Thursday, July 10, 2014

Project vs. Process

I'm all about the process. I love to crochet, I love to knit. But I don't care whether or not I ever finish what I'm working on. I have many single socks that may or may not ever have a mate. It took me a very long time to understand why I'm that way, and part of the answer came after we participated in the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator years ago at the company where I worked at the time. I'm all INFP, baby - no answers in any other category except those, so I'm pretty extreme in my personality.

As an INFP, I'm extremely introverted. That doesn't mean shy, although I am a little on the shy side. It just means I'm exhausted after a morning of talking to people at market on Saturday. I enjoy talking to them, I just need a few hours to regroup and get my energy back afterwards. I'm also a "big-picture" person. I can see the end result, just not the steps to get there. Or I can see the steps, but I don't care about taking them. I want to get from Point A to Point B without having to go to points A.1, A.2, A.3, etc. I'm a feeler - I care about what other people are feeling. I want to know that people like what I'm making. I spent a good deal of time with my market customers asking how something makes them feel, and I'm very interested in their answers. And I'm never, ever on time, and if I am by some chance on time, I had to work very hard to get there, often managing to convince myself that I had to be where I was going a half hour early so that I managed to arrive somewhat on time. Time doesn't matter much to me, except that it passes much too quickly most of the time.

So all that leads back [somehow] to my original point of being a process crocheter/knitter rather than a project crocheter/knitter, which I really think ties into my personality. I love the feel of the yarn running through my fingers. I love counting my stitches. I love looking at the pattern the self-striping yarns make as I work with them. I love imagining how the finished project will look (because odds are not in the project's favor that it will ever actually be finished). I love making all the little pieces for the amigurumi I create. I don't like the stuffing part. I sometimes don't much like the sewing part, so sometimes the stuffed pieces sit for a while until I have so many finished that I have to put them together in self defense. I do love making their little faces, where the slightest variation of a stitch can change their whole expression. After they're [finally] finished, I like to imagine how my customers will feel about them. Will they smile when they see them? Will they give them as a gift, making someone else smile in the process?

Now these bowls? I love the whole stinking process, which means I actually get finished projects!

I love the crocheting. I love watching the colors shift or blend, and I love thinking about how they'll look when finished as I'm working on them. I love the felting process - I stand by the washer the entire time, taking them out every few minutes to see how much they've felted and how much they've changed. I love taking them out and rinsing them in cold water and feeling the fabric draw together and seeing how the colors emerge or recede and this happens. I love shaping them into the perfect bowl - big or little, deep or shallow depending on how the yarn felts. I love watching them dry in the sun and transform into fuzzy little vessels. I love the tedious process of trimming off the fuzz to see the beauty of the felted fabric beneath. I love everything, start to finish, about the felted bowls I make - maybe because each step of making them is so different than the step before that it seems like a totally separate project? Whatever the reason(s), I'm just glad they're something I can finish!

 Felted Bowls drying in the sun and awaiting defuzzing ...

Friday, April 4, 2014

My Woefully Neglected Blog

Yes, it's been almost three months. In my defense ... well, I have no defense. How hard is it to add a few paragraphs about what I've been up to? Unless, I haven't been up to much, and that seems to be the case here.

I had a craft show a few weeks ago. It was so-so. I did make back my table fee plus a little bit, so that was ok. But then I passed Taco Bell on the way home and I was starving, so I spent money I shouldn't have on dinner that ended up making me just a little bit sick.

I have a craft show coming up next Saturday, 4/12. Hopefully there won't be a Taco Bell between there and home after it's over. Or hopefully I'll have a little will power to resist the siren song of nachos belle grande ...

Here's something I designed for this show, which is the weekend before Easter:

I was internet surfing a little while ago, and I found something really, really similar, proving once again that there are no original ideas left in the world! Or very few.

I'll also be working on zombie bunnies (zombie pigs, zombie hearts and zombie kitty puffs, too) as something a little different for older kids' Easter gifts. I have plenty of soaps left from the last craft show, so no need to make new ones for this show, even though I have a ton of ideas for them.

Market season is coming up quickly. I'm not prepared, but I'm working on it. I'm thinking instead of driving an hour and a half each and every Saturday, I'll just do market on the first and third Saturdays of each month. And we'll see how that goes. It's too expensive with gas and tolls to go every weekend, especially when historically there are some weekends when I don't make enough to cover those expenses.

So that's what happening in my little corner of the world!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Where did the last week go?

Time just flew past last week and here it is Monday already!

I drove back to PA yesterday to pack up some of my stuff. I think I ended up getting about half of it moved, with the other half to come this Sunday. My brother is a genius at packing my car and managed to get just about everything I wanted to bring tucked into all the nooks and crannies. My daughter thinks I have a ton of crap and is looking forward to organizing all my various crafting supplies. She's only seen half of it ... LOL! I still don't have my work table, chair or task light here, so not much crafting will go on this week. But look out next week!

Still not panicking about the numbers - it's just January and I should be able to get started next week.

Finished Crafts 1/12/14
Amigurumi: 0
Soap: 0
Soap dishes: 0
Greeting cards: 0
Jewelry: 0
Miscellaneous: 0

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ch-Ch-Changes ...

Early in October, my daughter needed surgery on her foot to repair a broken heel and a torn tendon. I spent two months helping take care of her--cooking, doing laundry, driving the boys to school and to their daycare provider. She's fine now and back to work, but has now lost her sitter. I made the decision a week or so ago to move in with her and my grandsons to help take care of them. And her. I'm still her mom, and kids still need their moms, no matter how old they may be.

Fortunately, I'm not working a "real" job now, so I have the flexibility to do this for her. I still plan to go to market in Pennsylvania twice a month and to exhibit at local craft shows on the other Saturdays. I might even find a local market down here that needs handmade artisan soaps!

It's a little bit scary, this taking on the mom role again. I have to remember that my daughter is the mom in charge of the household, and defer to her rules so that the boys aren't confused with two sets of instructions to follow. She's stricter than I was in some areas and more relaxed than I was in others, but I think our parenting styles mesh nicely. She's a single parent, and I'm so proud of the strong, confident woman she has become. She's a good mother and tries to provide her sons with a great life while working a full-time job. My oldest grandson has Downs Syndrome, and she advocates for his education and keeps him involved in activities that stimulate his mind and body.

I have a large room in her basement with two big windows that let in both the morning and afternoon sunshine. The Chihuahua Brothers will have a little more room to roam, and I have a door with back yard access so that I can let them out without having to leash them. I have a feeling they'll be spending most of their time snoozing in whatever sunbeams they can find, though!

This is a positive change. I'll have to work a little smarter to squeeze in as much crafting as I need to get done in less time, but I don't usually work very smart, so anything I can do smarter is going to be an improvement.

Not much done on the crafting front. Nothing at all done, actually, but year is new and I don't feel behind since I still need to move all my supplies here from Pennsylvania. Still big plans in my head and I still plan to report here weekly about what I've finished for shows, market and the big show in November.

Finished Crafts 1/5/14
Amigurumi: 0
Soap: 0
Soap dishes: 0
Greeting cards: 0
Jewelry: 0
Miscellaneous: 0

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Time flies ...

Where have the days, weeks and months gone? Christmas will be here in four days. Four. Days. Am I ready? No, but then I never am.

I've been working on a few large special orders - soap, washcloths, shower sugar cubes, amigurumi with a sea-life theme. My youngest grandson has recently discovered pretend cooking and is getting a kitchen for Christmas, so I've been trying to squeeze in some amigurumi food for him, too, but right now all I have finished is one lonely crocheted donut. It's a very cute donut, but it does not a Christmas present make ...

My crafting muse has been yearning to head in a different direction these past few weeks, so I'm going to be dipping into my polymer clay supplies as soon as December is over and the new year begins. For months (years?) I've been wanting to make polymer clay soap dishes to sell at market with my handmade soaps. I have so many whimsical inspiration photos saved, and I've made them so many times in my head that I'm now ready to let my hands take over some of the work. Should be a piece of proverbial cake, right? Anyone else do that? Practice making something in your head until you feel like you can do it right with your hands?

I've also found these great tutorials for rustic polymer clay beads that are stained/distressed/finished with acrylic paints and shoe polish. I really, really want to expand my market presence this year beyond soap, cards and amigurumi, and I'm thinking I'll set up a second table. One will be for all things soap - soaps, shower sugar cubes, washcloths, spa slippers, bath salts, soap dishes. The second table will be for everything else - greeting cards (I sell a LOT of cards at market), amigurumi, and jewelry. No one else at market has these items. I have quite a few customers who do their gift shopping with me, so I'm thinking these are good things to have for gifts. And the larger variety I offer, the better chance of selling more each week.

I participate in a five-week long craft show every year. Last year I sold over $1,000 at this show. This year I sold $200. Totally my fault since I didn't have the inventory that I did last year. I'm a world-class procrastinator (is anyone really surprised by that admission?) and planned to work on inventory during October, like I did last year. The difference this year was that my daughter fell and broke her foot, so I spent October and November with her, helping her recuperate and helping out with my three grandsons. I was totally happy to do it, and totally unprepared for the amount of crafting that I did not get done while I was there. This year I plan to be much more organized - and a certain amount of crafting that I do each day/week/month will be placed in a box specifically for this show. The only thing I won't be able to do is work on soap throughout the year - I like my soaps to be fresh for each show, and I will save them to work on in October.

Now, how to stay accountable to myself? I think I'm going to use my blog to help with that. Even if no one reads it, it's still a journal to myself, and I'll have a visible reminder of what I've accomplished. And more importantly, what I have NOT accomplished.

Now I just need to buckle down and get inventory made! I'll start right after the holidays ...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tangles ahead ...

After spending today drying in the sun, I've got some serious detangling and reskeining ahead of me tomorrow! With the exception of the green tonal and the teal/copper, all of these sock-weight skeins will become part of my Fruit Stripes line on Etsy - a collection of fruity candy colors that form random 2- and 3-row stripes when knit into a standard 64-stitch sock. The teal/copper will stripe; my sister-in-law just suggested some darker colors for fall/winter sock knitting.

 Side A: Teal/Copper, Blueberry/Lemon, Blueberry/Grape, Raspberry/Blueberry, Jungle Green, Peach-Mango/Grape, Lemon/Lime, Lemon/Orange, Orange/Raspberry.

Side B: Orange/Raspberry (hard to see difference between orange and pink in this photo), Lemon/Orange, Lemon/Lime, Peach-Mango/Grape, Jungle Green, Raspberry/Blueberry, Blueberry/Grape, Blueberry/Lemon, Teal/Copper.

Out of the 9 skeins I dyed yesterday, this Peach-Mango/Grape is my favorite, and it might even be my all-time favorite! I love the tonal shading in both the purple and orange sections. Sometimes when dyeing with food coloring and vinegar, purple can bleed blue and pink. There's a little bit of that going here, but not so much that it is distracting. I also blended pink and orange in the dye bath to get a streaked peachy shade that I love. Wouldn't this colorway be fun for Halloween socks?

Finished skeins will be listed on Etsy tomorrow! Woohoo!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Diego's Big Prize Fail

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I've always believed in reincarnation. I think that souls being reborn is the ultimate form of recycling, and when we finally get it right and learn everything our souls need us to learn, we move on to a higher plane and become guides for other souls learning their way through their lives in this world.

Which brings me to Diego. I've said from the moment I brought him home that Diego is on his first run as a dog. He's really smart and curious, but bless his heart, he's also incredibly naive at the same time (if a dog can be called naive - it's not really the word I'm looking for here, but my inner thesaurus fails me at this moment). While many dogs predictably behave in a certain way, Diego always looks at me with a perplexed expression on his face when a new situation arises, like he isn't sure how he should act when presented with a certain set of circumstances.

For example: A few years ago I was papercrafting some small favor-type items to put in my Christmas gifts to coworkers. I dropped a wrapped peppermint Hershey's Kiss on the floor and he picked it up. Because peppermint Kisses contain no chocolate, I let him have it to see what he'd do with it. Miss Chelsea would have picked it up, had the foil wrapper off and would have swallowed it whole in a matter of seconds. Diego instead just lay on the floor with the wrapped Kiss between his paws, looking up at me with an expression that said "What do I do with it now, Mom?" And when I inadvertently left an open bag of peanut M&Ms on the bed earlier this year, he just curled up beside them and went to sleep. He didn't even try to figure out how to get them out of the bag. And no, he isn't that well-behaved.

As anyone who knows me can also tell you, I'm a bit of a klutz. (Ok, a big klutz whose mother always sarcastically said she should have named me Grace.) I dropped half a cinnamon-raisin bagel on the floor this morning, cream cheese side down (of course). Diego immediately snatched it up and carried it off under the bed, and I immediately thought, "I wish I'd worked harder on teaching him the drop-it command." and then "Oh no, that's a RAISIN bagel - how many raisins can a 7-pound dog eat before they cause anemia?" and then "OMG, half a bagel of any sort in his really small stomach is going to make him really, really sick."

So I grabbed my flashlight and looked under the bed. There's my boy with his prize between his paws, cream-cheese side still down, looking at me with the expression that said "Now what do I do?" I picked up the bagel and let him lick the cream cheese off the floor. He deserved it after not eating all those raisins.