Monday, July 27, 2009

Urban Legends Yarn In the Shop!

dark and stormy sock
All limited edition colorways, including "Dark & Stormy Night" (above), "Golden Arm" (I want my golden arm!), "Amityville," "The Babysitter," and more! Shop link.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

More Showing Off

After my little run-in with a not so pleasant client, I backed off from making myself available to do ads for Ravelry (and elsewhere). I'm still working with existing clients, and taking new ones on a referral basis.

Nestucca Bay Yarns & Fibers ( was an early client and has kept me busy throughout the last year plus. It's kind of become my LYS (local yarn store), even though it's not remotely local (Oregon). They recently launched a new site that's even easier to navigate (and is connected to their in-store sales, so the quantities available are pretty accurate).

This little baby on the left is something I whipped up for them, although I can't take credit for the artistic elements (except the picture of the yarn (that's my own Malabrigo)): just the composition is mine. This one is in the current knitscene magazine (fall09), and will be in an upcoming Interweave Knits. It's my third such ad, and every time, I get pretty excited and have to show off. (I can't wait to see the Facebook ad pop up!)

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Friday, July 17, 2009

The Pens Cost More Than the Planner

By request/suggestion:
Last fall, I needed a planner.I don't know why I didn't have one for the calendar year already, but I didn't. I picked up a spiral number at an office supply store, relieved that they had some that started in September. I popped it into a (slightly beat up) planner cover that I'd been saving for some reason, and went on my merry way.

What I didn't realize is that it only had pages through the end of June (and the first few days of July, to finish the week). Well, crap. (It wasn't a traditional studen planner -- no homework schedules, etc.) I tried muddling through with printouts from my work scheduling program, but I needed something more solid, something that I could carry around with me and, you know, plan stuff with. Ordering one now would a) land me in a similar predicament next year, and b) would require an expenditure I didn't want to make. I decided to make my own.

I consulted a co-worker, who sent me several online possibilites, including the Hipster PDA (index cards & a binder clip). I finally settled on my interpretation of the DIY Planner.

This would have been SO easy in InDesign, but for reasons I can't go into, I had to create it in Publisher (ick). Still, I'm pretty proud of how it turned out.

I used some scrap paper to make a "mechanical" so I could get the pages laid out correctly (they needed to line up right when printed on both sides and folded together). The first few pages are month calendars, followed by some notes pages, then each 2-page spread has a weekly calendar one one side and a to-do list on the other. At the very back are some more notes/ideas pages. I stuck 2 sheets of slightly thicker paper together with adhesive, and used that as the outer cover (to slide into the cover's sleeve) and stapled the center several times with a long-reach stapler.

To make a six-month calendar, I used 18 sheets of paper, printed on both sides I might be short 2 weeks, since I started it on 13 July, so a full calendar would be 20 pages. If copying costs were 10¢ each, that's about $4. Half that if you get a deal and can print for 5¢ a side. Because I'm also using this for work, I printed it on a duplex machine here. So... free. (If you want a PDF of this calendar, leave a comment with your email address.)

The only thing that bums me out is that I started filling in the dates with an orange Flair pen, which started to give up the ghost. So I picked up a package of metallic gel pens to continue the job. Now it doesn't match! If I decide to make a planner for 2010, it might have the dates pre-printed and will probably be spiral-bound (cut in half instead of folded).

What I love about doing it myself is the fact that I can have the pages the way I use them. I don't have a lot of appointments, but I do have a lot of things to do! (I do have an appointment tonight: meeting John & my friend Jdub at the movie theater to see Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince.)

*A "mechanical" is a way to confirm page placements when you're doing things manually. In an application like InDesign, you do your pages in the order you want to see them, and a plug-in will - ziiip - put them in the right order.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Introducing: Urban Legends Yarn

Urban Legends Yarn

Squee! I renamed my Etsy shop (same user name, though (edited to fix link -- thanks, Sarah)) and have been added to Ravelry as a "yarnie," in preparation for the launch of my new endeavor: hand-dyed yarns! Over the weekend, I plan do do some more dyeing, and some sewing, to get some stock into the shop.

When the dyeing bug bit, I knew that I'd eventually have to come up with a theme for my colorways, even if I didn't sell them; it's kind of a tradition, but it also just sounded fun. Urban Legends was born out of my love for horror movies and supernatural TV shows. When a skein of yarn I dyed for John turned out nothing like I expected, I put it in time-out for awhile, then decided that I liked it. I thought it looked like a field of wheat, and named it Crop Circles. The Urban Legends line was born.

I've since done Swamp Thing, Bloody Mary, Bathtub Kidney (by request) and Area 51. (If you can't get to Ravelry, you can see some colorways under my "urban legends" Flickr tag.) Colorway names will fall under the categories of urban legends, monsters, conspiracy theories, lore and phenomena (maybe some phobias, too).

Also coming to the shop are some sewn items: project bags similar to the one shown in the previous post (less complicated bags mean lower prices), some skull pillow shams similar to ones I made a few years ago*, and more! I hope to do an update by sometime on Sunday.

I have a couple of goals. Mainly, to make enough money to buy more yarn to keep dyeing more (and learning more); also, to make some "mad-money" so I can buy doo-dads without worrying about making ends meet. Just because I'm working full-time and bringing home a paycheck (monthly, eeew), doesn't mean I haven't forgotten what it's like to be broke and wondering if I could make my insulin last until I got benefits (I did!).

*I'm thinking about picking one pillow size (say, the travel pillows you can find everywhere) and making just the shams to save on shipping costs for my customers.

Mystery Solved
I don't believe I shared here that I solved the mystery of the Crop Circles yarn (that was supposed to be Mossy Green). Weeeel. It's kind of embarrassing, but I'm sharing anyway. When you work with acid dyes, you need a mordant, something that helps set the dyes. A very commonly used mordant is your basic white vinegar, but it turns out that the smell of vinegar (spread by the steam from the boiling water) makes John nuts. No problem -- another one that's fairly easy to get is citric acid. I had just been given a bag of it, but remembered having some with my bath-salt making supplies, so I figured I'd use that up first. Guess what? It wasn't citric acid. At least not entirely -- I must have mixed some salts that were just waiting for scent to be added and forgot. Tossed the whole container in the trash and haven't had a problem since!

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Born on the 4th of July

New Sock Bag in use
I did a little sewing on Saturday morning. I wanted to take a little gift to the daughter of the people we were going to be seeing at a pro-freedom rally/tea party protest, and I really needed a small sock bag that I could hang from my wrist while I wandered around. At some point, I'll try a drawstring version, but I liked this one just fine.

I stitched up two bags before we hit the road:

  1. The one shown above was made using one of my favorite cherry prints (I hoard those pieces!). For the lining, I used a nifty red print from Jennifer/Feltmouse (I won a contest on her blog ages ago -- haven't done a lot of sewing since, but I'm ready to start working through it). I made it long, and kind of deep, so it holds a small notebook, a big ball of sock yarn and a sock-in-progress. During the event, I also managed to cram a bottle of water and my camera in there, along with some literature. Now, it's back to just holding the notebook, yarn & sock.
  2. The green one, which you can see on my Flickr page, was made using some really cool green vintage fabric that reminded me of strawberry leaves (the recipient loves strawberries), also received from Feltmouse; for the lining I used a fruit print that I had in my stash (second from right, here).
I'd love to talk about the event, but I need some time to collect my thoughts. There were three excellent speakers, but the remaining speakers veered way off the course of pro-freedom discussion. In every other way, it was a great day; I met some fascinating new people and even got to take some video that John may use in an upcoming Think Twice News episode. After we got home, when it started getting dark, we were treated to a pretty decent backyard fireworks display (our neighbors had a professional set-up). It's a short video:

On Friday, I visited a local cemetery with KarenD. I'll be posting pics to my Flickr account in the next couple of days (need to do some resizing).

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