Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Return from the holidays

After an enjoyable holiday interlude, I'm finally getting myself back to blogging. My fiance came into town a couple weeks ago, and we had a really lovely time being together and visiting family in West Tennessee and Mississippi. A family friend who lives in the Delta really outdid herself by throwing an engagement party for us, and Dan got to meet a significant portion of my family. (He was a hit with them, btw! That's us in the photo.) I also made the acquaintance of the distinguished feline gentleman you see in the picture - former stray, tailless amputee, now lord of our friend's house. I spent a night with him cuddled up in bed with me, which luckily didn't incur the wrath of my fiance, maybe because Binky was quite friendly with him, too! It was a great holiday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shibori Alpaca Scarf

Quite pretty, I think - I wonder if a short scarf will sell?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A new and really awesome Etsy store

I know, because one of the people running it is one of my best friends. (The other is her boyfriend, whom I have not yet met, but I imagine he's fairly awesome as well, since she's dating him.) The store is AirshipDelirium, the adorable redhead in the photos is my friend, and they're making a 2010 Steampunk Calendar that's available for preorder, so have a look! At the risk of being pushy, I'm recommending you buy it as well, because it looks really cool.

As for me, I'm working on a custom order for two men's hats. I said I'd have them in the mail by Thursday - so wish me luck!

Monday, November 30, 2009

At the risk of sounding like a Grinch, or what I love and hate about the holiday season

I don't much care for the holiday season. Don't get me wrong - I like the holidays themselves. It's the overblown quality of the entire season that gets to me, especially the Christmas part. The top five things I find particularly obnoxious are (with exceptions)

1. Pop renditions of Christmas songs
These are hokey and should be used sparingly, if at all.
2. Cheesy Christmas movies
All that going on about The Meaning of Christmas when they're just making the holiday that more shallow.
3. Red and green decor.
These colors should be reserved for poinsettias and other plants on which they occur naturally.
4. Excessive spending and commercialization, especially of a religious holiday
A complaint we've all heard a million times before, but a valid complaint nonetheless
5. Basically everything that's fake (fake snow, fake trees, etc.)
If the tree's not real, then what's the point?

That said, I do like Christmas on a personal level. I love being with my family and friends. I love exchanging meaningful gifts with people I care about, especially if I get to make them myself. I love getting chocolate and candy in my stocking. I love hearing the old Anglican hymns I grew up with. I love the old world pagan elements like putting a tree in your house. And I love how for me - a practicing Buddhist - it's one way I can connect to and honor my Christian heritage, and a way I'll be able to share that heritage with my Jewish fiance when he comes to visit.

So let me focus on the positive. Plus, I'm now at 13 sales!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

An adorable little thief

Our squirrel friend figures out yet another way to steal sunflower seeds.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A4A blanket complete!

Here we have the baby blanket I just made for the current Afghans for Afghans campaign. Even knit with double strands using a size 10 needle, it took me about two weeks to finish! I finally completed it at about 3 a.m., and I put it in the mail this afternoon, quite satisfied with the way it turned out. And now I am free to return to my other projects.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Some thoughts on my day job

I don't think I really appreciated humanity until I started working with developmentally disabled people a few months ago. The guys I work with (and so far, I've worked only with men) comprise what is probably the most fascinating group of people I've ever encountered. I wish I could share some of my experiences with them to show you all what I mean, but for the sake of client confidentiality I don't think I can.

Just try to imagine, say, the four or five most interesting, different, and funny people you've ever known. Imagine them all living under the same roof and interacting with one another all the time. Then imagine a couple dozen more such characters interacting with them on a daily basis, some of them living together in groups as well - and you can begin to understand what my experience at the Tri-County Center has been like.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

8 Sales, and My Current Projects

I had enough sales and custom orders coming in last week that I actually started to feel some works stress relating to my shop. Life is really good!

I'm trying to balance several projects at the moment; here are the primary ones:
1. Dad's sweater. I'm done with the shoulders and almost done with one arm; thus I have an arm, the body, and trim to go. After his, I need to make Mom's. I'm hoping to get them done by January, when both their birthdays occur.
2. An Afghans for Afghans baby blanket. Yes, I know I just made one, but I'm onto another one! I've got some lovely bright-colored wool and I'm knitting a double-thick garter stitch blanket. It should be super warm.
3. A blue lace scarf like the orange one I've got listed in my shop here. I've had it on the backburner for months, but I really need to get going on it now before scarf season is over.
4. A capelet made of deliciously soft bamboo yarn.
5. Knitted roses for my wedding bouquet. I found an amazing free pattern online.

I've also got a bear going, as usual.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


At long last, I feel like I'm doing something! Yesterday I received TWO requests for wholesale orders, and the first - for cat toys - is settled. So now I'm breaking out the crochet hooks, cotton, and catnip, determined to get this order done within a week.

I've also got some pictures of my first bridal items - a floral headband and two combs. I'm going to custom-make them to the buyer's specifications, so the cream-colored rayon ones you see in the pictures are samples. (Sorry they're so dim - it was overcast today.) Because of the aforementioned (and exciting) wholesale orders, it'll probably be next week before I get these new items up.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A4A Socks * Chaussettes Pour A4A

Here are my socks for the Afghans for Afghans campaign! Just put them in the mail today.

*Voici mes chaussettes pour Afghans for Afghans! Je les ai envoye' par la poste aujourd'hui.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My First Online Custom Order!

It might not count, since a friend (as in bridesmaid-to-be) placed the order, but still! I sold her this potholder in the picture, plus another I made specifically for her order. Five sales! Yay!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Alert to Knitters and Crocheters: Afghans for Afghans needs your help!

I already posted this on the Etsy forums, and I want to here as well:

I wanted to spread the word - the wonderful knitting/crocheting charity, Afghans for Afghans, is currently running a high-priority campaign for kids' wool clothing and blankets to send to needy children in Afghanistan in time for the winter. The due date for these items is Oct. 29; it's really soon, but even if you could whip up a hat or a pair of mittens to send them by then, I'm sure it'll be appreciated. There is also a campaign for baby blankets going on at the moment. So let's all try to help these kids in any way we can!
To find out how you can help, visit www.afghansforafghans.org.

Let's spread the word!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

About the Cat

My lovely cat has been extremely affectionate lately. She's never been a "lap cat," but lately she's been coming to sit on me quite frequently. I have no idea of the cause - maybe the weather getting cooler? - but I'm flattered.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Items * Nouveaux Objets

Last week we were plagued with more rain and flash flooding, which set me back shop-wise because there wasn't enough sunlight to photograph my new items. Luckily, I emerged from the weekend to find a nice sunny Monday, so I took a bunch of pictures and am setting about uploading them to Etsy.

My new obsession has been with crocheting Irish roses; I've been making dozens of them to incorporate into pins, barrettes, and other items. I'm hoping to start making bridal accessories, too, using roses made from silky cream-colored rayon. Pictures to come.

***La semaine derniere, nous avons eu beaucoup de pluie et je ne pouvais pas faire des photos sur mes nouveaux objets sans la lumiere de soleil. Heureusement, il a fait du soleil aujourd'hui, et j'ai fait pas mal de photos pour mettre dans ma magasin.

Les "Irish roses" sont ma nouvelle obsession; j'ai fait beaucoup de ses fleurs crochetes pour faire des barrettes et autres accessoires. Je voudrais bien faire des accessoires en rayon blanc pour le mariage. Je vais mettre des photos ici quand je les ai.

Friday, October 9, 2009

One take on Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse"

Tonight I was rewatching last week's Dollhouse episode, "Instincts," on Fox.com, and I came across a profound realization. You see, thanks to my dear fiance, I am a devoted Joss Whedon fan (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and now Dollhouse - I love them all!), and Joss's shows are so well-constructed that you basically HAVE to watch them at least twice to really get what he's saying. And tonight's rewatching did not leave me disappointed.

I was watching the scene where Echo and Paul Ballard are at the deserted park, after Echo realizes that the baby she's been programmed to love as her own isn't truly hers. She tells him how she still feels everything, even in her "wiped" state - the love for her baby and the pain of losing him. She tells him how "they" make everything so real; she was not pretending to feel love or suffering, she truly felt them. When Ballard tries to reassure her that once she's wiped again she won't remember any of the pain, she responds that feeling pain is better than feeling nothing.

At some point while watching that exchange, something clicked with me: the situation the actives are in isn't unlike the situation that, according to Buddhist thought, we are all in. When an active is programmed with a certain personality and life history, he or she believes fully that that is his or her true identity. At the end of each engagement, the active's brain is wiped clean and all traces of that particular life and identity are removed. They remain in an in-between, bardo-like state until they are programmed with a completely new history and personality.

Like these actives, with each life we're "programmed" with a certain identity, which is constructed by the world around us, our life experiences, and our own ideas about who we should be. We go through our lives fully believing that the identity we know is our true, real identity. We love, we hurt - we experience genuine feelings. At the end of our life, we're - theoretically - wiped clean and ready to begin a new life, with a new identity that we fully believe is ours.

But, like the actives, we never really lose the identities we've been programmed with; we just forget about them. They get buried somewhere beneath the layers of each new life. The tabula rasa idea doesn't really work because, as Caroline (soon to be Echo) says, if you try to clean an actual slate, you can still see what was on it before.

The show "Dollhouse" is centered on Echo's awakening to her true identity. As Echo becomes aware of the different people she has been, she is at a loss to tell which one is truly her. Ballard, in this respect, serves as her spiritual guide: he encourages her on her path of self-discovery and reminds her of her true identity as Caroline. He is concerned with helping her break down the barriers of illusions that obscure her true self.

Like Echo, we've had many identities placed upon us, all of which we fully believed were true, though none of them were. And though all of these identities are a part of us, our own true identity is something quite different. And like Echo, our task is to awaken to our true self.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Afghans for Afghans Blanket *Couverture pour Afghans for Afghans

Here's the baby blanket I made for Afghans for Afghans, following Elizabeth Zimmermann's pattern for a garter stitch baby blanket made by knitting four right angles. I worked it in stripes to highlight the design. The weird color variations were due to the fact that I kept running out of a certain color of yarn, so I had to keep changing colors! I think the overall effect is okay, though, and it's very warm and comfy. I put it in the mail on Friday, so it should be getting to the collection center soon.

I think I'm going to have to take it easy with the French, since I've realized that I haven't been blogging as often or as extensively now I've committed myself to a bilingual blog. I do want to keep it up some, but I can't let it start feeling like homework - so it'll have to be a sometimes thing.

Resting up from the weekend's work (and from the effects of the flu shot I got today). Going to have tea with my favorite kindergartner and her mom tomorrow - so it looks to be a good week. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Flooding over, I hope

The floodwaters have receded - in my backyard as well, I believe, as in Chattanooga and Georgia, where it's been the worst. I heard of nine deaths in Georgia and one missing-presumed-dead in Chattanooga: a man was swept away by the currents in a drainage ditch. Apparently, he jumped in there on purpose after boasting to bystanders that he could swim across the swollen ditch. Awful.
In light of these tragedies, it doesn't feel right to start going on about trivial shop-related issues, so I'll leave it at that for the night.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My backyard...

...is flooded. The patio is submerged in rainwater, and the dogs are tracking little muddy footprints into the house. Just wanted to share that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Scarves Really Done Now *'Echarpes Finalement Finis

Finally got my scarves up on Etsy; you can see them here. I'm pretty satisfied by the way the pictures turned out. I was seriously debating how much to price my Night Sky Crocheted Scarf;the yarn itself was really expensive, but it was mostly made of synthetic fibers, which I usually charge less for than natural fibers. I wound up setting the price at $60, about the price I paid for the yarn; a bit of a loss, but I'm comfortable with that in this case.

Now, to prep myself for a weekend of work!

*Finalement, mes 'echarpes sont sur Etsy; on peut les voir ici. Je suis satisfaite par les photos. Je n''etais pas su>r du prix de mon Night Sky Crocheted Scarf; les mat'eriaux les-me>mes 'etaient tre's chers, mais ils 'etaient presque tous synthetiques, qui sont moins chers dans mon magasin. J'ai d'ecid'e de vendre l''echarpe pour $60 - le prix des mat'eriaux. Je perds un peu d'argent, mais je suis 'a l'aise avec cette decision.

Maintenant, un week-end du travail!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Work, plus some scarves * Travail, et des 'echarpes

I've spent the day recovering from a long weekend of work (strange as that may sound) - I work Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to midnight (32 hours total) at one of Tri County Center's group homes for developmentally disabled adults. It's a wonderful job; I get to spend my days with three amazing guys, helping them with housework and cooking, driving them wherever they want to go, and so forth. The long hours, however, are pretty wearying, and I haven't quite made up my sleep debt.

Anyway - two scarves and a neckwarmer are finished, and all I have to do is get some decent photos of myself wearing them before I can put them up on Etsy. I'll try to get the pics up by tomorrow! (I think they're pretty.)

*J'ai pass'e toute la journ'ee en restant apre's du travail ce week-end (oui, c'est peut-e>tre 'etrange). Je travaille le samedi et le dimanche de 8h du matin jusqu'a' minuit (32 heures en somme) a' l'une des maisons de Tri County Center pour les adults avec des capacit'es mentaux diff'erentes (je ne sais pas le phrase correct en franc,ais). C'est un job excellent; je travaille avec trois hommes tre's sympas. Je les aide avec le menage et la cuisine, je conduis leur voiture, et cetera. Mais les heures sont tre's longues; je deviens tre's fatigu'ee, et aujourd'hui, je dois rester.

J'ai finis trois 'echarpes, et maintenant je dois trouver quelqu'un qui peut faire des photos de moi avec elles pour Etsy. J'essayerai de montre des photos ici demain! (Je crois que les 'echarpes sont jolies.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Now in Two Languages * Maintenant, en Deux Langues

I'm making the transition to a bilingual blog and Etsy shop; from now on, I'll be writing posts in English first, and then in French. Note: My French is passable, but not great!

* Je fais la transition a' un blog et un magasin Etsy en deux langues. Je vais 'ecrire en anglais et puis en franc,ais. Note: Je ne parle pas franc,ais tre's bien! (On peut voir que je ne sais pas comment de faire des accents en Blogger.com...)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tennessee Again

So I'm back home in Tennessee and back to my normal routine. That means I get to come back to my stash and my larger works-in-progress. I'm trying to view it from that angle, rather than the one that acknowledges that I'm a couple hundred miles away from my Dan - by necessity, I keep reminding myself. I start back work at the Tri-County Center on Saturday, which I'm excited about; I love my job. And I have three new items to post on Etsy. I'm hoping I'll get around to photographing and listing them tomorrow.
I'm toying with the idea of making this a bilingual English-French blog. Mostly for my own benefit - I need to keep up my French regularly so as not to let my B.A. go to waste! On va voir. (We'll see.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Wedding Dress Saga Ends!

Here it is - finally, definitely my wedding dress! By pure serendipity I stumbled upon it in Chamonix, a small off-the-rack bridal shop in Rhinebeck, NY, while Dan was getting a haircut. Not only was the dress lovely, but I could afford it (!), it was the right color (ivory), and IT FIT ME PERFECTLY. It's light and comfortable and absolutely perfect for a July wedding. I'm in a happy state of shock; I cannot believe I've actually found The Dress. I simply cannot believe it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hat finished, scarf begun

I finished Dan's hat yesterday, after a bit of frogging and reknitting to get it the right size, and here you see him kindly modeling it for me. As you can see, it looks very nice on him. The only thing I don't like about it is the way it covers up his nice curly black hair... but that's a hat for you.

I've still got a ton of the yarn left, btw, and I'm using it to make a scarf that should appear on Etsy before too long.

Another great yarn shop, which I visited yesterday, is Fabulous Yarn in Tivoli, New York - well worth a visit if you're in the area, but even if you're not it's okay, because they run a mail-order service as well! Wonderful stuff.

(Far right: my loot from this trip.)

(Right: Divinely soft white alpaca that I want to turn into a wedding-esque shawl.)

C'est belle, la vie, quand on a de la laine!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back from Boston

Dan and I just returned from a weekend trip to the excellent city of Boston, where we stayed with friends in Somerville and did things like visited the science museum, ate some very tasty food, did karaoke (my first time at it - it was a lot of fun), wandered along the waterfront, took a Freedom Trail tour, and - of course - went yarn shopping. My plan was to get a 16" size 8 circular needle, suitable for hat-making (I previously had only a size 6 and a size 10 in that length), and yarn to make Dan a winter hat to go along with the gloves and scarf I'd already knit him.

I found some really gorgeous hand-dyed superwash from a great little yarn shop in Cambridge, Mind's Eye Yarns, and was once again reminded of how lucky I am to have a guy who actually likes to wear colors - he asked me to make his hat out of it! After hearing all the stories from great knitters (like Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, of whom I'm a fan) whose husbands, boyfriends, fathers, et cetera refuse to wear anything but solid black and gray, I almost can't believe that my fiance wants me to make his hat in the beautiful, vibrant shades of sky blue and grass green you see here. Yet more proof that I've found the most wonderful guy on Earth.

Today we're taking it easy - all that walking made one of his knees quite unhappy, so we're putting off visiting FDR's home till tomorrow and instead lounge around watching Dollhouse, the singing commentary on Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog, and whatever else takes our fancy. That means lots of knitting time for me!

One more thing - here's a picture of some really pretty coffee that one of our friends (not me, sadly - I bet it was yummy) had at the cafe 1369 in Somerville. It's so aesthetically pleasing that I have to include it here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wedding Dress???

I'm in the midst of a serious wedding gown crisis right now - or at least, I have been for about two days now, and only now am I seeing some kind of solution. I'm a knitter, not a seamstress (my sewing skills are merely decent), and the idea of making my own dress from scratch has become increasingly daunting. I do, however, want a dress that's unique and personalized - something I've put my own creativity into. The solution? Buy a simple dress and embellish it.

Sounds fairly simple, right? You would think so - unless you've been faced with buying a wedding dress yourself, in which case you will know that it is virtually impossible to get one under $300, new or used. And I'm a bride on a budget - which can be hard when you love beautiful clothes and long for the freedom to pick out the most opulent, stunning gown you can squeeze into. It doesn't help much that I want my dress to be MY dress - that is, I don't want to feel obliged to resell it after the ceremony. Call me sentimental.

So I fished around on OnceWed, Wore It Once, and Preowned Wedding Dresses and found some excellent gowns, but it wasn't until I took the more mainstream route and tried Amazon.com that I found what (I think) will be my gown. (I know it's technically a bridesmaid dress, but the ivory version would do just fine for a wedding dress. And I like the idea of my bridesmaids' dresses being similar in style to mine, which I could do here.) I'm going to wait for advice from my fashion consultant (my cousin Gretchen) before I make any decisions.

On a different note: here's my lovely engagement ring!!! -->
It was made by Etsian megangoldkamp and has a braided silver band with a fiery opal in the center. Unique and absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And here's my veil!

Etsy seller TessaKim just gave me permission to link to her site, so here's the lovely veil I mentioned.


One of my favorite parts of being an Etsy seller is the opportunity it provides to get in touch with other craftspeople and sellers. I'm not much of a joiner, Internet-wise; I finally broke down and set up a Facebook account last fall, but it's in my hamster's name, not mine, so it's basically an excuse to post cute pictures of him, "friend" other Facebook rodents, and provide a venue for my friends who seem to prefer to contact me via the social networking site instead of the old-fashioned way, aka email. But anyway - something about Etsy is just so comfy and welcoming and nice. It's like having thousands of potential friends who all share a love for the handmade.

I've been thinking about that lately as I've been searching Etsy for ways to make my wedding more handmade and personal. I'm already making my dress; I don't have the fabric yet, but I've already bought the dress pattern from McCall's:
I want to make something like the picture on the left. It's simple and elegant - perfect, I think, for the Quaker meetinghouse where it'll be held. I'm hoping to find an ivory brocade fabric like the one shown in the picture. I've already bought my veil from - guess where? - Etsy; I've convoed the seller to ask permission to link to it here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

News from New York

State, that is - I am, at long last, up at Bard College visiting my fiance! He's here as a grad student, enrolled in their one-year-long MAT program. So far, we've been enjoying doing stuff around campus and exploring these lovely little New York towns like Red Hook and Tivoli (where they've got a sumptuous-looking yarn store, which Dan is going to take me to when we get the chance). Though this is technically a break for him, he has two 15-page essays due Friday. So while he's hard at work, so am I. Or, at least, I'm trying to be, Etsy-ing and working on getting this blog into some kind of shape.

So, as fall is fast approaching, I've been thinking of fun stuff I could do for Halloween. Halloween happens to be my favorite holiday, even though for the past few years I've done basically nothing for it. I even named my hamster, who I acquired last October, after the holiday. (As you can see, Halloween the hamster is immensely precious. He even has his own Facebook page, under his full name, Halloween Longfur Ruleman.)

As my first Halloween-the-holiday item, I crocheted a black spider-web scarf at lightning speed. I used a chunky wool/acrylic blend I had on hand and finished the whole thing in basically one day. I'm a knitter at heart, but that doesn't mean I can't love how fast crochet can go!

I also have a rather interesting dangly spider - also crocheted, incidentally - that I made for an Alchemy bid, which may be my next Halloween project; I might sell them in sets of three or five as party favors.

There's not a whole lot I can do until I get back home, however. Right now, I'm just enjoying being here!