18 December 2007

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle (Lion Layette)

I made a policy in my shop not to carry sewn items in my shop. Partially because I want my shop to have a uniform feel to it, and partially because the quality on my sewn items isn't near that of my crochet items (think journeyman compared to master). But that doesn't mean that I don't take custom requests for sewn items.

Take my layettes. They have always been popular - the first thing I sold out of my store, and the first thing to sell out of my store. So when I received twin requests for boy-esque layettes, I knew I had just the fabric. The flannel fabric is a cute, square block pattern featuring different jungle animals. I decided to back the layette with yellow flannel and topstitch in blue.

I ended up sending out two sets of blankets, bibs, and burps on custom orders, and even got pictures back from one of my customers with her new nephew wrapped in my blanket. That was a wonderful thing to see!

Lessons learned:
1) Keep Flickr up-to-date so people can order based on my past creations
2) I'm getting better at sewing
3) I still love crochet better
4) There is no better feeling than seeing my work on a happy customer, especially a 3 day old customer

So, if you happen to want a layette, feel free to contact me. I still take them as custom requests.

17 December 2007

I'm Feeling a Little Froggy (An Army of Frog Hats)

Apparently, customers are crazy about frogs. Very crazy.

To date, I have made three frog hats, one just for fun over Thanksgiving break and two as custom orders. Where do I even begin?

We'll start with Jasmine's frog hat. Jasmine is the lovely, fashion-oriented, sweet young daughter of one of my favorite porcelain artists, Cindy at Colorado Art Studio (love her mugs, especially this one!) Jasmine wanted a frog hat with eyes. If I remember correctly, there was one like it in the movie Better by the Dozen. I hadn't seen the movie, and I don't care for Steve Martin (please don't flog me). So I improvised. I decided it'd be a fun time to play around, so I decided to try putting earflaps on it. But Jasmine hadn't asked for earflaps, so I decided to make them removable. Then I figured plain earflaps would be boring, so I decided to make frog hands for flaps. The actual hat was crocheted in Brown Sheep Lamb's pride, so it had a bit of fuzz. But I was pleased with the result. And, most importantly, Jasmine was, too!

Lessons Learned:
1) Frogs have 5 digits on their hands, not 4
2) Frog pupils are vertical, not horizontal (or, more accurately, diamonds, not slits)
3) Make sure your buttons are big enough to stay in the button holes
4) Anatomical correctness isn't necessary to make a freakin' adorable hat.

Second is the froggie hat I made over Thanksgiving break, just on a whim. It sold within two weeks of posting. This hat was just an excuse to get rid of the rest of my green cotton/modal Shine yarn from Knit Picks. But it was my first experience with beads as eyes. Still, it's an incredibly cute hat; no wonder it sold.

Lessons Learned:
1) Leave enough tail to sew on the eyes
2) Count your stitches before adding scallops
3) Cotton/modal = extremely slick. Too slick for aluminum.

Finally, a hat I *just* finished. A newborn frog hat with a button earflap instead of ties so as not to freak out the new parents (having a new baby, I can relate - I was paranoid about ties until I had to admit they saved sooooo much time). I made this hat out of Plymouth Encore, a fabulous acrylic/superwash blend. So soft, yet so durable, and very easy care. This being my third frog hat, it came together incredibly quickly with no major issues.

Lessons Learned:
1) You forget how tiny your baby was until you make something for a baby younger than your own
2) If you follow the ol' "1-inch less" rule for stretch, you end up with a very tiny baby hat
3) A large wine goblet = a great baby hat stand

And so my army of frog hats has been unleashed upon the world! Bwahahahahahaha! If you would like to be one of my minions, just drop me a line, and we'll make it happen!

(Many thanks to The Collective Noun page for identifying the proper collective noun for frogs.)

09 December 2007

Put a Flower in Your Bonnet (Lilac Cloche with Flower)

Have I mentioned lately that I *love* to trade?

I love to trade. I find it an amazing way to get your work out there while getting something wonderfully creative in return. I love the way bartering smacks capitalism in its face by showing that there are other ways to get products in our hot little hands besides cold hard cash.

This hat was born of the desire of Deb of Blue Sky Pottery, a fabulously talented ceramic artist out of Steamboat Springs. I had asked her to custom make a moon pad jar for me, and the result was stunning. A squat little jar, not unlike a honey jar, in a lovely crimson and a simple handle to remove the lid. Perfect. I love my jar. If you are a moon pad user, I highly recommend splurging for one of these beauties from Deb. You won't be disappointed.

In return, I was to make a hat that matched her winter coat. She wanted something similar to my RAINNy Day Mohair Hat. I knew that Steamboat was much too cool to do something in pure mohair, and, serendipitously, I only had lilac and purple in Lambs' Pride, so I set about making her hat.

I carried a strand of Classic Elite Mohair in Amethyst with Lambs' Pride in Lilac, giving the hat a tweedy feel. For the scalloped edging, I carried a strand of Lambs' Pride in Cream with a strand of Classic Elite Mohair in Cream. The result was a thick, heavy, and, most importantly, warm winter hat in the perfect shades. All that was left was embellishment. I carried the Amethyst Mohair and both Cream fibers to create a big, fuzzy flower, and popped a simple white button in the center to finish it off.

All in all, a wonderful little hat. I can only hope that Deb loves her hat as much as I love my little jar.

Lessons learned:
1) Adjust your hook size accordingly when changing the carrying weight of your yarns
2) Weaving in the ends on mohair is much easier when there is a wool carrying strand nearby
3) I still don't like shank buttons, but I think they look better than eyelet buttons

As always, you know where I'll be if you'd like a hat like this of your very own.

08 December 2007

The Come-Back Hat Redux (Another Button-Flapped Alpaca Hat)

As I was going through my list of projects I have yet to blog about, I stumbled across a picture of a hat. This particular hat looks very similar, and, in fact, it is identical save for the bright aqua in place of the warm apricot.

You see, after I got done making the Peaches and Cream Alpaca Hat, my sweet buyer wanted another just like it, but with blue stripes.

Now, I suppose I could go through the specs, and the buttons, and how warm and luxuriant alpaca fiber is, but I've already bored you with all that for the first hat. So let me just say that this hat was as fun to make as its twin.

Want one? Just let me know, and I'll make it happen for you!

06 December 2007

Something to Slip Your Feet Into (More Slippers)

I have so many projects to blog about, I had a hard time choosing where to start. Then I remembered the old maxim to start from the ground up. Slippers seemed the natural place.

I've been making slippers for awhile now. I originally started with the Fiber Trends crocheted ballet slippers pattern, and have slowly morphed that pattern into my own. It probably isn't obvious in the way the finished product looks, but I've changed some shaping in the heel to make it more fitted, moved the decreases in the toe for a cleaner look, integrated multiple colors and completely redesigned the straps (when I use them at all). I now say that my slippers were inspired by Fiber Trends because the construction has changed so much.

In any case, on to the project. I'd been wanting some Goddess Wrapz for quite some time. Gabs likes to pull on my hair and I hate it when she does it, so I needed a way to cover up my hair. A Goddess Wrap looks at once elegant and hippie, so it seemed the perfect fit.

We settled on a trade of slippers for wrapz. Aly had seen my slippers here on my blog, and wanted a set for her own. I knew she liked brown, green, and purple, so I set about making a slipper that incorporated all three of those items. And, of course, I knew she was granola, like me (although I'm more like Kudos granola than Bear Naked granola).

My final slipper was crocheted from pure wool, a change for me, since I usually use Brown Sheep Lambs' Pride, a wool/mohair blend, for my felting. I can say now that I will never go back. Pure wool creates a warm, semi-smooth finish that asks to be touched. No fuzziness. Just warmth. I loved the way it looked. The brown slippers looked like chocolate sculptures that were begging for me to eat off the toe!

I then turned to embellishments, and decided on purple flowers with button centers. I felted the flowers and their corresponding leafs, and sewed those on with some fabulous buttons I picked up at TacTile. Then I embroidered a few vines around the body of the slipper and finished it with a wooden bead to fasten the instep strap.

Aly loves her slippers. I've received many convos from her proclaiming their awesomeness. She's even been gracious enough to send a few more people my way for slippers.

Looks like there'll be more slippers in my future! If you'd like a pair of your own, just contact me and we'll make a set perfect for you.

05 December 2007

Please buy handmade this year

With all of the commercially-available made items that are surrounded by holiday blitz, it's hard to get back to values.

You can help by buying handmade. A handmade gift supports a family and eases the demand for sweatshop and/or child labor produced items. You get a unique product that no one else will have that is made with love. You get an item that is lead-free, more likely to be eco-friendly, and supports the microbusiness movement.

There are so many wonderful handmade items to be had. You can, of course, find them on Etsy, or through a host of other handmade sites. You can make them yourself. You can buy fair-trade handmade (Ten Thousand Villages in Cherry Creek is a great source of fair-trade).

Replacing even one potential mass-produced gift with a handmade gift can make a world of difference if we all pitch in. Take the handmade pledge at Buy Handmade.

Do it today. Your heart, a handmade artist, and a child in China will thank you.

You Can Wash that Man Right Out of Your Hair

If you're looking for absolutely fabulous soap, visit Lady of Luxury. Dawn makes her soap the old-fashioned way - handmixing, pouring, moulding, and decorating her one-of-a-kind, all-natural, vegetarian and vegan-friendly soaps.

These soaps are amazing - the first all-natural soaps I've found that don't disintegrate in the soap dish after two days. They are generous 4 oz bars that last and last. They lather wonderfully; even in my hard water. The scent is invigorating but not overpowering. And did I mention they are absolutely beautiful. Dawn pays attention to the tiniest details - coffee beans in the coffee soap, rosebuds on the rose soap, icy blue swirls in the peppermint soap, and a honey soap that's shaped like a honeycomb.

While you're there, pickup one of my fabulous soap socks from Dawn, or better yet, direct from me. I have one hanging in my shower right now, stuffed with a Deep Purple Lavender bar of Dawn's incredible soap.

So get washing already!

03 December 2007

You Spin Me Right Round

In my post-show glow (note to self: take pictures of your booths!), I've decided that it's time to refocus my shop. This means that a few changes are in store for Kastroll Kreations.

I've decided to focus the shop exclusively on crochet. It's what I'm good at, and what I love. The good news for you, dear reader, is that all of my sewn items are 40% off. Stock up on bibs and blankets for those babies that will inevitably become a part of the lives of your friends, family, and possibly you!

What about my art, you say? Well, my womyn's spirituality art is being spun-off into it's own Etsy store, Goddess Art, at http://goddessart.etsy.com. Here, you'll find my fabric transfers, patches, ACEOs, artSquared, original silk paintings, original line drawings, and any derivative art from these items. For now, the two shops will share a blog (after all, my art is also a Kastroll Kreation), and features will be shared between the two shops. Look for more posts on Goddess Art in the coming weeks, as I transfer the art listings from Kastroll Kreations to Goddess Art.
Back to crochet - I also learned that my accessories are wildly popular - hats, scarves, bags, and the like. But the items that did especially well were the ponchos, shawls, and shrugs. You'll see an increase in the number of clothing items in the coming weeks as I get these items photographed for the shop, and a clearing out of blankets, housewares, and the like. Soap socks and scrubbies, of course, will be available as always.

So many changes. Get ready for the new face of Kastroll Kreations and its sister store, Goddess Art. Both should be ready for their new images in time to ring in the new year.

01 December 2007

Holiday Handmade

Well, this weekend is a busy one. To start, I am at the first annual Holiday Handmade, presented by Fancy Tiger. The show actually began this afternoon, and for a Friday night craft show, it had an amazing turnout. Everyone was pleasantly surprised; after all, there are holiday parties, movie premiers, and the Parade of Lights competing with us.

I ended up with a 5' x 5' space, which was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I don't have enough product to fill the larger space. A curse because I have very little space to maneuver in. I found myself tripping over my supplies several times. It was a great night, though. I ran out of business cards and I sold a few items directly off of my body. I'd never done that before.

I'm actually writing this though to express my excitement at receiving a specific mention in Westword, Denver's version of the Village Voice or SF Gate. The blurb the editors included to tout the event referred to my RAINNy Day Cowgirl Hat. Check out the blurb here.

I will be at Holiday Handmade tomorrow, from 10:00AM to 6:00PM. It's a Capsule Gallery, 560 Santa Fe Dr in Denver (just south of 6th Avenue). Free parking, great coffee, and amazingly wondeful crafts from lots of people. And, on Sunday, you can find me at the Lowry Art Mart, hosted by the Lowry Apartments. That fair is from 12:00PM to 6:00PM.

Mention my blog for 20% off your purchase! I hope to see you there!