Friday, December 27, 2013

And the Sale Goes On

I'm still dredging the sewing room and the bookshelves - check out the tab for my Online Yard Sale for new listings.  There are a few Folkwear patterns (more to come when I find them), a load of uncut Jalie patterns, and about a dozen new books, including this Chanel fashion porn.

Come on, you know you didn't get all the books you asked for this holiday season . . .

Friday, December 20, 2013

Jackson's Bear

Jackson's bear is probably my final custom piece for the year.

This one is special - though aren't they all?  Jackson is still a baby (thus the felt eyes instead of buttons), and his mom sent me a box of clothes to make the bear.  The contents of the box included an oatmeal-colored cotton sweater, a pale blue infant onesie, a plaid romper and a green and black striped maternity top.

Jackson's mom and dad were high school sweethearts and she said she never knew why she held onto her husband's sweater for all these years until now.  With a little interfacing on the back to stabilize the weave, it makes a fabulous, soft body for the bear.

To make the felt eyes stand out a little more on the neutral ground, I cut slightly larger circles of the blue onesie fabric and fused them all together.

The ears and foot pads are made from the romper, the embroidered bib is made from the onesie, and for extra style, the striped bow tie is from mom's maternity top.

I always enjoy making the custom bears - the challenge of working with someone else's choice of materials is fun for me.  This one was particularly gratifying, and I love that the bear is made from a little of every member of the family.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A very purple bear

I got a custom bear order recently.  The item of clothing that was sent to me was a fabulous eggplant purple cashmere sweater.

There was also supposed to be a necktie to use for ears, foot pads and bow tie, but the customer's kids got sick and she lost track of time, so I volunteered to find something to coordinate.  I think this pinwale corduroy works nicely - any man who would wear such a glorious purple sweater isn't likely to object to a little paisley.

The downside is cashmere doesn't felt like wool, so even after two trips through a hot dryer, it stubbornly stayed fluffy and cashmere-feeling.  I ended up using a light interfacing to stabilize the fabric so that the bear kept its shape.  It's still softer and a little less "shapely" than my usual bear, but it feels amazing.

This little guy got sent off today -- for some reason, two day priority mail with USPS is guaranteed to get there within four days.  I'm assuming if I asked for four day delivery, it would take a week.  Happy holidays.

Cat Tales: All in the Family

Vladimir Putintat - King of the Cats
Thanks for all the kind words about my cat posts.  I have one final one for you that ties many of them together.  Meet the King of the Cats:  

In my neighborhood, you can often identify cats by family - there are some tabbies with circular marking on their sides, very distinctive; a long-haired gray who was very popular before his people finally got him neutered, and then there was Vlad.

Vlad wasn't our cat, though he seemed to think he was.  He was an outdoor cat who adopted me shortly after I moved into the neighborhood in 2000, and according to neighbors from the next block, he'd been an indoor/outdoor cat until his people moved away and left him.  Then he became, quite firmly, an outdoor cat.

He had a lot of indoor cat qualities, though - he was still very friendly (when it suited him), he liked to sit on laps and have his chin scratched, and when he finally came indoors, 9 years later, he proved to be litterbox trained.
Bear - female, but more feral than her dad

One thing he was not was neutered.  For a long time, we couldn't catch him.  Sure, he'd show up for lunch, hang out on the back step for hours, but the moment you approached with intent, he'd be gone.  We tried to bring him in a few times, and he left once through my housemate and the second time through a screen.  Both times he showed up later that day in the back yard, mooching lunch.  What a charmer!

He liked the ladies, and they apparently liked him back.  He had kittens.  Many kittens.  And I found homes for many, many kittens.  Having a Vlad kitten became something of a badge of honor.  I should know; I kept 4 myself.

Ozzie - scared of his own shadow
Nicky - had the "look" even as a kitten
All Vlad's kittens - the Vladlings, they're called - are big-boned, big-headed cats with thick tails and broad faces.  Not a one of them has their father's personality.  If I'm being truthful, all of them together don't have as much personality as their father, but it's not their fault.  Some things aren't as easily inherited as body type.

Ozzie was the first kitten in - he was born in the house, and he's scared of everything.  Vlad would be ashamed of that, but not of his bulk, his big head or his big appetite.

Next were Nicky and Harriet.  Nicky's another Vlad knock-off.  Even as a kitten, he had the challenging stare, and as he's aged his body structure has gotten more like his father's.  He's our big panther, flopped across the back of the couch every night.  He doesn't like his head touched or his nails cut, but otherwise he's not as skittish as Ozzie.  Of all the cats, he got his father's lungs - when Nicky meows, you can hear it all over the house.

When Vlad meowed, you could hear it all over the neighborhood.  A conversational "hello" meow still sounded like midnight tomcat love.

And then there's Bear.  She's as feral as her father should have been.  Because she's female, her body is a little smaller, but she's actually built a lot like Vlad anyway.  And I'd put that challenging stare up against his any day of the week.
Mace - belongs to a friend, but a Vlad kitten

Mace isn't my cat - I brought him in from the back yard and gave him to a friend, but he's another obvious member of the Putintat family.  Big, loud, assertive . . .  yep, Vlad would be proud.

Junius, who was re-named Seamus when he found his new home, was another kitten that I took in.  I really wanted to keep him, but we were at capacity already and the other cats just didn't take to him.  He found a home with a friend of Mace's dad, and grew into another big, loud, attitudinal boy.

Junius / Seamus

Harriet, who I mentioned earlier, is an odd combination.  She's an exact replica of her mother, Alice - except that she's black and white instead of tabby and white.  Her markings are identical to her mom's, but dad managed to at least get the hair color in there.  And the glare.  She's very sweet, but when she's had enough, there's a flash of daddy and she disappears.

Vlad's been gone now for a few years, and I still miss him.  Some animals have bigger personalities than people, and he was definitely one of those.

Harriet and Bear
I still see him around the neighborhood, though.  I'll cross a street, look into an alley, and there'll be a big-headed black cat, looking at me with a challenge in his eyes, and I'll know that I didn't find and adopt out every one of his kittens.  It makes me happy to know that some small part of him is still out there.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ups and Downs

Custom stockings - a grumpy sheep,
a "Chopin Liszt" for a musician, and Sandy
Claws for the beach-lover.
Two shows this weekend.  Saturday's was at Independence Charter School in Philadelphia, a show I had been invited to in early fall and for which I had paid my deposit.  Later, when the larger shows got announced, I realized that there were two others on that date I'd rather participate in, but in the end, I stuck with my first date, and it was a good choice.  It was an inexpensive table fee, and the best return I've had so far.  So not the biggest moneymaking day, but as a return on my investment?  Oh, yeah.

The mittens were flying, as usual, and for some reason, I had a run of third-graders buying my knit critters.  I said to one of them that they were usually intended for younger kids (not even really attempting to get him to fall for a bear instead), and he said, "No, these are cool, they're retro.  They're almost ironic."

Okay, then.  Should I add "cool retro ironic" to their tags on Etsy?

Today, on the other hand, took much of the glory out of yesterday.  I originally didn't have anything scheduled, but I was sulking a bit because there was a fairly major show in my neighborhood that I didn't get into, so I signed up for another edition of Traveling Wares so I'd be occupied and not muttering in my workroom, doing myself no good whatsoever.

But no good deed (or good intention) goes unpunished.  Last week's Traveling Wares was busy in a semi-blizzard; this one, on a cold but clear day, totaled 3 customers in the 4 hours I was there.  I caught a ride home an hour early with another vendor so I could work on a custom bear headed out tomorrow.

My friend Elaine stopped by the show, however, to pick up a set of custom stockings made for her kids, so that was a highlight.

One more show next Saturday, and one more week of the neighborhood Arts League show, which is finally beginning to pick up steam as the neighbors realize that it's winter, and winter is cold, and snow sometimes happens, and the holidays are coming whether they're ready or not, so they'd better get out and shop.

Better days tomorrow.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More mittens!

I just listed 6 more pair of mittens in the shop, some colors in multiples.

The gray/white at top left are a wool/alpaca blend.  The cocoa brown (top center) and bubblegum pink (middle left) are cashmere blends.  The tan (bottom center) are wool, with extra long ribbed cuffs to cut the draft.

All mittens can be found here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My New Pincushion

Is she not the coolest lady?

She's filled with emery sand, so she's the equivalent of the little strawberry that accompanied the big tomato pincushion.

Valerie Velvet, one of the organizers of a recent craft event, Sunday's Traveling Wares, makes these.  If you want to find a gift for a crafty friend who has everything, I highly recommend these poppets.  You can buy them here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cat Tales: Nicky

Nicky a/k/a Snickers a/k/a Panther Puss is another backyard rescue.  He's actually Harriet's brother - you can see them below hanging out in a planter box with their tabby sister (who found a home with a friend of mine).

He and Harriet came in when they were about 3 months old; their mom, Alice, took a good while longer.  When she came in, I'm not sure they recognized her anymore.  They still don't hang out together much.

Nicky's kind of a lone panther.  He bonds to one cat (or person) at a time.  He loved my cat Isabel, and when she died, he mourned and stress-licked all the fur off both his legs.  It took a year before he had hair again.  He still licks when he gets upset, but not to that extent.

Now that Max is gone, Nicky has bonded with Mario.  He even sleeps the way Max did, butt on the living room radiator, head and paws on the arm of the couch and belly slung out over space.  He never did that before, but I think he's filling a need, for both himself and his new person.
Nicky, Harriet and sister when they
still lived outside

Nick's a little skittish.  Like most of my born-outdoors cats, he has rules and sometimes they're hard to get around.  He's still head-shy after all these years, but if you come at him from underneath he'll let you cheek-scritch him all day.  A true sign of affection is when he comes up to you on the couch and butt-slams you.  If you start scratching then, his head sinks lower and lower until it's flat on the cushion and he's standing up on his back tiptoes.  Eventually if he gets enough scratches, he falls over and scares himself and goes invisible for about 3 hours.

He's much bigger now than he is in the top photo, but he's camera shy and I haven't gotten a decent picture of him in a while.  Being a black cat doesn't help, either - there are more difficult things to photograph, but not many.

I can't believe I'm at the end of my cat posts.  This means I'm going to actually have to do some me-sewing soon, so I have something left to talk about.

I will (and did) survive

My table at the Philly Free School -
the sale was held in the school cafeteria
So . . . the weekend.  Office work Friday, a brief appearance at a holiday party (how many law firms invite their temp receptionist to come out and party; I had to go), then the opening of my local craft show at the University City Arts League.  It was raining something awful, so attendance was really sparse, but I got to see a few people I knew and also got to wrap and bag two of my knit critters that were leaving the show to become Christmas gifts for two little girls.

Saturday's show at the Philly Free School was the first time the event was held, so it was a little hit or miss, but again, I had a pretty good day.  It seems the shows where other vendors complain about sales and attendance are the days I do really well.  Go figure.

Me with my Traveling Wares
I especially appreciated the little boy with cold hands who talked his mom into buying a pair of my mittens and who came back later (not wearing them).  When I asked why, he said his hands had gotten too warm, and he was back to tell me his mom said thank you, because he was always complaining about being cold.  Then he added, offhand, "Of course, thanks from me, too."  No, thank you.  It isn't often I get feedback from a customer, especially in real time.

Saturday night was another appearance at the Arts League, this time a little busier, the weather being cold but at least dry.

On Sunday, I had time to have brunch with my good and patient husband, who acts as driver, loader/unloader and general saint-about-town for my endeavors.  It was cold and clear, and it looked like the weathermen, who had predicted flurries, might be wrong.

The South Street Bridge is out there somewhere
Hah.  Were they ever.  The photo at left is what it looked like when we started the 15 minute drive from our house to Dirty Frank's, the bar where the first Traveling Wares show was to be held.  45 minutes later, I hauled my bins into the bar and set up in a booth.  Half the vendors hadn't made it yet, nor most of the crowd.  I got to sit with a beer and watch the Eagles game (I'm not a big football fan, and haven't watched the Eagles since they took on Michael Vick, but I do love watching overpaid men finally earn their salaries by sliding face first in slush).

Though the event never totally picked up, I did okay -- four stockings, a pair of gloves and a knit critter (sold to a Philadelphia writer who I've read for years).  I also traded a stocking for a totally cool pincushion doll (she's filled with emery sand and I'll post a pic of her as soon as I get unpacked -- I love her).

My favorite customer at Dirty Frank's -
I love dog-friendly bars.
Now, other than a cashier shift at the Arts League, I'm down until Saturday.  Which is good, because I'm getting low on critters.  Now it's time to start cutting up the upper parts of those sweaters whose lower parts became mittens.

I can't even describe what my house looks like right now.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm tired already

I took another temp job last week, for the two days before the Thanksgiving holiday and this entire week.  I knew it wasn't the brightest of ideas, but it's heating season, and I like to be warm.  I also like to pay my bills on time, I'm that kind of girl.

It was not the brightest of ideas.  Let me say that again.  Not. At. All.

Wednesday evening, I load in for my neighborhood arts league's two-week resident craft show.  Which means I have to split my inventory, make inventory sheets and put price stickers on everything.  (Generally at craft shows I have signs with prices, which means I don't have to remove stickers or tags from merchandise when I bag, but since I won't be there during much of this show, pricing has to be obvious and easy for the cashier to find).  I managed to write out my inventory list today at the office, but of course I didn't have the actual form with me, so I have to rewrite it tomorrow.  Bah.

Friday is the show's opening night for arts league members only.  Saturday morning is another show, the Philly Free School Superfantastic Craft Bazaar, from 11-5.  This is the first year for the show, but it's run by an organizer I've dealt with before, so I'm expecting a decent crowd.  Saturday evening is the second opening night at the arts league, this one for the public.

Sunday.  What to say about Sunday?  Well, I signed up for something called Traveling Wares, which is a group of crafters who set up to sell at bars around Center City Philadelphia.  They've been doing it since 1991, and I want in on the fun.  Sunday from 2-7 is Dirty Frank's at 13th and Pine.  I've drunk there.  I've been drunk there in my time.  This is a whole different view of a bar.

And Monday?  Monday I'm not getting out of bed.