Jun 30, 2010

Welcome to summer and the lessons of spring

June was a good business month. The best, I think, since I left my office job late last year to pursue crafting full-time and to untangle my brain. Oddly enough, that doesn't mean it was my most profitable month (and it wasn't — not that my most profitable month so far has been that impressive, anyway ;)). But it was a good month for meeting new people, and magically, without specifically trying for it, I reached my Etsy sales goal for last month. Hey, a month late ain't bad for me. ;)

My Etsy sales goal, by the way, was five sales in a month. Yep. Just five. My next Etsy shop goal is having a 10-sale month sometime before the end of 2010. Does that seem low to you? It actually seems low to me, but one thing I've learned while doing Craft or Bust has been that even though I was once primarily a Big Goal person, there's a place in my current life for slow-and-steady goals. Slow-and-steady goals, I know now, are good for building endurance and confidence.

And on that foundation, I can learn to be really creative again.

Being truly, honestly creative was my goal for spring, which I didn't quite meet — but you know, that's okay. I didn't abandon the goal, either, and that's what really matters. When I set that goal in April, I didn't know the real theme of the second quarter was going to be Endurance in the Face of Trials. I didn't know that what I would actually learn — re-learn, really — was that I can still Do What I Have To, even when I don't feel like it for a long period of time.

There was a point, when I was a teenager, when I realized that it served no purpose to let certain things block my progress. If I lost something and needed to find it in order to do what I wanted to do, the important part was finding it again, no matter how long it took; and there was no point at all in being impatient or angry about the searching. Yes, searching was inconvenient and potentially time-consuming, but it was also reality, and giving in to frustration never helped me find anything faster. So I decided to focus on finding what was lost more than on how annoying it was to lose things — that is, to focus on fixing the problem rather than the inconvenience of the problem itself. That made it easier to deal with the inevitable occasional loss, even when the loss was long-term, and it became easier to deal with other problems the same way. I focused on finding satisfying solutions, and eventually I succeeded enough times that I felt secure in my problem-solving skills. I even learned to enjoy doing what I had to, to get where I wanted to be.

Then I discovered there were problems I couldn't solve, not even by trying my hardest repeatedly over a long period of time. I'm still not happy with those problems, but the worst part about it is that somehow, during the past few years, I lost the ability to be patient with how long it takes to make progress sometimes.

Now, I'm still no Dalai Lama. But this spring I regained some of my long-lost patience with myself as I slogged along, being productive on the path to being creative; and while I'm still eager to push forward and I still haven't re-reached the point where I actually enjoy the wait on the way to success, I can at least accept that much-maligned, often-misunderstood slow progress is sometimes the only way to move forward.

After all, Sam and Frodo didn't make it to Mount Doom in a day, the Buddha took years to attain enlightenment, and even Jedi don't become Jedi masters instantaneously. Maybe the aforementioned wouldn't have minded expediting their respective quests, but sometimes you just can't. And sometimes I just can't. And so spring didn't go exactly as I planned ... but I made progress, and that was good in itself.

So here's to a new season: Summer, with whatever adventures (or non-adventures ;)) it holds! Soon we'll know who won the World Cup, we'll spin our wheels along with the cyclists in France on our yarn-spinners' Tour de Fleece, and we'll all see what kind of crazy costumes I come up with in anticipation of Dragon*Con (and maybe even Star Wars Celebration in Orlando).

Life is going on, and while I'd love to meet my spring creativity goal this summer, well, I'm bound to make progress in some direction, even if it isn't that one. So here's to a few more steps on the journey — to wherever it is that I'm ultimately going.


Pond at Brian's parents'

Jun 27, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 25 Check-In and Roundup (June 20-26)

A bit late in the day, but here's your CoB post! :D Only one check-in from last week, but the next quarter is coming up soon, so we'll have a nice fresh quarter to motivate us soon ... maybe? ;)

Roundup of Week 24: What We Crafted From June 13-19

  • Jessica knit the heels and gussets of her dad's socks, started and ripped out her personally-designed gloves twice, and went to a job interview. Wooooo!

Check-in for Week 25: What Have You Done Lately? (June 20-26)

What I did this week:

ElderberriesWrote every day this week, still, even when I wasn't inspired. On Sunday, I went to a workshop about wildcrafting herbs — a form of craftiness, maybe? ;) And on Saturday, I made a charm pin. The rest of the week was relatively uncrafty, though I did list some new spinning fiber in the Etsy shop, and talked to a lot of other crafty people about future business. This week has been pretty tough for me, and next week might also be ... but I did still manage to craft, which is what counts for Craft or Bust. :)

What did you craft this week?

Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page!

And again, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Jun 24, 2010

Cleaning and the miracle of rediscovery

You know what would be amazing? If the condo and the craft room were always clean, everything neat and accessible — and, most importantly, if things were always findable. At least, the findable part has seemed pretty important today, as I've been looking for some important papers I may need rather soon. (I did find them; much yayness, and whew.) That aside, cleaning generally has a broad cascade of nice effects, and we Really Should Do It More. (But doesn't everyone say that? Even those whose houses seem unnaturally spotless seem to think it...)

Anyway, I guess the benefits of cleaning are starting to be needs around here, because the cleaning theme has been recurring a lot lately. Brian borrowed his mother's new steam cleaner last week; our carpet was sorely in need of a deep cleaning, as the cats aren't very discriminating about where they place their yarf. (That's what Brian calls it when they leave us little orangish logs of semi-digested food, or the gloopy cat-hair-log variant. Yayyyyy, cats!) We do clean the cats' presents up as soon as humanly possible, but there's only so much you can do with water, Woolite, hand-held scrub brushes and paper towels.

(You guys totally needed to hear about that, right? ;) This will eventually be related to crafty stuff — I promise!)

So ... yeah. When we steam-cleaned the bedroom carpet, we had to move everything off the floor. Being moderately responsible adults in some parts of our piratical hearts, we know that there shouldn't be piles of purses or baskets full of clothing in need of minor sewing repairs taking over the bedroom, so since we were moving them anyway, we dismantled them as much as possible and relocated what we couldn't put away. Thus, we successfully reclaimed the floor — woo! — but I also suddenly rediscovered the bottom two shelves of a bookcase, which I haven't seen in — well, let's just say it's been a while. ;)

And of course, on those two shelves were a whole bunch of craft-related books that I have also not seen in A While.

Bounty of books

Notice the predominance of weaving books? Yeah. I've owned all of those books on the order of two or three years longer than I've been weaving. Which makes me wonder if I subconsciously browbeat myself into buying a bunch of looms because I had books that demanded I learn to weave in order to understand them. Okay, more likely I was just inclined to learn to weave — but it's pretty funny that this entire time, longer than I've had my spinning wheel or any of my "big" fiber equipment, I've had a card-weaving book, a book full of woven color patterns, and several books that deal with basic fiber structure, spinning various fibers into yarn, and then weaving said yarn into various Cool Things — and they've all been sitting here in the bedroom. Who needs an attic to hide things in?

Weaving is Creative, the book containing a bunch of weaver-controlled weaving structures and rather creative ideas for using them to make artsy objects rather than purely practical ones, is particularly hilarious because I've been whining to myself about wanting a book with exactly that information in it. Hey! Now I have one! And now I just have to get back into the weaving groove!

But see? Cleaning is rewarding! ;D

(This blog post brought to you by the Council of Crafters for Clean Condos, a.k.a. me.)

Jun 21, 2010

Guess who won the hurricane shawl pin?

Remember that little hurricane-shaped shawl pin I made back at the beginning of the month, in honor of hurricane season's start? You know, the one I'm giving away? The entry period for the giveaway closed last week, and then I was swamped with preparations for the Tampa Etsy Craft Party, and then there was Father's Day, and a little appointment with Willow's Herbal Delight Gardens to help me learn about wildcrafting, and a little bit of that unwanted drama that comes with being a human being living among humans ;) ... so yeah, it's been a busy week. Finally I sat down tonight and collected all the entries into a spreadsheet. There were 81 entries, total, in blog comments, Ravelry messages, and messages mailed to my inbox.

That was 81 entries' worth of you guys' great ideas, favorite seasons, little-known facts about you, and tidbits of positivity from you to me. Thank you sincerely to every single person who entered — I would have counted myself lucky to get 20-30 entries, but you guys blew that out of the water! It's a rather non-piratical (shh!) warm fuzzy for me to be able to send someone out there a bit of extra cheer in return.

Let's see who won, now, shall we? ;D The convenient and all-powerful random number generator at random.org bequeathed upon us its digital wisdom:

Which, when I look at the spreadsheet, means...

Brandy won the baby hurricane shawl pin and 15% off an item in the Etsy shop! She wrote, "My favorite season: Winter. Here in Florida you don't get much of a winter but I cherish it while it is here. It never really gets too terribly cold so it is perfect for outside knitting & hot chocolate. I love that it makes me want to cuddle like a little baby."

Congratulations to my fellow Floridian! :D

And the two runners-up, who get 10% off an item in the Etsy shop, are:

Lady Judith, who wrote, "I would love to win your hurricaney shawl pin! Living in California, I have never experienced a real hurricane. My favorite season is Spring because it is my birthday season and all the wonderful fruits and vegetables come to the markets."


fracksmom, who wrote, "My favorite season is spring when things bloom, and the days start getting longer."

Hurray for all of you! I'm so glad you won!

But even if you didn't get picked by the random number generator, you are wonderful and beautiful and I'm so very glad you came by, so I still want to offer you something! If you entered the giveaway, and you buy anything from the Star and Crossbones Etsy shop between now and July 31, 2010, I'll send you a bonus charm pin — that is, a decorative micro-shawl-pin. (Custom orders count, too!) Just drop me a note letting me know who you are when you make your purchase, and I'll make a charm pin just for you and send it along with your order.

It's raining as I type this, and there was a grand old thunderstorm earlier today that I sat out on the porch and watched with a tiny baby lizard and a little frog that wanted to go outside. As my little hurricane pin gets ready to go off to its new home, there's a tropical wave developing in the Caribbean that has a 50% chance of turning into a tropical cyclone — meaning a hurricane. I'm not entirely sure what to think about it, except that I'd like to know the gulf oil spill cleanup is a little further along before seeing a hurricane in these parts. You may want to read the National Hurricane Center's PDF that describes what they know about the interaction of hurricanes and oil spills.

Ahem. Anyway, happy summer solstice, too! Maybe next month I'll do a sun-themed giveaway? ;)

Jun 20, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 24 Check-In and Roundup (June 13-19)

Posting this super-late in the day, but it's still Sunday where I am, at least. ;) It's been a busy and energy-eating week over here. Also, last quarter we took nominations for and voted on a Craft or Bust Project of the Quarter (and lo, it was fun), but I'm not sure there's been enough participation this quarter to justify doing it again. If you check in this week, check out the links in this paragraph to the last Project of the Quarter stuff let me know if you feel like doing it this quarter. If not, no worries. We can sort of moosh all of the projects from the second and third quarters in together later, maybe. ;) Or if you have another idea for something fun to do now that this quarter is over, let me know! Anyway, here's what we've been up to lately:

Roundup of Week 23: What We Crafted From June 6-12

  • Jessica made hambugers, and veggie and rice casserole, got a big box of yarn in the mail, got rid of more stuff in the inevitable moving process, wrote out a gloves pattern and finished knitting the legs of her dad's socks.
  • Susie made elderflower cordial (how cool is that? :D — check it out on her blog!), and made bags and a skirt, among other things, for which there are yet no photos.

Check-in for Week 24: What Have You Done Lately? (June 13-19)

What I did this week:

Drop spindlesSunday I labeled and put together my Phat Fiber samples, finally listened to the May WeaveCast, sorted some digital photos, wove a bunch of tiny Weavette squares and put them into my Phat Fiber sample packaging, and packaged and sent off a custom order. Monday, I made yet more handwoven squares for the Etsy Craft Party goodie bags and color-adjusted a bunch of digital photos. Tuesday, I made, packaged, and delivered 25 charm pins for the Etsy Craft Party goodie bags. Wednesday, I photographed spinning fiber, listed new spinning fiber in the Etsy shop, and spun up my sample Robin Goodfellow batt in a small skein of two-ply and a small skein of singles to see what it would look like as yarn. Thursday, I made yet more tiny loom squares, thinking I'd make a belt or other accessory out of them, carded a bunch of batts, and made some polymer clay spindle whorls. Friday, I went to the Tampa Etsy Craft Party and taught people how to use drop spindles! Yay! Saturday ... well, I didn't do anything crafty that day, but I did rearrange part of the living room furniture. ;)

And I still wrote a little bit of my little novel every single day, even when I really didn't want to. Writing every day for more than a month, even on days that were pretty crappy, really makes me feel like I'd better have a REALLY GOOD excuse if I don't write one day...

What did you craft this week?

Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page!

And again, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Jun 17, 2010

Day of the Batts

Most of today belonged to one of the resident torture instruments — the drum carder of dooooooooom! (I just like to call it that because it seriously looks like an instrument of pain — not to imply that I don't like carding...)

I spent several hours this afternoon digging through bits and pieces of hand-dyed wool in a bunch of different colors, throwing it onto the drum carder, and watching the little metal teeth go nom nom nom and produce these:

First set of batts 06/17/2010

More batt pictures 06/17/2010

They all have Blue-Faced Leicester wool, mystery wool that I got from someone's destash, and a bit of nylon firestar. I think the purple ones may have a bit of Rambouillet or Rambouillet X that I got in the fleece and dyed myself, but I'm not completely sure that's what it was, so "mystery wool" fits. ;)

Carding is hot work. It seems like it was worth it, but we'll really see tomorrow at the Etsy Craft Party, when my fresh little fiber buns (don't they look like buns to you, too? ;)) will have their debut.

Does anyone else always feel like they're eternally just a little bit behind where they think they should be? I need to sleep less and work more. Don't think it's just me who thinks so — the bills say so, too...

Jun 16, 2010

Giveaway drawing coming soon ... and some more fluffy stuff

A big thank-you to everyone who entered the hurricane shawl pin giveaway — I'll be collecting all the entries from my various inboxes and the comment stream and putting them into a spreadsheet, checking them for duplicates, etc., in the next couple of days, so watch out for the drawing for the winners to be done later this week ... and an extra thanks for your patience. ;)

So what have you been doing this week? I successfully found Tempus Projects (where Tampa's Etsy Craft Party is going to be) yesterday after driving by it about fifteen times, as it was tucked away in a gray building behind a church with a big sign ... but my charm pins for the goodie bags have been safely delivered. WHEW.

And today I finally listed some spinning fiber I created for the June Phat Fiber theme. Meet the moody Robin Goodfellow, a.k.a. Puck, Mr. Mischievous himself:

Playful Robin Goodfellow roving (Merino wool and Tussah silk)

Kindly Robin Goodfellow batts (BFL wool, Merino wool, Tussah silk, with dabs of nylon firestar in yellow and purple

And I still have about 80,000 things to do before Friday. I leave you with further proof of my hard work from yesterday — a photo of one of the charm pins someone will get in their goodie bag soon:

Another tiny square

The first mate done did good yesterday, too. He's not a fiber person, but he wove in all the tails on all the tiny squares I made, so that I could cut and label and glue and package in time to make it to the dropoff at Tempus. It seems that having helpers is actually useful, after all — once you get them trained properly. ;)

Jun 15, 2010

Insanity, fluff, and endless tiny squares

Today it felt like I wove a million tiny squares on my 2-inch Weavette. It was really only 25, but I think I've discovered the limit of how many minuscule handwoven squares I can make in four slightly brainless hours. ;)

Tiny Weavette squares

Why the tiny-square-weaving insanity? Well, I'm going to the Etsy Craft Party in Tampa on Friday, and the little squares will be showing up in a goodie bag near you. Near you if you're near Tampa. Which, okay, hardly applies to any of you. ;) Quick, look at squishy fiber to make you feel better!

Sample Batts - Kindly Robin Goodfellow
Mini batts containing BFL wool, Merino wool, Tussah silk and nylon firestar. The sparkly stuff really is in there somewhere.

Those are some of the samples that are going to be in the Phat Fiber sampler box this month, and guess what that means? Any item you buy from the Star and Crossbones Etsy shop this month gets you an entry into the superbox giveaway on the Phat Fiber Ravelry group! Yayyy! The thread for posting your purchases isn't up yet, but keep watching. It'll go up after this month's sampler box goes on sale, I think.

Anyway, enough talk. More fluffies!

Playful Robin Goodfellow
More samples that will be in the Phat Fiber box. This is hand-dyed Merino wool and Tussah silk, no sparkles.

And look how cutely I packaged everything up this month, too:

Phat Fiber samples, all packaged up

Charm pins for Phat Fiber June 2010

...had enough? ;)

In other news, my first official spinning demo did indeed occur on Friday, and despite some, er, unfortunate events that prevented me from actually appearing on time, I had fun, and I hope all the people who showed up also had fun. Thank you very kindly if you're reading this and you were there — I really appreciated your support as I sorted my brain out from the Quite Weird events of the day. I'm still recovering from said events, which is the real reason for the use of the word "insanity" in the title of this post. Wish me better luck for this Friday as I make my debut as the host of the local Etsy party's fiber arts station!

Jun 13, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 23 Check-In and Roundup (June 6-12)

This week has been full of mishaps and insanity for me, but I still managed to craft ... Whew. Here's your weekly Craft or Bust fix!

First, welcome Susie to the official ranks! Now...

Roundup of Week 22: What We Crafted From May 30-June 5

  • Susie made soap. Check it out on her blog! She also practiced sewing jersey on her now-functional serger (hurrah ;)) and made a t-shirt ... which is more than I've ever done with my own serger. ;) Congrats, Susie!
  • Jessica finished her vampire socks and started a new pair of gift socks that are intended as a Dad Christmas gift and also as a way to help her mother through her first pair of socks. Multi-tasking is teh awesome. ;D She also ordered a big box of Knit Picks yarn, including some to make a Dad sweater, and she planted the flower beds with her mom and sister and made slow-cooked pork chops. Nom nom nom.

Check-in for Week 23: What Have You Done Lately? (June 6-12)

What I did this week:

Charm Pin: FlowerpotStill writing every day, no matter what. Yay. :D Sunday, I also finished machine-hemming the scrubby wash cloths I wove a couple of months ago, photographed them, listed them in the Etsy shop, entered a wash cloth in the Clay and Fiber Challenge and knitted some more on the fingerless gloves. Monday, I made my first Etsy treasury, made an ad for Project Wonderful (if you're curious, you should be able to see it on Cory's Aquarian Bath blog in the right column, below the Delicate Adornments widget — if no one has outbid me yet ;)), made a new graphic for the index page of the Star and Crossbones Web site, created a graphic for a small craft show banner, finished the fingerless gloves, and signed up to participate in the Etsy Tampa Craft Party (I'll be the demonstrator at the fiber arts craft station!). Tuesday, I ran around crazily and didn't get a lot done because the local craft shops were out of the stock I wanted, carded some batts, and made some micro-shawl-pins. Wednesday, I finally found wooden car wheels to make drop spindles with, made some spindles, designed some labels for my Phat Fiber samples, took a ton of photos of samples and other crafty miscellany, and listed my first charm pin (a.k.a. micro-shawl-pin) in the Etsy shop. Thursday, I sawed the spindle shafts down to size, put leaders and starter fluffs on the spindles, and gathered all the fiber, yarn, spindles, kits, etc., for Friday's spinning demo. Friday, despite having a super-bizarre day, I did my very first official spinning demo. Yay! And Saturday was my day of rest ... sort of. I hung out with actors and babbled creatively at a party, which almost counts as crafty — it was a bit of a recharge, at least. ;)


What did you craft this week?

Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page!

And again, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Jun 10, 2010

Ever have a super-busy day and still not check anything off your to-do list?

That's about the way my day has gone. Overall, it seems like it's been a success (and it's not over yet, by a long shot), but most of what I've done has been working toward checking items off the to-do list ... not quite getting there. And the amazing thing is that I'm still not done. Today I understand what my fellow crafty business owners mean when they say they work far more hours for themselves than they ever did for anyone else.

While I take a breather from the stuff-to-do-that-keeps-on-coming, here are some highlights of my day:

Michaels was my savior today. They had the wooden wheels that Jo-Ann did not, and thusly, I made these little cuties:

Drop spindles
Drop spindles for my spinning demo this Friday.

And because the pictures came out pretty darn well for a seven-year-old camera plus me stabilizing myself on the table to keep from blurring everything because I'm too lazy to maneuver the tripod out from its nook in the craft room, here are some more spindle shots:

Drop spindles
Spindle pr0n!

Drop spindles
More spindle pr0n!!

Technically, the spindle shafts still need to be shortened and maybe sharpened on one end for potential supported spinning. But that's getting done when the first mate gets home and he can tell me where the saw is.

I also listed and sold that pair of custom fingerless gloves I've been working on:

Ninja gloves!
I like to call them the NINJA GLOVES!

And listed my first charm pin in the Etsy shop:

Teeny-tiny shawl pin made for the gardening theme of this week's collaboration with Megan of Late Night Design.

Plus I prepped all the Phat Fiber samples for packaging; took a thousand million photos (well, give or take a thousand million or so) of Phat Fiber samples, full-size batts, the abovementioned charm pin and fingerless gloves, and my new mug (for Slice of Life Tuesday); adjusted said photos for color, brightness and size; designed, printed, and trimmed two sets of labels for Phat Fiber samples; and signed up to participate in Tampa's Etsy Craft Party as their fiber arts station demonstrator. Among other things, like cleaning and emergency grocery shopping, that are not craftily relevant.

I still need to actually package up the Phat Fiber samples and the fingerless gloves, put in some fiber orders, pay some bills (yay), do some research, order some more business cards and read up on plotting, dangit so that my brain doesn't stall in the middle bits of the book I'm currently writing, which is about where I've always lost it in the past.

Someone come be my pleasant, breakfast-laden alarm clock, please, so that even though I will likely give up before getting all that done tonight, I will still wake up at a reasonable hour tomorrow in order to do all the other things that need, need, need to be done.

Oh. And to add a little amusement to the busy, my ten-year reunion is this Friday and — wait for it — rather than attending it, I will be doing the oft-mentioned spinning demonstration, just ten minutes from where my former classmates are meeting, drinking, and watching a slideshow of our ten-years-younger selves.

Happy ten-years-since-high-school to me. This is where I am ten years from graduation. I bet — if I'm still alive ;) — I'll be somewhere freakin' amazing in another ten years. Wait and see. ;D

Jun 8, 2010

The uncooperative but still-creative day, and a peek at something new

Today was one of those days that just wasn't going to go as planned.

First the yarn shop was out of all but two ounces of undyed spinning fiber. I guess I'll be stash-diving — really, there's got to be something in my obscenely large stash that will work for beginners to learn on. While I was at the yarn shop, because it was just that kind of day, I couldn't even pull off a casual chat with the owner, to whom I apparently failed to convey how cool Ruth MacGregor's floating semi-rigid heddle and beaded-woven-edge project are.

Then Jo-Ann was out of stock on the little wooden wheels for making basic spindles — which were going to go with the spinning fiber from the yarn shop. DOH. If none of the craft stores I check tomorrow have them in stock, I'll just have to use some other balanced shape as a spindle whorl (two discs glued together with a hole drilled down the center? a wooden ball?).

While I was going to put together some basic spinning kits tonight, or at least make the spindles, I'd allotted enough time from the day to put them together the way I'd planned ... but not enough time to hunt through my stash for a fairly large amount of fiber that will work for beginners, or to glue together a bunch of discs and then mark and drill a bunch of holes in said discs.

So I skipped those items on my to-do list and moved on to the next one: carding some batts. Imagine light shining down from the heavens as I finally get out my long-abandoned drum carder and (literally) dust it off.

Return of the drum carder
My baby instrument of torture. Well, one of them. Has anyone else noticed that fiber-processing tools are often painful if you use them the wrong (or I guess you could call it "right") way?

I was carding away happily when, due to a, er, unforeseen miscalculation growing out of a change of plans a few weeks ago (yeah, I should have seen it coming, and I would have, a few years ago — I guess I'm still not as smart as I used to be, although I'm working on it ;)), I realized I needed to make a few more samples for the Phat Fiber sampler box, and I don't have a ton of time to do it in.

By that time, I was a little fed up with feeling stymied, so I defied the uncooperative day and made THIS, which should remind you of something else you've seen on my blog lately:

Something new!

Yes! It is, in fact, a very, very small shawl pin! Or really, a micro-pin, which I actually tested on a lightweight neck scarf (okay — I admit it was an unfinished triloom square) and that does work in that particular usage ... but I see them showing up as little decorative bitties on handwovens and handknits more than I see them being used as practical fasteners.

I really like making them — they're a fun way to play with shapes, they satisfy my obsession with teeny-tiny things, and they seem completely appropriate for the Phat Fiber box. AND they are my way out of the nonproductive corner the day was trying to back me into. So there, uncooperative day! You have pushed me into creating something new and cute and fun!

Which was maybe what it was trying to do all along. ;D

Edited to add: Oddly enough, I forgot that in between getting home and carding batts, I tried to test my computer's built-in camera and take some video, since I've been pondering doing some video-blogging, or maybe putting together some craft tutorials (even if they're a just a little bit ghetto until I have the money to buy a better video camera). You'd think I'd remember spending about an hour talking and ending up with about eight minutes' worth of video — not because I edited anything, but because Photo Booth is apparently completely horrible at taking actual video. It just ... pretends to take video when in fact it's saving about the first fifteen seconds of what I'm doing. Nice, huh? ;)

Jun 7, 2010

Yes, I want to save the world with crafts

In case you haven't noticed, late last week I put a new item in the Star and Crossbones Etsy shop: the Waves of Compassion shawl pin, which generates donations for restoration and cleanup of the gulf shores, beaches, and waters (and their denizens), to help fix whatever damage this Deepwater Horizon insanity ends up doing.

There are those who say the oil spill issue is being blown out of proportion by the media, or that we're all too emotional about this to be realistic. There are others who say we aren't doing enough, that we as Americans are more willing to donate to help other countries than we are willing to donate to save ourselves. There are still others who say we shouldn't donate to clean up, or volunteer our time, because it's BP's responsibility to clean up their own mess.

Disasters that hit close to home really point up the hugely different ways people look at the world, and as far as I can see, the most honest thing to say is: We humans, in general, are terrible at predicting the future or the consequences of our actions. We are judgemental, but our judgements are often inaccurate. We continue to judge despite this. We point fingers. We do many things that keep us from taking action.

So instead, I choose to take positive action.

I was going to write a knitting pattern to help generate donations, but I realized that would take more time than I wanted to spend — I wanted to put something out there as soon as I could, so I can offer something to those of you who want to support indie craft, small business, and protecting and preserving my home and our oceans. The Waves of Compassion shawl pin is my first step in a positive direction, and I do believe in putting out positive energy to counter all the negativity. Even if it only makes a few people feel a little better about the world and about our ability to make change and contribute, that's enough to make it worth my while.

I do, absolutely, believe that BP should pay for its own mess. I believe the oil industry needs to improve how it does business, and that if it doesn't, there should be consequences. But I don't believe I should let someone else's mistake trash my home while I wait for them to get their act together. Why should my comfort, safety and happiness wait on action from a body that, if it were competent, would have prevented the disaster in the first place?

Madeira Beach, January 26, 2010
Madeira Beach, in Tampa Bay, on the Gulf of Mexico, is five minutes from my birthplace.

The Gulf coast is my home; this is where I was born and where I intend on making my home for a good many years to come. Say some inconsiderate arseface came into my house and trashed it for no reason — or say I hired a contractor to do some repairs and instead, they tore everything up and started an electrical fire that raged out of control. Would anyone expect me to sit by, pointing my finger at the person at fault as my house burned down in front of me, refusing to do anything to help fight the fire because they started it and they should have to stop it? Would anyone respect me as a person if I continued to live in a burned-out half-house — and if I complained bitterly about it — because I firmly believed the only way to get the person at fault to compensate me was to let myself, my family, my neighbors and my friends suffer until we got the money? Would my actions make any more sense if I caused all this suffering to myself and my loved ones and I said I still didn't believe it would make a difference to the evil people at fault?

I know I wouldn't respect me if I did that, and I would consider seeking psychiatric help if I thought that sort of behavior made sense. To me, this oil spill offers the same non-question: Will I act to save my home if it's threatened by someone else's irresponsibiity? Absolutely, yes. If recompense and justice are to be had later, I will happily support those things, too. Immediate action and eventual justice are compatible.

And I'm reasonably sure that there are small charities with the same attitude — the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, for instance, is not going to wait on a donation from BP if they find an oiled bird that needs care. They'll function as they always do — they'll use the funds they already have to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. I doubt the seabird sanctuary will count on being reimbursed by BP for their efforts, although it would be nice if that happened.

As for what charitable cause will receive any donation money I raise, I'm still researching. I want to donate to a group that will use the money specifically to preserve or restore the area and animals affected by the oil spill — even if said group isn't specifically taking donations using the oil spill as a buzz word. I'll be putting a lot of thought into who receives any money raised (which I hope doesn't become a moot point ;)).

Lastly, why I'm doing this rather than making a direct donation: I know there are people who are willing to donate directly to a charity rather than indirectly through me, which is great — much power to you! There are still others who like to support multiple causes at once with their money, or who like to receive a physical thing to enjoy in return for their donation. I'm hoping to encourage those people to give, if they weren't thinking of it before; or perhaps to give a little more than they would have otherwise. And also? I'm not rich. ;) I'd like to make a sizable donation, but I can only do that by making money through my job — which is my crafts business. I would be donating out of my "craft money" regardless of whether I make a point of it. I'm hoping I can give a larger donation, and help build a sense of community, by doing it like this.

I'd be honored and full of gratitude if other people joined me. I might still offer other donation-raisers for people who don't wear shawl pins, too — Yarn? Spinning fiber? The original idea, a knitting pattern? Handwovens? What, dear readers, do you think?

Jun 6, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 22 Check-In and Roundup (May 30-June 5)

Craft or Bust Week 22 Check-In and Roundup (May 30-June 5)

For my new readers, this is the weekly Craft or Bust roundup, which is part of my year-long quest to craft something every single week. (It seems a little unbelievable now, but at the beginning of 2010, that really was a problem for me...) The weekly roundup every Sunday contains an update on what I've done in the past week and a summary of the last crafty updates I've gotten from the lovely people who are crafting along with me. It's also where my fellow CoBers post the progress updates I use to create said summary.

You're welcome to join us at any time and check in as frequently as it makes you happy! :D (Check out the general CoB information page for details, or browse the links in the Craft or Bust tab at the top of the blog.)

Roundup of Week 21: What We Crafted From May 23-29

  • Jessica knit some more of her vampire socks, made a gigantic post of macaroni and cheese, and exercised her mental powers by answering job interview questions and getting rid of a bunch of stuff in the post-graduation cleanup.
  • Sarah came back out from under her rock (I'm sure it was a pretty rock, though, right?) with new crafty hobby in hand: sewing projects out of felt. She's made iPhone cozies, applique jewelry, and yarmulkes. She's opening a second shop soon. Keep watching!

Check-in for Week 22: What Have You Done Lately? (May 30-June 5)

What I did this week:

Fingerless gloves in progressStill writing every single day, which is moderately amazing. ;) Also, Sunday, I took some pictures of my most recent Phat Fiber contribution, knitted on a custom order, and started the HPL-along project (I got one whole strip done ... ooOOOOooo). Monday, I finished a fingerless glove and knitted on the endless TwitKAL shawl. Tuesday, I made the "hurricane" mini shawl pin I'm giving away, spun some of the "Sapphires and Rubies" Merino currently on the spinning wheel, got my OSLoom backstrap loom in the mail, and listed a pirate head scarf in the Etsy shop. Wednesday, I made the first Waves of Compassion oil spill donation shawl pin. Thursday, I knitted some more on the fingerless gloves and made another strip of the HPL-along shawl. Friday, I listed the Waves of Compassion shawl pin in the shop. Aaaand finally, Saturday I celebrated by hanging out with a friend at the local Parrothead Party (which I keep typing as "Parrty." Guess it's the pirate in me coming out).


What did you craft this week?

Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page!

And again, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Jun 3, 2010

The final stage of the loom invasion: the backstrap loom

It's storming as I write this (just in case I'd forgotten in the past 24 hours that it's now hurricane season), but imagine with me, if you will, a balmy Florida afternoon: warm but not hot, a light breeze that keeps you from feeling the humidity, and clear blue skies above. That's what it was like outside when I remembered a couple of days ago that I hadn't checked the mail. Duh. But I wasn't expecting anything special — just the usual spam. Advertisements, local flyers, bills, that sort of thing. Instead, at the end of the mini walk to the mailbox on that lovely afternoon, I found this:

Laser-cut backstrap loom from OSLoom

...which is the laser-cut backstrap loom that I "earned" by donating to the Open Source Loom project. Technically I knew it was coming, but I wasn't in a big rush to get it, since I wasn't sure what timeline the project was working on, and they have a ton of stuff to get off the ground, as they're still in the early development stage.

And this is what was inside:

Laser-cut backstrap loom from OSLoom
Oooh, and there are even some wrapped-up bits. It's like Christmas!

Laser-cut backstrap loom from OSLoom
Wrapped bits now unwrapped to reveal shuttles and the heddle.

Nom nom nom. It's so much prettier than I thought it would be! One of the coolest things about it is that while it was made with new-school technology (laser-cutting, woooo!), it's made of wood, and it smells like someone wood-burned it, which I associate with old-school technology.

The loom zipped from the project organizer, Margarita, to me so fast that she didn't even have time to put the assembly directions up on the Web site. Anyone have a clue what those bracket-shaped thingies do and where they go? ;)

And in a nice little coincidence (or synchronicity, if you prefer), I found out that there's a Mayan backstrap loom class — taught by someone of Mayan descent, no less — at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center, which is less than half an hour away. I see much backstrap weaving in my future...

Jun 1, 2010

Shawl pin giveaway: hurricanes on my mind

It's June 1st, so hurricane season is officially open here in Florida. From now through November 30, we'll all be watching for those lovely spiral shapes in the local radar images. It doesn't look much like the stormy season, does it?

Florida pics: hurricane season begins

But there are storm clouds lurking on the horizon...

Florida pics: hurricane season begins

Actually, I like hurricane season. Maybe that sounds a little crazy. But I was born in Florida, and I've spent most of my life here — and not by accident or out of laziness. The often-extreme weather is an old friend, and hurricane season is the rainy season. I love thunderstorms — the fresh smell of ozone and of water cooling the pavement and in the air, the sound of an army of little droplets on the roof, the looming clouds with all their shadow and light, the fleeting complexity of a distant lightning flash. It's nice to have a break from the crispy-making summer sun, and to have the contrast of a little cloudy murk to help me appreciate the sun more when it comes back.

So, for the love of hurricane season, I made a mini copper shawl pin — a scarf pin? — in a tiny hurricaney spiral.

Another swirl shawl pin
Stats: Swirl measures approx. 2 inches by 1 1/2 inches; pin is 4 inches long; all made of hand-hammered copper wire.

And because last month I met and passed two of my little-but-significant 2010 goals — reaching 70 Etsy shop hearts and 140 Facebook fans — I offer this little pin to you as my very first giveaway.

The Prizes

First prize: One person will win the handmade mini shawl pin in the picture AND 15% off any item in the Star & Crossbones Etsy shop.

Runner-up prizes: Two other people will receive 10% off any item in the Etsy shop.

How to Enter: Leave a comment on this post (make sure to leave me some way of contacting you, too!) and let me know one of the following things:
  • your favorite season, and why it's your favorite;
  • something fun and little-known about yourself; or
  • an idea for something you'd like to see made into a shawl pin.
How to Get Bonus Entries:
  • Tweet about the giveaway. Include a link to this post and make sure the tweet is @starncrossbones, so I can see you and count your entry!
  • Follow me on Twitter @starncrossbones, and post a comment here about it OR tweet at me so I can follow you back. ;D
  • "Like" Star & Crossbones on our Facebook fan page and post a comment about it on our fan page wall or here on the blog.
  • Add the Star & Crossbones Etsy shop to your favorites (a.k.a. "heart" us!) and leave a comment about it here.

If, for some reason, you have trouble leaving a comment, you can use the contact form on the Star & Crossbones Web site to send me your entry information and I'll add you to my files manually. I don't want anyone to get left out due to technical difficulties!

Entries will close after June 15, 2010.

Someone wants to give my little baby hurricane pin a good home, right? Look at it, just waiting for your admiration and love! ;)

Another swirl shawl pin

To all who enter: Good luck, and thank you most kindly for your interest! :D
Related Posts with Thumbnails