Monday, October 19, 2009

Moving Day and the Aftermath

Well well...So I have once again neglected this blog horribly. This time hubby and I have been occupied buying our very first house, and then moving into said house. We had quite a few wonderful and kind friends who volunteered to help us move all our stuff. One of them likened our apartment to a clown car, stuff just kept coming out long after it should have. I wish I had pictures of the before and after, but I was so frazzled that no pictures were taken, at least by me. My friend will be bailing me out later though as she took quite a few. Whew!

We closed last Thursday, then packed up the apartment and moved this past weekend. True, there are a few things still left there, like bunnies, but we should be completely out by the end of the month. Our new fridge arrived last Friday and we expectantly watched as the delivery guys hefted it up the porch stairs. After about half an hour of grunting and trying two different doors the sad truth reared it's ugly head. The fridge was one-half inch too wide to fit through the door. Grr. So we had to drive an hour to the nearest place to buy appliances and select another fridge. That one arrived today and graciously slid right into place. Whew again.

We decided to leave Willie and Gidget at our old place until we get the kitchen cleared or boxes and trash since they will be staying in there mostly. We hope it will be less traumatic for them to be by themselves at the apartment for a few days rather than at the house with all the moving of boxes and furniture.

I felt bad this morning when we went over to feed our bunnies. I found them huddled between the only piece of furniture left, a plant stand, and a few empty boxes. (They do still have their hutch, but they don't like to stay in it.) They keep running from where the couch used to be to where the kitchen table used to be, which were their favorite hiding places.

As far as we could tell, there had not been any excessive shedding of newspaper or cardboard. Of course, the apartment looks like it's been blown up with all the pet hair, wadded up newspaper packing and cardboard boxes lying around. Gidget could have ripped up an entire week's worth of paper and I probably wouldn't have known any better. We hope to have the "family" all back together in a few days. I already miss their little bunny antics. I haven't seen a binky in days.

Bob has to go back to work tomorrow, which he is actually looking forward to. I have the morning off, not that I'll unpack many boxes, but at least I'll be able to sleep in. Ah homeownership is sweet sweet bliss.

Monday, September 14, 2009

World Sheep Festival at Bethel Missouri

Over the Labor Day weekend I had the joy of being able to attend the World Sheep and Fiber Festival at Bethel, Missouri. All my other attempts at going to fiber festivals this year had been foiled by things such as weddings, meetings and lack of funds. Finally I was able to sink my hands into all sorts of sweet, sweet fiber.

This was the first year I was able to participate in the Fiber Competition by entering a few of my hand spun yarns along with a scarf and hat set and of course my beloved crocheted Ernie the Giraffe. Everything I entered placed in one category or another. Not really sure how the categories were broken down, but whoever did the judging liked my work and I am thrilled.

My husband and I were also on our way to visit my sister in Columbia, MO so he got to see the festival for the first time. To be honest, I think he was bored out of his mind, but he did enjoy the sheep dog trials. Another good thing to come out of his being there is that he agreed to help me get a new spinning wheel once he saw how nice the "real" ones are. Yay! In a few months, I hope to be the proud new owner of a Fricke wheel.

I came away with 4 ounces of heavenly fawn coloured Alpaca fluff and 8 ounces of absolutely divine Baby Camel and Silk blend. Hubba hubba, I really can't wait to start spinning that one. In fact, I'm going to go pet it again right now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Create Crochet Midweek Madness Sale!

I've been gearing up to list a bunch of new hand spun yarns and hand dyed rovings in my shop, but just had not gotten around to it yet. It just so happens that the Create Crochet Team on Etsy, which I belong to, is having a team sale this week. It's a great opportunity to show off what we as a team have been doing.

As a part of the Create Crochet Midweek Madness Sale, my shop, Handmade Sunshine will have a promotion running from August 25, 2000 until September 1, 2009. All items in my shop will be 10% off when the buyer enters "CCT" in the comments field during checkout. Additionally, all my yarns are on sale at deeply discounted prices. Click the listings to see your savings.

The Create Crochet Team Blog has a list of all the shops participating and what promotion they are running. Additionally, at 2PM EDT "Etsy Time" on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 all the team members are blasting Etsy with new listings. The goal is to get all the recently listed items on the front page to be from our team for a short period of time. Don't miss this chance to get beautiful goodies at a discounted rate from some very talented people!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Willie is a Disappoving Rabbit!

I submitted a picture of Willie to the people at the Disapproving Rabbits website last week and today they featured him as "Dust Bunny's Revenge". I'm pretty excited about it, but Willie couldn't care less, as usual. In fact I'm pretty sure that he is now actually disapproving of his "fifteen minutes of fame".

The picture is a result of my trying to catch him taking a nap by the vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately, I woke him up and got a steely-eyed bunny glare instead of the extreme cuteness I was going for. He was all like, "How dare you disturb my bunny slumber! Now your vacuum cleaner must pay...again." In truth, I think most of the chewing was done by Gidget, but we all know he backs her up on everything.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Meet Ernie the Giraffe

Last weekend was rather painful due to my having two ribs out of place. My house still looks like a hot mess due to the lack of housework done. On a good note though, they have been popped back into place by a good and capable doctor and now feel much better.

You might well ask, "What exactly did you (as in me) do all weekend?" Well folks, since I couldn't move around much I did what any hot-blooded crafter would do. I made something. Here is the cuteness that is the product of my labor. There was some yarn left over from the last baby blanket I made, and it would be such a shame to let it go to waste. SO...I decided to make a toy, a cow in fact.

As you can see, my uhm, cow ended up being a giraffe after the neck got out of hand. I started with the legs and worked up from there. It just kind of evolved into what you see before you here. Oddly enough, the head part took longer to figure out than the whole rest of the project. The eyes were going to be flat on the head, but when I sewed them on, the first one kind of cupped up after I shoved all the ends into it. That looked pretty good, so I did the other one that way too. Then of course giraffes have lovely long eyelashes, little horns and spots, so they had to be added.

My hubby and I finally decided that it's a "He", and my friend named him Ernie. So now it remains to be seen if I can actually part with him and give him to my friend's baby. He's already been all over Lee county with me and been shown to quite a few people. Perhaps it's time to figure out how I made him and make him some brothers and sister.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Twist off the Old Granny Square

For the past few months I've been hemming and hawing over what sort of gift to make for my dear friend who is pregnant. I wanted to be different, original, unique even. I've made so many crocheted baby blankets that I couldn't even begin to remember what they were all like or even who they were for. "I'm not making another baby blanket." I said. I'll make her something with my homespun, something useful.

SO...I knit the baby soaker from a few posts back. It was a very nice soaker, but for some reason it just didn't seem to be the "it" project. So then other avenues of handicrafts were explored and discarded. I even tried to find enough roving to spin up for a layette set or...or...well something babyish. Finally I broke down and went to the dreaded local superstore "just to look at the yarn possibilities," I said.

Guess what happened. No, I can wait, give it a good guess. Yup, yarn came home with me along with a vision in my head for a new baby blanket. Yes, another one. "I'll just do granny squares in different colors," I said. Then when the thought of sewing all the squares together dawned on me, I just kept on adding to the first one until it got really big. Well, it needed a border, so I made one. Then I decided to put little squares around the big one. Then another border. After that, of course it needs another border, with all the colors right?

What you are seeing here is the result of my obsessive compulsive personality. Isn't it pretty? Now for a matching pillow. Bwahahaha!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stocking up for Winter

I promised to share some of the other projects I've been working on with you all, so here's another one. It seems so strange to be knitting things so obviously Winter-ish when it's roasting outside, but that's exactly what's been happening here.

I present to you Exhibit A, the Fuzzy Wuzzy Ear Warmers. They are knit it in four sizes, Large, Medium, Small and child's. They are all knit out of some of my hand spun wool yarn that wasn't selling in my ETSY shop. I didn't use a pattern or anything, but all the same I worry about accidentally being labeled a copycat. Sometimes a design is so straightforward and simple, I'm sure many people have had the same idea before I did. It's a little hard to see in the pictures, but they are just a simple band with a big fat cable in the middle. My dear hubby is the dashing model in these pictures (isn't he a cutie?), but I might see if I can find a different one when I list them in the shop later.

The ear warmers are uber-warm and very comfy, so I do hope that someone sees them and takes advantage of a good deal. Iowa winters can get pretty cold, so I'm keeping one for me too. Yay!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My First Wearable Baby Item

Wow! It has been forever since I updated anything here. I apologize to all my followers for dropping off the face of the planet for a month. During that time I have completed several small fiber projects, which has given me a bit of a sense of accomplishment.

I'll share just one of them with you for now so I have something to talk about for later. Nice strategy huh?

One of my oldest and dearest friends recently told me she is successfully pregnant and into her 25th week. She's had several miscarriages in the past, so I am wildly thrilled for her and her hubby. Here's the thing, they are not finding out the sex of the baby until it gets here in August. This presents a bit of a challenge for those of us who want to make gifts for the little one.

I've made plenty of baby afghans in the past, but this time I want to make something different. I looked around for useful baby items and ran across the idea for wool knit soakers. (For the childless out there, like me, a soaker is just another name for diaper cover.) It just so happens that I was plying up a gender neutral yarn off my wheel the other day and when I swatched it out, the gauge perfectly matched that needed for the Curly Purly Soaker Pattern by Marnie Ann Joyce.

It's knit in the round using 3 different needle sizes instead of increases for shaping and is really a very easy pattern to make. It is written with the assumption that you already know how to make short rows and indicates where to insert them if you choose to. They just add a bit of fullness through the seat. If you have a thin child or one in trainers, you may choose to opt out of the short rows. I had it knitted up in one afternoon with no problems at all.

There is one place which might cause a bit of confusion, so I'll just tell you now so you can breeze right over it. Right after the last set of short rows you actually start knitting flat to form the flap for between the legs. Just knit flat and do what the pattern says and it should turn out fine. Instead of grafting at the end, I just knitted the 2 rows together to form a secure seam, invisible from the outside. Around the leg holes I did 7 rows of 1x1 ribbing, but now I kind of wish I would have done more so she could fold it up or leave it down. Well, there is always the next one, right?

I'm planning on making her several soakers in different patterns so she can find out which kind she likes best. Every baby is different, so what works for some might not work for others. I found a helpful group on Yahoo for wool soakers. If you are interested in more soaker patterns and expertise, it's a good place to go.

Well, that's all for now. Check back soon because I'll be telling you all about the other stuff I've been up to soon. Have a lovely day!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Very First Lace Blocking Ever!

It's hard to believe that in all my 20 plus years of crocheting and 6 years of knitting, I have never once blocked any of my projects. Yes, I know, it's a bit of a secret shame really, but up until now I've never really needed to.

I made a sample of yarn for my sister's wedding shawl and I needed to know how it would knit up. So I took it and just knit a very simple lace pattern scarf. Of course, then I had to figure out how to open it all up. A little research and a little cash later resulted in a package arriving from Knitpicks yesterday. It contained foam interconnecting blocking boards, lace blocking pins in a nifty little case and corrosive resistant lace blocking wires. It's an investment I have been pondering for quite some time now, so it wasn't exactly an impulse buy, but it was close.

It took about half an hour to soak the scarf in lukewarm water to make the fibers slide past each other when blocked. Then the "real work" started. It took another 15 minutes to slip the blocking wires in all the outside stitches of the scarf. Here's where it got really cool though. I laid out as many foam board pieces as I needed and put them together just like big puzzle bits. It took 2 minutes to completely pin and stretch and re-pin the wires to the board. Voila! Done! Perfectly stretched lace. How awesome is that!?

I do have to note that not until I was finished did I realize that the textured side of the blocking boards is supposed to be in contact with the yarn. I really don't think it was meant to keep them from sliding around on the table. I also realize that one end of the scarf is much skinnier than the other end, and I think it has a lot to do with binding off too tightly. Well, there's always next time, right? Chalk it all up to experience.

I wish I would have taken pictures of all the steps from start to finish, but as you can see, it's pretty easy work. These items will more than pay for themselves in saved time and effort. My sanity will be a rest too, which is priceless.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Returning the Favor - I'm Featured on a Blog Too!

Great news today! For the very first time ever my Etsy shop has been featured on a blog. It just so happens to be the blog of the Create Crochet Team, which I am a member. They are really wonderful group of people. If you are trying to decide on what group to join, and you are a fiber artist who crochets or makes crochet supplies, I would whole-heartedly recommend the CreateCrochet group.

Peanut and Tommy, who was featured here a few weeks ago, is the one who wrote my feature and she did a wonderful job. So drop by and check it out.

As a parting gift, here's my favorite picture of Willie when he still loved me. In fact, I think it was the day before we had him neutered. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Showing Off - Just a little bit

Remember a long time ago when I first started this blog and said that I had made a neck warmer with some of my hand spun yarn? No, well...I did and yesterday I finally took a picture of it to put on here. It's a whole lot prettier in person, but this will have to suffice. So, what do you think?

This weekend has been all about revamping my Etsy shop and getting some more yarns listed. Check out all the yummy new stuff...PLEASE!

Sorry this has been such a short post, but I'm on a roll and need to keep going. Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Peanut and Tommy - Cute and Cuddly Crafts

Have I ever got a treat for you wonderful crafters this week! We get to meet the energetic and vivacious crocheter Debi, who is one of the creative geniuses behind Peanut and Tommy on Etsy. Let's start with a little insight into her shop.

Peanut and Tommy is made up of things Debi makes and things her mom knits. “My mom lives alone in a retirement community two hours away from me and doesn’t drive anymore. She’s pretty much home-bound and loves to knit toys.” she says. “I originally opened the shop to give her a job—a reason to get up in the morning. She loves the idea of sending out her toys to live with children all over the world. She has sent a knitted snake to Australia, an elephant to Germany, a set of turtles to Florida, a bear to California, and that’s just to mention a few. It gives her great joy and keeps her busy.”

It's great to see that Debi comes from a crafty family. “My mom knit all my sweaters when I was a child. My parents were always pretty thrifty—many of our Christmas or birthday gifts were handmade. If I wanted to buy fabric to sew an outfit, mom was always willing to pay for that. I sewed most of my clothes for many years. Although Mom tried to teach me to knit, I didn’t learn knitting or crochet until I went away to college.

Years of thrifty craftiness has molded Debi's persona. “I love to make things for other people. To me, a handmade gift is a gift from the heart. I have two girls (teenagers now, one is in college). I make the kind of goodies that they would have loved as children. I love to make cuddly cute things like my cupcake bags and the caterpillar in my shop. My mom made the three dinosaurs and all the teddy bears. She loves the cuddly cute things too! I guess we’re related!” she laughs.

“I love making the cupcake bags that turn into a doll cradle. I crochet the bags, sew a cotton lining for them, and then knit the little dolls to go inside. I really enjoy finding beautiful yarn and fabric that coordinate. They take a while to make, which is why I only have one or two in my shop at a time!”

She also takes great joy in helping out in the community. “I started a knitting guild at my daughter’s school where we knit for charity. We’ve made a ton of chemo caps, made up personal care bags (each with a hand knit washcloth) for the women’s shelter, knit a million teddy bears, made blankets for Project Linus, you name it. We’re really quite active!”

Debi is also in to crafting with recycled materials. She makes a cute little Eco-friendly crocheted frog out of cotton yarn that is made from leftovers from t-shirt manufacturing. In addition to that, “I am knitting a market bag with “Plarn” which is yarn that I’ve made out of used plastic bags. The plarn is tiring to knit with, but the bag is really quite beautiful. However, I made it so BIG, that it’s taking me forever to finish it!” So maybe someday we'll see one of those in her shop too!

She has a second shop on Etsy, Peanut and Tommy Too that she has just started up for vintage finds. Recently she has been helping out on the CreateCrochet Etsy Team Blog with the shop of the week and introductions of new members and does a very nice job even if I do say so myself. If you are interested in following her day to day exploits you can find her on Twitter as PeanutandTommy.

As everyone has a dream to work towards, I asked Debi where she would like to be if she could be anywhere. Her reply, “Greece, living in a little house in a small town overlooking the blue sea. Poli Kala! (My husband is Greek).” It sounds wonderful! May all your dreams come true Debi.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More Wheel Trauma

You guys are going to think I'm out to get my spinning wheel, but really I'm not. Today I spent most of my at home time cleaning. We were supposed to have company over for dinner, but they ended up being sick. Anyway, as it so happens, vacuuming the carpet is on the list of things to do.

There I am, moving rugs and furniture, vacuuming up rabbit fluff and crumbs. I'm on a roll and quickly getting it done. I've already dusted, mopped, plumped the pillows on the couch and even re-potted the houseplants. This was the very last thing that needed done, even the very last room, the very last square foot of carpeting. Somehow, and don't ask me exactly how this happened, but I didn't see the clear drive band for my spinning wheel laying on the carpeting. I pop it off the bobbin but still leave it attached to the wheel so that it doesn't stretch out when I'm not using it. Somehow it had fallen down and I sucked it up in the roller brush of the vacuum cleaner. Before I could turn it off, both the band for my wheel and the drive band for the vacuum brush snapped. Great jumping Jehoshaphat, I am talented.

As you can well imagine, right after dinner I was on the Babe site to order another (2 at hubby insistence) drive bands for the wheel. We have a spare band for the vacuum, bummer I can't give THAT up for a week too. Well, you win some and lose some. Hopefully it doesn't try to retaliate as well for my unwitting abuse.

Maybe I should give up "power" tools altogether and go with the more primitive drop spindle and broom. (Although I have managed to snap a broom handle this winter as well, but that was cleaning snow off the car.) Good thing my new Turkish spindle came in the mail today from Linda at Sunset Fibers. Maybe the title to this blog should be Destructo-Sarah instead of Bunnies.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spinning Wheel Trauma

Since September I have been busy peddling away on my little Babe Double Treadle spinning wheel. Many happy hours have been spent abusing the poor thing with my too fast treadling and stinky sweaty feet. it had it's revenge.

So there I was, belting out another ply of wonderful soft Merino and all of a sudden, plink! It was like it happened in slow motion. I felt something wasn't quite right and looked down in time to see both rodmen separate from the bracket that held them on to the middle of the wheel. What!? At first I thought the bolt had just come undone as sometimes it does and I just have to tighten it up again and be on my way. Unfortunately what had happened was the bolt sheared off and part of it is now stuck in the bracket hole with no way to get hold of it and back it out. It's not like it will just push out because the bolt has threads on it and if I force it out I'll strip out the opening. Grr. I am majorly frustrated.

I did get hold of Nels, who is the inventor of the Babe Wheels and was told what to go get from the hardware store and how to fix it. They have great customer service there and I heartily recommend them to anyone who wants a quality wheel on a shoestring budget. I just have to figure out how to deal with getting that little bit of bolt out first. Does anyone have any suggestions about how it could be done?

I'd put a picture on, but I have handily misplaced the ginormous pack of batteries I got specifically for use in my camera. Twice. Just not a smooth day for me all around. Tomorrow I promise I'll be the happy blogger you have all come to know and love.

Sweet Dreams all you wonderful crafters.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Caffeinated Frenzy - A Creative "Buzz"

Knitters are a notoriously curious bunch and being one, I know what we like. What we like is to hear about other knitters. Well, have I got a treat for you! Today we get to peek into the crafting life of the vibrant young woman who brings us Caffeinated Frenzy on She is a fellow “yarnie” like me and loves to be creative and spontaneous. Let's sit back and let her tell us about it in her own words.

“Before I injured my knee, I was a dancer. I tend to be quite an ambitious person. I love to move, enjoy working and if I'm not busy, I don't know what to do with myself. I have two jobs in addition to selling my knits, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I was somewhere around ten when my mother first showed me how to knit. I knew she used to be a knitter, and I wanted to learn how. She didn't remember much, but she was able to show me how to cast on and how to do the knit stitch. After that, I taught myself the rest of the basics. From there I went on to learning how to knit in the round, follow charts, create cables, etc. It was a lot of trial and error, but now I completely understand why each stitch looks the way it does. It's helped me figure out design as well.” I'm here to tell you all, learning to knit mostly by yourself takes a lot of talent, and this girl's got it.

“Whether it's a personality quirk or just too much coffee, I can never sit still. When I have short bursts of energy where I want to focus on one thing, that's when I'm able to come up with new designs. I definitely still consider myself a kid (I'm 19), and probably still have a bit of that "look at me!" screaming for attention teenager attitude left. I love bright colors and acting on impulse, but it's fun.

I want people to feel inspired and independent when they see my work. The yarn seems to figure out what it wants to be for itself. The color and texture put an image in my mind and I work towards that. I like to finish things quickly, so that I don't lose interest. I work when I'm inspired to. whether that's when I'm excited over making a sale, have an idea in my head to create, or have pretty new yarn to play with.”

When asked about what she loves to make the most she said, “I'm really happy with my Darling Cloche. A blue one was my first sale on Etsy. I like it's simplicity, it's just a fun little hat.” She points out that anything on her site can be made in any color or size, all anyone has to do is ask and she would be more than happy to knit something special just for you. “I try to use natural materials. I do use a fair amount of acrylics, but a lot of my more "luxurious" things are made with merino wool, silk, angora, alpaca, natural fibers.”

She's also been making some things to help others cut down on the amount of trash they throw away. “Lately I've been knitting reusable coffee sleeves, fun little gifts that are a much better alternative to disposable ones. I also use them as promotional giveaways because I like to throw extra little things in when I send out packages.”

With this much enthusiasm and zest for life, she's sure to make all of her goals realities. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of her in the future. So where does a young successful entrepreneur dream of going to get away from it all after another busy day with her shop? Well, let's see what she has planned. “I don't think I could ever pick one place, but I do have a long list of places I eventually plan to end up. Los Angeles, Chicago, India, Italy, London, and Socotra Island. I absolutely love cities and plan to see a lot more of them.”

If you're looking to connect with Caffeinated Frenzy on the Internet, she has many different ways for you to find her. Besides Etsy, she also sells on Artfire and 1000 Markets. She's got an awesome Facebook setup which she is really trying to promote right now so go check it out and support a fellow crafter. To see some of her other work check out her Flickr page or to read the latest and greatest happenings follow her blog at

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Living the Dream - Katy of Urban Eagle

It's not every day that one gets to meet a woman who is truly a treasure. Today we all get to look into the wonder that is Katy of Urban Eagle Designs. Her shop has been open a little over a month now, so she is still “undiscovered”, but she should be right up there on everyone's go-to list for something extra-special. After I read her questions I just wanted to get on a plane and fly out to New Mexico to meet her in person...she's just that awesome.

First off, she's a wife, a mother and a grandmother. In a former life she was graphic designer for almost thirty years. She even had her own business in San Diego for twenty years. After doing her time in the corporate world, she went after her dream and moved out of the city on to 56 acres in northern New Mexico with her husband and two dogs. They live completely “off grid” which means all their electricity comes from photovoltaics. For all you novices like me photovoltanics is the application of solar cells for energy by converting sunlight directly into electricity. This spring they hope to build their own straw bale and adobe home. They have a lovely patch of land to work with.

Katy is currently a student working on her certification in herbs. Not only does she grow herbs, but also natural dye plants and most of the food her family eats. That's right, she buys her fibers from local growers and then dyes them using plants she herself grew and then spins her own yarn. She's all about being organic and non harmful to the environment. I told you she was awesome didn't I? Somehow she finds time to knit all her efforts up into wonderful offerings for her shop. Oh and she keeps if she wasn't busy enough.

She has been working with fiber since she learned to knit at the age of 14 back in nineteen mumble mumble. She started designing her own patterns in 1992 and was even a featured artist in "Knitting in America". Soon after that she learned how to spin and then to dye with natural dyes. She is most certainly in love with her craft because she has such wonderful attention to detail. Most of the inspiration for her designs comes from Native American Art. “I have a library of over 70 books of all sorts of Native American art from rock art to bead work to weaving to pottery. You name it, I've probably got a book about it! I also get inspiration from the spiritual world. Each of my garments have "totems" attached to them in some way.”

In Urban Eagle you can find high quality, labor intensive craftsmanship. Her favorite things to make are her vests, which are gorgeous. “I make my pieces for "real" people to be worn frequently.” she says and wear them they do.

“Most of my day-time hours (except for the dead of winter) are spent outside in my gardens and greenhouse. I like to do my dyeing, spinning and fiber prep in the afternoon and early evening. I knit at night after dinner. If the weather is bad I will knit during the day.” She is living a fiber dream come true. Even though the thought of Katy sitting and peacefully knitting is a tempting one, we now know that a lot of work goes on before she can ever sit down and rest.

Besides selling on Etsy and running her family place, she keeps herself busy with several other pursuits. She belongs to the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center and just recently signed up on Ravelry, although she admits she doesn't quite know what to do with it yet. I'm sure a few of us wouldn't mind reaching out to her as I have a feeling most of us are already floating around somewhere on Ravelry.
“I do at least two art tours here in northern NM - the Abiquiu Studio Tour and the Pedernal Arts Tour. I have had VERY bad luck with consignment so I don't do that anymore. Most of my sales, outside of the tours, are by word of mouth. I am also a stop on the New Mexico Fiber Trails.

Her hopes are that someday the revenue from her fiber (and herbs) will grow to be a good “supplement for my Social Security...when I'm eligible for it,” she giggles. You're only as old as you act, and as far as I can tell, Katy is one young spring chicken.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bunnies Know What They Like

We've been gone all weekend again and had to have a friend come in to take care of the bunnies. She's a good bunny-sitter, but they always seem happy to see us back. Very happy...if you know what I mean.

Usually we have a bag of cilantro or other leafy herbs in the fridge for her to give to the bunnies, but I forgot to get any from the store and so they had to do without this time. There is a head of Romaine lettuce in there, but I didn't think anything about it. Apparently she fed they lettuce because there were wilted leaves in the garbage can. This isn't really a problem, except Willie and Gidget do not like lettuce of any kind. Go figure. I just shrugged and forgot about it when I went to feed them. When I opened the office door I was greeted by Gidget who ran over to the food dish and stomped at me and grumbled. Willie was no where in sight.

She sat there as I put pellets in the dish and Willie poked his head out from the cage and waited for her to get her fill first. He's such a little gentleman. I coaxed him out with some dried papaya and what did I find? When he came over, he had lettuce clinging to his butt! The little guy had been laying on it and it was wilted with his body heat into a lettuce "puddle" on the bottom of the cage. Yuck!

I should have known they would never eat something that good for them. They eat everything else known to man. Cabinet doors, electrical cords of all types, crumbs and anything else we might accidentally drop, even plaster have disappeared down their little maws. It's the things that you'd think a bunny would be happy to chew on that don't even get a single nibble. Well, at least they're cute.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Colleen from Iowa Etsy Team

I was poking around in the Etsy team forums the other day and found a fellow member of the Iowa Etsy Team. Her name is Colleen and her shop is Five Sparrows. She's got some really cute things made out of stained glass, which is something I have always loved. We got to talking and I found out some fascinating things about her and her shop. It's always interesting to hear how other shop owners got their start and here is her story.

“When I was in college I got this wonderful summer job at a conference center in Green Lake, WI. In two weeks they gave me a crash course in stained glass, and then the rest of the summer I taught it to anyone staying on-site who came in wanting to learn. It was such a great job. I got to be artistic all day while helping others feel good about creating something. And there were windows with a view of the lake. I did that job for three summers. By then I was hooked and kept making stained glass on my own. So I have been doing this off and on for about 12 years, mainly for family gifts, but this is my big venture into the business world.”

Colleen is a stay at home mother of 3 kids “and one slow, patient basset hound” as she put it. “I love it both for being with the kids and the freedom from the 9 to 5. My problem lately is that it is so much easier to sit by a window with some coffee and draw out patterns, than it is to go down in the basement and actually cut and grind. (Yeah, it is a basement office for me now; not great on lighting, but it keeps glass and hot solder away from small fingers.) So, beyond sitting by the window and drawing, I try to fit in some glass time during naps and after bedtimes.”

When asked about her inspiration she said, “Anything and everything. I just go with what seems appealing to me at that moment. I am constantly looking at pictures or scenes to think how I could split it up into shapes that would work with glass. I like the quirky and the non-conventional, but I also love the tradition and history found in the rural town community I live in. I am having fun exploring the 3 dimensional idea lately. I think creating something new is always exciting to me though, so any new design is always something I look forward to making.”

Of course, everyone needs a vacation sometime, so where would Colleen be if she wasn't working with glass? “Camping with the family in the mountains. We aren't too far from the Black Hills, that is one of our favorite places to go. And I love Wall Drug.” Rock on Colleen, Rock on.

If you would like to follow up to the minute updates of what Colleen is doing now, follow her on Twitter at She admits she is new to Twitter, but hopes to get the hang of it really soon, so let's help her out and make it fun!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beautiful, Inspirational Orchids

I have only a few minutes tonight to blog, so I just thought I would post some pretty flowers for you my followers. These have made me consider form and the bright colors have made me think of ways I might try to dye some of that roving in my living room.

All these were taken at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens this past weekend. Some of these were in the temperate house and the house with all the rose trees, whatever the name of it is. The orchids were from the show we went to in the main building.

It's going to be interesting to see if I can make yarn to reflect these wonders of nature. These flowers had such a sheen and soft texture.

What fibers could possibl
y come out as dewy and fresh as flower petals? What sort of draw would I use? What
sort of
dyes? I feel a project coming on here.

Last but not least, here is a parting shot of one of my most favorite places in the gardens. May all of you have enough time to stop and sit in the garden every-once-in-a-while. Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Isolated from the Spinning Wheel

I'm in spinning heck! I've been at the in-law's place since Friday and haven't been able to spin a single, well, single. There is the consolation of being able to periodically pet the yarn I brought with me to show everyone. I've spent several hours explaining how different fibers spin up in different ways. My mother-in-law patiently listened as I pushed skein after skein into her lap, she even tried to be enthusiastic, poor woman. She's an avid scrapbooker, maybe I should have pushed that angle. She's not a fiberholic like me. The withdrawl has been brutal, but they're trying to help me through it by keeping me otherwise occupied.

On Saturday Dear Hubby and I met my sister and her beau at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens, otherwise known as Shaw's Gardens. There was a beautiful orchid show set up in one of the wings and it was so worth the trip. I love going to the gardens, but have never been there during the winter before. We were surprised to see pansies blooming outside already, but they were off the paved path and I couldn't get a good picture of them. I got some inspiration for a few things for my shop from some of the things we saw and can't wait to download the pictures we took so I can see them larger.

Today we had lunch at my parent's place and then came back to the in-laws to watch the Daytona 500. I watched the greater portion of it with the roof of my mouth and started snoring very loudly several times. So embarrassing! I guess my feminine mystique has been shattered, not that I had much to start with.

Tomorrow we go home. Tomorrow evening will be spent with my wheel. Sweet, sweet spinning.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nothing is Certain but Yarn and Taxes

Ah, another day, another wonderful fiber to discover. It seems that recently I have really put the peddles down on my wheel and cranked out the yarn. This weekend I managed 7 skeins, out of 20 ounces of fiber. One was really really bulky and ended up being almost 6 ounces of fiber for 100 yards of yarn, but I really love the way it turned out. Look how fuzzy it is! It's going to make a wonderfully thick and squishy scarf for someone. It's a merino/alpaca blend and it just lept on to the wheel when when I spun it. This particular roving came from Winderwood Farm
and was hand dyed by Bob.

I also used another one of his rovings this weekend. It was my very first experience with a bamboo blend of anything. I blogged about it last time, but now it's dry and I have a picture of the end result. I wish you guys could touch it because it feels heavenly, so smooth and silky. It's the one on the right here. All that shine isn't just the flash, it's the sheen from the bamboo.

So now I come to the taxes part of the blog here. It has been brought to my attention that now that I am self-employed I should be saving back 1/3 of my income for taxes. Does that sound like a good number to the rest of you? I had already been doing this, but I want a little advice from some of you more seasoned veterans of the home crafting world. What works for you when it comes to giving Uncle Sam his dues? I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Yarn Yarn and More Yarn

Hello all you crazy crafters!

What a weekend! I have spun and spun and spun and finally have some yarn to show for it.
Both of the yarns in these pictures have been spun from Linda's rovings. She runs Sunset Fibers on Etsy. I named the orange one "Poppies and Daffodils" and the blue one "Forget-Me-Nots and Violets". Nice Springy names for yarn I thought. The orange is a 2-ply sport weight and the blue is 2-ply aran weight. Too bad I didn't end up with more of it because I would really like to knit some up, but had to list them both in my Etsy shop instead to get the inventory up.

I also spun up my very first bamboo and Merino blend today, (from Bob at Winderwood Farm)which I have to say was different. It wanted to slip a bit more than I am used to and took a little while to learn to control. It was spun in fingering weight singles and then plied for a sport weight result. The yarn felt soft before I set the twist, but afterwards it has really relaxed into a supple strand that looks like it will have a very nice drape when knitted. I will have to put some pictures on here when it dries all the way. It's really beautiful, all multicolored and shimmery. Very nice.

Believe it or not, I also spun up 8 ounces of Merino/Alpaca yarn tonight in a very bulky weight. 100 yards of 2-ply yarn tips the scale at 5.75 ounces. Very heavy, but very beautiful. I had 50 yards left over which will probably end up as a nice hefty scarflette. The big skein will be listed in my shop when it dries and I can get a good picture of it.

I dare say the bunnies and hubby are feeling a bit neglected these past few days. I'll have to make it up to them tomorrow because tonight, I'm pooped.

Everyone have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lovely Squishy Corriedale

I have a secret shame. I don't think Merino wool is the one and only king of sheep fiber anymore. (Gasp!) Here's the thing, ever since I started wanting to learn to spin, people have told me that merino is the softest, has the finest micron count and is the best wool to spin. They said that I should start on other fiber and then work up to Merino. For months now I have been gathering bits of Merino roving like gold and hoarding them. Then something happened.

One day I was on, again, and came across Sunset Fibers. There are the most delicious rovings listed there and my fingers itched to be spin
ning some of them. One thing held me back though. She didn't have any Merino listed at all at the time. How could it be? In fact, one of her listings even said that she "preferred Corriedale over Merino"! Could I have found a spinning miscreant, a breaker of the rules, a fiber delinquent? The answer is most emphatically, YES and with good reason.

She hand paints her fibers and then sends them off to be processed by a mill of her choice. The result is an exquisitely divine roll of fluff that just melts into yarn effortlessly. I spun up four ounces last night of the February fiber of the month and am now the proud owner of 160 yards of 2-ply gorgeousness. I still need to wash it but will post pictures after I do as it fluffs up quite a bit after the twist sets. Even before a wash it is soft and just begs me to
pet it. Actually I need to go squoosh it right back.

To tide you over, here are some pictures of some of her fiber before and after being spun. This was the first fiber I ever got from her.

I just made a lovely neck warmer with this and it's gorgeous. I'll have to get a picture of it too. For now, I say goodnight to you and sweet dreams.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bunnies say "Feed Me"

Being a bunny momma is a big responsibility. Every day starts out much the same, with the opening of the office door.

"Hello babies! How are my little sweeties?"

This is usually greeted with a mad dash towards the food dish and then a lap or two around my legs. I've heard that in nature animals have certain ways of letting their will be known. For instance bees do an intricate dance allowing other bees to find the nectar stash. Perhaps this little daily bunny ritual is really a mind game they play with me so I can remember where the food dish is. Sometimes I hold it over their heads so they will play with me for a few minutes.

Next it escalates to more of a feeding frenzy.

"Wow! Gidget, get off Willie. Geez, it's not like you're wasting away to nothing!"

She has a habit of pushing his nose away so he can't get at the food. At nine pounds, she's twice his size so sometimes she just drapes herself over him and eats while he wiggles around trying to free himself. I should keep a camera in there and get a picture sometime. It's actually kind of funny.

Having sated their appetites for the time being, they head into the rest of the house to pillage and murder some unfortunate electrical appliance I have failed to sufficiently protect. Once they climbed up on a plant stand and nibbled an African Violet to the nubbies. It turns out that African Violets are not toxic to bunnies. On a good day I rescue a book or two, on a bad day we splice together the sound system, again.

"Oh man! Not again!"

Sometimes I wonder if they're getting enough to eat. They've eaten bookcases, cabinet doors, the legs to the couch and plaster pillars. When I open the fridge Willie is right there begging for a handout. We do the actual feeding ritual twice a day, and yet they still poke around for more. It's almost as if they know I'm holding out on them. Somewhere there is a grape or a dried papaya fragment that should be in their belly.

They have the ultimate weapon, extreme lethal cuteness. One nose bump or binky and I melt like putty in their little bunny paws. I am the faithful bringer of the food and the remover of the poop. They have me right where they want me and it shows. So tonight when my husband and I herd them back into the office and observe the dance, we know what they really mean.

"Feed Me!"

And we will.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Etsy, Ravelry, Twitter and Me

For months now my dear hubby has suggested I start one of these blog things about my fiber projects. More specifically, my spinning of yarn, which I am currently obsessed with. These suggestions were normally put off with, "I'm too busy right now, what would I write about anyway?" Hmm. Apparently the "powers that be" were listening and I find myself with quite a bit of time lately due to losing my job. really, it's OK. Here's why.

Since September I've been spinning yarn on a Babe Double Treadle Spinning Wheel I picked up secondhand at a fiber festival. It's great, and I'm "in love" with it, but now there is a small mountain of fiber and fiber projects in my minus
cule living room with nowhere to go. So what is a hot young fiber-holic to do? Why turn some of that effort into cash of course! Not to support the family you see, but to fund the addiction. Off to find some fiber-challenged enablers!

A friend suggested that I check out, which I did and subsequently spent two full weeks submerged in "research" of other people's shops. Several hundred dollars later and in danger of having to go without clean clothes, I finally opened my own little shop called Handmade Sunshine. So far in a month I've managed to have 2 sa
les and about 300 views. Not too bad for a first month.

I joined a few fiber-related teams on Etsy that keep blogs as well. A new fledgling team is Create Crochet! and is headed by a real sweetheart named Kristen. She is always looking for new ideas by people who are passionate about crochet and crochet supplies. She also makes some pretty amazing greeting cards which you should really check out.

Etsy FAST which stands for Fiber Arts Street Team, is a more established group interested in the promotion of fiber arts of all kinds from paper to yarn and everything in between. They have monthly challenges where fiber artists compete to create an item that best embodies the current theme. For instance, February the topic is "emotions" and several people have already listed their item in their shops. One example is the "That Warm and Fuzzy Feeling Scarflette"

Etsy has some amazing articles on how to promote a shop and that's how I found out about and got addicted to a brand new thing. Well, at least for me micro-blogging is new. So far I've been on for almost a week and have 39 followers. Not that I ever say much on there that is enlightening, but the voyeurism is rather fun. Usually the background is set to show off a new yarn listed in my shop. My hubby now teases me about being "such a geek" which I take in stride since he's an even bigger one. It's the whole, "it takes one to know one" kind of mentality that we have come to expect in our relationship. (Contented sigh, giggle, "I love him")

Earlier this year one of my friends had told me about which is an wonderful reference tool for knitters and crocheters and unfortunately requires an invitation to log on. It's still in the Beta testing phase and so you submit a request for an invite and the moderator sends one out easy-peasy in about 4 days. Hey, they're young, they're hip, and extremely cool so it's totally worth the wait. Even bunny-
loving spinners like me can find a niche on there. They have places to keep track of yarns, projects and books that you have pileing up around the house, forums where you can find the answere to every fiber question imagineable, and a nifty message center to keep track of new friends. Sweet!

So where does that leave little ole yours truely? Glued to the computer between spinning up batches of yarn and trying to maintain basic physical hygine requirements, that's where. I think I'm busier now than I ever was when employed. Every-once-in-a-while the bunnies come by and sit on my feet to remind me to feed
them; either that or they're busy plotting the demise of my computer again. I should have never passed up that stock with the electrical tape company.

Here's to wishing all of you a happy and produc
tive weekend! I've got some yarn to spin.