October 26, 2012

On Hooded Scarf Update #2.

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 11:52 am

I’ve made a lot more progress on the hooded scarf since the last update, but I still have a bit to go!

I only have one or two more go-rounds with the pattern (which is 16 rows) before I can finish up that second pocket. Then, it’s (theoretically) easy breezy from there on our–it’s just the hood part!

I’d better get cracking, though, and not let all my big Etsy ideas keep me from working on this–the weather isn’t going to stay nice for long!

(Of you’re looking for the original post with the pattern for the hooded scarf, check it out here!)

October 23, 2012

On Etsy Scarves, At Last!

Just a quick post to say: at last, at last!

I have (finally!) created some scarves for Etsy (the yarn has been sitting there for a month–darn the homework!) and listed the first one today. I’m so happy with the yarn and the pattern (just a simple shell pattern I created, but it gives off a nice elegant vibe).

Look for more coming soon, too!

October 22, 2012

On A Granny Squares Update.

After lots and lots of bus rides to and from work, I’ve got all the granny squares I need for the blanket! (If you’re curious as to its inception, read here.)

I’m not making this to keep; instead, I intend to list it on my Etsy shop as a young boy’s blanket. It’s just the perfect size–at 6 squares wide by 10 squares long, it should be the perfect durable, run-around blanket for any boy!

As you can see by the picture, I didn’t have the chance this weekend to begin connecting them (something I haven’t actually ever done before…so it should be interesting!) I did, however, lay them all out how I wanted them (I was going for an eclectic feel, rather than a definitive “blue, green, white, blue, green, white”) and labeled them to make connecting a little easier.

I also took a trip to Michael’s and purchased some green yarn (kind of a muted army green color) to connect them all. It was harder to decide on a connecting color than I had anticipated, but I think the green will bring it all together.

I’m so excited to get them connected (!), but I suspect that it’s not going to be finished until after school finishes for the semester. Just not enough hours in the day! However, I’m really hoping to have it in the shop well before Christmas so it can be the perfect present for a young boy!

October 19, 2012

On Four Things to Look for Next Week.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 11:03 am

There a lot of exciting stuff coming up very, very shortly!

4) Utterly unrelated to crafting, but “Red” comes out Monday. As in, the new (and I’m sure to be awesome) Taylor Swift CD. I’m well aware that I am an anomaly of a T-Swift fan, and I’m also aware that people tend to either love her or hate her, so you may hate her. But I have respect for her because:

  • Her lyrics. Read them. As a writer, not only do I appreciate what I feel is a successful attempt, but I appreciate that she isn’t relying just the tone of the music and her name to get hits. She cares about what she’s saying.
  • She’s a good role model for younger girls. Think about what they have to work with right now (Katy Perry, Brittney Spears, and Miley Cyrus all comes to mind) and then think about T-Swift. Genuine. Doesn’t show her belly button every chance she gets. We don’t see her getting drunk every weekend (except perhaps on love).
  • I sing along to her songs, loudly and poorly, and they make me feel good 🙂

So now that my “why you should love T-Swift” rant is over, I can happily say I’ve already preordered the deluxe CD from Target 🙂 I’m as excited as a pre-teen!

3) I should be posting update number 2 on the hooded scarf next week. I’ve come pretty darn far, and I have actually extended the scarf past what the pattern calls for, because I just really want it to be long. I think, this time around, I ended up “knitting small,” which I never do, so it threw off the pattern a bit. But more on that next week, with some accompanying pictures 🙂

2) A granny squares update. I *think* I’ve finished all the squares I need to come up with a good-sized young boy’s blanket. I’ll at least get some pictures of the squares all arranged, even if I don’t get them all put together this weekend! (I suppose I should probably do some homework this weekend. Shucks.) I’m headed to good ol’ Michael’s for a one pound skein of yarn, which should do the trick in terms of having enough to connect them all.

and the really cool #1 thing is…

1) Look for cowls and scarves coming to amandajocrafts! I have three done so far, and I hope to get at least one more complete and them all photographed for Etsy this weekend. I’m really excited about this development; it’s the first time I’ve added something to my shop that’s not a doll or animal, and it think it will really bring some more diversity. People who will be looking for scarves might find my shop and then *boom* fall in love with an animal, or vice versa.

And let me tell you now, these scarves are pretty cool (err….warm). I have chunky cowls with classic scalloped edges that will hang stylishly on your neck and can be easily tucked into a coat, or can be hung over the top of your head in the snow. As for the scarves, they’re crocheted in a shell pattern with some super soft yarn, so they’re dainty, stylish, and very warm!

October 17, 2012

On Birthday Cake.

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 11:21 am

As promised, for (nearly) Wordless Wednesday, my homemade by awesome fiance birthday cake from last week! (Chocolate cake with vanilla caramel Bailey’s icing. YUM.)

And all lit up:

October 16, 2012

On the Top Ten Reasons I Haven’t Written.

Filed under: Uncategorized — amandajocrafts @ 11:37 am

I have been a huge slacker for the last two weeks. But I have some really good excuses.

10) Homework. This is the most boring reason ever, but it’s true. I had a lot of really really other fun things going on, so normal free time (what little of it I typically have) became homework time for a couple weeks. Plus, since all my homework is reading and writing and thinking critically, by the time I have the spare second of free time to write on the good ol’ blog, my mind is creatively run dry! (The last time this happened was the semester in undergrad when I took writing fiction, writing poetry, and a victorian lit class at the same time. By the end of the semester, I was creative toast.)

9) Along with the homework, I had another major story due for one of my classes. I’m a strong believer in bringing your absolute best work to workshop. (Few things are more frustrating in class than when you spend a half hour as a class critiquing a student’s work, and then at the end they say “yeah, I already knew I needed to fix those things. I just finished it up really fast before it was due.” What a waste of time.) Therefore, in order to justify my view toward workshop, I had some work to do! (PS, happy with how it turned out, for now. Let’s just say there’s an adorable teddy bear involved that kept stealing my heart. BUT IT’S STILL LITERARY FICTION, I SWEAR!)

8) Had a couple fun custom orders from the etsy shop!

7) Also with Etsy, I’ve been wanting to make some scarves and cowls that had been on the back burner. This weekend, I finally got around to them! Look for them to start rolling out…well…tomorrow!

6) Was sick for just a day or two. Lame, I know.

5) There were TWO Steelers games in one week. TWO! (Of course, one we barely deserved to win, and the other we should have one and instead failed epicly. But hey, they’re still my team.)

4) Homemade cake. My fiance made me chocolate cake with vanilla caramel Bailey’s icing. Oh. Yum. (Look for pictures this week!)

3) There was a major wedding planning push. Big lists, a little panic, allocation of duties, and lots of sunflower talk. It resulted in a really solid list of to-dos and officially booking a photographer, so now I can procrastinate before the next thing. 🙂

2) The impetous for the wedding planning was purchasing my wedding dress! Classy, elegant, simple, traditional, lovely. Oh my it’s so very lovely. Not putting the name or picture on here because the fiance might just stumble across this post, and he’s not allowed to know :P. But if you’re really curious, of course I’ll tell you.

and the number one reason I’ve been a huge slacker….

1) My mommy came to visit! Who has time for homework or your Etsy shop or, let’s face it, your blog when your mommy’s in town for the weekend and you’re celebrating birthdays and planning a wedding and not doing homework! Come on, now. 🙂

But, I promise to do better in the future. Pinky swear.

October 9, 2012

On Pattern Hunting.

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 4:35 pm

Okay, my crafty folks!

Does anyone know of a knitting pattern that looks like this sweater from Bloomingdale’s?

Yes, in the end, it would probably just be simpler and cheaper to spend the money, but there’s something so rewarding about making it yourself 🙂

October 8, 2012

On Loving a Bama+Ry Purchase.

Well, I had to wait to post this one until after my mom’s received it for her birthday, because it was a gift for her.

I’d been “creeping” on Bama+Ry’s Etsy shop for quite some time now, in fact ever since she started cropping up in the Etsy Success forums and not only asking great questions, but also providing wonderful advice. Then I found her blog and started to get to know the person behind the shop. It wasn’t long before I was itching to purchase a creation of hers.

Excellently, what I was thinking for my mom’s birthday aligned perfectly with her shop. When I was younger, my mom used to read me Guess How Much I Love You  all the time. It’s a story about Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare, and they are essentially holding a contest about who loves who more. And Little Nutbrown Hare will say “I love you as high as I can reach” and Big Nutbrown Hare would say “I love you as high as I can reach.” At the end, Little Nutbrown Hare says “I love you right up to the moon” and, right after he falls asleep, Big Nutbrown Hare whispers “I love you right up to the moon…and back.”

Even as I got older, my mom and I would say that to each other. So, for her birthday, even though we don’t get to see each other as much anymore (me being all moved out of the house and supposedly grown up and all that!), I wanted to tell her how much I love her. After a complete quick, efficient messages between Bama+Ry and I, my pendant was in the works!

Even though it was a custom order, I received it very quickly, and I’m so happy with the way it turned out. My mom came to visit me for our birthday (yes, we have the same one!) and she was so happy and excited! It couldn’t have turned out better!

Thank you Bama+Ry!

October 2, 2012

On The Necessity and Power of Feedback.

Filed under: On Observing. — Tags: , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 11:25 am

Feedback is a coveted benchmark, so you would think we would provide it more.

Last week, my fiance and I were looking for a new entertainment center for our living room. We are still in the process of transferring college (read: cheap pressed wood and plastic) furniture for slightly more grown-up, in-our-twenties-and-fine-financially-but-not-ready-to-spend-thousands furniture. For this task, Amazon is our new best friend. Sure, you have to put the furniture together still with a thousand little screws and knobs, but it looks great when you’re done…if you’ve chosen the right piece.

This is where feedback was crucial to us. I created a “wish list” of pieces (thanks for the handy tool, Amazon!) and then we scoured the feedback. We could rule out ones where people said it fell apart the next day, we were aware of when someone mentioned a color didn’t match the picture, or if there was a trend of pieces arriving broken. Without this feedback, I don’t think we would have ended up with the incredible entertainment center that we now have.

Alternatively, I’ve been on the other side of feedback twice this week. On Etsy, feedback is manna to sellers, especially new ones. It makes your shop look better and more credible, it tells you how you’re doing, and if it’s good feedback, or a particularly kind review, it just gives you those warm fuzzies inside that can last the whole day. I received some delightful feedback this week, as well as left one for another seller, who took the time to tell me how much it meant to her to hear that I loved the piece she made.

Similar to that is feedback via teachers or professors. As a grad student in writing, I crave and beg for feedback in my pieces. I want to know what’s not working, I want to know what is, what can I change to make you believe in my characters, what can I tweak to make that story even a little bit better? Heck, I’ll take a grade–it’s some benchmark against which I can judge my progress.

Feedback is less formal, too. “I like that sweater,” “cute shoes,” “your haircut looks great,” boost us and make us feel more confident; again, a benchmark against which to weigh that particular facet.

So, if we all crave feedback so darn much (and don’t pretend you don’t), then why don’t we give it more?

I will always leave feedback for an Etsy seller. Since I am one, I know how much it brightens my day to hear a personal note that tells me what a customer thinks of my handmade item. Again, warm fuzzies ensue. Even with smaller shops on Amazon, I will try to remember. (One notable time is our kitchen island in our apartment. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of craftmanship from a simple, American-based company called Catskill Craftsman. It actually arrived with a split down the middle of one piece (through the fault of shipping, I’m sure) and when I called them about it, they apologized and sent out a new piece that day. That is amazing customer service, and I wrote them a great review.)

However, when it comes down to the bigger vendors on Amazon and the chain stores (Kohls, Target, etc.), I’m usually silent. Why?

I guess, at first thought, I figure that big stores don’t need me giving them a pat on the back because they probably don’t care. While that may be true, I still use the feedback for items in those stores to tell me if I want it or not. Especially with clothes shopping and Kohls, I scrutinize the reviews to see if there was someone with my general build who has a piece I’m looking at. I want to know if it fits small or big, or will make me look fat.

In what I’m going to call “social” feedback, I’m often reluctant to speak up, as well.

In my graduate classes, I’m sometimes hesitant in a new class to “tell it like it is” during critique, even though that’s exactly what I want from others. If my piece only gets a half hour of crit time, don’t waste half of it telling me you “liked” it; I want to know what’s not working. Therefore, I shouldn’t pansy around with someone else’s story, either. I don’t think I’ve ever been told that I’m being “mean” or “harsh.” What good writer doesn’t want as many opinions and thoughts as she can get?

At the end of the day, we all want the benchmark, but we don’t necessarily want to be the one to dish it out. I don’t know if it’s part of our twenty-first century politically correct world, or if it stems from a fear of being hated, or if it’s just a selfish desire (“I’m going to use what others have taken the time to say to make my decision, but I’m not going to leave anything for the next person.”) What do you think?

In the meantime, I’m off to Amazon. I’ve just guilt-tripped myself into the realization that I haven’t left any feedback for the entertainment center.

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