Come on Spring!

This feels like it has been the looooongest Winter ever.  I am sure it feels like that every Winter, but we have had a lot more cold days and a bit more snow than normal.  However, nothing brings me out of the Winter doldrums more than bright and fun colors!  I have been working on a new line of slouchy beanies that are perfect for Spring and almost any time of the year!  Here is a sampling of a few of the beanies currently available in my Etsy shop.

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These are all made with a super soft, medium weight, 100% acrylic yarn.  In addition to these colors, I currently have Bright Magenta, Bright Green and Sea Green.

Yarn Stash Down Update:  I did stick with my yarn stash down and did not get any new yarn until about February 21st.  Okay, so I did order some before the actual end date, but I didn’t receive it until after. ;)

Stash Down!

Yikes!  Has it really been 4 months since I blogged?  I really should try to be a better blogger this year.  So I guess Happy New Year is in order for my readers…if I have any left! ;)

As with most people, the new year always brings the need to organize.  I recently found some great organization for my yarn at Home Depot.  They are the Rubbermaid All Access storage bins.  They have a clear front that pulls down to open.  I am amazed that it took so long for a company to come up with this idea.  It’s genius for yarn organization!  It has also helped my productivity because I can see everything I have at a quick glance.

yarn stashHowever, all this yarn organizing has made me realize that it’s time for a Stash Down!  I found so many miscellaneous skeins of yarn that I didn’t realize I had.  In addition, I am fully stocked on the yarn that I use the most in my Etsy shop.  For the next 4 weeks, I am putting myself on a “no buy”.  That means no random trips to JoAnn’s, no online orders, etc. until February 18th.  This will force me to get creative with all the miscellaneous stuff.  I will try to check back here in 4 weeks and let you know how I did.  Wish me luck!

Happy Fall!

Okay, so we are not quite there yet, but today is the last day of Summer for my son as he starts school tomorrow.  To me, that is the beginning of Fall.  This is my absolute favorite time of the year.  While many people get depressed at this time of year, I have a sort of awakening.  The sights and smells of this time of year are wonderful.  The reds, orange and yellows on the trees, the smell of cinnamon and spice from Fall baking…it just brings such warmth to me and makes me feel renewed!

I can also feel it in my crocheting as I find myself using more seasonal colors like these…

Fall hats

Burnt orange, cranberry red, forest green and mustard yellow…you can find these rich, seasonal colors and many others in my Etsy shop.  Enjoy the season!

New Camera/New Hobby

I am never satisfied when it comes to my Etsy shop, so I am always looking to improve something.  Lately, I have been finding that my product photos just aren’t cutting it…in my opinion anyway.  I decided to get an early birthday present and buy myself a new camera.  I upgraded from my Canon Powershot to this beauty:

This is what is called a bridge/superzoom camera.  It has a lot of features, but is much less expensive than a DSLR.  It also has a 30x zoom which is pretty awesome.  I am already feeling like it is taking better product shots.  The colors in the photo below came out so vibrant!  The listing can be found here:  https://www.etsy.com/listing/155327137/red-slouch-beanie-womens-slouchy-crochet

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What I am also finding is that I am now enjoying taking photos and discovering all of the features this camera has.   I am definitely a super novice when it comes to photography, but I am trying to learn all I can.  I have been pinning photography tips on Pinterest, signing up for newsletters, and liking photography Facebook pages.  I guess you could say I have found a new hobby!  You also might find me blogging some photos other than items in my shop. ;)

Oh, Hi!

I have gone through many stretches of neglecting this blog and I really want to make it more of a regular thing.  I actually miss it.  What has happened is I have gone the quicker route of posting things on Facebook or Twitter.  But it’s nice to be able to kick back and write out thoughts and share things instead of the post and run world of social networking.

So what have I been up to?  Well, crocheting…as always.  I am spending these warm late Spring and Summer days thinking about the Fall and cooler weather.  It is only a few months before things will get busy in my Etsy shop again, so I have been in the process of choosing colors to add to my inventory as well as creating some new designs.  I placed a huge yarn order a few days ago that will probably take me through the next couple of months.  Some of the fun colors I ordered are called Frosting, Delicious and Grape Soda.  Hmm, kind of sounds like I was ordering junk food!  I have also been looking at some of the Fall/Winter knitwear lines for inspiration for colors and designs.  One of the colors I noticed that was featured pretty heavily was canteloupe.

cantelope

 

I have seen lots of oranges during the Fall and Winter, but they usually tend towards burnt orange or pumpkin.  I am thinking this might be following the trend of coral that has been pretty popular this Spring and Summer.  It might be interesting to try out this color.  I will definitely think about it as I check out the fashions that come out for Fall.

I will definitely be offering my core colors like grays, browns, navy blue and cream, but I will also be offering red, raspberry pink, mustard yellow, burnt orange, light and darker greens, teal, ice blue, purple, wine and who knows what else! It’s pretty obvious I love color, so I love to offer variety.  And maybe, just maybe, you might see canteloupe by the time Fall gets here!

 

Boye Electric Yarn Ball Winder – Review

I generally buy most of my yarn in the type of skeins that you see in your craft store, but once in a while I will buy yarn online or in a yarn shop and it comes in hanks.  Hanks generally need to be wound, as it is not wise to try to crochet or knit directly from them.  If you do, you end up with a big tangled mess.  One option is to invest in a swift and a yarn winder, but the total for the both of these can run well over $100.  Another option is hand winding, which is what I have done in the past.  I would usually place the hank around the back of a chair and then use a piece of pvc pipe to wind it into a cake.  This is a very time consuming process though and can be a strain on the neck and shoulders if you try to do more than one.

This week JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts had a scratch off coupon in the sales flyer.  I was one of the lucky ones who scratched off 60%.  I have had my eye on the Boye Electric Yarn Winder, but did not want to pay the full $89.99 for it.  Even a 40% off coupon was not enough savings for me.  But 60% off ($38.00), heck yeah!  I have read all the reviews on this item and it is about 50/50.  Some people like it, some people hate it.  Here is my take on it.

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Berroco Vintage (forest green), Berroco Weekend (pink and yellow), Berroco Vintage (chocolate brown)

I spent several hours this afternoon trying it out.  The set up is super easy.  You just basically need to suction it to a smooth flat surface and then feed the yarn through a few slots.  I do not have a swift, so I first tried hanging the yarn around the back of a chair.  The first yarn I tried was Berroco Weekend.  This yarn is a bit slippery.  I unwound some of the yarn and turned on the machine.  I didn’t find it necessary to use it at anything more than the lowest speed.  I let the unwound yarn feed lightly through my fingers for the slightest bit of tension and then feed into the machine.  I would turn it off, then unwind some more yarn.  It seemed to be working ok, but then the yarn got all caught up on itself (not in the machine) and turned into a big tangled mess.  This was not the fault of the machine, this was me not paying enough attention and needing instant gratification to see it work.  I spent way too much time trying to untangle the yarn and then just moved on to another skein of Weekend.  It went a little better this time.  I laid the hank down on the table and unwound a little bit of yarn at a time, but eventually that got all tangled too.  I was starting to realize that because the Weekend is slippery, this might not be the best way to wind it.  I then moved on to a skein of Berroco Vintage.  I did the same thing and laid it out on the table, unwound a bit and fed it into the machine the same way, feeding lightly through my fingers and then into the machine.  This time I was successful and winding the whole hank.  The process was: unwind a bit of yarn, turn it on, feed it through the machine, turn off machine.  Then repeat the process.  I had two hanks of Berroco Vintage wound in under 30 minutes.  Not quite as fast as a hand crank winder and swift, but not as slow as completely hand winding.  I had also read that it would not wind full skeins of worsted weight.  Berroco Vintage is worsted weight, 217 yards, 100 grams.  It wound the full skein without issue.  Another thing I had read is that it winds the cake very loosely.  I did not have this problem and it may be because I created the slight tension of letting it flow through my fingers.  The cake was definitely more firm than one I had wound by a local yarn shop with a swift and hand crank winder.

The machine is not the quietest thing out there, but I did not find it to be as noisy as some said.  It also gives a little bit of a whine if the yarn is not flowing through it properly.

All in all, I found this machine to be adequate for my needs.  I will never have more than a few hanks at a time that would need winding, so I won’t be a power user.  This machine is DEFINITELY a step up from hand winding.  I am also unlikely to be buying anymore yarn that is slippery, so that will not be an issue for me.  If I were to rate it, I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 with 5 being the best.

Stash Down Final Tally

I know I was supposed to check in about mid-month, but it slipped my mind.  Sorry about that!

The final tally for the stash down ended up being 25 skeins.  I also used a lot of scraps also that were not in the original count.  I am happy with the results even though I did not quite make it through the whole month.  I caved on not buying any yarn and placed an order 3 weeks into the month.  The sale and coupon savings were worth it, though and it was all yarn for shop items, nothing for me personally.  The order did not arrive until yesterday and I did not use any until today, so I still call this whole thing a success! :)
I may try this again some time, but definitely not during the busy season. ;)  March was actually a good month to choose since it is the end of the busy season.

Edited to add:  The original starting count actually was revised to 102 skeins, since I sent 8 big skeins of cotton yarn to a friend.