Thursday, March 3, 2011

Working with wire, a little crochet, and maybe a little crochet with wire?

Sorry I've been absent from blog and Twitter land for a while. I've been going a little crazy with some family and work stuff, so my hobbies have had to take a backseat to brainless activities like watching TV when I've had the time, because I just haven't felt up to creating much.

I'm planning to come back with a vengeance as soon as I can, though. ;) I had another wirework class last Sunday with a very talented instructor, and I plan to practice a lot of what I've learned with some copper wire I bought. In all likelihood, I'll eventually be making some copper wirework jewelry to sell, since copper is both pretty and affordable. But I'm getting ahead of myself, as usual. First, I must practice!! I've also taken out several books on wirework from the library, so I've got a ton of different ideas floating around. Just gotta harness them. Wish me luck. :)

I do have a small problem, though: I really, really need a good pair of flush cutters for cutting larger-gauge wire. The only ones I have now are good for cutting 20-gauge and above, and I really want to work with some 16- and 18-gauge. But I can't, for now, because good flush cutters cost money and so do the groceries, and it's not really hard to decide which of those we need more. I may eventually cave and just use the plastic to buy some flush cutters, but it all depends on what I can find.

A pair of earrings from my Etsy shop were just featured in this Etsypreneurs Team Treasury! Yeehaw!! Many other beautiful things are showcased there, as well. Please take a look.

As for the crochet, it hasn't gone anywhere since my last Stitch & Bitch, 2 weeks ago (I couldn't make it to last week's S&B). The next one's tomorrow, though, so I hope I can get some good crocheting done. The shawl I am making is going to be beautiful--the tiny little piece of it that I have made already is--but I do not know when/where I will possibly wear it. I haven't really been a shawl person in the past. Maybe this one will convert me, though...Who knows?!

I'd also really like to try crocheting with wire. I have a specific project in mind: I have a beautiful pendant that I bought from a jewelry artist a few years ago (unfortunately, I don't remember her name or have a way of tracking her down). It's a sterling silver crocheted wire circle with a larger-gauge wire frame, and a few beads toward the middle. I should take a picture of it so you can see what I'm talking about.

I want to learn how to make pendants like that one. I may have to figure out how to make it myself, though, since I haven't found anything like it since I bought it, much less anything like it with a tutorial. I've seen instructions for crocheted wire circle pendants, but none of them have frames, and I don't really like the way they look without frames. I do not know if the artist crocheted the frame onto the pendant (which it looks like she did), or how.

Friday, February 18, 2011

South Bay progress and a 3-day weekend!

I did, indeed, start the South Bay Shawlette. Here's what it looks like after today's Stitch & Bitch:
South Bay Shawlette, so far
I would link to the pattern, but the Lion Brand website keeps redirecting me to its sign-in page when I try, and if I link to it in Ravelry, you have to sign in to Ravelry. I think it's silly that you can't even see what the finished shawl looks like without signing in somewhere. At least you can see my version here. ;) (And--hey wait--I guess I did just link to it on both sites. Heheh. You just won't be able to see the pattern and/or finished product unless you're logged in. But you're welcome to click!)

Yes, that is one of my handmade fuchsia butterfly stitch markers marking the middle stitch of the last row. I have one set of those that I've kept for myself. That's right, I only have one set of stitch markers. Period. I will build up more of a collection as I sell more, and can afford to keep some more of what I've made. I do think I will need a set of coffee beans!

By the way, I can make jewelry to go with any of these stitch markers. That's right, you can match your stitch markers! LOL! Seriously, I keep meaning to make coffee bean bead jewelry, but I haven't gotten to it yet. I've seen what some others on Etsy have done with similar beads, but what I'm envisioning is a little different.

I have a 3-day weekend coming up, so I hope I will get to spend some quality time with the yarn and bead stashes! And with my hubby, too. But he's busy working on his dissertation a lot of the time.

I'll be visiting my grandmother tomorrow. Grams has just moved into an independent living facility. Things have been...interesting. I haven't seen her new place for myself yet. I hope it's better than she thinks it is. :-/

If you've made it this far, will you please do me a favor and go to my last post and tell me which yarn you think would make a better Sera Lace Top? Please help! I need some input! :) Thanks in advance!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yeah, I know, my last post was titled "Valentine's Day." A little redundant. But today, it actually is Valentine's Day, so I am wishing you a happy one. My husband and I will be exchanging small gifts later this evening, and I have no idea what he got me, so I am really excited! I won't say what I got him, either, since he doesn't know yet. ;) Maybe I'll tell you in my next post if any of you are curious!

I still have no projects on my crochet hooks (well, except the ones that are hibernating, and most of them will probably stay that way at this point). I have, however, spent some time on Ravelry lately (I'm smilingturtle on there, and I welcome new friends). I'm hopeful that tonight, I will start work on a South Bay Shawlette using my Yarntopia Rayon Boucle in the Arizona colorway.

That is the yarn of which I have half a skein wound, half a skein incredibly tangled (wahhh!), and 2 unwound skeins. (Is that right, or am I supposed to call them "hanks" when they're not wound yet? Yarn terminology is a little confusing to me.) I'll start with that wound half-skein and see what happens. I'll probably have to wind more, and I hope it won't get tangled again!

I also really want to start a Sera Lace Top for myself. Actually, the South Bay Shawlette is also for me--I'm being selfish for a bit! Anyway, I haven't decided yet whether I want to use purple Tatamy Tweed or Spa in Ocean Spray. The tweedy yarn might look weird in such an open pattern, but it might also look really cool. And I've been wanting to work with Spa for a long time. This is going to be a tough decision. What would you do? For reference, here's a pic of my Tatamy Tweed:
tatamy tweed
And here's a pic of the Spa, courtesy of

What do you think? Which would make a better Sera?

I want to start the Shawlette first, since I may be able to take it to Stitch & Bitch on Friday if it turns out to be easy enough to work on while talking. :) I'll just need to have enough of the yarn wound for that. *gulp*

On the beading front, I have been making Purple Butterfly Stitch Markers. I am selling them in my Etsy store and donating 20% of the cost of the item (not including shipping) to the National Fibromyalgia Association. (They have not endorsed my product in any way; I'm just doing this on my own.) One of the symbols for fibromyalgia awareness is a purple butterfly, and fibromyalgia awareness is a cause close to my heart, so I thought this would be a good idea. I have sold some already, and I have 2 more sets for sale in the store now and will make more soon.

I also took a wire work class on Sunday. It was a lot of fun! I finally have the right sort of hammer for hammering wire, and I finally got to actually hammer some. It was exciting. I also learned to make head pins with curly ends, and brushed up on how to make briolette wraps. The instructor tried to teach us her way to make wrapped loops, but I am afraid that I'm stuck in my ways with that one, so I'll just continue to do what works for me as long as it still looks pretty and consistent!

There will be a second class in 2 weeks, and I am really looking forward to it.

And that, my friends, is my long Valentine's Day post. I hope you are all having a wonderful day full of chocolate. Mmmm, chocolate. (And if you don't like chocolate...I still hope you're having a wonderful day!)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Valentine's Day

Tomorrow, my Stitch & Bitch group's Valentine's Day hat and scarf project for the children's hospital comes to a close. I am very ashamed to admit that I still haven't finished that one scarf. I'm maybe almost about halfway done. The pattern is really slow going, at least for me; and the Red Heart Super Saver yarn is driving me crazy. It's so coarse and splitty. I think it has its purpose, and I might use that kind of yarn for other things someday (at least I hope I will, since I have some in my stash!); but it does not inspire me to make pretty things, or at least not this particular pretty thing.

Maybe I should've used some of my Caron Simply Soft instead? Doesn't matter now, but maybe if we undertake another charity project in the future, I should pick my own yarn.

I have had very little time to crochet lately, anyway. I am going to try to find some crochet time in the mornings before work.

I haven't done a whole heck of a lot of playing with the beads lately, either. I do have a picture of the Valentine's Day stitch markers I mentioned in my last post:
valentine's day stitch markers
And they can be found in my Etsy store, here. Happy early Valentine's Day!

I really like Valentine's Day. I always have. I used to throw Valentine's Day parties when I was in college, whether I was single and bitter or happily (or unhappily) coupled. I always felt that it was a good time to let my friends know how much I appreciated them. (And to eat CHOCOLATE. Lots of chocolate!) I've been known to send out Valentine's Day cards to my friends, too, but I don't think I'll get to it this year. I hope I will at least send them out to my family. I have a card for my hubby already, and a little gift for him. Yes, I love the Hallmark hype. So sue me. ;)

Love is a good thing, and should be celebrated!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Insert witty title here

Once again, "real life" has been interfering with my crocheting and beading adventures. *sigh* I keep planning to do more interesting crochet stuff, but I'm still just making that one darn scarf for the children's hospital. If you're on Ravelry, you can check out the pattern here. It's called "Skinny Cabled Scarf." Lots of front and back post double crochet, making a reversible cabled pattern. It's pretty cool, but it takes a while. I've also pretty much only been working on it at Stitch & Bitch. The other ladies have been stitching up a storm, so we may actually make our goal of two dozen scarf and hat sets by Valentine's Day, despite my delinquency. :P

Don't know when I'm ever going to start that baby hat for my family friend's grandson. Maybe when he's about 2 years old? OK, now I'm just being mean to myself. I'll get to it eventually--and I'll make it big-ish, and he'll grow into it. I hope that's a good plan. Anyway, a baby hat shouldn't take me too long to make. (I hope I'm not jinxing myself by saying that.)

Meanwhile, since I last posted, I've made a bracelet to match that cool green ceramic bead necklace. Here's a pic:
Green ceramic bead bracelet
I plan to list it and the necklace soon. I also made a bracelet to match the unakite necklace. It's a little long, since I wanted it to have a clasp to match the one on the necklace, and I didn't want to make it too short. After all, I can always shorten it for a customer; I can't lengthen it without re-stringing it. But I'd be willing to do that for a customer as well, of course.

I've also made a whole bunch of stitch markers. I made a set with a Valentine's Day theme, a set with Czech flower beads in 3 different colors, and some purple butterflies, among others. They'll all be listed in my Etsy store soon. Here's a photo of those Czech flower bead markers:
Czech flower bead stitch markers
These can also be 3 pairs of earrings, if you'd prefer! I actually had a customer order 6 coffee bean stitch markers because she wanted 3 pairs of coffee bean earrings. The lever back earring hooks are great. These stitch markers/earrings are much cheaper than what I usually make, because the head pins are base metal and the lever back hooks are silver plated. I am a little bit of a snob when it comes to my jewelry-making materials, and will usually use sterling silver or gold filled for jewelry before I'll use "base metal" (confession: I don't even know exactly what that means, besides inexpensive!) or metal plated. (Though I've been thinking about branching out into copper and brass.)

I've also been doing a lot of soul searching when it comes to the jewelry business and how I want to run it and what my goals are. I've been reading loads of books and websites. I bought a book called The Handmade Marketplace the other day, because I'd been reading it in the bookstore and thought it was helpful enough that I wanted to own it. Thanks to the book, I finally understand the concept of "branding," which I really didn't before.

I also need to contact my accountant (she doesn't even know I've started a business!) and make an appointment with a SCORE representative.

Also, I bought a really cute little Sony Vaio laptop for the purpose of watching beading and wire work tutorial videos while I'm actually working on said beading or wire work. I got a very good deal on the computer. Because of the layout of our apartment, my desktop computer is not anywhere near my jewelry/stitch marker workspace, so watching tutorials on that would be useless unless I had a really good memory--which I don't. ;)

And now I must bid you adieu so I can go do "real life," non-crafty things. Boooo.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New adventures in necklace-making, other business goings on, and a little crochet

new Israeli bead necklace
Thought I'd start out this entry with a nice big pic of my smiling face. (Yeah, I probably should've put on some make-up, but my husband didn't give me much warning before he took this!) And what's that around my neck? Could it be...a brand new handmade necklace using fabulous green Israeli ceramic beads? Why, yes, indeed it is!

(If you look closely, you'll notice that I'm also wearing my own personal pair of Bali sterling silver puff bead dangle earrings.)

The ceramic beads are handmade and hand-painted by needy elderly people in Jerusalem, and I buy straight from the organization that employs them--it's a total win/win scenario, because they get the support they need and I get really interesting and completely unique beads to work with. I have a lot of these beads to play with right now, in a variety of different colors. It's very exciting.

I absolutely love this new necklace, which I finished last night. The larger round beads have silver glitter on them, and the smaller beads don't; the smaller ones are a slightly different shade and are textured. I've put fair trade greenish pearls (I say "greenish" because some look pretty green and others look more like peacock pearls) on either side of each of the ceramic beads. In between the ceramic bead and pearl combinations are Japanese seed beads in black, dark rainbow and silver. The seed beads make a nice asymmetrically colored design, which I think is spectacular, not that I'm biased. ;)

I finished the necklace off with sterling silver round beads, sterling crimp ends and a plain sterling silver toggle clasp.

It will be for sale in my Etsy store once I've taken good pictures and figured out what the price should be. Pricing is always a little tricky. It's very mathematical--I don't just pull my prices out of thin air. I have to figure out the costs of all the supplies involved and other expenses incurred in making each piece and listing it on Etsy, and then I have to multiply that amount by a certain number and hope that will make me a profit. Definitely lots of hope involved.

I also have a really gorgeous unakite and sterling silver necklace that I will be listing soon. It also needs to be priced first, but at least I already have the photos. I had never worked with unakite before. The more I looked at it, the more enamored I became with the gemstone's color combination of moss green and coral.

Here's a picture of it:
unakite necklace

In other Smiling Turtle news, today I shipped off 2 sets of stitch markers to Chile (a woman ordered them for her aunt who lives there), and I will soon be sending a set to Minnesota. I've also had items featured in 2 treasuries (links below):

I'd Rather Make My Own Gift, Thank You Anyway! by PlainJane4 (A cool DIY-themed treasury! Right up my alley!)


My hearts a flutter by glamourpusscouture (Hearts and butterflies! Um, also sorta right up my alley.)

As far as my crochet goes, not much to report. OK, nothing to report. *sigh* Most of my creative energy and time is going toward beading at this point. I have yet to start that baby hat I wrote about. My Stitch & Bitch group is working on hats and scarves for a local children's hospital. I started a scarf at our last group, but got really bored with just a simple single crochet pattern, so I'm trying to figure out a good stitch or pattern for a kid's scarf (gotta be unisex for this).

I looked on Ravelry for kids' scarf patterns, but couldn't find anything that fit the bill. (I wouldn't know how to modify an adult pattern to fit a kid--I don't know kids' sizes that well, and I don't really know how to modify patterns.) I should check Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet, which I have at home.

Any suggestions from my stitchy friends? (Crochet only, please!)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Best wishes to all of you for a happy and healthy 2011! Hope you did some good celebrating last night/this morning.

Since we're headed into a new year, it's time for a new crochet project. (At least one, anyway!) I've decided to make a hat for a family friend's new grandchild. It's a boy, and he's already 3 months old, which makes this a little more complicated. I've searched lots of patterns on Ravelry, and there are plenty for girly hats, but not so many for boyish hats or for unisex hats that aren't completely boring.

Here comes the part where I must ask your opinions, dear readers! Should I make a hat that's more on the cute side, like a hat with monkey or bear ears? Or a hat with some sort of interesting cable- or rib-type pattern, like this one? Or a very plain hat?

I don't know the parents very well, so I don't know if they're the types to dress their child in a cute animal hat. But part of me thinks I might not care. ;) I mean, this is a kid, after all. He doesn't have to worry about looking "respectable" yet.

If any of you have cute patterns for baby boy hats (crochet only, please--I still don't knit!), or any other input, please share.