Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Goal Setting

January. It is the month best known for being the month of goal setting. The month when people strive for something better for the rest of the year. For me, this has been the month when my house was at its cleanest - I had witnesses. It is now exactly 4 weeks later and there are no signs of that house. The place is a sty, projects everywhere and no end in sight. I'd like to take a second to say "thank you" to my sweet friend Francine for bequeathing me a right huge pile of clothes that she has grown too thin for (congratulations, by the way). Not only does she have much better taste in clothes than I do, but it has allowed me to not do laundry for several weeks. What started as well sorted laundry piles now look like the leaf piles after Calvin and Hobbs crashed through them - complete with NEW cat hair from the unmentioned culprits. I have managed to get out of emptying the dishwasher (which is clean by the way) by eating salad all week and just washing the same bowl and fork over and over.

All this said, in light of it being the last official day of the goal setting month, I have set a goal for myself - the only one, as I am already not living up the the standards I set last year. My goal for this year is to see how many reasons I can come up with to NOT clean up the mess. This I will list on my sidebar (once I figure out how to do it) and add to all year. Feel free to use my reasons as needed - as significant others nag, when you want to finish one more __________(fill in with "row" or "project" or "jelly donut" - whatever fits). This is my public service to YOU, my readers.

So without further ado... The beginning of the list....
1. I can find things better this way.
2. The cats enjoy the always changing obstacle course I have "set up for THEM" around the house.
3. The cat hair settles faster than the vacuum picks it up so why bother?
4. If I can't see the carpet, I can't wear paths where I walk. (Always important to protect against in apartments!)
5. Cat hair is warmer than a down comforter and it IS Winter.
6. Getting to the door around the piles can be considered "exercise". Hey, don't laugh, you haven't seen the piles.
7. Not wanting to "exercise" can help me get more projects done!
8. Since I work out of my home, I can feasibly say that any time I am cleaning, I am taking time away from making money.
9. The more projects I have stacked between me and the fridge, the less likely I am going to go for that pint of Ben and Jerry's. Mmmmmmm, Cherries Garciaaaaaaaa
10. When solicitors come to the door, I just open the door wide and say, "No thank you" - they usually just stand there, mouth agape, while I shut the door.

Well, a good start to my goal I think. Now... off to find the Ben and Jerry's.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An odd request to my readers...

OK, so as you probably already know by now, I reuse EVERYTHING. I don't throw anything away. I prefer to create from trash than from store bought materials. I have a project that I don't have the materials for. I think that used would be BETTER than new for this project and I would BET that you all have whet I need. I want the project to be a surprise but if you provide some materials for me, I will make you the project in return - how does that sound?

What I am looking for is old solid colored (or white) cotton or flannel sheets. Holes are fine. Threadbare is fine. Any part of the set is fine (meaning I don't need the set - any piece of the set works and you can get rid of any unmatched pieces too!). Now, I can use a pattern, but it will limit my creativity a bit and the item you get back may be a bit plain - albeit, still very usable.

Now yes, I have sheets with holes (thanks to "The Boys"), but they are still too comfortable to get rid of yet and I can't afford to replace them anyway. Corinne - I am sure you have figured this project out - NO GIVING HINTS in the comments section! Don't forget I have to approve those!

The only hints I am giving are: Obviously it is a recycling project, it is a "green" gift (meaning it will help reduce waste), it is a personal item, and, while I didn't think of it and they are widely known, they are very hard to find. How is THAT for a reason to clean out your linen closet?! OH! Speaking of which, I will take linen too - but let's face it, how many of us even OWN anything linen anymore?!

Leave me a comment or send me an email.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Looming CPSC New Law

In August 2008 The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was passed and will be in force, February 2009. Under this law, all makers of children's items (including toys, clothing, bedding, etc.) will be required to have 3rd party testing done on each of their products to ensure that there is no presence of lead. While at first glance, this sounds like a fabulous act aimed at protecting our children - and who am I to argue, the safety of our children should ALWAYS be at the top of our concerns. However, as with many US laws, the application of this is a bit skewed.

Now many of my fellow small business artisans, as well as Handmade Toy Alliance, believe they should be excluded from this law and are actively seeking exemptions. The 3rd party testing is cost prohibitive, etc. Again, who am I to argue - I can't afford the testing myself. But here is my problem with the whole thing:

If it isn't safe for our children, it isn't safe for ANYONE. And, even if a small exposure wouldn't hurt me - a (largish) adult - if I have been exposed and then handle a child, they are now EXPOSED. Lead is TRANSFERABLE.

In MY opinion, this needs to go back to the material producers. As with all chemicals, ALL materials should be required to produce a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) listing any and all potentially hazardous agents. The window cleaner you use has one, the tape you use has one - why not your yarn? The paints, the adhesives, the dyes - any kind of "chemical" we use in our art - ALREADY is required to have this information available to any and all that may COME INTO CONTACT (not just the purchaser). Many times this is available online, sometimes it has to requested from the manufacturer - but it is ALWAYS BY LAW AVAILABLE. Why is this not the case with all of our materials? What chemicals were applied to my yarn in the processing? Could they be hazardous? Could I simply be allergic? Requiring MSDS on all materials would allow us to REALLY know what we are exposing ourselves to. Much like listing the ingredients on our food, it makes us a more informed consumer.

How would this help Joe Artisan? Well, much like a building contractor, being required to provide (at request) the MSDS for all material used in their small business item would nullify the need for 3rd party testing. While it would require extra time acquiring the necessary information (which they should do PRIOR to applying to their product to ensure safety and that it passes all applicable laws) there is no additional out of pocket expense. And, might I add (in case someone with some pull is reading) this would mean no additional expense to large manufacturers as well.

Of course, all of this is just MY opinion - and who am I?
If you are the "petition-signing" type, there is a place for you to state YOUR opinion here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/handmadetoys/
If you are "I need more information" type, there are some great articles (albeit mostly written by opposers) here:
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/handmade-toys-clothing-threatened-extinction-under-consumer-product-safety-improvement-act.php

http://www.learningresources.com/category/id/104512.do

www.5minutesformom.com

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One for me

After the Christmas holiday (in which I made not a single thing I wanted to make) and the orders that I have had, I have not done much knitting for myself. I figured I would squeeze one in. Had I realized how quick it was going to work up, I might have worked on them earlier.
Jute (from Home Depot) sole
Knit One Crochet Too 2nd Time Cotton in linen color
Random buttons from my stash
These are crocheted on H and J hooks
The only deviation from the pattern was to shorten the strap to accomodate my skis long skinny feet. The pattern is VERY well written and should be followed even if you think you know better (not that I ever think that). I am also using a product called "Plasti Dip" on the bottom. It is a spray on rubber (from Home Depot) so that they will wear better outside. The cotton is reclaimed from clothing manufacturing and respun. It is very soft and comes in some great subtle colors. I hope it wears as well as it feels.
If you crochet, I do suggest checking the pattern's author out. She has an Esty store and a blog - both of which have patterns - ALL of which are ADORABLE.
~Enjoy!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A no picture post

One of my goals this year, like last, is to blog more. Today I pondered why it is that I don't post more often. It isn't that I don't have anything to say - GOD KNOWS! It isn't that I am not knitting. I came to the realization that it is because I don't have good pictures.

Take today for example. I have a beanie to show you, made from the Double Soled Sock leftovers. It is very cute (if I do say so). Here's the problem. The cats don't have the right shaped heads. I can take great pictures of them but the best way to run my readers off is to show you pictures of me. And, if I wasn't hideous enough for you, a picture of the reason I never wear beanies would be. My head was not meant to wear them.

Now my favorite blog, Knit and Tonic, is a GREAT example of what a blog should be. It is entertaining, sometimes informative - but not so much that it is boring and it has pictures - LOTS of them. I don't know who is cuter - her or her daughter. I would "read" her blog, even if she wasn't funny, just for the pictures. It is just not fair. You should either be cute OR talented, not both.

SO, if you want pictures of the latest FO, send me Wendy Bernard.
Grr, Argh.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Good Start...

... to a new year.
Since I do tend to start a lot of projects at once, it does happen *occasionally* that I have a project that just sits. Maybe it is something for myself that I never find the time to finish, maybe it is something that I have lost interest in for one reason or another. I am not normally one for frogging because I don't like it - SOMEONE will like it.
This:

Was one of those. For the life of me, I don't even know why I bought the yarn - these are really not my colors - except that I wanted to try it out.

The Pattern: Kluster (from the free patterns on the Berroco web page)

The yarn: Pattons SWS in Natural Pink (from Michael's) on the outside - 70% wool, 30% soy

and Bernat Bamboo Natural Blends in Wicker(given to me by my friend Anne) for the inside strip. - 89% Bamboo, 11% Acrylic

I knew, even looking at the pattern that I wouldn't keep it for myself, but I just liked it so I used it as an opportunity to try out the yarn. I believe I crocheted and felted the outside in August. I finished the project on New Years Eve (I am such a partier!!) This is up for the taking if any of my readers would like it.

The next project was a long over due one for "The Man". He has been a huge help to me over the past year and the only request in return has been slipper socks. (However, I will say that these are not the first pair I made for him, just the first pair he didn't complain about.)

The pattern: Two-Yarn Resoleable Socks from the Interweave Favorite Socks Book. If you don't have this book - in my opinion, it is the best sock book out there. Clear, concise, patterns and each one teaches a different technique (I am not sure if this was intentional on their part or not.) and notably, has the 1 x 1 rib cast on that I swear by in it.

The yarn: Del Cerro by Aslan Trends from The Black Sheep in Encinitas - 100% Merino Wool (yes, he will wash these properly) I saw this stuff on sale just before Christmas and HAD to use it

Now, one of the things I have always given him credit for is that he actually took an interest in my knitting - be it because it earned him points or because he knew that it was cheaper that therapy, the poor man knows WAY more than any non-knitting man should about the subject. While that usually worked in MY favor, in this particular case, it didn't. As usual, I started the project half confident of what size I was making him (he wears a size 10 shoe and they are way too wide for me). I finished one and had started the 2nd when he came by to try it on. First of all, he wears his shoes too big (those are MY feet in the picture!!) - I had to frog it all. Before he left he asked, "they aren't double soled?" - No. "Well, can they be?" (insert big pouty face here). SO, once I got the size taken care of, I had to figure out a way to double sole these. I didn't intentionally buy enough yarn to do this (of course I guesses on this too since I didn't have the book with me) so I had to knit both socks before I added the additional soles to make sure I had enough yarn. Let me finish by saying, I may be a pain in the ass, but so is he - I made it work, he hasn't complained (yet) and I am never making these socks again (with or without the double soles). I am currently knitting a beanie out of the left over yarn.

My last finished project is a pattern I bought on Etsy.

The pattern: Small Satchel by KeykaLou this was just WAY TOO CUTE to not make!! If you sew, go check her site out!

The fabric: NO IDEA! The outside appears to be a polyester gabardine, the inside, a polyester crepe. These are guesses as the fabric is something I "accumulated" at some point. It was either bequeathed to me or donated to me from someone - my apologies if it was you and I don't remember!!

The approximate size of this purse is 11"across x 6" deep x 2 1/2" wide - big enough to hold the average wallet, lipstick and keys but not much else. I have also blown the pattern up so that I can make a larger version of it for those of us that carry half our apartments in our bags.

All in all, I feel this a good start to the new year. I am continuing my endeavor to use up my stash(s) , upcycling and reclaiming as much of my materials as possible - something I challenge you all to do!!

By the way... my blog just turned 2!!