Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Red Heart Yarn Giveaway and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!  I'm almost ready. I finished my last crochet order on Saturday and mailed it off and I haven't touched a crochet hook or knitting needle since then.  Since I still have baking and gift wrapping to do, I probably won't do any more projects until Christmas is over.  That hasn't stopped me from looking at yarn and patterns though.  I found a giveway for some free Red Heart yarn.  Go to http://www.allfreecrochet.com/sweeps/Red-Heart-with-Love-Yarn-Giveaway  to enter.  I must admit I've never used Love yarn from Red Heart, but winning a free skein would certainly get me to try it!  Good luck!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  I hope you have a wonderful day and spend it eating good food with family and friends.  I'll be hosting 18 family members and friends for the day.  Today has been a busy day baking pies, cleaning, etc.

November was craft show month and it went really well.  I had a table at 3 different craft shows.  Each show had wonderful vendors (I wish I could have shopped more!) and lots of wonderful shoppers.  I thank everyone who stopped by and purchased something from me or made an order.  I'm busy working away on all the orders!  I  was happily surprised that we had so many shoppers turn out and that they were willing to buy.  I noticed, however, that shoppers were looking for lower priced items and not interested in spending a large sum on one item.  A sign of the economic times, I believe.

I'm having free shipping on many items in my Artfire store (http://BrendasCraftStore.artfire.com).  The store is a little empty right now because I sold a lot at the craft shows, but I'll keep adding things throughout the month of December so please keep checking for new items for gifts or for yourself.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November Boutiques in St. Paul, MN Area

Craft show season has arrived!  Here in the Twin Cities, November is the busy month for craft shows.  They're everywhere--schools, churches, VFW's, community centers.  I love going to craft shows!  There is always such a great variety of stuff.  Last weekend was sort of the kick off of shows.  I had a booth in one in Rosemount.  There were close to 80 vendors and a lot of shoppers.  It seems people are watching their pennies this year and seemed to be more interested in practical items and not just decorative things that sit around and collect dust.  They also weren't very interested in high priced items.  And surprisingly, I didn't sell a lot of dish towels or dish cloths.  Headbands/earwarmers and scarves were popular. 


I was impressed with the quality of work and interesting items available.  There was one thing that bothered me, however, and I'd love to know what people (both vendors and shoppers) think.  There was a table which had earwamers similar to what I make.  I looked at them and picked one up and asked the seller what kind of yarn she used.  She told me that she didn't make them.  It turns out they were commercially made and she just resells them.  There were also a couple of other vendors who were selling the sock monkey and other animal hats, and their hats were commercially made in Nepal and China.  But none of these vendors were making that fact obvious.  You had to look closely at the tag on the item to see the "made in Nepal" label or ask.  I'm afraid many shoppers thought they were buying handmade items from local sellers.  Does this bother anyone else?  I always though of craft shows as just that--people selling their handmade crafts.  I've gotten used to the Mary Kay, Tastefully Simple, Tupperware and other such vendors, but their product is obviously not a handmade craft.  And I understand that some shoppers prefer to buy those types of products at a craft show instead of a home party or home consultation.  But the hats and such are more bothersome to me because it's not obvious that they aren't handmade by the person selling them.  They're the same item you could go to your local store and buy.  Would it be wrong to have these sellers clearly post that they are reselling a mass produced product and are not selling something handmade by them?  Or do we not care if it's handmade or mass produced?

There are 2 more shows coming up which you should check out if you're in the Twin Cities area.  Saturday, November 12, the Eagan High School Band Boosters is sponsoring a holiday boutique at the high school from 9am-4pm.  On Saturday, November 19, Faithful Shepherd Catholic School in Eagan, MN is having their holiday boutique from 9am-3pm.  Both are always great shows and have no admission charge.  Each has a concession stand and a raffle.

There's also a big craft show going on at Canterbury Downs the weekend of November 12.  It charges admission, but I believe it's a great place to shop.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Craft Show Season is Almost Here

My how time flies!  It's almost Halloween!  And it's almost craft show season.  Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the beautiful fall colors, crunching through the leaves and the weather.  We didn't have a lot of pretty color here in the Twin Cities because all the leaves just seemed to blow off the trees right away.  We had a stretch of really nice temperatures though. Now the temperatures are cooling off and it seems winter might be working it's way here. Fall inspired me to do some autumn themed dish towels and of course Halloween themed ones.  Some of the autumn ones were even featured in a treasury on Artfire!  You can see that here:


  http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=collections&op=details&cid=28939


I'm also the featured artist for October on Kris Miller's blog.  Please check out her blog and her other featured artists.
http://www.dustpanproductions.com/News__Events.php

I also tried another Halloween item--a candy corn pillow.  It was fun and easy to do and is a cute Halloween decoration.

 
I've also been busy doing some custom orders for customers.  It's been fun and I like it because it makes me try things I might not necessarily have done.  Here's one of my creations:





With craft show season coming up, I've been burning the candle at both ends trying to get enough made so I have a good showing at the boutiques.  I never feel I have enough or have the right stuff.  I've been trying to make some of the ruffle scarves I talked about in one of my earlier posts, but I keep selling them as soon as I make them!  (Good problem to have.)  So now every one I make I'm just going to keep and not show it off or list it in my shops.  Hopefully then I'll have several to take to the shows.

I also want to get a few hats made and some neck warmers and wrist warmers.  I spent a little time collecting some new patterns so now I want to take off of work and go home and crochet!  Does anyone else ever feel like that?  I'll also have some jewelry, dish towels and dish cloths at the shows.  A couple afghans.  I never did get around to socks and slippers though.  But I'll get there eventually!

I'll be doing 4 craft shows this season.  The first one is November 5 at Rosemount High School in Rosemount, MN.  The second is November 12 at Eagan High School in Eagan, MN.  The third is November 19 at Faithful Shepherd Catholic School in Eagan, MN.  All of them run from 9am-3pm.  If you live in the Twin Cities area, please stop by. There are always great crafters there and concession and lunch sales.  They even all have a raffle.  The money raised goes to support the choral program at Rosemount High, the band program at Eagan High, and various activities at Faithful Shepherd--all great causes. 

Then in December I'm traveling to Ft. Scott, KS to visit my sister and we're going to participate in her local craft show the weekend of December 3-4.  The show runs Saturday and Sunday at the local high school.  So if you live in the Ft. Scott area, please stop by.  I understand it's a great show!

The only bad thing about being in November craft shows is that I don't get to go to any shows myself!  November is a big craft show month here in the Twin Cities and I'd love to go check them all out.  I encourage everyone to go check out craft shows in their area this fall and holiday shopping season.  There are always so many great items to buy for yourself or as gifts and the money raised by the sponsoring groups such as schools and churches is really helpful.  And there's nothing better than supporting your local crafters and helping the economy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Happened to Summer? Or What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Summer's over. And once again I don't know where it went. I should have so much more done! After all, I had a whole summer. We should have gotten more yard projects done. We should have traveled more than just a two day trip to Wisconsin. And I should have a lot more crafts done.

Instead, we basically just maintained the yard. It pretty much rained the entire month of June. Then came July with record heat and humidity. And by the time August rolled around we just didn't care anymore.

My husband was out of work for 3 weeks while our state government shut down. Unfortunately, my job was really busy all summer and my boss was gone for the month of July, so I couldn't take time off while my husband was off. Hence, 2 days in Wisconsin.

And then my crafts. I did many things, but not all the projects I dreamed of. I never did get a special project done for the State fair. I did do a couple things for the county fair though. I also started making some items for a local boutique and that's really exciting. Sales in my on-line stores have picked up and that's exciting too.

I know I'm not the only one who thinks summer went too fast and didn't get everything done. But I feel sad. I want more playtime. I want more travel. And I want more more accomplishments.

But fall is a beautiful time of year. And maybe we'll fit in a fall vacation. And I'll get all those new projects done before craft show season. And maybe.....

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Fun Blog to Check Out

I've come across a fun blog to check out.  It's called Artsynina.  She does a Friday shop hop where you can link your on-line shop for others to check out and you can check out some great shops.  I've seen some really nice work through it.  Go check it out!  http://artsynina.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ruffled Scarf with Red Heart Sashay Pictures

In my last post I talked about the scarf I made using Red Heart's Boutique Sashay yarn.  Well, I've finally gotten some pictures taken and here they are.  I've also listed it for sale in my Artfire shop at http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/3722889.









Thursday, August 4, 2011

How to Make a Ruffled Scarf Knitted with Red Heart Sashay Yarn

I took my knit and crochet entries to the county fair yesterday (I hope I win some blue ribbons!) and one of them was my latest creation--a ruffled scarf made with Red Heart Sashay yarn.  It's a new yarn put out by Red Heart which creates a ruffle as you knit.  It doesn't come in a lot of colors, but the colors they have are pretty.  There is a little bit of metallic thread in it to add some glitter and the yarn itself has several different shades of the color in it.  I used the blue called "Rumba".  I couldn't find the yarn in any of our local stores (Michael's or Jo-Ann's) but I did find it on-line at Mary Maxim for $4.99 a ball.  The scarf only takes one ball.

You will need one ball of Sashay and a pair of Size 9 knitting needles.  To use the yarn, you first need to open up the mesh.  Then to start, you put your needle through the open blocks in the top of the mesh. The metallic edge should be at the bottom.  I cast on 6 stitches.  Then you start to knit each row, knitting in the top of the mesh.  Red Heart has an excellent video on its website which I watched several times.  Their free pattern also has good pictures.  The video and pattern can be found here:  http://www.redheart.com/learn/videos/learn-how-knit-sashay.  Once you watch the video, you can really get the hang of it.  It took me a little while to get used to it, but it's not too hard.  I did have to stop every several rows to open up more of the mesh though.  It works better if you've opened it up.

I was really pleased with the final results and friends I showed it to liked it a lot.  I didn't get any photos done before I took it to the fair though, so I'll post photos when I get it back.  And I'll report whether or not I win a ribbon!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I just came across this adorable quilted chess set and I just have to share it with everyone.  It's in Rebecca's Touch on Artfire.com.  I think it's absolutely wonderful.


The link to it is http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=Shop&op=listing&product_id=3242879.

I found this in a collection in which my tic tac toe game was featured.  That collection can be viewed at http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=collections&op=details&cid=24285

I also had a trellis necklace featured in another collection.  You can see it at http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=collections&op=details&cid=23967

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pricing Tips

I see it's been awhile since I posted something.  My, how time flies!  I'm not even sure where it went or what I did.  Not a lot of crocheting or knitting, unfortunately.  Work has been busy.  There have been many projects at home.  My rhubarb and strawberries have been going crazy!  I've made strawberry rhubarb pie, strawberry rhubarb jam, strawberry bread, and rhubarb crisp!  The jam turned out very good I must say.  I've never made jam before.  We spent time with family on the 4th of July.  And I think somewhere in there I actually took time to RELAX.  Not a word I'm very familiar with.

So tonight I've spent some time reading some various forums and I ran across this post on Artfire by the Faded Leaves shop (see her shop here:  http://www.artfire.com/users/FadedLeaves).  She posted an ebook about pricing your products.   I pretty much follow the formula where you take 2x the cost of materials and add 20%.  I also try and compare my item with similar things in stores and on-line.  It was good information to read again.  You can find the pricing tips at:

http://meylah.com/public/files/ebooks/meylah_ebooksupplement_1.pdf?utm_source=Meylah+eBook+List&utm_campaign=273a066ebd-Meylah_eBook_Supplement2&utm_medium=email

Some of my items have been featured in some collections on Artfire and I made a couple of sales (thank you buyers!)!  You can see the collections at http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=collections&op=details&cid=23864 and http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=collections&op=details&cid=23726. I particularly like the pink and yellow collection.  My dish cloths are the first item pictured.  One of my trellis necklaces is featured in the other one.


Artfire is also having their Christmas in July sale.  I've added a promotion code for 5% off my clearance section and the Christmas section.  This will get you some very inexpensive items in the Clearance section which will make great gifts!  Here's a couple:

Waterfall Afghan $20.00




Beaded Bracelet $2.50
 



I hope everyone had an enjoyable 4th and will get some more vacation time this summer.  I'm aiming for August for vacation.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Christmas in July

It's hard to believe that today is the last day of June.  Where did it go?  I feel like I haven't accomplished anything yet this summer.  All of the projects I had planned to do are still waiting to be done.  And with the weather we've had here in Minnesota, it certainly hasn't felt much like summer.  Cold and rainy is what it's been.  I went to the Farmer's Market today and there was nothing to buy.  Only radishes, green onions and lettuce.  By this time, there should be way more produce available.  But it's been so rainy and cold, that planting has been delayed.

And now it's time for Artfire's Christmas in July sale.  After all, Christmas is only 6 months away (which will go really fast).  I'm participating in the sale this year.  If you use the promotion code XMASINJULY at checkout when you purchase  something from my shop (http://BrendasCraftStore.artfire.com), you can get 5% off everything in the Clearance section and 5% off everything in the Christmas section.  The 5% off of clearance will get you some very nice prices.  In the Christmas section, you find some sets of Christmas hanging dish towels.  I've posted some pictures below.

http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=Shop&op=listing&product_id=3518934




http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=Shop&op=listing&product_id=3510341



http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=Shop&op=listing&product_id=2523732
http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=Shop&op=listing&product_id=2534571

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Photo Book of Some Recent Work

I store all my craft photos on Shutterfly on a share site so that I can easily keep track of them all and people can see them.  It also lets me add captions and such.  It also serves as a good backup in case my computer crashes or something and I lose my pictures.  But because my computer has been having some issues with photos lately and it's not getting any younger (just like me), I had my son spend a few hours backing up all my photos on CDs too.  I hadn't EVER backed them up.  Not a good thing.  You should FREQUENTLY back up your photos and documents.

Anyway, Shutterfly gave me a special offer that if I posted my new photo book to my blog, I'd get a $10 coupon for a future order.  So.....you guessed it!  I posted my photo book.  Take a look if you'd like.  It's not everything I make by any means, but there are quite a few things in there.

Photo Book

Click here to view this photo book larger

Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm Featured Again! Plus Comments on Outdoor Arts Festivals

Another fellow handmade artist has featured me on her blog.  I'm very flattered and grateful.  I encourage everyone to check out her Etsy shop and her blog.  She recycles fabrics and turns it into bracelets and other wonderful items.  My favorite is a bracelet made out of neckties.  See it at http://ny-image0.etsy.com/il_fullxfull.251012268.jpg.  Her Etsy shop is located at http://www.ReUseReNewReLove.etsy.com .

You can read her post about me at
http://sweetastonishments.blogspot.com/2011/06/etsy-feature-brendas-craft-store.html

Next weekend (June 25-26) here in Eagan is the annual Arts Festival.  They feature artists who do jewelry, pottery, prints and a few other things.  There is always a lot of nice stuff to look at.  I hope the weather is better for them this year than last year.  Last year the temperature was in the 90's and it was extremely humid.  It's an outdoor show, so I felt very sorry for the artisans who had to sit out in the heat and humidity for 2 days.  It was so miserable out that even attending the festival wasn't enjoyable. All you wanted to do was just quick walk through and go back to your air conditioned car.

That's why I've never done an outdoor show.  They seem so dependent on the weather.  If it rains or storms, you and your items get very wet and no one comes.  Then you've spent a lot of money on entrance fees and invested a lot of time and not gotten much in return.  And if it's too hot and humid, you'll be miserable and attendance will be down too because people don't want to go out in the heat and humidity.  Plus you have to invest in a tent for your booth.  And entrance fees for outdoor shows are always quite high around here.  At least with indoor shows at churches, schools, etc., weather isn't as big a factor and the entrance fees are usually pretty reasonable. 

I'd love to hear any comments on whether or not the readers have participated in outdoor shows and why or why not.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I'm Featured on a Blog!

I've been featured on a blog!  I'm excited and flattered.  You can find a profile of me on http://extravaganzacrafts.com/Blogs/?p=1502.  I thank Shasta Mclaughlin for taking the time and interest to feature me on her blog.  I encourage you to check out some of her past posts--she has some very interesting articles on how to make the most of your business.  She also features crafters and it's always interesting to learn about what others are doing and how they're doing it.

I've been busy updating my Artfire and Etsy stores and adding some new listings.  Some photos are below. 

Now that it's summer, it's time to think about the county fair.  I've entered some of my crochet items twice now and everything has won a ribbon so far.  I wasn't able to enter anything last year as that's when my mother died so I wasn't here.  But I intend to enter again this summer and now I have to choose what to make.  I want it to be something unique and something that is very eye catching.  My sister-in-law is encouraging me to enter something in the State Fair too.  She has been entering socks.  I might try it this year.  Everything at the State Fair is always so good though, that I'm a little intimidated that I can't live up to the other talented people who enter.

Do you enter any of your work in your county or state fair?  I'd love to hear about what you've entered and if you've won ribbons so please post some comments.




Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Great Article on What You Can Get Out of a Craft Show

Extravaganza Craft Productions passed along a link to an article on their blog about craft shows.  They're not just for selling crafts.  They're for testing a product, finding out who your customer is and building up your business.  Although we all know this in the back of our minds, it's a good read and helpful to be reminded of what we can accomplish at a craft show.  I know I have people come back to my table year after year at some of the shows I do.  I've always given them my business card and I know some of their names, but I've never started an email list.  I'm not going to be doing any shows again until fall, but I plan on putting out a sign up sheet for people to write their email on and then I'm going to occasionally send out a  notice about new items, shows I'm in, etc.  

The link to the article is http://extravaganzacrafts.com/Blogs/?p=159.   Hopefully you'll find it useful too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Craft Show Was a Bust

Well, the craft show was not well attended.  Maybe 2 dozen people walked through the door.  Could be a combination of odd time of year for a craft show, location and the first nice day for weeks.  I only sold one item.  And I did something I've never done before--I left early.  I just couldn't justify sitting there for another hour when no one was coming.  Many others left well before me.  I felt bad about leaving, but it just was not a good use of my time to sit there.  Has anyone else ever left a craft show early?

So now I'm updating my on-line shops.  It's amazing how time consuming that is.  I was having trouble with pictures on Artfire which really slowed me down.  I want to update my current items that are listed and then I have some new ones to list.  I'm adding a clearance section on my Artfire store http://www.artfire.com/users/BrendasCraftStore and putting the winter items in it.  Even though the temperature was in the 30s last night, I'm still hoping for spring so I'm going to put the winter stuff on clearance.  It's a good time to stock up for next year though!  You can't beat the prices!

Next up might be some shawls and I saw a pattern for a cute little graduation bear.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Craft Show This Weekend

For all you Minnesotans, I'm going to be in a craft show on Saturday, May 7, at the VFW in Forest Lake, MN.  I think there will be many interesting crafters there, so please stop by and shop.

As I think is always the case, I don't feel like I have enough inventory or all the things I'd like to have offered for sale, but I think I have some items that will make good Mother's Day gifts.  I hope shoppers agree.  It's going to be a long day though--the sale goes form 10 am to 7 pm.  A rather odd time.  Most shows are 9-3, 9-4, etc.  So we'll see how this goes.  I've never done one in the northern suburbs and this is a first time promoter, so things might not go so smoothly.  I hope shoppers show up because there's nothing worse than to sit there all day with no business.

After the show, I intend to put my efforts into a quick little custom order I have and then I have a very LONG list of things I want to try.  I want to do American Girl doll clothes, socks, a lot of new dishcloths, headbands, childrens' things, toys, and so on and so on.  I just need more hours in the day!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to all!  Besides eating a very nice dinner, I got to spend some time crocheting.  My sister-in-laws knit and we all usually spend some time when we're together at holidays knitting.  I was working on a crocheted summer hat for girls out of colorful sock yarn.  I think it will turn out nicely.

I've been busy the past few weeks with work (Commencement is only 3 weeks away) and trying to get things ready for a craft show on May 7 at the VFW in Forest Lake, MN.  I also made some Easter baskets for a co-worker (see below).



Some of the things I'll have at the show include some e-reader covers, trellis necklaces and dish towels and dishcloths.  I still have much more to make though, so I'd better get busy!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dear Blog: My first exercise class ever!

Dear Blog:
Tonight I took my first exercise class ever, and I don't think I made a fool of myself! I actually rather liked it and I think it might work out.

I've never been interested in organized exercise or going to a gym. Mainly because I don't want anyone to see me exercising. Too embarrassing. But after years of working in offices with phones and computers and then spending more hours knitting and crocheting and cleaning house and doing laundry, I've become stiff and not very flexible. It's not that I don't exercise. We walk every evening (weather permitting) and I have an exercise bike (which I should use more regularly). I do a lot of outdoor work in the summer and shoveling in the winter. But apparently I need to do something different.

So I thought about yoga. I thought about Pilates. But still a little too worried that I would look completely foolish and out of shape. Then the community Ed catalog came in the mail. It listed Tai Chi and talked about stretching and flexibility and approved by the arthritis foundation. Sounded like right up my alley. Maybe it would be a class of older people and I wouldn't feel outclassed. So I signed up.

The class had a mix of ages and I think my 50 year old self fell right in the middle. I didn't think it was too hard and I actually followed most of the moves. And I actually felt good afterward! My back, neck and arms have hurt lately and this evening my arms feel good and the back isn't so bad. So I'm going to go again next week!

Now it's time for any readers out there to chime in--what kind of exercise helps you avoid neck, back and arm pain? Does massage help? I do a massage once a month and I love it! But it's expensive!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Some More New Items

I did a knitted version of the preemie baby hat and listed it at my Etsy store.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/brendascraftstore  I think I like the knitted version better than the crochet version.





And I listed another necklace at Artfire http://BrendasCraftStore.artfire.com  I really like the colors on this one.  The yellow really stands out.  This is one of my favorite colors so far.

I spent part of the evening working on a crocheted dish towel.  I had tried one a week ago with this pattern but didn't like how it came out, so I'm trying again with some modifications.  We'll see how it goes.  I watched the Academy of Country Music Awards while I crocheted.  They had some good performances.  All the women looked gorgeous in their fancy dresses.  I wish I were that skinny!  I'm going to start an exercise class tomorrow night through our community ed program, so maybe I'll get a start on fitting into one of those dresses!

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Shop Listings

I've finished some new trellis yarn necklaces in a pretty spring color--they have lime, pink, blue and copper in them.  They'll go well with all kinds of different outfits.  Here's a photo:


 
You can find one on my Etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/brendascraftstore and on Artfire at http://BrendasCraftStore.artfire.com.

I also tried a new item--a preemie baby's hat.  The pattern I was using was a free pattern from Bernat and it gave no information about the circumference the hat should be.  I found it really frustrating.  My son is 19 years old, so it's been a long time since I had a baby around, and I really don't remember how little a baby is.  So I googled newborn baby head size and there were several things that came up.  I stumbled onto a website called http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/.  She has all kinds of stuff on there, including a size chart for preemie, newborn, toddlers, children and adult hats.  I love it!  It was really helpful to me so I'd like to say thank you to Bev.  She also has a lot of hat patterns for babies and children.  I believe she does a lot of hats for donations, which I encourage everyone to do.  It's a worthwhile cause.  If you're in Minnesota in the Twin Cities area, we have something called Bundles of Love which makes afghans, booties, etc. for newborns of mothers who need help.  If you would like contact information for Bundles of Love, please let me know. 

In any event, I crocheted the preemie hat using Bernat Softee baby yarn and it came out pretty well. I ended up using my old Baby Pat a Burp doll as the model.  She has a 13" circumference head and the hat fits loosely on her.  So it should fit a preemie.  Here's a picture:



I only used 1/2 of the skein so I'm using the other half of the skein to do this hat in a knit version.

My other new project didn't come out so well.  I tried a new pattern for a crocheted cotton dish towel, but even though I checked my gauge, it came out too wide and too long and I just don't think it looks good enough to sell.  So I'll use it at home because I can't stand to waste yarn.  The perfectionist in me is irritated though, and I'm going to try it again and see if I can get it right. I can't let that pattern beat me!  (Is anyone else like that?)

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Have Spring Fever!

I'm back from vacation in sunny Florida and now I have a serious case of spring fever.  Here in Minnesota it was 50 degrees yesterday, but today only in the 40's.  And there's still plenty of snow on the ground.  But Florida inspired me and I'm ready to start making something other than hats and scarves.  I knitted a very springy green/yellow/turquoise dishcloth on the plane.  I think I'll do a yell one and a turquoise one now and list them as a set.  I have a couple of cute bunny patterns so I think I'll start doing some bunnies for Easter.  I'll post pictures and links as I get them done.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lots and Lots of Patterns

Dear blog:

This entry will be about patterns.  I LOVE knit and crochet patterns.  I order them from catalogs, on-line from sellers on Etsy, etc. and print them off the internet. I have file cabinets full of patterns.  I have plastic storage bins full of patterns. And I have a pile under the coffee table in the living room and patterns and a pile of patterns on top of the coffee table.  And I have crochet magazines piled on top of the coffee table in the family room.  Does anyone else have as many as  I do????

I wish I could say they were all organized.  The ones in the file cabinets are.  But alas, the piles are not.  The closest to being organized are the ones in a pile on top of the coffee table in the living room.  That's where I've been putting the ones that are for things I really want to try soon.  It's only about 7" high.  So today I was going to pick a new craft project to start on.  I decided I should go through that 7" high pile and narrow it down to ones that I really want to do now and would be appropriate for the season or things that I think will sell.  I figured I could narrow it down to a few things to concentrate on.  WRONG.  The new pile is still about 2 inches high.  I guess I'd better get busy! 

And to top it all off, in today's mail came the Patternworks catalog.  I love looking through that catalog.  Most of their patterns are for knit projects, but they have some crochet ones too.  And they have lots of very nice yarns.  I marked a few patterns I want to order!  If you haven't seen their catalog before or their website, you can find them at www.patternworks.com.

Some of my other favorite pattern places are www.knitpicks.com, www.anniesattic.com, www.lionbrand.com (lots and lots of free patterns), Bernat and www.bernatcares.com.  There are also a lot of sellers on Etsy.com who sell their patterns and there are some really cute ones.  Very creative people there.  Joann.com also has project patterns but I find their's rather hard to search and find what I'm looking for.  Herschners and Mary Maxim also have a lot of patterns that come as kits with the yarn.

I'm always looking for new patterns, so if you have a favorite place for patterns, please post them in the comments.

I also have to mention a new website I found courtesy of a seller on Etsy.  I bought a pattern for a crochet bath mat from her and she used 8 ply Peaches n Cream cotton yarn.  Now the only place I ever see Peaches n Cream cotton yarn anymore is in Walmart.  And our Walmart barely has any yarn or craft items anymore--maybe 1/2 an aisle's worth.  They eliminated all their fabric and everything.  And the only Peaches n Cream they have is 4 ply which I use for dishcloths.  I asked the seller where she bought 8 ply Peaches n Cream and she directed me to this website:  http://www.elmore-pisgah.com/.  They have regular 4 ply and also 8 ply in balls and cones.  The price doesn't seem to outrageous.  So I've ordered some and I'm waiting so I can start that bath mat! 

I also have to plug that I sold a trellis necklace on ArtFire today (thank you!).  And I listed a new pink crochet headband.  It's really a pretty pink and is just the right color to promote breast cancer awareness.  Here's some pictures:


Friday, March 4, 2011

A Really Good Band

Dear Blog:

Last night I should have been taking pictures of the headband and hat I just finished and listing them in one of my on-line shops, but instead my husband and I actually went out to a bar!  (We've never been the type to go to bars, so it was quite a thing for us.)  My son works with a band and they were playing at a local bar last night along with a couple of other bands.  So we were good supportive parents and went to hear them.  We loved seeing them in person.  They had a small but good crowd.  Hopefully, they'll start drawing even bigger crowds.  The band is called Crashing Daylight and it's made up of 4 very nice young men in their late teens and early twenties.  They play rock/alternative rock.  They really are quite good and are trying to make a name for themselves.  They have an EP out on iTunes and you can find them on Facebook and MySpace.

http://www.myspace.com/crashingdaylight

http://www.facebook.com/crashingdaylight 

It was also fun to see the puzzled look on my son's face upon seeing his parents in a bar and actually having a drink.  Sort of dispels his notion of us as old fogies who just stay at home and don't do anything.

Since I have no pictures of my newest creations to show you yet, I'll plug somebody else.  I just bought a couple of patterns from this shop today and service was excellent and fast.  Check her out.

The Blackwood Cottage

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My first ever blog

This is my first ever blog on a blog website.  I have no idea if anyone cares what I have to say or will read it, but I guess we'll find out.  I feel like I'm 13 again, writing in my diary--"Dear Diary...."  So maybe that's a good start.

Dear Blog:

I want to start selling my handmade crafts on-line and I've started some on-line shops.  All of the "experts" out there say you must do social networking to promote your shops including Facebook, Twitter and blogs.  Well, I have a Facebook page which I started awhile ago to see other people's photos and then I created a fan page for my crafts with some help from my kid.  I will never Tweet.  I think it's kind of dumb.  But I've read blogs by my students and friends' kids and some of the ones out there by crafters, so I thought I could maybe do that.  Hopefully I can think of something worthwhile to say.  Maybe it will turn into that great American novel I always dreamed about writing.

So for anyone out there reading me, I'm a 50-year-old wife and mother.  I work full time in administration at a college in St. Paul, MN.  My son is 19 and job hunting after finishing an associate's degree in radio broadcasting (if you have an entry level radio job for him, let me know).  I've crocheted since I was about 8 years old.  I also learned to knit but crochet was always my favorite.  In the last year though, I've been knitting a lot more.  I've always given things as gifts, but there are only so many people to give gifts to and some of them have now grown up or died, so the pool of gift receivers has shrunk.  For years I've had co-workers and friends ask me to make things for them.  I've sold things at local craft shows for maybe 8 years or so now.  I do pretty well at them, but I usually only do them in November.  Spring and summer items don't sell very well in November.  So I thought selling on-line might be a good way to sell those things that don't fit a November craft show.  And there's so many things I want to try and such great patterns that I need a place to sell them and someone to sell them to after I make them!

I make all kinds of things--basically whatever looks fun.  There are afghans, dish cloths, dish towels, hats, scarves, wrist warmers, stuffed toys, dolls, purses, tote bags, seasonal things, clothes, and jewelry.  I just finished several special order scarves and headbands.  I tried starting a hat last night that is done entirely in slip stitch.  I was not having good luck with it.  The stitches kept getting tighter and smaller.  I need some help to figure out how to prevent that.  (If I learn some good tips, I'll pass them on.) So I quit the hat and went back to making another headband--this time in a really pretty pink.  If I figure out how, I'll post some pictures here of some of my work.  Over on the right hand side of this blog, all of my on-line places are listed.  I hope you check them out.  Please feel free to contact me at any time (brenda.piatz@gmail.com) if you'd like me to make something for you. 

I feel kind of funny just doing a blog to promote myself, so I'll try to promote other things and pass along good ideas and share information.  Maybe some little bits of wisdom or fun facts.  I think for my first piece of useful information will be about the Half Price Bookstore Marketplace.   We have several Half Price Bookstores here, and I love going to them.  I love to read and watch movies.  I just learned they have an on-line marketplace that sells hard to find items and such.  It looked pretty good to me, so here's the link:

http://www.hpbmarketplace.com/