Saturday, June 30, 2012

Planning for Winter...

Like so many other crafty types, I plan seasons several months in advance. How many armwarmers am I going to need, who am I doing wholesale for, what patterns am I going to do (revise, write anew), which stitches are going to work on bulky yarn? (I love bulky for winter – works up quickly, is super warm, and is usually on sale during the summer months ;))

Another thing I plan is what novelty (read: geeky) items are going to go into the fall line-up. Last year was Tribbles, Pokeballs (these sold ridiculously well at the craft fairs I went to – they'll be back), and Jayne hats. This year, in addition to those, I plan on adding some Yoda hats, more size options for the Jayne hats, and some Boba Fett hats. (I may have just typed two 't's on hat...).

I ALSO have a new baby to knit for!! (NOT mine!) A totally rad couple I know is expecting their first, and visions of how I'm going to alter several adult patterns are dancing in my head!

I am once again trying to buy local, there are several local dyers and farms that I try to support when possible, as well as some local resale shops that ALWAYS have some totally cool buttons for cowls and armwarmers.

What is going to be your focus for winter? Do you have a particular pattern you're going to churn out twelve of?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Support Indie Makers!

Because I hang out on Twitter on a regular basis - probably more frequently than I should, I have met a ton of independent dyers, spinners, knitters, designers and the like.  Two of my favorites are Erica (@FiddleKnits) - and Lee (@Leethal) - or  Erica is from the East Coast, and Lee is here in Portland.  Both have some fabulous designs.  Lee just finished up a mystery KAL (that I am about 15 rows behind on...) and Erica is about to start a gorgeous mystery shawl KAL.  If you'd like to get in on the shawl action... follow the link!  I just purchased her Black Eyed Susie Raglan (as if I don't have enough in progress...) to start for fall.  I like short or three quarter length sleeves - I just wear long sleeved under them anyway and they're less cumbersome with additional layers over them once jacket season rolls around.

Maleficent - Superwash Merino & Nylon Sock Fingering Yarn - Hand Dyed - 462 yards
Maleficent yarn (Image via
Other indie picks are (of course) Knitted Wit, and also Gnome Acres. I recently put a call out for someone to dye me Maleficent yarn - black, dark purple, lime-ish green... She's always been my favorite Disney villain and I was in the mood.  It's going to become fair isle dragon socks! It came out GORGEOUS - and she has so many more cool colors - I'm pretty fairly certain that I need the Aquaman shade as well...

Ahh, the power of the internet... just what every yarnie needs.  More ways to access yarn. ;)  Who is your favorite indie designer? Dyer?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tulip Top... a great summer project!

Latest Finished Project... The Tulip Top

The most recent (as of writing this) project that I have finished was the Tulip Top from Stitch and Bitch Superstar Knits book. I really liked the shaping- and even more so I liked that the tops of the shoulders had a three needle bind off as a seam – I hate seaming, which is odd, as I like sewing in general.

I had a skirt (or three) that I needed a top to match, so I chose a darker, but not quite burnt, shade for orange, with a dark purple trim in the Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool. I really enjoyed working with this particular yarn – had just enough “squish” to it, yet the finished project isn't heavy or bulky.

One major modification that I made to this top was that I didn't work the pattern stitch. Because two of the skirts I was looking to match had a pattern to them, I didn't want anything to compete with that – as my Nip/Tuck top is currently doing with a patterned skirt. I felt that the overall wear-ability of the top would be increased without the novelty stitch. So, I worked it strictly in a stockinette. I did have to frog this top once and begin anew, as I'm a twitcake and cast on the wrong number of stitches. 72 is not the same as 75 – who knew?

When the knitting and the iCord (tee hee... let's turn everything into an Apple product!) was complete, it was small. Like, really small – and I'm a small person. I was frightened... I really was surprised at how much the blocking stretched out this yarn. Not quite doubled in size, but pretty close. It was rather impressive. I'm very happy with the finished product, and now I'm just waiting for the weather to FINALLY turn around so that I can wear it!

I would indeed make this project again. In fact, I have some Aimee in blue sitting around... hmmmm.

Monday, June 25, 2012

All About Brittany... or a Cool Soap Giveaway!

A few weeks ago, okay, it may have been months, I started planning a giveaway to do in conjunction with Brittany Hassell, of Snappy Rockfish Soaps.

The reason for this is summer is coming, people get sweaty, and I prefer people who smell nice as opposed to smelling like Hobo Joe, who just finished his cross country train ride. The other reason is that Brittany is saving up for something really, Really, REALLY cool... a trip to Antarctica! I absolutely love when people have a goal that seems ridiculously daunting to me and are going for it whole heartedly.

Brittany and Artoo
Though we live in the same town, we got here very differently – and from very different places! Brittany lived here in Portland for a few years in the early 2000's, however, left to live in Alaska. She headed back for several reasons... one of them being her boyfriend Jonathan – whom she realized that she “... wanted to actually move in with him and I didn't think I'd kill him.” After working multiple jobs at the same time, she made her way back to the handmade mecca that is Portland.

In the time since, Brittany has finished her Bachelor's in Anthropology (insert awesome Betty White Community reference here), and loves to experiment with different foods – specifically those that are crunch or tomato-y (preferably both), writes for her blog – Pro-Soup Propaganda, read, ride her bike Eleanor, and volunteer with a Portland based group called Friends of Trees, and hang with her totally rad dog, Artoo. If all of this weren't enough, she also works at Mr. Green Beans, a local shop that specializes in unroasted coffee beans, classes on soap, and cheesemaking. Oh. And she makes soap. Really yummy smelling soap. Like, with coffee and chocolate in it, though the grapefruit is my personal favorite!

Corivade Soap
Brittany says, “Your skin is your body's biggest organ, so whatever you put on it is going to get into your body. I like knowing that it (her soaps) doesn't have anything yucky in it and that I'm not supporting chemical companies by using those types of ingredients – such as sodium laurel sulfate.” So what DOES she use in her soaps? Organic ingredients whenever possible! Coconut oil, olive oil, etc., and she colors the soaps with herbs, spices, roots, and uses pure essential oils in all of the soaps.

There are currently a few shops in her native Ketchikan, Alaska that retail her products, however, Brittany is always open to more! Now that her degree is complete, she is excited about new recipes – including formulas for shampoo and facial bars. While she might “have the drawing skills of an eight year old”, she enjoys making soap because it allows her to have a creative outlet with a tangible product that looks and smells nice.

There are several quotes or mottos that Brittany says motivate and guide her, but the one that I think sums her up the best? “You may do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” - Sidonie Gabrielle Carter.

For a chance to win a bar of Brittany's 'Rain-Dogg' (Beer and Citrus) soap, to be paired with one of my hand knit soap bags made from a natural colored recycled cotton, please leave a comment below... answering the following question: if you had to choose your favorite two scents to be blended into a soap, what would they be and why?

Giveaway Prize!!! One hand knit soap bag and a lovely wrapped bar of Rain-Dogg!

Good luck! The winner will be announced on Saturday, June 30! You can also “Like” Brittany's Facebook page here, or support her Antarctic endeavours here!  ALSO! If you visit the Snappy Rockfish Etsy shop and enter 'Kusala" in the coupon code - you'll get an additional 15% off!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Letter to George Lucas, or An issue of Commerce- er- Common Sense

Dear Mr. Lucas,

I don't know if you actually keep up on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or other social media.  I don't know if you watch the news.  I don't know if you know anyone who crafts like a lot of us do, so let me fill you in (briefly) on an event that happened today... The US Olympic Committee sent a Cease and Desist letter to the founders of Ravelry - an internet community similar to Facebook for knitters, crocheters, spinners, and the like.  The basic statement of their letter was to say that Ravelry needed to change the name of the Olympic themed event that takes place site wide during the games.  Oh, and while they were at it, take down every Olympic themed pattern on the site.

Why? Well, because it would be detrimental and disrespectful to the athletes that had spent their lives training for the Games (not to take anything away from that - I was a college athlete - however some of these individuals have been doing their chosen craft since before some of these athletes were born - so, for their lives). There have been charity projects shut down by both the USOC and the IOC - some, that the athletes were excited about! This was showing them that their countries were behind them - all of their countries.  You see, though based in the US, the site is global and has members from countries around the world.

So, the reason I'm writing this to YOU, of all people, is to say THANK YOU.  You have embraced your fan base. You and the folks at Lucas Arts, Studios, and ILM realize that it is the fans and the families of the fans that create things that, in the long run, only promote the initial product.  I can't imagine a C&D letter coming from your studios to a craft site or a fan site saying that all of the "inspired by" patterns and crafts have to come down because it doesn't directly benefit you financially.  THANK YOU for not having a summer clerk on an internship send a letter to a community of two million people with internet access telling them what they are doing will ruin your franchise.  THANK YOU for understanding that what we create (from what you and your people have created) is because we are showing appreciation and trying to participate in the ways that we can.  THANK YOU for understanding it isn't just about licensed merchandise... and knowing that if we can't create it, we WILL turn around and buy it!

Geeks, nerds, crafters, sci-fi convention goers, we all create costumes, hats, washcloths, etc., we create to participate.  We don't create to try to rip anyone off, or to take away financial support from those who need it.  We create to help our communities, to help each other, to help the school down the road who needs new books and is holding a fundraiser, we create to show we care.

Thank you for understanding that and being supportive of your fans, Mr. Lucas, because in turn, they will support you.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Summer Items Coming to Sugar Me!

I've been absent from the blogosphere for about a month... why? Well, in addition to creating stock for my favorite kiddo shop (Milagros), I've also been busy creating little candy baubles for  Lorajean of Knitted Wit to head to a major industry trade show (I have more ready for you, and will get them to you before you go!), AND I've been working on making new items (and old favorites in some fun colors) for my favorite sugaring boutique - Sugar Me!

Here are a few things that I've been working on:

Some gorgeous crocheted bath poufs in fun summer colors...

A selection of my soap pouches with a small twist - a wrist strap and button as opposed to a hand strap - the wrist straps make for easier hanging!

AND last, but certainly not least, some adorable little bow tie rings.  These are made from super wash merino wool, so even with sweaty summer hands, they are non-itchy and will not felt from wear! Plus, they are washable! These are going to be up on Etsy soon, but you can get them even sooner by heading up to NE Fremont to visit Kate! Not pictured are some beautiful headbands with repurposed buttons - perfect for summer!

Also, pay close attention this upcoming week!  I will be featuring a new GIVEAWAY in conjunction with a fabulous soap-making pal for a bar of her gorgeous soap and a cute little soap bag made from recycled cotton!