30 May 2011

Featured Artisan - colorshiftyarn

As you may or may not know, I've recently learned how to crochet. It was always something I wanted to learn to do; that or knitting, but I find crocheting to be easier.

Of course, since I am now have the opportunity to make a plethora of items with string and a hook (awesome, eh?), I've been on the look-out for fantastic yarn. So I browsed what etsians had in their shops. There was a bunch of hand dyed yarns, with different kinds of yarns and thicknesses and types, etc. I easily got confused. This is coming from a woman who is trying to make fingerless gloves without a pattern. *sheepish grin*

But that has not stopped me from trying to find great colours. When I saw this picture, I was in heaven!

Now, I'm not normally a purple girl, but this is just beautiful! Then I saw more:

I was totally in heaven - such beautiful colours, with fading from dark to light all in the same colour! They are each their own ball, but I can see the hats and socks (maybe, eventually) I can make with these colours!

I had to look at the shop. There are TONS of different colours in colorshiftyarn! GORGEOUS!!! I had to learn more about this shop-person! Erica, from Seattle, started dying her own yarn when the yarns that she bought weren't doing it for her anymore - they were limiting her creativity.

I read more of Erica's profile, which is beautifully written and very instructive about her craft. She explains how the gradation of colours cannot be found easily in yarn, and explains a bit about the properties of the yarn she uses. She also shares care instruction of the yarn and even explains the way she measures and weighs the yarn to provide a fair price to her customers. She even offers tips to newbies who are trying to choose the right kind of yarn and colour for their specific project! Needless to say, there is a lot of great and helpful information on her profile.

With such beautiful work and wonderfully descriptive words, I had to contact Erica for a little interview. Here are a few questions she graciously answered:

What made you decide to become an artist?
I keep a large stock of dyed yarns for designing. I might do a dozen dye runs for a single color and use just one of the runs because of its nuance. My studio quickly becomes overstocked with dyed yarn when I am designing. I decided to list some of my gradated sets on Etsy. I find the Etsy environment very inspiring. It connects me with people who care about the personal and beautiful contributions to life which are so lacking in the rat race.

What are your goals?
Because dyeing is very labor intensive, the small gradated sets I sell on Etsy could never become my day job. A proper dye business would mean working in greater quantities on standard colors rather than making unique individual sets. That kind of business doesn't interest me. What I love is the interaction with the knitters and designers who buy my yarn. Their requests for colors take me in new directions. For example, a fashion student needed to match a color for a knitted detail. She sent me computer screen colors and I translated these into dye formulas, sending her dyed yarn samples. I learned a lot about that color and the color palette she chose for its context. My time was not compensated in dollars, but in something much more valuable to me. 

What does a typical creative day look like for you?
I spent many years in the fiber scene writing, networking and teaching. This drained my best energy, so during the last years, I have become reclusive and stingy about my time. The time that does not go to family and job goes to my designing and research. There is a steady progression of ideas that get turned into formulas, then yarns, and ultimately into designs. I am meticulous about organizing my information, workspace, and procedures. Mornings are usually for dyeing, because this requires clear concentration and physical strength. The new color formulas to be dyed are written out on cards stacked in the lab from days prior. I pick up the top one and get started. As time permits throughout the day, I work on designs. Toward the end of the day when my inspiration is waning, I do the routine work of skeining, winding and tidying up. In the evenings, my husband reads aloud and I knit my design swatches. Heaven!

Isn't is great to find an artist who is so in touch with what is important to her, and she lives her life in the best way to achieve happiness and peace? I think so!

I just took a look through Erica's shop now, and I noticed that the deep purple skein (the first picture) is sold now! But that's okay, since reading through her profile, I think I would prefer to purchase a skein from the new yarn. There's a really nice warm grey colour there.

Colorshiftyarn also sells charts and instructions, and outline and border yarns

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing about Erica and her wondrous work with wool (alliteration!). When I have a chance, I plan to purchase some of her yarns, probably to make matching winter hats for Alexander and Isabel.


27 May 2011

I Need More Time!

This week has been fairly boring in the creative department. I've been busy being a mom. And it's driving me CRAZY!!! Not being a mom, just having little to no time in a day to create. Here's what I did in the few moments I did have:

And here are two owl pictures I did last week, but forgot to add them to the blog post:

This one I made for a friend, Tracey. She loves owls, and so I made this for her:

I love how each owl is looking somewhere, not just straight ahead. You can get pretty funky with the eyes! I'm planning on making more of these pictures for the Keep & Collect Market on June 25. They are so fun to make. I just have to purchase more frames. . .

I have received my latest order of a few new stamp sets (yay!) and I want to start making things with them. I have so many ideas in my head, I just have to find the time! agh!

25 May 2011

Focus on Family - For the Love of Baby Powder

Yeah. . . Monday morning was interesting. We woke up to this in Alexander's bedroom.

Let me give you a few closeups. . .

Yes, that's right, dear readers. Alexander took the bottle of baby powder and spread it everywhere. Only in his bedroom, so I guess if I must be thankful for something, it should be that it wasn't everywhere else as well.

I was planning on sleeping in that morning while Jeffery watched the kids and got them breakfast. But after this little escapade, I got to clean up Alexander's bedroom while Jeff watched the kids and got them breakfast. The good part was that Jeffery made me breakfast as well - pancakes with fresh strawberries and turkey bacon - yum!

We planned on going to the park after the kids woke up from their nap, since it was a nice day (gorgeous day, actually). I got Isabel ready, and then walked to the bathroom, and when I came back, I saw this:

Isabel was on the floor, and Alexander decided to sit down beside her, just to keep her company. That's the kind of big brother Alexander is. What a great kid. . . except for the baby powder.

We forgot to bring the camera, so there are no pictures of the park. But it's basically the same every time. Alexander sits on the swing and makes us swing him until we tell him it's time to leave. Crying and whining ensues until we're walking away from the park and on our way home. That was basically it.

Thankfully Isabel is too young to get into anything. She mostly just sits in her exersaucer while she watches Alexander and practices picking things up - she's getting pretty good at it too!

Yesterday Alexander woke up at around 6:00 a.m. (which is early for him), so I was expecting him to have a good nap. At around 11:30 a.m., I fed Isabel and she was falling asleep for her nap, as usual. So I brought her upstairs and put her down. I went back downstairs to this:

I guess Alexander was tired! He doesn't usually fall asleep anywhere unless it's in his bed. I slept until 2:30 p.m. too, so that was a good nap! I was able to organize the again-growing pile of stuff in the office and fold some laundry.

After his nap, he wanted to watch the "Gold" movie, which is Tangled, so that's what we did.

The first 16 seconds of this clip is my favourite part of the movie. I laugh each and every time I watch it. The expression on Maximus's face when he chews up the poster is HILARIOUS!!!

If you didn't quite get it, that's okay. I know that my sense of humour is different than some people's.

On Monday night, Jeffery gave Alexander a much-needed haircut. And it turned out very well. So well, in fact, that I think it's going to be Jeff's job to give Alexander haircuts! (please ignore the food all over his mouth)

On Saturday we went to the farmer's market. The first time in AGES, it seems. It was the first time we went since the construction was finished. We found out that the market doesn't stamp your parking ticket to give you 1 hour of free parking anymore. So we had to pay for parking, which sucks. But we got lots of vegetables (I got fiddleheads - yum!) and meat. I love the farmer's market. I've heard that there is one on Ottawa Street, but I've never actually seen it yet. Maybe next Saturday we'll walk down the road and try to find it. If it's not there, we'll have at least walked down the road, right?

We need to get a new computer tower. Our computer has given us the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH! . . . which isn't actually the death of a computer, since it started about 2 years ago, and the computer has been working okay until recently. It still works, but it just gives us the blue screen every once in a while. We've tried to get diagnostics done on it, but they have never been able to get the computer to duplicate the issue. So instead of that headache again, we're just going to see about getting a new tower - if we can afford it, that is. We'll see.

Another verse from Proverbs that shows the kind of woman I want to be:

"She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness."   -Proverbs 31:26-27


23 May 2011

Featured Artisan - Misala Handmade

I'm so sorry I haven't posted sooner; today is a holiday, so I've been really busy with my family.

That aside, I would like to share with you an artisan who's work is adorable:

See? What did I tell you? ADORABLE! I think this purse would be great for Isabel when she's older! Michelle Chan makes these and sells them in her etsy shop. Michelle was born in Hong Kong, and she is currently living in Dubai with her husband. Her profile on etsy tells you about how she started her creative business. You can go here to read more about that.

I think this cow is my favourite. It has become a great addition to my "want-to-buy" etsy list.

I love the bright orange of his elephant. Orange is my favourite colour, so it goes without saying that this is also one of my faves. The beady little eyes are so cute!

You can also find Misala Handmade on her blog and facebook page.

20 May 2011

Paper Flowers

This week was very unproductive for me in regards to my creative business. I wasn't in a rut or anything, I've had ideas coming out the wazoo this week (yes, the wazoo!), but I have not found the time. I've been busy with being a housewife and mother.

Taking care of kids and cleaning when I had a spare moment, which consisted of the few short hours after my kids went to bed, was what occupied my time. Isabel decided to take no naps this week, which boosted my grumpy mood. Ask Jeffery. He's been avoiding me to escape my grumpiness, and I don't blame him.

I did have time to try a new technique, though. I tried to make paper flowers. I used scrap paper, and this is the result:

They're really cute, I think. I can't wait to try making some with card stock. I don't know how difficult it will be to fold the card stock smoothly, so I may have to use thinner card stock than the 100 lb card stock that I usually use. We'll see. When I make more, I'll show you!



18 May 2011

Focus on Family - May 18

Sunday was the day that Jeffery and I were able to celebrate 7 years of marriage!

I said we were able to celebrate, not that we actually did, unfortunately. Jeff was at a men's retreat for the weekend and didn't get back until late Sunday. Don't blame Jeff for going, though, people; I told him he should go. The speaker at the retreat was Steve, so it was important for him to go.

Steve was the executive pastor at our church; he recently resigned because God's calling on his life is to be a senior pastor. As the executive pastor, he did mostly the administrative stuff. Steve will make a great senior pastor, even though we will miss him and Angie and their children Lauryn, Karena and Nadia as they move to Bancroft, a good 3.5 hour drive away.

We were very blessed with someone being able to pick Jeffery up and drive him to and from the retreat, which was in Bancroft. I didn't have to worry about taking the kids to church by myself on the bus on Sunday. It was raining on Sunday, too, so extra bonus! A good friend of Jeff's was registered to go, but couldn't at the last minute, so he paid for Jeff's registration, too, which was another big blessing.

This past week was a change for Isabel. I started supplementing her feedings with formula. I don't think she's satisfied with the amount of breast milk she's getting (another growth spurt, no doubt), so every day at around 5:30/6:00 p.m., I feed her 2 oz of formula. I was expecting a full bottle of formula, but 2 oz seems to be all the extra she needs. I was originally planning on starting her on rice cereal, as I thought that would fill her stomach up better, but my aunt, who is a nurse, told me to supplement with formula and wait until 6 months to start Isabel on food. So that's what I'm doing. I've done it for 2 days now, and she is much happier after she has those 2 oz.

Alexander is very difficult to take a picture of. This was the best one I've gotten all week. And it's horrible.

I can't get the boy to stand or sit still while the camera is in front of him. Actually, I can't get him to stand or sit still period! He's definitely got ants in his pants!

He still loves Isabel very much, constantly wanting to give her kisses and hugs, which she loves to receive! When she has Alexander's attention, Isabel starts gabbing at him. Well, more like screeching, but she's trying.

As you can see in the above picture, Isabel is also getting the hang of using her fingers! She loves trying to pick up this soother, and she'll spend quite a while concentrating on picking it up. Last week you saw the video of Isabel rolling from her belly to her back, but yesterday she rolled from her back to her belly! She only rolls in one direction and she ran out of room, so she got upset that she couldn't go anywhere. I was making dinner, so I didn't notice, so there is a small rug burn on her philtrum.

Jeffery really enjoyed his weekend away, which makes me happy. He was getting quite stressed about work (not going all that well), and so the weekend kind of was a tiny vacation for him. He was able to get in a round of golf too, so that's good. I wonder when I get to go on a vacation. . . But I guess it's different for a mom, right? Especially one who is still breastfeeding an infant. But a vacation would be nice.

This week has been really busy for me. Not in any way interesting at all; I've just been busy being a housewife and mother: endless dishes, laundry, sweeping, cleaning, all moms can relate, I'm sure. I haven't had much time to create, and I'm going a bit crazy, I think. I'm even a bit restless while I'm typing this, since I could be making something instead! But I've had to remind myself that being a housewife is a blessing, since I am able to raise my children instead of some daycare. The dishes, laundry and cleaning I would still have to do, even if I had a job.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.” 
                             - Proverbs 31:28-29


16 May 2011

Featured Artist - Autumn Equinox

Jenna, from Maine, makes the most beautiful jewelry, in my opinion. Many of her items I can actually see myself wearing, which is odd because I'm not a huge jewelry person. The most I wear is my wedding band and maybe a pair of earrings. But usually my ears are bare.

I saw this interview about Jenna on etsy's front page, and this is where I found out about her shop and her incredible talent. I didn't have any time to ask her to tell us anything about herself, so you will have to content yourself with the interview, and perhaps her profile as well.

Here are my favourites from her shop:

Aren't they beautiful?!? They are simple, yet they are not too showy and very pleasing to look at.

Jenna also makes soap in her second etsy shop here. Here are other links to find her: website/blog, facebook, and twitter.

Which piece from her shop is your favourite? I would love to know!


13 May 2011

My Creative Corner - Cards and Crocheting

Well, this week I was totally not creative at all. I had no real desire to design anything. Well, that's not exactly true. On Tuesday, I taught a paper craft class at Home with a Heart. We made a birthday cupcake card and birthday gift tags:

That was only half of the class. During the first half, the ladies were taught knitting and I tried my hand at crocheting. I finished my small blue ball that came up to not even half of a duky - although my cousin Lauren said they are spelled "doekie", that's just how I always spelled it in my head.(washcloth). But it was a good way to learn and see how tight or loose I should have the stitches. Are they even called stitches? or are they called something else entirely? hooks-and-pulls? I'm not sure. I'm going to call them stitches.

I had a larger yellow ball around the house, so I started on that one, trying to make fingerless gloves. I don't have a pattern for it, though, so I was kind of making it up as I went along. I should have looked at a pattern. Sort of. I didn't have enough yarn to make a full glove, so I ended up making one that was too small, I couldn't get my arm through all the way. And when I tried to get the two edges together to make the hole to fit my arm through, for some reason one side was longer than the other - I don't know how that happened. I talked to my mom and she said that I must have added an extra stitch down some of the rows, that was the only thing that made sense to her.

I'm going to get a few larger balls of yarn and try again. I want fairly long fingerless gloves, ones that will go down to almost my elbows. Maybe I should look up a pattern instead of just haphazardly going at it and hoping that it works.


11 May 2011

Focus on Family - May 11

I haven't remembered much this week to take pictures of Alexander and Isabel, so the pictures of the kids appearing in this post will be from only this morning! Sorry. . .

This past week was pretty busy for us. On Saturday, I sold my wares at the "Satisfied" event at the church building. I really enjoyed the workshops and the fellowship with the 30 other women there. Allie and Erin (the fantastic ladies who planned it) hope to make it an annual thing, which is a great idea! I brought Isabel with me so I could feed her when she needed it, and my mom took care of Alexander until Jeffery was done his appointment. Jeff got Alexander when he was done, and the two of them hung out for three hours until the event finished up. Alexander didn't have a nap that day, so he was grumpier than usual.

Before I went to the event, I was at my parents' place to drop Alexander off, and while I was visiting, Isabel ROLLED OVER!!!! Here is video proof:

It looks as if she smiled at my mom (who took the video) to say, "Look what I can do!" since she rolled over right after she smiled at her. She rolled over at least four times that morning! I guess I can't put her on the couch anymore, but that means I have to vacuum the floor. . .

Sunday was Mother's Day. It wasn't really any different than any other Sunday. My kids are both too small to know what Mother's Day is about; and I'm not going to expect Jeffery to do something for me because I'm not his mother (thankfully!). After church, we went over to my parents' house and had daddy burgers (my dad's stupendous and delicious homemade burgers). We left pretty much right after lunch so that our kids could have naps. We were glad to at least be able to talk to Aaron and Karen, who arrived as we were leaving.

While Alexander napped (Isabel refused to sleep), the three of us went outside. Isabel sat in her swing and watched Jeffery and I while Jeff put down weed killer and grass grower and watered the grass, and while I killed the weeds in the flower bed in the front of the house. We have the worst lawn on our entire street, and the dirty looks from our neighbours were making me feel sort of guilty for not taking care of our lawn as well as they take care of theirs. But another part of me thinks that if they care so much about what my lawn looks like, they are more than welcome to care for it themselves!

Yesterday I went to "Home with a Heart", which is a class that my mom teaches to single moms who want to know how to be more industrial and frugal with their resources and time, and who want to be more confident in who they are as well. The class teaches them organization, cooking, cleaning, laundry, personal time for mom, hobbies, stuff like that. I taught the women what I do with my paper crafts and we made a birthday card and a fun gift tag. The pictures for those will be up on Friday.

Another part to the hobbies class is knitting or crocheting. I've wanted to learn to crochet for a while now, but I've always been so intimidated by it. I've tried knitting a couple of times, but I get so frustrated with it that I've given up. And I always thought that crochet and knitting were pretty much the same thing, since they both utilize yarn and sticks. (lol) So I tried to crochet. And I think I'm getting the hang of it! YAY! I did four rows yesterday, and we'll see how far I get today!

this was me starting out at Home with a Heart

I must be really happy with my crocheting efforts so far because I dreamt about crocheting last night. Not anything weird or specific, I was just crocheting. Like my mind was reminding me how to do it! Weird. . .

Last night Alexander vomited his dinner out. Three times. Once was at the dinner table after he had one bite. It went into his bowl, so that was convenient. After dinner, we were planning to go for a walk to the store to get milk. Alexander had his coat and shoes on, and then BLECH! twice on the floor, his coat and his shoes. I took off his coat and he drooled leftover vomit onto his shirt. GROSS! And since I'm the mom, I get to clean it up. Jeff was with Isabel, since she was crying at the time.

Alexander said he had an owie in his belly. So, obviously, we didn't go for that walk. Alexander and Isabel both got baths instead, and Jeffery got the milk.

Alexander is doing better this morning. He ate his breakfast and snack without any up-chuck.

I made banana muffins this morning. YUM! Here's the recipe.

They are one of our favourite baked goodies.

We got a weight scale a while ago, and today I weighed Alexander and Isabel. Alexander is 36 pounds, and Isabel is 16 pounds. It's no wonder why Isabel is fitting into size 3 diapers already!

That's all until next week!

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8


09 May 2011

Owl Embellishment Giveaway Winner

I posted a giveaway two weeks ago to celebrate 100 likes on my facebook page. Here is what I am giving away:

The giveaway, this set of eight owl embellishments, brought in 11 comments, most of which were new followers of my blog! Each contestant was allowed one comment as their entry. I used random.org to pick a random number, and the person whose comment is that number wins the prize!

And the winner is...

Alicia C who wrote:

"It's so funny - I was entering to win the notecards on Midnight Sewing Mom and the mandatory entry was , "What is your favorite item at For Any Occasion?" Mine was these owls! I am a GFC follower AND a FB fan."

Congratulations, Alicia! I will be contacting you within the next few minutes to arrange delivery!


Product Review - quiltery

Jeffery's slippers have been falling apart for months. And when it's cold outside, warm feet are essential to a happy Jeff. So when I came across these, I thought they'd be perfect for him:

Diane, from Maryland, makes these felted woolen shoes. They are made to feel like a second skin on your feet, and the natural fibers of the wool will make your feet feel warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Diane had no issues with making these shoes in a huge size 13 for Jeffery - yes, my husband has abnormally large feet. (lol)

The shoes took longer than normal to arrive, and when I messaged Diane about it, she said that the first pair of shoes had a defect in them, so she had to start over with a second pair. The annoying part about the long felting process is that you don't usually see any defects until the shoes are almost done. So we waited longer than we expected. Diane offered to put on a latex sole, so the shoes won't slip on the hardwood that is all over our house. That is customer service, people!

And boy, are they worth it! Jeffery has had these wool shoes for about two months, and he loves them! Despite being thinner than the normal slipper (the last pair Jeff owned was made from sheep's wool, and it was VERY soft and fluffy), they kept his feet warm during the last part of the cold season - the warmest they had been all winter long! The latex sole also definitely keeps him from slipping, which is a super bonus!

Since Jeff is so happy with his shoes, I want to get a pair for me next winter - I've been trying to hint to him to get them for me for my birthday this year. Perhaps if he read this blog post, it won't be so much of a hint, eh?

These are the shoes that I want. I love the oatmeal colour!

Diane also crochets baby slippers, which are really cute.

AND she makes quilts! Take a look at her shop to see them!

So if you're looking for slippers that will keep your feet warm this winter, I would highly recommend quiltery.


06 May 2011

Craft Space is Done

The title says it all! My new craft space is done! YAY!! It's not completely organized or anything yet, but all of my crafting stuff is in my new space! If you remember, this is what the closet looked like before:

And this is what it looks like as of this morning:

I know, it's still kind of disorganized, but look at all the space! SO much more! Now the rest of the office is practically empty; we're hoping to be able to put a futon in the empty space, so we could still have someone sleep over if they want to without having to sleep on the living room couch.

Tomorrow I am going to be selling my wares at a women's workshop at my church building. The event is called "Satisfied", and it's about physical and emotional peace and healing in Jesus. Part of the event is a marketplace, where women (including me) are going to be selling their handmade items. I will enjoy myself, I just hope that I'm not feeling so horrible tomorrow as I do today - I think it's that cold that's going around. Isabel has had a runny nose since Wednesday, and now last night I started to feel it.

Here are a few tidbits I made this past week:

As you can see, I've been getting my punch on! :)

Next week Tuesday, I am going back to "Home with a Heart" to show the ladies there how to be able to be creative and make items without spending a whole lot of money. "Home with a Heart" is a program put on by my mom at Immanuel CRC for single moms. This program helps them learn money-saving tips, recipes, cleaning, organization, laundry, stuff like that, and I come in on the "creativity" day. On that day, they also learn how to knit. I love being able to get together with other women and teach them a little of what I do - it's so much fun! I have to share two items with them, so I'd better get crackin'! But not until after I have my nap, I'm feeling sort of dizzy - the room is slowly revolving around my head...