Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Oh the dread! I went to the dentist!

and I had 5 cavities! Ouch! Anyway, I've had them all filled - 3 last week, 2 yesterday - and I'm all sore. Back teeth are terrible since they give you a shot in your jaw. Since I haven't felt much like eating or talking in a week, I've been busy crocheting. Here's 4 hats that I made plus a diaper cover (coming soon to my shop)! Plus, I'm showing off my new photography prop - a water goblet from my china cabinet!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Oops! Now what?

I mess up A LOT! Specifically for crocheting, I don't notice the errors until I am well past them. I miss a step following directions, I don't check gauge, I switch stitches in a stitch pattern all the time! Sometimes it's a happy mistake but often it leads to frogging... satisfying and cathardic in itself, I must say. So this week's post is dedicated to mistakes and learning from them.

Let's start with that blanket I pictured last week - it started as a completely different pattern (here's that pattern) but I decided that I didn't like it couldn't keep up with the stitch count  - it seems so simple but after 6 rows, I noticed it was starting to look slightly more pyramid shaped than rectangle (mistake #1). So I went searching for another, simpler pattern and found one that I've used to make a newsboy hat for a girl before and it's really simple - ch2, skip the first stitch *dc, sc in the same stitch, skip a stitch* across, hdc in the ch2 from the previous row, ch2 turn. But here's the thing - my least favorite part of crocheting is the first row of stitches after the foundation chain especially when it's 30 inches of stitches so I didn't take that row out even though it has ch3 spaces (mistake #2). Then, I take this project with me everywhere - I do it at my Craft Nights, I do it at my kids' activities, I do it while watching TV - I skipped stitches a lot because I wasn't paying attention (usually skipped the dc and did the sc) and didn't find them until the next row. If it didn't look too bad, I didn't pull them out and just put the pattern stitch (dc, sc) in that sc (mistake #3-18). Now the latest mistake I have made on this blanket was particularly egregious - I mixed up the pattern. I did sc, dc across instead of dc, sc and I kept doing it because I was sure that it was the pattern stitch (mistake #19). I didn't look right but I couldn't figure out what happened. I frogged it 4 times before my mother-in-law helped  find my mistake!

mistake #1 - this happens to everyone once in a while when a stitch just doesn't work for you. move on.
mistake #2 - I should have pulled this out but now that it's there, I'll find a way to incorporate it into the border.
mistake #3-18 - I was being lazy and should have pulled these out. But since I'm not going to, I'm just saying that those spots are a reminder that it was made with love!
mistake #19 - when in doubt, go back to the pattern. My MIL pulled out about 6 stitches on the last row that looked right and noted that it was dc, sc rather than sc, dc - I need to remember this for the next time I can't figure out the problem. A little note - you'd think that this mix up would look the same after a couple rows, but it doesn't.

So will I take this lesson and go on with it? yes. Will I make more mistakes in the future? absolutely. Here's what I did last night:
Both of these hats are 0-3 mo size but the blue one barely fits an American Girl doll. Guess I'm starting over on that one! That's what handicrafts are about - making mistakes and moving on!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Street Teams - why they ROCK!

I meet up with my Richmond Etsy friends once a month for coffee and to discuss business. We talk about all sorts of things crafty from where to buy supplies to Etsy tricks to marketing and advertising. Last month, we talked about bookkeeping and taxes. This month, we talked local craft/vendor fairs. It was nice to hear about all the local fairs that people do from PTA fairs to county fairs and discuss the cost of them, traffic, promotions and whether they are juried or should be. Next month we're doing a show and tell! I've got to finish this blanket so that I can share it!

Here's a shout-out to my lovely group!

Britt from Cricket Cove Soap
Toni from Milepost 64 Designs
Cathy from Orange Octopus
Candy from Two Hearts by Candy
Karin (me) from Hamburke's Bows
and Suzanne who is opening up her Etsy shop shortly

Do you do crafty meetups? Do you have themed discussions? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cleaning House

I just bought this book Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma. I'm only on chapter 1 where she describes when the problem hit her. For Kay, it was when her 15 year old son wanted an awesome - and expensive - car when he turns 16 and expressed this out loud to her in a less than "this is my dream car" way. I personally don't see this as a problem. Everyone wants that awesome car right off the bat - for me it was a soft-top Jeep Wrangler, you know, to match my dad's Jeep Cherokee already in the driveway - and a few kids get their dream car either by hand-me down of the mid 80's Mustang, hard work to buy their own pickup truck or they have generous or indulgent parents (2 different things) but most are just happy to drive the family station wagon without Mom or Dad in the car. It's good to have a dream/goal and to be able to picture yourself there - it builds the imagination where, by that age, being able to analyze literature, science and math wins the gold star in school and there is precious little creative outlet. For the record, I did not like driving the minivan regardless that it was the only automatic transmission that we had and still don't like driving one that I bought as an adult (the catch is that it easily fits 3+ carseats). I'll take my husband's Jeep any day of the week.

So to diverge from all that car-speak, I thought I'd post about my cleaning pet peeves.

1. Dry Cereal - I know it sounds like a great snack but when the kids grab for it, I think "empty calories and future mess" and they think "I can take this ANYWHERE because it's just dry cereal so it doesn't make a mess!" It's banned in my house because I'm tired of cleaning up the stray pieces of cereal that fall on the floor and get stepped on - even cleaning with my way-cool lobby set (broom and dustpan on a stick).

2. Tiny Scraps of Paper - it's one of the reasons that I still keep scissors on top of the fridge. I know that my children are old enough and responsible enough to know not to cut the table cloth, their clothes, their sister's hair, etc but they leave a PigPen style mess when they use scissors on paper - little pieces of paper follow in their wake and leave an unmistakable trail to the glue sticks. I guess they just don't see all those itty-bit pieces of paper that they just cut off of their lovely projects but I did...They can't figure out why I make them sign a waiver that reads "I will pick up all the tiny scraps of paper and return the scissors to Mommy" before allowing them to use the scissors even for homework...

3. "Almost" Putting Things Away - this might be the one that sends me over the edge - they get something out of a bin and almost put the bin back. You see here an example: This is the paper bin (perhaps I went a little crazy at Staples' summer penny bin on loose leaf paper, packed it up when we were moving and didn't find it until October) and it sits like this most of the time, 1/2 pushed in and lilting to one side. It's next to my sewing box and no, I didn't leave it like that. It belongs in the cubbie behind it.

This weekend, I'll be taking on my 9 year old daughter's room with her. 7-10 is a tough age for keeping your room clean mostly because you're in-between little kid stuff and big kid stuff so you end up with both. This 9 year old has an active imagination (read: lots of stuffed animals that are integral to her imaginary life), is very artistic (read: has art supplies under her bed, projects both finished and in progress and scraps from previous projects the she'll "use on another project") and loves clothes (read: refuses to recycle clothes that are too small or have holes or very noticeable stains on them and has about 50 pairs of underwear, of which 1/2 are way too small, 1/4 are still too big, and 1/4 have holes or elastic pulling off. I'd try to weed them out when doing the laundry but she really only likes 4 pairs - wanna bet I can find 2 new packages of the same type so I can convince her to just toss the rest?).

What are your cleaning pet peeves?

eta: Here's a hat that I just finished last night and ironed (for better photographs) this morning. The pattern designer, Crochet by Jennifer, calls it the Fleurette Bonnet but I haven't decided what to names it when I list it later today. (it's overcast today - I couldn't make the room bright enough even with 3 photography lamps! sorry for the pink hue - photographers, I would appreciate any suggestions!)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How to have sick kids and get work done...

So I decided that I need to keep up on my blog and will try to be posting every Wednesday. I'm off to such a great start - here it is noon on Wednesday and I'm typing the first line... I do have something in the way of an excuse - 3 of my kiddies plus my husband tested positive for strep this morning (yay!) and have been sick for the last couple of days. I'm the crazy hand-washing healthy hold-out. I haven't gotten any work done since I can't go a full row of stitches without someone interrupting me (it's not my husband, he just wants to be left alone). All I can do is follow behind them with a can of Lysol, box of tissues and stack of towels (to clean up their messes) praying that I'm not next (is there a Thirty-One Bag for that?). You'll notice that there's no hand sanitizer in this mix - I have a child who is allergic to the main ingredient so we all wash our hands with soap we bring with us.  I hate when I run out b/c this stuff smells SO GOOD! I've tried a couple of different travel soap brands but no one does it as well as SudsNSuch - I just put in another order.

I've been Lysol bombing my house including my crochet hooks, current projects (it's fresh linen scent - that fits in, right?), camera, keyboard, all the lightswitches, doorknobs, drawer pulls, backs of chairs, pens, pencils, scissors, railings - any surface that I don't wash down daily. The cars are next. I've changed and washed their pillow cases, purchase dollar store tooth brushes (the 4 pack) to change daily until they are better and called the school nurse only to find out that they're having a raging outbreak.

Back to business - Last month, I purchased a collapsible 16" softbox light tent and 2 lamps. I've been so excited to use it but I didn't have new products. I was in a rut. So, I bought some new patterns - a couple new hats and some new booties. One was a bit complicated for me to want to sell so I just gave those away and then I spent an afternoon (and one evening) photographing all the crochet items I had in stock. Here's what I learned:
1- choose your location carefully - you need plugs.
2- if you put the tent on a blue cutting mat, your photos will come out blue
3- 2 lamps isn't quite enough - photograph on a sunny day in a sunny spot and don't put things on top of the tent
4- sometimes the camera doesn't love you and takes blurry pictures even on a tripod and with autofocus - have a backup
5- models don't fit in the 16" tent so find a pro

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures I recently took of new products.

baby cloche:

cowboy boots:

I got an order for these booties with poor photos (see the white ones) and took new photos:

And here's one that I left to the pros: