My Handbag Was In a Fashion Blog!

Felted clutch handbag

My raspberry and black clutch was featured in a fashion blog!  I’m so excited I can barely speak!

So, if you look below this post, you’ll see where I reblogged her post.  It’s entirely in French, but when I saw my clutch in one of the photos, I did a back flip.  My French language skills are pretty bad, but I can read pictures!!!

I just put my handbags on Etsy in November.  Along with every other type of social media, it’s been a big learning curve for me.  I’m the worst with Etsy.  I mean, I just figured out how to do a Treasury over the weekend.

So, imagine my surprise when I see that someone visited my Etsy site from her blog.  Of course, I went to check it out and there was my clutch!  Of course, I wanted to reblog her post on my site, but I don’t know if I did it properly.  I don’t know if she found my clutch from Etsy, Pinterest, or Polyvore.  I don’t even know how to properly thank her except to Like her post and comment “Merci” 🙂

The thing that surprised me the most with her post is that, if I read her bio correctly, she’s a teenager (one with good taste, of course!).  When I think of my target audience, I always thought the people who would be interested in my clutches would be ecologically-minded women from 25-40 years old.  The fact that she, along with a lot of other teenagers on Polyvore, likes my clutches is good news.  It makes me believe I need to rethink my target audience.

There may be endless books and articles on how to start your own business, but I feel like I’m clueless most of the time.  You try and try and hope someone notices you and likes what you do.  It was extremely gratifying to see my work on someone else’s blog that I don’t even know (and didn’t even know that she posted it).  The fact that a teenager thinks my work is cool (or whatever the word is today) will make me have a smile on my face for a while!

2013 was a rough year for me.  It looks like 2014 is starting off on a good note.

Happy knitting!

Posted in Craft Business | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

mode | idées Tenues pour Noël

the Leisurely Style

Oho Hoh mes enfants !

Sachez que je suis sincèrement désolé de ne pas avoir posté d’article depuis une semaine. Mais sans vous mentir, je n’avais vraiment plus d’inspiration pour écrire quelque chose… Je voulais d’abord attendre au début que deux de mes commandes arrivent pour vous faire un Haul, mais sachant qu’ils vont tarder un peu, je vous concocte un petit article aujourd’hui!

J’ai décidé de vous faire des tenues pour Noël, deux pour la fête du 24/25 et quatres autres pour la maison entre famille ou pour sortir… Sans oublier quelques tutos et idées make-up ! Sur-ce, j’espère que vous apprécierez cet article ! (petite parenthèse: je reconnais qu’il y a quelques articles qui coûtent un bras, mais je sais que vous pouvez trouver des similaires chez H&M, pull&bear, Mango, Pimkie ou même chez les chinois par exemple!) N’hésitez pas à cliquez sur les images pour les agrandir.

View original post 291 more words

Posted in Craft Business | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

All About Mink Yarns

Picture of a Mink

I love interesting fibers, so after I finished my mink scarf, I decided to do a little more digging into mink yarns.  Some people were mortified that I made a mink scarf, not realizing that the animals are NOT harmed to make the yarn.

I could rephrase all of this, but it seems like the best explanation I found on the yarn was already written. (Reference:  The Canadian Encyclopedia.com)

“Mink hairs are rather short, but very thick and soft.  Mink change their fleece about 3 times per year.  For cutting the fleece, farmers handle the mink with gloves, cut the fiber by hand and then sell the fiber to a combing mill.  The mink fiber is cut and combed from live animals, like angora from rabbit or cashmere from goats.  No animals are hurt during the production of the yarn – the mink hair is hand-stripped off the animal and then spun into the yarn.  For the animal, it probably feels like brushing (similar to regular brushing for cats) or a gentle massage.

Yarns made of mink are beautiful, extremely soft, and very delicate – mink fiber must be spun with another, stronger fiber such as wool or silk, or, if it is 100% Mink – we would suggest to combine the mink with another yarn to obtain enough strength in the finished project.

The natural wild color of mink’s fur is a glossy dark brown.  Commercial farming selectively bred much paler colors, and mink furs come in many other natural colors, such as black, mahogany, pastel, denim buff, Aleutian (iris), sapphire and white.  Mink are aggressive animals and must be handled with care.  They bite readily and are handled with thick, leather mitts.  Wild mink spend up to 80% of their time in their dens, sleeping, grooming, and eating food they have carried home.”

So, with all that in mind, I have to say something about combining mink with other yarns.  The scarf I made (from my last post) is 100% mink.  I didn’t combine it with anything.  The mink yarn is a thin, lace-weight yarn, but it didn’t break on me once while I was knitting.  I suppose if you made a sweater out of it, I would consider combining it, but for a scarf or cowl, I’m not sure that it’s necessary to blend it with another, stronger yarn.  Now that you know as much as I do on the subject, you can make up your own mind on how you choose to knit it.

As for brands for mink yarn, I found a few.  Great Northern Yarns (now MinkYarn.com) says it was the first company to bring mink yarn to market.  Lotus Yarns makes a few varieties from fingering weight to aran/heavy worsted and from 100% mink to various blends.  There’s also a company called Great Yarns! that sell their mink as Pure Elegance.  Jade Sapphire also makes 100% mink and mink/cashmere blended yarns.

The ultimate question for me on any type of animal fiber is how the animals are treated.  A lot of countries have banned mink farming for coats, etc…, so I believe the majority of the minks used for yarn are in China or Mongolia.  You would hope that they’d treat the animals reasonably well since they need to keep them alive and healthy for the undercoat (which is turned into the yarn).  I guess it depends on the farm.  The websites I visited made a big point out of saying that the minks are not harmed just to make the yarn.  Personally, I would never buy a mink coat, and I may be delusional, but since no critter died to make my scarf, I feel okay about buying the yarn.

So now that you know everything you ever wanted to know about mink yarns, go forth, find some, and knit away!

Happy knitting!

Posted in Fun Fibers, Patterns For Sale | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Undulating Lace Scarf in Mink Yarn

Undulated Lace Scarf

I finished making this lace scarf and couldn’t be more excited about it.  I love unusual fibers and this is made from 100% mink!

I’m a big animal advocate, so before I bought this yarn, I did a little investigating to make sure that the minks weren’t harmed in order to make this fiber.  Thankfully, they’re not.

The yarn is Mimi by Lotus Yarns.  What I didn’t realize was that this is a Trendsetter Yarns product.  I saw a post by Barry Klein, who owns this company, that stated the animals are shorn for the fiber and are not harmed.  This made me very happy as this yarn is so incredibly soft, light-weight, and warm!

There’s also 300 meters (328 yards) of this yarn, so I only had to buy one skein of it to make a scarf that’s 6″ wide by 56″ long.

If any of you are interested in this pattern, I listed this in my Ravelry store.  HOWEVER, if you “Like” my facebook page at www.facebook.com/bluegrassfiberarts and send me a private message with your email address, I’ll be happy to send it to you for FREE!

Happy knitting!

Posted in Patterns For Sale | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Finished Dreambird Shawl

Unusual knitted shawl

I finished the Dreambird Shawl just in time to give it to my Mom for Christmas.  This shawl is so unusual that when she pulled it out of the package, she wasn’t really sure what it was until my sister modeled it for her!

I have a feeling that my Mom will get stopped quite a bit when she wears this.  The great thing about knitting at home is that you can make something that will never be found in a department store.  Fashion doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does take the knowledge of knitting and a little bit of time.  In this case, it took me 65 hours to make this shawl.  Worth every minute of it 🙂

Happy knitting!

Posted in Knitting Fun | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Knitting with Pets

DreambirdShawl-Drying

I’ve been knitting like a maniac trying to finish up all of my Christmas presents this year.  Given my three cats’ reactions to the fiber frenzy, I think they believe that I’ve made everything just for them!

I’ve never really had any issues with my cats in the past.  However, in the past month, their good manners have completely broken down.  My youngest cat finds it fascinating that yarn comes out of this plastic tube when I knit.  So, he’s decided it’s a great opportunity to play with the yarn as it comes out of the plastic yarn container.  That wouldn’t be so bad except that if I’m not constantly paying attention, he’ll chew on the yarn until it breaks.  <sigh>

My middle cat loves to steal my balls of yarn.  He’ll dive face first into a bag of yarn, find a favorite ball, take it out of the bag and play soccer with it all over the house.  I’ll find yarn everywhere.  It’s really frustrating when I need that ball of yarn and can’t find it because it’s underneath something or hidden along with his other toy stash.  <double sigh>

My oldest cat loves it when I block my finished knits.  I’ll carefully wash and lay things out to block them.  Within 30 seconds, he’s lying on top of it.  Doesn’t matter what I make, or the fact that the knit is wet, he’s right there to lie on it.  <triple sigh>

So you can imagine my frustration when I finished this beautiful shawl for my Mom.  The shawl is rather large and the only place I could block it is on the floor.   I put down a bunch of plastic grocery bags on the floor and stretched out the shawl on top.  I hadn’t even gotten the shawl completely stretched out before my oldest was sitting on it.  I ran him off, did a little scolding, and went back to placing it out on the plastic.  Then cats 2 and 3 decided that the bags were fun to play with.  (You can see Cat 3 at the top left of the photo!)

I ended up doing this crazy dance of shooing off my cats while trying to lay out the shawl.  Of course, the minute I finished and left the room, one of my critters decided that you can slide on the plastic bags if you get a running start.  I found my shawl all wadded up in a ball the next time I entered the room.  <quadruple sigh>

While I’m really glad that my knitting has provided my cats ample opportunity to play since they’re cooped inside for the winter, they’re driving me insane!  I’m not sure what’s gotten into them lately, but I really hope they get bored with playing with my presents so everything will dry and come out clean!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  And happy knitting 🙂

Posted in Knitting Fun | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My First Shawl

Knitted Shawl

I’ve been knitting for over 40 years now and I’ve never made a shawl.  However, when I saw this beautiful pattern, I decided that I should make my first one now!

I’m not exactly sure why I’ve never knit a shawl before.  Most of the shawls I’ve seen are in lace-weight yarn and the thought of making something on tiny needles makes my hands hurt just thinking about it.  However, I saw this pattern by Nadita on Pinterest and couldn’t get it out of my head.  After about a month, I went over to Ravelry and bought the pattern.

I originally saw this pattern using Cascade 220 for the background color and Cascade Casablanca for the feathers.  While I love everything about 220 and I love the colorways of Casablanca, I’m really not a big fan of the texture of Casablanca.  Plus, I’ve read reviews that Casablanca can break while you’re knitting it if you tug on it too hard.  I’ve never worked with that yarn before, so I may be wrong about it, but it’s not a cheap yarn to experiment with.  So, I started looking for other yarn options for my first shawl.

On Thanksgiving Day, I went to Michael’s Store sale and found some yarn that, I have to say, I didn’t expect would look this lovely.  The yarns I found were Caron’s Simply Soft in Dark Country Blue and Red Heart’s Unforgettable in Candied.  Both yarns knit up on U.S. Size 8 needles and really look fantastic together.  The Red Heart yarn is wonderfully soft.  Maybe I’m a yarn snob, but I couldn’t be more surprised at the hand and beauty of these two yarns.

This pattern has a ton of short rows in it, so each feather section takes me about three hours to knit.  I have 6 feather sections finished.  The pattern says that you can make as many feathers as you want, but the picture in the pattern uses 21 feathers.  I think that means that I have a LONG way to go to finish this!

I hope you’re having a great day!  Happy knitting!

Posted in Knitting Fun | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Working With Non-Stretchy Yarns

Knitted Swatch

I’ve been working on a long-sleeved version of my Arabesque Metallic Sweater pattern.  Since Paton’s Metallic Yarn is 90% tencil and, therefore, not stretchy, casting on and binding off has some challenges.  I think this issue exists for any plant-based fiber yarn.

Knitting on stitches to cast onI already knew a great method for casting on to make a stretchy edge – the knitted cast-on.  While this takes a little time to essentially knit on every stitch of the cast-on row, it is well worth the time to provide a cast on that stretches in your project.  What I wasn’t sure of was a good bind-off.  Well, I think I finally found one.

I don’t have a name for this type of bind-off, but you end up knitting into each stitch twice.  I guess you could call it a knitted bind-off.  The steps are pretty easy…

Knit the first 2 stitches individually.  Then slip these stitches back on the left-hand needle and knit the 2 stitches together through the back loop.  Now you have 1 stitch on your right-hand needle.  *Knit the next stitch on the left-hand needle.  Slip these 2 stitches back onto the left-hand needle and knit the 2 stitches together through the back loop.*  You repeat this (* to*) all the way down the row.  What you end up with is a nice, even, and stretchy cast-off that has an even chain flowing down the edge.  This bind-off also works well if you’re binding off on a purl-side row.

I was originally taught to use this bind-off method when using thick and thin yarns, singles yarns without much twist, or roving to provide a strong bind-off edge.  Since the thin part of thick and thin yarns may be very thin and may break if you put too much tension on them, this cast-off provides extra strength on the cast-off row.  Same reason for roving yarns which can separate under tension.

However, I think this bind-off works very well with plant-based yarns that don’t have a lot of (or any!) stretch in the yarn fiber itself.  In stockinette stitch, the knitted fabric of plant-based yarns stretches just fine due to the nature of the stitch itself, but my cast-off always seemed too tight with a basic bind-off.

I used to bind off using a bigger needle size to build in some stretch.  I think this is now my go-to bind-off for yarns without much give in the fiber itself as it’s a much easier, and stronger, cast-off method.  Try it yourself and tell me what you think!

I hope you’re having a great day!  Happy knitting!

Posted in Craft Business, Knitting Fun | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Most Expensive Fiber In The World Is Vicuña

Vicunas

I love looking for interesting yarns, especially with fibers that I’ve never heard of.  The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article that stated that vicuña is the most expensive fiber in the world.  Of course, I had to investigate.

So, what is a vicuña?  It’s a camelid, similar to an alpaca, that lives in the high alpine regions of the Andes Mountains in South America.  The vicuña don’t produce much fiber, but what they have is extremely fine and soft.  This fiber is so expensive due to the low yield, plus the animals can only be shorn once every three years.

Due to their soft fibers, the animals were almost hunted into extinction by 1974.  Thanks to conservation efforts, there are now around 350,000 vicuña.  To put this into perspective… in 2011, there were over 1 billion sheep!

For fiber lovers, here are some statistics:   the fiber diameter of vicuña is approximately 12.5 microns.  This compares to 13.5 microns for the best cashmere, 14.5 for medium- grade cashmere, the most ultra-grade merino is around 15.5 microns, and medium-grade merino is between 18.5 – 20 microns.

The vicuña fibers are hollow and air-filled, making them extremely light.  Since the animals live high in the Andes, the fiber is also very warm.  Until recent developments, the dyeing process has damaged the fibers, so you normally find the fiber in it’s native color.  The natural color of vicuña is cinnamon, with the occasional rare white from albino animals.

Of course, luxury suit makers jumped on this fiber to make their most prized clothing.  A made-to-measure suit made of vicuña starts at $40,000 and goes up from there.  Just a scarf can cost $4,000.  Demand for clothing made of this beautiful fiber has grown year after year, especially from fast-growing China.  As demand increases faster than supply, the price of this lovely fiber will surely skyrocket.

So, now that I knew all about vicuña, I started looking for yarns made of this incredible fiber.  I’m sure there are more manufacturers out there, but this is what I found:

Jacques Cartier 100% vicuña – 25 grams, 218 yds lace-weight, $299.75
Windy Valley vicuña – 28.5 grams, 217 yds lace-weight, $300.00
Mountain Shadow Ranch vicuña roving – 1 oz. unspun, $250.00

Blends of these fibers are obviously lower in price.  Paco-vicuña yarns, which are a mixed breed with alpacas, are also cheaper.  Maybe starting with one of the blended yarns is the way to go as a newbie to this fiber.  However, one of these days, I’d like the real deal.  That is, when I save up enough money to afford to buy it!

Vicuna-faceHappy knitting!

Posted in Craft Business, Fun Fibers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Etsy Store Is Now Open

Felted clutch purses

After hours and hours of work, my Etsy store is now open!

I originally wanted to build my own website, but I ran out of time.  I spent a gazillion hours trying to build a website, thinking that at some point, I would hire someone to help me finish it and make it look professional.  However, what I created wasn’t that wonderful and I was running out of time.

People are shopping for the holidays NOW.  Every day that I waited felt like a lost opportunity.  Etsy was the next best option since it focuses on handmade items.

I did so much work on my website that it was pretty easy to load the same pictures and copy up on my Etsy store.  I did have to spend a lot of time researching shipping options, though.  After spending way too much time looking at the USPS website, my head was spinning.  I gave up, went to the post office, and found a wonderful man who spent 15 minutes with me walking me through everything.  I left feeling much better about what to do.

While it’s not as pretty as something I could do with my own website, I have to say that I’m pretty happy with the result.  Plus, I’m up an running!

I don’t have all of my handbags up, though.  A friend of mine noticed that immediately.  I figured it was best to get my store open and running, then I can add more goodies over time when I have all my pictures and marketing copy ready.  Etsy makes that pretty easy to do, so there will be more handbags up in the near future.

So, if you have the chance, please check out my Etsy store and let me know what you think!

Have a great day and happy knitting!

Posted in Craft Business, Handbags For Sale, Small Business Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment