Category Archives: sewing

And We’re Back!

Whoops, a month since my last post! It’s been crazy here, between moving, coming down with the flu, fieldwork picking up, and trying to keep up with bag orders, it’s been hard to find time to blog.

So, what has been going on besides that? Well, we got a little bit of snow the other week:

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We’ve moved into our new house, and now I have an entire room to craft in! My own personal space! I’m excited. There is still a lot of organizing to be done, but it’s to the point where it’s functional, and that’s good enough for now.

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My bags are now available at Little Owl Knit Shop! They have only been open for a month but already have an amazing selection of yarn, and a nice display of awesome project bags if I do say so myself.

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Josh’s birthday socks (for 2013) are *almost* done. I love the pattern, but the one thing I hate is knitting men’s socks toe up. The easy part gets done first, and then the rest just drags. Pictured is sock #1. Sock #2 is done up to the heel, and all that is left is the leg portion.

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And in non-crafting news, we have been geeking out lately with our newest game- Star Trek Catan. This version of Settlers of Catan is so much fun. Well, it would be a lot more fun if J didn’t kill me in every game we played.

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Hopefully things will be slowing down a bit over the next couple weeks, and I will be able to post more. I do want to post some of the new things showing up at Rock Solid Designs in the next month or so.

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2013 in Review

Hello, 2014! This past year has been such a crazy, busy, educational one that I hardly know where to start with my summary. A year ago this month I decided to go back to school. This was a tough decision; my husband is currently a full-time student, and I work full-time.  After much thought though, we realized that we can handle it financially, and tax-wise it was most beneficial for me to do it now. To date I have completed 19 graduate level credits, and am almost halfway through my program, while still working full-time (much of the time out in the field). 

This year we really tried to buckle down on following a budget. It was definitely rough with me travelling so much for work, but we are figuring out where our downfalls are. In an effort to try and save as much of our CSA produce as possible, I decided to learn how to can. With only being home on weekends, food wasn’t getting eaten before it was going bad. This was a great way to keep money from going to waste, and it’s giving us delicious fruits well into winter!

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I also decided that this was a great time to start a side business! My timing is, to say the least, awful. There has been so much going on that some days I feel so overwhelmed I could cry, but it has been worth it. I’ve gone from making bags and hoping people will notice them, to having a fully stocked website, an active facebook page, a presence in local craft shows, and the latest achievement- bags for sale in our new local yarn store! This has not been an easy road and there are still many challenges ahead, but I am sure I can handle it.

Knitting has been slow this year. With all this chaos, knitting has sadly fallen by they wayside. Even so, there have been a few finished projects this year! Below is a gallery of my 2013 FO’s.

Ok, so technically the Opulant Raglan is currently blocking and still needs ends woven in, but the knitting was finished before the year ends, so I am counting it. 

I will be casting on my annual New Year’s Cast-on-along project here soon. My goals for this year are varied; can more, stress less, knit more, run more. We’ve already decided on doing two sprint triathalons this year, and I cannot wait!

Do you make resolutions, or set goals instead? Or do you just ignore all of that, and just plan on enjoying everything 2014 sends your way?

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A Quick Stop

To say that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. My full-time job has me out of town during the week, and personal life has me out of town on the weekends. This means that any spare time I have is spent sewing and preparing for the Carlisle Christmas Craft Show this weekend.

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Here is a (blurry) progress photo I had of some bags two weeks ago. I’ve determined 12 bags a day is my limit- I tried to do 20 last night, and while I succeeded, it also took me from 9am to 2am. I do not plan on having a repeat performance of that.

 

 

I have been working out of town for the past month straight, making it very difficult to make enough time to sew the bags and prepare for the show. While I didn’t have as much inventory as I would have liked, I did have enough to keep my booth from looking empty, and it did attract a fair amount of people in.

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One thing I got many compliments on that I wasn’t expecting is my new business shirt. J had two custom made for me for my birthday, and they were a big hit! I do love how professional it makes me look at an event such as this.

Rock Solid Designs polo shirt.

 The show was a lot of fun, and I learned so much about how to build my booth to entice people in. I can’t wait for the next show to put some of what I learned into practice!

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New Pattern!

Hey everyone! It’s been crazy busy around here lately. Between fieldwork at my fulltime job, schoolwork, tutoring, and trying to get bags done for my home business, I have hardly had time to stop and think. I did get a chance to finish knitting the photo model for my new pattern though. Pictures were this weekend, and the pattern is now live on my website!

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Cozy lace legwarmers, just in time for fall! These are perfect for staying warm in the house, or walking around the neighborhood. The lace pattern keeps them interesting, but there is no shaping! Just drop down a needle size to make them smaller.

Because the lace pattern spirals around the leg, all shaping is done by changing needle sizes. I chose an alpaca/wool/silk blend for these, to provide delicacy and warmth. 

By request, I will also be expanding this to a sock pattern. Once the sock pattern has been test knit, I will update the legwarmer pattern to include both options.

The pattern is available for sale through the link above, or on Ravelry  

Now it’s back to sewing bags. Hopefully I’ll have the majority of the drawstring bags done today, leaving me with the box bags and needle rolls for the rest of October.

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Canning Achievement: Unlocked!

Growing up I was always aware that my grandmother did a variety of preserving different items, but it never really piqued my interest. As a kid, who cared if you canned it? Pickles were gross, and fruit was meant to be eaten right away! Canning seemed pointless and something I would never be interested in.

Enter 2012. It seems that when one begins to engage in rustic activities such as knitting, it slowly leads to more. From knitting came spinning, and from spinning came the desire to know where my food came from at a better depth than “the grocery store.” Sure, stuff from the store is fine, but I kept hearing stories about how home grown produce has so much more flavor, and was a much richer experience all around. I wanted to check this out. So, in the spring of 2012, we joined a CSA. Everything I heard was absolutely true. I never knew tomatoes actually had flavor! The ones from the store always felt like I was eating cardboard! On top of that, we got a variety of fruits and vegetables I have never heard of or tried, and learned that there are a number of items I really enjoy. $400 for 26 weeks was a great deal- we definitely got more than $15 worth of food in each box, and I think the added value of having items picked within the last 48-72 hours was worth it.

But we quickly had a problem: We couldn’t eat it all fast enough! Last year was upsetting because we did end up wasting so much. It was a lot of food, and while we were attempting to eat healthier, we just couldn’t eat all of it. This year we signed up to split the CSA with my parents, but it was still more food than we could eat in a reasonable amount of time. So then what do you do?

That’s when I remembered my grandmother’s canning, and wondered how much of our produce I could do that for. Turns out, almost all of it! Our CSA does a few days a summer where we can pick as much of a certain item as we want at a low or no cost. This seemed like a great opportunity to start! When J’s parents were visiting this past month, we took everyone out for peach picking. $13 for a half bushel, and that half bushel held a LOT of peaches. I bought some pint size canning jars and decided to dive right in!

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Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the first photo I took of the set-up prior to canning. I would also like to point out that this was the second canning event- I had already done a case of pint jars, and needed to finish up the peaches. So this was just the last of the peaches from the picking. I have already given 2 jars to my parents, and 2 to some friends. There is no way we would eat half a bushel of peaches ourselves, canned or not!

When I wasn’t canning yesterday, I was doing some knitting. Doesn’t this look like the perfect Saturday morning, right here?

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It would have been a lot more relaxing if the purpose hadn’t been to do a final troubleshoot on a pattern I’ve been working on. I plan on releasing it next week, but I need to make sure the pattern works 100% the way it is supposed to before publishing. So far it’s only been tiny mistakes, but in doing this I need to focus solely on my knitting.

So that’s my weekend: knitting, canning, coffee, oh and bonfires. Everything about my weekend shouts “it’s fall!” and I love it. 

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Jack of all Trades…

That’s how I’m feeling these days. I spent the other morning wondering where my time went, that all of a sudden summer was over, there were no new blog posts, and I felt like I had accomplished so little.  

Last week my stepdaughter asked me what I was knitting. I told her it was a sample for a class I am going to teach this fall. She knew I was going to school, so here she goes “OH! You’re the teacher, not a student!” Trying to explain to her that I am both (I am going for my master’s in the evenings) was confusing for both of us. It got me thinking, though. It’s no wonder I feel as if I have no time, and that nothing is accomplished. I’m wearing too many hats!

I work all day as a geologist. Two days a week, I then go straight to campus to get a swim in before my 3 hour class. One day a week I typically teach a knitting class at my local Joann Fabrics. One day a week I tutor a friend in the evenings in Calculus. And in between all of that? I am training for a triathalon. (Which is THIS SATURDAY! by the way. Not that I am panicking or anything).

And then, amidst ALL of that (because that is enough to wear out anybody); I am working on my side business creating project bags, yoga bags, and knitting patterns. All while also spending most of the summer as a new parent of a 6 year old, and still attempting to cook all of our dinners, shop local, play with my stepdaughter, and teach her awesome things like knitting and sewing and why quiet time is sometimes nice. 

So my goal: Blog once a week. If I do more, great! But I think we can all agree that right now, I have a lot going on, and punishing myself for not blogging enough won’t help anything.

Next time I post, I’ll have some fun photos. For now, I have to get ready for my tutoring session. :)

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A Sad Day

We are visiting some of J’s family out of town this weekend. I excitedly packed all the crafty things I was going to do while we were relaxing-knitting, spinning, blogging, etc. Yesterday evening on our way back from dinner I went to get my Trindle out of my purse….and the shaft has snapped. It was most likely from me carelessly packing it in my purse, which was then on the floor of the front passenger seat during out 9 hour drive. One of us most likely stepped on it and snapped it.  

That was the single fear I had when buying the Trindle- the shaft is so thin and light, I was worried about it breaking. Apparently I was right. J thinks he can fix it, although the creator of the Trindle says they have a lifetime warranty. I emailed him to see if this is something that is covered. In the meantime though, no spinning.

Maryland Sheep and Wool was earlier this month. I failed once again at taking photos, but take my word that it was a ton of fun. Nice cool weather this year, and lots of good friends. I am trying to cut back on how much fiber I buy, so this year it was mostly tools. I bought hand cards, a nostepinne, some new arms for my (now defunct) Trindle, and 2lbs of Border Leicester fleece to wash and spin. J also picked out some sock yarn for next years birthday socks. 

I also made another bag for a friend. This one was a barter exchange- she sent me fabric, I sent her one bag made out of it. I LOVE this print. I need to find out where she obtained it, because I want to make more bags from it. This bag is approximately 13″ tall, big enough to fit large shawls or sweaters. 

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That’s all for now. I should be home with more camera access this week, and next week I will take photos of the washing/drying/carding/spinning process with the Border Leicester fleece.

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Not Much Going On

And b ack again. Once a week(ish) is still better than my previous average of once a quarter. Things are getting a bit hectic over the next few weeks- wrapping up the semester, traveling for a wedding and balancing work is going to be difficult at best. The sewing looks like it may be limited to just 2-3 bags a week while I get everything sorted out in my life. Luckily my classes this summer are online, so there’s a bit more flexibility coming my way.

Flexibility is good, considering I signed up to run (and bike and swim) a sprint triathalon this fall. I tried to talk my mother out of doing it, but somehow that plan backfired and next thing I know, I’m registered and bought a bike! The things we do for our parents. This should be really great for us though. It’s giving my mom something to work towards that’s for HER. Not her job, not her family. Something she is doing for her.

This is my bike. It’s not a tri- or road bike, it’s a hybrid/comfort bike. I figure I probably won’t do a whole lot of triathalons, so I might as well get something I enjoy riding at the lake or at home. It’s lacking a kickstand though…has anyone ever had a bike show up without a kickstand? Anyway, it shouldn’t be too hard to get one for it. I got it for $300- not bad, and let’s be honest. Crappier bikes are going for not much less.

The only things I completed this weekend were a custom order project bag for a good friend and a prototype hairpiece for my great-aunt. That hairpiece kills me. It took me 3 tries, and while

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The project bag was simple enough- same fabric as a drawstring bag, but this one is 8” with a handle instead of drawstrings. You can also see my new label inside it! I forgot to attach the hang-label to a seam, so I cut it in half and hand sewed it onto the lining. It doesn’t look great though, so next time I’ll make sure to get the tag put in properly!

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That reminds me- do you prefer a hang tag on items, or a sewn in woven label? I’m torn. The hang tags are cheap and nice, but they are too large for a few of my projects, and I worry it might make them look cheap. Thoughts?

This weekend we are taking a trip to a wedding down in GA. This is bad news for my sewing, but good news for my knitting! I hope to have some good progress photos on J’s socks (75% done the second sock!) and maybe even progress on my sweater. We will be staying outside of Atlanta, so there plans to check out the aquarium, meaning we will have then been to both the largest AND second largest aquariums in the world, eating at some delicious restaurants, maybe the Coca-Cola experience, dinner with a rubbernecker (or two) and if my family really loves me, a trip to Stitches South! So hopefully next week we will have a blog full of photos and less full of my rambling.

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Catching Up

While I am proud of myself for becoming a more consistent blogger, it gets frustrating when I find myself with too much to do, and not enough time to do it in. I had planned on getting three blog posts out this week, but then life caught up. I spent two very long days in the field, and another long day in the office. Getting home at 9pm to go to bed, then turning around and getting up at 4:30am to leave was rough. But! Enough whining. I wanted to share with everyone what I made this past weekend.

My first attempt at a box bag. I’ve always thought these bags were adorable, but was too intimated by the obvious skill they required, to make one. Turns out they aren’t really that difficult at all. This was a first run in many, many ways. The bag turned out smaller than I had planned, while the strap turned out much bigger than I expected. It makes the whole thing look a bit disproportionate. But it’s a learning experience, and now I know what to do differently next time!

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 I have wanted to share this project for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to getting a photo of it. This is a quillow I made for my stepdaughter at Christmas. It’s made with Disney princess fabric- the main princesses on the pink side, and Cinderella on the blue side. She loved it, and immediately put it on her bed to use at night. I love quillows. They are such an easy project to make, and convenient for families who travel a lot (such as ours). I still have the quillow I made myself 15 years ago! Sidenote: I can’t believe I made it 15 years ago. Wow.

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I also finished a wallet to match the purse I made a few weeks ago. I really, really love this fabric. I love vintage images, and the romanticism in the fabric is so sweet. The wallet turned out pretty well. I’m still working on some problem issues with them, but it’s getting better. Next up: A Star Trek wallet for myself!

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 This weekend will probably be a knitting/ spinning weekend. We are heading up to the lake, and trying to bring all the sewing supplies gets to be a hassle. I may take up fabric to cut, but that will be it. I also need to get to work on my final! paper for my first graduate level class. That’s not terrifying at all. Plus put together a presentation on it, to give in three weeks. Luckily, there will be no fieldwork for a while, so hopefully I can divide my time between crafting and schooling a bit more evenly.

Oh, I almost forgot the most exciting news of all! My new project tags came in! I love the way they look. I ordered them  off etsy. The shipping was pricey, but it was really worth it. They are a bit large, though. I need to find smaller tags for items like the wallet and smaller bags.

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Feeling a Bit Overwhelmed

Some days I feel like I will never finish this sock pattern. I am about to finish knitting a sock in this pattern for the fourth time, but resulting in only two completed socks. I still have two more to go in this pattern. It’s to the point where I almost don’t need to look at the chart for this, and that’s saying something. It’s not a completely straightforward chart for me.

J’s first sock finally has the toe grafted and is all set to be blocked. I’m casting on his second sock tonight. My goal is to get this finished by mid-April. That is going to take some dedication on my part, and some monogamous knitting. I can’t wait to get back to my poor sweater. It’s been ignored for months while I try and get these socks sorted out. After this pair, I still need to start his 2013 Birthday socks. He won’t be getting those until August at this rate.

I’m still working on bags for Rock Solid Designs. I need to focus on items that branch out past knitters, initially. I need to build a solid customer base around here, and I’m not entirely sure how to do that. I’m in the process of applying for doing business under a fictitious name, then I have to complete the tax paperwork. I want to apply for Jubilee Day this summer and have a booth there, but logistically I just don’t think I can get all the legal side taken care of and crank out enough product to have a decent looking booth in time. I don’t need to turn in the application until May, so I guess I’ll just keep working on things and see if life aligns enough to let me take advantage of this opportunity.

In the meantime, I have now ordered labels for my handmade items, and business cards are in the works! I still need to finish tweaking the website, and update some items (the knitting patterns will be moving over there shortly). It’s a lot of work, but I’m excited to be doing it. I’m also still working on classes this spring. I’m a bit stressed that work is going to cause a huge conflict, causing me to either beg my professors to let me work out an alternative plan, or take an incomplete and finish the courses over the summer. I really do not want to do either, and would rather just finish this semester up without a hitch. I knew getting into this there could be conflicts with work, however at the time there were no extended out of town jobs in the works for us. I’m trying not to stress about it until I hear something definite, but it’s hard.

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