Monday, December 20, 2010

Scarf-tastic Cowl Pattern

I have been crocheting so much lately that I think my hands are becoming bionic.  Cowls make such wonderful gifts that it's nearly impossible to stop myself from going to Knitorious every other day to get something for a new project.  Sure, I can blame my compulsion on Christmas, right?  You bet your buns I can. 

So, I promised a tutorial on these babies a couple weeks ago and never got around to posting it.  Well, I shouldn't say it that way.  It's much more like, "I don't know how to write a pattern."  I've been trying my best, and I think that after about 3,000 hours, it's finally ready.

Pattern writing skills aside, I did get a pretty fabulous compliment on my cowls during the Holi-DIY from Dyeabolical Yarns. We'll just say that the recommendation was made to post it online because "it's very difficult to find such nice crochet patterns." Okay, I'm done bragging now, but it honestly surprised me so much that I was essentially speechless. Kind of like, "Wow, I finally did something right!"

This pattern is simple for people with some crochet experience and it is completely adjustable.  You can use any size yarn but make sure the cowl fits over your head easily.  For those of you who are truly beginners, there are plenty of links and video tutorials out there to teach you different stitches.  Here is a good resource for half double crochet:

Lovely Malabrigo and Cascade Yarns
Crochet Hook Size I
I used one skein of Malabrigo Merino Wool 
Stitch Markers
Yarn needle

ch = chain
hdc = half double crochet
ea = each
sl = slip stitch
st = stitch

You will be working in the round with no turning. Mark your rows.

To Begin: Ch 85 (or the length that fits over your head easily) join with a sl st making sure your chain isn't twisted.  Ch 2 (this counts as your first hdc), mark your row, hdc in same st as sl st. Hdc in each st around working in back loop only.  Join with sl st in first ch of hdc.
Row 2 - 4: Ch 2 do not turn, mark your row, hdc in 2nd ch from hook (do not count the chain on the hook.  The first chain that is not on the hook is the first chain so hdc crochet in the next chain), hdc around in each ch working in back loop only.
Row 5: join with sl st in first hdc. Ch 1, mark your row,  working in front loop only, sc in each chain around.
Row 6-8: Repeat 2-4
Row 9:  Repeat 5
Continue repeating the pattern until your scarf is 10 - 12 inches wide (making sure you end with the last row of "Repeat 2-4") and join the last stitch with a sl st and fasten off.  Weave in ends with yarn needle.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Update from the Craft Show

Holi-DIY was a great success this weekend.  Once again, STL Craft Mafia did an excellent job with their formula:  quality crafts + a little booze + a friendly atmosphere = money well spent.  The scene was set with local creations from terrariums to designer clothing and even included a "Steam Punk" Santa for the kiddos.

Two weeks ago, I spent a small fortune at the Rock 'n' Roll Craft Show and was able to get most of my Christmas shopping finished.  This week, I only allowed myself one purchase which was a skein of art yarn from Dyeabolical Yarns.  I think it is absolutely beautiful.  I quickly put it to use and finished crocheting a small cowl/neck warmer, and I think it is lovely.  It will likely be posted on the Etsy shop in a day or two.

Hand-spun Polwarth Wool 

from Dyeabolical Yarns

Thank you to everyone who went to the show and visited my table.  I recognized a few familiar faces and met some new and interesting folks.  Some people remembered me from the Medusa Craft Show a few months back. That was certainly nice to hear.

I also want to thank my friend Kelly Hogan who invited me as her guest and reminded me that bringing home-brewed beers for us to enjoy followed suit with the DIY theme.  That Kelly, she's always thinking.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fig Lover's UNITE!

Figged Out soap is listed and ready to go on the Etsy Shop!

Venus has nothing to do with soap. . . this is her Internet debut!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Secrets Revealed

Okay, good news!  The soaps are sellin' and Shenandoah Soaps is becoming a bit more than a hobby these days.  If business continues to go well, I'm considering making this an official small business in the beginning of next year.  This means that a lot of things are going to have to change.  Things like paying attention to how much I give away, instituting some sort of real financial practice (luckily, I have accountants in the family), and learning how to feel confident about selling my products. 

First of all, I'm going to have to figure out what products I would like to focus on making.  Right now, I'm knee deep in fabric (with a broken sewing machine) and Knitorious on Watson is starting to recognize me (although, I'm a closeted crocheter and not a knitter).  But, the idea behind Shenandoah Soaps is fairly self-explanatory, and I want to continue to improve and expand my soap product line. 

Secretly, my goal has been to begin making my own fragrances with essential oils and use them for my soaps.  I've been researching essential oils and will soon be providing all natural products, including the use of Spectrum brand palm kernel oil, to help save the orangutans.

Oh yeah, finances.  Obviously focusing is going to be a challenge with all of the different things I like to make as well as organizing finances.  I continue to give half of my products away and buy half of Etsy as soon as I sell something.  Practicing frugality will be on my "to do" list every day.

I am in serious need of some sweet marketing skills.  I get unbelievably nervous when selling at a craft fair or talking with people face to face about the soaps.   Sometimes, I accidentally say the opposite of what I mean.  Matt as my witness, it's true.  For example, recently I told some people that my soaps are "vegan made with ALL animal fats."  I should have said the soaps are vegan made with NO animal fats!  Ugh.  Embarrassing.

I hope you will all enjoy the positive changes that will be made toward all natural and eco-friendly products coming up next year.  I will definitely keep you posted.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scroogery is a word, right?

Three years ago, I got fed up with holiday gift giving pressure. The anxiety and financial obligation compounded and turned into some ugly Scroogery on my part. The expectation that I had to spend money on someone in order for him or her to feel some sort of fulfillment bothered me ... a lot.  So, I decided to start creating useful handmade gifts for friends and loved ones, because I enjoy gift giving. 

Coming up with something that men and women could both enjoy was tough, so I made some soaps and lotions.  I never had the intention of selling them, but I had so much encouragement from people who tried them that I've decided to try to make it work.

Consider giving some handmade gifts this season.  There are a lot of excellent quality products out there that provide charm and character.  Click on those links to get to some of my Treasury lists on Etsy.

You should also try to make it to this if you can:

Shenandoah Soaps will be the guest of  Folie a Deux Boutique.  If you've never been to a STL Craft Mafia event, now is your chance to get in on the action and have a good time.

See you there!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holiday Fresh

Thanks to my co-worker, Kimberly P. (who has great ideas for soap making), I've made a couple holiday style soaps.  Nothing too silly that you might feel embarrassed buying.  Personally, I never go for anything that is Christmas themed unless it's for my Christmas tree.

Two nights ago, I made Peppermint Bark and Chocolate Mint soaps, and they smell delicious.  Matt test- smelled them for me and said, "Whoa, that smells like food.  Yeah, can I have one of the peppermint ones?"  This means that these have officially been approved by both men and women.--Safe for the gift giving season.

Peppermint Bark
Chocolate Mint
These soaps will make their first appearance at the HOLI-DIY craft fair coming up on Dec. 4th, and they will be sold at Maude's Market that weekend as well.

Get minty!

Friday, November 5, 2010

I've made some radical body cream.

Honestly, I enjoy using the soaps I make. I've been doing this for about a year now, and I've been able to find a recipe and some scents that I love.  I also like the fact that the soap is biodegradable and detergent free. BUT what I really love is this body butter that I made a couple weeks ago. 

Taah Daah!

There are a lot of benefits to using shea butter and apricot oil.  If you click on the previously highlighted words they will take you to some informative links.  If you would like the short version. . . they are both naturally moisturizing and absorb easily into the skin.  They are said to have anti-aging properties and are high in vitamin A and E.  Shea butter also acts as a natural spf in the range of  6.

The recipe is very simple, but it is time consuming to make.  It's a blend of melted shea butter and apricot oil  whipped together while cooling. You can add a scent or keep it plain with only the fragrance of the shea. Shenandoah Elbow Grease is made plain or has a more masculine scent.  Yes, I said masculine.  Men actually like using this, too!   It helps soften hard worked hands, feet, and elbows.  This stuff goes on slightly greasy (because it's oil) but absorbs within about a minute and you will only notice the moisturizing effects.

Next week, I'm going to show you how to make it!  I'll even show you where to buy the ingredients!  All right, calm down!  You all can't start commenting at once!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It makes me look like I'm good at this.

I am a beginner when it comes to sewing.  Waaayy back in 1990 (insert squiggly time warp lines), I learned how to sew in my first home economics class.  I have to admit that I was pretty good for a (cough, choke) year old and never sewed my fingers once.  I've started a lot of projects over the years like the beautiful burgundy satin dress that never got any sleeves to an attempted reupholstering of the gargantuan 80's sectional that one of my co-workers tricked me into taking off her hands.

Something sorta like this gem but imagine it white with paint splashes.

Lately, I've decided to tackle projects that I can actually finish (eventually).  I found and bought this great bag pattern at Noodlehead that I've been sewing the heck out of.  Of course, she is much better at it than I am but here are a few that I've made recently. 

I'd say the pattern is definitely easy to use and beginner friendly.  I have been teaching myself a lot of new techniques as I go, and I've been cursing much less!  I think that's a good sign.

I'm planning on posting these in the Etsy shop.  What do you think?  Do they look like winners?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Shenandoah Doggie Soaps

Guess what?   I don't just make soap for people. . .

I make it for dogs, too! 

This is our dog, Izzie, and she likes it!  She even ate a little bit of it once, and she turned out just fine.  Except for a couple googly eyes, but I'm pretty sure they were like that before she ate the soap.

Wash the Dog! is a cold process soap that has moisturizing and healing ingredients like castor oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, Missouri honey, organic oats, and more!  Yep, that's right.  If you have an itchy dog, you should treat him or her to this.  Heck, I've even used it myself! 

I'm going to be stocking the Etsy shop today so look out for some new and favorite products.

Disclaimer: Googly eyes are not included but highly encouraged.