Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recession Swap - Questions 2 & 3

I'm late posting my "Recession Swap" blog questions so I'm combining two...

Question 2: Are you attending any Fiber Festivals this autumn? If so, which ones and why?
Autumn is too crazy for me to try to go out of town to a big fiber festival. Luckily, the Spinner's Flock in Chelsea (about 15 minutes away) has a very nice festival.

They held their fall festival on a Sunday (much better for me than a Saturday) and I was able to get over there. It was terrific! And quite a bit larger than I expected. I bought a few things (some hand-dyed roving, a "second" fleece at an incredible discount) and lusted after lots more!

I haven't gotten involved in their group -- mostly because they meet on Saturdays. But I'm going to try to attend the November meeting. I want to get back into spinning!

Question 3: What is your favorite cool weather recipe?
I love soups in cold weather! My favorite is easy and really yummy.

Heather's Crockpot Bean Soup
Put the following into a crockpot:
1 large jar (48 oz.) cooked Great Northern beans
1-2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 quart canned tomatoes
1/4 cup dried parsley
2-3 cubes vegetable boullion

Turn the crockpot on low and cook all day. Shortly before serving stir in 1-2 cups of julienned fresh spinach. Cook just until wilted. Serve. Easy and warming!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

You've Got Mail!

This time of the year is so crazy at work, but I've managed to slip in a few swaps (mostly knitting-related). Look at all the lovely loot I've been finding in my mailbox lately!*

I've narrowed down my swaps on Ravelry to a few favorite groups, and the ones run by Amy (DeathbyYarn) are some of the best. The "Recession Special" swap runs for 3 months. You are to send your spoilee one package per month, and at least one package needs to include a handknitted item.

The package to the left is the first installment. It's adorable! My spoiler found a cute pouch -- originally intended as a makeup bag, but perfect for knitting supplies. She filled it with little treats. And the best part is the yarn -- 100% baby llama in a gorgeous bittersweet chocolate color. And sooooo soft. Lovely!

A wonderful little swapping group on Flickr ("Just for You FQs") is currently holding a swap for fat quarters. This time we're looking "Beyond Cotton" at other natural fibers. Marilyn sent me the most wonderful collection of linen, bamboo, and wool (a vintage kimono fabric) along with two skeins of Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool in a lovely autumn orange. Marilyn knows me so well! It's all quite perfect!

I just received a third wonderful package -- this one was for the "Knitter's Holiday - Novel" swap. My partner really looked at my profile and selected very carefully. As a result, it's all absolutely perfect. "Boutique Knits," a great book with lots of knitting patterns for vintage-looking scarves, hats, bags, and gloves. Two skeins of Manos wool (yum!), handmade stitch markers and tags, and notecards and a reusable shopping bag. Thank you so much!

*In the order of when they were received...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Recession Swap - Question 1

Here's the first question (and answer) for the Recession Special swap on Ravelry. It's fun to read everyone's answers to learn more about them...

“If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?”

On the eve of my birthday (when I'm having trouble telling Bob what I'd like as a gift), I have to say I feel really content with my life. And those things that I'd really like (less stress at work...) cannot be purchased. That being said, if I won the lottery, I'm sure there are many great uses I could find for the money!

Off the top of my head....
  • Pay off our loans, including the house
  • Help my sister (and other family members) financially
  • Donate to favorite charities
  • Do some traveling
  • Hire a house cleaner :)
  • Buy yarn!
  • Buy a really good computer chair (I'm thinking Herman Miller Aeron chair)*
Sounds like fun!

*my butt's a little numb right now...

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Recession Special" Swap Questionnaire

Sorry to be hibernating for so long! I'm joining a swap that will force me to post to my blog again -- it's a good thing.

Do you knit or crochet, or both? How long have you been at the craft?

Knit. I learned as a child and then took it up again when my son was a baby.

Do you spin?

Yes. I did it a lot in college and am just getting back to doing it again.

What yarns/fibers are your favorites?

Soft, natural fibers: alpaca, soft wools, silk, cashmere...

What yarns/fibers do you not like?

I really don't use synthetics or blends that include synthetics. I don't really work with anything lighter than dk weight. I'm not a sock knitter.

What yarns/fibers would you like to try but haven’t?

Lots of indie dyers/spinners. I think it's fun to try local yarns and/or favorites of my partner.

What are your favorite colors? Colors that you don’t like?

I like most colors. I especially like them in interesting combinations. I guess my favorites are red, burgundy, sage/avocado green, evergreen, teal, periwinkle blue, cobalt blue...

What are your favorite types of projects to knit/crochet?

I knit to relax and don't have a lot of time to do it, so I tend to stay with relatively short, simple projects. Hats, scarves, (I love) bags, capes & ponchos, some sweaters. I also love to felt.

What are you currently working on?

Just finished a vest for Warm Woolies and a baby sweater for a friend who just had a baby. Trying to finish the Hogwarts sweater for my very tall son.

What is your favorite FO? (Please post a picture if you have one.)

Since Ravelry (where I actually have pictures of my FOs), I think this child's Einstein sweater for Warm Woolies is my favorite. I used up lots and lots of bits of Mission Falls wool and it made a really colorful sweater. When my son was that age I think he would've really liked such a colorful sweater.

Are there any techniques that you want to learn?

Nothing that I can think of offhand.

Do you have a yarn winder and/or swift?

I got a yarn winder as a gift a few years ago. I found a swift for $1 at a church sale -- the ladies there didn't know what it was. I have to hold it together with a clamp, but it works just fine.

How do you store your needles/hooks?

I store like needles in some vintage needle holders. Then everything ends up in a large tupperware container.

Do you collect anything?

Cookbooks, vintage kitchen stuff, vintage linens (and of course, yarn, fiber, and fabric!).

Do you like sweets?

Dark chocolate and maple are my favorite sweets.

What are your favorite scents?

Green tea is my favorite. I also like light citrusy scents, herbals, and lavender.

Are you having a birthday during this swap?

Yes! The day after partners are assigned! (Sept. 11)

Do you have any online wish lists? (Amazon, Loopy Ewe, etc.) Please include a link for your pal.

Amazon wish list

Etsy favorites

What is your living situation (Are you married? Do you have kids, pets, or both?)

Husband, a mostly-grown-up kid and his girlfriend currently at home, 1 Golden Retriever, our six cats, and son's two cats.

Are you allergic to anything?

Nothing that applies to this swap.

Is there anything else that you would like your pal to know?

I love surprises!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Black Raspberries

I've been an extremely neglectful blogger. So sorry! But here's a little summertime treat...

This year we've had a lovely crop of wild black raspberries along our fence line. For the past week or so, we've been picking some for cereal, yogurt, and just snacking.

Last night there were enough to pick 3 quarts at one time. Time for pie (and some left over for snacking)!

I'm not sure I've ever made a wild black raspberry pie before. The flavor is extremely intense. It pretty much needs something like ice cream or cream to cut the intensity. But, yum!

Monday, May 25, 2009


It's time to attack! The following shops have been chosen for today's attack:

RoseHips -

artrepublik -

Don't forget that the attack runs all night. So if you don't get to the website right away, you can still participate. Visit the Handmade Movement website for more information on Sneak Attacks.

For Today Only: Sneak Attack Central

Phippsart, the papa of Sneak Attacks, will be away today for the holiday. Since I'm hosting the attack today, I'll be posting the shops here at 7:00 pm EDT.

For more information visit The Handmade Movement website, chat on the Etsy forum beforehand, and stay tuned....


I'm taking part in a very fun swap -- perform one or more RAKs (Random Act of Kindness) per day for a week then write to your partner to let her know about your week.

Most of the RAKs will be quiet ones. You don't need to know. It's more fun that way.

But one of the things I'll be doing this week is listing one or more PIF items in my Etsy shop per day. PIF stands for Pay It Forward. Sellers list an item for 20 cents (the cost of the listing). The buyer is supposted to continue the movement -- list something in their shop as a PIF or perform sort other sort of RAK.

I did a seach for PIFs yesterday and discovered that (as is the case with most things) some sellers are using the PIF listing as a selling tool. They tag something PIF but charge a huge shipping charge (often the actual price of the item plus shipping). Really bad karma, I'd say.

These PIFs are real. The cost is 20 cents (because Etsy won't let you list something for free). I'm paying the shipping charges.

Be on the lookout this week!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

EtsyBlogger of the Month: CreateAThought

"There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes. ~William Makepeace Thackeray"

This quote, in the Shop Annoucement of CREATEaTHOUGHT's shop, is a wonderful invitation the world of journaling and creative writing. The artist behind CREATEaTHOUGHT offers journals and journal kits in all sorts of designs to spur your creativity.

In her profile, she writes, "everyday you are creating thoughts. Thoughts that are interesting and beautiful, profound and deep, silly and funny. Whatever your thought style is, they should be recorded. CREATEaTHOUGHT's mission is to help you do just that."

In addition to journals, she also sells handmade buttons, rings, magnets, and cards. Check it out!

EtsyBloggers Blog Carnival: Summer Shop Show & Tell

The current Blog Carnival theme for EtsyBloggers*:
Show & tell: Summer line - what you will be making/showing in your shop this summer...

I've been wanting to introduce some new items to my shop for a while now. But RL work has been keeping me very, very busy. And sales in the shop have picked up just enough (during this otherwise busy time) to give me pretty much no spare time.

Here's to hoping I can get to some new things soon!

I want to add a line of decorated cotton twill tape (similar to the commercial tapes you can get from Japan). The materials are sitting in my studio waiting for me. Look for them soon (I hope!).

And my hand-carved rubber stamps are doing well in the shop. I want to continue to expand my offerings. As you can see, I've got a sketch of a gnome ready to go.

Look for the new offerings soon. I hope. :)

*EtsyBloggers, I apologize for not fulfilling my April blog obligations. So sorry!

Bad Blogger

I should probably realize that every year at this time, things (like this blog) suffer because work gets so busy. You wouldn't think the winery biz would be so busy in April and May, but the public/PR side is just as busy now as we are in September and October.

April is "Michigan Wine Month" so there are lots of events planned to coincide. I've been running all over the state for the past 6 weeks or so, attending various winetasting fundraisers and other events.

It's great for the business, but I'm hoping my life will calm down a little bit at this point....

Sunday, April 12, 2009


You know what a Knit-Along (KAL) is, correct?

For those non-knitters out there, a KAL is a group of knitters who knit a specific pattern together. The KAL can be physically together or it can take place on the Internet. My recent Yoga swap partner, velostricken/Larissa wrote the definitive book on KALs, Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together.

I'm taking part in a fun Knit-Along on Plurk. Don't know Plurk? It's a new fun social networking site -- I like it better than Twitter. My friend Tamsie (otherwise know as my spoiler, Ruby Colorway) invited me to take part.

We're beginning tomorrow night. The pattern in the Todos Scarf from The Unique Sheep. My yarn collection from them is in their "shadow dance" colorway -- a lovely mixture of blue, violet, and turquoise.

It should be fun!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Giveaway on the PhatFiber blog!

Head on over to the PhatFiber blog right n0w! They're running a giveaway for one of my celtic heart rubber stamps.

All you need to do to enter is to visit my shop and then post a comment about your favorite item(s). If you blog, twitter, etc about it, you're entered twice!

Good luck... and keep your eyes on the PhatFiber blog, there's always lots of great giveaways.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Warm Ewe Up: Blog Question #5

I've been slacking on my blog entries for the "Warm Ewe Up" swap. Here's the current topic: What knitting/crochet pattern have you worked that you could see yourself making over and over and never get tired of?

I'm someone who doesn't tire of doing things over and over if I enjoy them. I find them comforting, I guess.

I'm happy to eat the same thing for several days in a row. I can make a big pan of veggie lasagne and eat it for days.

When I used to do the Ann Arbor Art Fair, I always read Pride and Prejudice while I sat in my booth. Every year.

So I think I could handle making one pattern over and over. Probably a felted bag. When I participated in The Big Bag swap, I made the first bag and then right away made another for a swapper who didn't get her package. I didn't mind it, but I wasn't in love with the pattern so I probably won't make more. But if I found a pattern I absolutely loved, I suspect I could make many of the same bags.

And then there's the Kringle hat from Hip Knit Hats. I've made 7 -- 5 for nieces, 1 for a swap partner, and 1 for Warm Woolies. I could make more if I had more victims. :) They're easy, colorful, and awfully adorable!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Have you heard about PhatFiber?

It's a new venture begun by partners Jessie and Marcus. Each month they solicit samples from independent fiber shops, then package those samples into PhatFiber boxes. Each box contains a minimum of 20 samples.

The first round of PhatFiber packages was sold in January. I heard about it shortly after they were sold and decided to take part in the February boxes. If the sample contributors send a minimum number of samples, they receive a box for themselves!

The photos you're looking at are my sampler box from February. What a wonderful array of goodies! Raw fiber, roving, handspun, hand dyed yarn, stitch markers, patterns.... Enough to make me want to purchase indie fibers from a whole lot of sellers! And I suspect it'll be the reason I start spinning again (I haven't spun since I was in my mid-20s).

For March, I made up samples with a Celtic knot and a kelly green Czech glass stitch marker. And I was able to finish the April samples and send them with the March ones. Little gift tags suitable for fiber artists -- stamped with a leaping lamb on paper embedded with wildflower seeds and packaged in a woven box made with recycled materials.

Are you interested in purchasing a PhatFiber box? They've grown to be such a phenomenon that the March boxes sold out in less than 2 minutes. How to get one? Register with the PhatFiber folks -- they'll send you an email letting you know when the boxes go on sale in April. Then visit the Etsy shop and start refreshing your browser as quickly as you can to catch a box as it's listed. Good luck!

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Meet my new Etsy Shop Buddy, Sheepshape!

Elizabeth, a fiber artist from London, has a wonderful shop filled with hand-dyed roving and handspun yarn, along with the most adorable, huggable knitted animal friends.

We both recently took the Stone Soup Challenge, decided that our shops compliment each other well, and declared ourselves Shop Buddies. What a great way to extend the Stone Soup idea even further.... to promote each other's shops!

Take a look at Elizabeth's shop. Luscious colors, gorgeous textures... traditional crafts with innovative techniques.

Everything in the shop is lovely (and highly covet-able) but the items that stand out from other Etsy sellers are her glow-in-the-dark fibers. Do you know a child who would love to see his or her blankie or stuffed animal in the dark? What an amazing idea! You can purchase handspun yarn made with glow-in-the-dark fibers to knit or crochet a very special blanket for a very special child. Or lovely huggable animals knitted with glow-in-the-dark yarn.

Friday, March 6, 2009

EtsyBloggers Blog Carnival: The 3rd Month

Here's the current topic for EtsyBloggers Blog Carnival:
Month 3 - We are already on March!! What have you accomplished this year in real life or on Etsy?? Have you followed your New Year's resolutions? What are your plans for the rest of 2009?

I've been thinking about this topic and planned to blog about it on my own. Even better that it's a Blog Carnival topic.

Ok. Let's go back and look at what I promised two months ago (how soon I forget!):

*Make more stuff.
I've been doing pretty well with this. Keep on going.

*Expand the line of items I make for knitters.
Good so far. I created a line of knitting-related rubber stamps. Still need to do more. What's on the drawing board? Covered tape measures, circular needle holders, more stitch markers, a few more rubber stamps.

*Once I have the knitting items added to the shop, maybe do a little advertising on Ravelry?
Not yet for Ravelry. However I did a different kind of advertising to knitters. I contributed to the PhatFibers boxes for February and will send in my March & April contributions on Monday. So I guess I've done this... or a variation of this.

*Oh, and start donating $1 from each set of stitch markers that I sell to Susan G. Komen For the Cure.
Done. Haven't sent out my first donation but I'm planning to do it at the end of each quarter.

*Keep expanding the line of hand-carved rubber stamps.
I have made more in addition to the knitting stamps. And I need to keep on going. They're very popular and fun to make!

*Now that Etsy has finally connected up with Google Analytics, I need to take advantage of that information.
I've been checking it regularly.

*Try to add more items made with upcycled materials.
I've made a few. I want to make more.

*I'm making a limited-edition 'zine for a swap and will have some for sale in the shop.
This is almost done. I expect to list it sometime next week or maybe the week after.
*Redo my "Categories."
I added a "Goods for Knitters" category but decided not to mix it up more than that. I took an informal survey and discovered that folks like straight-forward categories and are irked by squishy ones. So no squishy categories for me!

*Change up my banner and avatar regularly.
I've been doing this.
*Keep up with LinkReferral.
I've not been doing this on a regular basis. Bad Etsian.

*I'm thinking of trying 1000Markets, ArtFire, and FunkyFinds.
I haven't gotten very far except to buy a shop on ArtFire. Perhaps my biggest failing on the resolution list.

*My art/craft room desperately needs cleaning and reorganization.
Also not done. But needed. Sometime soon, I promise.

EtsyBlogger of the Month: Design by Nora

It's a Family Affair.

Nora's shop features not only her cute little polymer clay earrings but also a big selection of handbags designed by her Uncle Naz. It's a fun combination of goodies from an obviously creative family.

According to Nora's profile, she recently graduated with a B.A. in Art/Graphic Design. She says, "Besides my love for graphic design, I love making cards, jewelry, playing around with polymer clay, reading and geeking around on the computer."

It's been fun to poke around her shop to learn more about her. Check out her shop! Don't you need a little pair of flower earrings for spring?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ruby Does It Again!

Miz Ruby Colorway (the nom de swap of my secret pal) has done it again! Last month she sent me the most amazing package... and this month's package was just as terrific. She obviously has been stalking me quite thoroughly, for everything is absolutely perfect.

Gorgeous yarns -- soft merinos in luscious colors, 4 skeins of Noro for felting, books & a magazine (I accidentally left two out of the photo), beautiful handmade goodies from Etsy shops (a lovely felted bag, entrelac scarf, collaged notecard), the cutest wine-cat poster, light-up needles... and on and on. Oh, and a sweet little felted bowl (did you make it?).

Thank you so much, Ruby. You're the best!

Friday, February 13, 2009

You may have already won....

I got notice yesterday from the Singer Sewing Machine Company that my bulletin board won their "Sewing With Nature" contest.

I made the bulletin board earlier this month so it was fun to have almost immediate gratification. The "Sewing With Nature" contest, run jointly by Singer and CRAFT Magazine, asked for a single submission per person through their Flickr group. The rules were easy but written loosely for individual interpretation. The project needed to include machine sewing and "integrate organic elements."

I'd been wanting to make some bulletin boards for a long time. They're a great way to use beautiful little bits of fabric. This particular bulletin board (my first), entitled "Promise of Spring," was made with a patchwork of linen and some cotton fabrics stretched over a magnetized corkboard. I sewed several dried salal leaves on as decoration. And then made two magnets by sewing more leaves between layers of Tyvek and then gluing to a magnet.

I love the combination of fabrics. Several were from SpicedCoffee for a recent swap. They give a sense of winter with a hint of spring to come. And, of course, I'm always a fan of natural linen paired with other beautiful fabrics.

What do I get for winning, you ask? A Singer Confidence 7467 sewing machine and a set of Singer sewing books. Quite fun, eh?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Handmade Help: 2009 Victoria Bushfire Relief

I am donating 50% of all sales from my Etsy shop from now through the end of February to 2009 Victoria Bushfire relief.

For more information on other "handmade help" or what you can do to help out, visit their website.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Warm Ewe Up: Blog Question #4

What am I doing for Valentine's Day?

Working of course!

We always hold an Open House on the Saturday before Valentine's Day, and this year the holiday falls directly on the Saturday.

We'll have some wine-friendly Valentine treats to try, live jazz guitar, and a great party atmosphere.

If you're in southern Michigan this weekend, stop on by!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Stone Soup Challenge: February

My pledge to The Stone Soup Challenge is easy to fulfill. One of the main reasons for setting up my Etsy shop was to make spending money to purchase goodies from other online vendors.

I pledged more than the recommended amount because I knew I was already spending more and wanted to push myself a little. My pledge was to spend at least 50% of the profits from my Etsy shop with independent online vendors, including the of purchase one item per month from another shop participating in The Stone Soup Challenge.

The earrings pictured above are my first purchase from a SSC participant, christinececelia. I love images of bees, so these sweet little earrings were a natural choice.

This month I've also sold an item to another SSC participant, my8kidsmom. She ordered a custom stamp with her shop name. What a fun purchase! And The Stone Soup Challenge is working already.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

EtsyBloggers Blog Carnival: My Etsy Shop

For the February 27 EtsyBloggers Blog Carnival (yes, I know I'm early), the topic is:

What made you open a shop on Etsy? What do you like about being a seller on Etsy? What don't you like?

For many years (before Tommy was born and when he was little) I had a booth in the Ann Arbor Art Fair. One of the largest art fairs in the country, the A2 fair sees over a half-million visitors in four days in July. I enjoyed being a part of the crazy art fair scene, but it started taking over my summers, and I eventually dropped my booth.

I never really missed the fair, but I did miss making things to sell.

For the past few years I've been swapping through Swap-Bot and Flickr (and more recently, Ravelry). And I made lots and lots of items to include in these swaps. Several of the items -- especially the Harry Potter charm bracelets -- had lots of requests (through Flickr primarily) from folks who were interested in buying them.

I had been an Etsy buyer for a while and decided to give it a try as a seller as well. That was a little over a year and 217 sold items ago.

What do I like about it? Lots of things:
* The ease and low cost of running the shop and adding new items
* The sense of community
* The warmth of the other members
* The great things Etsy sellers and buyers do for each other
* [Generally] The look of the site
* The wide variety of gorgeous and wonderful items for sale

What don't I like?
* The way I feel like a needle in a very, very large haystack. It's very difficult to get noticed
* The exclusive attitude of the Etsy admin. There are many, many instances where I feel excluded rather than included
* The emphasis on opening new shops and relisting items, rather than helping us make sales
* Communication - it's often non-existent or mishandled
* The lack of flexibility in setting up (both organizationally and graphically) my shop

EtsyBlogger of the Month: donnapool

One of the original members of EtsyBloggers, donnapool has a fun, eclectic shop filled with buttons, photography, and toys.

Her buttons made with vintage images are some of my favorites. I'm such a fan of old advertising graphics and they make very fun buttons!

According to her Etsy profile, donnapool is a stay-at-home mom who used to work as a photographer. In addition to EtsyBloggers, she's also a member of three other Etsy street teams: EtsyMoms, EtsyCREST, CafeMom Etsy Moms.

To learn more about her, visit her blog, "Donna Says..."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February Thaw

The icicles are melting.

For the first time in probably 6 weeks or so, the temperatures are above 32 F. The sun is out, the temperature is about 37 F, and it feels positively balmy.

Let's hope it doesn't melt too much. I'd much rather have uber-cold and beautiful than somewhat-cold and grey and slushy.

Happy February!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Warm Ewe Up: Blog Question #3

Time for the new "Warm Ewe Up" swap question:
What is your favorite way to keep warm when it’s snowing outside? (And if you live in a warm weather climate, what would you do to stay warm and cozy while it’s snowing?)

This winter has been has been the coldest and snowiest that I can remember for a very long time. Southern Michigan usually has grey winters -- lots of snow-less days or partially melted slush. But we've probably had a full month of below freezing weather. So every time we get snow, it stays on the ground. At this point, it's up to your knees. And, as much as it's a really cold winter, I've been enjoying the beauty of it. It's like living in a Christmas card.

I love to be inside when it's snowing like mad outside. On those days where they're predicting 6-10 inches (or more) and it just snows and snows for hours.

What do I like to do on those days? Well, I'm such a lover of creature comforts, everything has to do with that. Knitting. A pot of hot tea (or a mug of cocoa). Movies. Wearing my wooly slippers with soft, warm sweatpants and several layers of sweaters. Warming up by the woodstove when I get chilled. Making soup. Kitties on my lap.

There's something so seductively comforting about being warm and snug indoors when it's snowing outside.