Friday, September 1, 2017

Back to School, Back to Business!

Hey, it's September! Kids are heading back to school, the weather is cooling down, and I'm gearing up for fall craft shows...and my second cataract surgery.

My first craft show of the season is September 22-23, at the Northeast Fellowship Ladies' Advance in Johnson City, NY. I've done the show twice before, both times loading up a vehicle with most of my inventory.

This year, the show falls into the three-week window after my surgery when I'm not supposed to do any bending or heavy lifting. It also falls between having the surgery done and getting an eye exam to check my final vision. I'm not sure if my eyes will be "up to" a three-hour drive, or the drive home, which would include some night driving. So, rather than driving myself to this conference with my own fully-loaded vehicle, I will be riding down in a van with a few other ladies, and I will be limited to two or three totes. So, my goals for September are focused on crafts that are small, cute, seasonal and (hopefully) hot sellers!

I decided to divide my table into sections and feature 9 categories:
1. Turtles
Turtles!
















2. Chicken Potholders
Chicken Potholders!
3. Dress Potholders
Dress Potholders!
















4. Penguins
Penguins

5. Pokemon Go Balls
Pokemon Balls!

















6. Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs!
7. Big Head Baby Dolls

8. Pumpkins
Pumpkins!
















9. Dryer balls

For some of the categories (hedgehogs, chicken potholders, Big Head Baby Dolls, dryer balls), I have ample inventory all made up. For the others, I would like to focus on finishing up at least one a day from one of the categories, finishing up the scrap yarn collection that has been accumulating around my chair.
The pretzel container is filled with acrylic yarn scraps, which will be transformed into turtles, penguins and pumpkins. The zipper bag is filled with cotton, for the dress potholders.

My plan is to take a ball of yarn and start making stuff, and keep making stuff in that color until the ball of yarn is used up! Like the raspberry-pink yarn that turned into both a pumpkin and a turtle:

I also have major projects that need to be completed during the month.  I would like to finish at least three of these major projects:
1. Maroon cowl
2. Tool Belt
3. Princess Dress - DONE
4. Farm Playmat
5. Ben/Bianca Bear CAL - DONE
6. Baby Trolls CAL - DONE
To accomplish that, I am scheduling half an hour each day to work on one of those. I made up a chart, and will be marking in which project I worked on... which of the minis I completed, etc. I'll post a picture of the filled-in, scribbled up chart at the end of the month!


There are other goals I'm keeping in mind, too:

1. Keep spending as low as possible. We've got some major bills coming up, from back-to-school expenses with the college girl, and my eye surgeries. I have a few craft store gift cards to use for the items I need to finish this month's crafts (I'm running out of poly-fill, and I need a larger size safety eye for the trolls), so I'm limiting my craft spending to those items.

2. Stick to my Trim Healthy Mama eating plan. As of last Saturday, I'm down 24 pounds since the beginning of April. I'm hoping to break into a new "decade" of  numbers by the end of the month!

3. Promote, promote, promote... I make a goal of promoting daily through either Instagram or Facebook! I would like to make set a new record for September sales, but it will take some hustling!

4. Keep up with listing items on Etsy when I finish them. Check out my newest listing: Levi the Giraffe

If all days are as productive as Day 1, September will be a very good month! I finished Sunny Penguin... kept going with the bright yellow yarn and made a cute little pumpkin... then I pulled out an abandoned project, the Princess Dress Blanket, and finished that up! Then I pulled a ball of very soft baby pink yarn from my scrap bin, and made a little pink pumpkin!

September 1 - A day of accomplishment! 

September 2 - A penguin, a pumpkin, a turtle (and an hour on a cuddler bear)



September 3 - Purple Penguin & Pumpkin, mini orange pumpkin, green & white turtle


September 4th was a busy day... We stayed home for Labor Day, and I got a lot of crocheting done, finishing up five projects!



My Labor Day finishes... 
Then, with meetings, internet issues, my second cataract surgery, and general busy-ness, I slowed down for a bit... 

September 5, 1 turtle; September 6, green dress potholder; September 7, red dress potholder & 1 turtle



Since I had Peach yarn out, I just kept going with projects... 

Two days before my craft show, I got the idea to add another quick project / low-cost item for the table: coasters! 
Hedgehog & coffee cup coasters




Thursday, August 3, 2017

Umm, when did it turn into August?

Wow, I just realized it's August already, and I hadn't posted a list of goals for the month! I guess that shows how crazy life has been lately!

My list for August will be simple. I'm trying to clean up around my work area (my recliner in the living room), and I'm getting way too many half-finished projects piling up. I need to reduce my WIP (works in progress) pile!

Finish 4 of my 7 WIP:
  1. Garden Shawl - DONE 
  2. Unicorn - DONE - But he's a pony, didn't put on the unicorn horn. 
  3. Farm Mat
  4. Giraffe CAL - DONE
  5. Horse CAL - DONE 
  6. Tool Belt
  7. Fancy Maroon Cowl
Reduce stash by 5# (Starting Point = 627 entries, 196.7#)
Well...I caved. I got a $100 Walmart gift card, and redeemed it online, getting about twenty skeins of yarn. So I am ended the month pretty much where I started! I'm down to 622 entries, but still in the same ballpark for total weight of yarn, 196.9#
DONE - Best best sales record for August (2014=$30, 2015 = $0, 2016 = $28; shouldn’t be hard to beat) Thanks to a run on chicken potholders on Etsy, I have a new record for August! 

Of course, there will be fill-in projects. Pokemon Go Balls seem to sell very well at the street vendor event I do on Thursdays, so I will be making a bunch of those. At tonight's event, I will have a bucket of water for a "try before you buy" on the reusable water balloons, so I may have to make up a bunch of those to restock! I have eight doctor appointments (including cataract surgery) in August, so my crafts-to-go bag with supplies for chicken potholders will get a good workout!
New project: vintage dress potholders

Had a request for a cat...

...and a dinosaur

...and turtles!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

My Patchwork Pups

In my quest to use up yarn scraps, I made up a quick little pattern for a small patchwork pup. This is a great way of using up those little balls of yarn that are about the size of a golf ball. 

Both of the smaller pups were made with worsted weight yarn and a size F hook. They’re only about 5” long. The larger pup (yellow & green) was made with two strands of a light worsted held together and an H hook. Gauge doesn’t matter… heavier yarn (or two yarns held together) and a larger hook will make a bigger pup. You just want your stitches tight enough that the stuffing won’t show through.
Pieces are worked in continuous rounds. Use a stitch marker to show the beginning of your rounds.
Legs:
Round 1: 6 SC in magic ring
Round 2: Increase in each stitch (12)
Round 3 & 4: work even (12) –  if you are doing two-tone legs, change color here
Round 5-7: work even (12). Finish off, leaving a long tail for sewing on later.

Body:
Round 1: 6 SC in magic ring
Round 2: Increase in each stitch (12)
Round 3: *1 sc, inc*, repeat around (18)
Round 4: *2 sc, inc*, repeat around (24)
Round 5: *3 sc, inc*, repeat around (30)
Rounds 6-8 (3 rows): work even (30). If you are doing a dog with a striped body, change color after row 8.
Rounds 9-13 (5 rows): work even (30). If  you are making the body striped, change color after row 13.
Rounds 14-16 (3 rows): work even (30)
Round 17: * 3 sc, dec*, repeat around (24)
Round 18: *2 sc, dec*, repeat around (18)
Stuff before the opening gets too small! J
Round 19: *sc, dec*, repeat around (12)
Round 20: dec around (6)
Finish off. Weave yarn tail through the 6 stitches and pull tightly to close.
 
This guy sold so fast, I never got daytime pictures of him! 
Head:
Round 1: 6 SC in magic ring
Round 2: Increase in each stitch (12)
Round 3: *1 sc, inc*, repeat around (18)
Round 4: *2 sc, inc*, repeat around (24)
Round 5: *3 sc, inc*, repeat around (30)
Rounds 6-7 (2 rows): work even (30).
Round 8: *3 sc, dec*, repeat around (24)
Round 9: *2 sc, dec*, repeat around (18)
Stuff before the opening gets too small! J
Round 10: *sc, dec*, repeat around (12)
Round 11: dec around (6)
Finish off, leaving long tail to sew to body.  


Muzzle:
Round 1: 6 SC in magic ring
Round 2: Increase in each stitch (12)
Rounds 3-5 (3 rounds): work even (12).
Finish off, leaving long tail to sew to face.
Using black yarn, embroider nose / mouth.

For the larger pup, I added an increase row [Row 3 = *1 sc, inc*, repeat around (18) ] to make a larger muzzle for the bigger pup. Then I just did two rows even.


Ears (make 2):
I made mine with a nice fuzzy yarn (fun fur held together with a strand of bulky yarn for the blue ears, Bernat Pipsqueak for the yellow). Since it was bulky yarn, I think I used size I hook.
Chain 7.
Sc in 2nd chain from hook and next 4 chains. 3 sc in last chain, then, working on the other side of chain, make a sc in the backside of each chain. Finish off, leaving a long tail to sew to head.

Pointed Tail (on small pup with striped body)
With worsted weight yarn and size F hook:
Leaving a long tail for sewing, chain 8
Join with a slip stitch. Chain 1 and work a sc in each chain. Mark the beginning of your round with a marker. Continue to work in rounds, decreasing at the beginning of each row, until you have three stitches left. Pull up a loop in each stitch and pull through all three stitches. Finish off, tucking yarn end inside tail.

Floppy tail:

With bulky yarn and Size I hook, chain 8. SC in 2nd chain from hook and each remaining chain. You can make it a little curlier by doing 2 sc in each chain. 

Eyes
I played with different eyes... depending on the size of the head. I used sport weight yarn and a smaller hook and did 6 sc in a magic ring, then embroidered  a small black knot. I also did more of an elongated eye by making a chain (4 or 5) and doing sc down one side, 3 sc in final chain, and sc back the other side. For the bigger puppy, I did a chain 2, and sc in 2nd chain from hook in black to make a larger pupil. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

My Star-Spangled Project List for July

Fancy title, eh? Well, working this up over the 4th of July weekend, I felt it needed a bit of a patriotic flair! 

July is going to be crazy... I'll admit that right now. Vacation Bible School at church, a week-long trip to Michigan to watch my granddaughter, and some canning of those great summer fruits and veggies... so, my lists are a bit more vague this month.

I started out the month with some organizing, getting a recent yarn gift (a tall kitchen garbage bag full) sorted into inventory, so I can easily find it when I need it for a project. That also helps me to plan out projects, knowing just what I have on hand! 


Then I dumped out the basket next to my chair. It was overflowing with yarn left over from projects. I sorted it by yardage, and made myself three bags: tiny scraps, medium size ball and large ball/slightly used skeins. I found eight balls/skeins of cotton yarn that will be great for more chicken potholders! 
Looking a little neater now.

So, here is my list for July: 
Use up 5 pounds of yarn from stash (starting point 202.7 pounds, 642 entries) DONE - ended with 627 entries, 196.7#
Participate in One and Two Company CAL - DONE

Start work on a princess dress blanket
(changed course and made a superhero dress blanket, DONE)


Make 10 projects from the scrap basket next to my chair - DONE
Finished... #9 Squirtle, #10 Blue Pokeball

#1 - Scrap Yarn Puppy

#2, Puppy has a big brother.

3. Red Pokeball 4. Gold Pokeball 5, 6, 7: Master Ball 8. Pink (not pictured)



Make 10 chicken potholders - DONE


3 added (last 3 in bottom row)




#4... made while waiting at doctor's appointment!
7 chickens   made during s day of air travel!
Finished Monday, 7/17 during 8 hours in airports and on flights, when I made 7 chicken potholders!


Make a striped giraffe
Finished 7/16



Saturday, June 17, 2017

Yarn Hoarder Quiz...

When I saw this quiz on Facebook, I knew I had to take it... answer a few questions and see if you're an "Expert Stashbuster," "Amateur Yarn Hoarder" or "Professional Yarn Hoarder." Hmm.... I know what my family would say... but I took the quiz anyway...

Question 1 dealt with how much I've spent on a single skein of yarn. I would score low on this one... since I'm not one to pick up fancy yarns that run $20 a skein. A simple skein of Red Heart Super Saver or Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn will meet most of my needs. My answer for this one was between 1 point ($5 - $7) and 2 points (Around $20). I try to always use a coupon when I'm picking up yarn, but I may have picked up a Caron Pounder or a big ball of Bernat Blanket without a coupon, and they're $9.99.

Question 2 dealt with how many skeins of yarn I have in my stash...
Now, realize that I have been knitting and crocheting for over 40 years. People give me yarn all the time. I have gotten bags and boxes of yarn when people cleaned out grandma's house, or when they were moving and couldn't take it with them.
Yarn left for me in my office.
Three boxes when a coworker moved from NY to MI
A woman from church was helping her sister clean house...and I got yarn...

The points went from 1 for Just a few/less than 5 (yeah, right) to 2 points for "20 or so" and 3 points for "I can't even begin to count them all". Well, I can count them all, because they're all nicely organized in a spreadsheet on Ravelry, so I know I have over 600 skeins... does that mean I should get 30 points for this one?

Question 3: "Have you ever lied about buying yarn, or hid your most recent purchase from your significant other?
1 point for no, 2 for not yet/thought about it, 3 for yes.
Gave myself a three... as I have been known to keep yarn in the trunk until I have a chance to escort it to its chosen storage bin without others seeing!

Question 4:
When there's a yarn sale, you normally...
-Don't know about it (1 point)
-Check it out if you remember (2 points)
-Mark it on your calendar...and maybe take the day off work (3 points)
I really don't fit into this one... I would say my answer would be "lament the fact that I have to pass up such great bargains because I really don't NEED the yarn at this time"!  I really have been good about limiting my yarn purchases in recent years! For the most part, I have only been buying yarn when I specifically need it for a project. But...I never refuse free yarn...and I have received hundreds of skeins in just the last six months!

Question 5 (here's where I really racked up points!)
Give yourself 1 point if you have yarn in the following places:
-At home, in the designated yarn storage boxes/bags, shelves - check
-At work / at your desk - Check (I bring a craft bag with me to work for when I walk laps around the gym before work!)
-In the kitchen and/or dining room - Check (when I took the quiz, I had a skein of yarn on the dining room table that needed to go into a project bag)
-In the bathroom - not guilty on this count!
- in the basement - Check - that's where I have twelve storage totes!
- in your car - yes, I have a "crafts to go" bag for when I'm stuck waiting, like in a doctor's office
- next to your bed - yes...and under the bed
-in the living room - yes... that's where I work on projects!

You only needed 15 points to qualify as a "Professional Yarn Hoarder", so that's where they put me... I think I would prefer to be called an "Organized Yarn User" - as I regularly pull yarn from my stash and use it up.

All of my yarn is nicely organized in bins and entered into a wonderful organization system called the Stash feature on the Ravelry website. I can browse through pictures, sort by color, weight of the yarn, yardage, or by the date I stored it. So, if I come across an adorable pattern that used bulky yarn, I can browse through what I have, and pull something from my stash. Looking for cotton yarn for a dishcloth? Search for "Cotton".  Or if I'm looking for a skein of blue yarn, I can easily find where that particular shade is stored (a vital feature, since yarn is stored in 19 totes/bags in four different rooms of the house!
The basement storage...but now there are twelve totes.


For instance, when One and Two Pattern company announced their crochet contest this month was Joe the Puppy, and the recommended yarn was a bulky chenille, I searched through my Ravelry stash for "Chenille" and knew just which bin to go to. I pulled out two skeins of Khaki and a skein of white, and got to work. The finished product:
Love how Joe the Puppy turned out!
Yes, my stash is pretty big... if I didn't buy any more yarn, and nobody gave me any, it would be over two years before I would run out of yarn at my current rate of using up stash yarn. I'll just keep plugging away at what I have on hand. So, I guess some would call me a hoarder. Others would call me well-prepared! 
A sample of the Ravelry Stash feature, if I was looking for worsted weight yarn.