Friday, January 30, 2009

Applique Extravaganza!

So the children's boutique clothing business that commissioned the other appliques put in an order for some more, only mini versions.

I was excited to attempt to shrink some of my designs and was more than pleased with the results.

The initial order was for three starfish - shrunk to 4 inches wide. And a submarine of the same dimensions.

As I was completing this order they came to me with a challenge.

They were having some issues getting what they needed from another vendor, and would it be possible for me to mimic a sailboat that was depicted on a fabric sample. They needed the sailboat to be within a 3 -3 1/2 inch range. They apologized for the short notice, but said they were thrilled with my work and my quick turnaround.

I was more than thrilled to take up this challenge and within an hour came up with a sailboat applique.

They loved the prototype and immediately ordered three.

Barely 24 hours after this order they again came to me with another situation. Yet another vendor was unable to fill their request for a princess crown applique and could I work on a prototype.

All I can say is I'm having a blast and I hope this keeps up!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sweating a New Sweater Design

So a very good friend of mine asked if I would make a cardigan for a school auction fundraiser.

Being that her daughter is not only my model and that my friend takes a lot of my pictures I was more than happy to return the favor.

She told me to use yarn from my "crack" stash and so after hunting around I found this chunky turquoise yarn that comes by the pound. I loved the color and was quickly inspired.


The yarn texture was just not working with my typical cardigan pattern. After frogging the thing about 5 times, I decided to try something new. I took my basic pullover pattern and split the front. I decreased earlier to create a v-neck and prayed that once all my finishing was complete the final product would be ok. It was a lot of trial and error to get it right.

It was a lot of work - a lot more hours than I ever intended to spend on a sweater I was literally donating - but I am giddy with excitement over this new design. Though I do need to find a way to streamline the seaming.

The stitch pattern worked great for the bulky yarn, The edging turned out wonderful and I was able to make button holes rather than have to sew on snaps. I was finally able to break out these sunflower buttons I'd been hoarding for the past two years.

The downside was this sweater not only required a lot of finishing but it also used A LOT of yarn. The skein was over 600 yards and I used almost all of it. I have just enough left over for a matching beanie.

What do you think?

Is it worth offering as a custom-made-upon-order item in my shop?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feeling a bit better

I got a few hours of sleep after taking a very hot shower around 4:30 a.m.

My wonderful husband not only did all the dishes but cleaned up the living room and took our toddler out for the day.

I am in comfy jammies. Took some sudafed for my congestion and now am drinking hot tea.

I'm not feeling so bad about life anymore at this moment. Lets hope I can make this feeling last at least for a little while.

Turned around and upsidedown

So this messed up sleep schedule is driving me nuts.

I fell asleep this morning while the kiddo was watching a movie. I was on the couch and he was happily rolling hotwheels up and down my legs and shoving pretzels into my nose and mouth. It was about as comfortable as using hedge clippers to shave my armpits.

I then managed to get myself together long enough for us to go run some errands as a family and attempt to eat at our favorite Friday night spot Tizley's Europub.

It figured that as soon as we got there David started saying he wanted to go "Nigh Nigh"

He was a bit wiggly, a little loud and a lot frustrating, but we managed to wolf down our food. The hubby then took the kicking and screaming alien pod child to the car while I paid the check.

As I was sitting there all alone waiting for my receipt, I found myself having a tough time holding it together. Lately, I've felt more defeated in the parenting department than a dog whose discovered he can no longer lick his own beans.

It didn't help that upon arriving home, my husband put the kiddo to bed only to find me passed out on the couch with all three cats. This was at 6 p.m. I woke up at midnight and I have yet to go back to sleep - 3:30 a.m.

The past few months I have not been able to get a hold on any form of a normal schedule.

Exercise is a figment of the imagination.

Recent blood tests have revealed not only my cholesterol is high but that my Hashimotos is rearing it's ugly head again to the point they need to raise my dosage back up to where I was when I was pregnant. I'm falling apart.

Take this and add it to the fact that I'm currently searching for other preschool options for the kiddo just in case is making me nuttier than a bunch of drag queens in a thong competition. I'm starting to come to the scary realization that perhaps I will never find anywhere that I feel comfortable or not socialy inept. I think I might have to go join a nunnary.

I just want to be able to buy a ticket back to the land of normal, only I'm out of cash and out of fight.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What goes up....

Must come down.

I've noticed I've had a major setback in terms of getting a handle on my depression lately.
I'm getting that anxious feeling again.
The kind where I feel like I don't belong and that all I do is get in everyone's way.
I'm crying a lot more and I'm not sleeping again. I'm unmotivated and it's killing me.

It leaves me feeling socially inept and as though I'm talked down to or seen as an overemotional idiot.

It leave me feeling like an outsider and it tears me up inside.

I can not tell you how horrible a feeling it is to think something is wrong with you to the point you feel as though you will never fit in. That you ARE the problem.

I do have to admit that I've been lucky to find some really great friends during this journey who no matter what they are people I can hang out with and talk to. They don't exclude me and they most of all just really get me.

But I also don't want to be a burden to them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You say I'm a bitch like it's a bad thing.....

Holy Howler Monkeys!

I don't know what side of the bed I woke up on today but it wasn't the right one.

I am just in one of those moods, as though PMS roared her ugly head and stuffed my sweet personality in the back of the closet along with the rest of my once healthy body.

I am a pod person at it's worst.

Even the triple-shot vanilla carmel latte my adorable husband surprised me with hasn't helped.

Got any ideas?

Monday, January 19, 2009

And I'm doing this because......

It's been a frustrating few days.

All weekend the hubby and I have been attempting to decrap, sweep, mop, vaccuum, straighten etc the house.

Partialy because it needs some tidying after being negelected during the holiday season, but also because I was dumb enough to host a lunch thingymajiggy for a group that I'm really not a part of nor am sure if I want to remain a part of.
I'm not exactly number one on the popularity and invitation list anyway.

Don't get me wrong, the people who have RSVP'd I am excited to see and thankfully are people who know I am not a domestic goddess.
If I had to choose between mopping the floors or poking out my eyeballs with one of my son's hot wheels I'd say Vroom Vroom.
Cleaning with a toddler in tow is even worse. I liken it to attempting to put a diaper on a wolverine. Dumb idea to begin with that leaves you worse than where you started.

It's the unknowns (non rsvp-ers) however, who I find I'm cleaning like such a madwoman for. You know, those that you don't really know and aren't really sure if they are going to come, much less be as laid back as you are about the state of your bathtub or kitchen sink.

Scarliy enough I know people in real life who think that if a person's baseboards or refrigerator seal are not pristine then they are a lousy housekeeper. They even get an ego-inflating high from this.

Looks like I need to fill up that helium tank because as far as I'm concerned the cleaning lady has just been given a fully paid vacation to Mexico - indefinitely.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A little bit of why

As an Etsian (Etsy)who moonlights as a Hyena (Hyena Cart) I've begun to realize that I'm pretty lax when it comes to promoting my business.

For example right now I have about 10 new items to list, but have yet to take decent pictures. It's not that I don't have time to do it, it's more that I just am not in any hurry.

I can use Twitter to my hearts content to post and new items or promotions. I can chat it up in the forums or chat rooms until I'm blue in the face. But honestly the idea of doing these things, just in the "hopes" of getting a sale makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a pack of twizzlers.

Yes, the more people that see you can then notice your products, but honestly, people either like what you do or move on past. I get enough business to keep me busy and content. But most of all I don't want to become the type of business that I personally hate.

The biggest way to turn me off is to shout SALE SALE SALE.... LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME. It reminds me of the little attention hog know-it-all kid from elementary school. I want to be a business that makes you feel at home and well-listened too. Posting and running is not my thing.

I don't intend to insult anyone who takes this approach because it can very well work for them. I just want to explain why it doesn't work for me.

You probably will never find my blog page filled with listings or treasuries, promo spots or anything to really do with pushing traffic to my shop. That's just not me.

Yes, I do occassionally write about new designs I've fiddled with or new ideas, but for the most part my blog is more a way to keep me sane. It lets me get my odd sense of humor out in the open. It lets me blow off steam so that I'm not so agitated I can't create.

I always promised myself when I started Moose Threads that I would keep it fun and as long as I can keep it that way I'm happy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When "Good" Ideas Go Bad

Confessions of an insomniac crocheter

Though my toddler has resumed a normal sleep schedule I have not.

For some reason willing my body to sleep before 4 a.m. has become a bit like trying to shove a squirrel into a beer bottle - if it actually happened it would be a miracle - and quite funny to boot.

So to bide my time during my unfortunate sleep situation I've been messing around with different hat ideas.

Unfortunatly, tonight I decided to take inspiration from The Real Housewives of Orange County. Why oh why did I end up watching an episode featuring cooking and big, floppy and loud hats? Not a good combination.

Because somewhere in the middle of watching catfights, sloppy drunk blondes and 40-year-old plus women pretending that fake boobs and botox was hotter than a redhead mistaking liquid heat for lube, I came up with this hideaous hat design.

Oh wait it gets better. Take a look at the side view.

All I can think of when I see this is the result of what would happen if Tim Gunn decided to make over the Swedish Chef.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Amazing Appliques

Well, at least I think they are.

So here is that custom order I've been working on. I must admit - apart from the dragonflies - these are perhaps the best I've ever done them.

The reason I'm not happy with the dragonflies is that the only medium pink acrylic yarn I could find at the time was Vanna White's Choice. Yeah - it sucks.

So onto the show and tell.

Here are all eight items

Now here are the dragonflies up close. See how the yarn just doesn't have the pizazz that my other ones had?

The butterflies on the other hand, I decided to try sewing the wings to the back of the belly to create a bit of a two-dimensional effect. I think they turned out great.

The starfish I was so happy with. They remind me of the Carl's Jr. logo from when I was a kid.

And lastly my good ol' submarines.

Granted I have made my own fleet over the past year with custom orders but with this request I think I finally perfected the shape.

Crochet Conundrum

Ok well, I wouldn't really call my situation a conundrum as much as a "Holy Chicken Tenders! I have Moose Threads orders!" celebration.

After a disasterous holiday season paired with the idiocracy of the CPSIA's new standards for lead testing and children's items, I was contemplating putting the Moose to bed.

I was even more discouraged knowing that a "J" month was fast approachging and ask anyone on ETSY... "J" months are the worst for sales. I'm not sure what it is about that letter that causes people to snap their wallets closed faster than Britney Spears can ...hers... but it's a real confidence killer.

Only once 2009 officially arrived so did the sales.

It started with a request from an amazing friend of mine - Ms. Jessica - who asked me to created 6 dragonfly appliques around a piece of fabric.

I'll leave it up to her to let you know what she did with them, but you can bet the end result will knock your socks off! If anyone knows how to use color it's her.

Below is a pic of the little buggers.

The next order was from probably the best publicist a girl can have. Not only did my friend Christine help get Moose Threads off the ground, but she is awesome in terms of advertising my products. Why?

Well besides having the skill to sell ice to a snowman, Christine is my photographer, model booker and advertiser. She just rocks!

So after garnering quite a few items for her daughters closet from Moose Threads, Christine place an order for a scarf and hat set complete with submarine details for her son.

She also ordered a butterfly sweater and hat set for an auction fundraiser.

Next came a beanie order from a parent at my son's preschool. This one was unexpected but made me realize that wearing my own designs IS a good idea. I was having a bad hair day, so I shoved a new beanie design on my head that at the time I hadn't decided if I wanted to list. Within two minutes of walking up the school steps I was being asked:

1: If I made the hat
2: Did I have more of those colors
3: Could she pay me to make her one.

It only got better.

I arrived home that day to an Etsy convo from someone interested in my appliques.
They wanted to order 8 applique samples for a Trunk Show they were having for thier children's boutique.
The appliques were going to be affixed to different products and if people liked what they saw, I would potentially be receiving as many as 70- plus applique orders at a time.

At first I thought it was a joke or from someone looking for free items. But after a bit of convoing back and forth and a purchase of all 8 appliques at full price, I finally allowed myself to be excited.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed things will continue like this.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Why toddlers don't make good sleep aids

It's 1 fricking A.M. and I'm still awake.


Because my adorable toddler has somehow in the past month decided that naptimes are best suited for 7:30 - 10 p.m with partytime slated for 10 p.m. to sometimes 3 a.m.


That coupled with the fact he's OBSESSED with WALL-E I just may pack my bags and run away.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

When Moose can't get Loose


This is going to be a very long post with a lot of horrible pictures featuring my best impression of Cindy Crawford in her lost bon bon years.

Note the circles under my eyes from lack of sleep and the fact I'm looking a bit crosseyed in an attempt to not flip out on my husband and toddler who were "assisting" me with what I've deemed the "Chipmunk Couture" photo session.

Though the pictures aren't great, I wanted to at least show everyone what I'd been working on during our wonderful snowed-in adventure.

It had been a long time since I've really felt inspired to dig through my stash and let the yarn "speak" to me per se.

I'd started putting everyone and everything else first the past few months that I'd stop creating.

Lack of Moose Threads sales this winter season had not only hurt my wallet, but my heart. I really contemplated just giving it all up.
I was tired of people assuming I'd let them pay either nothing or next to nothing for my designs.
Or saying they wanted to order something (every time they saw me) only for it to never happen.
Or my favorite - being told my items would best be suited for the consignment/thrift store - just because they were crocheted.

Yeah, my creative side has really taken some hits the past few months.

But then a conversation with my Sicilian, tell-it-like-it is grandma - one of the women who taught me to crochet - helped me recover.

"You need to start making things for yourself again," she said.
"You've been so caught up in making things for other people or with the hope that other people will like or buy them, that you've stopped putting yourself into them. You've forgotten why you started making things in the first place."

That was it.
I was forgot how fun crochet can be.
I forgot how exciting it is to put odd colors together or to manipulate the yarn to make an impossible shape.
I forgot to just be me.

So on with the fashion show

This first picture is one of two scarf and hat sets that I created by taking two completely different colorways of Noro Sock Yarn and doubling them up. I used an offset shell pattern to add texture to the yarn, which I found self-striped in very unexpected and exciting way.

Each skein of yarn held about 400 yards and cost around $22 each. They had been sitting in my closet for nearly a year.

Next is the second set I made. This set I've opted to keep for myself and have had many a stranger walk up to me, grab it and marvel over the colors and pattern. Some were even shocked to find out it was crocheted.

This scarf is made of just basic acrylic yarn that I had been hoarding for YEARS. Though not the biggest fan of acrylic I've found it's can often yeild unexpected and wonderful surprises if the right pattern is used.

I first started with the varigated skein featuring colors of a fall harvest. I rooted around in my stash until I found a bright orange left over from another project, a random skein of white and lastly I chose the brick red to help bring out some of the deeper colors of the variagted yarn.

At first I wasn't sure how well they'd play out when looking at the skeins all lined up.
I grew even more frustrated with my choices after trying everything from a basic striped pattern to a complicated checkered pattern.

Somehow they just didn't work.

Then I remembered this diamond stitch I had used for an afgan over a year ago.
I made up a swatch and loved it. The colors popped to me and even my husband said it was great.

It's hard to tell from these pictures, but I guarantee that once you see a photo of this scarf taken in natural light you'll love it.

This next scarf was my first attempt at felting.
I had done an interview for a freelance assignment with a local spinner and yarn maker Heidi Parra. She had these wonderful skeins of yarn all dyed by a friend of hers.

They were a bit scratchy but was assured they'd felt up nice and soft.

The turquoise and green were a fingering weight while the grey and purple were worsted.

I made a basic stripe pattern, deciding to leave the ends out to provide a wacky all-over fringe.

The result was better than I could have imagined.

Upon felting, the turquoise and green yarns pulled in tight,creating a wonderful wavy pattern. The ends I thought added a fun texture and overall the scarf was nice and soft.

I still haven't decided if I want to keep this one for myself or not. I have enough yarn left over to make a second one.

During my snowy confinement I decided to create something for my adorable nephew Xavier. He is in love with dinosaurs, so I wanted to make something special.

After rooting around in my stash again, I came up with some skeins of Red Heart Super Saver yarn a friend had given me a while back. Though not a fan of the Red Heart, I knew it at least would wash up well and hold up to most toddler escapades.

I wanted a stitch that would provide a bit of texture without being too bulky. I discovered a simple single crochet - chain one combination worked quite well.

I made the dino as an applique and sewed it onto the front of the sweater before assembling all the pieces. The result was something Xavier loved and refused to take off.

Finally, my last new design was this beanie.

Using the leftover brown from the dino sweater and discovering some Red Heart Super Saver in a light turquoise buried in the closet, I combined the two in such a way that would not only highlight the crossover stitch I had used, but also each color.

See I told you this would be long.

If you made this far I applaud you and thank you. I'd love to hear what you think. Good or bad.