, knitting away on the handle section. It’s all garter stitch and it was so open and stretchy. The pattern calls for it to sewn around a ribbon for reinforcement, but it just didn’t seem right.IMG_4896

I went back and checked the pattern in the book: it called for Rowan Alpaca Chunky. and I was using Cascade Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky. Should be the same, right? Wrong. Apparently the Rowan Chunky is a Super Bulky, and Cascade is just a bulky. Substituting the yarns but not the needle size meant the product was coming out much differently than the original. (YES, I KNOW! All you smug gauge-testers are laughing and shaking your head and saying, “I TOLD you so!” You did. I ignored you. Shut up.)

Once I figured that out last night, I stopped knitting. I don’t know what I want to do with it now. I still want to make the bag. I don’t really want to frog the two pieces that are already bound off. I don’t mind their size or level of openness, especially since this whole piece will be lined. It’s just the handle that’s bugging me, even though it’ll also be reinforced and shouldn’t stretch out with use. Do I frog the handle section? If so, what do I do instead? I have enough yarn to double-strand the handle. Or I could knit the handle with smaller needles to make it a closer knit. What would you do?

Yarn for the Nerd in all of us

Have you heard of Make magazine? Or maybe the Maker Faire? They’re parts of a larger Maker movement that encourages people to…well, to make stuff. They want people to interact with their environment, to open their minds enough to think about how to do something differently, or to create something fun and interesting and helpful. The magazine has all kinds of project ideas, and my husband has been reading it for ages. He loves to find fun things to do with the kids. I’m awfully glad he does too, because it led to a new yarn source for me.

So, the Maker Faire. It’s “the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.” Sounds cool, doesn’t it? Kansas City hosted a Maker Faire last month, but unfortunately it fell on a weekend when we simply did not have time to go. But shortly after, the Make blog featured one of the KC vendors, Nerd Girl Yarns, and since Alex reads the blog, is a nerd, and has a wife who loves yarn, he watched the interview. (Watch her interviews here) And then he shared it with me, and I got all excited because guess what? NGY is in Odessa, Missouri which is only about 30 minutes from me!

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I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of them before, but as I poked through the website I realized that it was because she focuses on the dyeing, and selling custom orders. She does have a small retail space, but it seems to be more of a sideline. And I’m okay with that, because the yarns she creates are awesome. Yesterday I got out to the studio for the first time to see some of the yarn in person. The retail section is small, with just one little bit of wall devoted to yarn. The other side has the hand-dyed clothing, and there were a couple of chairs for those inclined to stay and be crafty. I wasn’t there for that. I was there for the yarn.

A lot of the colors are inspired by Doctor Who, like a blue and brown named Tenth Doctor. There was a red named I Am the Cyber King, and a Gallifrey with oranges and reds. There was a TARDIS blue, of course, and a yellow/orange with a touch of blue Sunflower. I was really hoping for the Blue Box Exploding, which is mostly blue with some yellow/orange too. She has Don’t Blink, Doctor Donna, Fantastic, Raggedy Man, Regenerate, and Time Machine. Both my kids (and the husband) are Whovians so I’d love to get some of each to make them lots of Whovian presents. I can’t do it all at once, though. I know. Patience, grasshopper.

They’re not all Doctor Who, of course. There’s Windu, Nevermore, Resurrection Stone, Serenity Firefly Class, Forbidden Forest, Walking Dead, Girl on Fire and so much more. So many references that I don’t even get! I can’t list them all, so you really should check out her stuff yourself. Go to her website here.

The really cool thing is that you can order the colorway on any base you like. So if you adore fingering weight, you can get that. If you love bulky yarn, like me, you can get that. You can get exactly the yarn you want!

“What did you get??” I can hear you asking. My eye went first to a gorgeous purple sparkly yarn named Secretly Spiders. The site says it’s inspired by Night Vale, and sadly I have no idea what that means. All I know is that I love it. It’s on Smashing, which is a DK of 70% merino and 20% silk with 5% silver-toned stellina to make it shine.IMG_2677I kept picking skeins up and putting them back. I really needed to restrain myself to 2 or 3 skeins, but it was hard. I struggled with choosing based on the Whovian names or the colors. I ended up going for the colors this time. So my second skein was a beautiful blue-green blend named #nofilter. The colors were more vivid on the fingering weights, but I knew I’d enjoy a heaver weight more, so I went with Foxy. Foxy is a DK weight too, but it’s 85% Polwarth Wool and 15% silk.IMG_2679Once I got through the initial getting-to-know-you phase, I was able to look beyond the wall o’ yarn, and that’s when I saw the sale section. It wasn’t big, and there were only two bowls of yarn, but any sale yarn is good yarn in my book. My third selection came from that.IMG_2682This is called Shtako. No idea what that means. Feel free to enlighten me. But the purple caught my eye, and as soon as I touched it, it was mine. It’s on the Luscious yarn, and it really is luscious. It’s Heavy Worsted, 60% superfine merino and 40% silk. It’s heavenly. It’s only 100 yards so it will have to be a small project; I’m thinking some fingerless gloves.

I also got a medium project bag with the logo, like you see in that first picture. You can never have enough project bags, and at $12 it was the perfect price. She didn’t have any Blue Box Exploding, so I’ll probably be ordering some in the near future. And we got to talk to Christa, the owner, for a little while, and she mentioned the possibility of doing quarterly events where they dye larger quantities of some of the popular colorways. I’m really hoping that happens, because I’d be there in a heartbeat! If you’d like to find out when that happens, follow her blog here. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Purple Crochet Fat-Bottom Bag

I must be crazy to be attempting this pattern again. Last year I made a powder blue crochet fat-bottom bag. Crocheting the body of the bag went quickly, but then I got stuck on the whole lining part. I’m not a seamstress, in fact I hate that part, so I put it off forever before finally begging my SIL to help me. Once I got the lining cut and hemmed, I had to hand-sew the darn lining into the bag.

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Sure, after that, the finishing went quickly, but still, the whole process took so long that it drove me bonkers. Unfortunately I loved the finished product. It wasn’t my color, and I knew I would never carry it, so my MIL has it now, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, especially once I had Junie Balloonie make an accent flower for it.

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When I found a skein of purple Cotton-Ease at an estate sale, I knew I needed to make a fat-bottom bag for myself. It took a while but last night I decided I’d waited long enough. Picking up a crochet hook after knitting for months felt like catching up with an old friend. I fell into the rhythm of crochet quickly and the body bag was done before I knew it. I’m using this pattern from Ravelry, but since it’s not in English, I’m mostly referring to this website. Now the body is done, and I even have this remnant of purple cotton in my crafting stash, so I think I’m ready for the next step…except I still need help from the person with the sewing machine! Hopefully I’ll have a new bag to show off in the next few days!

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Alpaca, merino and silk, oh my!

Today was a craftful day. My husband has been working a lot lately, so he arranged to take the day off, and we used the time to drive up to Weston, MO. Sadly, one of my LYSs is closing soon, so of course I had to take advantage of the sale. And it was a great excuse to visit Weston. It’s a cute little town with about three blocks of unusual, unique, and locally owned shops. There are several quaint gift shops, but also antique shops, a hardware store, an Irish-themed store, an architectural salvage barn, a liquor market, and a jewelry store with a lovely resident dog. Plus it has the Weston Cafe, which we love. It’s not fancy: the chairs are lightweight black metal with the barest padding, the tables aren’t exactly level and covered with plain oilcloth. But the food is good and the service is better. We’ve gone with the kids to Weston maybe once every three months or so. But today our favorite waitress greeted us by asking where the kids were, and she even remembered my regular order. It was a refreshing change from the sterile anonymity of a bigger city.

But anyway, that wasn’t my main goal. My main goal was the yarn. Actually, my main goal was to pick up a mannequin head the owner was holding for me. I’m newer to the knitting business and I’ve found that things photograph and sell better if they’re displayed well. So now I’m the proud owner of a head.

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I love that her neck is long and she’s got a hint of shoulder–I’ll be able to display cowls and scarves on her too!

I really wasn’t going to buy much yarn. (I’ll pause here for fellow yarn enthusiasts to stop laughing.) Seriously, I’d already ordered some from her website, and of course I didn’t *need* more yarn. But she had alpaca for 40% off! Gorgeous baby alpaca. No, I don’t know what it’s going to be. But it’s alpaca. It doesn’t matter.

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Then I touched some Cascade superwash by accident, and was surprised by how soft it was. There were some great colors too. I grabbed three colors, trying to decide between them, and realized how well they went together. I picked a gray for a neutral and I think they’ll become a nifty striped bag.

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I found some splurges too. This sweet green is a mix of mohair, wool and silk so it has a fuzzy halo and a soft touch.

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The colors of this yarn caught me. I loved the deep tones, and when I touched it and felt the silk/merino blend, I was a goner. They’re actually a bit darker than they look in the pictures; they’re Magenta and Teal.

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This last one might be my favorite. It was a lucky find, the last skein in the store, and it happened to be in the 60% off basket. It’s a cashmere/silk blend and it feels as luxurious as you’re imagining. I had no silk before today, and certainly no cashmere, so this skein thrilled me.

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My arms were full, and by then I was waiting by the counter, trying to get out of there before finding more. It didn’t work. Right next to me were two skeins of Cascade Magnum, a fabulous super bulky yarn. One was red and one was this dark, vivid blue, almost a purple blue. Maybe indigo? Not sure. In any case, at 40% off it was coming home with me too.

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You’d think that was enough, but I managed to throw in a pattern book, a couple of bamboo crochet hooks and a packet of cute green buttons before all was said and done. Thank goodness my husband is a crafter too (he plays with wood and tools and makes beautiful furniture, check out his blog here) so he understood the importance of getting high-quality supplies at more-than-reasonable prices. In fact, I would have bought much less if he hadn’t encouraged me to stock up. But I’m tickled with the additions to my stash, and now I’m off to knit!