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.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Saturday Market Musings

I was pretty sure Labor Day weekend at the market would be pretty quiet, thinking people were enjoying a long weekend away from home. Instead, market was crowded and people seemed very in the mood for amigurumi cuteness. I sold a few bars of soap and a few cards, but amigurumi made up the bulk of my sales this week, with baby owls and chubby kitties in the lead. I had one of my best weeks this year - go figure!

Apologies for the bad photos - I took these at home with regular lighting and I don't have any photo editing software, so the colors are a little off and they're a bit fuzzy. But still cute!

How sweet are those faces! These guys sold quickly, and I plan to have another half dozen or so at next week's market.

Hope everyone has a great Labor Day!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

After #1

Here's some of what I did with soap bases I received earlier this week:

They almost look good enough to eat! Soaps are 3" in diameter, about 1" thick and weigh between 4.5 and 5.5 ounces each. And they smell amazing - a rosemary/peppermint blend fragrance oil. Nice for an early-morning shower! They are covered in a layer of poppy seeds and sea salt to resemble a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, and this layer is sealed in with clear honey soap for gentle exfoliation.

More photos to come - I've been busy soaping and will have lots to take to market this week.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Before ...

... 30 pounds of glycerin soap.
After photos later this week.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Market Report

Today was a gorgeous day at market. The high temps and humidity blew through the past day or so, and today was sunny and much cooler, with a breeze that bordered on downright wind at times. I was glad I had my canopy bungie-corded to the car!

Here's a photo of my stand. I need to seriously rearrange next week to fit soap on this table! I didn't have as many felted bowls last summer, so I think I'll try to display them differently. Another table is maybe an option for later.

And here's my market neighbor - Eileen of Gigi's Sweets

And here's the guy who kept me company for most of the morning
That's about life-size. He was the largest fly I've ever seen, if that's what he was. He flew like a wasp, and he has wings with a pattern like a moth, or even a cicada. He wasn't aggressive, and he just sort of hung on the back of the tablecloth for most of the morning. He very calmly let me photograph him, and then flew away about an hour later.

I would have taken more pictures, but this is an Amish market, and they don't like their photos taken. About half the vendors there are "english," but all of the vegetable vendors are old-school Amish farmers. On a day when all the vendors are at market, there are about 15 businesses, ranging from me with crafts and soap, Eileen with her unique baked goods (think lavender/lemon scones and French bread - not something you see from our traditional Amish bakers), two barbeque vendors, the Amish flower vendor with gorgeous vegetable and flower plants and cut bouquets, Jeff with his brown eggs, Linda with floral arrangements and door wreaths, to soft pretzels and hotdogs on pretzel rolls, Amish baked goods, and several Amish vegetable vendors.

We're a pretty friendly group - if someone needs help setting up a canopy, someone else is always there to lend a hand. We all try to patronize each other, and we all care about the success of the market. We have more and more customers attending each week, and it's funny to hear a long-time resident of the area say that they never knew the market was there, which happens just about every weekend. There are signs all over town, but being an Amish market, there might not be any other publicity. We each have loyal customers that try to buy something from us on a regular basis.

Next week I'll have soap again, and I hope to see my sales increase. But even if they don't, I still enjoy being at market and miss setting up every week when it closes the end of October.

Friday, July 26, 2013

This little piggy is going to market ...

And so are these two little piggies ...

 And so are these three little piggies ...

And my fingers are crossed that none of them come home with me (as much as I love them)!

The End.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I'm so excited!

My son sent me an e-mail yesterday saying he was sending me some cash to fund my soapmaking for market. I immediately ordered glycerin bases and fragrance oils from Bramble Berry and Wholesale Supplies Plus, and I'm anxious to get started! I've missed having soaps at market, and my soap customers from last summer have been asking when I'll have soap back in stock. They're great customers, all of them, but they can only buy so many greeting cards and amigurumi. Soap is something they buy on a regular basis, and it was a large chunk of my market income last summer.

The supplies from WSP should be arriving early next week, and I'll be able to get started on several best-selling soaps with the fragrance oils I have here. I want to update my unscented/uncolored line, as well, and I'll be able to get started with that, too. I'm going to be stalking UPS tracking until everything gets here!

I love, love, love making soap; and I'm thrilled to be getting back to it! I'll put up photos and links to my Etsy shop as I get finished. YAY!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Great Market Day!

I have no photographic evidence, but today was a really good market day! The weather was cloudy and muggy when I started set-up at 8:00 this morning, but the wind freshened and the sun wasn't far behind. The day ended up sunny and hot, but I was in the shade under my canopy and there was a nice breeze for most of the day. The crowd was a little larger today than it was the past two Saturdays, and I sold enough that I could actually patronize the other vendors at the market. I brought home a boatload of fresh vegetables: lima beans, green beans, wax beans, beets, candy onions, zucchini and yellow squash, cucumbers, tomatoes (oh, the tomatoes!) and a handful of basil that one of my customers handed me because she had more than she needed. I'm thinking about putting it in a glass of water on my work table so that I can smell that wonderful aroma for the next few days! I also picked up lunch: barbequed chicken quarters and pulled pork sandwiches.

I'm ready for a nap now! LOL!

And also - lima beans! So excited about the lima beans!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

So, I finally ...

... posted again. Yes, it's been well over a year. I'm sort of surprised blogs stay around that long when so many people start them and don't continue on with them. But maybe that's just me?

... listed some stuff in my Etsy store. Here are some examples:

I don't know why these aren't coming up as links. Just copy/paste into your browser if you'd like to check these out in my Etsy shop.