Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Never Thought I Would be Making These!

Aren't these slippers absolutely wonderful? (You can find the pattern for them at Purl Bee) I have sworn for the past year that I wanted nothing to do with traditional crochet, but in the past year, I have made mittens, wash rags, baby bibs, etc. The exception is that I have been making them in bright, fun, and contemporary colors! I refuse to go with the old boring and drab colors of the 70s and beyond.

Last night, I was doing a sidewalk sale at a Holiday Parade with my sister. It went very well, by the way, and I think a huge part of that was because we were in our own community. While I was there, I was working on a pair of mittens in bright purple! :) A woman came up to us and asked if she could show us something and we could match it. Now, I have been asked this question before, and what I was being asked to match was knitted. I crocheted some items in a similar form or texture, but this time, I made sure to ask what it was I would be asked to copy.

I don't particularly like to copy things because it takes the "art" right out of my work, but occasionally I run across people like this woman. She told me, "My husband has these god-awful brown and yellow slippers that I think are so ugly. I make fun of him all the time about them, the end of the night, I'm always asking to wear them because they are so comfortable."

From there, I asked her what they looked like, a little on the cautious side because I really didn't want to copy something so "god-awful." She went on to say that they looked like they were just squares that were put together. She also said that if I could figure out how to make them, she would be willing to buy a lot of them!

As soon as she said squares, my mind immediately flew to granny squares. From that moment on, I chewed on the thought all night long. I don't know what it is about sales, even the short few hour sales, that makes me so utterly exhausted. Last night was no different, so as eager as I was to get to work on these slippers, I just couldn't.

Instead, I laid on the couch with my husband and watched "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" by Tyler Perry. I just love that movie, so much soul, woman empowerment, and true love of Jesus. You wouldn't think they go together, but you just watch for yourself.

Anyway, after the movie finished, I Google searched "Granny Square Slippers," and after a few failed attempts, I managed to find the beauties you see above. I so wish I could say those were my own, and not because mine didn't turn out. Just because I love the coloration of them as well as the texture. It turns out, though, that it would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 to make one pair of slippers. Seeing as how my husband and I are both jobless, I will be sticking to Red Heart Super Saver acrylic yarn for now, which I can buy at Wal-Mart for $2 per 7oz skein. HA!

I ended up staying awake until 2am to finish my first granny square slipper. They say you can make a pair of slippers in about two hours, but that is only if you have had your practice. I was unwilling to put them down until I knew that I had conquered them. And conquer them, I did. Check out my rendition!

Yes, they are in more traditional colors, but that is all that I had on hand. I love them, but I will love them even more when I cam make some pink, orange and green ones!

By the end of the night, I was very pleased with my slipper. However, when I tried it on, it was about 2" to big for me. I was so sad, so I had my husband try them on. Of course, had they been about an inch bigger, they would have fit his American size 15 wide!! That was frustrating, but the moral of the story is to always, ALWAYS check your gauge, especially if you are me and know, without a doubt, that your stitches are always loose.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Kind of Thanksgiving

This year's Thanksgiving will not go unnoticed, not that any Thanksgiving ever goes unnoticed in my family. I just have to stop and dote on what a wonderful family I belong to.

This is going on the third year that my siblings and I are celebrating the holidays without our rock of a mom. At the holidays, she would pick at my older sister. She is always the one to host our holiday gatherings, and Mom would always find something to get under my sister's skin about. As I got older, I always picked up on the awkward tension, but it just became part of the tradition. Now that she is gone, my older sister has actually shed tears wishing she could just have Mom back to drive her crazy again.

Our mom was almost always smiling, though. She had such a warm and inviting smile. It had to be her sparkling brown eyes, perfectly fair skin, and dainty features. I don't remember much about the holidays besides laughing. Mom would tell jokes that would embarrass most kids and have us all in stitches. I remember she would laugh such deep hearty laughs, holding her belly and wiping the tears from her eyes. I will never be able to forget that laugh or that wonderful smile.

The biggest thing I have to be thankful for each holiday season is my family, though. Many families never mend the broken parts after they lose the rock of the family. Many families spend so much time fighting over what they want when a loved on dies. Many families are just never the same, but thankfully, my family didn't have any of that to deal with. Our mom died on September 19th, 2007. Our brother's birthday was a week later. Our youngest brother's birthday was two weeks later. We still celebrated. Thanksgiving and Christmas were terribly painful being just months apart from losing Mom, but we still celebrated...a little more quietly that year.

Now, as we approach our third Thanksgiving without our mom, we are still going to gather, eat together, joke together, and laugh together while Mom's spirit soars through the rooms with us. We may not be able to see her, but we can always feel her. We can always feel her keeping us going, always smiling at us, and always making life interesting.

We love and miss you, Mom!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fingerless Gloves, Mittens, Flip-Top Mittens

This is how I have been spending the past week or so of my life. It is getting very cold in my neck of the woods, and I am hoping to cash in on the cold weather, if you will. Recently, I lost my job at the chiropractic office. I have not worked a traditional job for a little over a week now, but that is not to say I haven't been working at all. In all actuality, I have been working quite a lot.

I consider myself to be an entrepreneur now, and I am working toward learning everything there is to know about being...umm... one of those. I am also embracing my more creative side. I have been writing patterns, like the ones for these glove and mittens above, as well as a few others.

It has been scary not working a traditional job, not having a steady income, not knowing how in the world we are going to keep our apartment, but it has also been endearing. I know it sounds crazy, but I have never felt so free and so happy to be jobless. We will just continue to figure it out from here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Own Crochet Socks

This morning I was laying in bed in a very peaceful mood as I listened to the rain tapping at our windows. As I lay there coming out of dream land, I was thinking about a pattern I recently bought for crochet knee socks. I needed two skeins of yarn to make them, and I was laying there thinking that simply was not very economical for me right now. From there, my mind started to wonder into all the other things I could create if I only used one skein of yarn to make a pair of socks. That is when the idea hit me. For whatever reason, I was filled with energy at the idea of creating my own crocheted sock pattern.

So, I got out of bed quietly, so as not to wake my husband. It was 9 o'clock in the morning, but the past few nights, I stole his pillow which was originally my pillow, and he hasn't been sleeping. (I gave him his pillow back last night.) I started on this creation of my own sock pattern, and the first two tries were sad ventures. I ended up tearing out my work both times, but the third time was a charm! I finally finished my pattern after a long day working.

Above, you can see my finished work. I absolutely love them! I am wearing this pair and keeping them for myself, but I will be making some for Christmas gifts and I am hoping to write up my pattern as PDF and sell it in my shop. Continue to check my shop for updates!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas Stockings Galore!

All week, I have been working on Christmas stockings, and I don't mean to toot my own horn here. I think they are wonderful, though! The colors are some of my favorites, which is why I had picked out the yarn a few months ago without really knowing what I would be using it for. These are some of the first projects I have created after listening to and reading an article in the Etsy Success. The lady that wrote the article basically said that ultimately, what you make should be something you have fallen in love with, something that has pieces of your personality and all your quirks in it. Her article reminded me that I crochet because it is my art form, because I love to do it, and because it helps me to keep my sanity. It also reminded me how much I dislike corporation. It reminded me of my own ideals of small business, and with each stocking I made, I made sure that it reflected what I love.

I was talking to my husband about this article, and I pointed out to him that a true artist, such as a painter, were painting something, they would be painting from their soul, from somewhere deep down inside of them. They would be painting their own emotions out onto canvas. They would not necessarily be thinking about consumerism or about painting what the general public would want to buy. Also, if they were half way through a painting and absolutely hated it, I would like to think they would just get rid of it instead of trying to finish it according to what a possible consumer would want.

Isn't that what art is really about, anyway? Isn't really about expressing yourself? I know there are people out there that will not ever understand why I feel my crochet is my art form, but I truly feel that a piece of me goes into every work I make. I truly feel as though I am expressing myself in my work, and that is really what art is about, in my own honest opinion.

It is definitely that time of year!

My husband and I will be celebrating our first Christmas as newly weds this year, and we already have our Christmas tree and decorations up! I thought maybe I would share a few pictures with my blogging friends to commemorate such a great time of year.

You can see our newest kitten. She is about six months old and just as crazy as you might expect. She believes every surface of our apartment is free game for her wild games and even her quiet times, as you can see. Behind our kitten, Luna, are a few of my mom's old snowmen decorations. I just love them!

This year will be the first Christmas that we are truly a "family," my husband and I. His family had sort of a tradition of getting the kids their own ornaments each year, and when my husband moved away from home, he got to take his ornaments with him. I also have a few of my own ornaments from childhood, and this year, we thought it would be fitting to mix all of our childhood ornaments all over our tree. Now, there is no telling where one of our ornaments starts and the other's ends. ;o)

The picket you see above is hand painted by my husband's mom. She does wonderful, beautiful and very intricate work. She has carved and painted for many years, and I am always impressed by her beautiful winter scenes.

Recently, I have been taking some slack for having my Christmas decorations up already, and all I can say is that Christmas is the best time of year. I can't help but get swept up in, and I don't mean the over-commercialization. I am swept up in seeing all sorts of people from all walks of life, each with a twinkle in their eye, as we all bundle up for the winter cold, and pretend, if only for a moment, that we are not all so different after all. I love to see people lending a helping hand, thinking of others before themselves, and most of all, I love to see people's faces light up upon receiving a special gift.

I absolutely love to show people that they are special to me, and the Christmas season gives me one more reason to do that. It is such an extraordinary time of year!

Monday, November 9, 2009

It seems I have been absent awhile.

Lately, I have been keeping myself insanely busy crocheting, so busy in fact, that I feel I have neglected my own feelings, but that is another post entirely. Christmas is coming. We are broke as always, so I am making hand made items. I don't want it to seem like handmade is second best at all. I just get tired of being broke so often. I do feel very blessed, on the other hand, to have the ability to make gifts for my family. Some of the things I have been working on lately are:

Coffee cup sleeves that are made from 100% cotton. Good for the environment, and convenient for you. I also wrote and published my first crochet pattern ever from this very ribbed coffee cup sleeve.

Baby bibs made from 100% cotton. They have a vintage feel to them because I decided to go with a tie neck instead of a snap or Velcro neck. They are so far from vintage, though, because they are in bright fun colors!

As far as gift giving goes, though, I have been working on a few other things.

My niece's birthday was this past week. She turned 10. She is so full of attitude, but she also has an "old soul." She reminds me so much of myself, it is scary. She and I have a special bond, and as rotten as she can be, I absolutely love her to pieces. I absolutely love the hat and fingerless glove set I made for her, and I was so tempted to keep it for myself...I'm a bad aunt!

I'm still working on my nephew's gift. His birthday was the same day, and he turned 7! I just can't believe how the years have flown by. I am making him a hooded sweatshirt. It will be the first piece of clothing I have ever crocheted, and so far, it is going very well. I just have the hood to finish and then the sewing to do. I can't wait to finish it and see it on him. :)

I am also working on Christmas gifts. I have made a list of all my family members and what I am making for them. So far, I have one thing done for one person out of something like 15 immediate family members. HA! It is my favorite thing, though, and again, I so want one for myself!

I absolutely love this cowl! I am making a hat to match it.

Hope you have enjoyed seeing a peek into my workshop!

I Have Been Featured.

As I have mentioned before, I am part of a group on Etsy called Collaborators in Cahoots. So far, I have had such great experiences with this group, met some wonderful people, and been able to witness all sorts of art forms. These people never cease to amaze me with their creativity and their kindness. Today, I got a comment from the woman who created the website, and she said I had been featured on the Team Blog. It really is such an honor.

She did a wonderful write up and included some great pictures from my shop. Please go check it out and let her know what a great job she did!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We Have a Winner!

Well everyone, there is a winner from the polls I posted earlier, and that winner is Karen! She makes truly awesome birdhouses among other cute things. I especially like this groovy paisley gourd!

Go over to our team blog Collaborators in Cahoots to see more pictures and a great write up about Karen's shop.

And while we're here...I want to fiiiinnnnalllly announce the winner of my give away a few weeks ago. I sincerely apologize for putting it off so long. The winner is.........DEB at Works in Progress . Deb has a great blog. She is a wonderful quilter with a lot of passion and love. I really enjoy reading about what happens in her daily life and following along as she sews up some wonderful vintage, flowery quilts!

Deb, I will e-mail you to get your address, and soon, you will be receiving a cozy neck warmer...enjoy the warm weather while it lasts! The warmer will be waiting for you when you need it again. ;o)

Last Day To Vote!

I am in a group on Etsy called Collaborator's in Cahoots and this month's challenge was to enter something from our shops that was Fall related. I think the team did wonderfully, and all the entries are great. It was so hard to vote for the most "Fall" item. Check out the pictures for yourself on our team blog Collaborators In Cahoots and then go vote on what you think is the most "Fall" themed item. Have fun, and don't forget to check out everyone's shops. It is just the right time to start shopping for Christmas.

Which best fits the Fall/Autumn theme?

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