Monthly Challenge KET

One of the teams I am involved with on Etsy to help promote my shop is the Kansas Etsy Team. The idea is to help promote the shops here in Kansas. Every month there is a themed challenge where the artist must create an item inspired by the theme. This month the theme was “Kansas in Spring”. My contribution was gradient-dyed yarn inspired by the blossoms of the magnolia trees.

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Right now, on the Kansas Etsy Team Blog you can take a look at all the other contributions, and vote for your favorite. The winner gets to chose the theme for next month’s challenge!

Go take a look and see what other Kansas artist are selling!

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Sneak Attack!

I got a great surprise this evening while working on the essay I was so excited about last night. Here I am preparing to tell my troubles to the world, and then have a nice long nap because I have been feeling slightly under the weather, when all of a sudden, I look down at my phone and notice I have something like ten billion emails. Ok, so it was more like 8, but still, that’s more than I ever get in that particular account at a time. Sure enough, I check it, and I have four sales and four payment confirmations! And then it just kept on coming….

So far tonight I have sold 11 items out of the 24 I had listed in my shop. I am just going to call that half. Half my shop in one evening. And I have The Handmade Movement to thank for it. I would recommend checking out the website. It’s a really great idea. I also had no idea it existed. This website encourages folks to buy handmade items from new etsy shop en mass, which also helps kick off sales for that shop. They call it a sneak attack, and I think it’s a fabulous idea. I plan on participating in the future.

I couldn’t be more flattered to be included in tonight’s sneak attack, and I really look forward to help brighten some other new seller’s day the way mine just has been.

Thank you all!

Oh! And I somehow managed to finish my essay. It has been a very good night.

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I Have Been Listening To a Lot of David Bowie and Other Ruminations

The song “Starman” by David Bowie has been stuck in my head for weeks now, and I have only just got around to digging up all the David Bowie files on my computer. So, my title is kind of a lie, I haven’t really been listening to David Bowie, just the facsimile of him that runs through my head.  I am not sure what took me so long, other than I just didn’t like any of my media players. I recently ordered one of the new Zune HDs (but have heard nothing from Zune about when it will be shipped, so whether I will actually be receiving this device at the marvelous sale price it was at last weekend is yet to be determined), so I downloaded the Zune software. I actually really like it. iTunes and I have never really got on, it might be because I have no patience with apple software. I know I might be in the minority here, but it is counter-intuitive to me, having always used a PC. (And I love my asus laptop with a strength of emotion that might not be healthy for a piece of equipment I will most likely have to replace in a couple of years.) All of that to say that I dug up my nearly complete David Bowie library, and after admiring the staggering amount of amazingly rockin’ live albums he has, I found the classic, original The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust in an attempt to relish in the greatness, and perhaps get that song out of my head for a little while, as great as it is. And then I listened to it. . .

And I just can’t help but apply the chorus to my life as it is right now. I am interpreting the star man being afraid of blowing our minds but knowing  it’s all worthwhile, as a little bit of a personal message for me right here right now, no matter what anybody else thinks it should be about.

One of my major goals this year was to go into business for myself. Three weeks ago, I opened my etsy store, and even though I have not made a sale just yet, I have been dyeing and promoting and slowly working to get over my internet shyness. It has been going well, I feel, and I know it is only a matter of time before I am making regular sales and am making enough money to put back into sustaining my business. I do know that I am not going to be making enough money to support myself from Etsy anytime soon, but I am working on it.

Aside from the fiber arts, my other passion is writing. It is what I am going to school and getting into major debt for. I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not writing in some way, shape, or form. And though the last couple of years have been rather tumultuous with me personally what with getting divorced and basically starting from scratch like I did when I was eighteen and moving out on my own for the first time, and I did not write as much, I am finally finding some equilibrium. The compulsion to write a lot has returned full-force. It turns out I have a lot to say.

One of the major things I have learned though all of the previously mentioned tumult is how to allow myself a voice. In other words, the things that have terrified me about writing in the past, like sending out query letters and promoting myself and *gasp* actually letting people other than the chosen few read my work do not scare me any longer. (At least not to the debilitating extent that they used to do so.)

A major factor in this is that I am fed up with my day job. It is not any worse than any other job where one works for other people and sometimes works too often. This is common, and for a lot of people, it is waaaay too much to ask, which is why they work for themselves. I am there. I fantasize daily about working from home: about working on my latest essay while the steamer is setting the dye on the yarn.

Then today, the wonderful Susan Gibbs from Juniper Moon Farm, where I am a shareholder, posted this to her blog. Go take a look, and I know the pictures of the sheep and goats and puppies are distracting, but please come back. I will wait.

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So, like Susan, I knew exactly what that sign was talking about too. It was my message from the Star Man. Write more. Get published. Get out of this place (I was checking my reader at work, I will freely admit) and do something that doesn’t stain your fingers brown! (If you are a new reader, I manage a coffee shop.)

It just so happens that Tuesday, my first essay for my essay-writing class is due. I have had this essay in my head for a couple of months now, but had not given myself the time to just sit down and write it. But tonight, I sat down and did it. I finished my first draft. While there is a ton of work to do before it is fit to even be turned in for workshop, it feels so good to finish my first piece since November. And I know right now, that even in this rough state, this one is publishable.

I can do this.

I have no idea when I will really be able to work from home, or if I will find a job (with benefits and/or a sustainable salary) outside the coffee shop before that happens, but I do know that I can get the writing done until then. And really, after a few years of feeling really down on myself and my ability to create, that is all I need.

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Day Off

Athrun and I made cupcakes today.

I am not sure why, but he always asks if we can use green frosting. I don’t  normally acquiesce, but today I couldn’t think of a good reason not to.

I also allowed him to add the sprinkles himself.

Not all of them had such a concentration of sprinkles. Take this one for instance:

This cupcake reminds me of taking a walk in the park on a nice spring day. The grass is new, there are wild flowers dotting the landscape, and some considerate person has let their giant dog crap all over the place without bothering to clean it up.

That being said, I do think the cupcakes with only chocolate sprinkles on green frosting look rather posh.

Athrun helped me photograph some yarn. I asked him to run and get me one of his tiny toy dinos to include in the pictures. He brought me a foam cutout of a dino silhouette, a transformer, and an elephant. I regret that none are pictured.

I call this one “Bunch of Bananas”. Not that I was going for a banana theme when I dyed it, but reskeined, “Banana” is all I can think of.

The other thing I did today was spin. I don’t think I have spun for about a month. I probably spun 1/2 oz of my bright yellow merino birthday batt. For experienced spinners, 1/2 oz is nothing, but I still spin really slowly. I am finally getting the feel for how much is enough twist, and how to adjust my wheel to keep the wool from getting away from me. Athrun helped me treadle for awhile, but lost interest when I wouldn’t let him play with the orifice hook.

Athrun and I went for a walk today for the first time since he outgrew his stroller last year. We live very near one of the nature trails in the city, which was a nice a walk. I didn’t take my camera, which was good because I ended up having to piggy back Athrun back to the apartment, but there was some new grass sprouting, and I was so excited I really wanted to take pictures. It hasn’t been nearly as cold this year as it was last year, but I am more than prepared to keep the balcony door open, let the fresh air in, plant my balcony garden, and go jogging outside instead of at the gym.  Today was a really nice, temperate day, and I am really glad I got to spend the day with the kiddo and not yoked to an espresso machine.

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Knitting Like Crazy

I have been knitting up a storm lately. In the last two weeks, I have knit a sweater (the Idlewood…I don’t have a picture of mine yet, but it is awesome), knit Athrun a simple mistake rib scarf

in a chunky yarn from my recent teal phase


(I know the scarf looks blue in the picture with Athrun, teal does that sometimes…and I couldn’t quite figure out how to alter the color of the scarf without turning Athrun chartreuse.)

I knit myself a cabled cowl.

I finished one of the ugly socks, and started on the other, and today I cast on another sweater, which has been promised since October.

It has been cold and dark and snowy. All I have wanted to do is clothe myself in wool.

I started in on the mountain of wholesale yarn I ordered today. I dyed one of each of the sock yarns, only one of which I have dyed before. I would photograph it, but it is still drying, and not nearly so pretty hanging from my shower head as it is dry, wound, and neatly arranged on my white diner-table desk.

I have also been thinking a lot about getting back into sewing. Last summer, I bought my first sewing pattern in years, and it is still sitting, untouched, in my bottom drawer. Last summer I was wanting more than ever to make more of my own things, but I really didn’t feel like I had the time. I didn’t even commit to buying fabric. Then last week I went a little crazy.

I bought a sewing machine.

You can see it sitting on my desk in the shot of Athrun and his scarf. It’s tiny. It’s not for heavy duty sewing, or big projects, but for the little bit of mending and few small projects I would like to make, it is perfect. And get this, it was $60. I kind of couldn’t help myself. I have said multiple times recently that I really wanted something small I could tuck into the corner of my desk and pull out when I needed it instead of going through the drama of digging through the closet and pulling out my proper sewing machine. I have put off so many projects just because I didn’t want to get that monster out. It’s silly really, but when I spotted this little guy, I was smitten.

And went straight out to buy the fabric for the bag I have in mind.

Now, I am going to oil and tweak my spinning wheel, and hopefully make some progress on the beautiful yellow batt of wool I bought from PortFiber.

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New Year’s Eve

…And just when you’ve have as much New Year musing as you can take, I blithely step up to beat a dead horse.

Today is my New Year’s Eve. Yes, I did celebrate on the 31st, and yes I am aware that today is 4th of January and we are already into the New Year, but you see, tomorrow is my birthday.  It is the literal start of my new year, and while most people take the week after Christmas to begin evaluating how much they have screwed up in the past year, I usually don’t start until I am toasting in the New Year.

So tomorrow I turn 26, and all I want from year 2011/26 is to relax. 2010/25 was a year of hard work. I had too hard semesters coupled with working full time and attempting to be a good mom. I was exhausted to whole time. I don’t want to feel exhausted anymore. This semester will not only be my final semester, but it worked out that I only have to go to school part-time to graduate. While I can’t cut back any at work, having to devote less time to school should add more time for things like exercising, fiber arts, and making play-doh monsters. I received a book about Urban Homesteading for Christmas, which I hope to make use of to save some money and some energy. My overall goal this year is to slow down, become more self-sufficient, more economical, to love my body and my home. Because while finally attaining my degree is important to me, I do not want it to rule my life any longer.

One major step away from being a student and learning to be more self-sufficient is to start my business. I won’t be able to work from home exclusively for some time yet, but my hope is, that between the fiber arts and the writing, I can carve out some sort of Work-At-Home niche for myself in the next five years.

This is the year I start. So tonight, at midnight, when I raise a glass and toast another year, this year, I will be laughing and having fun. Because there are so many wonderful possibilities.

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How I Got My Name: A Photo Essay

Not so long ago, I wrote that I chose the name of my business because I am constantly confronted with tiny toy dinosaurs sprinkled throughout my apartment. On Friday, I came across a particularly good example, and I thought I would share.

It was stepping on these two beauties that inspired me to get out my camera. For reference, they are on the floor between the sofa and the coffee table, a favorite place to play

This Spinosaurus is almost adorably supine. (The name of this dinosaur is pronounced “Spine-o-saurus”, but every time I read it, I say “spin-o-saurus”. You don’t know, he could be break-dancing.)

This little guy is in danger of being consumed by the infinite darkness of “lost under the sofa.”

This poor Parasauralophus has not only been in a tangle with the ruthless yarn-scrap-snake, but also seems to have had his skull crushed by the ever precarious throw pillow.

And of course, as soon as Athrun noticed me playing with his toys, he benevolently decided they were once again worthy of his attention. The question this photograph brings to mind is this: Is he hypnotizing the Triceratops, or is the Triceratops hypnotizing him?

So we played with them some more. I think the pteranodon is attempting to make off with a whole Iguanodon to take home and feed to her nest of hungry pteranodon chicks, but I cannot say for sure. I didn’t get a picture, but I let the pair of Diplodicus munch on the leaves embroidered into the sofa. Then I took a cat nap while Athrun made a cave out of my legs.

Bonus Photo:

The socks I mentioned in the previous post, after a full day of wear. Comfy. Cozy. Pretty.

 

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I Live In Kansas

What do you think of when you think of Kansas?

The Wizard of Oz? Tornadoes? Wheat? Cows? Sunflowers?

It’s probably something rural, though, right?

It might even be something just like this:

Or is that picture too hilly?

While there are some thing I really hate about living in Kansas (mostly the politics), on days like  today I really love it.

I commute to KU, usually taking one of the two small highways between Topeka and Lawrence instead of the interstate. Not because I don’t want to pay the toll, but because it is pretty. It is a treat to myself to admire the green hilliness for three-quarters of the year, and then watch the wheat grow up for colder quarter . These little highways also offer places to stop and take pictures. In people’s driveways. Illegally.

You can tell that the seasons are turning, because all the great, tall, green cornfields are straw-brown and the late summer weeds are outgrowing the dyeing cornstalks and the freshly baled hay.

These flowers were lining the highway on my entire drive today. They were the inspiration for the trespassing. I had to share them. These lovely little weeds are also taller than I am (about 5′ 5″).  They are bent down because the wind is blowing everything over. Despite the hills we have in Eastern Kansas, we have somehow managed to hang onto the prairie winds.

I am also an absolute sucker for earth tones. Greens and browns have my heart. but there is also no denying the impact of the accenting yellow of the flowers and the blue of the sky in photographs like this.

Isn’t it funny, how when you are standing in a field, you don’t even notice the power lines, but when you pull the photo of the scene up, there they are, front and center, reminding you that you do not live in a pretty Kansan morning vacuum?

I would have liked to take more pictures, and spent more time on them, but the reality is that I was trespassing, and since I could be fined for enjoying these folks’ roadside field, I tried to make it quick.

There’s that “No Trespassing” sign.

So maybe my photographs don’t clear up any misconceptions about living in Kansas. The fact that I live in an apartment complex and work in a local coffee shop and am a students doesn’t really help either. Those things are everywhere. And I know Kansas is not the only place in the country where the city lines blur with pastureland, but it’s one of the things I appreciate most. I can drive a few miles, and be in the middle of greenery and flowers. Or I can go a few more in either direction and be smack dab in the middle of two mid- to small-sized cities with any number of opportunities at my fingertips.

I find it really difficult to remember these sorts of things when I am bogged down with school work, to which my general attitude these days is “Is it May yet?” Or when I am typing a blog post in the Union cafeteria, because I am going to be at school all day long, and there is a guy behind me smacking his food so loudly that if he were standing in that field up there, it would echo. I get so caught up in the fact that I would rather be knitting or mixing some new colors in my kitchen. I want to figure out how represent the colors in the photographs above on yarn. The catch would be to translate them into colors people want to wear and not just a true representation of the photograph. I need to remember that there is time for all that, if I don’t get in too much of a hurry.

These are just some of the things that inspire me, and make me appreciate where it is I live. It helps me to remember that I am finishing my degree for a reason, and that I shouldn’t give in to the tunnel vision, which is something I do all too often.

This is my take-along image this week. What is inspiring you?

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