Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Mindless Scrap Scarf

The idea for this scarf came about in the fall of 2016. I thought it would be a great project for taking with me in situations where I would be waiting (doctor's offices, car repair shop, dentist). I would tie together bits of scrap yarn, threading some big metal beads I had onto the yarn as I went. Then I would just cast on a scarf about 8" wide and knit until the ball of yarn was used up.

I ended up with a ball of yarn weighing about 7.5 ounces. It was mostly worsted weight yarn, although a little bit of Baby Clouds snuck in there, and on several occasions, I doubled up sport weight yarn. I cast 28 stitches onto size 10-1/2 needles and started knitting.

I got bored rather quickly. And I got orders. Lots and lots of orders. The ball of yarn and few inches of knitting that I had completed got put into a "project bag" and stashed away (probably when I was puppy-proofing the house for Christmas company).

Then came the wind storms of January 10. I came home from work, chilled from being out in the wind for just a few minutes, and put on a pot of decaf coffee, then went to change into my comfy "home clothes" (sweat pants and a threadbare old sweater). As I was changing my clothes, the light in the closet went out. Hmm... light bulb must have burned out. Oh, wait... the light in the bedroom is out, too. And I had turned the TV on, but it's not on. Power outage!

Coffee had finished brewing, so I settled into the semi-darkness with my cup of coffee and tried to figure out what I could do by candlelight. Counting rows and trying to read a pattern would be difficult. Then I remembered the scrap scarf. Perfect! I pulled out the project bag and got to work. Since it was just garter stitch, knitting each row, I could multi-task while working on it. I pulled up a book on my tablet's Kindle app and read as I knit. So I guess you could say I was knitting by Kindle light!

After one evening of knitting, ball was down to 3.5 ounces
Power was out until 7 PM, so I got in several hours of knitting. The ball was getting smaller, and I was getting excited about actually finishing up a project, so I kept knitting until bedtime.

The next morning, power went out again, so I got to work on the scarf more. Then I finished it that evening. I deliberately left all the yarn ends hanging out. It's just a funky, colorful, Bohemian look. Not for everybody, but I certainly had fun with it, and it's very warm and cozy to wear! It ended up about 5 feet long, so wearing it as an infinity scarf, I wrap it twice around my neck.

Step 1:
Wind a ball of scrap yarn, threading beads on as you go. I started and ended with black yarn, so that the seam of sewing the ends together wouldn't be as obvious.
My ball ended up at 7.5 ounces, with 12 beads (wish I would have added more).

Step 2:
Cast on 28 stitches on size 10.5 needles

Step 3:
Knit each row until you run out of yarn.

Step 4:
Sew ends together.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

January, A Clean Slate

I finished the last of my custom orders on December 31st, so started out 2017 with a clean slate.
5 Christmas stockings... done! 

Well, almost a clean slate. I still had six projects in various stages of completion in bags around the house. And a "hackathon" project I wanted to do (where you take a pattern and make hacks, or changes, to make it uniquely yours). And a laundry list of "gotta make that" projects. 

So, I came up with the following list of resolutions for January: 

Decrease stash by 3 pounds (starting at 164.04) (May be difficult, as a coworker is moving from NY to MI, and said he will have “three milk crates or so” of yarn that he will give to me rather than paying to move it. 
Get patterns sorted out (Took SEVERAL hours!) 
Finish 3 of 6 WIP 
1. Tin Can Knits Hackathon 
My Hack: I used three strands of yarn (2 baby yarn, 1 worsted) rather than 1 strand of bulky.

2. Scrap Scarf 
3. Hay Square 
4. Shark Hat 
5. Catasaurus 
6. Big Mermaid 
One and Two Company Nuru the Unicorn 
One and Two Company January CAL 
Scrap Turtle 

Mini Unicorn 
Cactus Pin Cushion 
Mini Owl
Mini Unicorn and Nuru

Home 
Stick to $100/week grocery budget - Use what I have on hand! (Didn't do well the first week)
Check balance of benefits card 
Cash in Ibotta cash 
Find another pretzel/cookie canister for scrap yarn 
Load the knitting needle pouch I was gifted, post picture with thank you 
Write thank you notes 
Hem pants 
Use the sculpty clay I bought to make a fancy crochet hook
Internet 
List all amigurumi over $15 
List old pattern books on Listia 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December: A flurry of custom orders

I didn't really have much time for extras like blogging in December. I got a bunch of custom orders that kept me busy, busy busy.

It all started with an order for three moose from the One and Two company pattern.

I was putting up progress pictures on a Facebook craft group, and on my own page, and ended up getting another order for four more!


And putting pictures of them on Facebook led to one more order... pink scarf as a gag when the package was opened... blue scarf and shades to make it a more "manly" moose. 



And then there was a craft show order for a Mike Wazowski...
Trouble is, the lady never stopped at the craft show to pick him up, so he will be going into inventory for spring shows.

There was another order for airplanes...

And then my sweet little granddaughter came to visit, and her mommy said that she needed little baby gloves in a nice neutral color, so I whipped up a pair of those...

I'm still plugging away at an order for five Christmas stockings (to match stockings made by a great-aunt 25+ years ago) and the One and Two Company Crochet-Along for December (Jingle the Elf)

Finished the stocking order! 


I got a new book for Christmas, Zoomigurumi 5, with some adorable patterns! Can't wait to get started! 


Thursday, November 3, 2016

November: A New Focus

My lists of items to make in October just kept getting bumped by orders. That's a good thing. Orders are good! At this point, I have orders for 9 items. The orders came from various sources...craft shows, a Facebook craft group, my Facebook page... but when I total up all the orders, if I considered them one "craft show", it would be #4 in sales over all the 44 shows I've done in the past four years. I hope that this trend continues, and my focus can switch more from guessing on what will sell, to making specific items for customers.

So, in the month of November, my primary focus is going to be finishing orders! I realize that at my remaining three craft shows, I may get some more custom orders! Rather than randomly making items that I think will sell (like the 8 pumpkin pie slice tissue holders I had ready for last week's show?), I will plug away at orders. 

In my "spare time", I also want to get a bit more organized... getting some yarn put away, rather than having it sit in bags in the craft room (DONE). Organizing my patterns a little better. (I think the Big Head Baby Dolls, their accessories and various design ideas need their own notebook!) Sorting through the hats and scarves that just aren't selling and making arrangements to get them to Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Downsizing and focusing on what's working. 

That being said, I still am not stepping away from my September challenge to finish off that bag of yarn! There are still four skeins of fuzzy, furry yarn that are calling to be made into hedgehogs or some other cuddly critter! 

So, let's see how much I can accomplish from this list in November! 

1. Thomas the Tank Engine Hat & Scarf set
Done, now to work on new order of matching mittens!


2. Set of two purple and red mini sock monkeys
Done, customer very happy! 

3. Moose 1

4. Moose 2- done

5. Moose 3 - Done! 

6. Dragon Scale gloves - shades of blue - done


7. Dragon Scale gloves - green and white 



8. Gray Fun Fur project 















9. Blue Fun Fur Project- done!


10. Whirlagig yarn project
Chubs used up most of the skein of Whirlagig yarn.



This guy used up the rest.
11. Modea yarn project
Finished Modea yarn and started Whirlagig with "Mo"

12. Purple fun fur project - DONE
Just a little purple left after finishing this guy! 
And a little troll (still needs arms/legs) finished off the purple! 


Only twelve projects... in 30 days. I may not finish, but I'll give it a try! 

11/6/16 - 3 down, 9 to go! 

11/18 Update - 7 down, 5 to go! Over halfway done! 

11/22 - Thanks to staying home on a snowy day off, I only have two projects on this list yet to finish. I do have two projects added, though: 

13. Mike Wazowski doll for December 3rd craft show - DONE
K


14. Snowman doll from One and Two Company pattern for November Crochet-Along contest (for free patterns) - Done


So, 10 down, 14 to go, with 8 days left in the month. Can be done... definitely! Unless the custom order link for Hedgehogs I just put on Etsy blows up and I go into full-scale hedgehog-making mode! 
Custom Hedgehog Listing

11/27 Update: 
I have the feet/legs and one arm/hand done for the Mike Wazowski doll. I should be able to finish him up today or tomorrow. Maybe one more punky doll to use up the purple fun fur, and then I will ace this month's list! Then it's on to custom orders for FIVE moose! Very thankful for those custom orders! 

11/28
ENTIRE LIST FOR NOVEMBER IS DONE! 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

October Slump

I had high hopes for September.

I  set a lofty goal for using up yarn from my stash... and only got through about half of it.

I had high hopes for two craft shows. Local sale in my hometown in conjunction with townwide garage sale did well two years ago. Barely sold enough to pay for my table this year. Bummer. Other show came within $11 of setting a new record for net sales last year. This year, it ranked in the bottom third. Double bummer.

Buzz Feed featured an article about dragon scale gloves. I had two pairs completed, so quickly listed them in my Etsy shop. I had over 700 views in one week (probably more than in the past year). Did either pair sell? Nope.

When I entered mileage for craft shows and some incidental expenses, I realized that my expenses for the year are higher than my sales. Like $100 higher. Ouch.

There were tears. There was frustration. I said to myself, "Why do I do this? There's no cheese at the end of the maze!"

So I entered October not wanting to set lofty goals or have high hopes for the three craft shows scheduled for October (good thing, because the show on October 1st was another bottom-third show. It was a great show, though, because I met some wonderful people and had some great interaction. I gave out some free gifts and got a lot of baby smiles.) Focus on finishing stuff. Focus on organizing. Spend a little more time cleaning my house. Focus on getting back to healthy habits. Focus on the customers - greeting them, engaging them in conversation, being a bright spot in their day, rather than focusing on sales. Finish off that bag of yarn from the September challenge. If I see a quick little pattern that I think is adorable, just make it!

I started October with several custom orders awaiting completion.
Catnip Mouse order... done

Orange dragon order... done


Girly-Girl airplane order... done

I'm trying to focus on the positive:

  • I'm nearly done with an order I've been putting off for months. (Done!)
  • My yarn stash is lower than it has been in years, thanks to my sticking to my "yarn diet."
  • I have two more craft shows this month that have the potential to get me out of the red. (Well, one of them put me even further in the red... didn't sell enough to cover the table fee)
  • I'm excited about designing some entries for a amigurumi monster design contest
    First monster design done
  • I found a new pattern for an adorable Pumpkin Pie Tissue Holder that has the potential to be a hot seller at fall craft shows, will work on getting a few of those made. (Update... 8 ready to go for craft shows!)
    I've made two so far, and both are spoken for! 
  • Three out of four of the hedgehogs I made from the Woodland Hedgehog pattern have sold... so make a few more! I certainly have enough fun fur yarn! (Update: Made up two more, and one of them sold as soon as I put it on Facebook)
So I will plug away at my two remaining custom orders (the penguin mittens and a mermaid tail order cancelled), make enough pumpkin pie slices to fill a pie plate, and forge ahead with October with a positive outlook.
Penguin Mitts done! 


10/9 Update:
The order for the mermaid tail fell through, so without any orders on hand, I will just keep churning out items that I think will sell quickly at craft shows.
Started: Fingerless gloves. Finished: Mini monster & pumpkin pie tissue holder


After the mermaid tail order got cancelled, I decided to make up a new challenge for myself. Managed to cross off 3 of the 16 squares in one day!

10/12 Update: Today's WIP Picture: on the left is the start of a design for the monster contest. I haven't made much progress on "catasaurus" since last Wednesday's picture! In the center is a Starabella scarf - using up some of the yarn from the September challenge (scarf finished 10/27). And to the right, I made a hat with the bulky black yarn from the challenge, and still had some left over, so now I'm working on matching pawprint fingerless gloves. I did get a custom order for several amigurumi that replaces the lost mermaid tail order, so I will be a busy girl for the rest of the month! 

Another yarn from the September challenge finished off!
Making progress on this list.
Little orders here and there, from posting pictures of finished projects on Facebook, have started to close the gap on my deficit. If I sell enough to cover my table rent at this Saturday's craft show, I will be in the black again. My track record for that show is rather inconsistent... of the three fall shows I have done there, the sales rank #12, #34 & #37 of 43 shows). Even the poor shows, though, had enough sales to cover the table rent. (It ended up #14 with just the sales from the show. If you add in custom orders to be picked up at later shows, it would be #4)

Almost end of month update: 
Two more boxes checked off!

I took a break from custom orders last night and finished up the Starbella ruffled scarf I've been working on. Then I grabbed the partial skein of rust colored worsted weight yarn from my September Challenge bag and started a monster design. It didn't quite work out the way I was thinking, so the planned body became the head, and I went in another direction... then I decided to do curly tentacles instead of legs. Then I had yarn left over, so I added big ears and an elephant-worthy nose. I'm not entirely happy with the eyes... making good eyes on such a small scale is difficult. I'm still debating whether to leave as is, or snip the eyes off and make new ones. I'll probably put him on my craft table tomorrow and see how people react. Maybe a monster-bug loving little boy will want to take him home! 

October 30 update:
Well, good sales at yesterday's show finally got me out of the red. I picked up a few custom orders, and a photographer from a local paper took a picture of me at my table. Let's see if anything comes of that! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My September Challenge



 Making progress...
So, I am trying to continue my "yarn diet" into September. I have several bins of yarn in three locations in the house (ten totes in the basement, 4 under one bed, 1 under another bed), and would like to empty out one or two. I came up with this idea...

I sorted my Ravelry yarn stash inventory by lowest yardage, so I ended up with small/partial skeins. Here is a screen shot of the first 28 entries. I would like to use up these 28 balls/skeins of yarn in September.
Yarn is gathered from a dozen different totes... 2.5 pounds to use up! 


Here are my ideas so far...



1. Brown Rug Yarn - catnip toys? 
Four long-tail catnip balls, done.

2. Sashay Ribbon yarn (from when ruffled scarves were so popular) - ballet skirt on stuffed animals?
  (used it to make a cowl, but need to put a button on before I can take pictures)
3. Starabella Yarn - see #2
4. White sport yarn - combined with another strand or two to make a stuffed animal
5. Fuschia Wool - dryer ball
6. Hot Pink bulky yarn - I may have used this up already. It was marked as being used in a project
7. Pink Ombre - mini baby doll, would make cute PJs .
Ombre #7 - Used up! 

8. Whirlagig - not sure - maybe a Joy doll from the movie Inside Out?
9. Pink Pompadour - mini baby dolls - face/body
10. Jamie Baby - combine with other yarn to make stuffed animal
4, 9 & 10... knocked out three numbers in one project! 
Bored with some other projects, I pulled up the pattern for a little Big Head Baby Doll and started with the two pink baby yarns...then used the white sports yarn for her head. It's not even September yet, and I've used up five of the yarns from this list!

11. Black Thick & Quick - Hair for a Gonk doll
Gonk #1

12. Red Heart Classic - small stuffed animal
13, 14, 15 - Moda Dea fun fur - hedgehogs!
16. Green sport yarn - used up in gonk hat (see above) and a catnip long-tail ball thoroughly enjoyed by my grandkitty, Fyodor!

17 Fun Fur  mixed with bulky - Cookie Monster cat hats
18 Red Sport yarn - and 20 white sport yarn - Pokemon Go Balls
19 Deborah Norville blue variegated - Fancy dress-up baby doll - couldn't find this in stash! :(
21 & 22 - more fun fur - more hedgehogs?
Hedgehog #1
Almost finished off the green yarn (#21)

23 Pink worsted weight - baby slippers- used in a doll
24 & 25 - bulky yarn, blue & black - airplane? knit beanie? gonk hair?
Used one skein to make a belt. Used half of another skein to make a baby hat (which cannot be put online until after a 9/17 baby shower)

26 Soft gray bulky yarn - Gnome hair
Used up gray yarn for a catnip mouse and hair on Gnome #3 in this pic.

27 - light blue sport yarn - combine with other yarn to make stuffed animal
Doubled the sport yarn to make this hedgehog. Used up half a skein of fun fur, too! 

28 - black bulky yarn - gonk hair

I won't necessarily do them in that order... just as the inspiration arises! I will be updating here as I complete projects ! September also marks the beginning of my craft shows (2 in September, 4 in October, 2 in November), so custom orders may compete with challenge projects for my crafting time!


9/30 Update:
I used 18 of the 28 yarns shown. I got some custom orders that kept me busy! This dragon kept me busy for about two weeks, but seeing how happy the customer was with him made it all worth it! Now, on to girly-girl airplanes, catnip mice, penguin mittens, and a mermaid tail!