Saturday, July 24, 2010

Etsy Treasury Challenge Saturday!

I love making treasuries on Etsy. It's a great opportunity to see all the amazing things for sale that I wouldn't normally have a reason to look at. I also love emailing people to let them know that, amongst all the thousands of things to look at, I've selected their specific thing and placed it with 15 other beautiful, unique objects. (I also love getting these emails-it seriously brightens my day). I also love the thrill that maybe, just maybe this will make it to the front page of Etsy.

I participated in my first treasury challenge yesterday, and it was a lot of fun. I'd like to start up something similar on my blog, and there's no time like the present, right? So starting, like RIGHT NOW, I'm going to do 'Treasury Challenge Saturdays'. Every Saturday, I will pick an item to be featured in the treasury challenge. To start things off, we're going to be using one of my items, because I only know like two other people who sell on Etsy and I'm not even sure if anyone is going to play.

Here's how to play:

1.Make a treasury in Treasury East with ANYTHING, as long as featured item is included in the first three rows of the treasury. You can grab the featured item here.
3.Follow my blog (please).
4.Put "Treasury Challenge" somewhere in the title of your treasury.
5.Link back to this post. This helps other people find the challenge and enter.
6.Post a comment here with the link to your treasury.
7.Please refer people! I need all the press I can get!

The winner will be chosen next Saturday, July 31. I will post the winning entry on this blog at that time, so be sure to check back to see if you've won! I will also announce next week's Treasury Challenge. You will win a 5 oz. bag of my seriously delicious candied popcorn, so I will need to be able to contact you via email to get your shipping info.
If you're interested in having an item in your shop featured in a future 'treasury challenge saturday' (and would be willing to give away a product valued around $5), please, please, please let me know! i hope this will be great exposure for your shop and a lot of fun for everyone involved.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

shameless self promotion!

The fabulous folks over at The ABCD Diaries have gracious offered to review and host a giveaway of my swiffer covers! Be sure to check it out and enter to win! They host all kinds of awesome giveayways, so I highly recommend giving them a look-see. :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

a little etsy love

check out this awesome treasury i'm featured in. i've only been featured in two treasuries, but it's such a huge compliment, i think. of all the millions of amazing things on etsy, somebody found something i'm selling and thought highly enough of it to put it in a treasury with 15 other equally amazing things. i still haven't been featured on etsy's front page, but i've kind of given up on that- it feels a lot like a popularity contest. i've also noticed that some things get featured a LOT, like two or three times a week, which doesn't seem right. give somebody else a chance, already! but i understand why that happens- pretty thing show up on the front page and people 'heart' them, and they're more likely to build treasuries out of their 'hearted' items than scour etsy pages for new things, so you end up with a lot of recycling. that's my theory, anyway. i've made two or three treasuries myself, and it is fun to email the people to let them know about it- it makes me feel a bit like a fairy godmother, or like i'm spreading a little bit of joy all around etsyland.

adventures in letterpress-ery

so the L Letterpress finally arrived yesterday. i had been driving my husband crazy talking about it for days on end. i had plans to letterpress EVERYTHING i could get my hands on. new business cards, thank-you notes, wedding invitations, toilet paper... seriously, everything. it was going to open a whole new avenue for me. just think about it. being able to letterpress from home. i'm a graphic designer, and every time i get a paper sample that's been letterpressed, i drool over it. it doesn't matter what it's for. it's just so...pretty. elegant. lush. sigh.

after playing around with it for a few hours, i'd like to share my impressions (pun definitely intended).

first of all, before you buy this thing, look around the interwebs at the reviews of it. i didn't, and i wish i had. i'm still convinced this is a good toy to have, but it definitely has some serious drawbacks, which i'll get to in a minute.

as a birthday present, my mom got me the full letterpress kit, which includes a 'starter kit' and the epic six, which is a die-cutter and letterpress combo (although, i did not get the advertised circle dies, and i'm preparing to fire off an angry email to them!). supposedly, the starter kit has everything you need to get letterpressin' right out of the box. i really wish they had included some of their branded cleaning wipes, though. there isn't one mention of how to clean up when you're done other than to "use L wipes." the ink is tacky and does not wash up with warm water. i went out to pick up some new inks, paper and dies to play around with and saw that every one of their accessories is marked $6.99 (at hobby lobby). $6.99 for a package of 80 wipes, which, as far as i can tell, are overpriced baby wipes. so i went next door to the dollar store and picked up a box of baby wipes for a dollar. they do an alright job, but after some online research, i found that vegetable oil does a much better job, and is a heck of a lot cheaper. so take note! do not buy the overpriced specialty wipes! use plain ole' vegetable oil and a paper towel. done and done.

now, back to the actual letterpressing. the plates are really, really cheap. like, almost unbelieavable. they're plastic that look like they'd snap if you looked at them the wrong way. after TWO RUNS through the press, one of the plates (shown here) cracked in about 6 places. if you had plans on buying this to make 150 wedding invitations, you'd better think again. i don't know how this didn't come up during product development. supposedly, lifestyle is aware of this problem and has been replacing plates that have cracked (or so i've read online). i'm definitely going to be requesting new plates. two impressions (that weren't even any good) is absolutely unacceptable. they also give you this double-sided sticky tape to adhere the plate to the packing mat. it's not the greatest. i've also read that you can just use double-sided scotch tape, which works better than their stuff (which i've found to be hard to release from the packing mat).  i also had a hard time getting the black ink off this plate, even after using vegetable oil.

my first two prints were less than stellar. from what i've read, the brayer they supply is a piece of junk, so i'm going to be investing in a new one. it does take practice to learn how much ink is enough- it's definitely not like stamping. also, it seems to me like the edges of the dies could benefit from a light filing with a nail file or something. it's hard not to get discouraged by this, when the videos on the manufacturer's website make it look sooooo easy. each mistake is an expensive mistake, too, as the paper you use for letterpress is more expensive than regular cardstock. you need a thick, cushy cotton rag to absorb the pressing and create a debossed surface. L Letterpress sells paper packages ($6.99, again!), but they're mostly sheets of 25 or less, so each piece that you print is costing you a fair amount of money. the inks (also $6.99... see a trend here?) actually seem like they're reasonably priced, as you need to use very little ink. i now have three tubes (black, light blue and hot pink) and i figure i'll have them for a long, long time.

after a trip to the store to pick up more plates (ugh) and browsing some blogs and picking up some helpful hints, i tried it again, which much better results. what did i do differently? well not much... i changed to the pink, which, in my opinion, rolled on easier and was easier to get thinner, more even coverage. i also removed the padding sheet in the packing mat- with the packing mat, it's really hard to crank through the machine. without it, it seems to go through a lot easier. it's still not perfect, as you can see in the picture to the right- uneven coverage (which i'm actually ok with, frankly. it gives it a handmade feel...) i got two cards that i'm relatively happy with. but i wasted about 6 sheets of paper to get those two, so...

so where does all this leave me? well, my plans to start letterpressing custom wedding invitations are definitely shelved. but i think i could do some pretty cards (thank you's, congratulations, birthday and christmas, primarily), possibly some business cards for myself, and some canning labels. it's a lot of set-up and clean up to do just a few things, so i'd have to plan out in advance what i wanted to do, which isn't the worst thing in the world. i still love letterpress and am still excited to be able to get that look at home, even if it isn't as perfect as if it were run on a heidelberg or something. i'm also very interested in ordering some custom plates, but definitely not from the manufacturer. i'm going through this place, instead. they have a great blog post on this machine and how to get better results, so definitely read that before deciding to buy one or not.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh em gee!

AT-AT day afternoon from Patrick Boivin on Vimeo.

Springtime Yarn

Originally uploaded by ham_and_eggs
Ahh... kool-aid. How I love thee... you're so cheap and unpredictable. And you smell fruity, to boot.

This is my second skein of yarn dyed with kool-aid, and while my husband says he likes the first one better, I think this one is a home-run. I love the variations in tone and saturation, and I love, love, love how the turquoise turned out.

I'm debating whether to sell this one or keep it all for myself. It's really pretty, but I don't typically work with sport weight, so I'd probably make something just to make it, you know?

Your comments, as always, are greatly appreciated. Let me know what you'd do with it if it were yours.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hats for Hunger

Kool-aid dyed hat
Originally uploaded by ham_and_eggs
So the good folks at Red Heart Yarns turned me on to this organization, Hats for Hunger. Started by a 9-year-old boy named Andrew Castle, Hats for Hunger sells handmade hats and donates the proceeds to Heifer International, another great organization. You should read about them- they do really amazing work that has a real, immediate impact on families across the globe, helping to fight poverty and starvation by providing livestock to families for food and income.

Anyway, as part of my do-goodery, I made a hat, which I'm donating and sending to Hats for Hunger. I made it with the kool-aid dyed yarn I made the other day (and blogged about here). I followed the pattern for an adult hat but since the yarn is sport weight (at best), it's probably going to fit a tweener better, which is fine, because I think this hat would look adorable on a girl (or boy; I don't judge...). It's lightweight and kind of stretchy, so its perfect for spring and summer. and for me, the flower detail really finishes the look.

If you're a crocheter, I would strongly urge you to make a hat and send it off to this kid. Consider it your good deed of the week. Mine only took a few hours and a few dollars (1/2 skein of yarn and the cost to mail it, primarily), but it's going to help feed a hungry family. Since I've been unemployed, I have a much keener awareness of how lucky we are to have all that we have- a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, heat in the winter and ac in the summer, great friends, family and neighbors. If I can spend a few hours to try and give some of that to a family in need, it's totally worth my time.

If you're not a crocheter but would like to commission a hat made by me to send to Hats for Hunger, just let me know! Or, I bet you could just donate directly to them or to Heifer International. :)

It's my birthday!

Today's my birthday! Yay me! And to celebrate the day of my birth, I've decided to give 32% off everything in my etsy store for TODAY ONLY! (this goofy sale ends at midnight tonight, central standard time) There are two ways to save: 1) buy something and I'll refund 32% of the sale price (not including shipping) to you via PayPal. 2) find something you want to buy, send me a convo, and I'll create a custom  listing just for you reflecting the 32% discount. Easy-peasy. And, don't forget, every purchase comes with an awesome free gift! So go shopping already!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

my first experiment with kool-aid dyed yarn

i've been thinking about dying my own yarn for a little while now. there are some skeins on etsy that are so gorgeous, i don't think i'd ever use them for anything- i'd seriously just have them on a shelf so i could look at them. but they're also as expensive as they are pretty. so, i'm thinking to myself, 'hey, i'm pretty crafty! i bet i could do this!' i added a few basic dye essentials (dye and yarn, basically) to my amazon wish list and hoped somebody would buy them for me. as it turns out, my lovely husband did! and as he can't keep anything a secret, i got to open some of my birthday presents early. (my birthday is next week, but presents have been piling up around the house for about a month now, so i have to give him some credit...)

i had the house to myself yesterday while said husband was at work (that makes it sound like i have more than one husband, but i assure you, it's just the one), and some time to kill, so i figured now's as good a time as any to jump in with both feet. well, sort of. i decided to go for the kool-aid dyed yarn instead of the acid-dyed yarn because a) i don't know what the hell i'm doing yet, and b) i really, really didn't want to end up with acid-dye stains all over my house. also, kool-aid is a lot cheaper than the pretty little jars of acid-dye joey got for me, so if i'm going to eff up, i'd rather have it be a cheap effup. however, the yarn i put on my wish list turns out to be rather NOT cheap, but also not exactly what i'd hoped for, either. i apparently misread the label and asked for sport (or possibly even sock- i dunno, but this stuff is thin...) weight yarn instead of worsted weight. oh well, live and learn. but it's a lovely merino superwash wool and i'm sure i'll find plenty of things to do with it (like make hats to send to this kid...)

i found the easiest tutorial for kool-aid dyeing. it leaves a lot to chance and serendipity, but that's kind of what i like about it. if i'm doing a mult-color variegated yarn, i want it to be as random as possible. i'm not looking for self-striping (although i did find a blog about women who figured out how to do self-striping Fair Isle socks... holy moses, that looked like an awful lot of work, but really cool), i'm not looking for perfection- if i want that, i'll go to the store and get some machine dyed yarn. i want something...handmade-y.

so this is about as easy as it gets:
1) soak yarn in warmish water in a big sautee pan for 30 minutes
2) add your kool-aid. use a chop stick to gently mix up any undissolved mix- don't untangle your yarn or it will be a huge mess when you're done. (i chose four colors, and added two packets of each. i think the next time i do this, i'll be more discerning with my color palatte, and play around with how much kool-aid i add. everything ended up very heavily saturated, color-wise, and i think i want some more variety there.)
3) bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes. let cool.
4) rinse well, hang dry. (the drying took FOREVER! i had to let it dry overnight, and i really wanted to wind it up right away and crochet something with it. the waiting for it to dry was probably the hardest part of this whole thing)

aaaand that's about it. couldn't be easier.

the yarn smelled pretty fruity while it was wet, but once it's dry, i didn't notice the smell anymore, which is kind of a bummer. i'd love to make things that naturally smelled like chemical-fruity-goodness. i went out and got some worsted weight wool and some sugar n' cream cotton yarn yesterday. i'm not sure how far i'll go with this (selling in my etsy shop), but it sure is fun to play around with.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


No, this isn't a post about creationism vs. evolution, because that would be dumb (one's stupid, the other is science. don't get me started). i am in the mood to make new products! i've been brainstorming some new ideas, working out some models (some of them are cuter than others, believe me. but you only get the see the successes. the failures all end up in a drawer in my living room where they periodically get dragged out by visiting children, drooled on and put away. some day i'll share them (like after i've made my first million, say), but today ain't that day). i've got a couple of things in the pipeline that i'd really like to sell patterns for. i've been really, really happy with how the gnome pattern is selling. even though i've only got it listed for $2, i still get all excited when i get a transaction notification for it. so i'd like to be able to capitalize on that. june has been absolutely fantastic for sales for me. i love my customers, i really, really do.

i'm back to applying for jobs in earnest (as opposed to casually applying with a resume that may or may not have been up-to-date). i'll be honest, i'm not really crazy about going back to work full-time. i love being at home during the day. and i love thinking that crocheting might be my full-time job. but right now, i'm just not bringing in enough to make that a reality. and we just found out that since we're down to one full-time salary, we no longer qualify for our adoption agency's threshold of income to adopt. so, basically, the last year and god-knows-how-much-money we've invested with this agency has been for naught. that really burns my biscuits. how can we be too poor to adopt? plenty of people raise families (with more than one child!) on one income. blurg. so, it looks like groanygirl is going to have to go back to work full time. i'm hoping i can find a job that's close to home and is in my field, fun to do and pays pretty well. keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, June 21, 2010

mmm.... fruity popcorn

so along with all my crocheted goodies, i also make popcorn treats. i don't know how i fell into this, quite honestly. i have a love-hate relationship with popcorn. the kernels are ALWAYS getting stuck in my gums, and one year, i swore off popcorn entirely because of it. but i can't lie, i love making candied popcorn and popcorn balls. i think i like hearing from other people how much they like it more than i like eating it myself.

i just finished a batch of strawberry and orange candied popcorn. it's one of my favorites. if you've never had candied popcorn before, you should splurge and get some. it's really the best sweet snack you can buy for $6.50+shipping. ;)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My very first pattern!

Roamin' Gnome
Originally uploaded by ham_and_eggs
So I gotta admit it- I'm pretty excited to be selling my very first pattern of original work. I mean, this is something completely unique to me. It's something I made up, thought through, and wrote out in a pattern that other people can actually understand. I'm in the process of hand-copying all my patterns into my pattern "bible." I've developed a pretty succint shorthand to make the process go faster, so a lot of it looks like '2/0 x6' or something awful like that, that only I will ever be able to understand. Years from now, people will find my pattern journal and spend years trying to decipher it, thinking it holds the keys to the mysteries of the universe or something. Hah.

I'm also kind of nervous selling this pattern.... because, what if I made a mistake somewhere, or it turns out that nobody can understand what I'm trying to communicate. I know I'm being paranoid. I've spent a lot of time thinking this one through, and comparing notations from well-written patterns (as well as really AWFULLY written pattterns. ugh. I've wasted so much money buying patterns that were absoulte shite), so I think I have a pretty good idea what's what.

I'm also nervous because I feel like I'm releasing my child out into the world. When I was just selling finished products, I had complete control over them, at least until they arrived at their destination. I feel like, now that I'm selling the pattern, a bazillion people are going to seize it and start selling finished ones on etsy, which is a) ludicrous, and b) ridiculous. But I feel like I have a hard-enough time getting buyers already, and now that I'm starting to make my patterns available, I feel like I'm cutting off my pool even further. I think that's why I chose to start with something pretty basic like the gnome, because it doesn't feel very close to my heart (like my angry girls...)

and, of course, i couldn't finish this post without a shameless plug for my pattern:
it's only $2! go buy it already. okay, that's enough out of me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

free gift with purchase

button rose
Originally uploaded by ham_and_eggs
so i've started throwing freebies into my packages. my husband says i need to think like a buyer, not a seller. so, as a buyer, what would delight me and make me come back to my shop again? of course, my answer is 'free shit.' it works out well- i get to try out a new pattern or make something small i would otherwise have no reason to make (right now, i'm not really interested in selling crocheted flowers in my shop- there are sooooo many people out there doing that now, there's no way to stand out from the crowd, in my opinion, and i can't really sell them for more than a few bucks, so all in all, it doesn't seem worth my time...). and my buyers get a free thingy that engenders love for me. hopefully. i'm also giving them 10% off their next purchase if they leave me positive feedback. is that wrong? i have almost 50 sales (be my 50th and get a kick-ass free gift! better than this flower!), but i only have half that in feedback. so i'm hoping that's going to work for me too. it's all about return customers.

sooooo, anyway, here's a flower. it's got a pin on the back, so you could presumably do something with it other than just look at it. what do people do with crocheted flowers? appliques? gift bag adornments?

so what do you think of my buyer incentive program? would this make you want to come back for more? got any good ideas for other types of freebies i can throw in the box? i'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

best seller!

it's funny how sometimes stuff you make tends to take on a life of it's own. i found this pattern on craft's website and made a couple for the house. we have pets. three of them. that seem to be in a continuous state of shedding. and pretty much anything i make that doesn't end up the drawer of misfit toys ends up in my etsy shop. and lo and behold, these swiffer covers have become my most popular item. they got featured on craft's flickr pool of the week and recently ended up on eco-salon. i don't mind it- they're relatively quick and easy to make and don't cost much in materials or to ship, and it's a great way to build exposure for my shop.

anyway, if you're interested in picking up a few for yourself, head on over to my etsy shop. they're value-priced and i offer quantity disocunts. also, i'm starting a customer loyalty program, and i'm hoping that by bribing my customers with a 10% discount (by leaving me positive feedback- cheap ploy? never!), i can get more return shoppers, increased sales and more money in my pocket.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Baby elephant!

Baby elephant!
Originally uploaded by ham_and_eggs's a baby elephant! that is all.
visit my etsy shop to get one for yourself.

Angry Lindsay

Angry Lindsay
Originally uploaded by ham_and_eggs
well, she's finally done. i accepted a request for a custom 'angry girl' about a month and a half ago. normally, these dolls don't take that long to make- it's the hair that really bogs me down. much like the 'mad janet' doll i finished not too long ago, this doll's hair really threw me for a loop- literally and figuratively. it's the first doll i've done with curly hair, and the best way i can sum it up is to say it was a learning experience. like... how not to make curly hair. the entire thing is one long continuous chain that is sl st into a wig headpiece, which worked well for a while, but towards the end, i realized i wanted some of the strands to sit other places, which would require doing hours and hours of work. going forward, if i ever get a commission again for a curly-headed doll, i'm doing each strand individually and sewing them all on later.

a few things i really like about this doll, though: her striped dress. this was a request from the client and i think it turned out so cute. she's also got baby pink underpants. i like the bangs on the doll, as well as the headband. haven't heard back from the client yet (just sent the email) on whether she's approved or not, but i'm really hoping she likes her.

anyhooo, if you want your own angry girly, head on over to my etsy shop and request one!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

success! (mixed with crushing failure...)

well, i finally found a swimming suit i'm mildly happy with, even if it's made up of a non-matching tankini top and bikini bottom from two different manufacturers. but that's neither here nor there. it fits, i like it, i'm wearing it tomorrow. done and done. well, i hope i'm wearing it tomorrow. i'm going out on my parent's boat in the first time in about a dozen years, but the weather might not be warm enough for swimming (high of 75, but it rained on and off all day today so the water is probably pretty cold). so all this might have been for naught. whatever, i'm trying not to think about it.

as thrilling as finding a bathing suit i'm happy with is (it was totally thrilling, btw), i had a crushing failure in my effort to curtail my hairwashing. i hadn't washed my hair with actual shampoo for about two and a half weeks now (guessing), opting instead for a baking soda and honey mixture every two or three days. today, though, i gave in and grabbed the bottle of shampoo and washed my hair. and you know what? it felt great. it wasn't without internal debate, though. today was about the third day since i'd washed it, and i was getting ready to go out to run some errands, and my hair was just icky. i tried pulling it back tightly into a ponytail, bun, braid, a messy bun, letting it hang loose, using dry shampoo, headkercheif... and it all looked gross and made me feel even worse. i'd spent about 25 minutes futzing with it when i looked at myself in the mirror and said 'whyyyyy am i wasting my time with this bullshit when i could wash it and be on my way to the store in about ten minutes?!' the whole point of wanting to wash my hair less frequently, after all, was to be less of a slave to my hair. i've noticed that i'm getting downright obsessed with my hair and how it looks in-between washings. this is the exact opposite of what i'd wanted. i'd still like to get to the point where i'm washing my hair twice or three times a week instead of seven times a week. so maybe this is just a detour. a soapy, shampooy-filled detour.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

a full day to crochet!

today is saturday. i'm unemployed, so honestly, every day feels like a saturday. but regardless, i've reserved the entire day to finishing up crochet projects that are long overdue, and hopefully will have some time to put towards a new product. it's currently top secret, but will be an awesome counterpart to one of my best-sellers if it works out. so i'm excited about that. i want to just focus on that and leave everything else for another day, but i have to be responsible to my clients and they are starting to wonder where the eff their stuff is.

my hands are going to be sooo achy after this. if you're a crocheter, i'd love to hear how you handle crochet-ache. i've read about some hand stretches and massages you can do but none of it seems to alleviate the deep ache i feel in my left hand. blurg.

Friday, June 4, 2010

stupid online printers!

so i'm doing this brochure for friends of mine and i'm just about done with it. it's a trifold brochure, which i both love and hate doing. but right now, i'm mostly hating it. they've selected an online printer, so naturally i head over to their site to download some specs for where the folds go, how big the bleed is, blah blah blah. i hate it when these sites are all cryptic about their specs. seriously. it's an 8.5 x 11 sheet, folded into thirds. tell me the x-coordinates for the folds. that's all i need.

instead, i end up with a layered illustrator file (don't even get me started on how much i despise layers. yes,  they may make designing easier for some of you but i hate, hate, hate them) with some dotted lines and arrows and stupid bs that nobody needs. so, i have spent the last two hours measuring, remeasuring, uploading and previewing, interspersed with lots and lots of swearing. they have an online preview that lets you look at how your piece will look finished and folded. and every single time, the folds look a little off. so... is this just a function of the crappy online preview, or are their original specs off? which do i rely on? also, there's no way i can afford to have an unhappy client. i can't afford to eat the cost of this print job if they aren't happy with it. so it has to be right. and, of course, the above-mentioned online printer does NOT include a phone number to contact them- only email. so i've sent them an email, and am now waiting for them to get back to me and tell me that they're dumb.

some days, i'm really, really excited at the prospect of making freelance design my career. other days (like today, duh), i want to say 'screw it' and go get a job at the mall.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

how to destroy your self esteem in three easy steps

so today i went for a long bike ride, and made the trip in record time. my legs felt like jelly when i got home but it was really worth it. i've been slowly but steadily losing weight over the past 10 months (down 20 lbs, 10 more to go...), and i thought it was time to treat myself to a new bathing suit. also, i'm planning on going waterskiing with my parents on monday- the first time in about 10 years. egad. i have a cute swimsuit from last year, but it's a big fat-hiding suit with a swimskirt, and it's not really practical for waterskiing. so, off to the store i went. since we're poor, i hit the discount stores: target, marshalls and kohl's. sure i would be able to find something. ha. freaking. ha. i tried on no less than two dozen suits today and every single one of them made me feel like a fat disgusting slob. or it was cut to low in the front. or it was a low-cut halter top (hate 'em.). or, in the worst case scenario, it was all three! awesome! seriously, how hard is it to find a decent tankini and a belly-fat-hiding bottom without going broke? my next stop is land's end, but the thought of dishing out $100 on a bathing suit that may or may not fit me next season is not my idea of a good time. so the search continues. let me know where you've found cute suits. oh, also, i prefer tankinis because i have a long torso so buying a one-piece online is a pretty risky proposition. blurg.

The Mad, Mad Angry Girl Gardener

Mad Janet_2
Originally uploaded by ham_and_eggs
my friend janet asked me to make her an angry doll a while back, and i finallllllly got around to finishing her last week. the basic body construction is relatively easy on these dolls- nothing too fancy, so i finished that in about a day or two. but the hair! good lord, the hair took forever. she's got short, blonde hair. i've never done short hair on an angry girl before. each hair is individually placed on the head, so i cut about a bazillion strands of yellow yarn and then cut them into a hairstyle, like a hairdresser would. that was pretty stressful, honestly. it's no biggie if i screwed up; i could always remove the hair and redo it, but because it took me so long to get it done in the first place, the thought of removing it and redoing it was making me sick to my stomach. anyway, after i cut all the hair, her head was looking a little too round and poofy, so i gave her a babushka. i used a pattern that i'd used to make a babushka for myself with, modified to fit the dolls head. (actually, i just used a d-hook instead of an h-hook and it worked perfectly).

janet's a huge gardener, so she had to have flip flops. i mean, who gardens in socks and shoes, right? i actually originally crocheted her with green clogs (not crocs, because i hate crocs!) which were pretty cute, but when i added the purple headscarf, there were too many colors going on, so i removed the legs and redid them. i have a drawer full of unused body parts from dolls gone awry. i keep saying one day i'm just going to sew them all together into one gigantic ugly doll. lastly, i gave her a flower, because every gardener needs a flower, i think. it's a funny juxtaposition because her face is so, so angry and the idea of a girl holding a flower is sweet and innocent. all in all, she's one of my favorite angry girls. she's got so much personality.

Army guy!

Army guy!
Originally uploaded by ham_and_eggs
My dad requested I make an army guy in honor of their neighbor, Robbie, who joined the army last year. My dad thinks of him as something of a surrogate son, and I know they're extremely proud of his decision, but they also miss him a lot.

On Memorial Day, my dad asked if we could give this to Robbie's mom, because she is having a really hard time with her son being away. So we walked across the street together, rang the doorbell, and my dad told her a little about why he asked me to make this, and that this particular doll was just for her. She teared up when I handed it to her, and of course, I couldn't help myself from crying, either. It was a pretty special moment- that something so simple, so silly, could move somebody that way.

I am so proud of my dad and his service to this country.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

i have no willpower

so today is day three of the great no-shampooing experiment 2010. i broke down. sort of. we're going out shopping today, and over to my inlaws for dinner and poker. and while i honestly don't feel like anyone would notice or comment or even care if i didn't wash my hair, the fact that i knew i didn't would be enough to make me feel self-conscious the whole time, and who needs that kind of stress? seriously.
so, i read up a little about ways to wash your hair without using actual shampoo. one way is to use baking soda and warm water. some say to mix it so it's like a paste, others say to water it down. so i split the difference and went with a pasty watery mix. i added a little bit of honey to it because i remember reading somewhere that honey will help moisturize your hair.

first of all... washing your hair with baking soda feels a lot like washing your hair with sand. it's gritty. and i got some in my eyes and my mouth (don't ask...i've only been washing my hair for thirty-odd years and i apparently still haven't mastered not getting shampoo in my eyes...) and it's really salty (duh) and stings a bit. so that was not great. also, after rinsing, i could barely get my fingers through my hair, it was so densely packed. yuck. so i broke down and used some conditioner, which helped a lot. my hair feels cleaner and softer than it has for the past couple days, but still not as squeaky-clean as it does when i use regular shampoo.
so there you have it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

learning to let go...

so i've learned that i wash my hair way too frequently, and as a result, my hair gets really oily, so i wash it more, which makes it more oily. it's a vicious circle. i heard this report on npr a few months ago and thought, 'yeah, that SOUNDS great, but i'll never be able to do it! my hair will be way too greasy.' so wash it every day i did.

well, now we're getting ready to go on our annual camping trip up north. we'll be without a functioning shower or toilet for a solid week (unless you count the outhouse a mile from our campsite as a working toilet), and while our campsite is a lake lot, the lake is really too cold to use for bathing. last year, i suffered through it with a series of hats and strategically placed ponytails, but i felt greasy and unkempt the entire time.

as i've found myself unhitched from my job, i have no real reason to wash my hair every day, other than my own personal vanity, which, let's be honest... is pretty low. i don't wear makeup except to weddings, funerals and on majory holidays, and i rarely do anything with my hair besides throw it back in a ponytail after getting out of the shower. so, now's as good a time as ever to do this thing.

i'm currently on day two of not washing my hair...sort of. it got wet when i showered both days, and i've been using tresemme dry shampoo both days. it's still more oily than what i'm used to, but it's also more full and manageable-ish. so, wish me luck. i'll be posting more frequently, and i'll keep you all up-to-date on the days of my hair's life. let me know if any of you have adopted this 'no 'poo' philosophy and how it's working for you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

a little input, please?

so i'm working on creating a suite of dolls that i'd eventually like to sell the patterns for. i wanted to call them 'groany-kins' but joey has convinced me to call them 'chunkers' because i intend on making all of them little fatties.

the first one, of course, is a characture of yours truly. i like to complain. i'm frequently flummoxed. and if i could crochet steam coming out of my ears, i would. (my doll's ears, that is. not mine. that would be weird.)

so, audience, i have a few questions for you:
  • what do you think of the name 'chunkers'? got any other brilliant suggestions?
  • if you could have a custom doll made just for you, what would you request? (outfit, size, gender, facial expression/attitude, skin tone, etc)- it doesn't have to be a representation of yourself, per say, but something you'd like for yourself or as a gift.
  • how much would you pay for such an item? (i'm thinking $35 for stock and $50 for custom- too much? an easy way to answer this would be by asking yourself, 'would i pay that much for THAT?') what about the pattern? $3.50? $4?
any other unsolicited feedback is now solicited. bring it.
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