Posts Tagged ‘etsy’

Occupy Christmas

(Oh yes, I went there.)

Here’s an Occupy Thought:

The holidays are coming, specifically Christmas, the biggest gift giving holiday of the year. Regardless of religious beliefs, the vast majority of people give gifts to family and friends on Christmas.

If you are pissed off at Corporate Greed, then vote with your dollars this Christmas season, and don’t buy gifts from Corporate Giants. You know all those Black Friday deals at Wal-mart? You know the $6 coffee pots, the $10 DVD players, and whatnot? You know why they are so cheap? They are made with essentially slave labor, by a company so large as to be able to leverage the entire market down, keeping wages and benefits at those same “rock-bottom” levels as their much celebrated prices.

Buy gifts from local artisans, craftspeople, and producers. Or, try non-local sources like Etsy, or Artfire for beautiful handmade gifts.

Or, try making your own gifts. Baked goods, canned/jarred preserves, jams, and jellies, baking “kits” (all the dry ingredients necessary for a special recipe, like cookies, layered prettily into a Mason Jar with the recipe and instructions printed on the side), are wonderful, inexpensive options. More extravagant options could be buying someone a share at a local CSA. If you have a knitter or crocheter in your family, another extravagant option would be a subscription to an independent dyer’s “sock club” or “fiber club.” I am sure there are similar options for Quilters and other needle artists out there.

Do you have a family member who has everything they could possibly need, and cannot think of anything they truly want? Make a donation in their name to a charity foundation you know they would approve of, and make a beautiful card or letter telling them of your donation.

If you have a friend or family member who has jumped on the growing Do It Yourself movement, and they have interest in making some of their own foods from scratch, consider getting them a home cheesemaking kit, or a nice book on artisan bread making.

Are these things much more expensive than the $6 coffee pot at Wal-Mart? Absolutely. But just because you can get more stuff to show your love, does not necessarily make the gifts more loved or more meaningful.

This Christmas, vote with your dollars. Make your gifts count in the way your conscience dictates.

Advertisements

Pennsic Panic

I had pictures for you, and I left them uploaded at home and on Facebook, totally unreachable from work.

So, it is that magical time of year called Pennsic Prep at the Manor by the High Bridge. The only thing magical about it is how spending a week outdoors can motivate me to achieve efficiency levels not seen at any other time of the year.

I have sewn my heart out in the past 8 days. I have made a very nice early 12th century bliaut for Byram, two cyclases and a mantle for a new guy in our camp, ironed nearly 100 yards of clothing of my own, and taken in 8 or 9 dresses for myself. I also rolled and sewed an edge for my new wimple and will likely get to work on its matching veil sometime this week, or it will simply have to come with me to Pennsic and be a War Project.

Now I have been going to Pennsic for almost a decade and you would think I would know by now to start my Pennsic Prep about the middle of June, but it never fails that I don’t start until the middle of July, and then we shift gears from Pennsic Prep into Pennsic Panic. I hit the Pennsic Panic button over the weekend, but since finishing and delivering all the new garb, I have been able to dial it back a bit.

That means I shifted from sewing to painting. I am currently helping Byram get his new shield painted; a task I very much relished yesterday as I was wielding a paintbrush and not a needle. Once I hit the wall on painting, I cooked for 7; also an easy task as it did not involve tiny little stitches. After eating and getting the girl child in the bath, I indulged in spindle spinning and after that…playing stupid little computer games until the wee hours of the night. It was blissful to not have to be doing Pennsic projects.

My reprieve is temporary. Tonight, it is my greatest wish to cut out a piece of pre-gessoed canvas and line draw my heraldry on them, in hopes of getting it painted before I leave for Pennsic on Friday afternoon. I have been in the SCA a few month short of 10 years, and I have yet to own something bigger than 4×8 with my arms painted on it. It is high time the encampment I help fund, organize, run, and invest hours of man power (never mind emotional energy) into is decorated in some way with my colors.

In case are curious:
Photobucket
So Friday, at 5:01 p.m., I am out of here, out of Richmond, out of the MidAtlantic, and off to the western edge of Pennsylvania for a week of vacation with some 10,000 other SCAdians. Seeing as I am only going for Peace Week this year, I will not have any structured activities like I have in a normal year. No battles. No courts. No pre-planned bardics. I am not quite sure what I will do with my week, but I suspect much of it will be spent in a hammock with knitting in my hands.

I have been trying to come up with good Pennsic knitting projects. I plan to take the beer socks and hope to finish them at the War. I am also about half way done with the Peacock and Leaves scarf, and I have finally reunited yarn, needles, pattern, beads, and crochet hook, all in one place, so I can work on it again, but I am not entirely sure that using tiny beads and a tiny crochet hook that can easily be lost in camp is totally a good idea. There are a LOT of parts and pieces to knitting that particular project. I should take my Sienna Cardigan and finish it, but the idea of a wool sweater laying in my lap in my non-climate controlled environment does not seem like a good plan either.

More socks? I do need to rip back and start over my failed Jaywalker socks (when she says the pattern doesn’t have much give, she was NOT kidding). I decided to only knit the pattern from the ankle up, and even increasing from the 72 stitches in the foot to the 76 in the leg, the sock was too tight to pull over my heel, much less my poor mother’s, for whom the socks were intended. She has rheumatoid arthritis, so there is just no way I can knit that pattern large enough to accommodate her swollen and painful ankles. I am hunting for another really good looking pattern that looks amazing with a great self-striping yarn; something that is not just ribs or stockinette.

I intend to knit the Leyburn socks out of a relatively busy yarn I have for my Grandmother. Those could work.

The real problem is that I am not generally in a sock kind of mood. I am deeply in a lace mood. I have long planned to knit Haruni, which is a shawl named from the Tolkien elven language, which seems strangely appropriate given the adventure I am going on. I bought the appropriate yarn back in January. It is just a matter of collecting the needles, yarn, and fifteen page (!!!) pattern all into one place. No beads or anything to have to drag with me.

So many choices and so little time. Then, there is the question of do I pack my spinning wheel or not? There should be space. There will be gobs of delicious wool to buy in the Merchants. My spindle is definitely going, and since I have broken two spindles in the past year, I intend to purchase a new spindle from The Spanish Peacock. I never get to participate in the Tour de Fleece because it always falls in the middle of the aforementioned Pennsic Prep, but this year, I have at least tried to do a little spinning when not neck deep in various lengths of linen and wool fabric.

Here is what is on the spindle currently. Four ounces of this delicious merino in various shades of blue purchased from Jenya Loves who was awesome to work with. She even pardoned me when I thought I had submitted my payment late on a Friday afternoon and it apparently didn’t go through. She was very polite about it and understanding.
Photobucket

In only 4 days, I will be up at my summer “home” where the temperatures are running 15-20 degrees cooler than they have been here in the River City. I cannot wait. Pennsic is calling.

Autumn’s Herald

I would like to show you pictures of the really neat sampling I did last night with my FiberOptic roving, but my camera disapproves. I smudged the lens apparently without noticing until I uploaded all my images and the samples look like crud. As did all the other pictures I nabbed.

I did manage to get this:

You can see I am using a drop spindle for portability and also, because now that I have a goal for this yarn, I want it as close to perfect as I can spin it. I decided, after sampling a cushy and chunky weight two ply that as lovely and soft as it was, my heart preferred the easy spinning/hard knitting project of Hansa to the hard to spin/easy to knit multidirectional scarf I would have knit with the soft and squishy version. I have knit 4 of those scarves, and while I think they are tremendous fun, I want to try something totally new and different.

One of the aspects of spinning that I love best is that the finished product isn’t the only beautiful part of spinning. I love looking at the fiber as it slips from my left hand into the space between my right thumb and forefinger, and appears on the other side as a beautiful strand of yarn. I love looking at the luster and crimp of the fiber; I love watching the twist pull in individual fibers and seeing how the colors come together. I even really like winding on. I am trying Abby Franquemont’s method of winding on to achieve a heavier cop for the first time, and it is really pretty to watch in action.
Photobucket
Far less messy looking that my normal wind-on (the “cone style”) ends up becoming, and I hope to really pack some yarn onto this spindle. I loved the wind on and I noticed just how pretty that deep gray single looked against the cherry red of my spindle. It was even pretty to watch the single change from gunmetal gray to a lighter gray, to a blue gray, and now I am up to varying shades of cobalt blue.

That is all I have for now. I put a few more stitch markers up on Etsy today. If you want something to pretty up your knitting, I might have just what you need. And with that, I leave you with an image that just barely heralds the coming of Autumn to Richmond. Just a hint of color in those trees. Wait for next week and we’ll see if it’s a little more pronounced.
Photobucket

An Etsy Blitz!

So, I made an Etsy blitz this morning. I rebooted my defunct shop, took down the old items, and posted new shiny and lovely items for your knitting pleasure.

Visit the shop and see!

I love beads. I mean, really, I love beads. It is the “OOOH! Shiny!” factor. I am part magpie or something. I had a stint of making rosaries a few years ago, and having all the parts and pieces necessary, I set about making stitch markers last week, and have finally gotten them up for sale.

Here is what I have:

Lapis Howlite Leadership Markers ($4)
Howlite

Czech Glass Pearl Leadership Markers ($4)
Pearl

Czech Glass Garnet Beads Leadership Markers ($4)
Garnet

And my favorite set, from the Beautiful Beads collection (which I promise will grow soon):

Emerald, Cobalt, and Garnet Czech Beads on a Genuine Clear Quartz Rondelle (Set of 5) ($5)
My Favorite

I plan to work on some more tonight, but if you are interested in a custom set, with particular colors, gemstones, or the letter type beads with a custom name or word spelled out, feel free to either convo me at my Etsy shop or leave a comment with contact info here, and we can set something up.

The Last Days of Summer

No outdoors, post-blocking pictures of the Handspun Swallowtail shawl as yet. Sorry.

Today is the official last day of summer and I am okay with sending this summer into the hallowed halls of memory. It was a good summer on many levels, but a hard one too, with Courtney’s decline and loss taking much of my thoughts throughout June, July, and August. Between Sapphire Joust, Summer War, and Pennsic, it was an incredibly busy summer for the SCA. Knitting was more sporadic; I realized I have turned out painfully few finished objects this weekend. I finished Billie’s RPM socks and the Finnish socks in May, the Cats Paw pillow in June and July, and a variety of other unfinished or frogged projects all summer, like the Shetland Lace scarf still sitting in my desk drawer here at work, the handspun One Row scarf still in my knitting bag, and the handspun pink scarf of death that was frogged in late August. The Swallowtail Shawl is my first Finished Object since July.

With it complete, I can turn my attention back to my Gathering of Lace Faroese shawl:
Photobucket
(Knit Picks Shadow Lace in Midnight Heather; beads are gold from my “Coffee Blend Beads” size 6/0)

This shawl is like a very good friend; you know, the friend you can go a year without seeing, and when you are in the same place at the same time again, you pick up like you last saw each other yesterday. I love that about this shawl. It makes no demands. It requires nothing. It is just there, waiting on me, comfortably enveloped in my knitting bag. I can forget to mark my row and with little difficulty, pick it up, start knitting and easily figure out which row I am on. It knits faster and faster as each row decreases. This shawl is my new best friend and good friends can share chocolate.

Photobucket

I was thinking this morning about my varying interests. I spent all of yesterday watching football. I love football. I spent my evening spinning, watching football, and drinking a delicious Oktoberfest beer and found no incongruity in this variety of hobbies all combined into one evening.

I love watching the weather; having grown up at “the beach” as it is said, weather really matters. My daily weather reports included the tides, bay advisories, and the moon phase (which can impact your tides, and extreme tides can impact your commute in and around Hampton Roads). Add in hurricane season, and the weather at “the beach” made for exciting news, and my interest has not waned in the intervening inland years, much to poor Byram’s dismay. I enjoy photographing interesting skies and wish my camera could do a better job (my poor $90 Kodak is not up to the challenges I present it so often).

Like this:
Photobucket

Or this gorgeous sunset I tried to capture while driving past the Chesterfield County Airport at 55 miles an hour:

Photobucket

Taking pictures is becoming another interest of mine. I liked this one I caught of Our Lady of Grace at Saint Mary’s at dusk a couple of weeks ago:

Photobucket

Then there is the spinning, the knitting, the gardening, the beads, the reading, the historical research. I have so many interests and such a desire to learn and do them all. Last week, I picked up the goods to make some pretty stitch markers to put up on Etsy. I want to make another go at Etsy this Autumn and see if I can do a bit better. Check back for an update on those later this week.

With so many interests, there is always several things going on for me. This weekend is the State Fair which we are thinking about visiting. Grace would love the animals, and the Fair is always a certain amount of fun. There is also a gem show at Richmond International Raceway, and ho boy, that could be expensive fun.

Next weekend is the Fall Fiber Festival out in Montpelier, which I will be going to and do intend to spend a little money at.

The following weekend is an SCA event called War of the Wings, followed by another SCA event here in Richmond. The following weekend is the Richmond Highland Games, which we often attend, and another SCA event follows that weekend.

Autumn is always a busy time, and I am ready to welcome the new season with open arms.

So Darn Clever

I promised pictures, but sadly, the Red Hot Roving positively refuses to photograph well.

It is not quite so…bright. Even spun, it photographs poorly:


Taken indoors under fluorescent lighting, it shows up a little truer.

Photobucket

I feel so darn clever when I look at that scarf, even if I don’t particularly like the way it is turning out.

How ever clever I may have felt with spinning and knitting the scarf, I doubled the pleasure of being clever last night when I sat down and mastered Judy’s Magic Cast On.

It looks tricky, fasure. I mean, that Knitty article was 5 printed pages, and there were something like 10 steps on paper, but you know what? It is ridiculously simple, and I am in love with it, which is good since I had to re-do it 3 times last night. But still, it was all in the name of knitting new socks for my Beloved and therefore, totally worth the redos.

Photobucket

That is Oktoberfest Sock kit from the Tsock Tsarina. The yarn is of course from Holiday Yarns, hand dyed, and feels absolutely delicious.

Socks from the toe-up! The idea used to give me shivers all because the methods I knew required a provisional cast on, which, I am just going to be honest here, I hate. The Tsarina’s kit even calls for the provisionally cast on short row toe, which I am sure is just as uncomplicated as Judy’s Magic Cast on, but not having to find waste yarn and a crochet hook made me happy, so I adjusted accordingly.

I was just tickled pink last night to see the results of the magic cast on. No kitchner stitch. No risk of my lousy kitchner leaving holes for dear Byram’s toes to blow holes through. No crappy looking toe. Just a seamless toe that with no evidence of being cast on anywhere.

Stunning.

So, how is this for a weird new world for me: I am knitting a shawl from the bottom up. I am knitting socks from the toe up. I am spinning and knitting a scarf that has to be ready by Friday, which I haven’t touched since yesterday morning because I am too enamoured with knitting things upside-down to want to work on it.

And all the while, I am looking at Etsy and drooling over stuff like this gorgeous, rainbow-dyed roving that I absolutely want to spin into something beautiful. It really is a shame I am broke.

Or is it?

Thoughts of a Tightwad Knitter

It is funny how knitting has changed from a household chore, a source of income, a daily family need, and a skill taught as commonly as reading is taught today, to the complete opposite: a hobby, a source of monetary outflow, a “time-waster,” and something thought of as too “difficult” for just anyone to do.

Today, very few people remain untouched by this recession/depression/whatever you want to call it (doesn’t it get old reading about whether it technically meets either definition?). Knitters, myself included, have not escaped the changing economic situation. Even if you are doing just fine during the, lets call it Great Repression, it is suddenly in vogue to be frugal. There are even new rules of etiquette springing up about not showing your wealth or prosperity off now.

So, since cashmere is so 2006, how does one knit “on the cheap?” How can you continue to enjoy your “time and resource wasting” hobby if you or a spouse have lost a job/taken a paycut? How can you make your expensive hobby less expensive?

Here are some suggestions for frugal knitting from a down-right tightwad.

-Request a log-on for Ravelry. The site is teeming with thousands of free patterns of anything, and I mean ANYTHING you could want to knit. There is no shortage of buyable patterns as well, and many are very inexpensive, but my point is that you could knit for the rest of your life and never knit up every single free pattern kept on that site. Aside from free patterns, Ravelry also has an area for members to offer yarn for swapping or buying. Groups can be created by members and you could set up a Ravelry group for your local area (if there isn’t one already) and you can get to know knitters local to you and work out barters and swaps among them. Ravelry is the best free source there is for knitters on the internet.

-While your at it, check out Knitty for more fabulous free patterns.

-Learn to spin. It isn’t hard. Spinning is a skill almost as old as making fire. You can do it. I promise. You can order a pound of wool from a source like Halcyon Yarn for as little as about $13 for the basic domestic wool. Think of what you could do with a pound of wool that you spin into yarn yourself. It is highly economical and if you love to spin, you get the dual joys of spinning and then knitting it, and if you enjoy dying, you can triplicate your dollars and combine all three.

-Most knitters do not just knit things for themselves. If you just love to knit and don’t mind giving the gift of your knitting away, then plan ahead for Christmas. It is much easier to justify paying $18-$20 on a ball of Kureyon sock yarn when that is going to be the entirety of your sister-in-law’s Christmas gift. Or if you pay $40 for a big lot of yarn, it is easier to justify it if it will become a cardigan for your brother for Christmas. In this way, you get the joy of knitting, the ability to possibly spend LESS on Christmas gifts than you would have otherwise, and if you plan well in advance, you can hit sales (I got Kureyon for $14 for the socks I am knitting for Christmas) and do it even more economically.

-Knit what you have, even if it is crap. This might sound harsh, but if you love to knit, just for the sake of knitting, and you have a couple of pounds (or more) of yarn lying around that you really don’t like but you got it because it was 4 for a $1 10 years ago, use it anyway. Knit it into hats, scarves, mittens, or blankets and donate it to your local homeless shelter or your local battered women’s shelter. I can assure you that the receiver will not care if it is acrylic, cotton, or fuschia wool; they need warmth and shelter, you need to knit; it is a win-win situation.

-Suck it up and knit acrylic. It sucks. I know. I hate acrylic now. It is a petroleum-heavy product and it just doesn’t feel the same, but when 300 yards of acrylic is $3 and 180 yards of wool is $10…well…if you don’t have any trouble with the ethics of acrylic, you don’t have to be a genius to see where the savings are.

-When you can, buy from a small local business. But know that in supporting them, you will possibly pay a higher cost; get on your Local Yarn Store’s mailing list and hear when they have big sales and clearances; check out the seasonal craft bazaars in your area. When you cannot buy local, try Etsy. I once picked up 6 ounces of beautifully hand-dyed roving for $8 once because the dyer didn’t like the result and was selling it cheap. I supported an artist and I got a great deal at the same time. When you cannot afford Etsy or your local store, do not be over-ridden with guilt because you had to go to Michaels or Ben Franklin or even Wal-Mart to feed your need. There is no sense in feeling guilt over something you cannot change. Just knit in peace wherever your yarn came from.

-Recycle. If you knit a project years ago and don’t like it or your skills have increased and you wouldn’t be seen dead with that old thing or would never admit you actually whipped that off your needles, then unravel it and put it to new use. Lots of other knitters suggest hitting thrift stores and recycling handknits and crochets you find there, but I have mixed feelings about it. Maybe it is because so much of what I have found have been absolute horrors. Or maybe it is because I actually do get a ping of guilt over the thought of unraveling someone’s hours of labor. Either way, I have not had success with buying used and recycling old hand-knits. Still, if you do find something and it works for you, then by all means, rip away and make that old ratty thing into something new and good.

-Borrow. Not yarn of course. Needles. If you take advantage of Ravelry or other knitting sites that put you in touch with local knitters or you go to local KnitNites, you have contacts. What if you are working on something and need a crazy size needle you would be highly unlikely to need again? Talk to other local knitters and see if anyone has that size and ask to borrow it. You might be surprised how easy that is. Or, ask at your LYS. LettuceKnit in Richmond offered to loan me a Size 5 circular while theirs were backordered. I declined, but hey, I appreciated the offer and would be far more likely to take them up on it now.

-Try Craigslist, Freecycle, flea markets, and yard sales. With so many people in need of extra cash, these things are flourishing and you might really do someone a favor by giving them $10 to take their unneeded knitting supplies off their hands.

What ideas do you have for cutting the costs of knitting?