Thursday, December 2, 2010

December


And it's feeling like it. It's been snowing lightly but steadily since yesterday, and I'm hearing the incessant Christmas music wherever I go. I just started a new job at Filene's Basement, which I'm enjoying so far. I'm still walking my dog friends every weekday around noon, despite the chilly weather. All the more reason to wear wool!
November was a great month sales-wise, and I'm hoping to reach 100 sales by the end of this month. I've got three women's hats listed, and I'm curious about whether or not they'll sell. So far I've had little success with women's hats, except for my tams - probably because there's just so much out there for women!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

More bears!




What's even better than getting sales? Finding pics of my knitted bears in the hands of their kids! These are in South Africa (the pastel bear) and Namibia (the one with the "mittens").

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cold in Cleveland


Here's something I'm going to have to get used to - waking up to a scene like this. It did not look like this last night; we had some icy flurries, but nothing resembling the winter wonderland/driving nightmare of this morning. And it's only November 6th! Still, it's a good day for hunkering down and catching up on my knitting.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The yoke sweater, finally


Here's the promised picture of my yoke sweater, finally! Warm, comfy, pretty - that sums it up. I used two balls of Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool and one of Ella Rae Classic Sand Art in "Grey, Charcoal, Beige"; the style is traditional, using Elizabeth Zimmermann's yoke sweater percentage system (EPS, for you knitters), except instead of the usual Fair Isle yoke pattern I used a variegated yarn (the Ella Rae). I'm in love with this sweater and don't want to take it off - ever!
Hastily getting ready for the craft sale at Jewel Heart Cleveland as well...

Monday, October 25, 2010

New hat pattern


Sometimes I get so busy working on my knitting that I completely forget about blogging - which is what happened last week. After much time and willpower, I finished my yoke sweater on Saturday and happily wore it that night. As soon as I get a chance, I'll have my husband take a picture of me in it so I can show the world my work.
In other news, I'm thrilled to death to have a steady job again - especially one that I like! What could be better than walking a bunch of sweet dogs? (One at a time, naturally - I'm not sure if I could walk five dogs at once...)
And I finally dug up the pattern for this hat, which I've been meaning to list for a while. Simple design, pretty yarn, fun to make.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My busy weekend




Three hats - that's what I achieved from Friday through Sunday last weekend. All three are for my men's Fair Isle line. And yesterday and today, between a couple of job interviews, I've been working steadily on a yoke sweater (for myself, for once!) while watching my way through Buffy on Netflix. Awesome show - it's the second time I've watched it through - and a great sweater-knitting companion. Next up - a jacket pattern for Etsy and a sweater for my husband.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fair Isle capelet thingy


Many will say that they're either a "process knitter" or a "product knitter" - meaning they either knit because they love the process more or because they love the finished product more. I'm somewhere in between - I love the knitting process, but I have a ferocious drive to finish everything I start. (Finish it or, if I don't like the way it's going, frog it.) Though I usually have two to three projects going on at a time, I hate having too many pieces sitting around on the needles at one time. This piece was in hibernation for a while before I figured out where I wanted to go with it; I started it a few months ago, put it aside for a while until its unfinished presence started bugging me, then brought it out and finished it last week. The yarn I used was Vickie Howell Rock, a nifty soysilk/wool/hemp blend, to work a Fair Isle design. Once I'd finished, I still wasn't sure how I felt about it until I broke out the iron and blocked it - which flattened the stockinette-stitch edge beautifully and gave the piece a nice drape, just as I'd hoped it would do. It's not so perfect that I would put it up for sale - especially since it'll probably need reblocking after every wash - but it was a good experimental piece for this yarn.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My 100th post



And I don't have anything exciting to say for it - except that I got a job, which I'm pretty excited about. Yes, a job - right here in Ohio, where the unemployment rate is over 10%. It's just a part-time job, but one I'm sure I'll enjoy - dog walking. And I'll have a steady income! Yay!!!
Though I'm also happy to say that since I've started selling patterns, my sales have gone way up - I'm almost to 50 on Etsy, which isn't that many in the scheme of things, but feels just wonderful nonetheless. I just listed a new pattern over the weekend, for a hat I've been calling The Cleveland Cap. It actually started out as a cowl, which I frogged and reknit a couple of times before it came clear what the yarn wanted to be. I'm quite satisfied with the result.
I also listed a new pair of women's gloves yesterday - pink-on-pink stripes!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Now on Ravelry!

Actually, I've technically been on Ravelry.com for more than a year, but I've only recently learned I can sell my patterns there. I owe this knowledge to Cleveland-based professional knitter Pavia Lewis of Miknitures, whom I had the honor to meet last week. So for those of you also on Ravelry, my knitting and crochet patterns are available for instant download at EmptyKnits on Ravelry for $5.00 each. I'm really getting into these patterns, so I'll be adding more as I design them! I'm hoping to have enough to compile a PDF pattern book before too long.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pretty sweater!



I have to allow myself a quick brag before I go off to visit one of my favorite dog friends. Here we have the completed sweater I made for my grandmother-in-law, following a pattern from Tahki Stacy Charles and using the tweed yarn Shannon, which unfortunately seems to have been discontinued, since I can't find it in the online shop. So pretty, though, isn't it? It's fun to follow a pattern for once, as opposed to the trial-and-error method of designing my own! (Though if I knit this sweater again, I think I'd alter the pattern to where I'd knit the sleeves in the round and the body in one piece so I wouldn't have to sew so many seams.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Has the holiday season begun?


I sincerely hope so - and my sales are starting to reflect it. After a couple of practically dead months, they're finally picking up again. I'm actually feeling the stress of trying to actualize all my ideas for this fall and winter. That is definitely a good thing! It's amazing how a few sales can really take the sting out of being unemployed.
As for today's achievements - one pattern sale (catnip toys) and three listings: a new pair of men's gloves, a pattern for men's and women's gloves, and a men's beanie. I'm really working on stocking up on knits for men, because I've detected a real lack in that area. From my experience, men like handmade stuff just as much as women do, and it's a fun challenge for me as a woman to design and make guy-friendly items.
Speaking of, I'm thrilled about knitting a sweater for my husband using a pattern I found in The Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting Book. It's based off a 1952 dolman sweater produced at OKM. Since I have so much to do beforehand, it'll probably turn out to be a Hanukkah sweater, but oh well!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The now-infamous Meat Dress: my two cents

I don't generally keep up with celebrities or with the media in general. Lady Gaga is my exception. I adore her - she's creative, talented, driven, and totally self-made. She's also MY AGE, basically - 24. For somebody so young to achieve such renown and success is just incredible; even if you don't like her, I think you have to respect that. So that's where I'm coming from.

So PETA and other animal rights groups are up in arms about Lady Gaga's VMA outfit, which, in case you haven't heard, was made almost entirely of raw meat. As an avid animal-rights supporter myself, not to mention a vegetarian, I can kind of see why; much as I admire her guts (no pun intended), I look at that dress and I kind of want to throw up. Raw meat - ick! But I'm kind of puzzled about why these groups are so angry. This is the pop star who wore a suit made out of Kermit the Frog puppets as commentary on the fur industry - she's obviously not ignorant to animal suffering. And you could just as easily say that with the Meat Dress, she's making a similar statement.

It's made national news that Lady Gaga appeared wearing tons of animal flesh. But why? More celebrities than you could count wear fur, not to mention leather, and nobody cares. Somehow, it's okay if the flesh has been treated beyond recognition into a form that's palatable.

The same goes for "normal" people. Most of us eat meat and wear skin every single day. We get dolled up with cosmetics that were tested on animals. We take medications developed through animal testing, and we barely give it a second thought, except to feel guilty on occasion. I think one of the great dilemmas of our advanced age is the question "is it worth it?" Is all the suffering we inflict on animals (and one another) worth it?

So whatever Gaga "meant" to say with her fashion statement, I'm hoping some of us will come away with this thought: that if what we do is so horrifying, then maybe we shouldn't do it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Patterns!



It's been bugging me for a while that my shop doesn't cater to other knitters and crocheters, and after taking a really long time to get around to it, I'm finally starting to offer some of my patterns in PDF format in my Etsy shop. So far I have one crochet pattern for cat toys and two knitting patterns - one for my men's beanie, another for my three-point capelet. I'm also playing with the idea of offering pattern kits, which would make awesome holiday gifts. I'm really fired-up about that idea, so they may be appearing soon!
And speaking of taking a really long time to do things - I've finally gotten over my irrational fear of designing fingerless gloves, so now I have an excellent pattern for gloves for both men and women. Just thinking about it gives me an ego boost! The white pair are my prototype, which I'm keeping; the navy and orange pair, modeled here by my supportive husband, are in my shop.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Another bear in South Africa, plus a new hat



Here's a bear I knit on my trip to New York a year ago - now in the hands of its child! I especially liked that one, because I knit up its "sweater" in colors that reminded me of the cornfields in Indiana, where I went to college. It's nice sometimes to see how interconnectedness plays out. :)
And, of course, here's the newest addition to my line of men's winter hats: burnt orange with navy Fair Isle design. I'll probably make a reversed version with orange on a navy background, for the guys who find orange too bright!

Goldilocks and the Three (Pairs of) Socks




That would be who I'm feeling like just now. I'm finishing my third pair of socks that were originally meant for Etsy, but none of the pairs have come out *quite* to my satisfaction. I'm not particularly bothered by this, since I get to keep and wear my own cast-offs - they're perfectly wearable, but I don't want to put any socks in my shop until they're PERFECT.
The first design, with the black stripes and blue and purple (yarn: Sockotta), came out way too big - but they'll work for layering over other socks. The second pair, with the yellow, orange and purple stripes (yarn: Regia Cotton), was a bit of an accident (I got careless and increased to far fewer stitches than I'd intended), but a happy one, since it fit me nice and snug. However, I realized after the instep increases that the socks weren't long enough, so I stuck in some extra rows before the heel. Really just a cosmetic flaw that only a knitter would notice - but I wasn't going to sell them like that! The black and red pair (yarn: Patons Kroy) were a lot of fun to make, but I knit more tightly than usual on them so they're a little too snug for me to feel comfortable selling (though comfortable enough for me to wear myself!). So now I'm thinking I'll add a few more stitches to the nice-and-snug pattern to compensate for my overly tight knitting, and we'll see what happens then.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Spider Web Shrug




Here's my newest item - another recycled piece, this time a shrug in a crochet web pattern. It was so much fun to work I might just make one or two more - but at the moment, I have quite a list of projects on my plate:
- 1 cardigan to finish (for my grandmother-in-law - she knit part of it herself, but doesn't have the time to finish it at the moment, so I'm doing it for her)
- 1 baby blanket (for a friend who's commissioning some of my work to put in her store at the Brooks Museum in Memphis - I'm very excited!)
- 1 pair of black and red striped socks (for Etsy)
- 1 pair of yellow and pink striped socks (for Etsy)
Not to mention, of course, the MBP teddy bears, who are my constant project. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two-Tone Shawl




Just finished and put up a pretty new shawl today. Knitters and crocheters - if you're stuck on the notion that acrylic yarn is stiff, scratchy, and cheap-looking, then you must try James C. Brett Marble Chunky. It's soft, beautiful, inexpensive, and comes in lots of pretty shades. For this shawl, I used the colors Majesty and Berries. Absolutely lovely, delightful to work with.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back to work



I'm slowly adjusting back to work mode from vacation mode. Though I'm still technically unemployed, I have plenty to keep myself busy between my Etsy endeavors and my job searching. I'm working on expanding the Buddhist of Etsy team, which I'm really enjoying. I was kind of hesitant to agree to be team leader at first because I have this idea that I'm not good at organizing when other people are involved, but the other team members have been so interested and helpful that I'm really excited about where this is going.
Plus, I'm working on a new line - the socks - as well as integrating recycled and upcycled items into my shop. I've had some setbacks with the socks because of sizing issues, but I'll have a pair ready soon. And I've been having fun finding ways to recycle and upcycle old sweaters - my first project being this lovely cat blanket. I made this from a sweater I found in a thrift store and took pity on; though the color and stitch pattern were pretty, it was one of those atrocious early-nineties oversized designs that never looked good on anybody even when they were in style. Time to breathe some new life into it, I thought - so I took it apart, unraveled a bit, and used the loose thread to crochet a border. Voila - a good-as-new, recycled blanket!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

There's no place like London...






Which is why my husband and I chose to go there on our honeymoon. Definitely my favorite city, and one of the all-around best in the world. It was an amazing two-week-long trip and we got some fabulous photos!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Vacation

I'm now officially on vacation from my Etsy shop, blog, and Facebook until August 9th. Time to enjoy my wedding and honeymoon!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Three facts

1. My wedding is ten days away.

2. I'm beginning to doubt the likelihood of me getting a job in Cleveland.

3. I've just agreed to become the leader of a Buddhist team on Etsy.

Karma works in weird ways.

Friday, July 9, 2010

More socks, more bears



Here's one more pair of A4A socks and two new bears, which will be setting off on their respective journeys today or tomorrow.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The best way to knit socks - ever!




Two-at-a-time from the toe up, as presented in the aptly-named book Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. After several bookstore visits of resisting the urge to buy yet another knitting book, I finally broke down and bought this one a week ago. And let me tell you - it was worth spending $16.95 of my hard-earned cash, because it has completely transformed my view of socks. It's incredible - no more second-sock boredom, no more worrying about running out of yarn, no more fussing around with tiny double-pointed needles. With this technique in my head, I've become a bona fide Sock Knitter. I've already written two patterns based on the technique, and I'm hoping to have some in my shop soon, both ready-to-ship and available for custom order.
Thus, here I have some model socks I've just begun for my Etsy store; a pair of wool women's socks for Afghans for Afghans that I'm almost done with; and another A4A pair that I knit in the car on the way to and from the IKEA store in Pittsburg. (Believe it or not, there's no IKEA in Cleveland.) And I've just begun!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another bear in Namibia!


Here's another one of my bears from Mother Bear Project, shown with its child in Namibia. Just wanted to share the warm fuzzies. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A long overdue hello from Cleveland

I'm sorry I've been negligent about my blog over the past week or so, but my top priority has been enjoying being with my fiance, who, as of last Tuesday, I hadn't seen since FEBRUARY. I am so thankful that this year of a long-distance relationship is over. I despise long-distance. Do not try to undertake a long-distance relationship unless, like me, you are lucky enough to have the most amazing man (or woman) in the world. That makes all the anguish worthwhile.
But anyway - I am now up in Cleveland, Ohio, where my fiance and I will be living once we're married. We have our place to live taken care of, so now I'm embarking on the job search - wish me luck!
I'll be experimenting some more with my new camera today, so I should have some nice Ohio photos to post soon.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trying out my new toy




Yesterday I bought myself a new camera, a Nikon Coolpix, which is probably the most significant thing I've bought for my Etsy shop since my dressmaker's dummy. Picking it out was very exciting; now I just have to figure out how to use it right. I first tried taking photos of - guess who? Then I experimented with the macro function and took some pictures of the sweater I knit for my cousin's baby. Not sure how to get these to where they don't come out all yellowish; these photos are unedited, and somehow the zoomed photo came out showing the truest colors. I have some work to do.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A photo journal from the Florida Keys






This past weekend I was down in Florida attending a family wedding, a lovely beach ceremony in Summerland Key. It also made for a nice family reunion and mini-vacation. I got to spend some time at the beach in Bahia Honda State Park, which had some great wildlife: herons, pelicans, seagulls, lizards, and my personal favorite, iguanas. (I'm praying the oil spill doesn't make it there; it's absolutely beautiful.) I also got to go into Key West and visit some tourist spots like the Hemingway House - another favorite, because of the fifty or so cats that live there! Here are some of my photos.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wedding cake toppers!


Just painted them today. :)