amandajocrafts

November 29, 2012

On Supporting Handmade.

Oh Christmas!

I’m not one for getting swept up in the commercialism of the season, but boy oh boy do I love giving gifts! You heard me right–my favorite part of gifting is not the receiving, but the look of delight on someone’s face at Christmas that lets me know I got them just the right thing. It’s all about making people happy 🙂

This Christmas, as I’ve done for the past couple of years now, I’m doing my best to gift handmade and support small businesses. Of course, I definitely bought stuff (with coupons!) from big stores (Kohls and I are best buds), but at the same time, I’m making a concentrated effort to support handmade whenever possible!

It’s definitely worth paying the little extra to know that not only are you making the day of the person to whom you are giving the gift, but you’re also making the day of that seller! (Do you know how excited I get when I sell an item? Really? There’s typically some jumping involved :))

So, let me know below if you’re planning on supporting handmade this season, through Etsy or craft fairs or wherever, and I’ll get you started with some of my favorites. (That I didn’t get for other people, don’t want to spoil any surprises!) If you like any of them, just click on the picture to send you there!

Hair Pin Buttons by Chatterblossom

Autumn Pillow by NeedlesnPinsStitchery

Hobbiton Necklace by PrettyLittleCharmsUK

Country Button Earrings by ciaralg

“I Like Big Books” Tote by PamelaFugateDesigns

How have you supported handmade this holiday season?

Advertisements

November 12, 2012

On Some Fingerless Gloves.

Gotta share a quick one 🙂

I just listed my first pair of fingerless gloves at my Etsy store, and I couldn’t be more excited about them. I made a pair for myself last week (in pink, a made-to-order set in that color will be showing up later this week in the shop!) and have been wearing them to work ever since–they’re great to type with, they keep my hands nice and toasty, and I love the dexterity!

I wanted something that was both super warm and cozy and something that looks delicate and classy, and maybe a little Victorian–so both bulk and delicacy (I wanted it all, basically :)) Well, I worked with it for a bit and finally came up with a pattern that I think satisfies both!

Also, I just wanted to mention how excited I am by the photgraphy of these gloves–don’t they look great?! I owe the photo to my fiance, because my hands were in the gloves!

If you have a moment, come and check them out here!

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 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 🙂

September 27, 2012

On Never Judging a Boot by Its Genre.

Filed under: On Observing. — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 11:16 am

I’m not much of a country-western junkie. I don’t really go in for the hog-ties and bull riding, I really dislike riding horses (mostly because of the smell), and I think cowboy hats look pretty silly on anyone except Kenny Chesney. The only country music I really listen to is Taylor Swift (I love her, can’t help it). Frankly, I’m really much more of a Victorian girl. So, it surprised me just as much as anybody else when I fell in love with a pair of cowgirl boots.

A huge fan of boots, I wanted something I could wear pretty much anywhere and any way. I have a FANTASTIC pair of Victorian knee-high boots that I love for certain things, but they’re hardly daily wear. (PS, those are not my legs! That’s the photo from the website I purchased them from.)

At the same time, I didn’t want just the simple brown boots that everyone seems to be getting. I wanted something a little…different. Well, my fiance found this awesome website, sheplers.com, which sells quite a bit of western gear. Most of the cowgirl boots didn’t appeal to me, but then I found a pair that were still cowgirl boots, but, I swear, Victorian. See for yourself:

They are super comfortable, too! Such a rich, red color that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Amazing quality and stitching. And look at the scalloping on the top! I fully anticipate wearing them with those pretty ivory lace socks that go up just over the boots 🙂 Look at the details!

The moral of the story: never judge a boot by its genre. I have been totally boot-whipped. 🙂

September 17, 2012

On Hooded Scarf Update #1.

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 9:53 am

The hooded scarf is coming along swimmingly! It’s been about 10 days since I first posted that I had started this project, and it’s actually been going pretty fast! (If you’re curious about it from the get-go, check out my first post here.)

I try to devote a little bit of time every evening to knitting for myself (and I really do put it on my calendar in that way: “knit for myself,” because it’s too easy to end up using that time for things in my Etsy shop!)

My fiance and I finish whatever else we’re doing by a certain time, and then take about a half hour together to watch reruns of Frasier and do some knitting. (Yes, he knits, too! I taught him how :). He’s making a knitted tie in a thin, black cord-type yarn with really small double-pointed needles. Maybe once he’s done, I’ll get a picture of it!) It’s a nice opportunity to wind down at the end of what is always a busy day, and it feels rewarding to treat yourself to some crafting for yourself.

Here’s how far I’ve come:

This pattern starts by making the entire scarf part, and then connecting it to the hat part later. On the far left is where the first pocket will be; you do three sets of the pattern and then one knit row, so that it folds over and the pattern stays on the correct side. For about two weeks of work, I’d say that’s some progress!

A nice close-up of the pattern:

I love the way those middle circles are working out. They pop out so nicely against the background, and since the yarn is really soft, they give a great texture.

And here’s my “artistic” shot:

I just love working with this pattern and this yarn! Now that I have the pattern down pat, I barely have to look at the directions at all. On the flip side, I “try it on” every night just to see how it feels because I can’t wait for it to be done–and it’s great! So soft, and so warm. I think, when it comes down to it, it’ll probably be done right when it needs to be: just in time for winter.

September 11, 2012

On Jen’s Tangled Threads.

What better way to start bundling up for fall and winter than by thinking of some nice, warm feet! As you know, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the weather change, as I am much more of an autumn than a summer type of girl, and Jen’s Tangled Threads is the perfect shop to get me in the spirit of the changing season.

Jen is a one-woman operation–though her son is her official color coordinator–working in her spare time (which, as all mothers know, is a farce of an expression) and taking moments between dance competitions and caring for her son to crochet her invention: flip-furs. Flip-furs actually originated from attending dance competitions. She noticed many of the dancers did not have a simple alternative to the dance shoes they wore onstage, and would stay in those uncomfortable shoes or just go barefoot (even in the bathrooms, which I’d agree is pretty yucky) when they weren’t dancing.

As a former (not-at-all-professional) dancer myself, and with fifteen years of ballet, tap, and jazz under my belt, I can definitely attest to that issue. With tap, you certainly can’t wear those shoes around after you perform, and with jazz or ballet, you wear out the shoes much faster if you keep them on when you don’t need them. And as to the barefoot option–no, thanks. (Have you seen the research on all the foot diseases??)

So, to offer another option, Jen created her flip-furs. Girls had a warmer, comfier option than just flip-flops when they weren’t onstage, and they, and their parents, didn’t have to worry about what they might be picking up while they strolled around. (I wish I had heard of these when I was dancing!)

Expanding your horizons, they would also make some awesome dorm slippers for those college kids you know. (Back in my day, I would have JUMPED on a lime green pair. Everything was lime green for me–sheets, rugs, lamps, lightbulbs….drove my now fiance crazy then, I’m sure. He’s dark blues and browns all the way.)

Although her flip-furs are her favorite item in her shop–I’d be proud of them too, they’re so unique!–her favorite items to make are her baby blankets. She uses Caron Simply Soft for them, and finds it more friendly to work with than other yarns. (I myself am a huge Caron Simply Soft fan–I’m using it for the knitted, hooded scarf I was chatting about last week!)

Right now, there’s a beautiful rainbow blanket in her shop, customizable for whatever colors you want!

Look for some more baby blankets, as well as washcloths and doilies, to be peeking their way in amongst the flip-furs in the upcoming months, as having more ready-to-ship items in her shop is one of her long-term shop goals. (That and marrying a rich man, so she can spend more time crocheting, of course!) The first of her new items is already up: a crochet shawl wrap perfect for those cool fall nights. Again, it’s made with her favorite Caron Simply Soft yarn.

In addition to selling on Etsy, she also sells at her son’s dance studio and has begun branching out at craft fairs. It’s a rough market to be in, and I give her kudos for taking the time to try craft fairs. I’ve only done one, myself.

Finally, I asked her to weigh in on my “pricing for profit” debate (click here if you haven’t read about it yet). Like many other crocheters, she’s been struggling with the balance between fair wages for her and inexpensive prices for her customers. “Somehow I can’t make myself raise my prices beyond what they are now….my biggest customer base is my dance moms, and they spend so much [already] on dance lessons.” It’s a rough decision to make, but I applaud her for addressing the issue and tackling it; it’s something each crocheter has to decide for herself.

So, if you’re digging Jen and her tangled threads, you should check out her shop. And if you’re looking to find out even more about her unique Flip-Furs, you can learn more and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@jtangledthreads), or Blogspot. Expect a giveaway from Jen via her blog once she reaches fifty followers! (So it’s the perfect time to go on over there and start following!)

Want to be featured yourself? Click on over here for the submission form.

September 7, 2012

On Bundling Down for Winter via Knitting.

Yes, I know that it’s even shameful for me to think of this season right now, as in the US, it isn’t even autumn yet, but I have a project in mind.

I am not great at managing cold weather, snow, and wind, and so I want an extremely warm covering for my head. With that in mind, I had intended to make a “scarf hat” last winter but had never gotten around to it. It’s basically a hat whose back kind of trails into a thick scarf that you can wrap around your face and neck. (But it’s not the end of the hat that turns into a scarf; it’s the front piece on either side.) I saw something similar to what I was looking for at an amazing Etsy shop, pixiebell:

The only problem is my stubbornness; I tend to insist on making winter items myself. Since I know how to knit, it always feels like a huge cop-out to just buy it from someone else, even if that someone else is incredible and it would be in my best interest and completely worth it.

So I went on the great hunt for a pattern, digging through endless false leads. (Do you know how many hat and scarf patterns there are out there? Shouldn’t typing {“scarf hat” pattern} into Google search yield more relevant results?) And then, I realized how silly I was being. There are names for this thing: a hooded scarf and a scoodie.

And armed with that critical piece of knowledge, I have found the perfect pattern. It’s a beautiful knitted, cabled, hooded scarf with pockets at the end for your hands (something I wasn’t expecting to enjoy, but I’m quickly warming–pun intended–to the idea).

A trip to Michael’s later, and I had the yarn I wanted to use: Caron’s Simply Soft in Dark Sage.

I have a dark brown knee-length winter coat, so this should go perfectly :). Of course, I had to buy a couple extra skeins for mittens, “just in case”! I’ve already modified the scarf’s pattern to use on the mittens, as well, so if that goes as planned, I’ll share that pattern with you, too!

I do actually slightly prefer knitting to crocheting, just because you can really do some awesome detail work. However, since it is so labor intensive, I don’t knit for my shop, because I would feel uncomfortable charging that much for an item. Instead, I knit clothing for myself and occasionally for my fiance. I’m excited to have this chance to work on something for myself!

So far, I have the first pocket done. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Are you planning any winter projects?

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.