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.