Monday, October 31, 2016

Finished Object Roll Call: October 2016


A custom ordered hat for a cute little girl: 

Skeins Out for the month: 4
Skeins in: 8 (unfortunately I ran out of white to finish the Christmas stocking order)


The BCLogCabin Swap Quilt top

And Two Fleece Blankets, possibly for Project Linus. 

If you'd like to see the FO's in progress, as they are completed, and some other random bits and pieces of life, follow me on Instagram!I also do GIVEAWAYS on Facebook.  You should go 'like' the page, be sure to be following it too! 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Shoutout to My Husband

Lately I’ve been struggling to keep up with things for health related reasons (minor, very normal things, don’t worry). And it’s been really hard on me to get through a day and feel like I did absolutely nothing.

You see, when we get to the end of the day I don’t see the load of laundry I did, the bed that got made, or the toilet that actually got cleaned. I see the laundry still sitting in the dryer, kitchen floor that wasn’t mopped and the dishes that are still in the sink. And everything else that was on the list for the day that just didn’t get done. And it’s hard. It’s hard because I know that a few months ago it would have been really easy to get everything done in a day, and still have time left over for some reading on the porch or some sewing or knitting and Netflix. 

But right now I just can’t do it.

As I was browsing through old pictures and blog post ideas I ran across this picture:

And I realized what a great husband I have. He came home the other day, and I again apologized for the house being a mess and that things didn’t get cleaned up. And you know what he did? He saw the load of laundry in the dryer and said, “You got the laundry done, and that counts.”

Dang. He’s good at this One is better than None thing.

He’s also been very patient and will get the dishes done when I don’t get to them. We’ll fold the laundry together. He’ll even cook dinners when he gets home early enough. And while I still feel bad that I can’t get them all done, I love that he will help me out and make me feel a little better by crossing some things off my list for me, and encouraging me for the things I do get done.

Even when it’s one load of laundry that’s still in the dryer. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Design Wall: I don't have one

A couple of years ago I decided to dip my toe into the world of quilting. As some of you know, I love sewing, and have for years. I even worked professionally as a seamstress for several years and I still dabble in that every now and then. Over the years though, I’ve found that being a seamstress seems to be the exception in the sewing hobby world. It seems that quilting is what a lot of people are doing, and when I go to buy fabric it’s the assumption of whoever is helping me in the shop that I am working on a quilt.

But, this post isn’t about people making assumptions, or how wonderful other forms of sewing can be, it’s about something that I discovered when I entered the world of quilting.

The Design Wall.

You see, almost every book or online tutorial I ran across references the use of the Design Wall. I had no idea what that meant or why it seemed so NECESSARY to have one. I did some online sleuthing and discovered a tutorial on how to make one, which was infinitely helpful to my understanding of what it was.

Basically, you commandeer a wall in your house, cover it with batting or flannel, and when you make a quilt you put the pieces up on this wall so you can see what the quilt will look like before you finalize the design. Pretty nifty.

If you are retired and don’t have young children and own your home and have enough room to have a dedicated quilting room.

For those of us who aren’t so lucky, here’s my system to use instead of the Design Wall.

Alternative Design Walls

         The Living Room Floor

This is my first go- to spot to lay out the quilt pieces to finalize the design. One of my favorite memories of this was when my dad walked in on my perched on top of the couch staring down at a quilt. He asked how it was going, and I said, “Something isn’t right.” He then left me to continue staring. (I did fix it, just had to move a couple squares to different spots.)

The big benefit to using the floor is that you can do what a lot of people say the benefit of a design wall is; you can back up (or in my case, climb up) and get  the Big Picture of the quilt to see if it is balanced, and visually the way you would like it to be. 

This method, like the next one, does require some planning and quick execution. I wait until I have all the pieces made and ready to go. Then I have to plan for a time when my husband is gone, preferably to work so I know I have a couple of hours if something else takes my time.

When the appointed time comes, I move the rocking chairs and other various items scattered across the living room floor (a good excuse to do a quick clean and vacuum if you have the time). Then I throw the pieces of the quilt down. Well, not literally, there is some thought behind it. I arrange them, and rearrange until I have the design that is needed.


The Bed

This is the same as the Living Room Floor, just a little more contained. If you have a smaller quilt, it’s quite easy to do on the bed, given you have a larger bed.

Again you have to plan for a time when family members will not be put out by this. I mean, we like our sleep in this household and that includes naps!

A positive to this one is if you have young children running about. If distracted by them, you can just leave the pieces on the bed, and shut the bedroom door while you tend to the child. Or cat, or dog, or husband.

You just clear the bed (there always seems to be laundry in need of folding on ours) and lay out the pieces, arranging them until you get the design right.

A negative to this method, for me at least, is that it's harder to get the Big Picture of the quilt since I can't be above it. 

Now for the MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE PROCESS whether you are using the floor or the bed. Take pictures of the final layout of the quilt. You will not remember. Even if you stack the blocks a certain way, with a ‘method’. You won’t remember what the order or method was six months later when you finally get on with actually sewing the blocks together.

Note that the picture on the right has the same blocks as the picture on the left. The right blocks in the right pic, and the left blocks in the left pic. 

I will take a picture of the full quilt, if possible, and then do close ups. I do close ups of 4 or 6 blocks or so. And I overlap the pictures so I know that I’m getting everything where it was planned to be. Take more pictures than you think you need.  These pictures stay in a safe place (on the camera) until the quilt top is completed.

My most recent project included multiple steps of assembling. So, I took pictures of each step to doubly insure that everything worked out the way I originally planned. It was a log cabin block, that got assembled into bigger log cabins, then the final product. So I took pictures of the small blocks laid out, then the larger assembled blocks, and now the final quilt top.

Hopefully for those of you who are new to quilting this has been helpful. And helped you feel a bit better about not having a fancy Design Wall to work with in your house. I honestly don’t think I will ever have one, I’ve got family pictures that belong on the wall not quilts in progress! 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Don't Do This to Make Extra Money

There are a lot of ways to make some extra income in your spare time. Tons. Answering surveys online, tutoring, babysitting, selling things on eBay, offering services on Fiverr or TakeLessons, heck people even make money blogging!

But I have one piece of advice on something you should NOT do to make extra money. Brace yourselves for this.

Don’t make crafts and sell them on Etsy.

Now, this is a popular addition to blog posts and articles about making extra money, because you can make money from making things and selling them on Etsy. However, a major reason I tell people to not do this is because you don’t do it right.

As someone who does sell on Etsy, and elsewhere, it is very difficult to actually make money from it. Why? Because of folks out there who think to themselves, “Hey, I like to make _______, I should make a bunch and sell them!”

But, I can hear you saying, you just said that you sell on Etsy and elsewhere. Aren’t you one of those people who makes stuff and tries to sell it?

Yes, yes I am. But I treat it like a business. What do I mean by that? Well let me start off by saying why I don’t like the fly by night crafters who are just trying to make a quick buck.

  •      They use the cheapest material they can.
  •      They don’t time themselves and charge a living hourly wage based on skill level, cost of materials, and overhead (gas, postage, packaging, etc.)
  •       They are amateurs- meaning they haven’t worked professionally in the field, or they don’t take classes to learn or improve skills, and they just kind of do it when they want to.
  •      They price to sell, not to live
All of these things undermine those of us who are trying to actually ‘ do it right’. I can’t compete with a lady using $2 WalMart yarn to make hats, that take her four hours to make each,  and sell them for $5 a pop.  It’s just not possible.

Not only that, but that becomes the expectation on sites like Etsy and at craft markets and fairs. Customers can no longer identify quality over price.

As an example, if I were to make a hat using yarn that I would buy and use for myself, the yarn alone would cost $20. If I’m careful with it I might get two hats out of it. So, $10 in materials only. Then there’s the whole 4 hours to actually make the hat. Charging a fair wage based on my experience (10 years of knitting, professional seamstress for three years, and university educated in costume design, and continually attending workshops and classes to learn new skills and improve my current skill set) and performing what would be considered “Skilled Labor” (think what you pay your mechanic or doctor), I would expect about $15 an hour. You also need to factor in the time it took to go to the store, buy the yarn, the mileage to and from the store and post office, plus the time it took to package and mail your hat to you. Don’t forget postage. I’m in to one hat almost $100.

People look at your $5 acrylic Walmart hat, and my $100 handmade wool hat and only see the dollar signs.

There are people out there who rely on platforms like Etsy and craft fairs as their sole income. If they can’t sell because there are amateurs to compete with on price, then their families starve.  They lose their house because they can’t make the mortgage payment.

All because you think you can make a quick buck by producing a craft product cheaply and selling it.

So, if that is your plan I ask you to PLEASE DON’T DO IT. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Finished Object Roll Call: September 2016

I feel like I had a pretty productive month compared to the last few! Go me! 


Finally Finished the pair of neon socks for myself. (still need to figure out what to do with the rest of the skein.) 

Four, yes FOUR Custom Ordered Christmas Stockings
(Fifth is started but not completed) 

And One Baby Hat as part of the stashbusting project. 

Skeins Out for the month: 4
Skeins in: 8 (unfortunately I ran out of white to finish the Christmas stocking order)


Some prototype Burp Cloths

I have plans to revamp the Etsy shop and getting some new products is a huge part of that. Keep an eye out for some tutorials and new items on the blog! (and in the shop.)

If you'd like to see the FO's in progress, as they are completed, and some other random bits and pieces of life, follow me on Instagram!I also do GIVEAWAYS on Facebook.  You should go 'like' the page, be sure to be following it too!