Archive for the “etsy” Category

I don't talk about it a lot here, but Kipling has had a mystery tummy problem. I won't go into the details - trust me, you don't want me to go into the details! It's why his first owners gave him up, and I knew about it when he came to live here, but lately it's been acting up pretty badly.

A few weeks ago he went to the vet and was tested for a weird bacteria that's rare in most cats, but pretty common amongst purebreds due to the close conditions of many catteries. I was convinced that's what he had... but the test came back negative.

Last week he went in for an ultrasound. I told him that I was going to take pictures of his shaved belly and show them to the whole internet, but fortunately for him they were able to soak his fur with alcohol and do the ultrasound without shaving him. And... the scan showed nothing abnormal.

Kipling hates the carrier and riding in the car.. When I got him home from the vet, he was damp with alcohol and, er, other liquid. So he got a bath. This also made him unhappy.

So now, two things:

First, I'm going to try him on new, limited-ingredient food with a single protein. The vet also suggested adding Metamucil to his meals. Yeah, that's right, my cat apparently needs more fibre in his diet.

And second, as I posted earlier this week, I've been making Kipling-themed (and other) stitch markers to help fund the vet visits, which haven't been cheap. These were my test run, but I expect to have full sets in the Etsy shop soon! The rings are snag-free, lightweight, and as you can see, they fit over a US 9 / 5.5mm needle with room to spare.

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Coming soon...

These two are my favourites. The coloured ones didn't come out as well.

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This weekend was mine to do whatever I wanted to do. On Saturday after the niecelets' birthday party I cleaned the house, ran laundry and stayed up very late watching movies and playing with the cats, and on Sunday when I got tired of watching cooking shows I went up to my room to see what craftsy thing I felt like doing. I turned around in circles and the wheel caught my eye first, so I oiled it up and sat down to spin.

I put in two or three hours over the course of the day, and the bobbin was almost full by bedtime. I haven't weighed the remaining fibre, but I don't think I'm even halfway through it yet. I started spinning this stuff back in 2010 for Spin in Public Day and while I admit I've not kept to a regular spinning schedule, it seems like I spin and spin and spin, and the pile of unspun fibre never grows any smaller. I know I'm not the only spinner who feels this way, and that eventually it'll be done... but meanwhile, it's taking forever!

I'm planning to chain-ply these singles to maintain the striping in the finished yarn. I have another full bobbin of orange and yellow rambouillet singles in about the same weight that's also destined to be chain-plied. And then, perhaps, instead of putting them away in my basket of handspun yarn, I'll list them for sale in my Etsy shop.

The fibre is eight ounces of merino pencil roving from Pucker Brush Farm that I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool in 2010. Most of it drafts very smoothly, but some of the darker sections are matted and felted. I'm not even trying with those, I'm just pulling them out and discarding them. They'll be good stuffing if I ever make any amigurumi or cat toys.

Unfortunately this morning I woke up quite stiff and sore across my back. I'm going to have to be careful to watch my posture when I'm back at the wheel tomorrow! Following the Yarn Harlot's example, I'm going to set Tuesday as my day for spinning. While I doubt that an hour or two a week will make for very productive spinning, I'll certainly get more done than if I just don't spin at all. I'd like to finish this merino, ply the rambouillet, and move on to some of the other fibres in my stash.

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For those of you who don't already know, Aubrey Kitten has been very, very sick. I knew something was wrong when she let me pile toys on top of her without a protest, and she'd lost interest in her food. Even an egg yolk didn't tempt her. (Floyd Kitten was happy to chow down on all the tasty treats we offered, of course. He's getting kind of fat.)

Last Tuesday we brought her to the vet and found that she had a raging mystery infection, a high fever, anemia and a heart murmur. We brought her home with antibiotics but she kept getting worse, so back to the vet she went on Wednesday. After an overnight stay complete with ultrasound, x-rays, subcutaneous fluids to help with dehydration, and even an enema, poor thing, she came home again with new antibiotics and some heavy duty anti-inflammatories that we were warned to only use if she really needed them. It was pretty much a last-chance thing; if the new meds didn't work then it was likely that nothing would work at all.

I thought we were going to lose her on Thursday night. She was shivering in my lap, though she still had a 105.5 degree fever. She couldn't hold her head up. She'd lost weight and was too weak to stand for very long. The fever hadn't broken by Friday afternoon and we decided that it was time to try the anti-inflammatories. As soon as we let her go, she skittered away under the bed... and twenty minutes later, came trotting downstairs like a whole new kitten and said "Hi! Is it lunchtime? I'm hungry!"1

She's been improving ever since, but she's not out of the woods yet. She's still terribly skinny, weighing just four and a half pounds. She's eating and grooming, she's alert and even a little bit playful. (This morning she woke me up at 04:30 excitedly playing with (and chirping at) a fuzzle on the floor. Talk about mixed emotions.) And she's purring like a little motor every time we scritch behind her ears.

Here she is in healthier days, surveying the living room with all the regality of her birthright as a cat. And here is her brother Floyd, looking calm but totally ready for action. They aren't related to each other, but they did grow up in the foster home together, and they're great friends. Even if Floyd likes to wrestle a lot more than Aubrey does, which makes her cry and hiss at him, they're happiest when they're together. (My sister the Knitting Ninja took both of these pictures when she visited in November.)

So, how does this relate to business?

In my last post I talked about building out a crafting space in our basement. Well, this is why. I'm going to be starting up the fibre arts business that I've been talking about for years now. The goal, after it gets to be self-supporting, is to build up the Kitten Emergency Healthcare Fund. Aubrey's vet visit was not cheap. It could have been so much worse, and I don't begrudge a single penny of it. But if it happens again, since her full recovery is by no means a sure thing, it's going to hurt the bank account a lot harder than it did this time.

Over the course of the next two months, Pirate-Husband and I are going to empty out the cruft that's currently in the basement and replace it with a good place for both of us to work on our respective hand-crafts. I'm going to get my long-neglected Etsy shop up and running, where I'll be selling handspun yarn and carded batts of fibre. Eventually I'd like to add hand-dyed yarn and fibre to the inventory, but that might be a little later down the line. I'm also going to be designing some knitting patterns for sale through Ravelry, to go along with the free patterns that I currently offer.

I've been wanting to start up this business for a while, but until last I had no reason other than to support my own hobby. Now I have Aubrey M. Tinyfierce2 and Floyd T. Underfoot3 to look after, and what better way to do it than through the things I love most to do in my free time?

This is such an exciting venture that I've had to stop myself from blathering on about it to people who have only surface interest in my hobby. I find that quite amusing, actually! There's a lot to do in order to get the basement ready, first. Nearly everything that's in there has to come out. Some of it will go to the dump, some to Goodwill, and some to the shredder. We have to build the sturdy table and find a good surface for it. Comfy work chairs will be necessary, of course, and shelves to store the craft supplies, and good lighting.

Meanwhile, I'm cranking away on baby gifts. I've got the wheel set up and oiled and ready to go, should I happen to turn to it, but this past week has had me spending much more time with my cats than with my yarn. I'm okay with that. As Aubrey continues to improve, I'll get back to the spinning.

1: Translated from the Felinish.

2: The M stood for "Mischief", but if she pulls through this illness I think I might have to change it to "Miracle" instead.

3: T for Trouble, of course. (P.S. for Dad: ♫ Oh, we've got trouble, right here in Up Mountain, that starts with T and that doesn't rhyme at all with F and that stands for FLOYD. ♫)

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We had our family holiday celebration on Monday at my brother and sister-in-law's place, and I finally got to give Dad his hat. It fits him perfectly, and he said that it is exactly the hat he wanted! Hooray! Now that I know his size, I told him, I can keep him in hats for as long as he wants. He mentioned a hat with notches over the ears to fit his headset when he flies. I'll have to see about making something like that, perhaps for next Chanukah. Dad was kind enough to model it for me and even to lend me his camera to take pictures, since I'd (of course) forgotten mine.

Speaking of cameras, I've been thinking about getting a new one. Not another point & shoot, like the one I currently have (a Canon SD850IS), because - well, because my next mobile phone will have a really good small camera built right into it - no, I'm envying a DSLR, with which I can take much better pictures. It's almost silly to think about it now because I don't have the money to buy a camera, but maybe someday soon I will. Pirate-Husband thinks it's silly of me to want such a thing. He is convinced that I will buy an expensive camera, take twenty pictures, and get tired of it. I'm not sure I see myself hiking all over the countryside hauling a camera with me, true, but I'd certainly take lots more pictures of stuff indoors, like kittens and dinners and knitting.

In other news, I got a package from Thailand in the mail. It makes the world seem very small, to be able to buy things from the other side of the planet with a few clicks of the mouse, and have them show up at my door less than two weeks later. What was inside the package, you might ask? (And why did I buy from an Etsy seller in Thailand? Because I couldn't find the same things for a better price more locally. I looked. But 20 sets of snaps for $12, including shipping, is about as good as it gets.)

Twenty sets of ultra-thin, surprisingly strong, magnetic snaps. They are the kind of closures that are sewn on, rather than clipped through fabric. This seemed to be a wise decision for attaching a magnetic snap to the mitten-tops and wrist cuffs of Fleep-Top gloves. The kind of magnet that's clipped through would leave a very cold metal circle on the inside of the cuff. I'm actually concerned that they are *too* strong, that unsnapping them will put more stress on the yarn than it can take, and that the gloves will have a shortened lifespan as a result. Perhaps I should reinforce the place where the snaps are sewn on with a piece of fabric on the inside.

My own Fleeps have never had anything to hold the top back when it's not in use, and I've never had a problem with them flopping about... but Michael requested that I do something for his gloves, and so I shall. And if the magnetic snaps are as awesome as I think they will be, it's fairly likely that I'll add them to my gloves, too.

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Pirate-Husband and I have been in our mountain house for two and a half years now, and yet, only two of the rooms are really what I'd call "finished" - the living room, and the library. There is so much yet that I want to do! As we've settled in, we've each found our spots and niches. The upstairs room, with the loft bed and slanted ceiling, has become my office. Pirate-Husband works from home and has claimed the library as his office, and he's also got a workbench in the garage where he tinkers, makes steampunky things out of leather and metal and wood, takes stuff apart and puts it together again.

So if he's got a work space and a craft space, I'd like one too - for fairness, of course. The back room in the basement is almost exactly perfect for what I'm thinking of, too. It's our laundry room, and our storage closet for our SCA gear is there. There's an inset space in which we'd like to put a second freezer for food storage, but for the most part the room is going completely unused.

There's already water to the room for the laundry, so it shouldn't be too hard to split off the line and install a slop sink. Drainage might be a little more complicated, but I bet it could be done. With a sink, I could wash fleece and mix dyes, though I'd still have to bring dyed fibre or yarn upstairs to simmer on the stove. Hrrm, unless I got a little propane-powered burner. That's a possibility, and would keep dyes out of our food-prep kitchen.

I'd like to run a workbench down the entire back wall of the room, attaching it into the wall so that it wouldn't wobble. It wouldn't be too high, because I'm shortish. There I would be able to keep my drum carder and sewing machine. I've even been thinking about getting a wool picker, perhaps bench-style rather than the torture-chamber-esque cradle picker style. I don't think I could support myself on a fibre-y business income, but I bet I could make some reasonable pocket change selling carded batts and handspun yarn on Etsy.

Underneath the workbench, I would have shelves and drawers for storage space, except at the end I'd leave a bit of an overhang so that I'd have a place to sit and use the sewing machine. I don't sew very often, but I'm drawn to the idea more and more - if only I had a good workspace! The first things I'd sew would be quilted covers for the carder, picker, and sewing machine, to keep them safe and dust-free.

The room itself needs some work. The laundry closet is in desperate need of new doors, and the walls could use a coat of paint. I'd install good lighting in the ceiling and scissor-arm lights along the walls, so that I'd always have enough light - that room has but one small window and doesn't get much sun. Then I'd hang inspirational artwork everywhere!

What would your perfect crafting space look like?

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The "Starry Night" yarn is plied, but not yet washed (and I've no picture yet, either). Of course one bobbin ran out sooner than the other; I looked up a tutorial on Andean plying and gave it a try. What a neat trick that is! I ended up with 138 yards of worsted-to-bulkyish weight yarn from four ounces of fiber, and nothing left over! As soon as I'd skeined the yarn, I ran to show Pirate-Husband. "Look," I laughed, "I've spun Chanukah yarn!" Blue and blue, bits of white and yellow and silver sparkle, it really does remind me quite a bit of Chanukah. Pirate-Husband agreed and asked me if this was going to be the first yarn listed in the Etsy shop.

I keep saying I want to sell handspun yarns, but now that it's come down to it, I find that I'm a little more hesitant than I'd planned to be. I get attached to the yarns I spin! And will people really want to buy them? Can I spin enough yarn well and fast enough to stock an Etsy shop? Will spinning start to feel like a chore instead of a favored hobby?

I thought about all of those things last night as I cast on for the second of the handspun socks. I made it through the toe increases before I went to bed, and now it's boring ol' stockinette from here to the heel. This is going to accompany me on the airplane tomorrow; stockinette in the round is perfect airport and airplane knitting.

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So I got started on spinning the "Starry Night" roving, and I'm really not sure what I think of it yet. It's very soft, and doesn't draft the way I'm used to with combed top, and I'm getting fuzzles and bits of glitz all over my clothing. I thought I'd aim for a heavy fingering to DK weight yarn, but the fiber might not really want to do that. It might want to be a lower-twist, thicker yarn in the end.

This might end up being the first yarn to be listed in my Etsy shop. It's pretty, but I'm not in love with it. Of course, I might completely change my mind a few ounces in the future. One never knows! If I do want to sell handspun, I'm going to have to spin with production in mind, rather than "what can I knit with this?" It's just a matter of changing my mindset.

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Apologies for the posting delay. Life became very busy, very suddenly, and left me very little time to knit and spin. I had a short deadline on a graphic design project that I hadn't expected to be doing, and then spent last weekend at my parents' for Rosh Hashanah (no knitting). But now I am back with a firm determination to catch up in my fibery pursuits!

Because it's really unlikely that the second half of the merino-silk blend is so much more well-behaved than the first, I'm going to guess that I went up a level in Spinning Skill between bobbins. I fought with the first half; the second half seems to draft more easily, has fewer nepps and sticky bits, and is generally spinning up much more smoothly. The finished yarn should be interesting, with a very slight thick and thin texture to it. I am considering making a pair of gloves, armwarmers or mittens from it. It probably won't be smooth enough for socks, but I can't totally rule that out.

textureI think I want to spin something lively, next. Perhaps the Finn/Mohair batts that I carded should make a floofy textured yarn. There's eight ounces of the stuff (probably more like 6.5 after discarding all the short bits and dirt) and I'm thinking that a light worsted weight would be perfect to show off the character of the fiber. I have a bunch of batts which were sorted out by color and progress from this pinky-orange through to the greens. Perhaps I will tear each of them in half and spin a two-ply where the colors will mostly match up. Except for one failed attempt at the alpaca batts, I haven't spun from batts before. I've certainly never spun anything so textured. It will be a fun challenge!

Yesterday I told a non-fibery friend that my eventual goal is to sell handspun yarns on Etsy. I think I'm almost good enough to get started with that; now my problem might be that I get so attached to the yarn I spin, I don't want to let it go! Maybe I should start spinning in colors I don't like, in yarn sizes that I won't use? Ahh, a sunny yellow three-ply worsted weight would be easy to put up in the shop.

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This designing stuff is harder than it appears! I sketched out what I'd like to knit, and then realized how much of it I don't know how to do. The thing I want to make has raglan-ish sleeves, but because it's a baby outfit, it also has some extra buttons around the neckline to make it easier to get on and off - and I'd like to put them at an angle to match the sleeve seam, rather than across the top of the shoulder. I'm not quite sure how to make the legs, either. Seamless would be nice, too.

I looked up some patterns on Ravelry and found one that had the sort of neckline I am thinking of. It's in a book that my library system has, so I put it on reserve. Hopefully that will help me get some idea of how this thing goes together! Fortunately, I have at least a year to come up with something. Baby clothes are so adorable; I'm glad that there will be another little one to knit for! Maybe I will crank out a bunch of small sweaters... but probably not.

Someone suggested to me that I could sell my 'practice knittings' to make a little extra money, much like a pen-and-paper artist might sell sketches. I am running out of ways to say that I don't have any 'practice knitting' and that my hourly rate would be prohibitively high or I'd be cheating myself. Selling PDF versions of patterns seems like a much better idea; I only have to do the work once, and Ravelry has a nifty way of handling sales. That, and handspun - I think I could speed up my spinning to the point where I could get a reasonable rate for it on Etsy.

I had a moment of weakness yesterday and bought three braids of fiber from someone who was destashing at super-reasonable prices. She will be mailing them out today. Maybe I will get them before Pennsic!

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