Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Little time to be creative

Sometimes I wish my days had 48 hours...
During most days there is not much time left to create something entirely new. Just stitching around...without a plan.
I have been very successful selling my classic tam models and have had a lot of orders. A crazy April weather sure has prolonged the hat season.
With yard work and planting, organizing the house and crocheting about 8 hours a day, these leisure moments of working without stress are rare. But, I enjoy my business, so, no complaints here.
I made this tam on the weekend and didn't really have an idea how it would come out. Actually I love the end result. Felt crown, alpaca wool blend, other wools and sari silk give it a different look, and I had fun embellishing the crown. Not sure if it's going to be a great seller, but I am proud of it:)
Available in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Festival of the Arts, Botanical Gardens, day full of sunshine & inspiration

Yesterday we drove to Oklahoma City for the Festival of the Arts located by the Myriade Botanical Garden, a great location for an arts festival. It had been highly advertised and is the event for art on an annual basis with a long tradition.
The weather was kind, sunny and warm.
As most artists didn't like to have pictures taken including their original art, I don't have a picture of the arts fest set-up itself. This snapshot was taken in the park.
This high-end show was a one-week event and on the weekend it attracted a huge crowd. Oklahoma city's down town area, also called Bricktown, is a great area for walking, recreation and has some European downtown charm mixed with typical Oklahoman Red Brick architecture.
Even though the objects were more of Sid's interest, it was great to see original art in different media, like mixed 2D, oil, acrylic, water-media, clay, metal, photography...
I strongly believe it was juried and hard to be accepted in this elite circle of artists. The prices spoke for themselves. But there were also affordable prints or smaller original pieces for the average wallet.
I almost bought a print of a b/w drawing which could be best described as "steampunk", an awesome composition of Victorian and industrial elements telling the story of faith in yourself and endurance to reach your goal. But my goal to save got the better of me. There were also clay items and smaller originals that I would have bought if we hadn't been on vacation earlier this month.
All in all we had a great day, eating dinner on our way home in Stillwater.
BTW I got my verification for my very FIRST craft fair which I will attend as a seller in September.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

House Guests

Spring is a turbulent season in Oklahoma. Yesterday we had thunderstorms and heavy rain falls. Today I swept the porch, the high water had left dead grass, leaves and weeds in front of the house. I noticed a Robin fly away in panic when I opened the screen door.
It took a while to notice that there was straw in one of my empty baskets hanging from the pillar.
I am not awfully tall and had to take down the basket to have a closer look.
Aren't those beautiful?
Last year a robin had its nest in my large front porch hanging plant. The leaves were really thick and the nest went unnoticed for a while. I bet it's one of the bird babies returning. The cycle of life (is a wonderful thing).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Watching things grow

My zinnia seeds are sprouting. Instead of buying annuals this year I have bothered to plant ordinary cheap plant seeds...and voila, some have come alive. Between crocheting, gardening and answering my emails, I have finally (yeah for me) limited my time that I spend in so-called online communities, Etsy, craftster org. and more. It's the time of the year to get back to nature and down to some plain old garden work.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Old World Charm for my backyard

It takes more work to go green, but is so worth it.
Our stormy Okie weather didn't allow this retro look yet, but finally it's time for some old-fashioned line-drying. And the fresh smell is amazing.
I used to line-dry all my life until I moved here. It was tempting to just toss everything into the tumble dryer and be done with it. Several ruined sweaters and delicate fabrics made me rethink and finally drive to the hardware store. Half an hour extra work goes a long way, on our electricity bill and conserving energy.
(When I took the picture I didn't realize I had all my pink jammies hanging there as a focal point, but o well, that's just the way it is:)
Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mixing up my YARNS

Just a brief post today.
I have placed large orders for hemp yarn and other natural sustainable yarns and I feel the need to work with my overflowing yarn inventory. Justification is the magical word!
I mixed a few unusual yarns and worked the combinations into new tam hats:
Avocado green chenille, regular worsted weight brown yarn and an extra strand of novelty yarn held together with the main yarns.
Same here, ice-cream colored feminine tam: pink chenille, cream and brown acrylic and the fuzzy extra strand.
A custom order, hope my customer will like it. Dark brown 100% hemp, warm brown cotton and terra red cotton. 3 different textures and different thickness.
Another scrap patchwork tam. You can tell I can't throw out materials and will use every decent length strand of yarn. The fuzzy brown yarn ties the colors together into a more coherent weave.
For this longer sock tam I have used copper red and black acrylic, combined with a strand of
terra red cotton yarn. It adds to the touch of the material and makes it super sturdy, but yet soft.
This tam is earthy in mainly green and brown acrylic, but spruced up with a "ribbon" (synthetic) yarn which features several pretty pleasing colors like gold, rust red, purple in a beautiful tie-dye effect.
Some of these tams are already for sale on my website and in my Etsy store, some still need to be uploaded.
My computer works slowly these days (or the cable) and a lot of times I just walk away from it to do other things because it takes forever to upload pictures.
Planting seeds into starter plant pots, walking my dog...and crochet. Besides other things:)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An ordinary day -- that's the way I like it

Things are finally returning to a slower and less hectic pace. Sid is recovering from his nose surgery, not quite there yet, but he is doing pretty good.
It's gradually warming up, but still windy outside. The strong wind gives me a headache and I had been "headachy" for days now. Today I feel much better. I started to plant my first flower seeds. I am an awful gardener, but with big plans each spring season. Trial and error:)
So, what do you write about when there is not much to write about? I guess I just appreciate the fact that nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Leaving me enough space to just work on my hats, drive grocery and yarn shopping, organize the house, go outside and -- feel content. If only for a while.
Last night I was lucky to stumble on another re-run of the movie Crash on FX. The finale/conclusion always makes me sad though. But what a refreshing show considering all the other crap that is usually shown on TV.
Blogging for others or writing my own personal journal?
Probably the latter recently, but I have drifted away from the whole "blogging about Etsy thing", daily store features of other Etsy sellers, Etsy community talk and all the other social network sites where sellers hang out. Oh well, maybe someone will look and read anyway:)
But, I have not been idle, so, I show off some new tams today:
(Above picture) I call it the "Traveling the gravel road tam" because it reminds me of a gravel-covered path or walk way, the colors range from black to light-colored stones, with a bit of brown earth thrown in there.

And here is a longer totally unisex tam for guys and gals.
Available at PurpleSageDesignz.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Hippie" -- a label of the past?

First of all, let me say that composing a complex text in English is not always easy for a non-native speaker. A lot of times my texts sound flat and not well written.
But yet, I will give it another try, because I love to be "making a noise in this world"... share my views and thoughts. May they be heard or not, at least I made an effort.

I have found great online sources in my search for the subject on my mind "hippies today". And one of the starting points is defining who the hippies WERE before anyone tries to determine if there are still hippies around. This article contains vast information about where the hippies came from, their beatnik origin and the development of this counter movement.

A Most Merry and Illustrated History of The Hippies

and in a shorter version a wikipedia definition.

There are also great contributers of articles out there which explore the question of how one can be a hippie TODAY.

How to be a hippie

The age of hippies and the term "flower power"

Coming Out Of The Countercultural Closet__Reclaiming and Redefining Hippie

There also exists a forum HipForums
where "old and young hippies" can chat about their life style and anything "hippie".

My own background and how I experienced the counter movement at an early age in the 1960s and later in the 1970s as a teen/young adult is a bit different from the American Hippie culture and can be explored in this wikipedia article German Student Movement ("1968 Generation").

Strangely though I never felt like I had to define myself until I moved to the USA in 2003.

I am this 40s woman, immigrant, left wing voter, liberal thinker, pacifist, college educated (psychology degree) without a strong aspiration to get into the career rat race of corporate America or the traditional Health system, alternative medicine supporter, spiritual but not organized in any church (even though baptized Catholic as infant), non-conformist in many ways, environmentally conscious, modest in living, monogamous loving, hand-crafter, independence-loving and "tree-hugging", not vegetarian, tie-dye and bell-bottom loving, abstinent to mind-altering substances, married to a traditional Native American, and generally laid back and tolerant towards different life styles.

I don't like labels in general, there is no black & white or right and wrong in this world. And I don't fit all the cliches.
But if there has to be a label for me, my wares, and my lifestyle, then "Hippie" fits me just fine.

I have learned that it has a negative connotation in American society depending on who you talk to, but honestly, I don't care. So people may argue if there are still hippies around. And associate them with freaks, heads, laziness or just completely outdated and comical like a vintage cartoon, but I still believe in the beauty of LOVE & PEACE. And HIPPIE is a good word in my book.

And here is an exert from one of the above articles which sums up the answer to the question "Are you hippie or not?" very wisely in a nutshell:
>>>Being a hippie is a decision you have to make based on your beliefs. Nobody can truly tell you how to be a hippie, or whether you truly are one or not. People generally do what they think is right, and if you think the hippies for the most part were/are right then you may just be one :) >>>

(If you made it until the end of this post, kuddos to you, I am happy to find readers like you:)
Have a great weekend!

Selling crochet hats like hotcakes -- No Problem for PDXBeanies

Part 4 and end of my little series of crocheters/knitters who stand out in the crowd and have caught my eye and admiration for both their work and marketing.
Today I present another crocheter who is pretty wellknown among Etsy members:
The Portland Beanie Company or simply pdxbeanies on Etsy has achieved an amazing selling record of beanies, scarves and Mary Jane slippers. Always cotton, always consistent color scheme, always beautiful. You can recognize her listings without looking at the shop name. Her distinctive style of product and presentation are unique. Sadly she has been copied a lot recently.
If you ask whether crochet can be successfully sold on the internet, shops like pdxbeanies prove it to be possible. She has my genuine admiration for both design and marketing ... and all the long crochet hours that go into keeping up a successful handcrafting business.
(There are so many more talented crocheters out there, and I don't know all of them, so, just consider these 4 designers as examples only.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Truly WEARABLE Art in Crochet -- AnnieBriggs, a personal favorite

has been in the crochet clothing & accessories business for quite a while, but it has not been until recently that I stumbled upon her creations listed on Etsy.
When I spotted one of her jackets in her forum avatar I instantly clicked on the image of a, what I would call a Bohemian inspired crochet jacket, beautifully handmade in cotton crochet and accentuated with fabric ties. Besides jackets she also creates skirts, tunics, tops and hats and smaller accessories, mainly for women, but also some girl clothing.
Most appealing to me is that her sweaters are extremely wearable and versatile. I could imagine myself wearing them with jeans, casual skirts or any elegant attire (what I usually don't wear, but it all seems possible). Some high-end designers incorporate crochet into their lines, but at times I doubt the functionality of see-through dresses or tops unless you are super-skinny or 18 and coverage is no subject. AnnieBriggs' crochet on the other hand looks functional and runway-worthy.
When I conversed shortly with Annie she revealed that she may soon persue a different career outside of the craft world. And close her crafting business. If you like her crochet fashion you should act quickly and visit her website and Etsy shop. If I didn't have a huge sum of money invested in all my inventory (yarn) and if I couldn't crochet, I would order the jacket above. Most definitely! (But, since I have all my yarns and call myself professional crocheter, I guess I will just have to make a BoHo jacket for myself soon.) Hope it will turn out at least half as pretty as Annie's.

Another Crochet Success Story -- Written by Twinkie Chan

Twinkie Chan
showed the handcrafting scene that crochet scarves can be a most sought after item on Ebay and sell for prices that most of us only can dream of. (The scarf sold for $321 on Ebay)
Wow, this is all I can say. She also makes smaller crochet brooches for those with a tighter wallet.
Food themes are typical for her designs and she translates her ideas into wearables. I may be wrong, but I believe she was one of the first crocheters to create food inspired items and she has been copied a lot over the years (just my own subjective observation).
Crochet has come a long way ... doilies, afghans and homely designs were just the beginning.
I am convinced that a unique style in crochet, a feeling for color and "what's in" are components of crochet success stories, even though some crocheters do very well with conventional designs and products, too.
And there are always the crocheters/knitters who appeal to small niches. One thing that most of us especially crocheters have in common though are selling prices on the lower $ level. This little series is meant as inspiration and uplifting examples that our craft can do well in the retail world.
And, as my previously featured crochet designers have demonstrated, a pretty model and great pictures sure help selling as well.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Crochet & Knit Artist MyLittleCityGirl -- Sharing some awesomeness

I don't have any news, Sid had surgery and we just hang out at home.
A great chance to share knitters/crocheters who I have been admiring for years.
I don't consider them competition, but inspiration and role models who have proven that crochet & knit can actually be sold online for big $$$.
Since I used to crochet a lot of girls garments during the past few years, I have come across this exceptional seller:
is one of these ultra-talented people. Her designs are unique, funky and just beautiful. The quality impeccable. I have watched her auctions over the years on Ebay. I believe she gave crochet and knit a completely new definition of wearable art.
I will make a mini series about outstanding fiber artists over the next few days. Check back for more.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I didn't expect much -- and got a lot

We booked a few days in Cancun, Mexico, without any prior research about what to expect. It was a vacation deal alright, something millions of tourists from the USA and all over the world do every year. Well, it was MY first vacation deal of this nature. Having been the backpack tourist traveling on cheap bus tours, night trains to European cities like Rome, Paris, Barcelona and spending our honeymoon in a motor home, Rocky Mountain camping & fishing...
My challenge was to do absolutely NOTHING productive for a few days. The beach and tropical climate made it possible.
We participated in one of those guided tours to Chichen Itza to visit the Maya ruins. I was amazed at how well preserved the pyramid and ancient buildings were...I had imagined we would find some weathered rocks piled on one another, but the site was impressing. Almost too much too grasp on one hot afternoon.
You just had to deal with the whole commercialized way of traveling and accept it as part of "doing the tourist package". But we are happy that we packed a bit of history and culture into our trip.
I tried to avoid having all the Maya-Yucatan vendors on my pictures who offered their wares right at the foot of the ruins, but thinking about it, why shouldn't they take advantage of their heritage and make a living off vending to the tourists? There are not many other ways to make a living besides the tourism, as the jungle and lime stone soil don't allow farming or much agricultural activities.

Sadly I never had a chance to see the actual artisans crafting their beautiful leather and jewelry wares. I don't even want to imagine how little they probably received for their handmade crafts. As for the repeatedly offered merchandise I suspected that there was a lot of factory made stuff. But, I found a beautiful leather back pack, woven blanket, some silver earrings, necklace, bracelet that most likely were handcrafted. Nevertheless, for us they are lasting useful souvenirs. Since the exchange rate for the USD dropped almost every day it was not easy to just go out and spend, so, we thought carefully what to take home.
I felt bad about my lack of Spanish, after all I had had quite a few years of Spanish lessons in my life.
When we took a bus ride to down town Cancun, just Sid and I, we managed to leave the some of tourist ambiente behind and mingled with locals in a bustling hectic little city with crazy car traffic.
Since Sid and I have refrained from consuming any alcoholic beverages and anything mind-altering in general for many years, the free cerveza and margerita thing around us made us feel a bit alienated at times. A stay at the all-inclusive hotel was very convenient, but not really what makes us tick.
We have decided to go back, maybe go to a less frequented location and spend more time.
As for the European gal that I still (feel) I am, I strangely felt pretty much at home with the metric system, the NOT air-conditioned rooms, the balcony doors that actually opened and allowed fresh air into our room, the walking and a lot more.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


It's hard to get back into the groove after a great vacation, but I am catching up with orders and emails at this point and will post some pictures and blurbs about our Mexico trip tomorrow.