Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
That's a pretty difficult question to answer because it was long, long (long, long) ago and I was quite young -- probably 8 or 9. I pretty much taught myself to knit with a little help from my aunt.
I can't remember what was in my mind at the time. I do remember very clearly that I wanted to earn all the Girl Scout badges (I did get all the Junior badges, but not all the Cadette ones) and that might have had something to do with it. Perhaps I needed to learn to knit (or learn a new skill like that) for a badge? It's quite possible.
I knit a few scarves as a girl and then didn't get back to knitting until I was an adult. My next big project was a sweater and stocking hat for Tommy when he was a baby. And I've been knitting ever since, especially for the last 8 years or so, since the knitting world has exploded with gorgeous yarns, patterns, and supplies.
Friday, December 26, 2008
As usual, many of the gifts were knitted. Warm knitted things just seem like a natural gift in December... However, I did make some necklaces for the 5 nieces and earrings for some of the women in my family.
On to the knitting...
Ribbed Hat and Scarf Set - "Vogue Knitting: Accessorize"
I decided to use the skeins of Manos of Uruguay wool I had on hand. It was a blend of brown, red, yellow, and certainly manly enough for my dad. I went with a simple pattern that would knit up quickly and show off the beauty of the yarn.
Felted Tote Bag - Two Old Bags
The nicest thing about this project was that I used yarn I bought last summer at Belle Valee' Woolen Mill in northern Ontario (near our family cabin). That made it pretty special. I was not completely happy with the pattern -- it ended up deeper than I thought a tote bag should be, and the straps didn't felt quite as well as I hoped so they were a little long. But it's still a nice, useful tote bag for my aunt.
Felted iPod Cozy - Bonnie Sennott
When I found out that my sister was getting a pink iPod for Christmas, I knew I needed to make her a cozy to keep it safe in her purse. This knitted up really quickly -- it took much longer for it to dry after felting than it did to make it. I used two vintage buttons to pick up the colors in the yarn.
*Weasley Sweater - "Charmed Knits" by Alison Hansel
This one is still in progress. Yes, it was completely unreasonable for me to think I could knit a sweater for a 6'3" teenager in one weekend. Sheesh! So I'm currently working on it. The boy has been wanting a Weasley sweater for a while now -- I hope to get it done soon.
The yarn is Andean Silk from KnitPicks. Lovely stuff: 55% superfine alpaca, 23% silk, and 22% Merino wool. Soft, silky, and strong. I'm really enjoying working with it. I promise to let you know when it's finally finished and off to its new home....
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Playing with Wordle.... when I should be wrapping Christmas gifts.
You create word clouds by plugging in text or sending it to a URL. This word cloud was a result of wordle visiting this blog. Fun, yes? It's a snapshot of my blog today... just a very different sort of snapshot.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
....I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer...
I used this Camus quotation as the springboard for an Etsy treasury celebrating the Winter Solstice. Glimmers of light and color on the darkest, frostiest day of the year....
ETA: It made the front page Sunday evening. Yay!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Here are my answers to the swap questionnaire. I hope this helps my swap partner get to know me better!
Do you knit or crochet, or both? How long have you been at the craft?
Knit. I pretty much taught myself to knit as a child, but have really only been knitting consistently since Tommy was a baby. I only crochet enough to finish garments...
Do you spin?
I used to. I'd like to get back to it sometime.
What yarns/fibers are your favorites?
Natural fibers, especially soft ones: alpaca, wool, silk, cashmere, and I like linen (even thought it's not especially soft)
What yarns/fibers do you not like?
Please, no synthetics, even just as part of a blend. No novelty yarns... eeek!
What yarns/fibers would you like to try but haven’t?
A swap partner sent me a skein of Handmaiden Big Sea Silk but I haven't had a chance to knit with it yet. It feels heavenly.
What are your favorite colors?
Greens (but not kelly green), reds, most blues. I like most colors.
Colors that you don’t like?
Kelly green, mustard yellows, wimpy pastels.
What are your favorite types of projects to knit/crochet?
I don't really have enough time to work on really complicated stuff. I tend to like bags, hats, some sweaters, that sort of thing. I love felting.
What are you currently working on?
Eeeek! How many hours are left before Christmas? Eeeek! I'm in the early stages of a Hogwarts (Weasley) sweater for Tommy. I must get it done by Christmas! And I was hoping to do more, but fear I'm pretty much out of time.
I did a big felted tote in lots of stripes for my sister about 4 years ago (pre-Ravelry, so I don't have photos). I liked how it turned out. And I made an Albert Jacket to donate to Warm Woolies this fall. I used lots of bits and pieces of Mission Falls 1824 wool. It's fun and very colorful.
Are there any techniques that you want to learn?
Nothing that I can think of right at the moment.
Do you have a yarn winder and/or swift? Yes.
How do you store your needles/hooks?
Various ways. Needle holders, a big Tupperware container.
Do you collect anything?
Yes. Cookbooks. Depression era kitchen stuff. Old linens (especially Depression era). Yarn! Fabric.
Do you like sweets?
Yes, but I'm trying to eat them in moderation. Dark chocolate and maple are my favorites.
What are your favorite scents?
Green tea, lemon, Lily of the Valley.
Are you having a birthday during this swap? Nope (September).
Do you have any online wish lists? (Amazon, Loopy Ewe, etc.) Please include a link for your pal.
There's a link to my amazon wish list on the right side of the blog. I don't know about Loopy Ewe -- will have to investigate.
What is your living situation (Are you married? Do you have kids, pets, or both?)
I'm married. My son is going to college and has his own apartment about 45 minutes away. We have one dog (Winston - Golden Retriever) and 6 cats.
Are you allergic to anything?
Nothing that has to do with the swap.
Is there anything else that you would like your pal to know?
Here's my Swap-bot profile -- it'll tell you more about me (if you're curious). Also there are lots of other questionnaires listed on the lower right side of this blog. Feel free to ask any questions you'd like!
Friday, December 19, 2008
I should receive it next week sometime. I'm looking forward to playing with it... and I promise to have Show & Tell once I've got something completed.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Somehow it seems more fun to highlight items in other shops.... so here's a little glimpse into Heather's Gift Showcase:
My friend Kelli just opened her own Etsy shop (Willowdale) and is featuring "Tasmanian Monsters." (She lives in Tasmania, Australia.) Her monsters are brightly colored, happy, creative beasts. This little guy's name is Abacus. The perfect antidote to the winter blahs, don't you think?
I'm completely fascinated by this shop filled with handmade caramels (Caramel Jubilee). Pomegranate. Chocolate. Licorice. Pumpkin pie. What a lovely little decadent gift!
I love the photographs of Val Cox. Each just glows with color and light. She takes her photographs using a vintage Ansco Rediflex twin reflex camera and her digital Nikon. I have no idea as to how she creates the effects she gets, but I am haunted by this photo of figs in a bowl.
I've gotten to know mercyming through Ravelry and Etsy Sneak Attacks. Her photograph of eggs in a bowl is very different from the photograph above, and just as beautiful. It's the essence of spring.
LizzyClara is another Sneak Attack buddy. Her graphic illustrations are friendly, colorful, and just plain fun! They feature tuxedo'ed cats, spotty dogs, loving birds, and sweet little villages. She offers tags, cards, and prints.
Of course, we've pretty much gone past the time to order gifts to get here by Christmas, but these are great ideas for the future!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I just signed up for a shop on ArtFire. It's a new site like Etsy -- with shops for handmade items -- but much, much smaller.
Now before you rush over there to shop :) I haven't set up my store yet. Not much time right now with work, Etsy orders, and trying to make pretty much all my Christmas gifts. However, I plan to do it soon, and will let you know as soon as I get it up and running.
In the meantime, I'd like to let everyone know about a special offer. Set up a shop right now, get 10 others to set up shops, and you get free shop fees for life!
So if you've been thinking about trying an ArtFire shop, this might be the right time. The deal only runs through the end of the year.
Follow this link and you'll be on my referral list. And thanks!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
However, I adore Katy's calligraphy! Her Etsy shop, KisforCalligraphy is filled with wonderful little bits of gorgeous calligraphy... tags, envelopes, ornaments, envelope seals, some very funny zipper pulls... Her shop changes every time I visit -- and I love to see all the new things she's created. She has a very distinctive style that's casual, easy, fun, and graceful.
Here's more about her (from her profile):
I have a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a minor in French from the University of Montana. I never expected to be a self-employed professional calligrapher. However, my mom had a sneaking suspicion that I would love calligraphy. She nagged me to take a class as soon as I learned how to write. A couple of decades later I followed her hunch and enrolled myself into a calligraphy class, I am proud to say that I have created a career for myself as a professional calligrapher. Handmade is my creative choice. Whether it is a handmade birthday card or an original place card, it is my belief that giving is best when you are giving handmade. I cannot imagine a day without doing calligraphy or creating something new. And my props to Etsy for making it possible for artists and artisans around the world to share and sell their creations!
Katy and I are EtsyPaper pals this month, and I'm so pleased to be paired up with her. I heartily encourage you to visit her shop -- I guarantee you'll find some goodies you must have in your life!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
She was one of the reasons I decided to join EtsyBloggers. I was incredibly impressed by how active and encouraging she (and other team members) were.
Spotted Cow Soaps is located deep in the heart of Vermont amongst the mountain views and dairy farms. Ms. Moo has been formulating and selling homemade natural soaps for over 8 years. She started by making soaps for herself, to cure some personal skin issues and ended up with a business that has "grown into an obsession and love for handcrafting great smelling soaps."
Her Etsy shop is filled with lovely handmade soaps, including the gorgeous [limited edition] Christmas Candy Cane soap (pictured), super-fatted with coconut oil, palm oil, shea butter, olive oil, sunflower oil AND soybean oil! In addition to the soaps, she also sells body lotion, bubble bath, bath salts, hand-crocheted organic cotton bath accessories, and soy candles.
I'm sure you know of someone who deserves a little pampering. Yourself, perhaps?
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
4 ounces (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sifted flour
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch square pan.
Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler over moderate heat. Set aside to cool.
Beat eggs in an electric mixer until foamy and increased in volume. On low speed, gradually add the sugar, vanilla, salt, and chocolate mixture. Beat until just barely mixed. Add flour and beat just to blend. Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Bake approximately 35 minutes -- until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out barely clean. Cool.
Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup whipping cream
5 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
Place the cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat and cook, uncovered, until there is a skin on top and small bubbles around the edge. Add the chocolate and stir lightly until melted.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl (must be cool) of an electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until mixture becomes smooth, shiny, and thick. Spread on cooled brownies. Cut into small squares. And enjoy!
There's something particularly magical about flowers that bloom when winter is raging outside.
Years ago I worked at a wonderful old general store in Ann Arbor. We carried amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs and taught lots and lots of folks how to pot them up for indoor blooms.
Those are the easy blooms -- the ones that normally grow outdoors (like hyacinths and tulips) are the difficult ones. You must force them, basically make them believe they've gone through a winter.
Paperwhites, a type of daffodil/jonquil are beautiful but quite aromatic. Their scent is heavy and not always pleasant -- especially when enclosed in a small room. My preference is for the amaryllis, a strikingly beautiful flower.
What do you do with an amaryllis bulb? I remember it all quite clearly. Use a pot about 1 inch larger than the bulb. We used 6" pots because the bulbs we sold were very large. The size of the bulb will relate to the size of the bloom.
Pot them up with about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bulb showing above the soil. Water them sparingly. And wait... simple as that. Very soon a shoot of bud and leaves will emerge and grow quite quickly. You may have to support the stem if it gets too tall. ...and enjoy your beautiful, bloom as the snow falls outdoors!
Monday, December 1, 2008
It's "Cyber Monday" today, the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday online shopping season in the United States. Do you do much online shopping, holiday or otherwise?
I'm completely addicted to online shopping. I'm such a fan of creature comforts -- I'd much rather do my shopping in my slippers (my favorites are pictured) with a cup of tea. And, honestly, I'm not a fan of crowds... or that nasty lighting you find in many stores. The exception, of course, is local and/or fresh stuff.
Are you a Mac or a PC user? Why?
PC. I really haven't had a choice. I've always had PCs at work (mostly not my decision) and needed to move work back and forth. And years ago, there wasn't an easy way to do it between a Mac and a PC.
What website do you spend more time on than you care to admit?
Etsy. Flickr. Ravelry. Between those three I've spent waaaay too many hours of my life!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Starting Friday, November 28 ("Black Friday") through Monday, December 1 ("Cyber Monday") I am running a store-wide sale in my Etsy shop. The sale is part of a large promotion headed by EtsyBloggers. There are over 50 Etsy shops taking part in one way or another. Visit here for a list of the shops.
So here's the lowdown on the sale:
Buy 1 item - get 10% off
Buy 2 items - get 15% off
Buy 3 or more items - get 20% off
In addition, I am offering free shipping for all orders of $75 or more
Have you been looking at something special in my shop? Now's the time to buy!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I'm a day late in selecting and publishing a winner for my EtsyGreetings Blog Carnival Giveaway, but I know you're aware that there have been other things on my mind.
Anyway, I'd like to thank everyone who commented -- I had the best time reading your comments! They were very interesting.... and educational. I had thought there might be more of a "favorite" item in the shop, but your interests and choices were pretty varied.
I often wonder if my shop is too disjointed -- that I have too many different sorts of things for sale. And I really love it when a shop has a cohesive look to it. But, unfortunately, that's just not how I work. I need to make lots of different things -- it's what makes me happy. And, in the long run, that's one of the main reasons I have the shop. It funds my art/craft addiction, but even more than that, it gives me an outlet for the artwork that something inside of me compels me to produce. And makes me happy.
I've been thinking about opening a new shop, probably to house the hand carved rubber stamps that I make. And that would help a bit. But it wouldn't solve the problem. I can't open 4 or 6 or 8 different shops!
I have hopes that Etsy will someday (soon?) offer more options on how to organize a shop. At this point you can put items in "Sections," but the initial view of the shop shows everything in basically a hodge-podge fashion. You have the option of sorting by price or when the item was posted, but no other way. I'd love to be able to move the items around to make the shop make sense organizationally and to be more pleasing to the eye.
Anyway.... back to the giveaway! I let random.org make the decision.......
..... and the winner is..... #11! (Lana) Congratulations, Lana! I'll be contacting you to get your address. And thanks to everyone who took the time to enter!
Here is your sequence:
Timestamp: 2008-11-26 00:49:38 UTC
Do you ever talk to yourself out loud? What do you talk about?
Sadly, all the time. I talk to myself in the car and occasionally find that I'm talking to myself in shops. Generally I just make observations out loud rather than keeping them in my head... (although I usually say them quietly)
What stresses you out?
Problems that I can't fix. Things that aren't working properly that I can't control. Short deadlines for something that won't be done in time. Lately I find that I get stress headaches quite easily. If I'm under deep stress, you can be guaranteed that I'll have a stress headache. It's quite different from my usual headaches (sinus related). It feels like a clamp tightening around my head, and sometimes at the back of my neck. What a lovely thing to develop.... sheesh!
What are your secret talents?
Cooking. Organization. Taking charge of things and seeing them through to completion.
I'm not sure these are secrets. I guess it depends on what part of my life you know me from whether they're a secret or not.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Born into a large Norwegian farm family in a small town in North Dakota, she was was one of the strongest women I've ever known. Smart and independent, she had a wicked dry sense of humor that I see (and enjoy) in her son and her grandson.
At these times you want to look at the good side of things, and right now they're pretty easy to find. She was a lovely woman, gracious and considerate, raising my husband to be silly and tender and loving.
Cancer can be horribly nasty, but blessedly she was spared from some of its nastiest parts. It certainly wasn't an easy time, but she was able to stay in her home (by herself) until just a few weeks ago. Once she moved out, we planned to share her between Bob's sister's home and ours. She never got that far. She started declining pretty much right away until she finally slipped away last night. It was exactly what she wanted -- quick and without pain and barely a burden on anyone around her.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Some of you may know that I'm a huge fan of reusable shopping bags. My lifetime total of morsbags is currently 31 (although I've given almost all of them away). So, yep, I know my shopping bags. And this one is exceptional.
The fabric is lovely, cotton probably, and fine, strong, and smooth. The "shopping list" that is stamped on the outside of the bag is made to order. Mine reads:
I mostly went with the list she had on the bag shown in her Funky Finds shop, but with a few individual changes. And I opted "in" for her to add a string of vintage-looking black buttons along the top.
I gave it a test-drive today. It was perfect. Useful and stylish. What more could I ask for? Thanks InkaFinland!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
As part of my membership in EtsyBloggers (an Etsy street team), I am asked to blog twice a month about specific topics. The current topic is:
How are you going to prepare your business for the holiday rush?
Honestly, I'm not sure how much "rush" I'll see. :) Sales in my Etsy shop have gone up a bit lately and I hope to see them continue like this. However, I probably won't ever really feel rushed. (It would be very fun to have that problem.)
That being said, here's what I've been doing in preparation for the holiday season....
* Adding more merchandise to the shop. I'm currently up to 83 items for sale. And I'll like to make (and then add) a few more each week as we get closer to Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice.
* I added another colorway for one of my favorite items -- the "Gather 'Round The Aluminum Tree" Christmas/winter cards. I love this combination of aqua and lime/chartreuse.
* I'll be participating in a big sale through the EtsyBloggers team. So if you've been thinking about making a purchase, you might want to wait a week or so. The sale will run from Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) through Cyber Monday (December 1). Stay tuned for more details!
Monday, November 17, 2008
The EtsyGreetings street team is holding a Blog Carnival this week. Visit their blog to find out about 15 (or more) giveaways. Sign up to win!
To participate in my giveaway, just take a look at my Etsy shop. Pick an item that you'd like to add to your own gift list, or one that would be perfect for someone on your list. Comment on it below.
Simple as that. I'll run this through Monday, November 24. At that time, I'll put all the names in a hat and draw out the winner.
The winner gets a 4-pack of my Gnome notecards.
One entry per person. Spread the word!
Do you believe people are basically good?
Yes. Although, sadly, I do believe that there are a few people who are fundamentally evil.
If you could change the custom of shaking hands, what would you replace it with?Hugs. I grew up in a household without much hugging. I wish I was better at hugging without having to think about it. ........Or how about spontaneous homemade cookie exchanges? :) (The world would probably be a much happier place!)
What is something that you enjoy that is a chore for most other people? Weeding. I love to weed the garden... although I often don't have enough time to keep it up-to-date. I love the look of a freshly weeded bed.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I created this treasury last night with art from some friends on Etsy. It's always interesting to see how it evolves. I generally start out with a general idea of color and style, but it often takes on a life of its own.
It was amazing to see this treasury take shape. I started with an idea of light blue and red (after choosing thelittlereddoor's piece) and that ended up being perfect. The nice thing was that it also took on a nice whimsical feel to it.
The only sad thing was that I didn't have enough room for everyone that I wanted to include.
I just love the look of this... and each individual component!
To visit the shops:
I hadn't checked my "hearts" (a listing of people who have added my shop to their Favorites) in a little while... and yet something made me do it just now. I'm currently at 503 hearts -- I hit the 500 mark yesterday!
I know it's not a lot compared with some sellers, but it's very fun to hit this milestone. Thanks, everyone!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I spend a good chunk of time yesterday making these rubber stamps and listing everything in the Etsy shop. Listing things takes quite a bit of time -- taking photographs, tweaking them in Photoshop, writing the description, writing the listing.... I often wonder how some shops can do so many one-of-a-kind items.
I love the rubber stamps! It seems like they'd be great used on correspondence, packages, recipe cards.... wherever. A fun way to state your priorities. :)
The new drawstring bag is also celebrating cupcakes. I made one to angel someone in the Starbucks & Yarn Swap -- she loves cupcakes, aqua, pink. So it seemed logical to make another for the shop. It's lovely cotton fabric designed by Martha Neigly and then lined with turquoise linen. It would make a fun handbag or a great knitting bag.
I did these journals years ago for an art fair -- probably one of the last times I did the Ann Arbor Art Fair. I did a whole bunch of them and recently found the ones that were left. Thought I'd put them in the shop and get them out to folks who would use them.
So that's what's new in winemakerssister.etsy.com!
Monday, November 10, 2008
I was just tagged by throughtherainbow. Here's the lowdown:
THE RULES: *Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog. *Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.*Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their name as well as links to their blog. *Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
1. I'm supposed to be on vacation this week, but have worked part of the day on Saturday, Sunday, and today. They're starting to make jokes at work about me flying back and forth to the Caribbean.
2. I never had a cat as a child but now I can't live without them.
3. One of the things I had to have when we built our house was a soaking bathtub. You can fill it with water almost up to your neck.
4. I'm currently felting a totebag I knit as a Christmas gift for my sister. It's agitating in the washer as I type.
5. I've been a vegetarian all my adult life (since I was in college).
6. My two favorite sweet flavors are chocolate and maple.
7. My goal this week is to clean my art room. It hasn't happened yet.
Time to tag some others.... I think I'll visit some blogs owned by my new EtsyBloggers comrades:
Lucky Ladybug Designs
Dorset Hill Beads
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
But take a look at the great loot! You can tell she had fun gathering goodies for me.
My Secret Pal, Lynda, drives a truck with her husband. She spends most of the time on the road. (What a great opportunity to knit, knit, knit!) I suspect she picked things up for me along the way. Isn't that wonderful?
I had a great time unpacking everything. She had wrapped all the goodies so it was like Christmas In a Box. She did a great job! The yarn is a gorgeous brick red. She suggests I use it to knit a Lucy Bag, a bag I've wanted to knit for a while. Sounds like a good idea!
I'm drinking tea from the big, gorgeous Starbucks mug right now. And look at all the other goodies: a handknit wine cozy, a cute sheep ornament, a candle holder and votives, lots of pretty little bits of paper..... thanks so much, Lynda. You've been a wonderful spoiler!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Deb, and her Etsy shop, storybeader, is the focus of November's EtsyBloggers' Featured Artist.
Deb's work has a lush, Southwest flavor. Lots of turquoise. Fetishes. Native American images. It's not surprising to find that she lives in Oklahoma. Her work speaks of the land and people of the Great Plains.
About her haikus, she writes:
"I'm a frustrated writer who likes to put words and colors together to make wearable art. How do you wear words, you ask? I suppose my haiki poems can float around in your brain as you sashay down the lane, wearing one of my necklaces."
What a great idea for a gift! A beautiful necklace and a one-of-a-kind haiku written especially for it.
*langniappe: from the Louisiana French for a little something extra. The idea behind a baker's dozen.