Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Glorious Spring (& other flights of fancy)

Spring must be here - the snow is finally melting (& flooding the town) and the garter snakes are coming out in droves!

Hopefully I will do a better job this year of getting patterns written down & posted in our Etsy store.
So many ideas, so little time.

I blame it all on the government wanting their share (aka taxes) & me being the resident bean counter. I think some chocolate may be in order, or I go on strike! Some merino batting would be nice too, if the job is to be done with any efficiency. And while I'm at it, some silk chiffon scarves to practice nuno felting would also be lovely & quite considerate....  ;)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

We're Back!

Just came back 2 weeks from a fabulous 3 month holiday down in the US. Living in a 24' RV for all that time sure opened up my eyes to how much junk we've accumulated over the year in our house, so I've gone into major de-cluttering mode around the house. The reward for all of this hard work? Time well spent crocheting, of course! :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Long Overdue Update

But then, that is so typical of me, a chronic procrastinator! o_0

My girls have really caught the crafting bug, so I have spent the summer teaching them all sorts of crafty things (not all related to fiber arts). Spoonflower has been particularly addictive for my oldest daughter Deborah, while Rachel has been experimenting with weaving.

However, the latest fiber craze at our house has been felt making of the wet variety. About two weeks ago we spent the entire day making some felted scarflettes for ourselves to get the feel of the process. The girls desperately want to try to make a felt beret, but I have no merino roving left. I'd buy more, but we'll be leaving on a 4 month RV adventure soon, so ordering online is out of the question to get delivered in time & I don't have the time to go hunting down a local supplier.

Since I still have 3 barrels full of lincoln wool left, I'm sorting, cleaning & carding so that we can have some workable fiber available for one last felting project before our trip. Should have some photos of the scarflettes posted here tomorrow.

I started crocheting some squares to go into blankets for the homeless shelter in Moose Jaw about a month ago & will bring enough yarn along with me on the RV to while the drive away. I think I may have already made up enough for an entire blanket so far, just need to check with Donna, the project co-ordinator to see what sizes the blankets need to be. I'm really happy that my girls contributed some squares of their own too - makes me so happy to see them give back to the community :)

We've had the wettest summer ever here & a curiously warm autumn (for the prairies), but the cold weather is just around the corner - I can't wait to go on our trip and head to warmer climes.... and hopefully visit a few yarn shops along the way! :D

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just An Update

Just after making my last post our family got knocked down by a very nasty flu bug that's been hard to shake. With 6 kids & both parents sick at once, it actually wasn't too bad - everybody pretty much stayed in bed & slurped up soup & tea the whole time.

Now that we're all better, I'm going at 90 km/hr trying to get caught up on a lot of projects that got neglected during that time. I've still got until the end of the week to get my crochet pattern for the challenge done. I'm thinking that I might just be a bit late though, as I have a massive cook off that I have to do tonight with the kids in preparation for a 4-H fundraiser that they are participating in tomorrow. Somehow, I always seem to get in over my head with these kinds of things - LOL!

There's also a few vintage crochet patterns that I'm in the middle of making into digital files for sale at the Wee Designs site and my Etsy store. I have so many patterns in my home, it's unbelievable - serious PAS (Pattern Acquisition Syndrome) - and to think, I gave away half of my collection 5 years ago, and I'm back to the same amount again already! Another project I'm doing with vintage is taking some older public domain images (such as botanical sketches, book plates & Japanese prints) and making them into derivative works such as cross stitch charts & knitting graphs.

The Wee Designs site has been updated to function a bit better, but I'm still needing to figure out how to have a reliable way to sell both physical items and digital items on the site with the same platform. Currently, I'm using Mal's E as my shopping cart - it works great with sending the files to the buyer's email, but ideally I'd like to have the download link available to the customers as soon as they pay right on the sight. So far, I've only looked into E-Junkie as an alternative, but I think that maybe I can find better if I keep looking around. In the meantime, I'm selling the physical items on Etsy & now my Bonanzle store too (see link on the right).

There should be a few cross stitch charts coming to the site over the next few weeks as well - I'm just about finished one that my daughter Deborah & I collaborated on. She had painted a cute little ducking in watercolors that I wanted to capture permanently, so with her permission, I scanned it in & interpreted it for needlework. Meanwhile, she is trying her hand out with the cross stitch software again and may be having her first original chart up in the Etsy store within the next 2 weeks. Way to go Deborah! :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fabulous Friends & February Challenge

I'm so thankful for the new friends that I have met on Etsy over the past month. It all started with a sale that I made to a wonderful lady named Helen of Helensharvest. She was kind enough to tell me about a great team on Etsy called the Christian Artists Street Team, or CAST for short.

I had thought about joining up with a Team on Etsy before, but with homeschooling & mothering 6 children, and having read the requirements for others, I didn't think that there was any team that I could commit to. Many teams require a specific amount of listings or postings made to their blogs per month, which isn't really a big deal, but I didn't want to be obligated to add more to my already full workload. Whereas on CAST, the only requirement is having faith in Jesus. Since I'm already on board with Him, that requirement was easy enough!

What a bunch of wonderful people to "meet" online & share encouragement, prayers & Etsy related ideas with. If you want to find out more about CAST, you can check them out at the CAST blog or look them up on the Etsy forum under "Teams". Thank you so much Helen for letting me know about CAST :)

Another great friend I've made recently on Etsy is Abbey of stitchesandscribbles (who also just joined CAST) - I met her on a regular Etsy forum posting called Fiber Friday. Yup - For Fiber Friday I found a fun & fabulous fellow fiber fanatic :) (bet you can't say that 10 times fast!). We are embarking on a challenge to each other to get one new pattern written down a month - this being our first month of the challenge. I look forward to keeping accountable with each other to get some new patterns out for our customers to enjoy.

Then, I had an awesome customer service experience with another CAST Etsian - Kelli of desertsoapstone. I made a bit of my own challenge to try to buy the items that I need from my fellow Team members, so I was really glad to find a soap maker in our midst. I asked Kelli for a recommendation for what she had that won't irritate my skin (I have mild eczema), and went for two of her glycerin soaps - Leaves of Grass made with shea butter, aloe & hemp oil, and Lavender Vanilla made with aloe, coconut & palm oil.

I received my soaps within 2 weeks from the time they were made (considering that I live in Canada & Kelli is in the US & they were sent first class mail is really good), and I was so pleased when I opened up my package. If you think they look yummy online, wait until you smell them - WOW! Absolutely delicious! Just be careful to wash with them and not eat them ok?

Even better, when I used the soaps I had no reaction to them - something that usually happens to me within the first 15 minutes of most other soaps. Some other handmade soaps have caused me problems - not as severe as store brand soaps (which really are just detergent in solid form), but enough to get a small reaction within 30 minutes of use. So after I reached the 30 minute mark & no problems, I knew I had found a great source of soap for me. Kelli's soaps are "bar none" in my books ;P

Disclaimer - while I might possibly make money if somebody reads this post & decides to buy off of my own Etsy store, I do not make any money promoting CAST or its members. I'm just very happy to have found & joined them & with Kelli, I'm just a really happy customer of hers :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

When the Wheels Start Spinning In My Head

It's been fabulously cold for the beginning of January - fabulous because it meant that I was able to play around with lots of wool :)

I have 4 barrels full of wool that I've been slowly working through. After I spent the time cleaning it & dying it with kool-aid last summer, I had a real conundrum of whether or not to sell it or keep it for myself....

Amazing what a packet of Kool-aid can do -
better to go in my wool than the children's tummies!

Then I made the mistake of window shopping on Etsy in autumn & discovered that I really wanted to learn how to needle felt. As a result, I bought a wonderful birthday present for myself - a needle felting kit that had everything needed to get started & a pair of hand carders from Flights of Whimzy...

My stash of goodies from Flights of Whimsy

So even though I had really limited time to work on any felting with the crochet & knitting projects I already had on the go, I still managed to squeak in some time to play with the felting needles with my own wool...

Started off with a few cookie cutter projects, now working on my first miniature teddy-mouse

Obviously this intimate working with wool has been like a gateway drug to me - before i only used to buy my fiber from the store, but with Larry supplying me such a massive load to work with, it has opened up a whole new world for me. So while I was knitting him a pair of mitts with this crazy thick bulky weight wool that another person had spun up for him,

Toasty, but uninspiring

...the wheels started spinning in my head - I should try to spin this stuff! But there's a problem, I don't have the $ or friendly neighbourhood spinner nearby to get access to a spinning wheel. That's where I just love the internet - when in doubt, search for help on Google :)

I thought that what what be a good way to start, rather than the typical drop spindle, would be to make my own box charkha - the reasoning behind this was that I knew that it was a very portable set-up compared to making a spinning wheel, and that it would be speedier than the drop spindle. How surprising to find that I could make a charka (though larger than a cigar box one) out of scrap cardboard! You just have to see this cool one that Rabbit Geek put together here.

Even better was that on his site, he had links to all sorts of DIY spinning machines - whether they be the traditional wheel, spindles, a Mayan spinner, or a hunk of wood with a screw hook in it. Wait a minute - you can spin with just a piece of wood with a screw hook stuck in it? This just boggled my mind, as we always have wood scraps and various hardware bits around the house here, with my odest son's interest in woodworking. So sure enough, I found what I needed to make a somewhat primitive (and affordable) spinning tool:

A 3" x 4" scrap of wood, a screw in hook, some sanding & I was set to spin!

I've never spun before in my life, so i wasn't sure what to expect with my results, but my lil' chunk of wood produced a lovely little bit of homespun wool! How fabulous is that?

Lovely, gourmet wool!

What a wonderful way to start my year - think that there will be more spinning to come in my near future :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Happy Ending to the Year :)

As per usual, I have let my blogging lay aside too long. I could get all remorseful about it, but quite truthfully, I just didn't have the desire to put in the time to keep up with it. That's where I love Twitter - I can just fill in those 140 characters & be done with it when I have the time to put into it - blogs are just so much more daunting to me.

However, I still hope to make a post here at least twice a week (at least that's my New Year's goal), but I won't beat myself up over it if I don't. I'm thinking that if I give an update at least once a month it'll still be a vast improvement over what I've been doing (or not doing) so far.

So a recap:
Tote Bag - still haven't had time to put towards it, but we've just entered into winter break for our home school, so expect to get it done during this time.

Larry's wool socks - finished last month. Wish I had taken a picture of them, they were enormous & weighed in at 1lb each! His toes will be nice & toasty when he walks out to the barn. My DH liked them too & so now I have to make him a pair. I've also finished off a pair of crochet mitts for Larry to wear & have yet to make a pair for his partner, Betty.

Socks for Jen - unfortunately, Jen's health deteriorated & her Mom Christina decided they needed to move back to Ontario, so they never got started. I do have plans to crochet a shall or lapghan for Jen to send for her birthday.

New stuff:
I've been experimenting with making different wristlet & fingerless glove patterns, which I was hoping to put into my Etsy store before the holiday season, but after 10 attempts they still aren't turning out the way I envisioned them. Probably best to lay them aside for a week before I start to stress out over them!

We've been doing some major cleaning & de-cluttering around the house as we've moved the girls into their own separate bedrooms and put all the boys into the biggest room. Spent a lot of time sewing new curtains for all of the rooms (& I'll state it again, I'm terrible at sewing), but these have turned out half decent. DH made the boys a very cool bunk bed - it is 3 bunks high and has another bunk coming out at right angles from the second one (like an L).

The great thing about the room change is that is has opened up another room for us which we will be using as an office, craft & guest room. I'm so happy to regain some of my sanity - I needed a place to work on projects without the little guys trying to get into things all the time. And then, as if I wasn't in my glory as it was, I stumbled across some of my own patterns that I thought I'd lost during our de-cluttering, so I'll be checking them for errors & digitizing them into pdfs. What a wonderful way to end the year :)

Many blessings to you & yours and have a Happy New Year! :)