Friday, August 27, 2010


I know it's supposed to be Etsy Finds Friday, but I haven't spent anytime looking at Etsy this week. Instead, today, I will show you the project I made with my sewing machine. No, it's not the dress. I know, I know, but I got a little intimidated when I unfolded the tissue with the pattern and thought I should start with something a little simpler. Ready to see?

I MADE A SKIRT! You're probably thinking "big deal, it's a skirt" but for me it's very exciting. This project was full of firsts for me:  I drafted and cut out my own pattern, made pockets and was careful the patterns of the fabric for the pockets and front of the skirt lined up with each other, made my own bias binding and machine-sewed said binding, and inserted a zipper using my sewing machine. I feel so triumphant! It turns out I know a little more about sewing than I thought I did. I spent two days making this skirt (well, along with other projects) and spent a lot of time taking careful measurements and seriously contemplating each cut before I made it. Still, there was lots of sewing and unsewing, but in the end it all came together. Even if the inside of the skirt isn't great looking - but who's gonna see that anyway? Here's a couple close-ups:

They're awful pictures but I have no time for photoshopping - I wanted to get it posted! I wish I had taken pictures of the skirt in progress, but I just wasn't that diligent. I was so determined to finish this skirt today that I haven't even eaten! Just an apple in the morning and a pear an hour ago. Now I'm starving! But so happy. I even did my happy dance (yes, I have a happy dance). The best part is I made a skirt that fits me perfectly using my scary ol' sewing machine. And my pin cushion got a lot of use, too.

No Knitting Week is almost over and it's been awesome. I haven't made all the things I wanted to for lack of time and materials, but I have no complaints. And even though I'll be picking the knitting needles back up on Monday, I'm gonna keep making time for other projects. It's silly to think I have to knit all the time just 'cause I have deadlines. So next up, tackling that dress!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No Knitting Week Progress

I have been having such a great time working on other crafts this week. Yesterday I altered two tops, pulled out three t-shirts that need fitting, started one, and finished the graphics for two mittens. The altered clothing is boring to look at since they were simple alterations and I didn't take any before pictures anyway but the fingerless mittens I am LOVING. Wanna see?


And how about some action shots?

Modeled here by The Doomed.


I started with the guys' mittens since it was easier to decide what graphics to embroider. I placed the graphic so that it's off-center and curved on the hand - half on the palm, half on the back of the hand. I am so happy with the way they turned out! And deciding which graphics to put on the others, including the ladies' mittens, has been super easy now. I've even already finished another mitten. Sadly, I don't think I'll be able to complete the graphics for all the mittens this week, but I should be able to make some good headway and maybe even start listing some soon! Well, if I'm able to do a photoshoot this weekend, that is.

I have been having so many ideas since this week began, even the perfecting of ideas I had had but wasn't completely sure how to accomplish. I actually stayed up 'til 2am last night thinking about them and reseaching material I would need for them! One thing I want to accomplish, though, is making an outfit with my sewing machine. I have a small collection of vintage patterns and I really want to try to tackle making one before my No Knitting week is over. I don't even know if I have enough material and certainly know I don't have the skill, but I wanna give it a go anyway. This is the pattern I decided on for my first attempt:

Do you think this is too ambitious for someone with very little sewing experience and who's always afraid to cut fabric for fear of ruining it? Sewing's not like knitting, people! If I screw up knitting, I just have to undo everything and wind the yarn back into a ball. If I screw up cutting fabric to sew, I'm shit out of luck.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sewing Project Monday!

Alright, so it's a small project but one I've been meaning to do for a long time, so it counts! I had seen all these adorable pin cushions on Etsy and thought "I bet I could do that" so today was my day to tackle it. I had some fabric that I didn't really know what to do with - it's only a small amount and the graphic doesn't really allow for me to use it as lining for one of my bags - but while digging through my fabrics today it occurred to me that it'd be perfect for my pin cushion. Here's a brief picture tutorial of what I did:

It was still missing something so I added a button to the center of the front and back to create a little extra tension.

NOW it's complete!
So quick and easy to make, I wanna make twenty more! I don't need that many, unfortunately, but totally intend to tackle making a pin cushion for my wrist next. Eventually. My new pin cushion will replace the ugly chicken? duck? that my mother gave me many years ago and that I love but that is in a sorry state after being handled by the neck one too many times.

Besides the pin cushion, I altered a skirt and started altering a top. I also started the graphics on one of the mens' mittens and am pretty confident I'll complete the pair before day's end. I got so much more done than I usually do in one day! Normally, it's just a monotonous "I made a mitten today" but look how much more I have to report! Also, I technically finished the slouchy beanie this weekend but have decided that I need to undo just a bit and make it a little longer. So I can't show that one off yet. I also started another slouchy beanie, with a different design, but wasn't able to finish it before my No Knitting Week began, so that one's gotta wait, too.

Projects, projects, projects  and not a knitting needle in sight - I love it!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Etsy Finds Friday and Goodies!

From left - right:

artallnight - mermaid and anchor necklace
mediumcontrol - Carry All Iconic Camera Bag Khaki
retrowhale - Magnet set Build Your Own Favorite Directors
mojospastyle - Metallic Silver Flower Headband
gardensofwhimsy - Blue skies a whimsical butterfly clip
ableandgame - Romantic Card I don't have a lazy eye BOY VERSION
diffractionfiber - The Cameo Pillow
PoorRobin - Button Bracelet - My Little Mod Garden
janinebasil - Silver glitter bow headband
FableAndFury - Fawned of You 2 headed deer necklace in satin

I finally, FINALLY received goodies I ordered over a month ago. The delay was due to a shipping mix-up (don't ask) but perfect timing now since I decided I'm not knitting next week. Instead, I'll be playing with a gazillion buttons! And my first knitting loom ever! Wait - does that count as knitting? I mean, I won't be using needles. I think I can allow it. Especially since I'll be using far chunkier yarn than I have been lately. I'll put it off 'til the end of the week - how 'bout that? I'm so excited! Oh, the ideas spinning around in my head - I need more hands! I love getting new stuff to experiment with. And I know you're probably saying "they're just buttons" but I'm saying "they're BUTTONS." See the diff?

I made a few more mittens this week and will try to finish the slouchy beanie before my knitting weekend is over but come Monday, these hands won't touch knitting needles. I've made my list to make the most of this free creative week and first up is making something that requires my sewing machine. What that is exactly, I don't yet know, but it'll be fun. Or frustrating. It could really go either way.

Currently shuffling through my soundsystem: Brothers album by The Black Keys. I rarely listen to albums in full but I like almost every song on this one, especially the last half of the album.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Balancing Act

I love to knit. And spend all my free time doing it. In fact, I create as much free time as possible so I can knit even more. But there are so many other things I enjoy doing, too. Like reading. I LOVE to read. I don't remember not always having a book I'm in the middle of. I used to get in trouble all the time as a kid for it. My mom would give me chores to do and I'd really intend to get to them but there was READING TO BE DONE. How could she not understand that? And before you condemn my mother for not encouraging literacy, it's not that she didn't. It's that she could only tolerate so much of my ignoring what she was saying or my going "in a minute, mom!" before she'd be compelled to yank the book out of my hand and hide it somewhere. I think that's where my habit of reading a few books at the same time stemmed from. She hid all the flashlights, too, 'cause I'd sneak read after I was supposed to be asleep. That didn't stop me. I'd pull my curtain wide open and read by moonlight. That certainly didn't help my already poor eyesight. Nor my glasses (I'd often wake up with my glasses smushed between my face and the book). I spent every waking moment reading. Now I spend every waking moment knitting. Obsessive much?

I've come to the realization that I really need to learn how to balance my life. I'm lucky that I have all the time I want to do whatever I want (thanks, The Doomed!) and that's why it felt like such a perfect opportunity to really see if my crafting could turn into a serious, profitable business for me. After all, if you want something to succeed, you've gotta give it everything you've got. But what's that saying? There's such a thing as too much of a good thing? Yeah. So I'm starting with baby steps. I still want to meet the goal of having most of my merchandise completed by early October, but I think I can still manage to squeeze in some recreational time.

Last fall we went to the Miami Book Fair and I bought about a dozen books at awesome prices. And even though I started reading three of them immediately, somehow they fell by the wayside. I've decided to pick one back up at a time and the first of the three is Black Dahlia Avenger. (If you don't know who the Black Dahlia is or how obsessed with Los Angeles history I am then that'll just have to wait 'cause that's a post all on its own.) This week I started allowing an hour for reading every morning. And night, if I'm not too sleepy. And it's my plan to take a full week off of knitting next week. What?! I know! I've been meaning to alter some clothes and maybe do another sewing project and some other things and I keep putting it off because I've got these knitting deadlines I've set for myself. So next week, no knitting! I'm gonna try really hard not to, anyway. I am, however, still allowing the completion of projects related to the shop as long as they don't require knitting needles (adding decorative touches, buttons, etc). We'll see how it goes!

Monday, August 16, 2010

To Be Fair...

...some things I like about living in Miami:

1) my house (having spent most of my life in apartments, it's nice to have a house to live in)
2) Flanigan's (there's one not too far from our house and while I know that their ribs are what they are known for, it's their shrimp that I LOVE.)
3) winter weather (humidity finally dies down, pleasantly warm weather stays)
4) no smog (clear skies in a big city, who knew?)
5) Inka Cola is available in every supermarket
6) having lots of time to craft
7) Moondoggie!

Taken the first week we brought him home.

Not as many things as those I like about LA but hey, I've only been here a year and some months.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Etsy Finds Friday

daphnenen - Rolling Forward with Handmade Large Pleated Bag
claraiuribe - NEW The original sewing machine Needlecase No 1
annyandme - Delila Bag Martini Blossom
blockpartypress - Cloud 9
ghostlovejewelry - A Mighty Ship GORGEOUS ANTIQUED SILVER

I started this post late today because AT&T had to come back out AGAIN for the same problem from last week. Which is, conveniently, never being a problem when they show up. So, only five Etsy Finds today - but better some than none - especially that adorable needlecase!

I've spent this week working on making men's mittens and the slouchy ladies' beanie that frustrated me so last week. Wanna see the progress?

I'm really digging the beanie so far - it's too large to be a beret but not quite large enough to hold rasta dreads, at least not yet! - but have gotten stuck on the decreasing part. I've undone my decreases THREE times (and on over 170 stitches that ain't no joke) and refuse to start again until I know for sure I've mapped it out correctly. Hence the going back to my trusty mittens. At least they're the ones for the fellas this time! I find them so easy and enjoyable to make and seem to have nailed down a good average size, so now it's just a matter of bangin' out all the colors I have for guys. And I already know I need to stock up on more yarn. Taking a look at my inventory the other day, which isn't miniscule, I realized I had less to work with than I thought I did. What's a girl to do but order more? Hee.  

This weekend seems to be shaping up to be very low key so I hope to knock out at least a couple more mittens and maybe even finish that beanie. Oh, but how I hate to be frustrated so I don't know - I might put it off 'til next week.

Currently shuffling through my soundsystem: it's a Chet Baker kind of afternoon. I've had the Funny Valentine album on repeat for a couple hours now. There's just something good about slow, jazzy trumpets.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Things I Miss About LA

It goes without saying that I miss my friends and family, but these are the things I miss most about my hometown:

My Old Neighborhood (Sunset Blvd. and Martel Ave.)

Summertime movie watching at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Eating the yummy food at Lala's Argentine Grill
Graumann's Chinese Theater (I loved catching a movie here after a long day of work, all by my lonesome)
The Arclight (ditto - and still have my membership card!)

The Bigfoot Lodge (where I first learned the true art of graceful drunkeness)
Late night dinner/early breakfast at Mel's Diner after drinking with friends.
Late night grubbing on Carney's chili hot dog and chili cheese fries.
Feeding my Superman obsession at Meltdown Comic Bookstore
Driving the PCH on the way to El Matador beach
Being able to look up and see the Hollywood sign
And, finally, getting to see Hepcat and Ozomatli at least once a year.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Knitting Origins

I think most of us crafters have been influenced by some crafty person who came before us. I grew up watching my mom make lots of things around the house: curtains, pillow shams, sofa covers, clothing, halloween costumes, jewelry, etc. I still own a shirt she hand-embroidered for my dad when they were still just dating in the early 70s and it was one of my favorite shirts to wear in my early twenties. I was so awed by the fact that she could take basic materials and whip them up into something that was both pretty and useful. I think it's fair to say I was destined to want to make things.

I picked up my first pair of knitting needles at age 7, when my mom was pregnant with my sister. She was making little sweaters and booties and I loved the clickety-clack of the needles and the way her hands flew around creating stitches. I wanted to learn to how she did that thing with the sticks and string! I wanted to make that clickety-clack sound! My first complete project was a little blanket for my Barbie, in combination pink, white, and baby blue yarn that Red Heart Yarn still makes (I think.) I continued knitting and toying with other crafts, always encouraged by my mother, but after a few years, knitting fell to the wayside as other things became more important in my adolescence. Then in my early 20s, a friend and I drove to Pismo Beach on vacation, where we stopped at an adorable fabric and craft shop. She saw some yarn she loved and I suddenly recalled "Hey! I know how to make stuff with that!" Of course, it'd been years since I'd even been around a pair of knitting needles, so back to my mom I went for a refresher course. I remembered everything I loved about knitting and just a few months later I was surrounded by knitting books, all kinds of yarn, and every needle size in existance. When I find a new obsession, I go whole hog. I haven't stopped knitting since and I daresay I know more about knitting now than my mom does, though she'll always be the faster knitter.

While speaking to her last week, she mentioned having a crap load of buttons she's collected over the years (she's never been one to pass up a good bargain) and wanted to contribute them towards my crafty business. She's so proud of my small endeavor and pleased that something she used to love doing as a hobby or practical need could possibly become a passion-filled career for me. And she loves that it all stemmed from her own mother, who at near 90 years of age can still knit and crochet circles around us both.

Anyway, peep the small collection she sent me:

Aren't some of them just the cheesiest? I think those are the best ones. But tell me, what are your own crafty origins?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Etsy Finds Friday and Fruitless Knitting

Here's this week's picks, including some from local Miami artisans:

From left - right:

Anoriginaljewelry - Camera Silhouette Necklace
ElleGanT - MOUSE cute cashmere hat
Mishky - Dreamcatcher series Turquoise Gold and Coral Sterling Silver
GiantDwarf - Rosette Fascinator - The Bluebird
thekarmatree - Birds of a Feather Mod Birds Friendship Necklace
jDUCT - Toy Soldier Duct Tape Wallet
Studiojellyfish - Comic Bangle
Signaturetshirts - El Jefe The Boss Spanish T Shirt

True to my word, as soon as I finished up the latest pair of mittens I was working on, I immediately switched over to making a ladies' beanie I've had in mind for a while.  I decided to just wing it - no notes to go off of or pattern to adapt and adjust - and it was going to turn out AWESOME.

I'll state it bluntly: I was not successful.

I wanted this item to have some texture and detail - relatively different from the simple beanies I've made so far - and while I like the way my ribbing turned out, the rest became a disaster pretty quickly. The great thing about knitting is that if something isn't working, all you have to do is undo it. No yarn wasted, no needles harmed. But, boy, does it feel like a waste of a day. Knitting is not a quick activity, folks! I suppose I could "cheat" and take a look at how someone else has accomplished something similar, but I take very seriously the fact that what we sell has to be original and well-executed and I don't want my items influenced even subconsciously by someone else's design. I refuse to look at the details of other folks work for that very reason and at the most reference "how to" books when trying to remember a basic technique. I'm not saying the items I create have never been made before (I didn't invent the concept of knitting beanies or mittens or scarves, afterall) but how I accomplish the creation of them is all my own. So, I've set aside my hideous beanie for now and gone back to the mittens. But after this set is done, away to try again I go!

Crafting this weekend will be pretty limited for me since we have friends in from DC and plenty of fun-having to do before they leave Sunday night, including watching them perform Saturday at the Miami Salsa Congress! But I intend to make time to try to tackle another new pattern - maybe not the beanie again yet - so I don't get stuck in the mitten rut. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Friggin Innernet

So, my internet keeps going down and up. Something about the modem or a cable or my footprint being too slow - I don't know. I don't understand that fancy speak. I always think my footprint's pretty slow but that's 'cause I don't like to run.


(I slay me. I'll be here all night, folks!)

Anywho, AT&T will be sending someone out tomorrow to fix it, but while I still have it on an "up" moment, how 'bout a blog post!

As you know, there isn't much going on with my days besides knittin' mittens. The above is what I've managed to complete in the last week, minus one that I sent to my sister as part of her gift package. She loves nautical-themed items (much like me - go figure!) so I made her an anchor-embellished pair of mittens.

I first made them with a white rope, thinking the colors complimented each other best, but it was just so GLARING against the blue and the gray. So I switched to the wheat color that I'd originally been using and I think I like it much better. It looks more...authentic? I don't know - you know what I mean. Or do you? What do you think? Either way, I think next time I'm going to center the design just a bit higher, but other than that I like the way they turned out. And they look cute on! You'll just have to trust me on that since I've no photo to show you that. 

I've decided I'm gonna finish up another couple sets of mittens and then start making the prototypes of all the other items I want to carry - for a little change of pace. And to make sure I'm happy with my designs before I start ordering supplies to make them. This way, maybe I can post at least one of every item in the shop and start getting some feedback. I don't know why I was so emphatic about completing each design in large batches before moving on, but I made the rules, so I can break them if I want to! Hopefully, I'll have more to show you than just mittens by the end of next week (although, at least two more designs are still in the "mittens" category). Then I'll continue with my batch making.

Oooh, and guess what? I'm in another treasury! This time, a nautical-inspired one created by Stitchy Impressions.  I love being "treasured"!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Weekend Recap

This past Friday we went to see a small exhibit entitled Falsos Positivos at a gallery near our home. While the exhibit was interesting and well done, the best part was running into Karyna from Papersquid and being able to chat with her for a bit that night. She's so friendly and makes such pretty prints and stationary. Here's some examples of her work:

Gorgeous, right? You can see more at her etsy shop here. So glad I'm getting a chance to know her. Besides that brief activity, I spent the rest of the weekend working it up like some sort of craft fiend. Not only did I knock out all the gifts I wanted to make for my sister (while singing at the top of my lungs to whatever shuffled through my iTunes) but I also managed to make three more mitten sets! Suck on that carpal tunnel and back pain! You can't keep me down! Ain't nothing gonna stop me from crafting! (except for maybe lack of supplies or actual immobility.)

I felt such accomplishment this weekend - with all the usual errands and quality time spending with The Doomed and Moondoggie, I'm usually lucky if I can get ONE set of mittens done in both days - and when The Doomed saw me sweating it out in my dining room workspace, he came up with this for me:

Can you spot Moondoggie?

Way to contribute to my craftiness! It's like an IV of crafty energy! He knows I hate how hot the dining room gets and the fact that I have to share the space with our actual meal eating, so he brought in some legs he got from who-knows-where, plopped an oversized dry-erase board he had brought home for himself on top, and - tah dah! - instant table. So now I get to work right next to my desk and underneath the deliciousness of two air conditioning vents AND an overhead fan and easily collapse everything away when I don't need it. Such a great solution for our limited space and my anal retentive need to have everything looking neat at all times.

I capped off what I consider an AWESOME weekend with some delicious steak and mash potatoes that Boy Toy prepared and grilled, Inka Cola drinking, a little knitting, and True Blood and Mad Men watching. Ah, sweet satisfaction. It's the simple things that make me happy. Hope your weekend was just as great!