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Monday, December 26, 2011

Reflecting on 2011 and Counting Down to 2012

Knitting Madness
I never really cared for this time of year.  In spite of the family gatherings and all the parties, I always felt so small and alone.  What I didn't realize was that I was spending the time reflecting in my own space, rather than reaching out and making others happy.  
Baby Buddy came out of hiding and went
right back to the tree on Christmas Eve!

And now, I can't believe Christmas is over!  I've been running around, knitting like crazy, baking, Christmas shopping, and taking care of a sick cat.  With all of the incredibly bad things that have happened this year, I had so much to be thankful for once I sat down and thought about it.  When you look at all of it, I still have my wonderful family and many opportunities ahead of me.  I even got my own Christmas miracle when I found out that we did not have to put Baby Buddy to sleep!  They did not find cancer but we will have to have more tests run to see if his growth is affecting anything.  He even started to act like his old self again and came to sleep next to me on Christmas morning (something he has not done in a few months because he didn't have the energy to get upstairs).

In between the regular Christmas-time running around, I managed to make a few gifts for the people in my family who have been admiring some of the things I've made so far this year.  There was:
     
    My two sisters-in-law were really excited about their hats:
    Slouchy Beanie in Peacock Colors (left) and
    Simply Elegant Beanie (right)
    
  • A pair of socks for my aunt in Arizona
  • A pair of socks for my grandmother
  • A hat for two of my sisters-in-law
  • A pair of slippers with suede soles for another grandmother (husband's side)
  • A custom-made sweater vest as my first Etsy sale
  • Finishing the hats that my brother-in-law ordered
*sigh*  My husband and I also decorated the house and built Peanut's larger gifts.  We also took turns baking: I made sugar cookies and oatmeal cookes (with dark chocolate and toffee chips) and hubby made three different kinds of cheese cake (peppermint, eggnog and apple).  When it finally came down to it, we spent Christmas Eve at my father-in-law's house, Christmas morning at our house opening gifts, and Christmas evening watching football at The Royal Victorian Manor, my parents' Bed and Breakfast. 


Peanut models in front of the Christmas tree.

So much love, so many smiling faces.  Now I remember why I do what I do.  I love helping people and making them happy.  If I can do something well enough to brighten another person's day, I know I have a purpose and something to look forward to.  Working in health care did give me that opportunity, I mean, I managed a clinic for people who would have no other access to health care if it wasn't for our little clinic.  And speaking Spanish allowed me to be a representative for women's health education to a rural Hispanic community, giving those women a chance to learn more about important women's health issues.

With Peanut around, I want to spend every minute with him, watching him grow and learn.  He's helped me to realize that there are many things that I love to do, but if I must help my family succeed.  Why not do that while doing something you love?  And this is why I knit.  I love the arts, I love my family, and I love making people happy by making something that keeps them warm or warms their heart.

I am looking forward to see what 2012 will bring for my own personal growth and the growth of Cherished Moments.  I'll be:
  • Frantically working on my business plan
  • Designing knit clothes for babies and children that have a timeless style
  • Writing patterns
and enjoying every little part of the process.  I promise, you won't be disappointed!
Christmas at the Royal Victorian Manor.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fur Baby Christmas

Baby Buddy loved watching over newborn Peanut.
He would peek into his bassinet and watch him sleep for
hours at a time.  He's a good big brother.
If there was anything I could learn this holiday season, it is humility, because you may have so many things to be thankful for, but you could lose them at any time.  Today, I am thankful for my four fur babies.  Especially now that one of them, whom we lovingly call Baby Buddy, has been diagnosed with a tennis ball-sized growth in his abdomen.

Although his growth may be benign, he has lost a significant amount of weight for a cat.  To put it another way, it'd be like a human losing 50 pounds.  His illness could be cystic kidneys or a carcinoma according to the vet, but we have to wait for the biopsy results before we take a course of action.  In the mean time, I'm spoiling him rotten and celebrating all the fun times we had together.

Baby Buddy finds the funniest places to sleep.
His favorite two places: under the Christmas tree and curled up
next to the cable router.
He came to our home as a rescue pet back in 2006 at age one and a half.  He's a kitten at heart and is always in a good mood, no matter what.  When I got pregnant with Peanut, Baby Buddy stayed by my side while I was on strict bed rest.  He even massaged my belly and aching bones during my rough pregnancy.  Once Peanut arrived, he took on the role of big brother.  He was the first to examine the new baby and would always stay perched over Peanut's crib and would come get me if Peanut started crying. 

We got our kitten, Q, because he looked just like Baby Buddy and had a very similar personality.  Baby Buddy and Q act like they were litter mates.  Q doles out loving kisses and Baby Buddy runs around the house happily, knowing that he has another cat who loves to play with him.

Underneath the Christmas tree, waiting for Santa.
Please send loving thoughts and prayers to Baby Buddy during this holiday season.  Although it could be his last holiday with us, he will have a permanent place in my heart.  He's taken great care of me and my family during some life changing events and I will always love him like a child.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Holidays!

With all the holiday craziness going on, I just want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday!

Current Projects
I am happy to report that my first Etsy.com sale took place this past week.  It was a custom order sweater vest, much like the one on the left.  It was in a solid forest green rather than with white trim, made from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino  The vest was made and shipped within 3 days and I actually got some other stuff done in the process.

I finished 6 out of the 10 hats that my brother-in-law ordered from me.  I gave him the hats on Saturday so that he could have a few to give away at a concert that took place that evening.  He was really happy that the hats turned out well.  So I guess that means that I can get over my fail isle phobia.

Tonight, I was able to finish up a pair of socks that I made for my aunt.  I don't have any pictures right now because I happened to spill some red soda on the foot of the sock (as I was finishing the sock!).  It's soaking in OxyClean to get rid of the stain.  I will dry it out tonight, take photos and ship them out tomorrow.  If they don't get there by Christmas, they'll double as a birthday present for her (which is on New Year's Eve).  I'll be working on a few other gifts for family before Christmas, so I'll definitely be busy.

I've been putting together ideas for my business plan as well, thinking about which yarns I'd like to carry if I open a yarn shop and figuring out logistics such as location, online vs. actual shop, etc.  I won't officially get started on the business plan until after the holidays, but the excitement has been overwhelming.  I really want to get this craft business going, but I know I'm going to take it easy and do this on a schedule that is good for me and my family.  Wish me luck!

Coming soon
New Year's brings new opportunities for us, seize the day!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We've reached over 350 views of the blog, but we still need followers!  If you like the blog, please follow us.  :)

Current Projects
I feel overwhelmingly lucky that I get to spend my days doing a lot of things that I enjoy and taking pride in some of my greatest accomplishments.
  1. I get to spend time with the most adorable two year old I know,
  2. I can knit for as long as I want,
  3. and I can do all of this in the comfort of my own home.
I dream of the yarn store and I dream of expanding this little business, after all, I did get an MBA and I want to know that it was worth the time and the effort.

"Suboscillator"
 I've got an order for 10 hats from my brother-in-law and hat #3 is under way.  Peanut modeled one hat for me, so that I could show that the hats would fit almost anyone, from a kid to an adult.  I think he's pretty much used to me snapping pictures of him, so he poses for the camera without prompting now.

I'm also experimenting with different yarns and knitting stitches.  I've been stocking up on more of the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (thanks to Fiddlehead Yarns), which I've decided is my favorite yarn right now.  I've also been researching patterns that contain measurements for the different sizes and looking at industry standards for design and sizes.

I do all of this so that I can start the task of getting my own designs and patterns out there and finally start earning money with the business.  I plan to post some free patterns here soon!  In the mean time, I'll be sharing some easy project ideas.

For those who read regularly, what would you like to see more of?


Coming Soon
More winter items to get us through these cold months!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Block Busted!

We've reached over 300 views of the blog, but we still need followers!  If you like the blog, please follow us as we begin to build the business.  :)

Knitting Madness
I finally got a little inspiration today. Back in May, when my aunt came to town for my grandfather's funeral, she asked me to make her a couple of pairs of socks. She had recently heard of my sock knitting obsession from my mother and wanted some funky socks to wear to school (she's a gifted artist and art teacher). I quickly made her one pair, th Pink Swirl socks.

For the second pair, she wanted something in blue and ivory/off white. I initially tried doing some entrelac socks in alternating colors, but didn't like the results. So now, I picked out a wavy lace pattern in which I can alternate colors. I also discussed some business with my hubby at dinner and confirmed that it will probably be a good idea to start on some of my spring knitting as soon as I finish knitting Christmas gifts for family members and the 10 hats I am making for my brother-in-law.

I still may include some more winter items for the Etsy shop, but will focus on spring and Easter kids designs and see if I can do well with that. I also want to get back into the yarn dyeing since I've put that off for a few months (my husband does not like the smell).

Coming Soon
Thanksgiving is around the corner. We are thankful for the opportunity to grow the Cherished Moments shop this year and forthe support from friends and family in the process. Tell us what you are thankful for.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Yarn Addict with Designer's Block

Don't forget to "officially" follow our blog!  We'd love your feedback!

Design
I realized that out of all the bins upon bins (upon bins) of yarn that I have, there are not many balls of yarn that are "girly" colors.  So, yes, I went out and bought way too much double knit yarn in pinks and purples all with dreams of frilly or lace cardigans in mind.  Of course, when I got home, I immediately got designer's block!  I sat in my room for 6 hours wondering what I could do with all this yarn and not one project came to mind. 

Cabled Sweater Vest - Newborn
I spoke with one knitter at the Knitting Knook regarding this issue, mainly that of finding books on designing for babies.  Yea, you can look up measurements for babies, but without a baby girl in your house to try things on, you're kinda out of luck.  And I wondered, what is actually out there for little girls and how can I make something a little different.  My mind kept wandering back to sweater vests, especially since I just finished one for my Etsy shop.

Why are girls so much more complicated?  When it comes down to it, they really aren't.  My problem is I want to do seamless sweaters and dresses, but I don't have anyone to measure to make the proper sized yoke.  I know what measurements to take, but I'm lost on where to start or even estimate the average size of a baby in sizes like newborn or 6-12 months.  I've really only been a "yarn addict" for less than a year.  I see it as learning the ropes of a new job, training myself as I go along.  One day, I'll look back at my naive stage and laugh about how I was stressing over simple things.

Reluctantly modeling a hat for Etsy.
I hate having my picture taken,
but, the fam seems to like the picture.
Of all things though, my extended family has liked the few hats I've made.  I'm even making some for them for Christmas.  My brother-in-law also requested that I make handmade hats that he could give away with his band's name on them.  Ten hats in all and he'd pay!  Even though I avoid fair isle at all costs, I agreed.  I designed a knit chart for the band name, "Suboscillator" in block letters and actually did a good job on the fair isle part.  It wasn't tight or anything...but the prototype was a little too big.  Tonight I'm re-working the hat design, mainly just using smaller needles and a different rib pattern on the brim (which bro liked better anyway).  The stressful part is that I have to finish it by tomorrow evening so the hat can be delivered to another band member to show off at a concert (I'm taking "working" a break right now).  Wish me luck.

Coming Soon
It's going to be 2012 soon...gotta start thinking spring.  In the meantime, some yarn dyeing?  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Make it Happen!

We've reached over 300 views of the blog, but we still need followers!  If you like the blog, please follow us as we begin to build the business.  :)

Knitting Madness
Yes, the craziest time of year is quickly approaching, and I'm still torn about what sort of items to post in my Etsy shop.  I also have the choice of filling an order for 10 hats (all the same) and just resting on my laurels until the new year hits.  What to do?  What to do?

At the same time I'm wondering how I can get more exposure and increase my sales to people that are not family members.  It all comes back down to writing the business plan.  I have this vision in my head of having my own yarn shop while also doing some sales on Etsy as well, but will I have the time.

While sitting down and knitting with my mother, it just hit me, "See, we need a yarn shop where we can just sit and do this all day.  Share knitting advice, make some sales, have some classes and just have a nice relaxed atmosphere.  But how do we do that?"  My mother, surprisingly agreed!  So of course, my brain is going, Make it happen!


Peanut helps with the pumpkins
for Halloween

This is a tough economy, and the one thing that scares me is that I won't have enough sales to stay afloat with a new business.  My other worry is if I chose between a brick-and-mortar shop or an online shop, will I regret not making the other choice.  Business plan, business plan, business plan.  Since Peanut is such a wonderful helper, I definitely want to get him involved, even if it means he's just there to say "hi" to people.

Either shop choice, I definitely want to give back to the community and also involve business students and teach them how to run a business, give advice for business plans for retail ideas, and even have those who are interested in the industry get involved.  Almost like having a yarn apprentice.  That's one thing I miss about teaching (I taught at ITT Tech for almost 2 years), having promising students do well and have intelligent discussions about so many different things.

I'm also looking into some marketing solutions, in case I decide to do an online shop.  I was told that might be a little bit more difficult to do, especially since there are so many widely respected online knit shops already.  I know some brands that I would like to include: Millamia, Cascade, Holiday Yarns, Berroco, Debbie Bliss, etc., but I definitely want to be smart about marketing in this area.  I do love all the LYSs that are in this part of the state (see my entries about the Yarn Trek).  We'll see!

Coming Soon
I'm thinking about doing a giveaway for Christmas time, so those of you that read the blog, begin following to get more details as they get hashed out.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Falling Leaves

Design
Here it is, the one and only "Falling Leaves" jumper.  I finally finished it after starting it in August.  It is made from Sirdar Snuggly.  I absolutely love this jumper.  Don't miss the leaf pattern border at the bottom of the jumper.  Then the slip-stitch pattern just above the waist adds a little color.  Finally, the pink picot edging around the sleeves and neckline adds a little "girly" frill.  Good for any weather with a long- or short-sleeved t-shirt, some leggings and cute shoes.

Full View

Top

Border
I feel a great sense of accomplishment being able to finish this.  I just hope that it gets a good review!

Coming Soon
More cold weather items!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mad About Hats

Knit Madness
With fall in full swing, I have been knitting like crazy.  So many fall and winter projects to do and so little time left!  I discovered a new love though...for hats!  I found a tutorial for hat design and I was instantly hooked.  Since finishing Peanut's Fall Sweater Vest, I have made the following:

Kid's Packer Beanie

Simply Elegant Beanie

Pointed Hat
(Simple Stockinette Stitch Hat with Butterfly)

Green and Gold Sox
I attemped another baby beanie a few times, but each time, either Peanut or Q figured out a way to pull out a needle from one side and I'd have to start over again.  The  I messed up the lace pattern I found and finally gave up.

To be sure, these aren't the only things I've been working on.  I also finished the Falling Leaves jumper which will be photographed tomorrow around the Bed and Breakfast.  It is my favorite project that I've worked on, and I am so happy that it's finished.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves once I post them.

Coming Soon
More hats, scarves, and winter apparel are coming to the Etsy shop.  Keep checking back!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Little Sewing To Relax

Current Projects
Today I finished Peanut's Fleece Packer outfit.  Why make it?  My child has a head the size of an adult (20" around) and we have to always buy his shirts a size or two bigger so as to not shove his eyeballs into his head putting on a shirt.  Not to mention his torso is a little bit long for his age too.  Well, unfortunately, it's not cost effective to buy two track suits, one that fits the bottom and one that fits the top, so I picked out a McCall's pattern where I could make the jacket bigger and the pants smaller.

I've never sewn with fleece before, so it was definitely a challenge.  I started with my mother's Brother sewing machine, which "jacked up" several seams on the jacket.  It took 3 days to finish what was considered an EASY pattern!!!  Got home, used my new Brother machine that I got for Mother's Day, and it was easy peasy.  So here's what it looks like:

Cute, isn't he?!
A green pocket on both the left sleeve and pant leg...

Hood on the jacket and contrast color pockets lined up
after some help from my mother and my uncle (designer Ashley Stewart)

And now some clapping for our undefeated Packers!
One thing I'll say about working with fleece: I hate it!  But it was a learning experience about different machine stitches and stretching one layer of the fabric as part of a pattern look.  So after this I tackled making a double-sided fleece Packer blanket (pictures to come once I catch Peanut napping under it).  Still hate working with fleece, but I won't discount it as a viable fabric to use if and when necessary.

Coming Soon
Fall jumper is almost done!  Yea, we got a lot of work done today!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Beekeeper Quilt

Current Projects
Yes, I'm currently working on the beekeeper quilt just like a lot of people are on Ravelry.com.  I'm not too far into the project (current puff count is 12), but I'm having so much fun working on these.  My mom gave me another idea too, but I'm keeping that one a secret.  Following the advise of someone else working on the project, I looked up a calculator to see how many puffs you will need to finish your quilt (find it here).  If I want a quilt to fit my queen size bed, I will need 829 puffs.  As a result, I'm thinking just what the author said to do: work on the puffs for a year and see how many you come up with.  Perhaps it will just be a piece that I frame and hang in my house or a yarn shop should I ever open one.  We'll see how it goes!

Coming Soon
My fall toddler girl jumper is almost done, I'll be posting pictures soon!  Check out some of our stuff on etsy.com under cherishedmomentswi.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Business of Doing Business

Design
I'm calling this entry a design element, mainly because the topic of business can be tailored to any industry, any project.  In essence, you're designing a business.  I'll be doing a few entries like this, mainly to show some of the process I'm going through to create my business plan.  Yes, I'm buckling down and writing a business plan.

Why talk about business?
Simple, I love the little nuances of running a business.  What you may not know about me is that I have a Master's Degree in Business Administration (aka MBA) with a concentration in Health Care Management.  I have done some business consulting, planned events, and even taught courses to business students.  I have been a manager, assistant manager, and a line worker for over a decade, and the actual idea of running a business is virtually the same in all sectors, except a few...  And with a health care background, I've seen a lot of crazy things!

When starting my own business back in 2008, I did not think I had what it takes to be an entrepreneuer.  I lacked a lot of confidence in myself, and I wanted to quickly make a lot of money.  I made the mistake of thinking that my degree inherently warranted that.  Boy was I wrong.  Starting a business is harder than getting a job and learning how someone else does business.  Why?
  1. You have to set your own way of doing business.
  2. You need to research all aspects of yourself and the business you want to go into and put it all down into a coherent plan (i.e., you have to write a formal or informal business plan).
  3. You need to make sure that your idea is unique and viable for continuity of the business.
Craft businesses need a plan too!
In the early days of toying with the idea of starting a craft business, I thought I could just continue knitting, and just sell my products however I could.  Nope, nope, nope!  Even as a crafter, you have to pick your niche.  Ask yourself these questions:
  • What market do you want to target?  (Men, women, children, all ages, etc.)
  • What kinds of sales do you expect?
  • How much can you realistically invest to start your business?
  • Do you want a brick and mortar shop or want to sell online?
  • Who is your competition?
and the list goes on... 

What does all of that mean?
You've got to do some good old-fashioned research on your industry.  Whether it's woodworking, knitting, painting, or any other craft, start with a simple Google search and see how many viable businesses you can find doing what you want to do.  Find out how successful they are.  Find out how popular they are amongst other crafters in that niche and go from there.

So what are you waiting for?  Let's get this business started.  If you'd like a little free advice on starting a business or writing a business plan, leave a comment and I will get back to you ASAP. 

Coming Soon
Some fall and winter design ideas!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Peanut Models His New Vest

Current Projects
  • Peanut's Fall Sweater Vest:  I loved making this vest for my son and hopefully I'll have a good response on Etsy.com for this vest.  This was the first time I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and was happy that I did because it was so great to work with.  I made a special trip out to my parent's Bed and Breakfast to visit and take photos of Peanut in his vest so that I could have some excellent pictures to post on Etsy.  Here are some highlights from his first photo shoot:

Warming Up for the Camera
Gave him a truck so he would sit still
Distinguished Gentleman
Back view of the vest
Side view
My dad told him to say hi to the plant, so he did just that!

Don't forget to check out Cherished Moments on facebook and twitter (momentswi) and also take a look at Peanut's Vest listed on Etsy.com!

Coming Soon
More socks?!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Knit Continuum

Knit Madness
This will be a brief entry, but I am happy to announce that I am still working on The Dude Sweater.  I finished a few more rows and will begin armhole shaping of the back tomorrow.  I would have done more, but I was watching my son who has been a bit of a yarn monster lately (snatching my work from my hands or pulling a needle out from one of the sides).

I also managed to finish another pair of socks (below) and start a pair of socks in toddler size.
Green Moss Socks
$25 on etsy.com (cherishedmomentswi)

Finally, I'm experimenting with new photographic techniques in order to better showcase my handmade products.  I am using different scrapbooking supplies to dress up backgrounds and add a little something to the foreground as well.  I hope it's helping.

Coming Soon
The quest for popularity in the handmade realm.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just Getting Started

Design

I can't believe it actually happened.  I made a set of knitting needles and finally posted them on Etsy.com!

6-inch US 2.5 double-pointed knitting needles

Since we now have a lathe (a woodworking power tool), I will be learning how to make straight knitting needles with handmade designs.  It's very exciting that things are coming together.  I will be even happier when I make my first sale on Etsy.  I also posted a pair of socks on there as well to get that section of my shop going too.

Autumn Leaves

I'm so happy with how these turned out as well.  We'll see how they do!

Coming soon
More socks and possibly even a jumper!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Knit One, Cherish Too!

Knitting Madness

I've been going crazy these past few weeks with all the projects I'm taking on.  We lost the camera (found it this evening), so no pictures for this entry...  The good news is, I finally accomplished making my first set of handmade knitting needles.

You wouldn't think that making knitting needles would be a tedious process, but it is.  It mainly involved sanding the points with high grit sandpaper so as to not snag the yarn.  The other thing to keep in mind is the finish.  I'm testing a few different ideas.  I stained a needle, varnished a needle, and high glossed a needle.  These treaments are drying, but once they're dry, I get to spend more time buffing the finishes.

I am dedicated to bringing back the old standard of quality handmade items.  It's important to keep up with artistic traditions while bringing a contemporary or modern-time feel to designs.  The fun thing now is that I get to learn woodworking, something my late grandfather did in his spare time during retirement.  I feel as though I'm passing on a tradition.  As a result, we invested in a lathe to do more intricate designs on knitting needles and my husband got a power saw since he's a little jealous of my growing tool collection.  :)

Amidst all of this planning, I managed to finish a pair of socks, travel to some of my local yarn shops, and bake a few apple pies (we visited an orchard last weekend).  All in all, I feel like Cherished Moments is coming together nicely and within the next month we could have more things going into Etsy, which was my goal all along.  Wish us luck!

Coming Soon
Pictures of handmade knitting needles.

Friday, August 19, 2011

An Order to Chaos

Current Projects
  • Peanut's Fall Sweater: I was able to complete Peanut's Fall Sweater, which is known as "Sweater with Ribbed Yoke" by Debbie Bliss.  It seemed as though the collar took the longest, but this sweater actually looks incredibly cute on my son (unfortunately, he wouldn't pose for any pictures while he tried it on).  This sweater involved a lot of ribbing and faux cables across the top of the front and back and also at the top of the sleeves.

  • Pink Swirls: I picked up a book called "Socks a la carte 2: Toes up!" while on my Yarn Trek.  I decided to start a pair of socks, as mentioned in my previous post.  I was also able to finish this pair while visiting my parents at their bed and breakfast.  So far, I've gotten pretty positive feedback on this pair, so I definitely will be making more pairs of socks out of this book.
  • Autumn Leaves: Yes, I started another pair of socks using a leaf pattern out of the book.  I am using Berroco Sox Metallic to complete this pair.  So far, I've been able to get a bit better at casting on a toe-up sock and it's turning out great.  Hopefully, I'll be able to finish these quickly and post pictures soon!
  • Falling Leaves:  Continuing with the upcoming "back-to-school" and fall season, I designed a jumper using Sirdar Snuggly yarn.  It will be multicolored with a border containing leaves.
Knitting Madness

It's absolutely crazy the number of projects that have decided to take on in order to get my etsy shop officially up and running.  Some of the things you will see on there soon:
  • Handmade knitting needles
  • Handmade stitch markers
  • Socks
  • Children's clothing
Keep checking back to monitor our progress!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Toe-up Socks

Design
While on my Yarn Trek, I came across a book for knitting toe up socks: Socks a la carte 2: Toes Up!  As much as I love to knit socks - and I even have my own master pattern - I have never done a toe-up sock.  Probably out of fear of the unknown...  Using the figure-eight cast on, I attempted (and failed) to start a toe-up sock a good 20 times until I gave up that day.  Even with the pictures, it just wasn't working.  Thanks to the group Sock Madness on Ravelry.com, I was able to get a few hints on how to do this cast on and make it look good.  Here's what I learned:
  1. When doing the cast on, include the slip-knot stitch as your cast on stitch.
  2. Knit a few rows - I knit a total of 2 - on each needle once you've done the cast on in order to make sure that the cast on was good.  It also creates a good-looking toe point if you're using variegated yarn.
  3. The book tells you to distribute the stitches a certain way for a lot of the different toe patterns.  For the double-up toe, slip 4 of the sts of one of the needles onto a third needle and then you should have the sts distributed. You'll have to knit the sts on what would be needle 3 (N3) in order to get to the beginning of the round.  Then and only then will it work.
Knitting Madness
Yarn Trek took a total of four days.  On days three and four, Peanut and I visited four more shops.
  • Grafton Yarn Storehttp://www.graftonyarnstore.com/  The shop is absolutely awesome!  It's in an older building and set up very well.  I got more baby yarn, picturing a back to school/fall colors jumper.  The owner was very friendly and invited me to join her Ravelry group to follow sales, etc. 
  • Main St. Yarn Shophttp://www.mainstyarnshop.com/ This took a while for us to get to from our hometown, but it was definitely worth it.  I got some good business start-up advice from the owner, who was actually willing to talk to me about owning a yarn shop.  I also picked out some yarn that I plan on using to design a few fall items for my etsy shop.
  • Xpressions Beads & Yarnhttp://www.xpressionsbeadsnyarn.com/ This was a little bit of a smaller shop, but it is equally devoted to yarn and beads.  You can purchase items on their website, or email the owner and put in a special order.
  • Fiddlehead Yarnshttp://www.fiddleheadyarns.com/  Another quaint shop, but it is much larger than it appears.  There is even another room off of the main shop, which I assumed was for classes and/or private knitting. 
Coming Soon
Handmade knitting needles!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Knit Trek: On a Mission to Find Local Yarn Shops

GOOD NEWS!
  1. The new website has officially been launched.  It's only a skeleton, but as the portfolio and designs build, we'll have plenty more going on. 
  2. Our etsy.com shop is up and running as well.  There are two listings so far that include our handdyed sock yarn.  Keep checking out cherishedmomentswi on http://www.etsy.com/ for new designs and yarns!

Knitting Madness
This weekend I decided to set out on a trek around the southeastern portion of our state in search of local yarn shops.  I figured, it would be a great idea in order to find out a little bit more about the craft business and also to find new and fun yarns.

  • The Knitting Knook (http://www.theknittingknook.com/):  This was the first stop on our trip.  Peanut immediately fell in love with the fact that the yarn was all out in the open.  I liked the set up of this shop because it was cosy and inviting.  The shop itself is in a house that is shared with three other businesses.  It was interesting to see the different kinds of yarn, but I also recognized a few from magazines: Manos del Uruguay and Debbie Bliss yarns!  This is definitely a place that I'll be visiting again.
  • Ruhama's Yarn and Needlepoint (http://www.ruhamas.com/):  Next stop on the tour was Ruhama's.  This was by far my favorite shop of all that I had seen.  Located in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this yarn shop was the most organized.  The store's yarns were organized by weight and there were signs that gave a lot of information about each individual yarn.  I spent the most money here, as I found an interesting set of soft yarns for some baby clothing designs.  I will probably be coming here most often.
  • Cream City Yarn (http://www.creamcityyarn.com/):  I think Peanut enjoyed this particular shop the most.  We watched one of the women wind yarn into a cored ball a few times and then searched the shop for more fun yarns.  There was a significant stash of Cascade Yarns, which I haven't seen anywhere except online.  The woman who was winding yarn invited Peanut to play with yarn ball winder when she was finished and also led him to a secret stash of toys by the baby yarn.  A great atmosphere here and modern feel.  LOVED IT!
  • Knitch (http://www.knitch.net/): The last stop on our tour was Knitch.  It's located in a small town in between Milwaukee and Madison, which meant it also had a cozy, welcoming atmosphere.  I checked out this store a little bit faster than the other shops, mainly because Peanut was starting to get sleepy.  I found some Baby Cashmerino yarn, which I quickly bought in order to make yet another vest design for the holiday season.
I orginally did a google search for a lot of different yarn shops, but found that half of them had closed.  There was also one place that was listed as a yarn shop online, but it turned out to be a quilting shop that had a tiny room of felted wool.  While it was disappointing to find that some places no longer existed, I was glad to have done the work and now I have a few more resources to go to for yarn.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Website Update

Cherished Moments has officially launched its new website!  As I finish more projects and designs, they will be posted to a portfolio on the website.  Check out http://www.cherishedmomentswi.com/ and watch the new business venture evolve into our new crafting business!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July is Heating Up

Of course, just when you think that things are going well, life throws you a curve ball.  This month, my maternal grandfather passed away.  He had been quite ill for the past several years, and I had recently visited him in March.  Although he had both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, he did indicate that he not only remember me, but was happy to see me.  He fought in the Korean war and was a talented carpenter (some of his projects included a handmade pool table, a flute stand for me, a grandmother clock for my great-grandmother, and more).  His passing meant that we had to do a lot of travelling, picking up family out of state, and then driving another 6 hours to Ohio.  At the end of the day, my toddler put his hand on the coffin saying, "Bye-bye Grandpa Frank..."


We also adopted a two and a half month old kitten, whom we lovingly named Q after a character from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  This was Peanut's early birthday present, and he was happy to have a new "fur baby" in the house, bringing us to 4 cats.  Q is a mischeivous kitten, who, unlike my other three cats, loves yarn.  As a result, I have to knit faster and with a spray bottle.  At the end of the day, I usually have a wet kitten wanting to curl up with me in bed.




Current Projects
Due to the death in the family, not much progress happened with old projects, I brought a bunch of little projects with me to have something to do in the car ride to Ohio and also while we hung out in the hotel in between family functions.
  • Seamless Dress: This was finally completed and turned out great.  It looks great on the hangar, but not laid flat...as do some of my other projects.
  • Simple Girl's Jumper: This jumper was inspired by the seamless dress.  While the jumper was not seamless, it was a fun, improvized project. Since I am trying my hand at designing baby clothes, I busted out the calculator, and designed something simple as my first go of it. The design was originally made for a 3-month-old, but I did not do a gague, since I have used the yarn before. It ended up being about the size for a 9-12 month old. :)
  • Jamaican Slouchy Hat:   Every Wednesday night my husband’s family has dinner and each week, one of the kids (and/or their significant other). Lately, the lucky cook dresses up and makes a theme for the evening. Recently is was our turn to make dinner. I offered to make a traditional Jamaican dinner. My husband and son had hats my husband purchased while in Jamaica, oddly enough, they were made in Guatemala. I decided, as a Jamaican, to make my own crochet hat to go with the theme. It actually turned out well! So, made in America, by a Jamaican; a Jamaican Slouchy Hat. Too bad I don’t have any dreads to fill it up.
  • Jamaican Colors Hat: This was another hat to go with the Jamaican theme. I wanted to try a different method of making a hat to see how it would look. Turned out ok, but the 2x2 rib is overly stretchy. All-in-all…average turn out for me.
  • Tiger Lily Tank: I took the Tiger Lily Tank with me on the road and was able to finish the back with attached straps.  Once this project is finished, I'll be able to post some pictures.  I used Vanna's Glamour yarn and it's turning out pretty well.
  • Peanut's Fall Sweater: Like many crafters, I'm not satisfied with working on one project at once.  Since I'm learning how to design baby and toddler clothes, I picked up some Bernat Baby Softee yarn (Flannel) and started up a simple sweater for Peanut out of a baby knit book.  The back is in progress and measures about 8" in length right now.
  • The Dude Sweater: No progress as of the last post.
  • Patriotic Toeless socks with cuff: Also no progress as of the last post.

    Design
    While I do have the ability to crochet, I did have to spend a few hours refreshing my crochet skills.  I actually prefer to knit more than anything else.  This entry's design element: don't be afraid to try something new to stretch yourself beyond your potential.  All through the past season of American Idol, Jennifer Lopez always praised contestant Lauren Alaina for stretching herself and going for notes that she never thought she could sing.  Why not try this with your crafting skills?  So you think you know how to knit or crochet?  Want to recreate something or are picturing something that you'd like to wear (or see on someone else)?  Design it!  I wanted a Jamaican hat, and it happened.  Yeah, I had to look up the difference between half double crochet and double crochet and spend countless hours searching how to start a crochet hat that had the style I was looking for, but I made it happen.  Sure, it might have been a challenge, but I received so many compliments from other crafty family members (and my dad, who's from Jamaica), the effort was all worth it.  Don't forget, your friends at Knitting Daily are very helpful when it comes to the new and even the classic stitches.

    Knitting Madness
    Last, but definitely not least, I must confess that I start way too many projects at once.  Not only do I have several knit projects in progress, but I took on a few other things too:
    1. New Kitten (on top of taking care of my toddler every day)
    2. More knit projects, and design
    3. Buying more and more yarn
    4. Got the business account restarted (and we now take credit cards!)
    5. Getting the house more organized, including my tiny sliver of an office
    6. Rummage Sale!
    So, I had to have a pep talk with myself.  Most of these projects better be done by the end of the year.  That means, all of my projects in the queue must be done and my design projects need to be at least designed, drawn out and started.  That means making a work schedule and officially "starting" this business.  We've been open since October 2008, but obviously a full-time job and starting a business do not mix.  Now that I don't have the headache of working 50 plus hours a week and only knitting to wind down, I can focus on the things I really love.  Creativity, yarn, knitting, and the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when a project gets completed.  Keep checking to see how I'm doing on getting everything set up and completed as the days go by.  That means more (and shorter) posts. 

    Coming Soon
    A method to the madness.

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Designing

    Current Projects
    • "The Dude" Sweater: Still in progress...You know that you love to create when more complex projects hit the backburner when you're inspired to knit other things.  I'm still working on it, slowly but surely, however, I do have some other projects in the works.
    • Patriotic Toeless socks with cuff: Also still in progress, however won't be ready in time for Independence Day tomorrow.  *sigh*
    • Adaly:  I made a very cute, top-down, seamless dress from a pattern I found on ravelry.com (see my other projects on Ravelry, username Rebeca4a).  Adaly is the name of a little girl my son knows from day care and she just recently turned two.  I was having trouble with making invisible increases on this project, but my mother told me not to be too self-conscious about it.  I'm somewhat of a perfectionist, and I want to get all these design/construction details nailed before I begin to market some of my designs.  Let me know what you think of this!  :)
    • 
      Adaly's Dress
      Size 2-3 years
      
    • Seamless Dress:  I know I don't have any girls, but I wanted to perfect the seamless technique that was also featured in another design of this name on ravelry.com.  This dress was a bottom-up design, however, I did notice that other users on ravelry mentioned that the dress was a little long.  I shortened the dress and made a few other minor changes and it turned out well.  Pictures to come.
    • Tiger Lily Tank: I began this project almost a week ago in order to get some more design ideas and learn a few more techniques.  It's in progress, but the back is almost complete.  Find this pattern on http://www.lionbrandyarn.com/.  Pictures to come.


    Design
    Finally, my design section is ready to be up and running.  I have been frantically researching how to knit a circular yoke top, similar to the one on Adaly's dress.  I have found that many people do them differently in their designs, depending on the intricacy of the needlework. 
    • Method 1:  Knit in a straight line, including a cabled or vertical pattern until the desired "length" is reached.  Pick up stitches in front and in back, casting on enough stitches to shape the armholes.  Join in the round and once complete, sew any unfinished seams.
    • Method 2:  Cast on enough stitches to fit over your head, join in the round, and continue with the top-down method depending on the size and shape you'd like your garment to be.  This is probably the easiest.
    • Method 3a: Cast on enough stitches to fit your waist, hips, or lower, depending on the length of the garment and join in the round.  You'll end up decreasing or increasing stitches where you want to contour to your body.  You will shape the armholes by casting off the correct number of stitches once you reach the armholes.  In the next round, you will cast on the number of stitches needed to finish the circumference of the armhole.  Finish in the round.
    • Method 3b:  You will work the garment the same, but once you reach the armholes, you can work some short rows on either side of the front and back of the garment so that you have a circular yoke that is actually circular (if that doesn't make sense, let me know).
    Knitting Madness
    I will use this section to talk about some of my knitting woes, offering advice on how to complete some of the techniques that I've had trouble with.  Now remember, if you need any additional help, feel free to contact me via email for further instruction, I'm always here to help!

    So as I've mentioned earlier, I was having some trouble making my increases invisible.  So I looked up how to do left- and right-slanted increases on a website we all know and love: Knitting Daily.  In order to keep from any copyright infringements, I will just refer you to their website and search for "Left Slant Raised Increase (M1L)" and "Right Slant Raised Increase (M1R)" both by Kat.  I will say that I tried these methods this morning on the bust shaping section on the the Tiger Lily Tank and they worked like a charm.  No holes, they just blend into the design!  Granted this was "2" yarn, but as I continue on with my design and construction efforts, I'll let you know if this works for thicker yarns (most importantly worsted-weight which I love to make garments out of).


    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    My Darling Baby

    I just thought I'd share about my little family tonight since I don't have any pictures of my current projects.

    "Peanut"

    Hubby and Son: Aren't they cute?
    My son is an intelligent 22-month old who, last night, woke up at 3:00am screaming.  I happened to still be awake, so I went to check on him (he has been sleeping through the night since 2 months old, except when he is severely ill).  He actually was ok last night, but he would not stop crying, especially when I would answer his "where daddy?" with "daddy's nigh nigh" (daddy's sleeping).  When he hadn't fallen asleep by 4:00am, I brought him into our room and put him in bed with us ("us" meaning: husband and 2 of our cats).  Peanut stayed awake until about 5:00am, talking to himself and occasionally seeing that I was asleep and would wake me up by poking me in the eye.  He also started to pat me on the back and stroking my hair, which I do for him to calm him down.  Needless to say, I did not get much sleep or knitting done as a result.  But, I can't complain because who's heart wouldn't melt seeing such a cute face?  Peanut is even cute when he's fussy, which isn't often.  :)

    Coming Soon
    More project progress!

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Mad About Cats

    Current Projects
    • Patriotic Toeless Socks: Here's a sample of what the toeless socks look like.  They are calf-high and the foot ends at about the arch of a medium sock (7-8 size shoe).  I could not get the cuff to lay properly for the picture.  The good thing about this particular sock is that it did not require any blocking.  The bottom ends with a K1, P1 rib.  EASY AS PIE! 
    Patriotic Colors!
     
    • "The Dude" Sweater:  I am attempting to continue progress on the back of the sweater, and I am almost done with chart 2a.  Unfortunately, these guys got in the way of any more progress today.
    Baby Buddy (Age 7)
    Gray (Age 11)
    
    Kira (Age 10)
    For the first time in the many years that I have been knitting, the cats have become interested in The Dude's yarn.  My only guess as to why is that this is the first time I have worked with 100% wool and maybe they like the feel or smell of it.  Luckily, I have a fresh catnip plant and a spray bottle (with water) to keep them at bay a bit while I feverishly knit.  Needless to say, my even cuter husband and son have got me distracted as well.  Especially now that my almost two year old has started speaking in some full sentences (no really, he does speak in full sentences, but I do have to translate for my husband sometimes).

    Coming Soon
    Family pictures and my 29th birthday is on its way.