Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My first cables

I finally got around to beginning the newsboy hat for my friend/former-colleague. I chose to work with the Moda Dea yarn first, since I think it's more of the royal purple she is hoping for.

The brim is done (it's a 1x1 rib for about 1.25"), and I added a strand of clear elastic thread to make it a little more snug. The rest of the hat involves cables, which I haven't done before. I've watched, and been taught, and the concept sounds really simple --- knit a specific number of stitches out of order.

I completed the first cable last night. It was very very slow going (it kinda felt as though it took me just as long to do one cable as it did to knit/purl the three rounds leading up to it!), but I did it! I'm so very proud. I don't know if you can really see the cable in this photo (I'm having a BAD photography day!), but it's there, right next to where the needles cross in the photo below.

Thank you to my UPenn knitting pals, who taught me to cable; heck, who taught me to knit!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Craft Show Displays -- continuing the sprucing process

I was so hungry this morning, I was awake several hours earlier than normal! I hate when my appetite makes it impossible to sleep.

However, that also meant that I got a jump on working on my craft show displays. By lunch, I had already sanded a really cute desk and chair set. It's so tiny, it looks like it should be a child's set, but it's perfect for fitting in a craft show booth. And despite the small profile, the chair is comfortable. Now it's ready to varnish. But it's just too cold outside, even in the garage with the door closed, to do both tasks today. So I'll save that part for next weekend.

With that work out of the way, now I can do the fun stuff -- a few hours knitting up a custom order. A former colleague requested a newsboy-style cap, much like the one pictured below, but in dark royal purple to match her coat. I found two perfect yarns, which means I'll make hers, but then I'll make another for my store, too! The first yarn I found one is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (it's soooo soft! I used it for several scarves before and really really liked the feel.). The other is Moda Dea SuperWash Wool (100% washable means it's warm and cheap to clean. It also knits up to a nice feeling hat).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Duck, duck, macrame

My dad, Dennis, loves to do macrame (according to Wikipedia: Macrame or macramé is a form of textile-making using knotting rather than weaving or knitting... It has been used by sailors, especially in elaborate or ornamental knotting forms to decorate anything from knife handles to bottles to parts of ships.).

I asked dad to create some items for my shop when he had time. He has worked on several projects for me, one of which is a duck door/wall hanging. He macrames the duck body, and then I embellish it with feathers and such. The result looks like this one already for sale in my shop:

Today I finished embellishing several more ducks. They, however, are for the craft show in March*. You'll just have to come visit my booth to meet them! All that I can tell you is that one is carrying sunflowers and the other has a red and yellow bouquet.

*I will have a booth at the Handcraft Unlimited craft show March 24-25th, at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, DE.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Video" on MySpace

Sad to say, but MySpace is like Greek to me. I created a MySpace profile recently, since so many people visit there so often. But I am struggling with how to make it work for me. Heck, I'm struggling with how to make it work, period! But, I'm there:

The reason I bring it up is that I discovered how to create a "video" that I can post on MySpace. A site called "RockYou!" lets you upload pics and put them in whatever order you want, and then animates them like a video. Just like the one I created below. It's definately a rough draft. I really want one that's longer, highlights more of the items in my store, and maybe it a bit fancier. But for now, I thought it was cool, and thought I'd share.

| View Show | Create Your Own

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Craft Show Displays

This afternoon my husband went with me to the new Lowes that just opened on Marrows Road in Newark. We're so excited --- it's a lot closer to us than the one in Bear, and we like Lowes much better than Home Depot (we had a BAD experience with them last summer while re-doing our upstairs bathroom -- don't even ask!).

I'm, sure you're wondering what this has to do with Smile Creations Crafts. Well, we were buying supplies to spruce up some of my display units. My man worked hard on some folding display stabilizers, and I spent a very cold hour and half on our patio painting a clear protective coat on my little blue corner shelf. I adore that shelf! It's just so cute and eye-catchingly electric blue! With 5 shelves, it's pretty versatile, too. Next project is to sand and re-finish the desk and chair that I use to write out invoices and wrap purchased items. Maybe I'll wait for a warmer day, or at least start when the sun is high, rather than on it's way down. :)

Yesterday was fun, too, and not cold at all. My Mom and Dad both came to spend the day with me, since Dad had the day off. Mom and I worked on more book covers. We kinda worked it "production line" style: she ironed, I stitched the first seam, she pinned, I stitched the second and third seams. We are well on the way to having plenty of book covers for my show in March!

Oh, and yes, Dad was busy all day, too ... as the official fabric cutter. I asked him to measure and cut fabric for a tablecloth for my dining room (yes,totally personal "use" of free labor!). And then he cut some placemats and their backings for the store.

The funniest (and most annoying thing) was that when my parents left, my sewing machine decided it had had enough, and quit working! I guess we ALL hit a wall sometime!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The mundane parts of owning a business

No, it's not all roses and entire afternoons in pjs..... although those are nice! :)

Today I realized that I need a better way to track my inventory. Not only what I've purchased in terms of supplies, but what I've made, and where it's been sold. I think at some point I'll want a comprehensive reference of everything --- even item descriptions so that when I post an item to my store, I don't have to re-invent the wheel (in the case, for example, of the Smileville Bears).

So I guess that means I'll be creating an Access database. Boring! Well, compared to crafting it is, anyway. I am a computer geek by hobby, and have taught MS Office Suite classes, so I guess setting up the database will be a fun sort of challenge. It'll be good to remember all the tips and tricks, anyway. Computers are like anything else --- what knowledge you don't keep using eventually falls out of your head. Or mine, at least!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Introducing... Bradford Bear!!

Hi everyone! I'm Bradford Bear.

I live in Smileville, a little town in the middle of the forest. My daddy is a lawyer bear. He wears a bowtie to work everyday; that's why I wear one, too. When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer bear just like my daddy, and work for the Big Bear Law Firm.

I don't go to school yet, but I spend every day at the Bear Bash Play Club. My little sister, Tiffany, comes with me. We play all day with our friends -- it's a lot of fun!

It was nice meeting you. I hope we can play together soon. If you want me to come home with you, click here to go to the Smile Creations Crafts store online.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Hooray for Smiley's Yarns!

Yesterday was a great day!

I got an email from Smiley's Yarns, and they are going to replace the skeins of yarn that were damaged in my last order! Hooray! I'm glad they came through, because I was going to be very disappointed if I had to find another place to shop for yarn.

My mom drove to my house and we spent the day together. We worked on a new pattern, and have two successful items to show for it! We are the perfect sewing compliment: I'm good at measuring and am more mechanically minded, but she is great at ironing to make things easier to sew, seam allowances, pinning, and the more technical sewing stuff. What was the pattern, you ask? We are avid readers, and both have paperback covers with handles for carrying. We re-created such a fabric cover, from scratch. It was a lot of measuring, and pretty complicated to figure out how to stitch all the seams so that none of them are visible!
Here're two pictures of how it turned out:

And the third reason yesterday rocks: my husband and I packed for a surprise long weekend. Well, my surprise... he won't tell me where we're going! Most difficult part of packing will be to pick a project to work on during the drive to our destination..... :)

So... I'm off to our surprise vacation!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Ah, the smell of new yarn!

Ok, not really the smell (although I do know knitters who shop for wool by the way it smells!)... but bringing home a bag of new yarn is like bringing home a pair of new shoes. :)

This afternoon I headed to a nearby yarn store, Stitches with Style, to buy some skeins of beige/pink yarn. A friend asked me to make a hat to match a scarf she really likes. It's a very hard to match color --- alone it looks beige with gold thread through it, but against her coat, it looks like pale lavendar or dusty rose. I found a few possibilities. Now I have to put them up against the scarf to double-check. And if they don't match, I'm sure I'll find something else to create using them!!

But, as usual, it was impossible to escape the yarn store without more than just the sample skeins. I found several really good finds hidden in a sale bin under a rack of other yarns. Just hiding out there, waiting for me. I'm not sure yet what I'll do with them.... most of them, in various colors, are wool or part wool. I may just wait until August to start knitting them up. We'll see.

As exciting as today's shopping was, I had some sad news to balance out the euphoria of yarn buying. I often order yarn from a company called Smiley's Yarns, which functions almost exclusively online. They carry a variety of yarns, at ridiculously wonderful prices. Their stock always changes, though, so I buy when I see. But anyway, I'm off topic again. My sad news: I opened my most recent box of purchases from Smiley's, only to discover that one sleeve of yarn (three skeins in a plastic bag) was slit, probably when the larger case of that color was opened, and two of the three balls were slit as well. So instead of pretty ribbon yarn, I have pretty ribbon confetti.

Sadly, their website proclaims NO REFUNDS EVER, but I can't imagine they'd want a repeat customer to be stuck with damaged goods. So I wrote them an email, and am hoping for the best! Cross your fingers; I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I have a show schedule!

The biggest news I've had in the past few days is the arrival of my show schedule! This is only the beginning. After all, I hope to participate in more than two. But the first two are now official. My up-to-date show schedule appears to the right.

As I was saying, my first two show signings. The first is March 24-25, and the second is November 17-18. They will both be held at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center (indoor) and are organized by a group called Handcraft Unlimited. Admission to the show is only $4 (under 12 is free); the admission fee includes free re-admission for the second day, and a chance to win free money to spend at the show!

I have gone to several Handcraft Unlimited shows, both at the Bob Carpenter and in other cities in the area. I have never been disappointed, nor been able to walk away empty-handed. :) There are HUNDREDS of vendors, selling a variety of items.

I hope you'll be able to come out and see me!

Monday, February 5, 2007

A day to finish projects-in-process

Today my husband stayed at home with a strained back. No fun. But while he laid in bed and tried to relax, I sat in my "office" and worked on completing some projects-in-process. Nothing is as satisfying as looking over your area several hours later, and seeing finished products where bits and pieces had so recently been scattered.

What did I finish, you ask? Well, many things requiring my sewing machine, which had to be dug out from under the bags of yarn I have purchased this past few weeks (yes, I've been going yarn crazy again!).

I worked on:
A blanket that features a cross-stitch sampler in the middle
A set of four reversible placemats
A knitted snow woman
Several fabric blocks (like this one already in my store)
A pillow made from sunflower fabric
A teeny-tiny bowtie (this means the first of the Smileville Bears is nearly ready!!)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

I want YOUR opinion!

I have been steadily working on the crochet shawls and completed three more. No, I haven't photographed them yet; I'm waiting for life to slow down a bit as the last few days have been nuts. Maybe I'll ask my husband to take a few pictures of me modeling them tomorrow. They look ok on skirt hangars as far as color and pattern goes, but the hangar is not so hot as showing off size, which is important since I created three basic sizes: small, medium, and large.

Now, about the feedback I'm requesting. I recently knitted a thong (yes, a thong!) from really soft cotton/elastic yarn (Cascade Fixation... yummy stuff!) I threaded ribbon through eyelet holes around the top; the ribbon ties in a bow in the front, so the sizing is truly adjustable from about a 4-5 to an 8-9 (I'm in the middle of that range, and it fits fine). I was a little worried about how comfy it would be since I don't like how most 100% cotton yarns feel, but lemme tell you, this one is nice! And since it's 97% cotton and 3% elastic, the finished piece has some nice give.

So now that I've described my new product idea..... I want to know what you think! Vote below now.

Should I sell knit thongs in my store?
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