A Different shade of gray

This month has been the wettest October in history for the area and the most depressing. Each day has been just a different variant of gray. Today wasn't as dreary as Monday and Tuesday but a little more dreary than Sunday, and on and on. Don't get me wrong I like a gray fall day with the bright falling leaves as much as the next but when you string them all together like we've had this year with the continuous, never ending rain it just gets to be too much.

The scarflette above is called Full Moon and it was knitted with a gray silk/wool tweed.

As a depressive I'm probably more effected by the weather on my moods than most. I have found myself pretty unmotivated to do much of anything. Knitting is even feeling like a chore to me right now, with 2 shows coming up I'm starting to feel uninspired. Work has been completely draining and when I get home I don't have the energy to do much of anything. I've been feeling like I'm totally off my blogging game to boot. I'm just going through the motions on just about every front and I know it's starting to show in my real life and here too.

All blogs have their ups and downs and I'm sure I'll get my mojo back soon enough. I had a string of good posts back before Strange Folk about preparing for craft shows. I will be doing some follow up posts about other venues and thoughts on selling crafts in person. Once things settle down at work and we have a few days of clear skies I will hopefully be able to get my thoughts together.


There's still Time!

I just wanted to let you know that there is still time to enter my Fall Newsletter Giveaway which ends October 31 at midnight. Be sure that you have followed up with the e-mail to accept becoming a member. There are around 5 people who are still pending including a few names that I recognized.

The scarf I'm using as my image for the giveaway sold last week but there is still lots of warm scarves left in my shop. I don't know about you but scarf season is starting early here in the mid-west this year. $40 will get you either of the scarves here with $5 to spare.

The pink Girl Power scarf is a great wool/acrylic blend with a real punch of color. The one at the top was named for my favorite girl band, The Indigo Girls Scarf. It's a wool/silk blend from Noro, my favorite yarn brand. I just noticed that both of the scarves I picked out to feature in this post used a stitch pattern I haven't used in awhile. It's a cool one that combines two different stitches giving a neat textured effect. I'll have to bring that stitch back into my rotation as it really photographs well I think.

I have a little over 100 people signed up the newsletter now which is what I was shooting for. When I started the giveaway in early fall I had around 30 so the names I got at Strange Folk and those from posting on the blog have made a big difference.


Almost Perfect Review

"Eighty percent of everything you’ll learn in high school is useless, and you’ll never use it again. Twenty percent is indispensable, and you won’t be able to get along in life without it. Unfortunately, you won’t know which is which until after you get out of school, and it’s different for every person. Study hard." Brian Katcher

Full disclosure: Brian Katcher is one of my husband's oldest friends and he and his wife Sandy are the most sincerely nice couple I've ever been lucky enough to meet. Brian is signing our copy of the book above.

Last weekend we headed to Centralia for Brian Katcher's new book launch party for Almost Perfect, just released by Random House. It was a cold early Fall day in rural Missouri much like the setting for his latest book. Here is my review of his first Young Adult novel, Playing with Matches which just came out in paperback.

I got the chance to read Almost Perfect this week. It's a really hard book to describe without giving too much away. It is for young adults and deals with some serious topics that can be tough for parents to talk about. There is a transgender young person dealing with facing the world and finding themselves in a small town. And there is young love with all of its ups and downs and mistakes and drama. There is lots of humor and some tragedy, kind of like growing up in a small town as I should know.

I would totally recommend this book for a mature 13 or 14 year old, especially if they are dealing with gender or identity issues. But really I hope that boys won't be turned off by the very feminine and provocative cover. In the lead character Logan, they will find a not perfect boy who makes a lot of mistakes but doesn't give up trying which I find heroic in a way. I'm left wondering what becomes of Sage and Logan after the book ends just like all good fiction. Is this book perfect. I would have to say no, but almost.


True Love

One of my colleagues is at her grandfather's funeral today. I had to share a story that gave me chills when I heard it. A few months ago both her grandparents started going downhill. One of them ended up at a hospice and the other has been in and out of the hospital since. Her grandmother has been in a comatose state for the past 3 weeks. On Sunday night late she woke up and told the nurse "He's gone. He's in a better place now." The nurse documented it since she hadn't spoken in over a month. They found out a few hours later that was when her husband was passing. They were clearly soul mates and had a bond that we can only hope to understand.

The above scarf is one I made and sold last Valentine's Day with hearts knitted into it and a few removable beads I attached.


Pick Me Ups!

I wish that I could say that the rest of the week has been better but that would be a lie. The deluge of students shows no sign off letting up. This is a Spring registration period unlike any of us has ever experienced. I talked some in this post a few months ago about my thoughts on this group of freshman. I'm starting to get the idea that they are going to need extra time and attention from here on out. We have another week and a half of all walk-ins and then I go back on appointments, which sounds like heaven at this point.

Last week I got my mother in law a little pick me up gift from Zizzy Bob Baskets. I follow Zizzy's blog and have admired her work for awhile now. My MIL is having a hard time right now with her older brother's health going down hill fast. She's having to take on way too much of dealing with his problems since his only son lives in Georgia. It's definitely wearing her down and I wanted to let her know that I was thinking about her. I got the seasonal basket above and I'll probably fill it with her favorite candy.

A few weeks ago I treated myself to one of my blog friend, Nancy from Nfall2rt Designs, contained pendants. I love the simple and organic design of them. It's like wearing a piece of art around my neck and goes with just about everything. I blogged about Nancy awhile ago here.

I definitely feel an impulse purchase coming on today from my favorites on Etsy. Handmade retail therapy is the best kind. If you want to try to tempt me with something from your shop leave a link. I'm feeling particularly weak today.


In Need of Zen

I'm in serious need of some zen tonight so I'm featuring the scarflette of that name. I haven't been feeling great for about a week. No fever so it's not the swine but just feeling run down and whiny. My big toe hurts tonight, feels like its infected or something. Today was the first day of spring registration, believe it or not. We had well over 400 students come in as walk-ins today. That was just before I left at 4:30 so I have no idea how the night crew handled this evening.

It wasn't just that we had students hanging from the rafters, but because there were also so many students registering at home the system slowed down to mud. A registration that would normally take me about a minute to enter, when the student already knew what they wanted was taking at least 5 or 6. If I had to do searches for classes it was taking up to 15 minutes per student.

I can't blame the students. They were perfectly content to wait over 2 hours to see a counselor if it meant they got the schedule they wanted. Many of these kids are the ones who ended up with terrible schedules last semester when we ran out of good class times for them in June. They are being proactive which we told them to do but it was seriously exhausting.

I was a total witch to Mike all evening too. He said the wrong thing to me when I walked in the door and the rest of the night was downhill from there. Hopefully tomorrow is better. I promise not to whine again here if it isn't.


Handmade Halloween

There is still time to enter The Mare's Tales Halloween giveaway which closes October 18th. She's giving away one of her Halloween pendants from her Etsy shop. Jennifer is an amazing artist and her blog is filled with gorgeous artwork and stunning photography. She also has a darker blog called The Night Mare where she recently featured some of the best cemetery photography I've ever seen. She has a way of capturing the image in a way that is both haunting and clear that you really should check out.

I also wanted to share the work of fellow St. Louis artist Senora Muertos, whom I've gotten to know better recently. She does a lot of the same shows that I do and is a very sweet and cool crafter. She makes mostly Day of the Dead inspired work with paper mache. She sells her work on Etsy here but she also has a lot of cool things on her Facebook page that you can see here that are also for sale. I'm having her send the girls 3 cute little barrettes with skulls on them for Halloween. Since I can't be there for their first holiday in Texas I wanted to let them know that I was thinking of them.



First I want to say that I'm happy with the response to the Fall Newsletter Giveaway. I knew that joining the newsletter was more of a commitment to me so I made it a worthy prize. Well over 50 people have signed up since I opened the giveaway up so that is a good thing. I sent out an e-mail today to everyone on my subscriber list as of this morning. There were about 10 people still pending so if you thought you signed up but didn't get an e-mail from me today than you had better try signing up again to be safe.

Last night a friend from high school asked me about my Etsy shop on Facebook so I posted another link on my homepage and low and behold I woke up this morning to 5 sales. I have my Etsy mini on my FB page but I guess I need to be more proactive about letting people know about it. I certainly don't want to spam my friends since I primarily use FB to connect with people I know but this was a good reminder that it doesn't hurt to let people see that I sell some cool stuff.

I've been bringing lots of scarflettes back from the dead the past few weeks like the one at the top of the page. Shades of Clay is 100% cashmere and incredibly luscious with a handmade clay button to close it up. I'm a little concerned since a lot of the pictures for these items aren't up to my current quality. I know that they won't sell if they aren't listed, and relisting something is a lot easier than taking the pictures for something new and going through the whole listing process. So I think I'm going to continue to do it and just move them down the page a bit so that the pretty new pictures are at the top. I love that Etsy allows us to rearrange our listings now. This is a major perk for sellers and gives us a lot more control over how our shops look.

Overall I'm happy with how the fall is going so far. I need to do some more Project Wonderful advertising and possibly find a few more advertising opportunities. I hope that you are finding ways to get yourself out there as well. If you have any ideas for cheap promotion please share.


9 year old Diva

I got together last night with Ani to plan her upcoming birthday party that I'm hosting for 7 or 8 nine year olds. Yes, I am truly a glutton for punishment. We had already decided on a nature and organic theme. I had some floral invitations and a felted flower jewelry project for us to do at the party. She got out her Oriental Trading Post catalog so that we could look for a few decorations and things for the goody bags. The next thing I know we are looking at the Rock Star party pages and before you could tune an instrument I had a pink plastic guitar in my cart along with various other Rock Star themed items.

I'll make some diva fabulous little scarves out of some sparkly boa yarn I have and I ordered a few guitar themed craft projects that we can work on along with a crazy guitar shaped pinata. She will only be a 9 year old Diva once in her life so I guess we are putting the natural theme on hold for now. The picture above is an outfit we got this summer on one of our shopping expeditions. That little girl knows how to play me like a pink guitar!


Handmade Movie: Coraline

Mike and I watched the movie Coraline over the weekend. It was actually his choice since he's had some kids recommend it to him at school. He kept telling me he knew I would love it and he was so right. It is as close to a handmade movie as you can possibly come. They used all DIY special effects and made everything you see in the movie by hand. If you are interested in making your own Coraline doll like the one above you can buy a PDF pattern on Etsy from SewLolita.

I found this great article and slide show in Wired Magazine that details how they made each element in the movie. Here's a quote, "In all, the crew hand-built 150 sets and 250 jointed puppets, as well as plants and toys with countless moving parts. "What makes this film different," says Tom Proost, one of the art directors, "is that everything is real and everything moves."

Not only is it visually stunning but the story is so compelling as well. It is appropriate for mature kids but I probably wouldn't let a child younger than 6 watch it. There isn't any gore but just several amazingly shocking moments that could possibly haunt an immature kid for awhile. Hell, there is at least one scene that I will probably have nightmares about. It involved taffy and a very large bossomed woman, if you are curious.

Coraline is the perfect heroine for young girls. She's strong willed and speaks her mind. Dakota Fanning did a great job of making her real. And the writer Neil Gaiman was able to capture that moment of adolescence when you are still dependant on your parents in many ways but trying to find your own place in the world.

Synthetic Seduction recreated that quizzical look of Coraline in clay for her necklace above. It would be perfect for a Coraline fan in your life.

I think it would be a great movie to watch on Halloween. I'll be buying a copy for myself as well as Jess and Kate. I really think that Kate will identify with Coraline.


Happy Birthday Dear Little Sis

Today is my beautiful, smart, and independent baby sister's birthday. The above picture is from the early 80's and is our all time favorite picture together. I love how smug we both look about the absolutely comical outfits we are wearing. Purple kitty sweater and matching leg warmers and the elementary school teacher bow tie blouse and long shorts, what more can I say...
I took this picture this summer of her feet. She has always hated her feet and I am always telling her that there is nothing wrong with them so it is a bit of a running joke between us.

She's just coming out of a 5 year relationship and has a lot of upheaval going on in her life right now. She and I have always been extremely close but I have felt as though there has been a huge bridge between us the past few years. I guess I said some things I shouldn't have after the last breakup and made her uncomfortable after they got back together. Yes, I should have known better and I'm trying to keep my mouth shut this time. (I know no one in my family reads my blog so I feel safe talking here in case you were concerned.) I really hope that we can get our old relationship back somehow. I know it will never be exactly the same but I hope that the tension will ease after awhile.

My brother is giving her a very special birthday weekend. He used his miles to fly her to Miami and his latest and greatest new girlfriend works for a beach side resort. She has comped them a room complete with full spa services and dinner at a 5 star restaurant.

I am really hoping that she decides to move back to good old MO. It feels really lonely with my other sister gone and it would be nice to have some support as my parents get older and we have to make decisions about the farm. I'm trying my best to stay out of her decisions this time though and can only hope she knows how much I love and respect her.


What's Coming Up

So before I knew it we are right in the middle of Fall. I'm not complaining, early Fall really is one of my favorite times of the year. There is the cooling weather, the start of scarf season, a nice lull at work, the pretty color changes (like the ones in my Fall Envy Felted Wrap above), my birthday coming up, and the holidays right behind that. But it also seems like I have something scheduled for pretty much every weekend from now to the end of the year. I'm more of a spur of the moment kind of gal and having my life planned out so far in advance actually makes me nervous.

I went ahead and canceled my booth at the Lindbergh Craft Show that is on the weekend before the Rock n Roll Craft Show. It was my least successful show last year, was a ton of work, and my friend's parents who were next to me last year are not doing it again this year so it was something that I could easily cut. The R n R show requires that you submit your inventory list a week in advance so it would have been really difficult to work out anyways.

So the two shows that I have left are both boutique style shows which means I don't have to be there or work my own booth. Besides the RnR show I also got into the Big A$$ Indie Show at the Mad Art Gallery again this year, which was a relief. I am really looking forward to both of these events. They are my target audience of youthful, indie people. What can I say, the hipsters like my stuff.

I'm debating about adding a small local show in my area in December. There is one on December 12 at the local High School that costs $55. It's just a one day event and it would be nice to build up some local support and bring out some friends and colleagues that have never been to one of my shows. We'll see if I can work it into my busy social life:)


Fall Newsletter Giveaway!

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I am having a Fall Newsletter Giveaway! Anyone who joins my newsletter is entered to win a $40 gift certificate to my Etsy shop. If you already belong to my newsletter list than you are already entered to win. If you haven't joined the list than just enter your information above by October 31, 2009 and follow the prompts to join the newsletter. I will use the random number generator to choose the winner from how ever many people are on the list as of that day. You don't need to leave a message here but if you want to I would love to hear from you.

I promise not to spam you and I will be sending out newsletters just 4 or 5 times a year to keep you up to date on my shop with coupon codes and events I'll be attending. The above scarf rightly named Dramatic Entrance is just an example of what you could win. You can choose from whatever is in my shop with a value up to $40 or request a custom scarf in whatever colors you choose. I will pay the shipping cost up to $5, so if you are overseas and it costs me more than that to ship I will send you an invoice to cover the remaining.

You can use it to get something special for yourself or get some Christmas presents for friends!


Yoshimi Battles The Pink Scarf

I've never participated in Music Monday and I don't know if this post counts to be honest. For those of you who have never listened to the Flaming Lips song Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robot Part I I highly recommend you follow this link. You wouldn't know it by the title or even some of the quirky lyrics but I think it is a very deep and moving love song. A love song about a fighter named Yoshimi who is taking lots of vitamins but a love song none the less. I think different people take different things away from the song and as many times as I've listened to it I can always find something new to discover. I just read in Wikapedia that someone is writing a Broadway musical based on Yoshimi and the album which I think is fascinating.

I love the song so much that I named the scarf at the top after it, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Scarf . For one reason it's the right color of pink and I thought it had a bit of a Japanese look to it. I just wanted to share this little gem for those who had written the Flaming Lips off or never heard of them. Let me know what you think.

Nerds Can Dance

So I survived another year of Archon. Mike and his brother have gone every year since they were 12, meaning for the past 23 years. It is really more of a reunion at this point for them. We hang out with friends, he plays games while I shop, and we all drink from the complimentary beer at night. None of us costume but I always appreciate the time and energy people put into their designs. It's interesting to see what is popular each year. One year it was mostly sci fi, one year Pirates, and this year Steampunk had a big contingency. I was really impressed with their creative looks so carefully assembled. I didn't get a great shot but I did like the dancing scene above which shows that nerds can dance.Since I had my Strange Folk money Mike didn't give me any trouble for shopping this year. I was really impressed with the art room for a change. It wasn't just dragons and fairies and there were some really interesting new artists on display. My favorite was Sarah Wyman whom you can find on etsy here. I bought three of her wood block prints with moons in them for our bedroom which has a celestial theme. I also really love this one and I have a feeling that I will be coming back for more in the future. I also got a few of Kim Fritt's illustrations for my niece Kate for Christmas. They are the kitties and the castle in the sky pictures. Kate has a very creative spirit and I like to buy her art to support her active fantasy world.

I bought the adorable Faerie Panda by Silly Kitty, which you can barely see in the picture above. Mike even liked her Amigurumi creations and told me that I should try making them. It is a Japanese method of making little stuffed dolls like this cupid bunny stuffed with wool. I told him I would look into it but it mostly involves crochet and I just don't think it's something I would enjoy but they are so damn cute.

The only thing Mike gave me trouble about buying were some self published books from Sam"s Dot Publishing. I fell in love with the artwork on the covers and bought 4 of them. He said they will probably have thousands of typos but I really don't care. They are all short fiction compilations which I can read in short bursts which is about all I read any more since I started blogging and knitting in earnest. I think that buying self published books is just another way of supporting the indie community.

The black material is a handmade dress that I got for only $15. It was marked as a resale so I think that it has been worn before but who cares for that price. It is a see through fabric with embroidery that she said her parents brought her back from India.

So that is my haul. Mike was excited about Talisman, the game he bought for like $80 with the extensions, another reason he couldn't give me any trouble for what all I bought. He and his friends used to play it years ago and he was just like a kid again playing, which was cute to watch. I like this shot of Mike, Chris, and Tif. Tiffany looks so confused but she was a trooper. Sandy and I quit after the 3rd round to focus on our drinking and people watching but Tif stuck with the boys to the end.

Mike said that he heard the zombie faction was getting out of control and were getting kicked out of their hotel rooms. So I got to say, "those damn zombies." Only at Archon...


Birthday Ham?

You all made me feel better about my first bad experience with a craft show customer. I definitely learned from it and will be prepared next time. I don't think it would have bothered me so much if she hadn't chosen 3 really nice scarves including the one above which I had actually contemplated keeping. I may have enough yarn to recreate in if I make it more narrow. It's all a learning experience that's for sure. I had so many good interactions with customers that I really can't let one bad apple spoil anything for me. I particularly loved the women who bought one scarf on Saturday and loved it so much she came back on Sunday to get 3 more for herself and gifts.

So, moving on. I have obviously been a bit focused on Strange Folk the past few weeks. I'm sure you're ready to hear about something else. Unfortunately I've got nothing. So I decided to look at my webmaster tools to see what people were actually reading on my blog and saw some interesting things. First off did you know that you can use it to find out which searches you are ranked in? Here are some of the top google searches that I come up in and the ranking:

strange folk festival
craft show ideas 9

fall scarves
good advice for life 7
birthday ham 1

sales dance
color quizes 9

booth display
lenox anniversary gifts 9

someone who knits

I'm happy that I'm the first blog to come up in search under just about any combination of the words Strange Folk Festival. I have also had a lot of people find me by searching for craft show ideas and other combinations including the words craft show recently and I hope they found some things that were helpful to them. But who knew that I was a source for "good advice for life." I think the Birthday Ham is hilarious. I did a happy birthday post for my brother, whose name is Hamilton or Ham for short. I don't think whoever was searching for birthday ham ideas got what they were looking for here.

That's all I've got today. We're going to Archon this weekend in Illinois. It's my husband's favorite weekend of the year when he can be as nerdy as he wants to be and nobody judges. I should have some interesting pictures to share on Monday of the festivities.

(c) Lenox Knits, 2009|Created by NSD